Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Have They Found Where Battles Were Fought Around Cumorah? – Part XIII “The Artifacts of Imbabura”

Continuing from the previous post regarding the Imbabura region of northern Ecuador and the mounts of Imbabura and Cotacachi making up the Book of Mormon hills of Cumorah and Shim.
    It is interesting that when searching all this area around Imbabura and Cotacachi, the location of these forts and other ancient sites, Edward Whymper, an English mountaineer, explorer, illustrator, and author, best known for his ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, and along with his Italian mountain climber guide Jean-Antoine Carrel reached the 16,300 foot summit of Mount Cotacachi searching for artifacts of Ecuador’s older Indian civilization. Cotacachi will be remembered from a previous post, as the Hill Shim which was passed by the Jaredite king Omer before he “came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed” (Ether 9:3).
    Then, “from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore.” Thus, the hill Cumorah was west of Ablom, which was west of the hill Shim. In northern Ecuador, the hill Cotacachi is just west of the hill Imbabura, which would be Cumorah. It was in this area that Whymper and his colleagues searched for and found “many pounds” of arrowheads and artifacts of war.
Left: Imbabura Province; Right: Carchi Province; combined this area makes up the northernmost territory of the Jaredites, as well as the Nephites, and much later, the Inca, 2000 years after the demise of the Jaredites

This territory of northern Ecuador, at one time the northernmost frontier of Tawantinsuyu, the much later Inca Empire, covers a distance of approximately 65 miles from the Equator to Imbabura, and approximately 195 miles from Riobamba (kingdom capital of Moron), making the distance king Omer traveled about 240 miles from Moron to Ablom, near the coast—with Ablom likely being the most northern location in the Jaredite Land Northward, with the Sea East to the eastward and the Sea North, or Ripliancum, to the north.
    It was in this northern Province of Imbabura that Whymper and his team, along with a single arriero (muleteer) began an archaeological exploration among the old villages and Indian burial mounds and the hills over a six-day period, “collecting over a hundred or more artifacts, arrowheads and weapons of bronze or stone just along the surface that weighed many pounds” (Emil Henry, Triumph and Tragedy: the Life of Edward Whymper, Matador, Troubador Publishing, Leicester UK, 2011, p334)
    It is also well known that prior to the Incan Conquest of this northern province, numerous indigenous tribes, such as the Quitus, Caras and Cañaris along the coastal provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas and in the middle Andean highland provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo, all populated the region. Many of these early tribes inhabited the area of Imbabura for some 4,500 years before the arrival of the Incas—of course, there is just as much evidence these were all one group of people, too.  
The grass-covered pyramids found to the north of Mount Imbabura

In fact, to the north of Imbabura between the mount and Ibara, is an area known as Caranqui, an area that has long been known as the “distrito antiguo,” or the “Ancient District.” Here were the llactas, the ancient settlements of the Central Andes determined more by relationship than by type (The Huarochiri Manuscript, translated from the Quechua by Frank Salomon and George L. Urioste, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1991), with llacta associated more with Huari, the original ancestors of the place that, as such are distinguished from llacuases or upstarts (those who came later).
    In addition, throughout these valleys there are numerous grass-covered tolas, or pyramid platforms, scattered across the landscape.
    Some of the most ancient artifacts date back as early as 2500 B.C. These originate from Ecuador’s earliest known culture, a coastal tribe called the Valdivia and the Las Vegas (Jaredites).
    It should also be noted that these valleys and hills of the northern Sierra are the home to the majority of archaeological findings, which can be found in the northern provinces of Imbabura and the one north of that, Carchi. To the north of that is the Carchi (Angasmayo) River, which forms the boundary between Colombia and Ecuador near Tulcán. A large stone over the river forms a natural bridge, which allowed movement at this point northward into Colombia (today a man-made bridge, the Rumichaca Bridge, spans the river about 250-feet upriver from there).
The natural stone over the Carchi River that formed a natural bridge and the means of entry into Colombia from the Province of Carchi for millennia

It is believed that trade, agriculture, and hunting and gathering were the main forms of subsistence, drawing numerous people to the area throughout its history, which matches Moroni’s descriptions of the Jaredites: “they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain (Ether 10:22)…and they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash” (Ether 10:25).
    Unfortunately, though Ecuador provides a wide variety of environments, none are conducive to the preservation of perishable materials. There are no perennial deserts like those in Peru, or dry rock shelters of the kind that have provided evidence of early agriculture in Mexico, at least not that have been investigated in Ecuador. Anciently, only a rare combination of circumstances preserved a piece of wood or cloth, and for an archaeologist to find such an object today would be an unusual stroke of luck. When one considers that under normal conditions, only metal, stone, pottery, shell and bone will survive, one must also reflect on the small proportion of objects that can be expected to have been made by the ancients from such materials. So what confronts the archaeologist in Ecuador is not the skeleton of an extinct culture, but only a few separate bones.
    Ecuador is at the heart of the region where a variety of civilizations developed for millennia. During the pre-Inca period people lived in clans, which formed great tribes, and some allied with each other to form powerful confederations, such as the Confederation of Quito. The rich heritage, but lack of preserved sites partly accounts for the fact that most of what is known of Ecuadorian archaeology is the handiwork of local Ecuadorians, such as the archaeologist and historian Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño, whose investigations were concentrated in the highlands; however, most of the Oriente remains unknown to archaeologists and is believed to have contained early habitation, especially along the river beds.
    It is believed by present archaeologists that the Sierra near present-day Quito is estimated to be one of the most important in South America and existed along an ancient trade route. As mentioned earlier, the Jaredites were heavily involved in trade throughout their time in the promised land. And for the Jaredites, Moron was the first city and kingdom established in the Land of Promise under the reign of Orihah, son of Jared, around 2100 BC and was continuously occupied during the reign of the Jaredites.
Location of Riobamba in relation to other major settlements and cities
The City of Moron has been identified as the probable site of Riobamba in southern Ecuador. It is situated in the central highlands of the Andes at an elevation of about 9,000 feet in the basin of the Riobamba River, about eight miles northeast of Cajabamba and about 15 miles southeast of Mt. Chimborazo, the highest mountain peak at 20,702-feet, in Ecuador. It is also about 120-miles north of Cuenca, and the same distance northeast of Guayaquil.
    The area has a near constant temperature year-round, with a wet and dry season, and its elevation give the city a cool climate with temperatures averaging 73º in the day an 57º at night. It is built on the north end of a canyon within a precarious area of near perpendicular cliff walls known as la Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose), and a narrow gorge overlooking the Chanchán River that opens into valleys along its length.
The canyon gorge leading into Riobamba from the south, between Alausí, where the Devil’s Nose is located and Riobamba

The area was initially inhabited by the Puhurá tribe, along with the Otavalo, Caranqui, Cayambe and Cochasquí, all of which made up a combination of chiefdoms that were similar in their culture, language, and artistic techniques. They have often been identified with the Cara culture and people who are said to have been descended from the Quitu culture (Quitu-Cara Culture), which is believed to have begun around 2000 BC. It also might be of interest that burial tombs of the Quitus showed that they had a belief in the afterlife, were agriculturists, and seen as a “pueblo alegre y festive” (“happy and festive people).
    It also might be important to note that the Riobamba area today is an agricultural trade and processing center for its surrounding region, and has a long history as an agricultural area, producing among other items woolen textiles, cement, and various food crops.
    Riobamba is also an important area of native artifacts, and was originally on a direct route from Guayaquil, which is at the foot of the hills leading to the highlands just east of the Santa Elena Peninsula where the Jaredite barges would have come ashore. Also, Riobamba is at the southern end of the route into the north to Quito, and beyond to the Jaredite hills Shim and Ramah, as well as their place called Ablom. It is important to know that such routes existed, since travel in the Andes and all along the mountainous western cordilleras were dependent upon existing passes and travelable routes.
    Today Riobamba has one of the highest concentrations of indigenous natives speaking the ancient Quechua language. All of this, of course, leads to a strong connection between the Book of Mormon and the area of Ecuador, the Land Northward of the Jaredites and later the Naphites. That numerous artifacts of war, including projectile points or arrowheads that have been found on and around Mount Imbabura does testify to ancient battles there, and oral history bears this out.


  1. "Then, “from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore.” Thus, the hill Cumorah was west of Ablom, which was west of the hill Shim."
    This statemnt is confusing; Cumorah is west of Ablom but, east of Shim.

  2. Harry: The Jaredites under Omer traveled northward, then passed the hill Shim, then continued on and passed the hill Ramah (Cumorah) and then headed east to Ablom which was by the seashore. No matter how you look at it, Shim would have been west of Cumorah, which would have been west of Ablom, which was west of the East Sea. The bottom of the first map shows that quite clearly. If you place Cumorah or Ramah to the west of Shim, then after passing Shim, heading west to Cumorah, Omer would have had to do an about fact to head back east to Ablom and the seashore.

  3. Should have read "from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore.” Thus, the hill Cumorah was west of Ablom, which was east of the hill Shim."

  4. Edward Whymper also founds a huge amount of "star stones" from Quito all the way to the Imbabura. These star stones were 5-6 pointed star shaped stones with a hole in the middle where the wooden handle went. They were almost certainly the battle axes mentioned in the Book of Mormon- known as macanas today- you can google macanas and see pictures on wikipedia.

    Edward Whymper- Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator. London: John Murray, 1892.

    His book is free on line. the link below should work. see pages 248 and 249.

  5. David: Thanks for the info,we got the book and found it quite interesting. We have an article on this coming up in a while, its in the queue.