Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Where Are the Land of Promise Horses? – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding the horse and its so-called extinction in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish.
     It should be kept in mind that the Book of Mormon never states or implies that horses roamed the New World in large numbers—in fact, horses are mentioned infrequently in the scriptural record. If small pockets of horses lived in pre-Columbian America, it is certainly possible that they would leave little if any trace in the archaeological record.
Viking Travels during the 9th to the 11th centuries

For the past 50 years—since the discovery of a thousand-year-old Viking way station in Newfoundland—archaeologists and amateur historians have combed North America's east coast searching for traces of Viking visitors. It has been a long, fruitless quest, littered with bizarre claims and embarrassing failures, but recently Canadian archaeologist Patricia Sutherland, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and a Professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, who has specialized in evidence of a long-time Norse presence on Baffin Island, announced new evidence that points strongly to the discovery of the second Viking outpost ever discovered in the Americas.
    Though all the detail about Norse trips to Vinland (as the Norse called North America) comes from two accounts: The Saga of Erik the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders, the latter outlining the voyage of Bjarni Herjólfsson, who was blown off course, and skirted the coast of eastern Canada before returning to Greenland, which knowledge later promoted Leif Erickson voyage of discovery. According to Thor Hjaltalin, an Icelandic scholar who oversees archaeological activities in northwest Iceland, these epic Viking tales were probably first written down around 1200 or 1300 by scribes who either recorded the oral stories of elders or worked from some now-lost written source. What we learn from these sagas, at least in part, was that the Norsemen, from Leif Erickson to Thorfinn Karlsefni probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into the Eastern North America in the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals didn’t spread throughout the continent and they left no archeological remains, other than a claim that “archaeologists have found arrowheads with the remains of buried Norse explorers around Baffin Island and Newfoundland.
    According to one non-LDS authority on ancient American, the Olmecs had domesticated dogs and turkeys but the damp acidic Mesoamerican soil would have destroyed any remains and any archaeological evidence of such animal domestication. Even in areas of the world where animals lived in abundance, we sometimes have problems finding archaeological remains. As abundant as the lion must have been in ancient Israel, their remains wer evidently not found until 1988 as reported by Robert R. Bennet of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute: “The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication [L. Martin. "The Faunal Remains from Tell es Saidiyeh," Levant 20, 1988, pp83-84) of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region” (Robert R. Bennett, “Horses in the Book of Mormon,” Maxwell Institute, 2000).
    As for other difficult to find evidences, it should be noted that Abraham had camels while in Egypt, yet archaeologists, who used to believe that this was an anachronism because camels were supposedly unknown in Egypt until Greek and Roman times, have now learned that camels were used in Egypt from pre-historic times until the present day, though there remains were not there found.
The nomadic Huns had thousands upon thousands of horses, and likely came from along the border of Mongolia and Kazakhstan and were known to China as the Xiongnu who harassed their norther borders 

Also, in the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the Turco-Mongol nomads, also known as the Turkic and later the Huns, who originated form the steppes of central Asia and migrated westward through Asia and Eastern Europe, were characterized by mobility and ferocity. They had so many horses that estimates suggest that each warrior may have had up to ten horses. Horses were the basis of their wealth and military power, and being expert horsemen, they seemed to appear as one with their steeds. In fact, the Huns and their horses were bred for mounted warfare, with the warriors wearing soft leather boots that were excellent for riding but fairly useless for foot travel (Joshua J. Mark, “Huns,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, London, UK, 25 April 2018).
    As history has written of them, these Hunnic warriors were rarely seen dismounted and even carried on negotiations from the backs of their horses, being far more comfortable in the saddle than on the ground. They were known to appear out of nowhere on their horses, attack like a whirlwind, and vanish away leaving a swath of death behind them (Nic Fields, The Hun: Scourge of God, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2006).
    As the writer Claudian wrote of the mounted Hun: “Their double nature fitted not better the twi-formed Centaurs to the horses that were parts of them.” In fact, they were more than just a people on horseback: they were Centaurs (Claudius Claudianus, In Rufinum, Bk.1 (III), Loeb Classical Library, Geneva, 1922, p73).
The origin of the Huns or the Hunnic people, who came from along the Kazakhstan-Mongolia border in the Atlai mountains, swept westward out from their homeland and spread through western Asia and into Europe

The Hunnic forces were feared by all who encountered them, partly because of their ferocity in battle, and partly because of their incredible mobility on horseback, and upon their ability to fight strictly mounted, becoming perhaps the most expert mounted bowmen in history. Even the Roman legions eventually came to fear them, causing the Romans to pay off the Huns in order to secure peace with them (Michael Lee Lanning, The 100 Greatest Military Leaders of All Time, Robinson Publishing, London, 1997)
The Huns would appear out of nowhere, attack unsuspecting villages and people, then disappear as quickly as they arrived, leaving a horrific destruction behind them

Yet, despite this overwhelming and total dependency upon the horse and the overwhelming existence of herds of horses in the Hunnic region—the Great Hungarian Plain, which was their home base—according to a non-LDS leading authority on the zoological record for central Asia, we know very little of the Huns’ horses, and for nearly two centuries of looking, not a single usable horse bone was ever found in the territory of the whole empire of the Huns until 2006-2011, when a team of scientists and researchers from the Institute of History of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences found a burial site of 29 separate tombs containing 31 Huns along the foot of the Salkhit of Rashaant Soum in Khuvsgul Province, dating to the 2nd century BC, according to a report in the Unuudur Newspaper by expert researcher S. Ulziibayar. In these burials, most of the Hun bodies had been buried with their horses.
    However, the claim of finding the Hun, Attila’s tomb in Hungary, as reported in March of 2014, while building a foundation of a new bridge over the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary, with human remains, many horse skeletons, a large sword made of meteoric iron, pottery, jewelry, and other weapons and grave goods traditionally associated with the Huns, has been shown to be a complete hoax. Despite the article’s claim that an Albrecht Rümschtein from the Lorand Eötvös University in Budapest described the find as “absolutely incredible,” it was found that no such person existed in connection with the University, or in Budapest, or with any excavation or finding, nor was there any such find ever reported as having occurred.
   The point is, that despite an exceptionally in-depth description of the Hun horse by Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, Rudi Lindner, a professor of History at the University of Michigan claims that “no steppe horse bones have been found in Western Europe from the proper time period, nor anything that can be exactly matched to Vegetius’ description (Rudi Paul Lindner, “Nomadism, Horses, and Huns,” Past and Present Journal, No.92, Oxford University Press, August 1981, p13).
Thus, it should be noted that even in a region where a large number of mounted warriors thrived, until just recently after many decades of serious searching, bones of horses eluded all attempts to find them. And since the burial of Atilla the Hun has never been found, and its reputed tomb having extravagant wealth buried within it, there has been a sizable amount of people and effort extended to find it throughout the Hunnic region. As it turned out, the excavation at the foot of Salkhit which lies four km away from the Rashaant Soum in the Khuvsgul Province, is in north central Mongolia, just south of the Russian border, in an extremely remote area where little work had previously been conducted.
    Thus, it should not be surprising that such evidence of Nephite horses, which very likely were in fairly small numbers since they are almost solely mentioned in the scriptural record as having been used in connection with chariots, have not yet been uncovered.
    Based on the fact that other–once thriving–animals have disappeared (often with very little trace), it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same thing might have happened with the Nephite “horse.”
   The fact is, however, that there does appear to be archaeological support that horses existed in the pre-Columbian Americas.
(See the next post, “Where Are the Land of Promise Horses? – Part III,” for more information about horses in the Americas and why the mention of horses in the Book of Mormon is not an error or misjudgment but a statement of actual fact)

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