Saturday, December 22, 2018

Comparing Mesoamerican, Heartland, and Andean South American Lands of Promise-Part VIII

Continued from the previous post regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the Mesoamerican and Heartland models of the Land of Promise listed by Michael De Groote, as appeared in the Deseret News. We continue here with the Weaknesses of the Mesoamerican and Heartland models with #1 of the Heartland weaknesses, under #4 – Archaeology, continuing below:
Mesoamerica: Numerous hard-evidence sites have been located all over Mesoamerica and in certain areas of Central America of temples, public buildings, cities, and settlements. However, actual fortifications are highly debatable since almost all Mesoamerican ruins sites are spread out and open to the surrounding lands. Only a few are walled, but these are mostly within short walls that provide little protection in battles with arrows, spears and swords.
The formidable wall of Tulum, one of the few walled Mayan cities, extends only along the West side; the north wall is short and offers little resistance to an enemy and no south wall exists

In fact, Tulum, a Mayan city on the Yucatan, along the Caribbean seacoast is “one of the very few walled cities built by the Maya,” and sits on a bluff overlooking the sea. The wall that runs on the westward side, parallel to the sea, is 9 to 16 feet high, 26-feet thick, and 1300 feet long. Which sounds like a fortification; however, having been there a few years ago, this formidable wall does not surround the entire complex, or even come close. The wall on the north is about 4 to 5 feet in height, and though good for keeping out animals, it would have little effect on an invading army, or nighttime stealth penetration by an enemy force. There is no wall along the south boundary, which faces the entire Yucatan peninsula, Belize and Guatemala.
    Despite the term “Tulum” meaning “wall” in Yucatec, which was so named by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1841 when they first “discovered” the ruins (it was officially discovered in 1840 by Juan José Gálvez), that formidable wall is only along the west side, and though the ocean covers the east side, the north and has very limited wall protection, and the south side none at all. Nor should one get too impressed with the meaning of Tulum, for the Maya originally called it “Zama,” which means “dawn,” because it overlooks the sea and the rising of the sun.
South America: As we have written numerous times in this blog, Andean South America, especially Peru and Ecuador, have numerous stone city complexes that were built as fortresses, with high walls around them to provide magnificent defenses against attack.
Example of the type of high and truly defensive walls found throughout Andean Peru, these (top) Kuelap, and (bottom) Huchuy Qosqo Andén—there is nothing like these in either Mesoamerica or the Heartland/Great Lakes

5. Hill Cumorah 
The Gold Plates were buried in the New York Hill Cumorah.
Response: While the plates were obtained from a stone box buried in the New York Hill Cumorah, we do not know where Moroni hid the plates, or where they were during the 1400 years between Moroni’s death and Joseph Smith obtaining the plates. It is no more likely that Moroni originally buried the plates in this drumlin hill in New York as their having been located in some other secure area known only to the Lord and the Angel.
John L. Sorenson is quoted by DeGRoote in his Deseret News article under the Weaknesses of the Heartland Theory:
1. River Sidon 
"The Book of Mormon makes it abundantly clear that the river Sidon runs from the south to the north.” And in Alma 2, Alma and his army wade across the river to fight the invading Lamanites The river Sidon in the heartland model is considered to be the Mississippi River.”
Left: The Plains areas of the Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley, through which the Mississippi and Ohio rivers flow—all flat ground, with a range of low mountains shown by dotted red line; Right Top: Lower Mississippi River; Right Bottom: Upper Mississippi River; Note the completely flat ground around the Mississippi River—no hills, no mountains

Response: It is true that the scriptural record shows that the Sidon River runs from the south (beginning in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness, which separated the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla, making the Land of Zarahemla north of the wilderness strip) high up in what must have been mountains, and flows north, by the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15), that is, not “through,” but “by.”
    As for the Mississippi River, two things negate that suggestions: 1) it flows north to south, and 2) the entire Mississippi Valley for many miles east and west of the Mississippi is basically flat land. There are no mountains, not even true hills, yet the Sidon is up in the elevated land toward the Land of Nephi, which was at a much higher elevation than the land and city of Zarahemla, which does not at all match the Mississippi River through the Illinois area by Nauvoo, across from the later Zarahemla.
2. Hills 
“There are hills in the land of Nephi.” Sorenson claimed it is always described as "up" in relation to everything else. "Where is the 'up' (in the heartland model)? Is it the hills of Kentucky?"
Response: Sorenson’s statement is accurate for we know there were hills in the Land of Zarahemla, including the hill Manti (Alma 1:15), Amnihu (Alma 2:15), Riplah (Alma 43:32), and the hill Onidah (Alma 22:4), and also mounts, such as Antipas (Alma 47:7), as well as mountains (Alma 12:14). There were also hills in the Land of Nephi, for Ammon tells us he and his missionary brethren were with the Lamanites in their own land, saying “we have taught them upon their hills” (Alma 26:29). In addition, when an earlier Ammon, a descendant of Zarahemla, and his group reached the city and land of Nephi along with that of Shilom, he was on a hill north of the Land of Shilom (Mosiah 7:5), and this hill overlooked the Land of Nephi for the next day they went down into that land (Mosiah 7:6).
    However, we need not limit this to just hills, as Sorenson does, but to mountains as well for Samuel the Lamanite tells us that upon the Savior’s death, “there shall be many mountains laid low” (Helaman 14:23), which Nephi confirms with his vision of this event, when saying, “I saw mountains tumbling into pieces” (1 Nephi 12:4). Samuel also prophesied that at the time of the crucifixion, “many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). By commenting about the great height of these new mountains, they must have been much higher than anything before in order to cause the impression of which Samuel spoke.
    Thus we see that both the Land Southward and the Land Northward had hills and mountains before the crucifixion, and mountains afterward “whose height is great.” In addition, we see that the  Land of Shilom and the Land of Nephi had a high hill to their north, which would place it between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, and in that area was the Narrow Strip of Wilderness (Alma 22:27), in which was the head of the River Sidon, it flowing downhill to the north, past the Land of Zarahemla.
    All of this is inconsistent with the lack of hills, let long mountains, in the Heartland and the Great Lakes, whose land was basically flat plains.
Mesoamerica: As stated earlier, Mesoamerica does have hills and mountains, though by comparison, those mountains are not all that high. As an example, the tallest mountains in Mesoamerica are Volcán Tajumulco, a dormant volcano located in western Guatemala, near the Mexican border, at 13,845 feet, with Volcán Tacaná at 13,343, and Volcán Acatenago at 13,041. The Sierra Madre mountain range, which consists of a number of smaller ranges, runs from northern Mesoamerica south through Costa Rica.
Central America: Costa Rica’s has the highest peak in Chirripo Grande at 12,530 feet, Panama has a central spine of mountains and hills, with Volcán Barú (formerly known as Volcán de Chiriqui) the highest peak at 11,401 feet. Honduras’ highest peak is Cerro Las Minas at 9,347 feet, El Salvador Cerro El Pital at 8,957 feet, and Nicaragua with Mogoton at 6,912 feet.
South America: We have written many times in this blog about the mountains “whose height is great” with Aconcagua at 22838 feet, with 71 mountains over 20,000 feet in height, with 65 more between 19,000 and 20000 feet, or 136 mountains over 19,000 feet. Truly, Andean South America is a land of mountains “whose height is great.”
(See the next post, “Comparing Mesoamerican, Heartland, and Andean South American Lands of Promise-Part VIII,” for more regarding the Deseret News article about the pros and cons of Mesoamerican as opposed to the Heartland models and South America)

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