Monday, December 24, 2018

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

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 through #4 in the previous posts and continuing below with #5:
5. Lack of Civilization
The evidence of the type of high civilization described in the Book of Mormon is less prevalent than in Mesoamerica.

The Mayan ruins of Sayil in northern Yucatan—nothing like it in all of North America

Response: There is no question that Mesoamerica had advanced civilizations at the time the Spanish arrived than anywhere in North America. The Aztec and earlier Mayan built stone structures, temples, palaces and public buildings, had highly developed governments and advanced development in art, ceramics, textiles and weapons.  Nowhere in North America was such found. People still lived in tents of one type or another, or in stick huts with thatched roofs. They built nothing out of stone, and nothing of their early cultures lasted through the years to suggest any truly advanced civilization.
North America:  The most advanced native-American people in all of North America are considered to have been the Iroquois, who were known collectively during the colonial years to the French as the Iroquois League and later the Iroquois Confederacy; to the English as the Five Nations, comprising the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca (after 1722 when the Tuscarora joined the confederacy, as the Six Nations)—believed by most professionals as being the most developed and progressive of all tribes or groups in North America. A matrilineal society, each clan was linked by a common female ancestor with women possessing a leadership role with in the clan, with the number of clans varying among the nations with the Mohawk only having three to the Oneida having eight.
    The Iroquois built and lived in houses made of tree branches and bark, and were called longhouses. In fact, the Iroquois people called themselves Haudenosaunee (Ho-dé-no-sau-nee), meaning “People of the Longhouse.” These houses, varying in length from 15 to 150 feet in length and 15 to 25 feet in width, were clustered in large villages, scattered throughout their territory, with each nation having one to four villages at any one time. Generally, they moved their villages every five to twenty years depending on the depletion of the soil for planting and firewood. These villages were surrounded by a palisade and usually located in a defensible area such as a hill, with access to water.
Top: A typical Iroquois Longhouse—Bottom: a typical settlement in Andean South America dating long before the Iroquois. Note the difference between stone houses and those of North America

Response: The houses themselves were built of layers of elm bark on a tree branch frame of rafters and long hickory poles, stuck in the ground, then bent over and fastened to one another, forming a curved roof. Fires are stationed along a open aisle in the center of the inside from end to end, with one or more holes in the roof to exhaust smoke. Typically, there are sixteen to eighteen families in a single house, each sleeping on stacked beds made of tree branches on either side of the center aisle. Basically, all houses were the same shape and looked identical, and were waterproof because of the extensive covering of tree bark.
    Since Iroguois history was known only from oral traditions, it is believed they were first established in 1142 after a solar eclipse brought different indigenous groups together (Barbara A. Mann and Jerry L. Fields. "A Sign in the Sky: Dating the League of the Haudenosaunee," American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol.21, no.2, 1997, pp105-163). Most archaeologists and anthropologists believe that the actual Iroquois League was established in 1450 when five groups or tribes/clans joined forces who emerged just south of the Great Lakes, though some argue for an earlier date of formation, that of 1142, but others maintain they were single indigenous tribes earlier, and not organized into a single confederacy until the 15th century.
    The point of this being that the comparison between the most advanced indigenous people in North America, were far inferior in development, achievement, arts, textiles, weaponry, and organization than that of the Aztec and Maya, and especially that of the Inca, by the time the Spanish invaded and the Europeans arrived.
Machu Picchu built high on a mountain overlooking the Canyons below

South America. However, nothing in Central or Mesoamerica equaled the achievements of the older cultures that dominated Andean South America. The stone edifices were older, their governments and development more advanced, their achievements greater. By the time of the Spanish arrival, the Inca controlled a much larger area than any other American civilization, were a people and civilization that was equaled only by that of Rome, with its magnificent roads, temples, squares, palaces, houses and public buildings.
    There seems little question that the development and level of achievement of the cultures in North America were far inferior to that of Mesoamerica, which itself, did not equal that of Andean South America. It should also be noted that when Lehi left Jerusalem, all four of his sons were grown men and adults, with Nephi the youngest in his late teens or young adult years. The civilization in which they grew up was indeed one of the most advanced in Europe and Asia, with Solomon’s Temple structure drawing people from around the known world to view it.
    More than three hundred years before Lehi left Jerusalem, Solomon expanded the confines of the city northward to include the Temple Mount. This more than tripled the size of the original City of David, with the expansion taken up with the Temple and royal buildings. More people came to reside in the city as a consequence of their official and religious capacities, while others came to seek a livelihood in its developing economy, increasing the number to somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 occupants. 
    A hundred years later, the area usually referred to as the Western Hill was added to the city of Jerusalem, almost tripling its size, with the populating increasing proportionately. By 721 BC, the populating increased dramatically due to the influx of refugees from the north after the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel. 100 year before Lehi left, the city covered 160 acres, with settlement also extending northward outside the city walls, expanding to a population of 8,000.
Today’s 40-foot high wall around Jerusalem; this wall was 26-feet high at the time Lehi left Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s walls date back to 14th century BC, when it was a Jebusite city. Solomon extended the walls around the new temple he had built, which walls were expanded by Hezekiah in 800 BC to with stand the Assyrians under Sennacherib, being 26 feet high and 26 feet thick, and referred to in history as the “Broad Wall” (Nehemiah 12:38). At the same time, Babylon was even greater, with its magnificent buildings, cities and ziggurats. To think that immigrants from this Middle East would have been satisfied to live in twig huts and thatched roofs, with wooden poles for a wall, is beyond credulity, and does not match the level of achievement Nephi and his people would have achieved in the Land of Promise.
    After all, Nephi himself built a large, sea-going, deep-water ship, capable of carrying 50 to 70 people across thousands of miles of open ocean. In addition, Nephi taught his people within a decade of landing in the Land of Promise how to “build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15).
    Would such a man that had worked timbers after the manner the Lord showed him have stooped to show his people how to use twigs and branches and grass to make a rickety hut in which to live as found anciently in North America?
    Reason suggest otherwise.

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