Thursday, December 6, 2018

Were There Two Passes into the Land Northward? Part IV

Continued from the previous post, regarding the location of the later mountain road as well as the narrow pass Mormon describes. As indicated in the title of these articles, were there two passes, or two narrow necks, leading from the Land Southward into the Land Northward in the Land of Promise? Or, was there a narrow neck in one place and a narrow Pass in another location? These are the type of claims made by many theorists in order to justify their own personal models. However, Mormon seems quite specific in his descriptions that leaves little to speculate upon.
Red Numbers: Air distance; Black Numbers: Road distance

In addition, it is also suggested that the river Jubones marked the northern border of the Land of Bountiful, and the land of Desolation’s southern termination. The distance by passable route between these two places (Cajamarca and the Jubones River) is about 530 miles, which seems a very long distance. Frankly, the scriptural record does not seem to give the impression that Bountiful was that significant—Mormon often bypasses and ignores that land when mentioning coming from the Land Northward into the Land Southward. In fact, Mormon doesn’t mention the Land of Bountiful or the city of Bountiful anywhere in his book (Mormon), and neither does Moroni, either in his father’s final chapters or in his own book (Moroni).
    Now that may not be significant, since Mormon tells us that the Land of Bountiful, “the land on the southward was called Bountiful (Alma 22:31), that is, the Land of Bountiful extended southward from the narrow neck of land, but how far below the city of Bountiful the actual southern border extended is not stated. Still, this makes the Land of Bountiful somewhere between 340 and 350 miles on a direct line of sight from south to north (about 580 to 600 travel miles). Consequently, it seems that Mormon would have made some mention of a land that large and significant as the entire northern land area of the Land Southward.
    In addition, when it is mentioned that nothing grew in the area of this Land of Desolaton, and that it was “destitute of anything of value growing, that is why it is called Desolation,” there are two problems with that:
1. This area along the ancient inland route from Loja to Ingapirca is quite vegetaceous, especially around Cuenca. In fact, from Loja to Ingapirca is a green belt between two ridges, which is born out by satellite imagry. However, in between Loja and Cuenca is a small area from Ona to a little beyond Nabon Canton, and west to Abañin (following a deep canyon cut by the Leon River) that is mountainous and lacks much vegetation.
In biblical times, when a city was destroyed, especially because of its evil nature and practices, the area was referred to as devastation. A land of devastation was one in which the curse of defeat, destruction and punishment hung over the area for some time

2. The land was not called Desolation because it lacked the growth of vegetation (other than trees), it was called Desolation because of the destruction of people. As Mormon wrote of this: “No part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber, but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate (Helaman 3:5). This is also born out after the great destruction of the city of Ammonihah and the people within— “after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years. And it was called Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate” (Alma 16:11).
    It is a common mistake many make regarding the use of the term “Desolation” to name an area and its flora growth, instead of its intent of being physically destroyed. This is true in Biblical times as well, where the Hebrew term for desolate in the Old Testament was shamem, meaning “left lonely,” “forlorn,” “laid waste,” “destitute of inhabitants,” and “make land desolate and cities be laid waste, without inhabitant.” Similar words in the New Testament were eremos, eremoo, and monoo, all meaning the same thing: “waste,” “desolate,” “wilderness;” “to lay waste,” “to make waste,” “desolate.” In fact, the definition of the use of “desolate” in the Bible is: “Destitute or deprived of inhabitants; uninhabited; denoting either stripped of inhabitants, or never having been inhabited; as a desolate isle; a desolate wilderness.”
Today, there are two possible routes from the Land Southward into the Land Northward. Again, the coastal road was and is definitely a means to get between these two lands, and with the sea on the east before 3 Nephi and the sheer cliffs of the Mountains on the east after 3 Nephi, meets the descriptions in the scriptural record

Returning to a claimed Pass through the mountains in the middle of the narrow neck of land, we know from Mormon’s writing that at the northern boundary of the narrow passage was a city. As he states: “And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land” and “it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again (Mormon 3:5,7).
    Now, in looking this inland terrain, the ancient road the Inca called “The Royal Road,” today passes through Saraguro, Susudel, Giron, Cuenca, and Ingapirca.
1. Saraguro. This 8,258-feet elevation area was first settled by either the 16th-century Palta or the earlier Cañari (after 500 AD). There is little evidence of anything substantial in ruins, major settlement, etc., before Tomebamba (Tumipampa).
2. Susudel. Actually, the town of Oña (11 miles south of Susudel; but 5 miles as the crow flies) is much older than Susudel, both around 9,800-feet elevation. Actually, Oña was a nascent, or new town, just coming into existence in the later stages of the Cañari period, with its ruins of mud buildings.
    There is a nearby archaeological site named Cubilán at 7,874-feet along the Oña River, which is a tributary of the Jubones River. The ruins are currently undated, but believed to be a very rudimentary area occupied in late BC times. No buildings or ruins have been found, though some lithic (stone) tools have been obtained. Another archaeological site is Putushío, believed to have first been occupied in the last millennia BC, and vacated around the 17th century AD. However, the only actual installations and terraces of this area date from about 450 AD forward.
3. Girón. This settlement at 7,090-feet, was initially occupied by the Leoquina culture, of whom absolutely nothing is known. Since these people were overrun by the Inca, at which time the area became known as Pacaibamba, it would appear they were a later culture in the area.
4. Cuenca. Ruins of this area at 8,400 feet elevation do not date back before the Cañari city of Guapondeleg in 500 AD. It was eventually replaced by the Inca city of Tomebamba. There is very little to suggest any archaeological remains before 2000 BC, and from then to 500 AD, there is not much to suggest anything at all of any real development. The history of this area, and dated relics, are from 500 AD forward.
5. Ingapirca. Originally known as Hatun Cañar, and situated on the north side of the Cañar River at 10,433-feet, this is one of the largest archaeological sites and ruins in all of Ecuador. It is considered a Cañari site, meaning it dates from 500 AD forward.
    The point of all of this is to show that there was no major city, ruins, or record of any such site in this mountainous middle region in antiquity as the one Mormon describes being at the northern entrance to the narrow passage, which he called the city of Desolation: “And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward… the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us” (Mormon 3:5,7).
The coastal road or passage between the Gulf of Guayaquil and the sheer rise of mountains would have been the narrow passage of which Mormon wrote

Thus, it seems only prudent and consistent with the scriptural record to place this passage along the coastal path from Machala to Guayaquil, since matches Mormon’s descriptions more than an inland route over the mountains along the Inca road. By the time that road was built, whenever that was, it must have been after the time of the Nephites. It’s existence is only known in connection with the Inca and later the Spanish who used it to invade northern Ecuador and Peru. After all, a “narrow passage” could well have referred to the narrow land bridge along the eastern shore of the Gulf or Bay or Guayaquil, abutted by the water to the west and the mountain cliffs to the east through there.
   There seems no question that in the last century BC, there was only one passage into the Land Northward from the Land Southward, and this appears verified by Mormon’s statement regarding Moroni’s message to Teancum after his earlier defeat of Morianton at the Pass: “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9). If there were two ways into the Land Northward, then Alma’s mention of a singular narrow pass does not make much sense, since he was concerned about the Lamanites obtaining access to the Land Northward, where they could harass the Nephites from both the south and the north.


  1. I thought you would figure it out with all of your research. The archeology is a great clue.

    So what you are saying then is in addition to the plate rotating upward to the east there must have been a tremendous uplift along the eastern shore of the narrow neck. The mountain cliffs along the eastern side are a fault scarp in other words.

  2. Correct. That is why the narrow neck remained a narrow pass or passage along the east shore of the Gulf of Guayaquil, with a mountain uprising and cliff faces beyond the passage on the east instead of the previous sea, or am I missing your meaning?

  3. Good research Del, that is exactly what I meant. I see your archeology evidence as the key to the mystery of the narrow neck.