Friday, June 21, 2019

Urban Sprawl of Ancient Zarahemla – Part I

When the Nephites discovered the descendants of Mulek in their city of Zarahemla, the city must have been insignificant, since it is neither described in any way, nor was the leader, Zarahemla, referred to as a king. In any event, with the inclusion of the Nephites, with their vast nearly 400-year history of building dating back to Nephi (2 Nephi 5:10,13,17), it should be expected that the city of Zarahemla, destined to be the capital of the Nephite Nation for several hundred years, would grow considerably.
    While the style and size of Zarahemla are never mentioned in the scriptural record, that it was the main city and location of the Nephites is quite clear in the events that unfolded over the several hundred years of its existence, even being rebuilt after a fire destroyed the city around 34AD (3 Nephi 8:8,24; 9:3; 4 Nephi 1:8). 
    Obviously, there can be little doubt that Zarahemla grew in size and scope as the Nephite capital expanded to accommodate the ever growing Nephite population (4 Nephii 1:23). Thus, for any place to be considered the city of Zarahemla in modern theory, it would have to include in size and scope, an ever increasing city of expansion. One where urban sprawl was evident from its constant growth as the people’s numbers grew until “the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea” (Mormon 1:7).
    We also need to point out that Mulek, who escaped from Jerusalem in the final year of his father, king Zedekiah, before the city fell to the Babylonians, landed along the West seashore of the Land of Promise, for Amaleki tells us that “Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16, emphasis added).
The city of Zarahemla would have been near the coast where Mulek landed, with the Land of Zarahemla eventually running eastward from there to the Sidon River with the Valley and land of Gideon beyond

Thus, the city of Zarahemla would have to be reasonably close to the coast where Mulek landed, and that would not be the east coast, since the Land of Zarahemla stretched to the east of the city to the border of the land and the land of Gideon beyond eastward (Alma 2:20,26), with the Land of Gideon to the east of the Sidon River (Alma 2:15,27).
    It might also be understood, as the Amlicites and the Lamanites, which had sought to reach Zarahemla from the east after crossing the River Sidon, the Nephites chased them westward into the wilderness that stretched both toward Zarahemla to the west, and the open land to the north of the city (Alma 2:35-36) into the wilderness of Hermounts (Alma 2:37). Thus, we find a vast land to the east of the city of Zarahemla, encompassing an extensive wilderness, the River Sidon and the Valley and land of Gideon beyond.
    Since the Mulekites or people of Zarahemla came “across the great waters into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16), it cannot be suggested that either the Mulekites landed on the east shore, or that the city of Zarahemla was on or near the east shore.
    As a result, we need to look to a landing in the West Sea of the Land of Promise, and along the coastal area of the west seashore for the city of Zarahemla. Such an area is found in Andean Peru of South America in the location of present-day Lima, Peru. In this vast city and urban complex of Lima, Callao, Maranga, San Isidoro, Miraflores, San Borja and southward to the present location of Pachacamac, was anciently an immense series of interconnected pyramidal city developments stretching more than a thousand square miles by the time the Spanish arrived.
    Since then, of course, this area has grown in modern times, with bulldozers and modern buildings destroying and building over the original archaeological sites that at present count, number more than 250 pyramids and building complexes. Many of these original pyramidal cities still exist as the urban sprawl of the 19th and 20th centuries built all around them. One such pyramid is that of San Isidro.
The complete reconstructed Huaca Huallamarca in San Isidro along the southern outskirts of the city of Lima

The pyramid of Huallamarca, also known as Huaca Pan de Azúcar, meaning “sugar bread,” was situated in the greater Lima area in what is today an upscale financial center that is home to politicians and celebrities.
    Surrounded by desert, the early ancient Peruvians needed to channel water from surrounding rivers in order to cultivate their soil for agricultural purposes. This resulted in the construction and maintenance of an extensive irrigational system, redirecting canals, and method of terracing that also had to be expended as the city complex grew in size. Today the Huaca Huallamarca is surrounded by modern constructions where excavations are still ongoing at the adobe pyramid.
    Findings to this point show the site was added to in three major stages, from the latter part of the first century BC, and again around 200 AD, and finally, after 421 AD. In addition, the site was home to several “cultures” over the centuries, including the Inca who moved into the area after their conquest of the Ishma culture. The pyramid structure, in the midst of modern buildings, stands out distinctly and is a testament of the highly developed building techniques and achievements of an earlier age.
    It is assumed that originally these pyramids served as areas of worshipping for the early Peruvians where Viracocha or Pachacamac, the Creator of the World, was the land’s reigning deity.
Location of the various archaeological sites in the greater Lima area

Huaca Huallamarca. The history of the "Huaca Huallamarca" goes back to the early Christian era when the "Hualla" from the Lima Culture occupied the complex. Its original purpose was to serve as a place of worship for the tribes of the Lima Culture. During the time of this development the big and main pyramid was built. It was constructed completely with adobe bricks, shaped by hand and assembled to platforms (one over the other) to create enclosures, patios, passageways and private areas. Everything was painted in a yellowish color. Side ramps were built to reach the different levels. Access to the ceremonial center was probably only allowed to a religious elite.
    During the early stages, the first burials were quite simple. The bodies were placed in an extended position, wrapped in cotton cloths and tied to a reed stretcher. The offerings placed around the head consisted of ceramic pots and food for the afterlife. As time passed, new urban and cultural centers arose in the valley and the "Huallamarca" was abandoned as a temple. The population only used the ceremonial complex as a burial ground. In this second phase burials became more elaborate. Funerary bundles with "false heads" were made. The bodies were wrapped in woven cloth and buried with textiles, decorated ceramic pots, gourds, tools, musical instruments, food and other valuable objects.
    The city of "Huallamarca's" as a human settlement grew with terraces added on the east side of the pyramid and added dwellings, patios, storage and cooking areas. Typical for this time period are the large in-built deposits and huge terra-cotta vessels used for the storage of grain and liquids. Archaeologists found measuring and weighting devices as well as goods for barter trade (swapping).
The vast, sprawling complex of Maranga, which was built with "adobitos" (small adobe bricks). Other examples for this period are the "Huaca Middendorf" and the "Huaca San Marcos"

Maranga Complex. The archaeological site known today as the "Archaeological Complex of Maranga,” originally extended over today's districts of Cercado de Lima (Lima Center), Pueblo Libre and San Miguel. By the beginning of the 20th century big parts of the once huge settlement were destroyed mainly due to urban growth and construction. The original dimensions of the once great complex can only be guessed at today since a soccer stadium was built over it during the 20th century expansion of the University of San Marcos,, resulting in the demolishing and flattening the peak of the huge pyramid.
    Located in the "Parque de las Leyendas,: which today houses not only the zoo and botanical garden of Lima but as well a big part of Lima's most extensive ancient city and one of the most important pre-Hispanic complexes at the central Peruvian coast. The ancient city of Maranga contained impressive huge monuments, numerous pyramids, palaces, temples and administrative centers.
    Also an ancient wall, roads, residential areas, water reservoirs and irrigation channels were part of the complex. The original buildings date back to 500 BC, and were added to considerably over time. All were built by different cultures who occupied the area continuously from around 600 BC until the Inca period in 1532.
(See the next post, “Urban Sprawl of Ancient Zarahemla – Part II,” for more on the vast number of architectural sites in the greater Lima area that once made up a sizeable sprawling settlement covering a thousand square miles)

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