Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Land of Promise – Part V: Ships and The Migratory Path

Continued from the previous post regarding why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today.
• As theorist Jonathan Neville states of the Nephites in the Land of Promise and their migratory trip to Hagoth’s shipyard, “Two rivers they could follow north are the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries.”
Response: The problem with this is that both the Mississippi River and the Illinois River flow south, not north. Going by river upstream in 600 BC would have been extremely difficult, unless one paddled a canoe all the way, which would have limited personnel and supplies.
The route (Red Arrow) is considerably out of the way using the Mississippi River as Neville suggests

Of course, with their home along the Mississippi across from Nauvoo, one might wonder why they would sail 150 miles downstream (south) in order to pick up the Illinois River and head north—that would be about 300 miles out of their way, for what purpose? In addition, had they simply traveled overland to the east, the distance would have been only 85 miles and more than 100 miles of rowing against the current would have been saved.
Neville goes on: “Because the text does not say they left from the city of Zarahemla (on the west bank of the Mississippi), it seems more likely they would follow the Illinois River out of the land.”
Response: First of all, the city of Zarahemla was not located on the bank of the Mississippi River or even on the bank of the Sidon River in the scriptural record. As Mormon states quite clearly, the river was some distance to the east of the city within, but along, the borders of the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Gideon (Alma 2:15,20). It should also be noted that though the Lamanites had been racing toward the City of Zarahemla when this battle took place, on the west side of the Sidon was an open plain, over which the Nephites and Lamanites fought, and then the Lamanites fled, eventually angling toward the northwest and into the Wilderness of Hermounts (2:35-37).
The everglades in Florida. Note the major solid ground within this ‘Glades and the ease with which passage would have been available

• Neville continues: “This would have led them in proximity to the southern part of Lake Michigan and the Michigan peninsula. Anciently, much of northwestern Indiana was covered by the Kankakee marsh, through which the meandering Kankakee River flowed. That area has been called the “Everglades of the North.”
Response: Of these everglades, Randy Ray, executive director of The History Museum in South Bend, has stated: “It was a paradise of over 500,000 acres of marsh and flowing water; it was home to an unbelievable variety of plants and animals.” The sluggish Kankakee River created the marsh much like a leak in a wall dampens a basement carpet – gradually. 
    The river followed 250 miles of bends and oxbows covering a point-to-point distance of about 90 miles. With a downhill slope of five inches per mile, water constantly seeped into adjacent soil, producing a giant, sponge-like prairie.”
    The fact that it was a prairie should not be overlooked, for this prairie, like most prairies could be crossed on foot and was not that large, being 781 square miles (compared to the Florida everglades that cover 7,800 square miles).
Men crossing the swamp area in the Everglades with endless waters barely above the calf

The important thing to realize is that swamps such as the Kankakee (which had no alligators) could easily be crossed, for the area of water rarely higher than the calf of the leg, and would not have deterred the Lamanite army or Morianton and his defectors from gaining the Land Northward without having to go through a narrow pass.
   Clearly, this area does not qualify as a narrow pass or narrow passage.
• Neville: “Archaeologists have suggested a date of activity could logically be established as ranging from 100 B.C. to A.D. 200 in this area.”
Response: Archaeologists claim these mounds were built in the Middle Woodland Period, which would be twice the length, from 100 BC to 500 AD, than what Neville suggests—and the last half of this period was taken up with on ongoing war between the Nephites and Lamanites in which it is highly doubtful any building or development or non-war-time labor took place. After all, the war lasted Mormon’s entire lifetime, with a civil war among the Lamanites lasting for another 50 years or more beyond.
The 1300-foot long Serpent Mound in southwestern Ohio, and ranges from only one foot to three feet in height

In addition, while most of these mounds were for burial purposes, some were simply for decoration or some other unknown reason, such as the great serpent mound in Ohio in an area called Fort Ancient, east of Cincinnati and south of Columbus.  There was also a mound built near Granville referred to today as the Alligator Mound, 200 feet long and five to six feet high, and located on the top of a bluff overlooking the Racoon Creek valley in Ohio, just northeast of Columbus.
    This period was home to the Adena culture, which existed from 1000 BC to 200 BC, in a time known as the Early Woodland Period. The Adena Culture refers to what were probably a number of related Native American societies sharing a burial complex and ceremonial system in present day Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
    The Adena were notable for their agricultural practices, pottery, artistic works, and extensive trading network, which supplied them with a variety of raw materials, ranging from copper from the Great Lakes to shells from the Gulf Coast. It should be noted that while there was a large quantity of copper available in the Upper Peninsula area, specifically along the Keweenaw Peninsula (William L. Mangold, “The Middle Woodland Occupations of the Kankakee River Valley and Beyond,” doctorate thesis, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, September 2009, p207,209), there was no gold or silver mined in this overall area of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley or Heartland.
    In addition, this period included extensive mound-building, regional distinctive burial complexes, the trade of exotic goods across a large area of North America as part of interaction spheres, the reliance on both wild and domesticated plant foods, and a mobile subsistence strategy in which small groups took advantage of seasonally available resources such as nuts, fish, shellfish, and wild plants. Pottery, which had been manufactured during the Archaic period in limited amounts, was now widespread across the Eastern Interior, the Southeast, and the Northeast; the Far Northeast, the Sub-Arctic, and the Northwest/Plains regions widely adopted pottery somewhat later, about 200 BC.
• Speaking of Hagoth, Neville states: “One wonders why he built such a large ship and which Nephites became passengers. Given the sequence of events, it is possible that the “large company of men” sailed north on the Illinois River, reaching the source. They would continue overland to the “land which was northward” where they reached the west sea and sent word back to Hagoth.”
Neville’s map of the Land of Promise. There are several areas of this map that do not match scripture, from the location of the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful as well as the Land of Nephi. Not4 the location of the four seas in relation to the Land of Nephi and the narrow strip of Wilderness, both of which ran from the Sea West to the Sea East—and the creation of two West Seas

Response: First of all, the theorists’ West Sea was Lake Michigan, to which these adventurers would have been traveling eastward to reach from the source of the Illinois River, 170 miles away. Now, as we have pointed out before, in order for the Nephites to have named the Sea West, it would have had to have been to the west of the Nephite settlements—not east! In addition, the Sea West was where Nephi landed, far to the north of Neville’s Gulf of Mexico landing.
    In addition, there seems no reason to name the area around Lake Michigan as “the land which was northward, all being part of the same prairie as that of Nauvoo/Zarahemla and points south.”
• Neville: “Then Hagoth came north and built an “exceedingly large ship” to accommodate “many of the Nephites” who had gone northward.”
Response: We know nothing of Hagoth’s travels, or his whereabouts prior to his introduction near the narrow neck of land where he was building ships. For all we know, he could have come south from a Land Northward home. It serves little purpose to speculate on issues that have no clear conclusive evidence or support, however, it should be no surprise since the North American theory is full of innuendoes, speculation and unanswered scriptural references.
(See the next post, “The Land of Promise: An Understand of the Land – Part VI,” for more on why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today)

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