Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part XXII

Continuing with Brant A. Gardner’s rationale of the Mesoamericanists’ skewed Land of Promise, and continuing from the last post with the movement of the Lamanites and Amlicites in a west and north direction.
    The Nephites were in the east of the land of Zarahemla, near the hill Amnihu east of the River Sidon, battling the Amlicites (Alma 2:15). In a running battle that lasted all day, the Amlicites fled before Alma and the Nephites, who killed more than 12,000 Amlicites, losing about half that number themselves (Alma 2:19). The following day, Nephite scouts saw a vast Lamanite army joining the Amlicites (Alma 2:24), attacking fleeing Nephites who lived in the area, and were heading toward Zarahemla for safety (Alma 2:25).
    The Nephite army dropped everything and made haste to intercept the Lamanites before they reached Zarahemla (Alma 2:26). As the Nephites crossed the River Sidon, the Lamanite army attacked them (Alma 2:27). In the battle, Alma kills Amlici (Alma 2:31), and held off the Lamanites on the west bank of the River Sidon (Alma 2:34), and by the time all of the Lamanites had crossed the river, among a great slaughter, they began to flee, even though they were a larger force (Alma 2:35).
As the fleeing (Yellow Arrow) Lamanites in their flight west through the Lurin River Valley encountered (Black Circle) the pursuing (Red Arrow) Nephites in their flight west toward Zarahemla, the Lamanites turned north through what is today the Villa el Salvador, to avoid another pitched battle with the Nephite army. This brought them to the Wilderness of Hermounts and the wild animals there

At this point we come to Gardner’s cited scripture. “And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land” (Alma 2:36). Now the borders of the land is the eastern border of the Land of Zarahemla where the River Sidon ran. At this point, the Land of Nephi is to the south, the city of Zarahemla is to the west, and the wilderness of Hermounts is to the west and north of Zarahemla.
    Consequently, from the river, with the Nephites between them and their homeland, the Lamanites race westward—but as the Nephites move to cut them off from the city of Zarahemla, the Lamanites find their only escape is to the north from this western path, thus they head west and north to get away from Alma and the charging Nephite army.
    “And the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them. Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts” (Alma 2:36-37, emphasis added).
    Now the wilderness of Hermounts is to the north of the city of Zarahemla, but it was still west of the Lamanites where they crossed the river and were fleeing from the Nephites, thus their path, no doubt dictated by the topography of the land, was to the west and north. That is they were heading west toward Zarahemla, but when the Nephites caught up to them, they turned north in their escape.
    There is nothing mysterious about this direction of flight, though Gardner tries to turn it into a completely different directional system known only to the Nephites.
Gardner: “In this description, a fleeing army heads both west and north. Because we see ‘northward’ with some frequency in the Book of Mormon, it could have been used to indicate travel to the northwest.”
The topography of the land would have determined in what direction the fleeing Lamanites/Amlicites could have gone. In this case heading into Pachacamac the Lurin Valley is an open access from east to west alongthe course of the Lurin River. As this shows, it restricts movement accept in one direction exceprt rast and west. It is like the corridor moving up the west of Israel until you reach the north, then it turns northeast

Response: On an open plain, perhaps northwest would have been the direction they chose; however, when the topography of a battlefield does not allow a direct path, an army or people move in the direction the topography allows. In this case, to the west and to the north. As an example, if you want to travel from South Salt Lake to Coalville or Echo, Utah, which is almost exactly northeast, you have to go east and then north because of the mountains. In addition, you cannot go from Salt Lake City to Echo through Emigration Canyon, even though that would be the most direct route by direction, again because of the Mountains. Nor can you from Layton, Clearfield or Ogden directly to Park Valley or Montello (Nevada), which is basically Northwest, because of the Salt Lake. You have to go north, west, and then south, or you have to go south and west and then north.
    There is nothing mysterious about going around topography obstacles, like mountains, lakes, deep canyons, cliffs, etc. Nor does it mean that the four cardinal directions are wrong when you describe such round about directions.
Gardner: “Instead, the text opts for travel both north and west. This is conceptually difficult in the plus style (+) cardinal directions, but quite understandable if the x-style quadrants are meant. In that case, they would simply wander back and forth over the conceptual line dividing the west from the northern quarter.”
Response: Perhaps Gardner and other Mesoamericanists have never been in the military or in combat, but the point of a war is to attack the enemy and either kill them or to disable them or capture them if you have the means to guard them without lessening your own attack capability. In this particular event, the path or way after crossing the Sidon River was to move westward toward Zarahemla, which was their objective. However, as the Nephites, themselves, moved to intercept them and guard their city, the Lamanites were forced away, in this case, to the north of Zarahemla, but still moving westward, perhaps along a valley or some type of opening in the mountain range that either surrounded Hermounts or made up the bulk of the wilderness there where the wild beasts lived. The important point is that while Hermounts would have been northwest of the Lamanite line of march, the topography of the land did not allow them to take a direct course, but a round about one, or one that took them both west and then north.
Gardner: “Just as with the description given by the Tojolabal speaker, if one were to stand with their left hand to the sun’s setting during the summer solstice, one would be looking ‘north,’ and that ‘north’ corresponds quite nicely to the north that Sorenson suggested. No skewing of north 60 degrees to the west is required. However, it should be noted that it would be a misrepresentation of Nephite directions to use north to indicate only the direction based upon the summer solstice. For the Nephites, ‘north’ would indicate anything to that side of the sun’s path.
Gardner claims that depending on where a person stands, will determine where he sees west is located. On any given day., that might be true, but over the course of year, any person in any location can see that the sun moves from one Solstice to the other and back again, consequently, he will know which way is east and which way is west. When life and death hung in the balance and there were no super markets to by food like today, early man had to know these correct directions

Response: Once again, while Mesoamericanists need to create a directional system different than the normal four cardinal points, it does not mean that people can travel in any direction they choose. As was pointed out earlier if you are going to go from Sandy, Utah, to Twin Falls, Idaho, which is almost due northwest, you are going to have to go either north, then west, or west, then north. Because of the mountains and the Lake, you have no other choice unless you have wings. It is due to topography, nothing else. Let’s not make such a case out of simple wordage in the scriptural record in trying to justify something that is so far off the norm to start with. Mesoamericanists, if they cannot justify their model with the simple meanings of the scriptures, ought to learn to give up on their idea and look elsewhere!
(See the next post, “The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part XXIII,” and the continuation of Gardner’s rationale of the Mesoamericanists’ skewed Land of Promise, and the various meanings of words that Joseph Smith used in the translation and their accuracy, and the role of maps in understanding ancient culture’s directional system)

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