Wednesday, July 15, 2020

How Do We Know Where Lehi Landed? - Part I

If South America is suggested as the Land of Promise, most people scoff at the idea, claiming the continent is too large an area for the distances suggested in the Book of Mormon. If you tell them South America was once mostly under water, they scoff at such an outrageous idea. If you claim the Andes Mountains rose at the time of the crucifixion, the scoff at the idea, claiming mountains take millions of years to rise. Aif you show them all of these convincing statements with support and factual proof, they claim God changed all of that so Lehi could sail to the Land of Promise.
    The response of theorists is to make claims of their own that do not match scripture, and are often quite the opposite of Mormon’s descriptions. Or they are not realistic in light of greater knowledge that is being learned, such as the direction of flow of the Mississippi and St. Lawrence rivers that would have kept Lehi’s ship, which was “driven forth before the wind,” from sailing upriver in either case.
    However, seemingly unknown to these theorists is the fact that while God could certainly intervene in any number of ways, like picking up Lehi’s ship and transporting it to the Land of Promise; or change the flow of ocean and wind currents; or alter the natural forces of oceans and rivers.
    In addition, theorists seem to place little value on Nephi’s description of what they found on the land where they set in on the Land of Promise. In fact, Nephi gave us several clues about his landing site, in such descriptions as:
The seeds Lehi brought from Jerusalem grew exceedingly and produced and abundant crop

1. Place to land the ship and come ashore (1 Nephi 18:23), which would suggest a bay, inlet, or river delta;
2. Place where the ground could be prepared for planting (1 Nephi 18:24); that is, ground fertile enough that it could be turned with hand tools;
3. climate where seeds from Jerusalem would grow exceeding and produce an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24); this means a conducive climate matching that of Jerusalem, which is a Mediterranean climate;
4. Animals of every kind, including domesticated (feral) and wild beasts (1 Nephi 18:25);
5. There were forests (1 Nephi 18:25); these would have had to have been large enough to have both domesticated and wild animals living in proximity.
6. There was all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper (1 Nephi 18:25).
    In looking at these six all-important points Nephi gave us, let’s compare them to the location of different theories
1. Landing. In order to land a deep-water sailing ship, they would need calm water, protected winds, gradual sloping sea bed, and sandy beaches or level ground inland. 
• Heartland theory: Landing claimed to be up the Mississippi River near Nauvoo, Illinois. No sailing ship could have reached this point because the river was too shallow for anything larger than a canoe (it took the Corps of Engineers to dredge the river in the 1800s to allow keelboats to sail downriver, then later for movement of larger ships, but still only shallow, flat-bottomed paddle wheels until the early 1900s). 
• Great Lakes theory: Landing claimed to be up the St. Lawrence river to the Niagara River and into Lake Ontario, then up to Lake Erie. This would have been impossible since there were severe rapids at Montreal 162 miles short of Lake Ontario. Even canoes were portaged seven miles around the rapids. However, once near Lake Ontario, the river bed was hundreds of feet below the lake, and no ship could have been lifted up to the lake until seven locks were built in 1959. 
• Mesoamerica theory: Claimed landing site is around 14º North Latitude, which places it along a gradual coastal sweep of the ocean with no protection from waves, currents or winds. 
• Baja California theory: Claimed landing site is along the west ocean shore around 23º north latitude. This is a coast open to the ocean with no bays, rivers or deltas to block off the waves, currents or winds.
Location of theorists’ landing sites in North America,, and the ocean currents

• Florida theory: There are three different landing sites claimed: 1) Crystal River; 2) Tallahassee; 3) Pensacola. Crystal River is the only one on a west sea coast, the other two are on a south sea coast. All three sites have bays or inlets. However to get to these places along the western Florida coast, Lehi’sl ship would have had to sail against a southward flowing current. 
• Andean South America: Coquimbo Bay located about 30º South Latitude on the Chilean coast is both a large sweeping bay that is named “Peaceful Waters,” and is along the West seacoast, ocean currents and winds leading directly to the location. 
2. Soils and Soil Groups. 
Hydrologic Soil Groups. Soils are classified by the Natural Resource Conservation Service into four Hydrologic Soil Groups based on the soil's runoff potential. The four Hydrologic Soil Groups are A, B, C and D, described as: Group A is sand, loamy sand or sandy loam types of soils. Group B is silt loam or loam. Group C soils are sandy clay loam.  Group D soils are clay loam, silty clay loam, sandy clay, silty clay or clay. In addition, Group A has the smallest runoff potential and D the greatest. 
Soil Types. There are three basic types of soil: sand, silt and clay. But, most soils are composed of a combination of the different types and are broken down into: (1) Alluvial soils, (2) Black soils, (3) Red soils, (4) Laterite and Lateritic soils, (5) Forest and Mountain soils, (6) Arid and Desert soils, (7) Saline and Alkaline soils and (8) Peaty and Marshy soils.
    Overall, however, these basic soil mixtures determines the texture of the soil, or how the soil looks and feels. Thus, soil can be categorized into six types: clay, 2) sandy, 3) silty, 4) peaty, 5) chalky and 6) loamy, based on the dominating size of the particles within a soil.
• Clay soils are heavy, high in nutrients, wet and cold in winter and baked dry in summer.
• Sandy soils are light, dry, warm, low in nutrients and often acidic.
• Silt soils are fertile, light but moisture-retentive, and easily compacted.
• Peaty soils consist primarily of peat (histosols), and forms in wetland conditions, where flooding or stagnant water obstructs the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere. 
• Chalky soils are made up of calcium carbonate and very alkaline. 
• Loams are mixtures of clay, sand and silt that avoid the extremes of each type
    Now in 600 BC, long before modern technology of growing plants and crops, before pesticides and plant management techniques, in order for seeds from one location to grow in another, it was critically important to have the same climate (temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds), but also the soil and soil group. In pedology (the study of soils in their natural environment), there are six soil groups and eight soil types. The Mediterranean climate soils are Terra Rossa.
Seeds of every kind brought from Jerusalem 

Thus, “all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind,” required the planting in a like climate as well as the same soil type and soil group as that of Jerusalem in the Mediterranean, which is a C(sic) soil group and a Terra Rossa soil type. 
• Heartland theory: D(jwj) soil group; Drummer Silty Clay loam, soil type; 
• Great Lakes theory: C soil group; Honeoye soil type; 
• Mesoamerica theory: Red-Yellow soil group and Brown soil group; Silt and Loess soil Type; 
• Baja California theory: A soil group. Baja Peninsula has basically Laptosols, Regolsols, and Calcisols soil groups. 
Laptosols soil is a very shallow soil that is weakly formed, containing Arenosols (sand soils, found in shifting sand dunes), 
Regosols are common in arid, semiarid (including dry tropics) and mountainous regions. Regosols have a poor agricultural potential which is the reason for crop yield being highly variable. 
Calcisols ("limestone") are known as Xerosols and Yermosols (Desert Soils) in other classifications. These soils are characteristic of arid and semiarid zones where moisture deficiency prevents leaching of soluble and chemicals. 
• Florida theory: Sand soil type-Myakka soil type only found in Florida throughout the state. 
• Andean South America: The Chilean strip, where Lehi landed and like Jerusalem, has a brown soil group. This type soil group is found elsewhere only in the Mediterranean area, the southern tips of South Africa and Australia, and in central California, the latter having soil in the Laterites group, the same as north, eastern and central South America, the Caribbean Islands, central and southern Africa, Madagascar, the west coast of India, Indochina, and Indonesia.
Only Andean South America matches a Mediterranean Climate and the other requirement for seeds from Jerusalem to grow exceedingly elsewhere 

    La Serena, Chile, like the red Mediterranean soil, known as terra rossa (red soil) is a soil classification (Luvisols under the FAO soil classification), and still referred to as terra rossa. This soil type (luvisols, ustalfs, rhodustalfs) is found in regions where the Mediterranean climate is predominant.
    Obviously, as can be seen, Mesoamerica, Baja California, Eastern United States, and Malay do not have Mediterranean Climates for Lehi's seeds to have grown, let alone exceedingly—which should discount any of those areas, and most of the world to be Lehi's Land of Promise. On the other hand, the only Mediterranean Climate that qualifies in the Western Hemisphere is that in coastal Chile. Thus, to find where Lehi landed we only need to follow what Nephi said about their landing site and the Jerusalem seeds they planted and which grew exceedingly and produced an abundant crop.
(See the next post , "How Do We Know Where Lehi Landed?" for the continuation oot this discussion and the continued list of the points involved)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tall Mountains and Deep Canyon Ravines

In order to understand the purpose of Mormon’s insert in Alma 22:27-34, we need to better understand what was said by him and the purpose behind him saying it.
    First of all is Mormon’s account in Alma of  the conversion of the Lamanite king by Aaron, one of the missionary sons of Alma. Once the king in the Land of Nephi was converted, he offered Aaron and those with him to preach to the people. Following this mass conversion of the Lamanites in the city of the king, Aaron requested that the king set loose his brothren who were imprisoned in the city of Middian.
Separation of Lamanites and Nephites

In doing this, the Lamanite king, father of Lamoni, the king of Ishmael, who Ammon converted, “sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27).
    In describing the land of the Lamanite king, Mormon in his abridgement decides to explain the makeup of the entire Land of Promise and show where the Lamanites were and where the Nephites were located.
    First of all, he tells us of the division between the two peoples, by saying, the king’s Land of Nephi “was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west. That is, the dividing line between the Lamanites and Nephites was a narrow strip of wilderness that ran across the land from sea to sea.
The roundabout wilderness ends of the narrow strip of wilderness

Secondly, Mormon tells us that this narrow strip rounded up along both the east coast and the west coast for an unknown distance. To know this, we only have to look at Mormon’s exact wordage: “narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 222:27).
    The “borders” on “the seashore” can only be defined as a line running along the seashore (the borders of the shore between the land and the sea). “Round about” is a curvature or circuitous angle, along that seashore. That is, a straight line went from sea to sea, then curved up along the seashore to run parallel with the sea or coast.
    This area, which Mormon called “wilderness,” a tract of land (a region or quantity of land of indefinite extent) or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings. This tells us that the area along the east seashore where the roundabout curved up along the shore was a wilderness, that is, an unoccupied area devoid of any permanent occupation.
    Third, in these two wildernesses that ran “round-about” along both coasts, temporarily dwelt idle Lamanites, assumedly in tents of some type. They were likely nomadic, moving from one hunting range to another, much like their ancestors had wandered the wilderness of the Levant and the desert of Arabia in the distant past looking for grazing land and water.
The narrow strip of wilderness shown with round-abouts on each coast. Note the gold arrow showing the curve of the wilderness, or “round about on the borders of the seashore” (Alma22:27)

These are the same idle Lamanites that Moroni drove out of the East Wilderness and back into their own land, the Land of Nephi, which was south of the Land of Zarahemla” (Alma 50:7,9).
    It should be understood that this narrow strip of wilderness, which runs in a straight course from sea to sea, curves up at the coasts in a round-about fashion, that is, in an oblique, circuitous or indirect manner.
A narrow strip of wilderness shown here as (top) mountainous forest; (bottom) hilly desert

But what exactly was a “narrow strip of wilderness”? While some theorists claim “wilderness” is a mountain range, others claim it is a desert, and still others claim it to be just an unoccupied area. Today, the word is defined as “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region,” and in the Bible, it is defined as “a desolate or uncultivated place.” A more detailed definition is “an area of land that has not been used to grow crops or had towns and roads built on it, especially because it is difficult to live in as a result of its extremely cold or hot weather or bad earth.”
    Often theorists claim the narrow strip is something that fits their model, like Joseph Allen, who states: “The only place in the New World where a narrow mountain range runs in an east-west direction and touches two oceans—both Book of Mormon requirements—is the Cuchumatanes Mountains in Mesoamerica” (Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, S.A. Publishers, 1989).
    Since there is a mountain range along the Guatemala and Honduras border that runs northeast to west, Allen uses this range as his strip of wilderness. The height of this range of mountains runs between 1,600 to 12,500 feet in elevation, with the highest peak, La Torre, at 12,589 feet.
The Cuchumatanes Mountains, or Allen’s "narrow strip of wilderness"

Allen places his Land of Nephi to the east of this strip, meaning his Land of Nephi, in Honduras and El Salvadore. Of this, Allen adds: “Without question, the most reliable and significant geological statement regarding Book of Mormon geography is a narrow mountain range that runs from the east to the west and touches two oceans.    
    This, of course, is Allen’s belief that the seas and mountain ranges of the Book of Mormon are the same today as they were in the past. Which is a big assumption when taking into consideration the change in topography of the Land of Promise as a result of the damage, such as mountains tumbling and valleys becoming mountains, “whose height is great.” It is also assumptive nothing changes along the coast near that thr narrow strip of wilderness, when we find that the city of Moroni, situasted alongh coast of the Sea East just north of that strip of wilderness, And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea.
    In determining the type of topography in the narrow strip of wilderness, it should be recognized that it was a division between the Nephites and the Lamanites (Alma 11:27). It might be asked, what kind of land would divided two areas, especially in the time of Mormon since countries and lands were not divided by political maps as is done today, but by topography, such as “the borders of the wilderness,” or “the borders of the seashore” (Alma 22:27).
The narrow strip of wilderness itself being such a division, as it divided a much larger area from sea to sea. 

    Obviously, the “narrow strip of wilderness,” was extremely important to the Nephites because it kept the Lamanites from overrunning and inhabiting Nephite territory.  In addition, it would seem likely that it was the topography that made it nearly impossible for the Lamanites to bring an entire army across. over these mountains to attack the Nephites. Therefore, if the Lamanites wanted to come up to war against the Nephites, they had to go around or find passes through these mountains.
    Thus, if it was a desert, armies could be equipped to cross it, perhaps by moving at night and taking cover from the sun in the daylight hours. If it was a river, it could be forded somewhere or boats could be constructed. If it were hills, they could be climbed. However, if it were mountains and canyons, they would not have the means to cross.
    Another error made by theorists is the one Allen mentions when he writes “All throughout the Book of Mormon, the Nephites used this mountain range, or “narrow strip of wilderness” to their advantage.  Because this mountain range ran from sea to sea, there was no need to fortify the entire border.  Rather, only the coast lines on both sides needed fortification.”
Typical mountain pass through tall mountains

However, almost all mountain ranges have passes through which a crossing could be made from one side of the mountain to another. Thus, Moroni had forts built along this narrow strip, evidently at such areas where passes existed. As Mormon states it: “He also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies” (Alma 50:10).
    He also wrote on this subject: “And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon—the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure” (Alma 50:11, emphasis added).
The Nephites and Lamanites were divided by the narrow strip of wilderness

Thus, we find that the narrow strip of wilderness was an important area for the Nephites in their defense of their lands and to keep the Lamanites to the south. Moroni understood this and built forts to protect their southern border with the Lamanites—this narrow strip of wilderness.
    Whether high mountains or deep canyon gorges or ravines, the wilderness would have been a narrow mountain range, with impassable canyons or some other topography. It was definitely an area that had limited passage, perhaps only a couple of mountain passes or natural bridges across great chasms. The point is, that what type of barrier is unknown, but likely it would have been impassable for the most part, providing some security for the Nephites.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Ancient Region of North Central Peru

Chavín de Huántar contains ruins and artifacts constructed as early as 1200 BC and occupied by later cultures until around 400–500 BC by the Chavín a major pre-Inca culture and one of the oldest known civilizations in South America—often called the “mother culture” of the Andes
The site is located in the Ancash Region, 160 miles north of Lima, at an elevation of 10,430 feet, east of the Cordillera Blanca at the start of the Conchucos Valley. Activity in the Ceremonial Center is dated to have occurred primarily toward the end of the second millennium, and through the middle of the first millennium BC.
    There is a grassy Square Plaza, and seven massive mounds that have been found at Chavín, including old and newer temple arrangements built over a span of 500 to 1,000 years. Impressive, crumbling walls and a staircase lead up to what was originally a four-story-high structure. What is seen overall today, is a complex built over the original Chavín site using the same materials as the original work.
    In fact, upon originally seeing the site of Chavín de Huántar for the first time, it was anything but impressive, with little in site to suggest to archaeologists that there was any reason to dig there. However, beneath the rubble, dirt and grass lay an unknown treasure of great archaeological significance. Little by little they found artifacts in their excavations, then a large circular plaza. 
Entrance to Chavín de Huántar

    The Chavín were expert stonemasons. Its appearance is striking, with the complex of terraces and squares, surrounded by structures of dressed stone, and the mainly zoomorphic ornamentation. While the fairly large population was based on an agricultural economy, the city's location at the headwaters of the Marañón River, at an unparalleled crossroads between the mountains, the jungle, and the sea, brought an influence of all these environments. Obviously, their location had a strong effect on their culture and iconography, as well as their economy, and made it an ideal location for the dissemination and collection of both ideas and material goods.
    The site consists of a number of terraces and squares having constructions of bonded stones. Beneath the Temple at Chavín de Huántar are numerous subterranean corridors and galleries that were so expertly constructed as to allow lights to shine inward in a fascinating manner
    The prevailing ceremonial and cultural nature of the entire Chavín complex is very clear. It characterizes the architecture of the 'Lanzon temple', the 'Tello pyramid' which are both built upon a complex network of galleries, and the sculpted decor of the immense ornate megaliths.
    In addition, Findings at Chavín de Huántar indicate that social instability and upheaval  began to occur between 500 and 200 BC, at the same time that the larger Chavín civilization began to decline.
    This archeological site evidently served as a gathering place for people of the region to come together and worship, and the transformation of the center into a valley-dominating monument had a complex effect—becoming a pan-regional place of importance. It appears that people went to Chavín de Huántar as a center to attend and participate in rituals, consult an oracle, or enter a cult (Richard L. Byrger, " Chavín de Huántar and its Sphere of Influence," Handbook of South American Archeology, Springer, New York:, 2008, pp681–687; Silvia Rodriquez Kembel and John W. Rick, "Building Authority at Chavín de Huántar: Models of Social Organization and Development in the Initial Period and Early Horizon,” Andean Archaeology, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, 2004).
 Two of the extensive underground passages found beneath the temples

Beneath the temples first uncovered was a labyrinth of dim, narrow and exotically named passageways—some called the Gallery of the Madman, Gallery of the Bats, and Gallery of the Offerings
    Burial platforms and ceremonial plazas were uncovered, which has expanded the excavation of an intriguing maze of underground galleries reached through a stairwell leading down to them. Obviously, Chavín de Huántar’s role as a cultural and religious center of influence that predates the Incas by more than two thousand years, was an area of great importance. Some archaeologists compare Chavín to Sumer in Mesopotamia because of its profound influence on later civilizations, and Chavín are considered instrumental in the development of complex societies in South America.
    In addition to monumental building, the Chavín were knowledgeable agriculturists, establishing numerous irrigation canals, bringing water from riverbeds into the adjacent lands, which led to the expansion of the populace into numerous communities throughout the area. They were heavily involved in Metallurgy, and developed many monumental public buildings.
The ancient city near Huaraz, Peru

Thirty-three miles westward across the Cordillera Blanca from Chavín de Huántar lies Huaraz (Quechua: Waraq or Waras, "dawn"), an ancient city in Peru's northern Callejón de Huaylas valley. It is now the capital of the Ancash Region, and sits at 10,013 feet above sea level,
    The Chavín ruins date to the Wari Empire, and the mummies housed in the main three story building show artifacts of their Wari ancestors. The buildings contain a complicated system of ventilation ducts in a intricate system which kept moisture out, and the buildings roofed with massive schist stone slabs that amaze the viewer as to how the early inhabitants could so accurately construct the buildings and place the massive slabs.
    The visual legacy of Chavín would persist long after the site’s decline in approximately 200 BC, yet motifs and stylistic elements cans be seen in surrounding areas and even as far away as the coast. The location of Chavín seems to have helped make it a special place—it is regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites of the Wari culture, and the temple built there became an important pilgrimage site that drew people and their offerings from far and wide.
The Cordillera Blanca mountain range in the highlands of northern Peru

Also in the shadows of the snow-capped peaks, the Cordillera Blanca range sits at over 19,500 feet forming its dramatic eastern skyline. Encompassing much of the today’s Cordillera Blanca Huarascán National Park, the area is home to Andean condors and jaguars as well as Peru's tallest mountain, Huarascán.
    The Cordillera Blanca is the most extensive tropical ice-covered mountain range in the world and has the largest concentration of ice in Peru. It is part of the Cordillera Occidental (the westernmost part of the Peruvian Andes), and trends in a northwesterly direction for 125 miles and has five of the most spectacular peaks above 19,685 feet in the Peruvian Andes; the highest peak, Huascarán, rises to an elevation of 22,204 feet. above sea level. The Cordillera Blanca also acts as a continental divide with the Santa River on the west draining into the Pacific Ocean, and the Marañón River on the east draining into the Atlantic Ocean.
    Here the ancient Wari built numerous settlements and some large cities, their ruins now dotting the numerous highland valleys of north central Peru.

The ancient site of Wilcahuaín

About 4½ miles north of Huaraz is the small, well-preserved ancient site of Wilcahuaín (Willcahuaín or Huilcahuaín), which means “Grandson’s House, is an archaeological site near Lake Ahuac, at 11,200 feet elevation. It is a multi-chambered stone mausoleum, with each level having seven rooms interconnected by narrow passageways.
    The largest mausoleum in the region is very solid with meter-thick walls and megalithic lintels, door jambs and roof slabs. The Ichik Willkawain complex is a one-kilometer walk away and consists of many smaller chullpas and two residential structures.

Largest Mausoleum in north central highlands of Peru

Its largest building, sitting on the flank of a hillside above Huaraz city, has thick ramparts, with each level entered from a different side of the building. A rounded roof tops the structure, and all stone construction is supported by interior walls making up the many chambers on each level. There are substantial internal passageways providing ventilation throughout the building.
    The three levels are thought to have represented three primary realms common to Wari and other cultures of western South America: 1) the underworld, where the dead nurtured their descendants, 2) the world seen by humanity, and 3) the world of the heavens, where deities dwell. These physical locations may have some bearing on where within the structure, specific persons mummified remains were placed.
    Outside the main chamber is a small satellite stone building that is thought to have been a place for a watchman or caretaker. A few hundred yards away is a second site, Ichik Willkawain, with several smaller mausoleums. There are great views from the area of the eastern mountain tops.
The site of Quinuacocha 1¼  miles southwest of Wilcahuaín

Another nearby site is Quinuacocha, on the northern outskirts of Huaraz and a little south of the confluence of the Wilcahuaín River and the Rio Santo. It is seventy miles west of Lake Quinuacocha , which is located in the area of Pusaccocha, meaning “five lakes,” at 13,836  feet, and Cerro Quinuacocha, a mountain at 14,412 feet.
    This entire area sin the highlands and high valleys of north central Peru are full of ruins of the ancient Peruvians, again aligning with the scriptural record, “they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8).

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What is Meant by Four Quarters?

Book of Mormon writers commonly spoke of the earth as being divided into four quarters, four corners or four parts. In addition, they described each area of their lands by reference to the cardinal directions, such as "the land northward and the land Southward,” the “east, west and south wildernesses,” and the “east, west, north and south seas.”
Jaredites leaving Mesopotamia toward the land promised to them

When the Lord told the Brother of Jared that he would meet them in a valley to the north of their Mesopotamia, and upon arrival “the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where man had never before been” (Ether 2:5).
    Now, since the division always used is the earth was divided into four quarters, we can assume that one of those quarters was where the Jaredites had been along with all the people who worked on their tower of Babel and whose families were scattered—we need to ask ourselves to what “quarter” did the Lord lead them?
    The Lord “did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel. Obviously, the Lord’s “leading them” involved traveling across the wilderness, building barges and crossing many waters, to reach the shore, then cross the great deep (ocean) to reach in the Land of Promise.
    Thus, we can conclude that the Lord led the Jaredites to the quarter of the earth “where man had never been.” This means that the Land of Promise had not been occupied neither before nor when the Jaredites arrived.
    This is verified when Ether wrote: “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2), and also “this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    That is, this land, the Land of Promise, from the time of the Flood onward, was reserved for those the Lord would bring to this land, and the first the Lord brought to the Land of Promise in that quarter of the earth were the Jaredites.
    Nor was it occupied during Lehi’s time, since he was told by the Lord, “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8).
Lehi speaking to his family

This is verified by Lehi’s statement: “I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1:9, emphasis added).
    There are five instances in one verse where the future tense “shall” is used, to show that the situations being described had not year happened in Lehi’s time. Again verifying the fact that there had been no other people on the Land of Promise when Lehi arrived.
    Another factor is that the Land of Promise, after being settled, was divided into four quarters. As Mosiah wrote: “There began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land” (Mosiah 27:6).
    So the Earth itself was divided into four quarters, and the Land of Promise was also divided into four quarters. It would appear, then, that depending on the land area being discussed, it can be divided into quarters.
    It should be noted that the phrase “quarter of the Land,” is used far more often that “quarter of the earth,”
• In Alma, the term is used several times, such as “And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties…” (Alma 46:26).
Moroni writing an epistle while in the field between battles

• “And Moroni also sent unto him, desiring him that he would be faithful in maintaining that quarter of the land, and that he would seek every opportunity to scourge the Lamanites in that quarter, as much as was in his power…” (Alma 52:10).
• “And now it came to pass in the commencement of the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges, on the second day in the first month, Moroni received an epistle from Helaman, stating the affairs of the people in that quarter of the land” (Alma 56:1).
    The term, “in that quarter of the land,” should not be construed to mean a geographical area divided into four parts, but according to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as the term was known to Joseph Smith during his translation. In that dictionary, quarter is also described as “a particular region in a town, city or country; as all quarters of the city; in every quarter of the country or of the continent.”
    It is also defined as “to divide, to separate into parts. To divide into distinct regions or compartments.”    The term “this part of the land,” is also used as well as “four quarters of the land,” though not as often. In fact, in the scripture stated above, Helaman goes on to say, “My dearly beloved brother, Moroni, as well in the Lord as in the tribulations of our warfare; behold, my beloved brother, I have somewhat to tell you concerning our warfare in this part of the land” (Alma 56:2).
    In describing the difference between quarters of the Earth and of the Land of Promise, we find that “In that part of the land” is a much clearer understanding of “that quarter of the land” and should be recognized that Mormon wrote “quarter of the land” while Alma actually wrote “part of the land.” Later Alma wrote: “Yea, and it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites did flee out of all this quarter of the land. But behold, they have carried with them many women and children out of the land” (Alma 58:30).
The four quadrants of the Earth using the hemispheres: West and East and North and South

This term is used to describe an area where numerous cities and lands were located (Alma 58:32). Alma goes on to write: “Behold, we do not know but what ye are unsuccessful, and ye have drawn away the forces into that quarter of the land…” (Alma 58:35).
    When the term quarter is used in Helaman: “And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land” [Mosiah 27:6], it is definitely used to mean all areas of the land, that is, all regions of the land.
    In all these earlier instances, the term “quarter” would best be described as a particular region—the region the Lamanites were basically attacking, or where defenses needed to be developed. In the case of Helaman, the term is used to describe areas or regions of the land within a larger scope that could have been described as quarters of the overall Land of Promise (north and south, east and west).
    There is also a tendency to insert other language when one believes he understands the use of quarter, such as the word quadrant—however, quadrant and quarter do not necessarily mean the same thing. The word quadrant means “the fourth part,” and typically the fourth part of a circle, either in the heavens or of the globe. Thus, we need to be careful placing cities within a quarter of the land when the scriptural record does not suggest quarters of the land as in one-fourth of the total land area.
    The term quarters, other than in Alma, are used sparingly. Nephi uses them in an overall planetary concept: “from the four quarters of the earth” [1 Nephi 19:16] which was definitely the use of one-fourth of the area of the sea, which was a phrase Nephi quoted from the unknown prophet Zenos who wrote on the Brass Plates. And again “And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth…” (1 Nephi 22:25). In both these cases, the term was used to mea overall when God will remember and rescue his children from both the four quarters of the land, and the four quarters of the sea, which can easily be divided into hemispherical quadrants as shown in the image above.
The Lord gathering in his people form the four quarters of the earth 

This same use in 3 Nephi is described: “And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth” (3 Nephi 5:24,26), and again “And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 16:5), as well as in Ether “And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham” (Ether 13:11).
    It should be noted that “quarters of the earth,” is an inconclusive term referring to the earth as a whole; the term “quarter of the land,” and “part of the land,” are descriptive of parts of an area, either a country, land, or city.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The East Coast Cities from Mulek to Moroni

In the Land of Promise, several cities are listed along the eastern seashore, from Moroni in the far south to Mulek in the far north of the Land Southward. The city was in the Land of Mulek, which was eastward, a short distance from the East Sea, since Mulek is described as being “down near or by the seashore” (Alma 52:22,23). As Alma put it, “And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Moroni, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:26).
The cities along the east coast would have been extensively damaged or destroyed completely by the receding of the Sea East and the rising of the Andes

• Mulek: According to Mormon, Mulek was north of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 53:12) and close enough to the Land Northward that when the Lamanites “abandoned their design in marching into the Land Northward, and retreated with all their army into the city of Mulek,” they “sought protection in their fortifications” (Alma 52:22, 23).
    It was also near Bountiful, since when near “Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs and returned again to the city Bountiful, to wait for the coming of Moroni, that he might receive strength to his army” (Alma 52:17).
    Lying between Bountiful and Mulek was a “plains,” that is, a large area of flat land with few trees. Since these plains were between the two cities (Alma 52:20), and on the west of Mulek, then Bountiful was to the west of Mulek and the plains (Alma 52:20). In addition, these plains were also described as a wilderness to the west of Mulek (Almla 52:22), thus the plains were devoid of people and settlement. There was also a land to the north of Mulek, along the seashore (Alma 52:23), evidently not occupied since the two armies moved in that direction.
    All of this shows that the city of Mulek was very close to the East Sea, to the east of Bountiful, with the seashore running to the north and to the south from Mulek. It also seems to be isolated from nearby settlement, being the last northern city along an eastern corridor. Directly south of Mulek was the city of Gid, and south of that the city of Omner.
• Gid: The city of Gid was along the seashore of the East Sea (Alma 51:26). It was conquered by the Lamanites (Alma 51:26). The city was part of cluster of cities along the northern seacoast of the Sea East.
• Omner: The city of Omner was along the seashore of the East Sea (Alma 51:26). It was conquered by the Lamanites (Alma 51:26).
• Antiparah: The city of Antiparah was near the borders of the seashore (Alma 56:31).
• Cumeni: The city of Cumeni was near the city of Antiparah, Zeezrom and Manti (Alma 57:7), probably further inland and likely in the hills or mountains at a higher elevation but nearer the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 57:16).
• Morianton: The city of Morianton was near the head of the Sidon River (Alma 56:25), and bordered on the land of Lehi (Alma 50:25) and near the city of Moroni (Alma 59:5). It was in a cluster of cities on the seacoast of the East Sea, along with Lehi, Nephihah, Aaron and Moroni. It was conquered by the Lamanites (Alma 51:26).
• Lehi: The city of Lehi was along the East Sea, on the seashore north of Moroni and Aaron, as well as north of Nephihah (Alma 50:15). It was near the land of Morianton (Alma 50:25, 36; 51:1).
• Nephihah: The city Nephihah, was on the east borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26), but inland from the sea (Alma 51:25). It was conquered by the Lamanites (Alma 51:26).
• Ammonihah: The city of Ammonihah was evidently near the city of Aaron (Alma 8:13-14). 
• Aaron: The city of Aaron was along the Sea East next to the city of Moroni, bordering the city of Nephihah (Alma 50:14). It was near the city of Ammonihah (Alma 8:13).
• Moroni: The city of Moroni was built along the beast seashore, in the east wilderness, north along the border of the Lamanite line of possessions in the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:13). Moroni was to the south of the Land of Nephihah (Alma 50:14). The Lamanites, under Amalickiah was conquered they city and moved in to posses it (Alma 51:24)
    These cities, along with others throughout the land, would all have been affected by earthquakes and 3-hour tremors that shook the Land of Promise (3 Nephi 8:6,12); However, the receding of the Sea East, as well as the rising of the Andes mountains along this eastern portion of Andean Peru during the time of the crucifixion would have been extensively destructive. Cities sinking into the depths of the sea would have required the collapse of shores, which would have taken place as the East Sea receded. The collapsing of mountains (2 Nephi 12:4) would have resulted in burying cities in the earth and mountains rising where valleys had once been (Helaman 14:23), would also bury cities while raising others to great heights.
    Both Nephi and the Lord have verified all this as they reported:
• The city of Moroni sunk into the depths of the sea (3 Nephi 8:9; 9:4); Gilgal sunk into the depths of the sea (3 Nephi 9:6)
• A great mountain covered the city Morianton (3 Nephi 8:10-11; 9:5).
• Onihah, Mocum and Jerusalem were covered with water (3 Nephi 9:7)
• Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, and Gimgimno were sunk into the earth and hills and valleys were replaced them (3 Nephi 9:8)
• Zarahemla (3 Nephi 8:;9) and Jacobugath were burned with fire (3 Nephi 8:9); Also Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen, were burned with fire (3 Nephi 8:8; 9:10).
    And many great and notable cities were sunk (1 Nephi 12:4), and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate (3 Nephi 8:14). There was also great destruction on the Land Northward (3 Nephi 9:2).
    The Nephite cities along the coastal shore of the Sea East would have been as heavily affected and probably more than most, since the receding Sea East and he rising of the mountains “whose height is great” would have seriously changed the topography, which would have destroyed much of the cities and settlements in the area.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Pyramid of Montegrande in the Highlands of North Central Peru

Not far from Cajamarca (city of Bountiful), in the rain forests of the Andean highlands of north central Peru, lies the city of Jaen, in the valley by the same name, that dates back to 1500 to 1000 BC. Artifacts dated to 900 to 200 BC have recently been found there, an area no one ever suspected had been anciently inhabited—south of that was the city .
Cerro Montegrande near Jaen, Peru, recently discovered that it was a giant pyramid

In this valley there is a hill that looks like nothing more than another hill, that stretched out over two acres of land. Farmers building in the area were digging in the hill and to their surprise and that of the archaeological world, found all sorts of artifacts in an area that had never been considered to be once inhabited.
    While a little steeper than other hills, no one ever thought it was anything more than a mound of earth. Overgrown with bushes and taken as a natural hill by people living nearby, it was ignored for centuries, and, in time, as Peru’s cities and towns stretched further out in the Southwest Amazon, farmers even set up their homes on top of the hill.
    In time, then they started to dig into the hill for planting, and immediately started to uncover sherds of old pots. These, they soon learned, were more than old utensils—they were relics of the past, and they were more than 1,000 years old.           
    Their homes on the hill quickly became an archaeological site, and in 2010, archaeologist and historian Quirino Olvera, who currently serves as president of the Peruvian Association of Archaeology and Social development of the Amazon, and the director of the Archaeological Project in the High Amazon Region of Peru,  along with his team started digging into the Montegrande hill, and soon discovered what they were excavating wasn’t a hill at all.
The recently discovered Spiral Temple, an example of Montegrande's public architecture 

Their dig quickly showed that the hill was a massive pyramid, built by a forgotten civilization in the Amazon rainforest over 3000 years ago. Thus, the pyramid at Montegrande changed everything—it is now understood for the first time, that there is hard evidence of ancient civilizations thriving in the Amazon rainforest.
    Ancient civilizations had certainly flourished in South America, but, up until recently, it had been believed that the Amazon itself was a place few dared to tread for long. The few people who lived there in ancient times, archaeologists believed, were sparsely separated, nomadic people. They would wander from place to place, setting up the odd short-lived farm before moving on.
    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America, they wrote stories about massive towns in the Amazon full of farms and supporting whole fleets of boatsbut there’d never been anything to back up what they were saying. Every piece of archaeological evidence we could find suggested that no one in the Amazon had stayed still long enough to build a home.
    Discoveries like Montegrande, though, are changing the history of a nation. Now it’s believed that, at its peak, there may have been as a many as 5 million people living in the Amazon. They built civilizations and cultures that are completely forgotten to time.
    The Spiral Temple (shown above), is an example of Montegrande's public architecture. It obviously had a religious character that reflects the solid ritual apparatus of a well-organized society, whose beliefs and cosmology contributed to the design, expressed in the principal elements of the architecture. It seems clear that the creation of the architectural forms followed the rules and the artistic patterns of a high culture. Archaeologist have now learned that the people who built the Montegrande pyramid had an incredibly sophisticated society.
Two newly discovered platforms have been found in the vicinity of Las Juntas and Bagua, the latter being a rugged land cut by deep gorges with important rivers, including the Utcubamba, crossing the valleys. This area has shown a notable trait that was totally unknown in this part of the upper Amazon.
    The remains of the walls were covered with colored frescoes that have miraculously survived the passage of time, mostly colored in red, white and black, including very particular graphic designs very similar in concept and form to the polychromic murals of Tierradentro in southwest Colombia.
    The dates associated to the archaeological contexts place these frescoes as the oldest examples of mural paintings in the upper Amazon region of Peru and possibly in the whole western Amazon of South America.
    This pre-Chavin culture did not just build one pyramid and leave. They first built around 1,000 BC, but reworked their pyramids and rebuilt them at least eight times. Before their empire ended, they had lived in that one spot for more than a thousand years.
Six-foot high walls were built around the settlements at Montegrande

Toward the end they built six-foot walls to protect their people and setting up offices where rulers governed their people. They built a grid of homes across the riverbank, had a detailed religion of their own, and were part of an elaborate trade network that stretched across Peru.
    The entire history of these people, that covered at least a millennium, has been buried by time with only a small amount being uncovered today. What is known is only scraped together from their ruins, but the massive pyramids they left behind are enough to give an incredible glimpse into their society.
The top of the Montegrande Pyramid

The top of the mound is a spiral of rocks, coiled in the shape of a massive snake or, perhaps, in the swirl of the shell of a snail. You could walk along the spiral like you were making your way through a labyrinth. Every step would take you further down below the ground until you reached the center, forty feet below the first step. At the center of the spiral, the people who once lived here burned fires. These were likely sacred fires, used for some religious purpose.
    Archaeologists have found snuff spoons and mortar grinders still holding the residue of seeds, which did not grow where they lived, but were imported in connection with their elaborate trade network.
Spirals seem to have been an obsession for the people who lived here. Inside the remains of their civilization, there are still snail shells scattered everywhere. Honored dead were covered in them when they died, and the shape fills every part of their society.

    A mile away from Montegrande, the researchers found a second pyramid and the burial of many people, including several children. In the most glamorous burial site found, one of the important people of this ancient culture, completely covered in snail shells and who Archaeologists call “The Lord of Snails,” died 2800 years ago (April Holloway, Plus One Journal , San Francisco, California, 2013).
    Not a single word written by the people who lived here remains. If they were literate at all, we do not know or have what they wrote. We do not know their names or their thoughts. Nor do we know why they moved into the rain forests of central and northeastern Peru, nor what happened to them—they have simply been a people who have been forgotten for the past 2,000 years.
    One thing we can be quite certain about is that this area was on the East Coast of the Land of Promise, and when the East Sea receded to its present position after the crucifixion, it would have existed at a time when the golden age of the Nephites took place over the two hundred year period following Christ’s visit to the Land of Promise. This was the time when buildings were constructed, cities built and others renewed. It was the time that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people (4 Nephi 1:10).