Friday, September 18, 2020

A Look at the Andes Mountains

Northern Peru generally has the same seasons as southern Peru, where one encounters different seasons and weather patterns whether visiting the coast, the Andes, or the Amazon. Generally speaking, the combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates. The country has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season.


The three regions of Peru

 

The eastern portions of Peru include the Amazon Basin, or selva baja, a region that is larger in the north than in the south, and represents roughly 60% of Peru's national territory. This area includes the Amazon, Marañón, Huallaga and Ucayali rivers. About 60% of the country's area is located within this region (270,000 square miles) giving Peru the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.

Within Peru, the desert is described as the strip along the northern Pacific coast of Peru in the southern Piura and western Lambayeque regions, and extending from the coast 12 to 62 miles inland to the secondary ridges of the Andes Mountains.

The country can be divided into three main climatic and topographical regions: The Coast, the Andes, and the Jungle.

• The Coast. Stretching along the coast, from the Tumbes in the north bordering Ecuador, to Tacna in the south bordering Chile, a length of 1,555 miles is an arid, dry climate. The width of this narrow area varies from 12 to 62 miles and always has great weather. During Peruvian summer time (December, January) it can be really hot, but otherwise, the weather is mild, warm and sunny.

The northern coast has a curious tropical-dry climate, generally referred to asa tropical savanna. This region is a lot warmer and can be unbearable during summer months, where rainfall is also present. The region differs from the southern coast by the presence of shrubs, equatorial dry forests (Thumbes-Piura dry forests) mangrove forests, tropical valleys near rivers such as the Chira and the Thumbes.

The central and southern coast consists mainly of a subtropical desert climate composed of sandy or rocky shores and inland cutting valleys. Days alternate between overcast skies with occasional fog in the winter and sunny skies with occasional haze in the summer.

Sechura Desert occupies 72,900 square miles from the shoreline to the secondary ridges of the western Andes. In the north lies the Northwestern Biosphere Reserve, which includes four natural protected areas of red mangrove and Equatorial Dry Forests. To the south are a series of arable valleys that have provided food in this area long before Columbian times.


The Sechura Desert

 

The wild, vegetated and relatively wet Sechura desert is located along the coast just south of Piura in the northwestern part of Peru, between the northern border and Peru's equatorial forests, the Tumbes. The landscape is of flailing-armed cacti, spiny succulents like giant artichokes and sand dunes like mountains. Peru’s coast is home to one of the most barren, most imposing deserts known.  Miles and miles of sprawling sand hills, some of the dunes hundreds of feet high, and running all the way from the eastern horizon to the ocean, and not a blade of living grass to be seen—just barren scorched rock and dunes, though there are occasional green and irrigated valleys of mango and avocado orchards in the distance.

• The Andes. The temperate climate has a rainy season from November to April, with January through March being the rainiest period—during the rainy season incredible waterfalls appear and provide a delightful scene. The dry season runs from May to October, and is hot during the day and either warm or cold during the night.

The Andes shelter the very largest variety of climates in the country, with a semi-arid climate in the valleys and moist in higher elevations and towards the eastern flanks. Rainfall varies from 8 to 59 inches per year. The monsoonal period starts in October and ends in April. The rainiest months are January through March where travel can be sometimes affected.

The western slopes are arid to semi-arid and receive rainfall only between January and March. Below the 8,200 foot mark, the temperatures vary between 41º and 59ºF at night and 64º to 77°F in the day.

Between 8,200 and 11,500 feet, the temperatures vary from 32º to 54°F at night and from 59º to 77 °F during the day. At higher elevations from 11,500 to 14,750 feet, in the Puna grassland above the treeline, the temperature varies from 14º to 46°F during the night versus 59°F during the day. The northernmost regions of the Andes around Cajamarca and Puira regions have Páramo climates.


The Peruvian Rainforest on the eastern slopes of the Andes

 

• The Jungle. Tropical rainforest and Savannah with monsoon rains, cover about two-third of the country, found in the Peruvian Amazonia around Tarapoto and Iquitos. The lower rainforest has a warm climate with high humidity, and has rainy periods throughout the entire year. The higher rainforest is located in the eastern foothills of the Andes with altitudes ranging from 1,300 to 3,280 feet. The climate is cooler in the highland jungle, compared to the warmer temperatures in the lowland jungle. More isolated from the rest of the Amazon region and other regions, the habitat hosts an abundance of unique animal species.

The main water source of the Peruvian Jungle is the Amazon River. It’s the world’s largest and most extensive network of waterways, and is fed by the rivers of Ucayali and Marañon. The Amazon feeds more than 1,100 tributary rivers on its run to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon flows approximately 4,040 miles, of which 443 miles run through Peru.

Situated in the northeast area of Peru, this rainforest, which spreads through the
Amazon Basin, and is the largest rainforest in the world at 2.5 million square miles, 54% of the total rainforest left on the planet.

Some of the important archaeological sites are found in this area of the Andes. They include: Chachapoyas, Cajamarca, Kuélap, Gran Pajatén, Moyobamba and Tarapoto. Along the coast are Chiklayo, Trujillo, and Chimbote.


Map of the Cloud Forest Region 

 

Tarapoto in the high jungle plateau to the east of what is known as the selva baja (low jungle), 1150 feet above sea level on the high jungle plateau, also called the cloud forest. Despite the fact that no accurate information is known on the origin of the people there, the Pocras (Pacora, Pocora, Huari), and believed to be the ancient Wari culture or the predecessors of them. It is believed that they were of mountain origin, occupying an area southeast of Moyobamba in the Peruvian Rain Forest, east of Chachapoyas where the fortress of Kuélap, home of the Cloud Warriors, is located, and 153 miles northeast of Cajamarca.

To the Southwest lies the archaeological site called the Gran Pajatén located in the Cloud Forest on a hilltop above the Montecristo River valley, and consists of a series of at least 26 circular stone structures atop numerous terraces and stairways. The ruins occupy an area of about 65,500 square feet, with the principal buildings decorated with slate mosaics displaying human, bird and geometric motifs. Analysis of ceramic samples and radiocarbon dates show that the area was occupied as early as 200 BC, and based primarily on architectural evidence the settlement is attributed to the Chachapoyas culture.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Real Hill Cumorah

 

 Achilly Pachacamac, a unique stone sculpture which expresses the spirit of the indigenous Andean peoples. Achilly Pachacamac is the pre-Incan name for the supreme God, the life force which encompasses all other. The gigantic boulder from the 16,000-foot-high Mt.  Imbabura volcanic eruption containing the huge boulder that landed thousands of years ago in Peguche, Ecuador, sits peacefully over fourteen miles away.


Mt. Imbabura in northern Ecuador, a Land of Many Waters because of its numerous lakes and rivers

 

Imbabura, by far the most striking and dominant, less sprawling, more forbidding and more clearly a single isolated peak in the area, is of significant importance to the local culture. Mount Imbabura towers over the community of Ilumán on the east side of the Otavalo valley. It is the single dominant feature of the entire area.

The mountain, which involves a spiritual relationship with the land, is sometimes personified locally as Taita Imbabura, or "Papa Imbabura.” In fact, Imbabura is considered the sacred protector of the region by the locals.

Its giant bulk rises in three distinct zones: wild grassland beneath an apron of forest and crowned with a jagged black dragon-back on its summit. It is a clear example of a standalone volcano that was once active and has been sleeping for a long time. Its brooding presence gives the impression that it will one day wake again.

As Imbabura is covered in ancient volcanic ash, the slopes are very fertile, providing perfect conditions for the cloud forests to thrive, while the land around the volcano is used for farming. Consisting of a complex of cinder cones which vary in height, many of which are named, including el Cubilche, Azaya (or Huarmi Imbabura), Pangaladera, Cunrru, Artezón, Zapallo Loma, Angaraloma, and Araque.

As the dominant geographic feature of the area, the top of the volcanic mountain is covered in snow from time to time, but it does not have any permanent glaciers, as is the case with Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.


Sacred Peguche Waterfall

 

Nearby are the 59-foot high, 20-foot wide Peguche Waterfalls along lush steep slopes—one pf the Falls obvious, a second 20-foot high Falls hidden—that are a highly important place in Kichwa religion, serving as the place where purifications are held before the annual Inti Raymi celebrations each June, and considered an indigenous ceremonial site where the faithful gather for purification ritual washings before the Inti festival (reminiscent of Jewish traditions).

A province located in the Andes of northern Ecuador, the summit of Imbabura is 16,200 feet elevation and about 9 miles northeast of the town of Cotacachi and about 70 miles north of Quito.


Peguche Rainforest in the Faccha Llacta community

 

A waterfall originates at the foothills of Imbabura volcano, right at the northern tip of San Pablo Lake.  Las Cascadas de Peguche are situated 1.8 miles north of Otavalo

Originating at the foothills of Imbabura along the northwestern shore of San Pablo Lagoon the Falls are within the 40-acres of the protected Peguche Rainforest (Cascada de Peguche). Nearby are hot springs and the entire area is a sacred location and a place of pilgrimage.


Lake San Pablo at the base of Imbabura

 

The lagoon is a large lake lying to the south of the mountainous grounds of Imbabura Falls surrounded by rushes and green fields at 6,000 feet. The course of its waters run downstream by the river of the same name, which change its name into Jatun Yacu (big water) right after it tumbles free down the waterfall amidst shrub vegetation of elderberry, cholán and mainly blackberries.

One of many huge boulders ejected by Imbabura's last eruption, which landed near Peguche, just outside of Otavalo, was revered as Achilly Pachacamac, the supreme god, by pre-Incan peoples. According to local legend, Imbabura and Mt. Mojanda each hurled stones across the Otavalo Valley, and one of the boulders from Imbabura fell short and landed within the valley. It was carved into the shape of a face of Pachacamac many centuries ago.

Locals describe many spirits that dwell within this stone, and the mountains and streams that surround Achilly Pachacamac. It is said that powerful spirits, including evil or Chusalungos souls from a great battle that was fought in this area, inhabit Imbabura and the surrounding area. Local Otavalenos describe a great battle in which the Chusalungos surrounding Imbabura, with the area claimed to be enchanted, as no human nor animal has been capable of scaling or hiking across the area.

Such legends are generally passed down over the years or centuries that in antiquity were based on factual events. Over time, they change, grow, or vary according to the knowledge and superstition of the people involved. However, enough of the tale usually survives over time that enable later generations to understand the meanings or purposes of the original events. Such a great battle took place at Imbabura

Thus, we find that a great ancient battle was fought in the area of Imbabura in which many sores of men died. Numerous military artifacts have been found around Imbabura, including arrowheads, spear points, and rocks used in slings. Across the broad plain to the north of Imbaburo is Cotacachi


The mists above the rainforest covering the hiding Mormon and the rest of those who survived the battle at Cumorah

 

The sacred mountain of Imbabura was populated around 2100 BC (during the time of the Jaredites), by the Caranquis in the northern part of Ibarra, now the capital city. Caranquis became the source of most of the legends in the area. The Otavaleños arrived at the region now known as Otavalo around 150 AD, and reached the area near Atuntaqui. Much later, the Inca invaded the region around the year 1400 followed by the Spanish colonization in the sixteenth century.

The Hill Cumorah in western New York provides almost no cover for Mormon, Moroini and the others to hide out through the night while surrounded by tens of thousands of blood-thirsty Lamanites. This is also  true of the next morning for Mormon and the others to look out over the battlefield without detection. Mt Imbabura provides plenty of cover for such actions while the Hill Cumorah in western New York provides no cover at all

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Theorists and the Scriptural Record of the Book of Mormon

As soon as the Book of Mormon was printed, people have been curious about the location of Lehi’s Land of Promise. Numerous people, some well-educated, some academicians, and also laymen, who feel they know things that nobody else knows, and expounded on the subject. They seem to believe they have special insight into the words engraved on the plates, and think the clear and simple words Mormon wrote and Joseph translated, do not really mean what their definitions tell us they mean.

Initially, soon after BYU started its first anthropology/archaeology department in 1946, the Mesoamerican theory of the Land of Promise took hold, and grew exponentially as professors in the new fields, under the direction of M. Wells Jakeman began teaching what they had been taught, that this singular location was indeed Lehi’s Land of Promise. Quickly, BYU began sponsoring digs and student work in that area. Soon after, tours began as so-called guides showed everyone who would pay for the trip, where they claimed the Book of Mormon lands were located.


Some of the theorists’ books on Book of Mormon geography

 

Many other theories followed, almost as fast as the presses could print them. Eventually, the theories began to center on North America, fist around the Great Lakes, and then within the Heartland. Over the past several years, thanks mostly to Rodney L. Meldrum who began his theorizing on the Book of Mormon location in 2003, and began in earnest with free lectures in 2007, pushed the North American model.  This theory, became the fastest growing idea connected to Land of Promise geography. It certainly attracted dogmatic believers.

Unfortunately, in so many cases, especially those surrounding the North American theories, the promoters and believers have strayed far from the scriptural record in making and supporting their claims, relying almost entirely on the supportive claims of early Church leaders who often gave their opinions as to where the Land of Promise was located.

In fact, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated: “Are all prophetic utterances true? Of course they are! This is what the Lord’s system of teaching is all about. Anything which his servants say when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture. But every word that a man who is a prophet speaks is not a prophetic utterance. Joseph Smith taught that a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such” (History of the Church, 5:265; see also Teachings, p. 278).

As Elder McConkie added, “Men who wear the prophetic mantle are still men; they have their own views; and their understanding of gospel truths is dependent upon the study and inspiration that is theirs. Some prophets—I say it respectfully—know more and have greater inspiration than others. Thus, if Brigham Young, who was one of the greatest of the prophets, said something about Adam which is out of harmony with what is in the Book of Moses and in section 78, it is the scripture that prevails.


The Standard Works: Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price

 

This is one of the reasons we call our scriptures The Standard Works. They are the standard of judgment and the measuring rod against which all doctrines and views are weighed, and it does not make one particle of difference whose views are involved. The scriptures always take precedence” (Finding Answers to Gospel Questions,” Letter dated 1 July 1980, Published in Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings, Religion, 2004, pp370,471,475).

In addition, Joseph Smith stated: “I told them I did not enjoy the right vouchsafed to every American citizen; that of free speech. When I venture to give my private opinion on any subject of importance my words are often garbled and their meaning twisted and then given out as the word of the Lord because they came from me” (LaFayette C. Lee, Notebook," LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; also in Remembering Joseph).

Along this line, Apostle D. Todd Christofferson stated: “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church” ("The Doctrine of Christ," Ensign, May 2012).
It should always be kept in mind that it is with divine inspiration that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), along with official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith” (“Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” LDS Newsroom, 4 May 2007).


It was Harold B. Lee  (left) who said, “It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard Church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea."

If he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1941 p. 135; Teachings of Harold B. Lee, pp540-541).
In an official Church statement in May, 2007, it reads: “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church”

Finally, B.H. Roberts, leader, historian, and politician, who published a popular six-volume history of the Church and also wrote Studies of the Book of Mormon, said: “Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which it sanctions and approves through the formal actions of its councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible.”


The point is, all people, including prophets, leaders, and members, are entitled to, and often give their own opinions about matters. That does not mean they are right or that they are wrong—it only means it is their opinion. To build a philosophy, hypothesis, or extensive theory on an opinion, especially when we have the scriptural record that is not an opinion but the world of God to rely on, is simply not wise.

Therefore, any theory based almost solely on what modern day (or this Dispensation) leaders have said, unless backed by official Church statements, simply do not have precedence over the scriptural record. As an example, when Mormon tells us the Land of Promise runs north and south, no academician, or even Church leader, who says the Land of Promise ran east and west can be correct because the scriptural record takes precedence. When Samuel the Lamanite said the Lord told him to say that there would be mountains rise in the Land of Promise “whose height is great,” and that before that the Land of Promise had mountains that would tumble into valleys as Nephi foresaw, the Land of Promise has to be a mountainous land before 3 Nephi, and a greater mountainous land after 3 Nephi whose mountains were of great height.

No historian, academician, Church leader or member can say otherwise, since the scriptural record takes precedence over anyone else—even a prophet unless he is speaking as a prophet according to Joseph Smith. Thus, the entire theory of the Heartland as well as the Great Lakes, is inconsistent with the scriptural record which continually describes mountains within the Land of Promise

Consequently, all of us should, as we do entirely in this blog, use only one dominant criteria in evaluating our own or anyone’s ideas about the Book of Mormon’s geographical setting and that is the scriptural record itself. While almost all writers talk about matching scripture, none seem to take the idea much past the theory stage and apply the actual scriptural descriptions to their specific ideas and models. Some writers will quote or reference a scripture in connection with a statement, but they know that very, very few people will look up a reference—unfortunately, when the reference is checked, more often than not the reference really has nothing to do with the statement, or only on a very peripheral manner, and often has a different meaning entirely (see the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theories for an extensive example of such references).

Thus, we see that it is imperative that we rely on the scriptural record for verification of our own ideas, as well as those of another, no matter who that person is, unless he is speaking for the church.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Facts and Truth about the Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage – Part II

Continued from the –previous post regarding the errors and misunderstanding of the Narrow Neck of Land and the narrow pass or passage.

Mesoamericanists, on the other hand, refer to the scriptural record “narrow neck” as an isthmus, which is not a word found in the scriptural record, but does match the model description of the Mesoamerican theory. 

Isthmus and land bridge are related terms with isthmus having a broader meaning. A land bridge is an isthmus connecting the Earth's major landmasses. The term land bridge is usually used in biogeology to describe land connections that used to exist between continents at various times and were important for migration of people, and various species of animals and plants, such as the so-called Bering Land Bridge, or the English Channel Land Bridge—an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Britain to continental Europe. It was flooded by rising sea levels in early BC times. These bridges were connections between two landmasses, especially a prehistoric one that allowed humans and animals to colonize new territory before being cut off by the sea.

An isthmus is a land connection between two bigger landmasses, while a peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends out into the sea. Technically, an isthmus can have canals running from coast to coast like the Panama Canal, and thus resemble two peninsulas; however, canals are artificial features distinguished from straits.


The Isthmus of Corinth between Greece and the Pelloponnese and is about four miles long and 70-feet wide

 

An example of an isthmus would be the Isthmus of Rivas, Nicaragua, which is 12 miles wide, and 99 miles long; or the Isthmus of Panama (Isthmus of Darien), which is 30-120 miles wide and 420 miles long. In addition today’s definition of isthmus is defined as: A narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated.

Consequently, the term that matches best to the scriptural record would be the definition used by Mormon—“small” and “narrow” (Alma 22:32; 63:5) and Moroni “narrow” ( Ether 10:20). We also know that Mormon tells us the narrow neck connected to the two land masses was a separation of the sea (Alma 22:32 ), causing there to be water on both sides. This ties in a statement made by Mormon later when he said: “and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34, emphasis added). He also stated “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east narrow passage which led into the land southward

Now, in understanding that the “neck of land” as Mormon stated is the only connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, we also have two additional descriptive terms of terrain mentioned between these two large land masses, and that is a “narrow passage” (Mormon 2:29) and a “narrow pass” (Mormon 3:5).

Now if the narrow neck of land is the only connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, it stands to reason that any pass or passage between the Land Northward and the Land Southward must move through this narrow neck of land and cannot be placed elsewhere. The term “narrow neck of land” suggests water on both sides of the neck, which itself separated the two land masses across the waters.”

However, in addition, many theorists claim that there are two or more narrow pass and passes; however, the scriptural record does not claim that. Thus, it should be kept in mind that the small or narrow neck of land is mentioned in connection with the sea.


A narrow pass, or chokepoint where movement of people or soldiers is dramatically hindered

 

Mormon, in his writing, states that there was a narrow passage (Mormon 2:29), then just 6 verses later (Mormon 3:5), say both “led into the Land Southward,” suggesting that both terms related to the same terrain.

• Pass, n. A narrow passage, entrance or avenue; a narrow or difficult place of entrance and exit; as a pass between mountains.

• Passage, n. Road; way; avenue; a place where men or things may pass or be conveyed.

This pass and passage separated the land southward and land northward as divided by Mormon in AD 350. Obviously, the pass and the passage were one of the same. The two terms are simply used to describe the same terrain.

In addition, along the northern end of the narrow neck and the pass or passage was a land called Desolation. Along the southern end was the Land Bountiful. Somewhere in between, possibly within the narrow neck, or perhaps at one end or the other, was a boundary, called a “line” by Mormon (Alma 22:32) and the Disciple Nephi (3 Nephi 3:23).

Again, the Pass or Passage is described very clearly. Despite this fact, theorists claim that the Land of Desolation was unfit for and devoid of habitation—a wasteland. However, Mormon states differently: “And now 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 3:6). He also stated: “they did spread forth unto all parts of the land northward, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land (Helaman 3:5).


Green, treeless fields; desolute of trees


Obviously, the land was called Desolation, because no trees grew there, which rendered the land difficult to settle becausethere was no timber. In fact, that is what Mormon tells us: “now 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 3:6).

These settlers who covered the Land of Promise “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). While they learned to work with and build their houses out of cement, they sent back for a shipment of timber (Helaman 3:9).

The narrow neck was so important of a terrain marker, that when Mormon made a treaty with the Lamanites, this narrow neck was the dividing line between the two forces. As Mormon put it: “And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2”Mormon 2:28-29). Mormon goes on to write: “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” (Mormon 3:5).

It should be noted that the treaty lands were chosen by Mormon because that would give the Nephites a single entrance into their land which they had to cover.

If there had been other entrances into their land, not only would Mormon had to divide up his army, he obviously would have mentioned it when he wrote about this land and its purpose. As an example, at one point the Nephites attacked the Lamanites with their entire armies (Mormon 4:1).

Obviously, there was only one small or narrow neck and only one pass or passage between the Land Southward and the Land Northward.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Facts and Truth about the Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage – Part I

Despite what Mormon so clearly tells us, Mesoamericanists erroneously have as many as three narrow passages and a 144-mile-wide “narrow” neck of land. In addition, the Heartland/Great Lakes theorists have as many as four narrow passages and two narrow necks. However, Mormon tells us that the Land of Promise was divided into two land masses, which he called the Land Northward and the other the Land Southward.

He also tells us there was only one connection between these two land masses, referred to as the Narrow Neck of Land. As he states: “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32, emphasis added). In another instance, he stats: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5, emphasis added).

That is, the Land Southward and the Land Northward were connected by a small or narrow neck of land between the two major lands. Now, when Joseph Smith translated those words, he chose to use “small” and “narrow” neck of land,” as well as “narrow pass” and “passage” (Alma 50:34; Mormon 2:29).


Joseph Smith translates the Book of Mormon, dictating the text to his scribe Oliver Cowdery

 

Obviously, the Spirit agreed with Joseph’s translations, and it stood as Mormon’s meaning. Now, according to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which Joseph Smith had in his possession (later recommending the dictionary for the “School of the Prophets”), which gives definitions of words as they were understood in 1829 and 1830 in New England and along the eastern states.

The two words used to describe the neck of land are “Small”  (Alma 22:32), and “Narrow “ (Alma 63:5).

• Narrow: Of little breadth; not wide nor broad; having little distance from side to side.

Now, does that sound like 144-mile wide land connection?

• Small: Slender; thin; of little diameter; hence in general, little in size; not great; minute; the slender part of a thing.

Again, does that sound like the 144-mile wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec?

Neck: A long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts. Today it is defined as “a relatively narrow strip of land with water on both sides connecting two larger land areas.”

Now “small” is how Mormon describes the neck of land that he said lay between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32). On the other hand, “narrow” is how Moroni describes this same neck of land (Ether 19:20). So “narrow” or “small,” the wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec simply does not match the description of the neck of land of the scriptural record.


The Land of Promise according to the Heartland theorists

 

Heartland/Great Lakes theorists claim that the Narrow Neck of Land is the isthmus between Lake Eire and Lake Ontario, known as the Niagara Peninsula. This isthmus is mostly flat and is described as two contrasting plains separated by the Niagara Escarpment. The Ontario Plain, with fertile, sandy soils and a favorable climate, contains the Niagara Fruit Belt, where much of Canada's soft fruits and vines are grown. Much of this flat plain lies between the Niagara Escarpment and the Onondaga Escarpment, the latter another bluff running through the Niagara Peninsula parallel with Lake Erie.

Again, this escarpment does not obstruct travel across their narrow neck.

It should be kept in mind that Mormon describes this narrow neck as a “choke point” or bottleneck where natural movement was hindered or reduced—it was a geographical feature such as a narrow valley, defile or break in the mountains. Militarily, its purpose was to force an armed body to pass, on a substantially narrower front and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, to reach its objective.

Such is seen when Capt. Moroni ordered Teancum to hurry north to keep Morianton, in his rebellion, from reaching the Land Northward. As Mormon recorded it: “Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.

They did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:33-34).

Now in the scriptural record, the Narrow Neck, as in all its geographical descriptions, has a pass or passage, requiring something to obstruct movement through the neck.; however, the Niagara Peninsula are two 2 contrasting plains separated by the Niagara Escarpment. The Niagara Escarpment, in its Ontario portion, is 450 miles long, covering 1195 square miles, with a maximum height of 1100 feet. An escarpment may be defined as a steep rock face of great length formed by an abrupt termination of strata.

However, this escarpment runs the length of the isthmus along Lake Ontario and not across it, thus it does not block progress through their narrow neck, nor does it need or provide a narrow pass.


A Heartland theorist’s view of the Land of Promise. Note how they ignore Mormons words and his description of geographical facts

 

First of all, there is no narrowing of the land through (red circle) the Narrow Neck of Land into the Land Northward—while the approach from the east (white arrow) could qualify as a choke point or a restriction on movement into the Land Northward, the purpose is negated by (yellow arrows) and the open movement to the west of Lake Erie. Obviously, this nullifies the purpose of a narrow pass or passage.

In addition, it might be of interest to see how theorists often treat the scriptural record. Take the location of Hagoth’s shipyard which the theorist places on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario (their Sea East) when Mormon tells us: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5, emphasis added),which would have been impossible from the Sea East.

In addition, Mormon states that “the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29, emphasis added). Yet, the theorists shows that their city of Nephi is on about the same latitude as the city of Bountiful.

Also, Mormon describes the location of the city of Teancum, writing “Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation” (Mormon 4:3, emphasis added).  However, the theorist places these two cities 680 miles apart. Interesting that the Nephites in the city of Desolation when they were driven out by attacking Lamanites, who killed many Nephites and took many prisoners (Mormon 4:2), fled, according to the theorist, to join the inhabitants of the city of Teancum 680 miles away. Really?

Also, the city of Teancum was in the Land Northward; however, the theorist places it in their Land of Bountiful, in the Land Southward.

These are just a few of the inaccuracies of the Heartland/Great Lakes theorists. Certainly their claim that the Niagara Peninsula is the Narrow Neck of Land is inaccurate for it is not the only way into the Land Northward on their map nor is it the only land mass that connects the Land Southward with the Land Northward as Mormon states (Alma 22:32).

(See the next post, “The Facts and Truth about the Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage – Part II,” for more descriptive information and description of the errors about it)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Moroni’s Fortified Resorts

In the First century BC, when wars with the Lamanites intensified Moroni, at the age of 25, was named Chief Captain over all the Nephite armies (Alma 43:17). The genius of this young leader became quickly evident with his equipping his army with personal armor that “shielded the more vital parts of the body” (Alma 43:38), including breastplates and shields. This scared the Lamanites (Alma 43:21),who retreated from the battlefield, unwilling to fight the Nephites.

At this time, Nephite cities were individual settlements, with limited defenses. Moroni changed the management of war by building earthworks around his army and stone walls around the cities and the borders of the land (Alma 48:8). Moroni placed some of his army in each city, and larger numbers in cities whose defenses were the weakest (Alma 48:7).

After Moroni had driven the Lamanites out of the east wilderness he turned his attention to the border-lands to the south where the narrow strip of wilderness separated the Nephites and the Lamanites, …and thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness (Alma 22:27).


“He had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort”
Alma 48:8

 

During the lengthy fighting between the Lamanites and Nephites in the last century B.C., when Lamanite armies continued to come into the Land of Zarahemla and attack outlying settlements and cities, especially along the coastal area of the Sea East, Moroni built resorts, or small forts. In addition, the southern border of the land, that strip of wilderness between the Nephites and the Lamanites, was unguarded by the Nephites and Moroni “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). In addition, Moroni drove the Lamanites out of the west wilderness and fortified the line between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:11).

Thus Moroni, with his armies increasing daily sought to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from Nephite lands that the Lamanites should have no power upon the Nephite lands” (Alma 50:12).

These resorts or small forts held small detachments of soldiers charged with overlooking routes into the cities or region around them and to warn of Lamanite movements and apparent eventual attacks. As an example, we find this in: “And now it came to pass in the eleventh month of the nineteenth year, on the tenth day of the month, the armies of the Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah” (Alma 49:1, emphasis added). Before these outposts were built, the result was much different: “In the thirteenth year of my reign in the land of Nephi, away on the south of the land of Shilom, when my people were watering and feeding their flocks, and tilling their lands, a numerous host of Lamanites came upon them and began to slay them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields” (Mosiah 9:14).


A small Nephite resort or outpost at the top of a hill overlooking the river and valley below

 

These resorts were typically stationed at a distance from the main force or formation of the army, usually in a remote or sparsely populated location, often positioned on a hill or mountain to afford the best view of the surrounding area. Since the area of the narrow strip of wilderness was full of canyons, mountains, or passes, these resorts were positioned in strategic areas to warn of approaching Lamanite surprise attacks as they came into Nephite lands.

In modern times, before radar, satellite cameras, and aerial reconnaissance, these military outposts or advanced guard stations were essential to warn of enemy surprise or sneak attacks.

The word “resort” means a place where someone can turn for assistance, or a place where someone can fall back, have recourse, or resort. In times of military need, small forts, called resorts, were placed around a vulnerable area so that people could find temporary safety. In the case of outposts, this safety was at least in the form of a small military unit stationed there that could render aid in the case of a small disturbance. The saying, in the “last resort” meant a place where the last warning could be expected in the case of attack.

When Amalickiah defected over to the Lamanites and stole the kingship, he sought to destroy the Nephites in an all-out war. He “did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities; therefore he appointed them to be chief captains over his armies” (Alma 48:5). That is these defector Zoramites, having lived as Nephites, knew where these resort outposts were located and therefore would be able to guide the Lamanite armies into Nephite lands without being observed by the Nephite lookouts.


Hilltop resorts or forward lookout outposts are scattered all over the hills and mountains of Peru that were staffed by small military units assigned to monitor the passes and trails into the Land of Zarahemla

 

Building such small forts or resorts along the northern edge of the narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla and was built by a large segment of Moroni’s army. As Mormon wrote: “He kept his men round about, as if making preparations for war; yea, and truly he was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort” (Alma 52:6).

Such posts are typically manned by small contingencies and are at all times connected through ongoing patrols in their region and the force headquarters in the interior of the country for their day-to-day functioning, passing on intelligence and for requesting supplies and any needed reinforcements in emergencies. These outposts, where possible, are built on strategic locations which are usually elevated at the highest points in the local terrain and ideally on hilltops and mountains overlooking transportation corridors.


Such small resorts or outposts are scatter all over Peru suggesting a match with the Land of Promise

 

Mormon describes on three occasions the “resorts” that Moroni had the Nephites build. These areas of resort were not meant to be forts of last resort against a large attacking enemy because of their size and initial purpose. However, with well defended positions a small force could hold off a small force of attackers, thus protecting the civilians who had flocked to the resort for protection.

Obviously, these resorts were extremely important to the Nephite safety, and should be found scattered around the Land of Promise, especially guarding well-travelled paths and roads that led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place (3 Nephi 6:8).