Tuesday, February 4, 2020

El Paraíso, Another Lima Area Settlement

The city of Zarahemla was initially the original settlement of the Mulekites (Omni 1:16) around 580 BC (Omni 1:15). During the centuries before Mosiah and the Nephites arrived, around 200 BC, the Mulekites were a small group of people, including the child Mulek, king Zedekiah’s youngest son, and his entourage of servants and protectors. How many we are not told, but after arriving in the Land of Promise, they increased in numbers until at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous, though numerous wars among themselves had kept the later expansion to a minimum (Omni 1:17).
    Once the Nephites joined them (Omni 1:19), and the Mulekites accepted the fact they needed to be Nephites in order to inherit the land (Mosiah 25:13), their numbers increased by about fifty-percent (Mosiah 25:2), though together they were still had only about half as many people as the Lamanites (Mosiah 25:3).
The site of Pachacamac along the west coast in central Peru

Eventually, these Nephite/Mulekites grew in number, and “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) and became a large and wealthy people” (Mosiah 27:7). Later, after Alma the Younger’s conversion, he and his smitten friends “began traveling throughout all the lands of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, preaching to the people throughout all the Land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 27:35, emphasis added).
    Later, after Alma and Limhi reached Zarahemla, the numbers grew even more. Finally, the number of people in and around the city of Zarahemla became astounding, with the control of all Nephite activity, growth and wars emanated from the city of Zarahemla. The Land of Zarahemla was much lrger larger, acting both as a city and also as a large area of land.
    Initially, the people were in and around the city of Zarahemla, at least we know of no movement to the north or to the east, and no other cities or lands are mentioned until 81 BC when a land of Manti in the south wilderness, on the east side of the River Sidon is introduced to us (Alma 16:6). The first city and lands mentioned was Gideon, built in the surrounding valley called Gideon, and also the Land of Melek, both in 83 BC (Alma 6:7); Following were the cities of Ammonihah in 82 BC (Alma 8:6); Aaron (Alma 8:13); and Jerusalem (Alma 21:2). The first land other than Zarahemla, was he Land of Minon in 87 BC (Alma 2:24).
    The cities of Moroni, Nephihah and Lehi were begun in 72-71 BC (Alma 50:14-15). By about 72 BC, it is mentioned that the Nephites had several cities (Alma 48:6), and that Moroni built walls of stone “round about their cities and the borders of their lands, all around about the land” (Alma 48:8). It is also mentioned that the Nephites had cities “throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites” (Alma 50:1). Near the seashore in the east, by 67 BC, were the cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner,  Gid, and Mulek.
Alma preaching from city to city and one house of worship to another

In fact, after 90 BC, we are told that Alma and his brethren “went forth from city to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating priests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them” (Alma 23:4); city of Lemuel and Shimnilom (Alma 23:12). By 74 BC, the missionaries went “among all the people in every city” (Alma 35:15).
    The point is, by the last century BC, numerous cities existed throughout the Land of Zarahemla and other lands, and by 46 BC, the Nephites “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), including the Land Northward (Helaman 3:9).
    Now, since the city of Zarahemla was the capital city of the Nephite nation, it would be understood that a lot of this multiplying and building of cities would have 1) originally spread outward from the city of Zarahemla, and 2) a large number of the populace would have been living in or around the city of Zarahemla.
    Thus, the location of the City of Zarahemla within the Land of Zarahemla would be one of close knit buildings, roads, outlying structures, as well as government buildings, temples, and wealthiest people. So in order to find the location today, the closely compacted ruins of ancient buildings within and around a main city should be noted—not just a scattering of ruins dotting the countryside, but a compacted region.
    Such is found in Andean South America. As we have written about in the past, the region around the ancient ruins of Pachacamac, on the southside of the greater Lima.
An ancient construction at the first big settlement, El Paraíso, in the Lima region

One of the first big settlements and ceremonial centers in the region of Lima was "El Paraíso" (The Paradise or Heaven). In fact, the earliest states developed, along with in the central Andean highlands and along the central Pacific coast of western South America. The consensus in the archaeological literature is that state societies first developed in the central Andes in the early part of the first millennium AD; however, minority opinion holds that first-generation states developed as early as the late second millennium BC in the same area. The Andean region constitutes one of a few areas of first-generation state development in the world, and presents answers and evidence, analyzes the underlying assumptions about time of development of the data in terms of contemporary anthropological theory of state evolution” (Charles Stanish 2001, “The Origins of States Societies in South America,” Annual Review Anthropology, vol.30, 2001, pp41-64).
Main temple at El Paraíso 

The complex of El Paraíso dates back to around 2200 BC. It is located north of the City of Lima about 1¼ miles from the Pacific Ocean directly at the Chillón River plain and surrounded by over 220 ares of arable land and 370 acres of lowlands capable of sustaining irrigation supported agriculture. The main building is a big pyramid that was probably used as a temple or an administrative center, and is notable for having a U-shape creating a 17-acre plaza, which layout resembles many nearby sites located in the Chillón-Rimac-Lurin Valleys from the later Ceramic Period, and therefore El Paraíso maybe a possible precursor to later architectural developments (Michael Edward Moseley, “The Maritime foundations of Andean Civilization,” Andean Past, Cummings Publishing, Menlo Park, Cummings, Philippines, 1975).
A sunken circular plaza

The site also has a sunken circular plaza, which is characteristic of early ceramic sites on the central coast reveals that this style may be relatively widespread and suggests it may be a key variable in architectural development (Shellal Pozorski and Thomas Pozorski “Examining the critical Preceramic/Ceramic Period transition: new data from coastal Peru. American Anthropologist, vol.92, no.2, 1990, pp481-491).
    Impressive are the other complexes of buildings where one can see the simple dwellings of its inhabitants. An estimate of around 1500 to 3000 people lived in "El Paraíso." The supply of sufficient food and all other necessities needed for a huge population, was only made possible with an effective utilization of all available resources, a successful economy and an ordered social structure. Despite the fact, that Lima is located in a small dessert strip, the unique circumstances of the region allowed the early settlers to survive:
• The position at the Pacific Ocean which provided fresh fish and other sea food.
• Lima's special climate with high humidity all year round and low clouds during the winter months in particular.
    The Andes create a natural border for the humidity from the ocean and so are plants and animals supplied with the necessary water. Another side effect are a lot of microclimates throughout the Lima area. The inhabitants of "El Paraíso " could feed on hunted animals, gathered wild fruits and berries. They utilized the Chillón River and developed an irrigation system to increase the effectiveness of agriculture.
The main temple of El Paraiso has been completely excavated, while several other parts of the site still lay buried 

Early in the last millennium BC, cotton (for beautifully weaved cloths), maize, yucca, pumpkins, kidney beans, sweat potatoes and fruits like lucúma (also known as lucma) and guava were cultivated. The appearance of ceramics in the Lima region around 1600 BC made it possible to cook food directly on the fire and store it.
    Even though El Paraíso was named the largest and earliest example of monumental architecture in the New World, until today little archaeological investigation and excavation was done at this important ancient complex and therefore little is known about the life of Lima's ancient inhabitants. It is thought that the complex consisted of around 10 to 15 pyramidal structures, with the main temple thought to be a ceremonial center used by the community.
    In December 2012 a new investigation and excavation project led by Archaeologist Marco Guillen started at El Paraíso. After only three months, a groundbreaking discovery uncovered an ancient temple located next to the main temple. First excavations uncovered an underground ceremonial center comprising of 4 levels each older than the other. The construction is believed to have been built around 3000 BC. The inside discovered fire place where presumably offerings were burnt earned the ceremonial center the name "Templo el Fuego" (Fire Temple).
    Thus we see that as Zarahemla grew in wize because of the growth of the Npehite nation, its capital was spreading across the nearby lands. El Paraíso was one of these early sites.


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  2. Another very interesting post. Del thank you for continuing your outstanding and important work. I believe you shared with me in an email some time ago that you spend about 10 hours per day studying and writing posts. Know that many of your readers greatly appreciate your sacrifice and commitment.

  3. Thanks, David. Appreciate your comment.