Saturday, March 21, 2020

Where Were the Roads and Highways?

One of the many ways to find where the Land of Promise is located, is to look for ancient roads and highways that went from “place to place, there must be roads and highways that went throughout the land, “which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8). When the Disciple Nephi wrote this and Mormon abridged it, the importance of indicating where the Nephite roads went with three different examples, is quite revealing.
    First of all, by the time this is written at the end of the BC period, the Nephites had “multiplied and spread, from the Land Southward to the land Northward,” and Nephites covered the Land of Promise “on 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). That is, Nephite villages, towns and cities could be found all over the Land of Promise.
    Thus, with a road and highway system that led to all the cities, settlements and towns, as well as all the lands and places, it would have to have been an extensive and lengthy series of roads.
Top: Roads across miles and miles of open land along the coastal range; Bottom: Roads through mountain heights

These highways and roads would have been built over time during the one thousand years of Nephite occupation of the Land of Promise. In order to serve the kingdom appropriately, the highways and roads would have had to lead to all settled areas. In fact, the highways and roads went to every corner of the Nephite lands, connecting all parts of the land to a central roadway system. Indeed, they went from city to city, and from land to land, and form place to place.
    The Peruvian road system is about 25,000 miles long—that’s equivalent to traveling from Los Angeles to New York City 9 times. It is the longest and most complete of any road system in the ancient world other than those of the Roman Empire, which according to conquistadors who had seen both, the Peruvian roads were on a par with the Roman roads.
    There were certain values the Peruvian roads would have offered the Nephites.
• They were the key to military might. They provided supply lines, fast movement of troops, and the ability to put troops where the enemy would pass by, since Lamanites as well as Nephite would use the road rather than trek across unbroken ground—this is seen in the incident of Moroni splitting up and hiding his troops to attack the Lamanites around the hill Riplah (Alma 43:31-35);
• They would have been incredibly efficient. The Nephite road had direct routes to every town, land and place. Like the Roman roads, they would have been direct, shooting straight up hills and along a straight line for many miles—this is seen in Coriantumr’s charge up the center of the land to attack Bountiful (Helaman 1:22-25);
• They would have been expertly engineered. The engineering of the roads would be apparent in the fact they lasted throughout the Nephite period of 1000 years;
• Since travel was by foot, these roads would have had road-side inns or post houses;
• It stands to reason that these roads and highways would have been well-protected and patrolled, since they were available to Lamanites as well as Nephite usage;
• Like other things Nephite, they were built to last. Nephi, who had learned from the Lord how to build, engineer, and achieve the results desire, taught his people how to build as well (1 Nephi 18:2-3; 2 Nephi 5:15).
Top: A rock based road across the empty hillsides; Bottom: another isolated road in an undeveloped area with a three foot high wall or curbing on one side

These early Peruvian roads and highways were the most advanced road system in all of pre-Columbian Americas, and after all the centuries since its construction and centuries of use, including heavy use during the Inca period, the highways and roads are still in quite good condition and used regularly by many of the locals, especially those in the mountains.
    There were two main systems in the ancient Andean lands, one was the eastern route, which ran high in the mountains, through mountain valleys, from northern Ecuador to southern Chile and into Argentina. The second, or western route followed the coastal plain except for where the deserts ran and then the road moved inland and hugged the foothills. More than twenty routes ran over the western mountains, while others traversed the eastern cordillera in the mountains and lowlands.
    The roads and highways connected the northern most modern city of Quito, in Ecuador, to the southern most modern city of Santiago in Chile, and from the coast to high in the mountains, extending over almost 25,000 miles, providing access to over 1,200,000 square miles of territory, with some of these roads reaching elevations of over 16,000 feet above sea level.
    In addition, some of these monumental roads were 66 feet wide—today a modern highway has lanes 12-feet wide, with an outside paved shoulder of 10 feet and inside shoulder width of 4 feet, making a modern four-lane highway 60-feet wide, and a modern 4-lane freeway 82-feet wide.
Tunnels were dug into the side of a mountain to gain access to the narrowest part of a canyon to allow for a rope bridge to be built across

Often these roads went along steep cliff faces, and even though tunnels dug into the mountains, and others had steps either provided up mountain sides, or through tunnels.
    When Moroni moved his armies across the land, he used these highways and roads; when Morianton rushed northward and Teancum cut him off, they used these roads; when Coriantumr sacked Zarahemla and led his Lamanite army northward toward Bountiful, he used these roads. These roads were what allowed the Inca later to quickly conquer such a large territory in such a short time, as well as administer all the regions because they could move so quickly from one place to another.
    When these ancient builders came to impassable canyons and rushing rivers, they built rope bridges across the chasms. It was one of these rope bridges that Moroni threw the bodies of the Lamanites off of and into the river to clear the path across to the other side (Alma 2:34).
    These roads were a large part of the Nephite nation, tying in all parts of the nation from one end to the other. Their construction began not long after Nephi founded the city of Nephi in the Land of Nephi, and as the Nephites began to multiply and spread out across the land (Jarom 1:6). After nearly 600 years, and before the destruction of the crucifixion, the Nephites had a road and highway system that connected all the towns, villages, settlements and cities of the nation.
    Consequently, some remnant of these roads would be visible today—and not just dirt roads of paths, for the Nephites had 1000 years of development behind them by the time Lehi landed and that would have been increased in accomplishments. As Nephi said, he taught his people how to build.
    Thus, we only need to look at some of the prevalent theories that exist to see if any match the Nephite descriptions. First of all, ancient roads have been found in many parts of the world. Not only do we have numerous Roman roads, but ancient stone pre-Roman roads were found in England (Bill Cooper, translated from the original medieval Welsh by Saint Tysilio in the 7th century AD, Chronicle of the Early Britons, Llanerch Publishers, Great Britain, 1811), also an ancient Greek road in Miletus and another outside Ireon Amos Island, and another in Corinth called the Lechaion road. There are ancient roads in Pompeii, as well as Stratonikeia, Turkey; Yorkshire, England. Others have been found not only in Guatamala and all through western South America, but also in Pueblo Alto, New Mexico.
    The point is, in all these and numerous other places, ancient roads are visible and easily identified.
    Consequently the Heartland and Great Lakes areas do not have any ancient rock roads, and little more than foot paths by the time the Europeans arrived. Mesoamerica, on the other hand, does, though by comparison to those of the Andes, and the description in 3 Nephi, the paucity of their roads is minimal. Nor are there such ancient roads in Baja California, Florida, or the Colombia area of South America. In Central America, there were ancient trails, paths and roads, but mainly trails and paths==and no roads to match the width and breadth of of the Nephite descriptions. There were none in Baja California, and none in Malay.

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