Tuesday, November 3, 2020

One Theorist’s View of Mesoamerica – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding Joseph L. Allen’s erroneous comments about Mesoamerica and the scriptural record. Following are the pages on which Allen’s comments are found, continuing with page 70,

• (Page 70) “Most of the sites visited by tourists are Maya sites and, for the most part, are post Book of Mormon.  For example, of the ten most popular archaeological sites in Mesoamerica, seven are Maya.  Of the seven Maya sites, all are considered to be Classic Maya sites—that is, post Book of Mormon.”

“Post” Book of Mormon means after the Book of Mormon, or after 421 AD. There are no sites yet found in Mesoamerica where "hard" evidence can be found, i.e., buildings, pyramids, etc., that pre-date the time of Christ.  Consequently, the ten sites Allen lists, like all other sites that could be listed, were constructed after the time of Christ, and seven of the ten are after the time of Moroni and the destruction of the Nephites. 

Left to Right: San Juan Teotihuacán, Monte Alban, and Palenque in Mesoamerica


Allen's 12 sites are:

°San Juan Teotihuacán, 7th century AD;

° Monte Alban, occupied in 7th century AD;

° Mitla built by the Mixtec with the buildings dated to 450 AD to 700 AD and reached its peak in 750 AD to 1521 AD;

° Palenque, known anciently as Lakamha, reached its peak in 500 AD to 700 AD., and was abandoned in the 9th century AD;

° Uxmal, flourished in 700 AD to 1000 AD, but reached its peak between 875 and 900 AD; The main buildings were built between 8th and 10th centuries AD;

° Chichén Itzá, developed 750 AD to 900 AD last known date recorded 998 AD;

° Tulum, constructed 1200 AD to 1450 AD, earliest inscription dated to 564 AD believed to have been built elsewhere and brought to Tulum;

° Coba, 200 to 900 AD; however, the  construction of buildings was between 500 AD to 900 AD, the site reaching its peak in 7th century AD, and lasted until arrival of the Spanish;

° Tikal, buildings date to 700 BC to 400 BC, and reached its peak between 200 AD and 850 AD; in 317 AD, the site was ruled by a Queen;

° Copán, including Copan was a capital city from 5th to 9th centuries AD, with major events taking plae in 738 AD, declining in the 8th and9th centuries AD

° Cholula, 3rd century BC trough 8th century AD, abandoning the site in the 8th century AD;

° Tula, was occupied from 650 AD to 900 AD, with the city being abandoned around 850 AD to 900 AD.

Note that all of these 12 sites—the most important ones in Mesoamerica—were occupied long after the total destruction of the entire Nephite Nation and people. Consequently, none of these Maya (their Nephites) cities can be Book of Mormon sites.

Location sites shown above in Mesoamerica—note that five areas were in the Yucatan, which has no corresponding area in the scriptural record Land of Promise; only one is in Guatemala; and five are in Mexico (their Land Northward)


• (page 70), Allen continues: “Over the years, Latter-day Saints have been frustrated in trying to correlate anything Maya with anything Book of Mormon.  The result has usually been 1) to label everything Book of Mormon, or 2) to ignore totally any archaeological site as being Book of Mormon related.”

Let's take the first sentence:  Latter-day Saint people have not been frustrated, only the scholars who could not bring scripture and Maya findings together. That is, Book of Mormon dates and events are not found in Mesoamerica.

This frustration resulted in massive changes to scripture, scriptural intent, and the clear and precise interpretation rendered by Joseph Smith.  The reason there is great frustration on anyone's part in trying to correlate the Mayan history, culture, events, etc., with the Book of Mormon is simple--as Allen claims, the Maya were the Nephites and the interaction the Maya had with the Olmec (claimed to be the Jaredites by Allen) and others cannot be substantiated by scripture in any way. 

For the Maya to have the Olmec as their cultural and language base is as ludicrous as it is unsupportive.  Not only that, but Allen shows by his map (pg 75) that the Olmec Zone (the land of his Jaredites) spanned both the Land Northward and the Land Southward (actually, east and west in Mesoamerica) contrary to scripture which tells us that the Jaredites were never south of the narrow neck of land; in addition, another Allen map (pg97) shows that the Teotihuacan culture (near Mexico City in what is Allen's Land Which Was Northward) and that the Nephites immigrated into this area (the Valley of Mexico) beginning around 50 BC; however, Teotihuancan was occupied from about 150 BC onward according to Allen. 

Nephites moving overland into the Land Northward


This means that Nephites had to have moved into the area in 150 BC, but Helaman tells us the migration of Nephites northward did not occur until around 46 BC (Helaman 3:3), so who was in the Land Northward for over 100 years in the area around Mexico City called Teotihuacan? According to the scriptures (see footnote 7), the Nephites were involved in a constant, almost uninterrupted 54 year war, from 331 AD to about 385 AD, in which every Nephite was killed except Moroni (Mormon 8:7,9). 

So once again, we can see that Allen's model of Teotihuacan being a flourishing Nephite city with upwards of 100,000 to 200,000 inhabitants during this time would be impossible.  Despite these events where hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million or more Nephites were annihilated, Allen says of this time period that "both a concentrated building program and an increase of population occurred." (pg 98)

In the second sentence above, Allen tells us that Latter-day Saints have been so narrow-minded and incapable of reason, that they have labeled everything Book of Mormon or ignored totally any archaeological site as being Book of Mormon related. It is difficult to say why such an educated man as Allen believes that people are incapable of determining where truth lies and where it does not. 

What is probably meant here, is that LDS scholars have either accepted Mesoamerica as Lehi's landing site, or rejected it completely. The fact of the matter is, that any individual knowledgeable of the Book of Mormon can see which information matches scripture and which does not. The scriptures say north-south and the scholars say it's east-west; the scriptures say Zarahemla lay north of the Land of Nephi, Bountiful north of Zarahemla, the narrow neck of land lay north of Bountiful, the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward lay north of the narrow neck, and the Land of Many Waters lay north of the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:28-30)—the scholars say these lands lay to the west of each other; the scriptures give no indication, suggestion or hint that anyone but the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites, and Lamanites ever possessed the Land of Promise from about 2200 BC to about 400 AD, but the scholars say there were numerous other people; the scriptures say that only Coriantumr survived the annihilation of the Jaredites; but the scholars said the Jaredites were the basis of the Mulekite and Nephite culture and that these three peoples lived together in the Land of  Promise.  One could go on with these variances of scholarly thought from the scripture, but the above should suffice. 

Thus we see that it is not the Latter-day Saint who is confused or narrow in his vision of the Book of Mormon lands, but only the so-called scholars who insist on bending scripture to meet their Mesoamerican models.

• (Page 70) – “Both approaches are wrong (indicated above).  When John Lloyd Stephens reported his archaeological findings in 1841, he emphasized the ruins of Copan, Palenque, and Uxmal.  All three are Maya ruins.  All three have proven to be post Book of Mormon.”

Indeed they are post BC period.  C.W. Aram, a renowned archaeologist, who has written much concerning archaeology in the Western Hemisphere tells us that Palenque was founded around 100 A.D. Even so, he claims archaeology evidence and dating show Palenque to be older than Uaxactun, Tikal, Copan, Piedras, Negras, and Naranjo, and Uxmal.  Thus, all of these sites were founded after the time of Christ (C. W. Aram, The March of Archaeology, Knoph, N.Y., 1966, p277).

But undaunted about this, Allen goes on to say that this does not mean that there were no earlier development sites at these locations, thus allowing for his Book of Mormon (BC) era Nephite cities to have been in the land earlier. This is much like these Mesoamerican scholars, in light of specific proof to the contrary, they go on to say that earlier sites may have existed in the areas in question.

• (Page 71) – “In many cases, that is exactly what happened.  Therefore, only the visible building structures of Copan, Palenque, and Uxmal are post Book of Mormon.”

Exactly what happened, according to Allen, is that earlier sites existed where now no sites are found.  In a stroke of the pen, Allen disregards what archaeology has actually found, and replants it with a belief that something existed before where there is absolutely no shred of proof to back him up.  In this way Allen is able to say that there were development sites in the area during the Book of Mormon time period.

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