Friday, July 22, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Nephite Gold & Coins

In the last several posts, while discussing the additional clues in the scriptural record that should accompany any location for the Land of Promise, we have discussed the use of gold and silver coinage of the Nephites, and the over-abundance of gold, silver and copper in the both the Land of Promise and the Andean area of South America. In fact the existence of gold, silver, copper and other precious metals in the Andean area of South America, especially northern Chile and Peru, is remarkable in its quantity and availability.

Peru alone contains vast quantities of gold, silver, copper iron ore, mercury, vanadium, zinc, and lead, and is among the largest producers of silver, copper, zinc, and lead in the world. The Atacama Desert region in the south holds huge deposits of nitrate, as well as gold, silver and copper.

Peru's mining industry contributes significantly to the country's economy and is a major producer of gold—the largest in Latin America, and the 5th largest gold-producing country in the world, and still growing. Along with gold, Peruvian mines include silver, tin, copper, lead and zinc. Peru's mineral production is based on the growth of its gold sector, and is also the world’s most prolific source of mineral specimens, producing world-class minerals with pyrite specimen production, in both quantity and quality, exceeding any other source in the world. Nearly every mineral dealer and every major mineral museum in the world has at least some superb Peruvian specimens.

The “Pierina,” an open pit gold mine in central Peru, has produced 3.6 million ounces of gold in the first ten years of operation, while the “Yanacocha” in northern Peru has produced over $7 billion in gold. The “Antamina” copper mine deposit, including zinc, silver, lead, molybdenum and bismuth mineralization, is considered the largest undeveloped copper/zinc ore body in the world, and “Cerro de Pasco,” one of the highest cities in the world, and is noted for its silver mines, becoming one of the world's richest silver producing areas after silver was discovered there in the early 1600s. When silver deposits declined late in the 19th century, the exploitation of other metals, chiefly copper, again made Cerro de Pasco Peru's leading mining center. Its products include bismuth, zinc, lead, and gold. And from the nearby “Minasraga” mines comes about 80% of the world's supply of rare vanadium, which is used mainly to produce certain steel alloys.

These and many other mining operations in Peru suggests that when Nephi said, twenty years after reaching the Land of Promise, “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper,” he knew what he was talking about. And in addition, we should find a very high degree of skill in the ancient area occupied by the Nephites, for the Lord taught Nephi who, in turn, taught his people how to work the metals (1 Nephi 18:3; 2 Nephi 5:15).

As many archaeologists have recorded: “As an example of almost incredible skill we may mention that copper objects were sometimes welded in ancient Peru...another remarkable skill was exhibited by the silversmiths and goldsmiths who could beat out of a solid block of metal a beaker some eight inches deep and three inches in diameter without breaking it.”

The whole art of cire-perdue casting (literally “lost wax”) was well understood, and the most complex forms were cast by this technique in both gold and bronze, and the quality of preciousness attributed to these metals was something quite different in Peru from what is in the civilized world of today.

Obviously, the quantity of metal was quite considerable, and some archaeologists think that the long-continued use of charcoal for smelting by this method accounted for the greater part of the deforestation of the Andes. In addition, it is well understood that metallurgy was well developed more than a thousand years before the time of the Incas, and the rate of production was high from the beginning, and that the present evidence shows that ancient "gold metallurgy originated in the northern Andes of Peru, Ecuador, and even Colombia

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