Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Metallurgy in Ancient Mesoamerica

It is not, as some claim, that metallurgy was not found in Mesoamerica at all, since there have been many finds there of gold, silver, copper, tin, mercury and lead—the latter being the least one worked. According to Echavarria, the alloys worked in Mesoamerica were gold and silver; gold and copper; copper and silver; and copper and lead. According to Torres and Franco, the techniques to work these metals in Mesoamerica were melting, hammering, lost-wax casting, a mixed technique of melting and hammering, coloration, and several types of gilding. In addition, Piedra, Pendergast, and Bray, all developed the workings of metallurgy that has been found and classified in Mesoamerica

However, according to these and many, many others who have worked in the ground in Mesoamerica, none of this evidence or any other evidence of metallurgy in Mesoamerica has been discovered to have existed before the so-called Late Classic period, the 7th to 9th century AD—300 years after the final demise of the Nephite Nation!

According to Galvan, around the 10th century AD, there appeared the first works connected with metallurgy in the modern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacan. And according to Ichon, Becquelin and Gervais, the items found around this time were axes, lancets, needles, rattles, ear flares and bracelets, and around the time of the conquerors, copper rattles and iron projectile points became more frequent. According to Igleisas and Ciudad, in Zaculeu, 30 metal objects were found in funerary contexts, as well as in Tajumulco. At Mixco Viego, a copper axe was found as well as other artifacts of gold, according to Murdy. And according to Lee, artifacts of metallurgy were found in Chiapa de Corzo dating to this Late Classic period.

In all, metal work was concentrated in specific areas of Mesoamerica, where different techniques for the procurement and manufacture of metal artifacts were adopted and developed. For what it seems, Guatemala did not have metallurgy like that of western or central Mexico; however, it has samples that feature great artistic and technical skills. But the main point here is that none has ever been found dating earlier than approximately the 8th to the 10th century AD, showing that metallurgy first appeared in Mesoamerica and southern Mexico around 800 A.D. In this, thirteen of the most knowledgeable archaeologists working in the ground in Mesoamerica have agreed, with all their findings showing the same dating results—there was no metallurgy in Mesoamerica during the Jaredite or Nephite periods.

Even today, Guatemala is one of the least producing countries of the world in gold, silver and copper (see the previous post), having some of the fewest deposits in the ground of any country. So when Nephi said they found ore in abundance of gold, of silver, and of copper, he could not possibly have been referring to Mesoamerica.

Most archaeologists believe that the metallurgy found in Mexico and Guartemala came there from South America and Central America via maritime trade routes, with technologies exploiting a wide range of material, including alloys of copper-silver, copper-arsenic, copper-tin, and copper-arsenic-tin, with objects used for individual ornamentation and ceremonial objects making up the bulk of distinctly Mesoamerican artifacts.

Owing largely to its proximity to southern centers of metallurgy, specifically southern Central America and South America, the southern Maya area was an early locus of metal working in Mesoamerica. In the beginning, West Mexican smiths worked primarily in copper during the initial period, with some low-arsenic alloys, as well as occasional employment of silver and gold. The prototypes for the small, often utilitarian items appear rooted in southern Ecuador and northern Peru, according to Dorothy Hosler, “Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American origins and West Mexican Transformations,” found in “American Anthropologist.”

Thus, it clearly appears that metallurgy began in the Ecuador and Peruvian area of South America, both of which have metallurgical history dating into B.C. times, and eventually moved north into Central America and then Mesoamerica, where evidence of metallurgy has been found by at least 800 A.D.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Both of Gold, and of Silver, and of Copper—Part I—The Sage of Tumbaga

In the last post we discussed the importance of Nephi’s statement: “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). In this post, we will introduce the Saga of Tumbaga and how it misleads people and keeps them from fully grasping the importance of Nephi’s statement.

In John Lund’s book, “Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?” he notes that gold, silver and copper are mentioned several times in the scriptural record as being found in abundance in the land. He then goes on to state that “if there are proposed geographical theories that do not have all of these in abundance, then they would fail the test of being a possible site.” He goes on to explain “Four separate mining areas possessing gold, silver and copper are required in order to qualify as the lands of the primary events. Where are those criteria met? The answer is Mesoamerica, Southwestern United States, the Northern Rockies, and Western Canada.”

He then goes on to say that “Mesoamerica is known for its abundance in precious ores, which is why it was an area of such focus of the conquistadors. They raided and conquered entire civlizations in order to get gold and silver. He wrote “When Cortez reached Mexico with his army in March, the gold and silver he saw led him to conclude that it was where Solomon brought gold for the Temple.”

Lastly, and most importantly, he states: “Mesoamerican Indians also used a gold and copper (and sometimes silver) alloy called “tumbaga,” and this was a common metal alloy that Mesoamericans used. He also wrote that: “When the conquistadors sent back to Spain the gold items from the natives, they would melt them down into bars and ship them to their homeland. One of these ships was sunk in the Bahamas, and 200 5.66 lb. tumbaga bars were found in the sunken ship, and that to make large amounts of tumnbaga, there must be an abundance of both gold and copper in the area.

Some points before we get to Tumbaga: 1) Of all the areas mentioned for the answer to his question, he omits the Andean Area of South America where the greatest deposits of gold, silver and copper are found—by comparison: Gold production kilograms annually: Peru 182,291; Chile 40,834; Guatemala 8,485. Silver production in metric tons annually: Peru 3854; Chile 1301; Guatemala 128. Copper production in metric tons annually: Chile 3,356,600; Peru 1,107,789; Guatemala 0; 2) The scriptures do not say, gold, silver and copper, they say “both of gold, and of silver, and of copper”—a very different statement and meaning; 3) Cortez found the gold and silver in Mexico among the Aztecs (not Mesoamerica), 4) Mexico (not Mesoamerica) is known for its abundance in gold and silver, 5) Mesoamerica has little copper, 6) The focus of the conquistadors was Mexico and the Aztec civilization, not Mesoamerica.

Now to Tumbaga.

When the Conquistadors reached Mexico in the 16th century, they saw the enormous amount of artifacts made of a gold and copper alloy. Because both gold and copper have a yellowish shiny appearance, they called it Tumbaga (tembaga which means copper, brass). Tumbaga has come down to us through the ages exactly as it was originally meant—an alloy of gold and copper. While it is a mixture, it is not consistent—that is, it can have as much as 97% gold and 3% copper all the way to 97% copper and 3% gold. Unfortunately, to the layman, and many so-called professionals in the field, the term tumbaga is sometimes used to indicate any alloy of two or more metals.

So when the Spanish ship that headed for Spain in 1528 sank off the Grand Bahama Island, and was discovered in 1992, the term tumbaga was applied to the stash of ingots it carried, though the bars were divided into two distinct piles, one of gold and the other of silver. Thus, in the “Tumbaga Saga: Treasure of the Conquistadors” writings about this shipwreck and its cargo, the word “tumbaga” was loosely applied by the discoverers to both alloys of gold and silver, however, tumbaga literally meant the alloy of gold and copper since the Spanish did not use the term to apply to the non shiny metal of silver.

Tomaga is an alloy of gold and copper; Right: Tombak is an alloy of copper and zinc

The term “tombak,” used by Great Lakes Theorists is not the same as the Spanish “tumbaga.” Tombak (Tombac) is a brass alloy with high copper content and from 5% to 20% zinc content. Tin, lead or arsenic may be added for coloration. It is a cheap malleable alloy mainly used for medals, ornament, decoration and some modern munitions. In older use, the term map apply to brass alloy with a zinc conetent as high as 28% to 35%. Tombak should not be confused with tumbaga, which contains gold and did not exist in the Great Lakes area.

While the word “tumbaga” in archaeology means “an alloy of gold and copper” it has unfortunately become loosely used today by non-professionals as meaning “any two or more metals mixed together” which is more accurately the definition given to the word “alloy.” The word tumbaga has even been given, by some, to denote a period of time in pre-Columbian central America when just about any alloy with gold or copper is referred to as tumbaga.

Thus the inaccurate use of the Spanish name for gold and copper has led some, including John Lund, to think it applied to silver, giving him an inaccurate location in Central America for the placement of Nephi’s gold, silver and copper.

It is this type of inaccurate writing and thinking that leads one to feel he has a verification of his Land of Promise model when, in reality, he does not.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Both of Gold, and of Silver, and of Copper—Part I—Significance of Nephi’s Statement

And speaking of clues—what is the significance of Nephi’s statement: “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). While this has been covered before, its significance cannot be overstated.

First of all, as has been stated in earlier posts, the word “both means two,” as in “both an apple and an orange,” “Both the present and the future,” “Both the good and the bad.” While it may seem strange that Nephi wrote the word “both” and followed it with three items, we merely need to recognize that two of those items can catagorically be placed as one—precious metals. That is, gold and silver are precious metals, or one item, and copper is a non-precious metal, a second item. It is the same as saying, as Nephi does, “both men, women and children,” with men and women as adults being one category, and children being a different category.

We also need to keep in mind that ore often contains more than one metal, especially the ore of copper, which can contain gold, and it can contain gold and silver. Thus, we see that Nephi is telling us that he found abundant deposits of gold, silver and copper ore—a single ore containing all three metals.

Now, copper is not found in gold and silver ore deposits everywhere—none, as a matter of fact in the Great Lakes region, and while tumbaga (a manufactured alloy of gold and copper) was found in Central America, it was not found in the ground in that manner. So the use of tumbaga does not qualify for the manner in which Nephi describes the ore he found.

On the other hand, gold, silver and copper is found naturally in a single ore throughout the Andean area of South America. Sometimes referred to as porphyry copper ore bodies, this ore contains copper with smaller amounts of other metals such as silver, gold and molybdenum. Porphyry copper deposits currently are the largest source of copper ore. Most of the known porphyrys are concentrated in western South America, western North America and Southeast Asia and Oceana—along the Pacific Ring of Fire. The greatest concentration of the largest copper porphyrys is in Chile—and almost all mines exploiting large porphyry deposits produce from, and are mined in, open pits.

Chuquicamata, or Chuqui, is by digged volume the biggest open pit copper mine in the world (29 million tonnes of copper annually) and is located in the north of Chile, and is the second deepest open-pit mine in the world (only Bingham Canyon in Utah is deeper). In Chuquicamata, copper is known to have been mined for centuries since a mummy dated to about 550 A.D. was found in an ancient mine shaft there, suggesting the mine had been operating for some time before then. At one time over 400 copper mines were located in this area when “Red Gold Fever” struck in the 19th century. Chile was the top mine producer of copper with at least one-third world share followed by the U.S., Indonesia and Peru—thus, two out of the top four producers of copper are located in our suggested Land of Promise.

In addition, copper occurs naturally as native copper, and was discovered in the Andes around 2000 B.C., around the time of the Jaredites, and later in Chile and Peru, during the time of the Nephites, but not in Central America until around 600 A.D. The development of copper smelting in the Andes occurred independently of that in the Old World, and early on was combined with tin and/or arsenic, which is an impurity in copper ores, to obtain bronze, an alloy which is significantly harder than copper. As late as the Inca period, copper was still being alloyed with tin to make bronze.

While historians believe that it is a mystery how ancient smiths learned to produce copper/tin bronze, and that it was most likely a lucky accident, we know that Nephi was instructed by the Lord (1 Nephi 17:18), and shown where to go to get ore (1 Nephi 17:10), and how to smelt it (1 Nephi 17:11) and that he made tools from the ore (1 Nephi 17:16), and that the Lord showed him many things relating to the building of his ship and the tools required in its construction (1 Nephi 18:3) and, finally, that Nephi taught all this to his people (2 Nephi 5:15). All these things the Lord did so that the Nephites would know He was God (1 Nephi 17:14).

In Egypt, iron working was being done in 1100 B.C., and in Israel, it was being smelted in 930 B.C., but long before these, iron was smelted in Mesopotamia (original home of the Jaredites), around 2000 B.C.

While copper was abundant in the Great Lakes area, it was natural copper with no other minerals (such as gold and silver) and neither had to be mined, nor was it ever smelted—a technique never known in that area. Thus, Great Lakes copper working involved simple beating of malleable copper into the shape desired. But in the Old World and in Israel, as well as in ancient Peru, it was discovered that heating, called annealing, made copper more malleable, a process called tempering, which was then hammered after it was heated resulting in an edge on a tool or weapon that was harder and more durable. It was also smelted, which was the primitive process of extracting metallic copper from copper-bearing stones, and to remove the iron properties in the ore.

In the more complex method of the ancients, a crucible was used—a ceramic pot into which the charcoal and copper ore were placed. The crucible was then placed in a fireplace, or furnace, and a bellows, often made of goat skins, directed a draft of air to raise the fire’s temperature, resulting in a cleaner product. As Nephit wrote: “I did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts” (1 Nephi 17:11).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Importance of Clues

As has been pointed out in the last twenty posts, the importance of clues—matching scriptural references—in determining an area that could have been the Land of Promise cannot be overstated.

In far too many cases, someone decides on a location because of a personal feeling, a limited matching of scriptural references, a comment by a General Authority or Church Leader, or a lack of effort in understanding the importance of what Mormon wrote. However, there is only one way to determine the location of the Land of Promise, and that is to go over in great detail the scriptures, accepting them as written, and seeing where those clues/statements take you without trying to alter them or think you know more than those who wrote them.

However, many people ignore the scriptural references or try to bend or change them and their original meaning, or try to cloud the issue by introducing information that has nothing to do with the scriptural record, or they become so convinced of a particular location that they pass over all those references that do not agree with their location, or try to restrict the understanding and intent of the scripture to make it fit their predetermined ideas.

All of these attempts to satisfy a location for the Land of Promise is not only disingenuous, but is so misleading that others, even less knowledgeable of Mormon’s actual writings, are misinformed and become followers of inaccurate theories.

Just as an example, take the two most well-known Land of Promise locations with the largest number of followers: Mesoamerica and the Great Lakes-eastern United States. You might even draw a parallel between this and the many churches extant in New England when Joseph Smith went into the Sacred Grove and received an understanding contrary to all of those religious theories.

The Mesoamerica Theory: First, the directions are not aligned as Mormon and others described them and no amount of misinformation about north, east, south or west directions, such as Mesoamerica guru John L. Sorenson gives, can change this one simple fact. Secondly, there are no two unknown animals meeting Moroni’s description; no two unknown grains equivalent to corn, wheat, and barley as Mosiah describes; no herbs and plants to cure fever as Alma wrote; there was no metallurgy during B.C. times and not until about 200 A.D. (according to Hosler in “American Anthropologist” and “Journal of the minerals,” in 800 A.D.), and that “metallurgy in Mesoamerica developed from contacts with South America.” Thirdly, there is no way seeds from the Mediterranean Climate, soils, temperature and precipitation as that of Jerusalem would have grown anywhere in the warm, wet, tropical regions of Mesoamerican area, let alone provide abundant harvests. Fourthly, the suggested Narrow Neck of Land simply does not meet any of the requirements described by Mormon. Fifth, there simply are no mountains “whose height is great” anywhere in Mesoamerica or Central America, and only a few moderate sized mountains in southern Mexico. Sixth, it is simply not possible to sail “north” from the suggested Narrow Neck in the “west sea” that Mormon describes—any journey could only have been to the west, rendering Mormon’s description of the ships that went north meaningless. Seventh, there can only be two “seas” in this area, a “sea north” and a “sea south.”

The Great Lakes Theory: First, there is no isolated area of land that runs from sea to sea as Mormon and others describe, nor was there ever an ocean separating part of this land, nor was there any way to reach this area by sea, especially “driven forth before the wind.” In addition, there was no way to reach any of the Great Lakes until the Erie Canal was built in 1825, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848. Secondly, there were no unknown animals, grain, herbal cures, etc., as Mormon and others described as mentioned above in the Mesoamerican Theory. Nor was there any abundant deposits of gold and silver, and the copper of the area was metal found in nature and not requiting smelting nor alloying techniques used; nor were there any roads, rock or stone walls, buildings, forts or resorts as described (there are remnants of wood pole forts, however, the vast majority of these were not pre-Columbian); there were no cities (just stick, hide and mud huts, though some of these were fairly large). According to Martin in “Wonderful Power: The Story of Ancient Copper Working in the Lake Superior Basin,” who wrote: “no one has found evidence that points to the use of melting, smelting and casting in prehistoric eastern North America.” Thirdly, there is no way seeds from the Mediterranean Climate, soils, temperature and precipitation as that of Jerusalem would have grown anywhere in the Great Lakes region, an area referred to as the “snow belt,” with extremely cold winters, hurricanes, and even subtropical cyclones, let alone provide abundant harvests of seeds used to a mild climate. Fourthly the suggested Narrow Neck of Land in no way would allow for the blocking of invasion from the south, and simply does not meet any of the requirements described by Mormon. Fifth, there simply are no mountains “whose height is great” anywhere in the Eastern United States, Great Lakes area, or anywhere around this region. Sixth, there is no place for Hagoth’s ships that sailed north to go from the suggested Narrow Neck area into the “west sea,” making his ship building business almost meaningless and Mormon’s description of the ships that went north. Seventh, there are no “seas” (oceans) surrounding this area.

If one is to choose either of these two areas for the Land of Promise, one must either change or ignore much of Mormon’s descriptions of what that land looked like, what it contained, and how it was geographically laid out. That is hardly the approach to an accurate location for the Land of Promise!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Still Other Matches: Irrigation

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues as outlined in the last 19 posts, including clues that are not directly mentioned in the scriptural record such as circumcision covered in the last post, but implied by the nature of the Jewish culture from which the Nephites sprang, there is also the concept of irrigation.

It has always been the way of God’s people to turn a desert into a garden through their irrigation methods. Isaiah said that the “desert will bloom like a rose,” which is already being seen in the nation of Israel. When they returned to their land in 1948, it was a barren wasteland. Now Israel is a green oasis of prosperity and abundant agriculture.

Early Mormon Pioneers, led by Brigham Young, changed the desolate deserts of the valleys of the intermountain west into green, productive farmland. The construction of canal systems, which in the Lake Bonneville basin took advantage of existing shoreline benches on the edges of valleys to feed water to the former lake bottoms below, allowed mixed farming in mountain valleys which had formerly supported only sagebrush and grasses.

Before the Mormons came to the Utah Territory, it was totally desert, and there was a remark made by Jim Bridger that no one could possibly live in the Utah area. But the Mormons proved that they could live here by making the Salt Lake Valley "bloom like a rose."

As one prestigious anthropologist has stated: “One of the signatures of the beginning of civilization and complex society is intensive agriculture, where you have not only crops but also irrigation technology.”

And such important irrigation techniques have been found in abundance in the Andean area of South America dating well into B.C. times. There is historical and physical evidenced of sedentary communities that developed agriculture and irrigation within this area. There are evidences of numerous irrigation canals that show communal work as shown in Heather Whipps “Peruvian Canals Most Ancient in New World," and John Noble Wilford “Evidence Found for Canals That Watered Ancient Peru.”

According to the National Academy of sciences, Tom Dillehay, a distinguished professor of Anthropology and chair of the department at Vanderbilt University, along with Herbert Eling of the Instituto Naciona de Anthropolitica e Historia in Coahulila, Mexico, and Jack Rossen of Ithaca College, have found proof that irrigation was at the heart of the development of one of the earth’s first civilizations in the Peruvian Andes. These canals in Peru’s upper middle Zana Valley are considered to be the oldest in South America. A striking feature of the canals is that they are located on a very slight slope, indicating that their builders were able to engineer them to function hydraulically in a relatively sophisticated manner.

The Mochica occupied a 136-kilometer-long expanse of the coast from the Ro Moche Valley and reached its apogee toward the end of the first millennium A.D. They built an impressive irrigation system that transformed miles of barren desert into fertile and abundant fields capable of sustaining a population of over 50,000. The Mochica achieved a remarkable level of civilization, as witnessed by their highly sophisticated ceramic pottery, lofty pyramids, and clever metalwork.

The Nazca culture were able to tame the coastal desert by bringing water through underground aqueducts. They carved out vast geometric and animal figures on the desert floor, a series of symbols believed to form part of an agricultural calendar which even today baffles researchers.

Satellites have shown numerous patterns of contour forms of ancient irrigation in the Peruvian side of the altiplano. In fact, in all the Western Hemisphere, the area of Peru has the most ancient irrigation canals, which are the most sophisticated for the time--many so well done, they are still in use today.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Still Other Matches

Returning now to our original series on the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant crops, locating ore deposits in abundance and which contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, fortified walls, slings used as weapons, coins, ziff, and tall mountains, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also need to be found in the Land of Promise.

Some of these clues are not directly mentioned in the scriptural record, but implied by the nature of the Jewish culture from which the Nephites sprang.

One example is that we know the Nephites practiced the Law of Moses (Alma 25:15), and we know that the Law of Moses required circumcision and was practiced by the Nephites for the first 600 years of their history before it was fulfilled in Christ (Moroni 8:8). Thus, we see that the Nephites, who lived the Law of Moses, practiced circumcision.

In fact, circumcision dates back to God’s covenant with Abraham. In the first biblical mention of circumcision, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God said to Abram, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless." God then explained his part of the covenant — he would be the God of Abraham's descendants and give them the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:1-8); God then further explained Abraham's part of the covenant (Genesis 17:10-14). "This is...the covenant you are to keep." Every male was to be circumcised, and this physical rite was to be "the sign of the covenant" with God, and it was "an everlasting covenant." Every male in Abraham's household was to be circumcised immediately, and from then on every new baby boy was to be circumcised on the eighth day. Whether they were Hebrews or whether they were purchased as slaves, the men had to be circumcised. If they were not, they would be cut off; they had broken the covenant. Abraham did what God told him to do (Genesis 17:23-27; 21:4). The practice of circumcision became the defining characteristic of the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob clan.

Thus we find that God’s people, which obviously would have included the Nephites, honored the covenant of circumcision. And the only area in the Western Hemisphere where there is an archaeological record with physical evidence that the ancients living there from B.C. times, practiced circumcision was in the Andean area of Peru.

Rafael Larco Hoyle, whose uncle Victor Larco Herrera was the founder of the first museum in Lima, Peru, and who himself is credited with nearly 100 verified discoveries of the early 20th century in the Andean area, and perhaps the most knowledgeable person of the ancient Peruvian people known today as the Mochica, discovered that these people anciently practiced circumcision, as did their predecessors, unnamed at this time, but referred to as the Mochica Complex or Initial Mochica. In addition to ceramic and textile art, which shows circumcision, numerous mummies discovered and preserved in the dry climate of western Peru have shown countless incidents of circumcision practiced anciently.

Again, the area of Andean Peru matches an area of the Book of Mormon, along with those listed in the previous 17 posts covering and matching 15 specific scriptural references—no other area in the Western World matches all these scriptural descriptions to be found in the Land of Promise other than this Peruvian area.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Western Hemisphere-Land of Promise—Part III--Hill Cumorah

It is interesting how blithely Great Lakes Theorists claim that the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York is the same hill as the one described by Mormon in the scriptural record. For the last two posts, we have been discussing the topography of the Land of Promise compared with the topography of the Great Lakes area, the theory both Olive and Nausbaum have written about, as well as others who had joined their theory.

On a recent trip through this area and spending several days investigating the land, driving over almost every inch of it, and stopping to see how sightings are found, hills broached, marching paths taken, how the lakes and rivers flow, it is interesting how little this land matches Mormon’s many descriptions.

Take the Hill Cumorah. This was the battle site of the final defeat and annihilation of the Nephite nation, which Mormon discusses in some detail. A hill overlooking the battle zone of upwards of ¾ of a million warriors fighting this final battle, where 230,000 Nephites were killed and an unknown number of Lamanites. In addition, the 24 survivors of that first day’s battle (Mormon 6:11), looked down from the vantage point of the hill over this gigantic battlefield where at least 1/3 of a million men lay dead.

Now this hill is little more than a cigar-shaped mound, standing only 140 feet above the lowland topography, and only 1.7 miles long and 0.4 miles wide. It is a very plain and simple hill with nothing to recommend its viewing (other than the plates having been retrieved from there by Joseph Smith).

The cigar-shaped Hill Cumorah is one of many hills in the area, formed much like an up-side-down spoon, tapering at one end to only twenty feet in width, is called a drumlin, and one of some 10,000 such hills in west-central New York, composing one of the largest drumlin fields in the world. The hill provides very little view in any direction, and tough now covered almost completely with trees and heavily wooded, in the latter half of the 19th century, and possibly at the time of Joseph Smith, most of the hill was denuded and merely an ugly dirt mound (see picture below), providing very little cover for even a single man, let alone twenty-four, and no place to hide.

Note the denuded hill and the cleared fields for planting. At one time, before the settlers cleared the area, the base of the hill and the fields all around were heavily wooded and covered with trees.

After that first day’s battle, Mormon wrote: “And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me—“ and goes on to list the 230,000 Nephites who lay dead on the battlefield around him (Mormon 6:11-15).

Now, after seeing and walking around this Hill Cumorah, it is obvious that nobody could have seen that kind of carnage spread across the landscape from this mere 140-foot high advantage—besides, the area is all wooded and would have blocked any type of visual effort save to the immediate base of the hill. In addition, there are other drumlin hills around Cumorah, which, again, would have blocked such a visual perusal of Mormon and his 23 other survivors in discerning the battlefield carnage.

Yet, Mormon and his 23 survivors, viewed the carnage of this last battle, prompting Mormon to lament in verses 16 through 22 about these fallen Nephites. Obviously, he could see the battlefield from his vantage point atop the Hill Cumorah and it was such a pathos that he was overwhelmed with the evil of his people and how they could all have been saved had they followed the Lord and not chosen evil over good.

One of the pictures I took of the Hill Cumorah when there a few weeks ago. The flag at the top center is at the crest of the hill. To the left, behind the trees is the monument to the Angel Moroni. The cleared path up to the top (where the Palmyra Pageant is held) is at the steepest part of the hill, which is an easy walk. The top is not level, but continues on over to the other side, much like a cigar in shape as drumlins are often described.

Having seen this area and imagined the images if Mormon’s battle took place here, and envisioned where ¾ of a million warriors fought, it can only be assumed that the hill would have not only been completely surrounded, but entirely overrun since it is not high enough or shaped in any way to impede movement across it during such an aggressive battle. Certainly, if this was the site, there would have been no place for anyone to have survived that first battle, let alone 24 Nephite warriors.

Walking this area, seeing views from a helicopter, and understanding the battle that Mormon described, it is impossible to believe that this hill was the one described by Mormon in the Land of Promise on that fateful day where at least 300,000 warriors died.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Western Hemisphere—The Land of Promise – Part II

Since Nephi tells us Columbus came to his brethren in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12—see last post) and Columbus never set foot in North America, Mexico, or Mesoamerica, we can assume Lehi landed elsewhere than these areas. In fact, the furthest north Columbus landed on the mainland of the Americas was Honduras, also exploring Nicaragua and Costa Rica and eventually landing again in Panama, all in Central America, during his fourth voyage--the furthest south was northern South America.

We also learn from Nephi that the “others” who followed Columbus (1 Nephi 13:12) and the later conquerors (1 Nephi 13:14) settled from Central Mexico in the north to Peru in the south. These later Gentiles who ”scattered” and “smitten” (defeated or conquered) the Lamanites in the promnised land” would have been between Mexico city and central Chile in South America.

The Prophet Moroni, while translating the 24 gold plates of Ether, inserted an understanding of the promised land in Chapter 13, explaining that Ether told the ancient Jaredites that “after the waters had receded from off the face of the land, it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2).

Now, since the Jaredites were in the same general area of the Nephites (the Nephites having expanded into all of the old Jaredite lands in the last half of their occupying the land of promise), we can understand that Moroni was referring to the “promised land” that Nephi mentioned. Further, Ether told the Jaredites that this promised land upon which they dwelt “was the place of the New Jerusalem which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the lord” (Ether 13:3).

[Western Hemisphere divided between Ephraim and Manasseh]

Obviously, then, the promised land included the Western Hemisphere—that is, South America, Central America, and North America. For it was this entire hemisphere that was hidden from discovery, and remained without inhabitants from the Flood until the time of the Jaredites, and that even by 600 B.C., should still be kept hidden as Lehi was promised: “This land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations” (2 Nephi 1:8).

This Land of Promise, to which Lehi was directed (1 Nephi 5:22), and of which he was promised for himself and his seed (2 Nephi 1:5), and also Nephi was promised (1 Nephi 2:20), and to which they were brought by the hand of the Lord (2 Nephi 1:10) and eventually obtained (2 Nephi 1:3) was a land choice above all other lands (2 Nephi 1:5). This Land of Promise was the same land that the Jaredites were given (Ether 2:15; 7:6; 9:3, 31).

Thus, we can see from the scriptural record, that both the Jaredites and the Nephites occupied the Land of Promise, a land to which the Lord showed Nephi in a vision would be visited by “a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12)—a man Joseph Smith and others identified as Columbus.

So we see that Columbus visited the Jaredite and Nephite Land of Promise, though he never set foot in North America (nor Mesoamerica).

[The three groups mentioned in 1 Nephi 13]

Further, we find that Nephi saw “the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:13-14). The “wrath of God” displayed toward the Lamanites in Mexico and Peru is unmatched anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, where the Spanish conquistadors wiped out three advanced civilizations of “Nephi’s brethren” the Lamanites (Aztec, Maya, and Inca) in a most ruthless and barbaric manner. Even today, the Indians of Latin America are at the bottom of the order, with Penninsulares (born in Spain), Creoles (Spaniards born in Latin America), Mulattos (mixed European and African ancestry), and the Indians.

Nephi further saw “the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them. And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them. And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle” (1 Nephi 13:15-18). Here Nephi’s vision was expanded to see more of the happenings in the Land of Promise, including the Pilgrims and the settlement of the colonies in North America and their coming war for independence.

And lastly, Nephi saw “that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Nephi 13:19). This simple statement covers several years and wars for independence beginning in the colonies of North America (from England), and later expanding into Mexico, Central America and South America (from Spain, Portugal, France, etc.), where the peoples of the entire Western Hemisphere threw off the yoke of European dominance of Kings and churches to gain their individual national freedoms. The dates of independence were: United States 1776 (Florida 1819, Texas 1836); Paraguay 1811; Argentina 1816; Chile 1818; Colombia 1819; Mexico, Peru, Guatemala. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica 1821; Brazil, Ecuador 1822; Bolivia 1825; Uruguay 1828; Venezuela 1830; Haiti 1849; Yucatan 1868; Cuba 1902; Panama 1903; Jamaica 1962; Guyana 1966; and Trinidad 1976. Puerto Rico is a possession of U.S. since 1898. Truly “the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Western Hemisphere—The Land of Promise -- Part I

One of the most important understandings of the geography of the Land of Promise is to recognize what exactly constituted the promised land consecrated to both the Jaredite and Nephite nations (including both the Mulekites and in a way, the Lamanites).

We are told through modern-day revelation that the area in the middle of North America was the original location of the Garden of Eden, and that when Adam was ejected from Eden, he settled in an area a few miles to the north where present day Adam-ondi-Ahman is now located. John A.Widtsoe stated that Eden was in the upper part of what is now the state of Missouri, and Brigham Young declared that the Prophet Joseph Smith told him “that the garden of Eden was in Jackson County Missouri and when Adam was driven out of the garden of Eden, he went about 40 miles to the place which we named Adam Ondi Ahman.”

We also know that after the Flood of Noah’s gime, this hemisphere was reserved, or hidden, from mankind until the Jaredites were led here. It remained hidden until Lehi was led here some 1300 years later. And it was still hidden from manhind in general for another 2000 years until the Europeans arrived.

The first of these Europeans was Columbus, who Nephi saw in a vision—“and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).

So Nephi tells us three things:

1. The man came from across the ocean

2. The man came to Nephi’s brethren (the Lamanites)

3. The man came to the promised land

We are also told that this man was followed by others who also crossed the ocean (1 Nephi 13:13).

Thus we see this man, a Gentile, leading a parade of other Gentiles who came across the ocean to land in the promised land, who were followed by “many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise” and that these Gentiles “scattered” Nephi’s brethren who were “smitten” by them. (1 Nephi 13:14).

So from this we learn that this man (Columbus) and others (Spanish Conquistadors) came to the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 13:12). Now, since Columbus and the conquistadors never set foot in the area of the United States or Canada, but Columbus only in the Caribbean and Central and South America, and the conquistadors in central Mexico, Central America and South America, we must conclude that the “promised land” Nephi saw them visit was somewhere between Mexico City and the Chilean border of South America.

In addition, Nephi goes on to tell us about the forming of the American colonists and the origination of the United States (1 Nephi 13:16-19), which extends the promised land also into North America, specifically the area of present-day United States. This is also stated by many modern-day prophets, including Joseph Smith.

Therefore it can only be concluded that the Land of Promise encompasses South America, Central America, and North America—the entire Western Hemisphere.

To claim that only the United States, or only the Eastern U.S., or only the Great Lakes area, is the Land of Promise is absolutely without merit and without scriptural reference. Nephi made it abundantly clear that Columbus and the others came to his brethren, which were not in North America, for Columbus never set foot in the continental United States or in Mexico--or in Mesoamerica for that matter.

The Great Lakes Theorists might want to recognize Nephi’s vision, which was the same vision accorded Lehi (1 Nephi 11:1, 6), which was given to him by an Angel (1 Nephi 11:14; 13:11), making it quite clear that Nephi and his brethren (the Lamanites) were not in North America.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of the Great Lakes Region-The Four Seas

Continuing with the last few posts about the fallacy of using the Great Lakes region as the Land of Promise and the total lack of matching Mormon’s scriptural geographical references, Phyllis Carol Olive on her website claims:

“Once again, taking the scriptures at face value, as we all should, we would have to assume a north and south sea are pertinent to the geographical location of the Book of Mormon lands. In the New York setting the four seas described are clearly defined. While the seas which bordered the land southward were referred to as the west sea (Lake Erie) and the east sea (A Genesee Lake), both proper names, the seas mentioned in relation to the those in the land northward were referred to in relation to their placement in the land. It seems that as more and more Nephites began moving northward, they ultimately spread, insomuch that they filled every river valley in southern Ontario, from Georgian Bay on the north (sea north) to Lake Erie on the south (sea south), and from Lake Huron on the west (sea west) to Lake Ontario on the east (sea east)—the lakes referred to by their positions in the land, not by name, for the east sea proper was further south.”

She also includes a map showing the four seas mentioned (I have taken the liberty of inserting the Land Northward, Land Southward, Hill Cumorah, and Lehi’s Landing Site, based on Mormon’s numerous references, within her location of the four seas, and also placed her own locations for the Ancient Lake Tonawanda, and her Narrow Neck of Land):

As one can easily see, there are certain inconsistencies between this map, or location of the four seas, by Olive, and the geographical description by Mormon:

1. The Land Northward and the Land Southward, by definition, must be located within the four seas which bordered the entire Land of Promise (so by naming these current lakes, she limits the location of the actual Land of Promise as Mormon describes it)

2. This area of the Land of Promise is extremely limited in size, is basically wider (east to west) than it is long (north to south), though this does not match the scriptural references.

3. The Land of First Inheritance was located on the west sea south (which would put it around the present day city of Detroit on her map); however, there was no way to get a ship into this area from any direction, requiring a very, very long walk--many hundreds of miles--from the nearest penetration of a deep sea sailing ship “driven forth before the wind.”

4. The Hill Cumorah in upper New York State is not even located within the Land of Promise area as Mormon described it, but lies outside and beyond the East Sea.

5. The Sea North is really the smallest of the four seas shown, yet Ripliancum is described as “to exceed all” and is obviously far smaller than her West Sea.

6. The Narrow Neck of Land does not qualify regarding her placement of the Sea East and the Sea South which would cause the Land Southward to be placed to the south of the Sea East and east and south of the Sea South—neither of which description matches anything Mormon described.

7. Her use of the ancient Lake Tonawanda, just south of Lake Ontario, is claimed to be her sea that divides the land—but there is no land that is divided by the parameters of that ancient lake bed according to geological descriptions. As shown in a previous post, the ancient Tonawanda Lake was not a solid mass of water, but broken up by islands and land masses (one should study the geological record to see how Lake Erie, the Niagara River and the entire Niagara Escarpment was affected at this time, which would have severely changed the appearance of this area as we now know it and Olive has used to be the same as in ancient times with Tonawanda in existence).

In addition, Olive claims: “The sea that divides the land is one of the most important landmarks in all of Book of Mormon territory and is key to the overall understanding of the geographical layout of the Book of Mormon. It defines the lands northward and southward and lays just to the north of Bountiful.”

However, there is no way this sea is anywhere near as important as the Narrow Neck of Land, which is described in several places in the scriptural record as the feature that kept the Land Northward in possession of the Nephites. In addition, the Sea that Divides the Land is mentioned only once—only once!—and not even by Mormon, but by Ether and only in connection with a city that was built by the Jaredites in the Land of Desolation—a city, by the way, that is not found today in any state of ruin in the area. It is inconceivable to determine "the sea that divides the land" is the most crucial point and "is key to the overall understanding of the geographical layout of the Book of Mormon" since the only thing we know is that it, or a part of it, was near the narrow neck of land. There is, as has been written here many times, a far more understandable explanation of Mormon's statement.

As to the most important feature of the Land of Promise, Mormon makes it very clear that the entire Land Southward, specifically outlining the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, were completely surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land.

Obviously, the Great Lake Theorists, no matter which one is studied, have failed to show a consistency in matching the scriptural record. Beginning with the location of the Hill Cumorah, each has tried to place the geographical descritions of Mormon’s writings into this area—and all have failed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of the Great Lakes Region-The East Sea and the Lamanite Attack

Continuing from the last post on the land some theorists refer to as the Great Lakes Land of Promise, in my recent trip through this area, I was astounded that these theorists claim the Finger Lakes in upstate New York are the East Sea or Sea East referred to in the scriptural record.

When Alma wrote about Morianton heading north to escape from Moroni’s army, he said: “when the people of Morianton, who were led by a man whose name was Morianton, found that the people of Lehi had fled to the camp of Moroni, they were exceedingly fearful lest the army of Moroni should come upon them and destroy them.
Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land, which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward” (Alma 50:28-29), the obvious inference is that once to the north of the Nephites, they could defend themselves against Nephite attack, especially by guarding the narrow pass leading into that land. Mormon gave credit to the Nephites about 400 years later when he described their bottling up the Lamanites in the south and protecting that land northward from them (Alma 22:34).

This is also borne out in Alma’s description of the following battle with the Lamanites after dispatching Morianton and his army and later the King-Men. The Lamanite king, a Zoramite by the name of Amalickiah, came into the land of Moroni, a recently built city in the south along the East Sea near the Land of Nephi. After capturing that city, Amalickiah led his Lamanite army northward along the eastern seaboard “taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore. And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites” (Alma 51:26-27).

However, Amalickiah was not satisfied with possessing these cities along the East Sea. He wanted to reach the Land Northward, at which time Teancum brought his Nephite army to stop him. At this point the Lamanites “were met by Teancum, who had slain Morianton and had headed his people in his flight. And it came to pass that he headed Amalickiah also, as he was marching forth with his numerous army that he might take possession of the land Bountiful, and also the land northward” (Alma 51:29-30).

The point here is that Amalickiah was moving his Lamanite army northward, along the East Sea toward Bountiful and the most important prize—the Land Northward beyond the narrow neck and the pass that led into the “borders of the land Desolation…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).

This makes it quite clear that Mormon’s earlier description of this narrow pass “was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus 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” a land which the “Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward” (Alma 22:32-33).

This is a most important feature of the Land of Promise. A land where the Lamanites were bottled up in on the south with the Nephites to their north and controlling the narrow neck of land further north which led into the land northward, which the Lamanites prized in order to get behind the Nephite lines and be able to destroy them. Mormon clearly understood this 400 years later, and we need to understand this since a land that is nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck, would present a protected East and West Sea that kept the Lamanites bottled up in the south.

The problem with the Great Lakes Theorists, they ignore this most important feature, claiming the Nephite Sea East was merely a series of “finger lakes” that did not then, do not now, and never did present a solid sea to the east of the Nephite lands. Thus, any attack could be diverted around any of the finger lakes and the Nephites could not have stopped them. On the other hand, with a solid Sea East as the scriptural record tells us, then the Lamanites would have had only one route as shown below and that could have been interepted by the Nephites as Alma tells us with Teancum’s army.

Once again, the Great Lakes region simply does not meet the requirements of the scriptural record and cannot be defended as the Land of Promise as these several last posts have shown.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of the Great Lakes Region-The East Sea

Continuing from the last post on the land some theorists refer to as the Great Lakes Land of Promise, in my recent trip through this area, I was astounded that these theorists claim the Finger Lakes in upstate New York are the East Sea or Sea East referred to in the scriptural record.

First of all, this area as discussed in the previous post, is as “flat as a pancake.” There are no real hills in this area, let alone any mountains, and let alone any mountains “whose height is great,” as seen by Samuel the Lamanite in a vision provided by the Lord and told him by an angel. Not only is this entire area flat, but it is without any lakes large enough to actually be called a “sea” even under the most liberal definition. Nor were these lakes any larger in ages past—but originated as rivers.

The eleven Finger Lakes are actually a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York, and run along the area Great Lakes Theorists claim was the eastern boundary of the Land of Promise, comprising their Sea East. The lakes are long and narrow, each oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in America. Both are close to 40 miles from end to end, but never more than 3.5 miles wide (Cayuga Lake) or 3 miles wide (Seneca Lake)—mostly far narrower with Cayuga Lake averaging a mere 1.7 miles in width and Seneca 1.9 miles in width. Cayuga is the longest at 38.1 miles, and Seneca the largest in total area and the deepest at 618 feet, with the bottoms of both around 200 feet below sea level. These largest two lakes resemble the others in shape, which collectively reminded early mapmakers of the fingers of a hand. Oneida Lake, far to the east and a little north, is generally not considered one of the Finger Lakes, but it is sometimes called the “thumb.” To the Western side, the Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, and Otisco lakes are considered the minor Finger Lakes—which would have been within these Theorists’ Land of Zarahemla. Other, smaller lakes, including Silver, Waneta and Lamoka lakes, dot the region.

Satellite Image showing these lakes, with an overlay of Seneca, Cayuga, Conesus, and Oneida shown, along with the cities of Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca added. The flow of these “lakes” to Lake Ontario is also shown.

Driving through the area referred to as the Land of Zarahemla by the Great Lakes Theorists, and taking Highway 14 along Seneca Lake, and Highway 89 along Cayuga Lake, it was very apparent that these lakes were not lakes at all, but really rivers that had widened over the years and deepened the river flow as they drained northward from the Oswego Watershed. In fact, geologists claim that these so-called “lakes” actually originated as northward flowing rivers, the result of glaciation—and rivers they obviously are, and no amount of rhetoric can turn them into lakes of any dimensions warranting the label “sea.”

While it is interesting that the photos of these lakes shown in most available pictures, are taken up or down the length of the lake, photos are rarely shot across the lake, which makes these look like what they actually are, free moving rivers with Lake Seneca being the south western end of the Seneca River, a 61.6 mile long river running toward the east—part of its course was used for the Erie Canal in the 1820s—with its mouth as the head of the Oswego River which flows northward into Lake Ontario. Lake Cayuga also flows into this Seneca River and into Lake Ontario.

The top photos are across the widest point of Lake Cayuga (my car is shown to give some perspective). Bottom photos are across the typical width of the Cayuga. Both shots show that no one in their right mind would call this narrow waterway a “sea.” Once actually seen, it is impossible for anyone to believe that these narrow lakes (actually rivers despite how they are referred to today), as the Sea East as mentioned in the scriptural record. They are so narrow that any number of Nephites or Lamanites could have floated across in the most primitive canoe or raft—or even swam—let alone keeping the Nephites, who were involved in shipping (Helaman 3:10, 14), contained on the west bank. So why do we not read of any development, city, battles, etc., on the eastern side of this Sea East in the record? After all, they built on both sides of the Sidon River.

Obviously, the Great Lakes Theorists with their grandiose claim of the Finger Lakes being the Nephites’ Sea East simply cannot hold water, nor is it believable by anyone familiar with the scriptural record. Yet, so many people have bought into this theory and, no doubt, have done so without really trying to compare it to the scriptural record and Mormon’s explanation of the geography of the Land of Promise, that the theory has gained some following. Perhaps, to those who have gone along with this theory, they might want to look at Mormon’s description of the Land of Promise instead of just listening to some people who try in vain to make such a radical claim.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of the Great Lakes Region

Continuing from the last post on the mountains illustrated by Samuel the Lamanite, who “prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 13:4), and “behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me” (Helaman 13:7), prophesied that “there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), both within the Land Southward and especially in the Land Northward of the Land of Promise where the Nephites dwelt.

This prophesy was given around 6 B.C. and dealt with an event that would occur around 33 A.D.—approximately 2000 years ago. Thus, any way you look at it, the Land of Promise is going to have mountains “whose height is great” and such mountains would obviously still be present—since very tall mountains cannot possibly erode much in 2000 years. So, if the Great Lakes is the area of the Land of Promise as some Theorists have been touting lately, then we should find mountains there—not just hills as so many people in the east call “mountains,” but mountains “whose height is great.”

The recent trip I took around the Great Lakes and through the so-called Land of Promise area of the Great Lakes Theorists

Take, for example, the so-called Endless Mountains (just south of the Finger Lakes and Cumorah), which is part of the Appalachian Uplands, located on the Allegheny Plateau, which is little more than a series of broad rolling hills, valleys and streams. It is a magnificent sight, and having driven through these mountains on a recent swing through the eastern U.S., I can say it is both an easy and charmingly forested drive. However, these are not mountains. In fact, geologically speaking, they are a dissected plateau—a flat land with eroded valleys and no orogeny and is a peneplain, a low-relief plain caused by fluvial erosion.

While the Appalachian mountains average about 3,000 feet in height, and the Allegheny Plateau, which covers most of the area claimed to be the Land of Promise by Great Lakes theorists, ranges between 900 and 1500 feet in height, with the highest point no more than 4,000 feet, one cannot consider these areas to have any mountains “whose height is great.”
These pictures I took show the horizon as a constantly flat line in any direction. And having driven through this entire area around the Great Lakes, from Wisconsin through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, the area can only be described as astonishingly “flat as a pancake.” While rivers have cut some valleys in the area, there are no hilly areas close to the lakes area at all, especially south of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario—the so-called Land of Promise area.

In fact, geologically speaking, this entire area was flattened by glaciers during the Wisconsin glaciation that left widespread impacts on the North American landscape. The Great Lakes and Finger Lakes were carved by ice deepening old valleys. Most of the lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin were gouged out by glaciers and later filled with glacial meltwaters. The old Teays River drainage system (northern Ohio and Indiana) was radically altered and largely reshaped into the Ohio River drainage system. Other rivers were dammed and diverted to new channels, such as the Niagara, which formed a dramatic waterfall and gorge, when the waterflow encountered a limestone escarpment. Isostatic rebound (leveling of once depressed land) continues to reshape the Great Lakes and other areas formerly under the weight of the ice sheets.

Also, according to geologists, before Lake Michigan and Lake Huron formed, there were Lake Chippewa and Lake Stanley in those areas around 7000 years ago—yet, at this time, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were completely formed with the former two draining into Lake Erie, the Niagara, and into Lake Ontario and finally into the St. Lawrence River and eventually the North Atlantic Ocean.

About 2500 years ago, when the Nephites arrived, the glaciers of course were gone and what are called the Finger Lakes today existed as wide rivers flowing into Lake Ontario.

(See the next post regarding the Finger Lakes--what the Theorists call the Sea East)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, fortified walls, slings used as weapons, coins, and ziff, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the “Mountains Whose Height is Great.”

This subject has been covered several times in these posts, however, its importance cannot be overstated. There are few places in the western hemisphere that would match the description made in the scriptural record of the mountains in the Land of Promise, and only one area that truly qualifies.

First of all, about six years before the birth of Christ, when the Land of Nephi was still an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and when the land would have been comparatively flat with hills and some mountains, before the destruction that happened in the Land of Promise at the time of Christ’s crucifixion about 40 years later (3 Nephi 8:3-19), Samuel the Lamanite describes some of the changes that would occur in the land (Helaman 14:21-27). These changes, he said, would be: 1) the earth shall shake and tremble, 2) solid rock mass above and below the earth will be broken up and 3) forever after be found in seams, cracks and broken fragments above and beneath the earth, 4) many existing mountains will become valleys, 5) existing valleys shall become mountains, whose height is great, 5) highways broken up, 6) cities become desolate, and even 7) greater changes than those mentioned will occur.

Secondly, for new mountains to rise “whose height is great,” it must be recognized that these new mountains Samuel mentions would have to be a lot higher than what had existed before, otherwise his comment “whose height is great” would not have made sense. If 10,000 foot mountains had existed before, then new mountains ranging 12,000 to 14,000 feet would not be considered that much greater than the previous mountains, and would negate the need to say, “whose height is great.” The Rocky Mountains (Wasatch Mountains) through Utah top out at 12,000 feet by comparison, and the Maya Mountains in Mesoamerica top out at 3,670 feet, and the highest mountains in southern Mexico top out at just under 10,000. The Appalachians in the Great Lakes area of the eastern United States tops out about 3,000 feet, the Catskills (Kaatskil) Mountains in upstate New York top out at 4,180 feet, and the Blue Ridge Mountains highest peak is 6,684 feet (Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina), though the highest peak of the northern range is 4,225 feet (Apple Orchard Mountain in Virginia). Actually, Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and is nowhere around the Great Lakes area.

Thus, for mountains to become significantly high to single out their height, they would have to range much higher than 10,000 to 14,000 feet—much, much higher. And nowhere in the Western Hemisphere are mountains higher than that until you get to the Andes through Peru and Chile where mountains top out at 24,000 feet and have some 100 high areas over 20,000 feet through these cordilleras.

This means that the often quoted areas of modern scholars for the Land of Promise, either in Mesoamerica or the Great Lakes-Eastern U.S. areas, are disqualified simply by this one reference from Samuel the Lamanite, who received his information directly from an angle of the Lord who spoke directly to Samuel (Helaman 14:26-28), stating to him that “these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land” (Helaman 11:28). This land, of course, was the Land of Promise, including the Land Southward and the Land Northward (3 Nephi 8:12).

Thus we can see that in both the Land Southward and the Land Northward, there would be mountains that became valleys and valleys that become mountains, “whose height is great.” It certainly appears that the Andean area of South America qualifies for meeting this scriptural requirement, along with all the others that have been written here in the last 17 posts.

(See the next post: Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of Great Lakes Region, to see how the shape of this area is a disqualifier and does not match the scriptural record regarding the geography of the Land of Promise)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II the Metal Ziff

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, fortified walls, slings used as weapons, and coins, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the use of an unknown metal to Joseph Smith in 1830 in which he used the untranslated word: Ziff.

An interesting comment is made in Mosiah regarding the elegant palaces and buildings King Noah constructed when he gained the kingship over the original city of Nephi after his father, Limhi, died. These buildings he ornamented with “all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper” (Mosiah 11:8).

Note that Mosiah states that “ziff,” along with other metals like gold, silver and brass, was used for ornamenting King Noah’s buildings. Thus, whatever metal ziff was to the Nephites, it served the purpose of lending grace and beauty in adorning and beautifying the elegant and spacious buildings and the lavish palace king Noah constructed in the city of Nephi.

While we do not know for certain what metal ziff might have been, it is interesting to note that archaeologists have found that the ancient Peruvians used the metal bismuth as a decoration. Bismuth (meaning “white mass”) is about twice as plentiful in the earth’s crust as gold, and was confused in early times with tin and lead because of its resemblance to those elements. It was not officially discovered until the 8th century AD by the Muslim alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan (also known as Geber). Its many properties and uses were described by Basilius Valentinus in 1450, and demonstrated to be a separate metal, distinct from lead, by Claude Fran├žois Geoffroy the Younger, in 1753.

The metal is often found with copper, silver and gold, and in early times often used in a similar manner, and occurs as a native metal in Peru. Today that Andean country produces the third highest amount of bismuth annually throughout the world. In addition, bismuth was known to the Incas and used (along with the usual copper and tin) in a special bronze alloy for knives, and also as a decoration. It is also not surprising that the pre-Inca peoples knew of it and used it on ornamental items as a decoration.

In ancient times, "artificial bismuth" was commonly used in place of the actual metal. It was made by hammering tin into thin plates, and cementing them by a mixture of white tartar, saltpeter, and arsenic, stratified in a crucible over an open fire. Today, the bulk of the world’s bismuth comes from South America, both in natural form and extracted as a byproduct from the smelting of some metals. It is rather unique among the elements for having a liquid state that is more dense than its solid state, and is identified as Bi with an atomic number of 83.

Bismuth did not become well known in the United States until 1900 (70 years after Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon), when it was found that the bismuth salts used in England for various ailments of the gastrointestinal tract, could cure a deadly disease called “cholera infantum,” which claimed the life of 2 out of every 10 children in the U.S. before the age of four, leading to the development of Pepto Bismo.

Today, bismuth compounds provide the “frosty” look in cosmetics, hitting a high use in 1966—a big year for “pearlescence” in cosmetics—when manufacturers used several hundred thousand pounds of bismuth in lipstick, eye shadow, etc. It is also used for medicines, and in medical procedures and, as the toxicity of lead has become more apparent in recent years, alloy uses for bismuth metal as a replacement for lead in alloys and solder, have become an increasing part of bismuth’s commercial importance.

Ziff, of course, might have been some other metal, but the fact that the ancient Peruvians used bismuth in the same way described in King Noah’s time, as an ornamental metal, which is plentiful in Peru, and easily produced as a byproduct of the processing of other metals, like lead, copper, tin, silver, and gold, makes it a strong candidate for the Nephite ziff.