Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is Meant by the Word “Cattle” as Used by Joseph Smith?

A friend sent me an article entitled "Cattle in the Book of Mormon,” by George Potter. In this article, Potter states: “Both the Jaredites (Ether 9:18) and the Nephites (Enos 1:21) raised cattle. This Book of Mormon fact puzzles many students of the book because the ancient inhabitants of North and Central America only domesticated dogs and turkeys. (Charles Mann, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas, 109). To find the answer to this puzzle, one only needs to understand that the Book of Mormon history probably transpired in South America and that the term "cattle" meant something different to the translator of the Book of Mormon than what the term generally means today.”

What is difficult for me to understand is this mad effort by some LDS scholars to try and point out that the words Joseph Smith used to translate the reformed Egyptian written on the plates Moroni presented to him, what we call the Book of Mormon today, should mean something other than what Joseph stated. Where does this idea come from and why?

First of all, there are two thoughts that should be considered: 1) Joseph grew up in a farming community. His father, Joseph Smith Sr., was described as a merchant farmer. When a business venture failed and three years of crop failures, the Smith family moved to Palmyra and took a mortgage on a 100-acre farm along the border of nearby Manchester town. It was here Joseph grew to manhood, had his first vision, and saw for the first time the plates Moroni directed him to locate. During these years, Joseph worked on the farm of his father. He knew about farm animals, grains, planting, harvesting, and all the other normal work known to a farmer in 1815 to 1827. At this time, Joseph Sr., would have been 44 to 56 years of age, and Joseph Jr., 10 to 22 year of age.

2) The words Joseph chose for his interpretation of the reformed Egyptian were VERIFIED by the spirit according to his two scribes, Martin Harris and David Whitmer. Most readers of this blog are quite familiar with the testimonies of these two scribes who testified of how the translation took place and have been reprinted here numerous times. But Joseph’s wife, Emma Smith, also was his scribe for a time and her testimony, given to her son, Joseph Smith III, is also quite clear: “In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”

According to Martin Harris, “"By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say 'written;' and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used" (CHC 1:29).

Consequently, if Joseph chose to use the word “cattle” to describe the animals of the Jaredites and Nephites, we can know with perfect clarity that this word was the exact and correct translation of the reformed Egyptian character(s). It did not mean something else!

However, Potter like many other LDS historians, forever trying to find some other reason or excuse to satisfy current academic thinking of the Land of Promise, claimed “ancient inhabitants of North and Central America only domesticated dogs and turkeys.” While that may be true, the ancient inhabitants of the Andean area of South America domesticated Llamas and Alpacas, which were used as beasts of burden by the ancients in BC times, as well as did the Inca when the Spanish Conquistadores arrived.

In fact, the Andes mountains of South America is the home of four members of the camel family: the llama, the alpaca, the pacuña, and the vicuña. At least the llama, alpaca, and pacuña were domesticated in large numbers in South America during Book of Mormon times. Further, Joseph Smith would have been 100% correct in translating a Reformed Egyptian word meaning various types of camels as "cattle." Noah Webster's 1828 American Usage Dictionary defines "cattle" as: "In its primary sense, the word includes camels, horses, asses, all the varieties of domesticated horned beasts of the bovine genus, sheep of all kinds, and goats."

This broader meaning of the word "cattle" was understood by both the Bible and Book of Mormon prophets. For example, Nephi quoted Isaiah 7:25 "sending forth of oxen, and the treading of lesser cattle (2 Nephi 17:25).

It is not necessary, and never is, to try and apologize for what is written in the Book of Mormon. Every word, every description, every idea and understanding found in those pages are as accurate as can be written by man and verified by the spirit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quarter of the Land

Recently I was asked about the term “quarter” as used in different places in the scriptural record. There seems to be some belief that a quarter of the land is the same as one fourth of a particular land mass. However, the Book of Mormon scriptures do not use the term “quarter” in that manner.

As an example, in Alma, the term is used several times, such as “And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties…” [Alma 46:26].

“And Moroni also sent unto him, desiring him that he would be faithful in maintaining that quarter of the land, and that he would seek every opportunity to scourge the Lamanites in that quarter, as much as was in his power…” [Alma 52:10].

And now it came to pass in the commencement of the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges, on the second day in the first month, Moroni received an epistle from Helaman, stating the affairs of the people in that quarter of the land [Alma 56:1].

The term, “in that quarter of the land,” should not be construed to mean a geographical area divided into four parts, but according to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as the term was known to Joseph Smith during his translation. In that dictionary, quarter is also described as “a particular region in a town, city or country; as all quarters of the city; in every quarter of the country or of the continent.” It is also defined as “to divide, to separate into parts. To divide into distinct regions or compartments.”

In fact, in the scripture stated above, Helaman goes on to say, “My dearly beloved brother, Moroni, as well in the Lord as in the tribulations of our warfare; behold, my beloved brother, I have somewhat to tell you concerning our warfare in this part of the land” [Alma 56:2].

“In that part of the land” is a much clearer understanding of “that quarter of the land” and should be recognized that Mormon wrote “quarter of the land” while Alma actually wrote “part of the land.”

Later Alma wrote: “Yea, and it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites did flee out of all this quarter of the land. But behold, they have carried with them many women and children out of the land” [Alma 58:30]. This term is used to describe an area where numerous cities and lands were located [Alma 58:32]. Alma goes on to write: “Behold, we do not know but what ye are unsuccessful, and ye have drawn away the forces into that quarter of the land…” [Alma 58:35].

When the term quarter is used in Helaman: “And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land” [Mosiah 27:6], it is definitely used to mean all areas of the land, that is, all regions of the land.

In all these earlier instances, the term “quarter” would best be described as a particular region—the region the Lamanites were basically attacking, or where defenses needed to be developed. In the case of Halaman, the term is used to describe areas or regions of the land within a larger scope that could have been described as quarters of the overall Land of Promise (north and south, east and west).

There is also a tendency to insert other language when one believes he understands the use of quarter, such as the word quadrant—however, quadrant and quarter do not necessarily mean the same thing. The word quadrant means “the fourth part,” and typically the fourth part of a circle, either in the heavens or of the globe. Thus, we need to be careful placing cities within a quarter of the land when the scriptural record does not suggest quarters of the land as in one-fourth of the total land area.

The term quarters, other than in Alma, are used sparingly. Nephi uses them in an overall planetary concept: “from the four quarters of the earth” [1 Nephi 19:16] which was definitely the use of one-fourth of the area of the sea, which was a phrase Nephi quoted from the unknown prophet Zenos who wrote on the Brass Plates. And again “And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth…” [1 Nephi 22:25]. In both these cases, the term was used in an overall when God will remember and rescue his children from both the four quarters of the land, and the four quarters of the sea, which can easily be divided into hemispherical quadrants as shown in the image above.

This same use in 3 Nephi is described: “And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth” [3 Nephi 5:24,26], and again “And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel” [3 Nephi 16:5], as well as in Ether “And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham” [Ether 13:11].

It would be easy to misinterpret this term “quarter,” but in no case in the scriptural record are we shown that any use of the term “quarter” (other than on a planetary basis) is used to describe quarter or quadrant (a specific area one-fourth of the total), but a much lesser region or area of the land.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What Happened to the Old World Plants? Part IV

Continuing from the last post regarding why there was no wheat or barley growing when the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s. In addition to the points covered to why crops disappeared after 1000 years of neglect and lack of cultivation, there are other important reasons.

Botanists and experts in the field have determined that emmer wheat underwent a long-term domestication process in which wild, semi-domesticated, and domesticated plant types grew side by side, resulting in continuing introgression (introduction of new genetic material through interbreeding) from the wild populations and possibly gene flow from trans-specific sources—that is, from species other than wheat. By the time Lehi left Jerusalem, wheat and the bread made from it fed the world as he would have known it, and he certainly would have brought those seeds with him, as well as barley.

The seeds certainly could have remained viable and survived the journey, which took from 8 to 10 years—such viability being determined by seed moisture content and storage temperature. At 8% to 9% moisture content insects do not attack the seeds, and below 4% to 5% moisture content, the seeds are immune from insects and fungus. In addition, wheat and barley grains have sufficient longevity, even under less-than-ideal storage conditions, to survive for more than a decade.

It should also be kept in mind, that the seeds Lehi brought with him would have been those he and his four sons grew and harvested at his home “at Jerusalem.” By the time they arrived in the Land of Promise and began “to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly” (1 Nephi 18:24), these seeds were already highly domesticated.

Over the next 1000 years, the cultivation and domestication of these crops would make them incapable of survival in the wild once the Nephites had been annihilated. This is because the very morphological changes that make a plant a good domesticate also inhibit its ability to compete in the wild and thus tie the survival of the plant to the activities of humans.

The fact is, cultivated barley and cultivated wheat, after ripening, stay intact rather than split or shatter and disperse seeds because of their non-brittle ears. This, of course, allows the grain to be harvested and hauled to the threshing floor and not lost in the field. However, this very advantage of the plant inhibits its wild growth for it has no ability to spontaneously and widely disperse its seeds in the wild. Thus, the Nephite crops after they were gone would die out if they were not planted, tended, harvested, and stored.

In ancient Israel, while produce was stored in pottery jars, they generally stored their grain in pits. Before this grain reached the pit, however, it was harvested (reaped or picked), transported to the threshing floor, dried, threshed (to separate the grain from the stalks), winnowed and sieved (to separate the grain from the chaff), and then measured—a back-breaking, time-consuming task. It is not the type of thing the Lamanites were ever known to have done and certainly is not the type of labor a lazy people (Mosiah 9:12) would do, or one used to hunting in the wilderness for their food (Enos 1:20). If they wanted crops, they stole them (Mosiah 9:14).

As has already been pointed out, the Lamanites, who traditionally did not practice agriculture, continued in their wars that were "exceedingly fierce among themselves" (Moroni 1:2). Moroni's observation suggests that the culture continued to be unstable even after the Nephites became extinct. Highly domesticated plants like wheat and barley would not have survived the neglect that accompanied so many years of war and political upheaval.

Based on all this, it is understandable why the Spanish did not see any wheat or barley being grown in the Americas.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Happened to the Old World Plants? Part III

Continuing from the last post—why was there no wheat or barley growing when the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s? And if there was, why would the Spanish not know of it?

It should be remembered that the early Spanish, both the conquistadores and later priests, Jesuits, etc. had only two things on their mind: 1) gold, fame and wealth—many later returned to Spain to buy positions, and 2) conversion of the natives to Christianity—which meant to destroy anything non-Christian, which included records, artifacts, magnificent structures, and an entire society. The simple religious thinking of the time could not conceive of anyone accomplishing more than the Christian nations of Europe, thus, when they saw such magnificent structures, buildings, palaces, and cities beyond anything they had seen before, they assumed it had been built by the Devil and destroyed as much as possible.

These early Spanish were not looking for Old World grains, and even if they saw any would not have believed in their existence—they were in awe of everything foreign. These conquistadores were interested in gold, but were amazed at the achievements of the people they had conquered—of their constructions, their highways, their irrigation systems, their camelid animals—but mostly the amazing walls.

As Pedro Sancho de la Hoz recorded: “The most beautiful thing that can be seen among the buildings of that land are these walls because they are of stones so large that no one who sees them would say that they had been placed there by human hands, for they are as large as chunks of mountain. These are not smooth stones but rather are very well fitted together and interlocked with one another. And they are so close together and so well-fitted that the point of a pin could not have been inserted into any of the joints.” Another chronicler wrote of the Peruvian structures: “Neither the bridge of Segovia nor any of the structures that Hercules or the Romans made are as worthy of being seen as this.”

Quinoa and kiwichi, as well as corn, were grains not known in Europe at the time of the conquest and therefore were foods of interest to the Spanish. In addition, the conquerors saw very little of the country, traveling only main roads from city to city, and not even then doing more than fighting their way through the Inca Empire, remaining mostly in the north around Cajamarca and in the central highlands in Cuzco. What might have existed or grown in the back-country, small villages and subsistence farms would not have been known to them. There were several major cities the Spanish never even knew existed, such as Macho Picchu, Vilcabanba, and Vitcos, Liactapata, Corihuayrachina, Choquequirao, Cota Coca, and others. In fact there are those who believe that much of the Inca Empire never was discovered by the Spanish.

So what Old World plants that were brought to the Land of Promise died from such neglect and cultivation over those intervening 1000 years?

During the First Temple Period (1006 to 586 B.C.), the most basic food in Jerusalem, which constituted the staple of the common people, was bread. Now, barley was the most common grain in Palestine and was a founder crop, that is, a basic staple crop of Old World Neolithic food production and is still one of the main cereals cultivated in the Mediterranean agricultural belt. “Further, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer (a type of wheat). Put them into one vessel and bake them into bread" (Ezekiel 4:9). There were also legumes (beans and peas), mallow leaves, and some nuts. There were spices, such as hyssop, coriander, and mints like thyme. Jerusalem, however, was mostly known during this period as : "a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey" (Deuteronomy 8:8).

The usual Jerusalem diet contained few vegetables, mainly those that grew wild in the fields, such as garlic and wild onion. Meat was enjoyed only by the privileged and wealthy; ordinary people would have meat only at the Passover sacrifice or on particularly important occasions. Other foods of the common people included the eggs of wild fowl, milk, cheese, and butter. David, going out to his brothers who were in the camp of the army fighting the Philistines, brought them cheeses (1 Samuel 17:18). A late-morning meal, which also served as a break in the workday, would consisted of bread dipped in olive oil or in wine vinegar, toasted wheat, olives, figs or some other fruit, and water or a little diluted wine (Ruth 2:14). The main meal was taken in the evening, before dark, and consisted of a common pot of soup or a broth of seasoned legumes into which the diners dipped slices of bread to scoop out the helping.

The Land of Israel lies in the wheat belt where the culture of flour and bread as a universal food base developed. From the Bible we know of leavened bread and matzah, but also halah, wafers, bread morsels, and cakes. Other food-grains were damp green seeds ("carmel", "melilot"), wheat stalks of which the seeds were toasted in fire, such as David ate during his flight from Absalom in the desert, and gruel made of ground wheat, groats, or a baked mixture of ground wheat and meat. The foods might be seasoned with a little salt, which was produced mainly in the Dead Sea area, honey (from dates or of wild bees), or with juices, various fine herbs, and olive oil.

In Mesopotamia during the time of the Jaredites, they grew barley, beans, wheat, peas, olives, grapes, and flax for the community.

Thus, the Old World seeds of grains and vegetables that might have been brought to the Land of Promise by the Jaredites and the Nephites, would have been very basic.

So, once again, what happened to them by the time the Spanish arrived?

(See the next post, “What Happened to the Old World Plants? Part IV,” for additional reasons why Old World grains were not found in the New World when the Spanish arrived)

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Happened to the Old World Plants?

Continuing from the last post—what killed off the Old World plants brought to the Land of Promise by the Jaredites and Nephites? Why was there no wheat or barley growing when the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s?

To understand this, we need to keep in mind that in all cases, plants, crops, and fruits grow as a result of man’s planting, caring, and harvesting year after year. In all cases where a population has continued down through time, this has been the result. Crops continue to grow, sometimes in abundance, sometimes poorly with soils depleted, or damages incurred such as pests, drought, flood, or neglect. But in all cases, once the cause has passed, the crops were replanted, etc.

However, in the case of the Land of Promise, with the Nephites completely annihilated before 400 A.D., and with the sole remaining population of Lamanites at war with one another, evidently for several decades or longer, and with the understanding that the Lamanites did not plant and harvest crops to begin with—they were hunters (Enos 1:20; Jarom 1:6)—the result is understandable. There simply was no one to replant, care for, or harvest future crops. Whatever crops once grew were left to fend for themselves. The thing is, there is no record of the Lamanites growing crops at any time. And based upon the history in North, Central and South America, the different Indian tribes were not planters and growers, but hunters of both men and animals, living off the land, moving and migrating from place to place when the animal life was depleted in an area, or when driven off by superior forces.

Thus, we can see, that crops would have been left on their own for the most part as the wars continued to rage, and not only did they fight among themselves, but also went about destroying anything Nephite. They burned their cities (Mormon 5:5), destroyed any records they found (Mormon 6:6), and in general destroying anything Nephite. These wars and natural antagonism for individual tribes and groups continued over the next thousand years, as individual tribes roamed the Land of Promise. In some areas, certain tribes gained prominence and then were replaced by others. Not until the Inca rose to power in the mid-1400s, did a single people control the vast area of the Land of Promise. And their dominance lasted less than 100 years with the coming of the Spanish.

So why did the Spanish not find any wheat or barley in the Land of Promise? The simple fact is, both these grains died out with neglect over the thousand years since the Nephites were wiped out. Without husbandmen, crops generally die out over time.

But what kills the crops? Any number of things such as large hail stones; insects; drought; flood; extended frost; planting another crop instead, such as corn; the land returns to forest or jungle; weeds; brush and other flora grow over—such as in South America, maca (Lepidium meyenii—pepperweed), sometimes called Peruvian geinseng—which spreads by seed or rhizome, producing abundant seed that germinates at a high rate, producing over 16 million seeds per hectare. The rhizome expand by creeping underground stems, which may advance three to six feet from the parent plant, and can also be spread by root fragments and crown buds, each capable of sprouting and continuing the infestation. Even if 98% containment could be achieved, resprouting plants in the spring would result in total stand dominance by the end of the growing season.

Obviously, according to the Spanish, wheat and barley were not grown in 1522 A.D. Those who followed the Spanish into the Andean area to settle, would have cleared fields of grass, weeds, trees, and other shrubbery to plant the seeds they brought form the Spain and elsewhere. What might have been in the ground in those fields is unknown and certainly would have been supplanted by new seed harvests.

Had the Inca not been cultivating, growing and harvesting quinoa and kiwichi, no doubt the Spanish settlers would have plowed that under as well to plant their own seeds. But in the case of these two grains, the Inca held them sacred, especially quinoa, and found them to be extremely valuable grains. The Spanish were not impressed by these grains the Inca grew, and did not send samples back to Europe. Even so, these two grains, though grown in the Andes from the second millennium B.C., if not before, all but died out as had the wheat and barley, and were not known to other tribes. However, in modern times, the Andean farmers rediscovered these hearty plants and cultivated them--today they feed most of the Andean populations outside the cities--using them as Europeans used wheat.

The question is, was there any wheat and barley in the Land of Promise when the Spanish arrived? And if so, why was it not known?

(See the next post, “What Happened to the Old World Plants? Part III,” to see why the Spanish did not know there was wheat and barley in the Land of Promise, and what happened to the seeds brought to the Land of Promise by the Jaredites and Nephites)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Happened to the Old World Plants?

The last wheat, barley or corn planted anywhere in the Land of Promise would have been no later than around 380 A.D., and no doubt much earlier, for the last war began in 327 A.D., when Mormon, at the age of 16, led a Nephite army against the Lamanites (Mormon 2:2). From this time forward, the Nephites were continually being driven northward, and by 350 A.D., had lost the Land Southward entirely (Mormon 2:28), with all Nephites now in the Land Northward, or having been killed by the advancing Lamanites.

There was a 10 year moratorium of peace (Mormon 3:1), before the Lamanites attacked again (Mormon 3:7). During that time crops would have been planted in the Land Northward to feed the people and the army. In 361 A.D., the Nephites defeated a Lamanite army, and two years later they advanced up into the Land of Nephi to attack the Lamanites in their homelands. However, they were defeated and driven back to the Land of Desolation (Mormon 4:3), and over the next 11 years, the Lamanites drove the Nephites continually northward, fleeing in haste where there would have been no time to plant or harvest (Mormon 4:20,22). In 375 A.D., Mormon again took command, but the Lamanites were far too many in number and the Nephites were driven ever northward with those in the towns and villages gathered in or killed by the Lamanites (Mormon 5:5). During this time, the Lamanites burned every village and city they passed, with nothing surviving the Lamanite march northward (Mormon 5:5). In 380 A.D., the Lamanites continued their advance northward and the Nephites were constantly driven before them (Mormon 5:7). By 384 A.D., the last battle was about to begin in the Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:5).

Obviously, from that time forward, no crops were planted in the Land of Promise. The Lamanites, who were constantly at war, continued their fighting amongst each other over the next at least fifteen years (Moroni 1:2) still going on strong in 421 A.D.

The obvious question is, what happened to the crops of corn, wheat, barley, neas and sheum? (Mosiah 9:9). The corn continued over the years, for it was found in the Americas when the Spanish arrived. The sheum (quinoa) and neas (kiwicha) were also present among the Inca when the Spanish arrived. But wheat and barley were not being grown in 1523.

As an example, corn will grow in Peru along the coasts without difficulty because there is enough good soil and water. In the highlands, the terraced hillsides and valley floors provide a varied environment for the production of diverse crops. Corn will prosper in most places in Peru up to 11,000 feet elevation, and on protected lower slopes will grow to 13,000 feet. In the better areas, corn will produce 2640 to 3520 pounds per hectare (about 2.5 acres). Quinoa and kiwichi will grow at even higher elevations than corn.

In the puna region of Jauja-Huancayo in the central highlands, figures have been obtained to show that the area could support up to 375 alpacas per square mile, with llamas requiring slightly more space. Browman estimates the area could support 125,000 to 1.25 million animals in the Peruvian puna—an area comprising high plateaus and cliffs, where barley, potatoes and maca are grown. Browman also states that this region was first settled by the Chavin, who he says “extended throughout Peru, following the Chavin’s first major expansion of approximately 1200 to 1000 B.C.”

Since barley grows very well in the puna, or central highlands of Peru, and since Zeniff planted barley (Mosiah 9:9) in the central highlands that was the area of the city of Nephi in the Land of Nephi, the question is often asked by critics and historians alike, “what happened to the barley and wheat planted by the Nephites?”

(See the next post, “What Happened to the Old World Plants? Part II,” to see what happened to these plants by the time the Spanish arrived)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sheum in Ancient Times, Part IV

It is recorded that when the Spanish arrived in the New World, they found no Old World grains, fruits or vegetables being grown by the natives, nor wild upon the land. The New World corn (maize), yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, peppers, beans (all but the broad or fava bean), peanuts, chocolate, and vanilla, were new to the Spanish. In Peru, the Spanish found the Inca had quinoa and kiwichi, two supergrains of great value to the indigenous natives. But they reported finding no wheat, barley, or other Old World grains. In addition, the Spanish discovered avocados, blueberry, passion fruit, pawpaw, pineapple, Butter Beans, Kidney Beans, pumpkin, Runner Beans, chili, artichoke, squash, guava, cacao, cashew, etc.

However, the question is and always has been, “What happened to these Old World grains the Jaredites and Nephites brought to the New World?”

To understand this, the history of the grain quinoa in ancient Peru might give us a clue. This “supergrain” known today as perhaps the most valuable of all grains, has been grown in the Andean area since 3000 B.C. It was certainly grown during the time of the Nephites who occupied that area for a thousand years, known to them as “sheum.” But sometime shortly after the demise of the Nephites (400 A.D.), the quinoa grain began a long and slow decline, until about 1000 A.D., the grain was completely unknown and unidentified, laying dormant over the next more than 400 years. At some point in the rise of the Inca, the quinoa plant was rediscovered and by the time of the arrival of the Spanish, had become the second most important of three staple foods in the Inca diet: potato, quinoa, and corn.

Each year the ruling monarch, “The Inca,” ceremoniously planted the first quinoa with gardening equipment made of gold, and was so valuable to them they called it “The Mother of all Grains.”

Quinoa has a bitter seed coating called saponin that protects it from being eaten by birds while out in the field. In modern commercial processing this is rinsed off before sale, but the Spaniards arriving to the New World did not know of this, and so ended up not liking the taste of quinoa. As a result, potatoes and corn made it back to Spain from the newly discovered Incan lands, but quinoa was shunned and denigrated it as “food for Indians,” actively suppressed its growth due to its sacred status in non-Christian religious rituals. Later, the Conquistadores became horrified with the violent and bloody Incan religious sacrificial practices, and anything Incan became taboo.

Today outside of South America, quinoa is called “the supergrain of the future.”

But over the past centuries, quinoa, once the most popular grain in all South America, fell into obscurity for centuries and nearly extinction, became popular once again, only to be denigrated by the Spanish until it was totally unknown once again until the early 20th century. Had the grain not been so hardy and tolerant to almost any inactivity, the quinoa would have gone the way of the untended wheat and barley planted by the Nephites. Today, we know of it only because of the remarkable restorative capability of modern farming techniques—though it had always been there, it was unknown and unidentified until modern man found mention of it in old Spanish chronicles of the 16th century and began to look for it in the Andean area.

What, then of barley and wheat? The latter is not a hardy grain, requiring the best of treatment, soils and irrigation. Unattended, the grain will die out and not return. Barley is far more hardy, capable of growing in the worst of soils and is drought resistant. And, though not discussed much, the barley plant has been found in areas of the American southwest, dating back to about 300 B.C.

The problem always lies in the fact that though seeds are found in the Americas dating to before Columbus, no scientist or botanist, archaeologist or anthropologist, believes Old World grains ever existed in the Americas prior to the Spanish, consequently, the discoveries of such seeds remain “unidentified.” (As stated above, not until the quinoa seed's existence was found in old Spanish chronicles of the Andes, was an effort mounted to find the quinoa seed.) Shortly after these discoveries in Arizona, barley seeds were found in Oklahoma and Illinois. According to a 1983 article in “Science 83”: “Of the discoveries made in Illinois, one recent study states that a "previously unidentified seed type . . . has now been identified as little barley (Hordeum pusillum), and there are strong indications that this grain must be added to the list of starchy-seeded plants that were cultivated in the region 2000 years ago."

It is hard for science to identify something as existing when all their training, knowledge and understanding claims that such does not exist.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sheum in Ancient Times, Part III

“With seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9).

While John L. Sorenson claims that sheum was an Akkadian word for barley, it has been pointed out in the last two posts that this is not correct. If it were it would alter the entire understanding of how the plates were translated. For Joseph used the words in his language that he understood the Reformed Egyptian character to be, and once saying it, the Spirit either acknowledged its accuracy, or the process began again.

In addition, Robert R. Bennett in an article in the Maxwell Institute website entitled “Barley and Wheat in the Book Mormon,” wrote “It is worth noting that sheum is also mentioned in the Book of Mormon in an agricultural context (see Mosiah 9:9). It apparently refers to a New World crop cultivated in the land of Nephi that was designated by an Old World term. Use of this term in the Book of Mormon is itself significant, since Akkadian could not be read (and hence the term sheum was not known) until decades after the Book of Mormon was published.”

While there is agreement that the term could not be Akkadian, the idea that Joseph used a familiar word to name an unknown crop is inconsistent with other areas of translation. As an example, why did he not give some familiar animal names to the cureloms and cumoms? After all, he named the elephant, horse, ass, cow and the classifications of cattle, oxen, sheep, swine and goats. It makes little sense to consider that Joseph used “an unknown name for New World crop cultivated in the land of Nephi that was designated by an Old World term.”

Nor would it be consistent to think that plant and animal terms Joseph applied to the translation of the Reformed Egyptian characters on the plates were given familiar names known to him though the actual plants and animals were not the ones he named. To think this way is to believe that the Lord and the Spirit were party to inaccurate and disingenuous translation of the record.

But undaunted by this understanding of how the plates were translated, Bennett goes on to write: “In the New World many Spanish names were applied to American plants following the Conquest, because of the plants' apparent similarity to European ones, even though the New World plants were, from a botanical perspective, often a different species or variety. For example, the Spanish called the fruit of the prickly pear cactus a "fig," and emigrants from England called maize "corn," an English term referring to grains in general. A similar practice may have been employed when Book of Mormon people encountered New World plant species for the first time.”

Somewhere, somehow, people like Sorenson and Bennett seem to have forgotten that there was a Flood. A complete covering of the earth with the oceans 15 cubits (about 22 feet) higher than the highest mountain peak (Genesis 7:19-20). This lasted for 150 days (Genesis 7:24), in which all living things were destroyed (Genesis 7:21-23). During this time, seeds, plants, trees, and all things died. From a botanical point of view, seeds may have remained dormant in the earth, however, the idea of millions upon millions of square miles of water rushing back into sea areas over time, carrying untold tons of earth with them to settle in the oceans, etc., it is hard to depict that seeds, dormant or otherwise, might have survived—and if any did, certainly not in the same location they had once been. However, from the scriptural point of view, the Lord said, “everything that is IN the earth shall die,” which would include seeds, plants, etc.

“And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them” (Genesis l6:21), thus we might assume that Noah brought seeds with him for the future planting (replanting) of all plants, grains, fruits, and other flora. This would mean that when Noah left the Ark in the area of Mespotamia, he had with him tons of seeds to plant for the growth of food—grains, fruits, and vegetables—for the use of man.

When the Jaredites were told to leave Mesopotamia, they were told to take “all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3). These seeds would have been planted in the Land Northward by the Jaredites 1600 years before the arrival of the Nephites to the far south and the Mulekites in Zarahemla. The seeds they planted would have produced more seeds which might well have been borne on the wind to the Land Southward—not far in distance—or carried by birds and animals. These seeds would have been both Old World seeds, and obviously of the kind known to Noah in his time.

In addition, the Nephites brought with them seeds of every kind that were know in and around Jerusalem. When we combined these two plantings, we find that the Jaredite and Nephite seeds would have brought most of the known plants to the Land of Promise.

So what happened to them by the time the Spanish arrived 2000 years after the demise of the Jaredites, and one thousand years after the demise of the Nephites?

(See the next post, “Sheum in Ancient Times—Part IV,” for an answer to that question)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sheum in Ancient Times, Part II,

John L. Sorenson claims that the grain “sheum” Zeniff planted (Mosiah 9:9) has recently been identified as "a precise match for Akkadian s(h)e'um, 'barley' (Old Assyrian 'wheat').

As shown in the last post, Joseph knew exactly what corn, wheat and barley were, and if a word to translate was one of these, he would have translated it as corn, wheat, or barley. It did not matter whether the word was originally Akkadian, Hebrew, or Egyptian—when Joseph saw the word, it was written in Reformed Egyptian and he translated that into English with the help of the Spirit, who acknowledged the accuracy of the word. In the case of “sheum” and “neas,” Joseph obviously could not obtain a picture of the grain in his mind—and just as obviously, it would have been outside his realm of knowledge (not the word, but the meaning).

Gwenith, tritiko, weess, frumento, pšenice, nisu, gandum, terigu, trigo, weit, tarwe, hvete, bugday, nu, frumento, grano, grau, s blat, pszenica, froment, pšenični, žito, weizen and numerous other languages all show different words meaning the same thing—wheat. It does not matter what language a word is in, all that matters is how it translates into English. If “yatraq” means wheat in its original language, we do not translate it into English as “barley” or “corn” or “automobile.” And certainly, Joseph Smith, working under the direction of the Spirit, would not have mistranslated a word into something other than its English equivalent—and where he did not understand the word in English, he used the original word appearing on the record, as in “sheum,” “neas,” “ziff,” “curelom,” and “cummom.”

While Sorenson claims that “sheum” in original Akkadian, meant barley (Old Assyrian wheat), taken from the word “s(he)e’um,”, scholars have recently brought such lexicon description into question. Livingstone, as an example, has shown that u’um was a Babylonian word for barley, and that “If this [u'um] was the common word in Babylonian then it is more than likely that it also existed in Old Akkadian and could then have existed along with se, 'barley', as a loanword in Sumerian. ... In summary, the evidence allows but does not require the existence of a word se'um, 'barley'. It does, however, manifestly require the existence of a word u'um.”

First of all, “Old Assyrian Wheat” existed alongside “Old Barley” in the Assyrian Empire. In fact, Aprin, Brothwell and Contenaur all write about food and everyday life in ancient Babylon and Assyria, and conclude: “barley and wheat are the cereals that occur most persistently in Mesopotamian archaeological sites.”

It is doubtful, as Sorenson claims, that a word for “barley” in one language became the same word for “wheat” from another language. Especially when these two crops were well known to both languages and civilizations. In fact in Jarmo, an archeological site located in northern Iraq on the foothills of the Zagros Mountains that was, for a long time known as the oldest agricultural community in the world, dating back to 7000 BC., and, according to the American Anthropologist, the use of barley and emmer wheat were well known along with lentils and peas.

The problem is, when we start playing around with ancient words in distant languages to try and prove something used in English today, we often run afoul of fact (and fiction). First of all, we do not know that barley and wheat were the same thing in ancient Akkadian, in ancient Mesopotamia, or in modern terms. Nor does it matter. The word “sheum” was not barley or wheat, for it is used in the scriptural record along with barley and wheat. “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9). What Sorenson claims, is that this sentence should be rendered “with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of BARLEY, and with neas, and with BARLEY, and with seeds of all manner of fruits.” Obviously, such an idea is ludicrous.

(See the next post, “Sheum in Ancient Times, Part III,” for more on the meaning and product the Nephites called sheum and where it is found today and what grain we know it to be today)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sheum in Ancient Times

The word “sheum,” regarding a type of grain that Zeniff planted in the City of Nephi in the Land of Nephi, around 200 B.C., has elicited a lot of attention among Book of Mormon theorists who try to find a way to bring that grain into the area of their models.

John L. Sorenson, in his Mesoamerican Theory, has written: “Two other puzzling plants are mentioned in Mosiah 9:9, among those cultivated by the Zeniffites: "sheum" and "neas." The former word has recently been identified as "a precise match for Akkadian s(h)e'um, 'barley' (Old Assyrian 'wheat'); the most popular ancient Mesopotamian cereal name." The word's sound pattern indicates it was probably a Jaredite term. This good North Semitic word was quite at home around the "valley of Nimrod," north of Mesopotamia, where the Jaredites paused and collected seeds before starting their long journey to America (Ether 2:1, 3). Incidentally, the form of the word as the Book of Mormon uses it dates to the third millennium B.C., when the Jaredites left the Near East. Later, it would have been pronounced and spelled differently.) Apparently the Nephite scribe could not translate it to any equivalent grain name, nor could Joseph Smith do so when he put the text into English. The plant and its name no doubt were passed down to the Nephites/Zeniffites through survivors from the First Tradition, just as corn itself was.”

It is interesting that Sorenson translates Mosiah 9:9 as “corn, wheat, barley, barley, and neas.” Yet, he goes on to correct this error, without apologizing for the foregoing description of a Jaredite barley plant, by saying: “Since the words barley and sheum were both used in the same verse (Mosiah 9:9), we know that two different grains were involved, but what "sheum" might specifically have been in our botanical terms we cannot tell at this time.”

The simple answer, of course is that sheum and neas were the grains found in the Andean area of South America, called quinoa and kiwicha.

However, forever trying to alter the meaning of the scriptural record, Robert R. Bennett writing in the Neal A. Maxwell Institute website, has said: “Research on this matter supports two possible explanations. First, the terms barley and wheat, as used in the Book of Mormon, may refer to certain other New World crop plants that were given Old World designations; and second, the terms may refer to genuine varieties of New World barley and wheat.”

There is, of course, a third possibility that seems to escape these theorists, and that is that the “wheat” and “barley” mentioned in the scriptural record were actually Old World wheat and barley, brought as seeds to the Land of Promise by either the Jaredites or Nephites or both as the scripture suggests. “they did also carry with them…all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3), and “we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24).

The ancient agricultural village of Artas, fifteen miles from Jerusalem, has always grown wheat, barley, apricot, grapes, figs, nuts, olives, pomegranate, etc. Obviously, these plants would have been well known to the farmer Lehi and his family.

Joseph Smith, of course, growing up in a farmer family, would have known about corn, wheat and barley—but did not know the meaning of sheum and neas. Evidently ignoring this obvious understanding, Bennett goes on to write: “The Lehites may have used the terms translated in the Book of Mormon as barley and wheat to refer to other New World plants or species of grains that resembled barley and wheat.”

It is interesting that the Nephites would not have known real barley and wheat, since both were staple crops in and around Jerusalem in 600 B.C., or that they called other grains planted and harvested by those names. This latter is especially intriguing when they called two other grains “sheum” and “neas” which had not Old World connotation at all.

Again, Bennett goes on to write: "It is a well-known fact," writes Professor Hildegard Lewy, a specialist in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian (Akkadian) languages, "that the names of plants and particularly of [grains] are applied in various languages and dialects to different species." Lewy notes that this often poses a challenge in interpreting references to cereals in Near Eastern documents. When doing so, "the meaning of these Old Assyrian terms must be inferred from the Old Assyrian texts alone.”

Somehow, these theorists writing about the Book of Mormon seems to forget how it was translated by Joseph Smith who, himself, had no knowledge of Old World, New World, Akkadian or other exotic terminology. He, like his father, had been a farmer at the time he translated the plates. He knew wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat and other such staple crops grown in New England at the time. Actually, barley was a crop that was widely known in New England for it was in great demand—1826-27, thirty thousand bushels of barley were brought into the port of Boston from Germany and Turkey. Wheat, of course, was an extremely important crop in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut during Joseph’s young life, producing about two million bushels annually, with spring and winter, red and white, Siberian, Italian, Black Sea, and Tea Spring varieties, along with Tuscany red Chaff, and Turkey White as winter varieties. The Spring Wheat varieties were much preferred by New Englanders during the late 1700s and early 1800s because the English practice of fall sowing frequently resulted in winter kill. Corn was the biggest crop grown in New England at the time, and grown for the seed, which was either ground into meal for food, or animal feed.

The point seems quite clear that when Joseph chose the words “corn, wheat, and barley” in translating Mosiah 9:9, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

(See the next post, “Sheum in Ancient Times, Part II,” for more on the meaning and product the Nephites called sheum)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seeds in Ancient Malay, Part II

Continuing with the last post regarding the small seeds in Malay that Ralph Olsen mentions to equate with “sheum,” the following seeds are about the only ones found in ancient Malay. This is taken from the “seeds of Malay”:

Fennel is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, but is called variyali in Tamil and Malayalam language. Sesame, edible seeds grown in pods, though indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, was first domesticated in India and flourished in Pakistan, was called ellu in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. A tomentose herb with eight tiny seeds in each cell, called Nelsonia, grew in sub-tropical areas, such as Malay. The kerbau or carabid is a plant that yields fragrant, spicy seeds, used to flavor bread, etc.

Upper left: Quinoa Seeds, a grain grown in South America; Upper right: Fennel, an herb in Malay; Lower Left: tomentose, an herb in Malay; Lower right: kerbau, in Malay--it is not a grain

Dried fruits or seeds, such as fennel, mustard and black pepper were part of the spice trade in the Malay area. Seeds of the Saga Tree are red and highly decorative, but only eaten during famine. The fruit papaya is found in India, China, Sri Lanka, Malay, Mexico, Brail, Peru, Venezuela, Africa, Philippines, Australia and most of the Pacific Islands. Fenugreek is a small stony seed from the pod of a bean-like plant found in Malay. The fruit bat in Malay rain forest disperses small seeds of trees in the rain forest. The small seedpod of the Cardamom, native to India, is a kind of Indian spice plant—the Elettaria and Amomum are part of the ginger family.

Interestingly enough, there are no “small seeds” in the many lists that could equate to Olsen’s claim that “sheum,” a small seed from Mesopotamia, made its way to the Malay Peninsula.

Keep in mind that “sheum” was raised by the Nephites in the Land of Nephi and was planted by Zeniff (Mosiah 9:9) along with the other grains of corn, wheat, barley and neas.

On this subject, Olsen also quotes John L. Sorenson who wrote that “sheum was a small grain grown near Nimrod where Jaredites collected seeds about 3,000 B.C.“ Olsen wrote about this: “Later the name would have changed. Finding the term in Mosiah provides excellent support for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and for Mala but not for Meso. Small grains were not grown in Ancient Mesoamerica.”

However, small grains were grown in the Andean area of South America, and not one (sheum) but two (sheum and neas) were found there dating to about 3000 B.C. These are supergrains and their value has been written about in these posts many times.

In fact, by the time the Inca arrived on the scene, quinoa was such an important grain in the Andes, that they called it chisiiya mama or "mother grain" in the Quecha language. The grain was so sacred that each season the first seed was planted by the Inca king using a golden spade. Today, quinoa is still a staple crop grown by farmers throughout the highlands of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. For the people of this region, quinoa is an important source of protein–a protein of such high quality from a nutritional standpoint, that it often takes the place of meat in their diets.

The seeds of quinoa are very small, about the size of millet. They range in color from ivory to pinks, brown to reds, or almost black depending on the variety. There are over 120 species of Chenopodium, but only three main varieties are cultivated; one producing very pale seeds, called the white or sweet variety; a dark red fruited variety called red quinoa; and a black quinoa. The seeds are similar in size to millet but are flat with a pointed oval shape and look like a cross between a sesame seed and millet. Quinoa has a delightful characteristic that is all it's own: as it cooks, the outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel. The grain itself is soft and delicate and the tail is crunchy which creates and interesting texture combination and pleasant "crunch" when eating the grain. Quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor that borders on bland. The leaves of the Goosefoot (quinoa) plant are also edible and make a pleasant vegetable, like spinach. A quinoa leaf salad is generally more nutritious than most green salads.

Of all the seeds associated with Malay, none are grains and none have the food value and range of use as the quinoa seed.

(See the next post, “Sheum in Ancient Times,” for more information on the plant that is known as Sheum in the Book of Mormon, and its ancient useage and growth area)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seeds in Ancient Southeast Asia

Continuing from the last post, Ralph Olsen in his Malay Theory for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise claims: “In support of Mala, wheat, barley, millet, rice, and other grains have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia.” He takes this information from a book entitled “Thailand, Aspects of Landscape and Life.”

First of all, Pendleton’s book is about Thailand, which extends along the east of the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, into the middle around the narrow neck, and a little south; however, the area in Olsen’s Land of Promise would be the Land of Nephi where all the grains mentioned were grown by the Nephites (Mosiah 9:9), which is far south of Thailand.

Second, in Pendleton’s book, Chapter 5, “The Agrarian Landscape: Irrigation, Rice Agriculture, and Farm Systems,” the author states: “In agriculture, rice is the dominant crop--almost to the exclusion of other field crops.” The word “wheat” is used only twice in the entire book, such as: “Thailand produces a great number of subsidiary crops, but they occupy an exceedingly small total cultivated area. Although a few crops like cassava, maize, tamarind, and vegetables are exported in small lots, Thailand finds it necessary to import considerable quantities of non-rice foodstuffs to feed her population. In recent years, imports have included wheat and wheat flour, other cereals, coffee and tea, spices, packaged foods, canned and dried milk, fats and oils, tobacco, and fruit.”

The area in white at the bottom of the Peninsula would equate to the Land of Nephi where corn, wheat, barley, neas and sheum were grown. This area is not in Thailand, and is hot, humid, and subtropical—not conducive to wheat and barley growth

Pendleton also states in his book that there is an absence of cereals in Thai Agriculture. And while numerous kinds of millet, wheat, barley, and other cereals long have been cultivated in southern Asia (China and India), they are not known to have been in Malaysia on the Peninsula. In Burma and Yunnan (along the China-Burma-Vietnam border), cereal crops are raised in forest kaingins (burning trees for crop cultivation) by wandering tribal peoples.

One of the problems Olsen seems to have, and perhaps others looking into this idea of what existed on the Malay Peninsula anciently, is the tendency of almost all scholarly and historical works to lump all of southern China, Siam (Thailand), India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Sumatra, Java and Malay, into one basic area and talk about what took place there. However, the Malay Peninsula is a unique area with a very separate history in most things, and the topography of the land is very different than that of most of these other southeast Asian countries. The fact that wheat and barley was grown in China, and even Thailand, does not suggest in the least that it was found in Malay, since the southern half of the Peninsula (Olsen's Land Southward) was and is sub-tropical, hot, humid, wet and with very poor soils. Wheat and barley simply does not grow there anymore than it grew in Mesoamerica in ancient times.

As an example, today China employs over 300 million farmers and ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed, pork and fish. However, in 600 B.C., production was scarce throughout China until Sunshu Ao during the reign of King Ding of Zhou (606 to 586 B.C.) and Ximen Bao (445 to 396 B.C.) set about improving irrigation techniques and systems finally engineered by Li Bing (256 B.C.) in Sichuan (south central China). By the 1st century B.C., China invented the hydraulic-powered trip hammer, and innovated the square-pallet chain pump by the 1st century A.D. By the 4th to 5th century A.D., political stability and a growing labor force led to economic growth and people opened up large areas of wasteland and built irrigation for expanded agricultural use resulting in the growth of two rice crops a year and the use of cattle for plowing and fertilization.

Summing up the entire idea of wheat, barley, and rice, the National Agricultural Institution in 1838 wrote in a report: “While the Mogul and Caucasian races of men subsist upon wheat and barley, rice and mullet form the food of the Malay

Simply put, wheat and barley are not shown in any ancient record as growing in the area of the Malay Peninsula other than possibly in the northeast in Thailand.

(See the next post, “Seeds in Ancient Malay, Part II,” for more on the so-called small seeds of Malay and Olsen’s claim that “sheum” was among these)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rice in Ancient Israel and Southeast Asia

Ralph Olsen in his Malay Peninsula Theory quotes Hunter and Ferguson that small grains of every kind from the Middle East would have included: “wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, sorghum, and rice.”

However, this is misleading. In Hunter and Ferguson’s 1950 book, “Ancient America and the Book of Mormon,” p 306, the word “rice” is mentioned only once, on a list of Exclusive New World Crops shown alongside Exclusive Old World Crops. Rice is listed in the Old World list as the 9th item out of 80 shown (consequently, Olsen’s list contains only 9 items). Now for any of these Old World seeds to have been brought from Jerusalem by Nephi, who says, “we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind” (1 Nephi 8:1) and also “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24), these seeds would have had to exist in Jerusalem no later than 600 B.C.

The problem is, according to Zohary and Hopf, rice was not introduced into the Middle East until Hellenistic (323-146 B.C.) and Parthian (320-100 B.C.) times—and then only in Iraq, Iran (100 A.D.), and eventually taken by the Muslims to Nisibin along the Caspian and to the Volga. Sometime after this, rice became grown in the Jordan Valley of Israel. The point is, rice was not known to Lehi and his contemporaries, was not even grown in all of Israel until some 300 to 400 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, and was basically known in 600 B.C. only in China (9000 B.C.), India (2000 B.C.), Nepal (1400 BC.), and is not even mentioned in any text until the Yajurveda, the third canonical texts of Hinduism sometime around 1000 B.C.

Thus, it is disingenuous for Olsen to try and link rice with the seeds the Nephites brought from Jerusalem. Nor is rice mentioned in the Book of Mormon and not referred to by Hunter and Ferguson as being grown by the Nephites. The only grains we know that the Nephites had for certain from the Old World were wheat and barley (Mosiah 9:9), and “all manner of seeds,” may mean more than this, but we do not know. Certainly, three grains not brought from the Old World mentioned in the scriptural record are: corn, neas and sheum (corn is considered a grain because it is a dry seed of a grass species—today, however it is botanically classified as a fruit).

Olsen makes the point that “the lack of evidence of any kind for any of these grains having been cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica creates a monumental problem for Meso.,” is not quite true, since corn grew in ancient in Mesoamerica, though wheat and barley did not anciently, and do not today to any degree because of the temperature and climate. Wheat and barley have not been found anciently in the Andean area, either, but corn, and two supergrains on a par with corn, wheat and barley (Mosiah 9:9), have been found there and was a staple food for millions of native inhabitants from as early as 3000 B.C.—however, the names (quinoa and kiwicha) were not known in Joseph Smith’s time and not even introduced into North America until late in the 20th century, thus he used the terms written in the record neas and sheum.

Therefore, where Nephi says, “all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind” he does not mean every seed of every kind known in the world, or known to us today, but those known to Lehi and available around Jerusalem in 600 B.C.—barley, grapes, figs, olives, legumes (lentils & chick-peas), onions, cucumbers, melons, dates, pomegranates, almonds and spices. Flax was also grown for rope and linen and their seeds used to feed animals (compare with Deuteronomy 8:7-9). It is not likely that Lehi would have had any other seeds to bring with him, though the land is often described as having “every kind of fruit.” It should also be kept in mind that wheat and barley are mentioned frequently in connection with ancient Israel, and that wheat requires good soil and water, while barley can tolerate poor soil and drought better.

Thus, we cannot inject any old seed we want, like rice, into the Jerusalem agriculture in Lehi’s time, even if it does match and warrant our model. We have to take the scriptural record as it is and then see where it leads us, not find a location, then try to wriggle the scriptural record into it.

(See the next post, “Seeds in Ancient Asia,” for the continuing at this subject)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part VII – What Were Chariots?

Continuing from the last several posts regarding the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise, the subject of wheeled vehicles is considered and the meaning of the word “chariot.”

While Ralph Olsen talks about chariots being found in his Malay Peninsula Theory area for a Land of Promise, it might be of interest to know something about the word “chariot” and what it conveys to the western and the eastern mind.

When we talk of chariots in the west, we think of Charlton Heston in “Ben Hur” and the famous chariot race, depicting the types of chariots of the western world. The Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Gauls, and the Egyptians all had chariots as far as we know, that carried a driver and a spearman in the two wheeled vehicles usually drawn by a pair of horses. In cases of important people, kings, princes, etc., a third man was in the chariot with a shield to protect the important notable. In Assyria, even larger four-wheeled chariots drawn by four horses were used that carried four armed men, three warriors besides the driver.

However, in southeast Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, Siam (Thailand), Sumatra and Java, the word chariot does not bring up a Ben Hur image. Their chariots were of two basic kinds before the wheel was introduced into the areas. First was the palaquin, translated into English as a litter, chariot or car, sitting atop poles borne on the shoulders of slaves, soldiers or underlings—used primarily for transportation of important people. To the peasant, these were litters, but to the notables and kings, these were chariots—a term usually attributed to the gods who rode them through the skies.

In the case of war chariots, those of southeast Asia were small forts strapped to the backs of fighting elephants, especially adept at jungle warfare in the climate and flora of southeast Asia. Obviously, in such remote regions outside China proper, wheeled vehicles in the jungles, swamps, and river-strewn countries would be of little value—especially during a war campaign. Thus, depending on what part of the world one might find himself depends on how the idea of a chariot would be construed.

As can be seen, the chariots of Rome, Egypt, and Greece differed considerably from the war chariots (borne on fighting elephants) of India, China, Indonesia and Siam.

What the term chariot depicts may depend on what part of the world is being discussed

As for the Book of Mormon, we can depict the type of chariots that were meant by recognizing that Joseph Smith chose the word “chariot” in translating the reformed Egyptian character(s) in Mormon’s writing. To determine this, the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines a chariot as: “a half coach’ a carriage with four wheels and one seat behind, used for convenience and pleasure.” It also defines a chariot as: “a car or vehicles used formerly in war, drawn by two or more horses, and conveying two men each”

First of all, it might be of interest to know, that despite the well accepted use of chariots in the Old World, no full chariot was ever discovered, though a spoked wheel was found in the burials at Andronovo in Siberia, and in China, until 1933. Another find of importance took place there in 1955. The point is, until these were unearthed, the only evidence of horse-drawn chariots was in art and written records.

In addition, it is claimed that chariots were not used in Egypt until the 18th Dynasty, about 1550 to 1292 B.C.; however, chariots with spoked wheels pulled by horses were first claimed in Mesopotamia not long before the time of the Jaredites leaving there. Before then, the Mesopotamian chariots had solid wooden wheels and were pulled by tamed jacks or asses.

It might also be of note, that the earliest chariot depictions found in the Malay Peninsula were stone wheels in shrines around 1100 to 1200 A.D., such as the Phrygian God Cybele depicted here drawn by lions.

Full stone chariots were found in temples dating to the 13 to 15th century—relating to the mythical chariots the gods used—one was “massive with twelve pairs of wheels and drawn by seven horses” of the god Surya. However, what is often depicted as a “chariot” in the Malay historical sense, was nothing more than a car, sometimes open, built on poles and carried by slaves or underlings. Much later in history, solid wood wheels were added to these, but still pulled by human labor—called palanquins or palkhi in India, and sometimes elaborately decorated for royalty, which continued on down through time until replaced by rickshaws in the 1930s. Once the wheel was introduced into the culture, these “chariots” became much larger, carrying up to eight people like a huge, highly decorated wagon, yet still pulled by human labor in east and southern Asia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part VI

Continuing from the last five posts regarding the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise, we now take a look at Ralph Olsen’s claim about wheeled vehicles not being found in the Americas.

Again, we refer to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. At that time, the Maya, Aztec and Inca did not use wheeled vehicles, nor did they adopt them for centuries after the Spanish conquest. Whatever the reason, the Indian, as advanced a culture as he had, did not use any type of transportation. He relied on his feet and on military movement of foot soldiers, like the English and American military long into the 19th century. In many parts of the world, a mounted cavalry was unknown.

In the eastern United States, Indians lived around the English and French from the 1600s onward who had extensive wheeled vehicles, wagons, coaches, carriages, etc., yet over the next 300 years, the Indians never did adopt the wheeled vehicle for their own use. In the west, even with covered wagons, stage coaches, large wagons pulled by mule trains, the Indian never learned to use or required a wheeled vehicle. In the west, travois were pulled by women before the introduction of the horse—an animal only used by the American Indian across the western plains of the U.S. Eastern Indians did not use the horse, nor did coastal Indian tribes in the east or west.

Again, for some reason, the American Indian, no matter whether in North, South, or Central America, chose not to use the horse outside the western plains even after it was introduced to them.Thus, when the Spanish came, they conquered a vastly superior force of Indians with a handful of men mounted on war horses. Even recognizing the superiority of a mounted warrior, the Maya, Aztec and Inca never chose to use such animals when captured, but killed them.

However, just because the Indians did not use horses or wheeled vehicles in the 16th century when the Spanish arrived does not mean the capability did not exist at an earlier time. Take, for example, the use of horse-drawn chariots by the Nephites. When the final war of annihilation took place, there were no more Nephites to build such vehicles. If the Lamanites had been building any, it is not indicated in the scriptural record. But even so, at the conclusion of the Nephite wars, the Lamanites then began a long civil war among themselves, with tribe, clan, or family aligned against one another. As Moroni put it in 401 A.D., “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). Twenty years later, Moroni says of the Lamanites, “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2). No doubt these wars continued on for some time, and most likely, never did completely cease, for wherever the native “Indians” are found, they live one tribe against another, and killing and bloodshed has persisted until modern times.

Thus, it would seem likely that for a thousand years, from the end of the Nephites to the time of the Inca rise to power in South America, the Indian or Lamanite deteriorated into a state of warring tribes until finally a powerful state rose up and conquered all the others. As in the case of the Inca, this was around 1400 to 1450 A.D. For the next 100 years or so, the Inca controlled the Andean lands from Ecuador to Chile. However, even if they had wanted to use wheeled vehicles, the horse had earlier died out. Probably eaten along with most other animals the Nephites once domesticated. Certainly the record shows that animals in certain areas were often hunted out of existence. During a thousand years of war when there were not Nephites to plant and harvest, and the Lamanite lived off the land as he had always done.

As Enos described them, “they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us” (Enos 1:20; Alma 3:5).

It would be reasonable to assume that over a thousand years, whatever the Nephites had and used in their way of life, would not have survived through the generations of Lamanites.

(See the next post, “One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part VI,” for more on the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us and to see what happened to the Nephite wheeled vehicles in the present location of the Land of Promise and what chariots represented)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part V

Continuing from the last four posts regarding the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise, and seeing that the winds and currents that drove their ship to the promised land (1 Nephi 18:2), we also have to see where those currents and winds took them and, therefore, where they landed, and what they found there.)

Ralph Olsen in his Malay Theory, claims that “Mesoamerica didn't have many of the things mentioned in the Book of Mormon, the Malay Peninsula area did (ie. silk, metallurgy, peninsular setting, an inlet of the sea for Hagoth, wheeled vehicles, script on gold sheets, mideast writing, similar place names in appropriate locations, etc.)”

First, Olsen compares his Malay Theory only with Mesoamerica and attempts to paint a wide swath by lumping all of the Americas into the same bag. However, while Mesoamerica did not have these things, South America did.

Secondly, the Andean area of Peru and Ecuador are widely known for its textiles and silk that equaled that of the Old World according to the early Spaniards—even though the Andes did not have the silk worm, the silks they produced from other means (see earlier posts) were compared by the conquistadores with those of Seville and elsewhere as being even finer. According to the Cambridge University, “Peru has the longest continuous textile record in world history. Simple spun fibers almost 10,000 years old provide evidence of the first human occupation in western South America. Elaborate fabrics, dating from 3000 BC up to the present, survive in large numbers.”

Thirdly. The metallurgy of the Andes outclassed most Old World accomplishments, using skills and techniques not known in the Old World until long after the period of use in America. Recent finds show that the Andean people were smelting copper a thousand years before the Spaniards arrived. Even today, according to the GSA (Geological Society of America), Peru is the world's leading producer of silver, the world's second leading producer of copper, and the leading producer of gold in Latin America. According to the Institute of Anthropological Investigations Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru, the country’s importance in Pre-Columbian metal producing extended to centuries in the past, including metallurgy, alloys, metalworking and fabrication, and mirrors.

Fourth,” peninsular setting.” Actually, there is no “peninsular setting” in the scriptural record. The word peninsula or its descriptions is not found in Mormon’s writings. Jacob, on the other hand, describes the Land of Promise as an island—not a peninsula.

Fifth, “an inlet of the sea for Hagoth,” is an interesting idea. In Malay, there is an inlet in Olsen’s Narrow Neck area (around Hat Yai in Thailand), but it is on the east coast. The inlets on the west coast are merely inward curvatures of the coast—the best of these would be at Hat Samran off the Malacca Strait. Further north, from Ko Lanta to Mueang Phuket, there are areas where a ship building industry could have existed, but none fully protected from the sea sufficient to warrant a large shipbuilding center. However, in South America, there is a complete bay that is protected by a central island (Bay of Guayaquil) and providing enormous space and facilities for shipbuilding, docks, and launching and recovering ships. Even today, this area is the location of such ship building and shipping. From the eastern edge of this bay to the one-time location of the Atlantic Ocean before the rest of the continent was driven upward by the plate action, is 26 miles—Mormon’s day and a half distance for a Nephite (Alma 22:32). This area also creates a real “narrow neck,” an area that narrows from its southern and northern lands from about 150 miles to 26 miles in width and is described as a narrow neck even today between the sea and the Andes Mountains. It also has a pass through it from the south to the north, and named after an ancient battle that took place there.

Sixth, “Similar place names in appropriate locations.” This is an interesting claim. Where in Malay, one might ask, are the city names: Bountiful, Zarahemla, Jerusalem, Moab, Onidah, Cumorah, Nephihah, Moroni, Aaron, etc., etc., etc.? Compare Book of Mormon names to those of Malay: Kuala Lumpur, Iph, Kuching, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Shah Alam, Alor Setar, Miri, Petaling Jaya, Palembang Singapura, Kelang, Serembang, Melaka, Batu Pahat, etc. Anthropologists say the peninsula was inhabited as early as 40,000 years ago, and first settled by negritos. The original name of the land was “Suvarnadvipa,“ meaning Golden Peninsula, and listed on Claudius Ptolemy’s map found in his “Geographia” around 150 A.D., was known as “The Golden Khersonese,” which he claimed to have relied on the work of an earlier geographer, Marinos of Tyre, and on gazetteers of the Roman and ancient Persian Empire. Thus making the Malay Peninsula known to most of the world’s nations in late B.C. times and especially in the golden age of the Nephites after Christ’s appearance—a 200-year period of peace and tranquility where there were no divisions of people. In fact, during the Roman period, Chersonesos (Malay Peninsula) had an international reputation as a source of gold. So much for keeping the area hidden from other nations.

Seventh, “wheeled vehicles, script on gold sheets, mideast writing.” It is true that no wheeled vehicles or writing on gold plates has been found in South America (or anywhere in the Americas for that matter).

Lastly, though Olsen does not mention it, the map of Malay shows a southwestern coastline that would be almost impossible to reach through the myriad of islands blocking that area, creating what is known today as the Singapore Strait. Also, the area of Olsen’s Narrow Neck is approximately three hundred miles long from north to south—hardly a math of Mormon’s description.

(See the next post, “One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part VI,” for more on the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us and to see what happened to the Nephite wheeled vehicles in the present location of the Land of Promise)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part V

Continuing from the last four posts regarding the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise, and seeing that the winds and currents that drove their ship to the promised land (1 Nephi 18:2), we also have to see where those currents and winds took them and, therefore, where they landed, and what they found there.

As an example, the winds and currents would have taken Nephi’s ship down into the Indian Ocean, then twisting eastward along the westward moving southern arm of the Indian Ocean Gyre, and into the Southern Ocean and the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift.

These currents and winds would have ended up along the eastern arm of the South Equatorial Gyre (South Pacific Gyre) to where they stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn along the 30º South Latitude, at the southern most point where the Sun is visible straight overhead. At this point, the ship would have landed—the Bay of Coquimbo and La Serena—or it would have been sent back along the course of the gyre out into the Pacific and back toward the west in this continually circling gyre of the southern Pacific Ocean (for a full account of these winds and currents, maps and diagrams, see the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica”).

Now with all this in mind, we can determine a legitimate landing area for the Lehi Colony. The next step, is to determine what the scriptural record claims they found in this Land of Promise and then see if there is a match, or if we need to look elsewhere.

Note that it is claimed in Ralph Olsen’s Malay Peninsula Theory that “Plants don't match. Barley, wheat and other grains are known to have been cultivated in Southeast Asia. Only corn (which is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon) is known to have been cultivated in the Americas."

First of all, corn is mentioned in the Book of Mormon: “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land” (Mosiah 9:9). It is obviously important to know the scriptural record if one is going to comment on it.

Secondly, two other grains are mentioned with “wheat and barley” and that is sheum and neas. We have posted extensively about these two grains, but in a nutshell, these two grains would have to have been unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829. In South America, in the Andean area, two extremely important supergrains known as quinoa and kiwichi have been grown and cultivated for thousands of years, dating to around 3000 B.C. These two grains are on a value at least equal to corn, wheat and barley, if not superior. Quinoa is considered one of the most, if not the most, important grain known to man. The fact that the Andeans of today do not export this grain keeps it from being known, even today, though it is becoming more and more popular in health food centers. So three of these five grains are found in South America, though wheat and barley can be grown there but are not grown in Mesoamerica even today.

And since in earlier posts it has been pointed out that the Malay Peninsula, despite Olsen’s claims, has poor soils and there main crop is rice—though not grown sufficiently to even feed their own people—and that wheat and barley have not been found in ancient times, though it is grown today, but only in very sparse areas. In fact, the climate necessary for rice paddies is not found in the Americas, and has always been the main crop of Malasia throughout the Malay Peninsula—but not mentioned in the Book of Mormon. In fact, most of the land in Malay is not capable of sustaining large crops, and the tropical rains, hot and humid temperature, and alluvium surface “washed” soils are not conducive to very many crops at all.

In addition, the seeds “brought from Jerusalem” would have needed a Mediterranean Climate to have grown exceedingly and produce an abundant crop as Nephi tells us (1 Nephi 18:24). Malay’s tropical climate would not have worked, yet in South American, along the 30º South Latitude as earlier mentioned, lies one of the five Mediterranean Climates of the world (the other four are southern tip of Africa, southern two tips of Australia, and Southern California).

Olsen also claims that “MesoAmerica did not have tillage agriculture. They had no beasts of burden, no tillage equipment. So they couldn't have raised plants that require tillage.” While this is true of Mesoamerica, it is not true of South America. Along the Andean strip the alpaca and its cousins were used as beasts of burden. But we need to be careful of getting carried away. Man learned to till the ground long before he used animals to do so. Planting and harvesting has been prominent in almost all ancient cultures, and many of these the work was done by human hands. Therefore, it is disingenuous to claim there was no tillage somewhere only because they did not have horses, oxen, etc., to do the work.

(See the next post, “One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part V,” for more on the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise and to know what was found there)

Friday, February 10, 2012

One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part III

Continuing from the last post regarding the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us having to match ALL the points in the scriptural record, any place on earth could be found to match a few points. As an example, just about any Old World location would satisfy the ancient finding of animals, such as the elephant, horse, cow, sheep, etc. But that is only a minor issue, though an important one, but a minor one nonetheless. For instance there are places where ruins of a vast civilization that built temples, forts, fortresses, palaces, towers, etc., are not found—Malay being one of them, as well as Baja Californi, Great Lakes, Eastern United States, etc. Yet, India, China, Japan, middle Europe, etc., are filled with such ancient structures, as are Central and South America.

Therefore, Ralph Olsen’s comment about his Malay Theory of “The Book of Mormon mentions many animals which are not native to the Americas, such as elephants, horses, and swine” is not a major factor in a location. However, it also might be mentioned that elephant remains and horses’ teeth have been found in South America. It also might be mentioned that finding such remains in a large area is pretty much impossible unless you have an enormous group of people digging in the ground who know what they are looking for and know how to determine its time frame if found. Almost all remains found in South America, as an example, are believed by archaeologists and researchers to fit a time when such animals were extinct, suggesting a Nephite time frame.

Now, how do we know they were extinct? Because “everyone knows” that Old World animals were introduced by the Europeans. And how do they know that? Because the Spaniards did not find such animals when they arrived in the 16th century. Of course the fact that the early Spanish only occupied a fraction of the land area of Central and South America, and none knew how to find and type ancient remains—nor were they looking for them and usually determining anything out of the ordinary the result of the Devil and indigenous devil-worship and was destroyed—and the conquistadores were only looking for gold and riches and intent on killing anyone who stood in their way. All of this just might have hampered the type of research of ancient finds and their validity that would have been possible in identifying what might have existed in recent times in the lands they conquered.

Yet, all of this is after the fact. The important issue about finding the actual Land of Promise is to start out with all the descriptions given us by Nephi about where he went. As an example, Nephi tells us that he built a ship in an area somewhere along the south Arabian coast (a result of his directional and descriptive travels). He also tells us that he built his ship unlike any ship built by man (1 Nephi 18:2).

Now, if you are going to build a ship unlike any other ship of the day then you are probably looking at sailing in an area that was not common for the day since men had been building satisfactory ships for centuries before Lehi. And since men had been plying coastal waters and trade routes for centuries before Lehi in the area leading toward Indonesia from Arabia, we might understand that wherever Lehi sailed, it was not where others had been, especially in light of keeping their destination and land hidden from other nations. So how do you figure where they went?

Well, Nephi tells us clearly and simply. He said that his ship “was driven forth before the wind to the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8).

So what does that tell us? It obviously tells us we need to find out where the winds blew and the currents moved from the area of the southern Arabian coast in the sea they called Irreantum and would be the Arabian Sea.

We also need to understand that in 600 B.C. and for more than a thousand years afterward, sailing ships went where the currents and winds took them. For the centuries A.D., seamen studied the winds and currents over their lifetimes to find the way to get from one place to another. Even in the 15th century, the famed Portuguese sailors were just beginning to understand how to get around the tip of Africa against the winds and currents.

Therefore, understanding that Nephi, his brothers, the sons of Ishmael and those with them were not seamen or mariners, and that they launched their ship into the Arabian Sea, we only have to know where those currents would have taken his ship as it sailed out into deep water.

(See the next post, “One More Time—Malay is Not the Land of Promise Part IV,” for more on the clues Nephi and Mormon gave us to find their Land of Promise)