Friday, August 31, 2012

The Marvels of Coquimbo Bay—30º South Latitude, Chile

The Port of Coquimbo lies on the southern shores of Coquimbo Bay in central Chile on one of the best-sheltered harbors in the country. The port rests in a peaceful natural bay and is surrounded by beautiful clean beaches. It has little rain and an average temperature of about 57° F, the Port of Coquimbo, with its well-protected harbor, is the winter refuge for the Chilean navy.

Coquimbo means “Place of Still Waters,” and the name came from the beautiful quiet bay upon which the city overlooks. These calm waters are the result of the ocean winds and currents being almost non-existent off the coast and of the air basically blowing up and away from the area.

Indigenous peoples used the natural harbor as a port long before the Spanish conquerors arrived, and today is an important export center for gold and copper. It has two major wharves with a total length of 1240 feet, and an alongside depth of 33 feet.

The south side (foreground) of the bay is well-protected from the sea by an extension of land of the La Gruta Peninsula (Grotto), at Punta Tortuga (Tortoise Point) and along the Fuerte (Fort) coastal area into the bay. La Senena is along the north side of the bay, with Elqui Valley to the east of La Serena

Cloquimbo is surrounded by land with natural richness from mountains to the sea, and is 7.4 miles from La Serena, the argricultural center of central Chile. 1.2 miles to the south, on the other side of the Peninsula, is La Herradura Bay, and smaller, but extremely well protected bay, with calm waters used today for swimming, diving, and windsurfing. On the north side of Coquimbo Bay is Las Tacas, a beach of fine, white sand that slopes softly to the sea, and is a surfing, diving, and sailing center. The weather here is remarkable, with calm, warm air nearly year round, and shirt-sleeve nights, much like Southern California.

Left: La Serena looks much like Southern California with its palm trees and mild, Mediterranean Climate; Right: Elqui Valley stretches in between two low mountain ranges moving east away from La Serena

La Serena (The Serene One) is located on ocean terraces visible from the coastal area, and the vibrant Elqui Valley, a geographic configuration, which is unique in the world, would be to the east. The latter is a narrow, but fertile strip of land where vegetables, papayas, lucuma, cherimoya trees (custard apple), and grapes grow alongside the hillsides, covered with cacti, of the semi arid desert. The river Elqui provides irrigation for this fertile valley, where vineyards of Mosfcatel and Torontel grapes are made into Pisco, the local drink, and the valley is full of an abundance of fruit, vegetables and vines under full sunshine and clear skies.

According to the Continental Shelf Resewarch and the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the Bay of Coquimbo receives seasonal freshwater discharge that makes it behave as a low-inflow estuary, similar to those of a Mediterranean climate. Its estuarine conditions make the bay, calm, sheltered and shallow, and as such, a favorite site for human settlement.

A ship “driven forth before the wind” would approach Coquimbo Bay from the south and, rounding Point Tortuga, would enter the Bay from the West, and would be immediately protected from any winds or sea by the point. The ship would probably land somewhere around present-day Port Coquimbo (arrow), or further in toward the beach

Coquimbo Bay lies between two prominent points, on the north by Punta Teatinos (or Teatinos Point) and to the south by Punta Tortuga (or Tortuga Point), which points play an important role in shaping the flows that enter and leave the bay. The mean depth is approximately 80 feet and slopes gently to a maximum depth at the entrance of about 165 feet. The tides vary in a range of about 3 feet, with winds predominantly from the southwest throughout the year, though in June and July a wind from the north, though light, is about equal in strength. The temperature of the waters in the bay is best described as warm year round.
Point Teatinos, on the north of Coquimbo Bay, looking southeast toward La Serena. The opening into Elqui Valley is on the left background in front of the mountains. Pt Teatinos is basically a lartge rock outcropping that juts out into the sea, forming the northern end of Coquimbo Bay
Along a 4,000 mile rugged coastline, with surf that seems to explode against the rocks lying at the feet of high bluffs, a more perfect place to land a ship in 600 B.C. could not be found. Here the temperatures averages 65º F in La Serena, with an average low of 52º F, with January and February the hottest at 72º F, and June through August at the lowest 46 to 48º F. The rainy season is May through August at about 0.5 to 1.22 inches per month, for a total of 3.78 inches per year.
A rather ideal place for the Lehi Colony to land and set up their first community. The weather was perfect for them to survive the first winter in a new land, the Mediterranean Climate and soil types provided the perfect place to plant their seeds "brought from Jerusalem," and the fishing was ideal, with the upwelling of waters from the Humboldt Current making it one of the greatest fishing troves in the world.
The Humboldt Current is a large Marine Ecosystem, and one of the major upwelling systems in the world, supporting an extraordinary abundance of marine life, which produces 20% of the world’s fish catch. Pelicans thrive here all year round as the fish come to the surface for easy pickings 
How did Frederick G. Williams know? Maybe what he wrote about Lehi landing at the 30º South Latitude in Chile was more than just his doodling on a piece of paper as almost all other Land of Promise Theorists would have us believe.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Could Frederick G. Williams Have Known…?

The idea that in the 1830s, Frederick G. Williams jotted down a comment that Lehi landed at the 30º South Latitude in Chile, is so out of the ordinary, that it cannot be passed off as mere doodling. As has been stated in the past few posts, there is no way Williams, or anyone else in Kirtland, Ohio, could have known all the things that make this area so usual, and so factual to the scriptural record.

After all, the 30º South Latitude, which would mark the southern boundary of the Land of Promise if Williams is correct, includes:

1. One of only five climates in the entire world—only two of which are in the Western Hemisphere (the other in Southern California)—where “seeds from Jerusalem” would have “grown exceedingly” and provided an “abundant crop.” (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could he have known?

2. This area is the world’s leading producer of copper, almost five times greater than the second country, the United States, and the third country, Peru, and out-produces by far the five next countries combined, producing just over 1/3 of the world’s copper production. (1 Nephi 18:25)

3. Chile is the seventh largest silver producing country in the world, with Peru is the largest in the world. Combined, Peru and Chile out-produce the second largest country, Mexico, 165.7 million ounces to 104.7 million, and the third largest producer, China, by two-to-one. (1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 5:15)

4. Chile is the seventh largest gold producer in the world, and Peru is the 6th largest gold producting country. (1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 5:15)

How could Williams have known?

5. Just north of the claimed Lehi landing site is the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. It extends for 600 miles, from the Peru-Chile border to just above 30º South Latitude. And north of that is the Peruvian Sechura Desert. The Atacama Desert is so desolate it has been proclaimed by NASA a Mars-like environment, and they train there for a future Mars landing.

The Atacama Desert of Chile is a virtually rainless plateau, running from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains. The average width is less than 100 miles but it extends 600 miles south from the Peruvian border. The mountains nearest the ocean are the Pacific coastal range, with an average elevation of 2500 feet. The Cordillera Domeyko, a range of foothills of the Andes Mountains, lies east. The Atacama is made up of salt basins (salars) sand and lava flows

Just south of the claimed Lehi landing site the winters drop to about 25º F, the humidity ranges in the 80% to 90%, average rainy days is between 15 and 24 days a month, and in some areas movement is only by boat because of the numerous rivers and waterways. Further south the coast is a labyrinth of fjords inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

The southern coast of Chile presents a large number of fjords and fjordlike channels from the latitudes of Cape Horn of (55° S) to Reloncavi Estuary (42° S). These fjords have served as a natural barrier preventing north-south land travel in Chilean Patagonia without passing trough Argentina, and a difficult coastal barrier to settlement.

Only the area of the 30º South Latitude along the entire Chilean coast would have provided an emigrant colony in 600 B.C. with a landing site, location for a community, survival temperature and climate, and soil for growing crops.

How did Williams know?

6. Along this coastal area runs the Humboldt Current, named after Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, an early 19th century Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer. This cold, low-salinity ocean current flows north-westward along the west coast of South America, from the southern tip of Chile to northern Peru, and extends as much as 600 miles offshore. The Current which sweeps northwards from the Antarctic, is pushed by the Southeast trade winds, and has a mean temperature of 60º F. Along its path, the cold nutrient rich waters surface from a depth of over 300 feet. These cold waters cool the air above them, producing a temperature inversion—that is, instead of the air gradually cooling with increased elevation, as is the norm, the air at, and above the ocean surface, is cooler than that above, thus a temperature inversion occurs.

The Humboldt Current flows northward along the continent’s edge. When it runs into the steep continental shelf, it dredges up cold, nutrient-rich water from the ocean floor and brings it to the surface. The nutrients support abundant microscopic life, which in turn supports a chain of ever-larger creatures. Fishing vessels reel in tens of thousands of tons of fish every year, such as anchovies, sardines, and mackerel--up to one-fifth of all the fish caught in the entire world

This provides two very important results: 1) the temperature along the coast and inland to the Andes, is generally pleasant throughout the year, and 2) brings upward a fish-rich environment that makes fishing along the coast an easy and most successful way to have provided food for the Lehi Colony until their crops grew. (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could Williams have known?

7. In this area from the 30º South Latitude northward (the movement of the Nephites as they expanded from the Land of First Inheritance to the Land of Nephi, then to the Land of Zarahemla, and then to the Land of Bountiful and finally into the Land Northward), was basically unknown in the eastern United States during Joseph Smith’s time. As a result, several things existed there to which Joseph had no knowledge and no language to explain or name as he read about them on the plates.

• Two animals that Joseph could not name and had to use the names as they appeared in the scriptural record: the curelom and cumom (Ether 9:19);
• Two grains that Joseph could not name and had to use the names as they appeared in the scriptural record: neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9);
• A plant provided by the lord for the curing of fever that was unknown, as well as its medicinal product: cinchona tree and quinine (Alma 46:40)
• That the area of first landing had the same climate and vegetation zone, desertic soils, brown soil group, and duplicate temperature and precipitation as that of Jerusalem—the only place in the world outside of the Mediterranean Sea that matches exactly, where their seeds would grow exceedingly: Mediterranean Climate (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could Williams have known?

(See the next post: more of what Williams did not know about the 30º South Latitude in Chile, but match the Book of Mormon Land of Promise descriptions)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Could Frederick G.Williams Have Known…Andean Ruins and Land of Promise Matches

When Frederick G.Williams wrote down about Lehi landing at the 30º South Latitude in Chile during a meeting with Joseph Smith and Sidney Ridgon in the 1830s, what could he have known about that area of South America?

As an example, could he have known about the fantastic ruins that stretched from Chile to Ecuador, and were scattered all over  Peru and Western Bolivia? Could he have known the historicity of this extremely unique area—the Andean lands of South America where he wrote that Lehi landed?

Ruins found in the Andean area of South America. There are currently thousands of such sites scattered all over Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, that date into B.C. times and have very similar construction indicating a common source of building

In looking at the dates when these ruins were first discovered:

• Kuelap first discovered in 1843 (a year after Williams death) by Juan Crisotomo Nieto, but not photographed and written about until 1930s
• Pachacamac, first written about by E.G. Squier, 1877, but not truly recognized until Max Uhle rediscovered in in 1903, and 1939 by Dr. Alberto Glesecke, which led to the archaeological work there of Tello, Strong, Corbett and Borja.
• Tiwanaku was first discovered in 1850s, first drawings and descriptions written in 1860 by Ephraim George Squier, first map drawn in 1876 by Alphons Stuhbel, and a book containing the first major account of the ruins along with major photographic documenttion was published in 1892 by B. von Grumbkow
• Caral pyramids first discovered in 1905, and rediscovered in 1941 by Gordon R. Willey and John M. Colbert
• Machu Picchu was first discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bringham
• Sayacmarca was discovered in 1912 by Hiram Bingham
• Concha Marca was discovered in 1913 by Hiram Bingham
• Chavin de Huantar discovered in 1919 by Julio C. Tello
• Ingapirca was discovered in 1919 when excavating for a farm
• Great Wall of Peru discovered in 1931 by Shippee and Johnson from the air 
• Colca Canyon first discovered in 1930s and rediscovered in 1980s
• Nazca Lines first discovered in 1939 by Toribio Mejia Zesspe
• Gran Pajaten first discovered in 1964 by Carlos Tomas Torrealva Juarez
• Sacsayhuaman first described in print by John Hemming, 1970
• Cuidad Perdida discovered in the 1970s when an airplane spotted it from above
• Chan Chan was discovered in the 1980s by Dr. Walter Alva
• Lord of Sipan first discovered in 1987 by Walter Alva
• Ollantaytambo, discovered in 1853 by Charles Markham, and later Squier, Wiener and Middendorf
• Also, Marcahuamachuco, discovered in 1900; Huacas del Sol y de la Luna, discovered in 1910; Choquequirao, discovered in 1834 but forgotten, rediscovered in 1909 by Hiram Bingham; Paititi, discovered in 2008; Huaro, discovered in 1995 by Julinho Zapata; Huaro, discovered in 1995 by Julinho Zapata

In short, the discoveries of the vast ruins of the Andean area in South America were not known until long after William’s death, most not until the 20th century.

Nor was it known that the history of these early people that they had built one of the most intricate road systems known in the world, rivaling that of the Romans; that they practiced circumcision; that they had built a system of temples, palaces, and buildings rivaling anything built elsewhere; that they had built docks along sea ports that could handle hundreds of ships; that they had built numerous forts and outer resorts, and miles of defensive walls that were all pointed toward defending against southern invasion; that their construction methods were beyond anything built anywhere in the world until modern times; that they mummified and buried their dead much like the Egyptians; that their legends spoke of coming from the east across the great seas; that they were capable of making “fine-twined” linen and silk; that they had fevers due to climate with plants that cured fevers; a natural narrow neck (26-miles wide) of land separating the land from a land to the north, with a narrow passage within it; a culture and society dominated by religion; four brothers who were the first settlers; a land far to the north containing many waters, lakes and fountains; mountains “whose height is great”; extensive irrigation technology; skeletal remains of great battles; and numerous other situations that match Book of Mormon writings in the Land of Promise.

How could Frederick G. Williams know of any of this in the 1830s, and write that this was Lehi’s landing site?

Such a coincidence would be beyond description and certainly not believable—the odds would be millions to one! Yet, Mesoamerican, Great Lakes, and other Theorists, bent on their own little models and beliefs, ignore all this and toss William’s written statement aside, claiming it was not a revelation.

But revelation or not, the fact remains that in the 1830s, he wrote down that Lehi landed along the 30º South Latitude in Chile! And all these remarkable coincidences just happen to exist in that location. What a remarkable prediction! Nowhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere could Williams have chosen that would have had so many perfect matches to the Land of Promise!

How could he have known all this? Was it simply a coincidence? I think not!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Interesting Facts About 30º South Latitude – The Chilean Coast

In addition to all that has so far been said in the previous posts regarding the uniqueness of 30º South Latitude along the Chilean Coast, there is another most important fact that could not have been known to Frederick G. Williams in the 1830s.

First of all, the 30º South Latitude is the Tropic of Capricorn, the southern most latitude at which the Sun can be directly overhead, which occurs at the December solstice, when the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun to its maximum extent. This Tropic area usually has an arid or semi-arid climate, and both westerlies and trade winds blow away from the 30º latitude belt. Over large areas centered at 30° latitude, surface winds are light, and air slowly descends to replace the air that blows away, according to Arthur N. Strahler Elements of Physical Geography, Wiley and Sons 1984.

Approaching Coquimbo Bay from the south. It is about 205 Nautical Miles from Valparaíso. Except for Valparaíso, Coquimbo is the only natural harbor along the entire coast of Chile until you near the Peru border

Coquimbo Bay, a few degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn at the 30º South Latitude where the winds and currents die down and provide a perfect chance for landing a sailing ship "driven forth before the wind"

Secondly, and more importantly, the winds that die down effect the current, which also dies down, making it difficult to make headway further up the coast, and providing a near-perfect location at such a point for a weather ship “driven forth before the wind” to easily make landfall. Combine that with a large bay, and you have the ideal landing site for many miles along the Chilean coast.

So, how would Frederick G. Williams have known all this?

Now, some might say that things were different in 600 B.C. However, the Latitude of Coquimbo Bay is 29º 56’, only six degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn, which was one-third of a degree closer to Coquimbo in 600 B.C. Figuring the latitude of the Tropic is 23º 26’ today, and is traveling northward at the rate of about 15 meters per year, it would have been about 23º 46’ when Lehi landed. Thus, the circumstances then would not be basically different than today.

And today, the currents and winds that blow northward from the southern isles of South America, as the northern track of the Southern Ocean is bent north along the continental shelf (the lower track passes through the Drake Passage), slows from their swift movement of some 25-30 mph, incrementally until they reach the 30º South Latitude, where they are nearly becalmed (0-5 mph) and, aided by the upwelling currents, turn toward the coast. The perfect scenario for a deep sea vessel to land along a coast where there are no docks, buoys, or tie ups.

So, how would Frederick G. Williams have known all this?

As for weather while sailing up the coast, the cold, northerly flowing Humboldt Current and southerly trade winds “give most pleasant conditions over the open decks right up to the Equator.” Coastal temperatures ashore become increasingly hot and humid, but drop at high inland elevations. Along this west coast, there are few ports, even today with modern dredging, dock building, modern shipping, and importance of tourism. Most passenger vessels make stops at Valpariso (whose port was frozen in the early 19th century) or Coquimbo, then Arica in northern Chile, Calleo (Lima) in Peru, Guayaquil in Ecuador, and Balboa in Panama (which is the cargo hub for South America and the Caribbean).

Even today, the west coast of South America is not especially an easy place to make port calls, and cargo ships are scarcely ever unladed at docks anywhere on the west coast from Mexico to Chile. In addition, the harbors on the west coast are not so good as on the east—for example, at Mollendo, it is practically unlading at sea (not at docks) which is far costlier, but also far safer because of the poor coastal bays, inlets, ports. Shipyards are seldom found in South America, with those in Venezuela on the north coast (Caribbean Sea), or those on the east coast along the Rio del la Plata in Uruguay and Argentina. There are no shipyards on the west coast south of the Bay of Guayaquil. All of this makes Coquimbo and Valparaiso in Chile the best natural docking and harbor south of Guayaquil in Ecuador.

So, how would Frederick G. Williams have known all this?

Valparaíso harbor around 1820, where only ships from Spain and Spanish colonies in South and Central America were allowed to enter, before Chile’s wars for independence opened up trade from Europe coming around the Horn

As for knowing Valpra
íso harbor, it was a small village with only a few houses and a church. It was undeveloped and unknown until after 1820, when the harbor became setting for the nascent Chilean navy. By 1830, it was just beginning to receive shipping coming around the Horn from the Atlantic with European visitors. It was not until the last half of the 19th century, that Valparaiso became a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Always a magnet for European immigrants, Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, when the city was known by international sailors as “Little San Francisco" and “The Jewel of the Pacific.” Few Americans visited Valparaiso in the last half of he 19th century, when it was mostly a stopover for Europeans from Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy, with German, French, Italian and English the spoken tongue who settled there.

So, how would Frederick G. Williams have known all this in the 1830s?

The coincidence of his choosing that spot for Lehi’s landing is both remarkable and against all odds. We don’t need to argue whether it was a revelation or not, or whether Joseph Smith came up with it, or whether Frederick G. Williams suggested it—the fact that it was written down by these men is so unbelievable, that had we not a record of its taking place, it would have to be rejected out of hand.

Frederick G. Williams could not have come up with such an outlandish idea in the 1830s on  his own. So where did it come from? Who suggested it to them? Might it have been the spirit?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Uniqueness of 30º South Latitude – Chilean Coast

It is hard to imagine how someone in 1830s Ohio could have possibly even considered, let alone come up with, the idea that the Lehi Colony landed along the Chilean coast at 30º South Latitude. The western coast of South America was relatively unknown to Americans in the 1830s, with the several countries being embroiled in internal civil wars and wars of independence from European rule throughout the first half of the 19th century. Severe political instability made it a place not to visit. In Peru alone, there were 26 different regime changes from 1821 to 1845. A couple of decades later, Chile and Peru were embroiled in the War of the Pacific, and after the war, the political and environment dissolved into a period of intense civil strife. Chile’s war for independence covered the years from 1810 to 1826, when the last Spanish troops surrendered. Presidents and constitutions rose and fell quickly in the 1820s amid chaos and bloodshed, and national control was seized in 1830, with a war against Peru-Bolivia in the 1830s.

The western regions of South America were simply not a place for American visits, stories of romance, or educational treatise. What the average individual in the United States knew of the Andean area of South America in the 1830s was extremely minimal, if anything at all.

As for 30º South Latitude, the port of Coquimbo was not even known to Americans or Europeans until the copper industry led to the the area’s notice around 1840, and wasn’t even a town until 1867 when many Europeans and Britishers settled there. The city of La Serena, just inland from Coquimbo a few miles and the site of Chile’s main agriculture, was an area of instability throughout the first half of the 19th century, capped by the Revolution of 1859, engineered by forces from Santiago.

An 1804 Chart of the Coasts of South America from the Equator to Cape Horn, engraved for Malham’s Naval Gazetteer, Boston, from Malham’s 1795 London edition. Note the blowup, showing (red) Santiago, (green) Valpraiso, and (blue) Coquimbo. Note the top blowup which shows nothing unusual or of interest in the Coquimbo area. It is doubtful Williams would have had such a fine chart of South America, but even if he did, there is nothing to draw attention to Coquimbo or the 30º South Latitude

As for the route to get to the 30º South Latitude, first of all, a southern ocean was only first considered to exist in 1937, but remained unrecognized by the world’s 68 oceanic countries even as late as 1953, and not named until 2000 by the IHO in its Limits of Oceans and Seas—even then, it could not be agreed as to its northern boundary with half of the countries considering 60º South Latitude, 14 countries wanting 50º, but others claiming as far north as 35º.

Secondly, it was not known until well into the 20th century that the ocean-area from about latitude 40º south to the Antarctic Circle had the strongest average winds found anywhere on Earth, and perfect for driving sailing vessels at high speeds across this ocean. Nor was it known until the latter half of the 20th century that this Antarctic Circumpolar Current, with an average depth of 2,600 feet (compared to a global mean of 436 feet), moves perpetually eastward—chasing and joining itself along its 13,000-mile length.

Third, not until reports came in from Australian sailors in the last decades of the 20th century was it known that despite its southern latitudes, that at certain times of the year sailing in the Southern Ocean was described as “T-shirt weather in February.” Nor was it known until David Lewis accomplished it in 1973, that sailing in the southern ocean without compass, chronometer or sextant, and moving solely by the stars was easily possible.

Fourth, not until the southern ocean was conquered in the last half of the 20th century by small sailing vessels was it known that constant passage of rain clouds, windholes, and storms provide more than adequate amounts of capturable drinking water, though at sea for weeks on end.

It is not only interesting, but has to be considered one of the most fascinating predictions of all time, that three men in Kirtland, Ohio, in the 1830s, considered even the possibility of Lehi’s ship, driving forth before the wind in 600 B.C., would have taken this Southern Ocean south of Australia half way around the world to land at the 30º South Latitude in Chile.

The Book of Mormon was first published in March of 1830. Surely Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams would have read the entire book by 1832, the earliest possible time these men would have met and such a statement could have been made or written down in a meeting. Surely, with all the knowledge of the Hill Cumorah and the finding of the plates there—and most likely, this meeting was after Zions Camp, which took placein July 1834, had already taken place, in which the story of Zelph, the white Lamanite who had lived in the Illinois area and about the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.

With such information and experiences at their disposal, why would they even have thought of South America? What could have prompted them to even consider such a remote possibility? After all, it wasn’t until late in 1841 that Joseph Smith was given the book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, by John L. Stephens, in which he first knew about ancient ruins in Central America, and likely never did know in  his lifetime about the ruins in South America since most were not even discovered until the 20th century, though Kuelap was first discovered in 1843 by Juan Crisotomo Nieto, but  not photographed and written about until the 1930s; and Tiwanaku not discovered until the 1850s, with the first drawings and descriptions written in 1860 by Ephraim George Squier, and the first map drawn in 1876 by Alphons Stuhbel; and a book containing the first major account of the ruins along with major photographic documentation not published until 1892 by B. von Grumbkow.

Again, the question has to be asked, why 30º South Latitude along the Chilean coast?

Today, of course, we know (besides the major natural indigenous items mentioned in the last post) that the 30º South Latitude along the Chilean coast is the southern most point of one of the most advanced and unique civilizations that existed anywhere in the world, and both the oldest and most advanced civilization in the Americas (Western Hemisphere).
So where did the idea in the 1830s of a 30º South Latitude landing site along the Chilean coast come from?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

30º South Latitude – The Veracity of Frederick G. Williams – Part II

Continuing with the written note from Frederick G. Williams during a First Presidency Meeting with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon between 1832 and 1837, we still have to consider what on earth would have prompted these men in the 1830s to claim Lehi sailed south of Australia, across the Pacific and up the West Coast of Chile to land at 30º South Latitude.

A direct course, east across the Indian Ocean, through Indonesia, through the islands of the South Pacific, and to South America would have made the most sense from looking at a map

Not only would no one in their right mind in the 1830s even have considered such a course for a sailing ship, but once again, looking at a map, the natural choice of direction from the Arabian coast would have been to follow the coast of Arabia eastward. Then, once past India, through Indonesia, and out into the South Pacific islands of Micronesia, into Polynesia, and then across to the West Coast of South America. After all, the provisions and water could have been replenished many times along the way.

A unknown course: southeast down the Indian Ocean toward Australia, south of New Zealand, across the Pacific in what would have been considered the Antartic Ocean at the time, then north along South America coast

To take a ship south in the Indian Ocean toward Australia, then south of New Zealand, and across what would have been considered the frigid Antarctica Ocean would have been worse than foolhardy—under the knowledge known in the 1830s, it would have been impossible. No one in all of history had ever sailed in that direction, there were no islands with which to replenish food and water, and the climate would be expected to be extremely cold.

In the 1830s, Americans would have known anything about the Southern Ocean, the West Wind Drift, or the Prevailing Westerlies that make up the circumpolar current that circles the globe

No one in New England could have been expected to know that the 30º South Latitude is not only an ideal landing spot—one of the only ones along the entire Chilean coast—but also perfect to meet numerous requirements of the Land of Promise.

In a 1988 paper entitled Did Lehi Land in Chile? Frederick G. Williams, a great grandson of the former Williams, tried to piece together his great grandfather’s reasoning on the matter. He speculates that since Chile is thirty degrees south latitude and Jerusalem is at approximately thirty degrees north latitude, both sites would have had a similar climate and may be why that destination was chosen. Therefore, Those in discussion on the matter evidently settled on Chile. Thus, a destination was produced which caught hold and lasted for generations.

It cannot be ignored that Frederick G. Williams III, wrote about something he could not have possible known anything about, having lived some 100 years after his great grandfather. But more importantly, in 1988, knowledge of South America, ocean currents, and specifically the climate that existed in Coquimbo Bay and La Serena (30º South Latitude along the Chilean coast), was not only well known, but well documented—that was about five years after I first began studying Coquimbo and La Serena as a possible landing site.

Perhaps more importantly, no one in 1830s could have guessed that the climates would have been the same, or even in 1988, unless they were knowledgeable of the unique climate called the “Mediterranean Climate,” that exists not only in Jerusalem, but in only five locations in the world outside the Mediterranean Sea–one being the 30º south Latitude along the Chilean coast. This is critically important, since seeds in 600 B.C. would only grow in like climates from which they were first developed—the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem, and as Nephi said they  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; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24).

In addition, numerous other unique situations and conditions exist at this spot and along this South American coast that is found nowhere else, that match descriptions, animals, grains, precious ores, and other facts found almost nowhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere, such as:

1. Two unique animals as useful to man as the elephant (cumoms and cureloms in Ether 9:19)—the llama and alpaca of the Andes;
2. Two unique grains on a par with wheat, corn and barley (sheum and neas in Mosiah 9:9)—the quinoa and kiwichi of the Andes;
3. Where gold, silver and copper are abundant, and found in single ore (both gold and silver and copper  in 1 Nephi 18:25)—found in numerous mines and locations in Chile and Peru;
4. Plants that are natural cures for fever (Alma 46:40)—cinchona tree of the Andes, the only natural producer of quinine found in the world, and indigenous only to the Andes.

Currents leaving the Arabian shore flow south, pickup the North Equatorial Current and the Indian Ocean Gyre which curve southeast and flow into the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift heading east around the globe

Interestingly enough, no one knew in the 1830s that the currents leaving the Arabian shore would take a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” along a southern and then southeastern course through the Indian Ocean along the South Indian Ocean Gyre, and down to the Southern Ocean where the Prevailing Westerlies and West Wind Drift would take a sailing vessel across the South Pacific/Southern Ocean toward the Drake Passage, and then up along the West Coast of South America on the Humboldt Current (named after Alexander von Humboldt and unknown in America or Europe until after he wrote his book Kosmos in 1845 when he was 76 years old). 

In addition, no one knew in the 1830s that the northern part of the West Wind Drift was warm water because of the mixture of the South Pacific waters moving southward due to the Coriolis Effect. And no one knew in the 1830s, that the Prevailing Westerlies of the Southern Ocean blew constantly in what later became known as the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties—currents and winds that drove sailing ships on a fast track across the ocean to South America—today these winds and currents are used for international sailing races.

None of this was known in the 1830s in the United States. So how is it that Frederick G. Williams wrote down the 30º South Latitude? What would have prompted him to write: “then sailed in a south east direction” when such a course would have been unknown, away from land, out into the deep ocean? What did Frederick G. Williams know that no one else knew for nearly a half century later about this sailing course?

Or should the question be: “What did Joseph Smith know that no one else knew for nearly a half century later about this sailing course?”

It was Orson Pratt who later said, “As near as we can judge from the description of the country contained in this record (Book of Mormon) the first landing place was in Chile, not far from where the city of Valparaiso now stands.”

These ideas could not have been mere conjecture, map reading, or guessing, since such a course flew against all reason and sailing knowledge of the time! Today, however, we know it is the only course for a deep water sailing vessel to have reached the Western Hemisphere from the Arabian shore.

Friday, August 24, 2012

30º South Latitude – The Veracity of Frederick G. Williams – Part I

Sometime between 1833 and 1837, Frederick G. Williams, both the personal scribe to Joseph Smith, and the Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, is said to have written on a piece of paper:

“The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south, south east direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili thirty degrees south Latitude” (Frederick G. Williams III, Did Lehi Land in Chile? p. 1. LDS Archives, MSD 3408 fd 4 v, S. L. C., Utah).

For several years, and even today, this statement has caused a great deal of excitement and much opposition by church historians, Book of Mormon Land of Promise theorists, and some church leaders, such as B.H. Roberts and George Q. Cannon, as well as the Williams family, including a great grandson, Frederick G. Williams III.

Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, First Presidency meeting in which was written down the 30º South Latitude landing

The controversy surrounded, for the most part, whether or not this was a legitimate revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, because it was written on the same piece of paper where the revelation of John the Beloved was written in 1829. Much has been written to try and prove this was not a revelation, such as “The Lehi statement was found at the bottom of the page in the fourth section. There was no reference to authorship or headers of any kind in this section. Therefore, no basis for it being considered a revelation to Joseph could ever be justified.”

However, whether or not it was or was not a revelation has nothing to do with the purpose of this article. The point here, and the one that evidently has never been addressed, is the question: “Why the 30º South Latitude in Chile?”

Some articles have suggested that this was merely a simple deduction at the time, given the location of the Irreantum Sea being the Arabian Sea, such as: “the proposed Chilean landing site may have simply come about when those who were studying out the directions given in 1 Nephi attempted to follow the journey from the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula eastward to a plausible landing site in the new world.” Or the statement: “The final piece of information given in the Williams’ statement indicates that Lehi and his people sailed in a south east direction and landed in Chile along the western borders of South America. Now, since traveling southeastward, as described in the comment by Williams, would have taken them in a direct course toward the continent of Australia, and beyond toward the Antarctic, they would, of necessity, have had to turn due east at some point to reach the west coast of Chile at thirty degrees south latitude.”

However, the question remains: “Why Chile? Why a southeast direction? Why sail south of Australia in totally and completely unknown and unchartered waters? What would lead Williams to think such a thing? Any look at a world map shows the most direct route through the Arabian Sea, Indonesia, the South Sea islands, and across the Pacific, providing numerous stops for food and water. The idea of sailing south of Australia simply would make no sense to anyone in the U.S. in the 1830s.

When the War of 1812 first broke out, the British immediately seized control of Lake Erie. When Detroit surrendered, there was not a single U.S. ship on the Lake. The famous battle took place the following year between Perry and Barclay

So what would Frederick G. Williams know about sailing? Would he have any idea of sea routes in the Southern Ocean or South Seas? First of all, Williams was a ship’s pilot on the Great Lakes, and at the age of twenty-six, during the War of 1812-13, was the pilot of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet. After regaining control of the Upper Lakes Region from Barclay's English fleet, which was a turning point in the war, Perry became the “Hero of Lake Erie” at the age of 27. Frederick, at twenty-six, had joined Perry as a pilot, directing him around the Lake region. After Perry's victory on Lake Erie and General Harrison's victory on land, the war came to an end in the area, after which Frederick began teaching school and continued to work as a pilot on Lake Erie, transporting goods and passengers between Buffalo and Detroit.

Map of the U.S. in 1836. The pink area is the U.S. Any U.S. ship going to the Pacific would have to go around the Horn of South America--a 13,000 to 15,000 mile trip taking 4 to 6 months, and certainly not one taken for pleasure, but to sail to the western Pacific (Japan to Indonesia)

So what might Williams have learned piloting a U.S. Navy ship in 1812-1813 on one of the Great Lakes? First of all, Commodore Perry had never sailed anything larger than a sloop (one mast and one deck), been further south than the tip of Florida or further north than the coast of New England. Williams had never been to sea beyond Lake Erie. In 1812, the U.S. was only 36 years old, and the Navy had barely a dozen ships to its name. Their experience with ships and seaman was restricted to the coastal areas of the East Coast, and more importantly, to the inland sea areas of the Great Lakes, which both America and England knew was the key to any naval battles for the Americas. In fact, the first ships of the US Navy to enter the Pacific Ocean was the 1) Pacific Squadron—American West Coast (1821), 2) East Indies Squadron—China, Formosa, Indonesia (1835)--both squadrons consisted of a total of only five ships and not a single port on the West Coast--3) East Asia Squadron—China, Japan, Korea (1868), and 4) Far East Detachment—Philippines (1898).

As can be seen, US shipping did not take place in the southern Pacific, or along the West Coast of South America (not until 1846). It was restricted to those areas of interest to the United States at the time, namely the West Coast of North America, Hawaii, and Japan southward to the Philippines and Indonesia.

Obviously, neither Federick G. Williams nor any officers of the United States Navy, knew anything about the West Coast of South America, or even Central America for that matter. All naval knowledge was centered in the New England area of the Atlantic and the far Pacific.

We do need to keep in mind that during a meeting with the Prophet Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams, a member of the First Presidency from 1833 to 1837—when Joseph Smith was the prophet, and was also the prophet’s personal scribe from 1832 to 1836, wrote down during a First Presidency meeting that Lehi landed along the 30º South Latitude in Chile. While this does not mean anything more than a note made on a paper during a meeting, it has two points to consider: 1) For those who like to quote modern-day Church Leaders, this note certainly stands as high as any other General Authority’s comment about location of the Land of Promise, and 2) the area noted, the 30º South Latitude along the Chilean seacoast, is one of the unique areas that meet important Land of Promise criteria that could not have been known to Williams at the time!

(See the next post, “30º South Latitude – The Veracity of Frederick G. Williams-Part II,” to see how inspired someone had to have been in the 1830s to have chosen that location for Lehi’s landing site)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Covino Comments Answered-Part XIX-Liahona

Peter Covino in discussing the purpose of the Liahona, in his True Book of Mormon Geography website, writes:

“The record specifically says that God guided them by the Liahona (1 Nephi 18:12-13) to a land that was hidden (2 Nephi 1:7-9).”

First of all, it is amazing how many times Covino inserts a word like hidden which is never found in scripture, as though it was the word Mormon used. In his referred to scriptures, the reference to the land is: "a land of liberty unknown to them." And in the Liahona scripture, it does not say "[guided] by the Liahona," though it is the obvious inference.

As has been stated before in this blog, the word “hidden” is not mentioned anywhere in the Book of Mormon, and certainly not in 2 Nephi 1:7-9, which reads:

“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”

Two references can be implied: “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” and “they shall be kept from all other nations.”

Covino adds: “Geographers need to explain how the land in their model was hidden.” But as said before, it was not “hidden.” That is Covino’s word. It is not used in the scriptural record or implied, either toward the land or the people upon it.

Covino has a tendency to make things up, then claim other people must agree with him.

The idea of the Western Hemisphere being unknown to the rest of the world (Eastern  Hemisphere) has been documented in historical books, history, and also this blog. There is a reason this land was unknown until Columbus “discovered” the Western Hemisphere. Covino should know this, like every grade school kid.

Left: 16th Century Astrolabe--needed to sight altitude of a celestial object to determine latitude, the north-south position on the globe; Right: 15th Century sighting Pelorus for observing true bearings, like a compass

Until man had ships capable of sailing into deep water across a lengthy ocean, and instruments, such as the quadrant, octant, astrolabe or backstaff, and a pelorus or compass capable of withstanding ship's movement, no sailor, sea captain, or investor wanted to attempt such a fete. When the Lord was ready for such a discovery, he brought about the ship design, the instruments, and the interest that led men to make the attempt. Until then, the land was simply unknown to the rest of the world.

As for the Liahona, like any compass, it would be necessary for Lehi to have this instrument in order to guide him across the “many waters.”  Having the Liahona does not signify, as Covino claims, that the land was hidden and Lehi needed a Liahona in order to find it. Evidently, Covino has never been in deep water where instruments are the only thing that keeps one from sailing around in circles, or wander off course.

Left: Deep water in the middle of the ocean. Nothing but water can be seen in every direction for weeks at a time. There are no marked paths, no landmarks, no anything. There is absolutely nothing with which to take one’s bearings other than the sun and stars. Right: Deep ocean in a heavy mist or fog. Trying to find one’s way in such conditions is next to impossible, for there is no sun or stars by which to find a bearing without a compass

Despite what every seaman knows, Covino completely misses the mark. He goes on to say: “The use of the Liahona implies that Lehi's family traveled any way but along traditional routes.”

It would be interesting to know what “traditional routes” Covino thinks existed across the deep ocean in 600 B.C. when no other vessel had ever made such a voyage, or any sea captain ever even having considered such a thing. Covino seems to approach understanding the scriptural record as though the events happened last week under modern and current conditions.

Covino adds: “Geographers need to explain what was peculiar about the routes in their model, or keep silent on the matter.”

Again, Covino brings up one of his words, “peculiar” to describe Lehi’s course across the ocean as though the word is found in scripture. It is not. However, if peculiar is what he wants, then the peculiar, or unusual, event in which Lehi was involved, was simply crossing the ocean in a vessel in 600 B.C., 2,000 years before Columbus made the first attempt known in history.

But Covino is not through. He adds: “Geographers need to explain how the land in their model was hidden. The Book of Mormon does not say they were ever discovered. Nor would they be discovered by the first explorers, i.e. not Columbus.”

Columbus discovered the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti on his first voyage; he returned to the area of Haiti on his second voyage, adding Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, St. Croix, Nevis, Guadalupe, Domenica, and Martinique; he reached Margarita, Trinidad, and the northeastern coast of Venezuela (Orinoco River) South America on his third voyage; and on his fourth and last voyage, he reached the islands off Honduras in Central America, sailed along the eastern shore of Central America to Panama, and revisited many of the small islands to the east and south of Haiti and Puerto Rico. In all, Columbus reached none of the areas where different historians claim was the Land of Promise. But obviously, those who followed did.

It was only a matter of time before Cortez, Pizarro, and the Spanish conquistadors decimated three civilizations that had achieved far more than the Spanish had ever accomplished. As the scriptural record foretold, the Lamanites would be driven, scourged and nearly destroyed. Even today the plight of the natives (Lamanites) in some parts of Central America and most all of South America, is beyond description--they have never recovered from being "driven" by the Gentiles--Spaniards.