Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VII – The Animals and Plants Left Behind

In Moroni’s abridgement of the Ether record, we are not told much about the four years the Jaredites spent after arriving at the Great Sea that separated the land. All that is said is the Lord called Ether to repentance after four years because he had not called “upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:13). 
    Whether or not the Jaredites thought this seashore was the Land of Promise we are not told, but if they did, it is certainly understandable, for no nicer land could be found anywhere from Mesopotamia to the sea, across the 2500 miles they had traveled. The fact that the Brother of Jared ceased his praying for the Lord's help and guidance suggests that he thought they had reached their final destination.
The Garbeeb along the shore of Salalah, stretching several miles in a cup-shaped Plain with the coastal shore to the south and the mountains to the north
    Along this pristine, beautiful Plain running laterally to the coast they remained for four years. Finally, the Lord became impatient with the Brother of Jared and called him into the mountains for a three-hour chastising interview (Ether 2:14-15).
    This coastal plain seems the obvious location for building the Jaredite barges, with the Baobab Wood Forest a short distance away, plenty of fresh sweet water in the khor of this protected harbor, and the lush, green mountains above.
    The fresh water inlet at Khor Rori also seems like the obvious location for access of both ships and barges from a construction point to launching into the sea. The hills above this plain are green year round, even when the plain is dry and brown along this area.
Hills above Khor Rori. Note the water inlet (red arrow) of the khor, a deep creek that flows across the Garbeeb and into the hills, dropping from the hanging valley above and the Dirbat Wadi
    Between the sea and the mountains and above the khor is the Wadi Dirbat, which is a wide valley, larger than other wadis in the area, and has both a lake and a stream, the latter providing sweet water that runs down off the hills that eventually mix with seawater in the mouth of Khor Rori. 
The Dirbat Valley above Khor Rori with the wadi full during khareef and flowing year round into the khor below
    There are some who have suggested that the Nephites later were led to another area than this Khor Rori, to a place some 60 miles to the west along the coast, however, in the economy of the Lord, it is most likely that the Jaredites were led to the same place Lehi would arrive some 1500 years later. There are several reasons for this:
    1. During the four years the Lord allowed the Jaredites to leisurely spend along the seashore they would have planted some “of the seeds of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41) they brought with them, which would have grown into plants and crops, trees and fruit, for their sustenance. Some of these trees and crops would have survived after they left, since many domesticated plants can grow in the wild.
    2. The Jaredites “did carry with them swarms of bees” (Ether 2:3), and during those years the bees would have multiplied through the laying of eggs and hatching, as well as “swarming,” the latter where the hive splits into two parts where some fifty-percent or more of the old hive leave with the queen bee and start a new hive. These bees, brought from Mesopotamia, would have been mature bees to begin with and such swarming would have no doubt taken place during the years along the seashore. Some of these would have reproduced within the many caves, savannahs, valleys and mountains along the shore and inland in the area of present day Salalah, and would have remained behind when the Jaredites packed their barges and left.
Each year in wild beehives after numerous queen bees are hatched, several will swarm, that is leave the hive and create a new one, choosing any suitable location, including trees, caves, cliffsides, crevices or holes in rock or tree trunks 
    3. Trees and plants had time over four or five years to mature, drop seeds, and produce numerous trees and plants that produced fruit that, left in the wild, would have continued to grow. Many once domesticated plants, left on their own, have survived for centuries, producing all types of fruit and wild nuts, as well as vines of numerous varieties of berries. In addition, there are those trees and plants that naturally grow wild and need no care.
    4. The multiplying of animals during the four years at the seashore and the year or so building the barges and preparing to leave for the Land of Promise would have resulted in far more animals than could be transported to the new land, necessitating leaving numerous ones behind.
    It is interesting that centuries later, when Lehi reached this shore, he called the sea Irreantum, and the land “Bountiful.” As Nephi wrote: “we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Obviously, Nephi understood this when he said, they had been prepared of the Lord that they might not perish. Who would have prepared them? The area of Khor Rori and Salalah, contrary to some writer’s opinions, have been shown through both history and archaeology not to have been occupied prior to 500 B.C. at the very earliest, and more likely 400 to 300 B.C. based on actual findings at the site (Juris Zarins, The Land of Incense, Sultanate of Oman: Sultan Qaboos University Publications, Al Nahda Printing Press, 2001, pp 64, 76, 154).
    Thus, the only people we know were there with animals, bees, and seeds of every kind, after the Flood were the Jaredites. So let’s take a look at these all-important descriptive things that needed to have been left behind by the Jaredites for the survival of the Lehi Colony when they arrived.
    1. Plants and Crops. When Lehi arrived, they found “much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5). There are many crops and trees that grow naturally and wild in this area of Salalah that has a climate that fosters such growth.
Fruits of Salalah: Top LtoR: Zizipuhus Jujube; Cucumis Melon; Perrottet Cordia; and Papaya; Bottom LtoR: Bananas; Lufah; Dates; Tree Grapes; and Jack Fruit
    It is also interesting that just a few miles in any land direction is one of the world’s largest and driest deserts where trees and edible plants do not grow, and few living things exist. Yet, in this small strip of land along the Gerbeeb is a veritable paradise where fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. In fact, Salalah is not only known for its exported crops and fruits, but fruit stands can be found along almost any street today.
Everywhere you go in the Salalah area along the Gerbeeb are fruit stands selling a wide variety of fruits both that have grown in the wild and cultivated on modern plantations
    The most obvious fruit to be found anywhere in the region would be palm trees with their date fruit. Date Palm trees are one of the Middle East’s most ancient fruit trees—remains have been found from 4,000 B.C. Date palms love the heat and grow well in desert oases.  There is a proverb that the ‘date tree has it’s head in the fire [sun] and it’s feet [roots] in water’.  The palm tree or palm branches are mentioned 45 times in the Bible. In Mesopotamia, the trunk was used for fences, rafts and boats, and fuel.  The long six to ten feet leaves were woven into mats, baskets, and roof thatch and were one of the four “kinds” used at the festival of Succoth (Leviticus 23:40). 
    The branches were also “waved” to acknowledge and greet important people, such as Jesus (John 12:12–13). The date palm was used as a decorative motif in Solomon’s Temple, in Synagogue decoration, and on coins (as an emblem of victory). The Romans used the date palm as a symbol of the captured province of Judah after their victory over the Jews in A.D. 70.
Psalm 92:12–14 states: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
    By the time Lehi arrived at Bountiful, all in his party would have been familiar with the date palm and its fruit, especially since it grows on the trees in such abundance.
Dates are believed to have originated around Iraq (ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia), and have been cultivated there for thousands of years, are wind pollinated and can exist in the wild without cultivation for millennia
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VIII – The Animals and Plants Left Behind – Part II,” for more on what the Jaredites left behind that provided for the Nephites when they arrived centuries later)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VI – The Animals Left Behind

Khor Rori lies against the coast of Southern Arabian Peninsula along the Sea of Arabia. It is a sweetwater khor inlet (creek). It has several unique properties that make it the perfect match for where the Jaredites arrived at the Great Sea as well as later being Lehi’s Bountiful along the Irreantum Sea.
While the rest of Oman and southern Saudi Arabia melt in the weltering summer heat, the Salalah Gerbeeb, a small area of Dhofar, experiences a unique drizzling mist, gushing springs and emerald green mountains
    Having arrived at this spot, no doubt exhausted and weary of wilderness travel, the Jaredites settled down and spent four years. This shore area, called the Garbeeb (a flat plain) is isolated from the desert, over which they traveled, by the Qara Mountains, and when the monsoon (mawsim) winds and rains move in off the coast, it bathes this plain with moisture that creates a veritable paradisiacal flatland that would easily have beckoned to the Jaredites after their lengthy fatiguing travel.
    This seasonally reversing southeastern wind, called the monsoon, is referred to as the khareef, an Arabic word meaning “autumn,” but a term meaning much more when used in southern Oman for the monsoon, between May and September, with its residue lasting into November. Geologists link this condition to the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau after the collision of the Indian Sub-continent—during Peleg’s time when the earth was divided, thus having existed since before the Jaredite era. This is borne out by long-duration sediment records and marine plankton studies from the South China Sea.
    During this atmospheric circulation and precipitation of the seasonally-changing pattern coming off the Sea of Arabia, the brown landscape of Salalah and its surroundings is completely transformed into a beautiful lush green, today prompting locals and tourists alike to flock to the area during these months.
    Also today, the towns there, like Salalah and al Balid, depend on this annual Khareef to supply rain that turns everything green, rain that sprouts grass everywhere and ripens the fruits, such as coconuts, bananas, papayas, etc., and not only brings cool temperatures, but lends beauty to the area, and brings life itself. The Gerbeeb becomes covered with lush green vegetation during Khareef and lakes form along with occasional waterfalls and mountains sometimes obscured with fog.
Flocks, herds or trains of Feral (wild) camels roam throughout the Garbeeb, from along the highways to high in the hills
    When the Jaredites arrived, they came by camel, crossing about 2000 miles of desert, and when they left in their barges, it is likely that some of their camels were left behind after four years of multiplying. Over the millennia since, these feral camels have multiplied to such an extent that they roam wild throughout the Garbeeb and in the foothills, especially where the wadis run and particularly along the streets, creating a growing problem for the government. They graze along the roads and highways and move right out into the middle of the road without hesitation, causing severe traffic problems and dangerous driving situations.
Yellow Arrow: Where the Jaredites likely settled, back from the shore where the Valley Dirbat flowed with lakes and rivers and where trees abounded, with easy access down the Wadi Dirbat to Khor Rori below the foothills. Note the circled area of Tawi Atayr to the east of Dirbat
    Another interesting residue of the Jaredites are the birds in the area. When the Lord had the Jaredites travel northward into the Valley of Nimrod, “they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air” (Ether 2:2). Obviously, like all living things, during the four years at the seashore, these birds would have multiplied to such a degree there would have been many left behind out of necessity when the Jaredites boarded their barges to cross the Great Deep.
    Today, many of the descendants of these birds fill the land. In the Tawi Atayr (Attair) Sinkhole, sitting 680-feet above sea level, one of the largest known sinkholes in the world, 492 feet across and 692 feet deep, it is the home to literally thousands upon thousands of birds nesting in the crevices, cracks, holes and ledges along its sheer vertical walls. In fact, it is known locally as the “Well of the Birds,” because of the numbers and their happy-sounding birdsong that constantly emanates from its depths, and has since ancient times.
In addition, the Yemen serin bird (left), found specifically in the Tawi Atayr, is a species of finch in the Fringillidae family, that has a restricted range of southern Oman, western Yemen, and southwest Arabia. These seed-eating Fringillidae finch songbirds are also found in Mesopotamia.
    This karst sinkhole is the result of irregular limestone along barren, rocky ground that has eroded, producing fissures, subterranean streams, caves and caverns in an underground drainage system that creates aquifers—a perfect result of the dissolution of soluble rocks resulting from the Great Flood when the roof collapsed under the weight of the water and formed the hole.
The Taw Atayr Sinkhole, filled with birds and in its great depth, a water table filled with unique fish not found elsewhere. Top: The sheer sides of the sinkhole; Bottom: The Upper Ledge
    At the bottom of the sinkhole, nearly 700 feet below the surface, in the water table are found fish named Garra Dunsirei, a species of ray-finned fish in the Cyprinidae family found only in this sinkhole. The fish has small eyes and seems to have weak vision,and in the total darkness of the sinkhole, the fish uses its tentacles for sensing. It is pale yellow in color and measures three to six centimeters long. The existence of this fish is relict from the times when climate in the area was different and permanent streams and lakes existed. One might wonder where that unique species of fish, found nowhere else in the modern world, originated.
Top Left: Sinkhole more than two football fields across at the top; Top Right: The sheer sides of the sinkhole. Note the vegetation is dry and brown—the photos were taken during the dry season, not during khareef as those above; Bottom: the Garra Dunsirei, new species of fish
    This area not long after the Jaredites left became known for its Frankincense trade, spawning several ancient settlements called Al Balid, Sumhuram, Shisr, and Dawkah, and has since been named “Land of Frankincense.” Today, it is still well known for the quality and quantity of frankincense it produces. From the north, along the route the Jaredites would have traveled to reach Salalah, was the Oasis of Shisr (Shasar, originally Wubar), 111-miles north of the sea, and then Thumrait, 90 miles from the sea, both situated in the desert where Frankincense was transported north by camel train from the Garbeeb. The Wadi Dawkah (Dawqa—Frankincense Park) lies along the trail from Thumrait, about 12 miles north of the sea, and is the last desert oasis traveling south before reaching the Dhofar mountains, and Salalah.
    It is interesting that the animals the Jaredites left behind are evident in the hills and along the Plain they called Moriancumer where they stayed, since when the Jaredites reached this area, there would have been no one there, and too soon after the Flood for such animals to have reached the area on their own.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VII – The Wadi Dirbat and the Baobab Forest, to see where the Jaredites found the wood for their barges and how the vessels were made)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part V – The Matches of Salalah and Khor Rori to Moriancumer

In the earlier posts of this series, we discussed the directions of travel the Jaredites could have taken out of the Valley of Nimrod (north of Babylon) on their journey to the Great Sea. In the last post, we discussed their arrival at the Great Sea—the Sea of Arabia. In this post we will cover their reaching the Sea.
Yellow Arrow: Entrance through the mountains (Frankincense Trail); White Arrow: Salalah (village and also the region of the cup-shaped area between mountains and sea); Green Arrow: Wadi Dirbat, where the water drops from the mountains); Blue Arrow: Khor Rori, where stream it empties into the Sea 
    Coming through these mountains toward the coast, the Jaredites dropped down off the flat plateau of the vast Arabian desert into the area now called Salalah, which today is the capital of Dhofar and known throughout Arabia as 'The Garden City,” a relaxed, cool and humid area where banana, coconut, sugarcane and papaya plantations are plentiful—a veritable Garden of Eden during the khareef, when the monsoon winds and rains turn the plain into a lush green paradise.
As shown in the last post, Salalah was and is a veritable paradise during and just after the monsoon season from May to as late as early November, and stays green throughout the year. 
    This land between the sea and jebels (mountains) the Jaredites called Moriancumer and Lehi later called Bountiful, a cup-shaped and fertile plain about eighteen miles wide and about ten miles deep at its greatest depth from mountains to shore. There are several ains (springs) here, and nine khors or Khawrs (creeks or inlets) that flow from these mountains that lie in an arc of black and gray ophiolitic (ocean crust) through the land and empty into the sea, from Khor Al Gurum, to the west of Salalah, to Khor Rori, about fifteen miles to the east of Salalah, the latter being the largest and most attractive of the khors, with Mirbat two miles to its west.
In the hills above Khor Rori in this cup-shaped plain lies the Wadi Dirbat (Darbat), home to a spectacular waterfall during the khareef season and the even more dramatic uplands of the Jebel Samhan, whose sheer limestone walls tower above the coastal plain. Further back are the Tawi Attair and Taiq, cavernous sinkholes and home to one of the largest variety of birds found anywhere. On the Cliffside, a few hundred feet above the valley floor, is the scenic hanging valley, home of a spectacular waterfall in full flood and a lush, green paradise with small tributaries tumbling down from the mountain in burbling cascades. There is a lot of fresh water, with caves, trees, animals running wild, and a large flowing river in the wadi.
In this area later would be discovered the frankincense trees from which olibanum, the sap or gum of the tree that dries into crystals (left), which can be made into an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, could be extracted. From here the famed Frankincense or Incense Trail would begin some 1800 years later and carry Frankincense to the known world.
The fertile lands of Khor Rori filled with wild animals, including camels, sheep, goats, and cattle left behind by the Jaredites after they left in their barges across the Great Deep 
    So taken with this area were the Jaredites, that they decided to settle there. Moroni wrote: “the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13). In fact, they named this land after the Brother of Jared, who was the spiritual leader of the group through whom the Lord directed his guidance.
The Khor Rori Plain between the Great Sea and the Qara Mountains where the Wadi Dirbat, Dirbat Valley and Dirbat Dam lie
As stated earlier, this area of Salalah is a cup shaped, fertile land surrounded by mountains on one side and the Sea of Arabia on the other. Within the cup-shaped fertile areas is the Wadi Dirbat and the inlet known as Khor Rori, the most active of the various khors (creeks) which line the coastline around Salalah. This inlet is fed by the Wadi Dirbat, where it drops from the hills above Khor Rori, filling the creek with fish, which in turn attract a fine selection of aquatic birds. It is a peaceful and quiet area—so quiet you can hear the splash of fish in the water. 
Dirbat Valley lies in the foothills above Khor Rori. Top: Wadi Darbat; Middle: Falls over the natural Dirbat Dam above Khor Rori; Bottom: The greenery of the lush hills filled with timber 
Dirbat Valley is filled with trees, fresh water, and a lush landscape  during khareef
    The hills above Khor Rori are filled with timber of various trees, including a unique tree nestled in the wadi Hinna, known as the Baobab Tree (see the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica for an explanation of this tree’s importance to the Jaredites and why Khor Rori had to have been where the Jaredites arrived along this coast). This wood forest is about halfway up the hills overlooking the sea, with trees of enormous trunks of Elephant-skin texture bark quite different from all other trees in the area—known in Arabic as the Tabladi, they are nicknamed the "upside-down tree" and look like they have been planted on its head, with its roots sticking up into the air to produce a somewhat eerie silhouette.
The Baobab Forest above Khor Rori in the Wadi Hinna. Note the closeness to the Sea in the lower right picture 
    These Baobab trees grow to enormous heights of over 90 feet, even some over 100 feet, with a girth of from 25 to 36 feet, though they have been known to grow to 150 feet circumference and a diameter to 52 feet. These unique trees can live several thousand years and have very unusual properties. Its fruits are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces, which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread. They are stuffed with antioxidants such as iron and potassium, and contains six times the Vitamin C levels of an orange as well as vitamin A, twice the amount of calcium of milk and fifty per cent more calcium than spinach and is a plentiful source of anti-oxidants, those disease-fighting molecules credited with helping reduce the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease. The dry pulp is either eaten fresh or dissolved in milk or water to make a refreshing drink. The Baobab's fruit is sometimes called a 'superfruit' (Claire Soares, The Tree of Life [and its super fruit], 2008). Baobab fruit is also said to help fight fevers and settle the stomach, and has been suggested to have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care. 
The unique Baobab trees which the Jaredites used to build their barges (see the book "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica"), provided a large, unique long-lasting fruit that could be dried and stored that is packed with vitamin "C" and has numerous medicinal values
    Young fresh leaves are cooked in a sauce, and are sometimes dried and powdered. The powder is called Lalo in Mali and sold in many village markets. The leaves can be eaten as relish, and oil extracted by pounding the seeds can be used for cooking. The integral antioxidant capacity of baobab fruit pulp was more than ten times higher than that of orange pulp, and It very high in Vitamin C, up to 5000 parts per million, and not only a good course of Vitamin C, but also significant amounts of calcium and thiamin and other vitamines and minerals. In addition,baobab is loaded with natural dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, making it a healthy whole fruit supplement and texture to other foods.
    All of this would all have been important to the Jaredites for their journey by sea that took 344 days in order to avoid the typical disease of later mariners, scurvy that resulted from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VI – The Animals Left Behind,” for more information about this seashore the Jaredites called Moriancumer)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jatredite Direction of Travel – Part IV – Stopping at the Great Sea

In the first two of these four posts, we discussed the impossibility because of the terrain for the Jaredite party to travel out of the Valley of Nimrod in any direction but to the southeast in order to reach the Great Sea. In the last post, we discussed crossing the “many waters,” passing the "sea in the wilderness," and continuing down the coast of the Persian Gulf, then crossing the desert following the old trade route to Salalah on their way to the Sea.
Continuing with this discussion, the last Jaredite prophet, Ether (left), tells us: “For behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13).
    Here is where the Frankincense trees grew and the old Frankincense Trail headed west along the Incense Trade Route, a network of major ancient land and sea trading routes linking the Mediterranean world with the Eastern and Southern sources of incense, spices, and other luxury goods—a route that stretched from Mediterranean ports across the Levant and Egypt through Northeastern Africa and Arabia to Indian and beyond. Parts of this Incense route reached its peak of importance roughly between the 7th century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D.
The much earlier trade route across Arabia was controlled by Babylonian exiles in a Chaldean colony at Gerrha (left), which was an important port of entry for goods shipped from India, where they were packed onto camel caravans and moved north to Mesopotamia, west to the Mediterranean, and south to Salalah, and then west from there to Yemen, Egypt, and east Africa. It was along the southern trade route from Gerrha that the Jaredites traveled to Salalah. In the opposite direction, from Salalah toward Mesopotamia, came caravans carrying frankincense—a resin, like myrrh and aloes wood—when burned, gave off a pungent, pleasurable smell. This seemingly minor characteristic, however, was esteemed so highly in ancient cultures that almost all the peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East thought it vital to their religious rituals. They believed the fragrant white smoke from smoldering incense soothed the angry gods. The temple of Ba'al, in Babylon, burned two and a half tons of frankincense a year, and in Rome, the emperor Nero burned an entire year’s production of incense from Arabia at the funeral of his wife, Poppasea.
A grove of Frankincense trees on the south or coastal side of the Qara Mountains
    The mystery that surrounded the ancient Frankincense trade began thousands of years ago, “In the days when frankincense was valued not only for temple ritual but for domestic use, the trade in these mountains [was] very active, and the cunning old Sabæan merchants, who liked to keep the monopoly of this drug, told wonderful stories of the phoenix which guarded the trees, of the insalubrity of the climate and of the deadly vapours which came from them when punctured for the gum. In antiquity, Aelius Gallus was sent to Arabia by Augustus on his unsuccessful campaign to discover where Arabian gold and frankincense came from” (Theodore and Mabel Bent, Southern Arabia, BiblioBazaar, 1900). In this region the Frankincense trade flourished for thousands of years as one of the most important trading activities of the ancient and medieval world.
    This southern trade route from Gerrha ended at Salalah, connecting to the Frankincense Trail that headed west. Beyond the Qara Mountains, on the coastal (south) side of the hills, were ancient groves of trees, then through the mountains and into the Salalah area, the dry, barren desert of the Rub’ al Khali ended abruptly, replaced by a verdant paradise, particularly during and directly after the monsoon season, called the “Khareef,” which was from May to September, and sometimes lasting into early November.
Salalah during the monsoon season provides a luxuriant scenery of lush greenery. It is considered a nature and beach lover’s paradise, it has a beautiful landscape with wide white sandy beaches, mountains, lush vegetation, coconut palms and wildlife
    Salalah was the traditional capital of Dhofar, originating after its neighboring settlement of Khor Rori, probably in the first century A.D., and reached the peak of prosperity in the 13th century because of the incense trade. The area consists of three divisions: a coastal plain (called the Garbeeb), a mountain range, and a plateau. The coastal plain varies in width from about 10 miles around Salalah, to practically nothing near Muscat, where the hills descend abruptly to the sea. The highest point, Jabal Shams, is at 9,777 feet in the Al Jabal range of the north, and the plateau has an average height of about 1,000 feet, and mostly stony and waterless, extending to the sands of the Rub' al-Khali. The coastline southward to Dhofar is barren and forbidding, but at Salalah, a semicircular fertile plain extends to the foot of a steep line of hills, some 4,920 feet high, and forms the edge of a stony plateau also extending to the sands of the Empty Quarter, with the coastal strip having a climate similar to that of Los Angeles, California.
Salalah, called the Garden City of Oman, sits in a cup-shaped bay surrounded by Mountains which hold the monsoon rains along this part of the coast and creates a lush verdue that is unique in the desert kingdoms of Arabia
    Khor Rori, 24 miles east of Salalah, was the area settled along this coastal area, beginning as an outpost for the kingdom of Hadramawt beginning around the 2nd century B.C. The settlement was called Sumhuram, and was founded on royal initiative by King  Il’ad Yalut of Hadhramaut when he took over the incense-producing areas, built the port of Sumhuram, and secured a monopoly of the frankincense trade. The area is mentioned in the first century A.D., probably 60 A.D., but no earlier than 20 A.D., in the navigational manuscript Periplus of the Erythraean Sea that listed the ports and coastal landmarks and their approximate intervening distances, so sea captains could be aided in their navigation.
The inlet at Khor Rori. Top: The left, or east bank or cliff; Middle: The right, or west bank or cliff; Bottom: A distant view of the inlet, an extension of the Wadi Darbat that originates in the hills above and behind (on the north) of Khor Rori
    This settlement of Sumhuram at Khor Rori was first discovered by James Theodore Bent during his travels in the region in the late 19th century. The site has been excavated by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) in the early 1950s and by the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO) since 1994. The excavations have uncovered the ground plan of the settlement and has attested maritime contacts with the Ḥaḑramite homeland, India and the Mediterranean. This all bears out that Sumhuram (Khor Rori) was not occupied prior to 200 B.C. Obviously, at the time of the Jaredites, it was, like all the southern coast of Arabia, vacant of people and without settlement.
Ruins of Sumhuram, the first settlement at Khor Rori. Top: Looking south into the Sea of Arabia; Bottom: Closer view. The ruins set on a slight hill on the west bank of the inlet and the top shows the left bank or cliff at the inlet mouth
    The ruins of Sumhuram, the first settlement at Khor Rori, existed from about 200 B.C. until 500 or 600 A.D. before being abandoned. About this time, the silt brought down through the Wade Darbat from the hills above Khor Rori eventually led to the formation of a sandbar (below) at the mouth of the inlet and blocked the sea access to the site.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part V,” for the The Matches of Salalah and Khor Rori to Moriancumer)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Jatredite Direction of Travel – Part III – The Route the Jaredites Took

In the first of these three posts, we discussed the impossibility of the Jaredite party traveling out of the Valley of Nimrod to the north, northeast, west, south or southwest, leaving the only possible means of travel to the northwest or the southeast. In the second post, we discussed the route to the northwest and how there would have been no area of “many waters” to have crossed on their way to the Mediterranean.
     It should also be noted that had the Jaredites left in the Mediterranean, there would not have been winds blowing constantly toward the Land of Promise, though Columbus proved such a path was possible, but that would have required considerable maneuvering of the bargest in the sea, and that route would have resulted in a landing on the east, where the scriptural record suggests a landing in the west.
    That leaves a more likely route, and the only one consistent with the scriptural record, out of the Valley of Nimrod to the southeast. That is, southward down in the direction of the Persian Sea (Persian Gulf).
2. . Southeast, traveling down the land east of the Tigris River toward the eddies and wetlands making up the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In this direction, traveling in the wilderness to the north of the Tigris River, there would have been little or no settlements along the dry land and desert base of the Zagros Mountains as all settlements would have been closer to the river in the fertile land along the waterways of the Tigris and the Euphrates (Mesopotamia was and is that land between the rivers).
    This Mesopotamian Valley is hemmed in on the east by the Zagros Mountains of Iran and on the west by the vast Arabian Desert. To the north, the valley opens up into the wide Syrian plains. In Northern Mesopotamia, the channels of the rivers have cut deep into the limestone riverbeds and the course of the rivers has remained unchanged throughout antiquity. Fifteen hundred years after the Jaredites, when the Israelites had been taken captive into Babylon, the Psalmist would sing a lament remembrance of Zion while being by the "Rivers of Babylon” (Psalm 137:1).
    In Southern Mesopotamia, the Euphrates and Tigris, along with their tributaries, had carried a great deal of sediment down along their courses for centuries by Jaredite times, often overrunning the banks in times of flooding, changing the entire course of the rivers. And in the time of the Jaredites, the area of the mouth (then further inland than at present) was a vast wetland marsh, now the largest in the entire Middle East, but anciently the largest in Western Eurasia, where wild wheat and pulse species existed that were easily domesticated for early societies (Robert W. Brown, Ancient civilizations to 300 BC Introduction: The Invention and Diffusion of Civilization, 2006).
The Mesopotamian Marshes, the wetlands of the mouth of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers off the Persian Gulf, at one time covered 7,700 square miles, were even larger anciently—the entire area can only be reached by boat. Bottom: Before Saddam Hussein drained much of these marshes, isolated huts sprinkled the marshes where Marsh Arabs had made it their home
    While most of the marshland is located in the delta between the present Euphrates and Tigris Rivers (though anciently existed in a far larger area at this mouth), they extend to the north of the Tigris along the Persian Gulf, now referred to as the Hammar and Hawizeh Marshes, though anciently they were all a solid wetland marsh area that extended to the Gulf—today, the Shatt al-Arab (Coast of the Arabs), or Arvand Rud, a river formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, flows through this area of deposited silt from the major rivers, and empties into the Gulf.
Tigris River (blue) at top center, Euphrates River (blue) at bottom, with the Hawizeh Marsh to the right (northeast), and Hammar Marshes at the bottom (south). The yellow line is the border between Iraq (left) and Iran (right). The Persian Gulf is to the bottom right beyond the image
    The Jaredites, coming down along the wilderness between the Zagros Mountains and the Tigris, came to this marshland, which can only be crossed by some type of boat or raft. Here the Lord commanded them to build barges in which they crossed these “many waters” of the marshes, containing lakes, rivers, ponds, swamp, and wetlands, a distance of about 200 miles, bounded on the north by mountains, the east by the Persian Gulf, and the south by the marshes and the extensive desert beyond.
Recently, the marshes were inhabited by Marsh Arabs, mostly discontents and fugitives from the once-powerful Saddam Hussein and the government of Iraq, who have made the marshes a way of life. They fish and gather reeds to build their houses on plots of dry ground, and move about the seemingly endless marshes in small boats or rafts
    The Jaredites built barges (a flat-bottomed vessel of burden) to carry themselves and their animals, birds, fish, bees and supplies through and across these marshes, which are made up of a series of interconnected and permanent, lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, swamps, and bogs. Once across, they passed by the western end of the Persian Sea (Persian Gulf), which the Lord commanded them not to stop at or beyond, but to continue their journey (Ether 2:7).
When the Jaredites would have seen the Persian Gulf after crossing the many waters of the Mesopotamia Marshland, it would have looked like the Sea—a large ocean; no doubt the reason it was called the Persian Sea anciently
    Had the Jaredites continued on down the Persian Gulf coast the party would have encountered the Wahiba (Sharqiya) Sands, a 110-mile by 50-mile mega-ridge sand system desert in eastern Oman, which was formed as a result of the southwest blowing monsoon and the northern shamal (wind) trade wind that blows from the east, which creates severe sandstorms. 
Top: The Wahiba Sands, lying to the east of the trade route to Salalah; Bottom: The Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter) lying to the west. Without water oases, both are impassable
    It would have been foolish for any caravan to have traveled in this direction, thus, the trade route angled almost due south once past the Gulf of Bahrain, an area that once was part of the ancient civilization of Dilmun and served anciently as an important link in trade routes between Sumeria and the Indus Valley.
When the Jaredites reached the area of present-day Qatar, they turned south (6) along the Dilmun trade route toward the Sea of Arabia (8), thus avoiding the Wahiba Sands to the east and crossed the Rub' al Khali desert following the line of wells and oases 
    While most people look at a map and see this area an extensive barren desert, there has always been a trail or “road” down from Mesopotamia along the shores and slightly inland from the Gulf where water (oases) are plentiful and travel is comparatively simple on level ground for approximately 400 miles (close to what is now highway 95) before the trail turns more south beyond the Gulf of Bahrain the Dawhhat Salwa Inlet along the Al-Jafurah (near present day Qatar), a little to the east of present-day highway 75--simple, but not easy. As Nephi would later write of this desert: "And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness."
    This ancient trade route moved between the Wahiba (Sharqiya) Sands to the east and the more impassable central area of the Rub’ al Khali (the desert region of Dhofar called the Empty Quarter) to the west on a near-direct route to Salalah, the heart of the ancient trade route, picking up the Frankincense Trail from the west where it entered through the Qara Mountains. This trail was anciently considered to be the most important commercial route throughout southern Arabia
The Frankincense Trail through the Qara Mountains and into Salalah; Top Left: Coming off the desert into the mountains; Top Right Passing through the mountains—note the Sea of Arabia in the background; Bottom Left: Coming out of the mountains on on the Salalah side; Bottom Right: Following the river canyon into Salalah
The Boswellia (Frankincense) tree, which produces a heavenly fragrance that was considered to be Arabia’s most precious commodity, rivaling gold, silk and gems in value that spawned a vital trade route that for centuries extended from Southern Arabia into West Africa, India and north into Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part IV,” for the Jaredites reaching the Great Sea)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry CHRISTmas

Thank you for being part of our blog for the past four years. On January 1, we will begin our fifth year, having posted 1600 articles on the Book of Mormon and the Lehi's Isle of Promise. Thank you for being part of this great effort to further the understanding of where Nephi's ship went, where it landed, and what was found there, and the story of the Nephite Nation and Mormon's many descriptions of their world.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jatredite Direction of Travel – Part II – The Only Possible Routes

In the previous post, we discussed the impossibility of the Jaredite party traveling out of the Valley of Nimrod to the north, northeast, west, south or southwest, leaving the only possible means of travel to the northwest or the southeast. 
The route they took was evidently so critical and narrow, “that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5).
    Before outlining this route, we should consider certain comments in the scriptural record that should be addressed when discussing any route the Jaredites might have taken from the Valley of Nimrod to the Great Sea.
    1. “The wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind” (Ether 6:8)
    Whatever route the Jaredites traveled to the Great Sea, it had to take them to a place along an Ocean where the currents and winds would blow a drift voyage vessel constantly toward the promised land. There could be no course changes required, or passing through islands, or moving against currents and winds, for these were not maneuverable sailing ships. As an example, a drift voyage is dependent entirely upon the direction of the wind-driven ocean currents.
    2. “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind” (Ether 1:41)
    The route had to take them through weather, temperatures and climatic conditions where the animals of Mesopotamia (basically sea level, and subtropical hot desert climate) would be able to survive. As an example, camels would not do well crossing snow-covered mountains, or fish in vessels of water that would freeze in sub-zero temperatures in high mountain passes.
Honey and wild bees can tolerate temperatures as high as 122º F, or as low as 45º F, temperatures, but do not hibernate so freezing temperatures would cause many fatalities, probably wiping out all of them.
    3. “Gather…thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families” (Ether 1:41).
    The route would have been conducive to the traveling for women and children, as well as flocks of animals of every kind, and would have avoided arduous travel conditions, such as mountains, climbing, difficult and dangerous terrain. As an example, ascending “extremely steep and difficult to access” mountains 14,700 in height, or climbing through 10,000 feet high mountain passes would be extremely difficult and grueling for just about anyone, but especially for women and children and older men. Many animals could not make such a journey, thus eliminating any travel easward to China and the Pacific Ocean.
    4. “The Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5).
    The route would eventually take the Jaredites into a land where man had never been. Since the Steppes and the areas around the Black and Caspian seas were inhabited by the descendants of Japheth by this time—the direction of the Jaredite travel according to Nibley—this could hardly be considered a quarter where man had never been. As an example, Japheth’s sons: Magog settled to the north of the Caspian; Madai to the south; Meshech and Tiras to the west, and Tubal to the south; Shem’s sons Lud settled to the north of Mesopotamia; and Elam, who settled northeast of the Persian Gulf—all of this is to the north and east of Mesopotamia and at the time of the Jaredites, not an area “where there never had man been.”
    5. “They did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters” (Ether 2:6).
    The route would have been through an area where there would have been no way to walk around the water(s) mentioned, since walking around lakes, even very large ones, would be faster and easier than trying to build barges capable of carrying men, women, children and animals to get across, especially when considering the size of thee Jaredite party. As an example, Nibley’s idea of lakes caused by earlier glaciers does not suggest an area that could not be circumvented by going around, rather than across.
    We also might want to consider the size of the Jaredite party and possibly the ages involved. The Lord states that there were twenty-two friends of Jared and his brother.
The Jaredite party left their homeland around Babylon and traveled northward to the Valley of Nimrod
    Consequently, with Jared and the brother of Jared, along with their twenty-two friends, there would have been a total of twenty-four couples. This is borne out by the fact that women are seldom mentioned or included in such writings unless specifically singled out, such as “there was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children” (Alma 63:4), “to give light unto men, women, and children” (Ether 6:1), “bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land” (Ether 14:22), “the loss of men, women and children on both sides” (Ether 14:31), or “gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men women and children being armed with weapons of war” (Ether 15:15). And since the wife of Jared, nor that of his brother, are mentioned, it seems likely that these twenty-two friends were men. Thus we have twenty-four couples.
    So, starting with this 24, and assuming an age of 35-45 years, being married 10 to 20 years, and having 5 to 10 children each, we come up with a party of 168 to 288 Jaredites. Now this, of course, is merely speculation, but the point is this was a fairly large group of people, especially in light of Ether’s comment: “And the friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls; and they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many” (Ether 6:16, emphasis mine). In addition we find that the Jaredites had large families based on the examples of both Jared, who had twelve children, and the brother of Jared, who had twenty-two children (Ether 6:20).
Eventually, the Jaredites reached the Great Sea where they spent four years before building their barges—no doubt several children were added during this travel and camping
    This leads us to the understanding of where would routes have existed over which the Jaredites could have traveled with men, women, children and animals. Thus, as shown in the last post, in leaving the Valley of Nimrod, there were only two directions open for the Jaredites to travel toward an ocean, and that would have been:
    1. Northwest, traveling up the Euphrates River and eventually to the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. This would have taken them to Mari (Tell Hariri), which was a populated trading center during Jaredite times, and an intermediate stop between Sumer in the south and the Levant in the west, where it could control the waterways of the Euphrates trade routes. This city was constantly at war with the important trade center of Ebla (Tell Mardikh), considered by Karl Moore as history’s first world power (Moore and David Lewis, The Origins of Globalization, Routledge, 2009, p 43), and according to Giovanni Pettinato, the first real capitalists of antiquity (A New Look at History, Johns Hopkins Press, 1991).
    Because of this constant war, Mari was anciently built behind an embankment that had a 25 to 30 foot wall surrounding it, and outside of that was a 1000-foot long section of gardens and craftsmen quarters. The wall contained a defensive rampart and guard towers, which protected them during their lengthy war with Ebla, which was located west of Emar, where the Euphrates curved northward and away from the Mediterranean. It is likely that any movement toward the sea would have been through Ebla and probably to Ugarit on the coast. And it is just as likely that any large group such as the jaredites of nearly two hundred people plus their animals would not have been well received in this war-oriented area.
The route to the northwest (white arrow), with the main cities (Babylon, Mari, Ebla and Ugarit) and Lake Tharthar shown
    However, in this direction there would have been no waterways (many waters) to cross as Ether stipulates (Ether 2:6).
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part III,” for the actual route the Jaredites took to reach the Great Sea)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part I – The Unlikely and Impassable Routes

When the Brother of Jared approached the Lord in mighty prayer asking for their language not to be confounded (Ether 1:37), then again asking where they should go (Ether 1:41), the Lord said to him: 
    “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward. And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:41-42).
    Somewhere around the Euphrates or Tigris Rivers close enough to Babylon to know what was going on there but not close enough to be forced to take part in the Tower’s construction, would have been the Jaredite homeland. When the Lord commanded the Brother of Jared to gather flocks and meet him “down in the valley which is northward,” he, Jared, and their twenty-two friends (Ether 6:16) traveled northward from their homeland. This area of Mesopotamia is extremely flat, and today there are no valleys to be seen, nor is there any lower elevations that would be down—in fact, moving up the area of the two rivers the land moves upward.
The flat region between the rivers northward of Babylon
    Since this area of Mesopotamia is basically flat to the north of Babylon and northward of the area of the Jaredite homeland (which is today referred to as Lower Mesopotamia), finding a valley in which the Lord appeared to the Jaredites, which would be at a lower elevation is a rather simple fete since only one place qualifies for these three critera: 1) northward, 2) valley, and 3) lower elevation.
    Just such an area existed anciently. Situated 75 miles north of Baghdad and lying between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, it was located at the northern end of the Tharthar Valley, in what was anciently referred to as the Wadi Tharthar.
The Garaa Depression in Iraq, much like the Tharthar Depression looked like anciently in the Valley of Tharthar; Top: Note the slope downward from the level plain to the top right; Bottom: A dam that is being constructed in the Garaa Depression so it can eventually be filled with water
    Anciently, this area was a large 1050-square-mile depression, between 130 and 262 feet deep. Geologically, it is referred to as the Tharthar Depression and one of the largest closed depressions in Iraq.
    According to Varoujan K. Sissakian of Iraq Geology and Mining, this depression lies in the Mesopotamia Foredeep, between two flat plains (Al-Jazira and Mesopotamia), which is believed to have been formed mainly by karstification due to dissolving of gypsum rocks of the Fatha Formation, and probably from collapse or solution doline, of multi origin, very likely during or after the Flood. Its age is placed at the beginning period of man and obviously was existent in the time of the Jaredites.
    Several small streams flowed into this valley anciently, which is deeper at the eastern end where wetlands once existed, home to numerous animals, birds and fish.
    This depression was changed into an artificial reservoir in 1956 to collect the over flooded water of the Tigris River during flood seasons, especially to protect Baghdad, and became known as Lake Tharthar (Buhayrat ath-Therthar), and though a reservoir, is considered to be the largest lake in Iraq. Today, the Tigris and Euphratres Rivers link the reservoir by means of artificial canals with the inlet canal (Tharthar Canal) from the Tigris River regulated by Samarra Dam.
Top: The man-made Lake Thartar; Bottom: The man-made feeder channels that lead from the Tigris River into Lake Thartar. Note the extremely flat land around this entire area
    At the time the Jaredites visited it, there would have been a water or wetlands to the north of the valley, which now would be the northern end of the lake, which area, according to Abu Al-Fida’a, filled from the Khabour River near the present location of Zakho in northwest Iraq. In fact, the Tharthar Valley had several streams and rivers that ran through it anciently. Numerous animals, birds and fish would have been available to them in this depression.
On a modern map, it looks like a hop, skip and a jump to travel from (light yellow area) Mesopotamia to (red arrow) the Caspian Sea (blue area upper right) as Hugh Nibley and others have suggested
    There has been much speculation written about the route the Jaredites took from the Valley of Nimrod, north of their homeland, to the land of promise the Lord had prepared for them (Ether 2:7).
    Hugh Nibley was the first to suggest the jaredites traveled northward from the Valley of Nimrod to the Caspian Sea, a distance of abut 400 miles, and then from there he claimed they crossed the Steppes eastward toward China and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. However, such a trek from Mesopotamia to the Caspian, while looking easily accomplished on a modern map, would have been near impossible because of the mountain ranges between these two points. In fact, once understanding the topography of the location of the Valley of Nimrod, there is only one practical direction the men, women, children and animals of the Jaredite party could have gone.
Green cross: the area of the Valley of Nimrod, which was north of Babylon and the Jaredite homeland, where the Lord met the Jaredites; To the west (yellow arrow) was the Syrian Desert, a vast, waterless wasteland; to the East (white arrow) were the impassable Zagros Mountains, and to the north were the 15,000 square miles of Bakhtiari Mountains
    To the West is the Syrian Desert (Badiyat Ash-sham), an arid wasteland that extends over much of northern Saudi Arabia, eastern Jordan, southern Syria, and western Iraq. Largely covered by lava flows, it formed a nearly impenetrable barrier between the Levant and Mesopotamia at the time of the Jaredites.
The 200,000 square-mile Syrian desert (Bādiyat Ash-shām), part of the Al-Hamad, it is a combination of steppe and true desert that is very rocky and flat, running between the Orontes River in the west and the Euphrates River in the east
    This desert runs along a flat plateau and receives less than five inches of rain per year, with inselbergs—an isolated hill or mountain that rises abruptly—towering more than 3000 feet in height. It is filled with enclosed depressions, sometimes of karstic origin, with the only vegetation widely-spaced, and very few wells. Today it has several major motor routes and oil pipelines, but in the time of the Jaredites, it was considered inhospitable and impassable.
The An Nafud Desert running to the west of Mesopotamia and south of the Syrian Desert, basically form one continuous desert from almost the Mediterranean to the Rub’ al Khali along the northern border of Oman in the far south
    To the south, and west of the Gulf is the 25,000-square-mile An Nafud Desert, occupying a great oval depression, running 180 miles long and 140 miles wide. The Nefud is an erg, or sand sea, covered with wind-swept sand and little or no vegetative cover. This area is downwind of the Arabian desert and is also inhospitable, known for its gigantic sand dunes, some reaching over one hundred feet high. During the time of the Jaredites, and for millennia afterward, this desert was considered a barrier to travel and quite impassable.
When Hugh Nibley said the Jaredites went north to the Caspian Sea (white and yellow arrows), he might not have realized that to do this, a passage through the Zagros Mountains and then the Elburz Mountains would have been required. For men, women, children and animals of every kind, this would have been an impossible route. Before the advent of modern transportation with roads and railroads, passing through these mountains would have proven disastrous, yet Nibley chose it and untold Theorists have used his route for the Jaredites ever since--a route not even local tribesmen travel
    Mountain ranges dominating the western Iranian area (Persia), running from the Straits of Hormuz to Iraq, include the Zargos Mountains, which stretch south and west from the borders of Turkey and Russia to the Persian Gulf, and are Iran’s largest mountain range. The mountains consist of numerous folded, parallel ranges and create an imposing natural barrier between Mesopotamia and the Caspian Sea. Some of the additional ranges are the Bakhtiari (Bakhtiyari) Mountains, a continuation of the Zagros, which run to the southwest along eastern Mesopotamia.
The Zagros Mountains, 932-miles long, 150-miles wide vertical rises and tall peaks reaching 12,000 to 14,921-feet, with permanent snow cover form a natural barrier running northwest and southeast between Mesopotamia and the Caspian Sea. Completely enclosed rivers flowing through the range’s western face are strong and perennial creating a near impassable barrier to north south movement
    Beyond the Zargos, to the northeast are the Elburz (Alborz) Mountains, which extend for almost 620 miles along Iran's northern border between the Zargos and the Caspian Sea. The Central Elburz is 250 miles long and reaches a width of 75 miles. These jagged mountains average over 9,000 feet, with the highest point being Mt. Damavand, a dormant volcano, at 18,602 feet. Only two passes provide north-south movement, at about 15,00 feet, though through different ridges, lower passes exist for shorter distances. Hyrcanian tigers, leopards, wolves and lynx were numerous, as were bears, wild boars, Ibex (wild goats), and mouflon (wild sheep). Much of the Elburz is uninhabited, even today, and the movement of goods is accomplished only by pack animals.
    Far to the northwest are the Taurus Mountains, a rugged chain extending across southern Turkey to its borders with Iraq and Iran. The highest point (Mt. Ararat) is located in the Eastern Taurus range. This extinct volcano is 16,583 feet high, with the Koroglu and Ponic ranges stretching along the Black Sea coast of northern Turkey.
    As mentioned earlier, all of the routes out of the area of the Valley of Nimrod except one would have been highly unlikely for nearly anyone, but for the Jaredite men, women, children and animals, nigh impossible.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part II,” for the only possible route away from the Valley of Nimrod and where the Jaredites could have gone)