Saturday, February 28, 2015

Personal Bias Drives Science

Whenever people are involved in making decisions and interpreting data, there is always the problem of personal viewpoints to consider. This is especially true when looking at the results of archaeological and anthropological findings, since both are based more on personal interpretation than any truly scientific (factual) basis. The archaeologist, as an example, has a pattern of diffusion within which his work is viewed—a pattern of development from stone age to pre-pottery, to pottery, in determining the cultural stages regarding the ancient development of an area.
From chipping stone to hollowing out a gourd for drinking to making ceramic pottery—these are the stages of archaeology
    Mesoamericanists rarely mention South America, even though the sites in South America are older and superior in workmanship design, and function than those of Mesoamerica. In addition, anthropologists in the South Pacific (Austeralia, New Zealand) and in Hawaii, champion the movement of man across the Pacific from west to east, and the expansion of Polynesia as far east as Easter Island without any acceptance of an east to west movement, despite the work of Thor Heyerdahl and the known currents that move in the opposite direction.
In addition, archaeology has several stages--simply put and speaking generally, they are found in the following categories:
• Paleolithic (old stone [age])—2.6 million to 12,000 years ago; when they claim humans developed from Homo bibilis to homo sapiens; used wood, bone and the most primitive (knapped) stone tools; people lived primarily in eastern Africa, grouped in bands, developed religious ritual, buried their dead, began works of art; began moving into southern Europe and Asia, China, Indonesia and the Mediterranean (this period covered nine distinct classification of Paleolithic geoclimati episodes)
• Mesolithic (middle stone [age]), sometimes called Epipaleolithic—10,000 to 5,000 B.C. (and as much as 20,000 B.C.), which is claimed to be the end of the Paleolithic and the start of the Neolithic; age of purely hunting and gathering; initial stage of domestication of wild plants and animals; lived in villages and huts, and beginning of walled cities; chipped stone tools (microliths), moving toward polished stone tools, including burins and end-scrapers; rise of agriculture and the introduction of farming and herding of animals), lived in timber long houses.
• Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and B—8300 to 6000 B.C.; absence of pottery vessels; domestication of wheat and barley, domestication of sheep, goats, cattle and pigs; emergence of settlements; beginning of walls and structures.
• Pottery Neolithic—5500 to 3800 B.C.; invention of the kiln and movement from gourds to pottery; development of wood-carving, basketry, weaving etc.; spread of food-producing communities in large numbers; the rise of urban civilization, the emergence of towns and large settlements with satellite villages; beginning of wealth and power centers.
• Bronze Age (Early, Intermediate, Late)—3300 to 1300 B.C. Primary form of metalworking. Smelting copper and alloying with tin; first writing (cuneiform and hieroglyphs).
• Iron Age (Early, Middle and Late)—1300 B.C. to 700 A.D. Earliest texts in manuscript form; Sanskrit and Chinese literature flourished, along with the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible. Forging began in metalworking.
In addition, archaeologists depend heavily on radiocarbon dating to aid them in determining dates; however, radiocarbon dating, better known as carbon-14 dating, is itself a questionable science, though highly accepted, dating method. It is not that the system is based on faulty premises for the concept of the carbon leakage to date once living organisms is sound; however the problem lies in its calibration, i.e., the way the data provided is interpreted. Take its beginning, when its developer, physicist Willard Libby, found from his own experiments that the Earth was less than 20,000 years old; however, decided that every one knew the Earth was billions of years old, and adjusted his findings accordingly, thus providing readings of millions of years instead of hundreds, making all subsequent measurements determined on the wrong age basis.
    Add this to the preconceived ideas, beliefs, and standards of the archaeologist and anthropologist, we find today an exaggerated understanding of the Earth’s age, and all things upon and within it. We also find that science has preset concepts as to how man developed, where he originated, and over what routes he migrated. We also have prejudicial attitudes about 1) religion, 2) God’s role in our lives and development, and 3) the abilities or lack thereof regarding accomplishments of early cultures. Thus, while the one, based upon error and bias notions, and the other rejected out of prejudicial attitudes, we find ourselves in a world of inaccurate and bias views of the past and how man came to be and how he arrived at the places in which we find him anciently.
In this regard, no one in the professional fields determining these beliefs accepts that ancient man was capable of sailing across vast oceans in the types of canoes attributed to them, nor that they were capable of building ships that only appeared thousands of years later. As a result, science claims that man’s migrant route came over non-existent land bridges, along routes that make little, if any, sense, and spread over thousands of miles of land instead of settling where they were. As an example, what would cause a people to travel northward from their warm clime into the cold country of the north, leaving the warmer climes of their homelands, to pass over a so-called Siberian land bridge in the age of glaciers that covered the northern continents, somehow finding an ice-free corridor, and then coming into warmer lands, such as what is now Canada, the United States, Mexico, etc., yet continue to travel clear to the southern regions of South America?
    However, science clings to this ridiculous idea since it is the only way they can justify a movement from the Old World to the New World. In the same token, since they cannot accept the movement of people by sea across the wide expanse of oceans until at least around 1000 A.D., they claim man moved from Indonesia eastward (against all known winds and currents), sailing from island to island on short trips eastward and eventually, spreading all across the Pacific Ocean—eventually reaching and settling the Americas, specifically South America.
Massive settlements and huge cities span hundreds of acres and many square miles that rival the best construction found in the Old World and built in B.C. times, are scattered all over western South America
    How else could they account for the development of civilizations in South America that built such awe-inspiring cities and empires as the Spanish eventually found there in the 16th century? The fact that all known criteria to determine settlement shows a movement across the Pacific in the opposite direction, anthropologists and archaeologists bend over backward to develop an opposite movement than the known facts indicate.
    In addition, those Polynesian archaeologists and anthropologists (New Zealand to Easter Island to Hawaii) are bias toward movement from west to east across the Pacific and settlement of South America, since it is their ancestors they are describing and attributing far greater achievements to them than they actually achieved (see the last post).
    So widespread is this belief of west to east movement that cultural anthropologist Richard Scaglion of the University of Pittsburg claims in the face of incontrivertable evidence to the contrary, “But most researchers see few signs of Amerindian excursions into the Pacific.” That is, those of South America moving westward into the Pacific. Instead he argues that “Polynesians may have arrived at the southern coast of South America and sailed north using the prevailing current to the Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil, the only sheltered port in South America north of the rocky southern coast of Chile. The Canara people once lived from this area of the coast into the Andes highlands, making the sweet potato accessible to coastal visitors. And here the current veers sharply west. Computer simulations show that the most successful return (westward) from the coast would be from Guayaquil to the Polynesians.” Scaglion then adds, “making this area a possible focus of trans-Pacific contact.”
    Isn’t it interesting that the most likely point of movement is from the advanced civilizations along the west coast of South America, using the currents that flow directly down to Polynesia. But to reach South America, Polynesians would have to drop far south into the West Wind Drift currents of the Southern Ocean to reach the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to sail up the coast of South America as Scaglion claims.
Using Scaglion’s own map, consider movement from (Yellow Arrow) South America (Bay of Guayaquil) westward, which currents take a ship out and down into Polynesia, as opposed to leaving western Polynesia (White Arrow) and dropping far south to the (Green Arrow) Southern Ocean, to then cross thousands miles to South America and the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to travel northward. Which seems the more likely for a people to do?
    Would people most likely travel in “exceedingly large” ships built by Hagoth, sailing from the Bay of Guayaquil westward into the Pacific (Alma 63:5,8) to the Marquesa Islands of Polynesia, which is about 4000 miles of open ocean. Or is it more likely that people sailed from Tonga southward in outrigger canoes beyond New Zealand to the Southern Ocean, then eastward with the only eastward moving current in the South Pacific to South America across 7100 miles of open ocean, then upward along the coast to the Bay of Guayaquil for a total of 10,673 miles overall. Which seems the most likely that would have been attempted by an early culture?
    When one’s mind is made up before one starts, they are not likely to come up with an accurate answer. Nor are they likely to see the truth lurking somewhere behind their pre-conceived ideas.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson—Part VII

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of Dr. Roberts of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon, their answers and our evaluation. The first five questions were covered in the last five posts. Here is the sixth and last question:
6. “What are cureloms and cumoms? Have they ever been discovered? I have referred to numerous dictionaries and encyclopedias and I cannot find any reference to either of them?”
    Budvarson's sixth question concerning the identity of cureloms and cumoms borders on the ridiculous. One might wonder why the question was asked of Dr. Roberts in the first place, since the names used in the Book of Mormon were so used by Joseph Smith because he had no idea what animals these were—so he used the original Jaredite names, which, of course, would not have survived over the centuries since both the Jaredites and Nephites were annihilated.
    It is likely, therefore, that Budvarson probably had this in mind, believing these were made-up animals that "only existed in someone's imagination,” as he writes elsewhere.
Why he referred to "numerous dictionaries and encyclopedias" to find out about them when these two animals were obviously not household words in the Americas at the time Joseph Smith translated the plates, and being as he was raised on a farm and knew animals, these were obviously not known animals within his experience. And doing what any translator would do when not knowing what animal these words described, transliterated their original (Jaredite) names.
    Certainly Budvarson understood this, having a background in the LDS faith, and having studied to some extent the Book of Mormon as he claims. The point is, it can only be concluded that these were not animals known in the United States, but fairly common to the Land of Promise, since they are described as being more useful to man than “cattle, oxen, cows, sheep, swine, goats, and many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man...and also horses and asses.” In fact, they were as useful as elephants (Ether 9:18-19).
    So to identify such animals one must look to where the Book of Mormon lands were located and find two animals that were relatively unknown in the United States in 1830, but very useful for the indigenous peoples of that land, especially in the era before any type of technology. This suggests some type of beasts of burden, yet ones that provide food and clothing—no doubt some type of pack or draft animal, an Equidae (horses, donkeys, etc.) or ungulate such as elephants, camels, yak, reindeer, goats, water buffalo and llama and alpaca.
    Of all the possible animals located in the Western Hemisphere, few would qualify as unknown in the United States in the 1830s. John L. Sorenson has suggested the sloth or giant ground sloths and the tapir. However, these animals would not qualify based on the scriptural account as to their value to man—neither the sloth nor tapir (about the size and shape of a pig) have little value to man other than meat and hide.
    In fact, the tapir does poorly around man, is highly affected by any changes in its habitat, lives in moist, dense forests, especially around water, and thrives only where man is not present. They are extremely shy animals, and other than their meat and leathery skin, they have little or no value at all to humans.
Left: Giant ground sloth; Center: regular sloth; Right: Tapir
Of the five species of Sloth, not one has much value to man, spends most of its time hanging upside down in trees and cannot exist outside the tropical rainforest; the giant ground sloth was extremely dangerous to man and is believed to have been extinct for 10,000 years or more
    There were, of course, other ungulate animals of Central and South America, such as the Peccary and Javelina, medium-sized hoofed mammals (Tayassuidae), but again, these do not fit the criteria established in the comment found in Ether, regarding their “use unto man,” being more than horses, asses, goats, sheep, cattle, oxen and cows.
    No other unknown land animals seem to have existed in the Western Hemisphere that have been suggested as the cureloms and cumoms the Jaredite animals brought to the promised land. A new carnivorous mammal species was discovered in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia recently, called the Olinguito, which is a member of the raccoon family, but certainly would not qualify as important to man.
    Since horses, asses (donkeys), goats and elephants are already mentioned in the record, that leaves camels, yak, reindeer, water buffalo, llama and alpaca from the earlier list. Camels probably would have been known to Joseph Smith in 1830, as well as reindeer; however, yak, water buffalo, llama and alpaca probably not.
Left: Yak; Right: Water Buffalo. Both are similar to oxen and have the same value to man as beasts of burden and draft animals
    The Yak is found on the Tibetan Plateau, Himalayas and south central China, Mongolia and Russia. When domesticated, they provide milk, meat and clothing and are used as beasts of burden; however, their habitat has never been in the Western Hemisphere. The Water Buffalo, also a valuable animal for milk and meat and as a beast of burden, are found almost entirely in Asia, specifically India and China, and were not introduced into North and South America, Europe, Mediterranean and Australia, until the mid to late 1800s. Like the yak, they were not found in the Western Hemisphere in antiquity.
    That leaves the llama and alpaca (Lamoids). As has been presented here numerous times, the llama and the alpaca, are both camelids (lamini), and exist only as domesticated animals—descended from the wild vicuñas (vicugna) and guanaco. They have been widely used as meat, clothing and willing pack animals by Andean cultures since pre-Hispanic times, are very intelligent and can learn simple tasks, are friendly and pleasant to be around, and serve effectively as “watch dogs” for livestock. Their attributes make them durable and dependable and their wool has numerous uses, with their undercoat used for handcrafts and garments, and the coarser outercoat used for rugs, wall-hangings and rope, and leather made from their hides.
Left: The Llama (Lama glama); Right: the Alpaca (Vicugna pacos)
    The llama and alpaca are native to the Western Hemisphere and date back in South America to Jaredite times. They were, however, not native to Central or North America since after the Flood. Known to the Jaredites as the cureloms and cumoms, these are names unknown after the demise of the Nephites, and certainly would not have been known to the Smithsonian or any archaeologist—a fact Budvarson would have known before he posed his questions and his misleading and superfluous comment about searching dictionaries. But this is the typical attempt that critics make in trying to mislead the issue of the accuracy of the Book of Mormon. As a result, and understandably, Dr. Roberts reported in his answer to the question that the two animals, cureloms and cumoms were unknown to the Smithsonian.
    These, then, are the six questions Budvarson asked the Smithsonian, and the answers given by Dr. Roberts of that institution. They neither support nor reject the credibility of the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson—Part VI

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of Dr. Roberts of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon, their answers and our evaluation. The first four questions were covered in the last four posts. Here is the fifth question: 
5. “Has there been any Hebrew or Egyptian writings found in the ancient ruins discovered on the American continent?”
It is interesting that a front page story dated April 5, 1909, in the Arizona Gazette recounted the discovery of a series of bizarre caves and artifacts in the Marble Canyon region of the Grand Canyon. The report claimed two Smithsonian-funded archaeologists, Prof. S. A. Jordan and G. E. Kinkaid, are responsible for the find. However, the Smithsonian claims that no record exists of Kincaid or Professor Jordan within the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology, nor is there a paper trail at the Smithsonian detailing the artifacts gathered on the expedition. When asked directly about Kincaid's claims, a Smithsonian representative said, “The first thing I can tell you, before we go any further, is that no Egyptian artifacts of any kind have ever been found in North or South America. Therefore, I can tell you that the Smithsonian Institute has never been involved in any such excavations.”
    Some claim that the Smithsonian destroyed all such records, and no data outside the article substantiates the existence of Professor Jordan or Kincaid outside of a follow-up article in the newspaper on March 12, that Kincaid was in Yuma, Arizona. Whether this story or beliefs about the Smithsonian are true or not, there has been a long-standing acceptance of Egyptian influence in the Americas, some of which attributed to Smithsonian involvement.
    There are also certain similarities between these three areas: Egypt, Peru and Mexico all mummified their dead; believed in underground burial tombs; worshiped a single, eternal God; built stepped pyramids; and had a sun god named Ra, Raymi and Rana respectively. Egypt and Peru both used gold fillings for teeth; had similar technologies of working and building with stone with extremely close tolerances between them.
Top: Stone work in Egypt; Bottom: Stone work in Andean Peru. Both structures are built with large stone and fitted perfectly with no more than 1/50 of an inch tolerance in motarless precision
    In fact, where rituals and practices play an important part in any culture, between Egypt and Central and South America there were many rituals and practices that were alike, such as circumcision, astrology, and having annual agricultural fairs. It is also obvious that the South American culture developed later than the Egyptian, and the Central America later than that.
    It should also be noted that Egyptian hieroglyphs have been found on ancient ruins in southern Chile near the Atlantic coast, a stone carving of a griffin-sphinx was found near Cuzco in Peru, and a statuette of the goddess Isis and one of an unknown pharaoh have been excavated near San Salvador.
    In fact, work has been done to show that the ancient Andean language in South America (Quechua), has its roots in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Dr. Charles William Johnson, a full-time, tenured researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, UNAM, (“The Sound of Meaning Language Series” of Science in Ancient Artwork, 2009), has shown where Runa Simi (Runa Shimi), also popularly known as Quechua (Qhichwa Simi), with over 45 dialects, said to be grouped in at least seven languages, constituting a family of languages, traces its roots to Egyptian hieroglyphics.
    Showing that one language supports and clarifies the phonemic/morphemic expressions in the other language, Runa Simi, which literally means “people mouth,” and translates as “the mouth (language) of the people.” This is similar to the Egyptian hieroglyphs ReMaMa-T, literally “people word,” or “word of the people.” Where one language (Egyptian) shows the “word” (symbol), the other (Quechua) clarifies it to mean “spoken word.”
    Numerous comparison root meanings exist between Egyptian hieroglyphics and basic Quechua—a few are shown here:
In addition, Aele Berkerie, in Ethiopic, an African Writing System (Red Sea Press, 1997) claims that the Quipus knots of South America show parallel features with some of the Ancient Egyptian writing systems, particularly the signs or symbols for life and the Ethiopic syllographs S and H, thereby signaling a possible historical connection between Ancient Egypt and ancient America.
    In 1933, Frank C. Hibben discovered a 90-ton rock in New Mexico with ancient Hebrew writing, listing the Ten Commandments. A form of hieroglyphics shows up in Easter Island off the coast of Chile in the undecipherable Rongorongo language. In The Decipherment of Ancient Maya Writing (2001) by Stephen D. Houston, pictured symbols of glyphs of the Toltecas, Aztecas, Huaztecas, Skeres, Panos, etc., are considered similar to the earliest Egyptian glyphs. Carolyn A. Krebs in Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions and Discoveries (2003), also links Egyptian hieroglyphics with those found in South America.
    In addition, cone-shaped skulls are found in both Egypt and South America; building techniques were very similar in Egypt as they were in Peru. Take the stone clamp sockets used in Dendera, Egypt, which clamped together most of their ashlar masonry, with that of Ollantaytambo and Puma Punku, where sockets were carved into adjoining blocks of stone and fitted with clamps.
Stones with clamp sockets: Left: Ollantaytambo, Peru; Center: Puma Punku, Peru/Bolivia; Right: Dendera, Egypt
    It should also be noted that Roman ships sailed east to India, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They also appear to have visited the New World. There is no mistaking the shorelines of Florida, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, and Peru on ancient maps dating back to the Roman era. On the 5th-century Macrobius map the northern region of the Antipodes (South America) is called ‘perusta’, a name referring to the hot, dry climate. On the Albertin de Virga map of 1414 the Peruvian coast is referred to as Ca-paru, and on the Andrea Bianco map of 1436 this region is called the Land of Per. Clearly Peru was named before the arrival of Pizarro in 1521, who supposedly named the country after a local river (Gunnar Thompson, Secret Voyages to the New World, pp. 42-3).
    As for finding ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics found on ancient ruins in the Americas, there would have been none found in South America, for most of the buildings, as mentioned earlier, were made of adobe brick, which has deteriorated extensively over the centuries, and Central America (Mesoamerica) was not where the Book of Mormon Nephites were located.
However, another point is that Egyptian hieroglyphics were not the language used by the Nephites—they wrote in Hebrew. Lehi and his family came from the area of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4), though he knew and understood “the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2). Evidently, Egyptian was the language used only for the sacred record (the plates of Nephi and those Mormon engraved) and, as Moroni acknowledged, “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record” (Mormon 9:32).
    From this, it would appear that the Nephites for a thousand years wrote their sacred records (what we have as the Book of Mormon) in Reformed Egyptian, but the rest of their writing was in Hebrew. How many Nephites even understood (could read or write) Egyptian is unknown, however, an incident in Helaman suggests that few were taught Reformed Egyptian, when Helaman "caused that [his sons] should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord" (Mosiah 1:2)--an obvious reference to the scriptures, which were in Reformed Egyptian; however, it is not likely that most were so taught since Hebrew was their native and daily language (lingua franca), and the sacred records were only in the hands of a few that recorded upon them and kept them current.
    With all these similarities, one might wonder why the Smithsonian has not spent some effort in looking into possible connections between the Americas and Egypt. One also might wonder if there is a reason why no such effort has been made in the past by an Institution that claims to be so interested in American archaeology and anthropology.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson—Part V

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of Dr. Roberts of the Smithsonian Institute about the Book of Mormon, their answers and our evaluation. The first three questions were covered in the last three posts. Here is the fourth question: 
4. “Does the Book of Mormon have any value in connection with scientific investigation and archeological discoveries?”
    Before delving into Robert’s answer, let us consider the importance of this question and the response found within the scientific community.
    The criteria of the Book of Mormon, of course, covers certain events of great interest:
1) People from the Old World sailing to the Western Hemisphere and landing on the American continent;
2) The first recorded information of a settlement in the Western Hemisphere, leading to the beginning of the American aborigines;
3. The background, heritage and religion of these first American aborigines;
4. The beginning and parentage, the wars and their causes, the interactions and social events, of the first indigenous inhabitants of the Americas;
5. Prehistory dates of events that took place in the Americas, the background and construction of defenses, walls, and settlements;
6. Answering the centuries-old questions about who built Sacsayhuaman, Pachacamac, Tiahuanaco, Machu Picchu, Chan-Chan, Chagin de Huantar, Sipan, Caral, etc., and all the other ruins in South America as well as all those those found in Central America;
7. Answering who the ancient ancestors were of the Aztec, Maya and Inca civilizations, including those of Easter Island, and most likely those of Polynesia.
    With all of this in mind (and so much more), one can only wonder why every archaeologist, anthropologist, historian and researcher in the field is not beating a path to the various involved departments at Brigham Young University, and learning all that has so far been done along these lines, and studying the Book of Mormon geography and everything they can get their hands on. After all, if someone claimed to have uncovered a record of an ancient people, written by them, that discussed their beginning, life achievements, accomplishments and failures relevant to an ancient civilization that everyone knows once existed but no one has any knowledge about, don’t you think scientists would be chomping at the bit to get their hands on such information?
    What if information suddenly became available about the beginning of Stonehenge, or the fifteen monuments recently discovered underground there by ground-penetrating radar. What if the information suddenly surfaced regarding the origination and meaning of the famous Nazca lines? Or the mysterious monument recently found underneath the Sea of Galilee? Or who actually built the Pyramids along the Giza Plateau; or who the builders were of the stone age tunnels beneath Germany and Austria; or information about the Gobleki Tepe in southeastern Turkey?
Recently discovered temple complex in Anatolia called the most important archaeological discovery of modern times found in Turkey that pre-dates pottery, writing, the wheel and metallurgy that was built thousands of years before Stonehenge
    If any of these items, or the thousands of other historical mysteries yet to be understood, were suddenly exposed, there would be a mad dash of science toward opening up and digesting these secrets. So why not a single non-LDS archaeological or anthropological interest regarding the indigenous beginnings of the Americas found within the pages of the Book of Mormon?
    One would think that the modern archaeological world would be extremely interested in how the Western Hemisphere became inhabited. One would think that a written guideline as to how the ancient ruins scattered about Central and South America came to be built would be of some interest to archaeologists, as would the social development of this first American civilization to anthropologists, including the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences.
   Take Sociocultural Anthropology, which is the examination of social patterns and practices across cultures, with a special interest in how people live in particular places and how they organize, govern, and create meaning. A hallmark of sociocultural anthropology is its concern with similarities and differences, both within and among societies, and its attention to race, class, gender, and nationality. One might wonder why no sociocultural anthropologist (outside of BYU perhaps) has ever spent any time studying the Nephite and Lamanite cultures, or the Jaredite civilization before them, as to their grappling with practical problems of everyday life and with basic philosophical problems of knowledge, truth, power, justice and religion in the ancient world of the Americas.
    On the other hand, one of the areas of work associated with Biological (or Physical) Anthropology is the study of prehistoric people (bioarchaeology), and what virgin territory the Book of Mormon peoples of the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites would provide this field of endeavor. Yet one of the greatest untouched and untainted areas for such work, the peoples of the Book of Mormon, have never been studied by the anthropological world.
One can only wonder what prejudicial attitudes have existed for the past hundred or more years to keep such work at bay in any and all of these fields. Certainly, there is much work that can be done here with a record that spans one thousand years with one group, and about 1500 years with another.
    Consequently, the question: Does the Book of Mormon have any value in connection with scientific investigation and archeological discoveries?” should be answered with a resounding “yes.” However, as Dr. Roberts so clearly stated: “Unfortunately, I am not well versed in the Book of Mormon.” Thus, where science demands the ignoring of such anthropological records as the Book of Mormon’s thousand plus years history of man’s development in a pristine environment, there is little chance that such will ever take place.
    Dr. Roberts answer, of course, was that he had not found that any of the archaeological data as known by him and his associates correspond with the subject matter of the Book of Mormon. However, true to his lack of knowledge and that of science in general, he added that he is “not thoroughly versed in the Book of Mormon.” In addition, his response was directed to the question posed to him regarding the Americas, but translated as “Mexico and Central America,” which is the location to which Budvarson directed his question.
    Again, all of this was obviously known and understood by Budvarson before he wrote the Smithsonian regarding this question. Consequently, the fact that the Book of Mormon has never, and likely never will be, used for “scientific investigation and archaeological discovery,” the issue again is a moot point and has no place in a discussion about whether or not the Book of Mormon purports an actual truthful record of an indigenous people in the Americas.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson—Part IV

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of Dr. Roberts of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon, their answers and our evaluation. The first two questions were covered in the last two posts. Here is the third question: 
3. “Has the Book of Mormon ever been used or recognized as a guide in archeological explorations?”
First of all, Dr. Roberts’ answers to Budvarson’s questions state that he has not found that any of the archaeological data as known by him and his associates correspond with the subject matter of the Book of Mormon. However, Dr. Roberts honestly admits that he is "not thoroughly versed in the Book of Mormon,” nor does he discuss the possible value of the Book of Mormon when archaeologists really begin to excavate in American sites that are admittedly of "pre-classic" significance, that is, come in the area and time of which the Nephite record speaks;
    Second, once again it needs to be pointed out that Budvarson’s attention and his questions were directed to the Smithsonian about Mesoamerica. At no time has there been from Budvarson, nor answered from the Smithsonian, regarding the archaeological sites and work done in South America;
    Third, the fact that the Book of Mormon is a religious work, containing God’s dealings with man on the American continent, in and of itself, would disqualify it in our society today as a guide for non-religious study and archaeological or anthropological work. It would seem that Budvarson knew this before he ever posed the question to the Smithsonian;
Fourth, since almost all sciences, including the Smithsonian stance, centers around man coming across the Bering Strait Land Bridge as the means for settling the Western Hemisphere, it is unlikely that any work supporting an opposite view, such as man settling the Western Hemisphere via sailing across the Pacific (or Atlantic) in antiquity is likely to be used in such work;
    Fifth, since the chance that a non-LDS archaeologist would be sufficiently schooled in the Book of Mormon sufficient to feel it could be a basis for study and field work is extremely unlikely;
    Sixth, the chance that an LDS-archaeologist finding such matches between the scriptural record and field work that verified the Book of Mormon, would be believed and accepted by the scientific community is also extremely unlikely (which has been the case many times);
    Seventh, the chance of the scientific community accepting any work, no matter how credible, outside of its own accepted fields, beliefs and dogmas, as the basis of any accurate and honest archaeological or anthropological work is also extremely unlikely;
    Eighth, the chance that the scientific community would accept uncovered evidences by even non-LDS works that support the opposite of their long-held scientific beliefs is so unlikely based upon their past ignoring of break-through discoveries about elephant remains found in the Americas, which verifies the Book of Mormon account of such, that it is not even worthy of discussion;
    Ninth, the likelihood that the scientific community would rather accept and believe in almost impossible scenarios that support their long-help beliefs rather than look into reasonable answers to long studied problems has been shown to be true in case after case;
    Tenth, the likelihood that the scientific community would reject long-held and time-worn beliefs in evolution rather than accept that God had a hand in anything is so evident today, that any God-oriented answers, no matter how likely and how evidenced, would stand a chance at penetrating the cloak of “superstition” surrounding scientific dogmas is as unlikely as any of the above scenarios;
Eleventh, even though archaeological assumptions about field work discoveries is not proven (it is simply the archaeologist’s interpretation of what he finds), it is accepted generally without question, unless it has something to do with the Book of Mormon, and/or flies in the face of commonly held scientific beliefs;
    Twelfth, since the scientific community does not accept Noah’s Flood as recorded in Genesis 6-9; it does not accept that God created man, but insists it is scientifically proven that man evolved from a single-cell amoeba; science does not accept that the Earth is around 13,000 years old as illustrated in the Bible and even Willard F. Libby‘s highly accepted radiocarbon (Carbon-14) time clock verified to be less than 20,000 years old, before he ignored his own findings and test results, and reset the clock to measure in thousands and millions of years, it cannot be considered very likely that science is going to accept anything stated in the Book of Mormon.
    The fact of the matter is, however, that evidences of the Book of Mormon story line can be found in numerous places throughout the Land of Promise when one looks into Andean South America and not Mesoamerica. There are still a few areas that have not yet been verified, but the number of areas that have far outweigh those that have not.
    The problem, as stated above, lies not in finding anything to verify the Book of Mormon, it is in finding people who will accept what has been found without trying to ignore it, claim it does not exist, or simply disbelieve the evidence.
Even with those scientists who do accept such information, it is the story of “the elephant in the living room”—a term that refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue which is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment, or trigger arguments or is simply taboo (originally used by George Berkeley in discussing whether or not there is "an invisible elephant in the room" in his debates with scientists on the nature and elements of the external world in 1862).
    Everyone knows the elephant is there, but no one wants to talk about it. In the case of the issue at hand, scientists can be blackballed (not receive contracts, funding, time on computers, not get published, etc.) if they work on matters unacceptable to the scientific community, especially if they involve anything to do with God. This elephant is not going to go away by ignoring it, but what is the alternative? Few scientists are going to point to the elephant if it means their career. They simply have no alternative—they have no choice but to ignore the elephant in the living room, even if it means accepting theories to which they do not agree.
    Consequently, it is not very likely that anyone is going to use the Book of Mormon as a guide in archaeological explorations—a fact that Budvarson undoubtedly knew before asking the Smithsonian.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letter of Arthuar Budvarson—Part III

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon, their answers and our evaluation. The first question was covered in the last post. Here is the second question: 
2. “Does true archeological data of the New World agree with the subject matter of the Book of Mormon?”
    This is an interesting point. However, while the answer is a simple “yes,” from one viewpoint, it is a little more complex than that. First of all, when artifacts are taken from the ground, they are interpreted by those who study them, and since they do not come with descriptions or any history, these researchers simply give us an interpretation that makes sense to them. As an example, take the area of a written language.
Maya hieroglyphics are carved on some of the ruins in Mesoamerica, but they have no connection to the Nephite language
    There is evidence of literacy in Mesoamerica and none in South America; however, the writing found in Mesoamerica does not match anything even remotely resembling Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian. More importantly, we have a written record (Book of Mormon) of the period telling us why no writing evidence should be expected.
    Mormon tells us: “having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni” (Mormon 6:6, emphasis mine). In addition, Mormon states: “whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away” (Mormon 5:5, emphasis mine).
    The point is, Mormon makes it quite clear that the Lamanites destroyed anything Nephite, especially any written record. And since the entire Nephite nation was annihilated by the Lamanites, all that was Nephite was destroyed—nothing would have survived the hatred the conquerors had toward the Nephites in their 1000-year civil war of annihilation. Think of what happened when the Spanish conquered the Maya in Mesoamerica—they burned almost every written record they found. Of the thousands that existed, only four have survived.
Ancient Mesoamerican sites are very well preserved, all constructed from stone
    And while writings were carved into the block walls in Mesoamerica, most of South American ancient buildings were of clay and adobe brick, which has not survived well enough to preserve any writing anyway, though  none would have survived the purges of the Lamanite destruction.
Ancient Nephite sites in South America did not preserve as well as those in Mesoamerica—if there had been any writing on the walls in South American buildings like in Mesoamerica, they did not survive the deterioration of the centuries
    What has survived and is of major concern to this question are the buildings and the numerous segments of history recorded in the scriptural record as well as the geographical settings described by Mormon. We have listed in these pages over the years showing the 20 main factors of scriptural descriptions that only matches the Andean area of South America, an area not addressed by either Budvarson’s questions and interest, or that of the Smithsonian, both of which addressed themselves solely to Mexico and Central America (for example, see the post: “So Where is the Land of Promise?” Parts 1 thru 12, posted between December 26, 2013 and January 7, 2014)
    The point being, that when archaeologists uncover a site like Pachacamac (25 miles southeast of Lima, Peru) that is considered by them to have been a religious center of a civilization that existed in Nephite times, they do not look to the Book of Mormon for any reference. Yet Pachacamac, which would have been the Nephite capitol of Zarahemla, is recognized by archaeologists as:
1. The most important area of indigenous peoples of the central Andes before the Inca period, dating back to occupancy of at least 400 B.C.;
2. Had a giant Temple (built of 50-million sun-dried bricks) of great significance and was considered the principal religious center of pre-Columbian Andes;
3. An enormous site covering several square miles, with a large population befitting a leading social center, many of the dwellings still remain;
4. Located on a promontory within easy walking distance of the ocean (West Sea) where the Mulekites would have landed and settled;
5. Northward from the area of the city of Nephi (Sacsayhuaman) from which Mosiah came before discovering Zarahemla;
6. There are at least 17 pyramids, suggesting a huge administrative and government center;
7. The temple and site were a religious center honoring Pacha Kamaq, the creator god (“Earth maker”), the god of the area for may centuries;
8. Considered the central city of the kingdom;
9. The site attracted visitors from all over the Andean area during Nephite times;
10. There were wide streets within the site recently unearthed, suggesting much traffic and activity.
The ancient city of Pachacamac outside Lima, Peru. During Nephite times it was the social, religious and government center of the Andean area and matches much of what we know about the ancient Nephite capital of Zarahemla
    The materials used and the construction techniques are considered very complex for the time period. Stone walls served as base for the amazing structures made of "adobitos" (small adobe bricks). Investigation, excavation and restoration is still ongoing at the Archaeological Complex of Pachacamac as more areas and greater understanding of the site are discovered.
    The point is, all of this fits the Nephite period perfectly, the description and place in Nephite history of Zarahemla as the nation's capital, and the center of Nephite activity for hundreds of years, yet none of the archaeologists who discovered and restored the site, like Bandelier, Middendorf, Uhle, Glesecke, Tello, Strong Corbett and Borja, would ever think to make any attempt to match one to the other.
    As Amaleki tells us: “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16, emphasis mine). To one well acquainted to the Book of Mormon and the story of the Mulekites, the landing site along the coast of South America (see the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica) with a settlement on the bluff overlooking the coast within easy walking distance of their landing makes a lot of sense. To an archaeologist, it is not connected in any way. Yet, the entire circumstances surrounding the history of Pachacamac verifies the scriptural record of that city and it fits well into the information listed.
The landing site of the Mulekites would have been along the coast, and their settlement within easy walking distance from their landing—this bluff overlooking the coast, and the city that dates to about that time make a reasonable match
    Thus, there are two problems in making the claim that “true archeological data of the New World agree with the subject matter of the Book of Mormon.”
    The first is that, while all sorts of matches can be found, the problem lies not in finding them, but in the archaeologist recognizing the matches to that of the Book of Mormon. Few archaeologists outside the Church would even know much about the Book of Mormon, let alone be searching for matching evidence. It is not that matches and verification cannot be found—the problem lies in archaeological data being used for that purpose by the archaeologist. And that is simply not likely, which renders the question moot before it is even asked.
    The second, and most critical problem, is to stop using Mesoamerica as the criteria or basis for finding archaeological evidence. As Robert’s answer to Budvarson’s second question was a resounding “no,” his statement in support of this was: “the absence of iron, steel, brass, gold and silver coins, metal, swords breastplates, arm shields, armor, horses and chariots, and silk, in pre-colonial sites of ancient America,” which is true for Mesoamerica! However, all of these are found in Andean South America, dating back to Jaredite and Nephite times. Obviously, Budvarson needed to look to the location where that evidence is boundless, and that is in the Andean area of South America--not Mesoamerica!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson – Part II

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon and their answers and our evaluation. 
    His first question: “Have there ever been any cities named in the Book of Mormon been yet discovered?”
When these cities were first excavated and uncovered, there were no signs as to what they had once been called by the builders and early inhabitants. Archaeologists named them according to their location, surrounding areas, or local names of the site given them after the Spanish arrived
    We suppose that critics expect, if the Book of Mormon is correct, to find excavations of cities bearing the name of Zarahemla, Nephi, Antiparah, or Bountiful, etc. The question that needs to be asked instead is, if archaeologist excavated a city that originally had been called Zarahemla during Nephite times, how would they know of such a name? Perhaps one might expect to find find a plaque inscribed in Hebrew or reformed Egyptian saying, “This is the city of Zarahemla, founded 555 B.C.” or a road sign on the approaches to a city listing the equivalent of “5 miles to Zarahemla.”
    Critics, even experts, are perfectly correct in saying that “no archaeological site has been identified with any of the names of the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon” as did Dr. Frank H. H. Roberts, Jr., Acting Director of the Smithsonian in his reply to Arthur Budvarson on October 10,1958 (in answer to the latter’s question: “Have any of the cities named in the Book of Mormon been discovered?”)
So let us look at this question from a different angle. We know that there are scores of ancient cities in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc., as well as scores of ancient cities discovered in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, etc. We can see the cities, archaeologists have studied them for decades, and many books are written about them. Now the question to be asked is, “Do we know the ancient names given those cities by the people who built and lived in them?”
    The answer is a definitive “no.”
    No one knows the names of hundreds of Nephite-period (600 B.C. to 400 A.D.) cities so far discovered in Central and South America that were given them by their builders. The names we know them by in Mesoamerica: Chichen Itza, Tik’al, Caracol, Uxmal, etc., or in South America: Chan Chan, Caral, Chavín de huántar, Machu Picchu, Pachacamac, etc. None of these names by which we now know them were the names known by the original builders and inhabitants of those cities in antiquity.
    What we know of all these cities and the hundreds of other ancient sites now discovered, are names given them long after the Book of Mormon period. The names we have are those assigned to these sites by their discoverers, or claimed to have been called long after the Nephite period by historians or natives dating to after the Spanish Conquest. We know what the Aztecs (1427 A.D. ) called their cities, as an example, and what the Incas (1400 A.D.) called theirs, but these civilizations existed a thousand years after the demise of the Nephite nation.
    For another example, take the pre-Inca site of Tiwanacu (Tiahuanaco) along the Peru-Bolivia border, just south of Lake Titicaca. The name we know this city by today was given it by Pedro Cieza de Leon, who came upon its remains in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital of Qullasuyu. It is believed this site may have been inhabited as early as 1500 B.C., but surely by the 6th century B.C.
    When Cieza de Leon asked numerous Inca about the ruins, they told him it had always been there and no one knew who the builders have been. When it was actually built, no one really knows. During the time period between 300 BC and AD 300, Tiwanaku is thought to have been a moral and cosmological center to a population of 25,000 to 30,000 inhabitants before it expanded its powerful empire, which is believed to have eventually supported a population of between 285,000 and 1,482,000
The city of Tiahuanaco, with temples, subterranean courts, and exterior walls, covered an overall empire that stretched from Bolivia to Peru and Chile. It was one of the most important civilizations prior to the Inca Empire in all of South America
    According to Arthur “Arturo” Posnansky, a well-respected avocational archaeologist and author of Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man, it may have even existed in the antediluvian period. The name Kalasasaya, associated with this site, is also a modern name given it, as was the name Lukumata and Akapana, along with another site nearby today called Puma Punku—all of these names we use today would have been unknown to the original builders. 
    Its site and workmanship is extensive, with the largest stone block weighing 131 metric tons, another 85 tons, and within the Akapana (temple) an andesite block estimated to weigh 66 metric tons. Without question, Tihuanaco is an example of a major site and empire dating to Nephite times, yet its original name and the original builders and occupants are unknown to modern history. So the site is named  Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku,Tiahuanacu), a name whose origin is unknown, possibly passed down through the Inca and the Spanish. It may have come from the Puquina, an extinct language once spoken by a native ethnic group in the region surrounding Lake Titicaca and sometimes associated with Tiwanaku, and believed by some to be the “runa simi” cryptic language of the Inca nobility. The point is, no one knows what this city, region or people were originally called.
    An example in Mesoamerica are the ruins of Copán, which some claim was occupied during the Nephite period, and existed over a two thousand year stage. Located in western Honduras, near the Guatemala border, it lies in a fertile valley among foothills at about 2300 feet elevation. The civilization here is said to have had a major influence on regional centers across western and central Honduras, had a population of some 18,000 to 25,000 at its height, and covered an area of over 100 square miles. It was considered one of the more powerful Mayan city states; however, it was long abandoned before the Spanish arrived.
The Mesoamerican site of Copán in Honduras near Guatemala, was discovered in 1570 by Diego Garcia de Palacio, and is one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization 
    The ruins first appeared in the book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens, written in 1841 regarding an 1838 expedition (this is the book that found its way into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1843). Called Copán since its discovery in 1576, no one knows the original name by which the settlement was known in antiquity, though some have suggested it is associated with words like “Corner,” Summit” or “Motmot.” Others claim it might have earlier been known as Oxwitik, though that meaning remains obscure; however, the area was called Quirigua for a time, though that is really the name of a site about 30 miles away. The original name of Copán is simply unknown.
The point is, we are not going to uncover ancient signposts or city signs telling us the original names of these cities. Consequently, archaeologists and anthropologists have no idea what these many sites in Central and South America were first called by the builders and early occupants. Yet no one doubts these places exist. What were they called, who built them, and what is their connection to modern knowledge is still unknown after more than a century of investigation.
    But they do exist, they are there, and they do date to the period of the Nephite nation or shortly afterward in the case of Central America. The important thing to keep in mind is that basically all our information to date on the region of the Book of Mormon civilizations—Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile in the south and Mexico and Central America in the north, pertains to the archaeological developments of modern man during the periods long after that of the Book of Mormon. The civilizations that existed or co-existed in the same time period, such as the famous Norte Chico, Wari, Moche, Canaris, Caral Supe, Chavin, Tiwanaku, etc., in South America, and in Mesoamerica, the Maya, Teotihuacan, and Zapotec cultures along with the empires of the Toltecs and Aztecs, are simply not known to the modern era. In fact the specialists in the field of American archaeological areas will be the first to admit that not enough is yet known about the "Preclassic" period of these regions—i.e. the period of the Book of Mormon—to enable anyone, least of all a true scientist or scholar, to reach a valid conclusion as to the claims of the Book of Mormon.)
    It is not, therefore, the oft-quoted opinions of "scientists" that will decide the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, but the actual evidence on hand and yet to come forth, both internal (validation of the record within the Book of Mormon itself), and external (archaeological and anthropological data, relating to the actual area and period of the Book of Mormon people). The fact that science has found cities and cultures in South and Central America that match the time frame and writing of the Book of Mormon should suggest to anyone of the connection. However, science is extremely reluctant, if not loathe to use anything connected to a religious record as a basis for "scientific" discovery.
    Therefore, any criticism of this nature—not finding any named city of the Book of Mormon period, is a moot subject. No names of any sites of prehistory in the Americas is known today by the name they were known by their builders and first occupants.
(See the next post, “Letter of Arthur Budvarson – Pt III,” for the continuation of this article and the rest of Budvarson’s six questions that the Smithsonian answered and their evaluation)