Saturday, October 31, 2015

Amalickiah: Zoramite, Nephite or Lamanite?

Every once in a while, we run across an individual in the scriptural record that can be described in more than one basic way—and that is the case with Amalickiah. 
   We first meet Amalickiah, “who was a Nephite by birth” (Alma 49:25), when he shows up wanting to be king over the Nephite people and return the government to a kingdom.
    Following Alma’s death (Alma 45:19), in the 19th year of the reign of the judges, Helaman began preaching among the people, “For behold, because of their wars with the Lamanites and the many little dissensions and disturbances which had been among the people, it became expedient that the word of God should be declared among them, yea, and that a regulation should be made throughout the church” (Alma 45:21).
    As Helaman and his brethren traveled across the land, establishing churches again in all the land, in every city possessed by the Nephites (Alma 45:22), appointing priests and teachers among them, “there arose a dissension among them,” so much so, that the people would not listen to Helaman and his brethren (Alma 45:23), because of their great riches and their pride in believing they did not need God because they were so rich.
The leader of these rich dissenters was Amalickiah (left) who had an ability to draw people to him through his flatteries. He told those who would follow him that “if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people” (Alma 46:5)
    It should be of note that “there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord. Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one” (Alma 46:7-8).
    Obviously, Amalickiah was a very persuasive and powerful individual who understood how to manipulate people and their thinking, through appealing to their self-interests and personal avarice, and we see that “because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous' sake” (Alma 46:10).
At this point in time, Moroni (left) steps forward with his great speech and prayer regarding the title of liberty he wrote upon his torn coat and hung upon a pole. His fervor and righteousness brought Nephites from all over to his standard in defense of their country, their Church and their government. In the end, Amalickiah, seeing he was outnumbered and could not gain sufficient strength to achieve his goal to become king, he “fled with a small number of his men, and the remainder were delivered up into the hands of Moroni and were taken back into the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 46:33).
    Meanwhile, Amalickiah, still desirous to be a king, fled with his small band to the land of Nephi and stirred up the Lamanites against the Nephites, and the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation throughout all the land among all his people, to gather together to war with the Nephites (Alma 47:1).
    However, the majority of the Lamanites would not obey their king, not wanting to go battle against the Nephites and get killed. So the king appointed Amalickiah head of that part of the Lamanites who obeyed with the intention of compelling the remainder to also join in and obey their king. All of this worked right into Amalickiah’s plans, for he was “a very subtle man to do evil therefore he laid the plan in his heart to dethrone the king of the Lamanites” (Alma 47: 4).
    Through an ingenious plan, Amalikiah overcomes the defecting half of the Lamanite army, gains control over both and eventually becomes the leader of the entire Lamanite armies. Continuing with his plan, Amalickiah then has the king killed, and by his fraud, gained control over all of the Lamanites, married the queen, and became king over the Lamanites throughout all the land (Alma 47:35).
    Thus, Amalickiah, and his followers (dissenters) “became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God” (Alma 47:36).
    However, though he was now king of the Lamanites, Amalickiah was not satisfied. He wanted to conquer and rule as king over the Nephites (Alma 48:2).
    Because the Zoramites, his dissenters, were the most familiar with the Nephites, having themselves been Nephites, he appointed them “he did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities; therefore he appointed them to be chief captains over his armies” (Alma 48:5).
    All of this took approximately five years, for in the twenty-first year of the reign of the judges, five years after Amalickiah first began his dissentions among the Nephites, there was peace and a golden or “happy” period among the Nephites. During this time, Morianton claimed a part of the city of Lehi as part of his own city of Morianton, but in the twenty and fifth year of the reign of the judges, Amalickiah stirred up the Lamanites once again and they came down into the Land of Zarahemla, with Amalickiah at their head (Alma 51:12).
While Moroni was occupied putting down the king-men who sought to return the government to a kingdom, Amalickiah marched his Lamanite army to the city of Moroni and took possession of the city—where Teancum (left) entered at night and killed Amalickiah.
    Immediately, the brother of Amalickiah was appointed king over the Lamanites and his name was Ammoron. In a later exchange of letters with Moroni, Ammoron wrote:
“I am Ammoron (left), and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem. And behold now, I am a bold Lamanite; behold, this war hath been waged to avenge their wrongs, and to maintain and to obtain their rights to the government; and I close my epistle to Moroni” (Alma 54:23-24).
    So we have two brothers, Amalickiah, a Nephite, and Ammoron, claiming he was a descendants of Zoram, but presently a “bold Lamanite.” Amalickiah, on the other hand, claimed he was a Nephite by birth and sought to be the king of the Nephites.
    Taking all three of these lineagers, Zoram, Nephite and Lamanite, we can assume that technically, they were  both born in the lineage of Zoram, were by the nature of the language Nephites, and later dissented and became Lamanites.
    This is borne out by the statement during these events: “For behold, it came to pass that the Zoramites became Lamanites; therefore, in the commencement of the eighteenth year the people of the Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them” (Alma 43:4). Therefore, a year after Amalickiah’s defeat in his bid to become king of the Nephites, he and his dissenting band of Zoramites became Lamanites. No doubt, at this time, his brother, Ammoron was with him and became a Lamanite as well since he later became king of the Lamanites.
    And those who joined the Lamanites and “did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed” (Alma 3:9). And “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him” (Alma 3:10).
    Thus, we need to understand that in the lineage paths of Lehi’s descendants, those who defected over to the Lamanites became Lamanites in not just name, but in the sharing of the curse and mark set upon the Lamanites. They were no longer Nephites or Zoramites or anything else—they were Lamanites. Thus a Zoramite or a Nephite becomes a Lamanite, he is no longer a Zoramite or a Nephite, but is in full fellowship with the Lamanites and in full accord. Amalickiah became a Lamanite, a Captain and then Chief Captain of the Lamanite Army, and finally the king of the Lamanites. His brother became a “bold Lamanite.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Khor Kharfot is Not Where Nephi Launched His Ship

In all reality, the difference between Khor Rori and Khor Kharfot as an embarkation point for Nephi’s ship is rather minute in regard to one another. That is, the distance between them and their relationship to one another, would have had no bearing on the currents that took a ship from either location into the Sea of Arabia and then on to the Indian Ocean. While there are important differences, to be sure, the point is, neither location alters the end result in any way of Nephi’s ship embarking on the currents and with the winds that took them south and eventually southeast and finally east down and into the Southern Ocean and to their landing location in the Western Hemisphere.
    Were it not for questions asked of us from time to time regarding our opinion of these two areas, we probably would not address the question at all. However, there are, as stated above, differences, and if at some point those differences become an issue, it might be well to understand them and recognize that one site is definitely more aligned to the actual event than the other.
    So let’s take a look at an important issue separating the two locations.
Looking down on Khor Kharfot, the (Yellow Arrow) green wadi is really not a harbour, but merely a khor, an inlet
1) Khor Kharfot has no protected harbor:  In 1993 specialists from BYU visited Khor Kharfot and considered it to have been a sheltered sea inlet until it was closed off in the last few hundred years. While the opening of Khor Kharfot is wide and filled with shallow water, the wadi narrows rapidly and is considerably narrower than Khor Rori and contains many large rocks. It has been claimed that Khor Kharfot could have been a harbor anciently. This conjecture is based on the assumption that inland from the sandbar the wadi is significantly below sea level; Theorists tell us that 1 mile inland Wadi Sayq is “up to 50 feet below sea level.”
    While it can be debated it is a shallow inlet, it could also be debated it was ever a harbor capable of taking large ships and protecting them from the monsoon waves—there is simply no record of this connected with the area; on the other hand, Roman and Arabic records show that Khor Rori was indeed used as a protected harbor for several hundred years between 300 or 200 B.C. onward until around 300 to 500 A.D.
    We would suggest that rather than being up to 50 feet below sea level up to a mile inland, the wadi floor starts to rise almost immediately as one moves inland.
2) Gravity. A freshwater spring is located about a quarter of a mile up the Wadi. Water from this spring will obviously flow down hill and collect at the lowest point in the wadi. If the Wadi were below sea level to more than 1 mile inland the water would flow inland to the deepest area and pool there, but instead, the water flows towards the sea and collects there, showing that the area behind the sand bar must be the lowest point in the Wadi. The water here is 6-8 feet deep and, according to Google Earth, the Wadi floor is about 11 feet above sea level here; so the bottom of the spring water is probably still above sea level.
3) Observation. The photograph below shows the view towards the sea from about ½ mile inland. The sea in the background can plainly be seen to be below the height of the Wadi floor in the foreground.
Khor Kharfot: Blue Arrow: Sea Level of harbor; Yellow Arrow: Wadi Level rising upward from the shore inland for more than ¾ of a mile
    It should also be suggested that Khor Kharfot is too narrow to have ever been a harbor for a large ship. Quite frankly, anyone standing on the Wadi floor at either of these points can see that they are looking down to the sea from a considerable altitude and would be amazed, of the claim that they are standing below sea level by such a huge amount.
4) Breakwater. Perhaps most importantly, is the absence of some type of breakwater arrangement, which the promontories at Khor Rori provide (see last post). Without some way to break the water moving in and out between the Sea and the inlet, breaching the ocean would have been quite difficult for Nephi’s inexperienced crew, including the possibility of broaching into the swell and driven backward into the inlet, or even capsizing.
The inlet of Khor Khrafot has no breakwater arrangement as does that of Khor Rori. The Yellow Arrows shows that the sides of the inlet simply run out into the sea, the White Arrow shows the flow of the current (before the entrance was sealed with sand washing down into the sea
    Based on studies of Wadi Sayq at Khor Kharfot, the general inclination of the slope beyond the khor’s entrance is not deepening, but rising, showing that Ashton’s claim is inaccurate, and based on Goodle Earth Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) Level, “there are no significant pockets (if any at all) showing the wadi thread being below sea level.”
    Thus, we can say that Khor Kharfot’s wadi floor does not lie below sea level for more than a one-mile distance inland from the shore, and while the wadi may have provided shelter for a small boat, it could not have been a harbor for a large ship, and this probably explains why Jana Owen of UCLA, who made a study in 1995 of the ancient ports of Dhofar as part of the ‘Transarabia Expedition,’ did not include Khor Kharfot.
    Other issues:
Timbered land runs along the Wadi Dirbat above Khor Rori with various species and types
5) No available long straight hardwoods: Nephi built his ship in a fertile area (much fruit) and where there was ample wood for constructing a sailing ship. Khor Kharfot lacks both of these attributes.  Dr. Phillips’ notes that the only cultivated fruit orchards today are at Salalah (65 miles east of Khor Kharfot); however, large fruit plantations are found only 2 miles from Khor Rori at Taqah,  and this was likely so in the past as this is the only place where the soil is fertile enough.
    While it is claimed that timber appropriate for building a conventional, ocean-going ship does not grow anywhere along the Omani coast and probably did not in the past, this is not true. See the last posts and the numerous photos of timbered land along the Wadi Dirbat above Khor Rori.
    Of course, in not knowing what it was about Nephi’s ship that made it “not built after the manner of men,” or that the “timbers were not worked after the manner of men,” it cannot even be suggested what type of wood Nephi’s ship was built of and, therefore, what type of wood needed to be found along the Omani coast.
6) No Fabric for Sails: Being roughly 85 miles west of the port at Khor Rori, and isolated by mountains, it is hard to image how Nephi could have had access at Khor Kharfot to cloth fabric for making the sails for his ship. To date no documented evidence has been found showing that fabric was available in antiquity at Khor Kharfot. Nor, again, do we know what type of fabric was needed for Nephi to build sails. Throughout history, sails have been made of various fabric, and certainly one would think his sails would have been from very heavy or strong fabric to withstand the tremendous winds and wind action in the middle of the ocean. The fact that around 200 B.C. Khor Rori became a ship building center, one might suspect that the materials needed were found there.
7) No iron ore: Geologists have surveyed southern Oman and cities where iron ore deposits are to be found on the Mirbat plain (including the deposits discovered 6 miles east of Khor Rori), and a small wadi between Raykut just east of Mughsayl (40 miles to the east). Again, this essential element for Bountiful is absent at Khor Kharfot.
8) No Seamenship Skills. Without a protected harbor it is little wonder that no evidence exists at Khor Kharfot that the necessary intellectual resources Nephi would have needed to build a ship and sail it to the promised land ever existed there.
9) No safe access to the sea. A huge unsupported assumption is often made about Khor Kharfot—that it was open to the sea in Nephi’s time. It is presently closed by a sandbar, and we are not aware of any evidence that it was open to the sea in the 6th century B.C. Khor Rori also has a sandbar presently blocking the entrance, but we do know that in the past this sandbar did not exist since the Romans and others used Khor Rori as a harbor and had entrance for large ships into it through this present sandbar.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Breakwater of Khor Rori

One of the more important aspects of Khor Rori that is overlooked by nearly all theorists, is the problem facing a vessel moving out of a harbor, inlet, or narrow opening into the sea with conflicting tides, currents, winds, and sea depth.
These three images show the problem with moving from a protected harbor out into the sea. Top: What appears to be a smooth flow of water outward, is (Middle) at least a rough and confusing tidal and current movement that makes for breaching the ocean a very difficult thing, and (Bottom) at times can be quite dangerous
    The concept of bottom topography plays an important role in a vessel breaching the ocean from an inlet, river, or harbor where a channel exists. That is, for the ship to have been built, it would have needed some type of harbor where the entrance to the sea was narrow enough to restrict tidal and current fluctuations where the boat was moored. The problem lies in that vessel then leaving the inlet and entering the sea. As Nephi states it: “And it came to pass after we had all gone down into the ship, and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8).
The problem any vessel has in leaving protected harbor or inlet is to breach the current and waves upon entering the sea. Even modern-day diesel driven vessels have problems. In the days of Lehi, hitting swells like that could cause a broach, turning the vessel sideways to the swell and even capsizing
    In order to “put forth into the sea,” the ship would have to move out of the protected harbor, over the uneven topography that always lines areas where inlets, rivers, khors, etc., empty into the sea.
    First of all, probably one of the least understood and anticipated influences on wave conditions is bottom topography. Water depth has a major effect on waves, which will behave very differently between shallow and deep water.
    Waves do not merely affect the surface of a body of water. The motion involved actually goes down fairly deep, around four times the height of the waves. So if a wave is four foot, the water is being disturbed down to a depth of about sixteen feet.
    Thus, where the bottom suddenly rises up to near the surface, such as the mouth of such an inlet, this can cause nasty sea conditions—it is somewhat like wind flowing around tall buildings, and water moving against a submerged plateau is going to "hump up" at that point. And that “hump” causes a giant lift in the prow of the vessel and with an inexperienced crew, could cause serious damage.
    Not only does the underwater obstruction force a change in water flow direction, but will cause increases in velocity and create nasty eddies, which can create some of the most dangerous water conditions there are—like rapids on a river that only a very skilled boatman can handle them. Such places can be serenely placid at one moment, and deadly the next as the slack tide or winds suddenly change. Consequently, sailing from any location of a protected harbor or inlet out into the sea would present problems for an inexperienced crew like that on Nephi’s ship.
What has been done in modern times, though not always understood anciently, is the building of a breakwater system at such a harbor in inlet area, to reduce the intensity of wave action in inshore waters and thereby reduce the difficulty of entering the sea, though today, with diesel engines, that is not the problem it once was. In fact, breakwater systems are generally meant to break the force of waves, to an inlet, river entrance, or harbor as well as to protect anchorage within the inlet or harbor.  
Waves roll in series, and every so often, a rogue or unusual wave will occur, at first hidden among the swells and undistinguished to those who do not know what to look for
    It should be kept in mind that waves have a life cycle of their own. As an example, with every 30th to 40th wave comes a wave that is much larger than all the waves before it. Basically the set of 4 waves merge and create a super wave. Recent studies have shown that these rogue waves may be more common than oceanographers first thought, and they are unpredictable, usually out to sea, but also along the coast and can create undue damage. Even smaller forces can disrupt steerage, especially at critical times such as moving out to sea, with the deeper the water, the greater the change at such disruption.
    One of the important things to keep in mind about the Sea of Arabia along the south Arabian coast is that the sea has depths that exceed 9,800 feet, and there are no islands in the middle. Deep water reaches close to the bordering lands except in the northeast, off Pakistan and India. To the southeast the Lakshadweep atolls along the southwestern coast of India, form part of the submarine Maldive Ridge (1800 miles off Arabian coast), which extends farther south into the Indian Ocean where it rises above the surface to form the atolls of the Maldives. On the western side of the sea, 300 miles south off the Omani coast, the plateau island of Socotra, about 70 miles long and with an area of about 1,400 square miles, is an insular extension of the Horn of Africa, lying 160 miles east of Cape Gwardafuy (Guardafui).
    All of this leads to the point that in this huge box-like area off the coast of Khor Rori is a very deep sea of approximately 10,000 feet depth, where water is moving inland toward the coast. When it reaches the area of rising land, it creates undertoes, cross-currents, rising tides and tidal influences as well as other navigational problems for a vessel entering the Sea of Arabia from an inland khor or river.
    In a wooden sailing ship of 600 B.C., the results of an inexperienced crew in such waters would be disastrous.
    However, one of the interesting factors of Khor Rori is the natural breakwater effect provided by the two promontories along the entrance to the inlet on either side of the khor. These two promontories or cliffs stand about 100 feet high, blocking any winds that would effect the sails of the ship as it passed, in addition, the extensions of them also block current eddies and tidal changes along the coast, providing a “breakwater” arrangement out three hundred to four hundred feet, more than three times the length of the boat and, therefore, providing a smooth transition between khor and sea.
Yellow Arrows: The Inqita’at Mirbat and Inqita’at Taqah promontories on either side of the Khor Rori inlet mouth, provide a form of breakwater and (Blue Arrow) a safe and easy entrance into the Ocean from the river (khor)
    No other area along the coast provides such an easy egress into the sea and is one of the major reasons the area was used by Roman ships and traders for several centuries  from around 200 B.C. onward.
These 100-feet tall cliffs on either side of the entrance to the inlet act as breakwater barriers and bring a tranquility to the waters entering and leaving the khor
    It is interesting that these promontories provide a dissipation of energy and relative calm water created in the lee of the breakwaters, thus allowing a vessel of Nephi’s size to pass between and out into the ocean along a protected path, requiring very little expertise from the crew.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nephi’s Ship and Sails

This brings us next to the fact that deep water ships need sail arrangements that take advantage of the various winds. In fact, the speed and value of a ship at sea is partly in its sail arrangement and ability to catch the wind. Sea currents push or drive a ship forward, when the wind fills the sails. In the Age of Sail, the sail was a critical issue in the success of a voyage. Columbus, after reaching the Canary Islands, changed the sail arrangement of one of his ships to add a lateen sail for later use of coastal steerage and sailing. Apparently the lateen sail developed from a square sail as the need to head up closer to the wind was seen to be important, meaning the ship could sail closer to the “dead zone” or “into the wind” at a close angle to its source.
Left: When sailing, or running with the wind, the wind is directly behind the ship and a square sail, like Nephi’s, is the most efficient; Right: When sailing in the opposite direction, ”into the wind,” there is an area straight ahead referred to as a “No-Go Zone,” where the ship cannot sail
    To take advantage of this, obviously two things were done: 1) Ship Captains sailed with the wind behind them, learning where these currents and winds blew so they could map out a course that would take them where they wanted to sail; and 2) Add canvas (sail).
    What they did not do, and what every Theorists wants to claim they did, was just head for the Western Hemisphere through the straightest path they could find. In the case of the Sea of Arabia and Indian Ocean, that would have been a path to India and then on to Indonesia, down the Malacca Channel or Strait, and winding past several islands out into the Pacific Ocean and island-hopping across the Pacific to Central America. The sad thing about such theorizing is that it violates every possible maritime method of sailing in the days of Lehi, moving against winds and currents, requiring highly efficient maneuvering around islands and their dangers by a crew that had never before been to sea, let alone handle a 100-ton sailing vessel, and then later set in and embark from one island after another, as though such an activity would be like rowing a boat.
What looks good on a flat map is misleading when you try to translate it onto a globe. First of all, this distance is about 3 times as long as one down south through the Southern Ocean, and extremely dangerous as has been pointed out in this series
    Consequently, ships were built to hold more canvas and additional sails were invented, such as gallants, royals, skysails, and moon sails above the topsail, as well as adding “studding” sails to the sides, outboard of the main sails by rigging a temporary boom. This allowed the vessel to catch more wind in the main sails, increasing their reach and improve speed with the wind directly at their back.
(LtoR) Adding sales upward, then also (far right) adding studding sails to the side of the main sails increased the amount of sail available to the captain as he maneuvered his vessel across the oceans
    The construction of these Arabic dhows is still carried on without benefit of drawings and relies on the master builder and his experience for direction and supervision, a general brief for performance requirements having first been established with the owner. While boat builders all have to be extremely skillful in their work, the traditional craft of three-dimensional shaping of wood seemed to be more so in the early days.
    When Nephi asked, “whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me” (1 Nephi 17:9), it is likely from the wordage used, that the Lord showed in the vision to Nephi not only what the ship was to look like, and how the vessel was to be built, but also the tools in their operation of use. Obviously, at that moment, Nephi had already been shown by the Lord the ship and how it was to be built.
    No doubt, having lived at Jerusalem all his days (1 Nephi 1:4), obviously living on a farm-like, independent homeland somewhere outside the walls of Jerusalem, and probably down the hillside from the city (1 Nephi 3:16, 23), where the maintaining of the household and property might well  have required certain crafts that Nephi either learned to do growing up, or learned from observation. One of these might have been metallurgy, which resulted in his response to the Lord’s image and instruction of his building a ship. “Whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship…”
    We can probably surmise from this that Nephi knew what was involved in building and operating a bellows. Perhaps he had already made elementary metal objects, such as spikes, knives, axes, chisels, tongs, door fittings, etc.
Metallurgy was well known and practiced throughout the Middle East from the 3rd Millennium B.C. onward, and certainly was in use around Jerusalem shortly afterward as the map shows with smelting and early metallurgy attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age
    Whether or not the adze was already known to Nephi is not certain, though it was an all-around tool used for nearly any wood work required of the time, especially for those growing up on isolated farms or homesteads in outlying area where the household members had to know how to do things like simple carpentry, metal and leather work.
(Image E – Left: An adze set aside after shaping the boards, trough, and knob; Right: An Egyptian stone cutting showing a worker using an adze on a boat being built
    Other tools, such as bow drills, saws, hatchets, rubbers, measuring rods, plum-lines, and set-squares were also used. The bow-drills were needed to produce the holes through which the nails were hammered to fix the planking to the ribs, and a cold chisel to hammer caulking between the planks to make them watertight. Tension on the bow drill is maintained by the fingers of the hand holding the bow. The sharpened bit on the drill is remarkably effective in the right hands, the bow drill giving substantial control to the operator and allowing slow or relatively fast speeds to be used when drilling; however, high speeds were avoided as they tended to burn the wood.
    In addition, Nephi’s narrative tells us of an ordered departure from Bountiful on a completed ship already in the water and sea worthy. This appears to confirm that he used the age-old practice of building a ship above a protected harbor and launched it from its dry-dock using ways (ramps) into calm water. This allowed the crew the essential time in safe water to let the plank timbers expand to seal the hull (the Hebrew word is tzaref) and then caulk any remaining leaks (see Ezekiel 27:9). This was the construction method used by both the Hebrews and the Egyptians. Once the hull was verified as being watertight, the ship could be loaded with ballast and put to sea for sea trials prior to loading and sailing. This all required a harbor.
    And the harbor of Khor Rori is by far the best possible location all along the southern Arabian coast.
    As for the bellows Nephi built (1 Nephi 17:11), Jeremiah mentions bellows in his own writings (Jeremiah 6:29) in a complete explanation of the ore smelting process. In addition, Nephi lived at a time when iron and simple steel had become commonplace in Jerusalem, and bronze was used for simple purposes, like casting. Bronze, of course, was generally inferior to steel for tool making, and producing it required a source for its components—copper and tin. Only minor traces of copper minerals have been reported in Dhofar, and tin is unknown there. Animal skins would have been available to make the skin bellows, and numerous drawings show their use during Nephi’s time.
While workers blow the fire each with his own foot bellows (1 to 4 or even 6 people), the worker smelts and works the ore over a simple pit furnace

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another View of Nephi’s Ship

As mentioned in the last article, the problem of slamming a ship into wave after wave, in this case “broaching” waves where the prow of the vessel runs down a trough and slams into the wall of the approaching wave, can cause serious damage, both structurally, as well as ship handling. Such impacts cause wear and tear on deep-ocean sailing, as well as can result in capsizing, or at least causing the ship to veer sharply off course. Loosing control of the vessel in such conditions can result in serious problems, such as capsizing.
Broaching is running the prow into the wall of the wave ahead. Not only does this eventually cause structural damage, but can slam the vessel around parallel to the wave where it can slide down the trough and capsize, especially in the hands of a novice seaman
For an inexperienced crew, such as on Nephi’s ship, such deep ocean sailing could be difficult without the constant directions the Liahona would have provided. In this case, with the approach of such swells, the problem can be overcome with knowledge—such as reducing speed to match the conditions approaching, or better still, to alter course to a new one where broaching is not a threat. No doubt this is one of the reasons why Nephi’s ship included a rudder for steerage (1 Nephi 18:13).
    While smashing into steep four footers in fifty knot winds at 26 knots is no problem for boats built to withstand the impact; however, such constructed ships did not exist before the 13th or 14th centuries A.D. The designs before that time simply were not capable of handling this and other rigors of sailing in deep water. In fact, many had trouble with severe rolling in only there  following seaswhich is one of the reasons we scoff at writers who claim Phoenicians in 600 B.C. were sailing into deep water, their ship construction simply would not have allowed them to do so.
    According to David Pascoe, author of Rough Water Seamanship, and an expert in blue water sailing, “Understanding the effects of wind, waves and currents is not an easy subject to master. Waves behave differently under a large variety of different conditions, so that unless one is familiar with all, or at least most of these conditions, then one is not experienced. That's why to get an ocean operator's license from the USCG requires that an applicant prove that they have had a large number of hours under such conditions.”
    Speaking about today’s boat designs, he goes on to say that “Hull design has a lot to do with how different boats will handle under different conditions. The simple fact is that the vast majority of boats sold today are designed for creature comforts, not rough water performance. The number of boats around that have good rough water capabilities are few and far between. One reason for this is that people are not willing to give up luxury and convenience for good handling characteristics. And so the vast majority of boats are best suited for protected, not open water operation.”
Unknowing scholars try to claim Phoenicians and others were sailing deep water long before ships were built capable of such. Mediterranean and Arabian Sea sailing was basically in protected waters compared to the open ocean. This is why when Phoenicians passed Gibraltar, into the Atlantic, they stayed close to the shore on their way north to England and Gaul or south to North Africa
    In a different way, but none-the-less as important, ships of early traders who plied the coasts of the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans, were far more interested in cargo capacity than good handling characteristics. Nor did they need to be since they did not sail deep water, did not sail out of the view of land, did not sail at night, and were interested basically in moving goods from one point to another for trade and profit.
    To attribute to these early traders skills beyond their capability and interest is simply unrealistic as is its purpose. Until governments were willing to pay for ships and men to investigate foreign lands for the purpose of expanding empires, man showed very little interest in exploration. In the Age of Columbus, ships were provided by kings, or other type investors, even the Church was involved in putting up the money for such activities based upon a return on their investment. With kings, control and conquest drove most early movements, as did the need for relocation because of such conquest. But in truth, the Age of Exploration, which coincided with the Age of Sail, did not really occur until around the 12th century A.D. onward. We might attribute an early date to the Vikings, though their expansion was more in the area of conquest than it was for settlement, the latter being mostly temporary attempts that had little success in Iceland and Greenland, and eventually none at all in the Americas.
    Consequently, to claim that the Phoenicians had an interest in early exploration is to attribute to them an interest they did not exhibit. The Phoenicians were traders, acquiring and selling goods throughout the Mediterranean and as far north as England and Gaul (for the tin trade) and as far south as the North Africa coast to present-day Ghana, for the gold and slaves. It should be kept in mind that exploration was not profitable to any sea captain, nor even a trading nation other than when used to open up  new markets, as the Phoenicians did along the Western Mediterranean coasts.
Thus, the early sailing trade operations were done along coastal waters in protected, not open water, operations, such as along the Arabian Sea and within the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, etc. Historians can give credit to Phoenicians for sailing the open ocean, but it never happened. Ancient information show us the type of ships they had and they were simply not capable of withstanding the rigors of deep sea sailing. To continue to claim they did things they could not have done is to skew the past, rewrite history, and mislead readers on how the Americas were settled and by whom and under what circumstances.
In addition, there are many theorists who want to place experienced seamen aboard Nephi’s ship, since even the best of boat designs and construction won’t overcome the lack of knowledge and seamanship skills. As an example, when waves reach a certain height, it becomes necessary for the operator to match the speed of the vessel with the speed of the waves. This means slowing down or speeding up, depending on conditions. It is not a good idea to stuff the bow into the backside of the wave ahead, without raising the possibility of broaching and losing control. If you permit the boat to go zooming off the front side of the wave, you have to consider the consequences of what happens when you quickly meet the backside of the wave ahead. As an example, would you drive your car 50 miles an hour down a road full of foot deep potholes? The analogy is an appropriate one here. You'd end up tearing the wheels off the car, losing control and crashing. When the wind blows, the seas become full of potholes. And worse.
Thus one cannot consider Nephi’s ship without also considering the Liahona and its role in teaching and training the crew how to handle the vessel, when to make corrections, and what corrections to make. Obviously, the ball was capable of written instruction (1 Nephi 16:26-28).
    Another very important part of Nephi’s ship construction was in the fact that some designs make for better handling of the ship than others. The average seaman today has experience on two or maybe three different designs, but that is not necessarily enough to show how really different designs can handle. In Nephi’s case, he needed a vessel that was really easy and simple to handle, requiring the least amount of knowledge and skill to sail.
    Seamanship is the ability acquired by a seaman to pilot his vessel skillfully under adverse conditions. It's a skill that involves understanding your boat, wind, waves, tides, currents and geography. Nowadays, operating a boat is regarded as little different than driving a car: just get in and steer the boat around. We see this casual disregard for the need to acquire any kind of boating skills whatsoever on every single weekend at the local marinas where we can observe dozens of boat owners who have yet to learn even how to dock their boats with any degree of skill.
    The less the vessel requires of skill and knowledge, the easier it would be to sail. Skill and knowledge are especially required when sailing through ocean inlets, tide rips (riptides) that cause waves to become taller and steeper, with less distance between crests; and also rocky shoals jutting miles out from islands.
    There is also the problem with “confused-seas” that occur following thunderstorms, hurricanes or major fronts. In such cases, currents are overwhelmed by major shifts in wind conditions that occur quickly, which causes waves coming from different directions, resulting in waves that are  irregular and unpredictable—this can drive a vessel into an island, shoal, or other underwater or above sea obstacle in channels or island-hopping in the Pacific. Rogue waves, even smaller ones, can occur when in these conditions, two waves coming from different directions from earlier currents and winds strike at oblique (very wide) angles, causing difficulties in tight areas.
Top: An unmanned, underwater robot (glider Scarlet Knight) designed and run by Rutgers University maneuvers through the dangerous opposing and circular currents in swirling eddy fields of the deep ocean to collect data below the waves where satellites cannot see for the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS); Middle: Eddies swirl around the Southern Ocean between the tip of South America and Antarctica and are key to the mixing of air and water through this dangerous Drake Passage creating what dynamical systems experts call the "unstable manifold"; Bottom: NASA Scientific Visualization assembled this map from large amounts of satellite information, with the world's "Perpetual Ocean" currents showing eddies, swirling currents of the surface current flow of the ocean's topography
    Coastal currents, swirling eddies, tidal flows between major islands, and other problems encountered when sailing near shore, islands, channels, etc., which, by the way, most theorists have Lehi doing in his island-hopping across the Pacific, all lead to difficulty in sailing and especially among inexperienced captains and crews. After all, once you pilot a boat into troubled waters, you become trapped by them.
    The point is, what looks all right on a map on paper is seldom the case in real life on the sea!
    As an example, It can more comfortable, and safer, cruising in twelve foot waves than six foot waves (under some, but not all, circumstances) as long as the captain has any understanding at all of waves. In such circumstances, he will know that it's not the height of the wave that is most important, but the distance between waves. If the distance is very far, as with swells, they can be very large indeed, but not be threatening or causing undue discomfort. Yet a steep four-foot chop can be downright dangerous or make your time on the water miserable.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Structure of Nephi’s Ship

Assuming the plan was to take Nephi’s ship across the Pacific to the Western Hemisphere via the Southern Ocean where strong winds blow a direct and extremely short course around the globe, one can expect the building of this ship to take this path to be extremely important.    The Lord told Nephi that he was not going to build the ship after the manner of men (1 Nephi 18:2), nor was he going “to work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men” (1 Nephi 18:3). Obviously, it was important for the survival of the Lehi party to have a ship far more sturdy and far superior in its design and or construction than ships of the day—that is, those man alone had so far designed and built up to 600 B.C.
    While in our day and age, we might not think too much about the design and construction of Nephi’s ship and its overall importance since people all over the world build and sail ships today, along with their diesel engines and specially designed sails, GPS, radar, radio, and other support and advanced technology.
However, the durability of a blue-water, deep ocean sailing vessel in 600 B.C., would have been a matter of extreme importance. We have discussed the need forf strength in deep ocean sailing vessels of the time, and the regular and incessant pounding they take on any voyage into deep water as opposed to coastal sailing. After all, a single wave can weigh dozens of tons, and though water is fluid, it resists the movement of the boat through it. And this constant pounding had an accumulative effect on the wooden hulls of the day.
    The large currents at the surface of the ocean are affected by global wind patterns and Earth’s rotation, and while not all currents occur at such a large scale, individual currents and cross-currents had a devastating impact on the beams, ribs, boards and keels of early wooden vessels.
Take as an example, one type of problem facing the mariner in deep sea sailing and that is “broaching,” a condition in which a boat runs down the crest of wave (far left), gathering speed, and as it meets the backside of the next wave ahead, buries its bow in that wave (left). The resistance of the bow hitting the backside of the wave causes the bow to slew around, and the boat to veer sharply off course. There's nothing unusual about that, but the impact causes tremendous forces on the structure of the vessel, something that does not occur in coastal sailing but does in the deep ocean, and can cause a weakness in the boat construction and over time rip one apart.
    It is one of the reasons ships did not sail into deep ocean in antiquity except in more protected areas, such as the Mediterranean, Sea of Arabia and even northern Indian Ocean. Beyond such protections, vessels simply were not strongly enough built to handle such deep ocean sailing.
Another problem is that waves of different intensities break across the prow of a ship in deep water, pound on the decks and slam into the structure causing stress along the various axis of a ship that if it is not well constructed to withstand such roughness, can cause serious damage hour after hour, day after day, week after week as it plies the dangerous blue waters of the ocean. These waves, sculpting seawater into crested shapes, move water and energy from one area to another, with big waves and swells traveling over long distances. Based on wind speed, duration, and the fetch (direction wind is blowing), causing waves of all shapes and sizes. The more open an ocean is, like the southern Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, the more big waves and fierceness of the currents the ship encounters.
    In addition, giant or rogue waves can and frequently do occur in blue water, deep ocean areas. Some form during storms, others from combining waves and currents, with reports of such being 100 feet or more in height, with wave energy dispersing over a large area that slams into ships at sea in relentless fashion.
These swells can approach a ship from one, two, or even three different directions at the same time, transferring energy through the sea that results in swell waves being fast moving and extending far deeper than the waves produced locally by the wind. Because of their length in relation to their height, swell waves do not break even if the wind is still blowing over the swell, but their impact on the hull of a vessel can be staggering—not felt so much by the mariners, but in the torque they produce upon impact. The wind may cause wind waves superimposed on the swell but, often, the wind will have died away or changed direction so that wind waves may well be across the swell.
    Swells can travel enormous distances. Strong winds down the east coast of South America can create a swell that reaches Nigeria. By that time the swell wavelength is so long that wave crests cannot be detected. However, large, slow sea level rises and falls occur as the very flat waves arrive.
    Many ill-informed writers give all sorts of credit to man’s sailing ability during the period of antiquity, before compass, sextant, time piece and other extremely important additives to the sailing world—especially before anything like the above was known or understood and its impact on the durability of the vessel needed to withstand such deep ocean forces. Actual examples of sailing achievements in antiquity were far and few between. 
The image of a Phoenician sailor as imagined by a modern painter; however, the ships shown were not invented at the time of the Phoenicians since all the images that have survived show they were man-powered, driven by oars, thus the image of the magnificent Phoenician mariner persists, though there is no record anywhere of their sailing the deep ocean
    Still, it has been a fertile ground of make-believe of Phoenician sailing accomplishments, their ships, routes, and far-reaching voyages; however, actual (and factual) incidents are simply missing from the equation, with most based on artifacts found from time to time that archaeologists and others try very hard to fit into the dispersement scheme of ancient man.
    It is like man’s so-called crossing of the unfounded Beringa Land Bridge and man’s subsequent migrations across Siberia, Alaska, and down to the southern tip of South America. It looks good on paper, and some rationale can be built around such a scenario, however, evidence of such ever happening is far from real. Yet, it persists today as the way man discovered and settled the Western Hemisphere.
    Phoenician sailing stories persist today of great achievements and far-reaching sailing voyages that never happened. For the record, the Phoenicians existed from about 1550 B.C. to 300 B.C., however, after 605 B.C., they were absorbed into the Babylonian Empire. Though they were known to have spread their alphabet from North Africa to Europe throughout the Mediterranean, at their peak, typically about 1200 B.C. to 800 B.C., shows they reached Sardinia and Spain and the Western Mediterranean. They were credited in 440 B.C. by Herodotus’ as “being involved in long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria,” which is only about 450 miles. Far from the global hopping credited to them.
    It should also be noted that in their heyday, they used the galley, a man-powered (oars) sailing vessels, and are credited with the invention of the bireme.
The reality is that the Phoenician vessels in 600 to 500 B.C. as shown in drawings of the time had (top) single oar banks or (bottom) double oar banks and were quite fragile craft, capable of sailing coastal waters and the calm Mediterranean; Middle are modern views of these ships ancient drawings
    This is hardly a ship that could make it across the Atlantic, let alone to the Pacific Ocean. When the Lord told Nephi he was going to show him how to build a ship unlike what man had built, it would seem obvious he had in mind a method of construction far more sturdy and successful than the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Romans, and probably more like the type of ships built during the Age of Sail that successfully circumnavigated the globe.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Building of Nephi’s Ship

It’s a simple matter to write that Nephi built a ship and speculate on what that might have involved, but something else entirely to actually go through the process and see what must have been included. According to James Taylor, of the British-Yemeni Society of traditional Arab sailing ships, the building of such ships along the Omani coast dates back to a couple of hundred years after Lehi’s time. 
   Anciently, an Arab Mariner wrote: “The second Caliph of Islam, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, famously refused to sanction the invasion of Cyprus by his governor of Syria, Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan, on the strength of the letter that he received from ‘Amru bin al-’As, the Arab conqueror of Egypt. ‘Amru wrote, ‘The sea is a boundless expanse whereon great ships look like tiny specks; naught but the heavens above and the waters beneath; when calm, the sailor’s heart is broken; when tempestuous, his senses reel. Trust it little. Fear it much. Man at sea is but a worm on a bit of wood (dud ‘ala ‘ud), now engulfed, now scared to death.”
    The sea has fascinated and frightened the Arab as much as any other race or culture of people over the centuries. What exactly is known about Arab boat-building around Lehi’s time is random, poorly recorded, and rarely understood.
    The word dhow, by which we call Arab boats is not an Arabic word at all, and is not found in their lexicon today. They refer to their boats as (marakib/sufun shira’iyah), and the dhows collectively as khashab, except when they are knowledgeable enough to use the technical terms for the different types of dhow, which are said to exceed 200 in number.
Different types of Arabic dhows: Upper Left: Boum (dhangi), a large dhow with a tapering stern and very high prow; Upper Right: Sanbug (Sambouk) largest dhow, from Greek sambuke, taken from the Portuguese caravel; Lower Left: Zaruq, a small vessel; Lower Right: Baghlah (Bagala), which means "mule" and used as merchant ships
    To talk of differences of dhow type is to talk of difference in hull shape, for this is the main criterion by which one type of dhow is distinguished from another. Hence we see that each of such names as boum - sanbuq (sambouk) - zaruq - and baghlah - is associated with a characteristic form of stem and stern, whilst there is very little variation in the sail plan, which always consists of a single, large, triangular sail, which we call a lateen, hoisted on each mast. The number of masts is not significant and so one may encounter a sanbuq, for example, with one, two or even three masts. This is in marked contrast with the system of nomenclature adopted in Europe and America, where the main criterion which distinguishes one type of sailing ship from another is the number and arrangement of the masts and sails, without specific reference to hull form.
    It is also the reason why so many theorists misconstrue Nephi’s ship and often limit the same to one or possibly two masts.
Baqarah or baggarah dhow. The name means "cow," and is an old type of small dhow similar to the Battil, which long stern is topped by large, club-shaped stern heads
    To start with, while we do not know much detail about Nephi’s ship, we might be able to make a comparison with the last large traditional boat to be constructed in Qatar, along the Persian Gulf coast, a little inland from Oman. This vessel, a boum (boom), was built in Doha in the early nineteen-seventies. While that is more than 2500 years after Lehi, the method of construction, the wood used and the tools employed has not changed much among the artisans of coastal Arabia in all that time. They pride themselves on the manner of construction that has been practiced among their parentage back many centuries.
Photo shows how the majority of the ship’s ribs were left more or less as the tree trunks and branches came, and only trimmed at their junctions with the planks of the boat. Note, the size of this vessel would be somewhat comparable to that of Nephi’s ship
    This construction begins with the blocking or squaring of a log. In Nephi’s time and for some centuries afterward, un-planned (rough) timbers were commonly used. The work is carried out without benefit of drawings and relies on the master builder and his experience for direction and supervision. This is the role that Nephi, no doubt, played in the building of his ship. The Lord taught him and he supervised the building and work down by his brothers, Zoram, older nephews and others in his party.
This shaping was a simple, though lengthy process of making sure the timber was curved or shaped to the need. Here a craftsman sits in the hull of the boat, using an adze to shape a rib to fit snugly against the planking of the boat. As shown, the work was done basically with an adze, the most common tool used anciently—a metal blade attached to a wooden handle. Egyptian and Arabian boat builders still do 80% of the work today with the adze
    The adze, one of the simplest of tools to make besides the hammer and chisel, which were two other tools used ancient to build boats in the area. The adze was used to hack small pieces of wood from larger blocks, to shape objects, and to smooth rough wooden surfaces.
Early ship’s ribs were rough wood, often naturally shaped, and positioned with planks set for the deck(s) above. It is possible when the Lord told Nephi he was to make timbers not after the manner of men, that he was shown how to use the adze to obtain a well-planed surface and not the rough surface used in these early dhows
    In this sense, planks were lain on top of outside ribs and the inner ribs were put over the planks, giving a double hull when the outside was also covered. These ribs were un-planned, and mostly naturally shaped, providing an unsightly, but effective ribbing system
Using a bow drill, not much different than used by ancient boat builders of the area, this qalaaf, or joiner, drills holes in the outside plan and rib in between before setting the nails attaching the outside, finished “caravel” planking
    In Lehi’s time, ship’s planking was put together by “sewing,” where holes were drilled in two planks and thread pulled very tightly between them until the planks were butted tightly against one another. Later, iron nails were used. In the photo above, the drill holes are for nails, in the image below, both are shown:
Top: Stitched or sewn planking; Bottom: Nailed planking. The obvious nail heads, when weathered would be hard to see, but here after a fresh nailing, they are obvious
    Initially wooden craft were constructed from planks, butted and sewn together with ribs added after the planks had been joined. This type of construction will have relied upon good craftsmanship by the boat builders, requiring accuracy in the cutting of the planks and in the making of holes for sewing the planks together. Very likely the material used for caulking, placed by a qalaaf, between the planks and in the holes, would have been a fibrous material, such as fatail, capable of holding a substance such as sull, fish oil, as is used nowadays, to repel the ingress of sea water. As can be seen in the photograph above, the planks are held with a cross stitch using a material such as leather or a suitable natural material, or possibly a root or a coir or coconut rope.
    It is possible that working the timbers not after the manner of men meant using nails rather than sewing the planks together, which was not a method adopted by ship builders for centuries afterward.
    It might also be of interest to know, and largely overlooked by western nautical historians, is the reason why the Arab vessels were sewn and had rejected nails for some 800 years before the Portuguese finally introduced the practice in the Indian Ocean in the late 14th century.
    In the past, it has generally been assumed that the change was merely one of the improvements in shipbuilding techniques introduced by the Portuguese. Prior to the advent of the Portuguese, the tactics of sea fighting in the Indian Ocean consisted of boarding and hand-to-hand fighting, mainly in skirmishes with the pirates that infested some waters. Indeed, Pliny reports in his Natural History (vi. 173) that the piratical activities of some Arab tribes living on the coast of the Red Sea forced the Romans to carry guards on their merchant ships and the Arab geographer al-Muqadassi warned, in the last decade of the 10th century A.D., of the need to carry armed men and throwers of Greek Fire when navigating the waters of southern Arabia. 
In the Age of Sail, wooden naval warships dominated the high seas, mounting a bewildering variety of different types and sizes of cannon as their main armament, referred to by the weight of a single solid iron shot fired by that bore of cannon: 42-, 36-, 24-, 18-, 12-, 9-, 8- and 6-Pounders, with a weight of the cannon itself, ranging from 600 pounds for a 2 Pounder to 4,000 to 5,000 pounds for a 32-Pounder. Obviously, such weight changed the makeup of ship design and construction. The 24-Pounder shown above weighed 3,000 to 4,000 pounds
The sudden arrival of the Portuguese with their ship-mounted cannon changed all that. The Arabs had to adapt, or, quite literally, go under. Nailed ships had the strength to bear the weight of the cannon that the Arabs now felt obliged to carry. Moreover, they were better able to withstand the impact of shot and shell.
    Obviously, nailed ships are stronger and more capable of withstanding deep ocean pounding as well, even without the weight of cannon, this stronger construction for blue-water ships was a major requirement, thus it might be assumed that despite the Arab commitment to sewn planking as late as 1200 A.D., the Lord had Nephi smelt, cast and use nails for the strength needed to have a ship withstand the rigors of sailing deep water—something, by the very rejection of nailed planking, the Arabs did not do for more than a thousand years after Lehi.