Saturday, March 31, 2018

What Did Nephi Mean When They Reached Bountiful?

It is interesting how often theorists, with answers right before their eyes, skip over what they consider of little import on their search for bigger answers. When Lehi reached what we now call the Sea of Arabia, along the southern Arabian coast in the area of the Oman/Yemen border, several extremely important things are mentioned that so seldom get much, if any, attention by those scholars who write about such things. 
Lehi crossed these Qara Mountains and dropped down some 3,000 feet into Dhofar on his way to the Plains of Salalah along the coast of the sea he called Irreantum

The first was that Lehi, standing on the 3,000-feet high Qara Mountains and looked out over the vast ocean before him that stretched 180º from the east to the west, and visible as far as the eye could see, called the waters “Irreantum.” Unlike Western thinking and naming, the near Eastern mind applied meaning to names. Lehi had earlier named the River of Laman and the Valley of Lemuel where they spent some time, after his two oldest sons to draw their attention to the parallels of their own lives, i.e., telling Laman “O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” To Lemuel, he said, “O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” (1 Nephi 2:9-10).
Lehis view into the Sea of Irreantum. From a Prophets view, Lehi saw the oceans of the world connected and named the sea Irreantum (Many Waters)

When Lehi saw the great sea before him, and no doubt having seen it in a vision and perhaps the entire journey across the seas from a global standpoint, may well have understood they would travel across “many waters,” i.e., different connected waterways that would carry different names later in history. If not, he certainly saw that it was a vast ocean that seemed to stretch forever, thus naming it “many waters.” And, indeed, it was “many waters,” stretching southward into the Sea of Arabia and then the Indian Ocean and then the Southern Ocean, and to the west into the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east into the Pacific Ocean—basically the major oceans of the world.
    This area was quite impressive to Lehi and his party, having spent the past eight years in the wilderness shepherding the two families and their households through one trial and tribulation after another.
The area of (White Arrow) Salalah; Yellow Arrow: Where Lehi came over the Qara Mountains and into the coastal lands; Blue Arrow: Khor Rori, where Nephi likely built and launched his ship; Green Arrow: Wadi Dirbat in the hills above Khor Rori where several types of ship-building timbers are found, including the Babobab tree of the Jaredites 

As Nephi states: “we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). “And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.” The further they traveled toward the sea, the greener and more plush the sights they beheld. They saw the fruit hanging from trees, bees flitting to and fro toward their wild honey in numerous hives throughout the hillsides, and obviously other man-made arrangements left by a previous people, causing Nephi to say, “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    They reached a fresh-water river that dropped down into the Dhofar coastal area from the Wadi Darbat in the hills above and made its way to the sea, along the route and area called Khor Rori (meaning “fresh water” river). Finally, they reached the seashore where they pitched their tents (1 Nephi 17:6). This same area later would become one of the entrepôts, or port cities and center where goods were brought to import and export and for collection and distribution—a center of commercial trade for the region, with a city or fort called Sumhuram built along the fresh, sweet water (khor) that ran from Wadi Darbat above, past the ancient city to the ocean. Sumhuram was built by the Hadrami, and had extensive city walls and a monumental access gate that was identifiable for some distance, a sign of the impregnability of the fort settlement and the power of those within, meant to dissuade any mauraders or thieves bent on overcoming the Frankincense traders. Its original construction took place some 300 years after Lehi left this area and became one of the excellent examples of medieval fortified settlements in the region that furthered the Frankincense trade for several hundred years.
The ancient city of Sumhuram, which was first built around 300 B.C. and thrived around the first century A.D., becoming part of the great Roman trade enterprises that reached to the Persian Gulf, and from which the Frankincense Trail began on its long journey toward Syria 

At the entrance to the khor, where the fresh water river from Wadi Darbat once flowed uninterrupted to the ocean, two cliffs flank the access. They both serve to limit the wind flow and allow for safe harboring within the khor (along the river), and protect ships entering the ocean from the river as they embarked on or continued on their journeys—a perfect, protected area for the building of Nephi's ship and the sailing of it to get underway into the sea—something the inexperienced crew would have required to begin a successful voyage.
Looking from the Fort southward into the Sea of Arabia, the entrance to the khor is flanked by two large cliffs overlooking  the sea; between the fort and the entrance are still signs of ancient ways that were used to launch a ship built there along the shore

These entrance cliffs served to block winds and currents from hampering ships moving in and out of the khor or river and also would have provided the perfect place for Laman and Lemuel to throw Nephi into the depths of the sea as Nephi describes (1 Nephi 17:48). It would have also been an excellent place for Nephi to have used for molting ore for tools, since the winds along the shore atop these 90-feet high cliffs would have worked very well to blow the fire (1 Nephi 17:11)
    While critics have scoffed at what they consider a concocted story, ancient Hebrew scholar Rabbi Yoseph ben Yehuda points out that the name Irreantum fits the issue at hand very well, since “Ir” means “river,” “re” means “mouth,” “na” translates to “many” and “tehem” to water. So Irreantum then “sounds like a great name to give to the ocean while standing in a wadi where a large fresh water lagoon and a seasonal river meets the sea. While critics scoff at such an idea as the Book of Mormon, at the same time they must suppose that any uneducated young man, completely unfamiliar with Hebrew, could have come up with such a name.
    This can also be said of the name “Liahona,” used earlier in the events described, since Lehi’s unusual compass contained perfectly good root words in Hebrew that apply appropriately to the purpose and use of the instrument. It should be noted that Joseph Smith’s supposed fantasy story as many scholars want to dub the Book of Mormon, contains very unusual words with actual Middle Eastern roots that an uneducated New York farm boy would be highly unlikely to have understood, let alone invented, nor would any of his associates would have known.
    The other very important meaning behind this overall descriptive event, is that when Lehi arrived, the site was well supplied with everything they needed to replenish body and spirit, as well as materials for building a ship. They called the place Bountiful. After all, not just any place in Arabia or the Middle East would do. The area had to contain a tremendous natural food supply, and one can only ask that after the Flood, who would have wandered by this uninhabited region in Lehi’s time to have planted such fruit, and also begin sufficient bee colonies, since they were never indigenous to the area, to produce such abundant honey in an area where bees had never been.
    While uninformed Theorists like to claim the area was inhabited in 600 to 590 B.C. when. Lehi arrived, and that boat builders here helped Nephi construct his ship, the facts show that this area was not inhabited, nor a city or fort built until closer to 300 B.C. In fact, the museum on the spot today tells of the trade route that arrived in Sumhuram, 30 miles east of Salallah, did not begin until the 4th century B.C. with a pre-Islamic settlement at Khor Rori, the fort known today as Sumhuram, where blacksmith and pottery shops can still be seen and identified. Soon, copper and Frankincense were traded here, and vessels stopped in from as far away as India, and later, from Rome.
It should be noted that using the monsoon winds to sail the area was unknown until around 130 B.C. when a Greek navigator who explored the Arabian Sea for Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. According to Strabo’s encyclopedia Geographica, which he began in 20 B.C., states that it was Eudoxus of Cyzicus (an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia, Turkey, along the shores of the Sea of Marmara at the Bosporus off the Aegean Sea), was reported by Poseidonius that “the monsoon wind system of the Indian Ocean was first sailed by Eudoxus in 118 B.C.,” and that the shipwrecked sailor from India had been rescued in the red Sea and taken to Ptolemy VIII in Alexandria, where he offered to guide Greek navigators to India.
    Ptolemy appointed Eudoxus, who made two voyages from Egypt to India, the first being guided by the sailor from India, in 118 B.C. After Eudoxus returned with a cargo of aromatics and precious stones, a second voyage was undertaken in 116 B.C., in which he navigated the voyage without the guide. During the 2nd century B.C. Greek and Indian ships met to trade at Arabian ports such as Aden (called Eudaemon by the Greeks); a coastal port about 100 miles east of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which led into the Sea of Arabia (Indian Ocean), from the Red Sea. Attempts to sail to the east beyond Aden, a port city on a tiny peninsula surrounding the Gulf of Aden, toward India were rare, discouraged, and involved a laborious 2,200-mile-long coast-hugging voyage to Surat or Mumbai.
    Navigators had long been aware of the monsoon winds. Indian ships used them to sail to Arabia, but no Greek ship had yet done so, and for them to acquire the expertise of an Indian pilot meant the chance to bypass the Arabian ports and establish direct commercial links with India. Whether or not the story is true that was told Strabo by Posidonius, a Greek Stoic philosopher, politician, astronomer, geographer, historian and teacher native to Apamea, Syria, who was acclaimed as the greatest polymath of his age, of a shipwrecked Indian pilot teaching Eudoxus about the monsoon winds is unknown. However, Greek ships were in fact soon using the monsoon winds to sail to India. By 50 B.C., there was a marked increase in the number of Greek and Roman ships sailing the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.  
    As to Nephi’s statement: “And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5), it might be understood that the Lord led some people there earlier, to plant the fruit and bring the bees in order to have fruit and honey in Bountiful, and whatever else Nephi might have meant.
    In looking at this point, let us consider the Lord’s involvement in:
1. The Jaredites were led by the Lord to a seashore where they built eight barges to take them across the Great Deep;
2. The Jaredites brought with them, among other things “deseret,” the honey bee. Not just a few, but “swarms of bees,” some of which would have been left behind—they also had “all manner of fruit” (Ether 9:17), and brought seeds of every kind (Ether 1:41; 2:3);
3. The Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites were all brought to a point somewhere near Mesopotamia/Jerusalem where they built ships or barges—and all landed in an area close to each other.
    It seems rather obvious that Nephi’s comment: “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5) seems like a clearly laid out plan, set in motion from the beginning, with the Jaredites preparing the coastal area with fruit and honey and, no doubt, left over camels that the Nephites would have needed to haul trees down to the coast, etc.; secondly, the Nephites left behind their building materials, ways, and excess supplies that the Mulekites would have needed. It is much like the Jaredite animals that escaped into the Land Southward from the poisonous snakes that, over time, found their way into the far reaches of the land where the Nephites landed and found "beasts of every kind."

Friday, March 30, 2018

Nephi Code Video: What Were the Book of Mormon Animals?

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tent Living in Lehi’s Day

While Lehi and his family lived in a house at Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:7), and Laban (1 Nephi 4), and the Jews living in Jerusalem, Lehi was not unfamiliar with tents. Nephi even describes his father as dwelling in a tent in such a nomadic fashion as suggesting he was both comfortable and well familiar with such as life style, a significant comment since in Lehi’s day, a well-to-do man of wealth would not have normally found such a thing of any worth, let alone comfortable.
    This is doubly important when one considers that in this time and area, the “home” or “tent” in this case, was the center of life, the hub of everything. It was the official central point of all administration and authority and the center of their universe, being the headquarters for all activities, discussions, and decisions. We even find that Nephi, his brothers, and Ishmael and his family congregated to offer sacrifice and burnt offerings at Lehis tent (1 Nephi 7:22).
Tent living in the Arabian and Canaanite deserts was a way of life for thousands of years, and still is among the Bedouins. This living consisted of mainly being outside the tent, where cooking, eating, lounging, working and other activities took placethe tent was merely a place for sleeping, and even that was done outside when weather was agreeable

In fact, living in tents for the Canaanite and surrounding peoples was of ancient origin and goes back before the days of Abraham. Even after the Jews moved into houses following their exodus from Egypt and occupation of Canaan, the pastoral tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, still lived, at least in part, in tents, particularly east of Jordan (Joshua 22:8). Agriculture was often associated with tent life, as it had been in Isaac’s time (Genesis 26:12), and probably in Heber’s case (Judges 4:11-22).
    Hazerim חֲצֵרִים as found in Deuteronomy 2:23, is not a proper name, such as that of a settlement or city as some suggest, but means nomadic "villages" or "enclosures," a piece of ground surrounded with a rude fence, in which tents were pitched and cattle tethered at night for safety from marauders, as a tent settlement of Ismaelites; or as the Yezidee tent in Syria, a stone wall five feet high, roofed with goats' hair cloth raised on long poles. So Hazar-adder in the South and Hazar-erran in the North (Numbers 34:4,9) is not indicative of a name, but implies “tent” settlements, or a grouping of tents.
    The first reference in the Scriptures to tent life is concerning the man Jabal, of whom it is said, "he was the father of such as dwell in tents" (Genesis 4:20). Following the Flood we find, "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" (Genesis 9:27). The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived most of their lives in tents, in and around the land of Canaan. 
The number of tents that made up the encampment of Abraham, considered by many scholars as a wealthy tamkârum, or private merchant, must have been large, for in his warfare against the confederacy of kings that took Lot captive, it is stated that he used a band of three hundred eighteen trained soldiers born in his household (Genesis 14:14)
    Abraham "pitched his tent" in the vicinity of Bethel (Genesis 12:8), Isaac "pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar" (Genesis 26:17), and “Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem in the land of Canaan…and pitched his tent" (Genesis 33:18). In fact, the Children of Israel lived in tents during their forty years in the wilderness. Moses said of them, "The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp" (Numbers 1:52). And Balaam "lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes" (Numbers 24:2).
    For many years after the entering of the Promised Land, Israel still lived in tents. In the days of David it was said to the king, "The ark and Israel and Judah, abide in tents" (2 Samuel 11:11), indicating that many of the people at that time were tent-dwellers. Even at the time of the revolt of the ten tribes under Jeroboam and their separation from Judah, the cry went forth, "To your tents, O Israel" (1 Kings 12:16). When the tribes gathered together at such small places as Gilgal, and Shiloh, they undoubtedly brought their tents with them.
    After the temple was built at Jerusalem the people made their pilgrimages there to celebrate the feasts of the Lord, and many thousands of them slept in tents on the mountains surrounding the city. Today, like the Jews of old, the Bedouin Arabs and nomadic Jews of Israel, and especially those of Trans-Jordan, have been living in tents for centuries, and their manner of life is strikingly like that of the early biblical people.
    The scriptural record tells us that when Lehi was told to depart into the wilderness, “he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:4). In fact, to better describe his father to us, Nephi said of him, “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15), a nomadic expression explaining that Lehi, though having been living in a house outside of Jerusalem, was both familiar with tent living and quite comfortable in such a life style.
    It is always important to keep in mind that the Bible, as well as the first few books of the Book of Mormon, had their origin in the East, and that each of the writers was actually an Oriental. Since this is so, in a very real sense the Bible may be said to be an Oriental Book; however, Westerners are quite apt to read into the Scriptures Western manners and customs, instead of interpreting them from the Eastern point of view.
    Thus, to better understand such significance of tents among the Nephites, and their settlement until Nephi built a city after fleeing from his brothers, it should be noted that new tents were very seldom made among the ancient Jews and Arabs, and even today’s Bedouins. About the only time this happened was when a young groom and bride set up housekeeping for themselves. 
The usual procedure was to accumulate the goat clippings of a year or so, and make a new strip with which to repair the old tent, which work the women were assigned. These strips, in fact the entire tent, was made of pieces of goat’s hair cloth, with pieces about three-quarters of a yard broad sewn together into large pieces parallel to the tent’s length, which makes the top resistant to the heaviest rains, making up the top and sides. In the case of repairs, the section of the tent roof that was most worn was ripped out, and a new piece of the cloth replaced it. The old piece was then used for a side curtain. Each year new strips of cloth replaced old ones and the "house of hair" was handed down from father to son without its being completely new or completely old at any one time.
    As the tent-dweller's family grew larger, or as he become richer and wished to enlarge his tent, he did so by simply adding another section to his old tent, very much like the Westerner would build another room on to his house; but there was this difference: instead of building a new tent they just continued patching. Isaiah (54:2) had this process in mind when he compared the prophetic prosperity of Israel to a such a tent. "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" (Fred H. Wight, Manners And Customs of Bible Lands, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, 1953).
There is neither shade nor breeze on the plains of the Canaan desert, where temperatures often rise above 120 degrees F. The black tent of coarsely woven goat hair provides a breathing membrane as the black surface creates a deep shadow while the coarse weave diffuses the sunlight, creating a beautifully illuminated interior. As the sun heats the dark fabric, hot air rises above the tent and air from inside is drawn out, creating a cooling breezewhen it rains, the tiny holes in the fabric close, and the structure becomes tight

 These ancient tents were bulky and heavy, made of coarse goat’s hair fabric, which served to protect the family in winter from the cold winds and in summer from the heat, by lifting the sides so the breeze could pass through, creating a sunshade. The top itself was typically twenty to thirty feet, sometimes even forty feet in length, though that of a sheik could be one hundred feet long.
    Typically nine poles in groups of three were placed under the covering at intervals to hold it from the ground, being stretched over the poles by ropes of goat hair or hemp fastened to hard-wood pins driven into the ground. The ropes which hold the tent in its place are fastened, not to the tent-cover itself, but to loops consisting of a leathern thong tied to the ends of a stick, round which is twisted a piece of old cloth, which is itself sewed to the tent-cover. The ends of the tent-ropes are fastened to short sticks or pins, which are driven into the ground. The goat’s hair, when dry, was porous, allowing ventilation, but when wet, it became waterproof after the first rains, thus, “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar” (Songs of Solomon 1:5).
    Within, patterned draperies, hand-woven curtains made from dyed wool and goat's hair, partitioned the separate rooms or apartments. The interior contained pillows, carpets, goat hair mats, sometimes died with henna, and haps of cushions—the nomad did not sit in chairs as Westerners are accustomed, but sat cross-legged, typically on mats, or cushions. Even if a mattress or raised section was included, they still sat with their lower limbs crossed.
    When on the move, as Lehi’s party was for some eight years in the wilderness before reaching Bountiful, the main factor revolved around food for the animals and water for themselves, thus, groups always followed traditional movements that were determined by seasonal conditions, reaching pastures or water holes that were distributed in a regular fashion along known paths or roads, which were little more than a wide flat area, sometimes a mile or more in width, always looking for grass and sedge that sprouted  between sand dunes. Thus, when Nephi wrote that the Liahona guided them into the more fertile parts of the trail, it was a significant aide to the travel (1 Nephi 16:14).
    It is likely that Lehi passed nearby, but not necessarily had contact with, nomadic families on the move or briefly located along the “trail,” in their tents and settlements where grass and food for animals could temporarily be found. Most desert travel was at night where navigation by the stars was easier and temperatures more amenable. In fact, to those who traveled such trails, they did not find the desert fearsome nor mysterious, for it was home—they knew the barren hills, each bitter stretch between wells, and understood its signs and its peoples. In fact, Nephi talks about, as all those who travel such desert know, that they waded through much affliction in the wilderness, living upon raw meat, but that they were strengthened and bore their journeying without murmuring (1 Nephi 17:1-2). 
    How much more pleasant it would have been for them upon landing and “pitching their tents,” in the Land of Promise. For the moment, at least, they thought their position was permanent, and Lehi took the time to pointedly remind his family and party about their rebellion n the waters and the mercies of God in sparing their lives, and how the land had been set aside for them and promised to Lehi and his posterity (2 Nephi 1:2-9).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What Nephi Found Upon Landing Compared to Other Sites – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the four things Nephi described that took place and Lehi and his party found upon first landing in the Land of Promise. The first two were described in the previous post, following are the final two: 
3. They found near their camp beasts of every kind in a nearby forest.
    Note the importance of these beasts:
    [1] They found domestic animals: cows, oxen, asses, horses, and goats;
    [2] They found wild animals: wild goats and all kinds of wild animals;
    [3] These domestic and wild animals were for the use of man, i.e., they could be used for both domestic purposes, such as beasts of burden, and for food, and their hides, bones, horns and hooves were used for necessary daily living.
Note that this forest, today called the Bosque de Fray Jorge National Park in the Coquimbo/La Serena region reaching almost to the Atacama Desert within the Valdivian temperate rain forest of the Cordillera de Talinay, part of the Chilean Coastal Range. Because of the coastal fog (Camanchaca) hanging on the mountain slopes that moistens the subtropical vegetation, the hydrophilic forests survive despite being surrounded by semiarid scrublands. It should also be noted that Nephi and his groujp found these beasts and the forest as they walked or traveled about their campsite, no doubt in an investigatory "journey" to see what lay about them, and what resources, areas of interest or dangers might be nearby as any new settlers would want to do.
4. They found all manner of ores, including gold, silver and copper.
    Note that this ore must have been exposed on the surface of the ground, to have been noticed as they journeyed around their base camp during wanderings of discovery and hunting expeditions. This means it was native ore found on the surface, including nuggets, placer and alluvial deposits, as well as surface ore deposits of red, orange or yellow extrusive rocks from volcanic lava flows that could be easily seen, for this was all found “upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 18:25).
    It should be noted for Theorists who claim otherwise, that here the word “journey” in 1828 New England where Joseph Smith was located, meant “the travel of a day, going from one place to another, for any distance, for any reason,” and did not necessarily imply a permanent move, but included short distances, going from “home to a distance” and included returning. Just as importantly, it should be also noted that Nephi describes the condition of his parents, Lehi and Sarah as being both "stricken in years" and "brought down upon their sick-beds," by the time of their landing and would not have been up to an extensive journey overland to a far location before first settling, as many Theorists claim, especially like the Heartland, Great Lakes and eastern U.S. modelers insist. In addition, with two married couples of unknown duration in the sons of Ishmael and the five newly married couples, Lehi's four sons and Zoram, it is highly likely there were very young children involved, including Jacob and Joseph, who would probably have meant that the landing party would have stayed near the shore where they landed. In fact, Mormon so describes it when he says of Lehi's party, "in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their father's first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore" (Alma 22:28).
    Thus, all of this means that wherever Lehi landed, these four descriptions must be present, or were present at the time of the landing. Any location claimed today that does not have or had these descriptive elements simply cannot be the Land of Promise. As an example, this landing site not only had to have had a forest nearby, but the forest had to have been extensive enough for both domestic and wild animals to have co-existed within it for a long period of time.
In addition, this landing site not only had to had tillable soil for planting, but that soil had to be conducive to planting seeds brought from the climatic conditions that existed in Jerusalem—that is, a Mediterranean style climate. As  has been stated before, this climate is distinguished by warm, wet winters under prevailing westerly winds and calm, hot, dry summers, such as those conditions characteristic of the Mediterranean region or basin, where Jerusalem is located, a climatic condition found also only in areas between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator, which is in parts of California, Chile, South Africa, and southwestern Australia.
    Within Mediterranean climates are Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biomes, which are characterized by dry summers and rainy winters. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near colder seas. Winters are typically mild to cool in low-lying locations but can be cold in inland and higher locations. All these ecoregions are highly distinctive, collectively harboring 10% of the Earth's plant species, and outside the Mediterranean basin with its Olive trees, is the Western Cape of South Africa with its “Fine Bush,” central Chile with is Matorral shrubland, California with its chaparral and woodlands, and Australia with its sieropohyll.
    The resulting vegetation of these climates are the garrigue in the Mediterranean Basin, the chaparral in California, the fynbos in South Africa and the Chilean scrubland in Chile, a climate where the so-called “Mediterranean trinity” has traditionally developed: wheat, vine and olive. They are known under the Köppen Climate Classification as (Csa) "hot dry-summer" and (Csb) "cool dry-summer climates—often referred to as "Mediterranean."
    Under the Köppen climate system, the first letter indicates the climate group (in this case temperate climates). Temperate climates or "C" zones have an average temperature 32 °F, but below 64 °F, in their coolest months. The second letter indicates the precipitation pattern ("s" represents dry summers). Köppen has defined a dry summer month as a month with less than 1.2 inches of precipitation and with less than one-third that of the wettest winter month. The third letter indicates the degree of summer heat: "a" represents an average temperature in the warmest month above 72 °F, while "b" indicates the average temperature in the warmest month below 72 °F.
    These Köppen dry-summer climates (Csa, Csb) usually occur on the western sides of continents. Csb zones in the Köppen system also include areas normally associated with Oceanic climates, such as much of the Pacific Northwest, much of central and southern Chile, parts of west-central Argentina and parts of New Zealand.
    It might be of interest at this point to know what was written of this by George Q. Cannon, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who served in the First Presidency under four successive presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow. In addition, he was the church's chief political strategist, and was called "the Mormon premier" and "the Mormon Richelieu" by the press. His family was converted in England and crossed the ocean, arriving in Nauvoo in 1843 when he was 16. He worked for the Times & Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor run by his uncle, John Taylor. He was 17 at the time of Joseph Smith’s death. One of his sister’s married John Taylor.
    George Q. Cannon in 1888 wrote of this climate in The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi (The Contributor Company, Salt Lake City, UT) “The Prophet Joseph, in speaking of their place of landing, said, it was on the coast of the country now known as Chili—a country which possesses a genial, temperate and healthy climate.” It is interesting that in the early 1840s, when Cannon would have heard this, that Joseph knew about the climate of central Chili, when that information was unknown in New England, and about a climate that was not defined until well into the 20th century. In fact, the connection between the U.S. and Chile was not even established until the early 1800s, and except for some contact in Washington, D.C., and a “special agent” from South Carolina sent there, contact was basically non-existent. Yet, Joseph Smith evidently knew things about the country, at least around La Serena and Coquimbo that other Americans did not know.
    In addition, Cannon in his book, goes on to claim that Joseph Smith said of the Nephites after landing: “They immediately turned their attention to agriculture. They prepared the ground and put in all the seeds which they had brought with them from the land of Jerusalem. They found the soil admirably adapted for agriculture. Their seeds grew finely and yielded good crops, and they were blessed with abundance” (The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi, The Contributor Company, Salt Lake City, UT 1888, Ch XIV, pp93-94; full title: The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi, who emigrated from Jerusalem, in Judea, to the land which is now known as South America, about six centuries before the coming of our Savior).
    The point that should be completely understood, is that in 600 B.C., seeds from Mediterranean Jerusalem would only have grown exceedingly, if at all, in another like Mediterranean climate. This, by the way, eliminates all of many theorists’ popular sites, such as all of Mesoamerica, all of the Heartland America and the Great Lakes models. It also eliminates landings around Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and all of Central America; Malay and Islands of the Sea; central and northern Africa; Hawaii; southern and central Baja California; and Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
    In short, within the Western Hemisphere, this leaves only central and southern California in North America, and central Chile in South America as a matching landing site for Lehi.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What Nephi Found Upon Landing Compared to Other Sites – Part I

A point often missed by Theorists in trying to determine the location of Lehi’s landing site is the fact that Nephi gave us an exact explanation of four very important things he found in the area of their First Landing in the Land of Promise—what was called “their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). These four things are covered in the two verses following the statement of their landing, which Nephi describes as:
     “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23).
     Nephi goes on to then describe what was done and found at the site of this first landing: “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper (1 Nephi 18:24-25).
These four things or descriptions were:
1. They found an immediate area to set up a permanent camp, where they pitched their tents.
    This means there was well-drained land, tillable soil present in which to plant seed and grow life-saving crops, drinkable water, fuel for fires, protection and shelter, such as trees for shade, a leeside to block wind, etc.
    To better understand this, we need to keep in mind that these ancient tents were large, heavy and unwieldy, typically requiring three camels or donkeys to carry just one tent, and that "pitching tents" was an all-day event, requiring the effort of the women, girls and children, while the men and older sons settled down the flocks and cattle, feeding them and making arrangements for their pasture or protection—and when needed, took care of the hunting and supplying the camp. The ancient tents were made of black goat’s hair, and were called beit shaart, meaning “house of hair.” They were handed down from father to son without it being completely new or completely old at any one time—instead of making a new tent, they simply added another section to the old one. Thus, a prophet’s statement to ancient Israel: “"Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" (Isaiah 54:2).
    In the case of the Nephites initial camp site, there would have been separate tents for each adult family, meaning one each for the two sons of Ishmael (Ishmael's widowed wife would have been living in a separate apartment within the oldest son's tent), one for each of Lehi's married sons, making four more, and likely others for any servant families brought with them; Jacob and Joseph, and Nephi's two sisters, would likely have been in a third apartment within Lehi's larger tent.
These tents in ancient Israel had a main overhead portion composed of one large awning held up by several poles, with the ends drawn out by cords tied to pegs driven into the ground with wooden mallets. Tents were usually oblong, divided into two or three apartments by goat's hair curtains, which screened out view but not sound, with the entrance leading into the apartment for the men, which also served as a reception area. Beyond this was the apartment for the women and children, and there even might have been an apartment for servants or for cattle.
    There were heavy rugs that covered the ground, numerous inner curtains to divide and screen areas, and hanging from the poles were skin bags or clay jugs for water and other liquids. Holes would have been dug for hearths, one inside the tent and one outside, where fires were kindled with stones stacked about them, since most cooking was done outside and, in fact, the tent-living nomad (as in this case Lehi would have become), spent most of his time outdoors, using his tent only for inclement weather or for nighttime retirement).
    The arrangement of the tents would have been an encampment or "tent village," not pitched in a promiscuous cluster, but in a large circle to make it possible for at least some of the flocks to be protected inside the circle. Lehi's tent, as that of the sheik, or "father of the tribe," would have been larger than the others, and if following custom, a large spear would have been inserted in the ground outside it as an emblem of his authority (1 Samuel 26:7).
    In addition, all the pots, pans, cooking and eating utensils and as well as the tent furniture (usually that used on the camels for sitting while enroute) and nighttime sleeping mats, pillows and rugs would have been set up and arranged. Lamps, that is earthenware saucers to hold olive oil, with a pinched lip to hold a wick, formed the ancient candle, would be arranged and lighted at night, with bags of grain, especially packed around the base of tent poles, as well as the handmill and mortar for grinding cooking grains.
    All of this would have taken some time to set up and arrange, and would have been the work of the first day upon disembarking from the ship. Had they been intending to move elsewhere, they would not have bothered the difficult and time-consuming task of "pitching tents," but done what they did while traveling along the Red Sea, and that was pitch their tents only when staying for a lengthy amount of time (1 Nephi 2:6; 16:6,13,14-17), otherwise, they slept in the open at night.
    This is understood even more when it is noted that the ancient nomadic Jew and Arab did not consider “home” in the sense that we do today—to them, their tent was their home, but not a permanent location like we have when purchasing as home and land today, but the little spot where his tent was pitched and his flocks were gathered at night. His country, his land was the limited area over which he roamed, considering themselves pilgrims in the land, guided by faith in their movements. This is seen in Abraham, who “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise" (Hebrews 11:9).
    Lehi and his party, upon landing, would have seen their world much like that—their home in the Land of Promise was where they placed their tent, gathered their flocks, and first settled. They would not have moved from there except by Divine direction, such as what the Liahona provided or the Lord directed.
    Thus, they landed, pitched their tents, and stayed there in the area of their First Landing, and did not move from there until the Lord directed Nephi to flee his brothers and the sons of Ishmael who sought his life.
2. They tilled the earth, and planted seeds—the seeds they brought from the land of Jerusalem, which grew exceedingly.
    Note the three important points Nephi makes:
    [1] They immediately planted seeds;
    [2] These seeds were brought from Jerusalem;
    [3] They grew exceeding.
(See the next post, “What Nephi Found Upon Landing Compared to Other Sites – Part II,” for the other two things they found in the area of First Landing)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Was the Liahona a Compass?

Most Mesoamerican theorists have argued vociferously that the Liahona instrument that Lehi found outside his tent, intended by the Lord to guide him in “his journey into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:9), from the Valley of Lemuel, where they had been staying for nearly two years, to Bountiful, where Nephi was to build his ship, was not a compass. That is, that it was not a magnetic compass with cardinal, inordinal and intermediate points and a pointing arm as we know a compass today. 
    The reason for this dismissal of a magnetic compass is found in the fact that Mesoamerican theorists have chosen as their Land of Promise the area of Central America that runs east and west through southern Mexico, Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize and western Honduras known as Middle America, or Mesoamerica. Of course, the direction of this area runs contrary to the scriptural record in which Mormon informs us in his description of north-south land directions (Alma 22:27-34) of the Land of Promise he describes.
    Obviously, if it was a magnetic compass, that is if it showed standard directions of north, south, east and west, it would not fit the Mesoamerican narrative that John L. Sorenson championed in his so-called 1985 “landmark” book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which most Mesoamericanists use as their “bible” on the landing site of Lehi, the home of the Nephites, and the overall directional makeup of the Land of Promise.
    This is what makes this instrument so important in the Nephi narrative, which allows us greater insight into where the Land of Promise actually was located. For if the Liahona did not show normal directions, then the Mesoamerican model may well have validity. However, if it was a compass as we understand a compass today, then the Mesoamerican model is easily debunked, since Mormon and the other writers would have known and well understood that the Land of Promise actually ran true northward and true southward as we would use the terms today, and not some obscure other direction as Sorenson and Mesoamericanists in general like to claim in order to justify their model.
    However, before looking at the meaning and use of the compass as described in the scriptural record, let us first give a little understanding to the name itself: Liahona. We also need to keep in mind that the Hebrews created new words by combining existing words in accordance with the circumstances in which the need for the new word arose. Thus, the first part, lia, means “guide or command,” as in “the one who guides” or “the one who commands.” Another word lahab, means to “point,” and still another is that “lah” may have reference to “rah,” meaning “our commander or guide,” or “steers” or “navigates.” 
    The second part, hona, may mean as Hugh Nibley suggests: “to God is the guidance,” or Liaho “to [or of] the Lord.” Both suggest “the direction of the Lord,” since “Li” (the letter lamed) for a contraction of “el, which in this case indicates the “possession” of something, or even “toward” something. Stated differently, the combination of ideas suggests a definition that the Liahona was an instrument that provided direction through the guidance of the Lord.
    As Alma told his son Helaman, “I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass" (Alma 37:38). Nephi described the Liahona as “a round ball of curious workmanship, made of fine brass” (1 Nephi 16:10), and Alma added of the workmanship that “there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship,” obviously suggesting that it was so far beyond those of that day to have made such a thing, it led to not only the understanding "that the Lord prepared it” (Alma 37:38), but that “it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39).
    Alma also told Helaman that the Liahona worked “according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day” (Alma 37:40), and that from time to time because of their slothfulness and forgetting to exercise their faith and diligence, “those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey” (Alma 37:41), thus a trip that should have taken only months at most, ended up causing them to “sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:4). In fact, that lack of faith and diligence by Laman and Lemuel “that after they had bound [Nephi] insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work (1 Nephi 18:12).
    Now it should be kept in mind that the word compass did not exist in the lexicon which Nephi would have known in 600 B.C. In fact, in ancient Hebrew there was no such word as "compass," meaning an instrument that showed direction. The word atar עָטַר, meant to “compass,” but that meant encompass, such as “David feared that Saul and his men would compass he and his men round about, or surround (1 Samuel 23:26), literally “to encircle.”
    There was not, of course, any instrument like a modern compass until around 206 B.C. in China, and not for navigational orienteering until about 1040 A.D. during the Song Dynasty, or maritime navigation until 1111 A.D. So the word Joseph Smith used to interpret what Nephi wrote, was “compass,” which according to the Spirit conveyed the meaning of Nephi’s word. Thus, to Joseph Smith in 1829, the word “compass” meant an instrument “with the thirty two points of direction, fixed on a magnetic needle, that always points to the north,” used in “directing travelers in a desert or forest,” “or ascertaining the course of ships at sea,” and “an instrument for describing circles, measuring figures, etc.”
    As was typical of ancient languages and times, when something beyond their knowledge was shown to them in vision or person, they described its appearance and purpose for lack of a name or word to give it. They then sometimes connected words to form a name that described its purpose or appearance.
    Take as an example, the ancient prophets inability to describe in known terms items that would exist in the future, such as future communication systems: “Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, here we are?” (Job 38:35); or regarding public transportation: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4), or “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” (Isaiah 60:8), or pornography on the internet, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Psalms 101:3), or microchips, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-18); or nuclear weapons: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zechariah 14:12), or tanks and personnel carriers in battle firing as they go: “A fire devoureth before them and behind them a flame burneth; the land is as the garden of Eden before them and behind them a desolate wilderness, yea, and another shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so shall they run” (Joel 2:3), and helicopters, “Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap,” and the firing of missiles, “Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array” (Joel 2:4-5; emphasis added to all quotes).
Thus, Nephi called the Liahona a “ball” or “director,” for it was circular in shape and looked like a ball, and its purpose was to direct them, as an example, “we did follow the directions of the ball, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:16).
    Like with Moses and the Israelites being led out of Egypt, “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire” (Exodus 13:21), and with the Jaredites, the Lord “stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5), so in the case of Lehi and his party, the Lord directed them by means of the Liahona, which is described as “within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:10). And while all means of assistance with the Lord are accomplished through faith, the Liahona was no different, for whatever its physical makeup and workings, “the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them” (1 Nephi 16:28).
    As for magnetic north and the 32 points of a modern compass, consider that Nephi, who had described their trek from Jerusalem to the Red Sea without the mention of a direction, even though they traveled east from Jerusalem to the king’s highway, and then south toward the Red Sea, then three days around into a side valley, etc., he did not ascribe any direction to their travel.
    Then, after finding the Liahona, the rest of their travel he gives us two directions ascribing their main direction along the Red Sea, then their direction into the desert to Bountiful, saying: “And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer (1 Nephi 16:13, emphasis added); and “we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea” (1 Nephi 16:14, emphasis added). 
    Then, when they changed direction after a lengthy travel in the same direction, he states: “And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Nephi 17:1, emphasis added).
    It is unlikely that Nephi had ever been much to the south of Jerusalem, let alone to the Red Sea and down its length before, or Lehi, and for them to know the exact compass direction they were traveling has to be attributed to some other means in using an exact cardinal point and ordinal or intercardinal point in the two directions given after receiving the Liahona.
    In looking at the instrument the lord made, it had three significant points: two spindles (“And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” 1 Nephi 16:10), thus, these two spindles operated independently, since only one pointed the way; thus the other must have given a directional reading like a regular compass.
The third point was that it also had writing on the ball for Lehi was told by the Lord to “Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written” (1 Nephi 16:26).
    By the way, for those who know, understand and have used modern compasses, especially a military compass, you know that while the main needle points to north, there is a secondary needle or pointer which can be hand turned to point a direction. In the case of the Liahona, evidently the Lord worked all three of these points. But irrespective of the details of how it worked, it obviously pointed to north like a regular compass or Nephi would not have known about the ordinal direction of south-southeast, and was, therefore a compass. 
    To think that later prophets who had the compass, including Alma, Helaman and later Mormon, did not know the directions of their land is a foolish lack of understanding of what Mormon has told us.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

How Old Are the Trees in the Amazon Rain Forest?

Not long ago, a reader wrote: “There should be no trees in the Amazon basin older than the cataclysm,” referring to the fact that if the Amazon Basin had been submerged beneath the sea until the time of the crucifixion, then raised up to the surface as a result of the Andean Uplift, then the jungle, trees and rain forest would have begun after that time. 
   It certainly seemed like an intriguing idea—one we had not written about before. So we decided to look into it to see if trees in the Amazon were indeed younger than that period, or turned out to be older.
Bristlecone Pine, which are resilient to harsh weather and bad soils, at an elevation of 9,800 to 11,000 feet in the mountain of California, Nevada and Utah, and grow to 40-60 feet in height

First of all, on the world stage, Bristlecone pine trees live the longest—“the Methuselah” in the White Mountains of California, is 4850 years old this year; the oldest cypress is a tree in South America, a Patagonian Sequoia at 3646 years; the oldest Sequoia in the U.S. was the Sierra Nevada at 3266 year old and another at 3220 years; the oldest tree of the Coastal redwood is 2520 years old, and in Sri Lanka a Sacred Fig at 2301 years; and the oldest trees in the UK, are an ancient European yew, somewhere between 2000 and 3000 years old; however, the oldest oak tree is a Bowthorpe Oak in Manthorpe near Bourne, Lincolnshire, England, just over 1,000 years old, with the trees in Sherwood Forest, England, at 800 to 1000 years old; and the Foxtail Pine in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. at 2110 years—but most Foxtail Pine are no older than 1600 years. In fact, in the entire world, there are only 14 trees judged to be 2000 years old or older and most of these are current dead. It might be of interest to know that some of the shorter-lived trees include palms, which can live around 50 years; the persimmon, which has an average lifespan of 60 years; and the black willow, which will probably survive for around 75 years. On the other hand, Alaska red cedar can live up to 3,500 years. The point is, trees have varying age histories and capabilities, like other living things.
    In any event, the oldest known tree in Brazil is estimated (unreliably) at 3,020 years, and is currently alive, and is probably the oldest non-conifer in Brazil. Its name translates as "Patriarch of the Forest,” and is located at the Vassununga State Park south of Rio de Janeiro in the State of São Paulo in the ancient craton that was not beneath the surface of the sea during the submerged time of the Amazon Basin. Of the 70 oldest trees judged to be in the world, the “Patriarch of the Forest,” is only one of two in all South America, and the only one east of the Andes, though not in the Amazon Basin.
    Despite the widespread deforestation in the tropics, some 85% of Amazon forests remain essentially intact.
Amazon Forest
In the 2.7 million square miles of the broad-leaf rain forest of the Amazonian Basin, among others, certain trees grow there: Palm (Euterpe precatoria), Ceiba, Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), Cecropia, Kapok, Banana tree, Strangler Fig (Teak), Giant Red Cedar (Curtain Fig), Cathedral Fig.
    This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rain forest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rain forests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rain forest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species
    However, according to experts, the Amazon rain forest trees cannot be measured accurately because unlike temperate species, growth rings in tropical trees are frequently absent, poorly developed or highly variable among species, but scientists have estimated, by using demographic studies to infer tree age based on growth rates of trunk diameters, or mean rates of tree mortality, which results in determining Amazon trees can be 750 to 1,000 years old. In fact, most of the trees in the Amazon rain forest are more than 300 years old according to a recent study by Susan Trumbore of the University of California at Irvine, and her colleagues, based on radiocarbon dating methods, as reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (“The Ancient Trees of the Amazon,” (Science News/Live Science, Purch Publishing, New York and Paris, December 14, 2005). However, radiocarbon testing is expensive, technically difficult, and of limited reliability for younger (under 350 years old) trees, as well as difficult to apply except in small-scale studies.
    One of the problems involved in scientists trying to determine the age of the forest through the means used, is the fact that they believe the forest is 55 million years old. Thus, they have a tendency to claim the rain forest is full of very slow-growing trees, since they appear to be younger than many think they should be. They even refer to the Amazon rain forest as a “vast old growth forest,” even though the carbon dating, which was performed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, using their facility's accelerator mass spectrometer, a new device considered to be more accurate than standard radiocarbon dating technology, does not show any trees over a thousand years old. They just say “or older” to link to their belief in the age of the forest. However according to Miguel Martínez-Ramos and Elena R. Alvarez-Buyoolla, of the Institute of Ecology, Mexico, in “How Old Are Tropical Rain forest Trees?” states that “Recent reports indicate that trees can survive to be 1000 years old in the Amazonian rain forest. This appears to contradict the idea that tropical rain forests are highly dynamic systems…Tropical rain forest turn-over rates have been estimated to be less than 400 years” (Plant-Environment interactions, of the 3rd Molecular Plant International Symposium, May 2018). In fact, the article claims that “Recent radiocarbon-based dating techniques suggest that centuries-old trees are common among big canopy trees, but it is not clear how accurate the technique is compared with other methods” such as estimating age of living trees
    It is believed that the drainage basin of the Amazon was split along the middle of the continent by the Púrus Arch—an area of the 240,000-square-mile sedimentary basin located along the middle and lower course of the Amazon River, south of the Guiana Shield and north of the Central Brazilian Shield (which shields were above the sea’s surface anciently). It is bound on the west by the Solimões region, and in the east by the Gurupá Arch, separating the basin from the Marajó Basin (or Marajó island at the mouth of the Amazon River).
    The water on the eastern side of this split flowed toward the Atlantic, while to the west water flowed toward the Pacific across the Amazon Basin. As the Andes Mountains rose, however, a large basin was created that enclosed a lake; now known as the Solimões Basin. Later, this accumulating water broke through the Púrus Arch, joining the easterly flow toward the Atlantic.
Histogram of estimated maximum longevities for 93 species of central Amazonian trees, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, and “Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, Brazil

In an overall, several year study conducted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, William F. Laurance, et al., in “Forest Ecology and Management 190,” (Science-Direct, 2004, pp131-143), it was found that of all the varying tree species in the Amazon Basin, (with 3150 trees in the sample) the upper limit, or oldest, was 981 years (Pouteria manaosensis [Sapotaceae]); followed by 818 years (Duckeodendron cestroides [Duckeodendraceae]); and 773 years (Manilkara bidentate [Sapotaceae]). The mean estimated longevity was 330 (plus or minus 192) years; with a median of 296 years. About a quarter of all species were relatively short-lived, about 200 years or less; nearly six-tenths had intermediate longevities of 200-500 years, and the remaining 15% were long-lived at 500-1000 years. In fact, the oldest figure used in the study is 1000 to 1200 years, though no tree or trees were found or so designated.
    Thus, we can look at this and say that the age of trees in the Amazon Basin bear out the fact that the basin surfaced to its present height at the time of the crucifixion, or around 35 A.D., nearly 2000 years ago. On the other hand, perhaps no tree species in the Amazon are the type to live more than 1000 years or so. While this is not conclusive, it is another possible factor in showing the age of the Amazon Basin.