Thursday, May 31, 2018

Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part II

(Our apologies for the white background that appears on these articles and occasionally on our blog--it is the insertion into the Google program that causes this and is beyond our control to correct)

Continuing with more of this reader’s comments and our responses regarding his disagreement with our article on the events surrounding Frederick G. Williams and what Joseph Smith did and did not testify about. As before, the reader’s comments are in italics following (•), and our response is in regular type:
•“F.G.  Williams obviously looked at a map”
Response: Let’s be realistic here. There were no detailed maps of the central western coast of south America in 1840. In fact, few Americans knew anything about central to northern Chile, the Bay of Coquimbo was unknown, and La Serena was a very small, sleepy village. An extensive and ugly war (War of Confederation between Peru/Bolivia [one country at the time] and Chile and Peruvian dissidents) was raging in that area and had been for some time and would for some time later (the Battle of Yungay in 1839 officially ended the war, but the fighting continued for some time, which eventually led to the separation of Peru and Bolivia into separate countries) and Americans shied away from the west coast of South America. If you can find a detailed map showing coves, bays, and possible landing sites of that area in 1840 that shows where a sailing ship could have set in, we would love to see it, even buy it from you, though no such map has ever been known to exist.
A typical, undetailed map of South America available in 1835 to 1845. Note the lack of definition even on the (left) magnified map section—a person could point a finger somewhere, but landing sites along that coast are rare with most of the coastline cliffs right down to the water

Not even the American Navy had charts of that area at that time. Also, the Chilean Navy had a frigate named “Chile” built in 1840 by the French in Bordeaux. It was large and capable, with a crew of 300 men, and reached Callao (Lima) in 1841. In fact, several of the Peruvian war ships of the time were metal and the American ships, all wood, and were outgunned and of far lesser durability, which is one of the reasons the U.S. Navy did not spend much time in the west coast of South America south of Colombia or north of Santiago. Simply put, there was little knowledge of the west coast of Chile and Peru in Joseph Smith’s time, almost no maps, and on the one that was available at the time, only six settlements on the west coast were labeled, and it is extremely doubtful that such maps would not be available to Frederick G. Williams, a simple country physician in 1840.
•“and gave his opinion on where Lehi's family might have landed in the new world”
response: Unlike those who just figure they know things out of hand, Williams knew enough about the sea, and as pilot (navigator) of ships on Lake Erie, that seas have current flows and patterns, and that in a sailing ship, you need the wind and currents to get from Point A to Point B (unlike today where tacking has reached a fine art of capability), and would not have just placed a finger down on a coast line thousands of miles away and said they landed there. It would be like you being shown a map of the moon and deciding that if you were flying a rocket ship to the moon, where you would land. It took NASA hundreds of hours to decide where to land the Apollo missions because landing a lunar lander from space on the moon is a dangerous thing, and so would be trying to land a ship in 600 B.C. on an unknown coast without a knowledge of shoals, reefs, rocks, etc. The moon landing sites, by the way, were chosen from earlier flyby missions and had to meet four criteria: 1) clear of major obstacles, have an east-west ellipse 4 to 5 miles long and 1 to 2 miles wide; 2) 10º north-south of equator to satisfy free return trajectory; 3) spaced across the face of the moon to accommodate a maximum number of launch opportunities; and 4) within 45º west of the north-south centerline longitude restraint. What average citizen in the late 1960s had any idea of this? Would Williams have known where a ship could have landed in South America, or what the physical conditions of any site along the coast would be to allow for a safe landing—a coast he had never seen?
•“however, Joseph Smith testified, by command from God, to the Rochester Observer, in 1833, exactly what the Book of Mormon is.”
Response: The letter you mentioned was written on January 4, 1833, and addressed to N.E. Seaton (Noah C. Saxton), who was at the time the editor of the “American Revivalist and Rochester Observer,” a weekly newspaper that began in 1827 and ceased in 1833, with its masthead carrying the caption: “Dedicated to the interests of Zion generally, and especially to revivals of religion.”
    However, the command to Joseph was not about “what the Book of Mormon is,” other than a very brief explanation about it 1) along with the Bible, describing “the only way man can enter into the Celestial Kingdom,” and 2) a brief comment about the forefathers of the western tribes, how the plates were found and translated, about Joseph sold into Egypt, and that the land was a promised land. The main body of the letter was about “what he considered to be the will of God for the world, including repentance and baptism.” In fact, as has been written of this letter: “Having been appointed by the Lord to initiate the work of establishing a new dispensation of the gospel and direct the proclamation of its saving message, Joseph Smith stepped forth in his prophetic calling to explain the nature of that work and to forewarn the people and the nation of impending judgments. In so doing, he marked out the way by which true peace could be established among men and by which the judgments he foresaw could be averted.” 
    In fact, Joseph Smith began the initial letter by observing that he had for some time been carefully reviewing the state of things throughout the land and had looked at the situation "with feelings of the most painful anxiety…while upon one hand I behold the manifest withdrawal of God’s Holy Spirit, and the veil of stupidity which seems to be drawn over the hearts of people; on the other hand, I behold the judgments of God that have swept, and are still sweeping, hundreds and thousands of our race (and I fear unprepared) down to the shades of death.” It was, without doubt, a worldly message of events that were to unfold and the fate of people and the world in those coming events. In his letter, Joseph made it clear that the withdrawal of enlightening spiritual powers from men in general, along with the challenge of such baneful forces as were being made manifest, would ultimately result in major judgments upon the world, unless proper remedies were applied. Also, in his letter, Joseph stated that “Christ established a system among the ancient Nephites of the Western Hemisphere” (3 Nephi 11:13-40). The article appeared on Saturday, February 2, 1833, but was only about one-third of the letter content Joseph sent to Saxton. Joseph wrote back on February 12, urging the printing of the entire letter; however, Saxton did not change his mind and the subject was never addressed again.
•“Joseph said it is a record of the ancient inhabitants of this land which descendants are the western tribes of Indians.”
Response: Joseph said in the letter you refer to that “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians,” and in referring to the record (Book of Mormon) that “By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph which was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant” (History of the Church I, p315).
A map showing the division of the American Indians in their various cultural locations. The Plains Indians were the main area of Lamanites in the west from the early Church and Joseph’s main area of interest because of their access and nearness; however, Lehi’s descendants were also located in various other areas, not just the Western Plains, including those areas to the West and East of the Plains

He also added that “The scattered remnants of the ancient kingdom of Israel would be assembled on the Western Hemisphere, along with the Gentiles who would repent.” And also, “The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the 102 Psalm, will be built upon the land of America.” 
    It should be noted that none of this suggests any landing site, or any lands the Nephites occupied during the time of the record in the Book of Mormon, or any connection to the Jaredites, who would not have been the progenitors of the American Indians. After all, the Nephites and Lamanites that went north in Hagoth’s ships could have settled in Central America and later North America. This should be clearly understood when we know tha Lamanite descendants occupied the entire North and South American continents at the time of the Spanish invasion.
•“That letter which I wrote to you for publication. I wrote by the command of God.”
Response: You make it sound like the command of the Lord was about telling the newspaper who the Book of Mormon people were and their connection to the land of the U.S. However, the command was quite different. Quoting directly from the letter’s ending paragraph, “Therefore I declare unto you the warning which the lord has commanded me to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my maker are upon me and that to him I am accountable for every word I say wishing nothing worse to my fellow men then their eternal salvation therefore fear God, and give glory to him for the hour of his Judgment is come, ​Repent ye​, Repent, ye and embrace the everlasting Covenant and flee to Zion before the overflowing scourge overtake you, For there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things which I have spoken fulfilled” (spelling corrected). This is the only use of the word “command” or “commanded” in the entire letter.
    Obviously, the Lord wanted this message out to the people of the time and commissioned Joseph to write the letter and send it for publication.
The intent of Joseph’s letter, what the Lord commanded him to write and send to the Observer, was a warning about the pending dangers hovering over the eastern country due to the build-up of anger before the Civil War

However, its message was about the current people repenting, being baptized, and their protection in doing so from the events that were to unfold, including the coming Civil War, including the famed prediction (prophesy) Joseph made about the war to begin in South Carolina. It was not to know about the ancestry of the Nephites and had nothing to do with that except to comment about the Book of Mormon people were the ancestors of the American Indians.
(See the next post, “Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part III,” on more of this reader’s comments and our responses)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part I

In answer to a lengthy comment about one of our videos on YouTube under, this one on Frederick G. Williams, “What Was on the Sheet of Paper?” the submitted comment covered 34 separate points, almost all of which were erroneous as any simple research on the subjects would have readily pointed out. In answering the overall erroneous comments with simple “sound bites,” or in a single paragraph or two would neither be fair nor do justice to the numerous errors that were cited. Thus we have listed down each of these 34 separate assertions and answered each separately. The viewer/reader’s comment is in italics following (•), and our reply or response is in regular type: 
•"With all due respect,” 
Response: It is interesting that this phrase was initially only used within the military by junior officers when addressing a senior officer over a difference of opinion, or a desire to express a counter idea.
The senior officer, because of his positon, deserved the military respect of the inferior and the phrase had purpose. It later was used by politicians, who often used terms like “the honorable” to politely address a colleague, whether sincere or not, and thus the phrase seemed to fit. Because of Hollywood movies, the phrase became more often used by anyone trying to be somewhat polite to another person but disagreeing with them, which led to its overuse and lack of true meaning. Today, it has become a sarcastic phrase and its usage is disrespectful in tone and purpose. In fact, the 2008 English Oxford dictionary, when compiling a list of the most irritating phrases in the English language, have placed this phrase as the fifth most irritating, because it has acquired an intended disrespectful and sarcastic undertone cloaked in a feigned courtesy. 
•“this video and claims are absurd nonsense!” 
Response: Since you have not said which part is absurd nonsense to you, it is difficult to respond. However, the idea of Williams’ knowledge of the sea and his being the navigator for Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry during the War of 1812 on Lake Erie even though a civilian, does suggest that Williams’ ideas pertaining to the sea would be better and more profound than ‘absurd nonsense.’ 
•“No doubt, Frederick G. Williams was a great and accomplished man” 
Response: Yes he was, and the prophet Joseph Smith relied upon him to a great extent and in addition to his calling in the First Presidency, at the time also served as the prophet’s personal physician (and that of most of the Church leaders), as well as Joseph’s personal secretary, scribe, historical recorder, and close friend. 
•“but, he never claimed to have received revelation on where the Book of Mormon lands were” 
Response: Here you err. He never openly discussed his understanding with anyone, unless it was possibly with the prophet in private. But he wrote a note with the information about where Lehi landed for his family to learn about after his death in which he remarked about the Angel sitting beside him at the Kirtland Temple dedication, and said the information was received by him as a private revelation—which all members are entitled to (by the way, he was not the only authority at the time that acknowledged an angel had been there and sat between him and another of the brethren). 
•“nor told anyone about the details of the Nephites and Lamanites, as Joseph Smith did”
Response: Joseph Smith for years before actually receiving the plates, used to tell his family stories about the Nephites, etc., that enthralled them most every night around the dinner table or fireplace. His mother wrote about the events, saying: “From this time forth Joseph continued to receive instructions from time to time, and every evening we gathered our children together and gave our time up to the discussion of those things which he instructed to us. I think that we presented the most peculiar aspect of any family that ever lived upon the earth, all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, listening in breathless anxiety to the religious teachings of a boy eighteen years of age who had never read the Bible through by course in his life. For Joseph was less inclined to the study of books than any child we had, but much more given to reflection and deep study” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Orson Pratt, Liverpool, 1853; revised Soctt F. Proctor, Bookcraft, 1996, p110-12).
    However, her writings did not reveal any details of what Joseph divulged to them from the many contacts he had with those angels who tutored him over those intervening years before he actually started his mission of translating the plates. In addition, a great deal of comment and information is attributed to Joseph Smith but much of it has simply been claimed or misinterpreted of him by others. He himself rebuked others for the fact that whatever he said, even when expressing his personal opinion, was soon recorded as fact and doctrine. 
•“The truth is,” 
Response: It would appear that you believe you know the truth in this, yet, the Church has purposefully avoided making any claim as to where Lehi landed, and where the Nephites were located, other than to talk about the Americas (a term in their day, by the way that meant both North and South America, a fact which the prophets and Church leaders have often verified in their conference talks on the subject of the Land of Promise, Zion, and the general area of the Nephites and later Lamanites). In addition, when Joseph said that Moroni told him the people of the record were “the people of this continent,” he was referring to both North and South America, since until just before WWII in the late 1930s, the term American continent was so used—because of the war, Congress decided that these should really be separate land areas and so designated it and the school books and history classes began to teach North and South America; however, half of the world even today refers to North and South America as one continent). Even Church Leaders have stressed the point, along with letters from the First Presidency on several occasions reminding members that they do not have any position on the location of the Nephite people. Thus, there is no known “truth” about this, and those who claim there are simply do not understand the Church position and that of the Brethren. 
•“the Hill Cumorah is in New York,” 
Response: The drumlin hill in New York where Moroni showed Joseph the plates were buried, is definitely in New York. I personally have been on that hill and walked all over it and around it—the hill is low, rounded (like half of the length of an egg sitting on the ground) and in many ways does not agree or meet Mormon’s description of the hill mentioned in the scriptural record where the battles were fought. 
•“the same hill where Moroni testified he hid the plates where his people perished in battle”
The modern Hill Cumorah in western New York 

Response: Again, you err. Moroni never made any such comment. The fact that the plates in Joseph’s day were buried in the hill is in no way connected to the original hill by Moroni. In fact, he never called it “the hill Cumorah,” and never did “Joseph” in all his writing and talking about it. The hill was unnamed prior to Joseph obtaining the plates there, and afterward was called several things, included “Mormon Hill,” “Gold Bible Hill,” as well as “Inspiration Point.” It was Oliver Cowdery, in a letter (Letter VII to William W. Phelps), later published in the July 1835 Messenger and Advocate, which led to the members calling the hill in New York the Hill Cumorah. However, Moroni never testified of anything (angels do not “testify,” they declare the word of the Lord). In addition, Moroni never told us where he was going to hide the records when he was finished with them. His statement was brief but clear: “Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not” (Mormon 8:4). In fact, the chances of Moroni being around the hill Cumorah 36 years later when the Lamanites were all over the land seeking to kill any Nephite they could find is quite improbable.
(See the next post, “Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part II,” on more of this reader’s comments and our responses)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

1,000,000th Page Viewed

Thank you for your interest in our Blog. We just had the one millionth page view hit today by our viewers over the 8 years of our blog. Again, thank you for your continued interest in the contents and articles of Nephi Code.

Nephite Defensive Sites Built at the End of Their Nation

Following the advent of the Savior among the Nephites, and the nearly two hundred “golden years” of progress that followed when there were no more “-ites” among them (4 Nephi 1:17), and the people prospered and built up cities (4 Nephi 1:7) as there was no contention among all the people, in all the land, there became a great division among the people. Once again, when 244 years had passed away, they divided into Nephites and the Lamanites (4 Nephi 1:35-38), and children were taught to hate those who believed in God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning (4 Nephi 1:39). And “when three hundred years had passed away, both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked one like unto another” (4 Nephi 1:45).
    Now during these last fifty years or so, there were certain Nephites who, evidently seeing a future return to being attacked by the Lamanites, sought to build up cities and defenses as Moroni had once done. At least in the area of the Nephite held lands of Andean Peru, particularly toward the north of the Land Southward, cities were built for defenses with one purpose in mind and that was to guard the inhabitants from attacks from the south.
The mountain top fortress of Kuélap in northern Peru

One of those cities we have written about before, hidden amid the cloud forest near the ancient city of Chachapoyas, was Kuélap (Cuélap). A completely encircled, walled city on top of a limestone ridge on a mountain top with a 360-degree commanding view of the entire Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru. The site was known by nearby villagers for generations, though not “discovered” by the archaeological world until 1843 when a city judge named Juan Crisóstomo Nieto encountered it.
    The massive complex features colossal exterior stone walls surrounding more than four hundred buildings, with only three narrow entrances that run inward for hundreds of feet, narrowing to allow the passage of only a single person. The structure above the Utcubamba River is roughly 2000-feet in length and 360-feet in width, and believed to have been occupied in the latter part of the second century A.D.—with continual occupancy until the Early Colonial period of the Spanish occupation.
Left: Kuélap’s single 60-foot high outer wall; Right: Marcahuamachuco’s 40-foot high outer wall, of which there are two such outer walls that surround the complex

Another such city built around this time, and only recently “discovered,” was the defensively walled city of Marcahuamachuco (Markawamachuko, Marca Huamachuco) in the La Libertad region of northern Peru near Huamachuco at an altitude of 12,000 feet elevation. Though less well-known than other sites because of its nearly inaccessible location in the highlands of northern Peru, it is considered significant and has been referred to by archaeologists as the “Machu Picchu of the North” and "The Jewel of La Libertad.”
    According to Theresa Lange, “The complex is set atop the nexus of three mountain valleys, encompassing more than 590 acres on two square miles of land. Huge by ancient standards, the rugged ruins of the site are celebrated for its massive five-story high castillos (castle or fortified buildings), multi-storied galleries housing numerous individual families, and unique circular enclosures known as monjas, all encircled by double-walled archaeological structures” ("The Meaning of Monuments at Marcahuamachuco," 55th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans: April, 1991).
Pachacamac being Zarahemla, and Cuzco being Nephi, we find a strong defensive string of ancient sites along the coast from Chimbote to Piura, and the defensive mountain top sites in northcentral Peru—while the Inca much later defeated the central cultures after an extensive and --- battles, they never conquered the coastal region

The interesting aspect of both these mountain top cities, and others in this northern region, is the remarkable defensive nature of their construction, beginning with massive stone walls completely enclosing the interior complex. Kuélap’s unscalable walls are 60-feet in height, and those of Marchuamachuco are 40-feet high. While Marchuamachuco was compared to Cajamarca by McCown and other sites in Chachapoya territory, Kuélap’s strategic location high above the main river covering the approach into the east and north, the site of Marchuamachuco, when first visited by the pioneer archaeologist and doctor, Ernst Wilhelm Middendorf in 1887, compared it to Kuélap, and archaeologist Hans Horkheimer photographed stone heads there that were similar to those found in Chavin, a B.C. culture to the south (Helaine Silverman and William H. Isbell, Andean Archaeology II, Kluwer Academic/Phenum Publishers, 2002, p150; Ernst Wihelm Middendorf, Peru Vol. III, Das Hochland, Berlin, 1895).
    In fact, a survey taken by American Paleoantropologist and University Professor at U.C. Berkeley, Theodore Downey McCown, (Project 9A of the Institute of Andean Research) in 1945 that extended from the “Chimu coast” at Trujillo (near Chan Chan), along the Rio Moche eastward, crossed the divide to the Marañon drainage and was concentrated in the Huamachuco district, about 62 miles from the coast, including northward nearly to the Rio Crisnejas, and including the Cajabamba district.
    This survey showed that most of the sites encountered in this highland region were located on high hills and ridges, difficult to access [difficult for an enemy to attack]. In fact, Marchuamachuco, which is grouped with truly fortified sites, is considered the epitome of a fortified city (Jonathan Haas, Shelia Pozorski, Thomas Pozorski, The Origins and Development of the Andeaan State, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1987, p50).
    In addition, Dr. McCown states that “Among the many ruined stone buildings, forts, and walls often in combination with terraces, to be seen in the region, the great site of Marca Huamachuco is outstanding. Here a complex system of heavy, defense walls, rectangular and round structures, extends for over two-and-a-half miles along a high ridge dominating the surrounding countryside” (Theodore D. McCown, The Pre-Incaic Site of Huamachuco, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol39, No4, 1945, pp223-346).
Marchuamachuco and its satellite sites with its celebrated massive Castillo (castle) and unique circular double-walled archaeological structures that date from between 200 and 400 A.D. in the northern highlands of Peru

There were well-built structures of coursed rubble masonry using the “gallery” as the basic form—long narrow, rectangular or circular buildings with high, extremely thick parallel walls from 32 to 40 feet high, extending upward two or three stories.
    While no direct evidence could be found, the construction suggested an earlier occupation as though the area was being reinforced and added to the well-built galleries and forts, sometimes directly overlying the earlier structures or re-using part of older walls.
    Two miles to the east another fortress, Viracochapampa, was built in a square with a plaza, almost exactly in the center of the square and surrounded by buildings beyond which lie fields within the outer walls.
Marcahuamachuco with a commanding view of the region and overlooking the Utcubamba River far below. Note the double walls of each complex

It might be of importance to keep in mind that in the Book of Mormon, sometime just before, or during the early days of the final Lamanite attacks, when the Nepihtes were being pushed northward from the area of the Waters of Sidon, the Nephites began retreating. Beginning around 327 A.D. “the Lamanites did come upon us with exceedingly great power, insomuch that they did frighten my armies; therefore they would not fight, and they began to retreat towards the north countries” (Mormon 2:3). Assuming that the Waters of Sidon were in the same location as the River Sidon mentioned earlier in the record, we can estimate that this battle began in the far south of the Land of Zarahemla, near the narrow strip of wilderness, probably by the eastern lands since that river ran by the borders of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15), and perhaps along the Valley of Gideon (Alma 6:7).
    The battles then moved northward, toward the “north countries” (Mormon 2:3) where these fortress-cities were located. The fact that Mormon does not spend much time on details of these battles that eventually drove the Nephites clear to the Land Northward, leaves open many questions as to where these ongoing battles took place. As an example, Mormon states that when they reached the city of Angola, they “took possession of the city and made preparations to defend it” and in so doing “we did fortify the city with our might.”
    In 1828 dictionary, fortify is defined as: “To surround with a wall, ditch, palisades or other works, with a view to defend against the attacks of an enemy; to strengthen and secure by forts, batteries and other works.” The word fortify is also used in Mormon 2:21, when the Nephites “did fortify the city of Shem, and we did gather in our people as much as it were possible, that perhaps we might save them from destruction,” and also in 3 Nephi 3:14,25: “And he caused that fortifications should be built round about them, and the strength thereof should be exceedingly great,” and “they did fortify themselves against their enemies.”
    Such fortifying of existing defensive walls and fortifications has already been shown to have taken place in the northern highlands of Peru around this time—whether or not the two are the same is unknown, but surely it demands a consideration.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Unknown Ecuadorian Pre-Historic Cultures

When the Spanish arrived in the Andes in the early stages of the 16th century, and particularly after the conquest of Guayaquil in southcentral Ecuador, the numerous and often ancient native villages in the region began to disappear. As an example, the riverine cities of Milagro and Quevedo two of the pre-Columbian pre-historic settlements that occupied the largest territories along the Guayas river system including the two great rivers of Daule (with headwaters in the interior mountains) and the Babahoyho (fed by tributaries rising in the Andes) that join to form the Gujayas just above the Isla Santay north of Guayaquil, as well as all their tributaries. Whether the Milagro Culture was an empire comparable to those to the south or a looser kind of sociopolitical integration is not yet known.
(Green Circle) The Guayas Drainage Basin, showing the early settlements of the Milagro and Quevedo cultures and their combined territory

The Milagro flourished in an extensive territory within the Guayas River drainage—an area in central-western Ecuador that drains through the Guayas River into the Pacific Ocean through the Gulf of Guayaquil—with settlements built on mounds raised to avoid the frequent inundations from seasonal flooding, especially along the low regions of both the Babahoyo and Daule river basins. Raised fields were built up three feet or more above the natural ground surface to improve drainage for crops, with approximately 50,000 hectares of raised fields that were laboriously constructed in the Guayas River drainage.
    Although generally discussed as one entity, this cultural grouping actually combines the remains of two similar culture traditions: the more ornate Quevedo to the north and the more archaeologically known and understood Milagro to the south, with the latter being experts in ceramic work as well as being renowned for their metalwork, especially for copper “hachas monedas” (money axes), small standardized axe-shaped ingots used as a medium for exchange. Interestingly enough, this rich metalworking tradition was established in a region lacking in metal sources with gold and copper were obtained through trade.
    It might also be understood that the development of 2.2 hectare Isla Santay (Santay Island) in recent history within the Guayas River at Guayaquil and just below (south) of the confluence of the Daule and Babahoyo rivers, has affected the river flow of the Guayas, resulting in backflow to the north causing an increase on the water surface levels upstream of its location. Beyond, along the almost 40-mile runs of the Guayas River to the Gulf, it is briefly constricted at Guayaquil by hills, the Guayas widens south of the city and flows through a deltaic network of small islands and channels. At its mouth, the river forms a broad estuary with two channels around Puná Island, the deeper of which is used for navigation.
    This has resulted from the Guayas estuary semidiurnal tide regime that is fundamental for the understanding of its sediment transport dynamics. As an example, once the sea water enters the estuary and meets the fresh water, which is carrying sediments coming from the rivers, a flocculation of the sediment particles results and increases the sediment concentration in the water column.
    Thus, tides are a significant driver of the processes within the Guayas River system, and during the moments of low current speed, the bigger, newly formed sediment molecules are deposited on the river bed. In time, some of these form isles and even larger islands. In fact, the formation of islands seems to be a natural and recurrent process within the Gujayas River system, with some disappearing with each flooding season, and others becoming established features as the Isle of Santay, causing a fluctuating land arrangement along the Guayas downstream of Guayaquil all the way to the marshy delta, where in millennia past, almost solid land egress existed. How much this affected movement east to west in the pre-historic past is unknown, but judging from the models developed today of that period, such movement cannot be discounted.
    The area was first studied by Jacinto Jijōn y Caamaño, M. Ulle, M. Saville, J. Bushnell, and other archaeologists, between 1910s–1930s, but the Milagro-Quevedo area and culture was first identified by Ecuadorian businessman and amateur archaeologist Emilio Estrada Icasa, as a result of the heightened interest in archaeology at the time Thor Heyerdahl began constructing his Kon-Tiki raft in Guayaquil in 1946-1947.
    When first identified, the Milagro were ethnically defined as chonos, people who occupied both the interior of Ecuador and the southern coast, numbering as much as 240,000 people anciently. They were consummated goldsmiths who delicately worked gold and silver, which they carried for personal adornment.
Map of the Gulf of Guayaquil basin in Ecuador and the scores of estuaries and swamps that make up the land along the Estero Salada and Rio Guayas area

The lack of current identify of these individually developed areas along the Guayas River has been lost to history due to the geographical situation of the region, together with its favorable climate, making it a place of preferences for several Spaniards fleeing Guayaquil due to the continuous pirate attacks that plagued the capital of the corregimiento after 1552. One of these early townsites was named Yaguachi or Yaguacho, placed on the banks of the homonymous (same-named) river.
    The first town was destroyed by a fire and then rebuilt to a small enclosure called Pueblo Nuevo, and renamed Yaguachi Nuevo. One of the features that characterized and was perhaps the most prominent of the Milagro culture was the existence of a large number of tolas (housing mounds) in almost all the territory they occupied (another area of tolas has been found among the settlement of the Caranques one of the most important oldest cultures in the region, as well as of the Socapamba in Imbabura—both pre-Inca cultures).
The Valdivia Culture began on the Santa Elena coast, which is considered to be the origin of Ecuadorian culture

Another culture with very limited research is the Valdivia Culture that existed along the coast at Santa Elena, and also the culture before them called Las Vegas, which is thought to have occupied the outer tip of the Santa Elena Peninsula. The Valdivia were best known for being among the earliest ceramic makers in the whole of the Americas. Although their site was not discovered until 1956 by amateur archaeologist Emilio Estrada, it took ten more years before accredited archaeologists studied the culture and since then few other studies have been undertaken. However most of these studies have since been criticized and outdated, so it has become necessary for contemporary studies on this culture to be made.

Valdivia Ruins along the coast of southern Ecuador

Still, to-date, there is a significant lack of theoretical models in the scientific contributions made by Ecuadorian archaeologists, and research is still at the level of theoretical inquiry archaeologists call "Historiography." This tendency began to change in the 1970s, when the first Ecuadorian archaeologists trained in academic settings emerged prepared to address the theoretical and methodological problems of the Pre-Columbian past.
Valdivian Culture shown; this is the area where it is believed that the Jaredites landed, along the Santa Elena Peninsula, occupying the area about the same time the Valdivia are supposed to have been in the area

Other scientists from outside Ecuador, either foreign professionals or doctoral candidates conducting research in Ecuador, have temporarily made this country the center of their research. Generally financed by universities or cultural institutions from abroad, it is not surprising that most of the scientific contributions about the Ecuadorian past have been made by this group. Ecuadorian archaeologists represent less than 10 percent of the total number of archaeologists who have worked in the country.
    According to Ernesto Salazar, a Professor of Anthropology at the Universidad Católica of Ecuador in Quito, in “Between Crisis and Hope: Archaeology in Ecuador,” until the 1970s, “Ecuador did not even have an academic center for training archaeologists, and Ecuadorian archaeology has not been very successful in the arena of professional relationships. An attempt in the 1980s to establish the Sociedad Ecua-toriana de Arqueología failed, as have several conferences and symposia that, professionally, have meant little to Ecuadorian archaeologists.”
    Further, in the early 1980s, the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Católica, the only one of its kind in the country and one which was traditionally indifferent to archaeological research, introduced an archaeological curriculum that responded to the need to more closely link archaeology to anthropology than to history.
    In addition, the Escuela Politécnica del Litoral established its School of Archaeology (now the Center for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies) for training professionals from the entire Andean region, although ultimately all of its pupils were Ecuadorian. Both centers offer degrees equivalent to a North American B.A. However, the Escuela has now practically closed its doors, while the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Católica only recently began to include archaeology in its curriculum.
    Other research initiatives in the early 1980s included the Centro de Investigaciones Arqueológicas (no longer active after the death of its founder, the Ecuadorian archaeologist Padre Pedro Porras); a foundation called the Programa de Antropología para el Ecuador, is also inactive since of the death of its founder; and the ECUABEL Project, an experimental program between Ecuador and Belgium for the restoration of historical monuments and archaeological research, which is also no longer active. Finally, the Museo del Banco Central established an archaeological research program that had the best financial support in the country, but which is now inactive due to economic reasons and internal conflicts.
The view of the side of the Gualiman Plateau (nicknamed Wariman by its private owner) in the northern Sierra cloud forest region of Intag. Dozens of pyramids, tombs, and houses surround it, some sitting on platforms cut into the hard rock, dated to 1500 B.C. or earlier

One of the severest difficulties of sponsoring a dig or excavation in Ecuador, is that approximately 7,000 known archaeological sites rest on private land, and a modest but quality dig could come at $30,000. In addition, unlike the pyramids of Mexico or Peru, the ancient structures were constructed of volcanic clay, sensitive to the sun and rain. Unfortunately, the passing centuries have packed the ruins with dirt and lush greenery, converting them into bumps in the smooth landscape.
    Luckily for Ecuadorian archaeology, in the last 1980s, foreign archaeologists became interested in conducting research in Ecuador. This allowed for the extension of the archaeological map, which before 1970 was restricted to the central Sierra region, the Santa Elena Peninsula, and the north coast, while the eastern region was known only through the works of Evans and Meggers along the Napo River. Especially notable are the Columbia University investigations of the Santa Elena Peninsula; the University of Illinois, which studied the Formative Period along the coast; the Spanish investigation of Ingapirca and the province of Esmeraldas; the German mission that worked in Cochasquí in 1965; and the French mission's survey of the province of Loja.
    The obvious point is, with so little archaeology having been accomplished in the Ecuadorian area, and so many ancient sites no longer existing in the south or Guayas basin, especially inland along the southcentral and eastern perimeters of the land, it is understandable why so few sites have been uncovered, let alone studied. Yet, their history, were it known, would lend a great deal to the understanding of this vital area that dates back to before the Nephite era.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Cañari, Tuncahuán, and Cojitambo of Ecuador

Cojitambo is a small mountain village and an archaeological site in the Cañar province of south central Ecuador—a country about the size of the U.S. state of Oregon.
The ruins of Cojitambo located on a hillside in southcentral Ecuador

It is a large complex of Cañari (Kañari) ruins covering about 62 square acres and claimed to date back to the last century B.C.—however, this is more speculative than verified since there is a lack of archaeological work done in the area of the B.C. period.
    The Cañari people were a long-lasting independent pre-Columbian confederation of united tribes who formed a single people, and made up of fierce warriors that primarily occupied the Tumebamba area (present day Cuenca, originally Cañari settlement of Guapondelig), about 15 miles to the south and a little west of Cojitambo. It is interesting that the Cañari had an oral tradition of a massive flood as part of their creation stories, similar to those of the Bible.
Map showing the area of the Cañari with (blue) arrows showing the distances from the shore to the majority of sites; the second (blue) arrow showing from the mountains in the west to those in the east; and the (red) arrow showing the width of the narrow strip of land between the shore and the beginning of the cordillera mountains. This entire area was inhabited by the Cañari during Nephite times

Around Cueneca, the Cañari inhabited the area from the limits of Azuay to Saraguro, from the Gualaquiza mountains to the Narajal beaches and the coasts of the Jambeli canal. The most important settlement areas were Cojitambo, Coyoctor, Cañaribamba, Chobishi, Culebrillas, Molleturo, Yacuviñay, Hatun Canar (Ingapirca) and Guapondelig (Tumebamba), among others.
    It is believed that the Cañari came after the Tuncahuán phase (last century B.C.), a period archaeologists have not bothered to excavate and who know little about the people or their history and way of life. It is claimed the Tuncahuán culture flourished in the central highlands of Ecuador, and is believed to be traced back to 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.
Cañari ruins questionably assumed to date to the middle of the last century B.C. in southern Ecuador

The Cañari primarily occupied the Tumebamba area (Cuenca) where their architecture is claimed to have rivaled that of Cuzco, with Tumebamba often referred to as the “second Cuzco.”
    The name Cañari comes from “kan” meaning “snake,” and “ara” meaning Guacamaya: (macaw), suggesting these two animals were sacred to the ancient Cañari, who inhabited the southern highlands of Ecuador for more than 3000 years.
Some of the ruins of Cojitambo, situated on a high hill at the base of the mountains

Historically they were one of the most important tribes in the region and Cuenca was their capital or main city for hundreds of years. They were a powerful tribe with fine skills in weaving, agriculture, pottery, and working with gold and silver. Within the overall Cañari culture, there were groups with their own cultures, one of which was the Peleusis, located in the modern area of Azogues, who had a leadership or a dominance over neighboring tribes, though generally, each tribe had its own leader—but in times of natural disasters or war, the confederacy of tribes would unite and choose a single leader.
    Ecuador is split by two cordilleras into coastal, Andean and Amazonian regions. The coastal region ranges from a tropical rain forest in the north to a mixed wet-dry monsoon region in the central and south. A third fairly low cordillera runs intermittently along the coastal strip. Among the volcanic mountains, known as the Corridor of the Volcanoes, lie rich, fertile valleys or basins, and at one time was centrally covered by lower mountains and hills—these were changed, many lowered into valleys, as the Andes mountains rose to great heights, altering the flow of rivers and the pathway of constructed roads through changing mountain passes.
    The Cojitamba ruins are located 9,910 feet above sea level, less than four miles west of Azogues, having a strategic location with views of Cuenca, Biblián and Azogues, the latter being the capital of Cañar province. The site is considered to have been a military stronghold, and is named in Quechua (curi tambo) the “Resting Place of Gold,” though no gold has ever been found in the area. The site has 500-foot sheer walls of volcanic cliffs to the east and south of the ruins.
Some of the sheer volcanic stone rock walls around Cojitambo

The Cojitambo archaeological site sits on a small flattened area on top of the cliffs. The terrain is less steep in the north and west and a road leads to the summit and ruins. The sheer eastern face of Cojitambo rock rises 490 feet from the outskirts of the village, and extends for about 1,600 feet in a north-south direction. The dome-shaped rock is Ecuador's most popular site today for rock climbing with more than 100 routes identified.
    Far south of the Cañari lands is the area of Saraguro (today’s Loja, Ecuador), where much of the information on the entire district evolves, and is mostly about the Inca period when they instituted resettlement projects in the Loja area. Dennis E. Ogburn’s entire thesis and much of the scholar’s writings of Cojitambo surrounds these events of resettlement of a people that are known to have existed in the area from 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D., rising to the point of power between 1200 A.D. and 1460 A.D., when they finally fell to the Inca after an extended period of warfare in which the Cañari withstood the mighty warriors of the Inca for about ten years.
Map extended to include Loja, the Inca area of Saraguro

Loja is in a high Andean valley at an elevation of 7,300 feet, lying in the bottom of the broad glacial Cuxibamba (Smiley) valley. It is situated between the humid Amazon Basin and the costal Sechura desert in Peru, the area is composed mainly of paramo, cloud-forest, and jungle, with 86% of its territory coered by hills or mountains. The valley borders the Podocarpus National Park, which is a massive cloud-forest reserve accessible through the Cajanuma gates just minutes outside the city. The city itself is surrounded by two rivers, the Rio Zamora and Rio Malacatos, and just beyond are located the valleys of Vicabamba and Malacatos.
    Now the problem lies in the citing of a 500 B.C. date for Cojitambo. This information stems from an obscure reference in some works that “Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the site of Cojitambo was occupied from 500 BCE onward (Dennis Edward Ogburn, The Inca Occupation and Forced Resettlement in Saraguro, Ecuador, University of California Dissertation, Santa Barbara, 2001, p312).
    However, in checking out this reference, there is no mention of a 500 B.C. date, but of a 500 A.D. date. In fact, the page referenced, 312, has nothing to do with any B.C. dates, and is mostly about the shape of the rocks upon which Cojitambo was built, and andesite stone the Incas quarried at Cojitambo and transported the blocks back to their northern capital of Tomebamba, as well as the “stones of Paquishapa,” the strategically-placed site of Villamarca as an administrative center for the Saraguro Basin, and that Tambo Blanco was an Inca site with local economic orientation.
    In fact, in the entire 400-page work, Cojitambo is mentioned only twice, both on p312, and is regarding the site’s shape on the hill near Azogues that had “been likened to a sleeping lion and was an important sacred site of the Cañaris,” and was also the location of a fort.
Dates of the Cañari (Kañari) civilization date from 500 A.D. (6th century) to 1533 A.D. when the Spanish conquered the Inca and its satellite cultures

That other writers have perpetuated the 500 B.C. date, rather than the 500 A.D. date only shows that poor scholarship creates problems that are seldom checked and verified and, thus, continue to be perpetuated.
    While we do not know the exact dates that Cojitambo was built and the Canari people occupied the area, we can be assured that it was sometime after the crucifixion and probably within the “golden years” of the Nephite Nation following the Lord’s advent and extended until the Nephites were forced into the north countries by the Lamanites during the final wars that ended at Cumorah. It is equally important to always keep in mind that dates used by anthropologists and archaeologists often fit into a pre-determined criteria, such as Ogburn’s “Preceramic,” “Early Formative,” ”Late Formative,” “Regional Development Period,” and “Integration Period.” Thus, circumstances are placed in dated categories that do not necessarily match their actual dated events.
    As an example, the Cañari and Cojitambo have been dated to 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D., and later, so when a culture believed to have pre-dated the Cañari, who
    The first to describe this Tuncahuán phase was the Ecuadorian historian, archaeologist and politician Jacinto Caamaño Jijón, whose investigation of five graves in a cemetery while surveying a pre-Hispanic settlement near the town of Manta, led to his discovery of the Tunacahuán. In central Ecuador, this phase or people were given a date of 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.; however, there has been very little archaeological research done in this region of Ecuador and both archaeologists and anthropologists “still have much to learn of its prehistory.” Yet, this lack of factual information does not stop the researchers from giving this rather unknown culture a date. It might be of interest that this so-called Tuncahuán culture has been identified through funerary items containing ceramic and copper—the very items used to describe the Cañari.
    It might also be understood that researchers claim that “As there are no excavations on sites currently which were occupied during the Tuncahuán phase, archaeologists know little about the way of life of the people who produced these ceramics.”
    Consequently, it seems reasonable to suggest that we look at such dates with caution, and not jump on unproven or even unresearched dating to determine when who and what is claimed to have existed in pre-historic times.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part V – Four Seas

Continuing from the previous post in which the Mesoamericanists’ narrow neck of land was discussed. The problem got started in 1985 with Sorenson’s book that showed an east-west running Land of Promise even though Mormon describes it as running north and south (Alma 22:27-34).
    Out of that design, came the idea that the Nephites used a different north orientation than we do today. In fact, it has been said that knowledgeable individuals who read Sorenson’s writings have a natural tendency to use the term “Nephite north” in referring to Sorenson’s rotated compass. For example: Sorenson’s “limited Tehuantepec theory” (a view that places the Book of Mormon lands in southern Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala) has its own set of flaws.
A satellite photo of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the Bay of Campeche (due north) and the Gulf of Tehuantepec (due south) shown, as well as the Gulf of Mexico (due north) and the Pacific Ocean (due south) of then isthmus, or Sorenson’s “narrow neck of land” (white line dividing east and west)

Alma 22:27 in the Book of Mormon mentions a “narrow strip of wilderness” that divided a sea to the east and a sea to the west. The problem is southern Mexico has no such shoreline. Instead, the water masses in this area really lie north and south. However, undaunted, Sorenson merely turned his map sideways and declares that the Nephites used a different method for determining directions. In this case a so-called “Nephite north” is employed. Thus, what appears to be a “sea north” becomes the Sorenson “sea east” and the southern water mass, which would be a “sea south” becomes a Sorenson “sea west.
Left: Sorenson’s first map (Map 1) shown on page 7 of his book—entitled “Hourglass shape of book of Mormon Lands” creates an understanding of a match between Sorenson’s map and Mormon’s descriptions of the land; Right: Sorenson’s Map 4 on page 24, again showing a vertical, north upward, map, along with West and East seas, and limited detail. Note the red circles showing the direction "North" on both maps

In fact, as we have reported here before, Sorenson begins in his 1985 work with a north-south map on p7 (Map 1 – “Hourglass Shape of Book of Mormon Lands”), continues that north-south map on p11 (Map 2 – “Journeys Indicating Distances”), and again on p20 (Map 3 – “Relative Positions of Lands and Cities”), and finally on p24 (Map 4 – “Topography of Lands and Regions”).
    Now, in each of these four maps, his West Sea is to the west, his East Sea is to the east, as one would expect it to be, and the Land Northward is to the north, and his Land Southward is to the south. So after spending almost 35 pages outlining his north-south map and all that he placed within it, he then states on (p35-36) after telling us that the physical features of Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon are similar, he states; “the general hourglass shape is evident in both, the dimensions are similar—that is if we ignore the northern and western extension of Mesoamerica, which we may do since the Book of Mormon is silent about the corresponding area.”
    However, that is not an honest statement. The Book of Mormon is neither silent about the corresponding area, nor does it agree with Sorenson’s claim. Take, as an example, Jacob’s teachings in the temple which Nephi dutifully recorded: ”And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20, emphasis added). Then, to show that this is entirely factual, we find a little over 500 year later, this statement: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east“ (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added).
    Thus, it cannot be claimed, as Sorenson does, that the Book of Mormon is silent on this area. However, they  are scriptural references Sorenson does not mention. Instead, he goes on to state: “We must also ignore the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent lowlands, for we noted earlier that the Nephite-controlled portion of the coast along the east sea was short and that the entire area eastward from the city of Nephi is undescribed in the scripture.”
    Again, this is not an accurate statement. Mormon gives us a clear understanding that the land of Nephi ran from the East Sea to the West Sea. Mormon inserts this very clear statement about the Lamanite king: “And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added). In addition, just to the north of the Land of Nephi, separating the Lamanite land from the Land of Zarahemla, Mormon also tells us that: “and which [land of Nephi] was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added).
The Nephites built several cities along the eastern shore, beginning with Moroni in the far south near the Lamanite lands, and then Lehi, Nephihah, Morianton and the others. These were all down by the seashore (except for Nephihah) and when the Lamanite Amalickiah attacked these cities, he did so in order. There is simply no provision for a huge Yucatan peninsula along that coast as Sorenson claims
    In addition, Mormon tells us that this eastern coast where the Land of Nephi, the narrow strip of wilderness, and the Land of Zarahemla run, was the site of the building of the city of Moroni: “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (Alma 50:13). They also built a city just to the north also along the seashore: “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15), whose border ran along the Land of Moroni, just to the south, which was near the narrow strip of wilderness.
    Also, they built a city near there called Nephihah, which was between the city of Aaron and Moroni. In fact, Mormon states that when Amalickiah came down and attacked these cities, first capturing the city of Moroni: “And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it. And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:24-26, emphasis added).
    Thus there were several cities near the seashore of the Sea East, all of which near the area of the Land of Nephi. But in Sorenson’s map, that would place them hundreds of miles away along the Yucatan peninsula coast jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Still, ignoring all of this, Sorenson closes his eyes to the facts and states: “Thus the two areas of Mesoamerica that do not fit clearly with what the Nephite record tells us about geography are precisely the regions about which the scriptural account leaves us hazy. There are not contradictions [in his map and the scriptural record.”
    Obviously, this is not the truth, and being false statements, shows that Sorenson’s entire concept of a east-west Land of Promise is totally without merit.
    Now one can only wonder at such bald-faced fallacious comments. The scriptural record is quite clear about the area in which Sorenson wants to insert 15,260 square miles of the Yucatan peninsula where there is no mention, suggestion or even hint of anything being there.
    Somehow, Sorenson feels it is quite all right to change Mormon’s north-south map into an east-west map and have the impertinent hubris to tell us his Book of Mormon map and his Mesoamerican map have “no contradictions.” He even concludes this claim by stating “and other features also coincide,” and closes with “More detail is not necessary at this point.”
Sorenson’s May 5, on page 37 of his book, in which he turns his hourglass maps on the side and claims there is no contradiction between them. Note Sorenson still. has (red circle) the arrow point to "north" after he has completely changed the orientation of his map--this deception is certainly no accident
In addition, Sorenson then places his final hourglass map sideways as Mesoamerica lies, with the Land Southward now to the east and the Land Northward now to the west, and the East Sea now to the north and the West Sea now to the south. If those aren’t contradictions, it is hard to imagine what he might consider a contradiction. Yet, Sorenson makes another extremely brash remark when he states: “The general agreement between Mesoamerican and book of Mormon geography can be grasped directly by studying map 5 carefully.”
    For those of us who have been studying his map thoroughly for many years—it still runs east and west while Mormon describes the Land of Promise running north and south. Studying an incorrect map does not, over time, make it any less incorrect. East and West is simply not North and South; a 140-mile wide isthmus is not a “narrow neck of land,” and when each end of his land of promise extends for hundreds of miles into two huge land masses, it neither satisfies Jacob’s island, nor allows for the third and fourth seas.
    Yet, Sorenson then goes on to spend several more pages trying to sell his Mesoamerican east-west model. And if the above isn’t enough to annoy a scriptorian, Sorenson adds (p41) “Besides, it turns out that Mesoamerican territory is just plain awkward to label directionally in terms of the European compass because it angles across our neat grid.”
    What he means is that It “angles” across at a 90º erroneous angle!
    Notice the use of the term, “European compass,” as though only Europeans have used that particular compass. That flies in the face of Chinese compasses, which were invented long before Europe did, and as has been stated many times, “People usually built early compasses using lodestone, a special form of the mineral magnetite that, as a natural permanent magnet, aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field and exhibits north-south polarity.” In fact, the lodestone also served as the basis of primitive Chinese compasses that could roughly indicate the cardinal directions.
    The point of this discussion is that the error associated with the rotated compass that resulted in the Sorenson concept of “Nephite north” need not have occurred. When Mormon uses the term “Sea East,” readers of his writing should naturally and legitimately expect that sea to be east of “something”—not north of “something.” And that “something,” from the perspective of Alma 22, is the narrow neck of land—Sorenson’s the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
    With the cardinal points once accurately defined, by convention cartographers standard maps with north (N) at the top, and east to the right. In turn, maps provide a systematic means to record where places are, and cardinal directions are the foundation of a structure for telling someone how to find those places.
    Yet, oblivious to this fact, Sorenson goes to great lengths as he addresses the issue of inconsistency in directional systems among cultures throughout the history of the world, including in Mesoamerica. With a noticeable amount of frustration, he deals with one critic of his interpretation of the Nephite directional system by summing up his thinking about the diversity of directional systems among cultures as follows: “The topic of directions still seems mysterious…to…critics and general readers of my work. I have tried several times to make the matter clear, but perhaps one more try here will make the crucial points unmistakable. Six ideas are worth noting.”
   It would appear that if we accept what many of these theorists claim regarding their personal views of the scriptural record, we must conclude that Mormon was indeed playing games with us. On the other hand, if we accept Mormon's clear statements without trying to bend them to fit a pre-conceived viewpoint, then Mormon's words make sense and we can rest assured in their accuracy.