Sunday, January 12, 2020

How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower? – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding the insert that Mormon placed in his abridgement of Alma and also of the construction of the fortress of Sacsayhuamen or Nephi’s temple and Noah’s tower.
    Not only was there a remarkable temple built inside the Sacsayhuaman complex, but also a tall tower next to it that Noah later added. Nephi’s temple was built on a hill that overlooked the city of Nephi as well as the Land of Shilom and the Land of Shemlon.
    Now, there just so happens to have been an ancient temple built on a hill that overlooks the Cuzco valley, and that was the fortress of Sacsayhuaman which had a temple and tower built there. This tower was near the temple: “when the king saw that [Gideon] was about to overpower him, he fled and ran and got upon the tower which was near the temple…and the king cast his eyes about towards the land of Shemlon and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land” (Mosiah 19:5, emphasis added).
    In the scriptural record we find that the lands of Shilom and Nephi were at a lower level than the temple and tower. Obviously, these two lands were in a valley beneath a hill, which Ammon and his associates went down from and into the Land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:5-6). This lower area can be found in the Valley of Cuzco, which lies at the foot of hills upon which rests Sacsayhuaman.
The road down from Sacsayhuaman to the Cuzco Valley.  Ancient, Ammon rested on this hill before he and three of his brethren went down into the Land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:6)

It should also be noted that it has always been the tendency for the Lord’s temples to be built on hills. Sacsayhuaman is no different. Actually, to have built a temple on the flat land of the valley in what is now Cuzco, would have run against all that Nephi would have known about Solomon’s temple. It seems likely Nephi built his temple on a hill overlooking the valley where the settlement was located. In Mosiah we know that the temple was on the top of the hill where king Noah built the tower (Mosiah 11:13).
    It should be understood that Noah did not build this temple. He merely “caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass. And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people” (Mosiah 11:10-11, emphasis added).
    Thus we find that the temple already existed on the hill overlooking the city of Nephi, to which Noah’s great grandfather had traveled to from the Land of Zarahemla two or three generations earlier.
    What Noah built was the tower next to the temple—“a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlooking the Land of Shilom, and also the Land of Shemlon” (Mosiah 11:12).
    As mentioned earlier, while the average height of the three walls built on three sides of the fortress complex of Sacsayhuaman is now about 20 feet high, it was originally much taller. After the conquest, the Spanish removed all the stones except those that were too large to be easily be moved remained at the site (Brian S. Bauer, Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2010). One stone alone is 29 feet high, 16 feet wide, 13-feet thick, with an estimated weight of 200 to 360 tons.
    The stonework all around the outside perimeter was astounding, and held the conquering Spanish in awe of its construction, none understanding how it had been built. The Inca told them it had been built long before their occupation, and had no idea how it was built or by whom.
Top: One of the three main gateways into Sacsayhuaman. Note the narrowness of the actual entrance, and also the steepness of climbing the myriad steps up to the occupied level; Bottom: Another, smaller gate, on the second tier—again, note the narrowness of the entrances to restrict and defend against enemy attacks

Entrance into the fortress was once heavily guarded and just allowed people to enter single file through the ingenious gates. A very narrow cleft in the wall was guarded by a very small portal and behind it a steep landing site that allowed defenders to shoot any intruder from above.
    On the ground floor, there were three such gates into the fortress, which are called Ajawanapunku, T’iopunku, and Wiracochapunk. Each of the three zigzag walls of Sacsayhuaman were protected in a similar way—which made the fortress nearly impregnable. It took the Spanish building and using ladders to scale the walls in order to finally conquer those in the fortress after a ten month siege.
    Frances Pizzaro’s brother, Pedro Pizzaro, once described in quite detail what was found within the fortress: "Weapons, weapons, and more weapons." According to him, it was one big armory.
The current denuded hill where once stood an impressive fortress complex, large stones and buildings with tall windows, as well as a temple, armory, and a tower
Unfortunately, today once you go beyond the outer walls and climb to the top of the inner hill, there is little to see, for the Spanish destroyed it all, partly out of spite, but mainly because the perfect andesite stones of the early masons were prime building material for the planned cathedrals and mansions below.
    To get a better understanding of the size of these outer walls, archaeologists have found that one of the wall stones is 29 feet high, yet it is not at the base of the wall and was cut in a quarry more than 10 miles away. The massive size, and precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to increase the ruins' incredible durability from devastating earthquakes in Cuzco have left it undamaged.
     Again, it might be asked, how did an indigenous people, without knowledge of tools beyond the stone as many archaeologists claim, ever build something of this magnitude and advanced understanding of mathematics and geology? Others claim that those master stonemasons, quarried and shaped huge blocks cut and shaped using nothing more than harder stones and bronze tools. However, modern-day stone masons are adamant about the fact that those stones could not have been cut and shaped without metal tools.
    It should be kept in mind that when Nephi was told by the Lord he was to build a ship, and though not being a shipwright, only asked the Lord “whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools” (1 Nephi 17:9-10, emphasis added).
Left: The tight unmortered joints of stone in which not even a piece of paper would fit between; Right: The famed 12-sided stone in Cuzco, which was part of a large palace and now on a small street off the main square

How did ancient man build Sacsayhuaman? The only plausible answer is that when Nephi went up on the mount several times, to learn how to build and not after the manner of men, he wrote that he went “into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:3). What might those “great things” have been? Since Nephi included the comment in connection with his being shown how to build a ship under the advanced thinking and instruction of the Lord, one might conclude that the Lord also showed Nephi how to build in the land where he was sending them, for unlike Jerusalem, this new land would be a land of earthquakes (3 Nephi 8:12,17,19).
    These stones were individually finely cut to interlock with the surrounding stones and the blocks fit together like a puzzle, forming load-bearing joints without the use of mortar. The precision with which the angles of the stones were cut to create flush joints is indicative of a highly sophisticated knowledge of stone-cutting and a thorough understanding of descriptive geometry.
    Many of the joints are so precise that not even a razor blade will fit between the stones. Much of the masonry is characterized by accurately cut rectilinear blocks of such uniformity that they could be interchanged for one another while maintaining a level surface and even joints. The blocks were so precisely cut as to suggest the possibility of prefabrication and mass production, technologies far in advance of the Andean cultures known to us today. Whoever built these magnificent walls, their engineers were also adept at developing a civic infrastructure at this complex, constructing functional irrigation systems, hydraulic mechanisms, and waterproof sewage lines.
    The fortress itself was the largest structure built anciently, constructed on an elevated rocky promontory facing the northern marshy ground outside today’s city of Cuzco.
    And what of the tower that Noah built next to the temple on a hill?
(See the next post, “ How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower?
--> – Part IV,” regarding the insert that Mormon placed in his abridgement of Alma and also of the construction of the fortress of Sacsayhuamen, or Nephi’s temple and Noah’s tower)


  1. Because any evidence of Nephite civilization in South America almost completely undermines the Mesoamerican model the "gatekeepers" of that model have to completely ignore it and discourage anyone that brings it up from any further study of it.

    If the Andes model turns out to be correct (and those well studied in it cannot even imagine it is not correct) those that did everything they could to discourage any research or study of it, and at times even mock the Andes model will become a hiss and a byword.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Nice launch window today from Salalah. Jan 12th

      The winds are currently blowing out to sea.,14.61,3000/loc=54.130,16.982