Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Death Knell for Mesoamerica – Part II

Continuing with the reason for Mesoamerica’s death knell for the theorists Land of Promise model according to Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni.
Yellow Arrows: The direction of winds and currents coming off the Pacific Ocean where the South Pacific Gyre swings around past the Philippines and down to the east of Australia—any movement eastward through Indonesia would be against these winds and currents

As has been pointed out earlier, the idea of John L. Sorenson and other Mesoamerican theorists to have Lehi sail eastward from Arabia past India and the Bay of Bengal and then down between Malaysia and Sumatra through the Malacca Strait and then into the South China Sea and Indonesia to the Pacific Ocean is not only out of the question for a vessel “driven forth before the wind” in 600 BC, but totally ridiculous. We covered in the last post the meaning of Nephi’s words “driven forth before the wind,” and since the winds blow from east to west off the Pacific Ocean (South Pacific Gyre), to follow Sorenson’s suggested course would be impossible for a ship pushed forward by the winds since those winds would be blowing against any course to the east and through Indonesia to the Pacific.
    If the Lord wanted Lehi to sail across the Pacific from Indonesia in a ship “driven forth before the wind,” then it would have been better to have taken he and his party across land to the south of China, or at least bordering along the South China Sea where he could build a ship and take the course that later Spanish Galleons discovered from the Philippines up past Japan on the Kuroshio Current, then across the northern Pacific and down along the coast of Canada and the United States to Mexico or Mesoamerica. However, that would have added close to 5000 additional miles to their land trip, plus more than twice as long by sea, having to get them across the Gulf of Oman, then through the corner of Syria, across Pakistan, all of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Vietnam to the Gulf of Tonkin before building their ship.
     In addition, that would mean climbing some of the highest mountains in the world to get across eastern India, Myanmar, etc., and both the Ganges Mountains and the Thar Deseret in northwestern India, just to mention a few obstacles.
    It can never be over-emphasized that what looks practical on a flat map is simply rarely going to be the case in the real world because of either land terrain or winds and currents at sea.
    Therefore, it might be said that in no way could Lehi get from the southern Arabian coast to Mesoamerica by ship, or to the Pacific by foot. This alone should cause great concern to every Mesoamericanist—however, not one ever even mentions a problem in this stage of the Land of Promise search, i.e., getting from Oman-Yemen to Mesoamerica.
    Finally, is the issue as to where Lehi landed. While the scriptural record is not as clear on this issue, the ocean winds and currents are. When a ship is sailing in front of the wind, as said before, it is going to go where the winds push it. However, when the winds die down, the ship is in a better position to steer into an upwelling current and into shore. Three things are needed for this:
1. The ship to steer out of the current, which requires a significant drop in current velocity;
(Yellow-dotted circle) When the air moves upward forming a cell, it leaves a calm or “doldrum” (Intertropical Convergence Zone), i.e., an area where there is little air movement, the winds die down and the sea current diminishes, creating light unpredictable winds

2. The ship needs to move out of the wind, which requires a considerable drop in wind velocity;
3. The ship to have a protected bay in which to sail toward, pick up the inbound current and not be buffeted by cross-winds, cross-currents, etc., while seeking a place to anchor.
    All three of these situations exist in only two places along the entire coast of North and South America, and only one of these is found in South America—the Bay of Coquimbo at 30º south latitude in Chile. At this one spot, these three things exist:
1. The Humboldt (Peruvian) Current moving up the coast of South America hits a significant slowing from about 25 mph to less than five miles an hour—beyond this point, the current picks up again and by the time it reaches the bulge of Peru, is moving more rapidly and is forced outward into the Pacific and toward the west in the top branch or arm of the counter-clockwise South Pacific Gyre;
2. The winds hit a reversal column as cold air from the Antarctic (Ferrel Cell) slams into the warm air from the equator (Hadley Cell), causing an updraft column to rise, pushing the warm air upward forming a so-called “bubble” over this area along the 30º south latitude just south of the Tropic of Cancer (the dividing line between the Southern Temperate Zone to the south and the tropics to the north).  In between these two points (equator and 30º south latitude, a Hadley Cell forms from the warm air that rises at the equator and returns or drops back down at the southern end of the cell, causing a sort of vacuum at the sea level point). This movement of air upward causes a lack of air movement at sea level and a “doldrum” type lack of wind and breezes that slows the wind movement and sea currents in what is called the “horse latitudes”;
Coquimbo Bay, Chile, located at 30º South Latitude

3. Coquimbo is an idea bay along the central Chilean coast where certain factors exist that match perfectly the requirements for a landing site as indicated by Nephi (1 Nephi 18:24-25), and that is:
• A sheltered bay providing a secure landing area where the bay waters are calm (Coquimbo means “calm or peaceful waters”(1 Nephi 18:23);
• Adjacent to the bay is the city of La Serena and the Elqui Valley, a huge agricultural area with a Mediterranean Climate (the only one in the south-western hemisphere) where seeds from Jerusalem would grow exceedingly and provide an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24);
• A huge forest within walking distance of La Serena where both domesticated, feral, and wild animals could live (1 Nephi 18:25);
• Numerous ore deposits, where gold, silver and copper are found in great abundance (1 Nephi 18:25).
    Another major issue mentioned by Jacob that Mesoamericanists never mention and that is his comment in the Temple to some of the concerned Nephites who felt the Lord had forgotten them because they were no longer in Jerusalem, “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).
• The sea: In 1828 this meant “ocean.”
our path: In 1828 this meant “a way or passage,” “a way, course or track where a body moves,” “to push forward, to cause to go, to make way for.”
    Thus, “the sea our path” means that the Nephites traveled over the sea as they would a path or road, i.e., from where they were to where they were going. Thus, the sea over which they sailed took them to their destination.
• We are upon… As used in the sentence, it means that they are living upon the place described.
• An isle… In 1828, this meant the same as island (“island” was not then a word). Defined as “a track of land surrounded by water.”
• of the sea. Denotes where the isle or island was located, i.e., in the midst of the sea. In this case, since sea has already been introduced, the isle is located in the midst of the sea over which they had sailed.
(See the next post, “The Death Knell for Mesoamerica – Part III,” for more on how Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni disqualify Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise)

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