Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Death Knell of Mesoamerica – Part V

Continuing with the reason for Mesoamerica’s death knell to the theorists Land of Promise model according to the fact their model does not match the descriptions of Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni found in the scriptural record.
    Another Jaredite comment has to do with two animals. Moroni states that “They also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19, emphasis added).
Elephants have many uses that aided early man, including hauling and carrying

When we look at the usefulness of elephants, they play a very important role in a community of antiquity because of their brute force in being able to move and haul large and heavy items or bundles. They can move entire trees, from knocking them down to hauling them away, to clear an area for planting quite quickly and have generally transformed agriculture where they have been domesticated. As a beast of burden and work animal, they quickly form warm and affectionate bonds with man, and because of the elephant’s incredible capacity for knowledge, understanding, learning, insight, strength, and long working life, they have proved to be most useful to human beings, not only in warfare anciently, where most elephants were noncombatant transport animals, though a few were actual “battle elephants,” but also in labor, such as logging where they can uproot trees and move large logs, or to help in the building of roads. Their strength to clear fields, communities, and areas for planting or other uses proved invaluable to early man.
    They are also frequently gentle and intelligent enough to be totally trustworthy, though it is always necessary to remember that they are wild and dangerous animals at heart. When dealing with creatures that possess as high a level of understanding and insight, elephants have proved to be most industrious and helpful to man, and are particularly effective as a transport means during hunting because they fit in naturally with other wild animals and they are mightier than many of the predators that humans may face.
    In light of this, then, to say that the unknown cureloms and cumoms were as useful to man as the elephant, even more than the horse or ass, is to suggest two animals of high value and domestic use. So what kind of animals could they have been? Sorenson has suggested tapirs and sloths, two animals that, other than for food, have little or no value to man.
African Water Buffalo; Bison 

The African buffalo and American bison are both unpredictable and highly dangerous to humans and are not docile by nature. Similarly, the zebra, though closely related to the horse, is typically much more aggressive, and this may explain why zebras have been tamed only in rare instances. (Some evolutionary biologists do not consider docility to be a criterion of domestication, as many domestic animals are derived from very aggressive species, such as the dog from the wolf).
    Animals of value to humans need to be docile by nature, lack a tendency to panic and flee, can forage for food around humans, live in crowded enclosures, breed in captivity, reach maturity quickly, and conform to a social hierarchy. Many of the animals that numerous theorists have suggested could be cureloms and cumoms simply would not fit those criteria. In addition, of the few animals that could, would have to have been unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829.
    In Meso- and Central America, as an example, such animals as the sloth, anteater, tamandua, capybara, agouti, paca, ocelot, cacomistle, coati, olingo, kinkajou, tayra, peccary, and tapir simply would not be considered beasts of burden or helpful to man, let alone more so than the horse and ass and on a par with the elephant. It seems extremely doubtful that any such animals would have been unknown to Joseph Smith in the Great Lakes and western New York area where Joseph lived and worked as a third or fourth generation farmer.
    Nor are there such animals in the heartland or even out west, where some have suggested the buffalo and mountain goat or bighorn sheep, all of which animals Joseph would likely have at least heard about. Nor do any none serve the criteria as being helpful to man other than perhaps the buffalo; however, such animas are certainly not domesticable.
Left: Llama; Right: Alpaca

That leaves the two most noticeable matches found anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, where two animals can be found, with a long, indigenous history in the area dating to both Nephite and Jaredite times, that two beasts of burden animals provide such worth as to have been revered by some later generations and used for just about every purpose any animal can be used, and that is the Llama and the Alpaca, of which we have written much in these pages. 
    Another death knell for Mesoamerica!
    In Mormon’s writing, we find two grains that are listed on a par with corn, wheat and barley, that Joseph Smith, a farmer, would not have known about in 1829 New England. We have written about the two highly nutritious grains of quinoa and kiwicha, the two superfood seeds of Andean Peru, many times here. Needless to say, that no such two grains exist in Meso- or Central America, and in fact, most grains from Jerusalem do not grow in that area at all, or if they do, under great difficulty.
    Another death knell for Mesoamerica! 
    There is also a simple statement made in Alma that describes a most important herb that was a life-saver to the Nephites, and would have been most important in any land, but only one land in the entire world grew the herb until at least the 1600s, when the Dutch stole seedlings from Andean Peru and planted them in Indonesia.
     That scripture is: “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land -- but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). To the ancients, the most feared fever that resulted in more deaths than any other malady throughout history was malaria—a problem still facing parts of the world today. And the only cure for malaria is quinine, a natural product from the bark of the cinchona tree, an indigenous plants found only in Andean Peru, South America, until the Dutch transplanted it. It should be noted that there are no such plants or cures in Meso- or Central America, as well as North America, though they have a high incidence of malaria throughout history
Digging of the Panama Canal
As an example, even in modern times, malaria threatened the defeat of the Panama Canal. By 1906, 85% of the men working on the canal had been hospitalized at some point with malaria, which disease had exacted an utterly unreasonable toll in deaths, suffering and costs. Faced with the possibility of failing as other powers had before, President Theodore Roosevelt was forced to implement an expensive plan to combat malaria drawn up by the physician Colonel William Gorgas, who based his intervention on spraying the isthmus rather than on the palliative (relieving pain but not the cause) treatments that had previously been used. The President's personal physician, Alexander Lambert, told him, "You are facing one of the greatest decisions of your career. If you fall back on the old methods, you will fail just as the French failed. If you back Gorgas you will get your canal."
    Over a hundred years have elapsed since then and it is hard not to think of the Panama Canal as a metaphor for Mesoamerica’s new dream: the possibility of putting an end to malaria, a disease that has claimed the lives of thousands of human beings, drags down economies and hampers progress throughout an area that stretches from Panama to northern Mexico. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, the poorest region in the hemisphere is taking on a challenge that has so far only been overcome in the world's most developed countries. This is a challenge that transcends the region’s borders and can only be achieved through a combination of health diplomacy and international political commitment. Though there has been a 60% drop in malaria cases since 2000, there were still 427,000 cases reported in 2013 in Mesoamerica. An interesting problem when one considers the last part of the above scripture: “…but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.
Bark of a cinchona tree was first dried, then ground to a fine powder, and finally mixed into a liquid before being drunk. In 1820, quinine was extracted from the bark, isolated and named by Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou

As an example, in Andean Peru, in the western area (west of the Andes), no vaccinations are required for travel or living in the area, where “malaria transmission is not known to occur.” In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the concern for malaria is high for first time travelers to Peru, the risk is low. Only 30,000 cases are reported per year in the entire country, of which most of those are in Amazonia, far to the east of the area were the ruins are found.
    There are, of course, numerous herbs and plants throughout the world that were used by groups in antiquity (as well as today) for medicinal purposes. However, there was only one plant before modern synthetics that cured deadly fever as Mormon describes, and that was quinine from the cinchona (quina-quina) tree, as well as all 23 species of trees and shrubs, found only in Andean South America.
    Another death knell for Mesoamerica! 
    With so many scriptural references countering the claims of Mesoamericanists, it is a wonder that any can still, in good conscience, support this inaccurate and erroneous model for the location of the Land of Promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment