Thursday, April 30, 2020

More Comments from Readers Part II

Following are more comments and questions from our readers:
Comment #1: “The comment in Alma 22:32 of it being defensive lines of a day and a half’s journey, and a day’s journey in Helaman 4:7 must be located outside the Isthmus or narrow neck because of the phrasing “from the east unto the west sea” and “from the west sea, even unto the east.” Thus, these defensive lines must be outside the narrow neck of land but also must be in the vicinity of the south side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (narrow neck of land) and must relate directly with the Pacific Ocean (west sea)” Wes B.
The two lines mentioned in the scriptural record

Response: It is unclear what you think the word “unto” means. In 1828, the word was considered “obsolete’ since “it expresses no more than to.” It is not found in the Mother Tongue, according to Noah Webster, “nor used in popular discourse.” Even today, the word is defined as “archaic term for to,” and “archaic term for until.” Even checking with the English Language & Usage, which sometimes goes far afield to find an answer, it merely states: “What are the differences between "unto" and "to"? It seems that in many contexts where the word "unto" is used, "to" could be substituted and would be perfectly correct.”
    Thus, the two statements you quote should read: “from the east to the west sea,” and “from the west sea, even to the east.” Therefore, nothing changes.
    Nor, by the way, are these two statements connected in any way, one being used to describe the width of the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32) and the other used to describe the length of a defensive wall that the Nephites built to stop the northern advances of the Lamanite armies (Helaman 4:7). The first is definitely within the narrow neck of land, and the latter is obviously not.
Comment #2: “You talk about Quechua as the original language of the Nephites. Does it still exist?” Mikki T.
Response: Yes. The other language was Aymara. However, today Quechua is considered to be a group of at least seven languages with about 46 distinct dialects between them. But it wasn’t always like that. Just as Latin in Europe became Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, French, Italian, Romanian among others, over the past centuries Quechua too has adapted and changed—something that happens in just about all languages. Just like Latin, at one time in the past there was a single Original Quechua from which the modern varieties evolved. Today, 10 million people speak Quechua, which includes 13% of the total population of Peru. About 2.8 million people speak Aymara today.
    It might be of interest to know that the fictional language called Huttese used in the Star Wars movies is largely based on Quechua.
Comment #3: “I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but all your talk about Sorenson has caused me to look more critically at his Mesoamerican theory and to the specific areas of his city placement. And illogically, I found he places the location of the east-seashore cities of Bountiful, Mulek, Gid, Omner, Jershon, Morianton, Lehi, Nephihah, and Moroni near the top of the narrow neck of land. The result is that he positions these cities over the top of or in the middle of cities located in Olmec/Jaredite territory—locations that are not supported by the Mesoamerica archaeological and historical records of the first century BC.” Dixon M.
Response: Excellent point. Thank you. Mesoamericanists have an interesting of placing cities, not based on the scriptural record, but on where cities are now found in Mesoamerica.
Comment #4: “You write about science, yet every time you do, you are on the opposite side of all accepted science. Take this which I retrieved from PBS website: “The Colorado has dramatically changed the role the river plays in a task begun millions of years ago: dredging the Grand Canyon." (Nature Series, "Grand Canyon: The Colorado River”), PBS, []. Also, in “General Science” (Prentice Hall, 1998, p 174): “Over millions of years, the Colorado River has carved out the Grand Canyon from solid rock.” And on p 279 “The Colorado River flowing along the bottom of the Grand Canyon, has cut through layer upon layer of rock over millions of years exposing fossils long buried in sedimentary rock.” Now you are writing about the Grand Canyon being made in a very short time, which everyone knows was a feature that took millions of years to form, cut by the Colorado River” Joanne N.
The Grand Canyon
Response: It is interesting you quoted from these two sources—far more authentic and scientific quotes on this subject could have easily been found and listed. However, the overall point is a rather simple one.
    Perhaps you learned something differently in school, but all the science courses taught us shows that water does not naturally flow uphill. Consider the fact that the Colorado River travels through the Rocky Mountains and enters the Grand Canyon at 2800 feet, flows downhill for 270 miles and exists the canyon at 1800 feet; yet, along that course, the Kaibab Uplift—the highest points of the mountains the river is supposed to have cut through—is 6900 to 8500 feet high. In other words, the river would have had to run uphill 4000 feet to then cut downward to the level it now is.
    Considering these different altitudes, we should notice the following points:
1. The top of Grand Canyon is higher than the bottom;
2. The river only runs through the bottom;
3. The Rocky Mountains are higher than where the river enters the canyon by over 4000 feet;
4. Rivers do not flow uphill.
    Unless the Colorado River in nature can be shown to flow uphill against gravity, there is no way that the river made that canyon. In all respects, that leaves the Grand Canyon formed via a breached damn on much larger proportions than we are used to seeing.
    To better understand this, take the Teton Dam in Idaho, in which engineers noticed a small leak at approximately 7:30 to 8:00 a.m., Saturday, June 5, 1976, along the 305-foot-high, 3,200-foot-long earthen dam, just after completion and when it was first being filled, foolishly built in a valley of porous clay by the Bureau of Reclamation, one of the eight federal agencies authorized to construct dams.
The break in Teton Dam in Idaho. The force of 251,000 acre feet of water moving at 2,000,000 cubic feet per second, has such tremendous force to have cut a wide swatch through an already existing canyon at Teton Dam

Between four and five hours later, at 11:57 am, the breach could not be stopped and the crest of the embankment fell into the enlarging hole and 80-billion gallons of water, at over 2,000,000 cubic feet per second, surged in a solid wall from the 251,000 acre feet of water behind the dam as it was just reaching full capacity. The wall of water flowed down the valley of eastern Idaho for approximately eight straight hours, though the main part of the reservoir emptied in about five hours, reaching a height of 30-feet, wiping out farming towns and carving a new canyon through the six miles before spreading out and shallowing on the Snake River Plain in a matter of hours, causing numerous landslides from banks caving in, as it moved at 15 miles an hour, killing 11 people and swallowing hundreds of homes and 18,000 head of livestock, as it carved and widened the Teton River Canyon.
    While evolutionists teach that canyons form with a little bit of water, and a lot of time, an assumption that cannot be verified in the lifetime of science, the reality of what we see in the world is that an enormous canyon forming very rapidly with a lot of water and little bit of time. We cannot observe the evolutionists' explanation because it would take far too long, and therefore becomes part of what they believe, not scientific observation. However, a rapid formation explanation from a breached dam can be observed naturally, and is scientific observation. 
The Marineris Canyon on Mars runs across the landscape and is the largest and deepest canyon at in the solar system at 2,485 miles long, 124 miles wide and up to 6.8 miles p (by comparison, Earth’s Grand Canyon is 1.25 miles deep

As an example, when evolutionary geologists look at the photos of Mars and see giant canyons, far greater in size than the Grand Canyon, they conclude there must have been an enormous amount of water in a short amount of time to create that canyon. However, they deny the same conclusion when they can stand face-to-face with the Grand Canyon because in interpretation of a lot of water and a little time matches too closely with the Biblical explanation.
    You may call that a scientific approach, but we do not.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Rocky Mountains in Provo, Utah 

Comment #1: “I started reading your blog from the oldest and am almost done through your most current posts.  Absolutely love your work and have shared your website with many friends and relatives.  Just bought your first book to read next.  Was just reading your October post about mountains of exceeding height, and in this post you state: ‘Now in the entire Western Hemisphere, there are only two locations where mountains have so great a height that the Lord would have chosen “mountains whose height is great” as a sign to look forward to at the time of his crucifixion, and forever after remind people of the event those mountains signaled.’ While I do agree that the Andes mountains are those prophesied of (due to the abundance of evidence you point out throughout your blog entries), I'm not sure that "there are only two locations" possible.  I was born in New York near Palmyra and grew up in Michigan.  Both are very flat areas.  When I first came to Utah to enter the MTC, I was amazed at the mountains, which to me had a height, which was great.  I've now lived in Utah for 20 years and am still amazed at the height and beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  Some years ago when I first traveled to Idaho and saw the Tetons, I was amazed at their height as well. The prophesy does not say they will be the highest mountains; just "whose height is great". To me it seems there are at least a handful of mountain ranges that could meet that criteria.  (Now, when you add in all the other criteria you have so skillfully shown throughout your blog, only the Andes fit). That's just my perspective on this scripture, but thought I'd share it with you.” 
Response: “Sometimes we forget that our perspective is not always shared by our readers. When we said there are only two areas in the Western Hemisphere where mountains are really high, or "whose height is great," we should have clarified that Western Hemisphere mountains run along from Tierra del Fuego (tip of South America) all the way to Alaska (and the Aleutian islands) in a continuous and contiguous chain, often referred to in the Bible and Church as the Land of Everlasting Hills, i.e., North and South America, and that those mountains exist through South America (Andes), Central America/Mexico (Sierra Madre, etc.) Utah Idaho, Washington, etc., Rocky Mountains, California (Sierra Nevada) all the way to Alaska (Alaska Range) etc.
    Now, since no one has suggested that the western U.S. is the sight of the Land of Promise (California, Utah, Idaho, Washington, etc.), we typically do not write about those areas being considered as the Land of Promise location and skip to the main locations discussed, South America, Central America, Mesoamerica, Eastern U.S., Heartland, Great Lakes, etc. Therefore, the only two areas in the Western Hemisphere where there are mountains whose height is great would be South America and Mesoamerica (Land of Promise suggested sites). Sorry for the confusion.
Mt. Concagua of the Andes in South America

However, while on the subject, we might also add that of the mountains of the world, beginning with the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere (Mt. Aconcaguas – Andes, at 22,840-feet) the next 25 mountains in the Western Hemisphere are all in the Andes, making the top 26 in the Andes, then one in Alaska, 9 more in the Andes, 1 in Canada, then 12 more in the Andes (meaning of the highest 51 mountains in the Western Hemisphere, 49 lie within the Andes Range of South America); or overall, 59 of the highest 69 mountains in the Western Hemisphere are found in the Andes—and of those found in suggested Land of Promise areas, of the highest 62 mountains, 59 are in the Andes and 3 in Mexico, with 47 in the Andes before the highest in Mexico is reached.
Comment #2: “I know you have written a lot about the grammar and English-Hebrew type of errors or differences, especially in the changes of the language during the early to late 1800s, but what can you say about the error in Mosiah? In this particular instance, the name of King Benjamin was used and translated as such in the original 1830 edition, yet Joseph Smith later corrected it to read King Mosiah (Benjamin’s son) for King Benjamin had been dead for some time by the period covered in the verse (Mosiah 21:28). That is a different type of error and if God was behind this translation then why did it occur?” Cy F.
Response: This has been answered by others far more knowledgeable of translation than we are, but in brief, your comment is correct. It was a mistake. Now one might ask whose mistake was it? Joseph Smith for making a slip in translating, reading Mosiah but thinking Benjamin? Certainly that is a common enough thing for people to do—some do it quite frequently in daily conversation. On the other hand, since God or the Spirit was involved in the translation as we have reported several times, to assign the error to the Spirit is to assign it to God and that would be unthinkable.
    Consequently, we are left to wonder if Mormon, abridging the record of Mosiah didn’t inadvertently make the slip. Such would be possible, of course, and may be the answer. On the other hand, we need to understand that our purpose of being on earth, and serving in various capacities in the kingdom as some are called upon to do, are still human with human frailties and God allows us to make our mistakes that we may learn and profit by them in our growth and development.
    In translating over 500 pages, it might be asked why are there not more errors? The importance of the Book of Mormon is not in its perfect writing style, prose, spelling or grammar, but in the spiritual message the Lord wants delivered to his children. In that, the Book of Mormon is perfect, and the Lord so indicated it was when he said to Joseph and the witnesses: ”These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear'" (History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Vol. 1, pp. 54-55). 
After all, there were errors in the Bible, in its translation, in its printing, in its Hebrew and later Greek writing. The point is not whether the Bible is a perfect work of language, but of the message it has delivered to countless millions over the millennia. The same is true with the Book of Mormon. That many of these errors have been found through careful observance and study and corrected to the point of clarity is of value, and one to be expected in any work accomplished by man. As Sidney Sperry point out, “what we have here is an example of another human error that Joseph Smith was glad to correct" (The Problems of the Book of Mormon, page 203).
    It might be kept in mind that the Book of Mormon has been translated into 82 full foreign languages and 25 partial languages and has been named one of the twenty books that changed America—in that, it was and is, a perfect translation and we are under command to tell the world: “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.”
Comment #3: “I understand that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith in 1829. Did it take the entire year? Even so, that seems like a short time to translate 530 pages or so” Edward S.
Response: Actually, his dictation of the translation to scribes took only about three months—April, May and June 1829. As we have described in these pages in the past, he translated the plates with the help of a seer stone that witnesses said he placed in a hat, which he then put over his face to block out the light so he could see the writing on the stone.
    It is a strange story, to be sure, but the surviving manuscripts do show that the text was dictated aloud, one time through—which is a heck of a way to write such a lengthy book, including with more than 200 named characters and 90 place names. Its chronology, internal geography, and genealogies are all quite consistent. There have been a few thousand changes made in the text since it was first published in 1830, but virtually all of them have been grammatical corrections; the narrative itself is basically exactly what Joseph first dictated.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Determination of Limhi’s Rescue Mission

Sometime before 121 BC, king Limhi tells Ammon, who had been sent from Zarahemla to learn about the Nephites that went back to reclaim the city of Nephi, that he had earlier sent an expedition of forty three men to find Zarahemla. His purpose was that they “might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage” (Mosiah 8:7).
    Since Mesoamericanists need to reduce the distance this expedition covered to equate to the limited distances of their land of promise, they have come up with scenarios that allow for a short trip by these Nephites searching for Zarahemla. As an example, John L. Sorenson in his book writes ““At such a distance from home they would have thought of turning back. Surely diligent men such as the king would have sent on this mission would not have pressed on much farther.”
    The problem is, that these theorists seem to forget the purpose of Limhi sending out the expedition in the first place. First of all, it was Limhi’s grandfather, Zeniff, who took a group Nephites in Zarahemla (Mosiah 7:9), to look for this group of Nephites who had gone back to reclaim their inherited land, which was “the land of their fathers” in the city of Nephi in the Land of Nephi.
    By the time Limhi came to power at the time of the death of his father, Noah, the Nephites in the City of Nephi were under bondage. As Limhi told Ammon, “We are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne” (Mosiah 7:15).
    These men lived under bondage to the Lamanites who mistreated them and made their days difficult—when they went looking for succor among their brethren at Zarahemla, they did not take thier task lightly—it was imperative they find the Zarahemla, the main city of the Nephites so they could gain freedom from the Lamanite yoke.
It was so bad, the Limhi stated: “Our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites” (Mosiah 7:15).
    When these 43-men left the city of Nephi in search for Zarahemla, they sought the aid of their brethren who they hoped the Nephites would come up and save them. They knew that “God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage” (Mosiah 7:20).
    During their mission, this expedition became “lost in the wilderness for many days,” and wandered across the land, searching for Zarahemla. While Sorenson claims they would not have continued long before turning back,” we shoud realize that men charged with such an assignment are not likely to give up and return as failures in such an important mission.
    In fact, diligent men sent on a rescue mission would have persevered to find Zarahemla no matter the cost in time and effort—their entire people were under severe domination by the Lamanites, who  were a lazy and an idolatrous people, desirous to bring Limhi’s people into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of the Nepihtes—that they might feast themselves upon the flocks and fields of crops (Mosiah 9:12).
    The Nephites in the city of Nephi were in bondage, and it was up to them to find Zarahemla and affect a rescue—to have not continued on until they found Zarahemla and succor their people in the city of Nephi, would have been unconscionable.
    In fact, despite being lost, they did not give up trying to find Zarahemla until they went far into the Land Northward, and found the deserted buildings and dead strewn across the land. They thought these were the Nephites and the city of Zarahemla they sought. Seeing the destruction, they assumed Zarahemla and the Nephites had been destroyed. Only then did they turn back, disheartened no doubt, to carry the sad news to Limhi that they found Zarahemla and the Nepihtes destroyed.
    Sorenson seems to think that this expedition was a simple sight-seeing tour through the land. However, we need to keep in mind, which modern man often forgets, is that these people had no map, no GPS, no radios, no way of contacting anyone, and certainly no way of knowing what lay ahead of them. How much they knew of Zarahemla from those who once lived there and came with Limhi’s grandfather to resettle the city of Nephi is not told, but we can assume most of that generation had died off and little would be known of the directions and topography after so many years,
   Obviously, these would have been men of principle who were given an extremely important task. Limhi would have charged his men to find Zarahemla at all costs and bring back a rescue party so they could escape from bondage under the Lamanites. It is unlikely they would have given up when the entire future of their people was at stake—they would have wandered in the pursuit of finding Zarahemla until they found it, or as in this case, its remains.
    In addition, the expedition’s return trip would have been some distance, though not as far and as long as in the going for they were wandering and obviously covered a great deal of territory unnecessarily. To men of that day, time was not such an issue as it is today, and travel by foot was all that was known. It would not have been such an issue to them to keep going as it would be to a people of today. Still, they had traveled so long and so far initially, that the return trip must not have seemed that far to them.
Sorenson then draws a conclusion from how own erroneously thinking by saying: “So it is unreasonable that the battleground of the Jaredites where Limhi's explorers ended up would have been more than 100 miles into the land northward from the "line" at the neck.”
Again, trying to limit the size of the Land Northward to match his Mesoamerican model, Sorenson claims that Limhi’s 43-man expedition would not have traveled more than 100 miles into the Land Northward. Even if they had known where they were and what land they had entered, and that they had passed through a narrow neck of land, it still would have been unconscionable for them to give up and return empty-handed when their king and their people counted on these men to save them.

    He goes on to add: “The hill Ramah, where the Jaredites destroyed themselves, was the same hill as Nephite Cumorah (Ether 15:11). This whole affair tells us, then, that the total distance from the city of Nephi to the last battlefield at Ramah or Cumorah is unlikely to have been more than 450, or perhaps 500, miles.”
    Before we accept such an arbitrary conclusion, let us consider, that for a rescue party tasked with finding Zarahemla and the Nephites there to enlist them in a rescue mission to the city of Nephi, they would have been traveling quickly, and not looking around at the land they passed through since they knew they could see a city from some distance away and did not fear unknowingly passing by it. This means they would have been covering about 24 miles a day. If the distance was 500 miles as Sorenson suggests, that means they would have been about 21 days—hardly a long time or distance to cover in such an emergency.
    Sorenson seems to be obsessed with short distances, no doubt because his model of Mesoamerica covers a small area; however, distances that were covered in the ancient past were often far greater than we might think. As an example, the Mormon Battalion walked 1,850 miles from the Little Pony River in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Mission in San Diego, California, with part of this journey through the dreaded Imperial Desert in Mexico between the Colorado River and where Mexicali is today.
    The journey took 6 months. Later, most made preparations for joining the pioneers in the Great Basin. They pushed north and picked up the Old California Trail east of San Francisco. Some decided to winter at Sutter’s Fort and were present there when gold was discovered in January 1848. Those who had gone on arrived in Salt Lake Valley 16 October 1847, a trip of 505 miles to San Francisco, and another 647 miles to Salt Lake City. In a period of 18 months, these men walked a total of 3,000 miles.
    It took the Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young, 98 days to cover 938 miles from   Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Lehi’s travel from Jerusalem to the area of Salalah, Oman, took him 8 years, but the distance about 90 days and covered 1534 miles and could have been reached in about 90 days.
    There simply is no reason to limit the size of the Land of Promise based on how far someone had to walk or travel from one point to another.

Monday, April 27, 2020

What Certain Words Mean

Quite often, a word known today to mean one thing, meant something different or something broader or more restricted than in the past. As an example:
• Clue: Originally meant a “ball of yard.” Today, it is something that “helps us solve things.”
• Fantastic. Originally meant “conceived or appeared conceived.” Today it means extremely good or wonderful.”
• Furniture. Originally meant “equipment, supplies or provisions,” in the literal or figurative sense as in: “Great increase and furniture of knowledge.” Today, of course, it means equipment such as tables and chairs, etc.
• Girl. Originally meant a “child or young person of either sex.” Today it means “a female child, or young woman. In familiar language, any young unmarried woman.”
• Hussy. Originally meant “housewife.” Today it means a “disreputable woman.”
The different meaning of the word “meat” over the years

• Meat. Originally meant all “solid food” (as opposed to drink) or “fodder for animals.” In 1775 A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, author Samuel Johnson noted, “Our guides told us, that the horses could not travel all day without rest or meat.” Today, the word has narrowed to refer only to the “flesh of mammals.”
• Myriad. Originally meant the number 600. Today it means “a lot.”
• Naughty. Originally meant “someone who had nothing,” and was used like “they were poor and had nothing, thus they were naughty.” Later it changed in meaning to “a most vile, flagitious man, a sorry and naughty individual.” Finally, today, it is used to describe a mischievous, disobedient, and badly behaved child.
• Nice. Originally meant “ignorant,” then became: “showy and ostentatious, elegant and refined.” Later became “cowardly, unmanly, and effeminate,” then “slothful, lazy, and sluggish.” Today it means “agreeable and pleasant.”
• Pretty. Originally meant “crafty, skillful, and cunning.” Later it became “clever, proficient and able.” Today it means “good-looking, especially in a delicate or diminutive way.”
• Silly. Originally meant, “worthy or blessed, then became “weak and vulnerable.” Today it means “those who are foolish.”
• Sly. Originally meant “sneaky and deceitful,” then later became “skillful, clever, knowing and wise.” Today, it means “having or showing a cunning and deceitful nature.”
    Thus, it is obvious that to understand ancient passages, even as late as Joseph Smith’s time, knowing what a word meant at any particular time and not just today, would be important.
A typical road in the back country today

Take the word “road.” Today, this means “a thoroughfare, a long, narrow way of smoothed or paved surface, made for traveling between two or more points; a street or highway.” Other names for roads today include parkways, avenues, freeways, tollways, interstates, highways, or primary, secondary, and tertiary local roads.
    Consequently, when reading that the ancient Romans or Nephite had roads, it is only natural for us today to think in terms of the roads we know, made with asphalt, macadam or cement. Yet, anciently, it merely meant an open way or public passage; ground appropriated for travel, forming a communication between one city, town or place and another. Note that there is no mention of size in this description. Thus, a road in Nephite times might well have been more like a wide path today, though built much sturdier with stone and crushed rock.
A Nephite road stretching for miles through a town in central Peru to another nearby. In the days of the Inca, it was called Qhapac Ñan, which in Quechua means "The Great Road”

In Nephite times, the disciple Nephi indicates a very extensive roadway system throughout the land when he said, “And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8). In addition, we find that as with the Roman roads, these Nephite roads had been leveled in their construction (3 Nephi 8:13).
    It is only natural, then, that the Land of Promise would show some indication of these Nephite roads as we find indications of the old Roman roads in the Old World.
A country highway running from place to place

While today we separate roads and highways according to size, the Nephites separated them according to destination. Those roads that went from city to city seem to have been classified by the disciple Nephi as “roads,” while those that went from place to place were “highways” (3 Nephi 6:8).
    Roman roads, like those of Peru, were built, where possible, in a straight line from one sighting point to the next, regardless of obstacles, and was carried over marshes, lakes, ravines, and mountains. Peruvian roads were likewise remarkable, with a 25-foot wide roadway that traversed the loftiest ranges. It included galleries cut into solid rock and retaining walls built up for hundreds of feet to support the roadway. Ravines and chasms were filled with solid masonry, suspension bridges with wool or fiber cables crossed the wider mountain streams, and stone surfacing was used in difficult areas. The steeper gradients were surmounted by steps cut in the rocks.
Top: A stepped Roman road from Elah valley to Bethlehem; Bottom: a stepped Nephite road northeast of Lima 

While critics of South America have pointed to the stepped roads in Andean Peru not truly being roads as defined in the Book of Mormon, they neglect the existence of stepped roads in ancient Rome, which were also called roads. Thus, roads anciently did not need to be only smooth and level, but were stepped at times because of topographical conditions.
    Thus, Roman roads, like those in Andean Peru were sometimes stepped, which the critics ignore. It is also of interest to know that Roman roads were found throughout Israel, still seen and used today.
    The first roads were paths made by animals and later adapted by humans, and date back far into BC times. The first indications of constructed roads date from about 4000 BC and consist of stone-paved streets a Ur of the Chaldees in in what is today Iraq. The demand for paved roads rose with the use of wheeled vehicles, which were well established by 2000 BC.
    Lest we fall into the trap of thinking Roman roads were the earliest and only roads in the Old World, the earliest long-distance road was a 1,500-mile route between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. It came into some use about 3000 BC, but it was operated in an organized way from about 1200 BC by the Assyrians.

Stone road built earlier than 2000 BC, leading to the ancient pyramid of Sakkara in the desert of Egypt, an area called Memphis anciently and today Cairo

Herodotus also states that the Egyptians built their first roads to provide a solid track so they could haul the immense limestone blocks used in the pyramids. Such archaeological evidence indicates that this road building took place southwest of Cairo between 2600 and 2200 BC, long before the Egyptians had the wheel. On the other hand, street surfacing in towns seems to have been limited to paved processional roads leading to the temples. These ancient travel routes of Egypt ran from Thebes and Coptos on the central Nile east to the Red Sea and from Memphis Cairo) across the land bridge to Asia Minor.
    At the same time, the built special special roads for religious purposes and transport about 800 BC. These were mostly ceremonial, or “sacred,” roads, paved with shaped stone and containing wheel ruts about 55 inches apart. In Babylon around 615 BC, the Chaldeans connected the city’s temples to the royal palaces with the Processional Way, a major road in which burned bricks and carefully shaped stones were laid in bituminous mortar.
    The Persian route was duplicated between 550 and 486 BC by the great Persian kings Cyrus II and Darius I in their famous Royal Road. Like its predecessor, the Persian Royal Road began at Susa, wound northwestward to Arbela, and then proceeded westward through Nineveh to Harran, a major road junction and caravan center. The main road then continued to twin termini at Smyrna and Ephesus. The Greek historian Herodotus, writing about 475 BC, put the time for the journey from Susa to Ephesus at 93 days, although royal riders traversed the route in 20 days.
Top: Typical Roman road; Bottom: Typical ancient Peruvian road. Note the similarity as both were called “roads”

Typically, Roman roads were built by placing large stones in the bottom of the road bed, then broken stones, pebbles cement and sand to make a firm base. On top of that was placed cement mixed with broken tiles, then with paving stones forming the surface of the road.
    In Andean Peru, the construction consisted of flat cut stone, fitted tightly together over a highly compacted base. In addition, these roads ran from Quito, Ecuador, through Cuzco and as far south as Santiago, Chile. It included two parallel roadways, one along the coast about 2,250 miles in length, the other following the Andes about 3,400 miles in length with a number of cross connections.
    At its zenith, when the Spaniards arrived early in the 16th century, a network of some 14,000 miles of road served an area of about 750,000 square miles in which lived nearly 10 million people. The network was praised by 16th-century explorers as superior to that in contemporary Europe.
    All of this should suggest to anyone that for a civilization to have developed such excellent roads, it would have had to have been advanced overall, with stone buildings, roads to all parts of the land, and the extensive use of stone for lasting needs. In fact, all of these major civilization centers that built such magnificent and lasting roads also built their public and private buildings out of stone and their remnants are easily seen today.
Consequently, when the disciple Nephi wrote about roads and highways, it seems quite evident the concept of paved roads were well known to the Nephites through Lehi, Nephi, Same and Zoram.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Ancient Herbal Medicines in Peru

Health treatment in the ancient past was far more different than the Modern Medicine used today, the latter relying on medicine and synthetics to deal with physical illnesses—in fact, Americans use prescription drugs more than any other nation, with Japan a close second, then Germany, France, and China. The U.S., as an example, uses 10½ times as many prescription drugs as does the next nation, Mexico, and 5½ times more generic drugs than the second, leading country, Germany (and almost 16 times more than Mexico).
    The oldest remedies known to mankind are herbal medicines, which refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines. Also called botanical medicine, phytomedicine, or phytotherapy, Herbal medicine refers to herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations, and finished herbal products that contain parts of plants or other materials as active ingredients. The plant parts used in herbal therapy include seeds, berries, roots, leaves, fruits, bark, flowers, or even the whole plants.
The ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus lists over 800 herbal plant medicines
For millennia, man was mainly dependent on crude botanical material for medical needs to retain vitality and cure diseases. This changed once aspirin derived from Spiraea ulmaria was introduced, which had already been prescribed for fever and swelling in Egyptian papyri and recommended by the Greek Hippocrates for pain and fever.
    Even today, practitioners of “conventional” medicine do not hesitate to recommend herbs, herbal products, or complementary and alternative medicine therapy to their patients for the effective treatment of certain diseases. In fact, a recent survey indicated that about 40% of adults and 11% of children used herbal medicine, which are more commonly used by people with higher levels of education and income. Additional surveys have shown that the use of Herbal Medicine is significantly correlated with higher education level, with a trend towards greater use in younger patients with breast cancer.
    In addition, we find that in the Book of Mormon, it is made quite clear that the Lord provided medicinal plants and herbs (herbal medicine) which the Nephites used.
    An example of plants used in Herbal Medicine would be basil, a common herb used to garnish salads, pasta, and many other meals to add delicious flavor. However, basil is an excellent medicinal herb; has strong antibacterial properties; is rich in antioxidants; reduces stress, inflammation and swelling; prevents some harmful effects of aging; strengthens bones and liver; boosts immunity and metabolism, and improves digestion. At the same time, a medicinal plant would be the Chinchona, which provides alkaloid quinine, which for more than 4,000 years was the only way to treat malaria (deadly fever).
    It is also important to note that Herbal Medicine is often the only accessible and affordable treatment available in many parts of the world. In Africa, as an example, up to 80% of the population uses Traditional Medicine as the primary healthcare system; in Chile it is 71% and in China and Colombia it is 40%. In many Asian countries Traditional Medicine is widely used, even though Western or Modern Medicine is often readily available. The number of visits to providers of Traditional Medicine now exceeds by far the number of visits to all primary care physicians in the US. Forty-eight percent of the population in Australia, 70% in Canada, 42% in the US, 38% in Belgium and 75% in France, have used Traditional Medicine. A survey of 610 Swiss doctors showed that 46% had used some form of Traditional Medicine.
Use of medicinal plants in Northern Peru, with special focus on the Departments of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca, and San Martin, made up the center of the old Central Andean "Health Axis," stretching from Ecuador to Peru and Bolivia. The roots of traditional healing practices in this region go at least as far back as the Moche period (100–700 AD), who developed irrigation canals into an extensive system of irrigation, but it was no doubt used long before them, particular during the Chavin culture (900 to 200 BC); and also traced back to the Cupisnique culture (1000 BC).
    In fact, many cultures throughout Peru can trace their healers, collectors, and sellers of medicinal plants. Over 974 preparations with up to 29 different ingredients were used to treat 164 health conditions. Almost 65% of the medicinal plants were applied in these mixtures.
    Their antibacterial activity was confirmed in most plants used for infections, and Twenty-four percent of the aqueous extracts and 76% of the ethanolic extracts showed toxicity. Traditional preparation methods take this into account when choosing the appropriate solvent for the preparation of a remedy. The increasing demand for medicinal species did not increase the cultivation of medicinal plants. Most species are collected in the wild, causing doubts about the sustainability of trade.
    In fact, early on there was little sufficient information either concerning the reasons for an illness or concerning which plant and how it could be utilized as a cure—everything was based on experience. In time, the reasons for the usage of specific medicinal plants for treatment of certain diseases were being discovered; thus, the medicinal plants’ usage gradually abandoned the empiric framework and became founded on known and understood facts. Until the advent of iatrochemistry in 16th century, plants had been the source of treatment and means to combat illness.
While medicinal plants can be found almost anywhere, the area of Mesopotamia and Egypt in the Old World and Andean Peru (Ecuador through Peru to Bolivia) in the New World are the most prolific

In numerous writings of different parts of the world, medicinal plants have been described and their use outlined. According to data from the Bible and the Jewish Talmud, as well as he body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara, that during various rituals accompanying a treatment, aromatic plants were utilized such as myrtle and incense.
    In fact, the Hebrews were well familiar with medicinal plants and herbs. In Mesopotamia, the written study of herbs dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who created clay tablets with lists of hundreds of medicinal plants, such as myrrh and opium. The same is true in ancient Egypt regarding diseases of the limbs to those of the limbs.
    They used over 850 plant medicines, including garlic, juniper, cannabis, castor bean and mandrake. The herbs used by Egyptian healers were mostly indigenous in origin, although some were imported from other regions like Lebanon. Other than papyri, evidence of herbal medicine has also been found in tomb illustrations or jars containing traces of herbs.
    It should be noted, that about 50% of the plants in use reported in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the plant knowledge of the population is much more extensive than in other parts of the Andean region.
    510 plant species used for medicinal purposes were collected, identified and their vernacular names, traditional uses and applications recorded. The families best represented were Asteraceae (aster, daisy, sunflower) with 69 species; Fabaceae (legumes) 35; Lamiaceae (mints and balms) 25; Solanaceae (nightshade, jimson, tobacco) 21; Euphorbiaceae (Spurge, snakeweed) 12; Apiaceae (celery) 11; and Poaceae (bamboo, barley, grass) 11 species.
    Herbs in this ancient Andean area were used for the treatment of respiratory disorders (95 species), problems of the urinary tract (85), infections of female organs (66), liver ailments (61), inflammations (59), stomach problems (51) and rheumatism (45). 83% of these plants were native to Peru, and fresh plants, often collected wild, were used in two thirds of all cases, and the most common applications included the ingestion of herb al preparations or the application of plant material as poultices.
Euphorbia characias Dwarf

As an example, Euphorbia, mentioned above, was used for female disorders, asthmas and other breathing disorders, bronchitis and chest congestion, mucus in the nose and throat, spasms, hay fever and vomiting. On the other hand, the cinchona tree has a singular use, which is in the bark that when ground creates quinine, the cure for malaria.
    It is interesting that because of the climate at certain times of the year, Nephites were dying from killer fevers. Mormon makes this perfectly clear: “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, emphasis added).
    Now quinine, the only plant or herb known that treats and cures malaria, comes singularly from the Chinchona tree, which is indigenous to Andean Peru and found nowhere else in the world until it was transplanted in Indonesia in the 17th century.
    In fact, Andean Peru an into the Amazon Basin, is the major location on the planet for medicinal plants and herbs.
    It should be noted that plants are rich in a variety of compounds, many are secondary metabolites and include aromatic substances, most of which are phenols or their oxygen-substituted derivatives such as tannins. Many of these compounds have antioxidant properties and ethnobotanicals are important for pharmacological research and drug development—not only when plant constituents are used directly as therapeutic agents, but also as starting materials for the synthesis of drugs or even as models for pharmacologically active compounds.
    In addition, 65% of the medicinal flora use in Peru were applied anciently in medicinal mixtures. This included 714 medicinal plants, 510 medicinal and 974 remedies of mixtures, which demonstrates that herbal commerce in Peru was a major economic resource (Angel Josabad Alonso-Castro, “Use of medicinal plants by health professionals in Mexico,” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bathesda MD, Dec 14, 2016).
    The entire U.S. has a goal of producing 300 mixtures. In Mesoamerica, much of the herbology practiced was specifically to deter stomach ailments probably due to their constant state of dread and knowledge that their world was doomed to disastrous endings and constant perils. Mesoamerica has but 139 plant species belonging to 61 families in Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean (Angel Josabad Alonso-Castro, “Use of medicinal plants by health professionals in Mexico,” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bathesda MD, Dec 14, 2016)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Mystery of the Sayhuite Stone

Showing Sayhuite in Peru

Sayhuite (Saywite) is an archaeological site that consists of several abnormally large size and intricate carvings of stone, with the Sayhuite monolith the most famous, which is located 29 miles east of Abancay, and 94 miles west of Cusco, in the province Abancay in the region Apurímac in Peru. It lies at 11,483 feet above sea level in the highlands of the Andes mountains. The site is regarded as an ancient center of religious worship.
    Besides many carved rocks, the site has a large temple, featuring larger columns draped in fabrics with gold bands the “thickness of one’s hand.” Dr. John Hemming, who is one of the world's experts on Peruvian archaeology, member of the Royal Geographical Society, the history of exploration generally, and also the Chairman of Hemming Group Ltd., points to a colonial narrative that describes the interior of the Sayhuite temple, which was at one time under the care of the priestess Asarpay, who jumped to her death in the nearby 1300-foot gorge to avoid capture (John Hemming, Monuments of the Incas, Thames & Hudson, London, 2010, p184). However, today there is no archaeology evidence to establish the veracity of this claim—and all that remains of the ancient sanctuary is its raised platform on which lies the gigantic monolith of Sayhuite.
The monolithic stone with over 200 carvings

An important feature on the site is the Sayhuite monolith, from a name in Quechua “Saywayta,” which means “place of orientation,” or “where something is oriented.” This monument is an enormous rock 12-feet wide and 7 feet long, containing more than 200 geometric and zoomorphic figures, including reptiles, frogs, and felines. Found at the top of a hill named Concacha, the stone, which had to have been transported to the hill since it was not natural there, was sculpted as a topographical hydraulic model, complete with terraces, ponds, rivers, tunnels, and irrigation channels.
    Researcher Dr. Arlan Andrews, Sr., believes the monolith was used as a scale model to design, develop, test, and document the water flow for public water projects, and to teach ancient engineers and technicians the concepts and practices required (Dr. Arlan Andrews, Sr., "Hydraulics of the Ancients?" Atlantis Rising Magazine, Vol.58: no.45., July 2006).
    Over time the monolithic rock, which is the most popular attraction on the archaeological site, was "edited" several times, with new material, either altering the paths of the water or adding routes altogether. In addition, the site is regarded as a center of religious worship.
Sayhuite ruins overlooking the valley

While the creators of this monolith remain a mystery, it is significant as it provides archaeologists insight into the culture of past peoples, long before the Inca. Through further analysis, archaeologists have determined that the Sayhuite site was a religious center.
    It is most likely that these people held rituals and ceremonies for the general worship of at this site, or used this site to experiment with the process of irrigation and otherwise movement of water. The monolith is an important factor in this discovery, as it depicts a water-like flow between the carvings. It is also speculated, by modern day engineers, that the monolith is a depiction of the irrigation system present within the ancient culture.
    In addition, within the complex a series of nine fountains can be found, as well as a series of lesser monoliths associated with another set of fountains. There is also an altar with a 60 by 112-foot rectangular platform linked to astronomical observation. An Intihuanta—also called Saywa or Sukhanka stone—is an astronomical calendar or clock—with its different-shaped carvings, is also a specific highlight at the site. In addition to being an important astronomical device, similar to a sun dial, it was also a sacred, ritual stone. Its name is derived from the local Quechua language and can be translated as “place to tie up the sun”, with inti being the word for sun, wata being the verb root for “to tie” or “to hitch”, and –na a suffix indicating tools or places. In English, the Inca rock is often referred to as "The Hitching Post of the Sun.”
    The Saywas were ancient astronomic markers, aligned with relevant dates and were often erected on important mountain tops for the rise and decline of celestial bodies in their ecliptic, as well as able to identify and predict equinoxes solstices and other astronomical events.
    It might be of interest to note that recently a Saywas was discovered in the Atacama desert in southern Peru by Cecilia Sanhueza, an historian and leader of a team of scientists from the Pre-Colombian museum and the Alma observatory. At 13,880 feet above sea level in the inner mountain range of the city of Taltal, the scientists verified firsthand on March 21, the exact alignment of two central saywas with the sunrise point at the autumn equinox, and later on June 21, verified the precise alignment with the winter solstice.
    The mysterious site of Sayhuiote is one of Peru’s greatest anomalies, whatever the answers were to the many questions now fronting archaeologists, those answers died with the original builders and users, from long before the Inca, who also used these areas for their own purposes.
    Some regard Sayhuite as a place of religious worship by a water cult with a priestess in charge. Others claim the carved stone is a scale model of an ancient city. Still others claim the monolith was once a water irrigation testing site. At this point, nobody knows for sure. 
One of the many carved rocks surrounding the area at Sayhuit

Just beyond the Concach hilltop into the valley below, there we found several other carved rocks scattered through the grassy knolls. The carved style is very different than the Sayhuite monolith, reminiscent of some of the other ancient sites within the Sacred Valley. The most amazing was a rock with carved stairways and ascending platforms which is cracked down the center.
Top: Sayhuit built on the top of a hill; Bottom: A stone cut with stairs that lead nowhere and now broken in two

There are large stones lying about the hill with cut steps, as well as unusual squares, circles, geometric shapes and channels carved into the surfaces as well. One large stone has perfect stairs and stepped surfaces carved into it, and a few feet south, there is another interesting carved rock, thought by some to be a solar rock that when shadows are cast by the sun, they can be used to record heavenly cycles.

The large monoliths lying about with cut and angled steps and other designs
Whatever these rocks may have been used for during the ancient pre Inca civilizations, they look as if they served a specific purpose, but today, no can be sure of what that could be.
    The point of all this is not what the carvings meant or the reason for making them, what is important is to consider who made them and what kind of a culture could have done so. Obviously, this was not the achievements of a people using stone tools, or even bronze tools. Such perfect alignments, smooth (glassy) cuts, and exact measurements would have taken a people with a long history of such effort, using metal tools, with an advanced civilization.
    Such would be the Nephites, whose history in Jerusalem stretched back more than 600 years, and more than 1000 years as a distinct people. They built cities and a temple of magnificent material and handiwork, showing such engineering effort like few things in the very ancient past.  At Sayhuit, there were structures cut into stone that date long before the Inca with such precise workmanship that they required machine tools to accomplish. 
    There were double and triple doors that lead nowhere cut into a rock wall whose purpose is unknown, but were shaped by master craftsmen. It is interesting that the use of machinery is mentioned in the Book of Mormon used around 400 BC. As the ancient prophet stated about the Nephites: “And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war” (Jarom 1:8, emphasis added).