Wednesday, March 31, 2021

When Does “All Dead” Not Mean “All Dead?” – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the claims of theorists and scholars that many Nephites survived the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites

In addition to what was covered in the last post, Mormon tells us that the Lamanites swept through these towns and villages that Mormon and his army quit, killing everyone that did not flee with Mormon and his army. He put it this way: “The Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon4:22); and “We did again take to flight, and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites' did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites' were swept down and destroyed” (Mormon 5:7); and also “Whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away” (Mormon 5:5).

Those left in towns or villages were rounded up by the warring Lamanites and killed if they would not deny the Christ


Mormon obviously did not think that any Nphites that would not join him and his armies would have survived. In addition, such information would have been communicated to the inhabitants of each city, town and village they passed—and knowing the 1,000-year history of the Lamanites’ lust for their blood, it would be unlikely that these people would need to be convinced to flee. The fact that some Nephites were slower in their flight only shows that the Nephites understood their danger, but could not travel faster than the approaching Lamanites, who took delight in killing those they caught.

Obviously, the murderous, unrestrained brutality of the Lamanites’ thirst for the blood of the Nephites was so vicious and all-consuming that they killed every Nephite they could find, even tracking down a few who had escaped into the south countries and killing them. Even after every Nephite had been destroyed, Moroni still feared for his life, telling us that “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). 36 years later, Moroni tells us these civil wars were still going on: “For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2).

At the conclusion of these 63 years of wars, Mormon tells us that “when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah” (Mormon 6:5—emphasis added). And Moroni makes it quite clear that every Nephite was dead when he wrote: “the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more” (Mormon 8:7—emphasis added).

It is amazing that theorists can, in light of this very clear language, claim a contrary situation where “large numbers of Nephites” were not killed simply because they did not agree to join in the fight. It would be an interesting conversation between Moroni, who saw that they were all killed, and present-day theorists who insist they were not.

Nor are scholars free from this thinking as seen in Daniel H. Ludlow, in quoting Hugh Nibley, who said: “The Nephites were destroyed, we are told, but . . . what does the Book of Mormon mean by destroyed? The word is to be taken, as are so many other key words in the book, in its primary and original sense: To unbuild; to separate violently into its constituent parts; to break up the structure.' To destroy is to wreck the structure, not to annihilate the parts.”

On the contrary, destroy is defined in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “To kill; to slay; to extirpate; applied to men or other animals. To kill or slay means to “put an end to life” and “deprive one of life.” Extirpate means to remove completely, make extinct; eradicate, exterminate, annihilate, destroy. In general, to put an end to. Biblical use of “destroy” is found in “Ye shall destroy all this people” (Numbers 32:15); “All the wicked will he destroy” (Psalms 145:20). In the Book of Mormon we find: ”The Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us” (1 Nephi 4:36); “Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14).

On the other hand, there are several comments of not being destroyed: “May the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed” (2 Nephi 3:3) Because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, (2 Nephi 3:23); and “Wherefore, thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed” (2 Nephi 4:9).

In fact, Hugh Nibley pointed out that “the Lord promised He would not utterly destroy the descendants of Lehi's youngest son, Joseph. (2 Nephi 3:3.) Also Nephi was told God "will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed which are among thy brethren" (1 Nephi 13:30) even though the promises and fulfillment were that the Nephites should be "destroyed" (Ether 8:21) and even though Moroni could write, there is none, save it be Lamanites” (Ether 4:3).

This is not a complicated matter—there are three sources for this to be fulfilled:

• 1) Those who went north in Hagoth’s ships, some of whom were never heard from again (Alma 63:6-8);

• 2) Those who defected over to the Lamanites—“Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites” (Alma 31:8); “All those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah” (Alma 43:13), and “Whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed” (Alma 3:9), and

• 3) Those who went by ship to an unknown destination (Alma 63:8)—When the cornerstone was laid at the New Zealand Temple, Elder Hugh B. Brown stated in the closing prayer: “We thank Thee, O God, for revealing to us the Book of Mormon, the story of the ancient inhabitants of America. We thank Thee that from among those inhabitants, the ancestors of these whose heads are bowed before Thee here, came from the western shores of America into the South Seas pursuant to Thy plan and now their descendants humbly raise their voices in grateful acknowledgement of Thy kindness, Thy mercy, and Thy love for them and those who went before them. We humbly thank Thee that this building is erected in this land, so that those faithful Maoris who came here in early days, descendants of Father Lehi, may be remembered by their descendants and saved through the ordinances that will, in this House, be performed in their behalf” (emphasis added) (David W. Cummings, Mighty Missionary of the Pacific, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1961, p63; Paul R. and Millie Foster Cheesman, Early America and the Polynesians, Promised Lands Publication, Provo, Utah, 1975, p14).

We need to keep in mind how the scriptural record came about to further understand this. The prophets who wrote on the plates, most of which Mormon abridged, were both written and abridged under the Spirit as seen in Mormon’s comment: “And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me(WofMormon 1:9, emphasis added). The words of the Spirit constrained the prophets in their writing and actions as Nephi and others pointed out: “Behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass” (2Nephi 28:1, emphasis added); also Jacob: “Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God” (Jacob 2:9, emphasis added). Others indicate the same thing: “Therefore he was constrained to speak more unto them” (Helaman 8:11, emphasis added); “Also the Disciple Nephi: “Therefore he was constrained to speak more unto them” (4 Nephi 1:48, emphasis added).

Consequently, the prophets who wrote and abridged the plates were guided by the Spirit, Joseph Smith, who translated the record, was guided by the Spirit, and the Lord said of that work that it was the most perfect book written on that subject (not grammar, tense, or spelling—but subject). It is amazing that scholars, theorists and members feel they have to tell us that the book needs special understanding to know what was meant. That is the scriptural record, which was written by the Spirit, abridged by the Spirit and translated by the Spirit, is both misleading, and in some cases hidden from our understanding.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

When Does "All Dead" Not Mean "All Dead?" – Part I

It is amazing that despite the clear and concise language of the scriptural record to the contrary, numerus theorists hold to the erroneous belief that there were large numbers of surviving Nephites after the final battle at Cumorah in 385 AD.

Moroni says “After the final battle the Lamanites have hunted my people down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall” (Moroni 8:7). He added for clearer understanding, “and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father….for I am alone” (Mormon 8:3, 5).

Moroni, a first-hand eye-witness to the final wars and demise of the Nephite nation, wrote down what he saw


It is hard to read these entries by Moroni and think that Nephites survived as Nephites after Cumorah. Yet, John L. Sorenson is adamant about such a belief and makes every attempt to have his readers agree with him. His viewpoint that large numbers of Nephites survived is seen in his comment: “Were there Nephites left after that battle? Some, yes.” While Mormon noted that "a few...had escaped into the south countries” (Mormon 6:15). He also said, “He also told Moroni, "many of our brethren have dissented over unto the Lamanites" (Mormon 9:24).”

We need to consider the references Sorenson cites before going further. Mormon writes that a few escaped into the south and a few dissented. But what happened to these escapees and dissenters? First of all, Mormon did not know the fate of those who had escaped into the south countries when he wrote this. However, a few years later, Moroni fills in this blank when he wrote: “After the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed (Mormon 8:2 emphasis added). "Until they were all destroyed" seems pretty clear and needs no further explanation by us or Sorenson.

In addition, Mormon 2:7-8 does not say that Nephites had refused to leave their lands as he infers—it describes the widespread revolution between Nephites, Lamanites and the Gaddianton robbers. Moroni 1:2 does not say "large numbers switched their allegiance rather than move out" as he claims. The scripture says, speaking of the Lamanites that "that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire" (Mormon 5:5).

Mormon 9:24—this is an incorrect reference—he means Moroni 9:24, who is repeating the words of his father from a letter Mormon wrote him much earlier than Cumorah, which does state that many Nephites had and would dissent over to the Lamanites.  But nowhere does it say "large numbers" as Sorenson claims. Actually, some, if not all of these were killed in that final battle (Mormon 6:15) or were hunted down and killed (Mormon 8:2).  Moroni makes this perfectly clear when he writes: “I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9). That is, there were none anywhere on the face of the land of the Land of Promise other than himself, Lamanites and Robbers—the Nephites had all been destroyed and no longer existed.

Yet, despite the clarity of Mormon and Morioni’s comments, numerous theorists have written that they believe large numbers of Nephites survived the final battle with the Lamanites, no doubt to validate their beliefs and Land of Promise models. Mesoamerican theorists have to claim this because of the belief that there were many different cultures that lived in Mesoamerica when and where they claim Lehi landed.

In addition, Mesoamerican theorists like to alter the meaning of, or the clear-cut messages of, the scriptural record Take, as an example, the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites, which ended the Nephite nation and exterminated every single Nephite except for Moroni. 

Mormon wrote about the devastating wars with the Lamanites as they fought throughout the Land of Promise


Again, Mormon, writing prior to the final battle, outlines that many Nephites had dissented over to the Lamanites (Moroni 9:24). However, since Moroni shows that all those who dissented in the time of these final battles were killed outright or hunted down and killed, any Nephite dissenters who survived the purge would have been those who dissented much earlier in Nephite history (Alma 47:35; 63:14) becoming more vicious than the Lamanites (Alma 47:36), and also in (12 BC) and were thereafter called Lamanites (Helaman 11:24; 4:3-4) or robbers (Helaman 11:26; 3 Nephi 1:28). Obviously, there were those who did not go with Mosiah to Zarahemla around 200 BC, whose fate we know nothing about, and there were Amlicites, Zoramites, and others that made this switch, for Mormon speaks in the past tense of those who had gone over to the Lamanites (Moroni 9:24). 

They were, in fact, called Lamanites from that point on (Alma 3:4; compare Alma 3:13-13-17), though they carried the Nephite blood within their veins, allowing Mormon to know that in the last days, both Nephites and Lamanites would be the future readers of the Book of Mormon record. As to those that Mormon said would dissent, Moroni closes the book on these some twenty years later by saying they were hunted down and killed.

Thus, it cannot be said, as Sorenson insists, and several other Theorists agree, that various Nephites survived the last battle and their descendants remained in the Land of Promise. However, Moroni assures us that he was alone, and “whether they will slay me, I know not” (Mormon 8:3). One would think that if any Nephites reained that Moroni would seek them out in order to mount a defense against the Lamanites. But alas, they were all gone, and Moroni remained alone. In fact, Moroni makes it clear that there are no more Nephites—only himself! Not only the Nephite Nation was annihilated, but every Nephite was killed in the final 63 years of wars with the Lamanites that ended at Cumorah. Some Nephites escaped from that battle and fled into the south countries, but as Moroni tells us, they were all tracked down by the Lamanites and killed.
    Yet Sorenson would have us believe that not all the Nephites were killed. In fact, he claims that large numbers of Nephites did not agree to flee with Mormon and his armies at all as they retreated ever northward. Sorenson states: “Naturally, large numbers of people of Nephite descent had never consented to flee their lands in the first place (Mormon 2:7-8), but had switched their allegiance rather than move out (Moroni 1:2). But Mormon, who was there, tells this quite differently for in 380 A.D.

In the process, we see that in the three hundred and eightieth year the Lamanites did come again against us to battle, and we did stand against them boldly; but it was all in vain, for so great were their numbers that they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet. And it came to pass that we did again take to flight, and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites' did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites' were swept down and destroyed” (Mormon 5:6-7 emphasis mine). This seems quite clear.

What exactly is meant by the Nephite Nation being destroyed?

(See the next post, “When Does "All Dead" Not Meant "All Dead?" – Part II,” regarding the claims of theorists and scholars that many Nephites survived the final battle between the Newphites and Lamanites)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Where is the evidence of Cities and Buildings – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the lack of evidence of wide-spread occupation and its evidence of building and streets on the magnitude of Mormon’s many descriptions of Nephites being on “all the face of the land.”

Top: Huaca Prieta; Bottom: Las Haldas


Huaca Prieta in the Chicama River valley is a Preceramic shoreline village with its major monument a pyramidal mound 490 feet by 410 feet by 40 feet high, built with rounded cobbles. The closest similarity to, and greatest continuity with, the Aspero site, is Las Haldas (Las Aldas).This site is a large archaeological complex located on the coast, 100 yards from the ocean, approximately 190 miles north of Lima and about 12½ miles south of the Casma River valley.

For most of its history Las Haldas, part of the extensive ruins of the Casma-Sechin culture, is a coastal community that coexisted with the inland agricultural communities in the Casma River Valley.

Distinguishing characteristics of Las Haldas are both its size and age as one of the earliest ruins of the ceramic period, its dependence upon maritime resources for subsistence, the lack of agriculture, and its distance from any source of fresh water. This coastal area in which are found the oldest known civilizations of the Americas. The Casma valley archaeological sites are a few miles north and theNorte Chico civilization is about 60 miles to the south.

The Cerro Sechín, near the Casma River, also had successive occupation and monument enlargement after the Preceramic period. Mural art, painted felines, and other polychrome painting on clay plaster relief carving are associated with the earliest construction, an approximately 110 feet square and 15 feet high, triple-stepped platform (L.E. Samaniego, et al., “New Evidence on Cerro Sechín, Casma Valley, Perú [In Early Ceremonial Architecture in the Andes], edited by C. B. Donnan, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D. C., 1985, pp173-176).

El Paraíso is comprised of thirteen or fourteen mounds spaced over a 148-acre area with a nuclear group—the central or most important part—is a group of seven mounds. The two largest structures are parallel, 1,310 feet in length and 590 feet apart, suggesting a 17.8 acre plaza. Though the central monument is not the largest, this U-shaped form may be the prototype of later U-shaped Initial period complexes (Jeffrey B. Quilter, “Architecture and Chronology at El Paraíso,” Journal of Field Archaeology, vol.12, 1985, p281).

El Paraíso


El Paraíso is considered a residential complex; the two large mounds were used for habitation. It resembles later residential architecture, and no artifacts vary from what are known elsewhere in the area. The architecture includes courts and rooms interconnected by corridors. At the same time the site manifests a high degree of planning and is uniformly oriented 25° east of north—perpendicular to the 1500 BC solstice sunrise, as is the Piedra Parada site, located two miles inland from Aspero

El Paraíso's three-feet-thick stone walls were plastered with clay. Stone was quarried from nearby hills and roughly trimmed. It was constructed entirely of monumental masonry, the mounds exceed 100,000 tons in gross weight, with filling superposition on previous constructs.

At the site of Áspero a female skeleton was found decorated with shells of the genus Spondylus, which come from hundreds of miles away in far northern Peru and were a sign of authority for centuries in Andean cultures. About 45 years old when she died, the woman had clothing accessories made of bone carved in the form of seabirds and Amazonian monkeys, also status symbols.

Inland from Aspero, and along the Supe River, is Huaricanga archaeological site, known as Caral or Caral Supe in Peru. Here, around 2500 BC, the Norte Chico region gave rise to the first civilization in the Americas, on Peru’s north central Pacific coast, which contains four river valleys: Fortaleza, Pativilca, Supe and Huaura. In this area, archaeological surveys have uncovered 30 Late Archaic sites, ranging from 25to 495 acres in area. These sites are characterized by large, pyramid-like structures, sunken ceremonial plazas, and other assorted temples and housing. 

Huaricanga, called Caral or Caral-Supe in Peru: Left: Drawing, white arrow showing (Right) view up the steps from the Plaza toward the site


This site of Huaricanga is the earliest city of the Norte Chico civilization. "It was the oldest city in the Americas and one of the earliest cities in the world” (Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus Vintage Books Publishers, Random House, New York, 2006).

This Late Archaic site is located in the arid Fortaleza Valley on Peru’s north central coast, 14 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The site is the largest Late Archaic construction in the Norte Chico region.

The three earthwork mounds on the large site are the remains of pyramidal-shaped structures. Two standing stone structures (huancas) also exist. There is a structure believed to be a temple, of a design similar to, but predating, the Mito architectural tradition seen in the Peruvian highlands. 

The Fortaleza Valley with the Fortaleza River through it


In addition, later research in the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys has found evidence of maize cultivation, as well as fourteen other domesticated species of fruits and vegetables, suggesting that agriculture may have been more important to the development of Caral-Supe civilization than previously thought.

The Nephites “were scattered upon much of the face of the land” (Jarom 1:6); and they continued to grow in number: “The people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land“ (Mosiah 27:6), and also, “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).

The Nephites “Began to build up their waste places, and to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east” Helaman 11:20)

“All the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth” (3 Nephi 1:17).

It was Nephi, that saw in a vision the numerous cities in the Land of Promise: “I beheld many generations pass away, after the manner of wars and contentions in the land; and I beheld many cities, yea, even that I did not number them” (1 Nephi 12:3, emphasis added).

It seems obvious that any Land of Promise site or model should have the remains of such a wide coverage of ancient people, buildings, foundations, and other evidence of such extensive occupation and building throughout the entire land. Without it, the location is simply not the site of the Land of Promise.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Where is the evidence of Cities and Buildings – Part I

Map of the largest concentration of early Peruvian construction at Aspero


Aspero is a well-studied Late Preceramic site of the ancient Norte Chico civilization, located at the mouth of the Supe river on the north-central Peruvian coast. The site covers an area of approximately 35 acres and is made up of two large platform mounds, Huaca de los Sacrificios and Huaca de los Idolos. There is noquestion that Aspero had a cultural connection with  neighboring sites. Researchers have established a general timeline which links Aspero and its adjacent sites to a much larger cultural system that spread across several valleys (Jonathan Haas, et al., “Dating the LateArchaic occupation of the Norte Chico region in Peru,” Nature, vol.432, 2004, pp1020-1023).

Aspero was the largest concentration of early communal constructions existed between the Chicama and the Rimac Valleys, with community labor construction defined as a building or architectural feature believed to be the product of an organized work force larger than several nuclear families—the phrase “nuclear” is from the noun nucleus, itself originating in the Latin nux, meaning "nut", i.e. the core of something.

The amount of community labor at Aspero suggests the beginnings of a complex, nonegalitarian society (Moseley and Willey 1973:453). The Aspero site, in the Supe drainage near the Pacific shoreline with nearby floodwater farmland, represents one of the earliest Preceramic period monumental constructions (R.A. Feldman, “Preceramic Corporate Architecture: Evidence for the Development of Non-Egalitarian Social Systems in Peru,  In Early Ceremonial Architecture in the Andes, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, 1985, p17)

The large preceramic site of Aspero, on the central Peruvian coast, was explored in the past; however, these investigators did not recognize the presence of sizable artificial platform mounds or “community labor structures” at the site, where they moved from a marine economy to an agricultural one at the close of the Cotton Preceramic period about 2000 BC.

The Aspero site has 150,000 to 200,000 cubic meters of cultural deposits and covered 35 acres, on which were 6 truncated pyramids among the 17 mounds. 

The isometric Reconstruction pyramid at Aspero called the Huaca de los Idolos built around 2500 BC


The largest of the mounds or pyramids, called Huaca de los Idolos, measured 131 feet by 98 feet by 35 feet high and was topped with summit rooms and courts (K.D. Kornbacher, “Cultural Elaboration in Prehistoric Coastal Peru: An Example of Evolution in a Temporally Variable Environment,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, vol.18: 1999, pp282- 318).

The raised platforms feature modeled and painted clay friezes, and the mounds evidence cobble and basalt block masonry in adobe construction. The pyramids are composed of successive phases of stonewalled rooms, built by progressive infilling around the rooms. The outer platform walls are of large, angular basaltic rocks set in adobe mortar with a smooth outer surface coated with plaster and occasionally painted (M.E. Moseley and G. R. Willey, “Aspero, Perú: A Reexamination of the Site and its Implications, American Antiquity, vol.38: 1973, p459).

Another pyramid, huaca de los Sacrificios is similar in size to Huaca de Los Idolos, and has rooms over 33 square feet, with stone walls 3½ feet thick and 8 feet high, with stones almost 3½ feet square in volume.

According to Moseley and Willey, the Aspero site yielded the earliest date of all Early horizon structures (900 to 200 BC—the period where the apogee of Chavín de Huantar in the northern highland of Peru and the successive widespread of the Chavín culture and its artistic motifs. Inadditin to the Chavín, this period also included the Late Chripa, Paracas, Pechiche, Pucará, and Sechura. 

 Some of the style of walls and construction in the Casma Valley

Also contemporary was the Casma–Sechin culture (Sechin Complex) to 200 BC, which refers to the large concentration of pre-historic ruins in the valleys of the Casma River and its tributary the Sechin River and along the nearby coast of the Pacific. These ruins include major archaeological sites such as Sechin Bajo, Sechin Alto, Cerro Sechin, Mojeque; also at this time were the Chankillo and Taukachi-Konkan, as well as other smaller sites. El Paraíso, situated just over one mile inland from the mouth of the Chillón River and adjacent to floodplain cultivation land, was the largest of the Preceramic period monuments, and, at three times larger than any of its contemporaries, was once the largest expression of organization and labor investment in all of South America.

Most of these inland sites are found in the river valleys about 20 12 miles distant from the ocean. The seaside sites of Huaynuná and Las Haldas found about 10 miles north and south of the mouth of the Casma River on the coast. In addition, at this time, the Moche culture of the north underwent a radical reorganization, with the move of its main city farther north and inland.

It might be of interest that this large area of the Land of Promise is never mentioned in the scriptural record, yet Mormon writes that the Nephites “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). 

There are 20 rivers crossing the coastal desert, from the snow-covered Andes to the coast, between Pachacamac and Chiclayo


Fronting this driest of deserts is the world's richest fishery, and according to Feldman, inclusion of the large quantities of available small fish along the Peruvian coast in resource inventories allows a theoretical population level of over 1 million persons.

Among the other earliest stone buildings are those of Río Seco and Bandurria, the latter a Preceramic period site near the shoreline of the Huaura River, which has an unexcavated pyramid mound. Río Seco is near the seacoast along the Chancay River, with the Preceramic period constructions there that include five or six pyramid mounds built by successive room filling, with two mounds measuring 33 to 50 feet diameter by 35 feet high (Rosa Fung Pineda, “ The Late Preceramic and Initial Period,” Peruvian Prehistory, edited by R. W. Keatinge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988, p72).

So where is the evidence of cities and buildings that show such ancient wide-spread development and occupation in the Western Hemisphere?

(See the next post, “Where is the evidence of Cities and Buildings – Part II,” regarding the lack of evidence of wide-spread occupation and its evidence of building and streets on the magnitude of Mormon’s many descriptions of the Nephites being on “all the face of the land”)

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Roads of Ancient North America – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the roads that were built before Lehi left Jerusalem and obviously were the foundation knowledge for the highways and roads built later by the Nephites (3 Nephi 6:8).

While most people believe the Romans built the first roads, such is not the case—the first roads were built long before the Romans, though they are accurately accredited with buiding the best roafs in all of Europe.

Not only were roads built long before the Romans,but so were bridges. In fact, during these early ancient days, bridges were built as early as the Bronze Age, and the people of Greece built wooden bridges to cross rivers or wetlands. Bridge builders of this time also laid stone paths through shallow rivers, sometimes making arches of large, overlapping stones through which the water could flow. The earliest stone bridge was built in 1900 BC in Crete, with large stone bridges appearing in the last millennium BC.

The Widan el-Faras site as seen from the south along the world's oldest paved road between Widan and Qasr el-Sagha. This road was used for transportation of basalt blocks from quarries in antiquity


Roads were extremely important before the Romans during the last millennia BC in the eastern Mediterranean since countries were involved in international trade—all of which were in use and well-traveled in Lehi’s day.

In addition, expanding military empires understood the value of a good road system which made it easier to control their fledging empires as messages and orders could be sent quickly. Consequently, it might be understood that by the time Lehi left Jerusalem, stone roads and stone bridges were fairly well known. Even in Egypt, where roads existed though the physical evidence today is slim and pictorial testimony rare. There are some short stretches of streets and roads which have survived, having lain above the level of the Nile floods, or not reclaimed by the moving sands.

Roads were either mud-brick or stone, such as at Dimai in the Fayum where the temple was reached over a stone paved road during the 4th and 5th dynasties (2500 BC). In Isreal, it speaks of “by the way of the sea,” in Isaiah 9:1 when it reads: “and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations” referring to the road that ran between the Jordan and the sea, that will be filled with glory.”

The Via Maris is an historic road that ran in part along the Israeli Mediterranean coast, turning northward along the lake shore, it passed through Migdal, Capernaum, and Hazor


The United Monarchy (הממלכה המאוחדת) is the name given to the Israelite kingdom of Israel and Judah, during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, which is traditionally dated between 1047 BC and 930 BC. At this time Lachish, Azekah, and Beth-shemesh sat astride natural routes through the Shephelah and toward the Judean hills. Thus these cities were keys to blocking enemies on the Via Maris from coming into Israel’s heartland.

This Via Maris, or "Way of the Sea," is one of three major trade routes in ancient Israel: 1) the Via Maris, 2) the Ridge Route, and 3) the King's Highway. The Via Maris is a modern name for one of these ancient trade routes, dating from the early Bronze Age, linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia—this road ran along the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In Latin, Via Maris means "way of the sea," a translation of the Greek ὁδὸν θαλάσσης found in Isaiah 9:1 of the Septuagint.

It is situated from the Galilee to the North to Samaria to the South, running through the Jezreel Valley. At the Philistine Plain, the road broke into two branches, one on the coast and one inland (through the Jezreel Valley, the Sea of Galilee, and Dan), which unites at Megiddo ("Armageddon"). The location of Megiddo, which was a very important route for travel and trading city in ancient Israel. The “Way of the Sea” connected the major routes from the Fertile Crescent to Mesopotamia (from Egypt to modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria). The road was the main thoroughfare running north/south from the Sinai along the coastal plain through the Jezreel valley, Beit She’an and on until Damascus.

An ancient road in England dated to 600BC but believed to be as old as 2000BC


An old road in England was anciently called the Old Way, and became known as the Harrow Way, described as the “oldest road in Britain” and probably associated with the ancient tin trade. Archaeological finds date it to 600 BC, but believe it to be in existence since about 2000 BC (Edward Brayley, A topographical history of Surrey, (4), G. Willis, London, 1850, p218; Ivan D. Margary, Roman Ways in the Weald, J. M. Dent, London, 1948, pp260–263). Tin, of course, was an ancient trade metal and an indispensable source of meta needed to  make bronze, a most important part of most ancient societies.

All of this is meant to show that roads were well known throughout Israel and were distinct roads as opposed to trails through the Wadi Arabah, and moving stretches of sand from water hole to water hold across the deserts. When Lehi left Jerusalem in 600 BC, the roads along the King’s Highway were distinct as were other roads across the Levant. Numerous ancient states, including Edom, Moab, Ammon and various Aramaean states. Since Lehi had tents and donkeys to carry loads, it is likely he was involved in this trade and would have known about people and events far and wide. The building of roads and highways would have been a topic of discussion of such traders who passed along such information to those with whom they did business.

There is evidence of simple paths, of course, that early travelers used in a network of footpaths that crisscrossed North America long before Europeans arrived. As more physical evidence is uncovered along the Old North Trail, the stories and oral legends of the Blackfoot Indians take on new meaning.

All of this information would have been known to Lehi and likely Nephi, who were well aware of trade routes and these roads used by the caravans between the Sea of Arabia and what is today Iraq. No doubt as they negotiated trade, conversations would have covered where the caravan had come from and where they were headed—and all they had seen and heard along the way.

But where are the roads the Nephites would have built in the North American land of promise model? Where are the highways that stretched long distances from city to city and land to land? Surely, if the Heartland or the Great Lakes theorists are correct, they could show remains of some of these roads and not just footpaths before Colonial times, and before the 1600s.

On the other hand, the roads of Andean Peru are magnificent, running 3,700 miles from Chile to Ecuador, with an intertwining and interconnected network of 24,000 miles of roads and highways. Truly, this Andean road system “led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Roads of Ancient North America – Part I

Has anyone noticed that the Heartland and the Great Lakes theorists ignore the scriptural record that describes the Nephite roads? In truth, has anyone seen a description of roads in all of ancient North America? Nor have we seen much mention of Mesoamerica theorists mention roads—though there were a few roads anciently in that region.

The fact is, theorists seldom place much emphasis on points of the scriptural record that do not support their models, and treat them as if they do not exist—some make an attempt to change the scriptural meaning to agree with them. This is seen in the Heartland and Great Lakes models regarding mountains—there are none in their Land of Promise locations, and in the entire region east of the Mississippi none are over 4,000 feet, with a couple of peaks at 6,000.

 Part of the 24,000 miles of highways and roads in Andean Peru

Another area that Theorists tend to ignore is that of the amazing Nephite roads since their models, other than Peru and Mesoamerica, do not have roads to comment about. But Mormon tells us about these roads: “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).

“From land to land,” suggests an extensive system of roads that ran through the Land of Promise, from distant lands to other distant lands. Also, highways suggest a main road, especially one connecting major towns or cities. Webster in 1828 New England defined highways as a public road open to all and providing communication from one city or town to another.

On the other hand, a “road” is a wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface which did not wash away like a dirt path.

Also “from city to city, place to place, and land to land” suggests an intricate series of highways and roads that covered the countryside, directing travel from one city to another, or extended highways from various lands (lands of Nephi, Zarehemla, Bountiful, and the myriad of smaller lands, like Gideon, Manti, Sidom, Ishmael, Minon, Mormon, Melek, Ammonihah, etc).

Now, since the Roman roads still exist, some in very good condition, as do the roads in Mesoamerica and Andean Peru, one might conclude that roads or their imprints should be found today where ones were built anciently.

However, there are no such roads found anywhere in North America, other than ancient dirt paths. Does that cause the Heartland or Great Lakes theorists a problem? One might expect that it would.

Yet, it does not. Such theorists merely ignore the lack of scriptural record support and at best, claim all such evidences were destroyed under existing cities and their extended development. Keep in mind that at no time in recorded history is there any indication of such a road system in North America.

 The Blackfeet Trail through arid landscape, heavy forests and mountainous valleys along the Rockies from Canada to Mexico


In fact, the longest road in North America of nearly 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico, forged by the Blackfeet is little more than a trail over which they traveled by foot and runs down through the Rockies—not anywhere near the Heartland or Great Lakes lands of promise. Referred to as “The Old North Trail,” it is just that—a trail that took the Blackfeet four years to go from end to end on trips to trade, make sacred journeys, or find a wife. Another North American road was the King’s Highway built by King Charles II of England that ran along the coast from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina, with the furthest inland point at Fredricksburg, Virginia. However, it was not built until 1650 AD (and never in the land of promise models and was nothing more than a dirt trail—the first paved road in what is now the United States was not built untl 1909, though paved roads date back more than 2000 years in Andean Peru).

A thousand years ago, Chacoan people built multi-story buildings and engineered roads in the high desert of New Mexico. Before them, were the Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) from 100 – 1600 AD. They lived in Four Corners area (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona—neither of which are in the Heartland land of promise area. Around 850 AD, the Anasazi, who were superb engineers and builders began constructing huge stone building complexes in Chaco Canyon, which became the ancient center of a culture linked by a network of eight roads extending 180 miles, and over seventy settlements many miles away. The monumental architecture and straight roads of Chaco are unique in the ancient Southwest. Their building complexes, called great houses, have hundreds of rooms, a central plaza, and kivas, circular-shaped underground chambers.

As for the roads in Andean Peru (Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and central Chile), the conquistadors claimed they were as good as the Roman roads in Europe, with which they were quite familiar.

It is interesting that stone roads and bridges were well known in Mesopotamia and the Middle East long before Lehi left for the Land of Promise. In fact, the oldest constructed roads discovered to date are in the area of Mesopotamia, and date earlier than 2000 B.C. in Ur and Babylon. These paved roads were meticulous laid by artisans with brick-making skills that formed identical mud bricks for building. After drying they would set them in place with bitumen, which is the natural sticky black substance in asphalt. It would be many centuries later before asphalt was used in Europe and later America.

While both Ur and Uruk in Mesopotamia had stone-pave streets, as did the Indus Valley cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, it is even more surprising to find cobbled streets in the much earlier Halaf Culture village at Tell Arpachiyah in northern Mesopotamia, and at the village of Choirokoitia in Cyprus.

Top: 3000-year-old Greek road as it ascends one of their many hills; Bottom: From the rising of the Romans in the 8th century BC, they built roads that eventually connected all parts of their empire


On the other hand, Roman roads were built during the last millennia BC, with an uncovered road in Pompeii dated to 600 BC. As for the Greeks, they built sturdy roads where there was need for one, and many of the roads they built in the vicinity of cities and major religious sanctuaries were well constructed—these roads were used by rich people who could rent or own horses for travel, but poor people rode donkeys or walked from place to place. Oxen were used for heavy loads, while horses pulled light loads. Farmers typically transported their goods short distances to town on mules. 

All of this would have been known to Lehi who interacted with the camel caravans that traveled from Oman to Egypt and up to Syria, providing the exchange of information as well as trade goods.

(See the next post, “The Roads of Ancient North America-Part II,” for more on the ancient roads in America and the lack of actual roads in North America, let alone highways)