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About nealr

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  1. You seem to be doing a lot of judging on appearances yourself in this thread. My own interactions with Meldrum are limited, but I've followed his activities for a number of years and had several personal conversations with people who have had numerous interactions with him, Calm among them. You would do well to listen to them and try to understand where they are coming from instead of judging them for judging. Maybe read some of the extended reviews of his martial where the evidence for his some of his shady activities has been published. All this might be more helpful than simply funding him based on your very limited exposure.
  2. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    Oh, you got it from BrotherJake, now? Then why, pray tell, were you earlier claiming to be in direct correspondence with an Arabic expert? Struggling to keep your story straight, are we? I'll bet there is enough content here and in the comments section of that blog post to run a stylometric analysis, if we wanted to. Umm ... these names are not in the Book of Mormon, and so a theoretical random rearranging of the names in the Book of Mormon could never produce any of those names. To this specific point, biblical names are irrelevant. But even still, can you show me on a map where those places or tribes are located? Does is reasonably fit the narrative? Where are t the dates of the inscriptions which mention these? Are they actually from around Lehi's time? And so on. You are ignoring the vast majority of factors that need to be evaluated. You continue to think the mere existence of a name makes the point, but it does not. I understand all that. That is why we need to consider all the various factors I previously mentioned, including the probability of any given name found in the Book of Mormon being attested in the early Sabean (8th-4th century BC) inscriptions as a tribal or place name, located somewhere that reasonably fits the narrative of 1 Nephi 16. If we found that any (or at least several) Book of Mormon names could fit just as well with the evidence, then that would increase the probability that the Nahom/NHM correlation is pure coincidence, and determining this probability is one factor that can help prevent us from only considering the probability of something after it occurs. Of course there are several more. But notice, please, that I am not talking about biblical names. No they are not, but that is irrelevant to the point because non-LDS scholars still take them as evidence that the same Nihm/ Nehem tribe and region existed in the 6th-7th century BC. OK, so do you understand, then, that the last reference to boarders and the Red Sea, being ~1000 miles north of Nahom, cannot be used as evidence that Nahom is near the Red Sea? Because if you do, you are contradicting yourself here: Nephi doesn't keep mentioning the Red Sea. He mentions it for the last time nearly a ~1000 miles before reaching Nahom. So a better question is, if Nephi is still near the Red Sea, why doesn't he keep mentioning it? You literally have no evidence that Nahom must be near the Red Sea, and your "Yes, exactly" quoted above basically concedes that point. And I've already point out, Nibley and the Hiltons had Nephi on the east side of the mountains before Nehem was discovered in by Ross Christensen in 1977. So no, it was not after someone discovered Nehem that Nahom was moved away from the Red Sea. LDS scholars already suspected Nahom was on the eastern side of the mountains when Nehem was noticed on an old map. It was not moved to the east to fit the evidence. Look, here's the bottom line. If you really think that there is a high probability that the Nahom/NHM/Nihm could all be a coincidence, then prove it. Do some real, rigorous statistical analysis, that takes all the relevant factors into consideration, not just the occurrence of other biblical sounding names in the South Arabian Corpus. Then get it peer-reviewed and published, with your real name attached to it, so that others with expertise in statistics and probability could examine and critique it. Until you do that, though, there really isn't much point in even having this conversation, because your opinion on the matter has no more grounding than any other. From what I can tell, it is not well-grounded in a solid grasp of the argument for associating Nahom with NHM/Nehem, its not well grounded in a competent understanding of the inscriptional data from South Arabia and how expert scholars have interpreted it, and it is not well-grounded in sound statistical reasoning.
  3. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    That's all fine and good. I haven't the slightest problem with a person interpreting "borders" as "coastline" or whatever and believing that they traveled along the coastal plain, especially if they can muster a coherent argument for it, as you have done here. I do have a problem with someone simply pointing to passages, making no argument and providing no interpretation, and acting like the occurrence of a word like "borders" which is used in some confusing and ambiguous ways in the text is definitive evidence against something, especially when some of the brightest minds who have read this text in the past (Nibley, the Hiltons, Potter and Wellington, Aston, and Kent Brown, for instance) have read it differently and argued for an alternative interpretation.
  4. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    No, you still do not understand, and are ignoring the bulk of my comment where I try to explain it. Let me put it simply. According to all the scholars I quoted: NHM on the altars = same tribe and place as later Nihm/Nehem. That's what you are not understanding. I like Robert. I consider him a friend. I think he is a very smart man. But I am not Robert. He and I do not have identical views. And I am not accountable for what he has said on here. So I simply to do not understand why what he has said is relevant. I have provided a quote, multiple times from Alexandra Sima (one of the leading experts on South Arabia) wherein he does, in fact, identify the NHM on the altars with the Nihm region. I've also explained that most of the experts consider it a tribal name, but that it is the same tribe from the same place as the later Arabic sources. You have simply ignored this, or declared it irrelevant, but so far as I can tell do not even understand it, and so cannot competently judge its relevance. I'm sorry, I didn't realize that basic rules of exegesis needed to be explained here. So lets make this clear: you absolutely cannot interpret "borders" as used in 1 Nephi 16 in isolation from how it is used in 1 Nephi 2. And you are ignoring everything I explained about how even if your interpretation is granted, that last reference to being in the boarders is ~1000 miles north of where Nahom must be, and how they could have gotten to the other side of the mountains without a significant, long-term shift in direction. The bottom line is there is nothing in the text that actually places Nahom near the sea, so it does not matter that its not. That is why even those who agree that borders likely means coast (i.e., Robert and RevTestament) still disagree with the conclusion you are reaching. How's this for understanding coincidence: a couple months ago, someone visited the blog Studio Et Quoque Fide and made virtually the same arguments you are making, in the same incoherent fashion, and demonstrated the same obsession with probability, yet, like you, didn't really seem to grasp how probability works. And another commenter on that same blog who claimed to know Arabic made all the same arguments as your "Arabic expert." Is that all really coincidence? Somehow, I don't think it is. I think you are that same commenter, who also comments on another discussion board as "Doubting Thomas," who does not actually believe in the Book of Mormon, and is (as others have already pointed out) merely pretending to be a believer on this discussion board. Here's the thing. I think it's you who does not really understand coincidence, and I'll tell you why. You see, I admit that I am no expert, but I did take an introduction to statistics class a few years ago at an accredited university, and was repeatedly praised in class for my exceptionally high test scores (including two where I got above 100% thanks to extra-credit). So I like to think I know something about how probability and coincidence works, even if its relatively basic. And to me, much of what you are saying simply doesn't make any sense, and you seem unable to grasp any kind of critique of it. But like I said, I am no expert, so maybe it really is me who is wrong? Well, after reading basically these same arguments on the aforementioned blog a couple months ago, I talked to a friend of mine who is working on a post-doc right now. His graduate work has involved a lot of math and statistical modeling. I reviewed these arguments with him--the same arguments that you are now making--and he thought they manifest an utter failure to grasp sound statistical reasoning. OK, so here's the thing. A statement like this should be pretty testable. If thousands of inscriptions means it is a virtual guarantee for there to be a tribe or place name NHM, then we logically should be finding NHMs nearly everywhere thousands of inscriptions occur. But do we? Well, that's for you to prove, my friend. There are hundreds of thousands of inscriptions from Mesopotamia. By your logic, we should be able to find several different places or tribes called NHM in that corpus, so start digging. Of course, the thousands of Old South Arabian inscriptions are not all "around Bar'an" as you would have it. They are scattered across South Arabia. Your logic is flawed for several reasons. For one thing, you simply do not understand that more inscriptions does not increase the likelihood that a tribe or place of a specific name existed. It only increases the likelihood that we would be able to find that tribe or place mentioned in written sources. The probability of a tribe by a specific name existing would have to be measured using the actual number of tribes we can document as existing. And of course, had the NHM tribe wound up pretty much anywhere besides Northern Yemen (near Wadi Jawf), like say southern Oman instead, then we wouldn't be having this conversation because no one would consider that to be anywhere near where Nephi's Nahom could be. So the question is not just what the probability is that a NHM tribe would show up somewhere in those inscriptions, but of all the places NHM could show up, that it would show up in a place that could reasonably be interpreted as Nephi's Nahom. And then there is the dating factor. How many inscriptions date to at least the early Sabian period (8th-4th century BC)? And how many tribes are mentioned in just those inscriptions? And then how many of those tribes can even be located with a reasonable degree of certainty on a map? And of those, how many are in a place that could reasonably fit Nephi's Nahom? These are just some of the many factors that need to considered in trying to evaluate this whole probability thing. Someone better trained than I am in statistics could surely think of dozens more. I don't know what those probabilities would be. I would be very interested in seeing a responsible statistical study that tried to figure them out. But what I do know is that these kinds of mitigating factors begin to reduce the probability that this is all a coincidence. Eliminate? Of course not. The chance of coincidence is never eliminated. But it reduces that chance and I suspect it makes it fairly unlikely. How unlikely? Well, absent a serious statistical study with actual data, none of us really know, and so I honestly doubt trying to have an extended conversation about it is going to be the least bit productive. Oh, you have "another method", and so obviously we shouldn't use the method that is commonly used by biblical scholars with PhDs who have decades of experience and are building on more than a centuries worth of knowledge in reconstructing the ancient geography of Israel. It would just be silly to use their methods over that of an anonymous commenter on the internet, who isn't even being forthright about who he is and his agenda for being here. How absurd of me. Of course there are a ton of names similar to biblical names. And sure, that's a factor in considering the likelihood of a "Nahom" like name showing up. But you also have to factor in that while there are thousands of biblical names to compare it against, there is only one relevant name in all of the Book of Mormon. In fact, "Nahom" is the only unique Book of Mormon name that is in position to be tested with inscriptional evidence, since the rest of the names in 1 Nephi are private names given by Lehi and his family, and we lack readable inscriptions and toponyms for the right time period for anywhere in ancient America. So out of hundreds of names in the Book of Mormon, what are the odds that the one and only one that can be tested with inscriptional evidence actually has some inscriptional evidence for it? No other name in all the Book of Mormon has the N-H-M sequence with no extra consonants. So what are the odds of random chance putting that name where it is in the Book of Mormon? And what are the odds of different Book of Mormon names matching with inscriptional evidence for the location of a tribe or place in the Wadi Jawf area, had they randomly been the names that occurred in 1 Nephi 16:34 instead? That is to say, if Book of Mormon names were randomly redistributed and the place in 1 Nephi 16:34 ended up being Zarahemla instead, is there a ZRHML in the inscriptions that dates to the right time period and is reasonably located to fit the narrative? What about a YRSN (Jershon)? Or AMMNYHH (Ammonihah)? Or a even an NFY (Nephi)? I could go on, but the point is there are hundreds of names in the Book of Mormon, and any one of them could have theoretically ended up in 1 Nephi 16:34, and this also has to be factored into any account of "coincidence." Could this kind of evidence be mustered for all of them, had they been there? Just some of them? Or is Nahom the only one that ends up fitting? Again still just scratching the surface. I may not "understand coincidence"--I certainty don't understand statistical reasoning well enough to know how to start putting together a statistical test that could bring all these different factors into account. Maybe I am even wrong about some of these things. But I know enough to be quite certain that you have not really thought through all the factors involved in assessing the probability of coincidence here.
  5. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    I explain this a little bit in my last post. If they are already traveling on the east of the mountains (as most scholars believe, i.e., Nibley, the Hiltons, Potter and Wellington, and Aston), there is no need to turn east before getting to Nahom. If they were traveling along the coast at this point (as Robert Smith would have it) then they could have passed through the mountains in a matter of days to perhaps a week or so, and then continued generally south-southeast. And they may have still been traveling generally southeast-ward while traveling through the mountains. They don't need to take a hard east turn to eventually have made their way across the mountains. A more gradual shift slightly more eastward, while still moving southeast generally, or perhaps even east-southeast, could certainly qualify as maintaining "nearly the same course" as before (1 Nephi 16:33). In any event, if I were writing about an 8-year-long journey 30 or so years later, I probably wouldn't mention a short week's worth directional shift.
  6. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    I don't think you are understanding the sources I am quoting and what they are talking about. What I mean by the same general area is not the Bar'an temple site. It is the region that is, to this day, known as Nehem. When Sima says that the donor, Bi'athtar, is from "the Nihm region, west of Marib," he is talking about the area that is still called Nihm/Nehem today. When Vogt says that Bi'athtar was from the Nihm tribe, he then tells where that tribe was "without doubt" located, "north of Jawf." This is the same basic area where Vogt tells us Nihm is located today, "northeast of Sana." The map I mentioned from Peter Stein does not put NHM at Bar'an, but places it right where Nihm is now (not to mention the inscription with the tribal list that is using was found right in the Wadi Jawf, not at Bar'an). In other words, while the altars were found Ba'ran, all the experts are saying that the dedicant of the altars was not from Ba'ran, but was from Nihm/Nehem, located in the same general area as it is now, which is west of Marib, northeast of Sana, near the Wadi Jawf. This is why the Ba'ran altars are relevant. They attest to the Nihm tribe existing during Lehi's time, and according to multiple experts that tribe would have been located in basically the same location it is in today. Your assertion that the Nihm/Nehem tribal territory is from 1000 years later is directly contradicted here. They are interpreting the NHM of the altars as references to the same tribe and they are saying that tribe was in the same place as the Nihm/Nehem tribe of later Arabic sources. Your "Arabic expert" is contradicting what the published academic literature says on this topic when he claims otherwise, and he is doing so on the basis of a theory cooked up on the spot in some blog comments a couple of months ago, for which he has not provided any evidence, and it is directly motivated by a desire to undercut arguments for the Book of Mormon. I've cited three sources that say NHM of the Old Sabean sources was the same the Nihm of later Arabic sources. Can you show me any published academic literature that says the NHM of Sabean inscriptions is not the Nihm of later Arabic sources? There are a ton issues that need to be unpacked. To assume that "boarders" means coast runs into problems since the text also mentions "borders near the shore of the Red Sea" and more confusedly still "the borders which are nearer the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 2:5). To most people, "coast" would mean "shore", so how do you have a coast which is near the shore? And what is a coast that is near vs. nearer? I see a lot of problems with equating "borders" with "coast". Robert is the only scholar I know that interprets this as meaning that Lehites were on the coast. Since Hugh Nibley (long before the NHM altars were discovered), most LDS scholars have understood Lehi and his family to be on the east side of the mountains. In any event, 1 Nephi 16:14 is soon after they left Shazer, which is in northern Arabia and on the order of ~1000 miles north of wherever Nahom must be. That would allow for plenty of time for them to slip through a mountain pass (which would probably only take a few days to a week) and then continue along in the same general direction as before (south-southeast), thus leaving Nephi no reason to mention a major shift in course when remembering his 8-year journey some 30 or so years later. Could it be coincidence? Sure. But evidence for coincidence would be much stronger if you could identify another tribe or place in Arabia with the same name, not just inscriptions from various places that mention the word NHM. The fact that all inscriptions mentioning a tribe or place called NHM are from southwestern Arabia, and all published scholars in this topic agree that they refer to the same tribe located in the same place, and the fact that place fits the Book of Mormon description fairly well, in my opinion, reduces the odds coincidence for me. Since you keep bringing up biblical names, though, consider this. Modern Arabic place names that are similar to biblical names is actually a common method used by biblical geographers to try to identify biblical locations. Shouldn't we use the same method for the Book of Mormon? We have a modern Arabic tribal territory name (Nihm) which is connected to an ancient tribal name (NHM) that is similar a Book of Mormon location (Nahom). Why shouldn't we consider this at least potential evidence, given that it is the same kind of evidence biblical scholars use?
  7. nealr

    God probably won't allow us to find Nahom

    Reading this thread was exceptionally painful. So much misinformation. Let me see if I can help out a bit. I'm not sure who SamuelTheLamanites anonymous Arabic expert is (actually, I have a hunch), but almost nothing he has said matches the professional published literature on the topic. Dating of the Altars I have personally sought out every published date I could find for altars DAI Bar'an 1988-1 (also listed as DAI Bar'an 1988-2 in some publications), DAI Bar'an 1994/5-2, and DAI Bar'an 1996-1, which are colloquially called the "NHM altars" in Mormon circles. They are consistently dated to around the time of Lehi: Burkhard Vogt, “Les Temples de Maʾrib,” in Yemen au Pays de la Reine de Saba, ed. Christian Robin and Burkhard Vogt (Paris, FR: Flammarion, 1997), 144: 6th-7th century BC. K. A. Kitchen, Documentation for Ancient Arabia, 2 vols. (Liverpool, UK: 1994–2000), 2:18: 6th-7th century BC Alexander Sima, “Religion,” in Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen, ed. St John Simpson (London, UK: The British Museum Press, 2002), 166: 6th-7th century BC Norbert Nebes, “Zur Chronologie Der Inschriften Aus Dem Barʾān Temple,” Archaologische Berichte aus dem Yemen 10 (2005): 119: aSabB, defined as ca. 685 BC on p. 115 n.34. The Gorsdorf and Vogt radiocabon dating paper does not provide any dating for the altars in question. It provides radiocarbon dates from the site. On p. 1366 it states that the samples from Period II (which includes temple 3, 4, and the forecourt) provide a terminus ante quem, which is a latest possible date for that phase of construction. The earliest of these dates is 520-390 BC, which simply means that everything in Period II was built sometime before this. On p. 1367, they explain that the beginning of Period II is unknown, but that the forecourt was likely built between the late 6th century to the late 5th century BC, and that either date allows for construction and use of temple 3 before hand. So they don't give an exact date for the construction of temple 3, but one can reasonably extrapolate from all of that that it was built no later than the 6th century BC. Nebes (above) on p. 115 dates the construction of temple 3 to the 8th-7th century BC, and suggests that a few inscriptions were made during this time. This would seem to include the NHM altars, since they are dated to this same time period by Nebes (ca. 685 BC) and he dates the "classical" phase of construction (which most of the rest of the inscriptions belong to) to much later. Whether we follow Nebes (ca. 8th-7th century BC) or Gorsdorf and Vogt (ca. 6th century BC) on the construction of temple 3, it would appear to be built before or close to the time of Lehi. Since the altars mention a ruler named Yada'il, this has some potential to narrow down the dates, but not by much. Rulers named Yada'il from the 8th-6th centuries BC include: Yada'il Dharih I (ca. 740-720 BC), Yada'il Dharih II (ca. 650-620 BC), or Yada'il Bayyin II (ca. 590-575 BC). Given the dating from Nebes of ca. 685 BC, I'd say Yada'il Dharih II is most likely. Note that the person said to be a Nihmite in the inscription is the grandfather of the dedicant, Bi'athtar. So even if it is only a 6th century BC inscription from a little later than Lehi (unlikely, in my opinion), the fact that it attests to Nihmites two generations earlier would still mean that the Nihm tribe was in the area around Lehi's time. NHMyn as Tribal or Place Name In form, it is a nisbe, so it means that a person is "of NHM." This could be a place name, but it is most consistently interpreted as a tribal name. I'm not sure if nisbes can be interpreted as family names, but I haven't seen anyone interpret the NHMyn of the altars as being a family name. Sima (above) translates nhmyn as "from Nihm," and says that "The dedicant, Bi'athtar ... comes from the Nihm region, west of Marib" (pp. 166-167). This is in the same general area as Nehem/Nihm today. Vogt (above) and Kitchen (in Aston's publications) translate nhmyn as "Nihmite". Vogt says that the Bi'athtar on the altars is from the Nihm tribe (tribu de Nihm), which was located "at the time without doubt north of Jawf, today northeast of Sanʾa" (p. 144, originally in French: "à l’époque sans doute au nord du Jawf, aujord’hui au nord-est de Sanʾâ"). Like Sima, he is clearly connecting the NHMyn on the altars to the Nihm/Nehem tribal territory today, and locating it in the same general area. Peter Stein, Die altsüdarabischen Minuskelinschriften auf Holzstäbchen aus der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek in München. Band 1: Die Inschriften der mittel- und spätsabäischen Periode (Tübingen and Berlin, GER: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 2010), 23, fig. 1 maps out "place, tribal, or regional names mentioned in the minuscule inscriptions" (originally in German: "anderer in den Minuskelinschriften erwähnter Orts–, Stammes– oder, Landschaftsname"), which date to a later time-period (late BC to early AD) and places NHM (Nihm) in the same general area as it is located today, based on the occurrence of NHMyn in a list of tribal names (YM 11748) dated to ca. 4th century BC-4th century AD. Although this is later, I point it out because it is the same form of the name as found on the altars (the nisbe). In general, Stein lumps together nisbe, stamm (tribe), under the "toponym" umbrella, which of course means "place names." My point in all of this is the published literature that I have been able to consult consistently interprets NHMyn in the altars from Bar'an and other places as a reference to either a place or a tribe, and consistently locate that place or tribe in the general area where the current Nehem/Nihm tribal territory is today. Northern and Western Arabia NHM Inscriptions To my knowledge, none of these record a tribal or place name. They are all either personal names or simply the word nhm. This is why they are totally irrelevant. I've personally gone through the databases of Arabian inscriptions, and the only region where I've found examples of nhm in some form marked as a place or tribal name is in southwest Arabia. If there is a tribal name or place NHM from another region, you've gotta show me the evidence, not just point to any and all inscriptions that mention a "NHM". EDIT: Just added italics to publication titles, because I'm OCD like that.
  8. No, I don't think so. I read through the portion of the paper dealing with Amarna, and frankly wish I had found that paper before giving the presentation. It had some much better quotes stating the initial problem---the first paragraph on p. 348 is basically making the very same point I am. Her ultimate conclusion is, as she herself admits, just one way to reconcile the evidence. I am not sure I buy her interpretation in this case, but I've also ultimately spent very little time studying the Amarna letters and that time period. In any case, I would consider that portion of her paper to be an excellent example of exactly what I am suggesting needs to be done with the Book of Mormon: instead of dismissing the Amarna letters (which, admittedly, is a less-viable option than dismissing the Book of Mormon), she reviewed different possibilities and reinterpreted the data in the letters to what she thinks best fits with the archaeological data. Whether it would be convincing to non-Mormons or not, I think that at the very least, believers who accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon should approach the text in the same way. After all, what does it really mean to believe the text is a genuine, ancient historical document if you don't read and interpret it the way genuine, ancient historical documents are properly read and interpreted? Of course, if everything in the Book of Mormon were like the Amarna letters and Jerusalem---no points of convergence at all---I'd agree with have a bit of problem. But just as there are other reasons to accept the genuineness of the Amarna letters, and thus justify the efforts of Steiner and others to reconcile its mention of Jerusalem with the absence of archaeological evidence, I do think there are enough points of convergence between the text and archaeology---even if some reinterpretation of the text is necessary---to justify times when reconciliation (i.e., the horses and chariots kind of stuff) is necessary. I tried to briefly sketch some of these in my presentation: Nephi's depiction of Jerusalem, Nahom, Mulek, and cement in ancient America. Anyone looking for more of that kind of stuff, I would recommend Brant A. Gardner's book Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History (Greg Kofford Books, 2015) as the best book-length treatment to date. Others don't find this kind of stuff convincing, and that is OK by me. I've gotten past the urge to try to prove things to other people. I can offer my own point of view, and try to do so as persuasively as I can. I hope it is helpful, especially to those struggling with faith, but ultimately people will take it or leave it, and there is nothing I can really do about that.
  9. Since there is some confusion, just let me be clear: It had frankly never occurred to me that the Jerusalem of the Amarna letters was anywhere other than the current and long standing location of Jerusalem. In speaking of "two Jerusalems" I was employing what I thought was a fairly obvious rhetorical gimmick, which I refer to the same place as portrayed in different sources from different time periods as if they are two different cities, the same way a person might go back to their home town many years later and lament that it is "not the same town" they grew up in anymore. That I understood both Jerusalems to ultimately be in the same place was, I thought, evident from the map attached to the very beginning, as a visual on the section about the Amarna letters, showing Jerusalem in the same place it always is, with a caption that says: "An archive of 14th c. BC letters found in Amarna, Egypt, includes six letters from the King of Jerusalem, despite there being no archaeological evidence for Jerusalem at that time." Or the fact that when returning to part 2 of the "tale of two Jerusalems" I said: "I would now like to take us back to Jerusalem, but we are going to fast forward to the 7th century BC," i.e., I was going back to the same place, but moving us to a different time period. Or when I mention Jerusalem yet again, and say, "We’ve already seen that Nephi’s Jerusalem fares better than Amarna’s, but you could argue it does better than David’s and Solomon’s too." Surely, I hope, this makes clear that I am not talking about physically different locations for various "Jerusalems" but rather Jerusalem in different time-periods, i.e., the time of Amarna, the time of David and Solomon, and the time of Nephi. I was already quite aware that strata from both before and after the Amarna period attest to occupation of Jerusalem, which frankly makes it all the more bizarre that evidence of occupation is missing for the Amarna period. I never made or intended any comparisons to Zarahemla. My intended comparison was quite explicit, I thought: Jerusalem as portrayed in the Amarna letters vs. Jerusalem as portrayed in 1 Nephi. The one has zero archaeological evidence to support it (at least, so far as I could find), and yet the written sources are indisputably authentic. The other actually does pretty well, archaeologically, at least in my opinion, despite the seemingly strange circumstances of its discovery, despite the fact that it is attested no earlier than the 19th century, and despite the fact that several of the details now confirmed were points of criticism for the Book of Mormon when it first came out. I think, at the very least, that is pretty interesting, but I suppose others may disagree. If I had wanted to use a toponym for which we cannot identify the physical location (and thus the ruins), and compare that to Zarahemla, there are plenty of examples I could have chosen from. My purpose in using Jerusalem and the Amarna letters was precisely because we knew exactly where and when to look---an ideal connection, which should make it easy to find the evidence---and yet we still found nothing. To me, that is a fairly powerful illustration of how very complicated the relationship to archaeology and textual sources can be, and why it is overly simplistic to suppose that just because we can't find something mentioned in a text, does not mean it was not there. This should especially caution us when we are dealing with additional mitigating factors, such as uncertainty about exactly where to look, lack of excavation (as I mention, 95+ percent of Maya sites remain unexcavated, and the Maya region is the most excavated region in Mesoamerica, and probably all of the Americas), and a lack of toponyms in general (we have the native, pre-Columbian names of ~12 out 6,000 sites in the Maya area, and none for other regions and cultures in Mesoamerica before Aztec times), and so forth. Anyone who wants to ask, "Where is Zarahemla?" or insist that we should have "found it by now" has to take these facts into consideration.