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Ntrw

The End of The Jaredites

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Whenever the two sources or “witnesses” happen to converge in their testimony, a historical “datum” (or given) may be said to have been established beyond reasonable doubt. To ignore or to deny the implications of such convergent testimony is irresponsible scholarship, since it impeaches the testimony of one witness without reasonable cause by suppressing other vital evidence. (What Did The Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?; William Dever, 2001, pg. 107)
 
Unlike the Nephites, we don't have a start date or an end date for the Jaredites, in the Book of Mormon, thus we don't have a firm chronology with which to compare with archeology. Past proposals for a beginning date or end date for Ether's lineage history have tended to be too eager to see a connection between the Jaredites and Olmec or too hesitant, my own included.

Any attempt to create a Jaredite chronology must begin with the king list provided by Moroni, in Ether 1; archeology should only be reffered to at the very end. The following king list also represents the Prophet Ether's patrilineal line: 
 
Ether
Coriantor
Moron
Ethem
Ahah
Seth
Shiblon
Com
Coriantum
Amnigaddah
Aaron
Heth
Hearthom
Lib
Kish
Corom
Levi
Kim
Morianton
Riplakish
Shez
Heth
Com
Coriantum
Emer
Omer
Shule
Kib
Orihah
Jared
 
Now we need the proper interpretive lens with which to read the king list, within the context of the Book of Mormon. Just as scholars of the Hebrew Bible study contemporary Ugaritic and Akkadian texts, to get a better understanding of the Hebrew Bible and it's sources, we need the correct general area of the Americas, to find a similiar corrective lens when reading the Book of Mormon.

As it stands, Mesoamerica is the best place to find such a lens. Mesoamerica has two things that North, South and Insular America lack, for the times mention in the Book of Mormon: literature and the right population density. As John E. Clarke reminds us:

Could millions of people have lived in the area proposed as Book of Mormon lands? Yes, and they did. Mesoamerica is the only area in the Americas that sustained the high population densities mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and for the times specified.

When reconstructing a Jaredite chronology, we are essentially dealing with time thus mesoamerican systems of time keeping and notions of history come into play. The Book of Ether was written by Moroni, the last of the Nephite prophet-historians, based on Mosiah II's translation of the found Jaredite plates. So we should look at how Moroni and other Nephites looked at and measured time, through a Mesoamerican lens.

One of the intriguing features of the Book of Mormon is the use of the baktun, or 400 year cycle, as it is attested several times in the text (Alma 45:10Helaman 13:5,9Mormon 8:6). It also appears that the baktun and the katun are both attested in Moroni 10:1, when Moroni states that "more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ". What's most interesting in this verse is that Moroni specifically says he wants his brethren the Lamanites to know that it had been four hundred and twenty years, because that number would carry much more meaning to the Lamanites than it would to the Gentiles.
 
The Maya "Long Count" records the elapsed number of periods of 400 years + periods of 20 years + years + periods of 20 days + days since the "creation" day of 13 August 3114 BC (although it's unclear exactly what happened on that day; the accounts differ from site to site). Moroni is basically giving an abbreviated Long Count date of 1.1 (1 period of 400 years + 1 period of 20 years). In her book, The Indian Christ, the Indian King: The Historical Substrate of Mayan Myth and Ritual, Victoria R. Bricker has noted the following:

The Maya believed that history was repetitive, that the events in one cycle would be repeated in all successive cycles as they had been repeating since time immemorial. Therefore, the calendar could be used to predict events in the future (i.e.. in succeeding cycles), and the people had no control over their fate.  

This cyclical repetition of history is illustrated in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel(Roys 1933), which records the count of the katuns since the first settlement was established at Chichen Itza. Below is the historical account for each Katun 8 Ahau in one chronicle. 

The First Katun 8 Ahau
It was in 8 Ahau
    That Chitchen Itza was destroyed.
Thirteen fold of the katun[256 years] had passed
    When Chakanputun began;
They were in their homes
    For that katun period

The Second Katun 8 Ahau
It was in 8 Ahau
    That the people of Chakanputun were destroyed
By the Itza people.

The Third Katun 8 Ahau
It was in 8 Ahau
   That the Itza people were destroyed
In their homes again
    Because of the treachery of the Hunac Ceel

As ancient Mesoamericans, the Nephites and Lamanites appear to have the same basic cyclical view of history, where the type of events that occur one year are expected to be repeated when the date of that year is repeated:

Omni 1:4-5
And now I, Amaron, write the things whatsoever I write, which are few, in the book of my father.
Behold, it came to pass that *three hundred and twenty years had passed away, and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed.

4 Nephi 1:48
 And it came to pass that when *three hundred and twenty years had passed awayAmmaron, being constrained by the Holy Ghost, did hide up the records which were sacred—yea, even all the sacred records which had been handed down from generation to generation, which were sacred—even until the three hundred and twentieth year from the coming of Christ.

The Nephites had three different calendars. The first calendar marked time from the year Lehi left Jerusalem. The second calendar marked time from the first year of the judges. The third calendar marked time from the day the sign was given of Christ's birth, making His birth the beginning of year one. Long before the Nephites were wiped out, their fall had been prophesied as happening 400 years after the birth of Christ(Alma 45:10Helaman 13:5,9Mormon 8:6).

Between 327-421 AD, the Nephites engaged in protracted warfare with the Lamanites, abandoning their cities and fleeing northward, only to meet their demise in 400 AD(Mormon 8), four hundred years after Christ's birth. 
 
This would explain why the day before the first day of the next baktun cycle was the  "day set apart by the unbelievers" to kill, all the believers in Christ, effectively wiping out a people, as had happened four hundred years later, with the Nephites(3 Nephi 1:9). 
 
But the planned destruction doesn't happen, instead we get a day and a night and a day with continual daylight, as had been prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite. This miracle left the would be genocidal mob in shock and unable to carry out their murderous plans.

And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; ... (3 Nephi 1:16).

From the view of the long count, that particular day, for the killing of an entire subculture, would make the most sense if a similiar genocidal event had happened 400 years prior, in or around 400 BC. The only other account of a genocidal event recorded in the Book of Mormon is that of the Jaredites, in the concluding chapters of Ether; thus the best candidate we have for an end date for the Jaredite history is 400 BC. A basic cycle of history in the Book of Mormon thus looks like this:

Untitled.png
 
With a date for Jaredite collapse, we are now free to count backward in time but by how many intervals? The Jaredites, whose history is recorded in Ether's lineage history,  practiced ultimogeniture, the practice of the youngest son inheriting everything, a practice with exists in modern Mesoamerica and may be of pre-Hispanic origin. Jaredite kings were unusually long lived, fertile and almost certainly polygamists; the lineage founder, Jared, had 31 sons and daughters. As Mark Wright has noted:

Keep in mind that the Nephite record keepers were from the ruling lineage, and anciently elites tended to have longer life spans because they had access to better quality food and they didn't wear their lives out with physically taxing work the way non-elites did. We only have data for both the birth dates and death dates of 17 Classic period Maya rulers, and their average age at death is 64.7 years. Some of the longest lived Maya kings were Itzamnaaj B'alam II of Yaxchilan was between 94.8 and 98.5 years old when he died, Calakmul's king Yukno'om the Great lived to be 85, Chan Imix K'awiil of Copan was about 83 when he died, a ruler of El Cayo named Chak Lakamtuun lived to 82, K'inich Janaab' Pakal from Palenque was 80, Aj Wosal of Naranjo was at least 78, and K'an Joy Chitam (also from Palenque) lived until he was 74.

With an end date in mind and a rough estimate of years per royal generation, we get the following results for Jaredite dates, followed by the current chronology for Olmec apogee and decline:
olmec1.jpg
Jaredite Dates
2350 BC: Jaredites land in New World.
1310 BC: King Lib builds a "great city" by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land(Ether 10:19-21).
855 BC: Civil war "and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth"; the king, Shiblom, is killed and his son, Seth, lives out his days in captivity(Ether 11:4-9).
400 BC: End of the Jaredites.
 
2015-07-26%2B21.01.28.png

Olmec Dates
2500-1500BC:The first farming villages in Mesoamerica appear. Settlers raise maize, chili peppers, squash and cotton.
1500-1200BC:Olmec build San Lorenzo; fully developed Olmec culture, represented typically by gigantic basalt sculptures fashioned in a distinctive style.
1100BC:By this time, La Venta becomes a major Olmec site.
900BC:The Olmec site of San Lorenzo is destroyed. Olmec monuments are attacked, defaced and buried.
400BC:The Olmec site of La Venta is destroyed.
 
Sorenson-map.jpg
 

This paradigm has four convergances, all four of which are productive. The Jaredites are said to have arrived in the New World, from Mesopotamia, during the building of "the great tower". The start date of 2350 BC fits with the building of the first ziggurats in the Early Dynastic(2900-2350). The Olmec abandonment of La Venta and the Jaredite collapse is also convergant.
 
1280px-Olmec_Heartland_Overview_4.svg.png

More importantly, Lib builds his "great city" on the narrow neck of land, where the sea divides the land, at the same time the Olmecs build San Lorenzo, on the Strait of Tehuantepec, near the Coatzacualcos River. Also, the great pestilences and civil war, in the days of Shiblom, happened at the same time San Lorenzo was abandoned, with it's monuments defaced and buried. This is a productive convergance, where archeology possibly illuminates details of the Book of Ether. San Lorenzo is a candidate for the "great city" of Lib.
 
The Jaredite collapse coinciding with the abandonment of La Venta also explains why Coriantumr would head south-ward to Zarahemla, or, as Sorenson proposes, the Central Depression of the Grajalva river basin. Cities in the Central Depression had trade relations with La Venta and their inhabitants had Olmec heritage. Coriantumr would have known about these cities and naturally sought refuge there. 

It seems to me, that the Book of Ether and Olmec archeology are telling the same story. This is not to say that the Olmec are the Jaredites but rather that the Jaredites were Olmec. No, this can't be proven with certainty. As far as I know, we don't know the name of one Olmec. We don't even know what they called themselves.
 
Finally, none of this "proves" the Book of Mormon is true or that Joseph Smith Jr. is a Prophet of God. What this demonstrates is that the Olmec are a candidate for being the Jaredite host culture and that San Lorenzo is a candidate for the city of Lib. Do with that what you will.

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23 hours ago, Ntrw said:
...................................................................  
Ether
Coriantor
Moron
Ethem
Ahah
Seth
Shiblon
Com
Coriantum
Amnigaddah
Aaron                                 DESCENDANT
Heth
Hearthom
Lib
Kish
Corom
Levi
Kim
Morianton                          DESCENDANT
Riplakish
Shez
Heth
Com
Coriantum
Emer
Omer
Shule
Kib
Orihah
Jared
...............................................................................

Untitled.png
 
......................................................

An excellent summary, Pedro.  And I was charmed by the chiastic arrangement here, with scribes Amaron and Ammaron (Omni 5, IV Nephi 48) equidistant from the birth of Christ in 5 B.C., further evenly flanked by the demise of both Jaredites and Nephites.

However, I'd like to call your attention to a couple of instances of "descendant" instead of "son" in the Jaredite genealogy.  That may be indicative of something more than one generation, so that we are left without a sound sequence.  I always opt for the much more likely suggestion (made first by John Sorenson) that the Jaredite and Olmec sequence begins in 3114 B.C. (nearly same as start of Hindu Kaliyuga)  I further place the Great Tower (migdal temple) in the late 4th millennium B.C. in north Mesopotamia.

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Hey Robert,

 

Definitely, thanks for the catch. We'll never know for certainty which of the Jaredite chronologies is correct. But we can try. Whether, Sorenson, Gardner or I have figured it out, the end date of 400BC makes the most sense. It would explain the attempted genocide on the eve of year 1. 

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On 2/17/2017 at 2:33 AM, Ntrw said:

When reconstructing a Jaredite chronology, we are essentially dealing with time thus mesoamerican systems of time keeping and notions of history come into play. The Book of Ether was written by Moroni, the last of the Nephite prophet-historians, based on Mosiah II's translation of the found Jaredite plates. So we should look at how Moroni and other Nephites looked at and measured time, through a Mesoamerican lens.

A couple of points, Reconstruction with the king list is the only hint we have, and the number of years you assign to a king makes a difference. Some ruled for a long time, and if they all did, that stretches the beginning. Of course, the real trick is to place any date on the calendar and work from there.

Although you are correct that the translation of the plates of Ether happen with Mosiah, and Moroni reworks that translation, it would not be correct to assume that therefore Moroni would use his own ideas about chronology. Why? The text creates the king lists and doesn't deal in dates. Since the king list comes from the Jaredite record, using that king list requires understanding the Jaredites--and we have precious little to go on. Starting with an ending date on a convenient baktun makes things line up, but there is nothing in the text that justifies using that concept to construct the dating.

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

However, I'd like to call your attention to a couple of instances of "descendant" instead of "son" in the Jaredite genealogy.  That may be indicative of something more than one generation, so that we are left without a sound sequence.

That sounds like it makes sense, but it doesn't work. The "descendant" is in the list when given in one order, but then the text goes precisely back through the list in reverse order, listing all of the names, but making it clear that the meaning is "son."

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On 2/18/2017 at 8:30 AM, Brant Gardner said:

That sounds like it makes sense, but it doesn't work. The "descendant" is in the list when given in one order, but then the text goes precisely back through the list in reverse order, listing all of the names, but making it clear that the meaning is "son."

While it is true that Aaron is listed as a "descendant" of Heth in the King List in Ether 1, and then it says in 10:31 that Heth "begat" Aaron, the element of doubt was already introduced into the list in Ether 1, and it is even confirmed in 10:9 where Morianton is specifically a "descendant" of Riplakish -- just as he is in Ether 1:23.  We also have Shez as a "descendant" of Heth in 10:1.  During the ancient as well as modern scribal copying process, the text may have suffered a number of errors.  Most of these readings are not available in the Original Manuscript fragments for Ether.  Indeed, the king lists we do have for ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are fraught with wide variation and uncertainty until very late times (when synchronisms with the known calendar can be established).  So, the translation by Mosiah of the Jaredite record, which is further edited by Moroni, and then translated into English may not have come to us in as reliable shape as we would like.

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On 2/18/2017 at 8:30 AM, Brant Gardner said:

That sounds like it makes sense, but it doesn't work. The "descendant" is in the list when given in one order, but then the text goes precisely back through the list in reverse order, listing all of the names, but making it clear that the meaning is "son."

Without knowing the semantics for "son" in the original language I'm not sure but what that isn't simply evidence for "son" implying descendant. It works as well as the inverse (son entails descendant = 1st gen son). So I'm not sure that helps us.

I'm not disagreeing with the idea that Jaredites assimilated into the Olmecs and some of the descriptions might be to broader Olmec culture rather than Jaredite proper. That does seem plausible. Just noting the problem of the text when what we have is a translation of a translation of an unknown language/tradition when both sets of translating acts appear to be fairly loose translations (and Moroni's perhaps better characterized as a combination of translation with heavy summarization, redaction and editing).

Edited by clarkgoble

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Posted (edited)
On 2/19/2017 at 0:29 AM, Brant Gardner said:

A couple of points, Reconstruction with the king list is the only hint we have, and the number of years you assign to a king makes a difference. Some ruled for a long time, and if they all did, that stretches the beginning. Of course, the real trick is to place any date on the calendar and work from there.

Although you are correct that the translation of the plates of Ether happen with Mosiah, and Moroni reworks that translation, it would not be correct to assume that therefore Moroni would use his own ideas about chronology. Why? The text creates the king lists and doesn't deal in dates. Since the king list comes from the Jaredite record, using that king list requires understanding the Jaredites--and we have precious little to go on. Starting with an ending date on a convenient baktun makes things line up, but there is nothing in the text that justifies using that concept to construct the dating.

Thanks Brant, the whole post is based on using the calendar round as an interpretive lens; I think it could work but who knows?

What do you think of my generational spans based on polygamy, ultimogeniture and about 1/3 of the guys on the list being described as having children in their old age?

Edited by Ntrw

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