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Earliest pre columbian writing system found


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"What I'm saying is the more previously unsearched nooks and crannies we look into and research, that don't show up any evidence of a Nephite civilization,"

Let us assume that we are standing on the ruins of an authentic Nephite city. Please tell us specifically how we would identify it as such.

I don't know. But then, I'm not a trained archeologist either. But the actual trained archeologists didn't seem to have a problem identifying the city of Troy when it was found. And they don't seem to have trouble identifying all sorts of other ruins found in the middle east, Bulgaria and Macedonia and all of these other places. Why don't you go read up on how archeologists identify cities belonging to cultures which actually existed, and perhaps that will help you to weave a better and more consistent notion of how they would hypothetically identify a Nephite civilization, if in fact such a civilization ever existed.

Who knows, maybe the Nephites really did exist, and you could be the one who figures out how to identify their ruins, and do the world a huge favor.

You know, I am going on faith that archeologists have the tools and the know-how to identify old ruins from at least as far back as, say, 400 AD, when the Nephites were supposedly destroyed. I'm willing to accept on "faith" the fact that since no archeologists, even the LDS ones, in decades of trying, have been able to identify any of the ruins that have been discovered thus far as Nephite, they were probably right. I'm not talking about a single jade bracelet here. I'm talking whole cities and civilizations and such, with thousands upon thousands of artifacts, artworks, food and clothing and writing samples and so on.

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Sethbag:

don't know. But then, I'm not a trained archeologist either. But the actual trained archeologists didn't seem to have a problem identifying the city of Troy when it was found. And they don't seem to have trouble identifying all sorts of other ruins found in the middle east, Bulgaria and Macedonia and all of these other places.

It is better to stick with your original "I don't know" than to guess in ways that demonstrate why you don't know. Troy was accepted as a location because of the data supporting the particular location and the material culture that fit with what was expected for that culture and time period. There wasn't much that was surprising. Other locations are similarly identified because there is either a long history or they serendipitously find writing that identifies the location.

The New World problem is significantly different because there isn't the continuing connection to place that there is in the Old World. This plagues not only the "Nephite" issue, but all archaeology. Until very recently there were no Maya cities that were known with the name the inhabitants would have recognized. To this date, there are very few Book of Mormon period cities where even the original name is known. The problem is that there is so little writing recovered from those periods.

The Olmec are known by that name because of historical accident. The original discoverers thought they were a much later historical people and the name stuck. So the Olmec are known, but certainly by the wrong name. There is no clear understanding of what language was spoken in Teotihucan nor what kind of government it had - even though the location has been known for a very long time.

In the case of the original question you were asked, the problem is to identify material remains that would be diagnostically Nephite. Even when Sorenson has suggested sites as Nephite locations, the existance of the location and the fit with the Book of Mormon hasn't been sufficient to convince Mesoamericanists that the location was Nephite - because it looks like every other Mesoamerican site.

So the question is one of uniqueness in material culture. There is a very similar problem in identifying early Israelites. There isn't a lot of material culture that is diagnostically early Israelite as opposed to early Canaanite. In Egypt, there is nothing that is diagnostically Hebrew to determine where and when there were Hebrews in Egypt.

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>I don't know.

But you were the one who said that nothing has been found. You now admit that your statement is based on ignorance, is that correct? You were simply blowing hot air.

>But then, I'm not a trained archeologist either. But the actual trained archeologists didn't seem to have a problem identifying the city of Troy when it was found.

Thank you for the oversimplification of the situation. Let's compare the identification of Troy with Zarahemla.

First, the identification of Troy is still disputed among archeologists, even as the identification of Zarahemla which has two candidates. Second, the identification of Troy is assisted by additional texts extant from ancient Hittite texts. No such records exist from BOM time and locations, outside of the BOM itself. Finally, virtually no geographic and city names are extant from this time period.

Nice try.

>And they don't seem to have trouble identifying all sorts of other ruins found in the middle east, Bulgaria and Macedonia and all of these other places.

Why did you not mention mesoamerican archeology? Please give us the ancient identification of all the sites in mesoamerica, dear fellow.

Give a listing of the extant written records, the ancient names of the cities and geographic features.

Your ignorance of these issues is deep and profound.

>Why don't you go read up on how archeologists identify cities belonging to cultures which actually existed, and perhaps that will help you to weave a better and more consistent notion of how they would hypothetically identify a Nephite civilization, if in fact such a civilization ever existed.

I have never said that archeologists could identify a Nephite civilization. That seems to be your argument.

But, for the sake of discussion, let's look at this.

Let us compare the civilization of ancient mesoamerica with the Amerindians of JS's acquaintence.

a system of writing (classified as hierographic, as is Egyptian), formal calendar, cement used in buildings, a knowledge of astronomy, towers used in religious worship, a religion which includes human sacrifice, a hierarchy of kings (major king with subkings).

Now, my dear fellow, in case you did not know, the BOM mentions each of these in relationship to the Nephites and Lamanites. Now compare the Inidians of the area around JS with mesoamerica.

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My dearest friend Cdowis, the rub here is that I am not the one claiming that Maya or Olmec cities are in fact Nephite, and we just don't know it yet. It is, in the grand scheme of things, utterly irrelevent that I don't know how one would identify a Nephite city as such, because I'm not the one making the claims that the Nephite cities are even out there.

How about you explain how you expect a Nephite city to be identified conclusively as such.

Or how about you show me where any trained archeologists indicate how they think it will happen.

One thing I just want to throw out there is that the language of the Nephites should be identifiable, because it will be a language (hebrew? aramaic? I don't know) that was spoken by Nephi's family in Jerusalem, perhaps somewhat deviated over time, but still recognizable linguistically. And we do know that the Nephites would have generally written in Hebrew (that seems to have been Moroni's preference) but in a pinch, you know, when there wasn't enough space to write in Hebrew, they would have written in Reformed Egyptian.

I suppose a start in identifying a Nephite city as such would be finding a strong linguistic connection between whatever language samples are discovered. In particular, the written language should look like or be descended from Hebrew, or, in some cases, some sort of bastardized Egyptian.

In fact, it would help if they writing looked something like the sample of characters Martin Harris is supposed to have taken to Charles Anthon.

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Sethbag:

One thing I just want to throw out there is that the language of the Nephites should be identifiable, because it will be a language (hebrew? aramaic? I don't know) that was spoken by Nephi's family in Jerusalem, perhaps somewhat deviated over time, but still recognizable linguistically.

Fascinating assumption. Would you mind telling me why you think so? On what basis would you expect a language spoken by a handful of people entering a land that was completely foreign to become the dominant language of any group a thousand years later. We might expect there to be some loan words - but only if there were a cultural importation. What happens when all of the importable culture is on the other side of the world?

I suspect that in addition to not being a trained archaeologist you are also not a trained linguist.

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Seth, I am afraid that you are out of your league here. I try to avoid these discussions unless I have a question because there are very knowledgeable people here who believe and have studied the geography and artifacts. You cannot win this debate.

There are discoveries out there but they haven't been the silverbullet to prove the bofm but much is being discovered. In truth whoever wrote the book of mormon was a genius. And JS just doesn't fit the picture for the knowledge that he had on the farm.

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Fascinating assumption. Would you mind telling me why you think so? On what basis would you expect a language spoken by a handful of people entering a land that was completely foreign to become the dominant language of any group a thousand years later. We might expect there to be some loan words - but only if there were a cultural importation. What happens when all of the importable culture is on the other side of the world?

I suspect that in addition to not being a trained archaeologist you are also not a trained linguist.

I have to concur especially since Mosiah made it clear that the people didnt speak the language. In fact, the First King Mosiah taught the people the language so they could understand the scripture. There is no reason to assume that they continued to speak that way.

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Sethbag:
One thing I just want to throw out there is that the language of the Nephites should be identifiable, because it will be a language (hebrew? aramaic? I don't know) that was spoken by Nephi's family in Jerusalem, perhaps somewhat deviated over time, but still recognizable linguistically.

Fascinating assumption. Would you mind telling me why you think so? On what basis would you expect a language spoken by a handful of people entering a land that was completely foreign to become the dominant language of any group a thousand years later. We might expect there to be some loan words - but only if there were a cultural importation. What happens when all of the importable culture is on the other side of the world?

I suspect that in addition to not being a trained archaeologist you are also not a trained linguist.

I'm not a trained linguist either. Wow, your powers of discernment are uncanny!

The mistake you make in evaluating my opinion is that you assume I would buy into the idea that a small group of Nephites joined with and came to dominate a much larger group of people who were already here.

I don't doubt that the other people were already here. As you point out, it's been shown believably that people have been in the Americas for into the double-digit thousands of years. I just don't believe in the Nephites.

I personally think the idea that a small group of Nephites joined up with a much larger group of indigenous people, and came to dominate them such that the whole group became identified as Nephites, and followed Nephite religious customs and such, and regarded the Nephite history to be their own, to the point where the Book of Mormon speaks only of the Nephite history and leaves out the "already there" peoples' history altogether, to be a desperate attempt to shoe-horn the Nephites into the history of the real, actual American peoples. While I admit it is handy as a way of preserving a belief in Nephites in the face of so much archeological evidence of other groups before and after the Nephite time ranges, I don't find that to be much of a motivation for me personally.

Once again we have a situation where the "intellectuals" of the church have conceived of a set of pet theories they believe keep alive the possibility that the Book of Mormon is true, which theories conflict with the teachings of the prophets, seers, and revelators from the time of Joseph Smith down to the present day. What, you mean you don't think it's strange that the FARMS people actually know the true beliefs with respect to the Book of Mormons, and the LDS church leadership don't, and haven't ever, even Joseph Smith himself?

Anyhow, I'm a little weary of the chest-thumping and insults with respect to the credentials of anyone you disagree with.

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Sethbag:

The mistake you make in evaluating my opinion is that you assume I would buy into the idea that a small group of Nephites joined with and came to dominate a much larger group of people who were already here. . .  I just don't believe in the Nephites.

Surely you are not saying that your disbelief prevents you from understanding linguistics or archaeology? Certainly you are not saying that your unbelief justifies opinions that are not only unsupported but unsupportable? You do believe in archaeology and linguistics, don't you?

Once again we have a situation where the "intellectuals" of the church have conceived of a set of pet theories they believe keep alive the possibility that the Book of Mormon is true, which theories conflict with the teachings of the prophets, seers, and revelators from the time of Joseph Smith down to the present day.

Where to begin? "Once again?" Really. That implies a continued practice that is currently being proffered in this case. I would deny all such accusations.

Would you like to discuss the history of the development of scientific and historical thought in the early church? Would you like to define (and defend) what appears to be a very fundamentalist view of what a prophet should be like - one which contradicts all known history of prophets.

At the moment, you are telling us that you are not trained in any of the relevant disciplines, but that your opinion must perforce be correct because you hold it. I certainly can't argue with your right to say it, but please excuse me if I don't feel very impressed to hold your opinions as highly as you do.

What, you mean you don't think it's strange that the FARMS people actually know the true beliefs with respect to the Book of Mormons, and the LDS church leadership don't, and haven't ever, even Joseph Smith himself?

And a repeat of the fundamental historical (if not theological) error. Pray tell, why do you think that a prophet is an expert in history? Please support your opinion with evidence from any prophet you might accept - if there are any. If you don't accept any prophet, then any prophet in the Judeo-Christian tradition from that history.

Unfortunately, you are also not trained in logic, as you seem to suppose that you can put forth an unacceptable definition and then judge the Book of Mormon (or LDS scholars) against it. Logic does't work that way. Scholars don't work that way. Prophets have never worked that way.

Anyhow, I'm a little weary of the chest-thumping and insults with respect to the credentials of anyone you disagree with.

Chest-thumping? Who began with the comments where someone (you) made very strong statements that had no basis in fact at all? Who is thumping their own ideas without the benefit of any background in any of the relevant disciplines?

I confess that I am very weary of people who have very strong opinions based on nothing but their own opinions - and are unhappy when confronted with facts. You would think it would be the other way around, but it isn't. You, sir or madam (and I would assume male by the tone and nature of the arguments) are spouting your own brand of faith. You are welcome to it, but please don't confuse it with scholarly work.

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Brant, let's cut to the chase.

Where did the Nephites live? What language did they speak and write? What cities did they build?

And why do you believe your answers to the above questions? In other words, what proof do you offer in support of your beliefs?

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Earth to Brant, just wondering if you're going to tell me where the Nephites lived, what language they spoke and wrote in, and other such things, and the evidence that proves this to your satisfaction.

I realize it's a workday, and perhaps you've just bought away from the computer, but you pounced on my earlier remarks pretty quickly. Or is it taking you some time to gather up all of the Nephite evidence that you have?

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Sethbag:

Earth to Brant, just wondering if you're going to tell me where the Nephites lived, what language they spoke and wrote in, and other such things, and the evidence that proves this to your satisfaction.

I'm certainly not intentionally ignoring you, but I do actually have other things to do. I check in on the board when I can.

I follow Sorenson's geography for the most part. I think Larry Poulsen has some very good information and someday maybe I'll have the patience to make a decision between the two. For my purposes, which is to match the location to the history and culture, both agree on the Zarahemla polity in the Grijalva river basin. I can test that.

My presentation at this year's FAIR conference was intended to provide a better answer to the new posters, like yourself, who show up asking me this same question that I have been asked, and have answered, for years. Unfortunately, the list isn't posted and I don't know when it will be.

To give you a highlight of the reasons I see a connection between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica, there are multiple complex connections that depend upon place and time. There are significant social structures in the Book of Mormon that reflect that social structures and processes during the Book of Mormon time period in Mesoamerica. One is the nature of political entities, power transmission, the effect of trade on hierarchical societies an the pressure kingship. All of those occur in the Book of Mormon in the same ways and at the same times as those similar structures and pressures exist in the Book of Mormon.

There is a very long list of them - but all of them depend upon the best information available to archaeology and ethnohistory. They also are based firmly on an understanding of linguistics in cross-cultural situations and the nature of both ancient texts and texts in the cross-cultural interface.

If you are interested, I could give you the general titles and you might pick one to discuss. I would require, however, that you deal in available data rather than unsupported opinions.

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Hi Cdowis...

a system of writing (classified as hierographic, as is Egyptian), formal calendar, cement used in buildings, a knowledge of astronomy, towers used in religious worship, a religion which includes human sacrifice, a hierarchy of kings (major king with subkings).

We've discussed your list before. :P

Because various forms of writing emerge does not indicate they are related in any whatsoever. Language (FWIU) always begins with pictures, symbols, etc. Do you have some evidence that there are similarities between Mesoamerican language and that of the Egyptians 2,000 years ago?

Formal calendar? Ummm... we have a culture who is extraordinary in its use of calendars... (they have seventeen very accurate and detailed ones IIRC), and NONE of them even remotely discuss the reign of the judges OR the birth of Christ. And we learn from the BoM calendars were based on the birth of Christ right? This is so not a match I don't even know what to say.

A knowledge of astronomy? You are kidding right? Pretty much every human being and society had an understanding of the stars, sun, moon, etc, since, we started settling down, probably before that).

It is like saying two cultures understood water helped plants grow.

As I have mentioned before to you, societies the world over have lots of commonalities... they sleep, search for water, learn to heal themselves, have some sort of bed, find ways of using fire, come up with rituals regarding death and birth, they mate and have rituals associated with this, they come up with myths, create buildings for various purposes, have healers and religious leaders, create structure, have wars, use tools, make weapons, wear clothing and create ways to cook. They write, speak, have symbols, give birth, grow up; they play, work, sing, dance, create art. I could go on and on and on.

Your list means nothing. <_<

Now, if there was a calendar based on the time of Christ, well that would be something. If there was a written language similar to the ancient world, that would be interesting. If there were evidence of metal work, chariots, etc. etc. etc., that would be intriguing.

I think evidence would have to be something more than similarities existing among numerous human societies.

Brant, let me ask you this... what sort of evidence do you think would convince anthropologists that there is a possibility the BoM is indeed a history of the people in Mesoamerica? Or put another way, what evidence do anthropologists look at to come to an understanding of the place and time of a particular place or society? What would you point out to non-LDS anthropologists as evidence in terms of archaeology?

Thanks,

~dancer~

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truth dancer:

Brant, let me ask you this... what sort of evidence do you think would convince anthropologists that there is a possibility the BoM is indeed a history of the people in Mesoamerica? Or put another way, what evidence do anthropologists look at to come to an understanding of the place and time of a particular place or society? What would you point out to non-LDS anthropologists as evidence in terms of archaeology?

The only thing that an anthropologist or archaeologist will accept is a case that is made in the same way that any other ethnohistorical argument is made. In this case, however, the wrinkle isn't in the dirt. When you ask what I could show them in terms of archaeology - there isn't anything. However, that isn't the end of the issue because what we are looking at is how a particular text correlates to the archaeology. There is nothing new I could show them about the information concerning Mesoamerica. I use that information in the very same way that they do. The difference is that I am comparing it to a text that they are not looking at (at least not seriously looking at).

Texts have problematic relationships to dirt archaeology. It is rare when there is a clean or complete correspondence - one reason is that they deal in such different types of evidence and interests. Nevertheless, a text can be located in time and place when it shows unique connections to that time in place. You are correct that saying that a people has astronomers and fights wars is insufficient. Warfare would require many more points of convergence, and even then would be weak on its own because there are only so many ways to use the pre-gunpowder military arsenal.

Still, the strength of the argument is in the volume of points where the text converges in non-random ways with the known history, culture, geography, and topography of Mesoamerica.

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  • 3 weeks later...

More news from Tantoc in Sanlouis Potosi.

from the Aztlan list

The monolith, which measures more than 8 meters (yards) and weighs

about 20 tons, was found in March 2005 by construction workers at the

Tantoc ruins in San Luis Potosi state, near Mexico's northern Gulf

coast.

It was carved sometime around 700 BC, likely by the Huasteco culture

and possibly predates early Mayan calendars by hundreds of years,

Ahuja said.

Larry P

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Ok, so one of the critics' accusations is wrong, so that means the Book of Mormon is really true? I know you weren't going quite that far with this, but that's certainly the direction you're heading.

My heck, Sethbag! Does this need to disqualify any possible evidence blind you so completely as this? I mean, he never said it proved it true and you know it. He stated that it showed that one of the so-called evidences against the BOM is no longer valid. So, the only reasonable response would have been "Yes, you are right." By the way, while you may not have meant to imply that no amount of evidence could ever prove the BOM true because we all know it's false-- that's certainly the direction you were heading. :P

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It'll take me time to hunt down quotes. Mainly because I've resorted to asking others to hunt them down for me. A little patience please. I believe you have said on more than one occasion that the independently available evidence should be rationally convincing to the general scientific community if they gave it a fair hearing. More than one person, including myself, as prefaced comments to you mentioning this position, and you have not disputed it in the past.

While this isn't very different from the let the critics tell you what LDS people believe... I fail to see what this has to do with the thread at hand other than to derail it.

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>Hi Cdowis...

We've discussed your list before. :P

Really? I guess I missed it.

>Because various forms of writing emerge does not indicate they are related in any whatsoever. Language (FWIU) always begins with pictures, symbols, etc. Do you have some evidence that there are similarities between Mesoamerican language and that of the Egyptians 2,000 years ago?

1. Egyptian and mayan are among the hierogyphic writing systems.

2. Mormon 9 [34] But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that ****none other people knoweth our language****; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.

The BOM does not make the claim that they wrote nor spoke Egyptian. This is found only in the antimormon edition of the BOM.

3. Please tell us about the writing system used among the North American Indians, with which JS was familiar. Not all societies have a written language, and only in mesoamerica do we find such a writing system.

>Formal calendar? Ummm... we have a culture who is extraordinary in its use of calendars... (they have seventeen very accurate and detailed ones IIRC), and NONE of them even remotely discuss the reign of the judges OR the birth of Christ.

>And we learn from the BoM calendars were based on the birth of Christ right? This is so not a match I don't even know what to say.

The Jews today have two calendars, neither of which discuss George Washington, nor the presidents of the USA. Does the Jewish calendar discuss Christ?

It is possible to have more than one calendar among various groups living at the same time -- some of them are Christians and some of them are not.

I never made the claim that the mayan calendar was the nephite calendar. I simply said that a calendar is found in mesoamerica but not among the amerindians.

The BOM tells us about a society that has a sophisticated calendar, and we find such a calendar in mesoamerica. We do NOT find such a calendar anywhere else in the Western continent, specifically among the amerindians after whom the BOM was supposedly modeled.

>A knowledge of astronomy? You are kidding right? Pretty much every human being and society had an understanding of the stars, sun, moon, etc, since, we started settling down, probably before that).

>It is like saying two cultures understood water helped plants grow.

You are kidding, right?

To compare the knowledge of the amerindians with that of mesoamerica is like comparing the knowledge of water for an kindergarden child and a professional chemist. both of them know about water, right?

>As I have mentioned before to you, societies the world over have lots of commonalities...

The challange I gave you, and you ignored for obvious reasons, is to compare the technology of the amerindians (calendar, writing, etc) with that of the BOM. If you statement above is correct, we should find a hierarchy of kings, calendar, writing, cement, the use of towers in religious ceremonies.

Please make the comparison.

Now do the same thing with mesoamerica.

>Your list means nothing. <_<

Please make the comparison and show me.

>Now, if there was a calendar based on the time of Christ, well that would be something.

If we had a time machine and could go back to BOM times, **that** would be something. If we had some who lived as old as a tree and could tell us about the life and times in mesoamerica, that would be something.

If we had the records from BOM times in mesoamerica, instead of being destroyed, that would be something.

>If there was a written language similar to the ancient world, that would be interesting. If there were evidence of metal work, chariots, etc. etc. etc., that would be intriguing.

>I think evidence would have to be something more than similarities existing among numerous human societies.

I doubt if you would be impressed. We already have evidence of the "Tree of Life" motif, NHM, the valley of Lamuel and Laman, Bountiful (in the old world) which matches the BOM account on twelve different characteristics. Are you impressed?

~dancer~

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