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Jaredite Steel?


John Williams

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I've known a long time about Nephi's using metallurgy to create steel objects, such as swords and a bow. I have heard it said that for some reason the technology wasn't used by the Nephites, hence the last mention of steel comes somewhat early on in Jarom, which the current edition of the Book of Mormon places between 399 and 365 BCE. This inexplicable disappearance of steel technology is said to explain the lack of evidence of metallurgy in proposed Book of Mormon locations. But for some reason I missed this from the Book of Ether:

Ether 7: 9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

This is more problematic. John Sorenson dates the Jaredite civilization between "about 3100 B.C." and "not earlier, and not much later, than 580 B.C" (see The Years of the Jaredites).

But metallurgy was not known among even the later Mayans corresponding to Nephite/Lamanites timelines: "There are certain things about the Maya landscape, about life in the tropics, and about the kind of â??technologyâ? available to the ancient Maya that help people of the twentieth century to understand a little better what their lives were really like. They were, first of all, a stone age people, without metal of any kind until several centuries before the Conquest. All they accomplished was done by means of stone tools, utilizing human beings as their beasts of burden" (Linda Schele, Forest of Kings, 60).

Not only that, but steel is not known anywhere in the world at this early stage. The earliest steel appears to date from about 1700 B.C: "Early sub-Saharan Africans developed metallurgy at a very early stage, possibly even before other peoples. Around 1400 BC, East Africans began producing steel in carbon furnaces (steel was invented in the west in the eighteenth century). The Iron Age itself came very early to Africa, probably around the sixth century BC, in Ethiopia, the Great Lakes region, Tanzania, and Nigeria. Iron technology, however, only spread slowly across Africa; it wasn't until the first century AD that the smelting of iron began to rapidly diffuse throughout the continent" (Richard Hooker, "Civilizations in Africa: The Iron Age South of the Sahara" Washington State University, 2004).

Here we have Jaredites using Iron Age technology independent of the Old World Iron Age (beginning roughly in the 12th century BCE), and they used it to make weapons of war, enough weapons to kill "many thousands" of people (Ether 14:4). Yet again, no evidence whatsoever remains of this apparently fairly widely used technology.

What we do see in Mesoamerica is the use of ochre/hematite as a coloring and naturally occurring metal outcroppings hammered or cut. We do not see metallurgy (smelting of ores) until "quite late in Maya history. ... Copper objects, predominantly from West Mexico, began appearing at Lamanai via trade networks that included the New River sometime in the 12th century A.D. ... Utilitarian tools such as axes, chisels, and fish hooks have been recovered, mainly from Late Postclassic Period (c. AD 1250-1500) and Spanish Colonial Period (AD 1500-1700) residential contexts" (Scott Simmons, "The Lamanai Archeological Project," Archeology Abroad, 2007).

How do you explain the presence of steel smelting so early in Mesoamerican history?

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Runtu,

Obviously you are relying on Joseph Smith's translation of the passage. Since he was imitating the KJV, which is full of errors, Joseph included lots of errors in the BoM. The passage would be better translated,

Ether 7: 9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did [take] molten [rock] out of the hill, and made swords out of steel [obsidian] for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

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Runtu,

Obviously you are relying on Joseph Smith's translation of the passage. Since he was imitating the KJV, which is full of errors, Joseph included lots of errors in the BoM. The passage would be better translated,

Ether 7: 9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did [take] molten [rock] out of the hill, and made swords out of steel [obsidian] for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

It seems a bit ambitious to retranslate what a prophet has already translated.

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QUOTE

Ether 7: 9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

I don't see the problem, anyone can go find a hill loaded with iron, make a blast furnace and melt the iron at 2900 degrees F, add 1% to 2% carbon and then pour the molten steel into molds in the shape of swords. Then take their Black and Decker grinders and grind a fairly sharp edge on the swords to be finished by hand honing. What's the problem? (There may be a little bit of sarcasm there.) Does anyone know how much 2900 degrees F is?

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I am the One Mighty and Strong. Or Brant Gardner's evil twin. Either should suffice.

"My name is Chris Smith hear it and tremble"

(taken from nintendo advance wars)

iron doesnt need to be heated to 2900'

700 hundred will do hotter if its a higher grade but 1550 is max

Still (pun intended) I do not believe even in the middle ages could they get the metal hotter that that just my opinion.

But I also believe they had God's help....

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Getting back on topic...

It is my understanding that the word translated as steel in the OT isn't what we know as steel, but bronze, or some such. Copper melts at a lower temperature than iron, so it is remotely possible that what the Jaredites are digging up is copper, not iron. Of course, that doesn't explain why JS translated it that way, or how the people of Mesoamerica forgot how to make metal tools.

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Getting back on topic...

It is my understanding that the word translated as steel in the OT isn't what we know as steel, but bronze, or some such. Copper melts at a lower temperature than iron, so it is remotely possible that what the Jaredites are digging up is copper, not iron. Of course, that doesn't explain why JS translated it that way, or how the people of Mesoamerica forgot how to make metal tools.

That may well be; however, smelting (as in the Jaredites's "moltening" metal ore) is still anachronistic this early, whether it's iron, steel, or copper.

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Getting back on topic...

It is my understanding that the word translated as steel in the OT isn't what we know as steel, but bronze, or some such. Copper melts at a lower temperature than iron, so it is remotely possible that what the Jaredites are digging up is copper, not iron. Of course, that doesn't explain why JS translated it that way, or how the people of Mesoamerica forgot how to make metal tools.

Consider Nephi 5:15:

"And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance."

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I want some pre-flood Iron and brass!

Gen. 4: 22

22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

And this is not anachronistic. Might I quote from the Maxwell Institute:

Most copper artifacts dated to before 5000 BC are of native metallic copper. However, copper was the first metal to be smelted from its secondary ore minerals,3 mostly malachite and azurite, and smelting slags from central Anatolia (
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And this is not anachronistic. Might I quote from the Maxwell Institute:

We have possible accidental smelting but nothing that matches the Book of Ether account.

On the contrary... According to the Legends... This is speaking of PRE-FLOOD Sword Smelting as well...

Lamech (pronounced /ˈleɪmɛk/) (Hebrew: לֶמֶך-Lemech) is the name of two men in the genealogies of Adam in the book of Genesis. One is the sixth generation descendant of Cain (Genesis 4:18); his father was named Methusael and he was responsible for the "Song of the Sword." He is also noted as the first polygamist mentioned in the Bible, taking two wives, Ada and Tselah. The other Lamech is an eighth generation descendant of Seth (Genesis 5:25). He is the son of Methuselah and was the father of Noah (Genesis 5:29).

...

The Song of the Sword

The last part of the tale of Lamech (Genesis 4:23-24), takes the form of a brief poem, which refers back to the curse of Cain. In the poem, Lamech's stance resembles that of a supreme warrior, able to avenge himself absolutely. However, no explanation of who Lamech supposedly killed is ever given in the Tanakh. Some scholars have proposed that it is connected to the invention, contextually by Tubal-Cain, of the sword, for which reason the poem is often referred to as the Song of the Sword. The poem may originate from the mysterious Book of the Wars of the Lord, though the greater context for it is likely to remain obscure.

However, this paucity of context did not stop a rabbinical tradition growing up around it. The Talmud and Midrash present an extensive legend, told, for example, by Rashi, in which Lamech first loses his sight from age, and had to be led by Tubal-Cain, the seventh generation from Cain. Tubal-Cain saw in the distance something that he first took for an animal, but it was actually Cain (still alive, due to the extensive life span of the antediluvians) whom Lamech had accidentally killed with an arrow. When they discovered who it was, Lamech, in sorrow, clapped his hands together, which (for an unclear reason) kills Tubal-Cain. In consequence, Lamech's wives desert him. A similar legend is preserved in the pseudepigraphic Second Book of Adam and Eve, Chapter XIII; in this version Tubal-Cain is not named, but is instead referred to as "the young shepherd." After Lamech claps his hands he strikes the young shepherd on the head. To ensure his death, he then smashed his head with a rock.

An alternate form of this negative attitude towards Lamech (such as Targum Pseudo-Jonathan) claims that even though Lamech did not kill anyone, his wives refused to associate with him and denied him sex, on the grounds that Cain's line was to be annihilated after seven generations. The poem is then given by Lamech to allay their fears. Other classical sources, such as Josephus, see the word seventy-seven as the number of sons which Lamech eventually had.

Extending on this classical view of Lamech is the Book of Moses, regarded in Mormonism as scripture. According to this Latter-day Saint text, Lamech entered into a secret pact with Satan, as had Cain before him, becoming a second Master Mahan. When Irad (an ancestor of Lamech) learned his secret and began to publicise it, Lamech murdered him. News of the murder was spread by Lamech's two wives, leading to his being cast out of society.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamech

I see what you mean John.

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iron doesnt need to be heated to 2900'

700 hundred will do hotter if its a higher grade but 1550 is max

Still (pun intended) I do not believe even in the middle ages could they get the metal hotter that that just my opinion.

You must be thinking in centigrade, iron melts at near 2900 degrees F. ( near 1575 Centigrade) And if you don't melt it I don't know how you would add the carbon to make steel or what you would do with the metal at 700 C or F.

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You must be thinking in centigrade, iron melts at near 2900 degrees F. ( near 1575 Centigrade) And if you don't melt it I don't know how you would add the carbon to make steel or what you would do with the metal at 700 C or F.

Who says they couldn't make ovens that hot back then? I seem to remember a story of an Oven in Mesapatomia that burned up the kings men when they tried to through his prophets into it.

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Who says they couldn't make ovens that hot back then? I seem to remember a story of an Oven in Mesapatomia that burned up the kings men when they tried to through his prophets into it.

How exactly would you go about it? First thing that is needed is furnace brick that would tolerate the heat, they are special made.

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How exactly would you go about it? First thing that is needed is furnace brick that would tolerate the heat, they are special made.

How would you go about making luminous stones? Or submersible craft?

We're viewing these things in the context of divine aid. That opens a whole host of possibilities.

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The problem is... we need to remove the super natural... and look at it from a totally natural point of view. Having it dressed up in the supernatural when it was written down.

The self-same problem exists with the Bible. You could talk all day about how the miracles recounted therein are not possible in terms of naturalistic explanations. But the faithful accept that with God, all things are possible.

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No need for the super natural.

Does't the legend say that Excalibur was molten from Commet ore that fell down from Juipter? ( or is that a Hollwood Legend Im mixing up in here?)

How was it molten?

I don't think you need "Special Bricks"... for an oven. Didn't the Mayan make their plaster burning lime and wood.

Just how hot did a Mayan Lime Kiln Get?

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"My name is Chris Smith hear it and tremble"

(taken from nintendo advance wars)

iron doesnt need to be heated to 2900'

700 hundred will do hotter if its a higher grade but 1550 is max

Still (pun intended) I do not believe even in the middle ages could they get the metal hotter that that just my opinion.

But I also believe they had God's help....

As a hobby knife maker :P I agree with what you say Anijen. At least in the fact that is the temp that is needed to shape and temper. This temp can be reached with a hot wood fire and no billows.......if you have patience. Thank God for the man who invented the leaf blower......he has saved me a lot of time.

But it takes a significantly higher temp to turn it into liquid and process the ore into a workable metal. Unless you are suggesting they beat all their implements straight out of meteoric iron.

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