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Nephite Walls of Defense


Guest Lux

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In Alma 50:1-6 we find:

1 AND now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the *commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

2 And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.

3 And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.

4 And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them.

5 And they were prepared that they could cast stones from the top thereof, according to their pleasure and their strength, and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls of the city.

6 Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land.

I realize that defensive walls are common and have been used for thousands of years, but have there been any ancient finds in Central America (or Northeastern America) similar to the descriptions given in Alma?

Until . . .

Lux

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Not to imply that they were built by General Moroni, but there have been many such structures found. It was a common defense tactic. They have also found trenches dug and designed to be flooded by water for defense.

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Lux Here is a link to get started.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/archaeology/m...achtun_08.shtml

It mentions at least three sites, one of which built a wall as the base for a wooden palisade .

"At points the Naachtun wall is 4m (13ft) high, and it is well constructed with large cut blocks of limestone. This is notably different from the one at La Joyanca, which was only about half a metre (19in) high and served as a base for a wooden palisade. It also differs from the walls at Dos Pilas, which, although large, were not well constructed, and were made by removing the exterior stone facing of the surrounding buildings. "

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Actually, go to meridianmagazine.com and just search for "Zarahemla" or "archeology" or something like that. A very three part series published about just this question and its amazing answer. I'll post a link tomorrow when I have the time if somebody else doesn't post it. It answers the questions better than anyone else here can because it's first hand from the archeologist himself.

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If you have an interest in such things, I highly recommend reading Dan Vogel's book

INDIAN ORIGINS AND THE BOOK OF MORMON: RELIGIOUS SOLUTIONS FROM COLUMBUS TO JOSEPH SMITH

There is also a FARMS response to the book, and a response to the FARMS response. All are good reading.

Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon by Dan Vogel

http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/vogel1.htm

FARMS review:

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=48

Vogel's response to the review:

http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/reply.htm

If you search for "fortifications" in Vogel's book, you can get a background on some of the possible influences that might lead Joseph Smith to incorporate the structures into his narrative. Of course, these claims run contrary to the limited geography, since these claims of fortifications were in North America.

From Vogel:

Ethan Smith was not the only proponent of the possibility that there were two groups of people in ancient America. Indeed, he only adapted a theory which was already widely held in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century America. His unique adaptation reconciled his own belief about the origin of the Indians and his personal imperative for missionary work among them. His belief that the Indians were descendants of the lost ten tribes who came to a land "where never mankind dwelt" compelled him to construct a theory which posited two groups of Indians but only one migration from the Old World. Previous writers had posited one migration for mound builders and another for Indians. But even some who did not necessarily believe that the Indians were of Israelite descent found the theory about two groups compelling. Jeremy Belknap, speaking to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1792, articulated the theory in this way:

Mounds and fortifications of a regular construction were discovered in the thickest shades of the American forest, overgrown with trees of immense age, which are supposed to be not the first growth upon the spot since the dereliction of its ancient possessors.

The most obvious mode of solving the difficulty which arose in the curious mind on this occasion was by making inquiry of the natives. But the structures are too ancient for their tradition. ... Indeed the form and materials of these works seem to indicate the existence of a race of men in a stage of improvement superior to those natives of whom we or our fathers have had any knowledge; who had different ideas of convenience and utility; who were more patient of labour, and better acquainted with the art of defence.

... At what remote period these works were erected and by whom; what became of their builders; whether they were driven away or destroyed by a more fierce and savage people, the Goths and Vandals of America [indians]; or whether they voluntarily migrated to a distant region; and where that region is, are questions which at present can not be satisfactorily answered.(70)

Governor DeWitt Clinton also believed in two groups. Interested in the Indian mounds of his state, he personally visited many of them and speculated about their origins at a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1811:

There is every reason to believe, that previous to the occupancy of this country by the progenitors of the present nations of Indians, it was inhabited by a race of men, much more populous, and much further advanced in civilization. The numerous remains of ancient fortifications, which are found in this country, ... demonstrates a population far exceeding that of the Indians when this country was first settled.(71)

Clinton speculated that in ancient times a large group from northern Asia migrated to North America. Once in America they built mighty cities and became numerous. In time, they were invaded and attacked by a more savage group from Asia and eventually annihilated. "And the fortifications," he concluded, "are the only remaining monuments of these ancient and exterminated nations."(72)

http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/vogel5.htm

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Cinepro.. please read the links provided. I am interested in your response. I am not saying that it makes a believer out of anyone. I am curious though if you are open to accepting that there is genuine evidence in central/south america that supports that there was a possability (if only minute in your eyes). I'm not looking for a conversion, just a more comprehensive discussion knowledge for both of us before delving into any discussion.

Thanks!

Matt

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The excavations are wide, linear channel depressions.  They are too large to be ditches and the way they extend both up-slope and down-slope demonstrates that they are not canals used for directing the flow of water.  No, water control was not the purpose behind this extensive channel network.  These subterranean channels are trenches that carefully and with extensive effort have been dug by many men into the surfaces and slopes of these meadows

Matthew, how, exactly, do these wide, linear channel depressions count as "fortifications". How would such depressions relate to warfare as described in the Book of Mormon? If I remember correctly, most of the combat would have been hand to hand (they weren't using arrows back then, were they Dr. Peterson?), so why would you dig trenches?

Before deciding what is, and isn't, a fortification, perhaps we should define the term, and what we would expect to see, and where?

Also, the Meridian piece strikes me as less than scholarly (which it isn't trying to be). I'm assuming Dr. Hauck published an account of his historic find (that would provide evidence for ancient battles and strategy in this area); where can I read his analysis, and what kind of a response did it get from other archaeologists? Were they convinced that "No, water control was not the purpose behind this extensive channel network."?

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And of course, in the spirit of apologists "eating their own", you should check this out this FARMS review of Hauck's Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon as well...

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=8

In summary, the most generous review I can give is that Hauck has shown that much of the geographical material contained in the Book of Mormon is somewhat ambiguous. This, however, should be obvious to anyone who has seriously studied the text. Unfortunately, Hauck has not expressed his eccentric theories in terms of the inherent ambiguity of the geographical references in the text, but in terms of a near certainty which he has by no means demonstrated.
:P

The review doesn't touch on "fortifications" or Copan as "Manti", but if the book wasn't strong enough to even get a good review from FARMS, it certainly doesn't instill confidence in the strength of Hauck's arguments regarding Book of Mormon evidences in general.

(And while not specifically about Dr. Hauck and his theories, this review made me laugh so hard I might just buy the book!...)

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=159#note1

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If you have an interest in such things, I highly recommend reading Dan Vogel's book

INDIAN ORIGINS AND THE BOOK OF MORMON: RELIGIOUS SOLUTIONS FROM COLUMBUS TO JOSEPH SMITH

There is also a FARMS response to the book, and a response to the FARMS response. All are good reading.

Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon by Dan Vogel

http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/vogel1.htm

FARMS review:

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=48

Vogel's response to the review:

http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/reply.htm

And don't forget the response to the response to the review of the book at:

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=534

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And of course, in the spririt of apologists "eating their own", you should check this out this FARMS review of Hauck's Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon as well...

Interesting comment.

You should note that FARMS is pretty hard on people of all stripes who do not demonstrate sufficient evidence and judgment. The pseudo-scholarly literature out there circulating among the LDS audience does not usually fare well in the FARMS book review, even if they are "pro"-LDS.

About the only concession FARMS will make in these cases is that the person seems "sincere" about his less-than-scholarly theories.

FARMS is not engaged in indiscriminate apologetics, contrary to what many appear to believe.

Beowulf

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Thanks for the links cinepro and for reading my own.:-) I found the reviews to bve much along the lines of what I think of some of his (and the Proctor's) lack of scholarly writing and research skills. Nice to know I'm not alone.:-D

That aside, I am not saying that the locations and such are right or anything like that. The origin of the thread is speaking about if there were fortifications back then, and the answer is yes, there were. In your comment on the trenches you left out much of teh rest of the article talking about walls, mounds, trenches in organized non-irrigation manners, etc. Also the definite signs that a large civilization had a fortification there. Now, these could well have been a different people than the Book of Mormon civilizations and could have been removed by a few hundred years one way or another. I'm not bringing up the articles to prove that one way or the other. Only that civilizations of the general time in the area did have fortifications.

As for if he's published a more scholarly paper on his msot recent find, I don't have a clue. Personally, if it wasn't written with the aid of say Hamblin or Peterson, I question how much I could gain from it. As Hamblin said in his review, it's not that all of the thoughts and findings aren't great, but they certainly are documented and footnoted so poorly that it's hard to gain much from it. I would probably read it and compare it to other works. And keep the pictures... I like pictures...:-)

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You should note that FARMS is pretty hard on people of all stripes who do not demonstrate sufficient evidence and judgment. The pseudo-scholarly literature out there circulating among the LDS audience does not usually fare well in the FARMS book review, even if they are "pro"-LDS.

So....what would FARMS do if someone wrote a paper that had good evidence and judgement, but the conclusion was that the Book of Mormon probably had a 19th century origin?

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Just a quick thanks to you guys for all of the links/info. I'm going over them now. Cool stuff. As I expected, there's a lot of subjective material, but interesting.

Until . . .

Lux

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So....what would FARMS do if someone wrote a paper that had good evidence and judgement, but the conclusion was that the Book of Mormon probably had a 19th century origin?
I am working my way through some FARMS material and haven't come across one of these that I remember in detail enough to refer to, I vaguely remember some positive comments though about something being well-thought out or researched, but pointing out problems with assumptions.

But for specifics, I am just now indulging in the issue devoted to the review of How Wide The Divide. It includes a review from LDS critics, Owen and Mosser. Not having worked all the way through the book, I can't give you more than an overall impression that they (the various proLDS FARMS authors) are very positive about critiques when the foundation is logical and overall sound, though they will of course mention that because of a difference of fundamental assumptions they come to different conclusions--IOW I'd paraphrase some of the comments as "good argument even if I don't agree because of personal beliefs with the original assumption of...."

If you want, I'll keep an eye out for some quotes from this issue that demonstrate this. Better yet, read the issue itself. Like the book How Wide the Divide, it is an excellent means of examing LDS and EV belief from a variety of viewpoints.

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