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Finding the Book of Mormon Narrow Neck.

Sebastian Munster: Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula [Rare 2nd State of first map of the continent of America].

Sebastian Munster (1448-1552): Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula (1540) [Rare 2nd State of first map of the continent of America]. Another example of the rudimentary spatial relationships inherent in pre-modern geographers views of the world. See high quality version here.

Introduction

A study of ancient maps and geographies shows that modern LDS Scholars have expected too much from ancient Book of Mormon authors by supposing pre-Columbian cultures had a modern understanding of continental geography and shorelines. Indeed, although many ancients understood well the spatial relationships for populated places, or places they had been, the understanding of uninhabited wildernesses and continental shorelines seems to have been very poor. Especially among cultures without widespread use of boats or nautical navigation technology.

Our model proposes that much like Sabastian Munster’s early map of the New World, Book of Mormon authors seemed to have thought there to be another ‘narrow neck’ between the narrow coastal ‘passes’ of Northern Mexico. A misunderstanding likely caused by a belief that the Eastern and Western Sierra Madre mountain ranges were one and the same range. An easy mistake to make given their lack of travel through the nearly impenetrable and uninhabited Mapimi Basin of the Chihuahua Desert. Indeed historical texts show that essentially ALL travel & trade instead, occurred along the ‘narrow passes’ between the coasts and the steep mountain ranges, with only a few sparsely inhabited mining communities existing in the Deserts of the northern interior.

We believe this to be the primary reason why LDS scholars have failed to find a convincing continental model, which Joseph Smith and the early LDS leaders so obviously believed in. Indeed this simple over-expectation of ancient geographical understand seems to be why the body of LDS scholarship has overlooked the common-sense correlations between American prehistoric ruins and the Book of Mormon text. For instance, the Book of Mormon plainly suggests Zarahemla to be the largest city on the continent. It also tells of a sister-city of sorts built by Lachoneous in the ‘Land Zarahemla’ to which all Nephite people are gathered to just before the time of Christ in order to protect themselves from the assault of the guerilla forces of the ‘Gadianton robbers’. How could one NOT immediately think of the ancient cities of Teotihuacan and Cholula? These being by FAR the largest and most influential ancient cities of North America. Teotihuacan, with its ‘cultural neighborhoods’, matching almost perfectly in character and construction to Lachoneaus new city built for hundreds of thousands of refugees.

So also with the Book of Mormon’s ‘land of desolation’ which was comparatively desolate of trees and peopled with cultures ‘expert in cement’ (ref). How could one NOT think immediately of the southwest’s ancestral Puebloan cultures matching perfectly with their ubiquitous desert adobe and rock great houses? There is simply nowhere else in North America with such ‘desolate’ landscape and widespread use of rock and adobe (cement) used for building not just temples and monuments but homes as well. Not to mention Joseph Smith is quoted by ___ saying that the Southwest was the Book of Mormon land of Desolation ‘where the Nephites lost their power’ (ref).

Again, the same is true for the Eastern US hopewell ‘mound-builder cultures’ and their obvious fit for those in the ‘Land Northward’ of ‘many lakes and waters’. (refs) The obvious fit of these cultures and their proximity to Joseph Smith’s ‘land of Cumorah’ has caused thousands of LDS researchers to divide from the Mesoamericanists and create a slew of ‘Heartland’ Book of Mormon geographical models in order to accommodate the slew of early LDS leader quotes, revelations, archaeological ruins and common sense correlations between this area and the text.

The problem, of course, is that these overwhelmingly obvious correlations do not work with Mormon’s ‘narrow neck’, which is said to be north of Zarahemla and Bountiful. (As well as a few radiocarbon dating issues we cover in another section). Because of this, most serious LDS scholars have looked south of the isthmus of Teohuantepec, isthmus of Guatemala, or isthmus of Panama. A correlation which forces one to ignore EVERY major culture in North America apart from the Maya (the Lamanite core in our model). But of course, because essentially ALL the greatest Mayan cities are east of the possible candidates for the River Sidon, as well as significant issues with Moroni’s ‘east sea cities’ (ref), these models must throw out even the largest and most influential Mayan cities from any possible correlation with the Book of Mormon. With our continental model, essentially EVERY significant ancient culture in the North American continent, as well as their largest cities, are part of the Book of Mormon narrative. From the Maya to the Zapotec, Huestec to Mixtec, Teotihuacan and the Mexican Highland to the Toltec and Chichimec to the Ancient Puebloan/Anasazi to the Hopewell. The list goes on and on, of overwhelming correlations between the Book of Mormon text and archaeological ruins, geographic relationships, language relationships, Native American mythologies, settlement patters and more.

Illustration depicting the actual geography of North America versus what the ancient authors of the Book of Mormon may have thought the geography looked like.

A few more examples of ancient maps, and how even among people’s with advanced writing and sea trade, knowledge of coastal geometries was rudimentary. Especially concerning areas where few lived or traveled.

Map of Ariana based on Eratosthenes' data (195 BC) in Strabo's Geography ( 63 BC – c. 24 AD)
Map of Ariana based on Eratosthenes’ data (195 BC) in Strabo’s Geography ( 63 BC – c. 24 AD)
Old antique map of Africa by S. Munster | Sanderus Antique Maps Old antique map of AFRICA showing: AMMON (IN LIBYA) MELLI: Latin- flowing with honey Mono Giant:

Exploring the Text for Clues

Verse by Verse Analysis To References of the Narrow Neck

The Narrow neck, pass or defensive line mentioned as one of the most prominent geographic features of the Book of Mormon has proved to be incredibly enigmatic.  Far greater than the problems of King James Isaiah, Pauline language parallelisms, anachronistic metals or European animals in the Book of Mormon (which can generally be explained by proposing differing manners of dynamic equivalence translation and channeling processes), the narrow neck problem can almost seem insurmountable. Attempts to correlation the Panama Isthmus with the Book of Mormon gain few supporters for reasons that have been described elsewhere (ref). Perhaps the most supported theory of correlating the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the Book of Mormon’s “narrow pass” has its own difficulties. Foremost of these is the fact that this model forces both the Nephite and Lamanite lands to be in historical Mayan territories. In these model’s Zarahemla (and the entire Nephite culture) are correlated with mundane Mayan cities which bear essentially no early cultural differences from their surrounding peoples (Lamanites)! Additionally these models require the Jaredites (Olmec) to pass writing to the Lehites (Maya) instead of the other way around as described in the Book of Mormon text. The political and religious dominance of the Epi-olmec and Mexican Highland cultures spanning from the formative to the classic are a far better match (and perhaps the only truly plausible match) with what the Book of Mormon narrative depicts of the Nephite/Lamanite religious and political rivalry.

In the following section of this article, we’ll go through the remaining seven Book of Mormon references to the narrow pass or defensive line and make a textual case for a correlation with the numerous immense defensive structures of both the north and south Sierra Madre Occidental trade corridor (see figure 2).

In fact the native word for the mexican highland and particularly the narrow highland of west-central mexico was thought to mean, “surrounded by water”. Cem Ānáhuac is a composed náhuatl name, consisting of the words “cem” (totally) and “Ānáhuac”, in turn a composed word from “atl” (water) and “nahuac”, a location prefix that means “surrounded “. The name can then literally be translated as “land completely surrounded by water “, or “[the] whole of [what is] beside the waters”.

The Codex Xolotl is one of the earliest examples of native Mesoamerican map representations.

The Codex Xolotl is one of the earliest examples of native Mesoamerican map representations.

Codex Quetzalecatzin, in the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress. The map covers an area between Mexico City and Puebla. With Nahuatl stylised graphics and hieroglyphs, it illustrates the family’s genealogy and their descent from Lord-11 Quetzalecatzin, who in 1480, was the major political leader of the region. It is from him the Codex derives one of its many names’. The document dates to between 1570 to 1595 and would have been made by an indigenous painter and scribe.

Alma 22:32–33. Alma 22 undoubtedly contains the largest concentration and most specific verses on the geographic layout of the land, found in the Book of Mormon. The verses are composed of a number of huge run-on sentences, with an unorthodox English structure that might be expected from translating ancient glyphs from a nonlinear language. The entire section from verses 25 to 34 contain a general description of all the Nephite and Lamanite lands, but for the purpose of this paper we will look at only verses 32 and 33.

From the text it seems apparent that the author (who we presume to be Mormon) viewed the “line Bountiful” as a defensive line or passage where the Nephites built cities and stationed armies in order to prevent the Lamanites from northward travel. Elsewhere this geographic feature is called a “narrow pass” (Alma 50:34; Mormon 3:5), or “passage” (Mormon 2:29), or a defensive “line” (Alma 22:32; Hel 4:7) which armies were stationed on; taking a day to a day and a half time to travel along (Alma 22:32). The assorted references to this feature seem surprisingly consistent given the different names and labels used to describe it. This could perhaps be an evidence of the texts legitimacy. If Joseph Smith or his contemporaries had made up the entire tale of the Book of Mormon— why not refer to the Isthmus that we can assume he would have had pictured in his mind by the same name in every reference? And why make its width or distance both inconsistent and impossible? (Calling it a ‘days journey’ in one location, and a day and a half journey in the other, neither of which are possible for the 130 mile wide isthmus of teotihuantepec or the 40 mile wide isthmus of Panama.) If however, an ancient historian was attempting to combine the views of multiple source texts with his own partial knowledge, it makes sense to refer to this distinctive feature in the numerous manners given within the assorted sources. Likewise it seems logical that some confusion might be introduced into his compilation. In the following description of Alma 22, the general picture that’s drawn is pretty straightforward, and has brought many independent LDS researchers to the same general conclusions concerning an “idealized geography” portrayed by the text.

30 And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
31 And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food.
3
2 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.
3
3 And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. (Alma 22:32–33)

Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Despite our belief that Mormon’s geographic understanding was a bit skewed, from the text it seems obvious that he believed the Southern land of Bountiful, Zarahemla and Nephi were separated from the Land Northward (where he was born) by a “small neck of Land”.  This was a belief also shared by many early map makers, particularly because the Chihuahuan desert was so impenetrable. Being born in the land Northward, he would have understood that the land Southward was geographically smaller and more surrounded by water than his homeland. However, in numerous travels and wars fought for and amidst this geographic barrier, the text makes no definitive assertion that he ever visited the Eastern seashore. Nor in all his travels and battles which take place along the western shoreline of the defensive pass (Mormon 2:6; 3:8; 4:3), does he ever even mention the east sea!

I suggest this not only supports my idea that Mormon’s views of the eastern seashore were nebulous at best, but I also suggest it supports the idea that the time frames given for journey across the defensive line, were not at all indicative of the complete distance across the isthmus itself. In my model the day or day and a half journey mentioned above and in verse 32 (see also Hel 4:7), refer only to the distance across the defensive line where they had positioned their “guards and their armies” to block the predominate travel corredor.

This interpretation makes far more sense given the fact that even in the most accepted models which attempt to correlation the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the “narrow neck”, one has to wonder what Nephite readily travels 120 miles in a day or day and a half?!  Most foot travelers, are considered incredibly fit if they can travel 50 miles in a day. Looking at Helaman 4:6–7, we see an interesting clarifier added concerning this “line bountiful”. Here Mormon writes, “it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country”.  So we see that the day or day and a half’s journey is more likely referring to the length of a defensive line built across the travel corridor to hem up the land Northward, and not necessarily a description of the size of an actual isthmus. Even though it would appear that Mormon obviously believed the land Southward was an Isthmus of sorts which was “surrounded by water”, there is no certain language that makes the full width of that Isthmus only a day’s journey across. (Again, the 120 mile long isthmus of tehuantepec or even the 40 mile wide isthmus of panama/darien are poor candidates because unlike our proposition, they simply have no evidence of fortified cities or outposts which would serve as a “defensive line”.)

Alma 50:34. The following verse as its presently punctuated makes a fairly strong argument for Mormon believed the “narrow pass” to be a defensive line or geographic feature that ran from the east sea to the west sea.

34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. (Alma 50:34)

But what if we are reading it wrong? Much like Alma 22:32–33, it uses strange wording in saying “on the west and on the east” instead of the more clear wording used in Alma 22:27, Hel 3:8 or Hel 11:20 which specifically mention the sea west and the sea east. Is it possible that the modern superficially added punctuation should have actually been done something like this…

34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea by the sea on the west — and on the east. (Alma 50:34)

In this rendition the phrase “yea by the sea on the west” is clarifying the location of the narrow pass. Thus the author would not be saying the narrow pass ran from the sea west to the sea east, but instead that the armies headed off opposing forces “by the sea on the west”, as well as sending a division of the army to head to the eastern edge of the defensive line, should their opposition chose that route.

[it seems to be suggesting that there are TWO NARROW PASSES HERE. One on the east and one on the west. This is probably the best scripture to show that the “neck” is more properly a “pass” or strip of passable land. One on the west and another on the east. Because this reference has to do with the people of Morianton fleeing (WHO LIVE ON THE EAST SEA), it is almost certainly referring to the east narrow pass. Much like Alma 52:9]. Moroni is at Bountiful when he heads off to stop them. (also on the east sea].

Alma 52:9. This reference, (like all but two others) is even more general.  There’s nothing in this passage to infer that the “narrow pass” is between two bodies of water, It could easily be a different kind of pass between two natural barriers, like the sea and a mountain, or an impassable desert.

9 And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side. (Alma 52:9)

[This would make no sense on the West Sea. Moroni appears to be on the west, and sends to Teancum who is on the East, to fortify the pass. Almost certainly on the East.]

Alma 63:5. Much like the preceding verse, this reference says nothing to identify the “narrow neck” as an isthmus. Once again, the only mention is of the “west sea”, and a narrow neck or geographic neck-like feature which leads to the land northward.

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5)

Hel 4:6–7. Much like Alma 50:34, the following verse strangely does not say that the line upon which the Nephites “fortified and stationed their armies” ran from the west sea, to the east sea. It once again says in a strange fragmented sort of way “from the west sea, even to the east”. As suggested above, might this clarifier be referring to the Land Bountiful which, as in Alma 22:33, is said to run “from the west even unto the east”. Even if we are to accept the directional clarifier is speaking of the fortified defensive line, it really doesn’t say it’s a day and a half journey from east to west sea, it says it’s a day and a half journey along that line they had fortified and occupied with armies. The isthmus of tehuantepec is 120 miles across. That’s a long way to go in a day and a half, and there is no evidence of fortifications there. I suggest that regardless of which model one favors in Book of Mormon geographic correlations, none should suggest that the text references an Isthmus taking a day or day and a half’s journey to cross.

6 And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful;
7 And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.(Hel 4:6–7)

Mormon 3:5–6. These last two verses and their context is an important description of events because it shows that Mormon, as the one compiling the record, was well familiar with defending this geographic feature. Much like 5 out of the 6 references, the emphasis is on the defensibility of this narrow pass. He apparently lived in the land northward (likely in the land of desolation. see Mormon 1:2, 2:17, 3:5) until he was 11 (Mor 1:6).  Probably in an rural area, because when his father brings him to the land southward, he seems amazed at how the land is “covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” But in Mormon’s personal records he always refers to the narrow neck as the “narrow pass” or “narrow passage” (Mor 3:5, 2:29)  He repeatedly speaks of the cities and battles he fought in the land of desolation concerning cities bordering “west by the seashore” (Mor 2:6) of the narrow pass, but never mentions the east sea. In fact as we’ve shown, it can be argued he never says anything to specifically define the “narrow pass” as an isthmus on both sides.

5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.
6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. (Mormon 3:5–6)

Mormon 2:29. Like the previous verse, this passage is incredibly generalized. It says nothing about a sea, or defensive line, it only talks about some type of narrow passage.

29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward. (Mormon 2:29)

I believe that after closely examining these scriptures, a solid case can be made for the western Sierra Madre travel and trade corridor being the Book of Mormon narrow pass, passage or defensive line that was repeatedly used to stop Lamanite armies from overrunning the land northward.  The extensive ruins of at least 4 separate defensive lines have been found a long this corridor, making it by far the best archaeological correlation to the trends and events mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Reference wording sea west mentioned? sea east mentioned? days jour-ney directional indicators
Alma 22:32–33 “small neck of land” or “the line Bountiful” yes possibly 1.5 from the east to the west sea
Alma 50:34 “the narrow pass” yes likely   by the sea, on the west and on the east
Alma 52:9 “the narrow pass”   no    
Alma 63:5 “the narrow neck” yes no   the west sea
Hel 4:6–7 “the line” yes possibly 1 from the west sea, even unto the east
Mormon 2:29 “the narrow passage”   no    
Mormon 3:5–6 “the narrow pass”   no    
           
Ether 10:20–21 “narrow neck of land” likely likely   place where the sea divides the land

30 And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
31 And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food.
3
2 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.
3
3 And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. (Alma 22:32–33)

34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. (Alma 50:34)

9 And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side. (Alma 52:9)

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5)

6 And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful;
7 And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.(Hel 4:6–7)

29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward. (Mormon 2:29)

5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.
6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. (Mormon 3:5–6)

19 …And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.
21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants. (Ether 10:20–21)

Available literature in Joseph Smith’s day clearly called the Isthmus of Panama a “narrow neck” (see here for instance), But also, made clear that its distance was more than the “day” (ref) or “day and a half” (ref) mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  its curious then that if Joseph or some contemporary wrote the Book of Mormon, they would represent the geography SO horribly.    Letter from Balboa dated January 20, 1513. “The Indians state there is another ocean 3 days journey from here… they say the other ocean is very suitable for canoe traveling is always calm…”  (reference here)

The Basis for Confusion

[cover the Jaredites last] Our model agrees with many traditional Book of Mormon archaeological interpretations in suggesting that the Mesoamerican Olmec civilization was the latest Jaredites. However, we suggest that the Olmec were only the southernmost outpost of the Jaredite civilization. Its main hub spanning from the Clovis and Cochise Southwest cultures to the Adena culture of the Ohio valley. We believe the Olmec culture grew out of the Jaredite city built by Lib as described in the Book of Mormon’s first chronological reference to the “narrow neck of land”.

19 …And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.
21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants. (Ether 10:20–21)

This would explain the similarities between the Adena and Olmec mound building practices. If the Olmec cities were founded as a southmost outpost by migrants from the Adena lands of Lib’s imperial core, it’s plausible to imagine that the outpost grew with time into a separate detached culture of its own. One which was somewhat removed from the Jaredite “Land of Desolation”, destroyed by the scorched earth practices of the final Jaredite war. It thus served as a logical escape of the final Jaredite King Coriantumr.

The Jaredite reference is one of only two reference in the Book of Mormon to a “narrow neck” or “small neck of land”. In nearly every other reference, the traditional narrow neck is actually referred to as a defensible “line” or “pass”. We suggest that this defensible line across the travel corridor is separate and distinct from the narrow neck mentioned by Mormon concerning the Lib’s Jaredite City, and that Mormon likely believed the two to be the same. We also suggest that this “defensive line” is what is referred to as a day or “day and a half’s journey for a nephite”, not the entire length of the isthmus. The confusion concerning the “narrow neck” was likely intertwined in Mormon’s culture’s lack of knowledge concerning the true relationship between the predominant north-south travel and trade corridor (which followed the Pacific Ocean along the Western Sierra Madre Range) with that of the impassible chihuahuan desert and the uninhabited northern mexico coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.

This map from 1566 is one of the oldest printed maps of North America. Created by Paolo Forlani, the first edition was published in 1565. This second edition was published by Venetian Bolognino Zaltieri after Forlani sold the plate to him. This is one of the first maps to show the Bering Strait - here called the Strait of Anian. It was an educated guess, as it was not discovered until 1648. The map was bought by the Bartholomew family, who collected antique maps

This map from 1566 is one of the oldest printed maps of North America. Created by Paolo Forlani, the first edition was published in 1565. This is one of the first maps to show the Bering Strait – here called the Strait of Anian. It was an educated guess, as it was not discovered until 1648. Like many ancient maps, the geography is a very rough rendition of the true landscape.

1569 Camocio Map. Several maps associate TOLM. with Teguayo. TOLM. is generally found in the
present-day U.S. Southwest on 1500s-1600s era maps. Several maps,
including the 1569 Camocio map, show its full spelling as Tolman, which is
purportedly associated with the Toltecs

Map made by Italian Jesuit Giulio Aleni while he was working as a missionary in 1620s China

1620s Wanguo Quantu map, by Giulio Aleni, whose Chinese name (艾儒略) appears in the signature in the last column on the left, above the Jesuit IHS symbol.

1609 Shanhai Yudi Quantu (not by Ricci)

1728 Barreiro Map
This is the oldest post-Columbian map which depicts the four migration points of
ancient Mexican Indians found in later maps. Some sources also point to this
region as a former home for people from Central and South America also

Mexico's huge closed basins (endorheic basins). These large desert regions have no outlet to the sea, and drain internally into large ephemeral lakes and desert playas.

Red outlines show Mexico’s huge closed basins (endorheic basins). These large, sparsely inhabited, desert regions have no outlet to the sea, and drain internally into large ephemeral lakes and desert playas. Abundant evidence exists of ancient (ice age?) lakes, possibly rivaling North America’s Lake Bonneville in size.

Map available to Joseph Smith in the early 1800's, done by John Carry, in 1811.

Map available to Joseph Smith in the early 1800’s, done by John Carry, in 1811.

MesoAmerican/Mayan influence on Mississippian Culture

from https://www.facebook.com/notes/suppressed-histories-archives/mound-building-in-north-america-is-old/375806979116303/

Recently, claims of Maya migrations to Georgia have gotten a lot of attention. A long-standing pattern interprets North America as a backwater that absorbed influences from Mesoamerica, repeatedly assumed to be more advanced. in “America’s Lost City,” Andrew Lawler lays out a body of archaeological evidence for major mound complexes in Louisiana and Illinois that predate the Maya and even Olmec ceremonial complexes. (Sorry, link does not give the full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6063/1618.summary)

 

First, the great ceremonial center of Cahokia was even larger than first imagined. They started excavating East St Louis in a big rush before the building of a bridge and road, and found out that Cahokia extended to that area ten km to its east. It was a vast metropolis, home to tens of thousands of people. They traded extensively with faraway places, and settlements closely linked to Cahokia have been found in places like Trempeauleau, Wisconsin. “As recently as the 1950s, a popular scientific theory touted ancient Mayans rather than Native Americans as the mounds’ creators.” But Lawler says scholars are reevaluating things in the light of evidence that the roots of the mound-building cultures “stretch back even earlier than the grand civilizations of Mesoamerica.” Cahokia itself, if it had been found in the Maya country, “would be a top 10 of all Mesoamerican cities,” in the words of John Clark.

 

It’s well known that the largest mound there equates in footprint to the Great Pyramid, in circumference to the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico. Scholars have authenticated mound alignments with sunrise at solstices and equinoxes. Archaeologists are excavating another ceremonial settlement 64 km to the south of Cahokia, with its own plaza and mounds. They are finding that people came from all over the Midwest to settle here. There were workshops making ornaments from pipestone, red jasper, copper, and other materials. They’ve also investigated why the city collapsed around 1300, with extensive evidence of floods, droughts, and other changes in weather.

The curved rows of mounds at Poverty Point, circa 1400 bceThe curved rows of mounds at Poverty Point, circa 1400 bce

But Cahokia is fairly well known. The more significant information in this article is the demonstration of the antiquity of mound-building cultures in the Mississippi and Ohio river basins. I’ve posted images here before from Poverty Point, Louisiana, which was another ceremonial complex far older than Cahokia. These northern lands of Louisiana are rich in mounds and ancient villages with radiocarbon dates back to the Middle Archaic period “which ended at about 3000 BCE.”  Lawler contextualizes this for us: “That’s nearly 2 millennia before the first cities appeared in Mexico, before the Giza periods, and about the same time that the world’s first major urban centers evolved in ancient Mesopotamia [Iraq]. Most researchers dismissed the dates as erroneous.” Yes, they often do when evidence contradicts their expectations. Archaeologist Joseph Saunders began to study the mounds in northern Louisiana: the six mounds at Hedgepeth, another six at Frenchman’s Bend, along with village remains, and Watson Brake with eleven mounds, and dates going back to 3500 bce. Saunders lays out three major cultural waves of mound-creation. The first emerged in the lower Mississippi valley, 3700-2700 bce. The second, in the same region, centered on Pottery Point, 1600-1000 bce, with a gigantic flying bird mound, 22 m tall and 200m long. It lies atop another set of concentric hemispherical earthworks that covers three hectares, along with other conical and platform mounds. The people here had a vast trade network reaching to the Great Lakes. They made female figurines of clay, carved animals of jasper and other fine stones, and large numbers of bone awls show that they were working leather.

Clay figurines from Poverty Point, LousianaClay figurines from Poverty Point, Lousiana

Even more intriguingly, archaeologists are discovering, “The proportions used at the Louisiana sites closely match those found in Mesoamerica.” They are now considering the possibility that Louisiana may have influenced the Mexican civilization rather than vice versa.  The third period of mound construction started in the early centuries CE, in the Ohio river network of the Adena and “Hopewell” cultures, and culminated with Cahokia, Moundville, Alabama, and other medieval American temple complexes.

 

After the European conquests, many mounds became overgrown and no longer even recognizable as made by humans. “Mostly, the mounds were ignored and then destroyed.” Farmers leveled them, treasure hunters ransacked them, as they did to Spiro Mound in Oklahoma, and cities bulldozed them. The shellmounds in California were similarly destroyed, the burials taken away by the tens of thousands, and still held captive in museums like the Lowie at UC – Berkeley. In Peru, treasure-seekers went so far as to divert streams in the attempt of laying open the adobe pyramids of the Moche. This process of destruction continues today. These historical monuments of immeasurable value are subject to the whims of property owners. The article describes how developers planned to destroy the mounds at Frenchman’s Bend, some of the oldest known, so that they could make a golf course on the site. State and federal law offer no protections for these heritage sites. The archaeologists scramble to talk owners into preserving them, and sometimes even buy up the land to protect the mounds.

 

Update:

I just ran across a reference to dramtic corroborating evidence from Mexican archaeology. Tom Gidwitz in “Cities upon Cities” in Archaeology magazine, Jul/Aug 2010, writes about how new digs in Huastec country “may reveal links between Huasteca settlements and mound-building cultures in the United States.” He continues: “For decades, archaeologists have theorized that North America’s Late Woodland and Mississippian cultures drew inspiration from the Huastecas, but after their excavations at Tamtoc in the 1990s, Dávila and Zaragoza became convinc…ed that cultural influence, and perhaps actual migration, spread from north to south. They unearthed objects that seemed to come from the American Southeast in about AD 900: a fragment of a sheet of hammered copper, a pointed metal hand tool, a piece of engraved shell, a cache of a dozen whole and 20 fragmented Cahokia projectile points, and pottery that could have come from sites to the north such as Etowah [Georgia] and Moundville [Alabama].”I pulled this quote off of a fragmentary jpg on the net. When i track down the article, I’ll post more about it. In the meantime, here are two engraved shells whose stylistic similarity struck me a decade ago. On the right, from the Mound-temple cultures of the Mississippi basin, and on the left, from the Huastecs of eastern Mexico, the very group now being investigated for northern cultural influences. Check out the hatch-marking especially.

 

 

Right: Mississippi basin; left: Huastec, Veracruz, Mexico.

 

reblogged from http://globalwarming-arclein.blogspot.com/2012/01/mayan-influence-on-mississippian.html

In this case it is taken as a given that the Mississippian cultures are a cultural conglomerate: MESOAMERICA IS ONE OF THOSE CULTURAL CENTERS WHICH GOES INTO THAT CONGLOMERATE. We already KNOW that the temple mounds come out of Mesoamerican pyramids and are something new and different when they come into the mound area. Similarly, there are other features which seem to be part of that same package that came with the idea of those temple mounds. So going around saying “No Mayas here, HaHaHaHaHa!” does not automatically make the person that says it sound smart. The whole reasoning on that score seems to be that the presumption is absurd. The presumption is NOT absurd, it is already a given that something along those lines MUST have occurred. These cultures do not exist eternally as unchanging packages that evolved locally and never had any outside input from cultures further off. THAT is the absurd pretense. There is no assumption that the temple mounds simply involved in situ from burial mounds: there was a radical change in what the mounds meant and what they were made for.

We are talking about the Yucatan Mayas. It is known as an established fact that these Mayas traded as far as Puerto Rico and that there are many of their characteristic ball courts there. The location in question in Georgia is as far from Yucatan as Puerto Rico is, by direct measure on the map.

Now then, as to The Examiner. I do not know what kind of intellectual elitism is going on here but conceptually there is little difference between a “content farm” and the Wikipedia. IN THEORY the Wikipedia should be better checked and independently confirmed. In actual practice, I have found all too many time I have put quite valid information up on Wikipedia only to see it repeatedly torn down by some know-nothing that has their own pet theory to push, and they can quite obviously fly in the face of published authority and even mathematical proofs if only they are persistent enough. The end result is that anybody in the world can put something up on Wikipedia and the information can bear little relationship to the truth of the matter. So I would say don’t go around looking to ANY one authority, ALL authorities have flaws. Read all you can from every source you can, and don’t take anything anybody ever tells you at face value. I loved my mom dearly, but when I became an adult I found that all through my childhood she had been giving me misinformation that was deliberately meant to warp my views. And there was no malice to it, she simply believed very firmly in certain wrong things and she would drum those wrong things into me.

But actually, if something is true it will be true no matter who should say it, and if a matter is false it will be false no matter who says it. The whole basic concept of a “Reliable source” can be misleading, nobody is ever 100% correct. After a while you will come to know what is a good idea or a bad idea from your own perspective. And I am not about to try to tell you what you should think is right or wrong for you, all I can do is make some suggestions about what sounds right or wrong from MY perspective.

 

The first feature to be noted is that a new ethnic element intrudes into the Mississippi Valley area at the beginning of Mississippian times. They show traits of their cranial anatomy which resemble Mexicans and Mayans more than the Eastern Woodlands tribes and they tend to be somewhat shorter. They also deform their skulls in the same way as the Mayans do. Yes, they are coneheads. At some Mississippian sites it is difficult to find skulls which were NOT deformed in infancy.

The next thing to be noted is that they represent themselves artistically in a manner reminiscent of the Mayans and other South-Mexican cultures, with similar red-pottery figurines:

Now as to the pottery which is allegedly just like Mayan Pottery: That part is true also but it does not begin to tell the whoile story. In fact this is something which has been known for a long time and is one of the key features to understanding the Mississippian cultures. In 1928, Dr. G. C. Valiant published Resemblances in Ceramics of Central and North America, after doing a series of investigations in Mexico for the American Museum of Natural History. He had discovered a series of ceramic traits which he called the “Q Complex” for convenience’s sake. He introduced his subject with these words:

I shall endeavour to call attention to several curious parallels found mainly in the ceramics of Central America and the Southwestern and Southeastern United States That seem to indicate some sort of a relationship, even taking into account the barrier of five hundred kilometers of archaeologically unknown territory…While the Antillean influence on the far southeastern United States is attributable to direct contact[and known settlements over much of Florida-DD]…The traits existing in the pottery of the Western drainage of the Mississippi and to a lesser degree in Tennessee [and adjoining Georgia and Alabama-DD], however, are of a character that indicates a stronger source of infection than a symbolism brought in perhaps by exiles from another land. In short, in the Western Mississippi valley, there exists apparently some sort of action by one culture upon another. These ceramic traits which are quite foreign to the run of the pottery of the eastern states include:

1. Tripod support of vessels.

2.Funnel-necked jars.

3.Double-bodied jars.

4.Rarely, the shoe form of vessel.

5.the high and low form of annular base for vessels.

6. Spout handles

7.the composite silhouette form of bowl.

8. Vessels modeled in the effigy of animals or humans.

9. Vessels with spouts, in plain and in effigy

10. Vessels with the head or features attached

 

And ended with the conclusions that:

It does not seem possible to explain away such parallels as these by independent invention of styles since the basis of the ceramic development of the Eastern United States does not seem to contain the germs for this Western Mississippi [ie. Mississippian-DD] complex. Nor from this same lack of transitional steps is it probable that the styles developed there and moved South. Yet to what epoch and to what culture in Central America, on the other hand, do these forms relate?

As an inexplicable residue among the ceramics of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador and Costa Rica, occur such traits as composite silhouette, decoration by incision [Mississippian example below-DD], support of vessels by legs or cylinders, spouted vessels, pot stands and effigy forms. These elements obtain under such conditions of antiquity as beneath the volcanic ash of Salvador, under the Old Empire Maya remains at Homul and Uaxactun, and are associated with pre-Maya material at the Finca Arevalo in Guatemala. [the traits are also present down to Peru and absent over much of Mexico, Vaillant recounts]…Doctor Lothrop and this writer designated these elements as influence Q, since we know neither their center of distribution nor their makers. This complex occupies in Central America a position analogous to the relation between the primitive cultures in the Valley of Mexico and the Toltec and Aztec cultures.

In other words, we are not only talking Mayan ceramics, we are talking old, basic traditional Mayan ceramics. Something that the country people would remember when their elite rulers had been taken away, and pottery traits which would not have been transmitted by way of Northern Mexico primarily.

As I had mentioned before, the Mississippian houses were built according to the usual Mayan plan. To be frank, these are nothing like the wigwams common in the eastern United States, they are tropical huts.

The high steep-sided roofs are designed to shed heavy tropical rainfall and designs much like this are common in Northern South America and also in Indonesia (They are also used to indicate the possibility of TransPacific diffusion between those other two regions, along with use of the BLOWGUN, which the Mayas also had. The duplication of blowgun technology on both sides of the Pacific is something that is hard for non-diffusionists to explain)

And then of course the most obvious and characteristic feature of the Mississippian cultures is the creation and use of the stepped-pyramid temple mounds, built along parallel principles but using earth instead of stone as the construction material. And this came with a version of Mesoamerican pyramid ceremonialism, placement around a plaza,human sacrifice, headhunting and veneration of human skulls.

And besides building pyramids after a design similar to the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza, the people carried a name by which they seem to have called themselves, Itsas. a hundred years ago or more, this was not even questioned, it was taken for granted that these people had come from that part of the Yucatan and that is why they were using that name.

POSTSCRIPT

I had begun to develop a very long and involved followup to this article on linguistics, making very involved and complicated arguments, but then I saw how the situation could be represented most easily. In the Wikipedia entry discussing the validity or non-validity of the so-called Amerind linguistic superfamily, a long list of languages is included. I excerpt part of the listing here:

Penutian–Hokan

  1. Penutian
  2. Gulf
  3. Atakapa
  4. Chitimacha
  5. Muskogean
  6. Natchez
  7. Tunica
  8. Yukian
  9. Mexican Penutian
  10. Huave
  11. Mayan
  12. Mixe–Zoque
  13. Totonac

IN OTHER WORDS THE MAYAN AND GULF LINGUISTIC FAMILIES ARE ALREADY CONSIDERED ADJACENT AND RELATED LINGUISTIC GROUPS.

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


Clay figurines discovered on the Mann Hopewell Site show faces with slanted eyes, which were not a Hopewell feature. Some believe the figurines show a connection between Indiana and Central or South America.

Olmec-like Hopewell figure-ens found at Mann Site in Indianna. Other long distance trade goods, like obsidian from Yellowstone and Grizzly Bear teeth from the Rockies were found.

“It’s like Vegas … for archaeologists,” says Mike Linderman, who manages state historic sites in western Indiana. Linderman says the Mann Hopewell Site is bigger than its more famous Hopewell counterparts in Ohio, and it’s filled with even more exotic materials, like obsidian glass that has been traced to the Yellowstone Valley in Wyoming, and grizzly bear incisor teeth.

“Grizzly bears obviously are not from Indiana, never have been,” Linderman says. “There’s a theory out there now that instead of being trade items, these items [were] actually being collected by the people from Mann Site on rite-of-passage trips they [were] taking out to the West. You know, it’s something big if you’ve killed a grizzly bear and you can bring its teeth back to Indiana.”

Jaguars and panthers aren’t from Indiana, either, but they show up at the Mann Hopewell Site as beautifully detailed carvings. Put them together with clay figurines that have slanted eyes — not a Hopewell feature — and Linderman says we could be looking at a connection between Indiana and Central or South America.

https://www.npr.org/2011/01/03/132412112/the-prehistoric-treasure-in-the-fields-of-indiana?ft=1&f=1008


 

Exotic artifacts found at Tamtoc on Mexico’s East Coast

Perhaps the best evidence of north south trade between Mesoamerica and the Eastern United States were a serious of articacts found in Tamtoc, Mexico.

From http://www.huasteca.tomgidwitz.com/html/tamtoc.html  (published in the magazine Archaeology dated to 2010)

 

The results may reveal links between Huasteca settlements and mound building cultures in the United States. For decades, archaeologists have theorized that North America’s Late Woodland and Mississippian cultures drew inspiration from the Huasteca, but Davila and Zaragoza’s excavations at Tamtoc in the 1990s convinced them that cultural influence, and perhaps actual migration, spread from north to south. They unearthed objects that seemed to come from the American Southeast in about A.D. 900—a fragment of a sheet of hammered copper, a pointed metal hand tool, a piece of engraved shell, a cache of a dozen whole and twenty fragmented Cahokia projectile points, and pottery that could have come from sites to the north such as Etowah, and Moundville. When they dug into a terrace beside the site’s western mound, they found that, like the mounds at Cahokia, it had been piled up layer-by-layer in basket-sized loads, with dirt from pits that became the lagoons around the site.

“We dug and dug and dug,” says Davila, “but I understood nothing.” Then he read Garcilaso de la Vega’s La Florida del Inca, an account of the 1539 Hernando de Soto expedition to the Southeast. It describes huge Indian trade and war canoes that plied the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the rivers of the Southeast. “We think there was a migration by sea,” says Davila.

Scholars have long recognized that both the Southeast and Huasteca had towns with artificial lagoons and platform mounds with thatched structures on top, engraved shell jewelry, imagery of feathered dancers, stone pipes, and ghostly pots that represent the dead with closed eyes, open mouths, and filed teeth. They have theorized that the cultural influence flowed from Mesoamerica northward, but the Tamtoc artifacts, other mounds in the Huasteca, and the region’s incised shell gorgets, post-date their earliest North American counterparts.

University of South Florida archaeologist Nancy White says that major cultural influences, as well as people, may well have traveled north to south. “We know other things may have moved from North to South America, things that may be considered less important or equally important, like tobacco.” The Mississippian motifs of the Late Prehistoric period that appear in the Huasteca do indicate that “at this late time people were probably moving around and sharing these ideas, but just a few things.” In the field, Martínez and Córdova want to see for themselves.

Physical anthropologist Carlos Karam has taken bite molds of about thirty contemporary Teenek and is comparing the inherited contours of their molars and bicuspids to Tamtoc skeletons and to ancient and modern Maya. He’s checking the DNA of modern Teenek against that of ancient Tamtoc skeletons; strontium isotopes in Tamtoc teeth, absorbed in telltale amounts from drinking water, might reveal where the city’s dead grew up.

“This is a hypothesis we are testing, and we have not found enough information to confirm it, yet,” Córdova says. Martínez and Córdova think it will take ten years to complete their excavations. But just as important to them is making Tamtoc into an instructive oasis in this disrupted landscape. They plan to stock the restored lagoons with fish, reestablish the fruit trees that once thrived here, and demonstrate how ancient Tamtoc sustained itself. This year they will begin construction on a site museum and teaching center where local students will work side by side with archaeologists, study artifact restoration and conservation, and learn about indigenous people.