Saturday, September 27, 2014

OED on Waters

This article explores the Book of Mormon text and the Oxford English Dictionary to shed light on the phrases "waters of Sidon," "waters of Sebus," "waters of Mormon," "waters of Ripliancum," etc. The text is unambiguous on Sidon - it is a large river Alma 2:34 that empties into the ocean Alma 3:3. Are the waters of Mormon also a river? Comparing Alma 4:4 with Alma 5:3 it is clear Alma2 was consciously mirroring his father's actions of the previous generation.

These phrases [meaning in brackets] occur in the text listed in order of first attestation.
These passages show the pervasive Book of Mormon characteristic of duality. Waters are either associated with life, peace, righteousness and deliverance or they connote death, peril, sin and captivity. All of these ideas are found commingled in the single verse 1 Nephi 4:2.

All unambiguous passages refer to either a) a salt water ocean b) a flowing stream or c) symbolic spirituality, life and healing. The OED confirms that during the Early Modern English era (see the blog article "Early Modern English") "waters" plural referred either to a) water moving in waves [the ocean], b) flowing water [rivers] or c) healing water from medicinal, thermal or therapeutic springs. In this case, the OED strikingly corroborates what we find in the text.

"Thy waye was in the see, and thy pathes in the great waters." Coverdale Bible, 1535. cf. Psalms 77:19 and Isaiah 43:16.

"the Waters of the Danube swelled so high as to break down the Bridge which the Enemy had made." Johann Peter Von Valcaren, A relation or diary of the siege of Vienna, 1684.

"Of whote bathes. Some waters that are generated and flowe out of vaynes of brymstone, are sensybly warme, and some very whott...These waters also being drying by nature, are wholsome for many infyrmities." William Fulke, A goodly gallerye with a most plesaunt prospect, 1563.

So, evidence from the text and the OED suggests the waters of Mormon, Sebus and Ripliancum are all streams or rivers as in Joshua 3:13. Fountains are generally considered springs as in Deuteronomy 8:7. The fountain mentioned in Mosiah 18:5 is almost certainly a spring feeding a flowing stream. Trees grow along stream beds as in Numbers 24:6 which explains the thicket near the water in Mosiah 18:5. The fountain/tree connection was part of the Nephite worldview 1 Nephi 11:25. The image of waters that flow and gush associated with the actions of a prophet is attested in the text 1 Nephi 20:21 citing Isaiah 48:21. River Jordan was the quintessential baptistery in the New Testament Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5. The most noted baptistery in the Book of Mormon is probably a flowing stream as well. In the land of Zarahemla, Almaprobably baptized in the river Sidon as his son did decades later Alma 4:4. Alma1's baptisms in Zarahemla were expressly "after the manner" of his iconic baptisms earlier in the waters of Mormon Mosiah 25:18.

Most LDS Mesoamericanists who deal with the Book of Mormon correlate the waters of Ripliancum with the extensive wetlands at the mouth of the Papaloapan River in Veracruz. Our analysis confirms this correlation as highly likely. In the image below, the Usumacinta system is in red, the Grijalva (with all of its distributaries from Book of Mormon times to the present) is in blue, and all other rivers are in yellow.
Papaloapan Drainage Basin in Mexico
The Papaloapan creates the second largest wetlands in Mexico, eclipsed only by the Usumacinta in Tabasco. Driving along Mexican Highway 180 from Veracruz through Alvarado and on to San Andres Tuxtla you pass 30 kilometers of open inland water and many more kilometers of marshlands and small lagoons. The description "large, or to exceed all" Ether 15:8 seems apt in this unusually well-watered area. This is a photo of the mouth of the Papaloapan taken in September, 2006. The river extends almost to the horizon in every direction.
Mouth of the  Papaloapan. Photo by Kirk Magleby, September, 2006
Mosiah 8:8 describes Ramah-Cumorah as a "land among many waters." Most LDS Mesoamericanists who include the Book of Mormon in their professional work correlate Ramah-Cumorah with the Tuxtla Mountains in southern Veracruz. Our analysis supports this correlation. This Google Earth image shows the Tuxtla Mountain region with watercourses. The yellow paths are rivers we have visually plotted in Google Earth (a very time consuming process). The black paths are calculated riverbeds derived from NASA satellite imagery elevation data.
Stream Flows in and around the Tuxtla Mountains
This area includes rivers tributary to both the Coatzacoalcos to the southeast and the Papaloapan to the northwest. At least 13 other sizable streams flow to the Gulf of Mexico from the slopes of the Tuxtla Mountains. Lake Catemaco is a prominent and beautiful water feature in this area, but the Nephite historians almost certainly had the many rivers in mind when they engraved the words that became the English "land among many waters." As we saw earlier with the general term "waters," the OED sense of meaning for the phrase "many waters" in the Early Modern English era was either flowing water or the ocean.

"It sounded...as it hadde bene the flushynge noyse of many waters." John Bale, The image of bothe churches, 1548 (estimated date)

"...the Lord, that is on high, is more of might by far than noise of many waters is, or great sea-billows are." Scotch Psalms, 1650 cf. Psalms 93:4.

"As the voyce off many waters, and as the voyce off stronge thondrynges." Tyndale Bible, 1526
  
We know the "waters of Sidon" refers to a large river. The "waters of Ripliancum" probably refers to a large river. The "many waters" in land Ramah-Cumorah probably refer to multiple rivers. This makes it likely the "waters of Mormon" refers to a flowing stream of water since as Royal Skousen frequently reminds us, the original text is very consistent in its usage patterns (See the Editor's Preface to the Yale Edition, page xxxix). In the 1981 LDS edition, Mosiah 18:8 reads "here are the waters of Mormon" which in modern English could potentially refer to any body of water. The Yale edition restores this phrase to its original "here is the waters of Mormon" which in Early Modern English implied a flowing stream.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

OED on Rivers

Using the Oxford English Dictionary, we will shed some lexical light on the river Sidon and its head, paying particular attention to Early Modern English (see the blog article by that name) senses of meaning. The proper name Sidon occurs 37 times in the text in the following constructs. Scriptural references document first attestation.
Relative Size
Naming conventions for flowing water in North America were largely established in the 1600's, the Early Modern English era. In North America the following order of watercourse size is common:
  • A brook has no tributaries. You step over a brook. Many brooks are seasonal. A brook can be called a "very small stream."
  • A creek is formed by the confluence of multiple brooks. You jump over a creek. A creek is often called a "small stream."
  • A stream is formed by the confluence of multiple creeks. You wade across a stream.
  • A river is formed by the confluence of many streams. At the point of confluence where a river is born, these tributaries are called head-streams. A river's largest head-stream is called its main head-stream or main-stem, which may or may not be its largest tributary depending on what enters the channel downstream. At a ford, you may be able to wade across a river at low water, but generally you swim or float across it. Most rivers flow year-round. A river is generally described with augmentative adjectives (large, wide, deep) and seldom in diminutive terms (small, narrow, shallow). The confluence of two (or occasionally three) rivers creates a third (or occasionally fourth) river. 
  • A seaway is a large river with a channel deep enough for ocean-going ship traffic.
Other regional terms include branch, burn, fork, kill (from the Middle Dutch "kille"), race, run and wash. Bayou, slough and swamp generally describe a marshy area of slow moving water. In Britain the word "creek" denotes a tidal inlet. "Stream" is also a generic term referring to any flow of liquid or gas regardless of size.

Much of North America was originally surveyed using a 100 link chain 66 feet long. 1/4 chain = 1 rod. 10 chains = 1 furlong. 80 chains = 1 mile. When surveyors cane to a watercourse wider than 1 chain they usually called it a river. Names became politicized due to property rights. In many U.S. states the bottom of a river is public property while a brook, creek or stream may be privately owned. This led to some re-naming to benefit large land owners, particularly timber interests.

"A gret rywer he gert him pas." John Barbour, Bruce, 1380 printed in 1489.
"Wheare did run a rever, so bige and stifly...that we durste not adventur to rid over it." Thomas Dallam, Diary, 1599.

This means the river Sidon is almost certainly a large stream with many upstream tributaries.

Our correlation for the river Sidon is the Chixoy/Salinas/Usumacinta, the largest river in Mesoamerica. The Chixoy-Negro (average width 140 meters) is its main head-stream. It has a vast network of upstream (and downstream) tributaries.
Usumacinta River with Tributaries
Directionality
Local meanders or great bends notwithstanding, a river in the Early Modern English era generally flowed in one principal direction. A river that veered off in another direction was usually given a new name. For example, at Fairmont, West Virginia the West Fork River and the Tygart Valley (East Fork) River come together to form the Monongahela which flows north for 210 kilometers to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. East of Coudersport in north central, Pennsylvania the Allegheny is formed from the confluence of several streams. After a great bend into southern New York, the Allegheny flows generally south southwest for 523 kilometers to Pittsburgh. The Allegheny (the main head-stream) and the Monongahela come together at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio which flows generally west southwest for 1,579 kilometers before it joins the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. The Ohio is the principal tributary of the Mississippi. At Cairo, the Ohio carries almost a third more water than the Mississippi. Since the Mississippi follows its general southerly course, though, its name continues downstream.

"And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria." Bible King James Version Genesis 2:14.

This means river Sidon probably flows in a generally consistent direction throughout its length. We know from textual analysis the river Sidon flows generally south to north. See the blog article "River Sidon South to North."

Our correlation for the river Sidon, the Chixoy/Salinas/Usumacinta begins at the point where the east-flowing Chixoy-Negro turns north. From this point, the Usumacinta system flows generally 28 degrees west of north.
Usumacinta River System Flowing South to North
Head of a River
In the Early Modern English era, the head of a river was the point of confluence where streams came together with enough water flow to form a river, or the point of confluence where two rivers came together and formed a third. This head of a river is a very different thing than the modern concept of headwaters (aka ultimate headwaters) or the most distant source of a river. Geographers and explorers compete to locate the ultimate sources of major rivers using modern technology, while the heads of those rivers have generally been well-known for centuries. The head of the Amazon is the confluence of the Marañon with the Ucayali about 130 river kilometers upstream from Iquitos, Peru. The headwaters of the Amazon (not established until 1996) lie more than 3,000 river kilometers upstream in the melting glaciers of Nevado Mismi in Arequipa Province, Peru.   The head of the Ohio is Point State Park in Pittsburgh. The headwaters of the Ohio are nearly 600 river kilometers upstream in Potter County, Pennsylvania. The head of the Mississippi is Lake Itasca in Clearwater County, Minnesota. The headwaters of the Mississippi are over 1,200 air kilometers away where the most distant source of the Missouri (Hell Roaring Creek) begins at Brower's Spring southwest of West Yellowstone, Montana. Basically, the head of a river is the point at which the name begins while the headwaters are the origin of the longest stream channel from source to mouth.

"As the River leadeth thee to his head; shall not the head lead thee to the originall spring thereof?" Philippe de Mornay translated by Sir Philip Sidney and Arthur Golding, A woorke concerning the trewnesse of the christian religion, (London: John Charlewood and George Robinson for Thomas Cadman, 1587)

This means the head of the river Sidon is almost certainly the confluence of upstream watercourses and not headwaters.

Our correlation for the head of the river Sidon (following V. Garth Norman) is the confluence of the northwest-flowing Salama with the east-flowing Chixoy-Negro. This is the same point geographers identify as the head of the Chixoy.
Head of the Chixoy
A river can also spawn downstream distributaries, each with a head. This is the sense of Genesis 2:10.

Word Order
The Book of Mormon always refers to "river Sidon" rather than "Sidon River." This is consistent  with Early Modern English and modern British usage.

"Beyond the riuer Ganges...the people are caught with the Sun, and begin to be blackish." Pliny translated by Philemon Holland, The historie of the world, (London: A. Islip, 1601)
"Rowed up the River Mississippi, in a Canot." Philosophical transactions, (London: Royal Society of London) Vol. 15, 1685

This is another of the many indications that the Lord's target language for the 1830 Book of Mormon text was Early Modern English rather than Jacksonian American English.

Waters
The Book of Mormon uses the phrase "waters of Sidon" eight times. This construct is attested in Early Modern English.

"Passaw, Lyntz, and other places adjoining to the waters of Enus and Danubius." Thomas Cranmer, Letter 20 Oct., 1532
"The extent thereof...and the waters of Medway, all which extent is under the jurisdiction and conservancy of the Lord Mayor..." James Howell, Londinopolis, 1657

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Book of Mormon Trifecta

If the Book of Mormon geography problem is solved in this generation as I believe it will be, these three resources will prove pivotal:
  1. The 2009 Yale edition of the text edited by Royal Skousen. Based on the best scholarship currently available, this is as close as we can come to the words that fell from the lips of the prophet as he dictated to his scribes in the moment of translation. The Lord's target language was Early Modern English (A.D. 1470 - 1700+) and the translation process was largely controlled by a higher power. See the blog article "Early Modern English." We can take this text at face value, read with precision and ferret meaning from every word. This is our tool for textual analysis.  
  2. The Oxford English Dictionary. The OED, in process since 1857, is the ultimate authority on English. It can help us grasp the nuanced meanings of words and phrases as they were understood in the time of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. This is  our tool for lexical analysis. The combination of the Yale edition and the OED are still subject to interpretive assumptions. To understand our assumptions, see the blog articles "Plainness" and "Some Questions and a Rule."
  3. Google Earth. World's most widely-used geographic information system can quickly prove or disprove hypotheses. Is point A higher in elevation than point B? Is B east of A? How many air kilometers separate A from B? Where are the mountains? rivers? swamps? dense foliage? How high is the tree canopy? Are known mineral reserves nearby? Does an area exhibit wilderness characteristics? Where are the known archaeological sites in the area? How many square kilometers are in a tract of land? How many people live in the area today? What routes do the modern roads and railroads follow? These and dozens of similar questions can be answered with specialized data sets rendered in Google Earth. Then, as a model begins to come together, Google Earth is an ideal repository because most Book of Mormon students on the planet can access it with minimal effort and expense. This is our tool for spatial analysis.
Our tool for chronological analysis, admittedly crude, is the timeline published in the 1980 and 2013 LDS editions of the text. We are aware of the excellent work being done by Randall P. Spackman ("The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1, 1998) but have not yet incorporated it into our research methodology. Our tools for cultural analysis include such important works as John L. Sorenson's Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2013).

The 2009 Yale edition hardbound costs $30 - $40 and a Kindle edition is available. The OED online edition costs $295 per year for an individual subscription in the US and Canada. Many libraries and academic institutions subscribe. Google Earth is free to download on Linux, Windows and Mac. The Google Earth Pro edition costs $399 per year for a single user license. The free version has 95% of the functionality in the paid version and will be adequate for almost all students of the Nephite text.

Using all three resources extensively, we have analyzed a key feature in Nephite, Lamanite and Jaredite geography, the narrow (small) neck of land, from a variety of perspectives. A precis of this analysis illustrates the way the Book of Mormon trifecta can facilitate clear, definitive correlations based on data-driven, reproducible results. 
  • Since many people correlate the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the narrow (small) neck, we used Google Earth and Microsoft Excel to list 53 well-known isthmuses in ascending order by width. Tehuantepec, at 216 km, is the widest isthmus in our sample set and may be the widest on earth. It is 10X the width of the mean and 73X the width of the median of our sample. As isthmuses go, Tehuantepec is huge, even gigantic. Its surface area (as defined by geographers) is 57,629 square kilometers which is nearly 3X the size of the modern nation of Israel. Correlating it with the diminutive language in the text (narrow, small) is ludicrous. See the blog article "Isthmuses."
  • Reading the text closely, we identified 17 occurrences of the word "narrow," 10 occurrences of the allied word "strait," and 50 occurrences of the word "small." Analyzing all passages containing these 77 occurrences, we deduced a reasonable upper limit for the width of the things being described. This included a preliminary look at 15 land forms in 6 different countries with the word "neck" in their name. Our results from this textual and spatial analysis: to be either "narrow" or "small" in Book of Mormon parlance a geographic feature will probably not exceed 5 km in width with 20 km the extreme upper limit of plausibility. See the blog article "Narrow and Small Things."
  • We then analyzed all occurrences of the word "neck" in the text and discovered an interesting passage (2 Nephi 18:8) where this word is used in a geographic context. Exegesis on this passage led us to conclude the Isaiah neck would not have exceeded 5 km in width and was probably closer to 2 km. See the blog article "Another Geographic Neck."
  • Immersing ourselves in the text, we identified 15 criteria any candidate narrow (small) neck must satisfy. Key findings: a) Orientation is generally southward to northward, b) The neck fronts one and only one sea - the west sea. c) The neck is near the east-west Bountiful/Desolation line that rises in the east and terminates at the west sea. d) The east-west line is situated in a place where the topography aids defense and can help a standing army control hostile southward-northward movement. e) The east-west line is on the order of 22.5 km in length according to our derivation of the standard Nephite unit of distance measure documented in the blog article "Land Southward Travel Times," f) The neck is near a harbor suitable for berthing and launching ocean-going vessels. g) The neck is near an important Olmec (Jaredite) archaeological site. h) The neck is near an inlet of the ocean or an outlet (mouth) where an inland saltwater lagoon breaches the coastal sandbar. i) Southward from the narrow neck is terrain suitable for a game preserve. j) The width of the neck does not exceed 5 - 20 km. Using Google Earth we then showed how our candidate for the narrow (small) neck, the Barra San Marcos running along the Pacific coast of Chiapas, fits all 15 criteria comfortably. See the blog article "The Narrow (Small) Neck of Land."
  • Further close reading of the text led us to the conclusion that other significant Book of Mormon geographic features lay in close proximity to the neck.. These include a) the narrow pass, b) the narrow passage, and c) the east-west defensive line described in Helaman 4:7. We identified 16 textual criteria the narrow pass must satisfy, non enumerated criteria the narrow passage must satisfy, and 3 criteria the fortified line must satisfy. Using Google Earth we then showed how our candidates for these 3 geographic features fit all criteria clearly and precisely. See the blog article "The Narrow Pass and Narrow Passage." With this analysis complete, we had identified an ecosystem of 16 geographic features from the text, all in the immediate vicinity of the narrow (small) neck of land. There were enough intersecting and mutually reinforcing lines of reasoning supporting our correlations we felt comfortable in April, 2013 claiming a 90% confidence level in this portion of our map. See the blog article "Plainness." That confidence level has since risen as we have pursued additional lines of inquiry.
  • After a visit to Sant-Malo, France, we were convinced our analysis in blog article "The Narrow Pass and Narrow Passage" point 12 was solid (pun intended.) The use of granite as a defensive architectural building material affords a logical explanation for the otherwise enigmatic passage in Mormon 4:4. See the blog article "French Connection" point 6.   
  • As soon as a second witness (Stanford Carmack) corroborated Royal Skousen's conclusions about Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline English and tight control over the translation process (see the blog article "Early Modern English") we felt impressed to focus attention on the 1500's and 1600's. Using Google Earth, Microsoft Excel and a few historical records, we came up with an alphabetized list of 115 necks of land from the English colonial era whose names persist on modern maps. We ventured into Australia and New Zealand for a few examples actually called "narrow neck." This was a major expansion and refinement of the research we published in November, 2012 under the title "Narrow and Small Things." How many necks of land are there along the eastern seaboard of North America? Hundreds. Our sample set of 115 is comprehensive but by no means exhaustive. Important things we learned about necks of land named in the Early Modern English era: a) They averaged 2.0 kilometers in width. Barra San Marcos is 2.0 km wide. b) They were almost all (98%) peninsulas rather than isthmuses. Barra San Marcos is a peninsula. c) Most of them (87%) fronted salt water and/or estuaries. Barra San Marcos fronts estuarial waters on one side and open ocean on the other. We illustrated 8 example necks from our sample set of long, slender coastal sandbars similar to Barra San Marcos. See the blog article "Necks of Land."
  • Having some experience with languages other than English, we were curious how LDS translators had rendered Alma 22:32, Alma 63:5 and Ether 10:20 in various romance languages. This is important because the way a language commonly describes a particular land form tells us salient things about the land form itself. We found 6 "tongues" of land, 5 "strips" and 1 "isthmus." See the blog article "Romance Languages." These expressions lend support to our notion of a slender, peninsular land form.
  • Finally, we immersed ourselves in the OED to understand Early Modern English senses of words and phrases such as "narrow," "small neck," and "led into." See the blog article "OED on Necks of Land." Some key findings: a) Something "narrow" has a length considerably larger than its width or breadth. This corroborates Barra San Marcos, but disqualifies the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. b) In 1676, Englishmen along the coast of Tabasco used the term "small neck of land" to describe the long, slender sandbar Barra del Panteon which fronts the open ocean on one side and a network of saltwater lagoons on the other. The correspondences with Barra San Marcos, 270 air kilometers distant, could hardly be more striking. c) The Early Modern English sense of the word "between" came from "by twin" meaning an independent entity C adjunct to but not integral with A and B, both of whom share significant commonalities. From this we conclude the narrow (small) neck of land was not a seamless continuation of either the land southward or the land northward, but another kind of land form entirely, aligned with the other two. In this sense, Barra San Marcos fits perfectly while the Isthmus of Tehuantepec fails utterly. d) The sense of the phrase "led into" which occurs 4 times in the text associated with 3 different geographic features is a distinctive, independent entity in communication with another entity like a gate to a garden or a path to a forest. Again, Barra San Marcos fits this sense of meaning in contrast with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec which clearly does not. Furthermore, the directionality of the narrow neck, pass and passage specified in the text is a striking corroboration of our correlation.
With the convergence of all these streams of evidence, we are now 98% confident our correlation of the narrow (small) neck of land with Barra San Marcos along the Pacific coast of Chiapas is correct. Ric Hauck and Joe Andersen have been trying to get us to pay attention to this area around Tonala, Chiapas since at least the 1980's (See F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988. 98% is as far as we are willing to go right now because archaeological excavation will always have the last word. We are also 98% confident that the Usumacinta is river Sidon, the Caribbean is sea east, and the Pacific is sea west.

We believe this methodology - mining the Yale edition, OED and Google Earth for meaning - will eventually result in a working consensus on Book of Mormon New World geographic correlations through the same proven iterative process of reproducible results that drives science generally. Most of the historical disagreements among LDS Mesoamericanists stem from these four questions:
  1. What does the text say and what does it not say? The Yale edition solves this problem. It provides a de facto standard for scholarly inquiry.
  2. What do the words in the text mean? Now that we know we are dealing with Early Modern English, careful reading in the OED pretty much solves this problem.
  3. Does a particular geographic feature fit the text? With appropriate data sets, Google Earth can tell us yes or no quite quickly.
  4. Do ancient cultural resources fit the text? This data will remain forever tentative because of the dynamic nature of Mesoamerican scholarship. Significant new archaeological fieldwork will be required to advance the state of this art. 
The methodology described above will facilitate consensus on questions 1 - 3. Question 4 remains open to interpretation as new discoveries continually enhance our understanding of the ancient cultures in our area of interest.

Monday, September 15, 2014

OED on Necks of Land

Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language appeared just two years before the Book of Mormon. In the early 1980's as FARMS was beginning its contribution to Mormon scholarship, we were excited to see what we could learn about the meanings of Book of Mormon words and phrases from Webster's classic tome. Thirty years later we now know the earliest English version of the Nephite text has a much closer affinity with the older language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. See the blog article "Early Modern English." The indispensable dictionary for exegesis of Mormon's and Moroni's abridgments can only be the incomparable Oxford English Dictionary commonly called the OED. Textual scholars such as Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack use the OED extensively.

We used the OED to articulate the meanings of the terms "tongue of land," "strip of land," and "isthmus" in the blog article "Romance Languages." We will now plumb the depths of the OED to shed more light on the key Nephite phrases:
  • small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward Alma 22:32.
  • narrow neck which led into the land northward Alma 63:5.
  • by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land Ether 10:20.
Necks of Water
We first note that a "neck" can also refer to a marine feature. Straits, sounds and inlets are sometimes called "necks of water," particularly if they are quite narrow. So the Book of Mormon usage "neck of land" is not redundant given its coastal nature.

Small Necks of Land
The obsolete word "halover" is a variant of "haul over" meaning portage where seafarers had to carry their boats from the ocean over a spit of land before they could launch them again in an inland waterway. Haulover Beach in North Miami, Florida is one place where this word persists. Beginning in 1697 (the Early Modern English era) an English privateer (pirate) and adventurer began publishing memoirs of his voyages and discoveries around the world. Because he was a keen observer and facile wordsmith, William Dampier's writings became very popular. Dampier describes a trip he took in 1676 along the coast of Tabasco. This image is from Captain William Dampier edited by John Masefield, Dampier's Voyages (London: E. Grant Richards, 1906) Vol. 2, pp. 214-5 displayed in Google Books.
Captain William Dampier Voyages (1676)
Dampier's Halover is a coastal sandbar running between the Gulf of Campeche and Laguna Santana aka Laguna Machona and Laguna Redonda. This sandbar is what Dampier called a "small Neck of Land." It is .27 km wide at the point indicated.
Dampier's Small Neck of Land, Tabasco
On modern maps the sandbar is called Barra del Panteon with Barra Tupilco to the east and Barra de Santa Ana to the west. The sense of "haul over" persists on the map above in the Spanish word "arrastradero" which means "portage."

We propose Barra San Marcos on the Pacific coast of Chiapas as the narrow (small) neck of land in the Book of Mormon. It is also a coastal sandbar fronting a series of saltwater lagoons. Barra del Panteon and Barra San Marcos are nearly identical geographic features 270 air kilometers distant from each other in southern Mexico. One was described in Early Modern English as "a small neck of land." Another may be the feature described in an Early Modern English text (the Book of Mormon) as "a small neck of land."

Another Early Modern English usage of the term "small neck of land" comes from the ancient city of Tyre in modern Lebanon. Tyre is on a tiny peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean.
Tyre, Lebanon on a Peninsula .5 km Wide
Anglican clergyman Thomas Fuller published an Early Modern English book entitled The historie of the holy warre (Cambridge: T. Buck, 1639) where he described Tyre "tacked to the continent with a small neck of land."

Between
"Betwixt" is archaic. The sense is "by twin" meaning a third entity (c) in close relationship with two other entities (a & b) where a & b share significant commonalities. So, for instance, in geographic usage a river or plain may lie between two cities. A fence or wall may lie between two farmer's fields. A mountain ridge may lie between two valleys. The word often conveys either a line of movement or communication between a & b, or an obstacle dividing a from b. In Early Modern English, c was adjunct to both a & b, not integral with either of them.

Alma 22:32 and 3 Nephi 3:23 describe the actual border between the land northward (Desolation) and the land southward (Bountiful) as a line. The narrow (small) neck of land was not this line. It was a coastal feature along the west sea in the vicinity of this line. Our correlation of the narrow (small) neck of land with a coastal sandbar fits this scenario nicely. The neck was not the  land northward nor was it the land southward. It was separate from both these lands, but in line with them and a conduit of movement and communication between them.

Narrow
Something is narrow when its breadth or width is small compared with its length. A long lane or street with houses or fields on either side is narrow. Egyptian settlement along the banks of the Nile is narrow. The northern arms of the Red Sea on either side of the Sinai Peninsula are narrow.
Narrow Egyptian Settlement along the Nile, Narrow Arms of the Red Sea
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec as defined by geographers is not narrow. Its width exceeds its length.
Isthmus of Tehuantepec 211 km Long X 216 km Wide
The narrow neck of land as envisioned by John L. Sorenson, V. Garth Norman and many others is not narrow. Its width greatly exceeds its length. In the representation below, the width is 6.75 times greater than the length, the exact opposite of the OED definition of "narrow."
Proposed Narrow Neck of Land 32 km long X 216 km wide
Our proposed narrow neck of land, on the other hand, conforms precisely to the OED definition of "narrow"
Barra San Marcos 52 km Long X 2 km Wide
Narrow Land
In 1640 a farmer in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire was conveyed one "narrow land." At that time in England, fields were often divided into narrow strips. The example shown is .26 km wide.
Strips of Land around Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire
Narrow Necks of Land
"Halse" or "hals" was an old Scottish word for "neck." Hector Boece wrote his celebrated The History and Chronicles of Scotland in Latin in 1527. John Bellenden translated it into Scottish vernacular in 1536. Describing the region of Nidisdail (modern Nithsdale), Boece/Bellenden wrote "It beginnis with ane narow and strait hals, and incressis mair braid." In contemporary English we would render "It begins with one narrow and strait neck, and increases more broad." This 1726 map of Scotland shows the narrow southern neck of Nithisdale (Nithsdale), approximately 5 km wide.
Nithisdale (Nithsdale) in Southern Scotland
During the 1600's when the basic geography of the New World was beginning to be widely understood, the Isthmus of Darien aka Panama was called a "narrow neck of land" or similar. Panama is 52.77 km wide at its narrowest point and 900 km long on its Atlantic coastline from the Colombia border on the south to the Costa Rica border on the north. Panama clearly conforms to the OED definition of "narrow."
Isthmus of Panama 
"America is not unfitly resembled to an Hour-glasse, which hath a narrow neck of land ... betwixt the parts thereof." Thomas Fuller, The holy state, 1642

"America is ... divided by that Isthmus, or necke and narrow passage of Land at Darien, into two parts." Samuel Purchas, Purchas his pilgrimage, 1613

"Next is that necke or narrow extent of Land ... knitting the two great Peninsuls of the North and South America together." Samuel Purchas, Purchas his pilgrimage, 1613

Necks of Land
French maps from the 1600's were the first to name the Niagara Peninsula. The name comes from the Mohawk language and means "neck of land (between the lakes)." The Niagara Peninsula is 37.21 kilometers wide at its narrowest point.
Niagara Peninsula Surrounded by Water on Three Sides
In the late 1700's, a British naturalist called the narrow sandbar fronting Portland harbor a "neck of land." It is .18 km wide.
Neck of Land along the Dorset Coast
"On the neck of land joining Portland to Dorsetshire." William Withering, An Arrangement of British Plants..., 1796

In the late 1600's, the area between the Firth of Forth to the east and the Firth of Clyde to the west was called a "neck of land." This territory is 54.61 km wide on the line indicated.
Neck of Land across Central Scotland
"The Neck of Land between the two Fryths about Sterling and Glasco." William Temple, An Introduction to the History of England, (London: Richard and Ralph Simpson, 1699)

Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay was first colonized in 1631, the earliest European settlement in what is now Maryland. By 1640 about a dozen land patents had been granted on the island and surveyors were busy marking boundaries and certifying claims. Kent Island has three "necks of land" that appear on the modern map: Batts Neck, Cox Neck and Crab Alley Neck. Survey records from 1640 document many other necks of land. For example: "Laid out for Thomas Keyne the Neck of Land called hog penn Neck, lyeing between thcketty Creek on the North, hog pen Creek on the South Chesapeak Bay on the West and a Meridian line drawn from the head of Thicketty Creek, to the head of hog pen Creek on the East Containing 100 acres." Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 5, 1910 "Land Notes, 1634 - 1665" We would classify Hog Pen Neck 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt using the system outlined in the blog article "Necks of Land."
The Northern Portion of Kent Island, Queen Anne's County, Maryland
Land Neck
"Land-neck" is an obsolete word meaning isthmus. "At the very entrance of the Isthmus, or land-necke." Florus, translated by Edmund Mary Bolton, The Roman Histories of Lucius Juluis Florus ..., 1619

Neckland
"Neckland" is an obsolete word meaning a neck or narrow strip of land. "The Promontories and necklands which butt into the the Sea, what are they but solide creekes." George Hakewell, An Apologie of the power and providence of God, 1627

Led into
The sense of "lead in" or "lead into" is to conduct or guide along a path. Gates lead into courtyards. Anterooms lead into larger rooms. Footpaths lead into forests. "Passing from hence through the Sala Regia againe, I was led into the great roome hard by." Richard Lassels edited by Simon Wilson, The voyage of Italy, 1670.

"Led into" is used four times in a geographic context in the Book of Mormon.
  • Alma 52:9 the narrow pass led into the land northward.
  • Mormon 3:5 the narrow pass led into the land southward.
  • Alma 63:5 the narrow neck led into the land northward.
  • Mormon 2:29 the narrow passage led into the land southward.
All three features (narrow pass, neck & passage) were very near the actual border, the line between the lands southward and northward Alma 22:32, 3 Nephi 3:23. The narrow passage was right on the border Mormon 2:29. All three were distinctive enough to function in the role of independent gate or path leading into the much larger and more substantial lands northward and southward. This map shows our correlations,
Proposed Narrow (Small) Neck, Narrow Pass, Narrow Passage
and Bountiful/Desolation Border Line
We propose that:
  • the narrow (small) neck of land is Barra San Marcos. The black lines show the modern road traversing the length of the sandbar, intersecting at right angles with Cabeza de Toro road.
  • the narrow pass is the Mexican railroad grade shown as the purple line skirting around Cerro Bernal and Laguna de la Joya.
  • the narrow passage is the mountain pass at the Agua Dulce River where Mexican Federal Highway 200, shown in light blue, runs today.
  • the Bountiful.Desolation line is the red line that runs from a point high in the Sierra Madre westward to Mar Muerto. 
On the map above, the yellow lines are rivers emptying into the Pacific. The white line is the continental divide and the blue lines are rivers in the Mezcalapa - Grijalva drainage basin. Green pushpins represent geographic features mentioned in the text. Yellow pushpins are elevation markers.
These correlations fit the sense of "led into" brilliantly.
  • The narrow (small) neck route led only into the land northward.
  • The narrow pass, flanking a mountainous ridge that crosses over the Bountiful/Desolation line, can lead either northward or southward depending on one's location at the time. When the Nephites were in land Bountiful, the narrow pass led northward Alma 52:9. When the Nephites were in land Desolation, the narrow pass led southward Mormon 3:5.
  • The narrow passage was right on the Bountiful/Desolation border line, so movement could go either way. When the Nephites were in land Desolation, the narrow passage led southward Mormon 2:29.
The fact that three transportation corridors exist today (coast road, railroad, highway) through this area lends credibility to the Book of Mormon account of three geographic features providing access between the lands southward and northward.

We could constructively consult the OED for the terms "narrow pass" and "narrow passage" but our scope in this article is the narrow (small) neck of land.

Necks
A neck is a constriction, a pinch point. Vertebrates have necks. Bottles, flasks and jars have necks. To some degree, the words "neck" and "narrow" are redundant because most necks are longer than they are wide. Necks are usually associated with peninsulas that protrude like a head from a body. Isthmuses that connect two larger bodies are also called necks. The complex topography of the Crimean Peninsula, for instance, has several features that are called necks and/or isthmuses almost interchangeably."The upwold, or high level part of the neck [of the isthmus]." Alexander William Kinglake, The Invasion of Crimea, 1875. The narrowest part of a mountain pass can be called a neck. "Monsieur Medavi...was to advance towards the Neck of the Mountains at Ceurs." The London Gazette No. 4359/2, 1709.
Necks around Mount Hope Bay between Massachusetts & Rhode Island
"Mount-Hope, Pocasset and several other Necks of the best land in the Colony." William Hubbard, A narrative of the troubles with the Indians in New-England, 1677

Divides
The verb "divide" means to partition, cleave or cut into pieces. The narrow (small) neck of land was geographically proximate to a place where the sea divides the land Ether 10:20. This place could not have been an isthmus. An isthmus by definition is a place where the land divides the sea. This place must have been an inlet of the ocean or an outlet (mouth) where an inland saltwater lagoon breaches a sandbar. Along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas, the mouth of a lagoon is called a "boca" which is Spanish for "mouth." The map below shows three of these bocas, highlighted by white circles.
Boca de San Francisco, Boca del Mar Muerto & Boca del Cielo
The Boca del Mar Muerto is large enough (.56 kilometers wide) that ocean-going vessels transit it regularly. It divides the Barra San Marcos to the east from Barra de Tonala to the west in the land/sea/land pattern the text describes. Mar Muerto is home to the largest fishing fleet in southern Mexico.
Boca del Mar Muerto in Context
We propose that Boca del Mar Muerto at the northwestern end of Barra San Marcos and the southeastern end of Barra de Tonala is the place where the sea divides the land and one of the ports on the extreme eastern end of Mar Muerto is the place Hagoth built and launched his remarkable ships. For additional details supporting these correlations, see the blog article "The Narrow Pass and Narrow Passage."

Romance Languages

It is instructive to see how LDS translators have handled the "neck" passages (Alma 22:32, Alma 63:5 and Ether 10:20) in the Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian versions of the Book of Mormon.
Portuguese Book of Mormon
Spanish
Alma 22:32     pequeña lengua de tierra     (small tongue of land)
Alma 63:5       estrecha lengua de tierra     (narrow tongue of land)
Ether 10:20     estrecha lengua de tierra     (narrow tongue of land)

Portuguese
Alma 22:32     pequena faixa de terra         (small strip of land)
Alma 63:5       estreita faixa de terra           (narrow strip of land)
Ether 10:20     faixa estreita de terra           (narrow strip of land)

French
Alma 22:32     étroite bande de terre           (narrow strip of land)
Alma 63:5       langue étroite                       (narrow tongue)
Ether 10:20     langue étroite de terre          (narrow tongue of land)

Italian
Alma 22:32      stretta lingua di terra           (narrow tongue of land)
Alma 63:5        stretto istmo                         (narrow isthmus)
Ether 10:20      stretta striscia di terra          (narrow strip of land)

"Tongue of land" appears 6 times in this list, "strip of land" 5 times and "isthmus" once.

A "tongue" of land in any language generally means a peninsula projecting out from the mainland, although it is applied occasionally to an isthmus connecting two much larger land masses. The Oxford English Dictionary (online edition) defines the 13a sense of meaning for the word "tongue" as "a narrow strip of land, running out into the sea, or between two branches of a river, or two other lands." The OED entries for the word "strip" imply something long and narrow of uniform breadth. The 1b sense of meaning for the word "strip" is "a long narrow tract of territory, of land, wood, etc.) The OED also includes the curious and now rare English word "lingula" derived from classical Latin whose 3rd sense of meaning is "a small promontory, projection or tongue of land or rock."The OED entry for "isthmus" deriving from Greek through Latin is "a narrow portion of land, enclosed on each side by water, and connecting two larger bodies of land; a neck of land. Other terminology referenced in the OED include "narrow portions of land," "narrow slip of land," and "narrow passage of land."

The point of all this lexical gyration is that the romance language translators of the Book of Mormon tend toward a peninsular rather than an isthmian interpretation of the English term "narrow neck of land." This agrees precisely with the results we obtained by analyzing 115 necks of land known throughout the English-speaking world. See the blog article "Necks of Land." Our proposed Book of Mormon narrow neck of land, the long and slender Barra San Marcos along the Pacific coast of Chiapas, fits comfortably within this range of meaning.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Necks of Land

Now that we know the Lord's language target for the Book of Mormon (see the blog article "Early Modern English") was the Tudor period into the Stuart period (1500's and 1600's), we are prepared to investigate one of the most contentious phrases in the text, the "small neck of land" Alma 22:32 aka "narrow neck" Alma 63:5 aka "narrow neck of land" Ether 10:20. What would English speakers in the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline eras have considered a "neck" of land? How large would a neck of land have been? Would a neck have been surrounded by fresh water, estuarial water, salt water, some combination of waters or no water at all?

Fortunately, we have a great deal of data to work with that will help us answer these questions. During the Tudor and Stuart periods, waves of English colonists founded settlements from Nova Scotia to Georgia and beyond. They originated thousands of place names including hundreds of "necks" of land whose names still appear on modern maps. We will use Google Earth to analyze a statistically significant (though far from exhaustive) sample of 115 necks of land named by English settlers. Our conclusions will help us determine what kind of geographic feature we should be looking for when we try to locate Mormon's and Moroni's "narrow neck" on the modern map.

This article expands and extends the previous series of blog articles "Isthmuses," "Narrow and Small Things," "Another Geographic Neck," "The Narrow (Small) Neck of Land," and "The Narrow Pass and Narrow Passage."

David R. Ransome published an article entitled "Village Tensions in Early Virginia: Sex, Land, and Status at the Neck of Land in the 1620s" in The Historical Journal Vol. 43, No. 2 (June, 2000), Cambridge University Press. That particular neck of land is a meander in the James River downstream from modern Richmond in contemporary Chesterfield County. The famous Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia (Peter Jefferson was Thomas' father) first published in 1751 calls it simply "Neck of Land."
Neck of Land south of the James River settled by the 1620's
The same 1751 map shows at least 2 other necks of land in Virginia. One is Henrico Neck in modern Henrico County.
Henrico Neck north of the James River
The other is Savith (modern Savage) Neck in modern Northampton County on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Savith Neck jutting into Chesapeake Bay
These are the 115 necks of land in our study:

Name Location Type Width (km)
Arbuckle Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 1.80
Bailey Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 0.70
Baylys Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.34
Bell Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.63
Big Neck Brunswick County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 15.74
Boone Neck Brunswick County, NC 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.60
Boston Neck Suffolk County, MA 1 fresh 2 estuary 1.97
Boston Neck Washington County, RI 1 fresh 2 salt 1.40
Bradford Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 0.98
Brickhouse Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.26
Broad Neck (earliest) Anne Arundel County, MD 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.10
Broad Neck Peninsula Anne Arundel County, MD 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 5.93
Broad Neck Lancaster & Northumberland Counties, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 15.94
Broadway Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.64
Broro Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.53
Bush Neck Jame City County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 0.37
Cherry Point Neck Northumberland County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.67
Church Neck Northampton County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.80
Coles Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 1.98
Copiague Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 0.99
Cove Neck Nassau County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.27
Crabtree Neck Hancock County, ME 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 2.24
Craddock Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 2.40
Crane Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.78
Curles Neck Henrico County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 2.30
Custis Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.72
Eagle Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.41
Eaglehawk Neck Tasmania, Australia 1 salt 2 salt 0.11
East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 3.00
Eastern Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt  0.18
Eatons Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.64
Elk Neck Cecil County, MD 1 salt 2 salt 7.83
Elliotts Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 1.89
Eyrehall Neck Northampton County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.89
Eyreville Neck Northampton County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.92
Finneys Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.67
Glebe Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.30
Gravel Neck Surry County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 2.77
Great East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.05
Great Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.22
Great Neck Bristol County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 1.08
Great Neck Essex County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 0.75
Great Neck Nassau County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3.13
Great Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 0.39
Great Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.37
Hacks Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 3.41
Harris Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.75
Hog Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.72
Holt Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.41
Horton Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.07
Houghs Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.31
Indian Neck Barnstable County, MA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.40
Indiantown Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  1.96
Johns Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 salt 3 salt 2.76
Jones Neck Chesterfield County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 0.94
Joynes Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.59
Knotts Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.23
Little East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 0.59
Little Neck Essex County, MA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  0.31
Little Neck Queens County, NY 1 fresh 2 salt 0.73
Little Neck Suffolk County (north), NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.52
Little Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 0.76
Lloyd Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt  2.36
Long Neck Sussex County, DE 1 estuary 2 estuary  2.10
Lower Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt  0.18
Machodoc Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 1.63
Marlborough Neck Stafford County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.48
Mathias Point Neck King George County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 2.47
Middle Neck between Rappahannock & York Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 19.75
Mill Neck Nassau County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.36
Milners Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 1.64
Mondays Neck Northumberland County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.48
Narrow Neck (earliest) Aukland, New Zealand 1 estuary 2 salt 0.11
Narrow Neck Aukland, New Zealand 1 estuary 2 salt 1.02
Narrow Neck New South Wales, Australia knifepoint mountain ridge 0.85
Narrowneck Queensland, Australia 1 fresh 2 salt 0.09
Newport Neck Worcester County, MD 1 estuary 2 estuary  1.18
Northern Neck between Potomac & Rappahannock Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 12.01
Occohannock Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 2.90
Old Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.46
Old Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.50
Old Town Neck Northampton County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.29
Parker Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 2.06
Pecatone Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.17
Pine Pole Neck Pender County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 5.51
Porters Neck New Hanover County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 2.55
Quaker Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 1.61
Salem Neck Essex County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt` 0.48
Sampawams Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.73
Santapogue Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 0.81
Saquish Neck Plymouth County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.13
Savage Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 1.30
Scarborough Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.41
Sconticut Neck Bristol County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.33
Scotland Neck Halifax County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 8.29
Scotland Neck Surry County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 1.66
Sluitkill Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 2.07
Smith Neck Bristol County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 2.92
Smith Neck Isle of Wight County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.72
Stodders Neck Plymouth County, MA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 0.15
Stove Point Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 0.19
Strongs Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.35
Timber Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.01
Timber Neck Surry County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.59
Upper Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.24
Upshur Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary  0.85
Virginia aka Southern Neck between York & James Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 8.31
Walnut Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.53
Wellington Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.97
West Neck Suffolk County (north), NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 2.35
West Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 1.16
Weyanoke Neck Charles City County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 2.89
Whites Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.57
Wilson Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 2.41
Yeo Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  1.19
Mean Width 2.00
Median Width 1.18
Minimum Width 0.09
Maximum Width 19.75
Fresh count 80
Estuary count 103
Salt count 109

During the colonial era, English speakers used the word "neck" to identify small to medium-sized peninsulas or land bridges surrounded by any combination of rivers, inlets, tidal basins, bays, sounds or oceans. Some necks in our sample (41/115) have 2 sides terminating in a point such as Crane Neck on Long Island.
Crane Neck, Suffolk County, New York
We classify Crane Neck as type 1 salt 2 salt meaning it has 2 sides, both exposed to salt water. The yellow line on the map above shows the point at which we took our width measurement, .78 km.

Other necks (74/115) have 3 sides such as Gravel Neck jutting into Chesapeake Bay.
Gravel Neck, Surry County, Virginia
We classify Gravel Neck as type 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt meaning it has 3 sides with the first bounding an estuary and the other two exposed to salt water. Gravel neck is 2.77 km wide at the point indicated.

Most necks in our sample (113/115) are peninsular land forms protruding from a larger land mass such as Eastern Neck near Weymouth, Massachusetts which has Lower Neck protruding from it and Upper Neck protruding from Lower  Neck.
Eastern Neck, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Two necks in our sample are isthmian land forms bridging two much larger land masses. One of those is Eaglehawk Neck in extreme southern Australia. Eaglehawk Neck, .11 km wide, is the second narrowest neck in our sample.
Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania
The other is Narrowneck Beach on Australia's famed Gold Coast near Brisbane. Narrowneck Beach is a .09 km wide tongue of land between the Pacific Ocean to the east and a small branch of the Nerang River to the west. Narrowneck Beach is the narrowest neck in our sample.
Narrowneck, Queensland
Both examples of isthmian necks are from Australia whose English settlement began in 1788 when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay (modern Sydney) and founded a penal colony.

One of our sample necks is not surrounded by water. Narrow neck near Katoomba, Australia is a cliff-lined sandstone peninsula less than 1 km wide separating Jamison Valley on the east from Magalong Valley on the west.
Narrow Neck, New South Wales shown with 3X vertical exaggeration
The other 114 necks of land in our sample are surrounded by some combination of fresh, estuarial and salt water. We have classified 16 different combinations:

Neck Type Count
1 fresh 2 fresh 9
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 4
1 fresh 2 estuary 3
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 8
1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 3
1 fresh 2 salt 3
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 13
1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt  3
1 fresh 2 salt 3 salt 1
1 estuary 2 estuary 10
1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 9
1 estuary 2 salt 5
1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 13
1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 5
1 salt 2 salt 12
1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 13
Total 114

It is obvious from these counts that our sample tends strongly toward estuarial and salt waters.

Nine of the necks of land in our study carry diminutive names (the words "little" or "narrow") implying small size. As we would expect, the mean width of these nine is significantly smaller (.55 km) than the mean width of the entire sample set (2.0 km).

Thirteen of the necks of land in our study carry augmentative names (the words "big," "broad," "great," or "long) implying large size. As we would expect, the mean width of these thirteen is significantly larger (3.88 km) than the mean width of the entire sample set (2.0 km).

Of course we're interested in any neck of land that includes the word "narrow" in its name. Two examples from Australia are illustrated above. A third is from Devonport Peninsula on Aukland, New Zealand's north shore. Originally this peninsula had a very narrow (.11 km wide) causeway and beach separating its north and south components, with a large mangrove swamp to the west. This small strip of land was called "Narrow Neck. In the 1850's, the swamp was drained and a racetrack constructed. Today the reclaimed land is a golf course, Narrow Neck is an Aukland suburb with about 3,600 inhabitants and a popular urban beach.
Narrow Neck, Aukland. The width measures the causeway before
the swamp was drained and the land to the west reclaimed
Conclusions.
Based on our analysis of 115 geographic features English-speaking colonists called a "neck of land" we answer the three questions posed at the beginning of this article and posit three characteristics we will likely find in the Book of Mormon narrow (small) neck of land.
  1. It will be a peninsula rather than an isthmus. 113/115 of the examples in our study are peninsulas and only 2 are isthmuses.
  2. It will be on the order of 2.0 km wide. Our 115 examples average 2.0 km in width.
  3. It will front salt water and estuarial water. 101/115 examples in our study have an exposure to the sea or an estuary
Correlations.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec fails 2 of our 3 criteria.
  1. It is an isthmus.
  2. It is 216 km wide.
  3. It fronts both the open ocean and estuaries.
Barra San Marcos near Tonala, Chiapas, our proposed narrow (small) neck of land, fits all 3 criteria beautifully.
Barra San Marcos, Tonala, Chiapas
  1. It is a peninsula.
  2. It is 2.0 km wide.
  3. The seaward side fronts the Pacific Ocean, while the landward side fronts an extensive network of estuarial lagoons.
Furthermore, a number of the necks of land in our study have physical characteristics quite similar  to Barra San Marcos. Examples include:
Bell Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Bradford Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Brickhouse Neck, Northampton County, Virginia
Great Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Harris Neck, McIntosh County, Georgia
Holt Neck, Northampton County, Virginia
Saquish Neck, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Upshur Neck, Accomack County, Virginia