Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Test #11 The Big Picture

We previously published ten tests based on disprovable criteria that we believe any viable Book of Mormon New World correlation will pass. The ten articles are:
For our eleventh test we zoom out to an eye altitude higher than 1,000 kilometers (1 Megametre) above the surface of the earth to identify Book of Mormon lands in their hemispheric context based on large-scale continental criteria. We number these criteria 1 - 10 and they appear in aqua below.

Two land masses 1 are oriented not north and south but northward and southward 2 from each other Alma 22:31-32, Helaman 3:8, 3 Nephi 3:24, 3 Nephi 6:2, Mormon 2:29, Ether 10:21.

Since a key distance within the land southward (city of Nephi to local land of Zarahemela) is on the order of 320 air kilometers (see the blog articles "Land Southward Travel Times" and "Plotting Alma") the distance the diligent Mosiah 8:8 Limhi explorers traveled probably did not exceed 2X that amount (see the blog article "Test #8 Limhi Expedition"). This means the distance from the city of Nephi to hill Ramah-Cumorah in the land northward probably did not exceed 640 air kilometers. Even allowing for generous interpretations of ambiguous passages such as Helaman 3:4 the extent of the world known to Nephite scribes prior to Moroni2's post-holocaust peregrinations probably did not exceed 2X the length of the Nephi/Ramah-Cumorah axis. This means the world of the Book of Mormon in the Western Hemisphere probably did not exceed 1,300 air kilometers in length at its maximum extent 3 and territory beyond those bounds was terra incognita as far as Mormon was concerned.

If the land southward constituted approximately one-half of the Nephite known world we would expect a maximum extent on the order of 700 air kilometers. Any distance in the land southward exceeding 1,000 air kilometers is probably out of the question 4. Furthermore, the land southward has some island characteristics 2 Nephi 10:20 being nearly surrounded by water Alma 22:32 5. We interpret that phrase to mean at least 75% of the land southward is waterfront littoral as opposed to land bridge.

The lands northward and southward are surrounded by four seas associated with the cardinal directions Helaman 3:8 6.

Four entities explicitly run from the east sea to the west sea. In order from south to north they are:
One entity, commonly thought to be continental in scope, explicitly does NOT run from the east sea to the west sea. The narrow (small) neck of land is a localized feature associated with only the west sea Alma 22:32, Alma 63:5. This does not mean there is not a substantial land bridge between the lands northward and southward. It just means the land bridge is not the feature the Book of Mormon calls the narrow (small) neck.

1. In our correlation, two land masses conjoin at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Topographically the isthmus contains the pass between the Sierra Madre mountain ranges on either side of it.
Proposed Nephite Known World
Culturally the isthmus has been a dividing line for millenia. This map shows the Olmec heartland and the Maya area.
Olmec Heartland and Maya Area
Another rendering of Mesoamerica showing the limits of the Maya area.
National Geographic December 1997
Major cultural areas in Mesoamerica according to the Foundation for Ancient Mesoamerican Studies, Inc.
FAMSI Map of Cultural Areas
The cultural boundary at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec persisted into Aztec times.
Aztec Empire at Conquest by Ian Mladjav
The isthmian region continues to be a political boundary today. The modern line between Veracruz and Oaxaca northward and Tabasco and Chiapas southward is essentially the Maya/non-Maya line from antiquity.
Modern Mexican State Boundaries
Politically, Central America today consists of the countries between Guatemala and Belize northward to Panama southward. Physiographically, many geographers include the Mexican states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo in Central America. Merriam Webster, for example, defines Central America as the territory between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec northward and the Isthmus of Panama southward.

Our correlation of the Nephite land northward with Mexican territory north of the isthmus and the land southward with Mexican-Central American territory south of the isthmus has topographical, cultural and physiographical precedents. Criterion 1 satisfied.

2. These are vectors we think the Nephites had in mind when they coined the terms "land northward" and "land southward."Both originate at the mouth of the Suchiate which forms the border between Mexico northward and Guatemala southward. We correlate this area with Lehi's landing.
Northward Southward Azimuths
The 315 degree vector passes through our narrow neck of land, the east-west Bountiful/Desolation line, and the Bountiful/Desolation line along the upper Coatzacoalcos. The 323 degree vector passes through our hill Ramah-Cumorah. Lands along these azimuths on either side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are clearly in a northward-southward relationship. Criterion 2 satisfied.

3. We believe the world known to the Nephite record keepers extended from about Mexico City westward to about the Ulua River in modern day Honduras eastward. The air distance between these two at the points indicated is 1,256 kilometers.
Straight Line Distance Mexico City to Ulua River
Criterion 3 satisfied.

4. Our correlation of the Nephite land southward extends from the Coatzacoalcos westward to the Ulua eastward, and from northern Yucatan northward to the Pacific coast of Guatemala southward. No straight line distance in this vast territory exceeds 955 kilometers.
Proposed Land Southward Maximum Distances
Criterion 4 satisfied.

5. This is how we envision Mormon's description in Alma 22:32.
Proposed Land Southward Nearly Surrounded by Water
The total length of the red line on the map above is 3,808 kilometers. 3,363 kilometers are waterfront littoral. 445 kilometers are land bridge. This works out to be 88% water and 12% land. Criterion 5 satisfied.

6. Our model has seas in each of the four directions just as the text describes.
Four Seas in the Cardinal Directions
Criterion 6 satisfied.

7, 8, 9, 10. Moving from the south to the north, greater Nephi, the narrow strip of wilderness, greater Zarahemla and Bountiful are all continental entities running from sea to sea.
Four Entities from Sea East to Sea West
Criteria 7, 8, 9 and 10 satisfied.

The correlation illustrated clearly fits all ten big picture textual criteria. We submit that any viable Book of Mormon model should display a similarly high degree of fit to the text.