|Great Western Trade Route with Tikal Extension|
Many Book of Mormon scholars believe Kaminaljuyu was the city of Nephi. Following the Great Western Trade Route from Kaminaljuyu to Moral-Reforma takes you right to our land of Gideon across the Sidon from our lesser land of Zarahemla. This is of some interest because the Book of Mormon says Alma, wishing to travel south from Zarahemla to Manti, first crossed over the river and began his southward journey from Gideon Alma 17:1.
|Trade Route Linking Proposed Nephi and Zarahemla|
- ca. 592 BC The Lehites landed on the west coast of the land southward and established the land of first inheritance Alma 22:28. In our correlation, the land of first inheritance corresponds with the Soconusco region in the general vicinity of Izapa. The Great Western Trade Route began on the Pacific coast of Chiapas in this region.
- ca. 588 BC Nephi took those who were willing to follow him and traveled many days eastward to the city of Nephi 2 Nephi 5:7-8. In our correlation, he traveled from the Izapa area to Kaminaljuyu, precisely following the first leg of the Great Western Trade Route.
|Proposed First Inheritance Eastward to Nephi|
The Nephites maintained their capital at the city of Nephi for generations. Then, ca. 200 BC, Mosiah1 led the Nephite faithful on an exodus down from Nephi to the local land of Zarahemla. This was a long and arduous trip. The Nephites did not know the way beforehand. They were guided by divine revelation Omni 1:13. There is a concept in geo-spatial modelling called the least-effort path. This is a route through the topography that gets you from point A to point B with minimal expenditure of energy. A few years ago I came up with an idealized route from proposed Nephi to proposed Zarahemla This was my attempt to create a least-effort path, shown in black on the map below.
|Proposed Nephi to Zarahemla via Least-Effort Path|
From ca. 200 BC to ca. 121 BC travel between Nephi and Zarahemla was sporadic. Most groups got lost en route. This is consistent with the archaeological record which reports the Great Western Trail little used during this time period. Between ca. 121 BC and ca. 90 BC Manti was established as the southernmost outpost of Nephite influence along the central Sidon corridor. That was a turning point in Nephite affairs. After the settlement of Manti, the text never reports another group getting lost and travel between Nephi and Zarahemla became routine Alma 17:1. This corresponds precisely with the picture we see from archaeology. Travel along the Great Western Trail became standardized during the late pre-classic and by the early classic ca. AD 250 the route was well-established.