Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kaminaljuyu

Dave Gray of Warwick, Queensland, Australia was my roommate for 10 days recently while we wandered around Guatemala as part of a tour produced by Shelby Saberon and led by Mark Wright. After Guatemala, I promptly returned home and went back to work. Dave was able to go to Austin, Texas and attend the 2016 Maya Meetings. He told me about an important doctoral dissertation written by Lucia Ross Henderson in 2013 at UT Austin. It is entitled Bodies Politic, Bodies in Stone: Imagery of the Human and the Divine in the Sculpture of Late Preclassic Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala. Her dissertation committee included such luminaries as David Stuart (UT Austin), Julia Guernsey (UT Austin), Barbara Arroyo (Proyecto Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala City), and Karl Taube (UC Riverside). Henderson's dissertation has proven so insightful I decided to lay out the points of tangency (John L. Sorenson calls them "correspondences") I see between her interpretations of life in and around Kaminaljuyu and my interpretations of life described in the text of the Book of Mormon.

Kaminaljuyu may be the city of Nephi. The January, 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Map makes this correlation, as do maps by John L. Sorenson (1985, 2013), Joseph L. Allen (1989, 2008), V. Garth Norman (2006), Clate W. Mask, Jr. (unpublished), and Shelby Saberon (unpublished).
Kaminaljuyu Mound Surrounded by Modern Guatemala City
Photo by Kirk Magleby Dec. 27, 2015
When trying to reconstruct the past, texts are the most useful because they describe people, places, artifacts and belief systems in some sort of context. Art is the next most useful because it depicts people, places, artifacts and belief systems in some sort of context. Material remains (artifacts) are less useful because their relationship to people, places and belief systems is subject to modern interpretation and contexts can be difficult to establish. Fortunately for our present purpose we have a remarkably rich ancient American text (the Book of Mormon), significant art from Kaminaljuyu and allied sites such as Takalik Aba, Izapa, and San Bartolo, and decades of archaeological investigation carried out in spite of inexorable encroachment from urban Guatemala City.

Citations reference Henderson's 773 page dissertation unless otherwise indicated. Kaminaljuyu is abbreviated "KJ" for convenience. One of my assumptions about the Book of Mormon text is that "Lehi-Nephi," a politically correct term used only during the reigns of Zeniff, Noah and Limhi, was otherwise called simply "Nephi."

1. p. xi KJ reached apogee in the late preclassic (300 BC - AD 250). This matches up well with Book of Mormon chronology.

2. p. xi KJ was the largest and most influential site in the Maya highlands. Nephi was the chief city in its environs Alma 47:20.

3. p. xi KJ was in the highlands. One went up to the land of Nephi from Zarahemla Mosiah 7:1, and from the wilderness between Zarahemla and Nephi Mosiah 7:4.

4. p. xi Human sacrifice was known to the people of KJ. Human sacrifice was known to Book of Mormon peoples Mormon 4:14.

5. p. xi A god known to science as the Principal Bird Deity (PBD) was revered at KJ. Jesus Christ was described in the Book of Mormon with avian characteristics 2 Nephi 25:13.

6. p. xi Water represented deity at KJ. Water represented deity in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 11:25.

7. p. xi Wind represented deity at KJ. Wind represented deity in the Book of Mormon Ether 2:24.

8. p. xi Public performances at KJ were auditory phenomena. Book of Mormon peoples gathered to hear their king Mosiah 2:6.

9. p. xii Rulers in KJ wore costumes. Apparel was important in Zeniff's Nephi Mosiah 10:5.

10. p. xii KJ was ruled by kings. Nephi was ruled by kings Mosiah 7:9.

11. p. xii Kings in KJ were sustained by the supernatural and the divine. Nephite kings were sustained by the divine Mosiah 8:14.

12. p. 1 The Mesoamerican preclassic (1,600 BC - AD 250) has only recently come to be appreciated as highly sophisticated, technologically advanced, and artistically remarkable. The Book of Mormon describes sophistication and relatively advanced technology at this early time period among both the Jaredites and the Nephites.

13. p. 1 Sculpture was characteristic of the Mesoamerican preclassic. The Book of Mormon describes sculpture Omni 1:20.

14. p. 1 Masks were characteristic of the Mesoamerican preclassic. The Book of Mormon describes a process of putting a new image atop one's countenance Alma 5:14.

15. p. 1 Feats of engineering were prominent in the Mesoamerican preclassic. The Book of Mormon describes feats of engineering in the city of Nephi during this time period 2 Nephi 5:16.

16. p. 1 The Mesoamerican preclassic was not a less complex developmental phase leading into a more advanced classic era as evolutionists have long supposed. In some ways the preclassic surpassed the later classic period. The Book of Mormon is similarly counter-evolutionary. Jared and Nephi presided over splendid civilizations that appeared on the Mesoamerican scene already well-developed with complexity derived from Old World antecedents.

17. p. 2 KJ was located at the intersection of several important trade routes. Nephi was the nexus of travel routes coming from the coastal land of first inheritance to the west Alma 22:28 and lowland Zarahemla to the north Alma 26:23. People also came to Nephi from Shemlon Mosiah 20:7, Ishmael Alma 20:2, and Middoni Alma 22:3.

18. p. 2 KJ was a large site whose influence stretched across preclassic Mesoamerica. From Nephi, the Lamanites supplied armies fighting on the Nephite east coast Alma 51:26 and on the Nephite west coast Alma 52:11.

19. p. 2 Before Guatemala City overspread it, KJ had hundreds of mounds. Nephi was home to many buildings Mosiah 11:8.

20. p. 2 The tallest mounds at KJ were over 20 meters high. Nephi was home to tall buildings Mosiah 11:12.

21. p. 2 KJ was home to some of the greatest masterpieces of Maya art. Nephi had craftsmen able to produce high quality work 2 Nephi 5:16.

22. p. 3 At KJ, sculptures were often intentionally defaced, broken, or otherwise mutilated. Lamanites around the city of Nephi threatened to destroy important Nephite cultural objects Enos 1:14.

23. p. 4 In the Mesoamerican preclassic, ancient cultural objects were considered movable. The Nephites did move ancient cultural objects from one place to another Mosiah 8:9-11.

24. p. 4 Even today, the KJ sculpted monuments evoke a sense that the ancients are speaking through their art. The Nephites believed ancients would speak to moderns via records 2 Nephi 26:16.

25. p. 5 At KJ, art was a powerful medium by which people structured their political and religious realities. In the city of Nephi, architectural adornments represented political and religious realities Mosiah 11:10.

26. p. 11 Belief and belief structures were key factors in the growth of KJ. Belief and belief structures were major aspects of life in the city of Nephi Mosiah 12:31.

27. p. 11 The concept of duality or "twinship" was prominent at KJ. Notions of duality were prominent in Book of Mormon cultures Alma 32:20.

28. p. 11 Autosacrifice via bloodletting is attested at KJ. Autosacrifice via bloodletting is implied in the Book of Mormon Alma 34:11.

29. p. 11 Kingship was deemed a divine institution at KJ. Nephite kings enjoyed divine support Mosiah 2:11.

30. p. 16 Texts of hieroglyphic inscriptions were present in KJ. Texts of hieroglyphic inscriptions, were present in the city of Nephi Mosiah 8:5.

31. p. 17 Henderson dates the bas relief sculpture from KJ to the period from 600 BC to AD 200. This pretty much hits the Book of Mormon city of Nephi chronological nail on the head.

32. p. 32 Social networks in KJ were layered and complex. Social networks in the city of Nephi were layered and complex Mosiah 20;17.

33. p. 34 KJ kings were in the human world, but also apart from it. King Benjamin was in the human world, but also apart from it Mosiah 2:11.

34. p. 35 Kings at KJ tried to communicate a message of supernatural well-being to their subjects. Nephi at the city of Nephi tried to communicate a message of supernatural well-being to his people 2 Nephi 5:32.

35. p. 35 Kings at KJ tried to communicate a sense of economic prosperity to their subjects. Nephi at the city of Nephi tried to communicate a sense of economic prosperity to his people. 2 Nephi 5:11.

36. p. 35 Kings at KJ tried to communicate a record of political expansion to their subjects. Leaders at the city of Nephi tried to communicate a record of political expansion to their people Jacob 3:13.

37. p. 36 Ideology was an important element of life at KJ. Ideology was important to Nephites living in the land of Nephi Enos 1:3.

38. p. 47 Pennsylvania State University documented 600 different archaeological sites within the Valley of Guatemala which has a surface area of approximately 400 square kilometers. The Nephites and Lamanites ca. 400 BC were scattered upon much of the face of the land Jarom 1:6.

39. p. 50, p. 325 The massive monticulo de la culebra at KJ was built right on the continental divide, with drainage flowing southward to the Pacific and northward to the Motagua Valley. From a tower near the temple in the city of Nephi, King Noah could look down on both the land of Shilom and the land of Shemlon Mosiah 11:12.

40. p. 51 citing Julia Guernsey, Ritual & Power in Stone: The Performance of Rulership in Mesoamerican Izapan Style Art, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. KJ was part of a preclassic latticework of trade and cultural influence that extended from La Venta, Chiapa de Corzo, and Izapa in the west to Chalchuapa in the east and the lowland Peten sties such as Naranjo and San Bartolo in the north. Contact with the upper Grijalva, Pasion, and Motagua regions is extensively documented. Contact with the Chixoy - Usumacinta region is assumed but poorly documented. This precisely corroborates the January 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Map which sites Zarahemla riverside west of the middle Usumacinta. This also explicitly impugns the upper Grijalva placement of Zarahemla (a la Sorenson and Allen) because it contradicts the disorientation narrative that dominated Nephi to Zarahemla travel prior to the founding of Manti between 121 and 90 BC. See the blog article "The Usumacinta/Sidon Correlation" points 4 and 5.

41. p. 52 KJ was in close contact with a sister city, Naranjo, only 3 kilometers to the north. The city of Nephi had a sister city, Shilom, that was geographically proximate Mosiah 7:21.

42. p. 52 KJ shows evidence of large-scale violence in the middle preclassic. War dominated Nephite history in the city of Nephi during this time period Jarom 1:14.

43. p. 52 KJ ca. 300 BC was characterized by dramatic population expansion. The Nephites and Lamanites at this same time period were characterized by dramatic population expansion Jarom 1:8.

44. p. 55 KJ rulers had the power to commission or coerce the construction of monumental architecture. King Noah in the city of Nephi had the power to coerce the construction of monumental architecture Mosiah 11:8.

45. p. 55 KJ was a highly stratified society with unequal wealth distribution. The Book of Mormon describes a highly stratified society with unequal wealth distribution 3 Nephi 6:12.

46. p. 56 The San Jorge canal, built at KJ ca. 400 BC, had "very sophisticated design knowledge of hydraulic control mechanisms." The Nephites used machinery ca. 400 BC Jarom 1:8.

47. p. 61 KJ was only 17 air kilometers from El Chayal, a major obsidian outcropping. The city of Nephi was not far from Oneidah (critical text orthography), the place of arms Alma 47:5.

48. p. 64. KJ had aspects of state-level society. The city of Nephi had aspects of state-level society Moisiah 11:3.

49. p. 66 There is evidence of an intrusive foreign group entering KJ. The Book of Mormon describes an intrusive foreign group entering the city of Nephi Mosiah 9:7.

50. p. 67. At one point, KJ was culturally impoverished and economically debilitated. During the reign of King Limhi, the city of Nephi was culturally impoverished and economically debilitated Mosiah 7:22.

51. p. 69 The elite written language recorded on monuments at KJ was likely not the language spoken by commoners on the street. The elite written language taught by the priests of Noah to the Lamanites in the city of Nephi was not the language spoken by commoners on the street Mosiah 24:6.

52. p. 74 KJ was multi-cultural. The city of Nephi and environs was home to both Nephites and Lamanites Mosiah 19:7.

53. p. 83 During the late preclassic, several sites in KJ;s cultural orbit had powerful kings. These included Takalik Abaj, El Baul, and Chalchuapa. At precisely this time period, the Book of Mormon describes kings in the lands of Nephi Alma 20:8, Ishmael Alma 17:21, and Middoni Alma 20:4.

54. p. 84 Naranjo, KJ's sister city, was almost completely abandoned ca. 400 BC. We read an abandonment narrative in the Book of Mormon Omni 1:12.

55. p. 84 The population of Naranjo probably originated on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. When Nephi left the land of first inheritance and traveled many days to the city of Nephi 2 Nephi 5:7-8 he probably originated on the Pacific coast of Guatemala or Chiapas because the land of first inheritance was explicitly seaside west of Nephi Alma 22:28.

56. p. 85 Stylistic influences link KJ in the late preclassic with El Porton in the Salama Valley of Baja Verapaz about 55 air kilometers to the NE and with La Lagunita near San Andres Sajcabaja in El Quiche about 70 air kilometers to the NW. During the late preclassic, settlement linked to the city of Nephi was spread over a wide area Jarom 1:6.

57. p. 89 Throughout the Guatemalan Pacific Coast and Piedmont, there is evidence of elite peerage during the middle preclassic. Elite peerage is explicitly described in the Book of Mormon Alma 20:9.

58. p. 92 There is evidence of an Olmec collapse ca. 400 BC. This aligns well with the Jaredite demise described in the Book of Mormon at about this same time period.

59. p. 93 Some of the earliest inscriptions in the Maya world are found at Takalik Abaj. They date to the late preclassic. This is precisely the time when the Book of Mormon says writing was introduced among the Lamanites Mosiah 24:6.

60. p. 99 There is evidence of trade between KJ and the Maya lowlands in the late preclassic. Trade in and around the city of Nephi is attested in the text at precisely this time Mosiah 24:7.

61. p. 101 Highly complex interactions between KJ and the Maya lowlands, particularly the areas along and east of the Calakmul - Mirador - Tikal axis, are attested in the late preclassic. The Book of Mormon identifies the land of Nephi and the wilderness between greater Zarahemla and the east sea as Lamanite territory during the late preclassic Alma 22:28-29.

62. p. 131 Cities around KJ had exotic artifacts from antiquity on display in a museum-like setting. The Book of Mormon describes preservation of exotic artifacts from antiquity Mosiah 1:16.

63. p. 133 Monuments in KJ preserved memories of the distant past. Records possessed by the Nephites preserved memories of the distant past Ether 1:1.

64. p. 144 At KJ, buildings were embellished with sculpture. In the city of Nephi, buildings were embellished with ornamentation Mosiah 11:8.

65. p. 146 One of the principal concerns of KJ's builders was the construction of memory over time to provide social continuity. A principal concern of the Nephites was that people remember to avoid perishing Mosiah 4:30.

66. p. 146 The people of ancient KJ materialized time at multiple scales. The Nephites and Lamanites had multiple units of measure for time - hours Alma 18:14, days 1 Nephi 2:6, weeks Mosiah 18:15, moons Omni 1:21, months 3 Nephi 8:5, years 3 Nephi 2:4, five years Helaman 14:2, twenty years Moroni 10:1, four hundred years Alma 45:10.

67. p. 146 Over time, the people of KJ had changing ideas of temporality. The Book of Mormon documents three different systems of measuring temporality with base dates from Lehi's Jerusalem departure Mosiah 29:46, the reign of the judges Alma 35:12, and Christ's birth 3 Nephi 2:8.

68. p. 148 Temporary scaffolds were erected during public performances at KJ. King Benjamin addressed his people from a temporary tower Mosiah 2:7.

69. p. 152 KJ monuments depict people singing. Public singing is attested in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 20:1.

70. p. 152 KJ monuments depict musicians. Musical performance is attested in the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 13:2, Ether 14:28.

71. p. 155, 371 KJ art depicts thrones. Book of Mormon kings had thrones Mosiah 11:9.

72. p. 156 KJ venerated a rain deity. The God of the Book of Mormon controlled rain Helaman 11:17.

73. p. 156 Groundwater had sacral significance at KJ. Groundwater had sacral significance in the city of Nephi Mosiah 13:12.

74. p. 156 The KJ water god presided over water in four states - surface water, vapor, rain, and groundwater. All four states are associated with deity in the Book of Mormon - surface water Mosiah 18:14, vapor or clouds 2 Nephi 15:6, rain Ether 9:35, and groundwater 2 Nephi 22:3.

75. p. 163 The Principal Bird Deity at KJ was a bird serpent combination. The Book of Mormon describes flying serpents 1 Nephi 17:41.

76. p. 170 Human bodies at KJ were embellished and made beautiful. The Book of Mormon mentions ornamentation of the human body 2 Nephi 13:20.

77. p. 177 The ancient Maya world has evidence of torture and death by burning faggots. The Book of Mormon records an instance of torture and death by burning faggots Mosiah 17:13.

78. p. 181 Evidence suggesting ritual cannibalism has been found in the ancient Maya world. The Book of Mormon records an instance of ritual cannibalism Moroni 9:8.

79. p. 187 Many children were sacrificial victims at KJ. Child sacrifice is attested in the Book of Mormon Mormon 4:14.

80. p. 191 Decapitation is amply attested in the ancient Maya world. Decapitation is attested in the Book of Mormon Ether 15:30.

81. p. 199 Body parts as trophies are depicted at KJ and elsewhere. Body parts as trophies are described in the Book of Mormon Alma 17:39.

82. p. 202 Large belts are important in KJ iconography. Large belts are mentioned in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 10:8.

83. p. 204 People in KJ conceived of an earth crocodile. Book of Mormon peoples talked about an awful monster 2 Nephi 9:26.

84. p. 206 The site of Lavaderos is underwater in Lake Amatitlan. The Book of Mormon mentions underwater cities 3 Nephi 9:7.

85. p. 207 KJ monuments depict bound captives. Captives in the Book of Mormon were bound Alma 17:20.

86. p. 208 In the ancient Maya world, captives were sometimes returned to their home cities. The Book of Mormon records instances of repatriated captives Alma 16:8.

87. p. 210. KJ women were sacrificial victims. Women were sacrificial victims in the Book of Mormon Mormon 4:14.

88. p. 212 KJ monuments depict elites with elaborate headdresses. The Book of Mormon describes elites who wear high heads because of the costliness of their apparel Jacob 2:13.

89. p. 212 KJ monuments depict people naked except for loincloths. The Book of Mormon describes people naked except for skin loincloths Alma 3:5.

90. p. 215 Subordinates kneel before rulers on KJ monuments. Subordinates bow before the king in the Book of Mormon Alma 47:22.

91. p. 215 A pointed finger gesture in KJ art is associated with acceptance of the actions of others. A hand gesture in the Book of Mormon is associated with peace between parties Alma 47:23.

92. p. 224 Humans were sacrificed in KJ to propitiate gods. Humans were sacrificed in the Book of Mormon to propitiate idol gods Mormon 4:14.

93. p. 225 The line between humans and beasts was sometimes blurred in the ancient Maya world. The line between humans and beasts was sometimes blurred in the Book of Mormon Moroni 9:10.

94. p. 225 To the ancient Maya, human bodies bridged the distance between this and the other world. In  the Book of Mormon, human bodies play a role in this life as well as the next Alma 5:15.

95. p. 226 In the ancient Maya world, human sacrifices were often associated with calendar period endings. In the Book of Mormon, Teancum killed Amalickiah on the last day of a calendar period Alma 52:1.

96. p. 226 The ancient Maya believed humans owed a blood debt to the gods. The Book of Mormon says a great sacrifice was necessary to atone for the sins of the world Alma 34:8-10.

97. p. 227 At KJ, war captives were sacrificed. In the Book of Mormon, war captives were killed Alma 56:12.

98. p. 232 The Maya conceived of hell as a place of foul odor. The Book of Mormon describes hell as a place of sulfuric brimstone 2 Nephi 9:26.

99. p. 243 The Maya conceived of the past as repeatable. The Book of Mormon expresses a concept of the past being brought back again Alma 41:13.

100. p. 250 The Maya revered a divine triad. The Book of Mormon describes a divine triad 3 Nephi 11:27.

101. p. 251 Sculpted KJ kings and gods are depicted with a small circular breath bead before their noses representing living breath and exalted status. The Book of Mormon associates breath with life Mosiah 2:21 and exalted beings 2 Nephi 21:4. For another take on sculpted breath beads, see the article "Partake of the Fruit."

102. p. 252 The three throned rulers on KJ Sculpture 65 all have emblematic name glyphs. We are increasingly coming to realize that everyone in the Book of Mormon carries a name emblematic of the role they played in history. See the many instances of naming wordplay Matthew Bowen has recently pointed out in a series of excellent Interpreter articles. Mary and Mormon, Nephi, and Zoram are some examples.

103. p. 253 The supernatural disembodied head on KJ Sculpture 10 combines both serpent and bird imagery. Christ in the Book of Mormon was represented by both serpent 2 Nephi 25:20 and bird 2 Nephi 25:13 imagery.

104. p. 256 KJ iconography portrays the concept that sacrificial death brings forth new life. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ's great sacrifice brings forth salvation Alma 34:14-15.

105. p. 287 On KJ monuments, diagonal markings (mirror signs) identified deities as shiny, resplendent beings. The Book of Mormon describes Jesus Christ as resplendent 3 Nephi 19:25.

106. p. 300, 321, 331 At KJ, Izapa, and other sites, water symbols and water deities were associated with the four cardinal directions. In the Book of Mormon, seas were associated with the four cardinal directions Helaman 3:8. See the article Quichean Directionality and point #6 in the article Light from L.A. for other examples of the Mesoamerican concept of water in the four cardinal directions. See also the article "Smoking Gun."

107. p. 300 The notion of centrality was important at KJ. The notion of centrality was important in the Book of Mormon Helaman 1:24-26.

108. p. 302 Many KJ sculptures depict anthropomorphic figures with beards. Beards and male pattern baldness were atypical in the Amerindian gene pool at European contact. The Book of Mormon mentions beards 2 Nephi 17:20 and implies male pattern baldness Alma 11:44.

109. p. 303 KJ iconography conceptually linked earth and water. The Book of Mormon conceptually links earth and water 1 Nephi 17:50.

110. p. 304, 363 The artists who sculpted KJ monuments conceived of a quadripartite earth. The Book of Mormon peoples conceived of a quadripartite earth 3 Nephi 5:24. See also the article "Smoking Gun."

111. p. 307 The ancients at KJ conceived of a watery otherworld under the surface of the earth. The Book of Mormon describes water under the earth Mosiah 13:12.

112. p. 317 KJ and related iconography mixes avian, terrestrial, and aquatic themes. The Book of Mormon mixes heavenly, terrestrial, and aquatic themes Mosiah 13:12.

113. p. 321 The Maya had a quadripartite system of directionality. The Nephites had a quadripartite system of directionality Alma 22:33.

114. p. 329 Rulers at KJ were closely associated with water. Prophets in the Book of Mormon were closely associated with water Helaman 11:13.

115. p. 336 KJ kings manifested divine power during public performances. King Benjamin acknowledged divine power during his public speech at the temple Mosiah 2:11.

116 p. 336 Maya rulers manipulated objects that symbolized their kingship. The Book of Mormon describes rulers transferring objects symbolizing kingship Mosiah 1:16.

117. p. 338 Incense was part of KJ ritual life. The Book of Mormon mentions incense 2 Nephi 13:24.

118. p. 339 KJ kings took on or embodied supernatural identities. King Benjamin helped his people take on or embody a supernatural identity Mosiah 5:7-10.

119. p. 340 At KJ, sacred narratives explained the patterning of natural events. In the Book of Mormon, sacred narratives explained the patterning of historical events 1 Nephi 4:2-3.

120. p. 344 Upon accession, Maya kings received a new name. As part of an accession ceremony, King Benjamin gave his people a new name Mosiah 1:11-12.

121. p. 347 In Maya inscriptions, Ux Yop Hu'n was an important mythical being who served as a role model for earthly kings. King Benjamin acknowledged a divine role model Mosiah 2:19.

122. p. 352 Quatrefoil symbols at KJ represented the four cardinal directions and a center. The Nephites conceived of their space with four cardinal directions Mosiah 27:6 and a center Helaman 1:24-25.

123. p. 372 Maize was associated with wealth in Maya iconography. Grain was the basis for the Nephite system of monetary exchange Alma 11:7.

124. p. 381 Maya gods were not distant creator beings, but active participants in human activities. The Book of Mormon describes Jesus Christ dwelling among and interacting with humans Mosiah 3:5.

125. p. 390 The Maya world was four-quartered. The Nephite world was four-quartered 3 Nephi 5:24-26.

126. p. 390 KJ Sculpture 11 depicts a deity who self-sacrificed for mankind. The God of the Book of Mormon offered himself as a sacrifice for mankind 2 Nephi 2:7.

127. p. 391 KJ Sculpture 11 depicts a king between mythical and historical time. Moroni perceived himself as between supernatural and historical time Mormon 8:35.

128. p. 408 KJ Sculptures 75 & 182 depicts an anthropomorphic figure blowing into some kind of musical instrument. The Book of Mormon describes trumpets Ether 14:28.

129. p. 409 At KJ as elsewhere in ancient Mesoamerica, music was associated with gods and other supernatural beings. In the Book of Mormon, joyful sounds are associated with Jesus Christ and angels Alma 13:32.

130. p. 410 Ancient Mesoamericans believed that Quetzalcoatl will blow on a conch shell to retrieve the bones of humankind. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ will call the dead forth from the grave with the sound of a trump Mosiah 26:25, Mormon 9:13.

131. p. 413 Song at KJ was ritual in nature, associated with gods and rulers. The Book of Mormon mentions singing in 30 verses. 27 of those instances are ritual in nature, associated with gods or religiosity. e.g. Ether 6:9.

132. p. 415 At KJ, ritual included oration, prayer, and song. In the Book of Mormon, ritual included oration, prayer, and song Moroni 6:9.

133. p. 417 KJ monuments reflect the Popol Vuh belief that gods created the earth by merely speaking words. The Book of Mormon says that God spoke words to create the earth and man Jacob 4:9.

134. p. 418 In the ancient Maya world ritualized speech or prayer was considered essential sustenance of the gods. The Book of Mormon frequently mentions a divine mandate that men should pray Mosiah 26:39, 3 Nephi 20:31.

135. p. 418 According to David Stuart, the etymology of ajaw, the Mayan word for ruler, was tied to ideas of public speaking. Book of Mormon kings delivered public addresses 2 Nephi 25:11, Mosiah 2:8.

136. p. 431 Maya art tended to record the exceptional rather than the mundane. The Book of Mormon tended to record the exceptional rather than the mundane Jacob 1:2.

137. p. 435 Witnessing was an important feature of Maya ritual. The il glyph in Mayan means "to see" and "to witness." Witnessing was an important feature of Nephite ritual 1 Nephi 11:7.

138. p. 440 Dance is attested on KJ monuments. Dance is attested in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 20:1-2.

139. p. 446 Performances at KJ carried ritual messages into the daily lives of both performers and audience. Public performance in the Book of Mormon carried ritual messages into the daily lives of both performers and audience Mosiah 5:1-2.

140. p. 451 Maya ritual was a process that transformed spiritual beings into corporeal existence in the human realm. Jesus Christ transformed from a spiritual being into a corporeal existence in the human realm Ether 3:16.

141. p. 451 Maya ritual allowed people to become the sacred beings they represented. The Book of Mormon describes a process of transfiguration that changed humans into supernatural beings 3 Nephi 28:15.

142. p. 460. KJ Sculpture 169 shows a human figure burning an  offering atop a bound altar. The Book of Mormon describes burnt offerings 3 Nephi 9:19.

143. p. 465. KJ kings were not isolated autocrats. They were strongly influenced by others who surrounded them. King Noah was not an isolated autocrat. He was strongly influenced by the priests who surrounded him Mosiah 17:11-12.

144. p. 471 KJ culture blended the sacred with the secular. The Book of Mormon blends the sacred with the secular Alma 34:20-25.

Article last updated May 11, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sea Divides the Land

I was in the lobby of the Grand Tikal Futura Hotel in Guatemala City visiting with Rolando Amado on Dec. 26, 2015. He is a native Guatemalan who knows the country well. As an agronomist and lay anthropologist, he has traveled extensively throughout the region. He is an avid student of the Book of Mormon who has spent years documenting astronomical alignments at important sites like Tikal. He is a brother to Carlos Amado, an emeritus member of the Seventy. Rolando told me about a powerful experience he had with the text. He thought one of the anchor points he should be able to locate on the modern map is the place where the sea divides the land referenced in Ether 10:20. After years investigating coastal features, he looked at the inlet to Mar Muerto on the coast of Chiapas, Mexico and decided that had to be the place. It was the only feature he had found along the entire coast of southern Mexico or Central America that to his mind precisely fit the text.
Rolando Amado/'s Proposed Place where the Sea Divides the Land
A person traveling northward along this coast would have to detour 203 kilometers around Mar Muetto, then Laguna Inferior, then Laguna Superior to stay on solid ground and get back to an uninterrupted coastline.
203 Kilometer Detour around Mar Muerto
Bro. Amado felt confident this was the place Moroni was describing in Ether chapter 10.

The Book of Mormon Lands Map January 2016 agrees precisely with Rolando Amado. It correlates the place where the sea divides the land with the Mar Muerto Inlet that is the coastal border between the Mexican states of Chiapas on the southward and Oaxaca on the northward. See the article "The Narrow (Small) Neck of Land" point #13 for more discussion on this point. The article "Some Questions and a Rule" sheds additional light on this place where the sea does indeed divide the land.

If a proposed Book of Mormon geographic correlation is accurate, multiple people following different lines of inquiry will come to the same conclusion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Anthropomorphic Trees

Mesoamerican iconography shows the curious idea that trees or other large plants can grow in or from humans. Here is one example from page 34 of the post-classic Codex Fejervary-Mayer thought to have originated in Veracruz.
Aztec God of Rain, Tlaloc, Tending a Human Maize Plant 
And here is another example from page 33 of the same Codex Fejervary-Mayer.
Aztec Goddess of Water & Childbirth, Chalchiuhtlicue,
Tending a Human Maize Plant
This example is from the post-classic Codex Borgia thought to have originated in Puebla.
Tree Growing from Skeletal Figure Codex Borgia 53
This is of interest, of course, because the Book of Mormon refers to anthropomorphic trees. Alma 32:28 talks about planting a seed in one's heart that grows into a tree Alma 32:41. Alma may have been alluding to an existing Mesoamerican image, painting a mental picture that his Zoramite hearers in Antionum would have undersood. This, for example, is page 3 of the Dresden Codex which dates to ca. AD 1100 and comes from Chichen Itza, Yucatan. It depicts the tree of life growing out of the sacrificed body of the maize god.
Anthropomorphic Tree from Dresden Codex 3
Scholars think the Dresden is a copy of an older codex originally painted ca. AD 800. This makes it the oldest pre-Columbian book currently known to science.

See the article "Light from LA" point #38 for another depiction of an anthropomorphic tree from Yucatan.