Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Water Fight on the River - Round Three

3. Question. Did the Mulekites site Zarahemla in a populated area? See the article "Asking the Right Questions" in this blog.

3. Answer. No. The Book of Mormon text specifically says they established their city in a wilderness. For some perspective on the word "wilderness" in The Book of Mormon, see the article "A Note about Wilderness" in this blog.
3. Exhibit A. We will superimpose a data set from the Earth Institute at Columbia which shows contemporary population density on top of our base map of the rivers. Certain physical geographical features (deserts, mountains, jungles, swamps, etc.) influence settlement patterns today just as they did anciently. Of course there are exceptions such as refrigeration technology opening up Arizona's Salt River Valley (the Phoenix area). But in many parts of the world (think Egypt's population focused in a narrow ribbon along the Nile) modern day population patterns approximate their ancient counterparts. Note that in the following population map, darker colors represent more people per square kilometer and the white areas have hardly any people at all.
Contemporary population densities.
In general, the Mezcalapa-Grijalva runs through areas of higher current population density and the Usumacinta flows through areas with lower populations.
3. Exhibit B. Second, we will overlay our base map with EAAMS data showing known ancient archaeological sites.
Documented ancient archaeological sites.
Both rivers are home to many ancient sites. Counting sites within 10 kilometers of the river, the Mezcalapa-Grijalva shows 67 and the Usumactinta 55. These numbers do not include tributaries, and they would be improved considerably if we had taken the time to identify sites within time horizons. The Mezcalapa-Grijalva is slightly shorter than the Usumacinta. Calculating proximate sites per running kilometer, the Mezcalapa-Grijalva shows .115 and the Usumacinta .089. 
3. Conclusion. The Mezcalapa-Grijalva is less likely to have run through an area The Book of Mormon would describe as "wilderness" than the Usumacinta. Advantage Usumacinta.

3. Running Score. Mezcalapa-Grijalva 0. Usumacinta 3.