Monday, December 19, 2011

Downstream from Zarahemla

The name Sidon is mentioned 36 times in the text of The Book of Mormon. All citations are in the books of Alma and Mormon. We have established previously that the big river flowed generally from south to north. See the article entitled "River Sidon South to North" in this blog.  The local lands of Zarahemla and Gideon were across the river from each other at approximately the same latitude with Zarahemla on the west and Gideon on the east. See the article entitled "Gideon" in this blog. Downstream (northward) from the local land of Zarahemla, the river Sidon is never mentioned. We know the wilderness of Hermounts was northwest of the local land of Zarahemla Alma 2:37. The land of Bountiful was north of the local land of Zarahemla Alma 22:29. There was an area called the most capital parts of the land Helaman 1:27 to the north east (in the direction of the city of Bountiful Helaman 1:23 which was on the east coast Alma 52:17Alma 51:26) and another un-named land between Zarahemla and west coast Bountiful 3 Nephi 3:23. The only references to river Sidon, though, are in relation to the local lands of Zarahemla & Gideon and points south (upstream). The river itself shows us why this scenario makes perfect sense. We have situated the local land of Zarahemla along the middle Usumacinta, that part of the river north of the highlands at Boca del Cerro but south of the permanent flood zone. Downstream from the middle Usumacinta, the lower Usumacinta runs through the largest wetlands in all of North America. It also splits into 3 major distributaries - the Usumacinta that has a confluence with the original Grijalva, the San Pedro y San Pablo, and the Palizada that flows into the Laguna de Terminos.
Local land of Zarahemla south of river delta flood zone
Another satellite image taken at the height of the rainy season in October shows this area in flood. The white represents standing water.
Usumacinta delta in flood at the height of the rainy season (October).
It is no wonder, then, that all mention of the river Sidon in The Book of Mormon refers to places south (upstream) of these wetlands. There is a lot of river downstream from New Orleans, but is that swampy part of the Mississippi delta often mentioned in epic literature? No. Most people consider the port of New Orleans the southern terminus of the Mississippi.
Map of southern Louisiana showing New Orleans
and the Mississippi River Delta downstream