Friday, September 25, 2015

Lehi in Arabia

I just watched an excellent new DVD by Warren Aston and his son, Chad, entitled "Lehi in Arabia: The Search for Nephi's Bountiful."
Warren Aston's New Video
This 75 minute documentary describes and illustrates Aston's 30 year independent research odyssey throughout the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in Yemen and Oman. It is full of rich details such as photographs of inscribed metal plates found in the region. I highly recommend this video which ships from Provo, Utah. You can order it on Aston's website Narrator Scot Proctor of Meridian Magazine says in the introduction "This is the story of the most widely accepted physical evidence that supports the Book of Mormon." After watching the video, one is left with the impression that these Book of Mormon locations are known:
  • Jerusalem
  • Red Sea
  • Valley of Lemuel - Tayyib Al Ism in the Mazhafah Mountains of NW Saudi Arabia
  • Nahom - Nehem Tribal Area in the Nehem Hills of Yemen
  • Old World Bountiful - Khor Kharfot at the mouth of Wadi Sayq in SW Oman
Warren Aston, a native of New Zealand now living in Brisbane, Australia, is a father of 6 who has systematically explored southern Arabia on several research expeditions and numerous trips as a tour guide. This is a timeline of Aston's adventurous story:
  • 1763 Carsten Niebuhr created a map as part of a royal Danish expedition to Arabia Felix. This map shows the location of NEHHM in modern Yemen.
  • 1976 Lynn & Hope Hilton with photographer Gerald Silver explored Saudi Arabia and Oman. Their two-part article "In Search of Lehi's Trail" appeared in the September & October, 1976 Ensign. They identified Salalah in the Dhofar region of southern Oman as a possible Bountiful.
  • 1978 In the October Ensign BYU Professor Ross Christensen suggested that Niebuhr's NEHHM was a better fit for Nahom than the Hilton's proposed Al Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia.
  • 1984 Warren Aston read Christensen's 1978 Yemeni suggestion, contacted Jack Welch to see if anyone had followed up on Christensen's idea, found that no one had, and promptly traveled to Yemen to check it out. Aston was the first LDS explorer/researcher to visit the Nehem Tribal area. He found the name NHM on other old maps and ancient monuments.
  • 1987 Aston traveled to southern Arabia and began searching for Bountiful along the Yemeni and Omani coasts. He found the Bountiful - Salalah correlation unpersuasive.
  • 1988 Aston continued his reconnaissance, this time comparing Bountiful candidates against 12 scriptural criteria. Khor Rori (near Salalah) at first looked promising, but the correlation failed to hold up under scrutiny.
  • 1989 Aston again visited Oman and happened upon Khor Kharfot which seemed to meet most of his criteria.
  • 1993 With support from FARMS, Aston led a research expedition to Khor Kharfot. Noel Reynolds accompanied him on that trip. Expedition members were convinced this could be Bountiful.
  • 2000 On September 12, Warren Aston, Lynn Hilton and Gregory Witt became the first LDS explorers/researchers to see the recently excavated altars at Marib bearing the name NHM. German archaeologists had dated the Marib temple ruins from 900 to 700 BC.
  • 2001 The February issue of the Ensign published an article describing the altars in Yemen as "the first archaeological find that supports a Book of Mormon place name other than Jerusalem or the Red Sea."
  • 2009 Aston led another research expedition to Khor Kharfot. All 12 scriptural criteria were validated. Expedition members were convinced this was Bountiful.
  • 2010 Aston led yet another expedition to Khor Kharfot.
There have been other expeditions to Khor Kharfot as well. Ric Hauck, a Mesoamerican archaeologist, did research in the area in 2014 and 2015.

This map shows key places Warren Aston has investigated.
Places of Interest - Lehi in Arabia 
This photo shows Warren Aston with one of the altars bearing the inscription NHM.
Warren Aston, Temple of Marib, Yemen, September, 2000
And this is a landscape of Khor Kharfot.
Warren Aston's Old World Bountiful in Dhofar Region, Oman