Saturday, August 31, 2019

President Nelson in Guatemala

This from Church News: A Living Record of the Restoration, Volume 90, Number 35, September 1, 2019:

As he arrived in "The Land of Eternal Spring" on Saturday, August 24, 2019, President Nelson said his thoughts were with the ancient civilizations whose ruins still define Guatemala.

"The lands of Central America and South America are studded with ruins - remnants - of ancient civilizations."

"One wonders what life must have been like among those people."

"Add to that the message on the title page of the Book of Mormon, that it is 'written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel,' we not only learn more about those ancient inhabitants, but we learn that the Lord cares for His children in this hemisphere, both in ancient times, and in modern times."

The message seems clear. Guatemalans are Lamanites. There is a relationship between the Book of Mormon and ancient Guatemalan civilizations.

Tikal Temple IV. Photo taken by Jeffrey D. Allred on August 22, 2019,
published in
Pres. Nelson was in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with Elder Marvin J. Ashton on October 19, 1991, when Elder Ashton offered a prayer on Guatemala and its people, re-dedicating the land for the preaching of the Gospel. Pres. Nelson also accompanied President Gordon B. Hinckley who presided at a devotional in Guatemala City on January 26, 1997.

Excerpts from the dedicatory prayer on the Guatemala City Temple offered by President Gordon B. Hinckley on December 14, 1984 where he sometimes speaks in first person representing the Guatemalan Saints:

"Thou kind and gracious Father, our hearts swell with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the sons and daughters of Lehi, the many generations  of our fathers and mothers who suffered so greatly and who walked for so long in darkness. Thou has heard their cries and seen their tears. Now there will be opened to them the gates of salvation and eternal life."

"We thank Thee, O God, for lifting the scales of darkness which for generations clouded the vision of the descendants of Lehi...We thank Thee for the restored record of our ancestors, the record of Lehi, Nephi and Jacob, of Alma and Mosiah, of Benjamin and Mormon and Moroni. We thank Thee for this voice which has come from the dust to bear witness of the divinity of Thy Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Guatemala City Temple
For an interesting pattern in Pres. Hinckley's temple dedicatory prayers, see the articles "Father Lehi in the Mexico City Temple" and "Lehite Temples." 

Excerpts from the very similar dedicatory prayer on the Quetzaltenango Temple offered by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on December 11, 2011:

"Thou kind and gracious Father, our hearts are filled with gratitude for Thy remembrance of the sons and daughters of Lehi. Thou hast heard their cries and seen their tears. Thou hast accepted their righteous sacrifices."

"We thank Thee for the sacred record of Lehi, Nephi and Jacob, Alma and Mosiah, Benjamin and Mormon, and of Moroni. We thank Thee for this voice that has come from the dust to bear witness of the divinity of Thy Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Quetzaltenango Temple
"Quetzaltenango" is a Nahuatl name meaning "place of the Quetzal bird." Many locals call the city by its Maya name "Xela" which refers to mountains.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Captain Moroni's Towers

We read in Alma 50:4 that Captain Moroni had the Nephites build towers as part of their defensive fortification strategy. The Pacunam Lidar Initiative (PLI) has helped archaeologists identify towers as part of Maya defensive fortification strategies in the northern Peten. Dozens of defensive towers have been identified in the area around La Cuernavilla fortress.
La Cuernavilla about 20 air kilometers west of Tikal
This map shows the locations of 37 defensive towers, 7 of them built alongside ditch and wall structures just as the Book of Mormon describes. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Dozens of defensive Towers in northern Guatemala
The map is in the article "Recentering the rural: Lidar and articulated landscapes among the Maya" by Thomas G. Garrison, Stephen Houston, and Omar Alcover Firpi in Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 53, March 2019, pp. 133-146. Houston will be on BYU campus on Monday, October 28, 2019 to present the inaugural John L. Sorenson Lecture.

On September 21, 2019, I was privileged to hear a lecture by Andrew K. Scherer at Hamline University. He mentioned defensive structures, probably lookout towers, associated with walls and barricades in the fortified border region between Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras.

Additional insights into Maya and possibly Nephite defensive fortifications are in the articles "Light from Guatemala," "Ground-Truthed LiDAR," and "75 BC."

Article last updated on September 22, 2019.