Saturday, June 27, 2020

Destroying History

Communication channels these days bring news of mobs toppling statues, trying to destroy history they find opprobrious. I am reminded of the Taliban who in March, 2001, blew up statues of Guatama Buddha in the Bamyan Valley, Hazarajat, Afghanistan. The monumental Bamyan Buddhas were carved in the 6th century AD directly into sandstone cliffs and had been the centerpieces of a pilgrimage site for more than 1,400 years.
The Larger of the Bamyan Buddhas pre-Taliban
Zealots justified wanton destruction of history and culture for political ends.
Bamyan Buddha in Rubble post-Taliban
This attempt to sanitize history and eradicate culture is as old as the human race. We see it in the Book of Mormon. Enos, ca. 480 BC, reported that the Lamanites in and around the city of Nephi wished to destroy Nephite records, Nephite people, and "the traditions of our fathers" Enos 1:14. Why? The Lamanites harbored hatred toward the Nephites Enos 1:20. Mormon, ca. AD 385, went to considerable effort to preserve sacred Nephite records because he knew the Lamanites would destroy them Mormon 6:6. Why? Again, because of Lamanite hatred toward the Nephites Moroni 1:2.

We see similar destruction of history via monument defacement in the Mesoamerican archaeological record. Chalchuapa Monument 1 dated from 100 BC to AD 200 was deliberately defaced. Muriel Porter Weaver, The Aztecs, Maya, and their Predecessors: Archaeology of Mesoamerica, Third Edition (Abingdon: Routledge, 1993) chapter 4, The Southeastern Highlands. Many stelae at Tikal suffered what the original excavators from the University of Pennsylvania called "mutilation." Linton Satherwaite, "The Problem of Abnormal Stela Placements at Tikal and Elsewhere," The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Tikal Reports 1-4, 1958. Maya monuments were defaced with regularity. Andrew K. Scherer and Charles Golden, "War in the West", Andrew K. Scherer and John Verano, editors, Embattled Bodies, Embattled Places (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2014), p. 60.

Guatemala Guatemala Guatemala

Today I was transcribing the special episode on Book of Mormon geography from Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin's excellent Come Follow Me Insights show on the Book of Mormon Central YouTube channel:

29 minutes into the video, Tyler makes the important point that the Nephites used the term "Zarahemla" in multiple ways. It was their capital city 3 Nephi 9:3, a lesser land (city state, region) Alma 62:6, and their greater land (nation) Alma 50:7. Ditto the term "Nephi" which was a capital city Alma 47:31, a lesser land Alma 47:20, and a greater land Alma 50:8, 11.

Two countries on earth today follow this naming convention where their capital city, leading region (state, department), and nation all carry the same name: Guatemala, Guatemala, Guatemala and Mexico, Mexico, Mexico. See the blog article "Light from Guatemala" for maps.