Category Archives: Ancient Cities

Manifest Destiny — Savages in North America

Joseph-Knew-Westward-expansionAmerica’s Move West

In the 19th century, as America pushed westward, there was an obstacle in the way of the U.S. government; there were people already living on the lands identified for expansion. Native Americans had been there for centuries. They had built cities, farmed land, created art, practiced religion, fought wars and studied the stars and planets. Forcing such advanced people off of their own land was not an idea easily justified.

The idea that America was a divinely created country, with a government and constitution designed by God, lead many in the country’s leadership to believe that by virtue of this divine intervention America had a mission and a destiny. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny was adopted. This doctrine stood on three pillars:

  • John-WinthropThere is a Divine virtue inherent in the people and institutions of the United States.
  • It is the mission of  America to redeem and remake the world in the pattern of the United States.
  • America has a destiny under God to fulfill that mission.

In his 1630 sermon “A Model of Charity” (often called the “City Upon a Hill” sermon), Puritan John Winthrop admonished the colonists to become a “city upon a hill”, watched by the rest of the world. That same idea was prevalent during the American Revolution. Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense” promoted the idea that the revolution provided a way to create a new and better society.

A Good Idea Gone Bad

Unfortunately , the ideas presented by Winthrop, Paine and others were distorted and used to force Native Americans off their lands.

Moving westward and forcibly taking land from intelligent, civilized people was not something a shining city upon a hill would do. However, if the natives are primitive, Godless savages, taking their lands is not only acceptable, it can be construed as God’s work.

Joseph-Knew-Indian_Land_for_Sale_PosterAs America entered the 19th century, it was well known and well documented that Native Americans were not savages. Evidence of an advanced civilization was found from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains. Researchers, and archeologists had found great cities dedicated to religion, commerce, and science.

To ease the conscience of those determined to fulfill America’s Manifest Destiny, Native American cities were destroyed, artifacts were covered up and evidence of great societies was hidden. With evidence to the contrary destroyed, America’s natives could be classified as savages standing in the way of civilized destiny. The way was now open for America to become a shining city upon a hill stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to beyond the Rocky Mountains.

It should be known that not everyone in America’s leadership supported such tactics. The idea of Manifest Destiny was a contested idea. In his book, “What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848”, Daniel Walker Howe writes, “American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity…. Whigs saw America’s moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest.” (Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848, (2007) pp 705-6)

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were among the religious leaders who opposed the actions being taken. Smith traveled among them and often welcomed Native American leaders to Nauvoo. Cowdery was against the idea of removing Native Americans from their land by force. He believed the land should be “held in common with the paleface.” (See the article Lamanites in North America)

The forced removal of native people from their lands was justified because they were “savages”. But in a sadly ironic twist, the destruction of evidence of great civilizations and the slaughter of men, women and children in the name of destiny, was true savagery. America had moved far from the “Model of Charity” John Winthrop envisioned.

Lost Civilizations

By destroying or covering up Native American cities, not only was the history of great societies lost, but evidence of the Book of Mormon hidden. Fortunately many of these ruins are being rediscovered and movements are underway to preserve and protect them.

The following is a short segment from the  documentary, “The Lost Civilizations of North America” by Steven E. Smoot, Barry McLerran and Rick Stout. In the documentary scholars such as Dr. Roger Kennedy, former director to the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, discuss the “wanton destruction” of Native American structures in the name of Manifest Destiny.

An up-coming series, “Hidden in the Heartland”, by film maker Kels Goodman, documents evidence of great civilizations in Pre-Columbian America and their connection to the Book of Mormon. The following is a trailer for this series.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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The full documentary “The Lost Civilizations of North America” is available here.

You can follow the series “Hidden in the Heartland” on Facebook.

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Image Credits:

Painting of westward expansion by Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868)

Engraving by and unknown artist — original at the New York Public Library

Painting of John Winthrop by Vandyke

Indian Land for Sale — Public Domain

Ancient Burial Sites of New York

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-E-G-SquireAntiquities of New York

In earlier articles we have discussed the skillful and precise construction of great cities, large temple mounds and military defenses. The information in these articles has come from a variety of sources, including personal visits to the sites. Some of the best information on the ancient civilizations of North America has been provided by Ephraim George Squier (1821 – 1888). Along with his research and publishing partner Edwin Hamilton Davis (1811 – 1888), he unknowingly provided us with great insight into the lives, religions, cities and social networks of the people of the Book of Mormon.

In his book, Antiquities of the State of New York, Squier chronicles something much different than is found in his previous publications, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley and Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York. Instead of descriptions of beautifully aligned cities, or carefully laid out military forts, he reports of works “constructed in haste for temporary purposes”. He details evidence of “indiscriminate massacres” and “bone-pits”.

Connections to the Book of Mormon

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NYIn the Book of Mormon, in the 6th chapter of Mormon, the Nephites gather to the land Cumorah for the final battles with the Lamanites. If, as we have proposed in a previous article, the land Cumorah was in upstate New York near the Hill Cumorah, Rochester, and Buffalo, then the following passage from Squier’s chapter Ancient Work near Buffalo takes on significant meaning.

“Tradition fixes upon this spot as the scene of the final and most bloody conflict between the Iroquois and the ‘Gah-kwas’ or Erie — a tradition which has been supposed to derive some sanction from the number of fragments of decayed human bones which are scattered over the area.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851, page 74)

Tens of Thousands Killed

“And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem, and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each.” (Mormon 6:14)

The number of people slaughtered at Cumorah seems incomprehensible. Many non-believers cite these passages as evidence of Joseph Smith’s great imagination. Surely there would be evidence today of such large numbers of dead people. While excavating along the banks of the Erie Canal the following was recorded:

“In excavating the canal through the bank bordering the flats, perhaps thirty rods south of the fort, another burial-place was disclosed, evidently more ancient, for the bones crumbled to pieces almost immediately upon exposure to the air, and the deposits were far more numerous than in that near the river. The number of skeletons are represented to have been countless, and the dead had been buried in a sitting posture.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squier, M. A., 1851, page 144)

“One of these pits discovered some years ago, in the town of Cambria, Niagara County, was estimated to contain the bones of several thousand individuals.” (Ibid, page 99)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Arrow-HeadSavage Warfare

Squier uncovered evidence of savage warfare, which left “bone-heaps” and “bone-pits” throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York (Cumorahland).

“Besides the various earth-works [ ], there are a number of other interesting objects of antiquarian interest in this county. Among them may be mentioned the ‘bone-pits’ or deposits of human bones. One is found near the village of Brownsville, on Black River. It is described as a pit, ten or twelve feet square, by perhaps four feet deep, in which are promiscuously heaped together a large number of human skeletons.” (Ibid, page 29 – italics in the original)

“Near the town of Fulton, on the west side of Oswego River, is an eminence called ‘Bone Hill’ in which have been found great numbers of human bones promiscuously heaped together. They are much decayed. Intermixed with them were discovered a number of flint arrow-heads.” (Ibid, page 31 – italics in the original)

In Genesee County the ruins of a large enclosure were discovered.

“It was called the ‘Bone Fort’ from the circumstance that the early settlers found within it a mound, six feet in height by thirty at the base, which was entirely made up of human bones slightly covered with earth. A few fragments of these bones, scattered over the surface, alone mark the site of the aboriginal sepulcher. The popular opinion concerning this accumulation is, that it contained the bones of the slain, thus heaped together after some severe battle.”

“There have also been discovered some heaps of small stones; which have been supposed to be the missiles of the ancient occupants of the hill, thus got together to be used in case of attack.” (Ibid, pages 66 and 69)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Ancient-burial-sites-in-VIctor-New-YorkThe “bone-pits” found in New York differ in one important way from burial grounds in the Mississippi Valley. Unlike those in Mississippi, the Cumorahland pits and mounds appear to be created in great haste. A mound near Greene Township, NY, near the Chenango River was discovered and excavated.

“Great numbers of human bones were found ; and beneath them, at a greater depth, others were found which had evidently been burned. No conjecture could be formed of the number of bodies deposited here. The skeletons were found lying without order, and so much decayed as to crumble on exposure. At one point in the mound a large number, perhaps two hundred, arrowheads were discovered, collected in a heap. They were of the usual form, and of yellow or black flint.” (ibid, pages 47 and 48)

The End of Two Great Nations

The Book of Mormon tells of two great battles of genocide that took place in Cumorahland, the Jaradites and centuries later the Nephites. Could the two layers of burials described above be evidence of the end of these great civilizations?

In a previous article, we discussed the bones, arrowheads, and weapons that continue to be found in the Finger Lakes region of New York. There are many contemporary firsthand accounts of massive graves throughout the area known as Cumorahland. Students of the Book of Mormon looking for evidence of the great battles of the Jaradites and the Nephites can look in the Land of Many Waters in Upstate New York.

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When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851

Nephite Cities in America’s Heartland

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Great-Circle“Few realize that some of the oldest, largest and most complex structures of ancient archaeology were built of earth, clay, and stone right here in America, in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. From 6,000 years ago until quite recently, North America was home to some of the most highly advanced and well organized civilizations in the world – complete with cities, roads, and commerce.” — Dr. Roger Kennedy, former director of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum

In the heartland of North America the Hopewell civilization built some of the largest and grandest earthworks in the world. The Hopewell and Nephite cultures thrived during the same time frame, 400 BC – 300 AD and many students of the Book of Mormon believe they are one and the same.

Mound cities appear to have been designed for defense. For this defense, great ditches, 6 feet deep were dug around the outsides. That dirt was then piled 6 feet high as a second defense. On top of the mound tall timbers were embedded making a palisade as a third defense.

It’s hard to call it a coincidence that Nephite Captain Moroni defended his cities in the same manner.

  • And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, * that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.
  • And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.
  • And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. (Alma 50:1-3) * 72 B.C.

Mormon-Media-Network-Joseph-Knew-Great Octagon Max-S-RiseThe largest of these mound cities is found in Newark, Ohio. Known as the Great Octagon and the Great Circle, this city was not a place of defense, but it was a place of worship and a center for learning and Astronomical study. In 1982, professors Ray Hively and Robert Horn of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana studied the layout of the city and determined that the people who built it had a keen understanding of astronomy and geometry. The great octagon, in conjunction with the great circle, was laid out in such a way as to line up with the rising and setting of the moon.

Mormon-Media-Network-Joseph-Knew-Great-Octagon-Max-S-SetThe Nephites of the Book of Mormon were aware of moon cycles and we know at the very least they used those cycles to chronicle time.

  • And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. (Omni 1:21)

The Nephites had enough awareness of the heavens to recognize when a new star appeared. They recognized, and presumably had names for, constellation patterns.

  • Mormon-Media-Network-Joseph-Knew-Great-Octagon-Max-N-setAnd behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. (Helaman 14:5)
  • For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. (2 Nephi 23:10)

Mormon-Media-Network-Joseph-Knew-Great-Octagon-Max-N-Rise

The Moon travels through a cycle from north to south that takes 18.6 years to complete. Hively and Horn noted that the Octagon and Circle are aligned with the points on the horizon that mark the rising and setting of the moon at its southern and northern most points. It has been estimated that the odds of this being accidental or coincidental are approximately one in forty million. The people who built this city recognized not only the 28 day cycle of the moon, but also understood its 18.6 year pattern. 

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Great-Circle-2It is believed by many scholars that the Great Circle and Octagon were used for religious services. Just inside the Octagon, in front of the eight gates or entrances, are eight flat-topped mounds. They stand 6 feet high, and are 75 to 90 feet long and 40 to 60 feet wide. It’s unknown for certain what these mounds were, but it’s possible they were placed there to prevent people on the outside from seeing the religious ceremonies taking place inside the Octagon. Is it possible that this, being the largest Nephite religious structure, was the temple in the Land Bountiful? Was it here that the righteous gathered after the great destruction at the time of the crucifixion?

  • Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Great-Circle-3And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.
  • And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death. (3 Nephi 11:1-2)

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Image Credit:

Newark Great Circle and Octagon photos — Energy Media Works LLC

Great Octagon and Circle etchings — Public Domain

 

Great Destruction in the Land

Joseph-Knew-3-NephiIn the Book of Mormon we read of great destruction at the time of Christ’s death. Some who believe Central and South America to be the land of the Book of Mormon cite the destruction recorded in the eighth chapter of 3 Nephi as evidence, believing the heartland of North America is not prone to such destruction. As evidence to the contrary we can look at the earthquakes of 1811 and 1812. Named for a Missouri town on the Mississippi River, the quakes have become known as the New Madrid earthquakes.

At 2:15 AM on December 16, 1811 an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit the central United States. The epicenter was in northeast Arkansas. It was strongly felt over an area of 50,000 square miles (130,000 square kilometers) and moderately felt across 1 million square miles (nearly 3 million square kilometers). By comparison, the devastating 1906 San Francisco quake was felt over approximately 6,200 square miles (16,000 square kilometers).

Four days later another 8.1 quake hit; followed by a 7.8 on January 23, 1812 and an 8.0 on February 7, 1812. From December 16 to February 7 the area was hit by over 2,000 earthquakes or after shocks.

The similarities between the destruction recorded in 3 Nephi and the destruction in America’s heartland are undeniable. Below is a verse-by-verse comparison of events in the Book of Mormon at the time of the crucifixion and events in and around New Madrid, Missouri.

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THUNDER AND LIGHTNING

3 Nephi 8:12

. . . for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;

New Madrid Eye-witness Accounts

There was a great shaking of the earth this morning. Tables and chairs turned over and knocked around – all of us knocked out of bed. The roar I thught (sic) would leave us deaf if we lived. – George Heinrich Grist

Many witnesses reported hearing distant thunder and loud explosions. “Earthquake Booms” can be caused by small earthquakes deep underground which are too small to be recorded. They often have the roar of distant thunder.

There were many reports in New Madrid of flashes of light coming from the ground. This is caused by quartz crystals being squeezed. This phenomenon, which can look like lightning, is called “seismoluminescence.”

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SMOOTH PLACES BECAME ROUGH

3 Nephi 8:14, 17-18

And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate. 

And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.

And behold, the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land.

New Madrid Eye-witness Accounts

“In all the hard shocks mentioned, the earth was horribly torn to pieces – the surface of hundreds of acres, was, from time to time, covered over, in various depths, by the sand which issued from the fissures, which were made in great numbers all over this country, some of which closed up immediately after they had vomited forth their sand and water, which it must be remarked, was the matter generally thrown up. In some places, however, there was a substance somewhat resembling coal, or impure stone coal, thrown up with the sand. It is impossible to say what the depths of the fissures or irregular breaks were; we have reason to believe that some of them are very deep.” – Eliza Bryan

“The surface was sinking and a black liquid was rising up to the belly of my horse, who stood motionless, struck with a panic of terror … [ ] …water spouts, hundreds of them throwing water and sand were to be observed on the whole face of the country, the sand forming miniature volcanoes, whilst the water spouted out of the craters; some of the spouts were quite six feet high… In a few minutes, on both sides of the road as far as the eye could see, was vast expanse of sand and water, water and sand. The road spouted water, and wide openings were to be seen across it ahead of me, then under me, and my [vehicle] sank while the water and sand bubbled, and spat and sucked till my axles were covered.” – J Fletcher

“I went ashore, and found the chasm really frightful, as it was not less than four feet in width and besides the bank had sunk at least two feet. I took the candle, examined to determine its length and concluded that it could not be less than eighty yards long.” – John Bradbury (on the Mississippi River)

“The earth was broken in many places and the openings filled with water. The houses much injured – the only brick chimney in the place entirely demolished . . .” – Daniel Bedinger

Maps from the mid 1800’s referred to some lakes in the area as “Earthquake Lakes”.

In 1912, areas around the Mississippi river were identified and named “Sunklands”. Geologist Myron Fuller believed those lands were created during the New Madrid earthquake.

One terrifying phenomenon that occured in the New Madrid area was that of sand blows or sand boils. Liquefaction can cause geysers of sand, water and tar to gush from the earth. These sand blows can blow up to twenty feet high and can completely cover acres of land.

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A VAPOR OF DARKNESS

3 Nephi 8:19-20

And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land. 

And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

New Madrid Eye-witness Accounts

“We were visited by a violent shock of an earthquake, accompanied by a very awful noise resembling loud but distant thunder, but more hoarse and vibrating, which was followed in a few minutes by the complete saturation of the atmosphere, with sulphurious vapor, causing total darkness.” – Eliza Bryan

“A dense black cloud of vapor overshadowed the land.” – Godfrey LeSieur

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NO FIRE OR LIGHT

3 Nephi 8:21-23

And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; . . .

New Madrid Eye-witness Accounts

“My maw tried to light the lamps; but the darkness was so dense they didn’t help at all.” – Eliza Bryan

Not being able to light fires, burn candles, etc., is not unheard of. Fire requires approximately 18% oxygen to burn. At sea level our air contains about 21% oxygen. Although fire cannot “breathe” below 18%, humans can.

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The 1811-1812 destruction in the heartland was not an isolated incident. Geologists believe similar events happened 600 years earlier around 1200 AD, and 600 years before that in 600 AD. Perhaps 600 years before that people in the heartland witnessed the same devastation and it was recorded in 3 Nephi.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Find all previous posts on the Joseph Knew home page.

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Joseph Knew is part of the Mormon Media Network.

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Additional Information:

See: Fuller, Myron L. 1912. The New Madrid Earthquakes. US. Geol. Survey. Bulletin.

JosephKnew.com has assembled several historical documents about the New Madrid Earthquakes. You can find these documents in PDF format here:

Document 1               Document 2               Document 3               Document 4

Document 5               Document 6               Document 7               Document 8

Document 9               Document 10             Document 11             Document 12

Document 13             Document 14             Document 15             Document 16

Ancient Temple Mounds

Jseph-Knew-CahokiaMound-MMNA common argument given to disprove the Book of Mormon is the use of the word synagogue. Critics argue that synagogues were not used in Israel before the Babylonian captivity and, therefore, would not have been known to Jews whose ancestors arrived in North America around 600 BC. Whether or not such meeting places were in use in Israel before the captivity is a topic for another discussion, but for the sake of this discussion, suffice it to say that research over the past few decades has shed new light on the subject. *

The word synagogue appears at least 25 times in the Book of Mormon. The word temple appears 27, and sanctuary 10 times. Religious worship was extremely important and places of worship were an essential part of Nephite cities.

A place for Sabbath meetings was also important in ancient Israel. (See Lamentations 2:6, Ezekiel 44:24) Recent studies in Israel indicate that gated chambers inside cities (before the captivity) served as Sabbath meetings places. These were set apart from the common area of the city.

If Jews in North America were building Sabbath meeting places, one would expect to see this same pattern of construction.

“And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.” (Alma 16:13 Italics added)

Joseph-Knew-Terraced-Temple-MoundIn their book Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, G. H. Squire and E. H. Davis describe what they call ancient temple mounds found throughout the Mississippi valley. The Mounds were large flat-topped mounds found in the center of a city. The ruins of structures have been found on top of these mounds, and Squire and Davis believed these structures were temples, or some important building of worship. Building temples or synagogues inside the city and separating them from the common areas of the city is consistent with what Jews in 600 BC would have been familiar with.

Fitting with early gated areas inside cities in Israel, Squire and Davis describe these mounds as being set apart inside walled or enclosed cities.

“These mounds are distinguished by their great regularity of form and general large dimensions. They occur most usually within, but sometimes without, the walls of enclosures.” (G. H. Squire and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, 1848, page 173)

When not inside an enclosed city, these sanctuaries were still securely placed above the city.

Throughout the Bible we find examples of sacred events taking place on mountaintops: Moses on Mount Sinai, Christ with his Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Sermon on the Mount. Isaiah, speaking of a temple in the last days, calls it “the mountain of the Lord’s house” in “the top of the mountains.” With such a tradition, it would make sense that Jews, finding themselves in the flat Ohio and Mississippi valleys would build their own “mountains”. The mounds documented by Squire and Davis are all man-made.

Joseph-Knew-Monks-Mound-Cahokia-From the Squire and Davis book, is a drawing of one such mound in Cahokia, Illinois. (Also seen at the top of this article as it looks today). At the left we can see a single ramp or stairway leading up to the top of the mound.

“The form of the mound is that of a parallelogram, seven hundred feet long by five hundred wide at the base. It is ninety feet in height. Upon one side is a broad apron or terrace, which is reached by a graded ascent.” (E. G. Squire and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, 1848, Page 174)

This man-made mound, known today as Monks Mound, is estimated to have a volume of twenty million cubic feet of dirt.

Joseph-Knew-Diamond-Temple-MoundOften smaller mounds were surrounded by ditches. These ditches were much like those surrounding the fortresses described in an earlier post, Preparing for War. However, unlike the fortress ditches, they did not have earthen mounds with timber palisades. These ditches were not intended for defense. They were most likely designed for privacy.

Seeing the prominent positioning of these temple mounds, and the manner in which the temples were constructed, Squire and Davis conclude that religion played an important part in society.

“We have reason to believe that the religious system of the mound-builders, like that of the Aztecs, exercised among them a great, if not a controlling influence. Their government may have been, for aught we know, a government of the priesthood; one in which the priestly and civil functions were jointly exercised, . . .” (E. G. Squire and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, 1848, Page 47)

There is one defining feature about the temples constructed upon these mounds in North America that separates them from structures in Central America. They were built of timber rather than stone.

“. . . and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.” (Helaman 3:9)

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Joseph Knew is part of the Mormon Media Network.

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Find all previous posts on the Joseph Knew home page.

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Additional Information:

* For more detailed information about research into ancient Synagogues see Lee I. Levine’s article, The Nature and Origin of the Palestinian Synagogue Reconsidered. (Journal of Biblical Literature 115 [1996]) Also, his book, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years (Yale University Press)

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Monks Mound photo by: Mormon Media Network

Temple Mound etchings from the Squire and Davis book.

Preparing for War

Joseph Knew - Alma 47-8To protect his people from the Lamanites, Captain Moroni ordered fortifications erected. In chapters 48 and 49 of Alma we find descriptions of these forts.

“Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.” (Alma 48:8)

“And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows.” (Alma 49:2)

Although we don’t know for sure where Captain Moroni erected these fortifications, the ruins of such cities have been found all along the Great Lakes area of western New York. In his 1850 book, Orasmus Turner describes ancient fortresses found scattered between Rochester and Buffalo, NY. What he describes has many similarities to the forts spoken of in Alma.

Joseph Knew - Earthen wall and ditch Newark“These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of works. On some of the parapets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of concentric circles, must have been standing 150, 260, and 300 years; and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung up since the creation of those works, but that they were at the least a second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular ellipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, pages 20-21)

Such fortresses have been discovered throughout the heartland of North America, but the greatest concentration is found in western New York, in the area around Cumorah.

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dotAgain from Turner’s book:

“Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend westwardly over all the western counties of our State, Canada West, the western Lake Region, the vallies of the Ohio and the Mississippi.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 19)

Turner described the land Cumorah as an area favorable for living, because of an abundance of wildlife and because of its agricultural opportunities and access to rivers and lakes.

“The Forest invited to the chase; the Lakes and Rivers to local commerce, —to the use of the net and the angling rod; the soil, to agriculture.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 19)

But the area was not only a desirable place to live, it was also a place well positioned for defense against the enemy.

Joseph Knew - Holland purchase - light“Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defense. (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 18)

In an 1843 book, Alexander W. Bradford came to several conclusions about the early inhabitants of western New York.

“The best military judges have observed the skill with which the sites of many of the fortifications have been selected, and the artful combination of natural advantages with artificial means of defense exhibited in their construction. The care taken in their erection must have been necessary for the protection against a powerful external enemy, or from internal wars.

“Upon the whole, we may with justice say of these nations, from a review of their relics and monuments thus far,

  1. That they were all of the same origin, branches of the same race, and possessed of similar customs and institutions.
  2. That they were populous, and occupied a great extent of territory.
  3. That they had arrived at a considerable degree of civilization, were associated in large communities, and lived in extensive cities.
  4. That they possessed the use of many of the metals, such as lead, copper, gold, silver, and probably the art working in them.
  5. That they sculptured in stone, and sometimes used that material in the construction of their edifices.
  6. That they had the knowledge of the arch of receding steps; of the art of pottery, — producing utensils and urns formed with taste, and constructed upon the principles of composition: and of the art of brick-making.
  7. That they worked in salt springs, and manufactured that substance.
  8. That they were an agricultural people, living under the influence and protection of regular forms of government.
  9. That they possessed a decided system of religion, and a mythological connection with astronomy, which with its sister science geometry, was in the hands of the priesthood.
  10. That they were skilled in the art of fortification.
  11. That the epoch of their original settlement, in the United States, is of great antiquity.” (Alexander W. Bradford, American Antiquities and Research into the Origin and History of the Red Race, 1843, pages 69-71)

In his book, Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York, 1849, E. G. Squire documented more than 1,000 such sites in Ontario, Livingston, Genesee and Monroe Counties. Squire researched ancient cities throughout America’s heartland and concluded, “There is not an area of like size in the United States east of the Ohio and south of the Mason and Dixon Line where evidence of aboriginal occupation are so abundant.”

1 And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, * that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

2 And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.

3 And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. (Alma 50:1-3) * 72 B.C.

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Joseph Knew - Willard and Rebecca BeanA new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes)

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.

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Joseph Knew is part of the Mormon Media Network.

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Additional information:

For information about the evidence of wars in the Great Lakes area, see the Joseph Knew article “Giants in the Land”.

Check out all previous posts on the Joseph Knew home page

Fortress drawing from the book, Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York by E.G. Squire, 1849

Giants in the Land

Joseph Knew - Willard and Rebecca BeanIn 1915 newlyweds Willard and Rebecca Bean were called by President Joseph F. Smith to leave their home in Richfield, Utah and move into the Joseph Smith home near Palmyra, New York. Their mission, which was to last 5 years, stretched into nearly 25 years.

During his time on the farm Willard researched what he called Cumorahland. Much of his research was compiled in the book “Geography of the Book of Mormon” (republished as “Willard’s Cumorahland”). He documented climate changes, artifacts, terrain, distances, and geography and found parallels with the Book of Mormon.

Willard and Rebecca’s son Alvin (1918 – 2007) remembered plowing a field with his father and uncovering a skeleton. The person they uncovered stood approximately 8 feet tall and in the word’s of Alvin, “had a skull the size of a basketball”. Buried with that skeleton was a sword that was so large Willard, a professional athlete, could not hold it up with one hand.

Joseph Knew - Bean childrenAlvin and his brothers Dawn and Kelvin used skulls as helmets while playing war. The skulls were so large they fit over the boys’ heads “like football helmets”.

Such human remains have been found all along Lakes Ontario and Erie. In 1883 newspaper publisher and reporter Harvey Rice wrote about an ancient burial mound near Conneaut, Ohio (about 200 miles from Palmyra, NY).

“Human bones of gigantic proportions were discovered in such a state of preservation as to be accurately described and measured. The cavities of the skulls were large enough in their dimensions to receive the entire head of a man of modern times, and could be put on one’s head with as much ease as a hat or cap. The jaw-bones were sufficiently large to admit of being placed so as to match or fit the outside of a modern man’s face. The other bones, so far as discovered, appeared to be of equal proportions with the skulls and jaw-bones, several of which have been preserved as relics in the cabinets of antiquarians, where they may still be seen.” (Harvey Rice, Pioneers of the Western Reserve, pp. 172-173)Joseph Knew - Harvey Rice

The book of Ether in the Book of Mormon describes the Jaredite warriors as “Large and mighty men.” (Ether 15:26) When Limhi’s scouts in the Book of Mosiah found the ruins of the Jaradites, they found “large breastplates” of brass and copper. (Mosiah 8:10)

Joseph Knew - Holland purchase - lightIn an 1850 book, Orsamus Turner describes the same type of skeletal remains found by the Bean family and Limhi’s scouts. Turner describes what was found in an ancient fort in Orleans County, NY. “Some skeletons, almost entire have been exhumed, many of giant size, not less than seven to eight feet in length.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. Pp. 36)

In the ruins of this fortress near Lake Ontario, Turner describes a “depository of the dead”.

“Nearly in the centre of the area was a depository of the dead. It was a pit excavated to the depth of four or five feet, filled with human bones, over which were slabs of sand stone. Hundreds seem to have been thrown in promiscuously, of both sexes and all ages. Extreme old age was distinctly identified by toothless jaws, and the complete absorption of the aveola processes; and extreme infancy, by the small skulls and incomplete ossification. Numerous barbs or arrow points were found among the bones, and in the vicinity. One skull retained the arrow that, had pierced it, the aperture it had made on entering being distinctly visible. In the position of the skeletons, there was none of the signs of ordinary Indian burial; but evidences that the bodies were thrown in promiscuously, and at the same time. The conjecture might well be indulged that it had been the theatre of a sanguinary battle, terminating in favor of the assailants, and a general massacre.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. Pp. 27)

Throughout Turner’s book he writes about the great number of skulls found which had been broken by clubs, stones or other weapons of war.

In 1925, while Willard Bean was living there, a farmer in Palmyra was digging a well and uncovered several large skeletons. The age of the skeletons was determined to be approximately 3,000 years old. This would fit in the time frame of the Jaradite Nation. Of this discovery the “Rochester Herald” reported:

“In this pit were found an axe of peculiar shape, wide bit and other implements that bore signs of ancient warfare. There are dozens of similar ruins near Rochester. [ ] Upon these steep heights invading armies may have pressed a desperate assault, while all along the brow of the hills behind the rude fortifications of the great forest, stood the defenders of camp and home.”

Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt and others believed that two great nations fought their final battle in Western New York, one at Ramah and the other at Cumorah. There was never any question in their minds that the Hill Ramah and the Hill Cumorah were one and the same.

Joseph-Knew-Book-of-Ether25 And when the night came there were thirty and two of the people of Shiz, and twenty and seven of the people of Coriantumr.

26 And it came to pass that they ate and slept, and prepared for death on the morrow. And they were large and mighty men as to the strength of men.

27 And it came to pass that they fought for the space of three hours, and they fainted with the loss of blood.

28 And it came to pass that when the men of Coriantumr had received sufficient strength that they could walk, they were about to flee for their lives; but behold, Shiz arose, and also his men, and he swore in his wrath that he would slay Coriantumr or he would perish by the sword.

29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.

30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.

31 And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died.

32 And it came to pass that Coriantumr fell to the earth, and became as if he had no life. (Ether 15:25-32)

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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DVD front JPG for other usesA new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes)

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.

________________________________

Like Joseph Knew on Facebook to stay up to date on what’s happening.

________________________________

Additional Information:

Information about Rebecca Bean.

Information about Willard Bean’s boxing career.

How the Church gained ownership of the Hill Cumorah.

The Bean family reforests the Hill Cumorah.

Find all of our previous posts on our home page.

_______________________________

Some of the information in this article comes from the personal writings of Willard Bean and Alvin Bean, which are in the possession of the Willard and Rebecca Bean family.

Skull Photo: wikimedia commons, Xerto

 

 

Ancient Cities of the Mississippi Valley

As European settlers in North America moved westward they came across more and more curious looking earthworks. Some were simply man-made mounds, some detailed effigies and some were the remnants of great cities.

Between 1845 and 1847 two men traveled through much of the Mississippi Valley surveying and documenting many of these earthworks. Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis recorded their findings in a publication called “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”.

For students of the Book of Mormon, one of their findings is of particular interest. On a site called the East Fork Works (Sometimes called “Gridiron” or “Hebrew Works”) in Clermont County, Ohio, Squire and Davis found the remains of a large complex or city laid out in a very particular manner.

Hebrew-works-framed

This “Gridiron” (on the right in the above image) was laid out as a walled city with detailed formations. As you can see in the over-lay below, one section of the city was laid out in the shape of a menorah.

Above the menorah section of the city, we can see a Jewish clay lamp.

Hebrew-works-lamp-framed

Also visible in the design and construction of the city are two ancient and important symbols, the compass and the square.

Hebrew-works-Sq-Compass-Framed

The Hopewell culture, of which this city is a part, dates from 100 B.C. to 600 A.D. Many of their structures and the artifacts found in and around them indicate there was a strong Hebrew influence. This Hebrew culture such as we find in the East Fork site can be explained in the Book of Mormon. A group left Israel in 600 B.C., traveled across the ocean, landed in North America, formed governments, built cities, and about 70 B.C. built, in a particular manner, the great City of Lehi.

“And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites.

“And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah.

“And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore.” (The Book of Mormon, Alma 50:13-15 – emphasis added)

Whether the city found in Clermont County, Ohio is the City of Lehi, or just another Hopewell city, the Hebrew influence is clear. Combined with evidence from other sites throughout North America, the East Fork site confirms that the early inhabitants of this continent were sophisticated, educated, and religiously devoted.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Additional information:

They Wrote the Book – Evidence of the Book of Mormon in North America from those that lived it.

Zelph’s Mound – He served under the Prophet Onandagus.

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Images in the article are from the Squire and Davis book “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”, plate XXXIV, page 95.

The Menorah added in over-lay is from: wikimedia commons.

The oil lamp added in over-lay is from MormonMediaNetwork.com