Tag Archives: Heartland Model

What We Know . . . So Far

As far as we can tell, no one has yet been able to prove that something does not, or did not exist. Yet, that is often an argument used by anti-Mormons in their attempt to disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Years ago the idea that there are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon was proof the book was a fabrication. But now it’s becoming more and more accepted that there were elephants roaming the promised land. Skeptics have had to shift their attention to the mention of horses in the Book of Mormon. And now the argument that horses were not in North America before the Spanish arrived is springing leaks.

When the Winter Olympic games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter if he had a comment about DNA research that seemed to disprove the Book of Mormon. He simply responded that all the information wasn’t in yet. Today DNA is proving a connection between the Middle East and Native Americans.

For decades the big bang theory has been the accepted origin of our universe. Now physicists in Egypt and Canada have made a strong argument that there was no beginning to the universe. It has always existed. This is just another example of a faith-based belief that has been scoffed at by science, and is now becoming self-evident.

More and more, theories placing Book of Mormon events in Mesoamerica and South America are giving way to the heartland of America as Book of Mormon lands. Geographic evidences that have become overgrown by forests, or deliberately destroyed, are coming to light and are being connected to people and places of the Book of Mormon.

Although, as President Hinckley said, not all of the evidence is in yet, a lot of evidence is in, and that evidence is confirming what early church leaders knew, the Heartland of America is the land of the Book of Mormon.

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In 1832 on this spot nothing happened — CastleGate Media LLC

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The Promised Land

Where is the Promised Land?

If you were to ask 100 Mormons, “Where is the Promised land?” It’s a pretty safe bet that at least 95 of them would say America is the Promised Land. But it’s interesting that if you asked those same 100 people, “Where did the events in the Book of Mormon take place?” the majority would probably say it all happened in Central America . . . and maybe South America.

It’s not possible for America to be the Promised Land and yet NOT be the land of the Book of Mormon. When writers of the Book of Mormon wrote about the Promised Land, they were talking about the land they were living in at the time. Therefore, if we believe America is the Promised Land, then those writers were living in America.

Joseph-Knew-Book-of-EtherArriving in the Promised Land

“And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:12 italics added)

Looking at this scripture in the book of Ether, it is clear that the Jaredites landed in the Promised Land. If we accept America as the Promised Land, then we accept that they landed in America. Now, if one believes that the events described later in Ether took place in Central America, the only logical explanation is that the Jaredites landed in America, bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, shed tears of joy for the Lord’s mercies in bringing them there, and packed up and moved to another land.

The same logic must also be applied to the events involving the Nephites and the Lamanites.

“And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:23 italics added)

If Central America is the land of the Nephites and Lamanites, then they landed, pitched their tents, called it the Promised Land, packed up their tents and moved to Central America.

Either America is the Promised Land spoken of in the Book of Mormon or it isn’t.

Joseph-Knew-3-NephiChrist in the Promised Land

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed the covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22 italics added)

Those 100 Mormons will confirm that the New Jerusalem will be in this land of America. In the above scripture Christ says that the New Jerusalem with be in “this land”, the land in which he is standing at the time. He wasn’t standing in Central America and talking about this land up north. He was standing in America and talking to the Nephites about their land, North America.

In January 2012, Elder L. Tom Perry delivered a devotional address at Brigham Young University-Idaho. The address, The Tradition of Light and Testimony, was reprinted in the December 2012 edition of the Ensign magazine. In that address, Elder Perry said:

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.”

Elder Perry is reaffirming what Christ said about this land.

Joseph-Knew-Moroni-Monument-AutumnProphets troughout history have known what Elder Perry knew. When Moroni was finishing his record concerning the destruction of his people, he said:

“Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

“And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.” (Ether 13:4-6 italics added)

When we consider statements from ancient prophets, modern-day prophets, and the Lord himself, it’s clear that America, the land of the restoration, is the Promised Land.

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Does it Matter Where Book of Mormon Events Took Place?

In nearly any conversation about Book of Mormon geography, the discussion turns to events happening in Central and South America verses North America. Inevitably, this statement comes up:

“It doesn’t matter where it happened. It only matters that it happened.”

The sentiment is understood. It means physical proof of the Book of Mormon is not necessary; it’s a spiritual witness that is important. However, it is important where Book of Mormon events took place. North America is the promised land. Lehi knew it. Nephi knew it. Ether knew it. Joseph Smith knew it and the founders of the United States of America knew it.

Joseph-Knew-George-WashingtonOn April 6, 1789 , in the first joint session of congress, George Washington was declared the elected President of the United States of America. On April 30, on the second floor balcony  of Federal Hall in New York City, Washington took the presidential oath of office. A bible was retrieved upon which he could place his hand and swear to defend the constitution of the United States. Rather than simply placing his hand on the bible, Washington opened the book to Genesis, chapter 49 and placed his hand on that passage. This was not happenstance. In this chapter of Genesis, Jacob blesses his sons and their descendants. Joseph is described as a fruitful bough near a well. His branches (the Nephites and the Lamanites) will run over the wall (the Atlantic Ocean)and the Shepherd (Jesus Christ)  will bless the children of Joseph temporally and spirituaully.

Others that came to this country, such as the ancestors of the founders of America, were also descendents of Joseph, that bough which had run over that wall.

Joseph-Knew-Benjamin-Franklin's-Great-SealWashington knew that America was the promised land to which the children of Joseph had come and would continue to come. Others understood this as well. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin each proposed designs for the Great Seal of the United States. Franklin’s design depicted the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea during their escape from bondage. The seal depicted the pillar of fire sent by the Lord which gave them light, protection and direction. (See Exodus 13:21-22)

Joseph-Knew-Thomas-Jefferson's-Great-SealJefferson’s design also depicted the Israelites fleeing into the wilderness. In his depiction the cloud from the Lord stands before them. (Exodus 13:21-22)

It’s true that these two seal designs stood as metaphors for the American colonies escaping the bondage of English rule, but the symbolism went beyond that. The founders of America understood that America was a covenant land. They understood the covenant the Lord made with the Hebrew nation. There are several accounts of this covenant in the Old Testament, and this one in Leviticus clarifies it well.

“For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Leviticus 26:9, 12)

The Hebrew nation with which the Lord made this covenant included those that came to the promised land about 2,200 BC (Jaredites) and those who arrived in 600 BC. (Lehi)

As early as 2,200 years before Christ the North American continent was recognized as the promised land, the Lord’s covenant land. From the Book of Ether, the record of the Jaredites:

“Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.

“And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.” (Ether 13:4, 6, 10, emphasis added)

“Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.” (Doctrine and Covenants 57:2, emphasis added)

George Washington may not have known about the coming of the Jaredites, or the Nephites and Lamanites, but he understood the Lord’s covenant with the people of the promised land. He understood that the covenant promised temporal and spiritual blessings to those in the promised land if they would keep the Lord’s commandments. Throughout the revolutionary war he continually called upon his officers, soldiers, and the citizens to repent and keep the commandments of God in order to receive the covenant blessings promised.

Joseph-Knew-Golden_Plates_by-David-A-Baird-Historical-Arts-and-CastingsIf we dismiss America as the land of the Book of Mormon, and place those events anywhere other than North America, we dismiss the importance of the covenant God made with the house of Israel.

Passage after passage use the term “this land” when referring to the promised land. It is indisputable that “this land” was referring to the land in which Nephi, Jacob, Ether and others were living when they wrote those passages.

In 2 Nephi the Lord confirms his covenant with the House of Israel. He tells Jacob:

“But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land.

“And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.

“And I will fortify this land against all other nations.” (2 Nephi 10:10-12, emphasis added)

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed his covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22 emphasis added)

When we talk about the Book of Mormon and the events recorded, it is important that it happened, but it is also important where it happened. It happened in this land, the promised land, a covenant land, the heartland of America.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

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

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Additional Information:

“The Founding Fathers of the United States believed that religious faith was fundamental to the establishment of strong government . . .

“This position was set forth by the first U.S. President, George Washington, in his farewell address . .

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon — a divine place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United Sates of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.” — Elder L. Tom Perry, devotional address delivered January 24, 2012 at Brigham Young University-Idaho 

Download a complete transcript of George Washington’s Farewell Address.

For more information on this subject, we recommend the book, “The American Covenant” by Timothy Ballard. — Kindle version available here.

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Image credits:

World Map in the public domain

Portrait of George Washington by: Rembrandt Peale (1778 – 1860)

Franklin and Jefferson seals in the public domain

Golden Plates and Breast Plate by: David A. Baird, Historical Arts and Castings

 

The Adena Culture — Were They the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon?

Joseph-Knew---Adena-Mound---by-Morguefile-cochiseIn a previous article we discussed the Hopewell Culture. The time frame for this people is believed to run from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D., the same time period as the Nephites.

In and around many Hopewell sites there is evidence of another group that existed much earlier. The Adena culture thrived from 1000 to 200 B.C. Many archeologists date the culture even further back to 3000 B.C. and extend the end of the Adena period to 100 A.D. However, most agree they were prominent from 1000 to 200 B.C.

Where did they live?

The greatest evidence of the Adena can be found in the Ohio Valley area, but they were spread eastward through Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvanian, and Virginia.

“The evidences of the presence of this ancient people are found almost everywhere upon the North American Continent, except, perhaps, upon the Atlantic coast. They consist of mounds sometimes of imposing size and other earthworks, so numerous that in Ohio alone there are, or were till quite recently, estimated to be not less than ten thousand of the Mounds, and fifteen hundred enclosures of earth and stone all evidently the work of the same people. In other parts of the country they were found in such numbers that no attempt has ever been made to count them all.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 20)

Mound builders

Josephg-Knew-Effigy-MoundsLike the Hopewell, the Adena were mound builders. One difference between Hopewell mounds and Adena mounds is Adena mounds were cone shaped and Hopewell were either rounded or plateaued. Another striking difference is the Adena built large effigy mounds. These mounds varied in size, shape, design and purpose. The Adena built some in the shape of birds, some animals or reptiles and some in the shape of people. Some mounds are even built to represent inanimate objects such as tools or weapons.

Joseph-Knew-Great-Serpent-Mound-photo-by-Eric-EwingOne of the most famous of these mounds or earthworks is the Great Serpent Mound along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. It is a 5 foot high, 1,348 foot long serpent effigy that winds like a snake through the bushes and trees.

Joseph-Knew-Elephant-Effigy-Mound” . . . the figures are varied enough and distinct enough, to show that they were meant to be the effigies of perhaps every quadruped then known in the country, of birds with outstretched wings, of fishes with fins extended, of reptiles, of man; and of inanimate things, the war-club, the bow and arrow, the pipe, the cross, the crescent, the circle, and other mathematical forms. They rise above the surface two, four, sometimes six feet in height ; the animal figures vary from ninety to one hundred and twenty feet in length. but there are rectangular embankments, only a few feet in height and width, that stretch out to a length of several hundred feet. Among all these representations of animals there is no one more remarkable than that recently described, called the Big Elephant Mound, found in Wisconsin a few miles below the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Its name indicates its form; its length is one hundred and thirty-five feet, and its other proportions are in accordance with that measurement. It does not seem probable that the people who piled up these mysterious earthworks could represent a mastodon or elephant if it were not a living creature with which they were familiar.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 22)

Many critics of the Book of Mormon site the ninth chapter of Ether as proof of Joseph Smith’s lack of understanding of ancient North American history. In the nineteenth verse of that chapter it reads:

“And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” (Book of Mormon, Ether 9:19, emphasis added)

Critics scoff at the idea that there were elephants in North America. However, when we look at such ancient effigies as those reported above, it appears there are two possibilities. Joseph Smith had an exceptional  understanding of ancient North America, greater than any other scholar in his day, or the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient American text which he translated . . . or both.

 Who were the Adena?

As mentioned earlier, scholars place the Adena time frame at 1000 to 200 B.C.  (Some scholars put it as early as 3000 B.C.)

The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon left the old world at or around the time of the tower of Babel. Although we don’t know exactly when that was, it is generally agreed that it was around 2200 – 1900 B.C. This makes the Jaredites strong contenders to be the Adena.

What happened to the Adena?

Many historians believe the Adena culture died out as a culture, but not as a people. It’s believed that the Adena are the same people who we have named the Hopewell. The culture changed in the type of structures they built and the art they created, but they were genetically the same group of people.

What we do know about the Adena is that they, like the Hopewell, were a highly advanced, civilized people. They were a religious people. They planted crops, hunted game and traded with others. They had great respect for their dead and many of their mounds were burial sites for the dead.

There are a lot of things that suggest the Adena were the Jaredites, but the biggest obstacle to making such an emphatic statement is the fact that we don’t have definite dates on when the Jaredites arrived in North America or when that final battle took place that wiped them out. If they were the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon, then they died out not only as a culture, but also as a people. (see Ether chapter 15)

Whether the Adena were the Jadeites or not, the things they left behind give us great insight into the lives of Book of Mormon people in North America before the birth of Christ.

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Read more about ancient burial sites in these two articles; Giants in the Land and Ancient Burial Sites of New York.

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Image credits:

Various effigy mounds and elephant effigy mound from Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1

Serpent Mound by: Eric Ewing, wikimedia commons.

 

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

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

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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

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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Three Messengers

Iroquois_6_Nations_map_c1720-by-RA-NonenmacherThe Seneca are one of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy. The six are: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca.

The Seneca lived in Western New York in what is known as the Finger Lakes area. The town of Palmyra sits in the center of Seneca land.

Handsome Lake (Sganyadai:yo) was a Seneca religious leader and prophet. He was born about 1735 near present-day Avon, New York. Not much is known about his parents. We do know that he was born into the Wolf clan of his mother and was later adopted into the Turtle clan.

Joseph Knew Iroquois_western_goodsAt the time of Handsome Lake’s birth, the Seneca nation was prosperous. Living in the Finger Lakes area, which has an abundance of lakes, rivers and streams, they were successful trappers and fur traders. They traded not only with other members of the Iroquois Confederacy, but also with the ever-growing influx of Europeans that was moving further and further inland.

In 1777 Handsome Lake was part of an Iroquois war council that met with the British concerning the revolutionaries battling Britain for independence. It was Handsome Lake’s opinion that the war was a family squabble between Europeans and of no concern to the Iroquois. However, in 1778 he went along with the decision of his people and fought along side the British against the revolutionaries.

After the war, and as retribution for Iroquois support of the British, American Major General John Sullivan led a campaign against the  Iroquois. It was his intent, “…to destroy everything that contributes to their support”.

Archeologist Arthur C. Parker wrote:

“Forty towns were obliterated, 60,000 bushels of corn destroyed, fruit orchards uprooted, girdled or chopped down, one containing 1500 trees. Ruin was spread like a blanket over the Iroquois country and their garden valley reduced to a desolate blighted and forsaken region dotted with blackened ruins. Hardly a food plant remained for the coming winter.” (Arthur C. Parker, Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants, 1919, page 20)

Cornplanter-by-F-Bartoli-1796The Iroquois began to fight back and destroyed many white villages. Cornplanter, being the Seneca War Chief, was summoned to Washington DC by George Washington. It was the desire of both men to end the fighting and to live peaceably.

As a result of this retribution, the Seneca people had suffered greatly, both temporally and emotionally.  Their once great nation fell into depression, alcoholism, and immorality.

By this time Handsome Lake was an alcoholic and in poor health. He realized he had wasted much of his life. Rather than being a spiritual leader and example to his people, he had fallen into disgrace. Preparing to die, he asked his daughter to send for his half brothers, Black Snake and Cornplanter. Laying on his cot, Handsome Lake pleaded with the Great Spirit to let him die.

Handsome-Lake-largerWhile working in the back of the lodge, his daughter heard someone shout “Niio” (alright or so be it). When she went to find out what was happening, she found her father lying on the ground near the door of the lodge. He appeared to be dead. When his half brothers arrived, Cornplanter found warm spots on the body and decided to postpone the burial.

The next day, Handsome Lake still appeared to be dead. At midday he woke and sat up. He related a vision he had had while presumed dead.

“Some voice from without said, ‘Come forth’. I hesitated, first thinking that I was speaking to myself. But after it was repeated three times, I arose to investigate. I, with much difficulty, got to the door of my lodge where I saw standing before me three looking alike, all dressed in clean white raiment, standing in clear swept space. Never before have I seen such handsome, commanding men. They held in their hands branches from bushes bearing berries of different colors.”

The men told Handsome Lake that He who created the world in the beginning  sent them.  He sent them to visit Handsome Lake because “He is grateful for my creations, furthermore, he wishes to rise from sickness and walk again upon the earth. Go down and help him to recover.”

The men told him “Take of these berries and eat of every color. They will give you strength: then come with us.”

The men then took him on a journey where he saw many of his people. He saw their sins and sufferings. After that first visit, they visited him many times and gave him instructions for the people. Handsome Lake became a great religious leader to his people. When the three messengers visited him, he then imparted the message fearlessly to his people. The religion he established among his people was called Gai’wiio meaning The Good Message or New Gospel. 

Who were these three messengers? Could they have been earlier inhabitants of North America?

In the Book of Mormon, in the book of 3 Nephi, Christ called and ordained twelve Nephite disciples. When asked what they desired, nine of them asked to live to an old age and then to be taken quickly into Christ’s presence. The other three asked to remain on earth until Christ’s second coming. They were granted that request.

3 Nephi, Chapter 28

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Image Credit:

Painting Handsome Lake and the Three Messengers by Ernie Smith, from the Collections of the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY.

Iroquois Nation Map — R.A. Nonenmacher, wikimedia commons

Iroquois Trading with Europeans — Public Domain

Seneca War Chief Cornplanter — F. Bartoli (1796)

Lamanites in North America

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyIn September 1830 the second general conference of the church was held in Fayette, New York. At the time there were only 62 members of the church. At that conference the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph, commanded Oliver Cowdery to, “go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them”. (D&C 8:8) This was the first official church mission. Three others, Ziba Peterson, Parley P. Pratt and Peter Whitmer were called to accompany Oliver. Pratt recorded their missionary activities in his autobiography.

“After travelling for some days we called on an Indian nation at or near Buffalo; and spent part of a day with them, instructing them in the knowledge of the record of their forefathers. We were kindly received, and much interest was manifested by them on hearing this news.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 47)

Joseph-Knew-Parley-P-PrattThe missionaries traveled from the Buffalo area to Ohio where they met and taught other Lamanites. While there, they baptized Frederick G. Williams who joined them in their missionary efforts into Missouri. It was here that Cowdery, Pratt and Williams met with the Delawares and the Shawnees. The chief of the Delawares, who had taken the Christian name Anderson, was open and receptive. In a letter to Joseph Smith, Cowdery wrote:

“The principal chief says he believes every word of the Book and there are many more in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe & we trust that when the Lord shall open our way we shall have glorious times.”

Joseph-Knew-Joseph_Preaching_to_the_Indians_by_C.C.A._ChristensenJoseph Smith saw the Native Americans in a different light than was popular in America at the time. It’s reasonable to assume his view came from the Book of Mormon, which did not portray them as savages, untamed by civilized society. Joseph knew from the Book of Mormon that the Lamanites were a noble people, equal in stature to any people on earth. Joseph’s view of the Lamanites was no doubt reinforced in November 1831 when, at a special conference of the elders of the church, he received a revelation, which would become the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord reveals his intention and desire to make the gospel known “unto all flesh,” because he is “no respecter of persons.” (D&C 1:34,35)

The US government did not share this view of Native Americans. In 1830, the same year the Lord sent his first missionaries out to share the gospel with the Lamanites, the US congress passed the Indian Removal Act. This gave the US President power to order the removal of any and all Native Americans to the western territories. By moving the savages out of the east, it opened the way for civilized society to expand.

The attitudes of the Latter-day Saints toward the Native Americans served as kindling for the anti-Mormon fires that were smoldering in Missouri. Oliver Cowdery taught the Delawares that the land should be “held in common with the palefaces”. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 55) Such teaching could not have set well with landowners.

Joseph traveled to share the gospel with the Lamanites. He also welcomed them into Nauvoo.

When the Lord commanded Joseph to send missionaries among the Lamanites, Joseph did not send them to Central or South America. He sent them into North America. However, Joseph’s understanding of who the Native Americans were did not begin with the translation of the Book of Mormon. As a seventeen year old he was taught by Moroni “concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity”. (The Wentworth Letter)

Joseph knew that the Native Americans were descended from Joseph of Egypt, and those missionaries who shared the gospel with them understood that fact. After his first mission to the Lamanites, Parley P. Pratt expressed his hope that “at some future day, when the servants of God go forth with power to the remnant of Joseph, some precious seed will be found growing in their hearts, which [was] sown by us in that early day”. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 57) During Moroni’s first appearance to Joseph Smith, Moroni said he had been “sent to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled”. That first mission to the Lamanites in 1830 was helping to fulfill that covenant.

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REPUBLISHED — Some of the earliest research into the lands of the Book of Mormon

“Geography of the Book of Mormon”

ThisIsTheMarketPlace.com

 

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A 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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Image credits: Joseph Smith preaching to the Laminates by CCA Christensen

Photos of Oliver Cowdery and Orson Pratt by unknown photographers (in the public domain)

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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.

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Find all previous posts on the Joseph Knew home page.

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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)

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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.