28 September 2006

land of Bountiful, as described in the Book of Mormon.

SALALAH :- The land of Bountiful

Several authors have suggested possible locations for the land of Bountiful, as described in the Book of Mormon.

Lynn M. and Hope A. Hilton focused on the inlet bay at Salalah, the ancient al-Balīd. This inlet bay — called a Khor in the local Arabic dialect — exhibits attractive features that would support an identification of Bountiful with this area.

Warren and Michaela Aston, on the other hand, were able to explore farther afield because the military conflict that limited Lynn Hilton's travel in southern Oman in 1976 had ended by the time the Astons came to Oman in the early 1990s. After an on-site review of inlet bays and verdant areas along the south coast of Arabia, the Astons settled on the Wadi Sayq (Khor Kharfot) as the spot which they felt most fully met the requirements for Bountiful as Nephi's narrative photograph hints at them.
Though these two sites — al-Balīd and Wadi Sayq — possess remarkable features that could connect them with Bountiful, there is another. In our view, this other inlet bay, named Khor Rori, offers a dimension that the other two do not, the three maritime resources that Nephi would have needed to reach the Promised Land:

  •  The raw materials necessary to actually build an ocean-going ship,A reasonably large natural harbor where Nephi and his brothers could construct, launch and moor their ship, an.The means by which Nephi could learn to sail such a vessel.
Without all three of these resources, Nephi could not have made his journey. For any site to qualify as a candidate for Bountiful, it must have possessed these characteristics during his era. We propose that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the ancient frankincense port of Khor Rori possessed the unique maritime resources needed by Nephi, as well as all the other attributes mentioned in his record.

Khor Rori lies in the same fertile plain that Hugh Nibley and the Hiltons suggest was probably Bountiful. Today, large fruit plantations are foud along the beach at Taqah, just two miles from the Khor.

The inlet was the premier port of Dhofar and is generally regarded as the port known to the Greeks as Moscha. It is a large waterway extending more than 1½ miles inland. The Khor has several natural places where ships could moor, making it the likely reason that Khor Rori and the adjacent town of Taqah were called Merbat (the moorings) anciently.

The Khor is fed by freshwater from Wadi Dharbat, a large natural spillway carrying rainwater from the Jabal Samhan mountains. Frankincense grew on the hills of Dhofar and was harvested by the local people in antiquity, the ‘Adites. Frankincense is a sweet smelling gum made from the sap of the Frankincense tree (Boswelia sacra). It was highly prized and used in temple ceremonies in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Israel from very early times.
On the slopes of the mountains overlooking the plain of Dhofar, the ”Adites built a large settlement set on the banks of what were once three converging streams. This site, called Hagif #240 by archeologists, is the largest Bronze Age” site in all Oman site and stretched over three miles. Adites artifacts are found at Khor Rori.

A native population at Bountiful is consistent with Nephi’s description of it being outside of the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:4, 5). Also in harmony with Nephi’s Bountiful, the Adites cultivated gardens and orchards, and legend holds that they ate fruit at every meal. Later, in the Iron Age, the “Adites built settlements inland at Shisr and near the coast at Ain Humran to enable them to control the trade by land and by sea.” In order to gain control of the frankincense trade, this area was invaded around the time of Christ by King ”Il'ad Yalut, king of Hadramaut, who established an impressive port city named Samhuram — meaning ‘the plan is great’ or ‘the great scheme.’”
Today there is a sandbank across the Khor, closing it off from the sea. This was not always present, however. Scientists believe that a drop in the sea levels around the 14th-15th centuries A.D. caused the closure of the harbor’s mouth. Radiocarbon dating establishes that there was a stable and final closure occurring around 1640-1690 A.D. Huge cliffs line the sea entrance to Khor Rori forming natural breakwaters that allowed ancient ships to sail out 200 yards into the Indian Ocean proper with protection from the surf. This was the great strength of Khor Rori as a port; the natural breakwater provided protection from both the summer southwest monsoon and the winter northeast monsoon winds. Thus the port could be used all year for shipping and shipbuilding.
In Part Two in this series, we will examine the specific resources Nephi required to build his ship. In Part Three we will explain why these resources where found only at Khor Rori in Nephi’s time, and thus provide an explanation as to why the Lord had Lehi travel 2100 miles across the hellish desert of Arabia in order to build his ship.

The story of Noah and his family being spared from a world- wide deluge (a judgment by God) is one of the most important in the Old Testament. Much is learned about the nature of God from this story. For example: (1) It shows He is a holy God and cannot tolerate sin. (2) It shows He is a just God and that sin will not go unpunished. (3) It shows He is a God of mercy in that He spares some. (4) It shows God's power in that the Flood unleashed great power.

Khor Rori

Evidence root

Substantial new evidence identifies a lush area in the western corner of Oman as the possible location where Nephi built the ship that carried Lehi's family to the promised land.

Most Book of Mormon scholars agree that Lehi took his family south out of Jerusalem, down the Arabah and south to somewhere near Aqaba. From there Lehi angled on a southeastly direction paralleling the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. Lehi's journey likely took them through or near Medina and Mecca, two holy cities of present day Islam. About 300 miles south of present day Mecca is an oasis called Al Kunfadah, the place Lehi called Nahom, the place where Ishmael died and was buried. From here Lehi turned nearly due east and crossed the lower portion of one of the most barren deserts in the world (The Empty Quarter).
The route Lehi took paralleled the ancient Frankincense Trail. Frankincense is a vegetable resin from the Boswellia, a family of decidious shrubs or trees found in northeast Africa. The resin hardens when dried, into small yellow grains, which are then burned for their aromatic quality. It is called "frank" because of the freeness with which it gives forth its odor. The resin is often burned as incense, used as a fragrance or as an embalming agent. Frankincense came, anciently, primarily from Sada, Yemen (northeast of San'a, Yemen). San'a, anciently, was the terminal point of the Frankincense Trail, a well known and much travelled trade route between San'a, Yemen and Sidon, Lebanon. But the trail continued east from San'a, though much less travelled. Lehi likely followed, or paralleled, this trail to somewhere near Salala, Oman.
Travelling nearly a thousand miles across southern Saudi Arabia, Lehi arrived at a place he called "Bountiful". Lehi describes this area as a place of "much fruit and also wild honey...and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit." This is a startling declaration considering Arabia was a place known for its barrenness, its desolation, and for its lack of trees. Indeed, according to Hugh Nibley, "The best guide to Arabia at the time...imagined forests and lakes in the center of the peninsula, while insisting that the whole coastline was 'a rocky wall...as dismal and barren as can be: not a blade of grass or a green thing' to be found." It was no surprise that critics in Joseph Smith's day hooted at this story.
Even after Europeans explored the real Arabia and discovered that it truly was a barren, desolate desert; where could possibly be the forested area Nephi used to build his ship? The very idea was preposterous. The area described in 1 Nephi had to meet several conditions: 1) timber adequate for building a large sea going vessel, 2) iron ore in nearby mountains for fashioning steel tools and instruments, 3) high cliffs above the sea, 4) fruit trees, 5) fresh water, 6) animals that provided meat. All of these seem incongruent with contemporary knowledge of the Arabian peninusla.
There have been few who have actually travelled to Saudi Arabia to attempt to find a place that could possibly meet all these criteria. Bertram Thomas did so in 1928, the Hiltons in the 1970s, two Australians, Warren and Michaela Aston, in 1992, and finally Maurine and Scot Proctor. As expected from the various reports over the years since Bertram Thomas, Arabia does have a tiny stretch of verdant coastline, made green by the monsoons that pelt this corner of the land and nowhere else. This forest is Arabia's surprise, an anomaly in a land of sand and mountains like the moon.
But the Astons wanted more. They wanted to test the land against Nephi's description to see if any specific location matched. Nephi gave us many specific clues about his Bountiful. Clearly, it was coastal, accessible from the interior along a reasonable route. What's more, it was fertile, a place of "much fruit" and honey where the group could grow crops to maintain themselves as they built a ship. For a place to qualify as Bountiful, it had to have timber in enough types and sizes to permit ship building and a mountain prominent enough to be called "the mount," close enough that Nephi could retreat there and "pray oft."
Bountiful also had to have ore from which metal could be smelted, a source to make fire, and probably a cliff by the sea where Laman and Lemuel could have made good their promise to throw Nephi into the deep. With this comprehensive set of clues, the Astons combed the coast and seriously considered six areas as candidates for Bountiful. Only one of the six was a fit, a tiny beach only a kilometer and a half wide called Wadi Sayq, nearly on the border between Oman and Yemen.
On either side of the beach are 2,500-foot cliffs that drop straight into the sea, making access impossible along the shore, but the wadi (like a dry river bed) cuts its way 15 miles through a steep canyon into the interior. This is the beach's only entrance, difficult enough to travel that even though the beach basks glorious and green in tropical sunlight Wadi Sayq is remote and forgotten. To this day it is uninhabited.
Was this the place where Nephi built the ship? The Astons were compelled enough by the match between Wadi Sayq and Nephi's description of Bountiful that they published a paper detailing their research for FARMS, the Foundation for Ancient & Mormon Studies ("And We Called the Place Bountiful: The End of Lehi's Arabian Journey").
Another couple who visited the area is Maurine and Scot Proctor who rented a Jeep in Salala, about eighty miles east of Wadi Sayq, and drove west toward the location they believed best fit the description of Bountiful. Wadi Sayq drops off the western plateau at about the 4,000 foot elevation. From here the wadi drops four thousand feet in sixteen miles to the coast. The wadi is barren and desolate and gives no hint of its lush ending near the sea. The only practical access is from the sea, by boat.
Wadi Sayq is one of two "rivers" in Arabia that flow near the shore with water all year round. Trees abound with "much fruit" available in the form of date-palm fruit. Dolphins frolic in the waters near the beach, wild flamingos wade in the fresh water. This is a place that perfectly matched Nephi's description. A free-standing mountain occupied the southwest of the beach. Towering tarmarind and sycamore trees suitable for shipbuilding grew up in the wadi a few hundred yards away from shore. Here was a freshwater source, sardine in the sea for eating, land and water to grow crops.

Large sycamore, tarmarind, and boscia trees, 60 to 80 feet high, grow in abundance about a half mile from the beach at Wadi Sayq. Sycamores are excellent shipbuilding lumber and could have supplied Nephi with the lumber for his ship

The Astons had written that they had found archaeological remains in Wadi Sayq, signs of former human habitation. They reported that on the east side of the wadi stood a mound some twelve feet high and forty-five feet in diameter, now covered with wind-blown sand and vegetation. Radiating from this mound, they noted, were double lines of stones. One of them stretched about ninety feet toward the beach. A second double line of stones, some 400 feet long, curved back toward the freshwater of the wadi. They also reported a rock face, not far from the mound that contained several groups of graffiti. Though some of the graffiti looked relatively recent, sketched on the rock was what appeared to be a much older set of graffiti, its red pigment faded with time. Painted in that faded red on the rock was a ship.
The Proctors began their exploration of the wadi on the opposite side from the mounds, they started to see double lines of stones everywhere. One line over 600 feet long stretched perpendicular from the beach, back into the trees. Another at right angles to it ran across the valley. Who had built these double lines, and for what purpose? Further down the wadi, a foundation was visible. Not far away were several three-feet high stone structures shaped like an omega. A little farther, we saw the remains of an ancient well.
The oval mound observed by the Proctors in their visit to Wadi Sayq. Was this the construction site for Nephi's ship?

Later, the Proctors observed an oval rock pattern outline on the beach in the exact shape of a ship. It measured 130 feet long by 65 feet wide. At each end and in the middle of the pattern was a large buildup of rocks. Could these have been the supports for the scaffolding of a ship? Curiously, here, in this oval shape, the vegetation grew more densely. Piles of rocks could be seen leading in succession to the high-water tide line of the ocean, perhaps used as supports for a launching ramp.
Not far from here was a large, concave, half-moon-shaped rock with an air shaft that ran completely underneath. Observing the traces of carbon built up on the rock face, they wondered if this might be a candidate for a foundry. The rock, the mound, and the oval shape of a ship were all proximate to each other. It's possible the double line of rocks from the fresh water to the mound was used to bring water to run some kind of waterworks, if the mound might have once been some kind of pully system used to build a ship.
It is not known who built these structures, they have not been dated, and it is impossible to say what they were used for. But it is no longer possible to ridicule the Book of Mormon story of Lehi's crossing of a barren desert and his climactic landing on a lush, forested, protected beach that meets all the conditions required by the story.

Final Resting Place of Noah's Ark:
The Bible says in Gen. 8:4 that the Ark came to rest on the mountains (plural) of Ararat. At the time Moses wrote Genesis Ararat was a mountainous region located in what is today Eastern Turkey. The Bible only gives a general location for the final resting place of Noah's Ark. Contrary to what many Christians believe, the Bible does not say the Ark landed on the Mt. Ararat of today. There is, however, compelling evidence from ancient history that the Ark landed on a mountain about 200 miles south of Mt. Ararat. Josephus seems to be referring to this mountain, and he claims it still existed in his day. An Arabic historian says the last remains of the Ark were hauled away about 1000 A.D.

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah's Ark. 
The group claims that carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old, meaning they date to around the same time the ark was said to be afloat. Mt. Ararat has long been suspected as the final resting place of the craft by evangelicals and literalists hoping to validate biblical stories

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/27/noahs-ark-found-turkey-ararat/#ixzz1S4gg2A9Y

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