Monday, July 5, 2010
The influence of Jaredite Nation (Olmecs)
As I stated in an earlier post Dr. Jerry Ainsworths book "The Life and Travels of Mormon and Moroni" has greatly influenced the way I read,study, and look at the scriptures. I decided to post a brief section from this book in regards to the importance of the Jaredite nation and the influence it had upon the Mayans,Nephites and Lehites as well.
"The Book of Mormon records that there would be "none greater than the nation" of the Jaredites "upon all the face of the earth" (Ether 1:43). Other cultures certainly revered the Quinamis or Olmec, as appears from their attempts to identify with them. In fact, it was common for later pre-Columbian peoples to rewrite their history and genealogy to make it appear as if they had descended from them. The Aztecs and many Mayan kings did this.
"As one writer observes, "While they were in the process of adopting the customs of the ancient culture... they finally assimilated the old language and beliefs to such an extent that after a few generations had gone by they had forgotten their obscure origins, and the chiefs of the various tribes had proclaimed themselves descendants of the glorous people who had flourished in these same parts in old times." (Sejourne, Burning Waters, 20-21).
Not only did later peoples, such as the Aztecs, Maya , and others incorporate Olmec culture into their own, so did the Nephites. The four sons of Jared, for example, were called Jacom, Gilgah, Mahah, and Orihah. The last two names end in hah, which in Maya means "by, or connected to water." These two sons, in other words may have been born while traveling on or living by the ocean. A search of Book of Mormon names from Lehi to Mosiah yields no names ending in hah. Once King Mosiah translated the plates of Ether, however, the term hah came into use.
The term hah appears in proper Nephite names and in the names of Nephite cities. The Nephites' incorporating this and other Jaredite terms into their vocabulary signifies their esteem for Jaredite culture. Even today, any Mayan city whose name ends in ha or hah is situated by or connected to water. Altun-Ha for example, is the site of an ancient Mayan city by a river on the coast of Belize. Xel-Ha is an ancint site on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that is used as a water resort today. Misol-Ha is the site of a waterfall and ancient ruins by the river south of Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico. It's therefore a safe assumption that the names of the Nephite cities of Moronihah and Nephihah refer to their proximity to water.
The greatness of the Jaredites is such that one finds few references in sacred writ in which incidents occurred like those Ether describes. The brother of Jared received marvelous revelations and accomplished things equal to those of the great prophets of recorded history. He was shown every soul that had been or would be born upon this earth. A comprehensive account of what the brother of Jared saw appears in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. His faith and accomplishments in leading a group of people across the sea to this land are inspiring.
The prophet Ether also saw the days fo Christ and what would occur on this continent to the end of time. He saw the creation of new heavens and a new earth, and he recorded the history of the Jaredites. The Jaredites built "many mighty cities" upon this land and prospered exceedingly in their times of righteousness (see Ether 9:16-23, 10:19-28).
The large stone heads ascribed to the Olmec are from the time period and location of the Jaredite."