In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fortifications, Watchtowers and City/State Leadership found in Mayan Civilization and Book of Mormon

Rock Wall covered in vegetation used as a border
marker built by ancient Mayans

For those of you who know me you know that I have a fascination with archaeology and anthropology especially in correlation with Book of Mormon lands. So when I stumbled across an article by Zach Zorich entitled, “Defending a Jungle Kingdom” on I was quite impressed with some of the recent findings that have taken place on the Mexico/Guatemala border.

In the mountainous rainforest’s of Mexico and Guatemala the Usumacinta River forms a natural border. This border was crisscrossed by constantly moving borders and boundries made by different Mayan kings used to mark their kingdom territory. Although these borders were constantly expanding and decreasing due to the size of a kingdoms influence there is still very little evidence of these actual kingdom borders. Little was known until a recent discovery of a series of stone walls about three to six feet tall. These walls extend the better part of a four mile stretch through the rainforest separating the kingdoms of Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras and were used to protect Yaxchilan’s northern border. The team of researchers were able to better understand what they were looking at with the help of the Guatemalan park guides who actually used the same walls when then themselves were participating in the Guatemalan civil war that took place in the 80’s and 90’s (I can almost hear Hugh Nibley asking, then have we progressed at all in the past 1300 years?).I

n the article it states, “The rough terrain limits the routes that a person can easily walk through the area. Once the archaeologists knew what they were looking for, finding the walls became easy. Just outside of Tecolote, an ancient town 10 miles north of Yaxchilan, every path seems to lead to a stone wall between two hills. Evidence of watchtowers on top of the hills indicates that soldiers had a place from which to watch for approaching enemies. “They are not building one super-wall. They are building little walls between all these little hills that they can control very easily,” says Charles Golden of Brandeis University who is one of the research team who came to the region in 2003, “It creates an easy funnel. They can catch anyone going south or north through the valleys.” The walls themselves would block the path of the enemy’s advance. “It’s a natural control point”.

The use of watchtowers in Mayan warfare immediately triggers a knee jerk reaction to the use of these watchtowers in the Book of Mormon. For instance in Mosiah 19: when Gideon is about to slay the fleeing wicked King Noah who flees to the top of the tower where King Noah sees the Lamanites withing the borders of the land of Shemlon. Or in Alma 46:36 where Captain Moroni causes that the Title of Liberty be hoisted on top of every tower in the land. Now whether these towers be Mesoamerican type of pyramid temples or watchtower fortresses both would fit very nicely in a Mesoamerican setting.

Watchtower/Fortress built along Maya border fortifications
Also noted in the article it state, “Near the walls, the team has documented a series of these settlements: Chicozapote, La Pasadita, Tecolote, and El Tunel. The warriors who defended the border probably lived in these settlements with their families. The settlements were ruled by sajals, who were counselors to the king, administrators, and war leaders responsible for defending the border and leading attacks against the kingdom’s enemies.”These sajal’s or administrators to the king also fit very nicely into the Book of Mormon setting especially when we look at the story of Ammon and Lamoni. Lamoni being king in the land of Ishmael and upon his conversion helped Ammon to go to the land of Manti to free his brethren only to run into Lamoni’s father who was king over all the land. Here we see kind of a city/state relationship where Lamoni’s father is the king over all the state while Lamoni is king over the city or land of Ishmael.

Although there have been ancient fortress fortifications found in the new world and the city/state kingship is nothing new I think that the more these types of evidences surface the better our understanding of the Mayan civilization will become and the more correlations we will be able to see to those of the Book of Mormon.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing, Jody!