In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kish and Zenock, Whats in a name?

Kish, "Kix"hieroglyph from
The question has often been asked if there are any known Book of Mormon names in Mayan hieroglyphs? The answer differs depending on who the question is being asked too. There are some names that may or may not have a direct reference to the Book of Mormon or due to language and writing/translation differences they may or may not apply to similar names found in the Book of Mormon. One of such names is that of Kish. We know very little about Kish and it comes from the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. In Ether 10:17-18 it states “…and Kish reigned in his stead. And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.”

As pointed out by Daniel Johnson in his article, “Book of Mormon Comparisons, Names and Maya glyphs” Joseph Allen seemed to take first notice of this name when it was originally cited by Bruce Warren who is an LDS archaeologist. Both noted that a name and birth date of the possible Jaredite King named Kish could be found in Maya glyphs on the Temple of the Cross in Palenque. Daniel then asked the question, “Why would a Jaredite King be mentioned in Classic Maya text dealing with royal lineages in Palenque?”

Temple of the Cross Tablet in Palenque
This is answered to some degree in the way that Maya Kings justified their royal lineages. They would do this by tracing their lineages back through other kings or civilizations. The Maya would do this with the great Olmec civilization.It appears that this is what was being done at Palenque by Kan Balam, son of the great King Pakal. Apparently Kish was one of the people traced in his lineage. The actual name in at the Temple of the Cross in Palenque is "U Kix Kan" but the word "Kix" is translated as "Kish" thus reading King U Kish Kan who was born on Wednesday, 8 March 993 B.C. In San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan in southern Mexico.
According to Bruce Warren the translated meaning of his name is Kish means "feather" and Kan means "serpent". Daniel Johnson offered a subsequent translation meaning "stingray spine" which would have been used for bloodletting sacrifices. Kish is considered a prominent Olmec and Mayan name. It was also common among the Jaredites who existed during the same time as the Olmecs (many LDS scholars agree that the Jaredites to some degree were part of the Olmec civilization). Different versions of the name were used by the Jaredites such as Akish and Riplakish.

It must be noted as pointed out by Daniel Johnson that further insights into the translation of the work "kix" have come into question as of recently. Daniel noted that, "The glyph does represent a stingray spine, but since these items were used for sacrificial bloodletting, it may also signify a needle, fang, or other sharp implement used for the same purpose. In a wider sense, it also represents creation and conception, so the same glyph can refer to parentage. Cross-referencing these words in Mayan dictionaries suggests that the reading of this glyph should be kokan". "Kokan" means "fang of serpent" meaning that stingray spine glyph may have originated as a snakes tooth also meaning that the name of the king in question would have been U-Kokan-Kan. We may never know which translation is correct but it does open the door for further study.

Tenoch artwork, founder of Tenochtitlan
Another name that may have persisted in Ancient America that was pointed out by Diane E. Wirth in her article "Did Book of Mormon Names Persist in Ancient America?" is that of Zenock. Zenock was an Israelite prophet who prophesied the coming of Jesus and his ministry. He can be found quoted through the Book of Mormon by other prophets such as Alma and Nephi. These prophecies would have been available to both Nephites and Lamanites because both at times played the role of the wicked and righteous and both having had ample opportunities to be familiar with the teachings of Zenock. In the original Book of Mormon manuscript the spelling of Zenock was actually "Zenoch".

Zenoch's Mesoamerican relation can be found in names like that of Tenoch, the Nahuatl name of a legendary Aztec priest and leader. Tenoch was one of the founders of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan that was one of the thriving cities when the Spanish Conquest arrived. The Nahuatl name of Tenoch may have originally have been Tzenoch or Zenoch. Depending on what area of Mesoamerica different spelling variations of the Tz, z, t, and ts combinations can be found. A few examples that Diane used to support this theory of Tz Nahuatl names where Tzihuacohuatl (also known as Tezihuaccoahutlutl) who was a Nahua chief and also the name of Zwanga a Tarasco King which was also spelled Tzihuanga. This suggests that with the name of Zenoch would have eventually shifted to Tzenoch and eventually dropped the "z" and became Tenoch. What I have presented here today are two possible Book of Mormon names that influence either direct or indirect in Mesoamerican glyphs and language. Although the study of Mesoamerican languages and their influences past and present would be required for any attempt to further substantiate these examples they do stand as significant places for those interested to start.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Captain Teancum vs Tecun Uman the Guatemalan National Hero

Captain Teancum slays Amalickiah
Most of us tend to have a few favorite people or stories when we read the scriptures and one of mine especially when I was a young man was that of Captain Teancum. To those who may or may not be familiar with Teancum’s story I will briefly share it. Teancum was a great military leader from the Book of Mormon in one of its books (The Book of Alma). Some of his major accomplishments include the stopping of the army of Nephite dissent splinter group known as the inhabitants of Morianton in which Teancum personally took the life of Morianton their leader and defeated his army taking prisoners and allowing those who took an oath of peace to return to their homes.

His next major accomplishment was the assassination of Amalickiah. Amalickiah was also a Nephite like Teancum but due to political turmoil and ulterior motives to obtain the judgment seat without success he
dissented and started a campaign to ascend to the throne of the Lamanite kingdom through secrecy and murder. Amalickiah’s plan proved to work with the Lamanites and before he knew it with a handful of murders and plots he became the king and waged war on the Nephites by stirring up the hearts of the Lamanites against them. Amalickiah proved to be a formidable opponent to the Nephite Captains (Moroni, Teancum, Lehi and others). At one point in the continuing battles Amalickiah was able to defeat and conquer seven Nephite cities before he ran into Teancum and his elite group of soldiers. After battling all day with Teancum’s forces Amalickiah’s army had been drive back and eventually pitched their tents and slept for the night because of fatigue in fighting all day. It was at this point that Teancum snuck into the Lamanite camp at night with his servant and used his javelin to pierce Amalickiah in the heart killing him immediately. Upon fleeing back to his camp without being noticed Teancum quickly prepared his army for battle with the Lamanites. The next morning the Lamanite army fled back to the city of Mulek for protection.

The last great accomplishment of Teancum was the assassination of Ammoron the brother of Amalickiah. Ammoron was determined to carry on his brother’s war. In frustration of battle Teancum was determined to attempt a similar assassination attempt on Ammoron’s life. He let himself over the city wall of Nephihah at night and crept into Ammoron’s tent and again used a javelin to attempt to pierce his heart this time the blow did not immediately kill and allowed him to cry out and awake his guards and servants. Teancum fled but the
servants were eventually able kill Teancum. His death was greatly mourned by Captain Moroni and Captain Lehi. As can be seen in the above summary Teancum could be one of the most courageous captains or military leaders of all time second to maybe Captain Moroni. It seems odd that such a national hero’s story would disappear with time with not trace of such accomplishments left through myth or traditional stories. Thanks to recent findings by Robert A. Pate, PhD and author of such books as “Mormon Names in Mayan Stone”, “Mormon Key to Maya Code” “Mapping the Book of Mormon “and “Mormon Footprint in Mesoamerica” we may have a traditional story highly influenced by non other than Captain Teancum.

Tecun Uman Guatemalan National
The legend of the Guatemalan national hero Tecun Uman (or Tecun Umam) states that he was the last great ruler or king of the K’iche (Quiche’) Maya people in the highlands of what is now Guatemala. According to
the Kaqchikel annals he was killed in battle with Spanish Conquistador Don Pedro de Alvarado while fighting at El Pinal on February 20th 1524. Tecun Uman is remembered for his bravery because he was fighting to protect his people. He was declared Guatemala’s national hero on March 22nd 1960. The legends say Tecún Umán entered battle adorned with precious quetzal feathers, and his nahual (animal spirit guide), also a quetzal bird, accompanied him during the battle. In the midst of the fray, both Alvarado and Tecún, warriors from worlds apart, met face to face, each with weapon in hand. Alvarado was clad in armor and mounted on his warhorse. As horses were not native to the Americas and peoples of Mesoamerica had no beasts of burden of their own, Tecún Umán assumed they were one being and killed Alvarado's horse. (While another version says he merely attacked the horse in an attempt to knock Alvarado down, having no prior illusion that both man and animal to be one and the same.) He quickly realized his error and turned for a second attack but Alvarado's spear pierced through his opponent's chest and into his heart. It was then his nahual, filled with grief, landed on the fallen hero's chest, staining its breast feathers red with blood, and thereafter died. From that day on, all male quetzals bear a scarlet breast and their song has not been heard since. Further, if one is to be placed in captivity, it would die, making the quetzal a symbol of liberty.

It is believed that "Tecún Umán" was more than likely not the ruler's name at all but may have functioned as a sort of title. The earliest recorded appearance of the name is in the Título K'oyoi in which he is referred to as "nima rajpop achij adelantado Tecum umam rey k'iche' don k'iq'ab'." Translated, this phrase means: "great captain-general Tecum, grandson of the K'iche' king Don K'iqab'." Therefore the word "uman" or
"umam" simply means "grandson of" and is not part of Tecún's name at all. It has been suggested that "umam" may have been a reference to his genealogy, or the name may have originally been derived from another title given to the hero, "q'uq'umam", meaning "ancient one of quetzal feathers". According to Dr. Pate,

“The legend of the national hero of Guatemala, Tecun Uman (also written Tecum Umam), is based in part on the history of Teancum. Even the name Te-cum is from Te-an-cum. In Quiché they refer to him as the “Lord of the Banners and Staffs”. Te-an-cum literally means “pole - up high - coat” or “coat up high on a pole”, as in “Title of Liberty.”

Tecun Uman on Guatemalan Currency
With this translation knowledge along with the traditional stories would it be reasonable to conclude that Tecun Uman could be a descendent of Captain Teancum? We know that it was a common occurance for the Maya to trace their ancestry to claim a position of leadership. With the designation of Uman added to his title meaning “grandson of” leads me to believe this may have some sort of genealogical reference. If we consider the traditional story of Tecun Uman defending his people along with Dr. Pates reference to the meaning of Teancum Quiche meaning “Pole-up high-coat” as in the Title of Liberty which was a coat which Captain Moroni tore and placed upon a pole as a standard to his people (which would include Teancum). On that coat it stated, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”. This would be a likely correlation between the two. Last but not least we have the manner in which Tecum was killed. The legend states, “He quickly realized his error and turned for a second attack but Alvarado's spear pierced through his opponent's chest and into his heart”. This manner of death is the exact same manner in which Teancum killed is opponents Amalickiah and Ammoron, with a spear (or javelin) through the heart. As stated above Tecum Uman was more than likely not his name it was more or less a title or position that would have been given due to direct relation or due to the similarity of the legends of these two heroes. Either way it seems that the traditional story or title of Captain Teancum is held with high regard with the Guatemalan people even to the point of being handed down as a title to other great leaders (who may or may not have been related to him).

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Book of Mormon's elusive "reformed Egyptian" may not be so elusive after all

Anthon Transcript
Over the past few weeks during my studies I found a continuing pattern of running into questions about “reformed Egyptian”. These were usually from naysayers stating that there is either no such thing as reformed Egyptian or people just questioning if we have any documents or findings that have reformed Egyptian because this is what we are advised by Nephi that the Book of Mormon was written in. Also if we do have any relics or documents with reformed Egyptian how do they compare with the Anthon Transcripts.

 To those not familiar with the Anthon Transcript it is a document that was a copy of some of the characters that were taken from the golden plates (Reformed Egyptian) used in the translation process of what is now the Book of Mormon. They were copied by Joseph Smith jr. and taken by Martin Harris to scholar/Egyptologist Charles Anthon of Columbia University who would confirm their authenticity and correct translation but when he asked Harris how they were obtained and finding out that they were part of the Golden plates that were given to Joseph Smith jr from an angel (Moroni) Charles Anthon tore up his confirmation of authenticity. In 1838, Joseph Smith related an account based on Harris' version of the meeting. Smith wrote that Anthon "stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. [Harris] then showed him those not yet translated, and said they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and that they were "true characters." According to the same account, Anthon provided Harris with a certificate as to the veracity of the characters but tore it up after learning the characters were copied from a book said to have been delivered by an angel.

Example of Micmac writing system
With that aside it has always been of interest for LDS scholars to try to find some of these same reformed Egyptian characters in other writing systems because it would add authenticity to the Book of Mormon and be looked upon as a direct bulls eye as far as evidences for the book are concerned. I have heard from Rod Meldrum who favors a North American setting for the Book of Mormon (Heartland theory) that some of these characters are similar to ones that have been found in the Native American Micmac (Algonquin) writing glyphs, which I personally do find interesting although I openly do not support an North American setting for the Book of Mormon. (Rod and I can agree to disagree but there is no disputing his love for researching the Book of Mormon as I have attended a few of his seminars). 

Along with the Micmac characters there are other relics that have raised some eyebrows because of their similarities to the characters on the Anthon Transcript. One of these was pointed out by Welby W. Ricks and Diane E. Wirth. It is a roller stamp from Tlatilco, Mexico. Roller stamps were used in Mesopotamia (Near East) and in Mesoamerica. They were used to impress a signature kind of like a rolling pin thus becoming a sealed stamp. The design was impressed on clay tablets. According to Mr. Ricks “cylinder seals” were made in three different styles. 1.With handles like a rolling pin 2.With slight concave depressions at each end for holding between one’s fingers, and 3. With a hole through the center lengthwise for the use of a stick or a wire to support and roll the stamp.

Roller Stamp from Tlatilco, Mexico
 In the July 1966 issue of American Antiquity, an article by David H. Kelley tells of the finding in 1948 at Tlatilco of a “cylinder seal” or roller stamp, 8.5 cm. long and 3.5 cm. in diameter, which was identified as belonging to the “Olmec” horizon (i.e., c. 1000-500 BC). The stamp is separated into 3 registers and one is partially broken away. The other two are complete. As noted by Kelly “All three registers clearly carry sequences of arbitrary symbols which are surely part of a hitherto unknown writing system.” As pointed out by Diane E. Wirth the roller stamp found in Tlatilco is of particular interest because it has writing glyphs similar to that of the Anthon transcript. Because this writing system is currently undecipherable it is of interest as well. It must be remembered that the Nephite writing was a priestly script and those scribes were educated to be able to do this as was seen in the case of Mormon when he received the “calling” from Ammoron. 

Dr. Ainsworths friend Esteban and
reformed Egyptian stele
Dr. Jerry Ainsworth in his book, “The Life and Travels of Mormon and Moroni” actually showed a few examples of reformed Egyptian that he claims were found by a friend of his Dr. Jose Padilla. One was a stele roughly about 5-6 feet tall and 8 inches thick. Dr. Padilla advised Dr. Ainsworth and his friend Esteban that he obtained it from Xochicalco Mexico in a cave where it was being used to mark a grave. One side of the stele has a Mayan in ceremonial garb holding an ephod and a shepherds crook. The opposite side has what appears to be reformed Egyptian script. This is not the only artifact that Dr. Ainsworth revealed in his book. He also had an artifact he referred to as “the lock” that appears to also have some sort of a reformed Egyptian script that along with the stele have many comparable hieroglyphs to that of the Anthon Transcript. These are just a few examples of what could be a version of reformed Egyptian or texts that were influenced by Nephite reformed Egyptian.  I personally think there are many more evidences like these out there that are yet to see the light of day and only time will tell.