Monday, January 15, 2018

Maya Place Names

An important monograph entitled Place and Identity in Classic Maya Narratives (hereafter Place) was published in 2013 by Dumbarton Oaks (part of Harvard University). It is an updated version of Alexandre Tokovinine's Harvard PhD dissertation published in 2008. Tokovinine spent many years working on the famed Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions (CMHI) alongside William and Barbara Fash. He specializes in toponyms and curates the world's leading database of over 2,300 instances of place names in ancient Mayan. He makes the database freely available in Microsoft Access format. Some of the toponyms are mythological, but an increasing percentage of place names can be correlated with known archaeological sites. Tokovinine's monograph incorporates many of the latest advances in rapidly-evolving Maya epigraphy, building on the foundation laid by David Stuart and Stephen Houston in their seminal 1994 Classic Maya Place Names also published by Dumbarton Oaks.
Study of Place Names in Ancient Maya Texts
The cover illustration is Heather Hurst's rendition of Mural 6N, Structure 1, La Sufricaya, which was commissioned no later than AD 379 just one year after the noted "entrada" of Sihyaj K'ahk' (Fire is Born) from Teotihuacan into the Peten. Mural 6N is generally interpreted as a visual representation of a 1,000 kilometer pilgrimage from the Maya Lowlands to Teotihucan in Central Mexico. Might students of the Nephite text be interested in a Mesoamerican map drawn during Book of Mormon times? I read Tokovinine with considerable anticipation and was well-rewarded for my effort.

Place p. 7 mentions the common Maya phrase uhtiiy translated as "it happened." LDS and Restoration Branch (formerly Community of Christ) scholars have compared this phrase with the ubiquitous Book of Mormon "it came to pass" 1 Nephi 1:4-7 (and more than 1,300 other instances).

Place p. 7 references lakam ha' as one of the ancient Maya names for Palenque. The ha' suffix denoting "water" is a component in many ancient Maya place names such as sak ha'. We find a similar suffix in the Book of Mormon place names Ammonihah Alma 8:6-9, Moronihah 3 Nephi 8:10, Nephihah Alma 50:14, and Onihah 3 Nephi 9:7.

Place p. 8 says Maya toponyms often reference mountains, rocks, lakes, rivers, and springs. We find similar referents among Book of Mormon place names:
Place p. 8 says some Maya toponyms end in la. A handful of Book of Mormon place names end in "la" or "lah:" Zarahemla Omni 1:12, hill Riplah Alma 43:31,45, Angola Mormon 2:4.

Place p. 9 mentions corn (maize) as an important component of Maya toponyms. Corn is attested in the text Mosiah 7:22, 9: 9,14.

Place pp. 10, 43 describes the Maya notion of kaaj ordered, settled space versus k'a'ax "chaotic wilderness or forest." The Book of Mormon demarcates settlements from adjacent wilderness Alma 16:2Alma 58:13-14.

Place p. 10 says the Maya used the term ti' (edge/mouth of) in a similar way the Book of Mormon uses the term "borders" Alma 8:3,5, Alma 50:14. The component "ti" is attested in Book of Mormon place names: Manti Alma 16:6,7, Ani-Anti Alma 21:11. Manti is one of the places the Book of Mormon text explicitly correlates with borders Alma 22:27Alma 43:32.

Place p. 11 mentions the term te' (tree) as a component of Maya toponyms. The Book of Mormon city name Teancum Mormon 4:3, 6-7 contains a similar element.

Place p. 11 says many Maya place names incorporate the component naah (buildings). One Book of Mormon place has "nah" in its name: city of Gadiomnah 3 Nephi 9:8

Place p. 13 identifies one of the mountains towering over Palenque with the Maya Yehmal K'uk' Lakam Witz, a place where the king performed rituals. V. Garth Norman identifies 588 meter Mirador hill which towers over Palenque with hill Manti Alma 1:15, the place where Nehor was executed for murder.
Palenque and Proposed Hill Manti (Mirador Hill)
Place p. 13 says the Maya occasionally used double place names. The Book of Mormon peoples occasionally used double place names such as Lehi-Nephi Mosiah 7:1-2, 4 and Ani-Anti Alma 21:11.

Place p. 14 reports that two stelae from the site of Dos Pilas talk of "binding" carved monuments containing writing. The Book of Mormon talks of "sealing up" written records Ether 4:5, Moroni 10:2.

A major problem in Book of Mormon geography right now is the relative scale of distance we should expect between sites. Some mapmakers interpret the text to mean that the Nephite saga played out on a small, intimate landscape such as a single region within modern Costa Rica. Others imagine a vast, sprawling landscape such as North America from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The classic Maya world gives us a very useful model of demonstrable relationships from which we can calculate accurate distances. Maya city states in the AD 300 to AD 900 time frame operated in a world where 20 to 250 air kilometers was a routine distance but 1,000 air kilometers was an exceptional distance traveled by elites perhaps once in a lifetime. Place in dozens of instances mentions pairs of archaeological sites with an association of some kind that got memorialized in a hieroglyphic text. Summarizing some of these associations gives us a firm idea of the distances between sites that were typical in the classic era.
  • p. 16 Dos Pilas and Cancuen 55 air kilometers
  • p. 16 Calakmul and Oxpemul 20 air kilometers
  • p. 17 Dos Pilas and Oxpemul 212 air kilometers
  • p. 17 Rio Azul and Los Alacranes 23 air kilometers
  • p. 54 La Sufricaya and Teotihuacan 1,042 air kilometers
  • p. 71 Moral-Reforma and Palenque 88 air kilometers
  • p. 71 Palenque and Tortuguero 47 air kilometers
  • p. 71 Dzibanche and Calakmul 126 air kilometers
  • pp. 81, 111 Calakmul and Cancuen 233 air kilometers
  • p. 105 Dos Pilas and Naranjo 136 air kilometers
  • p. 113 Naranjo and Machaquila 129 air kilometers
  • p. 116 Tikal and Dos Pilas 146 air kilometers
These results concur closely with our analysis of relative distances in the Book of Mormon documented in the article "Things Near and Far." John L. Sorenson's conclusion that the Book of Mormon internally requires a location hundreds but not thousands of kilometers in extent seems vindicated.

Place on the other hand directly contradicts Sorenson's much-maligned system of skewed directionality. The phrase "cardinal directions" appears perhaps a dozen times in Tokovinine with several maps and illustrations showing precisely what the Maya meant when they used the terms "east," "north," "west," and "south." Tikal (pp. 95-97) offers a clear example. From the perspective of Tikal at the center of its dominion, Altun Ha was east, Edzna north, Palenque west and Copan south. All four vectors radiating out from Tikal to these places are within a few degrees of the astronomically-derived cardinal directions.
Tikal at the Center of its Quadripartite World
Aligned to the Four Cardinal Directions
Teotihuacan is referenced in several early classic Maya inscriptions. It is always described as west of the Maya lowland sites of Tikal, Ucanal, Pusilha, Machaquila, Dos Pilas, and Yaxchilan (Place p. 95).
Teotihuacan West of Maya Lowland Sites
This mainstream understanding of ancient solar-based Mesoamerican directionality is further documented in the articles "Water Fight on the River - Round Ten," "Test #5 North South East and West," "Quichean Directionality," and "Light from L.A."

I am convinced the interpretation of "narrow neck of land" as "isthmus" causes much of the confusion that currently dominates Book of Mormon geography thinking. See the article "Red Herrings." Place p. 24 adds another data point to the discussion. It says the Maya word "neck" in spatial context connotes "edge" or limit. This fits well with our correlation of the narrow neck of land as Barra San Marcos running along the edge of the Chiapas coast.
Proposed Narrow (Small) Neck of Land
Place p. 25 examines a term found frequently in ancient Maya toponyms: ch'e'n meaning "cave, opening, hole, hollow, or cavity." One is reminded of the Book of Mormon phrase "cavity of a rock" describing the hiding places of Nephi and his brothers 1 Nephi 3:27 and the prophet Ether Ether 13:13-14, 18, 22.

Place p. 16 mentions the Maya place name Haluum ending in "um." The Book of Mormon contains several place names ending in "um:" Antionum Alma 31:3, Antum Mormon 1:3, Irreantum 1 Nephi 17:5, Mocum 3 Nephi 9:7, Moriantum Moroni 9:9, Ripliancum Ether 15:8, Teancum Mormon 4:3, 6-7.

Place p. 16 mentions a precious and powerful royal hierloom passed down from king to king. The Nephite crown jewels (plates of brass, sword of Laban, Liahona) were precious royal hierlooms passed down from king to king Mosiah 1:16.

Place p. 16 identifies Chi'k Nahb and Huxte' Tuun as ancient Maya names for Calakmul and the surrounding area. The Book of Mormon mentions cities with "land round about:" Shilom Mosiah 7:21, Helam Mosiah 23:25.

Place p. 16 indicates that the wall of the Calakmul North Acropolis was prominent enough to have its own name: Chi'k Nahb Kot. The Book of Mormon describes cities with prominent walls: Nephihah Alma 62:20-24, Zarahemla Helaman 16:1-2.

Place p. 17 mentions a Maya place name incorporating the element ton. The Book of Mormon has a place name incorporating the element "ton:" Morianton Alma 50:25-26.

Place p. 19 says the Maya had different words for city (kaj) and land (kab). Cities and lands are fundamental polities in the Book of Mormon Alma 58:10, 33.

Place p. 28 lists sites whose dynasties had remote origins: Palenque, Bonampak, Piedras Negras, Calakmul, Dos Pilas, Aguateca, and Cancuen. Mosiahfounded a non-local dynasty at Zarahemla Omni 1:19.

Place p. 29 indicates one Maya name for temple, uwitzil uk' uhuul, was related to the name for hill or mountain, witz, and meant "the mountain of the god." The Book of Mormon, quoting Isaiah, relates mountains and temples as houses of the Lord 2 Nephi 12:2-3.

Place p. 33 says common Maya words for warfare were the verbs burning pul and chopping ch'ak.
Burning was a major part of warfare in the Book of Mormon Mormon 5:5, Ether 14:17.

Place p. 43 explains the Maya word for agricultural lands, luum, associated with urban areas, kaaj, and wilderness, k'a'ax. Kab was a more general term referring to property or the earth in general. The Book of Mormon has all four landscape classifications: fields Alma 34:20, 24-25, villages and cities Alma 23:14, wilderness Alma 43:22-24, and the generic possessions Alma 58:3. The Book of Mormon also uses the term "earth" in a general sense Alma 5:16,17.

Place p. 47 describes the couplets kab, earth, and chan, sky, which when paired connote the totality of the whole earth. The common Book of Mormon variant is "heaven and earth" Alma 11:39.

Place p. 48 talks about sky, earth, and water bands as pictorial conventions in Maya iconography. This same tripartite division of the world is attested in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 13:12.

Noted BYU archaeologist John E. Clark believes the Book of Mormon idea that trees can grow from humans Alma 32:28, 37, 41 is one of the strongest evidences of the book's authenticity. The idea is relatively unique and highly arbitrary. This man-tree notion is well-attested in Mesoamerican iconography. See the article "Anthropomorphic Trees." Place p. 48 describes images on the side of K'inich Janaab' Pakal's sarcophagus in the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque depicting ancestors of the entombed king sprouting as fruit trees.
Female Ancestor of Pakal as Fruit Tree
Drawing by Merle Greene Robertson
Place p. 52 indicates the Maya associated wilderness with mountains. The Book of Mormon explicitly associates wilderness and mountains Helaman 11:28,31.

Place p. 53 reproduces a wall painting with mountain and cave imagery from Rio Azul Tomb 1. The style and some of the motifs are similar to those on Kaminaljuyú (KJ) Stela 10.
Rio Azul Tomb 1 Wall Painting
The trefoil eye, aka "death eye," is generally interpreted to mean the figure represents a deceased person.
Kaminaljuyú Stela 10, Drawing by Lucia Henderson

Henderson in her superb 2013 PhD dissertation mentions strong stylistic relationships between KJ and the lowland Maya centers San Bartolo and Rio Azul.
KJ Influence in the Maya Lowlands
This is of interest because KJ is a leading candidate for the city of Nephi. See the article "Kaminaljuyu."

Place p. 54 interprets a late pre-classic facade from Holmul as a feathered serpent being exhaled from a mountain cave. Tokovinine says this image shows the idea of wind emanating from a mountain. Flying serpents are attested in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 17:41. Nephi's Jesus Christ is represented by both avian and serpentine symbols 2 Nephi 25:13, 20. The feathered serpent deity in Mesoamerica was associated with wind. Quetzalcoatl in Aztec times was represented wearing a wind breastplate or wind jewel. The Book of Mormon explicitly attributes the source of wind to deity Ether 2:24.

Place p. 55 discusses the map depicted on the monograph cover at the top of this article. It was painted as part of a mural at La Sufricaya in AD 378 or 379. A similar scene was painted at Copan about this same time. In both cases, the scenes show Maya lords travelling to Teotihuacan, probably on a pilgrimage to receive an investiture of authority. What were the Nephites doing in AD 378 - 379 when these emissaries were traveling to Central Mexico? They were in the land northward, regrouping at Jordan and environs after being routed out of Boaz. Mormon had re-taken command of the Nephite military. Mormon had moved the Nephite record repository from hill Shim to hill Cumorah because the security situation around hill Shim had become unstable. In AD 379 the Nephites were a mere six years from annihilation at hill Cumorah.
Known and Proposed Locations of Historical Events
AD 375 - 379
A great deal of land was devoted to agriculture in the Maya world, but Place p. 55 says luum, the Maya term for cultivated fields, seldom appears in hieroglyphic inscriptions. Maya lords and scribes were simply interested in other things such as lineage, ritual, and conquest, and took humble agricultural pursuits for granted. We see the same under-representation of agriculture in the Book of Mormon. This is the number of instances certain words appear in the text:
  • crop 1
  • wheat 2
  • plow 2
  • corn 3
  • seed (not referring to human posterity) 14
  • grain 25
  • field (not all instances pertain to agriculture) 27
  • weapon 52
  • contention 81 
  • battle 125
  • war 167
  • faith 222
  • king 426
Nephite scribes clearly followed Nephi's instructions in 1 Nephi 9:4 and 1 Nephi 19:4 to record primarily political and military events on the large plates.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Refugee Eagle Scouts

5 young men from Great Salt Lake Council's Troop 1262 were awarded Eagle Scout badges this evening at a ceremony in the South Salt Lake Stake Center. This troop, consisting primarily of youth from Burmese (Myanmarese) refugee families living in Salt Lake, has awarded 29 Eagles in its 10 years of existence.
Five  New Eagle Scouts
Troop 1262's story is so compelling a four-man crew from CBS has been in Salt Lake for the last several days filming an episode that will air soon on CBS Sunday Morning.

The Karen and Karenni peoples are persecuted minorities in Myanmar and a number of them have been resettled from refugee camps on the Thai/Burmese border to Utah. Children in these refugee families often struggle to adapt to US life ways.

Ten years ago, Bob Roylance invited 5 Karen boys into his home in an effort to keep them from recidivism back into the Utah juvenile justice system. He and his wife, Susan, determined that what these young men really needed in their lives was scouting. The first troop meetings were held in the Roylance home in South Jordan.

Fast forward 10 years and 250 young men are active in Salt Lake refugee troops serving formerly at-risk youth from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. A delegation of refugee scouts, assisted by Senator Orrin Hatch's office which expedited immigration paperwork, attended the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan. The program is so successful that with cooperation from the State of Utah 500 young men will likely be enrolled in Salt Lake refugee troops by the end of 2018. Most of the adult leadership comes from native Utahan Latter-day Saints. Fortunately, adult refugee participation is increasing.
Venturing Scouts Receiving Denali Awards 
Many of these young men end up being baptized, serving missions, and going to college.

Bob Roylance is now 80 years old. His career was in agriculture as a farm and ranch specialist working with LDS AgReserves properties.
Bob Roylance Addressing the Refugee Scout Court of Honor
Much of Bob's time these days is spent trying to decipher Book of Mormon geography. He and retired BYU soil scientist, Richard Terry, have developed the "Pasión River Model" that places Nephi at Tzalcam, Baja Verapaz; Zarahemla at Seibal, Alta Verapaz; and Hill Cumorah on the Quintana Roo side of the Rio Azul (Rio Hondo).
Bob Roylance's Pasión River Model
Now for the back story. While I (Kirk Magleby) was serving my mission in Peru from 1972 - 1974, I corresponded with Elder Milton R. Hunter of the Seventy, sharing some of the interesting things my companions and I were discovering on our P Days (the "P" stood for "preparation" in our era). Elder Hunter, whom President David O. McKay had designated the point man among the brethren for Book of Mormon studies, arranged for me to remain in South America doing research for 2 months at the end of my mission. During those 2 months, a "Book of Mormon" tour group visited Peru and I met Newell and Cora Gene Anderson from eastern Washington who had a strong interest in the Nephite scripture.  A few years later I happened to meet the Andersons again along with their children and spouses at a hotel in Guatemala City. We visited archaeological sites together for a couple of days. That was when I first met Susan Roylance, the Anderson's oldest daughter, and her husband, Bob. In 1978, Susan was the Republican nominee for US Congress from House District #4 in the State of Washington. She has played a significant role in women's, family, and health issues at the UN and globally for decades. This Deseret News article speaks to her effectiveness as an advocate for family-friendly causes in an often family-hostile political world. In retirement, Bob has helped impoverished farmers in Africa and elsewhere improve yields, build storage infrastructure, and develop viable cash crops.

By 1982, Bob and Susan had moved to Murray, UT. I was working with John W. (Jack) Welch and John L. Sorenson getting FARMS up and running. Susan Roylance came on board to assist us with fund-raising. She was very helpful in those early days with branding and promotion. Susan guided us to polish the FARMS Newsletter (Insights, an Ancient Window) into an effective communication organ that soon began to reach thousands.
Bob and Susan Roylance on Sunday, January 7, 2018
One of the Most Remarkable Couples in the LDS Church
Susan's mother, Cora Gene, now 94, lives with the Roylances. This evening I was privileged to update them on some of the exciting projects we are currently working on at Book of Mormon Central. Susan described a Book of Mormon drama she envisions by and for the Karen refugees she and Bob serve. The Book of Mormon is not yet available in the Karen or Karenni languages, but its powerful narratives have universal appeal.

The closing prayer at tonight's Eagle Court of Honor quoted Mosiah 2:17 "...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."