"Nephi's Harbor Expedition 2013" by George Potter
In September, twenty-four of my friends joined me on an expedition to Nephi's Harbor at Khor Rori, Oman. Like all previous trips to Oman, the Lord showed us more evidence that the Rori inlet on the Salalah plain is where Nephi built his ship.
In the year 2000, Khor Rori was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, since in ancient times it was one of the major economic activities of the world. The natural harbor is located at the end of the famous frankincense trail, the only trail that existed down through Arabia in Lehi's era. In our DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail, Tim and I provide video evidence of why Khor Rori is the best candidate for where Nephi built his ship. The scholastic evidence for the my theory is documented and is found in my booksLehi in the Wilderness (with Richard Wellington) and The Voyages of the Book of Mormon (with Frank Linehan and Conrad Dickson).
So what new surprises did we find during this expedition?
First, there was an active excavation being conducted while we were at Khor Rori. While in the ruins of the frankincense processing plant and fortress called Sumhuram, we were told by the Italian excavation architect that there was not just one ore smelter, but several places in the ruins of Khor Rori where ore was turned into metal. Undoubtedly Nephi had ample opportunity to learn how to work metal for tools to build his ship and also for making plates on which he wrote the record of his people.
Second, we found that a museum has been built at Khor Rori, which includes the construction of a traditional Omani ship. The ship now stands near the ancient shipbuilding ramps that were used during Nephi's time. While the replica ship is not of ancient design, resting on the banks of Khor Rori, it helps illustrate the value this ancient harbor held for shipwrights and for crews of the trading ships. Since antiquity, the monsoon storms in the Indian Ocean have been casting large waves all along the Omani shoreline, while the calm waters of Khor Rori protected the ships it harbored. Indeed, while on the expedition in Oman, I met an American surfer who said he had surfed that day 15-foot faces (of waves) along the beaches a short distance from the harbor.
Third, the excavators at the ruins of Sumhuram (at Khor Rori) have provided illustrations of how ships were loaded at Khor Rori in ancient times. Ships being ready for sea moored below the processing plant and were loaded by men who carried the cargo "down" to the ships. Once on the decks of the moored ships, the cargo was lowered "down" into the cargo bins in the ships' hulls. This is the same imagery that Nephi seems to have recorded when he described how the family loaded his ship.
"And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father, that we should arise and go down into the ship."
"And it came to pass that on the morrow, after we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship, with all our loadings and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us, every one according to his age; wherefore, we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and children."
In other words, they were already inside Nephi's "moored" ship before they set off to sea. Such language would have made no sense if they had built a ship on a beach, filled it with cargo, and then tried to launch it (which not only would have been impossible do to with such a heavy ship, but also would only have resulted in a shipwreck in the Omani surf.) Further, the language would have made no sense if Nephi's ship was a raft (How can you go down into a raft?).
Fourth, we found that the ancient temple at Khor Rori has been excavated. The Khor Rori temple has revealed some amazing items, including metal dishes with writing on them and metal plates. The temple will be the topic of an upcoming newsletter.
Finally, I was able to renew my friendship with Omani historian Ali Shehri whose books were extremely valuable in helping me develop my theory on Khor Rori and the Jaredites. While there I presented Ali with a copy of The Voyages of the Book of Mormon. I cited Ali's research several times in that publication.