Timothy Sedor's Newsletter

"Photographs of the Month"

Timothy Sedor with daughter-in-law Chiu-Hsin - 2012 - Bend Guard Station - Montana

Tim & Rebecca - Bend copy.jpg

Book of Mormon Explorer

 

December 2013

Neal & Bow

While the family was in the wilderness, Nephi broke his steel bow. The question begs to be asked, "Could Nephi have found bow wood in the mountains of Arabia, and if so, where? 

It became obvious to us that we needed to visit the western region of Arabia in order to find out for us what woods were there.

Fortunately for us, we knew Neil Holland, member and a retired F-15 pilot with a degree in history who was living near the Frankincense Trail in southwest Arabia. Neil has a keen interest in archaeology, desert exploring, and the Book of Mormon.

We asked Neil if he could explore for a source of bow wood in the mountains southwest of Bishah, the area on the trail where we believe Nephi broke his bow and where the trail passes close to the mountains. He agreed and made numerous trips into the Asir Mountains looking for bow wood.

Hugh Nibley wrote that the only place where bow wood grew was near the steep slopes of Mount Jasim.

Neil took our challenge and within a few weeks was on a dirt road high up Mount Jasim.

From that point, Neil began to take wood samples of trees that Dr. Nibley mentioned in his book.

One day, Neil found himself high up a tree, thousands of feet up a remote mountainside, when out of the corner of his eye he saw an approaching vehicle. The Saudi driver stopped and looked in amazement at the American hanging upside down from a limb of a tree with a saw in his hand and a smile on his face. Finally his curiosity got the best of him and asked what Neil was doing. Neil greeted him and explained that he was looking for "Geoos wa sahim" (bow and arrow wood).

The Saudi man said that the tree we were looking at was not good for bows, but further south there was another tree that was good for making bows. As they traveled southward, the Saudi pointed at another variety of tree and said that it was good. He called it the Atim tree.

We found that the Atim is a wild variety of the olive tree and that it is found on both western and eastern slopes of the Asir Mountains of southwest Arabia, the same area where we had theorized that Nephi broke his bow. The Atim tree grows only in a range about 100 miles in length and at altitudes of 6,500 to 7,800 feet.

Neil took a sample of Atim wood and made a bow from it.

The December "Photograph of the Month" is of Neil Holland and the bow he constructed from the Atim tree from Mount Jasim in western Arabia which was selected from Part 4: Discovering Nephi's Trail & Bow Wood of our 6-part film DVD, Discovering Lehi's Trail

November 2013

George

Nephi wrote in the Book of Mormon that he smelted tools that he used to build his ship. 

Back in 2006 George holds a piece of slag from the first smelter archaeologists discovered  in the ancient ruins at Khor Rori. 

The inlet of Khor Rori is the harbor where we believe Nephi built his ship. 

As noted above, several more smelters have been discovered at the harbor. 

Suggesting that metal works were abundant there during Nephi's time.

The November "Photograph of the Month" is of George in 2006 as he explains his recent research finding at and near Khor Rori on our "Nephi Project Research Discoveries" page. 

This and many more discoveries are highlighted in our major discoveries page.

October 2013

Magnet

Nephi writes, "And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools." (1 Nephi 17:9)

In April 1998, a team of researchers from Brigham Young University found a small iron ore deposit below Jabal Samhan. 

The discovery was made only five miles from Khor Rori, our candidate for Nephi's Harbor.

The team reported that "It is from these simple forms of iron ore that a person like Nephi could make tools."

In this photo George Potter repeated the BYU discovery of iron ore by dragging a magnet through a sandy wash below the mountain.

The October "Photograph of the Month" is of George holding a large magnet  was selected from Part 6: Discovering Nephi's Harbor of our 6-part film DVD, 

September 2013

Shipwright

I have spoken much about where Nephi's ship had to be constructed and that shipbuilders today have to deal with the same requirements that faced Nephi.

However, Nephi's ship was constructed not after the manner of man. 

This raises the question, "How were ships being constructed in Nephi's homeland that caused Lehi to have traveled such a great distance so his son could build a ship?"

In Nephi's time ships were being constructed near Palestine by the Phoenicians. I would call their vessels "works of art." The Phoenician ships were constructed of cedar wood.  

Today, the cedar tree is found on Lebanon's country flag.

Briefly, today the remains of Phoenician ships can be observed restored in museums. Their hulls were a thin shell of planks joined edge-to-edge and then stiffened by a keel and light transverse ribs. 

We probably could say that Nephi considered this technique to be the way ships in his day were being constructed after the manner of man near Jerusalem.

So why didn't the wealthy Lehi purchase a Phoenician ship and save a long trip across the desert? First off, those ships were not made for trans-oceanic crossings.  With few exceptions, Phoenician ships only plied the waters of the Mediterranean. If anything they were considered "coast huggers" never sailing out of the sight of land. 

In the same era, ships constructed in Oman, where the Nephi Project believes Nephibuilt his ship, were larger and were constructed of a heavier wood. However, they were sewn together with rope. We could say that this was the Omani way of building ships "after the manner of man."

The Book of Mormon tells us that the Lord told Nephi where he could find ore to fabricate tools. Why fabricate tools if ships were already being constructed with tools in Bountiful? My thoughts are that the tools Nephi made were actually nails or spikes.  

Omani ships at that time were not using nails, spikes, and the like to provide them the strength they would have needed to endure a voyage across the Pacific or Atlantic.

Further, the wood Nephi used to build his ship appears to have been pre-cut, probably brought to Oman by Frankincense traders exchanging wood from India for incense. 

Nephi remarked that the timber he used was "of curious workmanship" suggesting he did not cut the wood himself; rather he was seeing the wood for the first time in that form.

These are my thoughts on how ships were being constructed when Nephi took his family on the great historic voyage to the Promised Land, and why Nephi needed to construct his ship in Oman.

My "Photograph of the Month" for September of a shipwright setting a keel of a small vessel  was selected from Part 6: Discovering Nephi's Harbor of our 6-part film DVD, 

August 2013

Khor Rori

In September 1999, George Potter and I flew to Salalah, Oman to document our candidate for Nephi's harbor, a unique natural port where Nephi would have been able to find all the resources he needed to construct the ship the Lord instructed him to build. (2 Nephi 5: 2)

East of Salalah is the inlet called Khor Rori. In Nephi's era the inlet was the site of the famous frankincense harbor. It is the only natural harbor in southern Oman that possesses what maritime expert Maritime Engineer Frank Linehan calls the "deep calm waters" and "protective harbor" necessary to construct, launch, and outfit a large ship.

To  illustrate this ship-building principle, Linehan invited me aboard the  USS  Cape  Intrepid, moored  in  the  calm  waters  of  Commencement  Bay at  Tacoma, Washington. 

Brother Linehan states, "Nephi would have needed this type of calm waters and protective harbor [Commencement Bay's] in the building of his ship at Bountiful." 

Only one natural harbor exists in southern Oman where Nephi could have constructed an ocean-going ship.It is the natural harbor of Khor Rori.

In December 2000, UNESCO designated Khor Rori as a "World Heritage Site" stating that the harbor was "one of the most important trading activities in the ancient world."

My "Photograph of the Month" for August was selected from Part 6: Discovering Nephi's Harbor of our 6-part film DVD, Discovering Lehi's Trail 

July 2013

On a cool December morning in 1999, my daughter Tara and I traveled to the great Northwest to pay a visit to maritime expert Frank Linehan. 

Brother Linehan invited us aboard the USS Cape Intrepid docked at Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington, a 45 minute drive south of Seattle.

I took this photograph, while standing on the bridge wing of the USS Cape Intrepid. The giant ship's bridge 150 feet above the calm waters of Commencement Bay. 

Frank Linehan pointed out to us that as far back as early antiquity this is the type of water conditions that seaman and shipbuilders would have looked for to construct a ship, to fit her out, to do cargo handling, to take aboard consumables and expendables, and to change crews.

Frank Linehan said, "Nephi would have needed the same type of calm waters and protective harbor in the building of his ship at Bountiful."

My "Photograph of the Month" for July was selected from Part 6: Discovering Nephi's Harbor of our 6-part film DVD, Discovering Lehi's Trail . 

June 2013

When Lehi and his family arrived in Bountiful, it must have seemed to them that their nightmare sojourn in the desert was finally over and that they had arrived in a paradise land where many fruits grew. The harbor of Khor Rori, where we believe Nephi built his ship, is located on the Salalah coastal plain-our candidate for the land of Bountiful.

However, we need to be careful not to assume that all the modern plantations that are found on the Salalah coastal Plain today were present in Lehi's time. Likewise  we need to avoid assuming that there were no similar plantations anciently.

All the evidence seems to suggest that the Salalah plain has been cultivated for thousands of years.

The Salalah plain was periodically ruled by the ancient power of what is today Yeman and Eastern Oman. Both the Yeminis and Omanis had settled agriculture communities in Salalah dating back to the third millennium B.C.

In medieval times the famous Arab traveler Ibn Batutta remarked that "The City of Dofar (in Salalah) is a garden valley in an isolated desert region."

Just as large agricultural centers had developed elsewhere to support the Frankincense Trail, such as Dedan and Madinah, it seems likely that this productive area would have been utilized to support the many residents and visitors to Dofar.

Since the oasis of Ubar (in the desert near Salalah) was cultivated by the 'Adites nearly four thousand years ago, it seems only logical that the same people would cultivate the fertile areas around Salalah, Taqah, and Khor Rori with their fresh water inlets and springs.

The tropical fruits and vegetables grown on the Salalah plain in olden times were probably introduced through ancient trade.

Omani sailors have traded with India as far back as 2000 B.C.

My "Photograph of the Month" for June is a scene of a contemporary fruit plantation that  was selected from Part 5: Discovering the Land of Bountiful of our 6-part film DVD, Discovering Lehi's Trail .

May 2013

Empty Desert of Arabia

As Lehi and his family neared the end of their long journey, Nephi noted that they ate their meat raw. The Lord had instructed the family not to make much fire (1 Ne. 17:12). 

Dr. Hugh Nibley studied the accounts of the early explorers of the Arabian sands and concluded that the family did not have fires because of fear of being raided by outlaw Bedu tribes.

This information that Nephi gives us about the lack of fires is interesting. It provides us with evidence that the Book of Mormon record is a first-hand account. While traveling south from Jerusalem, Nephi did not mention that they did not use fires. However, once the ancient trail turned eastward toward Bountiful, the route entered a remote and isolated land where the trail was not protected against outlaws.

There is evidence that the Frankincense trail was in use several hundred years before Lehi's time, but that by the time Lehi was traveling the trade route, it was little used. Since the trail was not regularly used, there would not have been the infrastructure present to provide safety from the raiding outlaws.

How could Joseph Smith have been able to know this? The knowledge of the eastward Frankincense trail and the frequency of its usage has only come to light in the 1990s!

During the history of the ancient trade route, the raiding by outlaw tribesman increased whenever there was an economic turndown. In response to their incursions, King Nebuchadrezzar II launched an attack in 599 B.C. on Arab tribes in northern Arabia. If the same conditions existed on the southern part of the trail, then we can see why Lehi was told not to make fires.

My "Photograph of the Month" for May is of a scene of the barren eastward trail in southern Arabia where Lehi and his family were instructed not make use of many fires. See Part 5: Discovering the Land of Bountiful of our 6-part film DVD,  Discovering Lehi's Trail .

April 2013

 

The grandeur of our candidate for the Valley of Lemuel is difficult to describe in words or even portrayed in photographs.

It is a narrow gorge cut through a massive granite mountain.

It consists of three sections which we refer to as the upper valley (or Waters of Moses), the canyon of granite, and the lower canyon.

The upper valley is an oasis that lies at the south end of a twelve-mile-long wadi (wash/valley), known locally as Wadi Tayyib al-ism (The Valley of the Good Name). The upper valley is spread out over approximately one square mile with several hundred date palms and twelve wells that the local residents call the Waters of Moses.

In my efforts of exploration, I surveyed the length of the canyon of granite I found it to be approximately three and three-quarters miles long.

The final section of our Valley of Lemuel is the lower canyon and beach. Here the granite canyon opens out into a flat gravel floor just a few feet above sea level. This is the most impressive section of the canyon. Here the height of the canyon walls rises over two thousand feet straight up from the canyon floor.

My "Photograph of the Month" for April is of a scene of the Lower Valley as it empties into the fountain of the Red sea, that was selected from Part 1: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel of our 6-part film DVD,  Discovering Lehi's Trail .

March 2013

River

Nephi wrote that they came "down" by the mountains near the Red Sea. This is exactly what we did. We followed the wilderness road and the King's Highway south from Jerusalem finally crossing over a mountain pass where we then came down (downhill or south) through the mountains near the Red Sea.

From Ezion-geber, the last caravan town in the considered world, Lehi entered the land know in his day as the wilderness, Arabia. As we drove south into Arabia, we knew Nephi's directions were accurate.

As we made our attempt to retrace Lehi's trail from Port Aqaba to the Valley of Lemuel, we knew it would not be easy to find, for the shoreline mountains are a maze of wadis that turn in all directions.

As we traveled we noticed that the foliage was typical for Median, practically none. Here and there we saw an occasional acacia tree hanging on to life. There were no signs of water, let alone a river.

We were beginning to think we would find nothing in the seventy-five-mile range that camels could travel in three days. As the trail headed west we were heading toward the tallest shoreline mountains.

Three miles later, having used only Nephi's directions, we were standing inside a granite canyon next to a river of continually flowing water.

My "Photograph of the Month" for March is a scene of a river of continually flowing water in what we believe is the Valley of Lemuel, that was selected from Part 1: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel of our 6-part film DVD,  Discovering Lehi's Trail .

February 2013

Camels

While following Nephi's directions in the wilderness of Arabia, we could not help but wonder how Lehi's family must have felt as they entered this great desert land. They do not appear to have been tough caravaneers. If Laman and Lemuel are anything to go by, they were an urban family accustomed to the comforts of the finer things in life. Now, due to a dream their father had, they found themselves wandering south into a brutal wilderness.

Lehi's use of camels is certain, because the family brought with them tents. Tents in the Middle East are made from camel and goat hair and weigh hundreds of pounds. The only beast of burden that could survive a passage down the Frankincense trail are camels. Eventually there were at least ten married couples in the party, and each would have required at least one tent. We also know that the family took provisions with them into the wilderness.

Long-distance travel in Arabia was impossible before the domestication of the camel. To westerners, a camel is an odd curiosity, but to one crossing ancient Arabia, this animal was a lifeline. Despite its bad breath and belligerent temperament, the camel is beloved by the Arab. According to the Qur'an, the camel is a gift from God. We do not know if Lehi shared the same admiration for the camel as do the Arabs. However, he certainly used them and admired and valued their amazing durability.

We try to vision the small caravan of Lehites as they traveled south. Several dozen camels carrying the women and children. The men would have walked beside them. Many more camels would have carried the tents and provisions. We pictured the older brothers Lamen and Lemuel, upset with their new station in life, following in the rear complaining as they went.

Lehi left his house, riches, and land and lived in a tent like a poor man, yet he never complained about leaving his possessions behind. By mentioning that his father "dwelled in a tent" (1 Ne. 2:15; 9:1; 10:16), Nephi is reminding us of his father's humility, never complaining to God about his loss of worldly things.

My "Photograph of the Month" for February is a scene of a family of camels, the SUV of choice for Lehi and his family, that was selected from Part 1: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel of our 6-part film DVD,  Discovering Lehi's Trail .

January 2013

Driving the Frankinsence Trail

One might ask, "If the family traveled along a trail (the Frankincense Trail) why did they need the Liahona to show them the way? They could have walked along the road."

The answer lies in the fact that the Frankincense Trail was not a road in the sense that we know the word. There was no delineated singular trail along which to walk. It was simply a general course that would take one to the next caravan halt and water.

Over 140 years ago, Englishman Charles Doughty was given permission by the Governor of Syria to accompany the annual Muslim pilgrimage (hajj) as far as Madain Saleh in Arabia.

Doughty recorded that: "The Darb el-Haji (Pilgrim Road) is no made road," it was a "multitude of cattle-paths beaten hollow by camels' tread."

Many of the camel paths would have wandered off the course to Bedouin camps or to other far off destinations. For this reason, Lehi would have needed a guide.  

For those times that the family was traveling alone, the Liahona was capable of taking a guide's place.

Some suggested that Lehi was in the caravan business, because he had tents (1 Ne. 2:4) and camels.  

This is a false assumption, because caravans did not use tents.

My "Photograph of the Month" for January is a picture of our research vehicles traveling along the Frankincense Trail taken from Part3: Discovering the Most Fertile Parts & the People of Lehi of our 6-part film DVD,  Discovering Lehi's Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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