Timothy Sedor's Newsletter
"Photographs of the Month"
Timothy Sedor - 1996 Expedition - Saudi Arabia
Book of Mormon Explorer
The photo of the month comes from our DVD, "Discovering Nephi's Harbor," the sixth film in our 6-part DVD "Discovering Lehi's Trail."
On display inis the replica of an ancient Arab merchant ship, the "Sohar," constructed in Sur,
We used the "Sohar" to illustrate the incredible challenge encountered by Nephi when he built his ship at Bountiful.
Many tangible and intellectual resources were involved in the construction of Nephi's ship.
Incredibly, we found that all of these resources were found in 600 BCE atRori, , and provide the ultimate reason for Lehi’s long journey across Arabia to reach that harbor.
Rather than being constructed with nails, the "Sohar" was sewn together using braided ropes of coconut fiber.
"The "Sohar" had a length of 80 feet, a beam of 20 feet, and a waterline length of 63 feet. The keel was 52 feet long, 12 by 15 inches in sections. The deck planking was 2 ¼ inches thick. The ballast weighed 15 tons. She carried two anchors, 22 men, and their provisions. Her maximum speed was roughly 8-9 knots.
The "Sohar’s" only voyage was fromto . The sewn hull survived the voyage in excellent condition. With new sets of sails, she could have turned around and returned to . The funds for the Sohar project were provided by the kindness of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Tim Severin needed nearly five years to plan and carry out the building of the ship and its voyage to China."
The story of the "Sohar" can be found in the book, "The Sinbad Voyage" by Tim Severin, an extraordinary explorer.
This month's photograph comes from our documentary film number six “Discovering Nephi's Harbor" in the 6-part DVD, "Discovering Lehi's Trail".
Khor Rori is a natural inlet along the Indian Ocean’s southern Oman shoreline.
It is our candidate for the harbor where Nephi constructed his ship.
At its entrance, the inlet has two huge rocky prominences projecting some 400 yards out from the beach.
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi left a vital clue that helped us identify our candidate for Bountiful.
The prophet wrote that his brother attempted to throw him into “the depths of the sea”.
We believe it was from one of these towering prominences that Laman and Lemuel tried to throw their brother to his death.
With cliffs of over 100 feet in height and into water we estimate has a depth of between 30-40 feet, this was no beach where Nephi could have just walked away.
Thrown from these prominences, Nephi would certainly have drowned in the depths of the sea.
This month's photograph comes from our film “Discovering Nephi’s Harbor,” the 6th part of our 6-part DVD “Discovering Lehi’s Trail.”
Wadi Darbat National Park (Oman) is located in the valley that eventually forms the natural harbor of Khor Rori, the place where we believe Nephi built his ship. Today the valley has a lush green forest with many varieties of trees. However, maritime archaeologists have informed us that none of the trees in the valley could have been used for constructing a large ship. Oman's trees are short, twisted softwoods that are pervious to water.
Locals call Wadi Darbat the “Valley of the Large Trees.”While searching the wadi for large hardwood trees such as those that Nephi could have used for building his ship, we came across a camel herdsman who was moving his camels through the forest of the National Park. We asked him if there were any large trees in the valley. His reply was that “they are all gone.”
So, were there once trees large enough in the valley for Nephi and other shipbuilders to have used to construct their ship?
Shipwrights have constructed vessels at Khor Rori since circa 3000 B.C., and shipbuilding is the most likely explanation for the deforestation of the large trees that once stood in Wadi Darbat National Park.
This month’s photo for September is from our film “Discovering the Land of Bountiful,” the 5th part in our 6-part DVD “Following Lehi’s Trail.”
Here we see a young man trimming a coconut with a very sharp knife so that a drinking straw can be inserted presenting the milk of the coconut as a very refreshing drink.
We also discovered that an Omani coconut could hold the contents of a 12oz can of 7UP and give the 7UP an added flavor.
Every evening during our stay, George and I would visit the many fruit vendors along the roadsides outside the fruit plantations here in Salahlah, Oman.
From the fruit vendors we would also gather sweet tropical bananas to snack on later at the hotel and to take out in the field the next day.
We were amazed at the plentiful displays of tropical fruit by the fruit vendors especially when we discovered that all of the fruit is locally grown.
We could only speculate that the “many fruits” that Nephi spoke of in his description of Bountiful was probably no different then as it is now, here in Salahlah, our candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful.
My photo of the month for August is from our film, “Discovering Nephi’s Harbor,” Part 6 in the 6-part series DVD, “Discovering Lehi’s Trail.”
In September 1999, George Potter and I flew to Salahlah, Oman to document our candidate for the harbor Nephi would have needed, to construct the ship the Lord instructed him to build. (2 Nephi 5: 2)
East of Salahlah is the inlet called Khor Rory.
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 Frank Linehan calls the “calm waters” and "protective harbor" necessary to construct 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, south of Seattle at Tacoma, Washington. (See July 2006 Photo of the Month on the Nephi Project website.)
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 for July is from our film, "Discovering Nephi's Harbor", Part 6 in our 6-part documentary series DVD, "Discovering Lehi's Trail".
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, south of Seattle at Tacoma, Washington. (See January 2006 Photo of the Month on the Nephi Project website.)
I took this photograph, while standing on the bridge wing of the USS Cape Intrepid, 150 feet above the water, 200 feet aft, looking at the calm waters of Commencement Bay.
Frank Linehan pointed out that even in antiquity this is the type of water conditions that seaman and shipbuilders would have looked for to place a ship, to construct it, 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."
In January 1999 we attempted to find our candidate for the Valley of Lemuel using only Nephi’s instructions. George Potter, Bruce Santucci and I discovered just how accurate was Joseph’s Smith’s translation.
Nephi wrote that they traveled “by the borders” then “in the borders” (1 Ne. 2:5). In Semitic languages the word for mountains, jebel, means “borders”.
We first drove “by the borders (mountains)” until the shoreline mountains blocked our passage along the Red Sea. At this point we found a trail “in the borders (mountains)” that caused us to turn east from our southerly direction.
After a space of 6 miles on a washboard trail though these mountains, we emerged unto a valley leading again southward.
This trail led straight to our candidate for the Valley of Lemuel and the only continuously flowing river in all of Saudi Arabia.
Along this trail we drove through a “U” shaped passage that separated two valleys (see October 2005 Photo of the Month section at www.nephiproject.com).
At the crest of the “U” shaped passage, we discovered border markers (see photograph of white quartz rocks across the trail in front of the vehicle) which the tribes use to designate their borders. In other words, to this day the tribes in Arabia use the mountains as their borders.
By using this knowledge, that borders mean mountains, anyone can find the Valley of Lemuel by following the instructions that are found in the Book of Mormon.
We have no idea who constructed this border marker or when. This leaves us another discovery to decode.
The next time you view our film, “Discovering the Valley of Lemuel” the first part in our 6-part series DVD, “Discovering Lehi’s Journey”, look for the border markers on the trail in the U shaped passage.
Use the pause button as it goes by quickly.
This photo is from our film “Discovering the Land Bountiful” where we filmed at what we consider as our candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful. It is no wonder that there are so many camels here near the shoreline at Salalah, as this area is at the end of the frankincense trail.
The camel, the “U-Haul” trailer of that day, the excellent choice for the shipping trade to move goods and supplies as well as the famed incense across the desert can travel at least 25 miles a day.
The incense trail was well organized for the caravans with what were termed as “haults,” locations that provided the caravaniers places to fuel their animals and themselves. A toll payment would have been made to the tribe who governed the water and in turn were provided protection during their stay.
To think that Lehi would have been avoiding others in his journey could never have happened. Lehi’s small party would have linked up with a large caravan that at times would have numbered in the hundreds of camels for personal protection on the road against the savage desert marauders that would have not thought twice to raid Lehi’s small group.
To avoid the haults, to by pass, to sneak along the trail, to not pay the tribute, would have placed the group in terrible peril as anyone traveling without the consent of those who controlled the trail, would have been put to death as they would be considered an enemy.
George and I were amazed at the large numbers of camels here along the shoreline of Oman. Even though we had seen large groups of camels around Al-Khobar where we lived in the eastern province of Arabia, they in no way could compare to the size of camel herds here.
Last month (March) I featured a photo from our film, “Discovering the Valley of Lemuel” and explained that the small stream of water that flows in our candidate for the River Laman was from the water level that remains in the underground aquifer.
It was during the filming of “Discovering the Valley of Lemuel” that we came across a local Bedouin who brought his water truck to one of the wells in the valley to refill and then take to his goatherd nearby.
Each year as we would return to the valley, we would note the lowering of the water level in the wells. Nephi wrote that his father used the continuously running river as an analogy for his son Laman. It is only a matter of time that the water level will no longer flow above ground.
These desert dwelling Bedouins with their trucks at the well are perhaps descendents of those who could have welcomed Lehi and his family to the Wadi Tayib Al-Ism (Valley of the Good Name), our candidate for the Valley of Lemuel.
In January 1999, Bruce Santucci, George Potter and I were filming for the documentary, "Discovering the Valley of Lemuel." One morning we came across local residents, perhaps even descendents of the desert dwelling Bedouins who could have welcomed Lehi and his family to the Wadi Tayib Al-Ism (Valley of the Good Name), our candidate for the Valley of Lemuel. The tribesmen were filling their water truck from one of the 12 wells in the wadi (also Elim of Exodus 15:27).
They pump the water for the many goatherds they tend in the surrounding valleys. Their need to water their ever-increasing herds and the use of these water trucks is the reason the level of the valley’s aquifer is dropping. This in turn is gradually reducing the flow of our candidate for the River Laman. Today the stream is a mere trickle, compared to what Nephi might have seen. From erosion patterns in the valley it appears we estimate the river was once 4-8 feet across. Nephi wrote that they camped next to a "river of water."
My "Photo of the Month" for March 2006 illustrates the water flow of the stream today and that the "river" is still running continuously.
In September 1999, George Potter and I flew from Bahrain to Muscat, Oman the country’s capital and continued on to Salalah on Oman’s southern coast. Even from the air, it did not take much of an imagination to agree with the late Dr. Hugh Nibley in his proposal that this area was Nephi’s Bountiful.
As I once put in an email, “A blind man could see this place was indeed Bountiful.” How over powering this must have been to Lehi and his family as they trudged from much affliction in the Arabian Desert to settle at the seashore to have called this place Bountiful.
This was my first visit and George’s second to Southern Oman as we set out to film Lehi’s final leg of his journey through the Arabian Peninsula.
We drove north from Salalah, past Ubar, the legendary "Lost City", which may have been the earliest known shipping center for frankincense, and featured in the adventure thriller novel "SANDSTORM" (Harper Torch) by my friend, James Rollins.
Continuing onward to the Rub’ al Khali (The Empty Quarter), we turned around and traveled southward to film what the family may have seen, which we captured in “Discovering the Land of Bountiful," the 5th part in our six-part discovery series.
This month’s photo of the month is from our film “Discovering Nephi’s Harbor.” Filmed on a very cool December morning, my daughter Tara looks to port on the deck of the Pacific Schooner Wawona owned by Northwest Seaport of Seattle and in a state of restoration. Launched in 1897, the Wawona became a National Historic Site in 1970, the first ship in the nation to be listed on the National Register.
Tara was my Seattle/Tacoma Logistics Coordinator on the film to help me gather visual information on Nephi’s ship.
We had just left filming Frank Linehan on the bridge of the USS Cape Intrepid harbored at Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington. Frank, an expert on sailing and modern day shipbuilding, suggested that Nephi’s ship would have had a beam, or deck width, of at least 32 feet.
To illustrate that size, the Wawona that Tara accompanied me aboard, has a beam of 35 feet. http://www.nwseaport.org/wawona.html
Frank Linehan explains, “In respect to the Wawona example: I used this standard constant of a length to beam ratio of 4 to 1. Most sail packets of antiquity were somewhere around this standard. Clipper ships a much more modern design were a length to beam ratio of 5 to 1.
They were designed for speed.
We are not talking speed here. We are talking of 70-75 people and crew transiting 13,500 miles. The potable water requirements alone at a quart per day for 200 days would equal 166 barrels of 42 gallon capacity. This alone would require serious storage area.
The food requirements of 1.5 pounds per day per person for 200 days would equal 11.25 tons food for the journey.
All this adds up to considerable space requirements therefore the beamy design.”