The January "Photograph of the Month" is taken from the fifth documentary film of our 6-film set DVDDiscovering Lehi's Trail.
The December "Photo of the Month" is taken from the Third film of our 6-part DVDDiscovering Lehi's Trail.
Part Three is titled "Discovering the Most Fertile Parts & the People of Lehi."
Last month, I wrote about how the three main northern trails converged to form the famous Frankincense Route.
As last month's satellite image illustrated, the northern branches of the trail met at the important caravan-staging city of Dedan.
Archaeologist G. Bawden studied the ruins of Dedan and found that the Dedanites were experts in irrigation techniques and used a series of canals and sluices to direct rain water into the farmland, resulting in what he described as "extensive agricultural exploitation."
So extensive are the farmlands of Dedan that they can be seen from orbiting space shuttles. Growing in the wadi (valley) are dates, oranges, lemons, grapes, figs, pomegranates, and vegetables of every kind.
While the rest of northwest Arabia presents a barren landscape, Dedan and other villages with equally rich farmlands are found in the wadis Ula and Jizl.
After leaving their campsite at Shazer, Lehi's family would have followed the Frankincense trail as it wandered through these two fertile valleys.
It is easy to understand why Nephi would have referred to the Wadi Ula and Wadi Jizl (see photo) as "the most fertile parts" (1 Nephi 16:14).
The November “Photo of the Month” is taken from the Third film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
In Part Three “Discovering the Most Fertile Parts & the People of Lehi” we show the 3 main trails that make up the famous Frankincense Trail as the trails meet at the important caravan staging city of Dedan.
From left to right, there is the Gaza Branch, the trail that Lehi would have most likely had used when the family left the caravan haut of Shazer.
Next are the trails from Damascus and Babylon.
It is at this point at Dedan that the trails converge to make up the Frankincense Trail south to Oman.
This area is at the beginning of the “Most fertile parts” as described by Nephi.
The "Photograph for the Month" for October is taken from the Sixth film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
The photograph is of a traditional Arab dhow (wooden ship) under construction.
In Part Six, "Discovering Nephi's Harbor," you are taken to a shipyard in Bahrain.
The activity in the shipyard today is still much like the Omani harbor where Nephi constructed his ship.
Little has changed in the way Arab dhows are built from Nephi's time to today.
Southern Oman was a center for ship construction well before Lehi and his family arrived in Bountiful.
Shipbuilding takes many years to master.
It is important to remember that when on the mountain, Nephi did not ask the Lord how to build a ship, but only where to find the ore to make the tools he needed to construct a vessel.
Asking only for ore would imply that Nephi already knew what tools shipwrights used in constructing their ships, that he had already observed shipbuilding in Bountiful, and that he could compare the way the Lord had commanded him to build his vessel to shipbuilding "after the order of man."
In a setting like this, Nephi could have observed ships under construction and consult with master shipwrights of the ancient world.
We believe that the reason the Lord directed Lehi to Bountiful (Khor Rori in Oman) was because it had a long tradition in shipbuilding.
The "Photograph for the Month" for September is taken from the third film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
The photograph shows the remains of a caravan halt where we believe Lehi and his family would have rested.
In Part Three, "Discovering the Most Fertile Parts & the People of Lehi," you are taken to a remote site in the desert of Arabia.
The rubble in this photograph is the remains of a frankincense trail halt.
The caravan halts functioned like the interstate "truck stops" of our day.
The halts provided the ancient travelers with water wells, markets with provisions, lodging, fresh camels, and protection from bandits.
Since the only wells in western Arabia in Lehi's time were found along the Frankincense Trail, Lehi and his family would have been required to travel along the famous trade route and stopped at its halts.
From of maps George procured, he determined the location of the caravan halts during Lehi's time.
The name of this particular halt is Qalis.
It was the first halt Lehi's party would have reached after leaving their camp at Shazer.
From George's research, Richard Wellington from the UK plotted the halts on Tactical Pilotage Charts.
The charts provided coordinates that we used for our GPS devices, which helped guided us to ruins of each halt.
We of the Nephi Project are certain that we are the first westerners to have retraced the Gaza Branch of the Frankincense Trail.
The "Photograph of the Month" for August is taken from the fifth film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
In Part Five, "Discovering the Land of Bountiful," you are taken to the Omani shoreline of the Indian Ocean.
The satellite photograph is of southern Arabia. The lower-right-side of the photograph shows a coastal plain surrounded by dark-colored mountains.
The plain runs for 40 miles and is called Salalah. Undoubtedly, this remarkably fertile plain, with its large farms and great orchards of tropical fruit, is the only place in all of Arabia that Nephi would have called the Land of Bountiful.
Salalah is located at the southern end of the ancient Frankincense Trail, the only route that existed to southern Arabia in Lehi’s time.
There, the family pitched their tents on the seashore and called the place Bountiful because of its much fruit.
Because of its fruit plantations, we believe that the shoreline village of Taqah is the best candidate for the place where Lehi’s family actually pitched their tents.
As you can see in this photograph, the entire area surrounding Salalah is a hellish desert. Even the hills surrounding Salalah turn brown at the end of the monsoon rainy season.
It is only at Taqah and a few other sites on the plain that ancient irrigations systems kept the orchards and farms green year round.
Our film illustrates why we believe Taqah is the only qualified candidate for the place Bountiful, and shows what the village might have looked like during the time Nephi was busy constructing his ship at the nearby harbor of Khor Rori.
The "Photograph for the Month" for July is taken from the first film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
In Part One, "Discovering the Valley of Lemuel," you are once again taken to the north side of the upper portion of the Valley of Lemuel to what we believe is a possible altar site.
On the north side of the oasis, just above the canyon floor and the campsite that dates back to Lehi's time(see the May and June "Photographs of the Month" archive) is evidence of a stone altar.
In our documentary film, Michael Bellersen of Germany explains how this could have been the very spot where Lehi built his altar to thank the Lord for their exodus from Jerusalem and there arrival in the beautiful oasis of the Valley of Lemuel.
The "Photograph for the Month" for June is taken from the first film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
Part One, Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, you can see a graphic illustration from the Journal of Saudi Arabian Archaeology that describes the upper portion of the Valley of Lemuel (Wadi Tayyib al-Ism).
The illustration identifies the ruins of an ancient campsite.
If you remember from the "Photograph of the Month" for May, George Potter visited the King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.
In the archaeological collection of the main library, George found the objective of his visit.
In Volume 5 of the Journal of Saudi Arabian Archaeology he found that the ruins of the Valley of Lemuel had been classified by an international team of archaeologist as "an encampment" and cataloged the ancient campsite as archaeological site 200-81.
The archaeologists noted that the surface artifacts, i.e., pottery chards, were classified as "Early Iron Age (late 2nd to mid-1st millennia, B.C. ").
We now know that the campsite in the Valley of Lemuel dates to at least the time of Lehi.
|The "Photograph for the Month" for May is taken from the first film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail. |
Part One, Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, you are taken to the north side of the upper portion of the Valley of Lemuel (Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, the Valley of the Good Name).
The question begs to be answered, "Is there any evidence that Lehi and his family stayed in this valley?"
On the north side of the oasis we found the ruins of an ancient campsite.
Lehi and his family stayed in the valley for months, perhaps even years.
Surely they would have built stone windbreaks, tables, storage areas, and utility walls.
Finding an antiquity site in the valley raised questions.
Had archaeologists visited this area?
What were these ruins?
How old were these remains?
In search for these answers, George Potter visited King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.
June's "Photograph of the Month" article will tell you what he found.
The "Photograph for the Month" for April is taken from the first film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
Part One, Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, you are taken to the upper portion of the Valley of Lemuel (Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, the Valley of the Good Name).
This remarkable site is an oasis of date palms amidst a vast barren desert. After traveling three days through a hellish desert, Lehi's family was welcomed by this refreshing garden, which provided them a source of food and rest.
When we retraced Lehi's journey, by following only the words of Nephi, we were also treated to this magnificent site.
The "Photograph for the Month" for March is taken from the first film of our 6-part DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail.
Part One, Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, takes you to the lower portion of the Valley of Lemuel.
This photograph shows George Potter standing on the beach outside the lower portion of the Valley of Lemuel as it exits to the "Fountain of theRed Sea."
The footnote in theBook of Mormon (1 Nephi 2:9) suggests the Fountain of theRed Sea is the Gulf of Aqabah.
In Part One, Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, we take you to the desert of northwestern Arabia.
Nephi wrote, "And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water." (1 Nephi 2:6)
After completing a 44-year study of Saudi Arabia's water resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Saudi Arabian Department of Water Resources concluded:
"Saudi Arabia may be the world's largest country without any perennial rivers or streams." Water Atlas of Saudi Arabia, p.xvh.
However, Nephi saw and wrote about a river of water.
In this documentary film we present our candidates for the River of Laman and the Valley of Lemuel.
As you will see in the film, we discovered in the vast and barren Arabian wilderness a small stream that runs continuously and is situated exactly where Nephi indicated it would be located.