Comments on Michael Ash Article

Comments on Michael Ash Article
by V. Garth Norman
I would suggest that there are two problems in Michael Ash's article. First, his article relies upon Dr. John Sorenson's geography model whose proposal that directions in ancient cultures were all different based strictly on varied culture interpretations is problematic. Sorenson's argument for a different Mesoamerican directional system as part of his geography model is questionable. North has always been north fixed on the north star, and east-west on sun rise to sunset path at a right angle to the north star. Universally from ancient times, directions have been based on the heavens and movement of the planets. The sun and other planets always rise in the east and set in the west, with the north star at a right angle. The ancients navigated over land and sea by the fixed heavens. A Mesoamerican cultural consideration for general directional reference viewed the world as a box in its four quarters. The planetary extremes of the sun, moon, and Venus set the corners of the four directional quarters. Accordingly, north or northward could span the distance between the NE and NW corners of the box, and so forth. This directional system is clearly portrayed at Izapa in the calendar layout of the plaza, with equinoxes on the center east-west line, and solstices on the center north-south line.

The second problem is stating that Joseph Smith was an advocate of the hemispheric view of geography. Joseph placed the Book of Mormon on the North American continent (Wentworth Letter), and identified the Land Southward as being in Central America not South America (Times & Seasons, Oct 1, 1842; see Norman, "Book of Mormon - Mesoamerican Geography: History Study Map" 2008).

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Norman, V. Garth