"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
May 31, 2013
Hidden Treasures in Arabia
by Jeff Lindsay

Warren Aston is the author of my favorite LDS book, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi's Journey Across Arabia to Bountiful, the remarkable 1994 Deseret Book publication that provides breathtaking evidence (or at least eyebrow-raising evidence) for the plausibility and reality of the journey through the Arabian Peninsula described by Nephi in First Nephi 16-17.

The cover, with its beautiful color photo of the lovely Khor Kharfot region of Oman, nearly due east of the ancient burial place Nehhem/Nahom, reveals some of the excitement from inside the book. I discuss his work in more detail on my Book of Mormon Evidence page at JeffLindsay.com.


I recently had the privilege of meeting Warren in person on my first trip to Australia. I was in Melbourne to speak at a conference related to my work. A few days before my trip, while catching up on some old email, I found a note from Warren Aston about the issue of biodiversity in the region of the Arabian Peninsula that appears to be an amazingly good candidate for the Book of Mormon site, Bountiful.

In reading what Brother Aston had written recently for a secular publication, I noticed that he said he was from Brisbane, Australia, something I hadn’t realized before, so I emailed him to ask if there were any interesting LDS events he knew of in Melbourne while I was in town.

He kindly replied and said that for his first time in 10 years, he was going to be in Melbourne for a few hours during my brief stay in Melbourne, and asked if we could get together. This was during a time when I could go out to the airport to meet him and chat. What a treat that was!

I learned more about his passion for knowledge and his remarkable, self-funded work to explore the Arabian Peninsula in order to better understand the Book of Mormon. I also learned of his frustration that so little has been done by others to follow-up on the tantalizing finds so far.

The leading candidate for Bountiful remains largely untouched by archeologists and scientists, but sadly has not escaped the attention of vandals. Some ancient ruins at the site already have been damaged.

Further, the water supply for the region is being diverted and the green majesty that may have inspired an ancient family to choose the name “Bountiful” is drying up, and one lofty sycamore has died and fallen.

There is a desperate need for funded archeological work, for scholarly investigations of several kinds, and for conservation efforts to protect this rare and beautiful spot that may have vast religious importance in addition to its ecological and historical significance.

Warren Aston has made around 30 trips over the years to this region, as I recall from our conversation. It’s time others also get involved. It’s time others chip in with some funding to have professional work conducted there to better understand that region and its potential hidden treasures. If you’d like to get involved, let Warren know or let me know (jeff at jefflindsay dot com) and I’ll get you in touch with Warren.

In my meeting with Warren, I was also delighted to learn that a follow-up book is about to come out, adding many more details to the story first laid out in his In the Footsteps of Lehi. The new book will be Lehi and Sariah in Arabia: The Old World Setting of the Book of Mormon. It will be about four times as long as the first book with numerous new photos and results of new research. Can't wait!

Meanwhile, here’s something recent from Warren that you might find of interest.

Arabia’s Hidden Valley

A strictly scientific look at Khor Kharfot as a candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful

Warren P. Aston 

Copyright 2013

Regular readers will be aware that most LDS researchers have long regarded the inlet of Khor Kharfot in southern Oman as the most plausible location matching Nephi’s very detailed description (1 Nephi 17:5-16, 18:1-8) of “Bountiful,” the place of abundance where he built his ship. Despite this, as of early 2013, most of the basic scientific research into the geology, fauna, paleo and modern flora and archaeology of the place remains to be done.

Over several decades of exploration and research at the site, I have benefited from the generous assistance of many non-LDS scholars. Indeed, most of the data we have about the place has come from non-LDS researchers. For example, the only proper archaeological appraisal of Khor Kharfot ever made was by an Italian archaeologist back in 1992. None has been done since.

The site is now threatened by development and is already under stress. Most of the abundant water run-off from the surrounding mountains has been diverted to local villages and no longer reaches the inlet. The large trees there are dying and the vegetation is visibly changing.

In the hope that additional non-LDS scholars will recognize that Kharfot deserves attention for reasons other than what may have happened there 2600 years ago — and become involved in teasing out the parameters of the place and placing it on record — I have published a paper titled “Arabia’s Hidden Valley: A Unique Habitat in Dhofar Captures Arabia’s Past.”

The paper has just appeared (in print and online) in English and Arabic from one of the leading organizations encouraging the awareness and conservation of wildlife in the Middle East, the Dubai-based Wildlife Middle East News (www.WMENews.com).

In the paper, I examine Khor Kharfot from strictly scientific perspectives, pointing out the unique features of this truly special place and the looming threats facing it.

Click on this link for the color PDF of the paper

Warren

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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