The Ancient Religious Fortress of Samaipata
Near the center of South America lies the country of Bolivia. And, within the middle of Bolivia, near the famous little town of Vallegrande*, is the Pre-Incan site called Samaipata.
Today, Samaipata is considered an ancient, outdoor religious fortress, carved out of the rock of a large hill. At the base of the hill is what seems to be a water font. It is square in design, with steps leading down into it, giving the impression that people entered into the font itself. Whether it was used for baptism, ritual washings (like the ancient Jews did), or some other ritual is still uncertain. What is very probably, however, is that the font is tied in with the religious practices at the hill and that the design suggests it contained water or some other liquid.
Leading to the top of the hill are many designs carved into the rock, including jaguars and snakes. Finally, at the top of this religious site is a curious seating arrangement. This arrangement is obviously designed for a counsel of leaders (being at the top of the religious fortress, and according to the design). It is designed with 12 seats carved into the hilltop facing toward each other in a circle. Within this circle of 12 seats is another set of three facing outward toward the 12 seats. These three seats are back-to-back, so that each seat faces 4 of the seats of the 12.
This seating suggests a religious leadership of 3 and 12. This is interesting considering the importance of such a leadership in both the LDS Church and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In fact, the Community Rule scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls puts it like this:
In the Council of the Community there shall be twelve men and three Priests, perfectly versed in all that is revealed of the Law, whose works shall be truth, righteousness, justice, loving kindness and humility. They shall preserve the faith in the Land with steadfastness and meekness and shall atone for sin by the practice of justice and by suffering the sorrows of affliction. They shall walk with all men according to the standard of truth and the rule of the time.
When these are in Israel, the Council of the Community shall be established in truth. It shall be an Everlasting Plantation, a House of Holiness for Israel, and Assembly of Supreme Holiness for Aaron.
(Dead Sea Scrolls in English, G. Vermes, Penguin Books, 1987, p. 72)Today's modern temples are places for various ordinances and works. Among the things done at LDS temples are baptism for the dead, which requires a baptismal font. These fonts are usually placed in the basement or bottom floor of a temple, symbolising the dead and their awaiting the resurrection. This ties in nicely with the font at Samaipata being placed at the foot of the hill.
Temples are thought of as the 'mountain of the Lord.' Mountains are stepping stones where great knowledge and revelation is given to man from God. The LDS scriptures are filled with stories of people receiving great revelations upon mountain-tops (not to mention Moses and Christ in the Bible). The temple becomes a mountain for revelation. In this instance, a hill was used for a religious fortress, literally making a 'mountain of the [pre-Incan] Lord.'
The LDS First Presidency (consisting of three high priests) and the Twelve Apostles meet on a weekly basis in the Salt Lake Temple to discuss the needs of the Church and seek the will of the Lord. Do we have a similar thing occurring at Samaipata? Were these people guided by a 3/12 leadership? It would seem so.
Or is it just another coincidence to toss onto the pile of the hundreds of coincidences available today?
*footnote: Vallegrande is the town where the famous communist revolutionary, Che Guevara, met his demise. He thought he could take South America (and particularly Bolivia) as easily as Castro had taken Cuba. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong town to start his revolution and the villagers were not the forgiving type.