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Understanding the Translation Process: Did Joseph Smith use the Urim and Thummim & Gold Plates or Rock in a Hat? (And why the 116 pages weren’t retranslated)

Book of Mormon and the Seer Stone
Some early accounts have the Book of Mormon being translated by a Urim & Thummim with Gold plates and others with a dark Seer Stone and no plates. The truth is that the 116 pages used the Urim & Thummim, but after they were stolen, the plates were returned, and the present version was channeled/revealed to Joseph using the stone and hat as a guise.

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Many critics have suggested that Joseph Smith’s unwillingness or ‘inability’ to retranslate the 116 stolen pages of the Book of Mormon is evidence that the record is not an actual translation.

However, I had an interesting revelation that the 116 pages will actually play a major role in proving the truth of the Book of Mormon, after the end of the ‘Fullness of the Gentiles’. (see D&C 45:25, D&C 121:27–31)

The strong impression I got as I woke from a dream was that THE 116 PAGES STILL EXIST! As also the gold plates, which were reburied– and NOT taken by an angel, so that they could be again ‘found’ when the time is right. And because they deal largely in history and secular matters they will allow researchers to more fully understand where the Book of Mormon took place and how it relates to Israeli, Mesoamerican and North American prehistory.

Following is the logic which came to me as I woke from a dream.

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UNDERSTANDING THE TRANSLATION PROCESS.
The 116 pages were nearly verbatim translations of the ancient record, through the Urim & Thummim (crystal seer stones attached to metal frames, hidden with the plates). The Book of Mormon we have today was not a translation. It is a “channeled”, anglicized, modernized, euro-Christianized version of the ancient record summarized by spiritual beings, and given to Joseph through mediumship or revelation with the rock in the hat (This part I already believed).

After Martin Harris and his wife were complicit in stealing the 116 pages, the Angelic beings overseeing the plates determined that not only were men conspiring to change the transcript and then steal the plates from Joseph, but they also saw the contents of the translation which they read through in order to change as pagan, unchristian, devilish and evil. (because the religion taught in the book was from pre-exilic Jews and was much more like what’s found in the Kolbrin.

This unexpected reaction prompted the spiritual overseers to change course and give Joseph Smith a summarized “preparatory” (see 3 Ne 26:9–10) version of the record which was more friendly to the Euro-Christian culture of Joseph’s day. This ‘preparatory anglicized version of the book is sometimes called the ‘expansion theory’, and is fairly obvious when comparing the language and ideology of the Book of Mormon with ancient texts and is the only way to really explain how the Book of Mormon has so amazing Mesoamerican, native American and Jewish cultural aspects mixed with such obviously 19th century concepts and Euro-Christian language.

However, much like the Kolbrin (British Israeli history) and the early Israeli record vaults mentioned therein, the 116 pages and gold plates will be found/revealed in the final dispensation, sometime within the next 150 years.

“1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.

6… even the man in whom you have trusted has sought to destroy you.

7 And for this cause I said that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been entrusted; and he has also sought to destroy your gift.

8 And because you have delivered the writings into his hands, behold, wicked men have taken them from you…

12 And, on this wise, the devil has sought to lay a cunning plan, that he may destroy this work..

43 [but] I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.” (D&C 10)

After this betrayal, the angelic overseers of the plates made the decision to take the plates back. However, the story of the angel physically “taking” the plates was imagined by Joseph’s mom Lucy. Instead they instructed Joseph to put them back in the stone crypt (or possibly a new location) & bury it with dirt and leaves. Joseph used vague wording to the effect of “god took the plates back”, so no further attempts would be made to search or find them would be made. (an account not solidified until 1853, read Lucy Mack’s history here)

This is also why the three witness were shown the plates only in vision. Joseph Smith first retrieved the Book of Mormon on Sept 22, 1827, and translation on the 116 pages took place using the actual plates in late 1827 and early 1828 when the manuscript was stolen. Joseph was castigated in D&C 10 and the plates returned to the hill sometime by early summer 1828. In April 1829, he met Oliver Cowdery, who replaced Harris as his scribe, and resumed dictation–this time channeling the account through revelation while occasionally using the rock in the hat to aid his focus. They worked full time on the manuscript between April and early June 1829. The three witnesses were then shown the plates in vision or ‘with an eye of faith‘ on June 28, 1829. The finished manuscript of the current channeled or revealed summary of the Book of Mormon was finished about July 1929.

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TESTIMONY OF THE KOLBRIN

Much like the Book of Ben Kathryn, I was led to find the Kolbrin after my mission shortly after it was first published. The Kolbrin (Somewhat like a Book of Mormon for Great Britain), gives an account unbelievably similar to the box, records, and seer stones associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Read more about the Kolbrin and its amazing Egyptian, Assyrian and British historical records at my article on it here.

“When I was young my grand-father told me that the Kolbrin had been brought back to light by his grand-father’s people in the place known to them as Futeril Cairn, beyond the pool of Pantlyn at Carclathan by way of Gwendwor in Wales.”
“I remember him saying it was originally written in the old alphabet of thirty-six letters. The books were stored in a tinker’s budget box, the lid of which was not hinged but held with flanges and lifted off after being heated, a cunning device of the wayfaring tinkers [Traveling MetalSmiths]. It was also secured with pins and stirrups. There were goblin heads at the corners and it was fastened by locking bars inside and out. I never saw it, nor did I know anyone who knew whether it still existed.”

“I remember being told that inside the box was a clear glass roundish ball about the size of a large apple, which at one spot reflected all the colours of the rainbow. It was encased in a precious cagework inside a protective cover of horny hide which had raised swellings, the like of which my grand-father had never seen before. He knew a lot about animals and their hides, but could not tell what this was; he thought it might have been the hide of some kind of large, horny snakelike creature such as those which live in deep lakes.”

“There were two stones of dullish glass like rainstones, one being whitish at one end. Each was oval in shape and somewhat flattened and tapered towards one end. Grand-mother used to tell fortunes with these and they went to cousin Sarah in America. There were two other pieces of rounded glass set in something made of bone which had pretty designs engraved on it. The bone setting was falling apart and was of no conceivable use. There was also a bluish coloured cross with an opening at the top and its arms were forked at the ends. This was fastened by a small chain curiously worked, to piece of round brass about the size of a small plate which was engraved with figured, of which a bird, a wand, two billhooks, a whip and some heads could be made out. There were beads of blue and red and a brooch shaped like a hook and made of gold. There was a acorn-like cap such as Flamens wear.”

“There was also a longish brass object like a knife, with engraving, in a wrapping of rotten wood. That is all there was, except for the books which were not like books at all. I do not know what became of the other items. I saw the glass ball once when I was a small child but cannot remember much about it, except that it was hollow at one end and when I put a finger in the hollow it felt warm.

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HISTORICAL DOCUMENTATION

After the above came to me (in the morning waking from a dream and accompanied by a certain feeling which I associate with revelation instead of my own thoughts) it was interesting that I found an account which seems to corroborate the idea that only the first part of the Book of Mormon was translated with the Urim & Thummim. This is something I’d never read or imagined prior to my inspiration on the matter…

Now the first that my husband translated, was translated by use of the Urim, and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost, after that he used a small stone, not exactly, black, but was rather a dark color. (Emma Smith Bidamon to Emma Pilgrim, 27 March 1870,” in Early Mormon Documents, 1:532)

During a private interview with her son Joseph Smith III in 1879, Emma responded to questions about the translation after a lifetime of thought and contemplation. Just months before her death, Emma gave these answers to the following questions concerning the translation process. (see original publication here)

Question. Who were scribes for father when translating the Book of Mormon?

Answer. Myself, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and my brother Reuben Hale.

Question. Was Alva Hale one?

Answer. I think not. He may have written some; but if he did, I do not remember it.

Question. What of the truth of Mormonism?

Answer. I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the Church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.

Question. Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?

Answer. He had neither manuscript nor book to read from.

Question. Could he not have had, and you not know it?

Answer. If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.

Question. Are you sure that he had the plates at the time you were writing for him?

Answer. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.

Question. Where did father and Oliver Cowdery write?

Answer. Oliver Cowdery and your father wrote in the room where I was at work.

Question. Could not father have dictated the Book of Mormon to you, Oliver Cowdery and the others who wrote for him, after having first written it, or having first read it out of some book?

Answer. Joseph Smith (and for the first time she used his name direct, having usually used the words, “your father” or “my husband”) could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, “a marvel and a wonder,” as much so as to anyone else.

Question. I should suppose that you would have uncovered the plates and examined them?

Answer. I did not attempt to handle the plates, other than I have told you, nor uncover them to look at them [Joseph had covenanted to ONLY show 4 people, see smith 1832. v5]. I was satisfied that it was the work of God, and therefore did not feel it to be necessary to do so;

Major Bidamon here suggested: Did Mr. Smith forbid your examining the plates?

Answer. I do not think he did. I knew that he had them, and was not specially curious about them. I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work.

Question. Mother, what is your belief about the authenticity, or origin, of the Book of Mormon?

Answer. My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity – I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he could at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.

D&C 17:1–7 “was given in answer through the Urim and Thummim”, and explains that it was given to the Brother of Jared upon the Mount.

1 Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea.

2 And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.

3 And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;

4 And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.

5 And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.

6 And he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true.

7 Wherefore, you have received the same power, and the same faith, and the same gift like unto him;

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When I get a minute…. I’ll assemble every historical account I can find, describing both before and after the change in methods…

The Calixtlahuaca Roman Figurine: Evidence of Transoceanic travel to Mesoamerica.

Summarized version of a paper presented by Romeo H. Hristov and Santiago Genovés T. at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology in New Orleans, LA, April 22, 2001)

From the early sixteenth century until the present many hypotheses of Pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts have been discussed (Sorenson and Raish 1996). With the only exception of the well-established Medieval Norse contacts with North American Indians (McGee 1984) all of the mentioned hypotheses share a common critical weakness: the lack of support in direct archaeological evidence, that is, genuine Old Word objects found in Pre-Columbian archaeological contexts (Willey 1985: 358). During the XIX and XX centuries some more or less reliable finds of such objects were reported from Mesoamerica; however, until the present time none of them have been accepted as incontrovertible evidence of inter-hemispheric contact before 1492.     

Among the mentioned data one of the most trustworthy is a small terracotta head of supposed Roman origin found in Mexico (García Payón 1961, 1979: 205-206; Heine-Geldern 1961; see Figure 1). The figurine was discovered in 1933 during the excavation of a burial offering in the Pre-Hispanic settlement of Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca, located nearly forty miles NW of Mexico City (Figure 2).

      The offering was placed under three intact floors of a pyramidal structure and, besides the head, includes different objects of gold, copper, turquoise, rock crystal, jet, bone, shell and pottery. Although the burial itself was dated between 1476-1510 A.D. Ernst Boehringer, an eminent classical archaeologist, has argued that the head is a Roman work from the II-III century A.D. The considerable discrepancy of more than one thousand years between the figurine and the other artifacts in the offering has raised certain suspicions about the reliability of the find, and therefore it was not generally accepted as evidence of transoceanic contacts in the 34th International Congress of Americanists (Vienna, 1960).
      In 1995 FS Archaeömetrie in the University of Heidelberg, Germany performed a thermoluminescence (TL) age test of the piece which established its age limits between IX century B.C. and the middle XIII century A.D. (Schaaf and Wagner 2001, Hristov and Genovés 2001). This result clears up the doubts of Colonial manufacture of the artifact, and makes the hypothesis of Roman origin –among other possibilities- applicable. The identification of the head as Roman work from the II-III century A.D. has been further confirmed by Bernard Andreae, a director emeritus of the German Institute of Archaeology in Rome, Italy. According to Andreae

“[the head] is without any doubt Roman, and the lab analysis has confirmed that it is ancient. The stylistic examination tells us more precisely that it is a Roman work from around the II century A.D., and the hairstyle and the shape of the beard present the typical traits of the Severian emperors period [193-235 A.D.], exactly in the ‘fashion’ of the epoch.” (Andreae cited in Domenici 2000: 29).

      On the other hand, an examination of the field notes of the archaeologist in charge of the excavation as well as the site itself have not revealed, in either case, signs of possible disturbances of the context (Hristov and Genovés 1999). During the last three decades over a dozen references concerning re-use of small Olmec artifacts in the Classical (III-IX centuries A.D.) or the Postclassical (X-XV centuries A.D.) contexts have been published, which give sufficient credibility to the appearance of a piece from the II-III century A.D. in context of the late XV century A.D (Navarrete 1982). Especially suggestive in this respect is the discovery of a small Olmec mask from the early first millennia B.C. inside a XV century A.D. burial offering in the Great Temple of Mexico-Tenochtitlán (Matos 1979). Furthermore, the recent discovery of a Roman trade post dated from the I B.C. to III A.D. centuries in the Lanzarote island, Canary Archipelago (Atoche Peña 1995) suggest a possible relationship of the Roman find from Mexico to some trans-Atlantic voyage (perhaps accidental) that may have happened during that period.

Discussion

      During the past decade the publications of Hristov and Genovés (1999, 2001) on the apparently Roman head from Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca has generated a publicity in sixteen languages, considerable amount of polemic and not a little confusion. The six main objections against the reliability of the evidence have been summarized by Michael E. Smith, a professor of archaeology in the Arizona State University:
http://www.public.asu.edu/~mesmith9/tval/RomanFigurine.html

      The first one is that “… [the head] may be a hoax. This could be a Roman figurine, but it was planted at the site, or in the laboratory, by a student or colleague of the excavator. The late Dr. John Paddock, a leading Mesoamerican scholar, used to tell classes at the Universidad de las Américas that the object was planted as a joke by Hugo Moedano, a student who worked at the site. Many archaeologists in Mexico have heard this story and they tend to believe it. I have checked with people who knew García Payón and some who knew Moedano, and I have been unable to confirm or reject this suggestion. Hristov and Genovés neglect to mention Paddock’s ideas in their article.” 
      Actually this situation has been addressed thoughtfully in Hristov and Genovés (2001), as well in a paper read at April 22, 2001 during the 66th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology in New Orleans, Louisiana. Michael E. Smith was present at the reading of the paper in the SAA meeting, and he also cites Hristov and Genovés’ article in his web page. Therefore, to claim that “Hristov and Genovés neglect to mention Paddock’s ideas …” seems, to put it mildly, paradoxical. Notwithstanding, for the sake of clarity the principal points from Hristov and Genovés (2001) are recapitulated below.
      The possibility of recent intrusion of the head was suggested by Paul Schmidt (an archaeologist in the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas-UNAM in Mexico City) in a letter to the Editorial Office of Ancient Mesoamerica from March 6, 2000 which deserves an extensive quotation:

      “The citing of the unpublished TL date without the authors’ (Schaaf and Wagner) permission reflects Hristov’s well known unethical approach to life. We had plenty of problems with him while he was here as Santiago’s protégé. Later we have heard about his alleged academic affiliation with SMU based on a library card which was apparently revoked when SMU discovered he was using them as academic affiliation (check on this to confirm because my knowledge is a rumor from a letter in Aztlan).
      ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
      When Hristov was here, two or three years ago, he approached me to read the first draft of the article. At that time I told him something the old-timers know: A typical student prank; the figurine was planted in Don Pepe’s [José Garcia Payón’s] dig, the saying goes, by Hugo Moedano. Don Pepe took it so seriously that no one had the heart to tell him it was a joke. This I remember having been told by John Paddock, and others of the older generation –Jaime Litvak for example- had heard this. Hristov refused to check out the story; he told me he had not encountered a published reference to this anywhere!
      Taking into consideration Hristov’s known unethical behavior and the obvious controversy which would result from the publication, I find it extremely hard to believe that two of the three serious and professional referees (and in this case perhaps five should have been consulted) would support the article. Consider that a preliminary version of the article was published in Arqueología Mexicana, causing Jaime Litvak to resign from the editorial board.”

      Schmidt’s enthusiastic but misinformed assessment of my “well known unethical approach to life“ and his peculiar mind-set toward the topic of the pre-Columbian transoceanic voyages are irrelevant for the present debate; however, the factual inaccuracies in his claims that “Hristov refused to check out the story; he told me he had not encountered a published reference to this anywhere“ are a different matter, and will be argued in continuation.
      In late 1996 Schmidt informed Hristov that “everybody knows that the head is Colonial” and García-Payón was not present during the excavation, so surely somebody had “planted’ it as a joke. Neither the thermoluminescence (TL) age limits, nor the excavation report supports the suspicion of Colonial manufacture and/or intrusion of the artifact into the apparently pre-Hispanic archaeological context. In 1997 Hristov personally asked Fernando García Payón, José García Payón’s son, if he knew something about the first objection. His response was that during the 1960s his father frequently was asked if he was present during the excavation, and he always assured them that he had been.

      In 1998 Hristov asked Schmidt again if he could remember the source of his information about the “planting” of the head, and Schmidt informed him that he “believed to have heard from John Paddock that Hugo Moedano planted the head”. By that time both Paddock and Moedano had passed away. Therefore, the only option was to ask some of the well-known Mexican scholars of the older generation. None of them had ever heard such a story, neither from Hugo Moedano nor from John Paddock (Román Piña Chán, Angel García Cook, Luis Torres Montes, Carlos C. Navarrete, and Jorge V. Angulo, personal communication to Romeo Hristov 1998). At that point the further investigation of the allegation was stopped, but in 2000 Romeo Hristov asked Fernando García Payón if he knew something about a possible “planting” of the artifact by Hugo Moedano. His response was that Hugo Moedano “…had never been present during the excavation,” and this was just “nonsense.”
      There is one more point to be made before concluding this comment. In the only work on the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca’s head published during his lifetime García Payón (1961: 2) notes that the figurine was brought personally by Ignacio Bernal (an eminent Mexican archaeologist and then sub-director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History) at the XXXIV International Congress of Americanists in Vienna, 1960. John Paddock was a student of Ignacio Bernal in the Mexico City College, his assistant during the excavation of Yagul (Oaxaca) in the mid-50s, and in 1966 they published an important work together titled Ancient Oaxaca: discoveries in Mexican archeology and history (Stanford: Stanford University Press); therefore, it is hard to believe that Bernal was not also warned by Paddock about the “planting” of the figurine and, if he was, to be unconcerned with it. Yet Bernal never mentioned about such possibility, neither during the congress debates nor in the paragraph on García Payón’s excavation in Calixtlahuaca published nearly two decades later in the Historia de la Arqueología en México (Bernal 1979: 167). Such silence about the alleged “planting” of the head seems even more puzzling in the two remarkably well-researched, and highly critical articles on the topic of the pre-Columbian transoceanic voyages published after García Payón’s note by another leading Mexican archaeologist and close friend of Paddock, Alfonso Caso (Caso 1964, 1965). The pathetic line of reasoning in Schmidt’s letter that “Don Pepe [José Garcia Payón] took it so seriously that no one had the heart to tell him it was a joke“ is, in my judgment, unconvincing in extreme.       The second objection is that “This may be a Roman figurine, but it was introduced into the Calixtlahuaca artifact collections, after excavation, through error. García Payón did not take extensive notes on his fieldwork, and it is entirely possible that extraneous objects may have been introduced into the collections after excavation. The collection of artifacts from Calixtlahuaca, now curated in the Museo de Antropología in Toluca, includes numerous donations of ceramic vessels from other sites, added to the collections after excavation (see: Smith, Michael E., Jennifer Wharton and Melissa McCarron, Las ofrendas de Calixtlahuaca. Expresión Antropológica (in press, 2002) Perhaps the Roman figurine can be explained in a similar fashion.”
      Smith’s observation regarding inadequacies in the cataloguing of donated ceramic vessels is perfectly correct. However, to deduce from it that “García Payón did not take extensive notes on his fieldwork …” or that the head may have been introduced into the collections “… after excavation, through error” would be misleading. Whatever omissions (or mistakes) in registering the provenance of donated artifacts may have been made, none of them ever have been cited by García Payón as discovered during his excavations in Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca. On the other hand, both the location and the context where the head was discovered were meticulously described and accompanied with a photo of the excavation, plan of the two burials and eight plates with photographs or drawings of the associated artifacts (García Payón 1979: 206). 
      At third place, Smith points out that “This may be a Roman figurine, but it was introduced to Calixtlahuaca in the early days of the Spanish colonial period. It may have been brought from Europe to Mexico by a Spaniard, and it found its way into a Terminal Postclassic/Early Colonial offering at Calixtlahuaca. It is not possible to tell, from the contents or context, whether the offering dates to the period before the Spanish conquest of Mexico or from the early Spanish colonial period. My continuing analyses of these materials may shed light on this issue in the future.” 
      During the past half century several embarrassing situations with Old World artifacts of supposed pre-Columbian importation that turned out to be of colonial or recent manufacture have been reported (Hristov and Genovés 2005; Epstein 1980: 9-10; and Andrews Wyllys IV and Boggs 1967, among others); hence, the legitimacy of such concern with the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca’s find scarcely can be disputed. The three main possibilities in this regard are briefly addressed below:
      Firstly, although the burial itself seems to be pre-Columbian, the figurine nevertheless may have been deposited within the offering by a Spaniard (or any other European) during the early Colonial period. No direct evidence exist to support such a possibility, but it is least hinted at by the widespread practice of looting pre-Columbian tombs during the Conquest and in the early Colonial period (Bernal 1979: 40-41). Yet if the burial was disturbed and an ancient Roman figurine deposited, by whatever reason, nothing is more unlikely than the gold artifacts in the offering (Garcia Payón 1979: 205-206) to be left intact.
      Secondly, if the burial is assumed to be from the early Colonial period it is perfectly credible that the figurine was obtained by the Matlatzincas after 1518 and included in the offering with the rest of artifacts. In such a case the traces of intrusion through the three superimposed floors under which the offering was deposited would have been easily detectable, especially if we bear in mind that the settlement of Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca was abandoned after its conquest by the Aztecs in 1510, and any repair is unlikely to have been carried out due to the disuse of the structure. Nevertheless in the reasonably detailed report of the excavation (García Payón 1979: 204-206) there is no mention at all of alterations to the floors under which the burial was deposited.
      Thirdly, the head could have been imported into the New World by some European visitor between 1492-1510, and somehow to have found its way to Central Mexico. In this regard it must be reminded that during the mentioned lapse of time the Matlatzincas were under Aztec domain, so the artifact would have come to the Toluca Valley most probably through the Aztec “pochtecas”, but in any case with Aztec knowledge. In this context, however, the lack of the slightest reference about any encounter of the Aztecs or any of their vassals with Europeans is inexplicable in the otherwise detailed and reasonably reliable late historical tradition in Nahuatl. The mentioned silence makes the proposed idea highly improbable if one bears in mind: (1) the deep religious and political meaning of the Aztec belief that bearded foreigners coming westward from the Atlantic would conquer and destroy their kingdom and, (2) how fast Moctecuhzoma II was informed about the Spaniards arrival in Veracruz in 1518, and the great impact of this event among the Aztec rulers.
      Another objection raised by Smith is that “this is a post-Roman European Christian figurine, introduced to Calixtlahuaca in the early days of the Spanish colonial period. This was the initial professional reaction upon García Payón’s publication of the object in 1960. I have yet to be convinced that the figurine really is Roman in origin – no one has shown illustrations of known Roman figurines next to this object. Could it be a post-Roman Christian figure? More research is needed. Arguments that this figurine is Roman in origin need to back that notion up with more than vague statements that “Professor so-and-so says that it looks Roman.” 
      To begin with, it must be stressed that the term “post-Roman European Christian figurine” is both imprecise and misguiding about the assumed chronology of the piece. The fact is that the initial professional reaction was that the figurine is a Colonial object (that is, manufactured anywhere between the early XVI to the early XIX century, either in New Spain or Europe), and was catalogued as such in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
      The identification of the piece as Roman work from the II-III century AD is based mainly on the stylistic analysis done by two specialists in Classical archaeology and art (Ernst Boehringer and Bernard Andreae) although some limited support to the suggested chronology is also provided by the TL age test. Its remarkable realism and physical embodiments of personality clearly set it apart from the early Christian portraits types, but are common in the Roman male busts from the mentioned period (Figure 3). Personally, I think that there are very narrow limits to the possibility of tracing the exact place of origin and the cultural background of the figurine. However, in broad outlines its close stylistic similarities with two small Punic terracotta masks (Figures 4 and 5) at least offer a hint that its origin was most likely somewhere in the Levant or Hispania rather than the Italian Peninsula.
      The next objection is regarding the ”… problems with the thermoluminescence dates reported by Hristov and Genoves. The physicists who ran the dates have objected to the way the dates are described by Hristov and Genoves (Wagner, Günther, letter to New Scientist April 8, 2000 (no. 2233), pp. 64-65). This is discussed in the following articles:
Schaaf, Peter and Günther A. Wagner (2001) Comments on “Mesoamerican Evidence of Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts” by Hristov and Genovés. Ancient Mesoamerica 12:79-82.
Hristov, Romeo H. and Santiago Genovés T. (2001) Reply to Peter Schaaf and Günther A. Wagner’s “Comments on ‘Mesoamerican Evidence of Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts'”. Ancient Mesoamerica 12:83-86. 
      For those unfamiliar with the two cited articles, the principal aspects of the so-called “problems with the thermoluminescence dates” are summarized below. In early 1995 Romeo H. Hristov was provided with a copy of the FS Archaeömetrie TL age test report which indicated the manufacture of the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca’s head as no later than the beggining of the Christian era [View the TL report]. In 1996 the age limits of the find were calculated by Peter G. Schaaf at 1780± 400 B.P. (184 B.C.-616 A.D.), and cited as such in Hristov and Genovés (1999). Notwithstanding, when the article was in print, Schaaf and Wagner, anticipating the heated controversy that the find may generate, decided to shift to the most conservative calculation of the thermoluminescence age limits, that is 870 B.C.- 1270 A.D.
      As already discussed in the previous pages, the corrected TL age limits once again made the assumption of Colonial origin of the figurine untenable and support, although with less certainty, the hypothesis of Roman origin of the figurine.
      Smith’s last objection is regarding the alleged “problems with the archaeological context of the “Roman figurine”. The “Roman figurine” supposedly excavated at Calixtlahuaca was not documented using standard archaeological procedures. Excavator José García Payón did not publish professionally adequate descriptions of any of his excavations at the site. After his death, two posthumous reports were issued (García Payón 1979; 1981), but these contain very little specific information on the excavations or individual contexts. The “Roman figurine” cannot be considered well documented according to the normal standards of archaeological practice. If one compares García Payón’s publications with any of the excavation reports listed below, the contrast is obvious. The following kinds of documentation—standard for professional archaeological fieldwork in the twentieth century—are lacking for Calixtlahuaca:

1. Photographs of the process of excavation.
2. Photographs of the object in situ.
3. Photographs of the offering said to have yielded the figurine.
4. Plan maps of the excavation, the object in situ, or the offering.
5. Profile drawings showing the stratigraphic context of the figurine or the offering.
6. Detailed descriptions of the course of excavation (there is a brief summary)
7. Descriptions of the excavator’s reconstruction of the processes of construction and deposition of the structure and offering.
8. Illustrations of the figurine, the offering, or the associated objects, made at the time of excavation.
9. Catalog entries for the figurine or any of the finds from Calixtlahuaca.
10. Laboratory or museum records showing the presence of the figurine and associated objects from the time of excavation. 

      These problems of data reporting affect more than just the “Roman figurine” from Calixtlahuaca. The lack of documentation applies to nearly all of the finds from García Payón’s fieldwork. While these problems do not invalidate the “Roman figurine” as a potentially valid Precolumbian find, their implication is that it is impossible today to reconstruct the archaeological context of the find. It certainly cannot be claimed that this find is “well documented” or that it comes from “a good archaeological context.” The excavation of the “Roman figurine” fails to meet even the minimum standards of archaeological reporting.
 One might be tempted to suggest that such reporting standards were lower in the 1930s than they are today, and thus it may be unfair to criticize García Payón on these grounds. While archaeological documentation and publishing standards certainly are much higher today, other archaeologists working in central Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s—Mexicans, North Americans, and Europeans—provided adequate documentation of their fieldwork and finds that meets the standards listed above. The following examples support this claim:

Anonymous
1935 Tenayuca: estudio arqueológico de la pirámide de este lugar. Departamento de Monumentos de la Secretaría de Educación Públic, Talleres Gráficos del Museo Nacional de Antropología, Historia y Etnografía, Mexico City.
Bernal, Ignacio
1979 A History of Mexican Archaeology: The Vanished Civilizations of Middle America. Thames and Hudson, New York.
García Payón, José
1979 La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas: etnología y arqueología (textos de la segunda parte), edited by Wanda Tommasi de Magrelli and Leonardo Manrique Castañeda, vol. 30. Biblioteca Enciclopédica del Estado de México, Toluca.
1981 La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas: etnología y arqueología (tablas, planos e ilustraciones de la segunda parte), edited by Wanda Tommasi de Magrelli and Leonardo Manrique Castañeda, vol. 31. Biblioteca Enciclopédica del Estado de México, Toluca.
Linné, Sigvald
1934 Archaeological Researches at Teotihuacan, Mexico. Publication, vol. 1. Ethnographic Museum of Sweden, Stockholm.
Vaillant, George C.
1930 Excavations at Zacatenco. Anthropological Papers, vol. 32, no. 1. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
1931 Excavations at Ticoman. Anthropological Papers, vol. 32, no. 2. American Museum of Natural History, New York. 

      In sum, Smith basically asserts that (1) “…José García Payón did not publish professionally adequate descriptions of any of his excavations at the site”, and (2)”the excavation of the ‘Roman figurine’ fails to meet even the minimum standards of archaeological reporting”. This opinion is not only highly subjective, but it also is not free of inaccuracies.
      To begin, it should be stressed that José García Payón was one of the most erudite and respected Mexican archaeologists from the mid-XX century. As discussed above, several aspects of his interpretative work in Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca indeed are outdated (for example, the assumed use of some architectural structures and the ceramic classification), and there is a lot left to be desired about the catalogue entries of the artifacts. Without doubt these are not negligible problems, but they also are among the most common ones in the Mesoamerican archaeological research from the first half of XX century (Bernal 1979: 154-188, cf. endnote 1) . When discussing the mentioned aspects of García Payón’s work, a paragraph in Bernal (1979: 162) on Vaillant’s research in Zacatenco and Ticoman (see Smith’s sixth and the seventh bibliographical references), half of which is discussion on its chronological errors, merits consideration as well.
      Furthermore, Smith is suggesting that “… other archaeologists working in central Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s—Mexicans, North Americans, and Europeans—provided [more] adequate documentation of their fieldwork and finds that meets the [ten] standards listed above”. From the seven bibliographical references cited as examples two are the 2nd and the 3rd volumes of García Payón’s work on Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca, and the third is the previously referred A History of Mexican Archaeology… by Ignacio Bernal, which chapter VIII offers an concise review of the Mexican archaeology between 1910-1950. The remaining four works cannot be dealt with adequately in brief compass, but any careful revision of them will not fail to reveal tree important issues: first, none of them (including the untypically “modern” work of Linné) fulfills in every single detail even the first eight of the ten requests in Smith’s list; second, that there is considerable variations between them in the amount and the sophistication of technical details in the excavation accounts and third, although Linné and Vaillant’s publications are indeed more systematic and detailed, their technical aspects are basically no different from García Payón’s work. 
      Once this issue is addressed, the opinions of Wanda Tomassi de Magrelli (archaeologist) and Leonardo Manrique Castañeda (linguist), who revised and prepared García Payón’s manuscript for the publication of the 2nd, the 3rd and the 4th volumes of the research in Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca deserves to be cited:

When working with it [García Payón’s manuscript of the excavation in Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca], we realized that, notwithstanding of its venerable age, it is extraordinarily actual because the exploration was extremely careful and the [excavation] techniques very close to the used today …” (Tomassi and Manrique 1979: XXI).

      It already has been mentioned that the excavation of the two burials where the Roman figurine was discovered have been documented with a photo of the excavation, plan of the two burials and eight plates with photographs and drawings of each one of the associated twenty-off artifacts; this record was also completed with two pages of reasonably detailed accounting of the excavation (García Payón 1979: 205-206, see endnote 2). Therefore, it seems all peculiar (and to me, inexplicable) how Smith has arrived at the conclusion that the excavation “fails to meet even the minimum standards of archaeological reporting.”

Conclusions

      As final remarks it is worthwhile to emphasize, once again, that in its fundamental aspects such as domestic plants and animals, knowledge and use of metals, writhing and language systems, and religious beliefs, among others, the Old and the New World civilizations until the early sixteenth century were firmly different and, consequently, independent from each other (Hristov 1998: 237; Hristov and Genovés 1998: 52-53; Hristov and Genovés 2001:85). However, there are also some data of various kinds and levels of credibility that suggest the existence of a few sporadic, most probably accidental, transoceanic voyages before Columbus, which apparently had very limited -if any- cultural and biological impact. The find of an apparently Roman head in Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca, Mexico, seems to support the occurrence of one such voyage across the middle Atlantic, possibly somewhere in the first centuries of the Christian era.
      On the other hand, notwithstanding that the Canary Islands were discovered around 1334 A.D., the highly probable contacts between the ancient Mediterranean world and the Canaries were confirmed for first time only a decade and half ago. In 1987 a Roman trade post dated between the first century B.C. and the third century A.D. was discovered in the Lanzarote island (Atoche Peña et al. 1995), and the continuing archaeological research has proved in 2006 that not only the Romans but also the Punic seafarers reached the archipelago no later than the fourth century B.C. (Atoche Peña et al. 2009). The implications of these discoveries in the discussion of the possible Pre-Columbian Trans-Atlantic contacts are obvious, and it is not entirely unreasonable to expect in the near future that systematical archaeological studies in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Brazil may provide more -and more conclusive- data related to some isolated cases of trans-Atlantic voyages before 1492.
—————————————–
1 This and the following citations are based on the Spanish language edition of Bernal’s book, which is included in the list of References.

2 Most of the photos, drawings and plans from the excavation were prepared for publication as 4th volume of García Payón’s work on Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca; regretfully, the manuscript and all field notes of García Payón were lost during the earthquake in Mexico City in 1985 (Hristov and Genovés 1999: 210) . Notwithstanding several previously published photos, plans and two descriptions of the excavation and the context where the head was found (García Payón 1961: 1-2; 1979: 205-206) provide sufficient base for assessment of the find.

References

Andrews Wyllys IV, Edward and Stanley Boggs
1967 An African Art Object in Apparently Early Archaeological Context in El Salvador: A Caveat to the Diffusionist. Ethnos 1-4: 18-25

Atoche Peña, Pablo, Juan Paz Peralta, Maria Ramírez Rodríguez y Maria Ortíz Palomar
1995 Evidencias arqueólogicas del mundo romano en Lanzarote, islas Canarias. Servicio de Publicaciones del Exmo. Cabildo Insular de Lanzarote, Arrecife

Atoche Peña, Maria Angeles Ramírez Rodríguez, JoséDomingo Torres Plaza and Sergio Pérez González
2009 Excavaciones arqueológicas en el yacimiento de Buenavista (Tiagua, Lanzarote): primera campaña 2006, Canarias Arqueológica (Segunda época). III (17): 9-52

Bernal, Ignacio
1979 Historia de la Arqueología en México. México: Editorial Porrúa, S. A.

Caso, Alfonso
1964 Relations between the Old and the New Worlds: A Note on Methodology, Actas y Memorias del XXXV Congreso Internacional de Americanistas (México, D.F., 1962), 1: 55-71. México: Editorial Libros de México S. A. de C. V.

1965 Semejanzas de diseño que no indican contactos culturales, Cuadernos Americanos. 143(6): 147-152

Domenici, Viviano
2000 Il parere dell archaeologo Bernard Andreae: ha i tratti tipici dell arte del secondo secolo dopo Cristo. Non mi stupisce che siano arrivati in America, Corriere della Sera. February 27, 2000, p. 29

Epstein, Jeremiah. F. 1980. Pre-Columbian Old World Coins in America: An Examination of the Evidence. Current Anthropology 21 (1): 1-12

García Payón, José
1936 La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas. Primera parte. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública

1961 Una cabecita de barro, de extraña fisonomía, Boletín INAH. 6: 1-2

1979 La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas. Segunda parte. México: Biblioteca Enciclopédica del Estado de México

1981 La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas. Tablas, planos e ilustraciones de la segunda parte. México: Biblioteca Enciclopédica del Estado de México

Heine-Geldern, Robert
1961 Ein römischer Fund aus dem vorkolumbischen Mexiko, Anzeiger der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaft. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse. 98 (16):117-119

Hristov, Romeo
1998 Reseña de John L. Sorenson and Martin H. Raish Pre-Columbian Contacts with the Americas across the oceans. An annotated bibliography, Cuadernos Americanos (Nueva Epoca). 68 (2): 237-239

Hristov, Romeo and Santiago Genovés
2005 The “Phoenician” head from Las Balsas, Mexico, Antiquity. Vo.79, No 304, http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/hristov/index.html

1998 Viajes transatlánticos antes de Colón. Arqueología Mexicana VI (33): 48-53

1999 Mesoamerican evidence of Pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts. Ancient Mesoamerica.10 (2): 207-213

2001 Reply to Peter Schaaf, Peter and Günther A. Wagner’s “Comments on ‘Mesoamerican evidence of Pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts’”, Ancient Mesoamerica. 12 (2): 83-85

Matos, Eduardo
1979 Una máscara olmeca en el Templo Mayor de Tenochtitlán, Anales de Antropología. XVI: 11-19

McGee, Robert
1984 Contact between Native North Americans and medieval Norse: A Review of the evidence, American Antiquity. 49 (1): 4-26

Navarrete, Carlos
1982 Acotación bibliográica sobre dos notas olmecas, Revista Mexicana de Estudios Antropológicos. XXVIII: 159-173

Tomassi, Wanda and Leonardo Manrique
1979 Presentación, in La zona arqueológica de Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca y los matlatzincas. Segunda parte, by José García Payón. México: Biblioteca Enciclopédica del Estado de México, p. XXI-XXIII

Schaaf, Peter and Günther Wagner
2001 Comments on the “Mesoamerican evidence of Pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts” by Hristov and Genovés in Ancient Mesoamerica 10:207-213, 1999, Ancient Mesoamerica. 12 (1): 79-81

Sorenson, John and Martin Raish
1996 Pre-Columbian contacts with the Americas across the oceans. An Annotated Bibliography. Provo: Research Press

Willey, Gordon
1985 Some continuing problems in the New World culture history, American Antiquity. 50 (2): 357-363

Book of Mormon Geography

Book of Mormon Geography Found- Mexican Highland Continental Model (Summary)

The following is a temporary power point or slides presentation summarizing The Book of Mormon Mexican Highland Continental Model. When finished it will be published as a coffee table book and then YouTube video summary of our model. Use keyboard arrows to advance slides once slides has focus.

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A slightly out of date version of the above slides/book in pdf format.

With cursor in the above window (when window has focus), scroll down to see the rest of the document within the iframe.

The Narrow Neck as Baja and the Sea of Cortez

Where is the Book of Mormon Narrow Neck

Book of Mormon accounts are always “BY” the narrow neck, never ON the narrow neck.
“Where the sea divides the land”, NOT where the land divides the sea
Narrow Passes are never said to be ON, or even next to the narrow neck .

34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. (Alma 50:34)

9 And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side. (Alma 52:9)

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5)

6 And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful;
7 And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.(Hel 4:6–7)

29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward. (Mormon 2:29)

5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.
6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. (Mormon 3:5–6)

30 And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
31 And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food.
3
2 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.
3
3 And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. (Alma 22:32–33)

19 …And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.
21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants. (Ether 10:20–21)

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Overview

I believe many of the best correlations between the Book of Mormon’s internal geography and modern archaeological findings have been missed or passed over by Book of Mormon geographers almost exclusively because of misunderstandings surrounding the ‘Narrow Neck of Land’ mentioned in the text. Although a single verse in Alma 22 may give the impression that the narrow neck is an isthmus, nearly every other indication actually goes against this notion. In this article, we’ll go through each verses relating to the Book of Mormon narrow neck to make a case that it is actually Baja California, which served as the predominate geographic delineator between the Land Northward and Land Southward in ancient times—much the same way as the Rio Grande river and Sonoran desert serves as the main delineator between the United States and Mexico in our day. Following are just a few of the reasons why a correlation between the narrow neck and the Baja peninsula seem to be the best fit to the text.

  1. Joseph Smith seems to have believed that the land of Desolation was the desert Southwest & Eastern plains areas of the United States with Bountiful & Zarahemla in Meso/Central America. Since Desolation bordered the narrow neck, only Baja makes his model work.
  2. Not a single occurrence in the Book of Mormon is said to happen ON the narrow neck. Instead all mentions of it are in regard to being BY the narrow neck.
  3. The language in Ether 10:20 (and possibly Alma 63:5) seems to suggest a large inlet or gulf of the sea “which divides the land”, NOT an isthmus of land which divides the sea itself.
  4. The given widths of the ‘narrow passes’ mentioned in the Book of Mormon are FAR less than any Mesoamerican Isthmuses.
  5. None of these passes are said to go from ‘the east sea to west sea’. And none are actually mentioned in conjunction with a ‘narrow neck’.
  6. If the ‘narrow pass’ of Alma 52:9 were an isthmus north of Zarahemla, then the statement regarding fortifying it so the Lamanites cant harass Zarahemla on ‘every side’ makes little sense.
  7. If the narrow neck were an isthmus, it seems strange that the city of Bountiful or any other east coast city south of the east narrow pass of Alma 52 are not mentioned in regard to Nephite retreat and final battles of Mormon chapters 1-7.
  8. By far, the best archaeological correlation for the truly urban portrayal of the land of Zarahemla in Book of Mormon times (200 BC to 300 AD) is the Mexican highland. But this region is largely ignored by Book of Mormon geographers because it is NORTH of Central America’s isthmuses. (see this interview of Michael Coe on Book of Mormon urbanization here)

Joseph Smith on the Land of Desolation

On two, and possibly three occurrences, Joseph Smith is directly quoted by a first hand source as stating that the Book of Mormon Land of Desolation extended from the desert Southwest to the Great Plains of North America. This region is of course, one of the more obvious geographical candidates for a region where the text claims the people “did dwell in tents [teepees/wigwams], and in houses of cement” because it was one of the only regions especially having “but little timber” (Hel 3:6–9).

Although of late recounting, Mosiah Hancock gives a first hand account of Joseph Smith saying,

The next day the Prophet came to our home [and said,] ‘Now’, he said, ‘I will show you the travels of this people’. ‘You will build cities to the North and to the South’… ‘and you will have to go to where the Nephites lost their power… Placing his finger on the map, I should think about where Snowflake, Arizona is situated, or it could have been Mexico, he said.’ (Mosiah Hancock, Autobiography, 1834-1865 BYU Special Collections, full account available here. Original)

Levi Hancock, early friend of Joseph, member of Seventy and Council of fifty quotes Joseph Smith as saying to member of Zions Camp that the land of Desolation extended into the Great Plains.

Joseph Smith addressing himself to Sylvester Smith and said, “This is what I told you and now I want to tell you that you may know what I meant. This land [of western Missouri] was called the land of desolation and Onedages was the King and a good man was he. There in that mound did he bury his dead (Autobiography of Levi Hancock (1803-1882), pg. 27 – emphasis added. Original)

Both these quotes fall in line with Joseph’s well known support of a continental model for the Book of Mormon, and possibly give support to the two map-like documents of questionable origin, but in the church archives which attribute Joseph Smith as drawing the travels of Moroni which place the “sand hills in south Arizona” [Desolation?], north of the Land of Bountiful in “Sentral America”. (read about them here)

Nothing in the Book of Mormon actually happens ON the Narrow Neck

Its somewhat odd that in all the Book of Mormon accounts of occurrences in the Land of Desolation of things happening in association with the ‘narrow neck’, nothing ever happens ON the narrow neck. Instead its always explained as occurring BY the narrow neck.

Take Ether 10:20–21 for instance. Many Mesoamerican models attempt to equate the Jaredites almost exclusively with Olmecs living in their correlation for the land of Desolation which is on the isthmus of Tehuantepec. But note the wording of the text for Lib’s city. It isn’t built ON the narrow neck of land, but BY the narrow neck of land, BY a place where the sea divides or cuts into the land. (suggesting some kind of deep bay or inlet).

20 And [Lib and his people] built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land (Ether 10:20)

Does that wording really sound like an isthmus? Or does it sound more like the ‘narrow neck of land’ a geographic identifier representing a truly narrow neck of land and sea inlet like the Baja Peninsula? This reading makes even more sense when we apply it to Alma 63:5 where Hagoth is said to build and launch his boat BY the narrow neck and yet still in the borderland of Bountiful near the Land Desolation.

5 …therefore [Haggoth] went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck [of sea?] which led into the land northward. (Alma:63:5)

This makes little sense in relation to an isthmus like Tehuantepec, as launching south of it into the West Sea (Pacific) does not really provide much of a shortcut into the ‘land northward’ which is said to be an ‘exceedingly far distance’ and have large bodies of water and homes made of cement for lack of trees (Hel 3:4–11). It does however make a lot of sense if this is talking about the same ‘place where the water divides (cuts into) the land’ of Ether, which provides a travel corridor to take people from the mouth of the Rio Grande de Santiago in West Mexico, up the sea of Coretz to the Colorado River and into the Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora and all the regions of the ancient Puebloan people in the Desert Southwest.

The ‘Narrow Passes’ don’t go from sea to sea and are NEVER said to be ON the Narrow Neck

Have you ever noticed that most the time when Mormon speaks of the entire width of the land or isthmus he lived on, he usually uses the descriptive phrase “from east sea to the west sea

-“divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west…” (Alma 22:27)
-“cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east…” (Hel 3:8)

But when he refers to Desolation or Bountiful on the Book of Mormon’s “narrow neck”, he only specifically mentions ONE sea. It’s always seemed odd to me. Almost like the ancient author might THINK it’s an isthmus of sorts, but tries to stick to the wording of the maps & texts he’s copying which NEVER clearly say “from the east sea to the west sea” as they did with other parts of the land. Instead its always explained in terms of a pass on only one sea, with an ambiguous reference to the other.

-“distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea…” (Alma 22:32)
-“fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified…” (Hel 4:7)

In our model, rather than being oddities, each of these phrases ends up being a truly specific description of different aspects of the ‘narrow neck’ area. Which I interpret as Baja California, the Gulf of Baja or Sea of Cortez, and the narrow coastal passes between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Oriental and the east and west seas. This interpretation comes not only because it matches perfectly with the archaeology, and is really the only way to make a continental model of Book of Mormon lands which matches with both the text and early LDS prophetic statements. But also from noticing the overwhelming inclusion of the sea of cortez in the histories and mythologies of the Aztec and other mesoamerican cultures in the writings of early Aztec/Spanish historians like Ixlilxochtl.

In Modern times we separate the two regions of North America & Mesoamerica by the U.S./Mexican Border and the desolate central Mapimi depression/Chihuahua Desert of North Mexico. However, in both colonial and Book of Mormon times, when nearly all travel was along the West Mexico coast the two perhaps were colloquially separated in the minds of natives by Baja and the narrow neck of sea. (the sea of Cortez & Baja)

The Narrow Neck [of sea], not just a Narrow Neck of land

At least two references the the Book of Mormon narrow neck seem to be jointly referring to a narrow neck of sea next to a narrow neck of land instead of just a narrow neck of land. Note the language in Ether 10:20 where Mormon says the narrow neck is “by” [or next to] “the place where the sea divides [cuts or splits into] the land”. Note it does not say what we would expect of a city on an isthmus such as so many Book of Mormon model’s suggest with the Olmec— in which cases we would expect the city to be built “on the narrow neck of land… where the land divides the sea“, but instead Lib’s city is bywhere the sea divides the land‘. It’s this strange wording that first led me to wonder if ALL the references to the narrow neck were better explained by having Baja and the Sea of Cortez being the narrow neck.

20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. (Ether 10:20)

Of course, there’s nothing in the Book of Mormon specifying that there is only one narrow neck, so those who see the Olmec as the best fit for the Jaredite heartland could still hold that view while espousing our continental model, however the fits are far more incredible with only a single narrow neck (Baja), narrow coastal passes of east and west Mexico and adjusted timeline to account for radiocarbon dating issues. A second example of where the text seem like it could be actually referring to a sea inlet as the narrow neck is found in the reference to Haggoth in Alma 63:5. In this verse we are told that Haggoth launches a ship into the sea… once again by the narrow neck instead of on the narrow neck. But in this case the very case seems strange because it’s talking about a narrow neck leading into the land northward, BUT in relation to sea travel. Could it be that in this case it is a narrow neck of sea that’s leading into the land northward? Once again, a place ‘where the sea divides the land.”

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck [of sea?] which led into the land northward. (Alma:63:5)

The width of the ‘Narrow Passes’ are FAR less than Mesoamerican Isthmuses

Note that in the two examples of distances given in the Book of Mormon for the width of these passes we have a day or day and a half’s journey. Much as in the works of early Spanish codices transcribers like Ixlilxochitl, distances are always expressed in days instead of linear measurements. And although some debate exists on the distance of a day’s journey, Ixlilxochitl and most scholars place it at around 15 miles. Compare then the day and a half’s journey of Alma 22:32 and the days journey of Hel 4:6–7 (15-27 miles) to the shortest distances across Isthmuses like Tehuantepec (125 miles) or the Isthmus of Guatemala (160 miles) or even the narrowest part of the Isthmus of Darian in Panama (36 miles) and we see the problem with associating the Narrow Neck with these locations.

Even if we suggest the ‘defensive lines of Hel 4:6–7 and Alma 22:32 are simply fortified passes ON the Narrow Neck or Isthmus we still run into a MAJOR problem in all these locations, as NONE of them have defined narrow coastal passes on both sides which are 15-27 miles wide! The Northern coastal plain of Tehuantepec for instance is 50-60 miles wide! (Putting aside the fact that Tehuantepec’s passes face north and south, not east and west as the text suggests.

A place that DOES have easily fortifiable narrow coastal passes which span between the sea and steep mountain chains is northwest and northeast Mexico between the Sierra Madre Occidental, Oriental and the sea.

34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. (Alma 50:34)

9 And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side. (Alma 52:9)

5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5)

6 And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful;
7 And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.(Hel 4:6–7)

29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward. (Mormon 2:29)

5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.
6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. (Mormon 3:5–6)

30 And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.
31 And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food.
3
2 And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.
3
3 And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. (Alma 22:32–33)

19 …And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.
21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants. (Ether 10:20–21)

Another possibility: Mormon’s culture believing there to be a ‘Narrow Neck’ in North Mexico

In addition to the above reasoning it seems quite likely that ancient Mesoamericans had a different view of their continents geography than we do. A study of ancient maps and geographies shows that modern LDS Scholars have expected too much from ancient Book of Mormon authors by supposing pre-Columbian cultures had a modern understanding of continental geography and shorelines. Indeed, although many ancients understood well the spatial relationships for populated places, or places they had been, the detailed understanding of uninhabited wildernesses and continental shorelines seems to have been very poor. Especially among cultures without widespread use of boats or nautical navigation technology.

Aztec map, Codex Xolotl showing the spatial relationships of the Valley of Mexico juxtaposed against the Sebastian Munster map (1448-1552): Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula (1540) [Rare 2nd State of first map of the continent of America]. Each are examples of the rudimentary spatial relationships inherent in pre-modern geographers views of the world. See high quality versions here and here.
To see a full catalogue of known Mesoamerican cartographic or map representations read "Mesoamerican Cartography" by Barbara Mundy or "The origins and development of the cartographic tradition in the central Mexican highlands" by Chris Helmke

Our model proposes that much like Sabastian Munster’s early map of the New World (featured above), Book of Mormon authors may have thought there to be another ‘narrow neck’ between the narrow coastal ‘passes’ of Northern Mexico. A misunderstanding likely caused by a belief that the Eastern and Western Sierra Madre mountain ranges were one and the same range. An easy mistake to make given their lack of travel through the nearly impenetrable and uninhabited Mapimi Basin of the Chihuahua Desert. Indeed historical texts show that essentially ALL ancient travel & trade, occurred along the ‘narrow passes’ between the coasts and the steep mountain ranges, with only a few sparsely inhabited mining communities existing in the Deserts of the northern interior.

We believe this to be the primary reason why LDS scholars have failed to find a convincing continental model, which Joseph Smith and the early LDS leaders so obviously believed in. Indeed this simple over-expectation of ancient geographical understand seems to be why the body of LDS scholarship has overlooked the common-sense correlations between American prehistoric ruins and the Book of Mormon text. For instance, the Book of Mormon plainly suggests Zarahemla to be the largest city on the continent. It also tells of a sister-city of sorts built by Lachoneus in the ‘Land Zarahemla’ to which the Nephite people are gathered to just before the time of Christ in order to protect themselves from the assault of the guerilla forces of the ‘Gadianton robbers’. How could one NOT immediately think of the ancient cities of Teotihuacan and Cholula? These being by FAR the largest and most influential ancient cities of North America. Teotihuacan, with its ‘cultural neighborhoods’, matching almost perfectly in character and construction to Lachoneus new city built for hundreds of thousands of refugees.

So also with the Book of Mormon’s ‘land of desolation’ which was comparatively desolate of trees and peopled with cultures ‘expert in cement’ (ref). How could one NOT think immediately of the Southwest’s Ancestral Puebloan cultures matching perfectly with their ubiquitous desert adobe and rock great houses? There is simply nowhere else in North America with such ‘desolate’ landscape and widespread use of rock and adobe (cement) used for building not just temples and monuments but homes as well. Not to mention Joseph Smith is quoted by Mosiah Hancock saying that the Southwest was the Book of Mormon land of Desolation ‘where the Nephites lost their power’ (Autobiography of Mosiah Hancock, typescript, BYU-S. Compiled by Amy E. Baird, Victoria H. Jackson, and Laura L. Wassell).

Again, the same is true for the Eastern US hopewell ‘mound-builder cultures’ and their obvious fit for those in the ‘Land Northward’ of ‘many lakes and waters’. (refs) The obvious fit of these cultures and their proximity to Joseph Smith’s ‘land of Cumorah’ has caused thousands of LDS researchers to divide from the Mesoamericanists and create a slew of ‘Heartland’ Book of Mormon geographical models in order to accommodate the slew of early LDS leader quotes, revelations, archaeological ruins and common sense correlations between this area and the text.

The problem, of course, is that these overwhelmingly obvious correlations do not work with Mormon’s ‘narrow neck’, which is said to be north of Zarahemla and Bountiful. (As well as a few radiocarbon dating issues we cover in another section). Because of this, most serious LDS scholars have looked south of the isthmus of Tehuantepec, isthmus of Guatemala, or isthmus of Panama. A correlation which forces one to ignore EVERY major culture in North America apart from the Maya (the Lamanite core in our model). But of course, because essentially ALL the greatest Mayan cities are east of the possible candidates for the River Sidon, as well as significant issues with Moroni’s ‘east sea cities’ (ref), these models must throw out even the largest and most influential Mayan cities from any possible correlation with the Book of Mormon. With our continental model, essentially EVERY significant ancient culture in the North American continent, as well as their largest cities, are part of the Book of Mormon narrative. From the Maya to the Zapotec, Huestec to Mixtec, Teotihuacan and the Mexican Highland to the Toltec and Chichimec to the Ancient Puebloan/Anasazi to the Hopewell. The list goes on and on, of overwhelming correlations between the Book of Mormon text and archaeological ruins, geographic relationships, language relationships, Native American mythologies, settlement patters and more.

Book of Mormon Geography
Illustration depicting the actual geography of North America versus what the ancient authors of the Book of Mormon may have thought the geography looked like

A few more examples of ancient maps, and how even among people’s with advanced writing and sea trade, knowledge of coastal geometries was rudimentary. Especially concerning areas where few lived or traveled.

Map of Ariana based on Eratosthenes' data (195 BC) in Strabo's Geography ( 63 BC – c. 24 AD)
Map of Ariana based on Eratosthenes’ data (195 BC) in Strabo’s Geography ( 63 BC – c. 24 AD)
Old antique map of Africa by S. Munster | Sanderus Antique Maps Old antique map of AFRICA showing: AMMON (IN LIBYA) MELLI: Latin- flowing with honey Mono Giant:

Surrounded by Water

Interestingly, the native word for the mexican highland and particularly the narrow highland of west-central mexico was thought to mean, “surrounded by water”. Cem Ānáhuac is a composed náhuatl name, consisting of the words “cem” (totally) and “Ānáhuac”, in turn a composed word from “atl” (water) and “nahuac”, a location prefix that means “surrounded “. The name can then literally be translated as “land completely surrounded by water “, or “[the] whole of [what is] beside the waters”.

Codex Quetzalecatzin, in the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress. The map covers an area between Mexico City and Puebla. With Nahuatl stylised graphics and hieroglyphs, it illustrates the family’s genealogy and their descent from Lord-11 Quetzalecatzin, who in 1480, was the major political leader of the region. It is from him the Codex derives one of its many names’. The document dates to between 1570 to 1595 and would have been made by an indigenous painter and scribe. See this link for more codice maps.

Verse by Verse Analysis To References of the Narrow Neck

The Narrow neck, pass or defensive line mentioned as one of the most prominent geographic features of the Book of Mormon has proved to be incredibly enigmatic.  Far greater than the problems of King James Isaiah, Pauline language parallelisms, anachronistic metals or European animals in the Book of Mormon (which can generally be explained by proposing differing manners of dynamic equivalence translation and channeling processes), the narrow neck problem can almost seem insurmountable. Attempts to correlation the Panama Isthmus with the Book of Mormon gain few supporters for reasons that have been described elsewhere (ref). Perhaps the most supported theory of correlating the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the Book of Mormon’s “narrow pass” has its own difficulties. Foremost of these is the fact that this model forces both the Nephite and Lamanite lands to be in historical Mayan territories. In these model’s Zarahemla (and the entire Nephite culture) are correlated with mundane Mayan cities which bear essentially no early cultural differences from their surrounding peoples (Lamanites)! Additionally these models require the Jaredites (Olmec) to pass writing to the Lehites (Maya) instead of the other way around as described in the Book of Mormon text. The political and religious dominance of the Epi-olmec and Mexican Highland cultures spanning from the formative to the classic are a far better match (and perhaps the only truly plausible match) with what the Book of Mormon narrative depicts of the Nephite/Lamanite religious and political rivalry..

Reference wording sea west mentioned? sea east mentioned? days jour-ney directional indicators
Alma 22:32–33 “small neck of land” or “the line Bountiful” yes possibly 1.5 from the east to the west sea
Alma 50:34 “the narrow pass” yes separately   by the sea, on the west and on the east
Alma 52:9 “the narrow pass”   no    
Alma 63:5 “the narrow neck” yes no   the west sea
Hel 4:6–7 “the line” yes possibly 1 from the west sea, even unto the east
Mormon 2:29 “the narrow passage”   no    
Mormon 3:5–6 “the narrow pass”   no    
           
Ether 10:20–21 “narrow neck of land” inferred inferred   place where the sea divides the land

 

Available literature in Joseph Smith’s day clearly called the Isthmus of Panama a “narrow neck” (see here for instance), But also, made clear that its distance was more than the “day” (ref) or “day and a half” (ref) mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  its curious then that if Joseph or some contemporary wrote the Book of Mormon, they would represent the geography SO horribly.    Letter from Balboa dated January 20, 1513. “The Indians state there is another ocean 3 days journey from here… they say the other ocean is very suitable for canoe traveling is always calm…”  (reference here)

 

This map from 1566 is one of the oldest printed maps of North America. Created by Paolo Forlani, the first edition was published in 1565. This second edition was published by Venetian Bolognino Zaltieri after Forlani sold the plate to him. This is one of the first maps to show the Bering Strait - here called the Strait of Anian. It was an educated guess, as it was not discovered until 1648. The map was bought by the Bartholomew family, who collected antique maps

This map from 1566 is one of the oldest printed maps of North America. Created by Paolo Forlani, the first edition was published in 1565. This is one of the first maps to show the Bering Strait – here called the Strait of Anian. It was an educated guess, as it was not discovered until 1648. Like many ancient maps, the geography is a very rough rendition of the true landscape. High quality version available here.

1569 Camocio Map. Several maps associate tolm or ‘tollan’ with Teguayo. Tolm is generally found in the present-day U.S. Southwest on 1500s-1600s era maps. Several maps, including the 1569 Camocio map, show its full spelling as Tolman, which is likely a variation of the Toltec homeland ‘tollan’. See here and here for a similar but higher quality version.

Map made by Italian Jesuit Giulio Aleni while he was working as a missionary in 1620s China

1620s Wanguo Quantu map, by Giulio Aleni, whose Chinese name (艾儒略) appears in the signature in the last column on the left, above the Jesuit IHS symbol.

1609 Shanhai Yudi Quantu (not by Ricci)

1728 Barreiro Map This is the oldest post-Columbian map which depicts the four migration points of ancient Mexican Indians found in later maps. Some sources also point to this region as a former home for people from Central and South America. See here for an ultra high quality version.

Mexico's huge closed basins (endorheic basins). These large desert regions have no outlet to the sea, and drain internally into large ephemeral lakes and desert playas.

Red outlines show Mexico’s huge closed basins (endorheic basins). These large, sparsely inhabited, desert regions have no outlet to the sea, and drain internally into large ephemeral lakes and desert playas. Settlement and travel through these regions seems to have been extremely rare anciently.

Map available to Joseph Smith in the early 1800's, done by John Carry, in 1811.

Map available to Joseph Smith in the early 1800’s, done by John Carry, in 1811.

SEE SEVERAL MORE HIGH QUALITY EARLY MAPS OF MEXICO AND THE AMERICAS HERE.

Animals in the Book of Mormon

ElephantsCureloms and CumomsCattle, Oxen, and Cows
GoatsSheepSwine
Ass & Horse

 

Many Book of Mormon critics try to show issues or anachronisms with the lists of animals found in its narrative; for example the Wikipedia articles on Book of Mormon Archaeology and Book of Mormon Anachronisms. The Book of Mormon certainly has its major issues.. (see Arguments For and Against the Authenticity of the Book of Mormon), but reading these animal issue attacks always seems strangely biased to me. In fact articles like this have so many blatant falsities that they’re a bit difficult for a well-read person to stomach. Debunked statements on their being no evidence of the domestication of certain animals, or no evidence of the ancient use of metal plates, or no evidence of certain animals in the new world are peppered throughout many similar critical articles. I have huge problems with many of Mormonism’s exclusivist truth claims; and the Book of Mormon has a lot of other problems to overcome; however, regardless of whether you believe the Book of Mormon narrative or not you have to consider the fact that the mention its assorted animals is not a deal breaker for it being a truly channeled translation of an ancient history. Especially when one considers the possibility of a very “loose translation” (dynamic equivalence instead of formal equivalence) in the channeling process of the book.

Throughout this article, keep in mind that our model places the Nephites primarily in the Mexican Highland, the Land of Nephi in the Oaxaca highland (Monte Alban), the Lamanite heartland in Chiapas & the Yucatan and the Nephite ‘Land Northward’ and Jaredites primarily in the U.S. Southwest, Northwest Mexico and the Eastern U.S.— the early Jaredite record being an abridged oral & channeled history spanning from the Ice age to the Nephite era.

The Book of Mormon makes clear that both Jaredites and Nephites who lived in ancient times on this continent had domestic animals of various kinds. They also speak of wild varieties of presently domesticated animals. The earlier people, the Jaredites (unknown beginning to ~300 B.C.), are reported to have had,

all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cumoms. (Ether 9:18–19)

The Nephites (c. 600 B.C. – 400 A.D.) on the other hand tell us,

that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. (1 Nephi 18:25; cf. Mosiah 5:14; Enos 1:12; Alma 5:59; Alma 17)

Elephants

Note that Elephants are in the list for animals useful for the early Jaredites. With the exception of small island pockets, and a few DNA samples in Northern Alaska, evidence for the extinction of remaining North American Elephants (Mammoth & Mastodon) and other megafauna during the Younger Dryas climate event by the radiocarbon dates of ~10,000 BC is overwhelmingly conclusive. This requires that the early Jaredite record was older than most people believe. (Perhaps including the Book of Mormon authors themselves?) Unless radiocarbon dates for that highly variable climatic period are somehow wrong, it seems likely that the Jaredite record (much like the Biblical & Babylonian records) may have presented spliced or fragmented genealogies in a condensed, linear form leading back to the ancient Babel tower myth where mankind spread throughout the globe. (In other words there is likely missing time that is not accounted for in the record.) The mention of elephants and other extinct animals, along with the obvious fact that the Book of Mormon tells us the Jaredites were the first inhabitants of this continent is the most striking evidence for our correlated timeline which correlates the early pre-dearth Jaredites with North American Paleo-Indians living prior to the end of the ice age. (The “dearth” in Ether 9:30 being the younger dryas: a massive episode of climate change ending the last ice age cycle.) Because of the mention of elephants as well as two other apparently extinct megafauna which were “especially useful [for the food of] man”, correlating the Paleo-Indian with the archaic cultures of North America is really the best plausible correlation. This is certainly plausible since the record itself does not give any concrete dates for the Jaredite culture (only a genealogy table). There are literally thousands of archeological sites showing that the Clovis and Paleo-Indians lived on diets rich in megafauna.  Many archaeologists have in fact suggested that these native American groups may have been responsible for hunting many of these animals to extinction. This highly debated theory gives a lot of weight to the idea given in the book of Ether where it states that BOTH a climate event and hunting did them in.

30 And it came to pass that there began to be a great dearth upon the land, and the inhabitants began to be destroyed exceedingly fast because of the dearth, for there was no rain upon the face of the earth.
31 …And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee… towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla…
34 And it came to pass that the people did follow the course of the beasts, and did devour the carcasses of them which fell by the way, until they had devoured them all. (Ether 9:30–34)

size comparison of mammoth, mastodon and African elephants

Cureloms and Cumoms

Many other extinct Pleistocene megafauna fit the description of Jaredite animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Paleoindians were known to subsist on Gomphotheres and perhaps even giant sloths; short-faced bears; several species of tapirs; saber-toothed cats like smilodon; dire wolves; saiga; camelids such as two species of now extinct llamas and camelops. Since it is generally accepted that “cureloms and cumoms” were especially “useful for the food of man”  (Ether 9:18–19), and unknown to Mormon in translation (not necessarily Joseph Smith), I think the most likely candidates are the giant sloth, wooly rhino and camelids.

18 …and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.

19 And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.

A few of the many North American megafauna which co-existed with the paleoindians. (nearly all of which went extinct at the end of the ice age (which we correlate with the "great dearth" spoken of in the Book of Mormon).

A few of the many North American megafauna which co-existed with the paleoindians. (nearly all of which went extinct at the end of the ice age (which we correlate with the “great dearth” spoken of in the Book of Mormon).

Cattle, Oxen, and Cows

Concerning the Jaredite “cattle, of oxen, and cows” mentioned in Ether 9:18, likely matches would have to be American Bison (subfamily Bovinae/bovine), shrub ox (family Bovidae: went extinct with other megafauna); Harlan’s muskox (family: bovidae, subfamily: caprinae), Moose (family Cervidae, could have been classified as either cow or horse by Mormon/Ether depending on their cultural classification system) and for Mesoamerica and 1 Nephi 18:25, Baird’s Tapir which is locally known as the “Mountain Cow”. Each of these species ranged far south of their current habitat during the last Ice Age. There is of course no evidence for moose or shrub ox in Mexico, so the only option for the Nephite list is Bison as an Ox, which historical accounts put as far south as Zacatecas (Lst et. al 2007); and Tapir, perhaps as a swine or cow type animal. (It’s certainly nothing like a horse! LOL)   And since the Nephite list excludes “cattle” we can assume they were not yet familiar with cows as a herd animal (such as Bison herds on the plains) at the time 1 Nephi 18:25 was written.

cattle, oxen and cows

cattle, oxen and cows

Large tapir.

A large Baird’s Tapir. Also known to the indigenous as the “Mountain Cow”.

Goats

Possibilities include North American Mountain Goats. (Our current scientific classification system does not include this animal in the Capra genus with most goats, but Joseph or Mormon could have very well have been referring to this type of animal).

The North American Mountain Goat.

The North American Mountain Goat.

The Nephite animal list differentiates between “goats and wild goats”. Although modern botanists classify North American antelope into a different family than goats (Antiloocapridae vs. Bovidae), you can see how similar the the two animals look. Antelope were known to be a major food staple of assorted Mesoamerican groups like the early Zapotecs ranging as far south as Oaxaca. This may very well be the wild and non-wild goat that the Nephites were referring to.

North American pronghorn antelope compared to both European and Middle Eastern varieties of goats.

North American pronghorn antelope (left) compared to both European and Middle Eastern varieties of goats (middle and right).

Sheep

Many species of wild sheep are indigenous to north america. Including Rocky Mountain big horn, Dall Ram, Desert big horn. See wild sheep of north america for details. Note that sheep are not mentioned in the Nephite animal lists, only the Jaredite. This is fitting since, unlike antelope (goats) and bison (cows), no North American sheep are known to have ranged very far south into Mexico.

A few of North America's native sheep species include the Peninsular Ram, the Dall's sheep the Peninsular Ram and the Rocky Mountain Ram

A few of North America’s native sheep species include (shown from left to right above) the Peninsular Ram, the Dall’s sheep the Peninsular Ram and the Rocky Mountain Ram.

Swine

Note this is not mentioned in the Nephite list of animals, only the Jaredite list.. Perhaps because many of the larger ranging North American peccaries (Including the long nosed and flat-headed peccaries) went extinct with other megafauna. Pigs (family Suidae) are not native to the Americas, however peccaries, which are native to the Americas (family Tayassuidae) have roamed limited parts of the continent since the demise of their relatives at the end of the ice age. Tapirs are also somewhat reminiscent of pigs. They are prevalent in central america and grow to be six and a half feet in length and can weigh more than six hundred pounds. Many zoologists and anthropologists have compared the tapir’s features to those of a cross between a pig and a cow.

Extinct North American peccary, living meso-american jungle peccary and north american dessert javelina

Extinct North American peccary (shown left), living North American dessert javelina (center), and Mesoamerican jungle peccary (right).

Ass & the Horse

Domestication of caribou, bison, reindeer, and even elk are not uncommon.

Isolated domestication of caribou, bison, reindeer, and even elk are not uncommon.

Horses aren’t specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being the type of animal that carried people. In fact in the instances that they are mentioned in relation to “chariots”, the wording could easily be referring to some type of supply slay (3 Nephi 3:22; Alma 18:9–12).  So its actually pretty plausible that the Book of Mormon translators used the biblical/European word “horse” to refer to a different type of native animal.  Just as Reindeer are the “horse” of Norse peoples, it seems fairly possible that the purported Book of Mormon channelers translated words for White-tale and Mule Deer (or even Elk, North American caribou or moose for those living farther north) in instances it was used. Note this is exactly what was done by early Aztec writers, as Sahagún in his Florentine Codex calls the Spanish horses “deer”.  (see Bk 12, Ch. 1 par. 7 & Bk 12 Ch. 7 par. 8)  In fact in the second instance Sahagún’s reference to the Aztec calling the Spanish horses “deer”, the wording sounds as though they were somewhat familiar with the idea of deer in warfare as supply animals but completely amazed by deer which were strong and tall enough to actually carry a man.

Their deer carry them upon their backs. They are as high as rooftops. (Sahagún, 1545-1590)

In fact, both elk and deer have been readily domesticated in modern times. Elk farming in North America has become increasingly popular in recent years and Siberian natives have been domesticating elk and deer for thousands of years. Europeans also have occasionally domesticated deer for hundreds of years. (Although they don’t tend to stay domesticated long.) Deer in most national parks and many urban settings as well as Elk in National Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone have become so docile as to cause problems by their constant dependence and interaction with people. There are even numerous historic images of old cowboys riding elk. It seems logical that if many Nordic cultures could get a caribou to pull a sleigh then it is certainly plausible that some talented ‘deer whisperers’ could train a strong mule deer to pull a ceremonial supply ‘chariot’ as mentioned in Alma 18:9–12. I also find it interesting that settlers named the deer species O. hemionus “Mule Deer” because the animals large ears reminded them so much of a Mule or Ass. Deer are incredibly common in Mexico and even provided a main source of food for cultures as far south as the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala.

In fact, in the next section an example from an early Spanish historian is given of the kings of the valley of Mexico fencing in herds of deer.

The idea that Book of Mormon references to “horses” refereed to tapirs, is far too much of a stretch in my opinion. I’m not sure why anyone would suggest such a thing when there are such better alternatives.

comparisons of African wild ass, European ass and North American mule deer.

Comparisons of African wild ass (left), European ass (center) and North American mule deer (right).

Comparison of modern horse and North American cow Elk.

Comparison of modern horse and North American Elk (shown at right).

Flocks & Herds

The Book of Mormon makes frequent mention of “flocks and herds”. In addition to the animals mentioned above it is relevant to note that archeological evidence shows that many Mesoamerican peoples bred, raised and subsisted on animals such as dog, turkey, rabbit and deer. Archaeological evidence indicates dogs and deer were a substantial part of the Mayan diet. In fact, at the Colha site, white-tailed deer accounted for up to fifty percent of the Maya meat source. Likewise, Zapotec cultures relied heavily on domesticated dog and turkey. It makes sense that, many of the references to “flocks and herds” may be referring primarily to these animals. Early Zapotec peoples are also known to have subsisted on antelope— of which similar species have been readily domesticated in various areas of Asia and Africa.  Peccary and tapir are also well known indigenous animals which could have been primary components of Book of Mormon “flocks and herds”. Although evidence for animal domestication in Mesoamerica is hard to come by, this may well be because it is often difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between a wild animal and a domesticated animal from archaeological food remains.

The early Spanish chronology Mariano Veytia in his “Ancient History talks about the ancient emperors created fenced enclosures for deer & other animals, 

“Nezahualcoyotl… gathered a large stash of materials, and prepared a large number of workers; and seeing the site of Chapoltepec as suitable for a hunting forest, he ordered it to be formed, fenced, and stocked with deer, rabbits, hares, and other animals, allocating it as a place of amusement” (Ancient History, p.142)

No evidence of these fences have been found by archaeologist… almost certainly because they were made of reeds or some other highly perishable material.

Below is an example from Nara deer park in Japan, of how easy it is to partially domesticate wild animals… you simply need to give them a reliable food source.

Although it is certainly possible that the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith or one of his contemporaries, instead of being channeled from heaven or translated from an ancient record–the supposed animal “anachronisms” are not a very solid argument against its authenticity.

Domesticating Deer. Nora Deer Park, Japan

 
 

Video of man Riding Buffalo

Video of man attempt at Riding Elk

Video of man attempted Moose Ride

Video of domesticating Antelope

A little detail behind why the only animals that Native American’s had much success Domesticating were, turkey, dog, and possibly deer & bison on a more limited basis.

Summary of Points

So in summary. There seems to be a lot of inconsistent thinking when it comes to animals in the Book of Mormon and particularly, Jaredite animal lists.
Elephants are only mentioned very early in the Jaredite timeline. And they are mentioned after “cattle, oxen and cows” as well as “sheep, and of swine, and of goats”, and in conjunction with 2 animals with no modern translation.

-So if the Book of Mormon “elephants” are tapirs… what are “swine, and cattle, oxen and cows”
-If b.o.m. Cureloms and Cumoms are alpacas, what are “sheep and goats and horses?”
-if b.o.m. Elephants are mammoths that held out (with ZERO archaeological evidence) in some isolated pocket until 1800 BC, then what are “Cureloms and Cumoms”? And why didn’t Mormon translate these words?
-If b.o.m. Elephants, Cureloms and Cumoms still existed into Nephite times don’t you think they’d be mentioned in the Nephite animal list of 1 Nephi 18:25; cf. Mosiah 5:14; Enos 1:12; Alma 5:59?

The record states that after the climate catastrophe/dearth, ” the people did follow the course of the beasts, and did devour the carcasses of them which fell by the way, until they had devoured THEM ALL” (Ether 9:30–34)
I’ve found nearly all articles trying to correlate these Book of Mormon animals with real American animal groups are HIGHLY inconsistent over either geographic region or time or both.

Really the best and perhaps only way to resolve these inconsistencies, and still consider the translation of the Book of Mormon to be divine where higher beings are attempting to match ancient animals with their available modern counterparts is to suggest that Elephants are Mammoths, Cureloms and Cumoms are two other genre or species of extinct megafauna (Gomphotheres are a good possibility for one), and that the ‘dearth’ is the Younger Dryas extinction event which, along with over hunting, killed off most megafauna in the Americas.
https://beta.capeia.com/…/disappearance-of-ice-age…

To make these lists work, also requires accepting that the Jaredites ranged into North America… not just Mesoamerica or South America… as otherwise, there are just not enough good matches to “cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man… also horses and asses and elephants…

-Elephants = Mammoths
-Cureloms and Cumoms = Extinct megafauna with no similar modern equivalents. (Gomphotheres, Megatherium, Amphicyon? Paraceratherium?)
-Cattle, oxen and cows = American Bison, Shrub Ox, Musk Ox, Tapir (Note the Nephite list excludes cattle, suggesting they were not associated with herds of cow. Which makes sense if they were mainly in Mesoamerica where there were no large bison herds.)
-Goats = Pronghorn antelope and North American mountain goat. (Another evidence for the Mexican Highland model, as there is no evidence for these animals south of Oaxaca/Tehuantepec).
-Sheep = Rocky Mountain big horn, Dall Ram, Desert big horn (once again sheep are not mentioned in the Nephite animal lists, only the Jaredite which again works perfectly for Jaredites in North America, and Nephites in Mesoamerica/Mexican Highland)
-Swine = North American peccaries (only in Jaredite list… so likely not referring to Tapirs)
-Ass & the Horse = Mule deer and Elk or other types of deer (The Florentine Codex has the natives calling the Spanish ‘horses’, deer.)
Flocks & Herds = dog, turkey, rabbit and deer.

Joseph Smith Quotes on Book of Mormon Geography

 

This page is a compilation of quotes by and attributed to Joseph Smith relative to the geography of the Book of Mormon.
From the available documented evidence it is apparent Joseph held a continental view of Book of Mormon Geography.  Quotes by Joseph Smith or statements attributed to him point to a belief in four major areas of Book of Mormon happenings.

1-  He believed the Lehites to have landed in South America

2- He believed them to have travelled to Central America to settle (with cities like Zarahemla being there).

3- He believed them to have ‘lost their power’ (ie the Land Desolation) in the U.S. Southwest.

4- He believed Cumorah and the final battle to be in New York, and much of North America to be the Book of Mormon ‘Land Northward’.

Although it seems likely that Joseph Smith did not receive specific revelation pertaining to the specifics of where Book of Mormon events took place , when taken as a whole, the descriptions he gives of Book of Mormon locations are fairly consistent. Some modern scholars believe that Joseph tried to learn the geography as time progressed or perhaps didn’t have a concrete idea in his mind about where it took place, however, Lucy Mack Smith the prophet’s mother wrote:

“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 83.)

This and many other quotes (including some below) seem to suggest that Joseph Smith believed he generally knew where Book of Mormon happenings occurred within a continental context — and taught that view to those who were close to him.


Quotes Suggesting Joseph Believed the Lehites Landed in South America.

Statement some believe the be by Joseph Smith recorded by Frederick G. Williams and originally published in 1879 by Orson Pratt. Shows that Lehites landed in Chile though, of questionable authenticity.

The course that Lehi and his company traveled from Jerusalem to the place of their destination:

They traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then, nearly east to the Sea of Arabia, then sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chile, thirty degrees south latitude.

(Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 269. ; Franklin D. Richards and James A. Little, Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1925], 289.)

Article from Time and Seasons while edited by Joseph Smith. The Lehites landed near the Isthmus of Darien.

When we read in the Book of Mormon that… Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien…

(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 267. ; “FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS”, Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3:921-922.)


Quotes suggesting Joseph believed the Lehites settled in Mesoamerica.

Article from Time and Seasons while edited by Joseph Smith. The Jaredites covered the entire continent and that the Lehites landed near the Isthmus of Darien, but dwelt ‘on this continent’ (North America).

From an extract from “Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America,

“it will be seen that the proof of the Nephites and Lamanites dwelling on this continent, according to the account in the Book of Mormon, is developing itself in a more satisfactory way than the most sanguine believer in that revelation could have anticipated. It certainly affords us a gratification that the world of mankind does not enjoy, to give publicity to such important developments of the remains and ruins of those mighty people.

When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, and improved the country according to the word of the Lord, as a branch of the house of Israel, and then read such a goodly traditionary account as the one below, we can not but think the Lord has a hand in bringing to pass his strange act, and proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all the people. The extract below, comes as near the real fact, as the four Evangelists do to the crucifixion of Jesus.-Surely “facts are stubborn things.” It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments, as they did Moses and Elijah.

(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 267. ; “FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS”, Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3:921-922.)

Article from Time and Seasons while edited by Joseph Smith which contained a large portion from Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. Shows that Lehites lived in Central America.

Let us turn our subject, however, to the Book of Mormon, where these wonderful ruins of Palenque are among the mighty works of the Nephites:-and the mystery is solved.

On the 72d page of the third and fourth edition of the Book of Mormon it reads as follows: And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land. And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites, should come upon us and destroy us: for I knew their hatred towards me and my children, and those who were called my people. And I did teach my people, to build buildings: and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things: for they were not to be found upon the land; wherefore, it could not be built like un-to Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine. And on page 280-1 is a full description of the Isthmus.

Mr. Stephens’ great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all the people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found. Read the destruction of cities at the crucifixion of Christ, pages 459-60. Who could have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon? surely the Lord worketh and none can hinder.

(Extract, Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 21 September 1, 1842 915.)


Article from Time and Seasons while edited by Joseph Smith as a follow-up to the above quote. Shows that Lehites lived in Central America. Importantly it casts great doubt upon the idea that Joseph Smith ever believed the modern Mormon city of Zarahemla Iowa was actually the spot that the ancient city of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon stood.

Since our ‘Extract’ was published from Mr. Stephens’ ‘Incidents of Travel,’ &c., we have found another important fact relating to the truth of the Book of Mormon. Central America, or Guatemala, is situated north of the Isthmus of Darien and once embraced several hundred miles of territory from north to south.-The city of Zarahemla, burnt at the crucifixion of the Savior, and rebuilt afterwards, stood upon this land as will be seen from the following words in the book of Alma:-‘And now it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful,and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla was nearly surrounded by water: there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.’ [See Book of Mormon 3d edition, p. 280-81.]

It is certainly a good thing for the excellency and veracity, of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that the ruins of Zarahemla have been found where the Nephites left them: and that a large stone with engravings upon it, as Mosiah said; and a ‘large round stone, with the sides sculptured in hieroglyphics,’ as Mr. Stephens has published, is also among the left remembrances of the, (to him,) lost and unknown. We are not going to declare positively that the ruins of Quirigua are those of Zarahemla, but when the land and the stones, and the books tell the story so plain, we are of opinion, that it would require more proof than the Jews could bring to prove the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb, to prove that the ruins of the city in question, are not one of those referred to in the Book of Mormon.

It may seem hard for unbelievers in the mighty works of God, to give credit to such a miraculous preservation of the remains, ruins, records and reminiscences of a branch of the house of Israel: but the elements are eternal, and intelligence is eternal, and God is eternal, so that the very hairs of our heads are all numbered. It may be said of man he was and is, and is not; and of his works the same, but the Lord was and is, and is to come and his works never end; and he will bring every thing into judgment whether it be good, or whether it be evil; yea, every secret thing, and they shall be revealed upon the house tops. It will not be a bad plan to compare Mr. Stephens’ ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon: light cleaves to light, and facts are supported by facts. The truth injures no one, and so we make another
(Zarahemla., Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 22 September 15, 1842 927.)


Quotes suggesting the Nephites ‘lost their power’ in the U.S. Southwest (ie. the Land Desolation).

Recollections of a conversation with Joseph Smith by Mosiah Hancock, a close friend of the Prophet. Shows that the Nephites lost their power in the southwestern United States/north Mexico.

The next day the Prophet came to our home and stopped in our carpenter shop and stood by the turning lathe. I went and got my map for him. “Now”, he said, “I will show you the travels of this people”. He then showed our travels through Iowa, and said, “Here you will make a place for the winter; and here you will travel west until you come to the valley of the Great Salt Lake! You will build cities to the North and to the South, and to the East and to the West; and you will become a great and wealthy people in that land. But, the United States will not receive you with the laws which God desires you to live, and you will have to go to where the Nephites lost their power. They worked in the United Order for 166 years, and the Saints have got to become proficient in the laws of God before they can meet the Lord Jesus Christ, or even the city of Enoch”. He said we will not travel the shape of the horse shoe for there we will await the action of the government. Placing his finger on the map, I should think about where Snowflake, Arizona is situated, or it could have been Mexico, he said,

“The government will not receive you with the laws that God designed you to live, and those who are desirous to live the laws of God will have to go South. You will live to see men arise in power in the Church who will seek to put down your friends and the friends of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many will be hoisted because of their money and the worldly learning which they seem to be in possession of; and many who are the true followers of our Lord and Savior will be cast down because of their poverty. There will be two great political parties in this country. One will be called the Republican, and the other the Democrat party. These two parties will go to war and out of these two parties will spring another party which will be the Independent American Party. The United States will spend her strength and means warring in foreign lands until other nations will say, “Let’s divide up the lands of the United States”, then the people of the U. S. will unite and swear by the blood of their fore-fathers, that the land shall not be divided. Then the country will go to war, and they will fight until one half of the U. S. army will give up, and the rest will continue to struggle. They will keep on until they are very ragged and discouraged, and almost ready to give up–when the boys from the mountains will rush forth in time to save the American Army from defeat and ruin. And they will say, ‘Brethren, we are glad you have come; give us men, henceforth, who can talk with God’. Then you will have friends, but you will save the country when it’s liberty hangs by a hair, as it were”.

(Mosiah Hancock, Autobiography, BYU Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 28. Original is here.)

 

Quotes suggesting Joseph Smith believed the Land of Desolation extended from the southwest into the Great Plains)

From Levi Hancock’s record of Zion’s Camp (1834):

“Nothing occurred of any account until we got in Illinois when Joseph said, in our tent, “I want you to remember what I say to you. The Lord is going to give us dry weather now until we get through. He has given rains that there might be water on the prairies. You will see the movings of the Lord in our favor all the way through.” It began to be very pleasant and soon we entered on the wide prairies camping and holding meetings on Sunday…

…On the way to Illinois River where we camped on the west side. In the morning many went to see the big mound about a mile below the crossing. I did not go on it but saw some bones that were brought back with a broken arrow. They were laid down by our camp. Joseph Smith addressing himself to Sylvester Smith and said, “This is what I told you and now I want to tell you that you may know what I meant. This land was called the land of desolation and Onedages was the King and a good man was he. There in that mound did he bury his dead and did not dig holes as the people do now, but they brought their dirt and covered them until you see they have raised it to be about one hundred feet high. The last man buried was Zelf or Telf. He was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onedagus for freedom….” These words he said as the camp was moving off the mounds as near as I could learn he had told them something about the mound and got them to go and see it for themselves. I then remembered what he had said a few days before while passing many mounds on our way …”(Autobiography of Levi Hancock (1803-1882), pg. 27 – emphasis added)

From W.W. Phelps

“What the design of our heavenly Father was or is, as to these vast prairies of the far west, I know no farther than we have revelation. The book of Mormon terms them the land of desolation, and when I get into a prairie so large that I am out of sight of timber, just as a seaman is “out of sight of land in the ocean,” I have to exclaim, what is man and his works, compared to the Almighty and his creations? Who hath viewed his everlasting fields? Who hath counted his buffaloes;—who hath seen all his deer, on a thousand prairies? Well may his sacred word declare:—The cattle upon a thousand hills are mind. All are God’s…

  1. W. Phelps. To O. Cowdery, Esq.” (MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, Vol. 2, July, 1836, No. 22, pg. 341 – emphasis added)

More from WW. Phelps.

THE far west, as the section of country from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains may justly be styled, is not only distant from the Atlantic States, but different. Its principal river, running rapidly from the 48th to the 39th degree of north latitude, is always rily, always wearing away its banks and always making new channels: It is rightly named Missouri; for in plain English, it looks like the waters of misery,—or troubled water:—even as the sea which the prophet said, Casts up mire and dirt. With the exception of the skirts of timber upon the streams of water, this region of country is one continued field, or prairie, (as the French have it, meaning meadows,) and there is something ancient as well as grand about it, too; for while the eye takes in a large scope of clear field, or extensive plains, decorated with here and there a patch of timber, like the orchards which beautify the farms in the east, the mind goes back to the day, when the Jaredites were in their glory upon this choice land above all others, and comes on till they, and even the Nephites, were destroyed for their wickedness: Here pause and look to the east, and read the words of the prophet: Wo to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which is on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.—The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.

            To return: this beautiful region of country is now mostly, excepting Arkansas and Missouri, the land of Joseph or the Indians, as they are called, and embraces three fine climates: First, like that of New-York; second, like Missouri, neither northern nor southern; and third, like the Carolinas. This place may be called the centre of America; it being about an equal distance from Maine, to Nootka sound; and from the gulf of St. Lawrence to the gulf of California; yea, and about the middle of the continent from cape Horn, south, to the head land at Baffin’s Bay, north. The world will never value the land of Desolation, as it is called in the book of Mormon, for any thing more than hunting ground, for want of timber and mill-seats: The Lord to the contrary notwithstanding, declares it to be the land of Zion which is the land of Joseph, blessed by him, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together from the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.(EVENING AND MORNING STAR, Vol. I, September, 1832. No. 4, pg. 37 – emphasis added)


Quotes Suggesting Joseph believed Cumorah and the final battle to be in New York, and much of North America to be the Book of Mormon ‘Land Northward’.

An epistle from Joseph Smith the Prophet to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dated at Nauvoo, Illinois, September 6, 1842. Shows that the Book of Mormon was buried in the Hill Cumorah.

Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!

And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets-the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!
(D&C 128:19–20)


Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery, at Fayette, New York, September 1830. Calls Native Americans in North Central America “Lamanites.”

And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.

And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.
(D&C 28:8–9)



Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson, October 1830. Calls Native Americans in North Central America “Lamanites.”

And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.
(D&C 32:2)



Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Newel Knight, at Kirtland, Ohio, June 1831. Calls Native Americans in North Central America “Lamanites.”

And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.
(D&C 54:8)

Entry in The History of the Church showing that Nephites and Lamanites lived in the Illinois area (where Joseph Smith was traveling with Zion’s Camp).

During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country-Nephites, Lamanites, etc., and this morning I went up on a high mound, near the river, accompanied by the brethren. From this mound we could overlook the tops of the trees and view the prairie on each side of the river as far as our vision could extend, and the scenery was truly delightful.

On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order; and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, in part-one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.
(Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 2: 79 – 80.)



Entry in The History of the Church showing that Nephites and Lamanites lived near Adam-ondi-Ahman in North Central America.

Saturday, 19.-This morning we struck our tents and formed a line of march, crossing Grand River at the mouth of Honey Creek and Nelson’s Ferry. Grand River is a large, beautiful, deep and rapid stream, during the high waters of Spring, and will undoubtedly admit of navigation by steamboat and other water craft. At the mouth of Honey Creek is a good landing. We pursued our course up the river, mostly through timber, for about eighteen miles, when we arrived at Colonel Lyman Wight’s home. He lives at the foot of Tower Hill (a name I gave the place in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there), where we camped for the Sabbath.
(Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 3: 34.)



On September 8, 1841, Bishop Bernhisel wrote the Prophet that he was sending “a copy of Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan.” The Prophet’s response shows that Lehites lived in Central America.

Nauvoo November 16, 1841

Dear Sir

I received your kind present by the hand of Er Woodruff & feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem & friendship which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds & developes many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprehensive.-

In regard to the land referred to by you I would simply state that I have lands both in and out of the City some of which I hold deeds for and others bonds for deeds when you come which I hope will be as soon as convenient you can make such a selection from among those as shall best meet with your needs & feelings. In grateful remembrance of your kindness I remain your affectionate Brother in the bonds of the Everlasting Covenant

Joseph Smith

To Dr Bernhisel
Dr Bernhisel care of
Lucian R. Foster
No 13 Oliver St
New York
(Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984], 501 – 502.)



From the Wentworth Letter–shows that Moroni instructed Joseph on many aspects relating to Book of Mormon geography.

On the evening on the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God, and endeavoring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room, indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire; the appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body; in a moment a personage stood before me surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations that a people might be prepared for the Millennial reign. I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation.

I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient Prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.

These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.

In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian Era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, &c, and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. For a more particular account I would refer to the Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our Traveling Elders.
(Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 4: 537 – 538.)

 


Recollections of a conversation with Joseph Smith by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith. Shows that the Hill Cumorah was in the New York area.

The fact was I had learned to be a little cautious about matters with regard to Joseph, for I was accustomed to see him look as he did on that occasion and I could not easily mistake the cause thereof.

Presently he smiled and said in a calm tone, “I have taken the severest chastisement that I have ever had in my life.”

My husband, supposing that it was from some of the neighbors, was quite angry and observed, “I would like to know what business anybody has to find fault with you!”

“Stop, father, stop,” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to be brought forth; and that I must be up and doing and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do. But, father, give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand which I have received, for I now know the course that I am to pursue, so all will be well.”

It was also made known to him at this interview that he should make another effort to obtain the plates, on the twenty-second of the following September, but this he did not mention to us at that time.
(Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 100.)


See “Joseph Smith and the Question of Book of Mormon Geography” by Matthew Roper for arguments for/against a central/eastern american setting..

Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol.. 3 No. 18 July 15, 1842 860.

If men, in their researches into the history of this country, in noticing the mounds, fortifications, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, &c.—were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of history, unfolded in that book. They would find their conjectures were more than realized—that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent—that the acts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia. Babylon, Nineveh, nor any of the of the Levant could boast of more perfect sculpture, batter architectural designs, and more imperishable , that what are found on this continent. Stephens and Catherwood’s researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous , the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the of Guatemala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people—men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormon unfolds their history.—ED.

Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 21 September 1, 1842 915.

The foregoing extract [referring to a previous quotation from Steven’s book] has been made to assist the Latter-Day Saints, in establishing the Book of Mormon as a revelation from God. It affords great joy to have the world assist us to so much proof, that even the most credulous cannot doubt. We are sorry that we could not afford the expense to give the necessary outs referred to in the original.

Let us turn our subject, however, to the Book of Mormon, where these wonderful ruins of Palenque are among the mighty works of the Nephites:—and the mystery is solved.

On the 72d page of the third and fourth edition of the Book of Mormon it reads as follows: And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land. And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites, should come upon us and destroy us: for I knew their hatred towards me and my children, and those who were called my people. And I did teach my people, to build buildings: and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things: for they were not to be found upon the land; wherefore, it could not be built like un-to Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine. And on page 280-1 is a full description of the Isthmus.

Mr. Stephens’ great developements of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all the people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found. Read the destruction of cities at the crucifixion of Christ, pages 459-60. Who could have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon? surely the Lord worketh and none can hinder.

Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 22 September 15, 1842 927.


Huntsville, Missouri, was the either the site where a modern city of Manti was to be built or the site of an/the ancient city of Manti

A mile and a half west of Huntsville we crossed the east branch of Chariton, and one and a half miles west of the river we found Ira Ames and some other brethren near the place where the city of Manti is to be built, and encamped for the night on Dark creek, six miles from Huntsville. Traveled this day seventeen miles. Distance from Kirtland, seven hundred and fifty-five miles.” (History of the Church, Volume 3, pg. 144)

In 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others, found it best, on account of apostasy and bitterness, to leave Kirtland and go to Far West, Mo., where the Saints were endeavoring to establish themselves. On September 25, they passed through Huntsville, Randolph Co., and the Prophet is said to have told the brethren that that place, where a stake of Zion had been established, was “the ancient site of the city of Manti.” (Andrew Jenson, Hist. Rec., p. 601.)

Whether “the ancient site of Manti” refers to the Manti in the Book of Mormon is a question that has been debated. Some prefer to regard it as a reference to a later City of Manti, built by descendants of Nephi in Missouri.1967 In either case, the information is both important and interesting.” (Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, by George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, 1960, pg. 324)

“The camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion, and is the ancient site of the City of Manti…” (Millennial Star, “History of Joseph Smith,” May 13, 1854, Vol. 16, pg. 296)

“…We passed through Huntsville, Co. seat of Randolph Co. Pop. 450, and three miles further we bought 32 bu. of corn off one of the brethren who resides in this place. There are several of the brethren round about here and this is the ancient site of the City of Manti, which is spoken of in the Book of Mormon and this is appointed one of the Stakes of Zion…” (Journal of Samuel D. Tyler, September 25, 1838, pp. 66-67)

A city opposite Nauvoo was to be given the name Zarahemla

No indication is given that this WAS Zarahemla. Only that it was to be called so. It is included in this list only because of its popularity

Huntsville, Missouri, was the either the site where a modern city of Manti was to be built or the site of an/the ancient city of Manti

3 Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. (D&C 125:3)

Book of Mormon Archeology Unearthed

by Thomas Weaver   

Note:  The views of this article are not entirely shared by the site author.

INTRODUCTION

It may be helpful to read Introduction to scriptural archeology for an introduction to this article covering important background information on why archeological dating methods give screwed results and on the geographical alteration of the narrow neck of land.

(To clarify dates, throughout the rest of the text scriptural/historical dates are preceded by S/H; while archaeological dates, including carbon dates, are preceded by A/C. In printed versions, footnotes which reference scriptures are in red; footnotes which reference archaeological sources are in black).

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

THE SCATTERING AT BABEL AND THE EARLY JAREDITE CULTURE. Archaeologists place the first modern humans in the Near East’s fertile crescent around 100,00 years ago [72], which, according to our calibrated timeline, is immediately after the Flood. From there man was “scattered . . . abroad . . . upon the face of all the earth . . .” (Genesis 11:8) [73]; scientists following the path of homo sapiens identify a major scattering between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago when modern man spread from the Near East to Europe, the Far East, Australia, and the Americas [74]. In America, studies of hereditary traits on the first group of PaleoIndians to reach America have concluded that they consisted of no more than a handful of families (S/H: around 2100 BC; A/C: around 40,000 years ago) [75]/ [76]. The two earliest major PaleoIndian cultures that developed from this handful of families, the Clovis Culture and the Folsom Culture , spread widely but sparsely from the Southwestern United States to cover most of the continental United States [77]/ [78].

OMER AND HIS HOUSEHOLD. As this early period in American Prehistory was coming to a close, a small group of families left the core area and settled “by the seashore” directly east of the hill Cumorah (Ether 9:1–13) [79]. The group of sites, in and around northeastern Massachusetts, are called the Bull Brook Complex by archaeologists [80]. Clovis points found at several of the sites tie it to the Southwest [81]. Building on excavations by D.S. Byers in the mid-50’s [82], archaeological societies in the Northeast have pieced together the history of the Bull Brook Complex [83]. Their findings and subsequent analysis have shown the interactions of a system of organized, interdependent groups with specialized work force networks [84]. It is recognized as containing the highest level of social structure in America at that time [85], which would be expected in a “refugee camp” of the royal household [86].

PRE-DEARTH JAREDITE CULTURE. . As Moroni attests, the next archaeological period saw the rise of a richer and more diversified culture [87]/ [88]. The Plano and Early Eastern Archaic Cultures fanned across the continent (S/H: around 1600-1200 BC; A/C: around 8500-6000 BC) [89]. Scientists have found the full spectrum of plants and animals corresponding to the days of Emer. According to Moroni, during the early Pre-Dearth Jaredite time period they had “all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.” [90]Archaeologists have found many species of American bison from this time period, which ruminants are classified by zoologists as wild cattle, oxen and cows (family Bovidae, genus Bos) [91]. Similarly, there are food remains of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats at many sites from this period [92]. Peccaries are animals from this period which are classified as swine and are in the same group as domestic pigs and hogs (sub-order Suina) [93]. The “many other kinds of animals” of Moroni’s list would include deer, elk, moose, caribou, and pronghorn [94]. Thanks to new site-investigation methods, scientists have found that fruits, grains and vegetables were part of the PaleoIndian diet [95]; the Darwinian view that the PaleoIndians were merely carnivorous stockers of megafauna is being abandoned. More careful analysis of early sites and artifacts is yielding increasing evidence of fine textiles [96], which means the people didn’t just wear rough animal hides. Moroni also mentions that horses, elephants, cureloms and cumoms were useful to man, and that elephants and cureloms and cumoms were “more especially” useful to man (Ether 9:19). Potential beasts of burden which have been found in association with PaleoIndians include horses, tapirs, mammoths, mastodons, giant bison, giant ground sloths, and camels [97]. Coincidentally, the horse and the tapir would not have been very useful as beasts of burden because the Ice Age variety existent at this time were only about the size of a dog [98]; hence, it was the elephants and cureloms and cumoms which were “more especially” useful to man.

THE GREAT DEARTH. Then the PaleoIndian culture was rocked. In the scriptures, we read of secret combinations infesting society, and then a chastening, in the form of a great dearth (Ether 9:30–35). Archaeologists attest that it was probably the worst famine in North American history. Mass extinction spread across America as the Ice Age came to a rapid and catastrophic close [99]. Excess hunting by starving people and severe environmental changes drove the megafauna to extinction [100]. Scientists have found that serpents were abundant at that time in the American Southwest (as they are today) and the closing of the Ice Age caused many varied migrations in snake species across North America [101]. The serpents and the drought divided the people in the north from the fauna, which escaped to the south [102]. When the climate finally recovered, the people instigated a revolution in agriculture [103]/ [104], since they had now lost their domesticated animals.

POST-DEARTH JAREDITE CULTURE. Moroni’s next exposition on culture comes in the days of Lib (Ether 10:18–28). My corresponding period is labeled by archaeologists as the Middle and Late Archaic. Often indistinguishable from one another, these two cultural periods represent a major advancement over the preceding culture [105]. Again the culture spread across North America from coast to coast [106]. There were villages, agriculture, and widespread trade networks [107]. South of the narrow neck, in the Mexican highland and beyond, the only inhabitants we find are organized hunting parties, which “coincidentally” brought spear points of North American manufacture and style [108]/ [109]. Scientists recognize metallurgy from this time period, and copper is the most common metal found [110]/ [111]. Many fine textiles have also survived from this period [112]/ [113]. Moroni says they made “all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash” [114]. He also says they had, “all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts” (Ether 10:26–27). Most of the tools on this list have been found by archaeologists at sites dating to the Middle and Late Archaic [115]. New weapons were also invented and manufactured, although archaeologists currently view them only as hunting weapons [116]/ [117]. Another major industry of the Jaredites was wood exploitation [118]. A huge assortment of woodworking tools has been found at Archaic period sites across the Nation [119]. Truly this was a highly-developed culture—a time of great prosperity. How tragic that they lost it all because of secret combinations! [120]

THE DESOLATION OF THE JAREDITES. The desolation of the Jaredites began in the Southwest and climaxed in New York State [121]. It is witnessed archaeologically by a widespread “cremation” burial culture [122]. Continent-wide scientists find a change in burial customs from proper burials to cremation burials and “ceremonial” burning of homes and entire villages (Shiz and his army) [123]/ [124]. Archaeologists have also found evidence of large-scale “bundle burials,” which is the practice of bundling the disarticulated, defleshed bones of dead people in bags or cordages, and then either burying them or dumping them in the trash [125]. Surely it was a gruesome scene that the first Nephites to re-inhabit the desolate land northward were required to witness and clean up [126].

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEPHITES AND MULEKITES. The Jaredites were the sole inhabitants of America until two small groups of sea-going travelers crossed the Pacific (S/H: 600 BC; A/C: 3000 BC). As early as 1916 scholars had identified the general location of the two landing sites. G. Elliot Smith published an article with Science titled “The Origin of the Pre-Columbian Civilization of America” in which he detailed ethnological evidence of the landings and further showed how scholars of that day had attempted to cover up the findings because they lent support to the Bible and against Darwinism [127]. In his book, Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage describes the author’s findings: “Dr. Smith presents an impressive array of evidence pointing to the Old World and specifically to Egypt, as the source of many of the customs by which the American aborigines are distinguished. The article is accompanied by a map showing . . . two landing places on the west coast, one in Mexico and another near the boundary common to Peru and Chile, from which place the immigrants spread.” [128]Archaeological evidence has further refined these findings. Most archaeologists now agree to a South American landing, putting it a little further north, specifically in modern Ecuador [129](which “coincidentally” lies “a little south of the Isthmus of Darien” [130]). The location of the second landing spot is unknown; characteristic artifacts also point to the west coast of Mexico [131]— legend puts it at a place called “seven caverns” [132]. Both the Valdivia culture of Ecuador (the Lehites), and the Otomangue-speaking people of the Mexican highland (the Mulekites), brought the first true pottery to the Americas; in both cultures the pottery was already well-developed even at the earliest sites [133]. Both cultures are distinguished as being the first harvesters of cultigens (plants incapable of growing without human help), the most important cultigen being corn [134]. The architecture and burial customs of these two groups can easily be tied to the Old World. Square waddle and daub homes with storage pits in the floor dotted their lands [135]. Their temples and public buildings are extremely similar to those of Egypt and Israel. Subfloor burials and burial positions also match those of the Middle East [136].

EARLY MULEKITE CULTURE. The newly arrived Otomangue-speaking culture (Mulekites) began to spread across the Mexican highland (Zarahemla). Although they covered a large area, they lived in small scattered villages, and archaeologists recognize very little social structure among them [137] [138].

EARLY LEHITE CULTURE. The Valdivia culture also fanned out over a large area, stylistic pottery has been traced from Ecuador up through Columbia and Panama into Coastal areas of Guatemala and Southern Chiapas [139]. When Nephi fled from his brothers [140], it seems that he led his followers to the central depression of Chiapas and settled in the Grijalva river valley. The first cultural layers there are of a unique, tight-knit group (Zoque/early Nephite), centered around Chiapa de Corzo (the land of Nephi), which remained separate from the surrounding cultures that were developing (Maya/Lamanite) [141]/ [142]. The Nephite culture began the seeds of civilization which later influenced all of Mesoamerica, and eventually all of North America [143]. Some of the Lamanites appear to have followed Nephi’s party; a group associated with the early Maya (Lamanites) settled further up in the Grijalva river valley [144]. Other groups remained in South America which over time developed very independent cultures [145]; apparently not associated with the history outlined in the Book of Mormon.

EARLY LAMANITE CULTURE. The Lamanites (early Maya) digressed and became a very primitive people [146]/ [147]. Archaeologists label them as “hunters and gatherers,” because they stocked the forests for game, lived in tents and temporary shelters, and practiced limited agriculture [148]/ [149]. They did some fishing, and they had very limited agriculture (primarily limited to picking wild fruits and edible roots) [150]. Archaeologists think it was because they did not have the technology, the scriptures teach that it was because they were lazy.

Warfare is evident as archaeologists find a large assortment of weapons, far exceeding the needs of mere hunters [151]. The early Maya (Lamanites) set up chiefdoms in each local community; at this early date they do not appear to have been a cohesive unit, but rather groups of village communities, competing and perhaps fighting with each other for resources [152] — apparently united only in their hatred toward the Nephites [153]. Laman and Lemuel seem to have taught their children the pagan practices they had learned in Jerusalem. Archaeologists find cultic artifacts associated with the worship of a fertility goddess; they also worshipped Chac, who is the Maya equivalent of Baal from the Old World [154]. In this early period we also see the beginnings of the Jaguar cult. The Maya made costumes from the coats of beasts of prey and used these costumes in religious rituals [155]/ [156]. Early Mayan vices match those Enos and Jarom attributed to the Lamanites: pornography in the form of nude ceramic figurines, idleness, and drunkenness (typically chicha, an alcohol made from corn) [157]/ [158].

The Formative

INTRODUCTION TO THE FORMATIVE. At the dawn of the formative period there were several major demographic shifts which set the stage for the developing cultures. First, King Mosiah I and his people left the Land of Nephi (Chiapa de Corzo) and traveled to Zarahemla (central Mexico) to join the Mulekites (S/H: around 200 BC; A/C: around 1400 BC) [159]. This is seen archaeologically as an influx of Mixe-zoquean culture brings new advances to central Mexico, and public buildings begin to appear in the larger villages [160].

THE PEOPLE OF ZENIFF. Back in Chiapa de Corzo (the land of Nephi), the surrounding culture (Maya/Lamanites) destroyed all traces of the departing group (Nephites) [161]/ [162]. Shortly, however, high culture returned to the valley [163]as Zeniff and his people arrive and begin to build anew many public buildings and restore the land [164]/ [165]. The new inhabitants of Chiapa de Corzo (people of Zeniff) were an ethnically distinct group which did not mix with the surrounding Maya (Lamanites) [166]/ [167]. Initially their culture was very similar to that of central Mexico (from which they had come), but the similarities decreased as time went on and they (the people of Zeniff, now led by King Noah) became extravagant in their prosperity. Lavishness dominates the architecture and material culture of this period [168]/ [169]. Just before Chiapa de Corzo returned to Mayan Culture (Lamanites), the people of the Grijalva depression gave birth to one of the richest and most influential Mesoamerican cultures of the pre-Christian era—the Olmecs (Amulonites) [170]/ [171].

THE AMULONITES AND THEIR INFLUENCE OVER THE LAMANITES. The Amulonite (Olmec) culture seems to have developed in the lowlands of Veracruz, Mexico. The simple farming village of San Lorenzo (probably Helam) [172]/ [173]suddenly began a massive public works effort using slave labor (probably the followers of Alma) [174]/ [175]. Soon a handful of great cities commenced, and Olmec influence spread to other lands [176]/ [177]. Olmec art and religious themes support an Amulonite correlation: powerful, dominating priests, were-jaguar babies, female dancers, and a plethora of demi-gods and idols [178]/ [179]. Throughout the Mayan lands, Olmec teachers began to train the Maya (Lamanites) in the language and learning of the Mexican highland people (the Nephites) [180]/ [181]. With this new education the Maya began to prosper and make many technological advances [182]/ [183]. New trade networks spread across southern Mexico, the Yucatan and Guatemala, and all roads passed through Olmec lands, which made them vastly rich and extremely influential [184]. Some archaeologists call the Olmecs the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica [185].

THE FALL OF THE AMULONITES. As prophesied by Abinadi, the Amulonites (Olmecs) were soon devastated [186]/ [187]. Using a cesium magnetometer to detect buried basalt, Michael Coe, a professor of Anthropology at Yale University, and his group found mounds of monuments purposefully defaced, smashed and buried at San Lorenzo [188]. Other Olmec sites excavated in the area told the same story: seemingly the Maya (Lamanites) living among the Olmecs (Amulonites) in their gulf-coast empire revolted, defacing and smashing monuments, destroying buildings [189]/ [190], and as the Book of Mormon teaches us, massacring the ruling class (the descendants of the priests of Noah) [191]. The great Olmecs suddenly disappeared, but their influence over the Maya was seen forever afterward. The sparsely-populated Mayan lands were soon covered with huge temples and city-centers with art and architecture reminiscent of the Olmec style [192].

THE NEPHITES- ALMA THE ELDER AND KING MOSIAH II. Meanwhile, in central Mexico, Alma and his followers escaped to Zarahemla and established the church throughout the Mexican highland [193], witnessed archaeologically by new temples and synagogues built throughout the land [194]. Then, several decades later, Mosiah II founded a new democratic government [195], and each land began to build government buildings alongside the new temples (S/H: 91 BC; A/C: around 850 BC) [196]. Under the leadership of these inspired founders, the diverse societies of central Mexico integrated to become a very prosperous people [197]/ [198]. Unfortunately, in many communities this prosperity led to pride, social classes, and perversions, which are all quite visible in the material culture they left behind [199]/ [200].

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Pre-Classic

THE NEPHITES- CAPTAIN MORONI. These two great nations, the Nephites on the Mexican Plateau and the Lamanites (Maya) in Southern Mexico, Guatemala and Yucatan, began to experience greater conflicts [201]/ [202]. Foreseeing the coming challenges, Captain Moroni prepared his people and their lands [203]. First, the weak lands were fortified and the southern frontier was strengthened [204]/ [205]. Hilltop fortifications began to dot southern Mexico in Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Guerrero [206]/ [207]. Great urban fortresses were created [208]/ [209]. For example, at Monte Alban (Manti), researchers from the University of Michigan found that some leader (Moroni) inspired the people of the valley of Oaxaca to move to the top of a nearby hill in the former “no man’s land” between two warring nations, and there build a fortress with up to 10,000 inhabitants [210]. The site has natural cliffs surrounding the city, its temples and its public buildings on three sides; on the fourth side, excavators found a two-mile long wall of earth and stone which still stands almost 30 feet tall and 50-60 feet thick [211]/ [212]. No wonder Mormon venerated the leadership, courage and vision of Captain Moroni and the manner in which he prepared his people for war.

After Amalickiah’s first attack, a second phase of construction was begun in which fortified cities and hilltop fortresses were built throughout the land of Zarahemla [213]which appears to have stretched from Oaxaca to Jalisco and from southwestern Michoacan to northern Veracruz [214]. Also, the Book of Mormon records Moroni pushing the Lamanites out of the east wilderness and on the west, then building new cities in these areas in order to create a more defensible border [215]. Excavations in southern and western Oaxaca and Guerrero, as well as central Veracruz are now showing such movements of peoples and the construction of new large defensive cities and fortresses [216].

During the time that fortifications were being built in the Mexican highland, a massive weapons production industry commenced throughout Mesoamerica, both in the Mexican Highland (Zarahemla) and in Maya (Lamanite) lands [217]/ [218]. To accommodate these war preparations, the peoples of the Mexican Highland (Nephites) made major breakthroughs in agriculture and built massive irrigation systems [219]. From that time forward, urbanization and trade specialization, with accompanying prosperity, enveloped the Nephite lands [220]/ [221].

The great war of Moroni’s time, and the wars that followed, are seen archaeologically in demographic and cultural movements of this time period [222], and in numerous monuments depicting warriors and captives in both Highland Mexico and Maya lands [223]. The Lamanites displaced and jumbled the Nephites numerous times [224]. There was also a great cultural mixing when groups of Lamanites converted to the Nephite religion and went to live among the Nephites [225], and also when groups became captives [226]. Cities experienced occasional upheavals, but most of them changed hands without noticeable ruin [227]/ [228].

THE NEPHITES- 57 BC TO AD 33. Time brought greater prosperity [229], which led to ornamentation and extravagant housewares [230]. Robbers also infested the land during this period [231]—archaeologist have found that many of the graves of nobles and of wealthy people were broken into and the riches were stolen [232]. The Book of Mormon teaches that as wars continued numerous groups sought refuge and peace by migrating to far-away lands [233]. Archaeologists date the Adena people’s arrival in the Ohio River Valley at this time [234]. The Adena cleared the land of the carnage and waste the land’s former inhabitants (the Jaredites) had left [235]/ [236], and they brought a new culture with the advancements and technologies of their Mexican homeland [237]. Others moved to the Southwestern United States, becoming the earliest Mogollon peoples [238]. Those who arrived in North America found a land covered with lakes and rivers—a much more lush environment than the one they had left [239]. The Southwest Cultures are famous for their dwellings of stone and cement; cultures of the East for tents; both cultures also built simple homes of scrawny wood poles and thatched walls and roof [240]. In a short time the continent was covered with hamlets and villages [241]/ [242]. The people soon turned to pagan and perverted practices, which spoiled their previously wholesome culture [243]/ [244]. There is evidence that the first Polynesians reached the Pacific Islands around this same time period [245]/ [246].

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

THE NEPHITES- ZION. . The destruction at the time of Christ was discussed earlier. As the ash settled [247]/ [248], a new culture spread across the land [249]/ [250]. In some ways, this new culture was more monolithic; in other ways it was more diverse. Throughout the Americas a new two-room temple replaced varying former styles [251]. A utopia of peace and prosperity is spoken of in legends [252]/ [253]. There is no evidence of weapons being used at this time [254], and the murals, figurines, and architecture show designs of nature, lines of symmetry and harmony, and displays of pleasant animals and domestic life [255]. Gone are all signs of a military elite, governmental force, and coercion [256]. The Hopewell, the Anasazi, the Mogollon, Teotihuacan, the Maya—continent-wide, the traits are the same [257]. The great peace resulting “because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:15).

The people were united in righteousness [258], yet at the same time, the culture became more diverse, as the focus turned from making a profit to making quality products and upholding the ideals of family and community [259]. Local artisans replaced the mass-production and expansive trade networks of the preceding period [260]. Thus there was no need to travel extensively “on business,” so people could spend more time with their families. Family gardens replaced mass-produced food [261]. People ate a greater variety of food, but their food was of more local origin [262]. Analysis of skeletons shows that the people were healthier and enjoyed longer life spans than during the preceding period [263]. The arts flowered during this period [264]. The number and variety of musical instruments greatly increased [265]. Pottery and other goods became more useful and more beautiful, and less ornamental and extravagant [266]. A much greater variety of artifacts is found, but in much smaller quantities than before, and with much less waste [267]. The prosperity was great throughout all of the Americas and in all areas of human development, “because of their prosperity in Christ” (4 Nephi 1:23).

In the early classic period the church became very wealthy [268]. The people donated their time and skills to the creation and maintenance of beautiful temples and public centers [269]. The population exploded [270], but at the same time, the cities became less dense as the communities were reorganized and the people spread out across the land [271]. Even the biggest “cities” were only lightly populated, yet they contained ceremonial centers and public buildings large enough to accommodate all the people of the surrounding villages [272]. Social classes disappeared, yet the standard of living increased everywhere [273]; And “they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:17) [274].
It was beautiful. Everything Mormon said was true. Then they lost it all. The line is not clear, but little by little it all slipped away. The late pre-classic ugliness returned, and this time it was even more vile.

THE NEPHITES- PRIDE. As the people became proud, they began to flaunt the wealth they had accumulated over many years of righteousness and prosperity [275]. In the archaeological record, we begin to find much larger houses than existed in the preceding period [276], more decorated pottery [277], personal ornamentation (including pearls and elaborate clothing) [278]/ [279], extravagant burials of the dead [280], and new long-distance trade networks [281]/ [282]. They painted murals showing images of power, with soldiers, weapons, kings, priests, slaves, and eventually human sacrifice [283]. They built new cities with defense in mind [284], and the existing cities became more dense, decreasing in total area despite the fact that the population was still growing [285]/ [286]. We see evidence of the rise of social classes, with a new elite class and a definite peasant class [287]/ [288]. The social classes are most apparent in the big cities.

Political players began to build up monuments to themselves, often showing off their accomplishments [289]. We see a cultural split, as the people broke up into different groups [290]/ [291]. As displays of wealth and power emerged in society and later in government, the church was divided, as the people in every land sought to raise up their own version of Quetzalcoatl (Christ), and to join him with a new pantheon of gods and demigods [292]/ [293]. In the major ceremonial centers, a priestly class began to exercise power and influence [294]/ [295]. Temples and temple complexes became colossal and extravagant [296], and often the priests raised themselves to the position of gods or claimed descent from the gods [297]. Priests and government leaders began to deform the skulls of their children, and to give themselves and their children tattoos and body paint, all in an effort to separate themselves and their children from the “commoners” [298]. Gated communities were developed to protect the elite from the lower class [299].

On the eve of society’s collapse, the pride turned absolutely disgusting [300]. Most of the pottery and art became warped, lewd and pornographic [301]. Mass production fed trade networks which branched across the continent and resources were exploited on a massive scale [302]/ [303]. Food production became intense, and the general health of the people correspondingly deteriorated; the incidence of disease increased significantly and life expectancies dropped drastically [304]. Body piercing became the norm [305], tobacco and drugs were used widely; smoking was done in smoke houses and in private homes, with cigarettes and with pipes [306]. Huge ball courts covered the land [307], in some places ball players rose to the state of gods [308]. The ball games became very bloody [309], and in many places they were accompanied with mass killing and human sacrificing of the winners or losers depending on the local religion [310]; in other areas the losers become the slaves of the winners’ rulers [311]. Many people wasted their income on various forms of gambling—they rooted on their favorite teams, or played games of chance with dice and bones [312]. In many areas the workmanship of the structures built during this period was poor, but it was covered with decorative plaster, and was elaborately finished [313]. Cultic symbols and status symbols are found everywhere [314].

THE NEPHITES- DESTRUCTION. Truly this society was ripe for destruction [315]. The Book of Mormon tells us that the destruction took place quickly [316]. Archaeology tells us that it occurred on a massive scale [317], larger than most probably ever imagined— although Mormon tried to help us understand [318].

The great war appears to have been started in central Yucatan by a group which archaeologists call the Putun Maya [319]. As they gained power they continued west and north, and eventually attacked the Mexican highland [320]. Great murals tell the story of their advances; they were the eagle warriors of the jaguar cult (the Lamanites), and they sought to exterminate the cult of the feathered serpent named Quetzalcoatl (the Nephites) [321]. Eventually the great city of Zarahemla (Teotihuacan) was attacked, but the invaders were pushed back [322]/ [323]. Then, as Mormon relates, Zarahemla (Teotihuacan) was laid waste [324]. Archaeologists have uncovered the entire story: the great Teotihuacan was burned and looted, monuments were defaced, columns were toppled, temples were desecrated, and the luxurious palaces were left in ruin [325].

The Lamanites’ pursuit of the Nephites can be followed from Teotihuacan to Western Mexico, to sites such as Alta Vista and Chalchihuites (perhaps Angola or the Land of David?) [326]/ [327]and then to the seashore, to Amapa and other sites in Nayarit and southern Sinaloa (probably the land of Joshua) [328]/ [329], a land archaeologists have found was filled with robbers and Maya during this period [330]/ [331]. From there the Nephites continued their flight into the “land northward” [332]. It appears that the massacre stopped when the Nephites reached Chaco Canyon (Shem), in New Mexico and were able to fortify it [333]/ [334]. There the Nephites held back their pursuers and the bloodshed stopped for a season while God sent forth missionaries and prophets to give the people one last chance [335]. Archaeologists have found circular religious structures, called kivas, appearing throughout Anasazi lands during this period [336], which perhaps shows that Mormon knew some success [337], though his own testimony indicates that any success was short lived as the wickedness persisted [338].

For ten years a peace treaty was in effect [339]; archaeology shows that the Maya (Lamanites) of Yucatan and Maya Chichimec of West Mexico came together and began building the great Toltec kingdom [340]. Toltec legend speaks of the war between Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, and Tezcatlipoca, the principal god of the Jaguar Cult [341]. The Toltecs boast Quetzalcoatl’s defeat and subsequent flight [342]. As the population of Tula was exploding [343], archaeologists find an abandonment of Yucatan by that area’s elite [344]. Recruits by the thousands flooded out of Yucatan to their new blood-thirsty, warrior kingdom centered in the Mexican Highland [345]. Many were also moved to the battle line in Western Mexico, as archaeologists find a large influx of Toltec peoples with strong Maya ties building up fortresses and making war preparations [346].

The kingdom of the Nephites centered in the Southwestern United States, and although they focused on defending the land for a short time [347]/ [348], they soon turned their focus to the “god” of money [349]. Trade networks covered the Southwestern United States [350], and turquoise, which was lusted after by the Toltecs, was mined on a huge scale to be traded for exotic Mesoamerican goods [351]. Ball courts, gated communities, lewd pottery and art, body painting, body piercing, gigantic cities, social classes—the signs of pride and wickedness—have been found by archaeologists throughout the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico (the Nephite lands) [352].

Then, at the end of this fragile moment of peace, destruction continued [353]. The blood-thirsty Lamanites (Toltecs) based in a city just south of our narrow neck of land (probably La Quemada) came up against the Nephite armies which were based in Desolation (Zape in northern Durango?) [354]/ [355]. The Lamanites were repulsed and counterattacked, but they soon swept Desolation and later Teancum (most likely Guasave on the Pacific Coast) [356]. From there the fleeing Nephites followed the turquoise trail to Boaz [357], now known as Paquime or Casas Grandes in Chihuahua. Charles C. Di Peso, the first archaeologists to conduct large-scale excavations at the site, found signs of a great slaughter at Paquime [358]. Unburied dead bodies were strewn across the site, some had been shoved into the ducts of the water system, others sacrificed to pagan gods, but the majority were just left to rot and be preyed upon by wolves and vultures [359]. Mormon painfully records these same events, as he stood back, watching: “And (the Nephites) fled again from before (the Lamanites), and they came to the city Boaz; and there . . . the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with an exceedingly great slaughter; [and]their women and their children were again sacrificed unto idols” (Mormon 4:20–21).

The slaughter spread across the entire Southwestern United States [360]. Thousands of sites from this period have been found in which the site was either abandoned or burned or the people were slaughtered [361]/ [362]. In many places the people abandoned their scattered farms and gathered together to build great fortified cities to defend themselves, only to be massacred [363]/ [364]. But this was not a peaceful, righteous people being victimized. There is evidence of cannibalism among the Anasazi and other Southwestern Cultures (the Nephites) [365]/ [366].

Archaeologists have found human bones in cooking vessels, necklaces made of human skin or bones, and mobiles made of human bones and skulls which seem to have been used as trophies—signs of status and prestige [367]. They have found apparent ceremonial assemblages of skulls which were presented to false gods [368]. At Salmon Ruin, New Mexico (possibly the tower of Sherrizah) [369] women and children were abandoned by their covenant protectors, and the children were burned alive, caught in the top of the tower [370]. There are countless archaeological and scriptural evidences of the deplorable state of the Anasazi/Nephites; their brutal mutilation and total annihilation are painful to read about.

The destruction in the Southwest climaxed at a line of sites from Mesa Verde, Colorado (probably Jordan [371]) to Albuquerque, New Mexico [372]. The entire Southwestern United States and Northwest Mexico was left desolate, except for a few small scattered groups of refugees who hid in caves [373]/ [374]. But the destruction continued.

The line of sites mentioned above was actually a line of defense built to protect the great expanse of the American Midwest [375]. The Nephites who covered the Midwest are called Mississippians by archaeologists. Highly influenced by Mesoamerica and the Southwest [376], their culture had also passed through the cycle of simple and peaceful [377]to ugly and proud [378]. Their artwork from this period glorifies death and perversion [379]. There are carvings of goules, war dances, and the murdering of captives, and these are found alongside symbols of Christ (hands with marks appearing to symbolize the crucifixion) and symbols of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, displaying decapitated heads as a symbol of his power [380]. These were not ignorant people suffering for the sins of their parents; they were in open rebellion against God [381]. They refused to repent and trust in God, but rather put their trust in the arm of flesh thinking that could protect their lives. It would not be and never has been [382].

Soon after the cultures of the American Southwest were slaughtered, the Mississippian culture disappeared [383]. Huge ceremonial centers, like Cahokia in southern Illinois, built in the styles of the Mexican Highland, were suddenly depopulated without evidence of struggle or warfare—sites are not burned as in the Southwest, nor are the dead strewn across the landscape [384]. Because of the late carbon dates obtained from these sites some archaeologist have attempted to show that the people just redistributed themselves around the local area [385]. However, the Book of Mormon as well as the immense collections of arrowheads dating all the way back to the archaic found canvassing parts of New York State and the entire New England area speaks of a great desolation (The Book of Mormon states the final battles occurred in the “land of Comorah”, which likely encompasses a large portion of New England; not just around the current Hill Comorah as many have supposed) [386]/ [387].

Truly God is unveiling his truth in the eyes of all the world. It remains for us to read with faith, work with strength, and repent of our pride. We must go forward in a definite way and bring to pass the covenants of the Father and build up the kingdom of God upon the earth; both in small and simple ways and by making preparations for works of greatness.

OLD WORLD (BIBLICAL) ARCHEOLOGY
After I had found many evidences of events in the Book of Mormon, and had developed a revised timeline for archaeology, I became curious as to whether my timeline would also work if I used it on Old World archaeology. I found many interesting “coincidences”. Following is a very brief account of a few of my findings. An entire paper on the subject will be forthcoming.

Evidence of pre-flood cultures appear to be entirely missing from the archaeological record. It is as if Earth’s baptism literally washed her clean. She contained no trace of the former sins of her inhabitants. Most of the early homo sapiens cultures that I would label Post-Flood are in the fertile crescent, and usually at a depth of between 30 and 50 feet below the surface [388].

Early Egypt was below water as Abraham attests [389]/ [390], and the earth was sparsely populated [391]. The climate during this period soon after the Flood was much milder and cooler than it is today, and the plants and animals from this period match those described in the Bible [392]. The desert climate would not come for many generations (after many droughts and curses). When we consider the depth at which these early cities are found, we realize that the only reason these sites have been found is that either the sites were continually inhabited until modern times, or the archaeologists were extremely lucky. Many early cities exist which have not yet been found as attested as by new sites which are continually popping up.

History really starts to take place after the Exodus. Let us consider Jericho. Using the “corrected” timeline we established by studying the Book of Mormon, and extrapolating our dates backward, we find that the Jericho of the Bible must be dated at around 7000-8000 BC. During this time period there was a Neolithic city at Jericho, surrounded with a great wall, and with a massive tower built right into the wall (possibly the house of Rahab/Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) [393]/ [394]. There is evidence that the people of the city were pagans, and that they were rich and proud [395]. The early city’s culture ends with the walls falling down and a new culture replacing Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, they are labeled Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (Sci- 6500 B.C.; Scr- 1450 B.C.) [396]/ [397]. Interestingly, the tower that was built into the wall survived to its full height into the next period (Rahab and her family were protected) [398].
This new nation had simple beginnings; archaeologists call it a retrogression because of the decrease in riches and more simplified art. However, there were many advances: they had a united nation seen in the form of a new wide-spread monolithic culture, they began inhabiting many new lands and developing the land, they respected their dead ancestors, they had domesticated animals, and they built nice square plaster-floored homes [399], which, “coincidentally,” were similar to the homes of the early Lehites and Mulekites [400]. After many years the nation became very wealthy (Pottery Neolithic A&B) [401], and then, as we can tell by studying cultural artifacts, the nation was divided [402]. One group inhabited the north, and the other group lived in the south (Chalcolithic Period) [403]/ [404].

The nation of Israel prospered during the entire period from the time it entered the Land of Canaan until the end of the Chalcolithic Period. Then suddenly the Kingdom of Israel in the north (the Ghassulian culture) was displaced, and new people from Syria and Southern Mesopotamia, labeled Proto-Urban A, were ushered into the region (Early Bronze Age) [405]/ [406].

The Kingdom of Judah in the south continued to prosper [407]. However, she did not learn from watching Israel fall (she did not repent), and little over a century later, she was also destroyed [408]. At the end of the Early Bronze Age every major city in the south was destroyed and depopulated—some incredibly violently [409]. The Bible clearly teaches that this was done by the hand of God—his tool being a new empire he had risen up in southern Mesopotamia—the Kingdom of Babylon [410]. Archaeologists also find this new kingdom in Mesopotamia but they have called it the kingdom of Akkad [411]. Judah was left desolate. Only small scattered villages and groups of wandering nomads remained (Intermediate Bronze Age) [412]/ [413].

When the Kingdom of Akkad (Babylon) fell [414], Judah was repopulated by a vigorous new group of people which began to rebuild the land (Middle Bronze Age) [415]/ [416]. The people prospered and the entire region flowered [417]. The succeeding period also saw a continued prosperity, but under Indo-Aryan influence (Alexander the Great) [418], followed by strong Egyptian (Ptolemaic) control (Late Bronze Age) [419].

As the period continued, Egyptian power weakened [420]and a group of “adventurers” are noted as coming down from Syria and establishing an Amorite kingdom (Seleucids) [421]. Archaeologists then find evidence of an internal revolt that occurs, led by the ‘Apiru (Hasidim under Maccabeans), in which a war commences by a guerrilla-type group of warriors that rally the principally Hebrew (Jewish) community to rise up against the Amorites (Seleucids) [422]. Many wars follow with great destructions but the nation that remains in the end is obviously Israel. The carbon dates for these events (about 1300-1200 B.C.) lead scholars to believe this may be the time of the exodus and subsequent conquest of Palestine. Little or no archaeological evidence of Joshua or the exodus exists at this time, however, and the carbon dates assigned to the various cities’ destructions do not match the Bible which declares the conquest to have occurred around 1400 B.C. [423]These discrepancies have led many biblical scholars to abandon the literal interpretation of the Bible and create many diluted theories that minimalize the book [424]. Interpreting the archaeology as evidence of the Maccabean revolt on the other hand, as we are proposing, matches almost exactly [425].

Next, archaeology shows the arrival of a new group of people called the “Sea People”. They ruled every land that touched the Mediterranean Sea [426], and though their origin continues to evade scholars they know it was somewhere in the area of Sicily, Italy, or Greece (Rome) [427]. The people conquer lands matching Rome’s accomplishment in Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Palestine [428].

Conclusions & Significance
Archaeologists and biblical scholars have long been at odds. As archaeology began to mount a horrendous amount of research, all placed by carbon dating, many biblical scholars began doubting the Bible. Scientific dates were given supremacy and new biblical scholars decided that the Bible was not completely accurate. They began trying to fit whatever they could into the archaeologists’ framework and discarded the rest as fable. The result was a great archaeological mess and a complete abandonment of the scriptures as the “Word of God” and absolute truth. Following the history of science and seeing societies turning away from God is very sad to read.

Now, our research seems to have discovered that the archaeologists are actually proving the Bible to be true and they don’t even know it because of the dating problem. So now, with the correlated time line created studying the Book of Mormon, we see the Book of Mormon proving the Bible to be true, which we are taught is one of its purposes (Mormon 7:8–9; 1 Nephi 13:38–41).

A future paper on Bible lands will show most all the fabulous stories of the Bible laid out in the dirt, just as the prophets said they happened, and just where the prophets said they happened. We will see that these wonderful stories which are disbelieved by most archaeologists, have actually been found by archaeologists!

These findings are of great importance. Our society has abandoned the scriptures. We have replaced the eighth article of faith with a new one that says: “We believe the scriptures to be the Word of God as far as they correspond with science; we believe science to be supreme truth on all subjects it chooses to address.” This cannot be. Geology, biology and archaeology cannot be allowed to replace the sure testimony we have of the creation. Psychology cannot be allowed to replace the reality of Christ as our healer. Any doctrine or teaching which denies Christ is not of God. Omitting God is denying God because God has clearly stated that he is the creator and he is the truth, the way, and the light so leaving him out is going against his word.

We need to see the scriptures for what they are—they are not exaggerated stories, and they are notjust stories told by old men who meant well but who were off on the details because they were limited to the scope of the learning of their own cultures. The scriptures are the word of God, told in truth by men who literally talked with him! They were written to warn the nations of the world to believe God and to fear God and to worship only him. The scriptural events happened just as we were taught when we were children. Moses was not just a Hebrew slave born in Egypt who had a limited understanding of time and a limited understanding of the size of the Earth, and of how the history of his people fit into the grand history of the earth. He had a deep understanding of these things because he learned them directly from God! When we realized that everything in the scriptures is literal, then suddenly we realize that we, as part of this great latter-day nation, must repent, or the destruction that has been prophesied will occur. We know that the proud and the learned who will not hearken to their Creator will be cast off forever. We must beware of those who perpetuate the Theology of Science and say there is no God because they have not seen him. These people deliberately discourage others from believing in God, and they do it using every imaginable discipline—history, archaeology, biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and many other subjects. We must not allow people who live in sin, and therefore have not eyes to see, to lead us, for they will then be “blind leaders of the blind.” We must beware of the fanciful doctrines of Satan—precepts of men so wonderfully mingled with scripture that they appear to be true. We must beware of those who look beyond the mark. They despise plainness, and they “kill” the prophets with their words and their doctrines. God has taken his plainness away from them and has given them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it.

A new generation is being raised up, and to them God will prove all his words, because they believe. God will show them how he changed the times and seasons in order to blind the minds of the proud and the learned, that they would not understand his marvelous workings. (D&C 121: 12) This generation will prove the scriptures to be true, every whit. Fools have mocked the words of Moses and Mormon and Moroni, but they shall mourn. God’s great work will go forth!

I would plead with everyone to make the scriptures a more integral part of your education. I would encourage anyone with problems to seek from the Word of God first and only believe other teachings as they compliment the teachings of the prophets. I would encourage students to first read God’s take on every issue before diving into your studies so that you can have the spirit of prophecy and discern between truth and the speculations of man. Science is wonderful, it is the process of seeking truth in the world around us, but it is not absolute truth, it is not infallible, and it is not the word of God. Search the scriptures specifically on the subjects you are studying and you will be overwhelmingly amazed at the wealth of information.

Selected Bibliography can be found here