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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
Was the Book of Mormon translated by the Urim & Thumim or the ‘rock in the hat?’. The truth appears to be, that Joseph Smith used the Urim & Thumim, until the 116 pages were stolen. Then afterwards, the rock and the hat for an interesting reason I explain below.

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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. Joseph Smith’s revelation in D&C 10:1–23 suggests that this was part of the plan of those who stole the 116 pages, with the perpetrators believing he would not be able to retranslate them identically again (v16). And to many the fact that he did not retranslate the exact text again suggests that he could not retranslate them again because he was actually making the whole story up as we went.

I’ve personally thought the logic in D&C 10:17–19 a bit confusing and fishy myself, since if Joseph was in a no-win situation where the thieves of the 116 pages had stolen and altered his original manuscript, reproducing the same original text would at least seem less fraudulent than not being able to retranslate the original text. However, I had an interesting visionary dream showing me how 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 TRANSLATED PAGES STILL EXIST! As also the gold plates, which were reburied (NOT actually taken by an angel) so that both can be again ‘found’ when the time is right. And because the 116 pages deal more 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. The 116 pages will also serve as a sort of Rosetta stone to help decode the ancient script and will indeed “show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.” (D&C 10:43)

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, on the other hand, is not a tight 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.

After the theft of the 116 pages, the accomplices (probably family members) read through the text to satisfy their curiosity and judge its authenticity. But to the surprise of the angelic beings helping to bring forth the book, this group of conspirators as well as the ‘scholars’ I believe they took the work to, not only didn’t believe that the book was a legitimate ancient record, but they saw some of the foreign religious concepts of the book as 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.) Because of this, the group of conspirators began to hatch a plan on how to steal the supposed Gold Plates, turn Martin Harris against Joseph and destroy Joseph’s reputation by altering the manuscript in clever ways working with the scholar they had shown, and telling everyone that it didn’t match with the version they had stolen and show everyone the “pagan” and forged nature of the text with their alterations.

This unexpected reaction and turn of events prompted the spiritual overseers to change course and give Joseph Smith a summarized and puritanized, “preparatory” (see 3 Ne 26:9–10) version of the record which was more friendly to the Euro-Christian culture of Joseph’s day. The nature of this ‘preparatory’ anglicized version of the book is obviously not a tight translation when comparing the language and ideology of the Book of Mormon with ancient texts. 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 and conspiratorial plan to steal the plates, the angelic overseers of the plates instructed Joseph to put them back in the stone crypt (or possibly a new location) & bury/hide it with ample 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). In fact the angel translators make plain that this was their plan in their loose translation of the ancient Native American prophet Nephi’s prophesy about the latter-day translation of the record:

22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men. (2 Nephi 27:22)

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, at age 21, 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 1829.

Note since writing the above, I’ve also found this quote in Wilford Woodruff’s journal that substantiates the idea that Joseph did not actually give the plates back to an angel.

President Young said in relation to JosephSmith returning the Plates of the Book of Mormon that He did not return them to the box from wh[ence?] He had Received [them]. But He went [into] a Cave in the Hill Comoro with Oliver Cowdry & deposited those plates upon a table or shelf…

(Wilford Woodruff Journal, 11 December 1869)

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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;

ACCOUNTS OF THE RECORD ROOM AS THE LOCATION OF THE PLATES

The following quotes seem to support the impressions I got in this experience. In addition to the shared vision of the three/eight witnesses, an account by Brigham Young decades after the fact, tells of a shared vision between Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith in 1829 which may be an illusion to the idea that Joseph actually returned the plates to the Hill Cumorah, previous to the final translation.

I lived right in the country where the plates were found from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and I know a great many things pertaining to that country. I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in [public meetings] as I take. I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family.

Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room… They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls…

(Journal of Discourses, vol.19, p.39, June 17, 1877)

Heber C. Kimball made it clear in 1856 that he believed this occurrence was in fact, a shared vision.

How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments.

(Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 28 September 1856)

In an 1878 interview with P. Wilhelm Poulson, David Whitmer supports my idea that Joseph Smith returned the plates to the Hill and that he and other individuals privy to the location of the original Hill Cumorah where the plates came from, lied concerning its location in order to lead possible treasure diggers astray.

Poulson: Where are the plates now?

Whitmer: In a cave, where the angel has hidden them up till the time arrives when the plates, which are sealed, shall be translated. God will yet raise up a mighty one, who shall do his work till it is finished and Jesus comes again.

Poulson: Where is that cave

Whitmer: In the State of New York.

Poulson: In the Hill of Comorah?

Whitmer: No, but not far away from that place.

David Whitmer, found in P. Wilhelm Poulson, “Interview with David Whitmer,” Deseret Evening News, 16 August 1878, 2

Several other quotes exist corroborating the above information:

Attended meeting a discourse from W. W. Phelps. He related a story told him by Hyrum Smith which was as follows: Joseph, Hyrum, Cowdery & Whitmere went to the hill Cormorah. As they were walking up the hill, a door opened and they walked into a room about 16 ft square. In that room was an angel and a trunk. On that trunk lay a book of Mormon & gold plates, Laban’s sword, Aaron’s brestplate.

(William Horne Dame, Journal of the Southern Exploring Company, 1854—1858, Iron County, UT, 14 January 1855, Della Edwards Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.)

President [Heber C.] Kimball talked familiarly to the brethren about Father Smith, [Oliver] Cowdery, and others walking into the hill Cumorah and seeing records upon records piled upon table[s,] they walked from cell to cell and saw the records that were piled up.

(Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 5 May 1867)

President Young said in relation to Joseph Smith returning the Plates of the Book of Mormon that He did not return them to the box from wh[ence?] He had received [them]. But He went [into] a Cave in the Hill Comoro with Oliver Cowdry & deposited those plates upon a table or shelf. In that room were deposited a large amount of gold plates Containing sacred records & when they first visited that Room the sword of Laban was Hanging upon the wall & when they last visited it the sword was drawn from the scabbard and [laid?] upon a table and a Messenger who was the keeper of the room informed them that that sword would never be returned to its scabbard until the Kingdom of God was established upon the Earth & until it reigned triumphant over Every Enemy. Joseph Smith said that Cave contained tons of Choice Treasures & records.

(Wilford Woodruff Journal, 11 December 1869)

Although not a member of the church, Elizabeth Kane lived in St. George, Utah, and entertained the company of Brigham Young. She recorded the following discussion:

…asked where the plates were now, and saw in a moment from the expression of the countenances around that I had blundered. But I was answered that they were in a cave; that Oliver Cowdery though now an apostate would not deny that he had seen them. He had been to the cave. … Brigham Young’s tone was so solemn that I listened bewildered like a child to the evening witch stories of its nurse.

Brigham Young said that when Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were in the cave this third time, they could see its contents more distinctly than before…… It was about fifteen feet high and round its sides were ranged boxes of treasure. In the centre was a large stone table empty before, but now piled with similar gold plates, some of which lay scattered on the floor beneath. Formerly the sword of Laban hung on the walls sheathed, but it was now unsheathed and lying across the plates on the table; and One that was with them said it was never to be sheathed until the reign of Righteousness upon the earth.

Elizabeth Kane, A Gentile Account of Life in Utah’s Dixie, 1872-73: Elizabeth Kane’s St. George Journal (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Tanner Trust Fund, 1995), 75-76

It was likewise stated to me by David Whitmer in the year 1877 that Oliver Cowdery told him that the Prophet Joseph and himself had seen this room and that it was filled with treasure, and on a table therein were the breastplate and the sword of Laban, as well as the portion of gold plates not yet translated, and that these plates were bound by three small gold rings, and would also be translated, as was the first portion in the days of Joseph. When they are translated much useful information will be brought to light. But till that day arrives, no Rochester adventurers shall ever see them or the treasures, although science and mineral rods testify that they are there.

(Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Edward Stevenson, 1893), 14-15, BYU Special Collections.)

But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents put under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.

Orson Pratt, “Cumorah,” The Contributor 3/12 (September 1882): 357.

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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)

by Lance Weaver

Main complex of Teotihuacan. Built up in response to Gadianton aggression circa 17 AD when Lachoneus moved the capital from Cholula (Zarahemla), gathering the Nephite nation from the surrounding lands to create the largest and most impressive multicultural urbanization endeavor the North American continent had ever known.
Monte Alban Temple Complex. Circa 550 BC, Nephi led the natives of the Oaxaca Valley to create one of the most impressive temple complexes ever attempted, by shearing off the top of a 1000 foot hill they created a new-world ‘Mount Zion’. Patterned after Jerusalem with large promenades, tombs, massive side-walls and several large east facing two room-two columned temples placed before large alters and basins.

Outline

This article is only a very rough draft summary of a much larger book I’m writing which I don’t expect to finish for at least a decade. The basic outline of this model came to my brother and I in a series of dreams/morning visions and research about 20 years ago shortly after returning from our LDS missions. Since those initial experiences a continual stream of incredibly insights and ideas have come to me which have helped me unravel and understand parts of this model which not even I believed early on. Since those initial experiences I’ve been through the up and downs of life and have even done my best to lose faith and run from the calling I believe I received to reveal the correct Book of Mormon geographic model and help convince the Natives Americans of Oklahoma, the US Southwest, and West/South-central Mexico of the truth of their ancestors. Ultimately this convincing will be done the same way it was for me–through dreams and visions where ancestors visit their progeny and pass onto them the riches of their heritage through spiritual means.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams (Acts 2:17)
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25)
But they shall be gathered again; but they shall remain until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth. (D&C 45:25–26)


  1. Introduction
    1. Summery of what sets this model apart.
  2. Internal Model. (compare a bit to heartland and Mesoamerica)
  3. The Continental Model of Joseph Smith
  4. The writings of Ixtlilxochitl
  5. The Caractors document.
  6. The Narrow Neck.
  7. Arrival of the Jaredites (put after Nephites?)
  8. Omer and his household
  9. Post Dearth Jaredite culture
  10. Colonial arrivals (arrival writing, pyramids)
  11. Olmec or Zapotec as the mother culture? (Emergence of Zapotec hieroglyphic writing and calendrics to Mesoamerica)
  12. The move the Zarahemla
  13. The Seven Tribes of Early athors (find quotes) Matching BOM seven tribes.
  14. Zeniff and the City of Nephi
    1. Towers AND temple matching so well Noah’s building project.
  15. The emergence of the Zapotec Military State. (skull racks & warefare)
  16. Captain Moroni: Fortifying the Balsas Basin & Mexican Highland
    1. Mixtec sites move to fortresses & garrisons on East Coast.
  17. The people of Ammon in Jershon, linguistics matching matriarchal society of…
    1. Could the major Burial of Chiape de Corzo be Lamoni’s father?
  18. Lachoneous and the Founding of Teotihuacan
  19. Cataclysms at the coming of Christ
    1. Ixtextla records. Known volcanism and destruction of towns. PROBLEMS WITH RADIOCARBON DATING. (see txt file ‘anomalous old c14 dates in archaeology papers folder in drive)
    2. Tetimpa, Cuicuilco and Cholula were covered with volcanic ash like Pompaii right near the time of Christ. Zarahemla of Sorenson or Usamacinta models are 100 miles or more from the single active volcanic center. [make map of mexico’s active volcanoes]
  20. The tents, houses of cement (adobe) and shipping of timber in the desolate southwest.
  21. The golden or ‘Classic’ age of Zion
  22. Was Mormon Anasazi? A case for time discrepancies in 4rth Nephi
  23. The land of Desolation (matching accounts of Aztlan so well)
  24. The destruction of American Civilization
Book of Mormon Geography Continental Model

 

.

Introduction

This article presents the new Mexican Highland-continental model Book of Mormon Geographic correlation. With this model, essentially every culture the texts mentions end up being a major culture found by modern archaeologists. In fact, essentially all the largest North American prehistoric cultures are represented in this model of the Book of Mormon text. This unique continental model also correlates incredibly closely to the beliefs of Joseph Smith and other early LDS prophetic figures.

Far from sticking the Book of Mormon location into a small Mesoamerican or Heartland corner, our model correlates the texts most mentioned cities with the most influential Mesoamerican archaeological ruins. Zarahemla and the Nephites are correlated with arguably the largest cities and most dominate, powerful prehistoric culture on the continent — Teotihuacan/Cholula and the Mexican Highland/Balsas Basin culture. The Lamanites are correlated with what was likely the most sophisticated and populous culture in American prehistory — the Maya. The City of Nephi with its towers, priest cult and expensive public works correlates with the great Zapotec fortress of Monte Alban, which sat between the Maya (Lamanite) and Highland (Nephite) cultures. The River Sidon matches with what many consider Mexico’s most economically important & strategic water way– the Rio Balsas.

The book of Mormon’s ‘Land Northward’ stretches from the rock & cement great-houses of the ancient Puebloan peoples in the desert southwest, where Joseph Smith taught “the Nephites lost their power”, all the way through Mississippian and Hopewell peoples of the Eastern United States.

The early Jaredites end up largely corresponding to not only the first inhabitants on the continent but also the only North American culture that archaeologists have found to have coexisted with elephants and other extinct mega-fauna (Paleoindian, Clovis & Folsom cultures). They expanded to cover both Northern America and Mexico instead of just a part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (proto-Adena as well as Olmec & all other archaic to early formative/woodland groups). And the destruction of the Nephite culture described in the text, corresponds to the well-known collapse of essentially half the major cultures on the North American continent between the radiocarbon dates of 1050-1150 AD from Tula to West Mexico and the Anasazi/Ancient Puebloans as well as Cahokia and Cumorah (peoples of the ‘Land Northward).

Truly all the main events of the Book of Mormon have been found by archaeologists and correspond with the most notable events in North American prehistory. However, most LDS scholars have overlooked these amazing correlations because of hang-ups involving their mistaken narrow neck and radiocarbon/timeline issues which we explain in detail.

 

 

The Failure of All Other Models

LDS scholars have tried to find a convincing correlation between the Book of Mormon narrative and archaeological evidence for 150 years and yet are still squarely split between three predominate models. Why? Simply put, there is no perfect match to the geography described in the Book of Mormon. All models contain a number of substantial problems between the text and available archaeological evidence.

In my model I believe this failure has been the result of most models being primarily based on two things that ancients were typically VERY bad at. A solid understanding of the geography of sparsely populated regions and shorelines such as the Book of Mormon narrow neck — and keeping highly accurate long-term calendar systems. Just a cursory look at maps made before the revolutionary charting technology of the Renaissance age helps one to understand how differently ancient people saw the world. Cultures without pervasive sea-going capabilities and nautical instruments simply could not accurately map many shorelines. Calendars and succession chronologies also, were typically anchored to partially mythic or random historical events such as a king’s assertion to the throne or a natural disaster—and often historical texts and genealogies contained large gaps or false interpolations between these events. Modern Mormon scholars have simply expected too much of the past prophet/historians who compiled the Book of Mormon.

REWRITE THIS. PART OF IT IS MISUNDERSTANDING PART MIGHT BE POOR WORDING BECAUSE OF THIS ISSUE. In a following chapter we provide overwhelming evidence that most early geographers had rudimentary knowledge of shorelines in the places where few people ventured. We suggest that because of the impassible nature of the Great Salado Basin & Chihuahua Desert, Mormon similarly believed the East & West Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges to be the same single range. Mistaking the narrow east & west Mexico travel corridors for another ‘narrow neck of land’ or “narrow pass” like many of the others found in Central America.

We also devote a chapter to explaining why the radiocarbon techniques used to date the North American post-classic cultural collapses do not seem to correspond with the Book of Mormon dates. Even though the evidence of cultures, populations, settlement patterns, war, cannibalism, cultural destruction and abandonment and desolation stretching all the way from the Toltec and Maya through the Anasazi lands and Cahokia seem to match amazingly with what is described in the book of Mormon text. For this discrepancy we give two possible explanations. One being skewed radiocarbon dates caused by a type of marine reservoir effect of excess carbon 14 introduced by a massive comet and CME hitting the Pacific Ocean at the time of Christ (much like the similar but smaller documented 774 AD event). And the other being a rather convincing argument that there were actually two large comet impacts in the Pacific Ocean which corresponded with two separate Quetzalcoatl figures in the Nephite (and Aztec) annals. One at the death of Christ and one at 774 AD which combined with a few other calendrical issues, caused Mormon to mistakenly believe he lived around 400 years after the death of Christ, when in fact he actually lived 400 years after 774 AD and Lord Quetzalcoatl the ruler of _____.

Our model is different than most others in that it focuses on correlating cultures, events and actual archaeological cities instead of focusing so much on radiocarbon dates and the narrow neck. We also show the significance of considering the Book of Mormon a ‘channeling’ instead of a ‘translation’. Channeling, or the act or practice of a mystic somehow ‘seeing’ events across space and time and/or serving as a medium through which an angel or spirit purportedly communicates with living persons was very common during the Second Great awakening, and far better explains the anachronisms and issues which exist in the Book of Mormon text. By looking at the text as a more fluid product of visionary ability instead of a literal translation, amazing correlations become apparent. Book of Mormon events begin to align with all the major cultural movements & conflicts found in North American prehistory, and a .

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

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. {Change defense line to names of cultures/bom peoples with dates of existence.}

The Continental Model of Joseph Smith

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.

  • He believed the Lehites to have landed in South America (refs)
  • He believed them to have travelled to Central America to settle (with cities like Zarahemla being there). (refs)
  • He believed them to have ‘lost their power’ (i.e. the Land Desolation) in the U.S. Southwest. (refs)
  • 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’. (refs)

-quote of landing in Chile or a bit south of the isthmus of Darian

-quote of Land of Lehi (lands of Nephi, Zarahemla and Bountiful) was in Mesoamerica

-quote of Desolation being the Desert Southwest (ancient Puebloan cultures)

-quote of Cumorah and final battle being in New York.

Use my article AND the farms ones.  http://mormonuniversalism.com/449/joseph-smith-quotes-on-book-of-mormon-geography/, https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Geography/Statements/Nineteenth_century/Joseph_Smith%27s_lifetime_1829-1840, https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2010/04/02/book-of-mormon-geography-in-joseph-smiths-day

 

 

 

An Internal Model

Go through and do a one-page summary of needed internal model aspects.  Get from intro to my already done internal model web article.

[pic of internal model]

The Narrow Neck

A study of ancient maps and geographies suggests 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 understanding of uninhabited wildernesses and continental shorelines seems to have been very poor among cultures without widespread use of boats containing some type of nautical navigation technology.

Our model proposes that much like Sabastian Munster’s early map of the New World, Book of Mormon authors seemed to 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 travel & trade instead, 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.

Note that Cabeza De Vaca, after being marooned in the New World and living with the Natives for years in regions all the way from Florida to West Mexico, still though late in life that northern California somehow shared the continent with Asia. He describes the mental geography he had created in his mind after living with the natives thusly.

These people [Southwest Natives] … must come from that part of Greater India, the coast of which lies to the west of this country, for they could have come down from that country, crossing the mountain chains and following down the river… As they multiplied, they have kept on making settlements until they lost the river when it buried itself underground, its course being in the direction of Florida. It [the Rio Grande] comes down from the northeast, where they [Coronado’s army] could certainly have found signs of villages. He [Coronado] preferred, however, to follow the reports of the Turk, but it would have been better to cross the mountains where this river rises. I believe they would have found traces of riches and would have reached the lands from which these people started, which from its location is on the edge of Greater India, although the region is neither known nor understood, because from the trend of the coast it appears that the land between Norway and China is very far up [in the North/Arctic]. The country from sea to sea is very wide, judging from the location of both coasts, as well as from what Captain Villalobos discovered when he went in search of China by the sea to the west, and from what has been discovered on the North Sea concerning the trend of the coast of Florida toward the Bacallaos, up toward Norway.

(The Narrative of Alvara Nunuz Cabeza de Vaca. Ch 6. v. 3)
[Pictures of the coastal passes from my 3d map with exaggeration.]

REWRITE THIS A BIT…  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 Teohuantepec, 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.

Arrival of the Jaredites

Start by talking about how it’s a channeling of a channeling.

The Book of Mormon narrative explains that the Jaredite civilization was the first culture to inhabit North America and the only to coexist with elephants and other megafauna early in their history. (Ether 9:19, Note that for the early Jaredites, these megafauna were ‘especially useful for the food of man’.) It further states that a great dearth or climatological shift caused massive fauna migrations which the people followed, hunting them to extinction. (Ether 9:30,34)

Shouldn’t it be obvious that the only plausible archaeological correlation for the pre-dearth Jaredites is with the North American Paleo-Indians? (C14 dated from between 14,000BC to 7000BC) These were the first inhabitants of North America, and are the only North American cultures to interact with elephants (Mammoth and Mastodon). There are also many other correlations between these cultures but none have seen the similarities because of the difference between carbon dates obtained for these cultures and the dates inferred from the scriptural record.

The cultural center for two of the most notable Paleo-Indian peoples (the Clovis & Folsom) are located in the North American Southwest, which as both the Book of Mormon and our model show, matches with the Nephite land of Desolation.

Although modern scientific consensus is that these groups migrated from Asia to North America across the bearing straights, we believe that the Book of Mormon account of ship travel is equally plausible (given the 40,000 BC in-habitation of Australia). Diverse groups of ‘Jaredites’ spread out to cover North & South America, and we propose also migrating back into Siberia, Asia and parts of Europe.

We also suggest that the Jaredite account, like the Book of Mormon itself, was ‘channeled’ by the ancient author Alma from some ancient record which acted as a talisman or prop. In doing so, the ancient author projected his own biases and beliefs on the Jaredite record in the same way Joseph would have later done with the ‘translation’ (channeling) of the Book of Mormon.

Map of known ancient migrations, overlaid with possible path of Jaredite migration.

Omer and the Bull Brook Complex

As the early Book of Mormon ‘pre-dearth’ 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). The group of sites, in and around northeastern Massachusetts, are called the Bull Brook Complex by archaeologists. Clovis points found at several of the sites tie it to the Southwest.

Building on excavations by D.S. Byers in the mid-50s, archaeological societies in the Northeast have pieced together the history of the Bull Brook Complex. Their findings and subsequent analysis have shown the interactions of a system of organized, interdependent groups with specialized work force networks. It is recognized as containing the highest level of social structure in America at that time, which would be expected in a ‘refugee camp’ of the royal household.

As Moroni attests, the next archaeological period saw the rise of a richer and more diversified culture / . The Plano and Early Eastern Archaic Cultures fanned across the continent (S/H: around 1600-1200 BC; A/C: around 8500-6000 BC). Scientists have found the full spectrum of plants and animals corresponding to the days of Emer. See animals in the book of Mormon

Post-Dearth Jaredite Culture (Lib’s Empire & ____)

Moroni’s next exposition on culture comes in the days of Lib (Ether 10:18–28), who is based in the Land Northward [Adena culture of the Ohio Valley] but builds a southern outpost at a ‘Narrow Neck’ [Olmec culture of Mexico]. 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. Again the culture spread across North America from coast to coast. There were villages, agriculture, and widespread trade networks. 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.

Scientists recognize metallurgy from this time period, and copper is the most common metal found. Many fine textiles have also survived from this period. 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’. 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. New weapons were also invented and manufactured, although archaeologists currently view them only as hunting weapons. Another major industry of the Jaredites was wood exploitation. A huge assortment of woodworking tools has been found at archaic period sites across the Nation.

This ‘southern outpost’ built in Mexico, which grew into the Olmec culture, to facilitate trade between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans even captured some trade from Asia. The ‘Jade Masks’ of the Olmec have obvious similarities and cultured ties to Chinese art and Jade work. We believe these ‘Jade Masks’ came from Chinese trade ships and will one day be conclusively tied to Chinese jade mines, and the ‘jade emperor’, through isotope studies. Archaeologists will slowly come to realize that ancient seafaring and trade was more widespread than currently thought.

 

Olmec & the Fall of the Jaredites

Many Book of Mormon model’s attempt to match the Olmec with the Jaredites. In my model the correlation is more complex with the Olmec matching only the southernmost branch of the late Jaredite civilization; San Lorenzo corresponding to the ‘great city’ which Ether 10:19–28 says Lib built by the narrow neck. The culture that rose from Lib’s city is separate from the Jaredite heartland in the Land of Desolation [Southwest U.S.] as well as Lib’s capital which was likely in the Adena heartland of the Ohio valley (thus the similarities between Adena & Olmec mound structures). The ‘narrow neck’ mentioned in Ether is different from the defensive ‘narrow pass’ between Bountiful and Desolation mentioned by Mormon elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. There is no need for any ‘two Cumorah’ theory and most of the traditional issues with an Olmec/Jaredite correlation are removed.

From as early as the time of Nephi and Jacob, the Nephites of San Jose Mogote [city of Nephi] heavily influence the Olmec. As the Jaredite civilization collapses around 300 BC with the exodus of the elite to join the great Adena war, the new Zapotec/Olmec mix is called Epi-Olmec and is largely defined by the spread of the new Nephite (Zapotec) writing system. Before the Olmec collapse, their influence is seen readily in the early colonies of Izape and Chiapa de Corzo (Lamanite core), San Jose Migote (city of Nephi) and Mexican Highland (Mulekite core). In fact the early mixture of Nephite outliers and Lamanites with the epi-Olmecs sets the stage for the Book of Mormon’s Zoramites, Amalekites, Amulonites and other Nephite dissenters who effectually take control of remnant Olmec cities like Tres Zapotes after the Olmec collapse.

The Amulonite priests (Zapotec/epi-Olmec group of Oaxaca) were likely responsible for appointing teachers who began to train the Maya [Lamanites] in the same language and learning of Zapotec [Lemhites] and Mexican highland people [the Nephites]. With this new education the Maya began to prosper and make many technological advances. The sparsely-populated Mayan lands were soon covered with huge temples and city-centers with art and architecture reminiscent of the Zapotec and epi-Olmec style.

Colonial Arrivals & The Rise of the ‘Epi-Olmec’

In our article on the scattering of Israel, we detail how the Babylonian empire initiated a global colonial movement, matching closely with the European Colonial era 2000 years later.

In our model, colonies started in South America, the Zapotec of San Jose Migote [Nephites], and the Otomangue-speaking people of the Mexican highland [the Mulekites], who brought new and unique pottery & practices to the Americas; in each culture the pottery was already well-developed even at the earliest sites. (These new cultures can often be associated with skewed or erratic carbon dates going as early as 1500-4000 BC) The architecture and burial customs of these groups can easily be tied to the Old World. (Although nothing convincing enough has yet to be found to overturn the predominate belief of American/Eurasian no contact.) Square waddle and daub homes with storage pits in the floor dotted their lands. 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.

The Land of Nephi

San Jose Migote and the appearance of the 2 room temple and ‘men’s houses’. Also new religion. Find the article on this.  The development of a valley separation.

The Move to Zarahemla

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 [San Jose Migote/Monte Alban] and traveled to early Zarahemla [central Mexico, Likely Cholula at that time] to join the Mulekites (S/H: around 200 BC; A/C: around 1400 BC). 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.

Archeological evidence in the Valley of Mexico also shows the appearance of epi-Olmec influence in sites such as Tlatilco and Tlapacoya. In our research, the early Nephite Zapotecs of Oaxaca effectively merge with the late Olmec [left over Jaredites from Great City of Ether 10:20] and are thus outlier Nephite peoples from before the move to Zarahemla, the late epi-Olmec may also be associated with the Amulonites who enslave the people of Limhi & Alma and build a short lived empire by teaching and exploiting the Lamanites (early Maya).

Zeniff Rebuilds Monte Alban, the City of Nephi

Back in San Jose Mogote [the city of Nephi], the city falls from its preeminence as the ruling elite leave [Moroni I] and those remaining are almost indistinguishable from their epi-Olmec trading partners. Shortly, however, high culture returned to the valley as Zeniff and his people arrive and begin to build anew a fortified city with public buildings and towers overlooking its neighbors [Monte Alban].

The new inhabitants of Monte Alban [people of Zeniff] were an elitist group which maintains strong ties to the Mexican Highland [Zarahemla] for hundreds of years afterward. 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. With the influence of Alma the younger, and his companions, and their conversion of Lamoni and his Father (and the expulsion of their loyalists who were likely centered in Mitla), the land eventually becomes a strong trading partner and vassal to Teotihuacan [Zarahemla].

Robert Zeitlin in his book “Questions about Zapotec Imperialism in Formative Period Mesoamerica highlights the research and archaeological evidence that Monte Alban was the center of an early conquest oriented empire. He says, “Recent Archaeological and epigraphic research suggests the existence of what could be Mesoamerica’s first conquest state centered at Monte Alban” (read this talk about how Nephi started the Empire, but when fighting with Mitla got to great they fled. However Monte Alban

Questions about Zapotec Imperialism in Formative Period Mesoamerica: https://www.jstor.org/stable/281646

The emergence of the Zapotec Military State

Give a bunch of quotes and data here.

The evidence for the emergence of the Zapotec military state in the later formative is an AMAZING match to what we expect from the Book of Mormon text after Lemhi abandons

Make a time line chart of events of city of Nephi from first to second abandonment and reoccupation by Lamanites.

See Military Expansion outside the Valley of Oaxaca: (C14 dates on burning of monte alban & surrounding fortresses) https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/208841

Alma 22’s General Geography of Book of Mormon Lands

In Alma 22, we are given perhaps the most comprehensive general overview of Book of Mormon geography…. (he wants us to find it? Go over piece by pieace.

Captain Moroni: Fortifying the Mexican Highland & Mixtec Synoecism

Outline: Although scattered walled or fortified cities occur throughout the mayanlands, perhaps no where in Mesoamerica was it as ubiquitous as the Mixtec & Huestec lands. The string of fortified cities matches perfectly with the ‘backwards L’ laid out in Book of Mormon’s internal geography. But perhaps more impressive is the way that archaeological digs shows these fortifications came about.  Authors like x,y & z suggest that warfare likely caused hundreds of hamlets in the Mixtec regions to consolidate into walled hilltop fortresses during the later formative precisely when the book of Mormon says…  (get archawolocical quotes and bom quotes)

Mixtec Highland cities in our Manti region like Monte Negro, Huamelupan, Cerro Jazmin, Yucuita, all consolidate around the same time in the late formative. Also cities of the lower Verde Valley like Rio Viejo, Cerro de la Cruz, Yugue and Cerro de la Virgen and San Francisco de Arriba. (add map of all these cities.  In the west Cerro de las Mesas was built during this time and is almost certainly associated with the city of Moroni (which was inundated at the death of Christ). La Coyotera & Quiotepec Fortress in the Teuacahn Valley are almost certainly Nephihah and date to right around the time of Moroni. These cities changed hands multiple times and were likely held by the Zapotec/Lamanite regime of Monte Alban more often than the Nephites of Cholula.

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. Foreseeing the coming challenges, Captain Moroni prepared his people and their lands. First, the weak lands were fortified and the southern frontier was strengthened. Hilltop fortifications began to dot southern Mexico in Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. Great urban fortresses were created. 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 which appears to have stretched from Oaxaca to Jalisco and from southwestern Michoacán to northern Veracruz. 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. 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.

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. To accommodate these war preparations, the peoples of the Mexican Highland [Nephites] made major breakthroughs in agriculture and built massive irrigation systems. From that time forward, urbanization and trade specialization, with accompanying prosperity, enveloped the Nephite lands.

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

War on the east & southern fronts

Add section. Map movements

References.

The People of Ammon in Jershon

Book of Mormon says the people of Ammon were mostly women.  After the death of most the men among Ammon’s converts the remaining people buried their swords and fled for refuge among the Nephites. After travelling to Zarahemla they were given the land of Jershon, the location of which was said to be,

…on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance. (Alma 27:22)

Later when the armies of Zoramites prepare to battle the people of Ammon (because they had given refuge to the Zoramites who were expelled), the people of Ammon flee “over into the land of Melek” (Alma 35:13).

Our model places the eastern coast cities of Bountiful, Melek, Moroni, Aaron, Nephihah and Jershon on the east Coast of Mexico stretching somewhere between Tampico on the north and Veracruz (or more likely El Tajin) on the south. Many fortified settlements, castles and towers are found within the small stretch of coastline. Among them lies a coincidental correlation between the city of Tamtoc (aka Tamtok) and the people of Ammon.

Although Tamtoc reached its zenith in the late classic, archaeological evidence has determined the city was founded as early as 600 BC by Olmec (Jaredite) peoples. If a correlation to the people of Ammon is to be made, better dating of the mostly female remains would need to be found to fit into a window of closer to 100BC to 200AD.  The latter date assuming that the early Book of Mormon women of this community started a legacy of feminine predominance which lasted at least a few centuries after its establishment.

Approximate routes and dates of the proto-Huastec and other Maya-speaking groups

One of the characteristics that distinguish Tamtoc is the remarkable female presence. To date, 90% of the burials discovered there are of women. Furthermore, they are represented in most of the clay and ceramic figurines found here and that are thought to have a high rank in the social division of the community. The sites iconography touts a sculpture of a “priestess” (dated to as early as 600 BC) and “the Scarified Woman or Venus of Tamtoc”, which has been interpreted as glorifying…

Perhaps one of the most striking correlations between this city and the Book of Mormon narrative is the linguistic evidence which suggests that the language of the “Huestec” culture which permeated Tamtoc came from the Putin Maya region of Oaxaca and Southern Mexico (our land of First Inheritance). ref.

https://wikivisually.com/lang-es/wiki/Tamtoc

Lachoneous and the Founding of Teotihuacan

Just before the time of Christ, the combined guerrilla forces of ‘The Gadianton Robbers’ became so numerous as to warrant an unprecedented sociological experiment. All the people of Nephi temporarily abandoned their cities and moved to a new area in ‘The Land of Zarahemla’ (3 Ne 3:13–23). In our model, the urban city built for these immigrants was the great city of Teotihuacan. The old city of Zarahemla (likely Cholula or Cuicuilco) was too exposed and near the forests where Guerrilla fighters could hide, as well as being threatened by volcanic eruptions. So with hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants, what was likely the largest pre-planned city in the world was born. In the middle of a large open defensible valley, Teotihuacan was built with the refugee cultures in mind, with defined quarters for each major culture. The Zapotec from the land of Nephi, the Mixtecs from Gideon, and the Totonac and epi-Olmec from the lands of Melek and Jershon, and even Nahua peoples from the land of Desolation and fleeing Lamanites from the Mayan lands.

The city contains some of the largest structures on earth, with the pyramid of the Sun and Moon rivaling the Great pyramids of Egypt. At its zenith a hundred or so years after the time of Christ there were likely up to 250,000 inhabitants in the 11+ square miles urban area, not counting the many, many satellite communities.

The city would soon come to be the de-facto political and religious capital of Mesoamerica, holding rule and influence of peoples from the Lamanites of Guatemala to Anasazi of Arizona and New Mexico (land of Desolation).

Cataclysms at the Coming of Christ

The Book of Mormon suggests a global reaching cataclysm at the death of Christ, causing large scale destructions to North America and “the isles of the sea” (3 Nephi 8-9, 1 Ne. 19:10–13, Hel 14:20–24, 1 Ne. 19:10) which are contrasted with more the minor phenomena of an earthquake and three hours of darkness in Israel and Eurasia at the same time in the Bible (Matt 27:51–53, Mark 15:33, see also Phlegon, Thallus, Africanus and Tertullian).

Many authors have shown how some of the destructions described in 3 Nephi 8-10 in the Book of Mormon could be attributed to a large volcanic eruption. However, the shear extent of cataclysms in MULITIPLE lands seemingly involved not only volcanic phenomena such as earthquakes, lightning, darkness, tempests and fire from heaven. But also regional tectonic and coastal changes where ‘cites… had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof [which]… could not be renewed” (4 Ne 1:9). As also unprecedented tectonic changes to some degree which caused the “whole face of the land [to be] changed” (3 Ne 8:12), wherein the “highways were broken up” (v.13) and “many notable cities” were sunk, burned, shaken to the ground and left desolate (v14), with mountains and valleys left in their place (Hel 8:23). In one instance the texts states that the “earth was carried up upon the city… that in [its] place there became a great mountain” (3 Ne 11:10). This language is quite different from what one might expect from landslides or volcanic ash flows where earth would be carried down upon a city.

Such overwhelming natural disaster reminds one of the mythical tales of destruction common in historical literature and are nearly ubiquitous in Mesoamerican codices involving their gods and cultural heroes (ref).  Reasonably, one must accept the possibility that Book of Mormon authors used hyperbole and mythical embellishment in their records to explain the destructions which preceded the coming of Christ to America.

If, however, we would seek to take the Book of Mormon text at face value and propose a literal, unembellished nature to these destructions, we must become inventive in our theories and turn to what we know of astronomical physics to suggest a few possibilities. Many authors have suggested a simple volcanic eruption, which of course falls short of the kind of widespread global darkness, volcanic, atmospheric and tectonic destruction described in the text. Instead, we must find a mechanism which could cause global darkness and seismic activity and widespread volcanism, yet affecting one hemisphere far greater than the other—and likely a correlation or relationship to a ‘new star’ appearing some 30 years earlier.

The most likely suspect would be some type of pulsar or large supernova at Christ’s birth, which in turn knocked local cosmic debris into the path of earth causing an asteroid impact to hit the Pacific Ocean some distance off the West Coast of Northern Mexico just after His death. This atmospheric and seismic waves from this impact (as well as a possible accompanying CME from solar impacts) then was responsible for the simultaneous atmospheric and tectonic cataclysms mentioned in the Book of Mormon, ancient Mesoamerican codices the Bible and early Christian historians (Phlegon, Thallus, Africanus and Tertullian).

The effects of such an event have been modeled to show that it could indeed account for many of the destructions described in the Book of Mormon. Galen Gisler and scientist at Los Alamos laboratories have created a visualization which shows.

-supernova, pulsar, asteroid, MOON hit, and tidal effect on both water & land/tectonic shift. Use this study/visualization by Galen Gisler at LANL & los Alamos … awesome! https://gizmodo.com/heres-what-would-happen-if-a-giant-asteroid-struck-the-1790084340 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95z0qRNFFxs use this in your videos and presentations!  Make an image, to put in book (with notes explaining the tsunami, seismic waves, atmospheric compression waves, heat wave and water vapor. Also radiocarbon introduction & production in ocean & atmosphere.

Not hard to believe given Meteor Crater Arizona (dated to 50,000 BP) and Sirente crater Italy, dated to 412 AD, or the Tunguska event

2 Simulation of an asteroid impact over the ocean done by Galen Gisler and scientist at Los Alamos labs. Finding show that tsunami danger is not as large as before suspected, but significant danger exists from seismic waves (if contact is made with ocean floor), atmospheric compression waves, atmospheric heat wave and ejected water vapor. Weather disruption is inevitable. Our model also theorize substantial radiocarbon production and a lasting marine reservoir exchange downwind from the affected ocean water.

-be sure to hit the idea that the pre-Christ land of desolation would have been DESTROYED by the west coast tidal waves in the scenario.  Also that it would affect radiocarbon dates…

[You need to make an illustration showing radiocarbon spike of BOTH the atmosphere and ocean area, and show on the graph lines correlation what 4 points on the line would do to correlated dates—on both the up and down (atmospheric up would be instantaneous, marine carbon exchange would be gradual up and down. And point out that nuc tests increased CO14 100%!  Even a 20% increase would mean a date adjustment of ___ years. (calculate it). Put it next to the graph of what nuclear testing did. Note its different that marine reservoir effect, which has to do with eating marine animals, the marine exchange is when high atmospheric levels are absorbed into surface waters (and worked deeper), and then recursively contaminate atmospheric carbon levels for possibly hundreds of years even after the atmospheric levels have mixed back to normal (a process only taking 100 years or so, as seen with 20th century atmospheric nuclear testing)]

WORK IN?  In our model, we put forward two theories to explain the cataclysms at the death of Christ mentioned in the text. The first involves a massive astronomical event such as a supernova or pulsar (seen as a ‘new star’) began a chain reaction of plasma and debris which reached earth around 34 AD. This massive plasma stream and debris in turn caused meteorites, as well as a possible impact large enough to cause very slight changes in the earth’s angular momentum (see nutation or ‘chandler wobble’) which was responsible for driving a pulse of increased flex and subduction pressure on the Pacific, Cocos and Nazca Plates at the time of Christ. This minor tectonic pulse event initiated an unprecedented earthquake, widespread volcanism, orogenic movement and thrusting which were recorded in the Book of Mormon as regional destructions in both their land Northward and Southward.

Radiocarbon Dates & The Mayan Calendar

OULINE OF SECTION

-two possibilities of why things don’t line up.  ONE is radiocarbon dates are wrong. TWO is that Mormon & moroni made a mistake in their timeline. There is good evidence of both.

-The dates of ‘record keepers’, in 4 Nephi/Mormon 1 would require each person to live to preposterously old ages; and moreso, to sire children at absurdly old ages.  Note that about 110 years after Christ’s coming Nephi gives the record to his son “Amos” (4 Ne 1:19–21), who keeps it for 84 years before dying in 194 AD!  Since we know Nephi was old enough to take charge of the Church at Christ’s coming we can suppose he was between 25-40 at Christ’s coming in 34 AD. This means that he would have had to been at least 100 years old when he gave the records to his young son Amos who then lives at least another 84 years himself before dying. So if Amos was 12-20 when he got the records, Nephi would have had to father him at the ripe old age of at least 80-88 years of age!

This gets worse in the next generation as Mormon writes in 4 Ne 1:47 that Amos dies in 308 AD and gives the record to his brother Ammaron.  But this doesn’t work at all since 4 Ne. 1:20 told us Amos kept the record 84 years (after about 110 AD) which should put us around 194 AD when Amos gives up the record and dies. So we have at least 114 years unaccounted for. Because of this discrepancy, some have speculated that Amos had a son which the text does not mention, who was also named Amos, so Mormon is simply talking about 2 different Amos’s.  However, even this theory would require Amos I having Amos II at over 100 years old!  This leads us to draw a more natural conclusion that there was simply a “break” in the record which Mormon glosses over in order to make sense of the “400 year prophesy” and his belief that he lived around 400 years after Christ.

However, what if there were TWO Quetzalcoatl’s?  Many archaeologists and Mesoamerican historians believe that a King took over the title Lord Quetzalcoatl nearly 700 years after Ixtloltalx tells us that the true Lord Quetzalcoatl came…. finish

Our model suggests two possible reasons for why the dates for the collapse of the continent doesn’t line up….

[MAKE AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE SIMILARITIES….]

-Both have a start date known to be somewhere around 3-4,000 BC.  (the Hebrew calendar ‘Ano Mundi’ is currently believed to be 7 October 3761 BCE, although some ancient scholar placed it as early as 4500? BC. The Mayan calendar also has an ano mundi start date. I originally had several theorized start dates, ranging from xxx to yyyy (ref).  With radiocarbon dating (ref) it was placed at 3114 BCE, but by putting it closer to the accepted ‘Hebrew Calendar’s start date of 3761 BCE, the Stella dates seem to ‘coincidentally’ ALL fall into the window of Book of Mormon history (reword).

-They both use a type of ‘Jubilee’ year of remarkably similar duration. 49/50 years in the case of the Hebrew Calendar and 52 year ‘Haab’ in the case of the

-They both also have a lunar calendar of ‘weeks of the moon’, which realigns with the solar calendar every ~70 years (52 Haabʼ cycles of 365 days equals 73 Tzolkʼin cycles of 260 days:  or 520 years)  Is AMAZINGLY similar to the biblical calendar given in Daniel/etc where 10×49 Jubilees equals 70×7 Sabbaticals (490 years).   NOTE Ixtlilxochitl says one epock is 520 years which is 5 ages (10×52 yr cycles)

-They both have an important cycle of 40 (for maya its 20 or a ‘score’). Using columns it ends up being 7 columns of 40 (for 260 completion) and 10 columns of 40 (for 360 day completion). See- https://youtu.be/1qLraLs8Y14?t=714

Just like in Egyptian archaeology, We might assume that archaeologist were once again misled to using an incorrect date to the beginning of the Mayan calendar.  Their C14 dates leading them to utilize a date of 3114 BCE, when in fact the correct date is something far closer to the beginning of the Jewish calendar of 7 October 3761 BCE. This would put their long count dates off by approximately 647 (~650) years!  Thus the earliest dates of 36 BCE at Chiapa de Corzo and Tres Zapotes would actually be a date of 683 BC (Putting us in the neighborhood for Mesopotamian colonization. Perhaps marking yet ANOTHER middle eastern group coming to the New World after the Assyrian regional wars.)  This would also put some of the latest dates closer to 400 AD?  (find some of the latest dates)

3 Changes in atmospheric and oceanic radiocarbon caused by nuclear testing. by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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The Golden Age of Zion

Major population centers

As the ash settled, a new culture spread across the land. 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. A utopia of peace and prosperity is spoken of in legends. There is less evidence of weapons being used at this time, and the murals, figurines, and architecture show designs of nature, lines of symmetry and harmony, and displays of pleasant animals and domestic life. Gone are all signs of a military elite, governmental force, and coercion. The Hopewell, the Anasazi, the Mogollon, Teotihuacan, and the Maya; continent-wide the traits are the same. 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, 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. Local artisans replaced the mass-production and expansive trade networks of the preceding period. 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. People ate a greater variety of food, but their food was of more local origin. Analysis of skeletons shows that the people were healthier and enjoyed longer life spans than during the preceding period. The arts flowered during this period. The number and variety of musical instruments greatly increased. Pottery and other goods became more useful and more beautiful, and less ornamental and extravagant. A much greater variety of artifacts is found, but in much smaller quantities than before, and with much less waste. 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. The people donated their time and skills to the creation and maintenance of beautiful temples and public centers. The population exploded, but at the same time, the cities became less dense as the communities were reorganized and the people spread out across the land. 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. Social classes disappeared, yet the standard of living increased everywhere; And ‘they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God’ (4 Nephi 1:17).

The Land of Desolation

There is no other region in North America which matches so perfectly the Book of Mormon’s description of the land of Desolation than the desert southwest and its ancient Puebloan cultures. From its desolate, treeless landscape to its ubiquitous use of cement, rock and adobe to build its ‘houses, cities, temples and synagogues’ (Helaman 3:9), there is simply not a single aspect of

  • Extensive trade and cultural integration with Mesoamerica. With over 200 Mesoamerican ball courts in the region, as well as caged McCaw found in Paquime, countless shells from the West Mexican coast and overwhelming use of Mesoamerican Cocoa and Agave.
  • Even into colonial times the predominate travel and trade corridor from the desert southwest into the Mesoamerican lands went through the ‘Narrow Pass’ or 15-20 mile wide narrow coastal zone of West Mexico between the narrow sea of Cortez and the sharply raising Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. (In fact, the identical names of the mountains, and the impassible nature of the Mapimi Basin between, gives evidence to the idea that the natives believed the east and west Sierra Madre Mountains were one and the same. Creating a mountainous ‘narrow neck of land’ between the Southwest and Mesoamerican cultures. With ‘narrow coastal passes’ of about 15-20 miles or a days journey on either side)
  • The most extensive use of ‘cement’ (Helaman 3:9) or adobe on the continent. Also directly next to the region with the most extensive use of ‘tents’ (ref) or teepees on the continent.
  • The Southwest Kivas are likely the most widespread evidence of local religious rooms or ‘synagogues or sanctuaries’ (Helaman 3:9) in North America.
  • Widespread evidence of war, massacre and cannibalism. (see Moroni x;z)
  • Mosiah Hancock even quotes Joseph Smith as saying the desert southwest was ‘where the Nephites lost their power’. (ref)
  • When a tree would spring up, they would preserve it.
  • The ‘Las Trincheras’ Line of defenses from Sonoran coast to Paquime. Exactly what we’d expect after the treaty made with the Lamanites (ref).
  • Overwhelming evidence of warfare, massacre, regional burning, cannibalism and even towers and heaps of earth with dead bodies and remains (refs). Exactly what might be expected from a massive

Could there be any better match to what the Book of Mormon says about the land of Desolation than that of the Desert Southwest of the U.S. and Northwest Mexico?

5 Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber… And now no part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate…

9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.

10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.

11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

Note what southwest archaeologist, Allen Denoyers, writes about the construction of Hohokam and other ancestral Puebloans of the Southwest. “They wouldn’t pull out the plants [trees]. which grew along side of the [sic] River which provided [sic] willows, for the necessary wall and roof support, for the Hohokam pit house, instead they would cut the plant and it would grow back the next year and more homes could then be built. And… the wood was carried a great distance, climbing into the Catalina Mountains and carrying it many miles home.”  This practice was fairly ubiquitous in the desolate landscape of the Southwest, where pit houses and Great Houses alike competed for scarce trees which grew only along river channels and in near-by Mountains.  (Reference: https://southwestphotojournal.com/tag/honey-bee-village/)

The Collapse of Classic Ancient American Civilization

The peace was not to stay. Midway through the Classic social classes appeared again. An extravagant upper class emerged; churches began to decorate their temples with riches; idol worship commenced; mass production and long distance trade networks appeared. Gambling, tattoos, body-piercing, and drugs became vogue, enveloping society. The gods and culture of the Pre-Classic Maya returned in places and Teotihuacan responded by exercising harsh dominion. Wars spread across the land. Soon two distinct super-powers emerged: the Quetzalcoatl Cult centered at Teotihuacan and the Jaguar Cult of southern Yucatan. Mayan frescos paint the conflicts. In Maya lands they portray early local victories. As the Jaguar Cult grew in numbers and power they began conquering Central Mexico: at Xochicalco archaeologists have found a mural depicting the Eagle Warriors of the Jaguar Cult crushing the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl. It dates to just before Teotihuacan was abandoned.

War moved in succession from Teotihuacan to the Chichimec lands, to the coast of West Mexico, then north across a ‘narrow ecological strip’ in the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Southwest. The amazing burst of economic activity in the Anasazi lands followed, corresponding with the build-up of the Toltec Kingdom and the evacuation of the upper class in Maya lands. Then came the great slaughter. Starting in the south and moving north the entire Southwest was desolated. Smaller sites were abandoned and great defensive cities were built but to no avail. Archaeologists find site after site burnt, abandoned, or covered with unburied bodies. The destruction is staggering. It moved to a line of sites from Mesa Verde, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico but then these too were abandoned. Then the entire Midwest was abandoned and the Mississippian culture collapsed.

Archaeologists are at a loss to explain why these cultures collapsed. Drought is a common (but poor) explanation, but evidence of war is present although often ignored or explained away. We believe the social fabric of these cultures was destroyed as the Lamanite armies chased the Nephites from the Valley of Mexico, to the American Southwest, and finally up the Ohio arm of the Mississippi (the main travel corridor) to its end in the Land of Cumorah in Western New York.

The Land of Cumorah and the Final Battle

This paper might be one of the best I’ve found so far in mapping funerary mound complexes in New England. Note carefully in the text where it talks about skull fragments being common in the Allegeny complex area, and Adena Points being common in the Pittsburgh mound cluster. (Likely the Jaredite battle was in the Pittsburgh area?). Be sure to talk about how radiocarbon dates in the east vary in older or newer dates depending on the way the weather patterns came. If they came from the pacific, the dates would be diluted like the Anasazi, but if they came from the gulf or Atlantic, they’d be more accurate. So just like the mayanlands we get bimodal dates. (this will be proven or disproven by the presence of ‘anomalous’ dates and sequences in sites known to have many layers inhabited over long periods.

The Caneadea Mound: A Look At The Middle Woodland Period In The Northeast by Steven Paul Howard ….. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send?accession=osu1419266234&disposition=inline

-should hold that the actual final battle scene, much like the part of Zarahemla under the ash, is being held in reserve to be found only after the end of the times of the gentiles.

Under Construction:

Summary of strong evidences for the Continental Geographic Model correlation:

-It is the ONLY model that closely matches with the view of Joseph Smith & other contemporary early LDS leaders.

– It is really the only model which matches well with early Spanish chronologist like Ixtlilxochitl, which place the Mexican Highland (especially the Cholula region) as the place of Quetzalcoatl’s coming as well as the place of the mythical seven caverns, and golden culture of Tollan.

  1. Beginning of Egyptian style hieroglyphic writing and stone pyramids to replace the mounds and early Olmec script. 2. Monte Alban and its two room temple, alter, towers overlooking neighboring lands, new religious social structure, division of the valley, 3. Cholula/Teotihuacan/Tula matching Zarahemla as the most populous and influential population center in North America. 4a. Destructions4. The destruction of every major culture on the continent.

-mammoths and ‘ate them all’.

-Monte Alban 1. Earliest writing, 2. Social stratification. 3. Two room temple and alters, 4. Tower that could see an adjoining kingdom 5. Prison.

-Cholula. A great match for Zarahemla. 1. Largest temple complex on Earth. And one of the largest cities of pre-Aztec Mesoamerica. 2. Many ancient codices name it as the place of the seven caverns and the birth place of the Tolteca or Mesoamerican mother culture. 3. A suburb is still to this day called Zerexotla (Zera-hem-la vs. Zere-xot-la) 4. Eruption of Popocatepetl around the time of Christ buried the nearby city of Tetimpa in Ash, and thus very likely could have set fire to Cholula, and been part of the impetus for the growth of Teotihuacán. 5. It is just east of our River Sidon (rio Balsas), and the hill/volcan Malinche makes a perfect setting for hill –Amnu–? 6. The book of Mormon consistently refers to the LAND of Zarahemla as ‘down’, but NEVER refers to the city of Zarahemla as down (in fact says ‘up’ to the city, matching perfectly as Cholula is the population center on the edge of the Balsas Basin where many corn was domesticated.

-PROMBLEMS WITH RADIOCARBON DATING.   775 AD event. Marine reservoir exchange. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/774%E2%80%93775_carbon-14_spike

Great paper on it found here. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017GL074208

Tree ring dating. (Find references here https://creation.com/evidence-for-multiple-ring-growth-per-year-in-bristlecone-pines)

(see txt file ‘anomalous old c14 dates in archaeology papers folder in drive)

-Caractors Document and Fernando Ixtlalapa are amazing proofs of BOM. But only prove my model a bit, so maybe put those at end?  (

Main complex of Teotihuacan. The Nephite capital after Lachoneus moved it circa 17 AD.

The Narrow Neck as Baja and the Sea of Cortez

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 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.
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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 two verses in Alma 22 & Alma 50 give the impression that the narrow neck is an isthmus, nearly every other indication seems to go against this notion. In this article, we’ll go through each verse relating to the Book of Mormon narrow neck to make a case that it is actually Baja California, which in ancient times, and even among early Spanish authors, served as the predominate geographic delineator between the Land Northward and Land Southward—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 (see this article). Since Desolation bordered the narrow neck, ONLY a Baja Narrow Neck can 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. (see Alma 50:34, Alma 63:5, Mormon 3:5–6, Ether 10:20). Not a SINGLE verse in the Book of Mormon references Bountiful or Desolation as being ON the Narrow Neck, which we would expect if traditional Tehuantepec models were correct.
  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”, and “leads into the land northward”, NOT necessarily an isthmus of land which divides the sea and leads to the land northward.
  4. The given widths of the ‘narrow passes’ mentioned in the Book of Mormon are FAR less than any Mesoamerican Isthmuses. (because of this, traditional Tehantepec models also suggest that the ‘narrow passes’ are not the same as the ‘narrow neck’, but coastal passes on or near it. (Alma 50:34, Alma 52:9, Alma 63:5, Mormon 2&3)
  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’. Instead, the one north of the city of Bountiful sounds like a spitbar or something extremely narrow with ocean “on the east and on the west” (Alma 50:34), and the other specifies that it goes only from the ‘east unto the west sea‘.
  6. If the ‘narrow pass’ of Alma 52:9 were an isthmus north of Zarahemla, then the statement regarding fortifying a short section or line of it so the Lamanites cant “harass Zarahemla on every side”‘ makes little sense. It makes far better sense as a narrow coastal pass which is in-line with Zarahemla such as the Xalapa pass of Veracruz, directly east of my model’s Zarahemla.
  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 52:9 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 Teotihuacan/Cholula area of the Mexican highland. But this region is largely ignored by Book of Mormon geographers because it is NORTH of Mesoamerica’s isthmuses. (see this interview of Michael Coe on Book of Mormon urbanization here)
  9. Early Mesoamerican historians like Ixlilxochitl and other Toltec historians also often mention ancient travel along an “arm of the sea” when describing the Toltec journey from their Land Northward (North America?) to their land Southward (Valley of Mexico). Their descriptions of Baja and the West Mexico Corridor of Xalisco, sound a lot like the Book of Mormon’s Narrow Neck of sea.

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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 [adobe/rock]” because it was one of the only North America desolate desert regions especially having “but little timber” (Hel 3:6–9). It also happens to be directly north of Mexico’s most ‘Bountiful’ population corridor which stretches from Guadalajara through Mexico City to Vera Cruz where more than half of Mexico’s population lives.

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. But since the Book of Mormon clearly states that the Land of Desolation bordered the narrow neck, ONLY a Baja Narrow Neck can makes his model work! (see Alma 22:32–33, Alma 50:34, Alma 63:5)

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

It’s 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. (Likewise the Narrow Passes are never said to be ON the Narrow Neck, but instead only BY it.)

Take Ether 10:20–21 for instance. Many Mesoamerican models attempt to equate the Jaredites almost exclusively with Olmecs living on the isthmus of Tehuantepec. But note the wording of the text for the Jaredite Narrow Neck spoken of in conjunction with 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). And remember, the Jaredite heartland of Moron was said to be near (not on or in) “the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites” (Ether 7:6). It’s not in Bountiful or Desolation, but near Desolation, and Lib’s city is mentioned as if it’s a newly colonized area.

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 / sea inlet like the Sea of Cortez & 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 or land?] which led into the land northward. (Alma:63:5)

Again it’s unclear whether the Narrow Neck here is referring to a narrow neck of ‘land’, as in Ether 10, or a narrow neck of sea, which would actually make more sense given the context of Haggoth launching his boat.

Either way 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

It’s also interesting to notice that most the time when Mormon speaks of the entire width of the land or region 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. 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)

The Eastern ‘pass’ in particular sounds as though it’s more complex than often thought. In Alma 34, a land border dispute between the people of the lands of Lehi & Morianton leads to the people of Morianton’s flight from the southern East Coast to the Land Northward. Although we don’t know how far the people of Morianton made it on their flight northward, we are told that a Nephite army “stops their flight… by the narrow pass which led by the sea… on the west and on the east”. A peculiar wording that seems to suggest an very narrow pass like a passable spit bar or something extremely thin with obvious and visible sea on both the east and west.

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)

or

.

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. These passes also lie directly north of Mexico’s most agriculturally ‘bountiful’ and populated region and directly south of the Sonoran desert where the landscape turns ‘desolate’, and where Joseph Smith said the land of desolation was!

In my continental model, rather than being oddities, each of these phrases end 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), which ran parallel to a large desolate region of deserts (desolation).

Most Mesoamerican isthmuses are much, much wider than the passes or defensive lines spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Moreover, they are all south of Mesoamerica’s main pre-classic population center of the Valley of Mexico.

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 truly advanced modern-like or google earth understanding of continental geography and shorelines. Indeed, although many ancients understood well the spatial relationships for populated lands & cities, or populated places often traveled, the detailed understanding of uninhabited wildernesses and far-off continental shorelines seems to have been very poor anciently. Especially among cultures without widespread use of nautical navigation technology. And our only indication in both the Book of Mormon text and early Colonial accounts is the wide spread use of Mexico’s west coast to travel between central Mexico and North America (perhaps because of contrary currents and frequent hurricanes which were so dangerous and common on the east coast?)

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.

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 or valley of Mexico could actually be related to the concept spoken of in Alma 22:32 where it states, “…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.”

Although often translated as “close to water” or “next to water” and referring solely to the Valley of Mexico, when preceded by ‘Cem’ Ānáhuac is also 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 can also mean “surrounded “. The name can then literally be translated as “land completely surrounded by water “, or “[the] whole of [what is] beside the waters”. See wikipedia links in text above and the Nahuatl dictionary for details.

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.

Note the words of Eugene Bolten in his book, Spanish exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706. Where he notes it was not until at least 1687 that the Spanish fully prove Baja California was a Peninsula and not an island.

Arriving at his destination in 1687, [Father Kino] at once established the mission of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores… over a hundred miles south of Tucson. This mission was his headquarters for twenty- four years of exploration, missionary work, and writing. several times explored the Gila River; and in an attempt to answer the old question whether Califomia was an island or a peninsula…This inquiry was one of the chief interests of the last eleven years of his life, and, as a result of his explorations, he answered it to his own satisfaction in a treatise, as yet unpublished, I believe, which he called ” Cosmographical Demonstration that Califomia is not an Island but a Peninsula, and that it is continuous with this New Spain, the Gulf of Califomia ending in latitude thirty-five degrees

Spanish exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706, Herber Eugene Bolton.

In this same book nearly the exact same language used in the Book of Mormon is used to describe the Baja California Peninsula.

This enterprise failing, [Father Kino] returned to Mexico and secured permission to work on the mainland opposite the Peninsula, [ie. by the narrow neck] which he had visited while in California. His request was that he might work among the Guaymas and Seris, but he was sent to Pimerfa Alta instead. (ibid)

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.

Q&A: Questions and Answers to Debatable Book of Mormon Geography Topics

Collection of Facebook and other social media conversations with other Book of Mormon Geography enthusiasts.

Q: Could John Sorenson’s logic concerning ‘Nephite North’ being an example of ancient Egyptian directionality be valid?

A: This highlights one of the primary weaknesses/problems of the Limited Mesoamerican models. Especially the Sorenson Grijalva Model.
You have to assume that the loose translation of the Book of Mormon changed the world pyramid to tower, and deer/etc to horse and all the other cultural world translations to modern equivalents, but then you have to also believe that the Nephite directional system was NOT translated to modern equivalents but left in a coordinate system rotated by 45 degrees, except when it wasn’t.

It’s especially problematic because as Sorenson fails to point out, neither the English, Hebrew or Egyptian roots match the limited mesoamerican 45 degree rotation very well in the ways you’d have to suppose.
For instance, the Dead Sea is called the “qadmoni” sea, i.e. the eastern sea in a few cases. Ezekiel 47:18, Joel 2:20, Zecharia 14:8 are examples of this. Hardly matching the 90 degree rotation ideas sorenson pushes.
In English the Germanic roots are
South = suð or sun
North = nórðrvegr or left way
East = austri or shine/ sunrise
West = vestri or sunset
In Egyptian they are
iAbtt – EAST, left side, left hand, sun birth, rebirth.
rsy – SOUTH, Ra/sun, head, in front, beginning, upper, elevated, up river.
imntt – WEST, right side, right hand, completion, death.
mHty – NORTH, feet, end, submerged, decline, behind, down river
In both the south is ‘sun’. (where the sun is most). In one north is left in the other east is left. In Hebrew east is front and North is left and south right… so again why wouldn’t the translators just translate the directions into our modern system using the same system as the bible with the rising sun being east? The Grijalva doesn’t even correspond to a cardinal direction, so to suppose they somehow followed the Egyptian system and named northwest, north doesn’t really make sense either.. (so what would they call the direction of the rising sun where the temples should face which would be southeast in sorenson’s system?)
Who knows… but Sorenson’s explanations are not entirely satisfactory to everyone.

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Q: How could hundreds of thousands of Nephite and Lamanites travel so far (2-4 thousand miles) from Mesoamerica to Cumorah during the final exodus and battles? Dont the logistics of such a move make it impossible?

A: Let me give you some thoughts on logistics. And once again…

1. We have ZERO indication of how many of either Nephites or Lamanites came from Zarahemla to the final battle. For all we know, they ALL came from desolation or Jordan. In my model scientists are working on figuring this out with dental isotope studies–because the dead bodies are everywhere.

2. The Nephite exodus happened over a period of 50+ year period! Zarahemla to Sherrizah/Boaz 321-370, Boaz to Jordan 5-10 years.. to Cumorah another 8 years (370-374). Want to do the math of how far you’d need to travel each day? (and once again we have no idea how many traveled? Just a few little clues in a couple areas

3. WATER! Like the saints who came from england, the Nephites/Lamanites would have UNDOUBTEDLY used water for transport. In my model their cities are predominantly along water trade hubs (all but about 200 miles of the way) IN FACT, logic suggests thats why cumorah was the battle spot. ITS THE END OF THE ROAD (the road being the Mississippi they used their canoes to travel)

5. BEASTS OF BURDAN. I don’t think they had horses. But Sahagun may suggest they used deer as tranport animals. I think they especially used dogs for transport.

The thing is… like I said, none of this is rocket science. As far as logistics is concerned, if you’re going one hudred miles, the logistics of going a few thousand is no different. You just do the exact same daily logistical thing, for a much longer period. You know this. I’m not sure why you’re so bent on finding ‘logistical’ problems of the final battles, that honestly exist in ALL models.

I cover these issues and more in my critique article of the 2 cumorah theories. Which of course are possible modals. I just don’t think they fit the evidence nearly as well as a continental model like Joseph’s or mine.

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Q: Was the Land Desolation called Desolation because it had no trees or because it had no people or because it was a desert or wilderness region?

A: I believe all three. The text says,

“4 And they did travel to an EXCEEDINLY great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers.

5 Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land.

6 And now no part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate.

7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.

8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.

9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.

10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.

11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.”

Sounds like the best match in North America to me….

I see your reasoning of the idea that the Jaredites cut down ALL THE TREES & left some bodies laying on the ground and thats the ONLY reason it was called desolate. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, because it had been 100-250 years by that point. Plenty of time from trees to grow back. I think thats just one reason he states here of the obvious one he doesn’t state. Its desolate.

The valley of mexico works for the ‘large body of water’ (not so much for bodies, but maybe they were including west mexico lakes). The many rivers also not so much. (compared to where they were coming from anyway)

I’m not going to be so lame as to say “that eliminates the Land of Desolation from being the valley of mexico”

But I do think the heartlanders have so much support because the eastern us really is a better land of many waters.

https://gatheredin.one/…/comparing-book-of-mormon…/…

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 issues, 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 and have been thoroughly debunked. However, to really do justice to the range of animals said to be found in the Book of Mormon one really must adopt a continental model for the Book of Mormon text, as several of the animals mentioned are found only in Western North America.

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)

“…and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands”  (3 Nephi 3:22, cf. Mosiah 5:14; Enos 1:12; Alma 5:59; Alma 17)

From these lists its clear that, if true, the Book of Mormon translators, like Spanish Chroniclers of the sixteenth century, employed a dynamic equivalence technique in their translation of animals. Translating the ancient animals into analogous animals Joseph Smith and early Americans would recognize. Its also quite likely that Mormon as an ancient translator and compiler projected some of his own ‘Land Northward’ (Desolation) understanding of North American animals onto the ancient texts from Mesoamerica that he was transcribing. The types of animals in each list consequently might tell us something about the locations these groups lived.

 

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.

Early Spanish explorers like Cabaza de Vaca with native interpreters also called Bison cows in his dairy saying,

“They described some cows which, from a picture that one of them had painted on his skin, seemed to be cows, although from the hides this did not seem possible, because the hair was woolly and snarled so that we could not tell what sort of skins they had.” (The Narrative of Alvara Nunuz Cabeza de Vaca. Ch 12. v. 1)

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 during the archaic period. More recently their range stops near the valley of Mexico, although disease has nearly caused their extinction in many areas since colonial times. This may very well be the wild and non-wild goat that the Nephites were referring to. Since the range of North American Mountain Goat does not seem to stretch far south of the US border into Mexico, it may be the Mormon as a translator of Nephi’s writings projected his own understanding of the animals of his region (north-most west Mexico & Southwest US) on the record.

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.

Spanish Explorer Cabaza de Vaca who after being marooned in the New World lived with the Natives many years claimed that the hills around Sinaloa contained both indigenous “sheep and goats”.

“Between Suya and Chichilticalli there are many sheep and mountain goats with very large bodies and horns. Some Spaniards declare that they have seen flocks of more than a hundred together, which ran so fast that they disappeared very quickly” (The Narrative of Alvara Nunuz Cabeza de Vaca. Ch 2. v. 5)

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. Collared peccary composed a major part of Oaxacan Zapotec diet into the classic era. 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)

Moctezuma took it as a great and evil omen when he saw the stars and the mamalhuaztli. And when he looked at the bird’s head a second time a little further, he saw a crowd of people coming, armed for war on the backs of deer… (The Florentine Codex, Book 12)

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 deer and 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.

A study on The archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals food uses in the Valley of Oaxaca (out Land of Nephi) list the following animals as major food staples throughout the early to late formative and early classic periods. Collared peccary, gray fox, raccoon, ringtail spotted skunk, long-tailed weasel, nine-banded armadillo and opossum, ducks, band-tailed pigeon, mourning dove, guan, montezuma quail, coot, raven finches and Turkey. (see, Animal Economies in prehispanic southern mexico, Gotz & Emery)

De Soto speaks of indigenous tribes having major food staples of  rabbits and partridges, dogs, and turkeys. (Ch.13.p168.)
Plains herds of bison, elk, deer, and antelope historically ranged into Texas, New Mexico and well down into northwest Mexico. The early Spanish explorer Onate, like many early explorers described the Bison and cattle and compared the ‘deer’ (actually elk) to horses.

…nearly every day and wherever we went as many cattle came out as are to be found in the largest ranches of New Spain and they were so tame that nearly always, unless they were chased or frightened… All these cattle are of one color, namely brown, and it was a great marvel to see a white bull in such a multitude. Their form is so frightful that one can only infer that they are a mixture of different animals… This river is thickly covered on all sides with these cattle and with another not less wonderful, consisting of deer which are as large as large horses. They travel in droves of two and three hundred and their deformity causes one to wonder whether they are deer or some other animal. (Spanish exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706, Herbert Bolton, p255)

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 directly attributed to Joseph Smith or in official publications of which he was chief editor before his death relative to the geography of the Book of Mormon. Non-direct quotes of Geographic information are included only when substantiating direct quotes.

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/lands like Zarahemla & Nephi being there).

3- He believed the the Land Desolation or where the Nephites ‘lost their power’ to be in the U.S. Southwest & Great Plains.

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’ and/or Jaredite territory.

Currently, most LDS church Book of Mormon geography researchers are split between believing and disbelieving half of Joseph’s geographic model. With “Heartlanders” believing points 3 & 4 above and Mesoamericanists believing point 2 & possibly 1 above. And because of the Narrow Neck problem neither side can see eye to eye or believe ALL of Joseph Smith’s quotes. (See this article for information on the Narrow Neck problem, and its solution.)

And although it seems possible that Joseph Smith did not receive specific revelation pertaining to most 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 and seem to suggest a generalized knowledge of Book of Mormon lands. Some modern LDS scholars believe that Joseph learned the geography as time progressed or perhaps didn’t have a concrete idea in his mind about where it took place at all, however, quotes like the following from Joseph Smith himself and then another from Lucy Mack Smith as well as others contained in this document seem to suggest otherwise.

I was also informed [by the angel] concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown [in vision?] 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.

(Joseph Smith, Wentworth Letter. JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. C-1, created 24 Feb. 1845–3 July 1845; handwriting of Thomas Bullock, Franklin D. Richards, Jonathan Grimshaw, and Leo Hawkins; 512 pages. Original available here)

“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.)

(1) –Quotes Suggesting Joseph Believed the Lehites Crossed the South Pacific & Landed in Western South America.

Article from Time and Seasons while Joseph Smith was chief editor. The Lehites landed a bit south of the Isthmus of Darien (Which was an old name for Panama).

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… 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.

Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 22, pp. 911–926, edited by JS

Note that, as shown in this 1835 New England publication, that although the term “Great Southern Ocean” or just “Southern Ocean” could be used interchangeably to refer to both the south Atlantic between south America & Africa—as well as the south Indian & Pacific oceans between south Africa (Cape Horn), Tasmania (Van Dieman’s Land), New Zealand, and south America (Cape of Good Hope), the logic of using the south Atlantic to land a boat, “a little south of the Isthmus of Darian” is unworkable. He is obviously here referring to the ‘Great South Sea’, as seen in the following maps. Payne-1798, Laurie-1800, Ortelius-1600s, Alzate-1768.

The above statement is supported by the following quote recorded by Frederick G. Williams and originally published in 1879 by Orson Pratt. Shows that Lehites landed in Chile, though of questionable authenticity and unknown origin, at least two separate individuals appear to have recorded it (although one could be based on the other, and the time of recording is decades after Joseph’s death). It is included only because it somewhat corroborates the Times & Seasons quote above of a South American first landing. (Even if other quotes suggest the Lehites then went up the coast to Mesoamerica before founding the cities of Nephi or Zarahemla)

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.

Franklin D Richards & James Little, 1844 Publication. Attributed to ‘Joseph the Seer’. Similar quote also attributed to Frederick G. Williams as presented to Church history archives by Nancy Williams in 1860’s, suggestedly originating from J.S. speech at Kirtland Temple Dedication in 1836. (more information available here)

Some have questioned Joseph’s involvement or support of the Times & Season’s articles which support a South American landing & Mesoamerican settling of the Lehite group. However, this idea is likely unsupportable given the following evidence. In the Joseph Smith Papers, we have copies of the letter dictated to Wilford Woodruff sent to John Bernhisel and signed by Joseph Smith, to thank him for gifting him the copy of Stephen’s Incidents of Travels which were quoted by the Times & Seasons. He says in the letter SPECIFICALLY, the same statement as made in the Times & Seasons that the book, “supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon”.

.

Dear Sir
I received your kind present [of Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America] by the hand of E. 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

Joseph Smith

To Dr [John] Bernhisel
Nauvoo, Ill, Nov 23rd

(Joseph Smith Papers, JS, Letter, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, to John M. Bernhisel, New York City, New York Co., NY, 16 Nov. 1841

Despite the above, some still protest that John Taylor or Wilford Woodruff may have written the The Times & Seasons extracts without Joseph’s knowledge, or approval of the content. However scholarship available here and statistical analysis suggests that Joseph Smith’s stylistic influence is the strongest of the three editors. His involvement in the publication of the above extracts of John Loyde Stephens

Additionally, Joseph Smith printed the below quote in March edition of the Times & Seasons just months before the editions most quotes on BOM geography come from. Indeed, given this evidence, nothing short of mental gymnastics can support the belief that Joseph Smith did not believe in a continental model of the Book of Mormon which included lands south of the United States.

This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand responsible for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publication, or arrangement of the former paper [before march 1842]; the matter did not come under my supervision. -JOSEPH SMITH”

Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL), 1 Mar. 1842, vol. 3, no. 9, pp. 703–718; edited by JS.

(2) –Quotes suggesting Joseph believed the Lehites settled in Mesoamerica.

Article from Time and Seasons while edited by Joseph Smith re-quotes a Spanish Chronicler and seems to equate the Lehites or Mulekites with Toltec legends suggesting they founded the City of Tula in the Valley of Mexico.

Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land… Now read Stephens’ story: “According to Fuentes, the chronicler of the kingdom of Guatumala, the kings of Quinche and Cachiquel were descended from the Toltecan Indians, who, when they came into this country, found it already inhabited by people of different nations. According to the manuscripts of Don Juan Torres, the grandson of the last king of the Quiches…the Toltecas themselves descended from the house of Israel, who were released by Moses from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and after crossing the Red Sea, fell into Idolatry. … and under the guidance of Tanub, their chief, passed from one continent to the other, to a place which they called the seven caverns, a part of the kingdom of Mexico, where they founded the celebrated city of Tula.”

Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 22, pp. 911–926 edited by JS.

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 [Mesoamerica].

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; [ie. the City of Nephi] 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 [ie. Mesoamerica], 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, 15 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 22, pp. 914-915 edited by JS. Brackets mine.


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

Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1842, vol. 3, no. 23, pp. 927–942 edited by JS. Brackets mine.

(3) –Quotes suggesting the Nephite Land of Desolation stretched from the Great Plains to the Desert Southwest where the Nephites ‘lost their power’.

Mosiah Hancock recorded a first hand conversation he had with Joseph Smith saying that the Nephites lost their power in the Southwestern United States or Northmost Mexico. Mosiah would have been ten years old when Joseph was murdered, although his biographical descriptions of that year seem to be quite vivid, and this quote is included because it is corroborated not only by his father Levi Hancock (who was a close confidant of Joseph) as well as the other quotes below, such as Willium McBride’s quote and “Moroni’s Travels” maps, but also by Joseph’s direct quote to Emma equating Zion’s Camp with the “plains of the Nephites”, and Zelph’s death “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.”

Now”, [Joseph] 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… 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... placing his finger on the map, I should think about where Snowflake, Arizona is situated, or it could have been [north most] Mexico

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

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 who echoes Levi Hancock. Although he does not directly attribute this information to Joseph Smith it corroborates both the Hancock’s and Times and Season’s articles which place the Jaredites in North America stretching ‘from sea to sea’.

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 prairies] 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…

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

More from WW. Phelps associating the desolate prairies of the Midwest with desolation. .

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

Although the Lehite area of Orson Pratt’s geographic model both conflicts and changed over time his views on the Jaredite lands stood firm in placing Desolation (as ‘Moron’ or the land of inheritance per Ether 7:5–6) of the Jaredites just south of the Gulf of California (Maztalan area). Fittingly, he believes Omer fled to the New England Coast near his ‘Cumorah’ in New York.

The [Jaredites] navigated the great Pacific ocean. …taking eight barges, launched on the eastern coast of China, and bringing them a voyage of three hundred and forty-four days and landing them… to the south of this, just below the Gulf of California, on our western coast. They inhabited North America, and spread forth on this Continent, and in the course of some sixteen hundred years’ residence here, they became a mighty and powerful nation…
Omer and his family and some few of his friends, that were righteous enough to be spared out of a whole nation. The Lord warned them by a dream to depart from the land of Moran [Moron: see Ether 7:6], and led them forth in an easterly direction beyond the hill Cumorah, down into the eastern countries upon the sea shore. By this means a few families were saved, while all the balance, consisting of millions of people, were overthrown because of their wickedness. But after they were destroyed the Omerites, who dwelt in the New England States, returned again and dwelt in the land of their fathers on the western coast.

(Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 12:338, 1868 Sermon, SLC Utah)

TWO SEPERATE MAPS found in the Church archives and attributed to William McBride (1807-1895) and Andrew M. Hamilton (1809-1894) of Richfield, Utah with the text “got it from Joseph Smith the Prophet” written on it (H. Peterson, 1995) corroborate the above quotes. They closely echo the first Mosiah Hancock quote, by detailing the travels of Moroni “starting in Central America” (see also text on second map). These maps were likely part of the narrative told throughout Southern Utah in the 1880’s by Joseph Smith’s contemporaries concerning his prophesies of the Saints future travels and how they would mirror those of the ancient Nephites.

William McBride is recorded giving a detailed explanation of what’s recorded on the maps, at a St George temple prayer meeting in 1881. Charles Lowell records the third hand words of Joseph Smith in his journal,

Br McBride also related that Joseph marked with his cane in the sand the track the saints would take to the Rocky Mountains. Says Joseph, will you establish the kingdom there? No, but it will be set up and the saints will live their covenants, meaning the Marriage covenant. Said we should travel on thro the mountains; described the Valley of Great Salt Lake just as tho he had lived there, designating where the soldiers camp would be and the burying ground.

Said we should make stations and build up settlements all the way to New and Old Mexico until we crossed the Isthmus [ie. Narrow Neck] and get back to the place where the Covenant was broke by the old Nephites. Spoke of the Great Temple in Central America unfinished… This temple was situated by the River Copan anciently called the River of Nephi…

Spoke of the route THE OLD NEPHITES TOOK travelling to Cumorah from the South and Southwest; of having to bury their treasures as they journeyed and finally burying the records and precious things in the Hill Cumorah; of Moroni dedicating the Temple site of what we now call St George, Nauvoo, Jackson Co., Kirtland and others we know not of as yet.

(Diary of Charles Lowell Walker Volume II (26 Jan 1881) (pp. 524–525; PDF pp. 39–40)

Although there is ambiguity in the above quote as to whether “the old Nephites,” Lowell/McBride were referring to was the whole of the Nephite people or a few survivors with Moroni (as suggested by Brigham Young around the same date), we will demonstrate later in this paper that Joseph Smith most certainly believed the entire Nephite nation met it’s end in upstate New York.

Again, the maps, when combined with Mosiah Hancock’s quote which shares similar verbiage, suggest that the Saints travels out west from New York were a sort of reverse migration from the travels of Moroni and the whole of the Nephite people on their way to Cumorah (which is labeled in New York). A bit more information can be found at this link.

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. [The Nephites] 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… He said we will not travel the shape of the horse shoe [see map] 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 [north most] 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…” [presumably into the Mormon Colonies of Northern Mexico] (Mosiah Hancock, Autobiography, BYU Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 28. Original is here

Map of Moroni’s Journeys. Archives Division of the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Back inscription: “A chart, and description of Moroni’s travels through this country. Got it from Br. Robert Dickson. Andrew M. Hamilton’s map can be seen here.

Before dismissing the quotes just given as too late in time from Joseph Smith to be trusted, it’s worth noting that the Nephite migration in the above quotes are not only supported by overwhelming archaeological evidence as presented in the Mexican Highland model, but quite possibly by linguistic evidence of the Uto-Azteca language group as well as general geography matching Book of Mormon land descriptors. In this model the Semitic similarities demonstrated by Brian Stubbs between Uto-Aztecan & Semitic languages would have been first established by the Jaredites who landed in California or Sonora Mexico, and then reinforced by Nephites who later began to migrate into those same regions of Desolation (the Jaredite heartland), and the land Northward. The works of early native chronicler Ixtlilxochitl are also of note.

Image from Wikipedia article on Uto-Aztecan language groups
Note the Book of Mormon Mexican Highland Model is the only model ever put forward which largely incorporates ALL the pre-1944 quotes by Joseph Smith on BOM Geography. Currently the church has split Joseph Smith’s continental model in half because of their inability to see Baja California as the ‘Narrow Neck‘ which separated the Land Northward & Southward.
The Lands of The Book of Mormon should be pretty obvious by their general descriptions. Many waters = place with lots of water. Desolation = desolate desert region with few trees. Bountiful = most bountiful part of Mexico where most its farmland and large population centers are.
Overview of the Toltec migration from the Valley of Mexico up past the sea of Cortez and back, as related by early native chronicler Ixtlilxochitl. (read full account here)

Although not in any way attributed to Joseph Smith, and in fact in direct contradiction to quotes that are attributed to Joseph Smith when it comes to the location of Desolation, the following quote by Parly P. Pratt given in 1842 helps show that even before the death of the Prophet a number of the Saints were in agreement in holding John Loyyd Stephens Mesoamerican ruins of Quirigua, Copan, Tonina, Uxmal, and Palenque as Book of Mormon cities. (Desolation cities in the minds of both Parley P Pratt & Orson Pratt.)

I say it is remarkable that Mr. Smith, in translating the Book of Mormon from 1827 to 1830, should mention the names and circumstances of those towns and fortifications in this very section of country, where a Mr. Stephens, ten years afterwards, penetrated a dense forest, till then unexplored by modern travelers, and actually finds the ruins of those very cities mentioned by Mormon. The nameless nation of which he speaks were the Nephites. The lost record for which he mourns is the Book of Mormon. The architects, orators, statesmen, and generals, whose works and monuments he admires, are, Alma, Moroni, Helaman, Nephi, Mormon, and their contemporaries. The very cities whose ruins are in his estimation without a name, are called in the Book of Mormon, “Teancum, Boaz, Jordan, Desolation,” &c.

Parley P. Pratt, “Ruins in Central America,” Millennial Star, March 1842, 165. (source link)

(4) –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 explicitly that Joseph believed the location where Moroni appeared before giving him the plates was 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)

Joseph & Oliver also said the following in a letter to W.W. Phelps,

“You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra… At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed. By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah”

(Handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, Shares page with dictated ‘Joseph Smith History’. Joseph Smith Papers, Letter VII“)

In 1856 Heber C. Kimball gave a talk in which he gave suggested first or possibly second hand information about a vision that “Joseph [Smith] and others had” concerning the Hill Cumorah in New York.  This vision gave information to them about a cave in which was stored “all the sacred engravings” or as was seen in this vision, “more records than ten men could carry”.  

…the vision that Joseph [Smith] and others had, when into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry…. There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. …they are events that I heard Joseph speak of, time and time again.  

(Heber C Kimball. Journal of Discourses Vol.4, Page 105)

This experience is shared by at least 9 different individuals, who heard about, mostly second hand. Although all the quotes are of a late date they at least seem to corroborate the general experience even though they very on important details such as 1. who was there, 2, whether the experience was objective or a subjective visionary experience, and 3, what exactly was in the cave. For all 9 or 10 accounts see Cumorah’s Cave by Cameron j. Packer or this article on supportingevidences.net

In this article we offer two more quotes because one tells who might have been there, and the other is a first hand source by one of those individuals. The first by William Horne Dame, 1819-1884, was written in his Diary dated, 14 January 1855.

“Attended meeting a discourse from W. W. Phelps. He related a story told him by Hyrum Smith which was as follows: Joseph, Hyrum, Cowdery & Whitmere went to the hill Cormorah. As they were walking up the hill, a door opened and they walked into a room about 16 ft square. In that room was an angel and a trunk. On that trunk lay a book of Mormon & gold plates, Laban’s sword, Aaron’s brestplate.”  (William Horne Dame Diary, 14 January 1855)

The second quote was recorded incredibly late (at least 50 years later) in 16 August 1878, by Whitmer himself speaks about the record cave of Cumorah, as if he had intimate knowledge of it, but not saying specifically that he had been there, in an interview with P. Wilhelm Poulson of the Deseret News:

Poulson: Where are the plates now?
Whitmer: In a cave, where the angel has hidden them up till the time arrives when the plates, which are sealed, shall be translated. God will yet raise up a mighty one, who shall do his work till it is finished and Jesus comes again.
Poulson: Where is that cave?
Whitmer: In the State of New York.
Poulson: In the Hill of Comorah?
Whitmer: No, but not far away from that place.
(John Whitmer. Deseret Evening News, August 16, 1878. See more info here)

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.)

Remember that the Book of Mormon explicitly states that the final Battle happened around the Hill Cumorah and that the location where “all the records” were hid was called the Hill Cumorah. So to suggest the revelation of D&C 128:20 and that in the above quotes are not the same as the hill mentioned in the Book of Mormon, is to suggest there are TWO Hill Cumorahs, and that Joseph was deeply mistaken and that the D&C 128 revelation/letter was not specifically inspired in regard to the name of the location therein referred.

And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.
And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. (Mormon 6:2,6)

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(5) – Quotes Concerning Nephites/Lamanites Living in the United States Region & Central US Natives Being Descendants of the Book of Mormon Peoples

Joseph Smith specifically stated the Book of Mormon was written by the forefathers of the western tribes (likely referring to the Natives west of Nauvoo, which included the Cherokee and natives relocated in the Indian Removal Act to Oklahoma territory in the 1830’s). Note he does not say the tribes of the East or South or Mexico, but particular singles out those of the West.

The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians, having been found through the ministration of an holy Angel translated into our own Language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years31 containing the word of God, which was delivered unto them, By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are desendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the Land of America is a promised land unto them,32 and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come. with as many of the gentiles as shall comply with the requesitions of the new co[v]enant.

Joseph Smith Letter, Kirtland Township, OH, to Noah C. Saxton, Rochester, Monroe Co., NY, 4 Jan. 1833


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.

…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. Wentworth Letter. JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. C-1, created 24 Feb. 1845–3 July 1845; handwriting of Thomas Bullock, Franklin D. Richards, Jonathan Grimshaw, and Leo Hawkins; 512 pages. Original available here)

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. [of the Kansas/Oklahoma Territory, relocated there in 1830, see this link](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. [of the Kansas/Oklahoma Territory, relocated there in 1830, see this link](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. [of the Kansas/Oklahoma Territory, relocated there in 1830, see this link](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.

Apparently assembled from the accounts of Heber C Kimball & Wilford Woodruff. 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

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


.

Quotes regarding Joseph Smith’s ‘vision’ of Zelph and the final battle, as well as confirmation that the Nephites & Jaredites spread across North America from sea to sea.

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

Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 22, pp. 911–926, edited by JS

In multiple quotes directly attributed to Joseph Smith in the official history of the church Zelph is described in ways that make holding to a purely Mesoamerican final battle or 2 Cumorah model incredibly difficult. Zelph’s location is stated in a letter from Joseph to Emma as occurring in “the plains of the Nephites”. The accounts of Zelph are specifically attributed to a “vision”. Joseph states his death occurred “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites”. His fame was known “from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains”. Those who try to dismiss Zelph as being some lone Nephite survivor of the final battle who wandered 2000 miles north of Vera Cruz, Mexico after the final battle (despite Mormon 6:15 saying those who escaped went south) must make mental gymnastic leaps of logic which discount not only the direct quotes concerning Zelph himself, but also the corpus of other quotes given above in this paper.

all the [Zions] Camp is in as good a situation as could be expected; but our numbers and means are altogether too small for the accomplishment of such a great enterprise… The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest men and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness…

Letter to Emma Smith, 4 June 1834

See ‘Zelph Revisited’ section below for all available details on Zelph

A Final Note

Once again, for those trying to make the story of Zelph fit into a “2 Cumorah model.”

I ask, do you not see how you’re doing the same thing Heartlanders do when they use mental gymnastics to explain away Joseph’s quotes on a Mesoamerican setting? If you fall in this camp let me clearly and sequentially lay out the evidence that you must be missing.

1. First for those who argue that the radiocarbon dating of Naples-Russell Mound Number 8 in Pike County precludes Zelph from being what Joseph said use bad logic. (see Jason King et al, Time and Archaeological Traditions in the Lower Illinois Valley, American Antiquity 76(3), 2011, pp. 500-628). Note in the documentary evidence, it is said of Zelph saying “human bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot discovered skeleton of a man”

https://bhroberts.org/records/b1mDub-5wNExc/js_recalls_the_discovery_of_zs_remains_and_the_visions_accompanying_it

At a foot deep it wouldn’t even be in the wood tomb. But its almost ubiquitous for the mounds to have multiple period use, and late internments. Zelph was undoubtedly ABOVE the QL-4904 log tomb cap. (You are suggesting he was below, correct?) In fact its possible much of the top few feet of the mound were gone by the time excavation took place. (we could compare the current height to the ~100 ft height given in accounts?) Note that Wilford Woodruff recounts that they took the thigh bone home. So the chances that any skeletal remains of Zelph, or even his entire internment layer remained at excavation is skant. (https://bhroberts.org/records/b1mDub-GfvQjc/ww_records_the_discovery_of_zelph)

2. Second and worse. You’re cherry picking of quotes you dont like (just like heartlanders)
You don’t like the desolation aspect of Levi Hancock’s account (not Reuben Hancock, you might want to fix that type-o), so you just dismiss it.

https://bhroberts.org/records/b1mDub-z5BVNb/lh_records_js_telling_sylvester_smith_the_story_of_z_personally

Even though his son, Levi Hancock independently verifies his own personal communication from Joseph validating desolation being in North America.

https://josephsmithfoundation.org/autobiography-of-mosiah-hancock-1834-1907/

Its further verified by William McBride and Andrew M. Hamilton’s “map” (which people on this site love to dismiss) that matches the exact language and ideas expressed by Levi Hancock in his diary of Joseph telling him “I went and got my map for him. “Now”, he said, “I will show you the travels of this people”. I’m serious here… note the language similarity between the map and Levi’s account of Joseph’s words.

(I lay it out here. see “Quotes suggesting Joseph Smith believed the Land of Desolation extended from the southwest into the Great Plains)” @ https://gatheredin.one/449/joseph-smith-quotes-on-book-of-mormon-geography/)

But put that aside and you still have to dismiss all the history of the church accounts citing “He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a last great struggle with the Lamanites.” Which would be easy to do if it were’nt for ALL the other quotes here…

https://bhroberts.org/records/b1mDub-7NKSMb/mh_official_account_about_zelph_discovery

You also have to dismiss the Heber C. Kimball bit that says Zelph was “an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites”

https://bhroberts.org/records/b1mDub-uN8Ixc/hck_recalls_when_they_found_zs_remains

You also have to dismiss WW details, because he says that the prophet said “onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains”.

Do you see there that he equates Cumorah with New England?! So again we must suppose that detail was unprophetic and not part of the vision.

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-a-1-23-december-1805-30-august-1834/489
https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/14079217-b2a7-4eff-8b53-1be6c1e9bea5/0/23

Do you see the bottomless rationalizations? We have to ‘explain away’ the whole plains of the Nephites quote. And none of this even begins to start on the quotes concerning a New England Cumorah. (and the visionary character to some of those quotes). Either believe Joseph was prophet in his ideas on BOM Geography or dont. Maybe he was clueless. Fine. Just dont pretend the zelph documentary evidence supports 2 cumorah’s WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT. Most people on this forum don’t care. But we should care about intellectual honesty and logic.

You can’t point at Heartlanders for their foolishness of dismissing all the times & seasons articles as “not actually from Joseph” and then turn around and do the same thing, and then expect people not to see you as just as intellectually dishonest as them. take my honest critique for what its worth.


Zelph Revisited

Text of ‘Zelph Revisited’, by Donald Q. Cannon, Church History Regional Studies, BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, Regional Studies, Illinois. PDF available here.

[Although] most Latter-day Saints would not recognize the name Zelph. However, serious students of LDS Church history and Book of Mormon geography would likely know Zelph as the white Lamanite whose remains were found by Zion’s Camp as they traveled through central Illinois.

The name Zelph first appears in LDS history in connection with Zion’s Camp. The most familiar version of the story
is in the History of the Church [written around 1843 written by James Mulholland, WW Phelps & Willard Richards]. The story of Zelph from that source follows:

Our enemies had threatened that we should not cross the Illinois river, but on Monday the 2nd we were ferried over without any difficulty. The ferryman counted, and declared there were five hundred of us, yet our true number was only about one hundred and fifty. Our company had been increased since our departure from Kirtland by volunteers from different branches of the Church through which we had passed. We encamped on the bank of the river until Tuesday the 3rd.

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.

History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834] Note that the “‘or eastern sea”, although a supratext is indeed part of the original journal entry here.

The primary source material for the Zelph story comes from diaries kept by some members of Zion’s Camp.2  Six men wrote diary accounts concerning Zelph: Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Levi Hancock, Moses Martin, and Reuben McBride.

What do these six contemporary accounts tell us about Zelph? The answer to that question is based upon a careful analysis of the primary sources. Each diary account is reproduced herein as it appeared in the original, without changes in spelling or grammar. Following the printed text of each diary account is a paragraph summarizing the account and including my own interpretations.

Wilford Woodruff, who was the preeminent LDS journal-keeper of the entire nineteenth century, prepared a characteristically detailed record of the events surrounding the discovery of Zelph. Woodruff’s reputation and stature is further attested to by his decade of church service as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and as president of the Church during a crucial period in its history. His journal entry about his experience in Zion’s Camp under the date May-June 1834 follows:

While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man.

We visited one of those Mounds: considerd to be 300 feet above the level of the Illinois river. Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp. I visited the same mound with Jesse J. Smith. Who the other persons were that dug in to the mound & found the body I am undecided.

Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curs was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow. The arrow was found among his ribs. One of his thigh bones was broken. This was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death. His name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet /Onandagus/ that was known from the hill Camorah /or east sea/ to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision. 3 (link to original)

Wilford Woodruff tells us that these mounds were probably built by the Nephites and Lamanites. He also records that Joseph had a vision concerning the skeleton, learning that he was a white Lamanite, who had been killed in battle. His name was Zelph, “a large thick-set man and a man of God, he was a warrior under the great prophet that was known from the Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains.”

Heber C. Kimball’s journal has a good reputation, a fact supported by the numerous times it has been published, both in extracts and in book form. The Zelph episode is found in one of these published versions in the Times and Seasons under the title “Extracts from H. C. Kimball’s Journal.” His comments on Zelph include the following:

On Tuesday the 3rd, we went up, several of us, with Joseph Smith jr. to the top of a mound on the bank of the Illinois river, which was several hundred feet above the river, and from the summit of which we had a pleasant view of the surrounding country: we could overlook the tops of the trees, on to the meadow or prairie on each side the river as far as our eyes could extend, which was one of the most pleasant scenes I ever beheld. On the top of this mound there was the appearance of three altars, which had been built of stone, one above another, according to the ancient order; and the ground was strewn over with human bones. This caused in us very peculiar feelings, to see the bones of our fellow creatures scattered in this manner, who had been slain in ages past. We felt prompted to dig down into the mound, and sending for a shovel and hoe, we proceeded to move away the earth. At about one foot deep we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire; and between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evidently been the cause of his death. We took the leg and thigh bones and carried them along with us to Clay county. All four appeared sound. Elder B. Young has yet the arrow in his possession. It is a common thing to find bones thus drenching upon the earth in this country.

The same day, we pursued our journey.-While on our way we felt anxious to know who the person was who had been killed by that arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much, to think that God was so mindful of us as to show these things to his servant. Brother Joseph had enquired of the Lord and it was made known in a vision. 4 (link to original)

From Heber C. Kimball’s account we learn that several men went with Joseph Smith to visit the mound, which was several hundred feet above the Illinois River. He tells of altars being located on top of the mound. They discovered a human skeleton about one foot below the surface. There was an Indian arrow between his ribs. He said that Brigham Young had the arrow in his possession.

George A. Smith’s church experience was similar to that of Woodruff and Kimball. He served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and as a counselor in the First Presidency. He is known as a reliable witness. He recorded the event in his journal; however, the text which follows was prepared later in connection with the History of the Church: “Monday, 2 June 1834: Some of us visited a mound on a bluff about 300 feet high and dug up some bones, which excited deep interest among the brethren. The President and many others visited the mound on the following morning.”5

The record from George A. Smith is much shorter than the other accounts. He gives the full date (Monday, June 2, 1834), tells of the height of the mound, and indicates Joseph Smith visited the mound the following morning.

Another Church leader, Levi Hancock, served as one of the presidents of the Seventy. His account is the most detailed and complete of any of the six accounts. His diary is regarded as a reliable and accurate source for events he experienced.

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 was brought with a broken arrow, they was layed down by our camp Joseph addressed himself to Sylvester Smith, “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 Onendagus 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 there dirt and covered them untill you see they have raised it to be about one hundread feet high, the last man buried was Zelf, he was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onendagus for freedom, when he was young he was a great warrior and had his th[igh] broken and never was set, it knited together as you see on the side, he fought after it got strength untill he lost every tooth in his head save one when the Lord said he had done enough and suffered him to be killed by that arrow you took from his brest.” These words he said as the camp was moving of[f] the ground; as near as I could learn he had told them something about the mound and got them to go and see for themselves. I then remembered what he had said a few days before while passing many mounds on our way that was left of us; said he, “there are the bodies of wicked men who have died and are angry at us; if they can take the advantage of us they will, for if we live they will have no hope.” I could not comprehend it but supposed it was all right. 6

From Levi Hancock we learn some things previously known as well as some new information. Hancock identifies the Illinois River and says they were camped on the west side of the river. Further, he says the mound was a mile below the crossing, i.e., south  [p.101]  of the ferry. Following a vision, Joseph told the members of the camp, especially Sylvester Smith, about the bones. He told them this was the Land of Desolation and that Onandagus was their king. Zelph was a white Lamanite who fought for freedom. This mighty warrior was killed by an arrow.

Moses Martin, who was on site when the skeleton was excavated, wrote the following:

This being in the Co of Pike, here we discovered a large quantity of large mounds. Being filed with curiosity we excavated the top of one so[m]e 2 feete when we came to the bones of an extraordinary large person or human being, the thigh bones being 2 inches longer from one Socket to the other than of the Prophet \whi\ who is upwards of 6 feete high which would have constuted some 8 or 9 feete high. In the trunk of this skeleton near the vitals we found a large stone arrow which I suppose brougt him to his end. Soon after this Joseph had a vision and the Lord shewed him that this man was once a mighty Prophet and many other things concerning his people. Thus we found those mounds to have be[en] deposits for the dead which had falen no doubt in some great Batles. In addition to this we found many large fortifications which als[o] denotes siviliseation and an innumberable population which has falen by wars and comotion and the Banks of this Beautiful River became the deposit of many hundred thousands whose graves and fortifications \have\ are overgrown with the sturdy oak 4 feete in diameter. 7 (link to original)

From Moses Martin the following is reported. They were in Pike County, and there were several large mounds. He furnishes details such as the excavation being two feet deep, the skeleton being extra large. He estimated the skeleton to be eight or nine feet tall because of the size of the thigh bone. There was a stone arrow in his rib cage. Joseph had a vision concerning the event and learned that this was a mighty prophet. These mounds were graves for the dead who had fallen in great battles.

Reuben McBride’s account is important because it was written close to the time of the event. It is, however, somewhat confusing because the information on Zelph is written in two different parts of his journal. In order to clarify the meaning, the entries relating to Zelph have been compressed together and the intervening, extraneous information has been deleted.

Tuesday 3 visited the mounds. A skeleton was dug up. Joseph, said his name was Zelph a great warrior under the Prophet Omandagus. An arrow was found in his Ribs which he said he suposed ocaisoned his death \Said\ he was killed in battle. Said he was a man of God and the curse was taken off or in  part he was a white Lamanite was known from the atlantic to the Rocky Mountains. 8 (link to original)

From Reuben McBride we learn that the date was Tuesday, the third, when they visited the mounds. They dug up a skeleton and Joseph identified the remains as Zelph, a warrior under the prophet Onandagus.

What do these six contemporary accounts tell us about Zelph and Book of Mormon geography? In order to answer this question, I will present the following summary containing the basic facts followed by the sources of information in parentheses. A key to abbreviations is also included.

SUMMARY

Key to Abbreviations:

GAS/GS = George A. Smith  
HCK/HK = Heber C. Kimball
LH = Levi Hancock  
MM = Moses Martin
RM = Reuben McBride
WW = Wilford Woodruff

Dates of Visits to Mounds
Group: Monday, June 2, 1834 (GAS), J. Smith: Tuesday, June 3, 1834 (HCK, RM)  May-June 1834 (WW)

Detail (below) – Quote Author (right)GSHKLHMMRMWW
Place Where Mounds are Located
Illinois River (WW, HCK, LH)XXX
Pike County (MM)X
Description of Mounds
300 feet above River (WW, GAS)XX
Flung up by ancient inhabitants (WW)X
Several hundred feet above River (HCK)X
Three alters on top of Mound (HCK)X
Big Mound (LH)X
Large Quantity of Mounds (MM)X
Fortifications (MM)X
Artifacts Found
Body (WW)X
Arrow (WW, HCK, LH, MM, RM)XXXX
Human Bones (HCK, GAS, LH, MM)XXXX
Skeleton of a man (HCK, RM)XX
Zelph Identified
Name Zelph (WW, HCK, LH, RM)XXXX
Large, thick-set man (WW)X
Warrior (WW, HCK, LH, RM)XXXX
White Lamanite (LH, RM)XX
Mighty Prophet (MM)
Man of God (RM)X
Killed in Battle (WW, HCK, MM, RM)XXXX
Nephite-Lamanite References
Nephite (WW)X
Lamanite (WW, HCK, LH, RM)XXXX
Joseph Smith’s Vision of Zelph
Vision received (WW, HCK, MM)XXX
Onandagus Identified
Name (various spellings) (WW, LH, RM)XXX
Great Prophet (WW, RM)XX
Know from Atlantic to Rocky Mountains (WW, RM)XX

From the foregoing summary it seems evident that these accounts indicate the possibility of some Book of Mormon events being located in North America.

The evidence in these journal accounts should be taken seriously for two reasons. First, there is a remarkable harmony and good agreement between the accounts. They are certainly not contradictory. Second, these are credible, competent witnesses. When one refers to the journal of Wilford Woodruff, for example, one is working with material which has been described by the experts as among the best nineteenth century journals. Indeed,  [p.104]  Woodruff’s journals constitute basic source material for the published history of the Church. Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith are also well-known for the accuracy and integrity of their journals. These records have also been included in the History of the Church. While not as well known as the three mentioned above, the other three writers are also reliable witnesses of historical events.

Additional information is available to us beyond these diary accounts. Just two days later Joseph Smith wrote to his wife, Emma Smith, telling her about his experiences, and recounting, specifically, the experience at “Zelph Mound.” In the letter he writes that they were “wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity.”9

This letter to his beloved Emma not only tells about the general news of the progress of Zion’s Camp, it specifically deals with Book of Mormon matters.  Joseph Smith was obviously very excited about the findings. He refers to the geographic area in Illinois as “the plains of the Nephites.” He reports that the mounds belonged to the people of the Book of Mormon, and, further, that these discoveries were proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This letter shows that Joseph Smith firmly believed that some Nephites had inhabited North America before their final destruction at the hands of the Lamanites.

Neither Joseph Smith nor the six journal writers associated with the Zelph incident were alone in writing and speaking about Book of Mormon geography. Nineteenth century Church members commonly referred to Book of Mormon locations in North America. Many of these people sincerely believed that at least some of the events described in the Book of Mormon took place in North America. The Times and Seasons, published by the Church in Nauvoo, often carried stories and statements about Book of Mormon geography. An example is this statement from Oliver Cowdery (original spelling has been preserved).

You are aquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigue, Ontario Co., NY…you pass a large hill on the east side of the road…[a discription of the hill follows]. At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country and under a state of  [p.105]  cultivation which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaradites and the Nephites were destroyed. By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah…. This hill by the Jaredites was called Ramah: by it or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents.10

Concerning Adam-ondi-Ahman, Zerah Pulsipher, a member of the First Council of Seventy, wrote:

Daviess County was a beautiful place situated on Grand River. First rate land and plenty of good timber where we supposed there had been an ancient city of the Nephites, as the hewn stone were already there in piles also the mound or alter built by Father Adam, where he went to offer sacrifices when he was old. Leaning upon his staff, prophesying the most noted thing that should take place down to the latest generation therefore it was called Adam-ondi-Ahman. (11)

Orson Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a leading intellectual figure in nineteenth century Mormonism, said the following about his belief that the Jaredites landed just south of the Gulf of California (Maztalan area) and that Omer fled to the New England area.

The [Jaredites] navigated the great Pacific ocean. …taking eight barges, launched on the eastern coast of China, and bringing them a voyage of three hundred and forty-four days and landing them… to the south of this, just below the Gulf of California, on our western coast. They inhabited North America, and spread forth on this Continent, and in the course of some sixteen hundred years’ residence here, they became a mighty and powerful nation. Although they became a great and mighty people…
The Jaredites had this decree before them, before they set foot on this Continent… On a certain occasion there were a very few individuals, Omer and his family and some few of his friends, that were righteous enough to be spared out of a whole nation. The Lord warned them by a dream to depart from the land of Moran, and led them forth in an easterly direction beyond the hill Cumorah, down into the eastern countries upon the sea shore. By this means a few families were saved, while all the balance, consisting of millions of people, were overthrown because of their wickedness. But after they were destroyed the Omerites, who dwelt in the New England States, returned again and dwelt in the land of their fathers on the western coast. 12 (Journal of Discourses 12:338, Orson Pratt, 1868 Sermon, SLC Utah)

Brigham Young said much about Book of Mormon geography and especially the Hill Cumorah. The following comment concerns the records stored in the Hill Cumorah:

When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. So is it with other circumstances in life. I relate this to you, and I want you to understand it. I take this liberty of referring to those things so that they will not be forgotten and lost.13

These four quotations are a powerful statement concerning a North American location for events in Book of Mormon history. This belief of a North American location for certain Book of Mormon events was a certainty for these people.

There is still another body of evidence that is entirely independent of the Church. I refer to the evidence from archaeological and anthropological studies of the area near Zelph Mound.

Several studies have been undertaken, beginning in the nineteenth century. One of the earliest studies of this area took place in the 1870s and 1880s. The Smithsonian Institution published the results of these investigations in 1884 in its Annual Report. This report provides useful information on excavation undertaken directly on the site now identified as Zelph Mound. It describes the work of the mound builders who occupied the Illinois River Valley. Among the relics unearthed were clay pipes, copper axes, and arrow heads. No attempt was made to establish a precise date for the mound builders of the area. They did find some connection with other geographic areas such as Michigan and Mexico.14

Many studies of the area have been conducted during the twentieth century. Zelph Mound is referred to in scientific terms in  [p.107]  most of these reports as Naples-Russell Mound Number 8. Highway construction has prompted several recent archaeological investigations of the area. In order for the new state highway, Route 36, to span the Illinois River Valley, large cement and steel supports had to be constructed. The base of these supports on the west side of the river are located on the bluffs near Naples-Russell Mound Number 8. Before any major excavation began, teams of archaeologists came on site to conduct exploratory excavation and identify any artifacts recovered from the mounds. The results of these studies conducted by the state of Illinois, the University of Chicago, and other organizations are very revealing and interesting for Latter-day Saints. Although they use terminology such as Woodland and Hopewell Culture, which is not derived from Book of Mormon terms, the dates are clearly within the scope of Book of Mormon history. Some of the fabric recovered from the archaeological digs conducted on the bluffs dates between 100 BC and AD 400.15  I find this data to be absolutely astonishing. The various cultures and peoples which occupied the lower Illinois River Valley span several hundred years. Remarkably, items discovered in the Zelph Mound area fit precisely within the parameters of the Book of Mormon historical chronology. It seems to me that this general collection of evidence points to a possible North American Book of Mormon geographic location. At least it should be seriously considered and not ignored.

Stating that there is a North American location for some Book of Mormon events does not exclude the possibility of other Book of Mormon events having occurred elsewhere. It seems possible to have Book of Mormon history occurring in both Central America and North America. This raises the feasibility of a connection between Central America and North America.

Some studies link the people and culture of Central America with those in North America.16  These studies have been conducted by people who are not LDS and, consequently, do not share the same beliefs about the Book of Mormon and its origins. Nevertheless, they have made a connection between Meso-America and the Mississippi Valley, a connection which is potentially useful for Latter-day Saints.

One of the most convincing of these studies which link Central America to North America is the one conducted by Robert Silverberg, a scholar who has published over 130 books and articles. His  [p.108]  investigation shows a direct link between the mound builders of the Midwest and the cultures found in pre-classic Mexico. The presence of corn in both areas is one of several connections which exist between these two areas. As Silverberg explains: “The corn that is being found increasingly more often at Hopewell village sites seems to argue in favor of direct or indirect contact between Hopewell and Mexico.” 17

A recent book on the archaeology of North America adds corroborating evidence on the cultural connections between Mexico and North America. Specifically, temple mounds in Mississippian villages show evidence of Mexican influence.18

Conclusion

Where does all this lead us? What can we conclude about Zelph? What does the Zelph incident tell us about LDS Church history, Book of Mormon geography, and Joseph Smith?

We know for certain that some members of Zion’s Camp were on the west bank of the Illinois River in Pike County on 2 and 3 of June 1834. While in the area these men climbed up on a 300-foot earthen burial mound, overlooking the Illinois River. While on the mound on 2 June they uncovered a large skeleton. On 3 June Joseph Smith accompanied some of the men to the same burial mound. Later in the day he received a vision in which he learned that these skeletal remains belonged to Zelph, a white Lamanite, who had been a warrior under a leader named Onandagus.

On 4 June on the banks of the Mississippi River, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to his wife Emma. In that letter he told her they had been wandering among the land of the Nephites. According to Joseph Smith this experience attested to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

The journal accounts of Joseph Smith’s activities and his letter indicate that he believed that Book of Mormon history, or at least a part of it, transpired in North America. What does one do with such a prophetic statement? Some have dismissed it as a joke or playful exercise of Joseph’s imagination.19  Others have chosen to emphasize discrepancies and possible contradictions in the source accounts, thereby discrediting what Joseph Smith said.20

It seems to me that either approach carries heavy risks. When one chooses to state that Joseph Smith can’t be taken seriously on  [p.109]  this issue, the door is opened to question his statements on other issues. Where does it stop? Does the First Vision, with the discrepancies in the primary source accounts, also come under the doubt and skepticism applied here to Zelph? Why can’t we simply take Joseph Smith at his word?

As I have shown, there is additional evidence which can be employed to support these claims. Statements made by nineteenth century Mormons about a North American location for the Book of Mormon can be used to support this position. Also, there is a considerable body of archaeological evidence concerning the people who lived in the Illinois Valley in ancient times.

A North American location for some Book of Mormon events does not rule out a Central American location for others. The two are not mutually exclusive. The Book of Mormon is a book of scriptures, a religious record-not a geography book. Why not link Meso-America and North America? There are, after all, studies which already connect these two areas of the world.

It seems to me that the foregoing conclusions dictate several challenges and tasks. It is important for Latter-day Saint scholars to further investigate the connections between Central America and North America. More work also needs to be done on nineteenth century LDS statements concerning Book of Mormon geography. There are interesting possibilities and much yet to be learned. I suggest we not reject the story of Zelph and its relationship to Book of Mormon geography until all these areas have been fully investigated. As things stand now we are still uncertain about any of the theories concerning Book of Mormon geography.

Notes:

1. History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1932-51), 2:79-80; hereafter HC.

2. Kenneth W. Godfrey, “The Zelph Story,” BYU Studies (Spr 1989): 31-56. This useful article contains a complete text of each of the six men who wrote diaries during the Zion’s Camp experience. The arrangement of the texts, however, differs from those used in this article.

3. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, ed. Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1988), 1:10. Original Journal in the LDS Church Archives. I have deleted the note on the interlinear entry.

4. Times and Seasons 6 (1 Feb 1845): 788.

5. George A. Smith Journal (2 June 1834), LDS Church Archives.

6. Levi Hancock Diary, LDS Church Archives.

7. Moses Martin Diary, LDS Church Archives.

8. Reuben McBride Diary (3 June 1834), LDS Church Archives.

9. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1984), 324.

10. Times and Seasons 2 (15 Apr 1841): 378.

11. Zera Pulsipher Autobiography, BYU Library.

12. Journal of Discourses 12:338; hereafter JD.

13. JD 19:38.

14. Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1882 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 684-721. See especially the report by John G. Henderson, “Aboriginal Remains Near Naples, Illinois.”

15. A general report is found in Douglas K. Charles, Steven R. Leigh, and Jane E. Buikstra, eds., The Archaic and Woodland Cemeteries at the Elizabeth Site in the Lower Illinois Valley (Kampsville: Illinois Department of Transportation by the Center for American Archeology, Kampsville Archeological Center, 1988). A brief account is in the Quincy Whig Herald (7 Nov 1975).

16. Clarence H. Webb, “The Extent and Content of Poverty Point Culture,” American Antiquity, No. 3, 33 (July 1968): 297-321; Robert Wauchope, General Editor, Handbook of Middle American Indians, Gordon F. Ekholm and Gordon R. Willey, eds., Archaeological Frontiers and External Connections (Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin Press, 1986), 4:110-131; Charles R. Wicke, “Pyramids and Temple Mounds: Mesoamerican Ceremonial Architecture in Eastern North America,” American Antiquity, No. 4, 30 (April 1965): 409-21; Robert Silverberg, Mound Builders of Ancient America (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1986), 2-3, 6-7, 20-21, 24-25, 88-97, 202-11, 214-23, 226-27, 236-39, 242-49, 252-55, 260-69, 278-79, 282-85, 288-89, 292-95, 339-51.

17. Silverberg, Mound Builders, 285.

18. Dean R. Snow, The Archaeology of North America in Indians of North America, Frank W. Porter III, General Editor (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989), 83.

19. See, for example, the comments in Klaus Hansen, Mormonism and the American Experience (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 36. Hansen says Joseph Smith was seeking relief from the burden of his office at the expense of his gullible followers. He was not serious about Zelph.

20. Godfrey, “Zelph Story,” 31-56. The differences between my arrangement of the sources and Godfrey’s arrangement underscores the possibility of using the same sources to prove different points of view. He has sought to discredit the Zelph story while I have tried to support it.

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The theories of Orson Pratt

Although unsubstantiated as a direct quotes from or directly reflecting the views of Joseph Smith, it is perhaps worth note that Orson Pratt had a very specific Hemispheric Book of Mormon model which he taught openly in the 1860’s in Utah, a record of which is preserved both in a sermon given in 1868 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, as well as his 1879 annotated Edition of the Book of Mormon.

His model is relevant as three of his locations ARE substantiated by direct quotes of Joseph Smith, leading us to believe he at least based portions of it on Joseph Smith’s views. (A South American Landing, and Southwest/Northwest Mexico Jaredite heartland, and New England Cumorah, for instance).

However, in other regards Pratt’s evolving views directly contradicted quotes attributed to Joseph Smith in assigning the river Sidon to be the Magdalena river in Columbia (after earlier saying it was a tributary to the Amazon in Ecuador) as opposed to Central or Southern Mexico and Guatemala as presented by Smith in the Times and Seasons. One can read the whole of his reasoning at this link, by searching for the paragraph beginning “After the destruction of the Jaredites”. More can be read of Orson’s theories along with a compendium of most others in ‘A History of Ideas: The Geography of Book of Mormon Events in Latter-day Saint Thought‘ (see p. 14-17 & chart on p. 32).

In summary Pratt’s beliefs were:
-Jaredite landing = “just below the Gulf of California, on our western coast”. (1868 Sermon)
-Mulekite Landing = “a few hundred miles north of the Isthmus on the western coast”. (1868 Sermon)
-Lehite Landing = “on the coast of Chile”. & “believed to be on the coast of Chili, S. America” (AEBOM)
-Omer’s flight = “the Omerites, who dwelt in the New England States, returned again and dwelt in the land of their fathers on the western coast” [ie. Omer traveled from ‘Moron’ near California/Sonora to New York and then back.]. (1868 Sermon)
-City of Nephi = “Nephi and the righteous separated themselves from the Lamanites and traveled about eighteen hundred miles north until they came to the head waters of what we term the Amazon River. There Nephi located his little colony in the country supposed to be Ecuador, a very high region, many large and elevated mountains being in that region”
-Land of Nephi = “The land of Nephi is supposed to have been in or near Ecuador, South America” (AEBOM)
-Land of Zarahemla = “Nephites united with the Zarahemlaites in the northern portions of South America, and were called Nephites and became a powerful nation. The country was called the land Bountiful, and included within the land of Zarahemla”. (1868 Sermon)
-Land of Zarahemla = “the land of Zarahemla is supposed to have been north of the head waters of the river Magdalena, its northern boundary being a few days journey south of the isthmus” (AEBOM)
-Land Northward = “North America” (AEBOM)
-Land Southward = “South America called Lehi” (AEBOM, also fn Alma 22)
-North/South, East/West Seas = Atlantic, Pacific, Cape Horn, Arctic Ocean. (AEBOM)
-Ripliancum = “supposed to be lake Ontario” (AEBOM)
-Hill Cumorah = “in the New England States”. & “The hill Cumorah is in Manchester, Ontario Co. N. York.” (AEBOM)

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Conflicting stories of Huntsville, Missouri, being the either the site where a modern city of Manti was to be built or a few said Joseph named it as the site of the ancient city of Manti.

Here I include the few quotes relating to the early Mormon cities of Zarahemla and Manti. (I believe that Joseph was following the ancient Toltec custom of naming cities in the Midwest of North America after the homelands in Mexico where Nephites travelled from before the final battle. Manti being a major migration site of Mixtec natives. Tollancinco in Mesoamerican Aztec legends was literally “little or new Tollan” which I believe essentially equates to “new Zarahemla” or “new Jerusalem”. Evidence of this ancient northern renaming of Mesoamerican Tollan is explained in DeSoto’s exploration party writings and existed somewhere in the area of Oklahoma or Arkansas, and although dismissed by many modern archaeologists is substantiated by DeSoto’s account AND linguistic matching of Uto-Azteca language groups among the Comanche and plains natives.)

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

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)

A Few Final References

The following chart comes from ‘The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book‘ by John L. Sorenson. It is a well researched compendium of past Book of Mormon geographic models and early LDS leader quotes concerning BOM geography. I have edited the first line, as it is flatly in error suggesting that the views pushed by Orson Pratt in 1850-60’s are representative of the general views of church leaders in the 1830’s & 1840’s. This is largely unprovable, and in some cases patently false. The reader can ascertain this for themselves by skimming through the dozen or so quotes given in Appendix A (all of which are quoted in the present work above), noting that nowhere does it suggest the land southward is South America before 1950, and in fact suggests to the contrary that Zarahemla was in Latin America. Also nowhere is the Magdalena river suggested to be Sidon until Orson Pratt’s quotes of the 1850/60’s. (Both these beliefs appear to have been developed by Orson Pratt post 1950, after the Saints came to Utah)

Adapted from The Geography of Book of Mormon Events



Book of Mormon Archeology Unearthed

  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