The Aztec/Mayan Calendar (And its similarities to the Hebrew/Biblical Calendar & Book of Mormon dates)

Summary

  • Similarities between Mesoamerican and Near-eastern Calendars
  • How to read Mesoamerican/Mayan/Aztec Calendars (see my Maya date conversion program!)
  • Understanding the “K’atun Wheel/Round” (or u kahlay katunob) and how it tracks the 520 year cycles very much like Daniel’s 490/500 year ‘sacred weeks‘ calendar.
  • A list of long count dates & references.

Introduction

Mesoamerican calendars show an astonishing amount of similarity to the Hebrew/Biblical and ancient Eurasian calendars. Really, its hard to believe these calendar systems developed completely independent of each other without some type of diffusionary influence. The purely Solar calendar of the Inca & their entirely unique Quipu writing system are far closer to what might be expected from a culture that developed in 12,000+ years of complete isolation from Eurasian thought. Of particular significance is “K’atun Wheel/Round” (or u kahlay katunob) and its similarity to the Hebrew 70 week/490 ‘year for a day’ sacred calendar used in the Book of Daniel. Although essentially ALL the ancient calendars of the world have been continually modified by various rulers for various purposes, most of the calendars in the Near-east/Eurasia show evidence of cultural diffusion from one to another despite the repeated modifications and corrections made to them. In the eyes of this author, this Eurasian cultural diffusion seems it must have made its way all the way to Mesoamerica.

In addition to the Mayan numeric system which is surprisingly similar to Egyptian numbering, the Mayan religious cycle or sacred round shows surprising similarity to the Jewish sacred round or religious cycle preserved in the Book of Daniel. For those unfamiliar with Daniel’s 70 week prophesy, it showcases the Jewish prophetic calendar or cycle made by combining the Jewish Sabbatical cycle of 7 years with the Jewish Jubilee cycle of 49/50 years. In Daniel 9 a full ‘prophetic cycle’ is said to be 70 ‘weeks or sevens‘ equaling 490 years (after which time ‘Messiah’ would come & the temple would be destroyed). This 490 year period is the conjunction of 70 sabbatical cycles (7×70=490) and ten Jubilee periods (10×49=490). This is often interpreted to actually be 500 years since some speculate that an intercalary ‘sabbatical year’ was added to the end of each Jubilee–thus adding 10 uncounted intercalary years in 490 (490+10=500yrs). One can’t help but notice the similarity of this Jewish ‘prophetic/religious calendar’ and the Tzolkin or sacred round of the Mayans. With the Maya, their ‘Jubilee’ was 52 years instead of 49, and was formed of 18 ‘weeks’ of 20 days instead of 7 sevens. Ten of these 52 year sacred rounds, in turn made a great year of 520 years (quite like the “K’atun Wheel”, “short count” or “u kahlay katunob” of the Maya). The similarity of these calendar cycles caused early chronologers like Fernando de Ixtlilxochitl to refer to the Mesoamerican systems with the same Biblical nomenclature.

Of course, this is just one of many similarities. Following is a list of many of the other similarities between the Mesoamerican calendars and the Near-eastern/Eurasian calendars of antiquity.

  • They both start from similar Anno Mundi epochs or ‘date for the creation of the world’. (Hebrew Cal: 3761 BCE, Mayan: 3114-3374 BCE, Chinese: 2671 BC — why would they all pick the 3rd & 4rth millennium? Unless they were all basing their worldviews on the same creation/destruction cycles covered in the Kolbrin & Oahspe )
  • They both have a ‘long count’ and a ‘short count’. The long count tracks days/years from creation, and the short count is a ‘sacred’ calendar used to track days/years within a smaller religious/political cycle (the Haab & Tzolkin 520 yr cycle for Mayans; the Jubilee & Sabbatical 490 yr cycle for Jews)
  • They both have similar Jubilee years. Hebrew Calendar: every 49/50 years, Maya: 52 years.
  • They both have similar Great Sabbatical Years (Hebrew Calendar: every 70 years, Maya 73 sacred years)
  • They both have important 13 cycle periods (Hebrew Calendar skipped between 12 months on a regular year, and 13 months on ‘leap’ years.) Whereas the Mesoamericans used 13 cycles to track their sacred round.
  • They both used a ‘Year for a Day’ system, where the annual sacred calendar’s “days” were projected onto a parallel ~500 year period. The Mayans called theirs ‘u kahlay katunob‘ or ‘Katun Wheel’ which projected the Tzolkin’s 13 cycles of 20 days onto 13 periods of 20 years to track long period religious cycles of 260 years (or ‘doubled’ as 520 years). For the Hebrew Calendar this ‘Year for a day’ system is given in Daniel 9’s “70 week prophesy” which prophesies of a period totaling 490 years (70 sabbatical years or 10 Jubilee years). Both Ixtlilxochitl and Diego de Landa use this Mesoamerican calendar system and point out its similarities to the Jewish Jubilee cycle.
  • They both seem to have special regard for the number 144,000 (length of Baktun in days, also in Bible in Revelation 7:3–8, 14:1, 14:3–5).
  • There is a WILD correlation between the use of the tzolkin– and haäb-cycle 52 year round’s FOUR signs & directions (see this image! or last 30sec of this video) and the Chinese Sexagenary Cycle. Not only are they written identically with 2 characters pairs, but the ‘earthy branches‘ part of the cycle is divided into four animate glyphs matching with coordinate directions! The Babylonians & near-easterners did this with degrees/minutes/seconds in maps too. (I suspect that by studying the Chinese Sexagenary Cycle, someone will unravel the Mesoamerican Tzolk’in and how it tracks seasons with the direction, and tracks Venus like Israel & Egypt instead of Jupiter like China).
  • The Mesoamerican Tzolkin notation is almost exactly like the Chinese zodiac system. Particularly in the way a year in a great cycle is denoted by a number and Zodiac animal. The Chinese would say January 2012 as ‘the year of water (5) dragon’. The Mesoamericans would say Jan 2012 as the year of ‘2 Flint’.
  • They both have a significant ‘aligning’ of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. See the way Daniel 9 uses 490 as ’70 weeks‘ or 10 Jubilees (70×255.5 and 49×365-d = 49 years). Compare that with the way Ixtlilxochitl uses 10 ’rounds’ or 52 year ‘Calendar Rounds’ (where lunar/ritual Tzolk’in cycle aligns with solar Haab cycle- 73×260-d Tzolkʼin days and 52×365-d Haab days = 52 years). So a epochal calendar round was 490 in bible (see Daniel 9), and 520 among Aztecs (see Ixtlilxochitl for an explanation of this).
  • The fact that the Book of Mormon says they changed their calendar system base date 510 years after leaving Jerusalem, and started counting anew from the ‘reign of the Judges’ is very significant. Since the ‘Katun Wheel’ as I explain below, only goes to 260/520 years; a people using a Mesoamerican Calendar (or Jewish of 490?) would be needing a new base date.
  • There are some strange similarities in the Aztec Calendar stone in its ‘weeks’. Note it has 52 boxes of 5’s around the center. This is speculated to be 52 ‘weeks’ of 5 days in a sacred round/tzolkin of 260 days which also happens to be a microcosm to the exactly 52 years of the sacred round aligning with the Long Count (exactly 53 years to align with the Haab). That’s a strange correlation to the 52 weeks of 7 days in a Western/Babylonian based calendars. Is this similarity coincidence, or is there another Tzolkin/Haab correlation with a strange mathematical relationship they used, between the Tzolkin 260 day round and Haab 365 day round that we don’t understand yet?

I suppose one could argue that all these similarities simply have to do with the similarities in the celestial cycles being tracked, but I think that’s a stretch. There’s little in nature that would make them choose such similar creation dates or ‘Jubilee/Venus’ correlations. Note that Mesoamerica has over 60 Calendar system variants, but nearly all of them use similar cycles to those mentioned above.

The Metonic Cycle: Among the Greeks & Hebrew’s their religious cycles were often based on the Saros & ‘Metonic Cycle‘. Although its unknown when the Metonic Cycle was discovered and incorporated into sacred calendars, attributes of the cycle were shared between many near east calendar systems including the ancient Babylonian and modern Hebrew Calendars. Somewhat like the Mayan Sacred Round, the Metonic Cycle syncs individual cycles of 18/19 solar years (or 235 synodic months/255 draconitic months) after which the phases of the moon recur on the same day of the year, in the Jewish/Hebrew calendar, this 19 year cycle is used to tie together the lunar & solar calendars by keeping track of the 12 common (non-leap) years of 12 months and 7 uncommon (leap) years of 13 months. To automate this correlation, the Greeks even invented a mechanism very similar to the Mayan calendar round to sink their three calendars. Called the Antikythera Mechanism this device synced the solar, lunar and sacred calendars of the Mediterranean world during the Greek era BC. Note that the Hebrew, Metonic and Mesoamerican Tzolkin all tracked the lunar cycles in a similar ‘separate sacred or prophetic calendar’ (often related to Venus).

Interpreting a Mesoamerican/Mayan Calendar date is quite simple once you know how each unit correlates with Western Calendar units.

How to Read & Calculate Aztec/Mayan Dates

Its important to understand Mesoamerican dates can and were specified in multiple ways. One is by simply using the Long Count. With this system you simply count the number of days/years from the “creation date”, which is thought to be 3114 BC. (see ‘creation date’ discussion) This system gives the most accurate result but isn’t a traditional date. Its more like the modern ‘Julian day number‘ used by astronomers. The others are the traditional Short Count or sacred round cycle of the Tzolkin & Haab, year bearer and lastly the K’atun Wheel/Round or “u kahlay katunob” which we’ll get to in a minute. Here’s a breakdown of the different systems and how they correlate with Western systems we are used to.

  • Long Count = Similar to the Julian day number system used by astronomers. (anno mundi of ~3114 BC instead of 4714 BC)
  • Haab/Solar Round = Similar to the day/month part of our Western solar/annual calendar. (18 mo. of 20 days instead of 12 mo. of 28/31 days)
  • Tzolkin/Sacred Round = Similar to the ‘weeks’ of our Western/lunar calendar. (28 weeks of 13 days instead of 52 weeks of 7 days)
  • K’atun Round/Short count = Similar to the ‘year’ section of our Western calendar. Since the Haab doesn’t track years (only day-month), and the Long Count doesn’t match the true solar year, the K’atun round can track true years in a 260/520 year religiously significant cycle (after which it starts over).
  • Year Bearers = One of the most common date system used in old codices, it really doesn’t have a Western equivalent. It is much more like the Chinese zodiac system which labels each year after an animal. (ie. 2012, the year of the Dragon)

Long Count Dates: Just like the Julian day number system counts dats from 4714 BC, or the year date in a Gregorian system counts from the time of Christ, or a year on the Hebrew calendar counts from the creation year of 3761 Anno Mundi. A typical Long Count date has the following format: Baktun.Katun.Tun.Uinal.Kin, (14.20.20.18.20 or year×400.years×20.year×1.month.day). Note it reads from right to left (and top to bottom on monuments) instead of left to right, and uses a vigecimal/base-20 system instead of a base-10 like ours). Since it is believed that the ‘years’ of the Long Count were computed using 360 days instead of 365.25 days (without adding leap days) then the Long count’s days/months would have been completely off from the seasons and solar years. This is why the calendar’s use was limited. And converting to a Gregorian date takes some math. This is usually done by multiplying the whole number into days and then essentially dividing by 365.24 to get back into true years/months/days. However, note that computing the left 3 ‘year’ digits without any conversion usually gets you within 22-36 years of the true date. (Since most dates range from 500 BC to 1000 AD and missing 3.25days×in 2500-4000 years = only 22-36 years). Here’s the breakdown of the digits.

  • Kin = 1 Day.
  • Uinal (month) = 20 kin = 20 days. (or 4 weeks of 5 days)
  • Tun (year) = 18 uinal (months) = 360 days = ~1 year. (or 72 weeks of 5 days)
  • Katun (score) = 20 tun (years) = 360 uinal (months) = 7,200 days = ~20 years.
  • Baktun = 20 katun (scores) = 400 tun (years) = 7,200 uinal (months) = 144,000 days = 400 ‘long count‘ years.
  • Piktun = 13 Baktun = 5200 years or a full creation/destruction cycle.

The kintun, and katun are numbered from 0 to 19 (20 yrs); the uinal are numbered from 0 to 17 (18 mo); and the baktun are typically numbered from 0 to 13 (like the Tzolkin/sacred round). The Long Count has a cycle of 13 baktuns, which will be completed 1,872,000 days (13 baktuns) after 0.0.0.0.0. This period equals 5,125.36 solar years and is referred to as the Great Cycle of the Long Count (thus the 2012 hype).

Creation Date. The Mayan Anno Mundi used in ancient Mayan long counts was lost in prehistory, and has had to be determined by archaeologist using a combination of logic, radiocarbon dating and astronomical events found in monuments and codices. (as well as consulting tribes who still use some version of it). Currently the most used date is the GMT or Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation. Although some archaeologists support the Spinden correlation of 3374 BC, and a handful of others exist going back to the earliest Bowditch correlation of 3634 BC. Also, one must consider the possibility that DIFFERENT kingdoms/cultures used a different creation dates. Given its prevalence in Western calendar history, its very likely that it could have been randomly changed by certain rulers over time. Note that Oahspe puts the ‘end of the age at March 31, 1848 instead of Dec 21 2012, which if true would make the GMT correlation off by 164 years. Early radiocarbon dates at Tikal seemed to match best with the Spinden correlation which was 260 years earlier than the GMT. (add these, as well as list of alternatives with references)

Lets walk through converting the example of 13.0.4.6.17 given in the illustration above. Although an accurate conversion requires converting the whole Long count to days, and then correlating it to the astronomically-based Julian Day Number and then to a Gregorian date from there, note that just adding up the left 3 digit year size gives us 4+0+5200=5204 years. Which added to 3114 BC, gives us 6-17-2090 AD (which is fairly close). But that’s using 360 day years/20 day months and gives a number roughly 70 years off from the true converted date which uses the more precise method of counting days. To get the generally accepted ‘true’ solar date we must, first compute the ‘days’ by multiplying each part by its vigesmal coefficient. So starting at the right we have 17×1+(6×20)+(4×360)+(0×7200)+(13×144000)= 1,873,577 days [Or conversely using the 5204 from the ‘years’ method explained above (5204×360=1,873,440) + (6×20 + 17 =137) + (1,873,440+137=1,873,577 days)] To get an exact date we’d now convert this ‘Mayan day number’ of days after the Mayan creation date of Aug 11, 3114 BC, to Julian Days which start at 4713 BC (ie. add 1599.6 yrs). Now to get the Julian Day number to a Gregorian date, the math is actually quite complicated and can be found here. But for a rough estimate, one can simply divide the Julian day by 365.24 (1,873,577 days/365.24 days=5129.71 years) then add that to the creation date of Aug 11, 3114 A.M. and it gives us (-3114 + 5129.71 = 2016 AD). To which we then do a bit more complicated match to turn the “.71” into months/days and add it to the “Aug 11”, and it comes out to April 16, 2017. If you’d like to walk through the math try it out here, or better yet, use my Javascript Mayan converter program here.

A few things you should notice if you’ve followed along or played with this in excel, is that if the Mesoamericans used ANY intercalary days it could quickly change the long count by years. (For instance some Mesoamerican cultures might have already added in the 5.24 missing intercalary days so that no conversion is necessary.) For instance, if they just threw in ‘uncounted’ festival days (like the Israelites did) then a given long count date computed the standard way could easily be off by up to 22-36 years (3.25 days in 2500-4000 years = 22-36years). Also the creation date is crucial. And since different scholars and archaeologists have posited creation dates ranging from about 2900 – 3400 BC, then we must admit that any given long count date could also be off by that amount). Although this is where the Tzolkin and the Haab calendars come in.

You can try it our with this calculator: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VvTABETBkEAosUHXUiqwVKa9-wkCuwxzoYDyCiqZ-XA/edit?usp=sharing or https://utahgeology.com/bin/maya-calendar-converter/ 

Since the Long Count is believed to have used 360 instead of 365.24 days and thus NOT have lined up with the sun, moon or seasons, they used other separate calendars to more often track the solar year and moon/Venus rituals.

The Solar Round (Haab): The Haab’ was a number found at the end of many ancient calendar inscriptions. In our illustration it is the right-most part of the Mesoamerican date. Known as the Vague/ true solar year or Haab’ to the Maya, xiuitl to the Aztec, and yza to the Zapotec; it was supposedly based on 18/19 named months, each matched with the 20 days of the month, with a five day period of ‘uncounted days’ tacked on the end (19th month) to make a total 365. It’s thought to be essentially a repetition of the right 2 digits of the Long Count except, since it has a 19th month of 5 ‘unnamed’/intercalary days it accords with the solar year (adding 5+360=365). So the Haab would only fall 0.242 days behind the seasons each year, where the Long Count would fall completely out of sink (5.242days/year). This is typically more useful than the long count, because every culture is more concerned with progress through the year/seasons than days from creation or weeks on a religious calendar.

[Some Thoughts: My main issue with the Haab, is why wouldn’t a culture just started throwing the 5 intercalary days onto the Long Count? Seems awfully laborious to create and keep an essentially redundant unit on your calendar. Could we be mistaken on how it was used? I need to go through all the archaeological long count inscriptions and see how often the Haab/Tzolkin don’t match the Long Count like they should… I think it’s quite prevalent. In these cases either the Ka’tun wheel is being used or there’s something we’re not quite getting yet in these Haab dates.]

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The Sacred Round (Tzolkin): Just above the Haab was a date named the Tzolkin by archaeologists. It was a 260-day cycle called the Sacred Round, or the Ritual Calendar; tonalpohualli in the Aztec language, Tzolk’in in Maya, and piye to the Zapotecs. Each day in this cycle was numbered from one to 13 (a trecena), matching with 20-named months (13 × 20 = 260). Note that many call the tzolkin’s 20 named units ‘days’. However, the Aztec Calendar Stone makes it pretty clear that the 20 named units were ‘sacred/religious months’ placed on a 260 day round (which we know from the 52 ‘weeks’ of 5 days labeled on it). Evenso, the exact purpose of the Sacred Round is not understood. Theories include correlating cycles of the moon, 9 months of pregnancy, Venus cycles combined with observations of the Pleiades and eclipse events and potentially appearance and disappearance of Orion. At any rate, it counts out 13 cycles of 20 (months), totaling 260 days or about 9 months (we could call these sacred or religious months like a biblical week). After those 260 days it repeats, adding another 8 sacred ‘months’ of 13 days (8×13=104) to fill up the 105 days of the true year’s 365 days. This then continued into perpetuity aligning with the Haab/solar year once every 52 years. Because of this unique 52 year alignment the combined Tzolkin and Haab dates could be used to specify ONE unique date each 52 years–which is apparently how it was ubiquitously used. (As a coefficient to the Haab to track years instead of days) So a Haab | Tzolkin date like 8 Kab | 13 Pop could be narrowed down to ONE specific day each 52 years.

  • Archaeologist believe the Tzolkin sacred calendar had 20 ‘months’ of 13 days each. So a sacred year was 260 days (13×20=260)
  • 72 cycles (or sacred years) of 260 days = 18,720 days. Which equals 52 Long Count years (of 360 days).
  • 73 cycles (or sacred years of 260 days = 18,980 days, Which equals 52 Haab or true years (of 365 days)

The Short Count or K’atun Round/Wheel: Known also as the “u kahlay katunob“, early records from Diego de Landa (the first Bishop of Yucatan) found in his 1566 Relacion de las Cosas en Yucatan, also talk of another calendar cycle used by the Mayans in which they basically projected the Tzolkin or Sacred Round onto an annual cycle of 260/520 years instead of days. It was a 13 k’atun cycle, which totaled 260 years or 260 tuns (of 365 days each). Each k’atun was named by the tzolk’in day on which it began (or often when it ended). Because the 20 day names of the Tzolk’in are an even divisible of the tun (360 days), a k’atun beginning can only start on an Ahaw day. Thus, the 13 k’atuns of the K’atun Wheel were named 1-13 Ahaw (or Izcalli/Mat in some systems). See page 80 of Morely’s An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs for more info. A brief explanation can also be found here. You can even find a brief description on the Wikipedia Maya Calendar page (see short count).

An understanding of the Short Count/Katun Round comes from only a few initial authors, and I don’t believe it was always used as they describe. So I’ll attempt to explain the way I think it was used. It seems likely that early in Mesoamerican history (from 600 BC to ~100AD) the tzolkin portion of dates was used as a Katun Wheel tracking years more often than archaeologist realize. For example, the date 8 Kab would be used to say the 8th year of the sacred score Kab instead of 8th day of the sacred month Kab instead of the traditional 8th day of the sacred calendar month Kab. This sacred system of tracking years used 20 cycles (a score) of 13 years each, totaling 260 years. I believe the special ‘variant’ glyphs, commonly seen, were then used for the ‘score’ glyph to double its value extending the systems reach to 520 years. Note also the Aztec Calendar stone and its ‘weeks’ or 52 boxes of 5’s around the center. This is speculated to be 52 ‘weeks’ of 5 days in a sacred round/tzolkin of 260 days which seems like it must have been used as a microcosm for the 52 years of the sacred round aligning with the Long Count. This is a big deal, since Mesoamericans counted by 5s, it means that a date that looks like a tzolkin number telling the day on the sacred calendar could actually be a Katun Round number telling the year in the 52 year Round. This system would explain the dates seen so prevalently in writers like Ixtlilxochitl. Thus:

  • The Haab’ tracked days and months — The Tzolkin sometimes tracked sacred months, but often dualistically used the same notation & symbols/numbers to track the years in a short count of 520 years.
  • Both of these systems used the Tzolkin convention of: day/year | month/sacred cycle or score of years (example: 8 | Kumkʼu)
  • These two numbers/symbols can then be used to track either 260/520 days or 260/520 yrs.
  • ——- first let’s explain the math of the Tzolkin as day tracker ————-
  • 13 days = 1 sacred month
  • 20 sacred months = 1 sacred year (a Tzolkin year) = 260 solar days. (then we repeat)
  • 1 solar year (Haab) = 28+8 sacred months = 1.8 sacred years (tzolkin year)
  • 52 solar years (full sacred cycle) = 72 sacred months
  • ——- now let’s do the Tzolkin as a year tracker ————-
  • 13 Tzolkin years = 1 score of years = 4745 days (13y×365d)
  • 20 Tzolkin years or 1 score = 1 sacred round = 260 solar/Tzolkin years = 94,900 solar Tzolkin days (260×365d)
  • 2 of these cycles gets us to 520 years

So in summary. The Tzolkin/Haab was dualistic. It could count for “days, and months and times/seasons and years” (see Gal 4:10, D&C 121:31, Gen 1:14). The Tzolkin could be a sacred 13day/20month cycle equating to a sacred year of 260 days OR it could be a solar 13year/20score cycle equating to 260 solar years (or doubled to 520 solar years). Note also that the bible might have used a VERY similar system and that what I call ‘scores’ (20 year periods), they call a ‘time’; and that the ‘doubling’ of the time with a ‘variant’ would make it a ‘times’. A convention likely applied to each of the major cycles of 260/520/1040 (coincidentally enough 260+520+1040=1820, the date of the first vision was time, times & half a time after Christ’s birth according to Mesoamerican epochs).

The Year Bearers: Note that many Mesoamerican dates are referenced using the year bearer system. With this system each year was referenced by the Tzolkin coefficient for the first day of the year. Thus since EVERY year starts with the same Haab date of 1 Pop (1 Izcalli) in Aztec, that portion is omitted and only the Tzolkin coefficient is given. So a date like 9 Flint/ Etz’nab’/ Tecpatl, 1 Mat/ Pop/ Izcalli is given as just 9 Flint/ Etz’nab’/ Tecpatl and corresponds to only ONE year in each 52 year sacred round. Note also, as explained here, that many different regions used different starting days for their year bearers at different times, which can make correlating historic dates using the year bearer, very difficult. Of course, this also extends to the sacred round haab/tzolkin date in general—when working with historic dates, these dates can be notoriously inaccurate because of regional changes made to the calendars over time.

Understanding the Three Celestial Cycles: There are three very obvious celestial events which most cultures have used to track time and align celebrations/holidays with and they involve the brightest orbs in our sky; the Sun, the Moon and Venus. We know that the Haab tracked the solar year. But its not fully understood how the tzolkin might have been used to track the Moon & Venus, although its theorized they were.

The first is obviously the solar year. It controls the seasons and thus is the most important. Its length is 365.242 days for the tropical or synodic year (one revolution from equinox to equinox) or 365.256 for the Sidereal year (one revolution in relation to viewing fixed stars or constellations). This cycle controls the length of the day, temperature and seasons, so obviously ancient cultures wanted to commemorate the equinoxes so they knew when summer and winter were coming and going.

Second is the lunar cycle. It controls the tides, fish harvests and possibly even child bearing. One full lunation or lunar cycle as viewed from earth is 29.53 days making each quarter phase last about 7.4 days. Lunar cycles fit into the solar cycle 12.48 times, so it is natural to fit 12 ‘moonths’ into a year. However those 12×29.53 days only equal 354.36 days so we’re left with 10.882 ‘left over’ days where the lunar year grows out of alignment with the solar year. (That’s a bit more than a full month each 3 years! — so more about that later.)

Third is the Venus cycle. Venus is often the most obvious star in the sky because it nearly always either precedes or follows the suns rising and setting. Because of this ‘coupling’ with the sun, its often called the ‘evening and morning star‘ and is represented as a son or bride to the Sun in religion & mythology. (Jesus/Messiah is referred to as the Morning star in 2 Peter 1:19, Job 38:7, Rev 22:16, Num 24:17) It’s cycle or period is usually measured from one of its transits/conjunctions across the sun to another (where it switches from morning star to evening star). A process which takes 584 days (583.92 to be exact). 263 as a morning star, 50 days absent behind the sun/below the horizon, then 263 days as an evening star, and finally, 8 days absent/obscured by solar glare (and sun being at its back) when between the Sun & Earth. See video here. Its raising and setting are tracked by the temples at Teotihuacan and show interesting relationships with the Mesoamerican calendar.

Many ancient calendars used similar geometric shapes to visualize celestial mathematical relationships. On the Aztec calendar the sacred round of 260 days. (52 ‘weeks’ of 5 dots/days each) can clearly be seen around the month ring which total 260 total days. These were likely used as a microcosm of a ‘great cycle’ of 260/520 years spoken of by chronologers like Ixtlilxochitl, using the same ‘year for a day’ prophetic calendar found in the bible. See the ‘similarities’ section for how the mayan 520 year cycle might correlate to the Jewish 490 year cycle.

Understanding the Venus Cycle: It is VERY likely the sacred round or Tzolkin tracked the Venus cycle and somehow tied it to the solar (and lunar?) year. As mentioned above, Venus is a “morning or evening star” for approximately 260-263 days each year. And 5 synodic periods/orbits of Venus is almost exactly 8 Earth years (& 13 sidereal Venus years). So it lines up 5 times each 8 years, 15 times each 24 years, 25 times each 40 years 30 times each 48 years and 50 times each 80 years. These periods are VERY handy for a culture that counts by 5’s and 20’s. So lets explore how this might relate to the Sacred Round and or Jubilee. Questions to explore…

  • Do the Jewish spring and fall festivals line up with the spring and fall equinoxes at some point in the 49/52 year Jubilee? (note, this would be latitude specific.) When does the Jubilee line up with Venus’ 50 days in the sun/underworld?
  • Did the Mulekites/Nephites purposefully travel to the same latitude as Jerusalem (31.5 N), or Sanai (28.5) in order to build a city & temple where the calendar matched the Jewish feast/holidays? Did Nephi ‘modify’ the calendar and holy days to fit Monte Alban, and then Mosiah do the same to fit Cholula (so that the sacred round is changed from 59/80/52 in order to work with the equinoxes of those cities?)
  • The feast of weeks (7 weeks after Pentecost) is a microcosm of Jubilee (7 sabbaticals after what?). Is there some correlation here? Might the sabbatical years actually be intended to represent the 7 ‘leap months’ added every 19 years? Might the sabbath day be meant to be a ‘leap day’ which wasnt counted, so that two 14 day ‘weeks’ could actually be 12 days long (matching the months/zodiac)?
  • The Hebrew calendar tracks each 19 years, inserting its leap month 7 times in the 19 years. Leaving 13 years untouched. This seems strangely similar to the Haab and Tzolkin? Could the Haab originally have been 19 year coefficients instead of 18 months? Could the 13 Tzolkin coefficients be related? (unlikely)
  • How does the Oahspe cosmic serpent calendar correlate to the Egyptian/Jewish one? Did they match the cube/sum to the 4 seasons & creation/destruction periods of the Aztec Calendar? Did they match the 7.5 Dan’has to a week? Did they match the 12 squares to the months & zodiac? (chart this on a circle and see if you can make sense of it). Is the 144,000 years of a ‘cube’ supposed to correlate with the 144,000 days of a Baktun (~400 years)? I suspect these are only VERY loosely correlated if at all, the Oahspe calendar being much older, and only partially available to Egypt/Israel. (they were more just trying to match the sacred numbers to their festivals and seasons)

Examples of Mesoamerican Dates

Monte Alban Stelae 12 & 13594 BCE4snake, 8flower and 10jaguar, 4somethinghttps://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.uoregon.edu/dist/7/5151/files/2013/12/DSCF8526-2a7la1b.jpg
Monte Alban Danzante FigureMarch 16, 692 ADbarely legible Haab? of 4-somethinghttps://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.uoregon.edu/dist/7/5151/files/2013/12/DSCF8524-1zlij16.jpg
siteNameGMT (584283) DateLong CountLocation
Takalik AbajStela 2236 – 19 BCE7.(6,11,16).?.?.?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takalik_Abaj#/media/File:Abaj_Takalik_Stela_5.jpg
Chiapa de CorzoStela 2December 6, 36 BCE /
October 9, 182 CE
7.16.3.2.13 or
8.7.3.2.13
https://classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com/962/flashcards/1362962/jpg/stela2_chiapa_de_corzo-141951102545CAEF8F5.jpg
Tres ZapotesStela CSeptember 1, 32 BCE7.16.6.16.18https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Estela_C_de_Tres_Zapotes.jpg,
https://www.chegg.com/flashcards/o-frontier-and-lf-e63c243b-2544-45b9-8536-25e86eb087b7/deck
El BaúlStela 1March 6? 11 – 37 CE7.18.9.7.12,
7.18.14.8.12,
7.19.7.8.12, or
7.19.15.7.12
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/El_Baul_Stela_1.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ElBaulSt.jpg
Takalik AbajStela 5August 31, 83 CE or
May 19, 103 CE
8.2.2.10.15 or
8.3.2.10.1
This interpretation is horrible! Do your own.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abaj_Takalik_Stela_5.jpg
Takalik AbajStela 5June 3, 126 CE8.4.5.17.11https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Takalik_Abaj_Stela_5.JPG
La MojarraStela 1May 19, 143 CE8.5.3.3.5 | glyph-18https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/La_Mojarra_Stela_1_Schematics.jpg/1200px-La_Mojarra_Stela_1_Schematics.jpg (left most date)
La MojarraStela 1July 11, 156 CE8.5.16.9.7 (or 9.9?)Once again, (or) interpretation wrong for some reason… why?
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Mojarra_Estela_1_(Escritura_superior).jpg
Near La MojarraTuxtla StatuetteMarch 12, 162 CE8.6.2.4.17https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1d/Tuxtla_Statuette.svg/250px-Tuxtla_Statuette.svg.png
TikalStela 29July 8, 292 AD8.12.14.8.15| 13 Men 3 Zip Mexico
CopanStela 15AD 504?Copan has 8+? Stela’s with dates ranging from 504 AD to 761 AD. THIS IS YOUR BEST BET OF DECODING MAYAN DATES.
See https://uncoveredhistory.com/honduras/copan/the-stelae-of-copan/
Read its history at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cop%C3%A1n#Rulers
CopanStela PMarch 623 AD9.9.10.0.0, 2 Ajaw 13 Pophttps://uncoveredhistory.com/honduras/copan/the-stelae-of-copan/attachment/w1067-copan-stela-p-2/
CopanStela N17th March 761AD9.16.10.0.0 1 Ahau 3 Siphttps://uncoveredhistory.com/honduras/copan/the-stelae-of-copan/attachment/w1105-copan-stela-n-side-view-slim-2/
Yaxchilán, Chiapas Lintel 375 July AD 5349.5.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 8 Sekhttp://research.famsi.org/uploads/montgomery/hires/jm01537yaxlin37.jpg
Piedras NegrasBurial 5July 5, 674 9.12.2.0.16http://www.mesoweb.com/pari/publications/RT06/FourShellPlaques-OCR.pdf (check)
TikalAlter 14March 16, 692 AD9.13.0.0.0 | 8 Ajaw 8 Wohttp://research.famsi.org/uploads/montgomery/292/image/JM000713TikT1Alt14.jpg
ToninaMonument 101January 15, 909 AD? 10.4.0.0.0. ????https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.Trbe2hynkEumla1Urmwm6AAAAA%26pid%3DApi&f=1
last Long Count date in the Classic Maya lowlands.
Chichen ItzaInitial Series lintelJuly 28, 87810.2.9.1.9| 9 Muluk 7 Sakhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_Long_Count_calendar#/media/File:Morley_1915_ISglyphs.svg
https://www.jstor.org/stable/275754?seq=1
Chichen ItzaSE PillarMay 6, AD 998 and Jan. 30, AD 998 10.8.10.11.0| 2 Ajaw 18 Mol and 10.8.10.6.4|10 K’an 2 SotzNo Longcount, only solar round date. says. ’10 K’an [the] day, 2 Sotz’, eleventh tun [of K’atun] 2 Ajaw’. Only fit is that date. See great article at:
https://brucelove.com/research/contribution_002/
TortugueroMonument 6December 23, 201213.0.0.0.0 4| Ajaw 3 K’ank’inhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Estela_6_el_Tortuguero.jpg
La CoronaHS 2, Block VDecember 23, 20123.0.0.0.0 4 Ajaw 3 K’ank’inhttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zM2HrRL-BC0/UOChmLSOsjI/AAAAAAAABPI/hfs4jsySyYk/s1600/MNU2012-12-30_04_June-2012_La-Corona_Hieroglyphic-Stairway-2_Block-V_IM-DavidStuart-PRALC-TU.jpg
(more dates here?)
QuiriguaStela CAugust 11, 3114 BCE13.0.0.0.0|4|8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:East_side_of_stela_C,_Quirigua.PNG, WRONG DATE, CHECK ME!
CobaStela 1December 23, 201213.0.0.0.0 | 4 Ahau 8 KumkʼuPlaces nineteen 13’s before this date for some reason.
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Coba-Stela-1-A1-D17-Drawing-COBSt-1-from-Corpus-of-Maya-Hieroglyphic-Inscriptions_fig1_231872337

Notes Concerning Ancient Calendars from Oahspe

This background information from the text ‘Oahspe’ is very insightful when it comes to making assumptions about possible ancient calendar systems. Of particular note are the ideas that many cultures (like the Israelites) combined the calendars of surrounding cultures in order to create ‘short and long’ count calendars (ie. the ‘prophetic calendars spoken of in other parts of the text). As well as some cultures counting ‘two years’ to the same amount of time that other cultures called ‘one year’ (Note that Ixtlilxochitl does this). As also, its ‘creation cosmology’ is insightful when comparing this type of ancient reasoning to the cosmology we find in Mayan myth and/or ancient books like The Kolbrin.

2. And he placed the sun in the midst and made lines thence to the stars, with explanations of the powers of the seasons on all the living.
3. And he gave the times of Jehovah, the four hundred years of the ancients, and the halftimes of dan, the base [number] of prophecy; the variations of thirty-three years; the times of eleven; and the seven and a half times of the vortices [orbits/frequencies] of the stars, so that the seasons might be foretold, and famines averted on the earth. (Oahspe, Book of Osiris, XII)

Note that the ‘times of eleven’ or variations of thirty-three years (3×11) is tracking the Solar cycles or Solar Max. The well known cycle of 11.01yrs when the sun switches polarity. (apparently 3 of them makes some type of repetitive cycle of solar variability, having to do with Jupiter & Saturn’s orbit and their tidal effects on the sun). The ‘7.5 times of the vortices’ must be something else I’m not aware of. If you know what it is… contact me! (likely some kind of planetary alignment that also includes other planets so the tidal forces of the sun make an even bigger difference). It does seem to match the alignment of Earth & Venus with the Solar Max. Earth & Venus conjunct every 1.5987 earth years (583.92 days), and 6.5 to 7.5 of these equal the Solar Cycle (see this article). Another less likely possibility is that the solar orbit of Venus (sidereal period) is 7.5 earth months (225 days / 30 = 7.5), but since most cultures have different spans for months I’m not sure what that would prove. 7.5 yrs is also the time it takes for Saturn to move through 3 zodiacs (or 1/4 the full 12 or 360 degree celestial equator).

…The times by the learned gave two suns to a year, but the times of the tribes of Eustia gave only six months to a year. Accordingly, in the land of Egypt what was one year with the learned was two years with the Eustians and Semisians.
3.God said: My people shall reckon their times according to the place and the people where they dwell. And they did this. Hence, even the tribes of Israel had two calendars of time, the long and the short.

To events of prophecy there was also another calendar, called the ode, signifying sky-time, or heavenly times. One ode was equivalent to eleven long years; three odes, one spell, signifying a generation; eleven spells one Tuff. Thothma, the learned man and builder of the great pyramid, had said: As a diameter is to a circle, and as a circle is to a diameter, so are the rules of the seasons of the earth. For the heat or the cold, or the drouth or the wet, no matter, the sum of one eleven years is equivalent to the sum of another eleven years. One spell is equivalent to the next eleventh spell. And one cycle matcheth every eleventh cycle. Whoever will apply these rules to the earth shall truly prophesy as to drouth and famine and pestilence, save wherein man contraveneth by draining or irrigation. And if he apply himself to find the light and the darkness of the earth, these rules are sufficient. For as there are three hundred and sixty-three years in one tuff, so are there three hundred and sixty-three days in one year, besides the two days and a quarter when the sun standeth still on the north and south lines.

In consequence of these three calendars, the records of Egupt were in confusion. The prophecies and genealogies of man became worthless. And as to measurements, some were by threes, some by tens, and some by twelves; and because of the number of languages, the measurements became confounded; so that with all the great learning of the Eguptians, and with all the care bestowed on the houses of records, they became even themselves the greatest confounding element of all. (Oahspe, Book of Arc of Bon, XIV)

Egyptian calendar of 363 days. Also using the ‘year for a day’ system. So a week had 11 days, with 3 weeks in a month and 11 months in a year. And this system was projected onto years as well, creating a 363 year cycle.

4. And from this time forth My spiritual (etherean) hosts shall not remain in heaven (atmospherea) more than eight years in any one cycle. This, then, that I give to thee shall be like every dawn of dan, some of one year, some of two or three or four or more (years), as the time requireth.

5. And thou shalt dwell in thy kingdom seven years and sixty days, and the time shall be called the first dawn of dan, and the next succeeding shall be called the second dawn of dan, and so on, as long as the earth bringeth forth.

6. And the time from one dawn of dan to another shall be called one dan’ha; and four dan’ha shall be called one square, because this is the sum of one density, which is twelve thousand of the earth’s years. And twelve squares shall be called one cube, which is the first dividend of the third space, in which there is no variation in the vortex (whirlwind) of the earth. And four cubes shall be called one sum, because the magnitude thereof embraceth one equal of the Great Serpent. (Oahspe, Book of Ah’shong, II)

Oahspe suggests that the ancients appear to have created ‘Galactic prophetic calendars’, where they extrapolated the short term ratios of a day, week, month, year into cosmic ages. They believed to understand (through revelation) the time it took of the Solar system to orbit the Galactic core, calling it the ‘celestial serpent’ (see Oahspe, ref, ref). The epochs were tied to the 11 year solar cycle, which they believed caused the weather (and other events) to repeat on a 33 or 33×11 year cycle. This formed the basis of their galactic solar cycle calendars.

.

(day)(week)(month)(season)
6 gen.7.5 dans4 dan’ha12 sqrs4 cubes
1 dan1 dan’ha1 square1 cube    1 sum
  • 1 Generation = [could be 11 to 100 years;     ~33 years]
  • 1 Dan = 6 Generations               [33×6= ~198 years] [mean = 400 years]
  • 1 Dan’ha = 7.5 Dans                   [231×7= ~1386 years]      [mean = 3,000 years]
  • 1 Square = 4 Dan’has             [1617×4= 5,544  years]     [mean = 12,000]
  • 1 Cube = 12 Squares                   [6,468×12= 66,528  years]    [mean = 144,000]
  • 1 Sum = 4 Cubes     [77,616×4= 266,112 years] [mean = 576,000]
  • 1 galactic year = 4.7 million years
  • 1 dan = ~428 years (400 years)
  • -about 10,980 dans in a galactic orbit/year. (a lot like an hour in a solar year; there’s 8760hrs/year)
  • -about 391 squares in a galactic year (fairly similar to our 365 days in a solar year)

Relevant Publications

STILL DO DO: (WHERE I LEFT OF).

  • Still need to find a reference book of ALL archaeological long count date inscriptions and compare them to figure out where they fit in that 520 method I figure out.
  • Replace the long count list/table with a better formatted one (from the spreadsheet I’m building).
  • Then get the Dresden codex and other historical codices and compare those….
  • Find more references to the ’52 weeks’ (of 5 days each) on the Aztec Calendar stone, and the double of 52×10=520.

Ixtlilxochitl & Evidence for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerican Codices

An image from the 12 th century Codex Colombino of the Mixtec people shows the 11th-century military and political feats of Lord Eight-Deer, aka Tiger Claw, and another ruler, Four-Wind, and religious ceremonies marking these feats. (Image from the World Digital Library )

16. It had been 166 years since they had adjusted their calendar with the equinox and 270 years since the giants [tall ones] had been destroyed when the sun and the moon eclipsed and the earth quaked and rocks were broken into pieces and many other signs that had been given came to pass, although man was not destroyed. This was in the year CE Calli, which, adjusted to our calendar, happened at the same time that Christ, our Lord, was crucified. And they say that this destruction occurred in the first few days of the year. (Fernanado Ixtlilxochitl, Obras históricas ~1620)

4. The records indicate that the world was created in the year Ce Tecpatl, and the period of time from the creation to the flood is called Atonatiuh, which means the age of the sun of water because the world was destroyed by the flood. And it is recorded in the Tulteca history that this period or first world, as they called it, lasted for 1,716 years… 5. To this they recorded other events, such as how, after the flood, a few people who had escaped the destruction inside a Toptlipetlacalli, which interpreted means an enclosed ark, began again to multiply upon the earth. 6. After the earth began again to be populated, they built a Zacualli very high and strong, which means the very high tower, to protect themselves against a second destruction of the world…. (Fernanado Ixtlilxochitl, Obras históricas ~1620)

Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl (1578-1650)

There may be no better evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon than that from the writings of the controversial early Aztec historian Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl (pronounced: EEsh-leal-sho-cheat-l. 1578-1650). Born roughly 60 years after Cotez’ conquest of the Aztec, Ixtlilxóchitl was a mixture of Aztec royalty and Spanish nobility. He was fluent in both the history and language of the Aztec as well as Latin and Spanish. His works, read much like the Book of Mormon itself, coming from the pen of one trying their best to FIND biblical Christianity in the records of the ancient Mixteca peoples. He chooses interpretations of ancient Mexica stories and myths which adhere closely to Biblical stories of the creation, global flood and tower of Babel.

Much as they do with the Book of Mormon, modern historians tend to dismiss the biblical similarities of Ixtlilxóchitl woks as attempts to twist the ancient stories he translated in order to fit a Christian biblical narrative. But for LDS adherents, his methods are informative as they show us precisely what we would expect from the translation process of the Book of Mormon’s ancient authors if it is to be a legitimate translation of ancient records (or work of mediumship based on ancient records). In comparison of the two, we should suppose in the translation or ‘channeling’ of the Book of Mormon text that the authors involved took liberties to convert the words and ideas of the ancient people, not just from their ancient languages to English, but from their ancient cultural contexts into that of 19th century New England. Thus we see mammoths called ‘elephants’, antelope called ‘sheep’, deer called ‘horses’, macuahuitl called ‘swords’, pyramids called ‘towers’ and god’s like Quetzalcoatl or Kukulkan changed to Jesus Christ. Many ancient stories, myths and ideas mixed in with more “modern” sermons on infant baptism, Catholic Church apostasy, New World exploration, prophesies about Joseph Smith and King James Isaiah or Pauline quotes.

Indeed to believe in the Book of Mormon as historical, this idea of a loose translation of words and culture must go considerably farther than simply a ‘dynamic equivalence’ translation. Much like the writings of Ixtlilxóchitl, we must suppose that the translators/channels took great liberties, relying heavily on Biblical sermons, idioms, wording and even concepts to change the ancient stories and ideas as fully as possible into 19th century religious ideals — and making the ancient concepts relevant to 19th century readers. Only this would explain not only how King James biblical phrases, chapters and even King James spelling and conceptual errors made their way into the Book of Mormon, but also how you get remarkably accurate explanations of ancient geographies and cultural descriptions juxtaposed with sermons on faith, charity, baptism and Unitarianism which align strikingly with the ideological and religious debates circulating New England during Joseph Smith’s time.

To suppose the Book of Mormon a work of fiction solely from the mind of Smith or one of his contemporaries, we must admit he was unfathomably ahead of his time in his knowledge of mesoamerican mythology, warfare, religion, fauna and metallurgy. Yet on the other hand to suppose that the Book of Mormon is a tight or even semi loose lingual translation of a specific text instead of a spiritual ‘channeling’, requires the ancient authors to have a nearly impossible understanding of future 19th century biblical context and future religious New England ideology.


following section taken from http://www.ancientamerica.org/  Read original of Ixtlilxochitl's book here.  Or an English translation here..

AFTER THE EARTH BEGAN AGAIN to be populated, they built a Zacualli very high and strong, which means the very high tower, to protect themselves against a second destruction of the world.

As time elapsed, their language became confounded,  such that they did not understand one another; and they were scattered to all parts of the world. (Ixtlilxochitl:6-7)

The above statement was recorded c 1600 AD by a native born scholar of Mexico named Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl (EEsht-leal-sho-cheat-el). He is considered by many to be the most prolific early writer on the history of Mexico. In a sense, he may be considered to be the Josephus of Mexico.

One biographer, Dr. Jose Maria Beristain y Souza, said that Ixtlilxochitl was one of the most distinguished students at the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco and that he was the most knowledgeable in the language, history, and antiquities of his people. (Biblioteca Hispano-Americana-Septemtrional, p. 58, as quoted in Chavero 1965)

The author Clavijero called Ixtlilxochitl “the truly noble Indian concerning the antiquities of his nation.” (Historia Antigua de Mexico 1:37, as quoted in Chavero 1965)

Dr. Lara Pardo called Ixtlilxochitl a man of great talent and deep intellect and said that Ixtlilxochitl possessed a most excellent library containing the paintings and hieroglyphic history of pre-conquest Mexico. (Leduc-Lara Pardo, Diccionario de Geogrqfia e Historia y Biografias Mexicanas, p. 492, as quoted in Chavero 1965)

Early writers placed the birth date of Alva Ixltilxochitl somewhere near the year 1568 AD. Edmundo O’Gorman, who published the writings of Ixtlilxochitl in 1975, with an update in 1985, determined that the date of Ixtlilxochitl’s birth was in the year 1578 AD. The place of birth was Texcoco, which is now a suburb of Mexico City. (O’Gorman 17)

Ixtlilxochitl was born of royalty, being a descendant of both the last king of Texcoco and the next-to-the-last Emperor of Mexico, Cuitlahuac. Ixtlilxochitl was also of Spanish descent,  as his grandfather on his mother’s side was the Spaniard Juan Grande.

The writings on the history of Mexico, according to Ixtlilxochitl, consisted of many manuscripts that were first circulated in the year 1600 AD. His works, Sumaria Relacion de la Historia General, were completed about 1625 AD-more than 200 years prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. Traditionally, the date of the death of Ixtlilxochitl has been placed around 1648. O’Gorman’s research indicates that Ixtlilxochitl died in 1650 at the age of 72. (O’Gorman 36)

Regarding the sources for his history of Mexico, Ixtlilxochitl wrote the following:

… of a truth I have the ancient histories in my hand, and I know the language of the natives, because I was raised with them, and I know all of the old men and the principals of this land…. It has cost me hard study and work, always seeking the truth on everything I have written…. (Chavero 62)

Alfredo Chavero wrote in the preface of his two volumes follows:

Ixtlilxochitl is the original chronista of the Texcucanos [from Texcoco, a suburb of Mexico]. Few of our writers have enjoyed the fame and reputation that he has. Nevertheless, his numerous works are unknown. (Chavero 5)

And that is certainly an understatement. To this very day, the works of Ixtlilxochitl are hardly known in the United States. Even Latter-day Saint writers who have a high interest in the history of the Book of Mormon have basically ignored the works of Alva Ixtlilxochitl.

I suspect that part of the reason for the Latter-day Saints’ lack of knowledge about Ixtlilxochitl is that the works of Ixtlilxochitl have not been readily available in the English language. Hunter and Ferguson, in their 1950 book, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, did, however, publish segments of Ixtlilxochitl’s works in English-segments that appeared to them to correlate with the Book of Mormon history. Wells Jakeman and Thomas Ferguson acquired the services of a man named Arnulfo Rodriguez to translate segments of the 1892 publication of Alfredo Chavero. (Hunter 1950:14)

Although Ixtlilxochitl wrote in the 1600s, his work was not circulated widely until Lord Kingsborough of England published nine volumes of work entitled Antiquities of Mexico. Kingsborough included the writings of Ixtlilxochitl in Spanish, having obtained those writings from the National Library of Madrid.

Kingsborough’s material on Ixtlilxochitl is similar to that of an early Mexican writer by the name of Boturini, who said that he copied his account of the writings of Alva from the handwriting of Alva Ixtlilxochitl. Kingsborough’s works were published between 1832-1848, but because of the extensive cost, his Antiquities of Mexico were never widely circulated.

Under the mandate of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, Alfredo Chavero edited and footnoted a compilation of Ixtlilxochitl by Jose Fernando Ramirez. This edition was published in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World by Columbus.

This same edition, consisting of two volumes of approximately 500 pages each, was republished in 1965 with a preface by Lic. J. Ignacion Davila Garibi. Chavero called the books Obras Historicas de Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. The works of Ixtlilxochitl have been published as various editions in Spanish as follows:

  • Primera edicion: Kingsborough. Antiquities of Mexico. Vol. IX London 1848
  • Segunda edition: Chavero. Secretaria de Fomento. Mexico, 1991-92
  • Reediciones de la anterior: Editora National. Mexico. 1952 y 1965
  • Tercera edition: O’Gorman. lnstituto de Investigaciones Historicas. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. 1975
  • Cuarta edition: O’Gorman. Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. 1985

It is from Chavero’s 1965 edition that I have translated into English the first section of Ixtlilxochitl’s works called “The Summary Account” (Sumaria Relacion).

Ramirez and Chavero divided the works of Ixtlilxochitl into two main parts: (1) Diverse Accounts and (2) The History of the Chichimeca.

The latter receives the most attention, as Ixtlilxochitl was a descendant of the Chichimeca people and, as a result, he follows the Chichimeca trail right up through the Conquest of Mexico.

The first part, “Diverse Accounts,” deals with the origin of the first settlers, called Quinametzin or giants. They came from the great tower. The first part also discusses a group of people called the Tulteca. They were wise men who worshipped a god they called Quetzalcoatl. A great dispersion among the Tultecas took place in the 4th Century AD.

The “Diverse Accounts” section is the section that attracts the interest of students of the Book of Mormon, as a common trail appears in both accounts. Ixtlilxochitl called this section “Sumaria Relacion de todas las cosas que han sucedido en La Nueva Espana y de muchas cosas que los Toltecas alcanzaron.”

That’s rather a long title patterned after the manner of the native Mexicans. It means “A summary account of all the things than happened in New Spain and many things that the Toltecs accomplished.”

  • The first chapter (“Primmer Relacion”) of Chavero’s works is only 11 pages, and that portion is what I have included in its entirety in this text. The “Primmer Relacion” covers the history of Mexico from the time of the great tower to about 439 AD.
  • Chapter 2, or”Segunda Relacion,” provides dates of 466 AD to 543 AD. It also provides summary statements of the early history, typical of the way that Ixtlilxochitl wrote. He wrote, “The Tultecas were the third settlers of this land, counting the giants as the first, and the Ulmecas and Xicalancas as the second.” (Chavero 28)
  • Chapter 3 of Chavero consists of seven pages and covers the period of time from 556 AD to 826 AD.
  • Chapter 4 provides only one date, 880 AD, but the chapter provides a summary of the nature and characteristics of the Tultecas. “The Tultecas were great architects, carpenters, and workers of arts such as pottery: They mined and smelted gold and silver, and worked precious stones . . . .” (Chavero 40)
  • Chapter 5, or “Quinta Relacion,” covers about 30 pages and terminates with page 108 and the year 958 AD. With the exception of a summary section at the end of Volume One, the remainder of the works of Ixtlilxochitl deals with the history of Mexico from 1000 AD to 1600 AD. The majority of the history is centered in the 16th Century.

Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl indeed makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the pre-Conquest civilizations of Mexico. His writings have been criticized, however, because they contain much repetition and because his chronology and dating often lack consistency. One writer said, “It would have been better if Alva Ixtlilxochitl had written less, and paid more detail and attention to the chronology.” (Garcia Icazbalceta, Bibliography de Autores Mexicanos, VIII,271; as quoted in Chavero in the “Prologo”)

We could perhaps defend Ixtlilxochitl by noting that he was only writing down what he read in the different native records he was translating.

Some common elements with Ixtlilxochitl’s writings and the Book of Mormon are the following:

  • 1. They both speak of the first civilization coming from the great tower at the time of the confusion of tongues.
  • 2. They both speak of a white god who was born of a virgin and who ascended to heaven after teaching his people.
  • 3. They both record the date of a great destruction occurring in the first month of the 34th year, or at the death of Christ.
  • 4. They both use the same terminology in describing the manner in which cities were named.
  • 5. They both speak of three distinct civilizations that predate the coming of Christ.
  • 7. They both record the destruction of the first civilization that predates the coming of Christ, who lived in the northern lands, or the Land Northward.
  • 8. They both speak of a nation whose principal area meant “land of abundance” or “bountiful.”

Explore and read the ORIGINAL Ixtlilxochitl text at this link of Archive.org. And see my direct translation of the text in this Google Document.


Introduction

The Historical Works of Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. Edited and annotated by Alfredo Chavero and published as a 2nd edition of the works of Jose Fernando Ramirez in 1892. The 3rd edition was published in 1965 with a preface by Lic. J. Ignacio Davila Garibi. This treatise consists of Volume 1, Chapter 1, of Chavero, translated into English and arranged into verses by Joseph L. Allen. Footnotes and commentary with maps are also added by Allen.

Summary Account

1. A history of the events in New Spain including many things regarding the knowledge and accomplishments of the Tultecas from the creation of the world to its destruction, and up to the arrival of the third inhabitants called Chichimecas, and on up to the arrival of the Spanish, taken from the original history of New Spain. 1

  • 1 Following the conquest in 1521 AD, Mexico was called New Spain. The name was entirely abandoned in the early part of the 19th Century when Mexico gained her independence from Spain. New Spain also extended into Central America and, as a result, portions of the history of Ixtlilxochitl may encompass all of Mesoamerica. The setting for his history, however, is the Valley of Mexico. Ixtlilxochitl wrote that all of the natives of this land descended from two lineages, the Tultecas and the Chichimecas. (Chavero 457)

First Account

2. The creation of the world and things pertaining thereto, including the origin of man. The omniscience of God and what He has revealed to the Tultecas.
3. The Tultecas had a knowledge of the creation of the world by Tloque Nahuaque, including the planets, mountains, animals, etc. They also knew about how God created a man and a woman from whence all mankind descended and multiplied. They recorded many other events that are not included in this account, inasmuch as the same events are recorded by other nations in the world. 2

  • 2 Moroni wrote, “And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews-Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time . . . .” (Ether 1:3–4)

4. The records indicate that the world was created in the year Ce Tecpatl, and the period of time from the creation to the flood is called Atonatiuh, which means the age of the sun of water because the world was destroyed by the flood. And it is recorded in the Tulteca history that this period or first world, as they called it, lasted for 1,716 years, after which time great lightning and storms from the heavens destroyed mankind, and everything in the earth was covered by water including the highest mountain called Caxtolmolictli, which is 15 cubits high.3

  • 3 Genesis states that “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” (Genesis 7:20) Whether Ixtlilxochitl was quoting from the native records or was influenced by the Biblical account is difficult to determine.

5. To this they recorded other events, such as how, after the flood, a few people who had escaped the destruction inside a Toptlipetlacalli, which interpreted means an enclosed ark, began again to multiply upon the earth.

6. After the earth began again to be populated, they built a Zacualli very high and strong, which means the very high tower, to protect themselves against a second destruction of the world. 4

  • 4 Aztec or Nahuatl words such as Caxtolmolictli, Atonatiuh, Toptlipetlacalli, and Zacualli are used extensively by Ixtlilxochitl. The word is normally followed by the interpretation or meaning of the word.

7. As time elapsed, their language became confounded, such that they did not understand one another; and they were scattered to all parts of the world.

8. The Tultecas, consisting of seven men and their wives, were able to understand one another, and they came to this land, having first crossed many lands and waters, living in caves and passing through great tribulations. Upon their arrival here, they discovered that it was a very good and fertile land.5

  • 5 It appears here that Ixtlilxochitl confuses the record-keeping Tultecas with the first civilization, whom he consistently calls Quinametzin or giants/tall ones (see verses 16, 25, 32, 37). The Quinametzin are probably the same people as the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon: “Which Jared came forth … from the great tower … the language of Jared . . . and his brother were not confounded … And they did land upon the shore of the promised land . . . .” (Ether 1:33, 35; 6:12)

9. It has been reported that they wandered for 104 years in different parts of the land until they settled in Huehue Tlapallan, their homeland. 6 This was in the year Ce Tecpatl and 520 years had elapsed since the flood, which represent five periods of time. 7

  • 6 Huehue Tlapallan is apparently the same place as Hueyapan, which is located in the Tuxtla Mountains of Veracruz, Mexico. Today, Huehue Tlapallan is the ancient Olmec site of Tres Zapotes, near the town of Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz. Excavation on the site began in 1939 under the direction of Dr. Matthew Stirling. The site dates to Jaredite time period.
  • 7 A period of time refers to the 52-year calendar cycle. In this case, however, Ixtlilxochitl apparently is calling two calendar cycles a period of time. Hence, five periods of time equal 520 years. The 104 years that they wandered represents one period of time or two 52-year calendar cycles.

10. And 1,715 years after the flood, the people were destroyed by a very great hurricane that carried away trees, rocks, houses, and large buildings. Many men and women escaped the storm by hiding in caves and other places where the great hurricane could not reach them.

  • 8 Today, hurricane winds are common to the coast of Veracruz, Mexico. They are called “nortes” or “northers.” The great hurricane destruction referred to by Ixtlilxochitl correlates to 1399 BC and may be the same destruction referred to in the days of Shiblom in the Book of Ether: there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth . . . .” (Ether 11:7)

11. After a short period of time, they left the caves to see how much damage had taken place in the land. They discovered that it was populated and covered with monkeys that had been driven by the winds, as they had been in darkness all this time without being able to see the sun or the moon.

12From this event, the saying came about that men had turned into monkeys. This period became known as the second period, or the second world, called Ehecatonatiuh, which means sun of wind. After the destruction, men began again to rebuild and to multiply upon the face of the land.

13In the year 8 Tochtli, 9 which was 1,347 years after the second calamity and 4,779 years since the creation of the world, it is recorded in their history that the sun stood still one natural day without moving, and a myth evolved wherein a mosquito saw the sun suspended in the air in a pensive mood and said, “Lord of the world, why are you standing still and why are you in such deep thought? Why are you not doing the work you are supposed to do? Do you want to destroy the world as before?” And the mosquito said many other things to the sun, but the sun still did not move. The mosquito then stung the sun on the leg, and seeing that his leg had been stung, the sun began again to move along its course as before.

  • 9 Anytime a number is in front of a name such as 8 Tochtli, the number refers to the day and the month and is correlated with a year. The date in which the sun stood stilt corresponds with 52 BC in the dates given by Ixtlilxochitl.

14It had been 158 years since the great hurricane and 4,964 years since the creation of the world, when there occurred another destruction in this land. 10   The people who lived in this corner of the land, which they now call New Spain, were giants [tall ones] called Quinametzin. The destruction consisted of a great earthquake that swallowed up and killed the people when the high volcanic mountains erupted. All of the people were destroyed and no one escaped; or if anyone did escape, it was those who were in the internal parts of the land. Many Tultecas, along with the Chichimecas, who were their neighbors, were killed. This was in the year Tecpatl, and they called this time period Tlacchitonatiuh, which means sun of the earth.

  • 10 (This destruction appears to be the same referred to in verse 16, which dates to the exact time the destruction occurred at the death of Christ. (3 Nephi 8:5) The dating here, however, is inconsistent.

15In the year Ce Tecpatl, which was 5,097 years since the creation of the world and 104 years after the total destruction of the giant Quinametzin, all of the land of this new age being at peace, a council was held of the leading scientific, astrological, and artistic scholars of the Tultecas in their capital city called Huehuetlapallan. Here they discussed many things, including the destruction and the calamities that had taken place, as well as the movements of the heavens since the creation of the world. They also discussed many other things; but because of the burning of the records, we do not know or understand any more than what is written here. Among other things, they added the leap year to the calendar to adjust it with the solar equinox; and they discussed many other interesting things as will be observed from their records and laws regarding the years, months, weeks, days, signs, and planets. These, along with other interesting things, were understood by them.

16It had been 166 years since they had adjusted their calendar with the equinox and 270 years since the giants [tall ones] had been destroyed when the sun and the moon eclipsed and the earth quaked and rocks were broken into pieces and many other signs that had been given came to pass, although man was not destroyed. This was in the year CE Calli, which, adjusted to our calendar, happened at the same time that Christ, our Lord, was crucified. And they say that this destruction occurred in the first few days of the year. 11

  • 11 The Book of Mormon records the same date for the great destruction at the time of the crucifixion of Christ: “And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such as one as never had been known in all the land.” (3 Nephi 8:5)

17These, and many other things, from the creation of the world up to our time, were understood by the Tultecas. As I have heretofore stated, according to what appears in their histories and paintings, they only made an abridgement, primarily of their origins; I mean all of the things that are found in their paintings and histories are just an abridgement compared to the records that the first archbishop of Mexico ordered to be burned. 12

  • 12 It is difficult to determine the exact meaning of the last few lines of verse 17, as the wording is very awkward. I suspect that Ixtlilxochitl is referring to the statement recorded in verse 3, which indicates that he is working only with an abridgement of the history of Mexico. As to the burning of the record, Ixtlilxochitl must be referring to Bishop Zumarraga, who was the first archbishop of Mexico, meaning Mexico City. Diego De Landa, the Bishop of the Yucatan, burned 24 records or codices at the village of Muna. Also, many times the Indians burned or hid their own records so the Spaniard could not infringe on the Indians’ sacred histories.

18.It had been 305 years since the time of the eclipsing of the sun and the moon, 438 years since the time of the destruction of the large Quinametzin, and 5,486 years since the creation of the world, when Chalcatzin and Tlacamihtzin, chief leaders and descendants of the Tulteca royal lineage, following many years of quiet peace, commenced to desire the usurpation of the kingdom, desiring to overthrow the legitimate successor. This was the year 13 Acatl.

19. They were exiled, and there began to be wars, and they cast them out of the City of Tlachicalzincan, in the region of Hueytlapallan, their homeland. And they were cast out with their families and allies, their men as well as their women, and a great number were exiled. They left in the year following CE Tecpatl, banished from all that land, as you will see in that which follows. And this transpired, according to our calculations, 449 years after the birth of our Christ the Lord. 13

  • 13 If the date of the exile of the Tultecas is 305 years from the 34 AD eclipse, then the above date would be 339 AD instead of 449 AD. If we attempt to correlate the record-keeping Tultecas with the record-keeping Nephites, the 339AD exile date is close to the exile of the Nephites from the Land Southward at 350 AD. (Mormon 2:28–29), the 449 AD date is closer to the 385 AD battle at Cumorah and the 421 AD closing date in the Book of Mormon.

The Native Races

20The ancestors of the natives of this land that is now called New Spain, according to the common and general opinion of everyone, as well as that which appears demonstrated in their paintings, came from the Occidental areas.

21And all who are now called Tultecas, Aculhuas, and Mexicanas, as well as the other people in this land, boast and affirms that they are descendants of the Chichimecas. The reason, according to their history, is that their first king, whose name was Chichimecatl, was the one who brought them to this new land where they settled. And it was be, as can be deduced, that came from the great Tartary, and was part of those who came from the division of Babel. This account is described in great detail in their history, and it tells how he, their king traveled with them crossing a large part of the world. arriving at this land, which they considered to be good, fertile, and abundant for human sustenance. As mentioned earlier, they populated the major part of the land, and more particularly that which falls along the northern part. And the Chichimecatl called the land by his own name.14

  • 14 Verse 21 is a repeat of verses 6-8, as it describes the first settlers who came from the great tower at the time of the confusion of the languages. The Book of Ether records that the first king, Jared, and those who traveled with him traveled in “that quarter where there never had man been”, and they traveled “many years” in the wilderness. They crossed the ocean in barges and landed “upon the shore of the promised land.” Ixtlilxochitl calls it a good fertile, and abundant land. (Ether 2:5; 3:3; 6:8-12) The Book of Ether does not tell which ocean the Jaredites crossed. However, from the above information, they apparently crossed from the Asiatic side, or the Pacific. Ixtlilxochitl said they came from the Tartary, which is the general area of China. Ixtlilxochitl said that the first inhabitants settled primarily along the northern part, which is the northern coast of Veracruz. This is the same area that is the heartland of the ancient people archaeologists call the Olmecs. Moroni records the account of the “ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country.” (Ether 1: 1; see map in Figure 11-1 ) Ixtlilxochitl refers to the first king as Chichimecatl, whereas earlier he calls the first settlers Quinametzin. Ixtlilxochitl was a descendant of the Chichimecatls, who may have traced their ancestry to the Quinametzin. This practice was common during the Classic Maya Era. The elitist person who is identified as Pacal, who was buried in the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque. traced his lineage back to the first settlers, as determined by the glyphs on the temple. The Chichimecatl may be the same people whom the Book of Mormon calls Lamanites. Both Pacal and Ixtlilxochitl may have been more closely associated with the Lamanite/Chichimecatl lineage.

22In each place where the Chichimecatl settled, whether it be a large city or a small village, it was their custom to name it according to the first king or leader who possessed the land. This same custom prevailed among the Tultecas. The general area was called the Land of Tollan, after the first king who was so named. Be that as it may, this custom was prevalent in naming other cities and villages throughout the land. 15

  • 15 This same custom is mentioned by Mormon wherein he writes, “Now it was the custom of the people of Nephi to call their lands, and their cities, and their villages, yea, even all their small villages after the name of him who first possessed them; and thus it was with the land of Ammonihah.” (Alma 8:7)

23Notwithstanding that some were called Tultecas, others Aculhuas, Tepanecas and Otomites, they all were proud to be of the lineage of the Chichimecas, because they all descended from them. However, it is true that there were divisions among the Chichimecas thei-nselves. And some were more civilized than others, such as the Tultecas. And others were more barbaric. such as the Otomites, and others like them. Those who are pure Chichimecas, whose kings were direct descendants of thc first king and founder Chichimecatl, were bloodthirsty men, warriors, and lovers of power, holding other nations in bondage. 16

  • 16 Regarding the 190 BC Lamanites, Mormon wrote. “They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers . . . .” And . . . “they were desirous to bring us [the Nephites] into bondage . . . .” (Mosiah 10: 12; 9:12)

24. Although one nation was inclined to righteousness and another nation was full of mischief idleness, being exceedingly haughty and proud and being warmongers, or although one nation was virtuous and another full of iniquity, both, as recorded in their history, came from the same lineage, the Chichimecas. And all are descended from the same forefathers; and as it has been said, they came from the Occidental [Western] areas. 17

  • 17 Apparently Ixtlilxochitl traces his lineage, through the Chichimeca lineage, all of the way back to the first settlers who came from the tower. The Book of Mormon may clear up this issue. Some of the 588-570 BC Lamanites, “the people who were now called Lamanites,” (2 Nephi 5:14) were in all probability descendants from the Jaredite Tower of Babel people. Hence, the Chichimeca in Ixtlilxochitl’s history may be the same as the Lamanites in Book of Mormon history, and yet many would have descended from the original Jaredite or Quinametzin king.

25. In this land called New Spain [Mexico], there were giants [tall ones], as demonstrated by their bones that have been discovered in many areas. The ancient Tulteca record keepers called them Quinametzin. They became acquainted with them and had many wars and contentions with them, and in particular in all of the land that is now called New Spain. They [the Quinametzin] were destroyed, and their civilization came to an end as a result of great calamities and punishments from heaven for some grave sins that they had committed. 18

  • 18 When Mosiah fled to the Land of Zarahemla about 200 BC and encountered the people of Zarahemla, they informed him that they had “had many wars and contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time.” (Omni 1: 17) The Mulekites had landed in the land of the Jaredites approximately 400 years prior to the uniting of the Nephites and the people of Zarahemla. (Alma 22:30; Omni 1: 19) An expedition dating to 121 BC, sent out by Limhi in search of the Land of Zarahemla, discovered the Jaredite ruins, including bones of men and breastplates that were large. (Mosiah 8:8) The above statement of Ixtlilxochitl may have reference to these accounts. This possibility suggests that the Quinametzin, who were large people, were the same people known as the Jaredites.

26It is the opinion of some of these ancient historians that these giants [tall ones] descended from the same Chichimecas mentioned earlier, and they say that in these northern lands, where the ancient Chichimeca Empire was located that there are villages where there are still men living who are over thirty hands tall. And it is of no wonder, that even our own Spaniards have not yet entered into the interior of the lands, but have only traveled along the coastal areas such as the lands of the Chicoranos and the Duharezases, and they have found men in these parts who are eleven and twelve hands in height, and have been told that there are others even taller. 19 (See Figure 11 -2.)

  • 19 One hand is considered equivalent to 4 inches, in which cases the extremes of the above measurements are 4 feet to 10 feet. From an archaeological point of view, the Otmec were large people–but not necessarily tall people. (See Figure 11-2.) Many scholars brush off the comment about giants as being Indian superstitions, saying that the large bones are remains of elephants. Too much consistency is evident, however, to ignore the idea of a large race of people. Although a discrepancy exists between 30 hands and 11 or 12 hands tall, the facts that the Book of Mormon Jaredites, the archaeological Olmecs, and the Quinametzin of Ixtlilxochitl are all large people and that they all lived in the Land Northward, the northern country, or the northern lands lend credibility to the above statements. The northern lands of both the Olmecs and Ixtlilxochitl are the area along the Gulf of Mexico (or Texas, New Mexico, etc?). This area appears to be the same area as the Land Northward in Jaredite history.

27. The greatest destruction that occurred among the Quinametzin was in the year and date that the natives call CE Toxtli, signifying the date 1 Rabbit, 299 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, and with them ended the third age, which was called Ecatonatiuh, because of the great winds and earthquakes. And almost everyone was destroyed. 20

  • 20 The above date is difficult to reconcile and may reflect an error in transcribing. This destruction appears to be referring to the second period because of the context in which it is written. Four basic ages or periods of destruction are constantly referred to by Ixtlilxochitl and are also recorded by other early Mexican writers. The Aztec calendar stone also reflects four periods of destruction. The first period relates to the flood and appears to date to 3114 BC. The second is the great hurricane, which has been dated to 1399 BC in this account as outlined in verse 10. The third age correlates to the death of Christ in 34 AD and consisted of great earthquakes and storms. The fourth age usually refers to the time when the world will be destroyed by fire and is still in the future.

Brief Account

28. The Tultecas were the second civilization in this land after the destruction of the giants [tall ones] . . ., and they had a knowledge of the creation of the world and of how the world had been destroyed by the flood; and many other things are recorded in their history and paintings.

29. . . . the word Tulteca means men of the arts and sciences, because those of this nation were great artisans, as you can see today in many parts, and especially in the ruins of buildings, such as Teotihuacan, Tula, and Cholula.

Chichimeca History

30. The most serious authors and historians of the ancient pagans included Quetzalcoatl, who is considered to be the first. Some of the modem pagans include Nezahualcoyotzin, king of Texcuco, and the two infants of Mexico, Itzocatzin and Xiuhcozcatzin, sons of King Huitzilihuitzin. And there are many others I could mention if it were necessary. 21

  • 21 The name Quetzalcoatl is prominent in the ancient histories of Mexico. The origin of the name dates back to the advent of Christ. Others were given the name of Quetzalcoatl, including a 10th Century AD Toltec leader. The 16th-Century Catholic priests made serious attempts to obliterate the name and power of Quetzalcoatl from the minds of the people. (See Chapter 12, “Fray Bernardino de Sahagun.”)

31. It is declared through their histories about the god Teotloquenahuaque, Tlachihualcipal Nemoanulhuicahua Tlaltipacque, which, according to the correct interpretation, means the universal god of all things, creator of them and in whose will lives all creatures, lord of the heaven and of the earth, etc. After having created all things, he created the first parents of men, from whence came forth all others; and the dwelling place and habitation that he gave them was the world.

32. It is said that the world had four ages. The first, which was from the beginning, was called Atonatiuh, which means sun of water, signifying that the world was terminated by a flood. The second, called Tlachitonatiuh, means sun of earth, because the world came to an end by great earthquakes, in such a manner that almost all of mankind was destroyed. This age or time occurred during the time of the giants [tall ones], who were called Quinametintzoculihicxime.

33. The third age, Ecatonatiuh, means sun of air, because this period came to an end by winds that were so strong that they uprooted all of the buildings and trees and even broke the rocks in pieces; and the majority of mankind perished. And because those who escaped this calamity found a large number of monkeys that the wind must have brought from other parts, the survivors said man must have been changed into monkeys. 22

  • 22 Verse 33 apparently is the same destruction referred to in verses 10-12, in which case it is the second age or period of time instead of the third. The confusion may lie in the name of Ecatonatiuah, which is either transcribed wrong or which Ixtlilxochitl confuses with Ehecatonatiuh. Sometime after the great destruction at the time of Christ, as recorded in some of the traditions, the name of Ehecatl, which means wind, became part of the title of Quetzalcoatl-that is, Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl.

34Those who possessed this new world in this third age were the Ulmecas and Xicalancas; and according to what is found in their histories, they came in ships or boats from the east to the land of Potonchan, and from there they began to populate the land. 23

  • 23 Potonchan is near the present-day City of Veracruz, Mexico. It is the same place where the Spanish conquerors landed in the 16th Century AD. Disagreement exists among LDS writers as to whether the above-mentioned people who landed at Potonchan were the Jaredites or the Mulekites. LDS writers commonly agree that the Mulekites came from the east across the Atlantic in the 5th Century BC and landed among the Jaredites in the Land Northward, or the Gulf of Mexico. (Alma 22:30; Palmer 60) The Mulekite time period correlates to the third age. (See Figure 11-3.)

35. On the banks of the Atoyac River, which is the one that passes between Puebla and Cholula, there were found some of the giants [tall ones] who had escaped the destruction and extermination of the second age. Taking advantage of their size and strength, they oppressed and enslaved their new neighbors.

36The principal leaders of the new settlers determined to liberate themselves, and the means they employed were to invite the old settlers to a very solemn feast. After the old settlers became full and intoxicated, they were killed and destroyed with their own weapons, with which feat the new settlers remained free and exempt from bondage, and this increased the domain and command of the Xicalancas and Ulmecas. 24

  • 24 The largest-based pyramid in the world is Cholula (verse 35). It covers over 40 acres of ground and dates to the Preclassic Era (200 BC — about the time the Nephites moved from the City of Nephi to Zerahemla). It was covered in a thin ash layer around the time of Christ and has subsequently been rebuilt/added to several times. A Catholic church sits peacefully on top of the pyramid today. (See Figure 11-4.) The State of Puebla borders the State of Veracruz. This account is strangely similar to a 121 BC account wherein a branch of the Nephites escaped from Lamanite bondage after getting the Lamanite guards drunk. (Mosiah 22:3–13)

37. The people were living in a time of great prosperity, when there arrived in this land a man whom they called Quetzalcoatl. Others called him Hueman because of his great virtues. He was considered just, saintly, and good, teaching them by deeds and words the road to virtue. He instructed them to refrain from vices and not to sin, and he gave them laws and sane doctrine. He told them to constrain their appetites and to be honest, and he instituted the law of the fast.

38. And [He was] the first to be worshiped and to be placed in authority, and for that reason [He] is called Quiauhtzteotlchicahualizteotl and Tonaceaquahuitl, which means god of the rains and of health and tree of sustenance or of life. 25

  • 25 The Spanish translation at the beginning of verse 38 states: “el primero que adoro y coloco la cruz.” (literally: the first who I adore & placed the cross). I have translated it as referring to Quetzalcoatl inasmuch as that is consistent with the context of the verses preceding and following the statement. I have translated “coloco la cruz” as “placed in authority.” Quetzalcoatl has been given many names, including the two above. The “tree-of-life” motif is associated with Christ and is prevalent throughout Mesoamerica. Quetzalcoatl is afforded the prominent position of all of the gods of Mesoamerica. The original Quetzalcoatl is considered by most Latter-day Saint writers to be the same person as Jesus Christ. (See Chapter 14, “The White God Quetzalcoatl.”

39. After he [Quetzalcoatl] had preached the above mentioned to all of the other Ulmeca and Xicalanca cities, and especially in the City of Cholula, where he spent a great deal of time, and seeing the small amount of fruit that resulted from his doctrine, he returned to the same place from whence he had come, which was to the east, disappearing at Coatzacoalco. 26

  • 26. Coatzacoalco(s) (Co-ought-saw-co-all-cos) has grown into a modem oil refinery city located in the State of Veracruz near the border of the State of Tabasco. The Coatzacoalcos River empties into the Gulf of Mexico at the top of the gulf by the City of Coatzacoalcos. The Aztec meaning of the word Coatzacoalcos is “the foundation of the religion of the feathered serpent.” Cholula is a city just over the mountain from Mexico City and is the original city of Zarahemla in our continental model. (3 Nephi 11: 1; see Figure 11-5)

40. And at the time of his farewell from these people, he told them of times to come. He said that in the year that would be called CE Acatl, he would return and then his doctrine would be accepted, and his children would be lords and heirs of the earth. He also told them that they and their descendants would pass through great calamities and persecutions. He prophesied of many other things that would surely come to pass.

41. Quetzalcoatl, by literal interpretation, means serpent of the precious feathers, with an allegoric meaning of, man of exceeding great wisdom. And Huemac (Hueman), some say, was the name given to him because his hands were printed, or stamped, on a rock, like a very fine wax, as testimony that what he prophesied would come to pass. Others say that (Hueman) means, he with the great or powerful hand.

42. A few days after he left, a great destruction and devastation took place, which is referred to as the third period of the world. At that time, the great building and tower of Cholula, which was so famous and marvelous, was destroyed. It was like a second tower of Babel that these people had built, with virtually the same idea in mind. It was destroyed by the wind. 27

  • 27. This “3rd period” destruction appears to be the same as those mentioned in verses 14 and 16. Verse 16 gives the same date as the date recorded in the Book of Mormon-that is, the first month of the 34th year. (3 Nephi 8:5) Verse 42 says that the destruction took place a few days after Quetzalcoatl left. It seems quite likely that this is confustion in the translation or myth and it should instead read, “at the time of his death.” Especially in light of verse 43 which records the destruction as occurring some years after the birth of Christ.

43. And later, those who escaped at the end of the third age, in place of the ruins, the people built a temple to Quetzalcoatl, whom they named the god of wind, because it was destroyed by the wind. They understood that this calamity was sent by his hand. And they called it CE Acatl, which was the name of the year of his coming. According to the history referred to, and from the records, the foregoing took place a few years after the birth of Christ our Lord.

 44.After this age had passed, beginning at this time, entered the fourth age called Tletonatiuh, which means, sun of fire, because it is said that this fourth and last age will end by fire.

45. Quetzalcoatl was a man of comely appearance and serious disposition. His countenance was white, and he wore a beard. His manner of dress consisted of a long, flowing robe. 28

  • 28. This verse concludes the first chapter, or Sumaria Relacion, as edited by Alfredo Chavero. The historical era covered in this first chapter was from the flood called the first age, and terminates with a great storm that occurred around the time of Christ, called the third age, or from approximately 3114 BC to ~34 AD. It is interesting that the Aztec legends prophesy that the current age will end by “fire” just as the Book of Revelation and many other Middle Eastern traditions. The second chapter of Chavero provides us with a beginning date of 466 AD, with intermittent statements dating back to the 3rd Century AD.

HISTORIA CHICHIMECA

46. Banished from their homeland, the Tultecas undertook their journey along the coast. Traveling through the country, they arrived at California by the sea, which they called Hueytlapallan, which today is called Cortez, which name was given because of its reddish [colorado] color. The date of their arrival was in the year CE Tecpatl, which corresponds to 387 AD. 29

  • 29. The similarity between what’s described here and the Book of Mormon is remarkable. The dispersion of the Tultecas at 387 AD correlates with the same time period in which the Nephites were dispersed from their homeland. The Nephite Lamanite battle at Cumorah was in the year 385 AD in New England. This description of “Journeying along the coast” from Cholula and the Mexican Highland up the sea of Cortez to the Colorado (red/co) river in order to arrive at the legendary city of Tollan (called Tollantzionco in the next verse) matches precisely with our model of the final flight from the Mexican Highland to the land of Jordan (Southwest US, where Mormon/Moroni are from) and also where the “Nephites lost their power” (as Joseph Smith is quoted as saying).

47. Following along the coast of Xalixco (Jalisco) and all along the south, leaving from the port of Huatulco 30 and traveling through diverse lands, they arrived at the province of Tochtepec, which is located along the sea north. And after walking and exploring, they settled in the Tolantzinco, leaving colonies in the places where they made Great Houses (hecieron mansion).

  • 30. Huatulco is in Southern Oaxaca and in our model this area is directly seaward from the Land/city of Nephi (Monte Alban, Oaxaca) and would have been their principle sea port. It is a short distance south from that which we proposed Hagoth launched his ships to go into the Land Northward (The Rio Balsas Delta). Xalisco is modern Jalisco in what is the state where Guadalajara is located, which is our northwestern Land bountiful and matching with the description above would be the precise location for the final flight from the Mexican Highland to the land of Jordan (Southwest US) where the “Nephites lost their power”. These writings of Ixtlilxochitl hint at a 400 AD dispersion of the Nephites into Northern Mexico and Southern United States.

48. The Tultecas were the third settlers of this land, counting the giants [tall ones] as the first, with the second being the Ulmecas (olmecs) and Xicalancas. While in Tolantzinco (Tollan?) they counted one hundred and four years of having left their homeland. The names of the seven leaders/chieftains who led them, and among whom the government took turns, were ‘: 1- Tlacomíhua that others call Ácatl: 2- Chalchiuhmatzin: 3- Ahuecatl: 4- Cóatzon: 5- Tiuhcoatl: 6- Tlapalhuitz: 7- Huitz: whom later populated the city of Tollan, head of the monarchy. Seven years after it was founded, they elected king and supreme lord, the first being Chalchiuhmatzin Chalchiuhtlatanac which was in the year Chicome Acatl and in our dates, 510 AD. (Chavero 1965:28)

31 This is the end of the end of Second Relacion. Third Relacion begins with the founding of the legendary city of Tula by the Toltecs (prosperous and abundant empire–a city “that was the head of its kingdoms and lordships for many years”). Combining the mythology of the story with what we know of the archaeology seems to paint a believable narrative suggesting that perhaps after the Nephite destruction, some of the treasonous Nephite defectors, combined with the Lamanite army returned to Tula (a little North of Teotihuacán and Mexico City) and founded the final Toltec empire the immediate precursor to the Aztec.

The Anthon Transcript and Caractors Document

When I get some time I am going to create a one page graphic that summarizes Jerry Grover’s translation of the Caractors document. It’s a convincing piece of scholarship, and combined with Ixtlilxochitl’s writings it serves as solid a base as possible to prove that 1. There were ancient plates of some which Joseph translated. 2. That the plates contained some type of ancient script which appears to be a combination of Egyptian hieratic combined with Egyptian demotic, and Mesoamerican influences. 3. That the script can be translated using modern dictionaries to those ancient languages, and indeed summarizes aspects of the Book of Mormon narrative. 4. That the characters are well beyond the ability of ANY early 19th century scholar (or anyone before the invention of the internet for that matter).

The document needs to be put into photoshop with each line separated, and EACH character in a color coded square with a line to a picture of it in a dictionary and another line to the translated word.

Oh ye fair ones: The implications of racism and genocide on Book of Mormon DNA evidence

Given recent DNA research of places like Britain, a scarcity of Middle Eastern (Lehite) DNA in Native American populations is exactly what might be expected from the Book of Mormon narrative. With only a handful of colonizing Middle Eastern families, the genetic fingerprint was quickly absorbed into the native population JUST as recent DNA evidence is showing happened to the Roman colonizers of Britain. Furthermore, the book’s narrative explains how racism, and genocide based on racism, destroyed the remnants of the small group of more racially pure Nephite elite around 400AD.

The Book of Mormon goes to great lengths to suggest that much like the Jews of Ezra, the Nephite elite took pride in their own racial purity– holding a racist belief system to minimize mixing with the native population. Whereas the text suggests that the ‘Lamanites’ and Mulekites immediately began to fully mix with the indigenous population. (with the Nephites superstitiously labeling the darker offspring of the Mestizo Lamanites as ‘cursed’) After nearly 1000 years of history, this system of racial segregation then came back to haunt the Nephites as systemic racism (this time in the other direction) obviously served as the basis for the final genocidal war, wherein the ‘fair’ (ie. more white/less mixed) Nephite elite were hunted down and annihilated by the darker inhabitants of the continent— largely eradicating the remaining population of undiluted Israelite DNA from the continent.

To understand why substantial DNA evidence of Israelite colonization of the Americas has not been found, one need not look any farther than the virtual absence of Roman DNA in Great Britain. This interesting phenomena is well documented (see here for instance). Despite both abundant archaeological evidence and overwhelming historical evidence of centuries of regional domination, very little evidence of Roman DNA exists from DNA studies of modern Britain peoples. This genetic absorption has been explained by a process known as genetic drift, where although significant, Roman populations were simply not great enough to leave long-term markers compared to the overwhelmingly larger populations of Native Britons. This same phenomena, would of course be expected among Book of Mormon peoples, given that the initial Middle Eastern colonialists mentioned in the record were composed of only a few initial families.

[Also like Britain’s Roman DNA problem, the timing of the introduction of genetic traits which link these colonizing groups is often hard to prove. Just one example is the recent discovery of the breast cancer causing Ashkenazi mutation found in Southwestern Native American groups linking them to Old World Jewish groups. (See here and here for instance.) However, because of prevailing worldviews of “first contact”, these genetic similarities are usually dismissed as being introduced into Native populations, post conquest by Sephardic Jewish blood within Spanish colonizers.]

For over a hundred years, many LDS authors and scholars held the view that the Lamanites were the “principal ancestors of the American Indians”. This phrase has been taken out of the introduction to modern printings of the Book of Mormon for the simple reason that a careful reading of the Book does not support it! It is based on the rather unbelievable idea that the continent was not already populated by many indigenous people when Book of Mormon people arrived. Or that subsequent migrations not mentioned in the Book of Mormon did not occur.

Of course, this isn’t to say the Book of Mormon happened in a tiny corner or that it is not an account of the most significant cultures and happenings of the North American continent. Indeed our model has the Nephites and Lamanites being the ruling class of some of the greatest cultures the continent has seen. With the Nephites founding the Zapotec Culture, and then combining with the Mulekites to found the Teotihuacan empire. Followed by a Toltec, Anasazi and Cahokia (Hopewell) takeover as they slowly fled to their destruction in New England’s Cumorah.

However, much like the very small number of initial Spanish colonizers in Mexico made massive social changes despite their small numbers, it seems most likely the same effect occurred among Book of Mormon peoples (except with a far smaller number of Colonizers). Likewise it seems to me that the Book of Mormon works to set up a background of Israeli beliefs in racial purity in order to explain how these beliefs led to systemic racism and eventual retaliatory racism and ethic cleansing and genocide which wiped out the remaining groups of somewhat racially pure Middle Eastern DNA.

I believe this is why a background to these racist beliefs was explicitly given in the channeling of the Pearl of Great Price.

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham…
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom… with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

The racist idea that those of African descent were from some sort of ‘cursed’ lineage which excluded them from Middle Eastern priesthoods, would not have been exclusive to these supposed Israelites. Some Greek and Persian records also seemingly preserve some racism in those cultures toward those of a darker skin. A 9th century Persian text is supposedly quoting more ancient Avestan myth in describing the ancient racist Persian view of how the black (arab?) race came to be.

“During his sovereignty, Az i Dahak (a male demon) let loose a dew on a young girl and let loose a young man on a parig (female demon), and they (the female spirits) had sex with the visible image of the male (counterparts of each other); through this new way of the action the Black people appeared.” (9th Century, the Bundahishn Chapter XIVB quoting Avesta ‘creation of the origins’, Bd XIVb.7 Greater Bundahishn)

It’s not a stretch to see how Nephi (or a later author transcribing Nephi) in the Book of Mormon found an explanation for the darker skinned natives they encountered in the America’s as “cursed Lamanites”.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon [the Lamanites], yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done. (2 Ne 5:21–23)

This belief appears to have succeeded in creating a culture of ethnic isolation, independence and purity but also seems to have unintentionally promoted an attitude of systemic racism toward the Lamanites. Only 50 years or so after Nephi, Jacob begins to preach against a racist attitude that had obviously developed.

9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day. (Jacob (3:9-10)

This attitude persisted throughout Book of Mormon times, especially among the ruling class, as we continually see both religious and political leaders using their pure “Nephite” Lehite or Mulekite genealogy as a way to legitimize themselves.

20 I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem…

13 Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi. (Mormon 8:13)

3 And it came to pass that on the morrow they started to go up, having with them one Ammon, he being a strong and mighty man, and a descendant of Zarahemla; and he was also their leader. (Mosiah 7:3)

2 But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. (Mosiah 17:2)

23 I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem. (Alma 54:23)

15 …And they were led by a man whose name was Coriantumr; and he was a descendant of Zarahemla; (Hel 1:15)

With the ruling class using race and pedigree in such a manner, its easy to see how that same system of social stratification and segregation set the stage for the ethnic wars which destroyed the Nephites. Although Christ’s visit in the Book of Mormon seems to have temporarily put an end to racial and ethnic tension, ending the practice of differentiation of people’s by “ites” (4 Ne 1:17), after a mere 80 years the darket skinned Lamanites, this time seem to reignite the ethnic fuels of racism as they leave the church and “take upon themselves the name of Lamanites” (4 Ne 1:20). This is followed a little more than a hundred years later by the church taking upon themselves the name of “Nephites” as well as a restoration of all seven of the original ethnic classes and a slow descent into full cultural depravity as all groups “become exceedingly wicked one like unto another.” (4 Ne 1:37–38,45)

The fact that skin color and race becomes a dividing issue between the Nephites and the Lamanites, sometime before the final war, is made clear not only by Mormon and Moroni’s fixation on being “pure descendants of Nephi” (A fact undoubtedly part of why this young general was recruited from the Land Northward, even at such a young age, to lead the armies of the Nephites). But also by Mormon’s Lament after the destruction of “his” people. Mormon makes it obvious that the Nephites do not share his values or religious obedience. Indeed they had become as wicked as the Lamanites in every respect (ref). But they did apparently largely share his ethnicity, as he laments after their genocide,

17 O ye fair [white] ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
18 Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.
19 O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

Although the word “fair” is also used in the Book of Mormon to describe beauty, there is little doubt that in this context, it is being utilized in its primary definition of “white” or “not dark” (see Webster’s definition or online encyclopedia: As in fair skinned or fair hair).

This definition equating “fair” with light or white color is also used elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. Not only in scriptures already mentioned (2 Ne 5:21–23), but in both 1 Ne 11:13, 1 Ne 13: 15 and Mormon 9:6

13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

We see in these verses that much like many European authors, Book of Mormon authors naively turned light skin color into a synonym for moral purity and physical beauty.

However, the obvious message of the Book of Mormon is not to promote the same subtle racist undertones in modern belief, but instead to learn from the lessons wherein ancient racism led to the complete genocide of a colonial people. If there is one lesson to be learned from the Book of Mormon, it is that the modern white Christian Colonial “Gentiles” who were to colonize the American continent in our Latter-days need to learn from the mistakes of ancient Israelite colonist, and eradicate racism from our culture, before the “mixture of the seed of the Lamanites” goes forth like a “lion among the beasts of the forest, who if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth to pieces where none can deliver”.

5 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—

16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. (3 Nephi 20:15–16)

Again the entire point of the Book of Mormon and scripture in general is to learn from the mistakes of past generations. Scripture compiles the history and wisdom of the ages and asks us to use that wisdom to make better life choices. Listen to some of the last words of advice given by the prophet/historian Moroni in the Book of Mormon.

31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been. (Mormon 9:31)

The Book of Mormon teaches against racism

It’s important to understand how fully the gospel message teaches against racism and all types of inequality. From Paul’s sermon against gender bias and economic inequality in Galatians 3:28, to Nephi’s sermon in 2 Nephi 26:33, to Christ’s many sermons against inequality in the Gospels and 3 Nephi, the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches AGAINST racism.

…for [god] doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
2 Nephi 26:33

It is unfortunate that many leaders of Mormonism and Christianity in general have weaponized the words of scripture, and instead of using them as a guide of how to “be more wise than [the ancients] have been” (Mormon 9:31). They have used them as a justification of how to fall into the same errors of the ancients. Instead of realizing that Jesus ended the Mosaic practices of priesthood acclivity and opened the door of the Gospel Covenant to ALL peoples and races, they use the Joseph’s Channeling of the Pearl of Great Price (something meant to help us understand the ancient mindsets) to justify defying Christ’s words and excluding blacks & women from the priesthood. (see my article, The priesthood of God and its…) Instead of seeing the follies of dynastic Polygamy as it was practiced by King David and other erroring leaders of the Old Testament, they use these scriptures to Justify its dynastic institutionalization (see my article Disavow Polytamy and …)

Its time to stop these justifications. Its time to repent of past practices and move ahead in equality, love and fairness in all aspects of the Gospel program.

To Finish.

  • The gospel’s teaching AGAINST racism.
  • -Jews were of Shem, a mix of Japheth and ham. (Book of Jubilee makes it clear that ham was Africa, Japheth was north countries.
  • -Abram was the patriarch UNTO ham.
  • -Hagar was very likely black. And we can assume some of Jacob’s wives were as well.
  • -Joseph took a wife of the Egyptians, making both Ephraim and Manassah half Egyptian.
  • -Moses married a Black Cushite (Ethiopian) woman (Numbers 12:1)
  • Israel is and ALWAYS HAS BEEN multi-cultural. So why has it often espoused racism? Such is the nature of mankind.

Book of Mormon Nephite Destruction Outline (narrow neck exodus)

Summary of cities:
Jordan (northmost city. part of line of cities defending north country)
Boaz (gets rest of records)

—-

Teancum (by seashore & desolation)
Desolation (dead cast into sea)
Shem (fortified)
Jashon (gets records)
Joshua (west by seashore)

David, Land of
Angola (fortified city, first retreat after Z.)
Zarahemla (war starts)

.
– 321 AD Moroni gets instructions to go to hill Shim in the Land Antum to get records (Mormon 1:3)

-Moroni “carried by his father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla”. (Mormon 1:7)

-War begins “in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon”. (first battle, also 321 AD)  Mormon 1:10

-A number of battles fought, then a truce for four to seven years.

-Lamanites attack again, Nephites retreat “toward the north counties” 2:3

-Moroni’s army take and fortify Angola “with their might”, but “notwithstanding their fortifications”, the city is taken.2:4

-They are “also” driven out of the land David. (unsure if Angola was in the land David or if its the next province to the north) 2:5

-They gather to Joshua which is “west by the seashore”. Mormon 2:6-8  A battle with a force of 40,000 each is fought here… Lamanites retreat.

-345AD. Lamanites attack again, Nephites retreat to city of Jashon, “near the land [Antum] where Ammaron had deposited the records”. Moroni gets just the plates of Nephi, and leaves the remainder “where they are”. (Mormon 2:17)

-Nephites driven “northward to the land which was called Shem”. 2:20   Nephites fortify the city and are attacked in 346AD, but win a battle with 30k to 50k. 2:25

-In 350AD a treaty is made. Lamanites “ 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

-For 10 years, Nephites fortify and prepare. In 360AD Mormon causes his “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. 7 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us”. Nephites beat them. They come again the next year. They beat them a third time. “and their dead were cast into the sea.” Mormon 3:5–8

Desolation is by the sea (since dead are thrown in the sea there), by the ‘Narrow Pass’

-in 363AD, the Nephites go on the offensive, up out of desolation, but are driven back to “the land of Desolation” (not city). Then Lamanites attack, and take the city of desolation “slaying many and taking many prisoners”. Mormon 4:2

-”And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation.”

Teancum is also somewhat near the sea.

-364AD, Lamanites come against Teancum, and are repulsed, so Nephites follow them and retake Desolation. 4:8

Desolation and Teancum are quite close to each other (With absolutely NO indication that they are on opposite sides of the Narrow Neck. — All this seems to occur on the West sea)

-In 366AD Lamanites attack and take Desolation, and then Teancum (and sacrifice the inhabitants both women and children.)  Nephites are so angry about the loss of their families they retake the cities and drive the Lamanites out of the land. Then another 10 year pause in fighting (Mormon 4:16)

-In 375AD, the Lamanites come down to desolation with a numberless host.

The Lamanite attack base is UP from desolation and Teancum. (3:7, 4:17-19 Lamanites come down to desolation. V.1-4 Nephites go up out of desolation to battle Nephites. This makes a northern neck or cerro trinchera location problematic for desolation and the narrow neck. Perhaps likewise for Mazatlan…Nayarit and Amapa seem more likely.)

-Nephites flea to Boaz and fight two battles. On second attack they flea and women and children are sacrificed again. Nephites flea and “all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon 4:22)

-”Seeing the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land”, Mormon goes to the hill Shim and takes up ALL the records. Mormon 4:23

Boaz is still relatively close to all the preceding cities? (Antum, Jashon, Desolation). V.10-23 really gives that impression. It’s like they don’t go far from Desolation to Boaz… but once boaz is taken they “overthrow the land” and everyone flees are far way to Jordan. (Jordan could now be the southwest, since this are flees and is burned”.

-in 379AD Nephites flee to Jordan, and repulse a Lamanite attack. 3:4  They maintain a line of stronghold cities “that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.” (Mormon 5:4)

Jordan is likely in the Southwest, one of a line of cities defending the land northward.

-in 384 AD Mormon sends a letter to Lamanites requesting to gather to the land of Cumorah “in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains;”  People finish gathering in 384 AD  (Mormon 6:2,5–6)

-401 to 421 Moroni finishes writing the rest of the book and hides it up.

Some thoughts on dates in the final retreat and battle:

Note that the Jewish Metonic cycle adds seven intercalary years (leap year) every 19 years.  So one roughly every 2.7 years.  In strangely similar to the prodigious use of 18,19 & 20 in the Mayan Calendar.  I suspect the Baha’i calendar may be closer to the way the ancient Mesoamerican and ancient Israelites did it, than the current calender’s.

If this is true… It may be that the Nephites after Christ’s time counted a “prophetic year” (or one of their calendars) as roughly every 2.7 – 3 true sidereal years.  Which is a possible explanation for the discrepancy between Carbon dates for cultural collapses and BOM dates.  So 321 AD would be coincide with 963ish AD and 380 AD would coincide with 1140ish AD. Making both Anasazi and Cahokia dates work. Probably more likely though, that either C14 dates are skewed or the records the authors were working off of, were wrong or misunderstood.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonic_cycle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_calendar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_calendar#Haab’

Book of Mormon and the Seer Stone

Arguments For and Against the Authenticity of the Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon and the Seer Stone

Book of Mormon and the Seer Stone

Neutral Arguments

-the arguments concerning animal anachronisms and metal anachronisms aren’t very good in my opinion.  They really could go either way. On one hand they seem anachronistic because you might think Joseph “didn’t know” that there weren’t horses or cows or swords in ancient America. On the other hand, many of the supposed anachronism ARE things a 17th century author likely would have known about ancient America, and yet they put them in there anyway–only to be later proven correct (copper, ziff, swords, early transoceanic travel, migration from the pacific coast, etc). Either way, the majority of these can mostly be explained by a loose translation. Overall the anachronism arguments seem to cancel each other out and be a neutral proof–unconvincing either for or against authenticity.


Crappy Arguments

-the idea that the Book was written so fast is proof of its truthfulness is a horrible argument. Many channeled texts which Mormon’s would have issue with, were written with incredible speed. Oahspe (supposedly channeled from light beings in 1850) is a great example. Over 1000  pages channeled in a number of weeks. The Urantia Bible and the writings of other people like Ellen White are other great examples. The aquarian gospel of Jesus Christ and many other exist as well. People who use this argument are unfamiliar with channeled literature.


Arguments Against

-CES letter issues such as word-for-word King James Bible language, and the mistakes in the King James Isaiah being propagated in the Book of Mormon are a pretty solid argument against authenticity—  There is little doubt the B.O.M. Isaiah chapters were copied straight from the King James, with only a couple changes made by the “translator as he went”. The chances of these being the originals are slim–if they were originals we would expect significant differences. The Dead Sea Scrolls version of Isaiah contains 2600 textual variants when compared with the Masoretic codex.[2]  We would expect at least as many, if not more in the Book of Mormon were it truly a 600BC text. The only viable explanation I can fathom is that the B.O.M. is an incredibly “loose” translation, where Joseph was required to come up with most of the words himself, getting only ideas psychically–with the exception of names and places which had to be spelled out in a very time consuming and difficult channeling process. Thus for simplicity and brevity, the Spiritual channels, passing the information to Joseph pulled the KJV text out of his mind (because Joseph had read it previously, and it existed in his sub-conscious). Note: The channeled work, The Law of One explains in more detail how this channeling works, and tediously “spells out” numbers.

-See Dan Vogel’s stuff on anti-universalism in the B.O.M.  The similarity in phraseology to other literature in Joseph’s day, makes it seem an awful lot like a product of his times.  At the same time however, is seems unlikely that Joseph would have been reading very much of the theological literature of his day… let alone be able to reproduce it.  Could this be evidence of some kind of ‘group consciousness’ aspect of channeling?  At any rate, the anit-universalism and Christology do NOT seem like anything that would have existed in an ancient text.  Could the Book of Mormon (like many channelings) be a mixture of things in Joseph’s mind, with things in the cultural ‘group mind’ of New England mixed perhaps with a true true history of ancient America? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm7t7pNUWAM   (Note the similarities in Oahspe’s channeled account of ancient America, or the Law of One’s channeled accounts of the past, and the Book of Mormons.)

-The New Testament allusions in the Book of Mormon are incredibly suspect. Whether it be Moroni’s sermon on charity in Mor. 7:x, which shares exact phraseology with Paul, or whether it be the shared Pauline phraseology concerning “dead works” and baptism in Moroni 3-6.  There is a lot of the New Testament in the Book of Mormon.  These references seem to be obviously influenced by someone who had read the New Testament and was brought up in Anglo-Christian culture.  And they flow just like the Old Testament allusions. Really what are the chances that was written by chance in 400 AD Mesoamerica?  Find something in India or China like that… very unlikely. Frankly, the text reads incredibly like many of the Spanish Codices, where true historical mexican histories and myth are being translated and transcribed into sixteenth century european Christianized language, format & culture.  Of course, much of this could be explained with a ‘loose translation’, where original concepts were translated into 19 century biblical wording, phrases and organization.

-Verses that predict the three witnesses, and Anthon translation are crazy suspect.  Why would someone in 500 BC prophesy about that?  Its so inconsequential and asinine, it just fits the King James reading of Isaiah, why even put it in there?  I guess its possible, but seems lamely unprobable.  These are too improbable that the only redeeming explanation of these is that the entire 116 lost pages section (Ether, 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi) were re-channeled completely different than the original in way that wasn’t even a loose translation, but a modern summary attempting to capture some essense of the original text.

-Also the prophecy in Ether by “Joseph” saying another “Joseph” who is the son of Joseph will restore his words…. totally crazy. Joseph didn’t even prophecy about Christ or David or Moses… and yet he prophesies about Joseph Smith?  Not likely. These would have to be transcription injections by Joseph. (see above reasoning)

-Southpark’s ‘dum, da, dum, dum’ bit on why Joseph couldn’t just retranslate the ‘lost 116 pages’ is a really good point. The explanation given in the D&C that others changed these pages and were going to accuse Joseph that they didn’t match makes little sense.  The fact that he couldn’t reproduce the same pages is FAR more damning against the “translation’s” legitimacy than any “changed” text that Harris’s wive’s friends could have produced. Why not just retranslate it? A more possible explanation is the opposite of that given in D&C 12.  That the Book of Mormon was loosely channeled, and that a second draft would have actually been SO different from the original that those who stole the pages would have accused Joseph of fraud, not because THEY changed things, but because the differences in Joseph’s second draft would have been significant (even if they were substantially similar in concept, but vastly different in wording, order and storyline).

The only believable explanation I can find with these is the idea of a mixed “social memory complex” given in ‘The Law of One’.  (Essentially a group-consciousness of spirits or resurrected beings living in higher planes of existence or the shared mental realm of humanity itself).  Because there is such notable Anglo-Christian and Mesoamerican influence I could conceive that if a social memory complex existed in the heavens which was composed of both European/Anglo Christians and Mesoamericans (perhaps groups of deceased Mesoamericans who were taught by Spanish Bishops in the period between the Spanish Conquest of Mexico and Joseph Smith), and that if this group had an agenda wanting to publish their records and story and allowed both Joseph’s and their own ideas to be injected into the channeling.

-why didn’t Joseph just show people the actual plates? All the secrecy and the accounts that the 3 & 11 witnesses only saw the plates with an “eye of faith” or “spiritual vision”, is suspect. (although there are conflicting accounts which attest to seeing them too). But given as a whole, it makes me think that even Joseph, also only saw the plates “in vision”.  Also the fact that he seems to have purposefully deceived people by using the hat and a “cover” to obscure the plates. Either this is the higher plane group trying to preserve the “free will distortion” spoken of in the Law of One, or there really was deceit going on here, which doesn’t speak well for the BOM’s authenticity.  The idea that “God took the plates” after Joseph was done is completely ridiculous.  If that was a possibility, then why didn’t god just take them from Moroni?  Then he could have given them to anyone, anytime in history afterwards. No need to wait until 1830 in New York; he could have done it in Mexico City in 1620 or Missouri in 1860, and avoided all the persecution and issues which came from Joseph supposedly digging them up only to constantly hide them. I think the Ankalan channeling is a perfect analog. Joseph really believed all his visions were real. But in order to get others to believe him, he constantly stretched the truth and used nebulous language to obscure the difference between visionary experiences and objectively real experiences.

Of course its also possible he wrote the B.O.M. and all his other “revelations” with a few friends from pure imagination. And made up the church and “kingdom” as he went. However, given the Kolbrin, and that Xong Xiuquan “coincidentally” did almost the same thing in China in the same decade, with his “heavenly kingdom” and continental Taiping Rebellion seems even more implausible even with the above issues.


Arguments For

-the Book of Mormon’s allusion in the Bible are amazing. Whoever wrote it, knew the bible like a champ. Really in an almost impossible way. Nephi’s allusions to the cities of refuge in Leviticus, as a justification for why it was OK for him to slay Laban are so subtle.. who would have ever thought about that? And that’s just one example of many. Witnesses attest that he recited all the Isaiah and malachi sections in the plates without referencing other sources.

-The mention of “elephants, curloms and cumoms” could be a pro (or neutral) argument to me. Mammoths were written about as early as 1722 by John Bell who explored the Ob River in Russia. Mammoths were first popularly described by German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenback in 1799. And were well known enough that Thomas Jefferson used the world ‘Mammoth’ as an adjective in 1802. But it seems like a stretch that he would have decided to put them in the book as being “especially useful for the food of man”.  What are the chances that he knew that they (as well as other extinct megafauna) were a major food staple in the paleoindian diet, and that their extinction seems to be related to climate change (a dearth) and over hunting?  Why did he call them ‘Elephants’ instead of ‘Mammoths?’  Why invent these other crazy words ‘curelom and cumom’ to describe other animals that were ‘especially useful for the food of man’.

-The idea that Nephi sailed across the pacific from the Indian Ocean instead of across the Atlantic like the pilgrims doesn’t fit what you’d expect a New Englander who was making up a novel would write.

-The fact that the arrival of true writing in Mesoamerica with the Zapotec script matches so well with my model for the Nephites is  a huge proof. (and that earlier Olmec script is so different).  And that it coincides so well with class stratification and and new system of government and stratified priestly ruling system in Monte Alban, with a two columned temple like Solomon’s.  Seriously crazy coincidences.

-The general fit of cultures in the Book of Mormon fits crazy well with the Zapotec, Highland Cultures and Mayan.  You couldn’t ask for a better fit.  The continental collapse of each culture from the Maya to the Toltec to the Anasazi and Mississippian between 700AD & 1400AD is an amazing coincidence. The Book of Mormon’s narrative for these downfalls it far better than the narrative believed by archaeologists currently. Only time will tell if the Carbon Dates could actually be skewed in the way they’d have to be— but I think the evidence sides better with the Book of Mormon (especially with the Anasazi rise and disappearance).

-The River Sidon the the Rio Balsas is an amazing fit… I don’t think Joseph would have been able to imagine anything but New England or Yucatan type rivers (far too large to cross without boats).  Yet his descriptions of the River Sidon fit perfectly with the arid, seasonal flow of Balsas as well as it being a major geographical boundary between the Nephite & Lamanite lands.

-If Joseph or some New Englander wrote the Book of Mormon with Mesoamerica in mind, (as the ‘Narrow Neck’ suggests) why didn’t they mention pyramids?  Why call them towers? The ‘tower’ and building project of King Noah fits so perfectly with Monte Alban, its uncanny.  But why not call them pyramids to better capture the imagination of his readers. He throws in the phrase ‘reformed Egyptian’, (which I think all New Englanders were captivated by the ‘Egyptian-like’ writing of Mesoamerica), why not call the towers what they undoubtedly would have been… pyramids?  Why not make the narrow neck fit Panama if that’s what he was envisioning? Why not mention jungles?  Or ANYTHING that made the location somewhat obvious.  Why not make the land at least SOMEWHAT fit South America or Mexico?  But it doesn’t. He would have had access to an accurate map of central and south America, so why does the VERY detailed geography of the Book of Mormon, NOT fit the known topography?  This is far more likely of an actual ancient text written by people who had a non-modern distorted view of their own geography (much like herodotus and other legitimate ancient geographers).

-Seems strange for anyone to have the Jaredites come in tight ‘dish-like’ boats and take so much longer than the Lehites and kill of and eat the elephants (mammoths), when all of that strongly contradicts the 1820’s prevailing views.    And what are the chances that so much (circumstantial?) evidence of cuneiform would surface in North America? The Chief Joseph Tablet from 1877 and the Georgia (Hearn) Tablet from 1963 made from lead. The Shawnee Creek Stone from Oklahoma also seems to bare a resemblance to middle-eastern culture. https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/where-did-chief-joseph-get-his-mesopotamian-tablet-JuItqhPUYkeYmvcooUO6kA/

-‘Description of Antiquities Discovered in the State of Ohio and other Western States’ by Caleb Atwater, gives an origin story for the native americans somewhat similar to the B.O.M.  Alluding to them coming from ‘the tower of babel’ (p. xx). And in another part migrating from ‘Hindustan’ (p. 213) or ‘Tartarary’ (north Asia). James Adair in ‘History of the Indians (1775), also suggests the tower, and later the ’10 tribes’ or explorers sent from David’s kingdom, alluding to the bering strait (Kamschatska, p. 219/20).

However, Rancesco Clavigero’s ‘History of Mexico’ (1806) give a FAR more modern view talking of how natives could have arrived here by sea or land, but most likely across the ice of the bering strait.  He also speaks of elephants & Mammouts. (p. 106) As well as how there were NO horses, asses or bulls in America until Europeans brought them there. see http://olivercowdery.com/texts/bookindx.htm

OUTLINE OF GREAT CORRELATIONS IN ORDER

-Having barge-like boats (no sails) get the Jaredites to N.America instead of just walking across the Bering Strait was a bold and amazing call. He wouldn’t have known about the lack of an ‘ice free corridor’ debate that rages today.  And I would suspect a boat voyage from Asia across the bering strait (which was a view of his day) would be incredibly short… so why did Joseph have them travel twice as long as the Nephites in crazy type raft-boats?

-Jaredites hunting mammoths to extinction is another great call. I’ve seen no evidence of this information being known in 1830

-The story of Omer and the Bull Brook Complex is an amazing fit! (what are the chances?)

-Having a lone Jaredite outpost by the narrow neck with architecture (mounds) like the north american heartland is an amazing fit with the Adena vs Olmec.

-Having the Nephites travel across Arabia, and then traverse the pacific the way they did seems very unintuitive for someone in 1830. did he have ANY clue of the south pacific islands that could be hopped?

-Nahom is a pretty fair match or ‘coincidence’. Just having the name be the same is a big deal, because Nahom is NOT in the bible. (but Nahum is). Likewise with the newly publicized Beit Lehi (cave in Israel).  Lehi also isn’t a name in the Bible, its only a place mentioned only once in connection with David.  So to find it as a common name all the way into the Greek period is a great evidence that Joseph picked a name very likely to have been in use.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDqIfI1Fwcg

–The match between some of the earliest writing in Monte Alban, and the City of Nephi is amazing. And really the correlation with pyramids and hieroglyphic writing in general is a pretty obvious match. Its kind of mind blowing that this similarity is so universally dismissed by academics. (even the Javan pyramid makes a great match with the story)

-The match with ___’s work in San Jose Migote with the new religion, and two room temple ‘men’s house’ and its introduction of complex social structure is an amazing fit.

-The match between Monte Alban and its ‘tower’, 2 room temple, alter and prison with BOM stories of the same is amazing. How could you ASK for better matches?

-The distinct Olmecean culture of Zarahemla and its correlation to the Kolbrin egyptian stories might be one of the biggest matches of all! (you need to write about this!)  Included in that is how all the creation stories have them coming from the north! Near Sanora, just like the BOM says of the mulekites.

-The match of Captain Moroni’s line of defensive cities with the Miztec and East Coast cities is also a good match.  I can’t really find ANY OTHER MODEL with a geographic match of those defensive lines!

-The story of the great gathering under Lachoneus (3 Ne 3) to defend against the Gadianton Robbers matching with the creation of Teotihuacan is so fantastic, that if it isn’t true… its better than the truth.

-The volcanism in the Mexican Highland and its proximity to the Nephite capital is also better than any other model.

-The Nephite destruction matching with the fall of every major empire in North America is a fantastic match.. once again, if it isn’t the truth… it makes a better story than whatever the truth is.

-Also the narrative of Racism built into the BOM of POGP, as an explanation of so little DNA is pretty believable. (utterly destroyed)

-The match of the gathering at desolation and the ‘Chacoan phenomena’ is fantastic, especially in its match to _____’s stories of migrating Toltecs going all the way to Cahokia.

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Prognosis?

-In my opinion, because of these issues, if one is to have faith in any sort of divinity concerning the text, you’ve got to see it as a ‘channeled text’ instead of a revealed or translated text.  It needs to go in the same genre as other channeled texts like Oahspe, Urantia, D&C, or A Course in Miracles.  Joseph channeled it through his own mind or subconscious from some unknown source. He saw the ‘plates’ in vision just like the author of The Aklatan did. (see Did the Eleven Witnesses Actually See the Gold Plates?) He continually stretched the truth and led people to believe that his visions or both the plates and god were objective experiences, because he wanted people to believe them (as he thoroughly believed them). But like those other channeled texts, it has so many great truths that one could be justified as building a faith around the idea of there being divinity in the book (like the Bible, Koran, writings of Ellen White, or other religious texts with form a basis for a faith community). It seems entirely possible that it actually loosely depicts a true history of North America.  But one must accept it’s major issues and come to terms with the likelyhood that it is not a historical translation of an ancient text. I could see some ancient native religious/military leader converting to Western Christianity in the Spirit World and then working through Joseph’s subconscious to create something that put ancient religious ideas into 17th century Christian religious terms—in addition to adding a bunch of sermons on 17th century contemporary issues, but even that seems like a stretch.  More likely Joseph (likely with Spirit being helpers, pulled ancient American historical events and concepts out of the ‘Akashic records‘ and mixed it with sermons answering contemporary Christian theological problems. It could possibly be largely true. But certainly not as a translated ancient text.  The concepts are far to westernized and biblically derived to be legit.

Protected: Book of Mormon Geography

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Book of Mormon Geography: An Internal Model

Various author’s Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Overview

Perhaps the most important, and least discussed, aspect of any internal model of the Book of Mormon is the relationship between Moroni’s East Coast and Southwestern defensive garrison cities fought over in Alma chapters 50-56.  In Alma 50:11 (Alma 50:7–15) we learn that Moroni creates a NEW border between the Nephite and Lamanite lands, and fortifies it with garrisons/cities which run between the Land of Nephi and Land of Zarahemla “in a straight course from the east sea to the west [sea]” (Alma 50:8–11, esp. verse 11; Alma 22:27). Alma 56:25 verifies this by showing that south frontier town of Manti, while only a few days march from the west sea city and other south frontier garrisons (Alma 53:21; Alma 56:31), is also close enough to reasonably march to Nephihah and Moroni and the east sea (Alma 51:26). Moroni also fortifies the entire east coast from the new southern border all the way to the “Narrow Pass” (Alma 50:34; 52:9) or “Line Bountiful” (Alma 22:32–33) which leads to the land Northward. In essence making a backward L of defensive cities to guard the Nephite southern frontier and eastern coast. As will be seen in a moment, this is a vital detail that makes almost all existing geographic correlations (whether Heartland models, or Mayanland models) difficult to correlate with the text, because features like the Yucatan Peninsula in Mesoamerican models or shear width of the North American continent in Heartland models make the travels of the various armies spoken of in these chapters, incredibly problematic.

Alma 22 lays the most comprehensive geographic groundwork for this border dispute by explaining the general layout of Nephite and Lamanite lands before Moroni’s border realignment. The chapter sets forth the following important geographic relationships.

-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 [called Mulek or Desolation- Hel 6:10, Alma 22:30] and the land southward [called Lehi or Nephi/Bountiful- (Hel 6:10, Alma 22:29)”. (Alma 22:32)
-Before Captain Moroni’s redefinition of the southern national boundary, the Nephites had become “nearly surrounded by the Lamanites” (Alma 22:29)
-The land of Nephi’s borders stretched “to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27). In other words the Land of Nephi stretched from the East Sea to the West Sea. (see verses 27-30)
-The land of Bountiful, which “the Nephites had inhabited”, was north of Zarahemla and also stretched “even from the east unto the west sea” (Alma 22:33).
-The land of Nephi was “divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which [also] ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27)
-The “head of the river Sidon” or headwaters of the river Sidon were “by” the land of Manti in the Narrow strip of wilderness that separated the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. (Alma 22:27). Verse 27 also seems to suggest that the river Sidon actually “runs” or flows “from east toward the west” forming a border of sorts between the Nephite and Lamanite lands, just like the narrow strip of wilderness which also is said to have “ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27).
-Similar to typical english usage, the Book of Mormon seems to differentiate between the seas or oceans (ie. called either ‘sea’ or ‘many waters’) and lakes (Called simply ‘waters of ____’ or ‘bodies of water’). Sea = ocean: 1 Ne 18:8, etc, etc, etc.  ‘Great waters’ = Ocean: Omni 1:16.  ‘Waters of ____’ = lake or river: Mosiah 25:18, Alma 2:34, Alma 18:7, Mormon 1:10. Large bodies of water = large lakes: Alma 50:29, Hel 3:4. One exception is the phrase ‘many waters’, which seems to be used interchangeably with lake or sea ( ‘Many Waters = ocean: 1 Ne 17:5, 1 Ne 13:10–12. ‘Many waters’ = lakes?: Mormon 6:4, Mosiah 8:8.

Thus before Captain Moroni, there seems to have been a poorly defined border between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla through a “narrow strip of wilderness” which ran between the two lands, as well as possibly some part of the “River Sidon”, which seems to repeatedly be used as the strategic battle point to stop Lamanite armies from entering or leaving the land (refs).  However, because the Lamanites had moved north of the narrow strip of wilderness along the east and west seashore until they “nearly surrounded” the land of Zarahemla, Captain Moroni decided to drive them out of the east and west coastal areas, until they were south of the new ‘sea to sea’ or ‘coast to coast’ border he created through the land of Manti and cities of Antiparah, Judea, Cumeni, Zeezrom, Nephihah and Moroni.

Internal model of the Book of Mormon

Internal model of the Book of Mormon

Narrow Neck 

-It was “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”.  (Alma 22:32).
-Teancum’s army heads Morianton’s flight northward on the “borders of the land Desolation… 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)
-Moroni orders that Teancum “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)
-Hagoth… 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)
-Nephite armies of Moroniahah, “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)
-A peace treaty is made wherein 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)
-The Nephites gather to Desolation, “to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward… that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our [northern] lands” (Mormon 3:5–6)
-Lib “built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game.” (Ether 10:20–21)

discussion: The Book of Mormon gives no indication of exactly how wide the narrow neck is excepting that it “divides the land” (suggesting an isthmus), and that it contains some type of pass or defensive line that is a day or day and a half’s journey (15-25 miles). It is specifically called a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32, Ether 10:20), or “narrow neck” (Alma 63:5) and a “narrow pass” or “passage” which led by the sea (Alma 50:34; 52:9, Mormon 2:29; 3:5-6).  Two of those references give a distance of “a days journey” or “day and a half’s journey for a Nephite on “the line” which they had fortified (Alma 22:32, Hel 4:7).  Since a day and a half’s journey is typically only 15-25 miles, we can assume these distance markers are NOT referring to the whole width of the isthmus, since even the narrowest parts of panama are more than 30 miles wide and were referenced as being at least “3 days journey” by Natives in early references (Balboa, January 20, 1513).

So perhaps it’s safe to assume that this isthmus must have contained a rugged mountain range or some impassable feature in addition to the 15-25 mile wide fortified “line” on the coastal plain or travel corridor . 

Also of important note is that the Book of Mormon (especially the book of Alma) seems to be quite precise when it comes to cardinal directions. Using “northward” instead of just north, and more importantly, directions like “south and west” as well as “west sea, south” and “borders of the land on the south, by the west sea” when referring to the battles for the southwest cities (Alma 52:11–15 & 53:8,22 ).  But note it NEVER mentions a north shore or north and west (northwest)/north and east (northeast) shore when talking about the battles for the cities of Bountiful and Mulek or the travels along the East sea or West sea to the land Northward. Chapters dealing with the East sea, strongly suggest the narrow neck is inline with the rest of the East sea.  Conversely, the opposite seems true for the final flight of the Nephites to Cumorah. No mention is made of Bountiful, the River Sidon, the sea East or any East sea city in the final flight before the destruction. (only the WEST sea is mentioned). In fact new ‘lands’ are mentioned we never heard about in the battles on the East sea. The text also refers to various wild animals coming from “he land northward to the wilderness of Hermounts “on the north and west” [of Zarahemla], suggesting some kind of mountainous wilderness corridor on the narrow neck which connects with northwest wilderness of Hermounts. Also when Haggoth launches “into the west sea”, “BY the narrow neck” (not at the narrow neck) it seems to suggest there is no northern shore caused by the land narrowing. (ie. the narrow neck is to the west, not north east). Given these details, and asking ourselves why the final flight was along the west sea instead of east, it almost seems like there are two narrow necks… one on the east, and one on the west?  At very least the two narrow necks seem somewhat separated.

Lastly, it is important to note that the common placement of Teancum on the Sea East is entirely unsupported by the text. ALL references to the sea in the final flight (until arriving in Cumorah) are to the West Sea. And the text suggests that Teancum is quite close to Desolation. (see Final Flight section at the end of this document)

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 likely 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 likely 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” likely likely place where the sea divides the land

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Ammonihah, Land of 

-It was 3 days travel on the north of the land/city of Melek (which was west of Sidon by a/the west? wilderness) ,  (Alma 8:6).
-It was on the border of the greater land of Zarahemla (Alma 25:2).  Possibly the northern border?
-It was near, and probably west? of, the city of Sidom (Alma 15:1).
-It was near the city of Noah (Alma 16:2–3). The Lamanite armies destroy “some around the borders of Noah” after sacking Ammonihah. They also go straight to Noah after attempting to sack Ammonihah after its rebuilt (Alma 49:12–14). Noah is mentioned nowhere else in the text.
-It was near the city of Aaron. At least Alma “took a journey toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah (Alma 8:13).  Which seems likely the same as the East coast city of Aaron between Moroni & Nephihah (Alma 50:14), perhaps by Jershon and named after Aaron the Missionary of Alma 31.
-The or a wilderness abutted Ammonihah on the west (Alma 8:5).
-There were 2 routes into the city (Alma 8:16).
-It was fortified with Moroni’s ditch and mound system (Alma 49:4). But beforehand considered “the weakest part of the land”, and obviously a frontier town. (Alma 49:15)

discussion:   The location of this city depends largely on identifying Melek (since we know they are both west of Sidon, but Ammoniihah is 3 days north of Melek).  Since the people of Jershon flee Jershon and go to Melek to avoid the Zoramite attack… Ammoniahah can’t be all that far from Jershon! This is likely substantiated by the mention of Alma “headed toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah, since Aaron was also one of the sons of Mosiah and his followers may have founded a city right near Jershon. If Jershon is “near the borders” of the east sea, why are they fleeing somewhere by the WEST wilderness?  Melek and Ammonihah are the most difficult of any cities to place in both internal and external models. Many have speculated there are two Melek’s because of the confusion. Really the only working solution is to have an arm of Sidon that is quite far EAST, so Ammoniahah/Melek can be west of it, AND near some type of “west wilderness”, but also not too far from the East Coast cities of Jershon and Aaron.

Note that Alma 16 is perhaps the best indication of where this city is, as it suggests Ammonihah is a first city in the Nephite lands when an army “come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land” (Alma 16:2). Note is says NOTHING about the West sea here, which seems to go against the common habit/mistake of putting Ammonihah somewhere near the west sea (which makes no sense when the text seems to suggest its not far from the east coast city of Aaron (Alma 8:13). Perhaps more importantly, is the path taken by the Lamanite armies as they head back to the land of Nephi with their prisoners.  Alma tells the Nephite generals to head them off near “the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” (Alma 16:6). Looking at internal maps or most Mesoamerican models we see how little sense this path of retreat makes given what we know of Manti (see Manti and Sidon, Head of).  Why isn’t the coast mentioned at all? Why would they go through the central part of the land to hightail it home, after purposefully sneaking into the “weakest part of the land?” (Alma 49:15)

Geographic model notes: the Hildalgo area seems the most likely candidate, maybe Xihuingo, but one still has to wonder how the Lamanite army snuck through the defensive line of cities in Alma 16 & 49. Because of this the valley of Mexico seems out, although some parts of the Cuernavaca/Balsas basin could be reasonable, even if unlikely.

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Antionum, Land of 

-Antionum is “the land of the Zoramites” (Alma 31, Alma 43:5), yet it seems to have been in Nephite territory or the border of Nephite territory during Moroni’s time.
-It is “east of the land of Zerahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south” (Alma 31:3)
-After their mission to the Zoramites, Alma and Amulek go rest at Jershon (so its close). Alma 35:2
-Bordering the land of Jershon & the “wilderness” (Alma 43:15, see Alma 43:5,15,22)

discussion: Alma 43, is important as it establishes that Antionum and Jershon are very close to each other, and likely closest to Manti and the “head of Sidon”, more than Zerahemla or other Nephite cities. It also establishes Antionum as the likely southernmost city of the east border/coast cities, since it was the first place the Zoramites reached as they came up the coast for battle. But both it and Jershon are NEARLY bordering the shore, but not ON the shore, and yet BORDERING the south wilderness.  So they seem to be where the coastal plain meets the mountains/wilderness and BORDERING the south wilderness. Its initially In nephite territory, but Zoramite mission is because they fear they might join the Lamanites and thus endanger Nephite lands (Alma 31:4)

Geographic model notes: note this means it has to be SOUTH of Zerahamla & thus Catonia (which Jershon could be), and perhaps as far south as Tehuacan or even La Coyotera (thats probably too far). Probably on the upper or lower border of the coastal mountains. I get the feeling that the entire coastal plain is refered to as the “borders of the seashore”, so the fact that it is only “nearly” bordering the seashore, it is NOT down on the coastal plain.

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Aaron, City of

Alma 50:14. Nephihah is built by Moroni, between the city of Moroni and Aaron. So they are likely all defensive cities. Moroni and Nephihah build specifically to hedge out the Lamanites.

discussion: The topical guide and many others speculate that there are two Aaron’s because Alma heads “towards” Aaron after giving up on preaching to Ammonihah (Alma 8:13), but is “called back” by an angel.  YET, Alma 50:14, says they built Nephihah (a defensive city) between Moroni and Aaron (so east coast cities).  

However I think there might just be one, as it doesn’t actually say Nephihah is on the coast. So maybe Aaron isn’t either. Maybe Moroni is on the coast, and nephihah and aaron stretch inland and form a southern border of Nephite lands?  Seems likely these are some of the cities mentioned in Alma 50:10, where he says “he placed armies in the south, in the borders”. This would actually help make more sense of Alma 56:25, where it says the lamanite army fighting manti “durst not march down against Zarahamla, or cross the head of Sidon over to the city of Nephihah.”  It also makes sense, because most of the cities built by Moroni were built to fortify the southern border between the lands of Nephi and Zerahemla.

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Melek, Land of

-Alma 8:3–4 says Melek is “west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness”.
-Alma 8:6 says it’s three days Journey south of Ammonihah. Alma 31:6 agrees it’s close to Ammonihah (since Amulek and Zeezrom are there). Either way, this chapter gives more support to the idea that Melek is close to Jershon and the Zoramites. (by the east sea)
-West of the Sidon River by the borders (on the edge of) of the wilderness (Alma 8:3).
-The land was large enough to contain the displaced Ammonites from Jerson (Alma 35:13).  Probably very good agriculturally, and secure in order for the Ammonites to be moved there once their land was deemed an unsafe frontier.
-It was 3 days journey to (the south of) the city of Ammonihah (Alma 8:6).
-It was near the city of Noah (Alma 16:2–3). The Lamanite armies destroy “some around the borders of Noah” after sacking Ammonihah. They also go straight to Noah after attempting to sack Ammonihah after its rebuilt (Alma 49:12–14). Noah is mentioned nowhere else in the text.
-It was near the city of Aaron. At least Alma “took a journey toward the city called Aaron” after being cast out of Ammonihah (Alma 8:13).  Which seems likely the same as the East coast city of Aaron between Moroni & Nephihah (Alma 50:14), perhaps by Jershon and named after Aaron the Missionary of Alma 31.

discussion: This is one of the hardest of ANY cities in the book of Mormon to place. (making it fit with Ammonihah, Jershon and Noah) Many have speculated there are two Melek’s because it makes little sense for the people of Ammon to go from the East coast to somewhere near the “west wilderness”, and “west of sidon”. The location of this city is tied to the location of Ammonihah. Alma 8:3 may lead to speculate the Melek was far in the west by the west sea and west wilderness. However, since the Ammonites flee there, it must still be pretty close to the East Sea where Jershon was. Its hard to say exactly what encompasses the “west wilderness” of Alma 8:3  (Alma 27:22 makes it clear Jershon is “on the east by the sea”.)   It could be across the river from Gideon (which is on the east of Sidon),

Geographic model notes: Perhaps “west of sidon” doesn’t mean by the West Sea, but west of a Sidon tributary, like where Puebla is. (see Jershon).  Of course it’s possible that anything west of Zerahamla/Cholula/Popocatepetl could be considered the “west wilderness”.  I’m guessing somewhere like Chalcatzingo/Ocuituco/Chalco or Cuernavaca or south to Cuetlajuchitlán or even Teopantecuanitlan (but thats a LONG way for a people to fee, although they’d already come from Nephi and may have wanted to move closer to it anyway). Or it could be farther west like Chalcatzingo (but why would the Ammonites flee there if its that far?). How do you get a configuration that is west of the river Sidon, but close to the East sea and Jershon?   I’ll bet its good agricultural land, but quite possibly closer to the “southwest” cities that their 2000 sons were defending. Lower Cuernavaca, lower Chalcantango or even into the Mixtec lands. Likely very hidden.

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Mulek, Land of – (see Bountiful)

-on east borders by seashore, possessed by Amalickiah: Alma 51:25–26 .
-Moroni retakes Mulek: Alma 52:16–26 . ( Alma 53:2, 6 )
-heavily fortified. Not too far from city of Bountiful. (Alma 52:17)  Not too far from the seashore (Alms 52:22). Teancum retreat north along the seashore away from the city (v. 23). Likely less than a few hours south-east of Bountiful. (see discussion)
-there are plains between Mulek and Bountiful that could serve as a battleground. (Alms 52:20)

discussion: The location of this city is tied to city of Bountiful per Alma 52.  Teanucm flees Mulek (east?) to the seashore (v. 20), then flees northward (v. 23) toward the city of Bountiful (v. 27,39)

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Noah, City of – (see Bountiful)

A city close to Ammonihah. All we know of it, is when the Lamanites attack Ammonihah the first time, they attack Noah also, and take many prisoners (Alma 16:2–3). And some geography is described when they head off the Lamanites on their way home with the prisoners (16:5-8).  Then after Ammonihah is rebuilt and fortified, the lamanites come against Noah again, but this time it’s a fortress (Alma 49:12–15). After suffering many casualties, they head back to the land of Nephi.  In Alma 49:15, it’s called “the weakest part of the land”.  Thats another reason to believe its not in the mountains or way out of the way, but in a major thoroughfare.

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Bountiful, City of – (see Mulek)

-Moroni & Teancum force Lamanite prisoners to dig a ditch and dirt brim about the city. It becomes a stronghold “ever after”. (Alma 53:2–5)
-it is near the city of Mulek, (eastward?), and presumably near the east? seashore. (Alms 52:20)

-it is near the pass which leads to the land northward. Likely the most northern of the string of east coast cities (Alma 52:11–15?)

discussion: Alma 52:11 talks about how Moroni is over by the west sea fighting, and sends an epistle to Teancum who is by the east sea cities of Mulek and Bountiful, and tells him to” secure the pass which led into the land northward” (v. 9). This makes no sense unless he’s talking about an EAST SEA PASS. Moroni leaves the west coast and marches to Bountiful and the EAST coast (v. 15).

Geographic model notes: So Bountiful could only be somewhere like Tamtoc or ruins in Tampico!

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South & West Cities.   Zeezroom, Cumeni, Antiparah & Judea. Described as being presumably on the borders of the land on the south by the west sea (Alma 53:8,22)

-They appear to stretch in a line from Manti in the order of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea? (Alma 56:14). They are retaken by Helaman’s 2000 warriors in reverse order.
-The cities of were apparently on the south and west border of the Nephite lands and were the first cities captured by the Lamanite invaders (Alma 56:14). Alma 52:11–12 describes Ammaron’s intent to assault the “borders by the west sea”.
-Manti is consistently mentioned in conjunction with the river Sidon (especially it’s ‘head’). But the river Sidon is never mentioned in the war for these cities… so it’s likely near Manti but not between these cities.
-Antiparah was between the city of Judea and an unnamed Nephite city near the seashore (Alma 56:30). We can presume this is the west sea, although it’s strange that Nephihah (which Alma 51:26 says is by the East Sea) is mentioned in conjunction with these cities (Alma 56:25).
-The fact that Zerahemla and Nephihah (which Alma 51:26 says is by the East Sea) is mentioned in conjunction of these cities is another great evidence that these South & West Cities are stretching in a line from the West Sea toward the East Sea. (with the head of Sidon being beyond Manti, yet between these and Nephihah — Alma 56:25)
-The Nephite armies could flee two days northward from Antiparah into the wilderness without reaching the shore or Zarahemla (Alma 56:33–42).
-Cumeni seems to be just west of Manti (Alma 57:22). Cumeni doesn’t appear to have been a fortified city (Alma 57:16–20).
-In battle for Cumeni, defeated Lamanites were driven back to nearby city of Manti (Alma 57:22).
Some or all of these cities were fortified (Alma 56:20–21).
-Zeezrom is likely right next to Manti, because it’s never mentioned again after verse 22. After Cumeni the war goes straight to Manti.
-going from these cities to Nephihah would require crossing “the head of Sidon”.  Nephihah and Zarahamla were the closest options of Lamanite attack from these cities (Alma 56:25). That might be a good evidence that the ‘head’ of Sidon is it’s headwaters which are close to Nephihah and the east sea.
-there are “other cities which were on the northward”, which are not mentioned by name (Alma 56:22). This again suggests that these cities are the southern (or possibly southwestern? – but I think not) frontier.

discussion: The cities defended by Helaman’s 2000 stripling warriors in Alma 56-57 are said to be “southern cities” by the west sea, which Moroni must have been guarding before he went to help Teancum with the Eastern front- Alma 52:11–52. (Moroni left Helaman & Antipus in charge when he left.) Additionally, prisoners from this group are sent down to Zarahemla (suggesting it’s close by & lower).  Helaman says in Alma 56:14 the Lamanites had taken Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni and Antiparah (in that order) when he gets to Judea. The cities are then retaken in the reverse order (with no mention of Zeezrom).

Military maneuvers begin in Judea (Alma 56:9). Helaman then marches past (but within sight of spies) Antiparah as if to go “to a city beyond by the seashore” as a decoy (possibly northward. see v. 36). When the Lamanites take the bait they flee a full day “northward, even to a considerable distance” (v. 36-37). Probably heading somewhat toward the sea still. After the battle prisoners are sent to Zarahamla, not back to Judea, so their march must have put them closer to Zarahamla. After heading back to Judea, the Lamanites abandon Antiparah, so the Nephites march and siege Cumeni— which is surrendered. The next battle is for Manti.

Heleman’s army then decoys the Lamanites out of Manti and then flees “much in the wilderness” toward Zarahemla, so it can’t be that far from Zarahamla (58:23-28). I suspect that Judea might be by the shore near Acapulco (La Sabana), and Manti near Tehuacan, with the other cities strung between. So this is the southwest frontier, and Teancum/Mororni’s battles were the eastern frontier.  

Geographic model notes: Perhaps Oxtotitlan Cave and Juxtlahuaca Cave were painted during this Lamanite assault? (dates are typical ascribed earlier.)    Possibly, La Sabana, Teopantecuanitlan by the river Sidon, Cuetlajuchitlán and Chalcatzingo or Xochicalco near Cuernavaca (Manti being Cholula near Puebla or Chalcatzingo or Tenongo).

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East Sea Cities. At least four cities (and likely nine) border the East Sea, Moroni, Aaron, Nephihah and Jershon. (Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, Mulek seem near the sea but could be inland a ways)

MORONI, AARON

-It was located on the shore of the east sea and was near the south wilderness of the Lamanites (Alma 50:13).
-The land of Moroni bordered the land of Aaron, and the city of Nephihah was built in between (Alma 50:14).
-Lehi was a nearby city to the north (Alma 50:15; 51:24).
-Moroni was surrounded by a wall (probably the trench-mound-palisade fortifications of Moroni) (Alma 62:36).
-Submerged in the sea. Perhaps still underwater. (3 Ne. 8:9).

NEPHIHAH, LEHI

-It was located between Moroni and Aaron (Alma 50:14–15).
-It was in the borders by the east sea, but apparently not right on the seashore (Alma 51:25–26).
-There was a plain near the city (Alma 62:18).
-The city had walls and an entrance (Alma 61:20–22).
-It was south of the city of Lehi (Alma 51:25).

MORIANTON, OMNER, GID & MULEK,

-They were on the east on the borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26).
-They were built for defense and were probably about a days journey apart (Alma 50:9–11).
-Mulek was less than a day’s journey from the city of Bountiful (Alma Ch. 52).
-Lehi and Morianton were probably built in close proximity to each other-because they have a boundary dispute (Alma 50:25–36)
-These cities were all fortified with a ditch, mound and wooden palisade (Alma 51:27, 55:25-26).
-Heleman’s sons take a missionary journey from Bountiful, to Gid, to Mulek to Zarahemla to the Lamanites in the land Southward (Helaman 5:15–16). Note the direction error in v 16.

discussion: when Amalickiah comes to battle the Nephites in Alma 51, he first takes the city of Moroni and “all of their fortifications”, and then goes on to “take Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulek, all of which were east on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 51:26), suggesting that those cities were arranged in that order from south to north along the east sea.  They then “march forth… that they might take possession of the land Bountiful and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30). After Teancum kills Amalickiah on the way to Bountiful, they retreat back to Mulek. At that point Moroni sends a letter telling Teancum to secure the narrow pass, because he “cannot come” because he is occupied with a Lamanite attack “on the borders of the west sea”. This suggests the western cities are a long way from these eastern cities and the narrow pass.

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Gideon, Land of 

-It was situated east of the River Sidon and about a days journey from Zarahemla, (Alma 6:7).
-A trail led southward from Gideon to Manti, and also to the land of Nephi (Alma 17:1)
-The Land of Gideon was at a higher elevation than the City of Zarahemla (Alma 62:6–7).
-It was near the hill Amnihu, and “in the course of” or on the way to the land of Nephi (Alma 2:15–20).
-It was located between the city of Zarahemla and the city of Minon (Alma 2:24)..
-The ‘Valley Gideon’ is likely east of the River Sidon (alma 2:35)?  At any rate you must cross sidon to get from the valley of Gideon to the city of Zarahemla

Geographic model notes: If Zarahemla is Cholula, East Publa is a fantastic match for Gideon with La Malinche matching the Hill Riplah. (but does Amla 2 fit with that well?)

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Jershon, Land of

-It was “east by the sea”, south of the land of Bountiful (joining borders with Bountiful), and bordering on the south wilderness (Alma 27:22). The Lamanites had to be driven out of it, and it became a buffer between Bountiful and the Lamanite Lands.
-It was east of the city of Zarahema (Alma 27:22).
-It was lower in elevation than the south wilderness (Alma 27:26).
-It was north of the land of Antionum, or land of the Zoramites (Alma 31:3).
-It was likely near the eastern coastal cities of Mulek, Gid, Omner, Morianton, Lehi, Nephihah, and Moroni. (ref?)
-It’s just north of the Zoramites of Antionum, “which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites” (Alma 31:3).
-It’s not far from Melek? since the people of Ammon temporarily flee to Melek when the Zoramites prepare to attack (Alma 35:13–14).  But it doesn’t make sense, because Alma 8:3–4 says Melek is “west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness”. Perhaps this doesn’t mean by the west sea, but west of a Sidon tributary, like where puebla is.
-Alma 8:6 says Melek is three days Journey south of Ammonihah. Alma 31:6 agrees it’s close to Ammonihah (since Amulek and Zeezrom are there). Either way, this chapter gives more support to the idea that Melek is close to Jershon and the Zoramites.

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Helum, Alma, Amulon (cities in Alma’s flight to Zarahemla)

-Helam is 8 days journey into the wilderness from the city of Nephi (Mosiah 23:3).
-Helam is 12 (or 13) days journey from the city of Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:23–25).
-Helam was in an area suitable for agriculture (Mosiah 23:4–5).
-The Valley of Alma was one days journey (probably northward) from Helam (Mosiah 24:20).
-Amulon was suitable for agriculture, but apparently not as good as Helam as they did not return to it (Mosiah 23).
-All these locations were in the south wilderness between Nephi and Zarahemla.
-The land of Amulon should probably be encountered first in traveling toward Nephi from Zarahemla in accordance with the experience of the lost Lamanite army (Mosiah 23:31–36).  (double check this)

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Sidon, River (28 uses) – major or geographically significant river. The only named river in the Book of Mormon. It has east and west banks… but also may run/flow “from east to west” just like the ‘narrow stip of wilderness’ between the land of Nephi and Zarahemla (Alma 22:27). Majority of references to the river, refer to coming and going armies or people between the land of Nephi and land Zarahemla, suggesting it forms an important geographic boundary of some sort. (farther supporting the above east/west interpretation of Alma 22:27)

-hill Amnihu is on east of Sidon: Alma 2:15 .
-it “ran BY the land of Zarahemla”: Alma 2:15 .
-Lamanites camp on west of Sidon: Alma 2:34 .
-many are baptized in waters of Sidon: Alma 4:4 .
-wilderness at Sidon: Alma 22:29 .
-One must go round about the river’s head when traveling from Jershon/Anionum to Manti (Alma 43:22).
-One must presumably cross from the west to east side of it traveling from Zarahemla to Gideon (Alma 6:7).  The city and valley of Gideon are on the east side of the river. (in the region of Zarahemla and Gideon it flows north-south.
-An army must cross it (presumably on foot) going from Gideon to Zarahemla. (Alma 2:27,34).  It has banks that can serve as battlegrounds.
-It was large enough to carry the bodies of the dead Lamanites out to the sea. (Alma 3:3)
-But it was small enough for an army to easily cross without boats/etc. (Alma 43:35–41, Alma 16:6–7)
-Perhaps “bordering on the wilderness” and going “from east to the west”. Alma 22:29  If the “wilderness” mentioned in Alma 22:29 is the same as the “narrow strip of wilderness” in verse 27 (which seems likely), then the head of Sidon is likely IN the narrow strip of wilderness that divides the Nephite and Lamanite lands.
-It apparently must be crossed as one goes from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Zerahemla (further supporting it being some kind of east-west running barrier like the south wilderness) Alma 16:6, Alma 2, Alma 43 .
-It was west of the hill Amnihu. Suggesting it runs north/south at that point. (Alma 2:15)
-It was west of the Valley of Gideon. (Alma 2:26; 6:7)
-The City of Melek was to the west of the Sidon–again suggesting a north-south flow in this region. (Alma 8:3)
-The City of Manti was at the headwaters of the Sidon near the south wilderness. (Alma 16:6–7; 22:27)
-The head of the River Sidon extended into the south wilderness, and created an obvious crossing point on the way to Nephi. (Alma 43:22).
-Runs between the Valley of Gideon (which is west of Zarahamla), then through “the land of Zarahemla”, but likely not through the city. (Alma 2:15, since the bodies of Alma 2:34 would then float through the city).)
-Likely either too large to safely cross, or down in a canyon or deep valley in most places as the crossing points seem limited & predictable (Alma 16:6, Alma 2)

discussion: Alma 22:27 ambiguously gives several geographic descriptions ending with the words “through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west”. One way to read this is that it’s saying that the river Sidon “runs from east to west”.   This verbiage isn’t unique as Alma 2:15, also uses the words “running” to show directionality of the river by the land of Zarahemla. However, it is also possible this verse is for some reason simply redundantly repeating the clause earlier in the verse where the “narrow strip of wilderness… runs from sea east even to sea west”. The idea that a region might also “run” like a river is also used in Alma 50:8 where the land of Nephi is said to “run in a straight course from the east sea to the west”.  I actually believe it is both, as the author is trying to explain that Sidon, just like the lands of Bountiful and Nephi and the south wilderness “runs” from east to west nearly all the way across the land.  (thats why its repeated twice in v.27). This idea is further supported by Alma 16:6, where Alma prophecies that the Lamanites as they flee home will “cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land Manti”. As if Sidon was some kind of border which Zoram ‘expected’ the Lamanites would have to cross (and there were only so many expected places to easily cross it, so as to know where Alma was talking about). This also accords with other places in the text where the river Sidon appears to be the best place to meet Lamanite armies as they head toward the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 2, Alma 43).
Another string of evidence suggesting this clause IS INDEED talking about the river Sidon running from east to west, is the discussion for “Sidon, Head of” and Alma xx:x where it is shown that the head of Sidon, or headwaters of Sidon are almost certainly near the EAST SEA. (And then flowing toward the land Gideon and Zarahemla). This also helps explain why no mention of crossing Sidon’s mouth/delta is ever mentioned in conjunction with the East Coast defensive cities, OR with the final retreat of the Nephites to Desolation along the West Coast. If Sidon flowed north wouldn’t Moroni mention that they crossed it!?  He almost always seems to. HOWEVER, we must also note that the only ‘banks’ ever mentioned in relation to the river are east-west ones (Alma 16:6, Alma 43:27,53), suggesting that at least in the places where it is most often crossed, it flows north-south.  [Note that my model seems to satisfy all these requirements quite well].

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Sidon, Head of (Head of Sidon. 5 uses)

“Head” is defined in websters 1828 dictionary as “n. To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river.”  Also “n. The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea; as the head of a bay, gulf or creek.”  Also “n. The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile.”  the head of a river is NOT the mouth of a river. Attempting to make it such is a wild stretch.

Additionally, attempting to make the “head of Sidon”, mean the mouth or delta of the river run into possible problems in explaining a setup where the Lamanite armies leave coastal Jerson/Antionum and go “round about in the wilderness…by the head of Sidon” to get to Manti (Alma 43:22–27) which is known to be “up” and on the way to Nephi (which is also always “up”).

-Perhaps “running from the east toward the west”. Alma 22:27. See discussion on Sidon, River.
-Exists as an obstacle between Manti/Zeezrom and Nephihah, when going “round about in the wilderness”. Alma 56:25
-Exists as an obstacle between Jershon and Manti, when going “round about in the wilderness”. Alma 43:22
-It’s in the south-east, being between Lamanite armies (of the south & west cities) and the city of Nephihah (on the east sea). Alma 56:25
-Perhaps “bordering on the wilderness” and going “from east to the west”. Alma 22:29  If the “wilderness” mentioned in Alma 22:29 is the same as the “narrow strip of wilderness” in verse 27 (which seems likely), then the head of Sidon is likely IN the narrow strip of wilderness that divides the Nephite and Lamanite lands.
-“From the west sea, running by the head of Sidon” Alma 50:8,11  See discussion.s.
-Alma 50:11 could possibly suggest the ‘head of sidon’ is near the West Sea, however it could also simply be contrasting the ‘head of sidon’ against the west sea. (see discussion)

discussion: Seems likely that “the head of sidon” is a geographical term paralleling the modern term of “headwaters of a river”. Such as modern use of “the headwaters of the Mississippi or Ohio or Colorado or Snake rivers”. All of these terms would actually be talking about a highland or mountainous ridge area. Thus, the “head of sidon” may not be talking about the river so much, as the ridge of mountains the river originates in.  For an army to “cross the head of Sidon” would not only mean crossing the river’s small early tributaries, but more importantly crossing the mountain passes which lie at the head of them. Alma 43:22, Alma 56:25 .

Alma 50:11, almost seems to suggest the ‘head of sidon’ is near the west sea. However, Alma 56:25 says the Nephites would have had to cross the head of Sidon to get to Nephihah, which is plainly said to be by the East Sea (Alma 51:25–26). Therefore, Alma 50:11 is either contrasting the head of Sidon with the west sea (suggesting it is opposite the West sea, and near the East sea) Or it is by BOTH the east and west sea, being in a narrow part of the Ithsmas.  See a great discussion on this in this link, search for “Thus, we seem to have established, as clearly as the text will allow, that the head of the river Sidon was east of Manti, not far from Nephihah, south of Antionum, and near the east sea. All of these bits of information are consistent with each other, and therefore, increase the probability of our conclusion.”

Geographic model notes: In our model the Rio Balsas has two main heads and 5 minor ones. The main head is in the Mixtec lands of northern Oaxaca. Secondary are the massive peaks of Valley of Mexico near Cholula, Teotihuacan and even Cuernavaca. If 50:11 really is saying it’s head is by the west sea, then it would have to be the Oaxaca arm which is the ‘head of Sidon’. Since the “south and west cities” appear to stretch in a line from Manti to somewhere near Nephihah in the order of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea (Alma 56:14). Of course perhaps, one could argue that Manti is somewhere near the mouth of Sidon and those cities stretch north toward Cuernavaca or Guadalajara?

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Manti, Land & City of

-The Lamanite crossing of Sidon was up beyond the borders of the land Manti (Alma 16:6). Also, the army ambush of Alma 43:32 occurs up from Manti “and so down into the borders of Manti”. (Alma 43:32)
-It was on the southern borders of the land of Zarahemla, at the head of the River Sidon, near the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27).
-A trail from Gideon led southward to Manti (Alma 17:1).
-To the south of the land of Manti, there was another valley along the course of the upper Sidon, with the hill Riplah on its east side. (Alma 43:31–32)
-The cities of Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea? (Alma 56:14) stretch out in a line from it. It has a “wilderness side” (likely up against rugged terrain, a mountain or dense forest (Alma 58:13), with places to hide an army (56:17). Judea is near the west seashore.
-Heleman’s army decoys the Lamanites out of Manti and then flees “much in the wilderness” toward Zarahemla, so it can’t be that far from Zarahamla (Alma 58:23–28).
-After Nehor slays Gideon in Alma 1:9,15 he’s hung on the “hill Manti”. It seems likely that the “hill Manti” was in the land Manti (perhaps it’s defining feature), and that the land of Gideon is named after Gideon and thus is close to Manti (or at least the hill).  Alma 17:1 might support this, saying that Manti is “southward” from Gideon.
-Alma 16:6–7 says after Ammonihah and Noah are attacked, the Lamanites head home and “cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti.” Verse 6 suggests that the borders of Manti are by the “south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon.” Note it doesn’t say “south side of Sidon,” it says east side.

Geographic model notes: Could it be talking about the Cuernavaca tributary of Sidon or is Manti east of Puebla?

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Nephi, City of

-everything is ALWAYS up to the city of Nephi (down out of the city of Nephi when leaving). In my model this is not necessarily because of the cities high elevation (although it is high at 6,300 ft), but because it is up on a tall defensive hill.  The Land does have hills higher than it which over look it (Mosiah 7:6). See Omni 1:27; WOM 1:13; Mosiah 7:2–6; 19:5; 20:2,7; 24:20; 26:3; 28:5; 29:3,14; Alma 27:5, 47:1;
-It was a twenty days journey from Nephi to Zarahemla (with families apparently on foot) (Mosiah 23:1–4; 24:25). This would have been about 150-250 miles.
-It was an area of dryer climate grassland or Savannah (not a forested area or jungle) where they could raise grain and grazed flocks and had to fight for water resources (2 Nephi 5:11; Mosiah 21:16).
-It was “Many days journey” west of the Land of First Inheritance (with families apparently on foot) (2 Nephi 5:7).
-Nephi built a temple there (2 Nephi 2:16).
-The city of Nephi had a wall (Mosiah 22:6).
-Abundant mineral deposits (2 Nephi 5:15).
-Land of Mormon, and waters of Mormon were close by (no further than a days journey) (Mosiah 18).
-Adjacent to the lands of Shemlon and Shilom (Mosiah 19:6; 22:8).
-Near the south wilderness (Mosiah 22:12).

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Zarahemla, Land & City of –   Note that unlike many other Book of Mormon cities, almost EVERY reference to Zarahemla refers to the “land of Zarahemla” instead of the city (~60 references to ‘land’ vs. only 11 references to ‘city’), suggesting that at least until it is rebuilt after it’s burning at the death of Christ (3 ne 8:8, 9:3, 4 ne 1:8) it must be a fairly spread out city. Being more of a regional influence than a strongly metropolitan capital. That it DID indeed have an urban center is shown when 3 Nephi 9:3 calls it a ‘Great City’. As well as the story of Nephi and Samuel who show the city has both ‘towers’ and ‘walls’. (Hel 6, 13). However the afore overwhelming references to the ‘land Zarahemla’ suggest the regional population is even more important than the city.
Perhaps even more important for our model is that EVERY reference to a low elevation, of which there are many, are to the “land Zarahemla” and not the city.  I.e. it is always down to the land of Zarahemla when entering or coming ‘up out of’ the ‘land Zarahemla’ when leaving, but strangely not a SINGLE reference to going ‘down’ to the city of Zarahemla, suggesting that the ‘land of Zarahemla is lower than the capital city, which may be found at a high point in the land.

-complaints come up to the land of Zarahemla (3 Ne 6:25). On the other hand, this reference might have nothing to do with altitude, but of importance… such as “up to capitol hill, Washington”.
-must head westward and cross the river Sidon to get to Gideon (Alma 6:7)
-“the river Sidon, which ran by the land Zarahemla” (Alma 2:15). River runs by the land Zarahemla, not necessarily the city.
-many in the “land of Zarahemla”, join the church and are baptized in the “waters of Sidon” (Alma 4:1–4). This infers the river sidon is near or in the land of Zarahemla. However, because it says “waters of Sidon” instead of river Sidon we must guess as to whether this is the river or perhaps a sacred lake with the same name (somehow associated with the river? part of its headwaters?)
-war begins with the Lamanites in the “borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon”.  Whether this is the river Sidon or a lake with the same name is unknown. Also unknown if this is the land or city of Zarahemla. Presumably a war is not going to begin on the outskirts of the capitol city… so likely the land of Zarahemla.

Discussion: There is never any mention of the river Sidon flowing through the city Zarahemla but Alma 2:15 says it flows through the land Zarahemla, and the narrative definitely suggests it’s within a day of the city. Sidon most often seems to be associated with the barriers between Nephite & Lamanite lands. Two verses mention the “waters of Sidon” in association with the land of Zarahemla (not city).

-It was divided from the Land of Nephi to the south by a narrow strip of east-west wilderness. (Alma 22:27)
-It was in a central part of the Nephite lands which were south of the narrow neck of land (Hel. 1:27).
-It had a mixed (and probably segregated) population of Nephites and Mulekites which probably resulted in separate barrios or twinned cities (Omni 1:16–19; Mosiah 25:4).

-The City of Zarahemla had a wall (it does not specify whether it was of stone or timber) (Hel. 1:21).
-It was located at a distance of 20 days travel from the City of Nephi (apparently in a northward direction) (Mosiah 23:3; Mosiah 24:25).
-It was occupied by the Nephite faction from about 200 B.C. (The “Mulekites” having arrived earlier.)
-The Land Zarahemla was roughly bordered on all sides by areas of wilderness (Alma 22), including a west wilderness, past Mekek somewhere west of the river Sidon (Alma 8:3), the Wilderness of Hermounts northwest from Zarahemla (Alma 2:37), and the east wilderness (Alma 25:5).
-South of Zarahemla and the narrow strip of wilderness, lay the expansive south wilderness of the Lamanite domains (Alma 22:27).
-It was burned at the time of the crucifixion (3 Ne. 9:3).
-The city of Gideon and river Sidon lay a short distance to the east (Alma 6:7).
-It was an area where tropical diseases (i.e. fevers) and their remedies were present (Alma 46:40).

discussion: Alma 2 may be one of the best descriptions of Zarahemla and its relationship to the River Sidon, Gideon and Nephi. It first tells us there is a strategic hill (Amnihu), “east of the River Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla” that the Amlicites use to start a war with the people of Zarahemla (perhaps a Guerilla base on the hill- Alma 2:14–16). These verses seem to purposely point out that the River Sidon goes through the land Zarahemla, but NOT the city of Zarahemla. The Amlicites flee from the hill to the Valley of Gideon, so the Hill is likely between Zarahemla and Gideon. But there is no mention of crossing Sidon yet. (So Gideon Valley must still be East of the River Sidon). Gideon is also “in the course of” (on the way to) the land of Nephi (Alma 2:24). The Amlicites circumvent Gideon to head back to Zarahemla by way of Minon which is “above” Zarahemla. But as the Nephites go to head off the Amlicites in Minon and get ready to cross Sidon (from East to West?, on the way to Zarahemla) they get attacked and must “clear the bank on the west of Sidon” (Alma 2:34) to fight off the Amlicite army which then flees “towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land…until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts” (Alma 2:36–38).  This is a tricky configuration that tells us a number of things…

-River Sidon runs “by the land of Zarahemla”, and NOT likely through the city of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15, since the bodies of Alma 2:34 would then float through the city)
-There is a prominent “hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla”
-It is likely about a day from Zarahemla to the valley of Gideon (Alma 2:20), which is “in the course of” (on the way to) the land of Nephi (Alma 2:24). But at the same time Gideon can be easily circumvented to get back to Zarahemla another way (see v.25-26).
-There is a land of Minion above (higher than) the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:24).
-For some reason you don’t seem to cross Sidon to get from Zarahemla to Gideon, but you do cross it if you want to head back to Zarahemla through Minon which is (in a pass)  ‘above’ Zarahemla..
-From that Sidon Crossing near Minon above Zarahemla, you would flee to the North and West Wilderness (Hermounts), which is infested with beasts from the Land Northward. (compare Alma 2:36–38 to Alma 22:31).
-You can throw a bunch of bodies into Sidon from near Minon above Zarahemla, Alma 2:34 (presumably without polluting the water source of any respected city like Zarahemla– which makes the idea that Sidon flows north from Gideon and Minon through Zarahemla seem unlikely).
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Cumorah, Land & Hill

For some reason, site of both the Lehite AND Jaredite final battles. WHY?! Obviously cumorah must provide either some exeptional strategic advantage, or be the natural endpoint or trap of a group fleeing for their lives.

-In a land of many ‘waters, rivers and fountains’ [springs].  Nephite gather around the ‘hill’, hoping ‘to gain advantage over the Lamanites’ (Mormon 6:4)..
– Before even entering the ‘land of Cumorah’, Mormon writes the Lamanites asking for time to ‘gather together out people unto the land of Cumorah, by the Hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle’ (Mormon 6:2).  Obviously the site is strategic in multiple ways.
-Mormon hides up in the ‘Hill Cumorah ‘all the records which had been entrusted’ to him (BUT NOT the b.o.m. plates – Mormon 6:6). We are not told the name of the hill Moroni hides his plates in, except that D&C XX seems to refer to the location of Joseph’s vision of Mormoni as ‘Cumorah’, suggesting it is also at least in the land of Cumorah.
– Jaredites call it the Hill Ramah (Ether 15:22), and tell us it’s about a day south of the waters of Ripliancum, meaning waters to exceed all (Ether 15:8), which are mostly likely a lake since they are west of, and not far from the East Sea–and different from it (Ether 9:3).
discussion.

discussion: Since Moroni says in Moroni 1:1, that he expected to have been killed before writing the book of Moroni, we can suppose that he and his father made both the cave for ALL the records, AND the box for just the gold plates BEFORE the final battle, and likely hid up the records expecting to possibly die. This is VERY important, as it strongly suggests that if Moroni did a lot of travel and wandering after the final battle (which the text suggests), he did it coming back to the plates instead of wandering around with the plates, risking being killed and having them stolen and melted down. Also, since Omer and his family are fleeing for their lives from Desolation (the early Jaredite core) to the East Sea ‘eastward’ of Cumorah, we can assume that Cumorah is quite far from the Hill Shim and the land Desolation.  The same is true of the fleeing Nephites. If 50,000+ early LDS saints fled 1000+ miles by foot from Nauvoo (plus another 700 miles from New York) to escape persecution, we can assume that Omer’s family, the Jaredites and Nephites also fled a large distance (as much or more?) in attempt to avoid their annihilation.

Hill Shim

Location where Nephite records were kept by Ammaron. Mentioned in both Nephite and Jaredite accounts.

– Ammaron deposited all the ‘sacred engravings of the people there’ (Mormon 1:3).
– In a land of desolation. Mormon gathers all the records from Hill Shim when he sees the Lamanites are about to ‘overthrow the land’ of Desolation. (Mormon 4:23)
– Omer passes by the hill as he flees ‘many days’ from the early Jaredite heartland/core, and then onto Cumorah, and ‘from thence eastward to the seashore’ where he and his refugee family set up residence. (Ether 9:3)

discussion:  It doesn’t really make much sense for the Hill Shim to be very close to the land of Cumorah. If it were…

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Narrow Neck

Usually referred to as a ‘narrow pass’, ‘narrow passage’, ‘small neck of land’ or ‘the line Bountiful’. Some consistency exists in references to it, however there is a possibility that there are multiple ‘narrow passes’. Early references tend to point to happenings on the ‘east sea’ of the Narrow neck/pass, but later references seem to shift exclusively to its west side, on the West Sea.

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Wilderness  – a (1) : a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings (2) : an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community  b : an empty or pathless area or region.

When the Book of Mormon speaks of wildernesses, I believe it is using the moden definition. It is talking about unsettled, unclaimed, undeveloped area. That is, one without cities, roads or easy access.

Wilderness, Narrow Strip

-Area dividing the Nephite and Lamanite lands running from Sea East to Sea West. (Alma 22:27)

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The Three Defensive Lines   

The Book of Mormon talks about 3 seperate defensive lines.  One between the land of Nephi & land of Zerahemla. One between the land of Bountiful and the land of Desolation. And one north of Desolation somewhere around the city of Boaz between Desolation and ‘the land which lay before us’, which presumably seems to be the land of Many Waters.

Alma 50:7–11 describes the first, which is built by Moroni after he forces the Lamanies out of the east and west wildernesses after the Amalakite attack. He drives out “all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness…south of the land of Zerahemla”, “and also on the west” (v.11) and then appears to build Moroni and Nephihah on the east to fortify that line. (v. 13)  migrating people from Zerahemla into the east wilderness to do it. (v. x)  He also fortifies the west…. (ref)   

The second defensive line is the “line Bountiful” which is a narrow neck  between the Land Northward and the land Southward which is described in Alma 22:33, x, y, z.  This defensive line is important in two different occasions where the Nephite elite are completely driven from Zarahamla their capital to desolation. First in Helaman 4:5 the Lamanites drive the Nephites and their army “even into the land of Bountiful, and there they did fortify…from the west sea even unto the east”.  350 years later, the same thing occurs in Mormon 3:5–6 & Mormon 2:28–29, where a 10 year treaty is signed with the Lamanites giving the Nephites the land Northward “even to the narrow passage which led to the land southward”. During that time they “fortify against them with all our force”.

 The third is a line of cities near Boaz or “strongholds” mentioned in Mormon 5:4 where it says that for a time they did “maintain… strongholds [which] did cut them off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.” 

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Travels of the Nephites from Zarahemla to the Final Battle.

-Moroni gets instructions to go to hill Shim in the Land Antum to get records. (Mormon 1:3)
-Moroni “carried by his father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla”. (Mormon 1:6)
-War begins “in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon”.  (First Battle – Mormon 1:10)
-A number of battles fought, then a truce for four to seven years.
-Lamanites attack again, Nephites “retreat towards the northcountries”. (Mormon 2:3)
-Moroni’s army take and fortify Angola “with their might”, but “notwithstanding their fortifications”, the city is taken. (Mormon 2:4)
-They are “also” driven out of the land David. (unsure if Angola was in the land David or if its the next province to the north) (Mormon 2:5)
-They gather to Joshua which is “west by the seashore”. (Mormon 2:6–8) A battle with a force of 40,000 each is fought here… Lamanites retreat.
-345AD. Lamanites attack again, Nephites retreat to city of Jashon, “near the land [Antum] where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord” (Mormon 2:17).  Moroni gets just the plates of Nephi, and leaves the remainder where they are. (see Mormon 1:3)
-Nephites driven “northward to the land which was called Shem”. (Mormon 2:20) Nephites fortify the city and are attacked in 346AD, but win a battle with 30k to 50k. (Mormon 2:25)
-In 350AD a treaty is made. Lamanites “ 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)
-For 10 years, Nephites fortify and prepare. In 360AD Mormon causes his “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. 7 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us”. Nephites beat them. They come again the next year. They beat them a third time. “and their dead were cast into the sea.” (Mormon 3:8)
Desolation is by the sea or a river that flows into sea
-in 363AD, the Nephites go on the offensive, up out of desolation, but are driven back to “the land of Desolation” (not city). Then Lamanites attack, and take the city of desolation “slaying many and taking many prisoners”. (Mormon 4:2)
-”And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation.”  (Mormon 4:3)
Teancum is also somewhat near the sea.
-364AD, Lamanites come against Teancum, and are repulsed, so Nephites follow them and retake Desolation.  (Mormon 4:8)
Desolation and Teancum are close to each other
-In 366AD Lamanites attack and take Desolation, and then Teancum (and sacrifice the inhabitants both women and children.) Nephites are so angry about the loss of their families they retake the cities and drive the Lamanites out of the land. Then another 10 year pause in fighting (Mormon 4:16)
-In 375AD, the Lamanites come down to desolation with a numberless host.
-Nephites flea to Boaz and fight two battles. On second attack they flea and women and children are sacrificed again. Nephites flea and “all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon 4:20–22)
-Mormon goes to the hill Shim and takes up ALL the records (Mormon 4:23).
Boaz is still relatively close to all the preceding cities (Antum, Jashon, Desolation)
-in 379AD Nephites flee to Jordan, and repulse a Lamanite attack. (Mormon 5:4) They maintain a line of stronghold cities “that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.” (Mormon 5:4)
Jordan is likely in the Southwest, one of a line of cities defending the land northward.
-in 384AD Mormon sends a letter to Lamanites requesting to gather to the land of Cumoruh “in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains;” (Mormon 6:4)

Jordan (line of cities)
Boaz (gets rest of records)
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Teancum (by seashore & desolation)
Desolation (dead cast into sea)
Shem (fortified)
Jashon (gets records)
Joshua (west by seashore)

David
Angola
Zarahemla

Comparing Book of Mormon Geography Models

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Issues with both/most Models

Perhaps the biggest problem with most models are their failure to match the configuration of ‘border’ cities explained the the war chapters of Alma 42-54. Alma 50:7–14 Alma 50 we learn that Moroni creates a NEW border between the Nephite and Lamanite lands, and fortifies it with garrisons/cities which run between the Land of Nephi and Land of Zarahemla “in a straight course from the east sea to the west [sea]” (Alma 50:8–11, esp. verse 11; Alma 22:27). Alma 56:25 verifies this by showing that south frontier town of Manti, while only a few days march from the west sea city and other south frontier garrisons (Alma 53:21Alma 56:31), is also close enough to reasonably march to Nephihah and Moroni and the east sea (Alma 51:26). Moroni also fortifies the entire east coast from the new southern border all the way to the “Narrow Pass” (Alma 50:34; 52:9) or “Line Bountiful” (Alma 22:32–33) which leads to the land Northward. In essence making a backward L of defensive cities to guard the Nephite southern frontier and eastern coast.

When Amalickiah comes to battle the Nephites in Alma 51, he first takes the southmost ‘east coast’ city of Moroni and “all of their fortifications”, and then goes on to “take Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulek, all of which were east on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 51:26), suggesting that those cities were arranged in that order from south to north along the east sea.  They then “march forth… that they might take possession of the land Bountiful and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30).

This configuration in the heartland model is virtually impossible unless you tuck the entirely of the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla in some little corner between the great lakes (such as the lower Peninsula of Michigan). However if you do this, you destroyed nearly every other correlative piece of evidence used by Heartlanders. From Zelph, to the D&C Zarahemla, to the Adena and Hopewell ruins.  For the Mesoamerican models a similar problem arises when matching the narrow neck with Tehuantepec. The problem lies in the Yucatan Peninsula ruining the logic and description of the ‘east sea cites’ of Moroni, Aaron, Nephihah, Jershon, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek.  Since we know that Nephihah (and thus Moroni) are somewhat aligned with Manti (Alma 53:21; Alma 56:31), and that Manti is at the Head of Sidon, then if our Sidon is the Grijalva or Umacinta, the only possible location for Nephihah & Moroni is the Belize area. But there is NOWHERE in the text to suggest that after taking Moroni and Nephihah (which we know are on the south near the Amalakite border), that the army then travelled 320 miles to get to the cities near Bountiful and the narrow pass! (Alma 50:34; 52:9)

This is why essentially NO internal model I’ve seen seems to look like the Yucatan. They almost universally agree with the ‘backwards L’ configuration of the Alma 42-54 war border cities.  To make these models work, we must disregard Alma 51:26 which says of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid and Mulekall of which were east on the borders of the seashore”, and instead guess that actually most of them stretched across the Yucatan and weren’t actually by the east/north sea. Of course, if this were the only problem they’d be in pretty good shape, but there’s a lot of other issues with these models, so read on.

To explore the details of the above configuration with an accompanying internal model map, see the Internal Model of the Book of Mormon page.

Issues with the Heartland Model

The Book of Mormon heartland model is a model first proposed by Rod Meldrum and others which places the entirety of Book of Mormon narrative in the Eastern United States of America. It seems to have arisen in response to perceived problems in the “limited Mesoamerican model”. These includes issues such as the ‘two Cumorah’ theory, early prophetic and apostolic quotes about Book of Mormon culture & individuals in North America, as well as the way Mesoamerican models appear to discount the many impressive North American prehistoric cultures which seem to fit well into the Book of Mormon narrative.

Strengths

– The greatest strengths of the heartland model are NOT having to invent a second land Cumorah.  (See ‘Issues’ with the southern Mesoamerican model) Although it seems reasonable to suppose that the Book of Mormon’s final battle and ‘Hill Cumorah’, might not be the exact hill Joseph got the plates from, it is highly problematic to suppose it is not at least relatively close to it, and at least in the the same land Cumorah.
– References which obviously prophesy about the United States on ‘this land’ (ie. the land the ancient prophets lived on) simply work better for heartland. Although Mexico/Guatemala also work, just not as well given the general idea of a ‘land of liberty’ and U.S. revolutionary ‘freedom’ culture.
– Early LDS prophetic statements (as well as the account of ‘Zelph’) work only if Nephites/Lamanites lived in North America too.
– Basically see the “Issues” section for the Mesoamerican models, and you’ll see the “strengths” of the Heartland models.  The heartland model’s strengths are not so much in geography as in context, ideology, and prophesy associated with the Book of Mormon and early LDS leaders.

Issues

– With the Eastern US heartland model, Nephi’s journey from eastern Arabia to America doesn’t really make sense.   A seemingly insurmountable issue is in Alma 22:28 which quite clearly explains that the Land of First Inheritance (first landing) was by the WEST seashore.  So if Lake Erie is the West Sea, how would they land there?  Where can you possibly place the Nephite landing “on borders by the seashore, and on the west” and make it fit with the Eastern United States?  Both Alma 22:28 and Mosiah 9:1 talk about the Land of Nephi and the “land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea”, as if they can be used interchangeably. (ie. the Land of First Inheritance is IN or very near the land of Nephi.  We know the land of Nephi is south of the narrow neck.  So once again, how can ANY model which puts the narrow neck on the Great Lakes, or the land of Nephi in the heart of the US, make the place they first landed work? (pretending they came up the Mississippi also does not work, as the text clearly states the land of first inheritance is by the West SEASHORE..
– Many references to the West Sea run into this same problem!
– The story of Hagoth makes little sense if the West Sea is the Great Lakes (and a completely different sea than the one mentioned concerning their first landing?). Hagoth is said to have “launched… forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5).  But how do the ‘Great Lakes’ even really get you access to the Hearland Model’s “land northward” (Eastern Canada)?  They would only get you access the the Narrow Neck region’s of Bountiful and perhaps desolation (places in contact with Zarahemla), but the text suggest a LARGE distance saying that the people who left, “were never heard of more” (Alma 63:8). Reading the whole account in Alma 63:5–9, makes it clear that this model stretches the Book of Mormon text past it’s logical limits. Also, a Polynesian connection to Hagoth (as proposed by many LDS apostles) is impossible in the Heartland model.
–  The land of Desolation which is an “exceedingly great distance” north from the Land of Zarahemla and Narrow Neck, also make very, very little sense if you try and place it in Canada. The text states that the land was the heartland of the Jaredite Civilization, covered in bones, and was “rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land”  (Hel 3:3–8).  How can you get Eastern Canada to fit that description?  It is NOWHERE devoid of timber (until you get to the uninhabitable tundra). It has NO evidence of an ancient civilization and certainly not one that was “exceedingly expert in the working of cement” (Hel 3:7). It is SO WET that bones disintegrate within a few years, and would never be preserved the hundred years or so required by the text (from the Jaredite destruction to the Nephite exploration of the area).
–  Cumorah is SOUTH (in the land southward) of the narrow neck in the Heartland Model. The logically problematic, two Cumorah theory of Sorenson’s model is one of the reason’s the Heartland Model gains supporters.  But yet the Heartland model introduces a greater problem by putting the Hill Cumorah in the Land Southward. (since their ‘Narrow Necks’ are the isthmus areas created by the Great Lakes). Mormon 2:20,29 makes it clear that the final Nephite retreat was “northward” from the Narrow Neck, and for at least 3 of the battle cities “in the borders west by the seashore” (Mormon 2:6–8, Mormon 3:8 & Mormon 4:3).  There is ABSOLUTELY no indication that the Nephites fled north of the Narrow neck into the Land Northward (where a treaty was made giving them the land Northward, Mormon 2:17), only to then circle around a Great Lake and then back south through a different narrow neck, back into the Land Southward to upstate New York (cumorah).  This logic slaughters the geography mentioned in the text.
– The Mississippi River makes a poor match with the River Sidon for several of the following reasons.
– The Sidon should empty into the “seas,” (Alma 3:3) which are the Great Lakes in the Heartland Model.  The Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico, far away from these “seas.” In fact the head of Sidon can be placed south of Zarahemla, near the land of Manti (Alma 22:27,29; Alma 43:22). This requires hearlanders to make the “head” of the river, it’s mouth or delta. But even this simply doesn’t work with the geography laid out in Alma 56:25 where the “head of Sidon” is meantion in connection with Nephihah, which Alma 51:26 places on the East Sea.
– The confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers as the “head” of the river Sidon is baffling logic. Nor does it work with the same scriptures listed above.
– The Heartland Model has the land Bountiful southeast of Zarahemla; the Book of Mormon has it northward. (A map demonstrating these claims is available here, about a third of the way through.)
– The Heartland Model elsewhere claims that Bountiful is directly north of the land of Nephi; in the Book of Mormon, Zarahemla is directly north of the land of Nephi.
– The Heartland Model’s Land of Nephi does not stretch from east to west sea, as it would need to in order to match the Book of Mormon text.
– The Book of Mormon has the sea west to the west of the Zarahemla and the land of Bountiful, but the Heartland Model has it east of Zarahemla and north of Bountiful.
– The land of first inheritance should be on the west sea, west from the land of Nephi.  The Heartland Model places it south of the land of Nephi, on the Gulf of Mexico that is not even one of the “seas” in his model.
–  Heartland Model uses a city founded by Mormons near Nauvoo (named “Zarahemla) to locate the Nephite city of Zarahemla.  The model ignores that it was settlers who started calling it Zarahemla first, not scripture or Joseph Smith.  The lines about Zarahemla were added later, for historical clarity, by an editor when the revelation was published.
–  Likewise, a city called “Manti” was ascribed to the prophet by later editors, but it was not in the original text.
–  Items in many models: armor, weapons, defensive works, cities, presence of dead bodies, bodies of water.
–  Heartland Model does not match the known archaeology of the Hopewell area that he wishes to make into the Nephites.
–  The Heartland Model’s seasonal and climate claims have problems; some Book of Mormon elements (e.g., extreme heat, rather than snow, in and end-of-the year battle) do not match his proposed geography.
–  The Heartland Model also misunderstands the evidence about population sizes and growth.
–  The Heartland Model misrepresents and misunderstands the issue of stone cities versus wood cities, and burning “stone” cities.

see also this list.  (first adapted from a list compiled by Gregory Smith)

Issues with the Limited Mesoamerican or Mayan-land Models

The majority of Mesoamerican Book of Mormon geography models seek to correlate the Isthmus of Tehuantepec or the Isthmus of Guatemala with the Book of Mormon “Narrow Neck”. In my analysis, I only cover the former, as the latter do not seem very plausible (although many of the issues below cover them as well). They far exceed the heartland models in their ability to synthesize the text with known archaeology. However, all of these models however suffer many of the same substantial problems which gave rise to the Heartland models (ie. excluding 95% of the continent and its ancient cultures from the B.O.M. Narrative). Despite the many issues listed below, I find the Umacinta/Tonina/Kaminaljuyu the most convincing of the Mesoamerican models, and a true candidate for a valid possibility to the text.

Strengths
– Kaminaljuyu (Guatemala City) as Nephi works pretty well both temporally and geographically.
– The cultural correlations of the limited Mesoamerican models are fantastic. The Maya and their culture and climate fit well with many Book of Mormon statements. (Although forcing BOTH the Nephites and Lamanites (including Mulekites and all other ‘ites’) into the Mayan culture seems more monolithic than we should suppose.  If the Mulekites culturally evolved for hundreds of years completely separate from the Nephites, we should see that as a distinctly different culture should we not?).
– Tonina and Palenque work fairly well as matches for Zarahemla. Their relationship east of the Umacinta River (Sidon) fits well with the text. Also their dates of establishment could possibly work with the text (200 BC). (However, their rise and fall does not fit well, as their populations seem abysmally small before the time of Christ, and only reach significance long after the time of Christ)).
– The isthmus of Guatamala and Motagua Valley/Ridge work fairly well as the ‘narrow strip of wilderness’ separating the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. It’s an obvious geographic barrier, with the ‘head of sidon’ (headwaters of the Umacinta River) right there in the narrow wilderness strip where the text demands.

Issues
– Like the Heartland model, they must ignore early prophetic views that supported a Continental model. Especially statements concerning Zelph and New England Nephite occupation. Also scriptural assertions that at least the land, if not hill, ‘Cumorah’ is in New England where the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in vision. Also the many, many instances in the Book of Mormon which essentially prophesy of a future nation of freedom (unmistakably the U.S.) being built upon the same lands as Mormon seemed to live on. Instead, they force the Book of Mormon into a small corner of Central America. They correlate all Book of Mormon lands and peoples with merely two Mesoamerican people’s (Maya & Olmec), while almost entirely ignoring the largest and most influential cultures on the continent (Adena, Hopewell, Anasazi/Ancient Peubloan, Mexican Highland/Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huestec, Parapucha, etc).
– They require a “Second Cumorah theory”, where Moroni wanders (with the heavy plates) over 2000 miles after the final battle somewhere in southern Veracruz Mexico to get to New York to bury the plates. By suggesting that Cumorah and the final battle are ONLY ~100 miles from the ‘Narrow Neck’, it requires the readers to believe that Mormon for some confusing reason, took all the records from the Hill Shim in desolation (when the Lamanites looked to ‘overthrow the land’- Mormon 4:23), only to transport them 100 miles with hundreds of thousands of people to a new Hill, which has essentially NO strategic or geographic significance where they still exist to this day–completely separate from the region where the Book of Mormon would be buried.  Think about this… when the early LDS saints fled from Ohio and Nauvoo, 30-70,000 people fled over 1500 miles to find safety and a new home. Why would the Nephites only flee 100-250 miles?!  Especially when a flight up the Caribbean coast toward Texas would have been so easy. With their massive army they could have easily cut their way through the Huestec lands and found a northern land to settle… UNLESS they were forced SO far north (ie. New York) that they reached the edge of the habitable continent and had nowhere left to flee.
– Although the text never calls the hill where Moroni buries his plates ‘Cumorah’ think of the logic of two Cumorah’s in regard to Moroni 1:1 where he says “I had supposed not to have written more.. but as of yet I have not perished”. This suggests Moroni was unsure when he was going to be killed by Lamanites!  This is incredibly important, as we can assume from this that he certainly would have hidden the plates before the final battle, at the same time he hid ALL the records (ref), so as to not risk having the record falling into enemy hands before the last of the final battle. Then… when he doesn’t die, he must have gone back to their hiding place, and ‘written more’.  So the idea that Moroni travelled long distances after the final battle is entirely plausible, BUT not with the plates! (that part doesn’t make sense) It would appear that he assured their safety by leaving them in their hiding place between each time he went BACK to that hiding place and ‘wrote more’ before his final demise.
– Although Mayan models do a good job at finding cultural correlations, none of them have done a very good job at really matching individuals Book of Mormon cities with archaeological ruins (with the exception of Kaminaljuyu). In my opinion, none of them can match Zerahemla with convincing archaeological ruins which match the level of prominence and significance afforded these cities in the text. Particularly in the case of Zarahemla.
 Teotihuacan and the Mexican highland culture, the largest and most influential city and culture in prehistoric North America, is mysteriously scant or absent from the Book of Mormon in these models (as well as Zapotec culture). Even though the Teotihuacano zenith might have post-dated the date given for Nephite destruction, it was still a rapidly growing regional influence which by 420 AD eclipsing any of the cultures put forth for Zarahemla in predominate Mayan models. These models usually identify the Mexican Highland as “the land northward”… yet in Mormon’s description of the final flight to “Cumorah”, the land northward is said to be emptied of its inhabitants (Mormon 5:5). We see no such occurrence in the archaeology.  In fact that logic of the final battle MAKES NO SENSE given what we know of Teotihuacan. Why wouldn’t the Nephites make an alliance with them, if they were part of their northern ally cultures which they had been ‘guarding’ (ie. protecting the narrow neck – Alma 22:33) for nearly a thousand years? It also makes no sense in relation to the final Battle… why did Teotihuacan not get involved if the Nephites fled into their land in Veracruz to escape the Lamanite army?

–  Supporters of this theory ignore many quotes by Joseph Smith and other early Saints which suggest a hemispheric model covering all the way from a landing in South America to a destruction in New England.
– The story of Haggoth traveling to “the land Northward” from the West Sea, just doesn’t make much sense in these models. If the Land Northward is composed of areas like the Mexican Highland, Valley of Mexico or area of Vera Cruz, then why would Haggoth launch from the West Sea to get there? Only the East Sea would get you closer to these areas. It makes no sense both from a launch point and destination route. If Sidon (Umacinta/Grijalva) goes to the Caribbean, why not boat down Sidon to the port and head north along the East Coast?
– The guarding of the “narrow neck” in preservation of “the land northward” doesn’t make much sense in these models for reasons mentioned above. For instance, what culture are they guarding? Teotihuacan?  That’s like Guatemala guarding Mexico. Teotihuacan would have been guarding Palenque or Tonina, not the other way around. Teotihuacan was the most powerful hegemon on the continent– so if they are the Nephites in the land Northward, why didn’t they aid the Nephites in the Final Battle, and why does the text describe a scene where the Nephites after retreating from Zarahemla and desolation “did cut [the Lamanites] off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land” (Mormon 5:4). If Teotihuacan is the land northward, THE TEOTIHUACANOS would have sent an army and squashed the Lamanite forces. From all we can tell from the archaeology, Teotihuacan was the regional hegemon. (Remember that Mormon was from Jordan near the Narrow Neck, and there is simply nothing in the text to forward the idea that Monte Alban, Teotihuacan or any highland cultures helped in the war–had they helped in the war the tens of thousands of Nephite woman and children SURELY would have been sent there before the final battle instead of fighting to the death with no hope like cornered animals as the text suggests).
– The Grijalva and Umacinta rivers seem a little to big to match with what the Book of Mormon describes of the River Sidon. The river needs to be small enough for a “numberless army” to easily cross (Alma x:xx), but big enough to carry away thousands of corpses. The river also needs to be in a deep canyon near where the battle and crossing took place (ref). And should also form a border of sorts in its areas south of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27; see also Sidon in the Internal Model of the Book of Mormon).
– Suggesting rivers that travel northward, makes the idea of throwing thousands of dead bodies in the river (which then would float through the land of Zarahemla) a bit counterintuitive (see Alma x.xx).
– Attempting to match the Umacinta river with Sidon, and Aguada Fénix with Zarahamla makes the hill Amnihu, which was west of both Zarahemla and the River Sidon, problematic. As there literally NO hills west of those locations.  The city of Gideon is also a problem for essentially all Umacinta models, as there are no sizable archaeological sites just west of Sidon yet still on the way to Nephi (Guatamala city?). Even more of a problem is the proximity of these cities to places like Bountiful and Jershon which are “on the east sea”.

-Most tehuantepec models, place Bountiful and the ‘east sea cities’ in southern Belize. This works well with the idea that Moroni’s cities were to hedge out the Lamanites in the land of Nephi to the south.. But this has major problems as I’ll explain. One of the biggest is Alma 63:5, where it says Haggoth built his ships “on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land desolation, and launched it into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward”.  This STRONGLY suggests that the east narrow neck associated with bountiful is the same as the west narrow neck and that they both touch desolation.  That does not work with their model.  

-Likewise, models place bountiful south of Belize which accords well enough with verses which describe the land/city of bountiful as being “north of Zarahemla (ref).  But those directions break down in Alma 50:34, when Moroni chases Morianton “and 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.”   If Bountiful is correctly “North” then surely this should also say, “by the sea on the north and on the south”.  Using tehuantepec as a narrow neck has serious direction issues.  Furthermore, WHERE THEN IS the sea north thats mentioned in (ref)? if its not the Caribbean in this area?

-The east sea cities in this model dont make a whole lot of sense.  Take Alma 52:9, for instance. It says “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.”   We see that bountiful is a fort which secures the narrow pass. So if Bountiful is in Belize, this makes no sense. This verse accords with others that suggests that bountiful is both on the east sea, and on the narrow pass leading to desolation.

-If on the other hand you put bountiful and the east sea cities in the Tabasco and Tehuantepec area, you have a major issue with directions such as (ref), that say jershon? nephihah? is east of the Land of Zerahemla. They’d have to be crazy to think north-WEST is east. Furthermore, there’s just not much evidence of fortifications in that area, and the bom says basically ALL those cities were fortified. 

-Likewise the proclamation description in Alma 22:27–33, is pretty clear on east to west, 

-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. Where is there a place in the Mexican highland where buildings were built MORE of cement than in the Mayanlands? Both largely build only their temples and city centers of stone. With maybe a few exceptions for large apartment complexes. Only the desert southwest has ubiquitous usage of stone and cement (adobe) for all aspects of cultural building.

Issues with my model

– The narrow neck does not fit well with the internal model presented in the text. (It requires suggesting that the authors didn’t understand their own continental geography well– which to be fair ALL models require.)
– If you’d like to contribute to a list of issues, please email them to me. 🙂

Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis

Among the greatest stumbling blocks to faith in the Bible are the incredibly long ages of the patriarchs and the chronologies of Genesis 5 and 11 that seem to place the age of the Earth at about 6,000 years ago. The key to understanding the numbers in Genesis is that, in the Mesopotamian world view, numbers could have both real (numerical) and sacred (numerological or symbolic) meaning. The Mesopotamians used a sexagesimal (base 60) system of numbers, and the patriarchal ages in Genesis revolve around the sacred numbers 60 and 7. In addition to Mesopotamian sacred numbers, the preferred numbers 3, 7, 12, and 40 are used in both the Old and New Testaments. To take numbers figuratively does not mean that the Bible is not to be taken literally. It just means that the biblical writer was trying to impart a spiritual or historical truth to the text—one that surpassed the meaning of purely rational numbers. (Taken from a PDF at this link)

Author: Carol A. Hill

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to faith in the Bible has been, and is, the numbers found in Genesis—both the incredibly long ages of the patriarchs and the chronologies of Genesis 5 and 11 that seem to place the age of the Earth at about 6,000 years before present. As stated by Hugh Ross in the Genesis Question: “When readers encounter the long life spans in Genesis, they become convinced that the book is fictional, or legendary at best, whether in part or in whole.”1

Apologists have attempted to explain the long ages in Genesis in various ways.

1. Year-month-season explanation. This theory proposes that perhaps a “year” to the people of the ancient Near East had a different meaning than it does today. Instead of being marked by the orbit of the sun, a “year” then marked the orbit of the moon (a month) or a season (three months). Among the Greeks, years were sometimes called “seasons” (“horoi”), and this explanation of possible one-month or three-month equivalents of a year was mentioned by the ancient authors Pliny and Augustine, among others.2

However, this theory is nonsensical if one looks at the “begotting” ages of the patriarchs. If the ages for Adam and Enoch are divided by twelve (1 year = 1 month), then Adam would have fathered Seth at age eleven and Enoch would have been only five when he fathered Methuselah.3 Enoch’s age (65; Gen. 5:21) divided by four (1 year = 1 season) would result in an age of sixteen, which is biologically possible. But if the same number four is divided into 500— Noah’s age when his first son(s) were born (Gen. 5:32)—then the age of “begetting” would have been 125 years old, another unlikely possibility.

2. Astronomical explanations. Astronomical explanations also have been proposed to explain the incredibly long patriarchal ages. Perhaps the rotation period of the Earth has changed, so that the days then were not equivalent to those we have now. Or, perhaps a supernova could have damaged the Earth’s ozone layer, thus increasing ultraviolet radiation and systematically decreasing the age of humans.4 A problem with such astronomical explanations is that there is no concrete evidence for them. Some scientists have speculated that the transfer of angular momentum from the Earth to the moon over time has resulted in an appreciable increase in the length of a day.5 But this happened very early in Earth’s history—not within the last 10,000 years or less when the patriarchs lived. Similarly, there have been no known supernova explosions within the last 10,000 years that can account for the long ages of the patriarchs and a supposed decrease in the age of humans over time.

3. Tribal, dynasty, or “clan” explanation. Another explanation is that, when the Bible makes a statement like “Adam was the ‘father’ of Seth,” it means that the Adam “clan” had exercised dominion for 130 years (the age of Adam when Seth was born). In this view, Seth would be a direct-line descendent of Adam (grandson, great-grandson, etc.), but not the immediate son of Adam.6 Then, Seth’s “son” descendants would become part of the Seth dynasty or tribe. While this theory might have some merit, as will be described later in the Chronology section (p. 247), it is not in accord with the personal encounters that the “fathers” supposedly had with their “sons”; e.g., Noah was 500 years when his son(s) were born (Gen. 5:32), yet he coexisted with them on the ark (Gen. 7:13).

4. Canopy theory explanation. Other people have tried to explain the long ages of the patriarchs by creating a “different world” for pre-Flood humans. Whitcomb and Morris’ explanation of these long ages fits with their idea of a vapor canopy.7 Before Noah’s Flood this canopy supposedly shielded Earth from harmful radiation so that people could live to a very old age. After the Flood, harmful radiation slowly increased so that the patriarchs’ ages exhibit a slow and steady decline to the biblical life span of 70 years mentioned in Ps. 90:10.

The problem with the canopy theory is that there is not one shred of geologic or physical evidence to support it. In addition, there is no archaeological evidence that substantiates incredibly long ages for people in the past—either in Mesopotamia or anywhere else. It is known that humans living in the Bronze Age (which time span includes most of the patriarchs) had an average life span of about forty years, based on human skeletons and legal documents of the time.8 If infants and children are included in this life-span average, it would be even lower. Examination of skeletons in a number of graves at al’Ubaid (one of the oldest known archaeological sites in Mesopotamia) has indicated that some people lived to be over sixty—a great age at that time.9 A wisdom text from Emar describes the stages of a man’s life as follows: forty as prime, fifty as a short time (in which case he died young), sixty as “wool” (that is, gray hair), seventy as a long time, eighty as old age, and ninety as extreme old age.10

How then can the great ages of the patriarchs and other problematic numbers of Genesis be explained? Does one have to construct a fantastical world based on fantastical ages in order to come up with an adequate explanation? The answer is quite simple—if one considers the “world view” or “mind-set” of the people living in the age of the patriarchs; that is, the Mesopotamians (the people who lived in what is now mostly Iraq) and the Hebrews in Palestine descended from the Mesopotamians. This world view includes both the religious ideas of these people and the numerical system used by them.

The Mesopotamian System of Numbers

The Mesopotamians were the first to develop writing, astronomy, mathematics (algebra and geometry), a calendar, and a system of weights and measures, accounting, and money.11 Even as early as the Ubaid Period (~3800– 5500 BC), Mesopotamian architects were familiar with numerous geometric principles such as 1:2, 1:4, 3:5, 3:4:5 and 5:12:13 triangles for laying out buildings,12 and by ~3000 BC scribes were working with unrealistically large and small numbers.13 The Mesopotamians were the first to arrive at logarithms and exponents from their calculations of compound interest,14 they knew how to solve systems of linear and quadratic equations in two or more unknowns,15 and they calculated the value of pi () to an accuracy of 0.6%.16 The so-called Pythagorean Theorem was invented by the Mesopotamians more than 1,000 years before Pythagoras lived, and was known not only for special cases, but in full generality.17

Sexagesimal Numbers

The mathematical texts of the Sumerians or Babylonians (people who lived in southern Mesopotamia) show that these people were regularly using a sexagesimal numbering system at least by Uruk time (~3100 BC). Along with the numbers sixty and ten on which their combined sexagesimaldecimal system was based, the number six was also used in a special “bi-sexagesimal system.”18 Examples of the Mesopotamian sexagesimal system are still with us today in the form of the 360º circle, with 60-minute degrees and 60-second minutes, and with respect to time, the 60- minute hour and 60-second minute. The Mesopotamians’ sexagesimal basis for time is also reflected in their 360-day (60 x 6) year, where a “13th month” (called iti dirig) was added every sixth year to make up for the days in an actual 365-day solar year.19 A sexagesimal (base 60) system made it possible for the Sumerians to construct a family of nicely interrelated measurement systems, with sequences of naturally occurring standard units that were easy to deal with in computation.20

One disadvantage of the Sumerian numbering system was ambiguity. The Sumerians wrote their system of numbers in cuneiform—a series of wedged marks impressed onto clay tablets. Although the Babylonians had developed the important principle of “position” (place-value notation) in writing numbers, the absolute value of the digits impressed on cuneiform tablets remained a matter of intelligent guesswork.21 Another uncertainty was introduced through the fact that a blank space in a cuneiform text could sometimes mean zero (the Mesopotamians had no symbol for zero).22 In practice, these types of ambiguities were not that serious for Mesopotamian scribes because the order of magnitude and position of the numbers could be realized from the context of the tablet (e.g., whether one was denoting rations of barley, rings of silver, or whatever). However, such contextual ambiguities could have created confusion for later Hebrew biblical scribes who were not familiar with the sexagesimal system and its peculiarities.

Despite the inherent difficulties in the Mesopotamians’ sexagesimal numbering system, these are not considered to be the major problem when it comes to understanding the ages of the patriarchs. The most important consideration in this regard is the Mesopotamians’ concept of sacred numbers.

Sacred Numbers

The Mesopotamians incorporated two concepts of numbers into their world view: (1) numbers could have real values, and (2) numbers could be symbolic descriptions of the sacred. “Real” numbers were used in the everyday administrative and economic matters of accounting and commerce (receipts, loans, allotment of goods, weights and measures, etc.), construction (architecture), military affairs, and taxation. But certain numbers of the sexagesimal system, such as sossos (60), neros (600), and saros (3600) occupied a special place in Babylonian mathematics and astronomy.23 In religion, the major gods of Mesopotamia were assigned numbers according to their position in the divine hierarchy. For example, Anu, the head of the Mesopotamians’ pantheon of gods, was assigned sixty, the most perfect number in the hierarchy. In addition, the Mesopotamians sometimes used numbers cryptographically; e.g., names could have a corresponding numerical value. For example, during the construction of his palace at Khorsubad, Sargon II stated: “I built the circumference of the city wall 16,283 cubits, the number of my name.”24

The sacred numbers used by the Mesopotamians gave a type of religious dignity or respect to important persons or to a literary text … [and] fit into [their] world view of symmetry and harmony.

At least from the late third millennium BC onward, “sacred numbers” were used in religious affairs for gods, kings, or persons of high standing. Just as a name held a special significance to the ancients (e.g., Noah, Gen. 5:29)—beyond its merely being a name—a number could also have meaning in and of itself. That is, the purpose of numbers in ancient religious texts could be numerological rather than numerical. 25 Numerologically, a number’s symbolic value was the basis and purpose for its use, not its secular value in a system of counting. One of the religious considerations of the ancients involved in numbers was to make certain that any numbering scheme worked out numerologically; i.e., that it used, and added up to, the right numbers symbolically. This is distinctively different from a secular use of numbers in which the overriding concern is that numbers add up to the correct total arithmetically. Another way of looking at it is that the sacred numbers used by the Mesopotamians gave a type of religious dignity or respect to important persons or to a literary text.

Sacred numbers also fit into the Mesopotamians’ world view of symmetry and harmony, which was at the core of their meaning of life. It was important to associate one’s life with the right numbers and to avoid wrong numbers that might bring disharmony (kind of like the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang). Symbolic numbers were of highest value in religious texts because they were considered to be the carriers of ultimate truth and reality. And what was the “really big” unit to the Mesopotamians—the number around which their whole mathematical system revolved? It was the number sixty (and to a lesser degree the number ten), or some combination of these two numbers (e.g., 60÷10 = 6; 60 x 10 = 600).26 Because sixty was considered to be the fundamental unit of the sexagesimal system, it is not surprising that it came to be thought of as sacred.

The Mesopotamian-Biblical Connection

Scholars in biblical and Mesopotamian studies have tried over the years to show the common traditions of both cultures, including the creation and flood stories and the numbers contained in Genesis. Stories from the ancient Akkadian (northern Mesopotamia) and Sumerian (southern Mesopotamia) cultures also tell of extraordinarily long life spans of important persons. This is not proof of long life spans, only that the two cultures were connected in their dual concept of sacred and secular numbers, and that people from both cultures were educated in essentially the same mathematical curriculum.27 Similar to the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians had exaggerated “long reigns” for their gods and kings,28 and this seems to have been a common religious tradition for peoples of the ancient Near East. A number of scholars have specifically attempted to mathematically determine a numerical connection between the long time spans in the Sumerian king lists and the long ages of the patriarchs in Genesis,29 but despite these attempts, there still remains no absolute demonstrable relationship between the two besides a superficial similarity.30

What has emerged from such comparative studies, however, is that the concept of numbers has changed over time (Table 1). While the Mesopotamians used a sexagesimal-based system, the Hebrews centuries later were using only a decimal-based system.

A possible scenario for this noted change is: When Abraham left Mesopotamia (Ur) for Palestine, he and his descendants came in contact with other Semitic peoples and the Egyptians who were using the decimal system.31 Thus, gradually the decimal system replaced the sexagesimal system in the Hebrews’ numerical world view as they moved from Mesopotamia to Palestine to Egypt and back to Palestine. Certainly Moses, the author of Genesis, would have used the decimal system, having been raised and educated in Egypt, but perhaps some of the numerological elements of the Mesopotamians’ world view remained in the Hebrew culture even at this time. It seems certain that a sound and really historical chronology had become established in Israel by the time of David (~900 BC), as two hundred or so chronological dates in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are, with a few exceptions, of remarkable consistency.32 But even then, and long after, preferred or figurative numbers continued to be used throughout both the Old and New Testaments. During the Middle Ages, the concept of “sacred” numbers was lost, and it was not until the discovery and publication of the Babylonian mathematical texts in the second quarter of the twentieth century that the numerological nature of the patriarchal ages was rediscovered.33

This change in the conception of numbers may be the reason for the overall general decrease of patriarchal “begetting” ages and life-spans over time (from 930 years for Adam down to 175 years for Abraham; Table 2). The tendency to use exaggerated sacred numbers decreased after the Hebrews left Mesopotamia and slowly acquired a different numerical world view in Palestine and Egypt. However, in the generally decreasing age trend, there is an enormous jump in the “begetting” age of Noah (Table 2). This may signify an attempt by the biblical writer to favor the more righteous, or those who “stand out” from the rest due to their promi

TABLE 1: How the Concept of Numbers May Have Changed over Time

 

 

The rest of the article can be read here…

Finding the Book of Mormon Narrow Neck.

Sebastian Munster: Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula [Rare 2nd State of first map of the continent of America].

Sebastian Munster (1448-1552): Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula (1540) [Rare 2nd State of first map of the continent of America]. Another example of the rudimentary spatial relationships inherent in pre-modern geographers views of the world. See high quality version here.

Introduction

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

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.

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

So also with the Book of Mormon’s ‘land of desolation’ which was comparatively desolate of trees and peopled with cultures ‘expert in cement’ (ref). How could one NOT think immediately of the southwest’s ancestral Puebloan cultures matching perfectly with their ubiquitous desert adobe and rock great houses? There is simply nowhere else in North America with such ‘desolate’ landscape and widespread use of rock and adobe (cement) used for building not just temples and monuments but homes as well. Not to mention Joseph Smith is quoted by ___ saying that the Southwest was the Book of Mormon land of Desolation ‘where the Nephites lost their power’ (ref).

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

The problem, of course, is that these overwhelmingly obvious correlations do not work with Mormon’s ‘narrow neck’, which is said to be north of Zarahemla and Bountiful. (As well as a few radiocarbon dating issues we cover in another section). Because of this, most serious LDS scholars have looked south of the isthmus of 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.

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:

Exploring the Text for Clues

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.

In the following section of this article, we’ll go through the remaining seven Book of Mormon references to the narrow pass or defensive line and make a textual case for a correlation with the numerous immense defensive structures of both the north and south Sierra Madre Occidental trade corridor (see figure 2).

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

The Codex Xolotl is one of the earliest examples of native Mesoamerican map representations.

The Codex Xolotl is one of the earliest examples of native Mesoamerican map representations.

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.

Alma 22:32–33. Alma 22 undoubtedly contains the largest concentration and most specific verses on the geographic layout of the land, found in the Book of Mormon. The verses are composed of a number of huge run-on sentences, with an unorthodox English structure that might be expected from translating ancient glyphs from a nonlinear language. The entire section from verses 25 to 34 contain a general description of all the Nephite and Lamanite lands, but for the purpose of this paper we will look at only verses 32 and 33.

From the text it seems apparent that the author (who we presume to be Mormon) viewed the “line Bountiful” as a defensive line or passage where the Nephites built cities and stationed armies in order to prevent the Lamanites from northward travel. Elsewhere this geographic feature is called a “narrow pass” (Alma 50:34; Mormon 3:5), or “passage” (Mormon 2:29), or a defensive “line” (Alma 22:32; Hel 4:7) which armies were stationed on; taking a day to a day and a half time to travel along (Alma 22:32). The assorted references to this feature seem surprisingly consistent given the different names and labels used to describe it. This could perhaps be an evidence of the texts legitimacy. If Joseph Smith or his contemporaries had made up the entire tale of the Book of Mormon— why not refer to the Isthmus that we can assume he would have had pictured in his mind by the same name in every reference? And why make its width or distance both inconsistent and impossible? (Calling it a ‘days journey’ in one location, and a day and a half journey in the other, neither of which are possible for the 130 mile wide isthmus of teotihuantepec or the 40 mile wide isthmus of Panama.) If however, an ancient historian was attempting to combine the views of multiple source texts with his own partial knowledge, it makes sense to refer to this distinctive feature in the numerous manners given within the assorted sources. Likewise it seems logical that some confusion might be introduced into his compilation. In the following description of Alma 22, the general picture that’s drawn is pretty straightforward, and has brought many independent LDS researchers to the same general conclusions concerning an “idealized geography” portrayed by the text.

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)

Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Internal models of the Book of Mormon

Despite our belief that Mormon’s geographic understanding was a bit skewed, from the text it seems obvious that he believed the Southern land of Bountiful, Zarahemla and Nephi were separated from the Land Northward (where he was born) by a “small neck of Land”.  This was a belief also shared by many early map makers, particularly because the Chihuahuan desert was so impenetrable. Being born in the land Northward, he would have understood that the land Southward was geographically smaller and more surrounded by water than his homeland. However, in numerous travels and wars fought for and amidst this geographic barrier, the text makes no definitive assertion that he ever visited the Eastern seashore. Nor in all his travels and battles which take place along the western shoreline of the defensive pass (Mormon 2:6; 3:8; 4:3), does he ever even mention the east sea!

I suggest this not only supports my idea that Mormon’s views of the eastern seashore were nebulous at best, but I also suggest it supports the idea that the time frames given for journey across the defensive line, were not at all indicative of the complete distance across the isthmus itself. In my model the day or day and a half journey mentioned above and in verse 32 (see also Hel 4:7), refer only to the distance across the defensive line where they had positioned their “guards and their armies” to block the predominate travel corredor.

This interpretation makes far more sense given the fact that even in the most accepted models which attempt to correlation the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the “narrow neck”, one has to wonder what Nephite readily travels 120 miles in a day or day and a half?!  Most foot travelers, are considered incredibly fit if they can travel 50 miles in a day. Looking at Helaman 4:6–7, we see an interesting clarifier added concerning this “line bountiful”. Here Mormon writes, “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”.  So we see that the day or day and a half’s journey is more likely referring to the length of a defensive line built across the travel corridor to hem up the land Northward, and not necessarily a description of the size of an actual isthmus. Even though it would appear that Mormon obviously believed the land Southward was an Isthmus of sorts which was “surrounded by water”, there is no certain language that makes the full width of that Isthmus only a day’s journey across. (Again, the 120 mile long isthmus of tehuantepec or even the 40 mile wide isthmus of panama/darien are poor candidates because unlike our proposition, they simply have no evidence of fortified cities or outposts which would serve as a “defensive line”.)

Alma 50:34. The following verse as its presently punctuated makes a fairly strong argument for Mormon believed the “narrow pass” to be a defensive line or geographic feature that ran from the east sea to the west sea.

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

But what if we are reading it wrong? Much like Alma 22:32–33, it uses strange wording in saying “on the west and on the east” instead of the more clear wording used in Alma 22:27, Hel 3:8 or Hel 11:20 which specifically mention the sea west and the sea east. Is it possible that the modern superficially added punctuation should have actually been done something like this…

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)

In this rendition the phrase “yea by the sea on the west” is clarifying the location of the narrow pass. Thus the author would not be saying the narrow pass ran from the sea west to the sea east, but instead that the armies headed off opposing forces “by the sea on the west”, as well as sending a division of the army to head to the eastern edge of the defensive line, should their opposition chose that route.

[it seems to be suggesting that there are TWO NARROW PASSES HERE. One on the east and one on the west. This is probably the best scripture to show that the “neck” is more properly a “pass” or strip of passable land. One on the west and another on the east. Because this reference has to do with the people of Morianton fleeing (WHO LIVE ON THE EAST SEA), it is almost certainly referring to the east narrow pass. Much like Alma 52:9]. Moroni is at Bountiful when he heads off to stop them. (also on the east sea].

Alma 52:9. This reference, (like all but two others) is even more general.  There’s nothing in this passage to infer that the “narrow pass” is between two bodies of water, It could easily be a different kind of pass between two natural barriers, like the sea and a mountain, or an impassable desert.

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)

[This would make no sense on the West Sea. Moroni appears to be on the west, and sends to Teancum who is on the East, to fortify the pass. Almost certainly on the East.]

Alma 63:5. Much like the preceding verse, this reference says nothing to identify the “narrow neck” as an isthmus. Once again, the only mention is of the “west sea”, and a narrow neck or geographic neck-like feature which leads to the land northward.

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)

Hel 4:6–7. Much like Alma 50:34, the following verse strangely does not say that the line upon which the Nephites “fortified and stationed their armies” ran from the west sea, to the east sea. It once again says in a strange fragmented sort of way “from the west sea, even to the east”. As suggested above, might this clarifier be referring to the Land Bountiful which, as in Alma 22:33, is said to run “from the west even unto the east”. Even if we are to accept the directional clarifier is speaking of the fortified defensive line, it really doesn’t say it’s a day and a half journey from east to west sea, it says it’s a day and a half journey along that line they had fortified and occupied with armies. The isthmus of tehuantepec is 120 miles across. That’s a long way to go in a day and a half, and there is no evidence of fortifications there. I suggest that regardless of which model one favors in Book of Mormon geographic correlations, none should suggest that the text references an Isthmus taking a day or day and a half’s journey to cross.

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)

Mormon 3:5–6. These last two verses and their context is an important description of events because it shows that Mormon, as the one compiling the record, was well familiar with defending this geographic feature. Much like 5 out of the 6 references, the emphasis is on the defensibility of this narrow pass. He apparently lived in the land northward (likely in the land of desolation. see Mormon 1:2, 2:17, 3:5) until he was 11 (Mor 1:6).  Probably in an rural area, because when his father brings him to the land southward, he seems amazed at how the land is “covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” But in Mormon’s personal records he always refers to the narrow neck as the “narrow pass” or “narrow passage” (Mor 3:5, 2:29)  He repeatedly speaks of the cities and battles he fought in the land of desolation concerning cities bordering “west by the seashore” (Mor 2:6) of the narrow pass, but never mentions the east sea. In fact as we’ve shown, it can be argued he never says anything to specifically define the “narrow pass” as an isthmus on both sides.

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)

Mormon 2:29. Like the previous verse, this passage is incredibly generalized. It says nothing about a sea, or defensive line, it only talks about some type of narrow passage.

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)

I believe that after closely examining these scriptures, a solid case can be made for the western Sierra Madre travel and trade corridor being the Book of Mormon narrow pass, passage or defensive line that was repeatedly used to stop Lamanite armies from overrunning the land northward.  The extensive ruins of at least 4 separate defensive lines have been found a long this corridor, making it by far the best archaeological correlation to the trends and events mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

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 likely   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” likely likely   place where the sea divides the land

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)

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)

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)

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)

The Basis for Confusion

[cover the Jaredites last] Our model agrees with many traditional Book of Mormon archaeological interpretations in suggesting that the Mesoamerican Olmec civilization was the latest Jaredites. However, we suggest that the Olmec were only the southernmost outpost of the Jaredite civilization. Its main hub spanning from the Clovis and Cochise Southwest cultures to the Adena culture of the Ohio valley. We believe the Olmec culture grew out of the Jaredite city built by Lib as described in the Book of Mormon’s first chronological reference to the “narrow neck of land”.

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)

This would explain the similarities between the Adena and Olmec mound building practices. If the Olmec cities were founded as a southmost outpost by migrants from the Adena lands of Lib’s imperial core, it’s plausible to imagine that the outpost grew with time into a separate detached culture of its own. One which was somewhat removed from the Jaredite “Land of Desolation”, destroyed by the scorched earth practices of the final Jaredite war. It thus served as a logical escape of the final Jaredite King Coriantumr.

The Jaredite reference is one of only two reference in the Book of Mormon to a “narrow neck” or “small neck of land”. In nearly every other reference, the traditional narrow neck is actually referred to as a defensible “line” or “pass”. We suggest that this defensible line across the travel corridor is separate and distinct from the narrow neck mentioned by Mormon concerning the Lib’s Jaredite City, and that Mormon likely believed the two to be the same. We also suggest that this “defensive line” is what is referred to as a day or “day and a half’s journey for a nephite”, not the entire length of the isthmus. The confusion concerning the “narrow neck” was likely intertwined in Mormon’s culture’s lack of knowledge concerning the true relationship between the predominant north-south travel and trade corridor (which followed the Pacific Ocean along the Western Sierra Madre Range) with that of the impassible chihuahuan desert and the uninhabited northern mexico coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

1569 Camocio Map. Several maps associate TOLM. 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
purportedly associated with the Toltecs

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 also

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. Abundant evidence exists of ancient (ice age?) lakes, possibly rivaling North America’s Lake Bonneville in size.

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.