Posts

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.

Book of Mormon Geography Scriptures & Notes

[A]
Aaron, city/cities of
Alma 8:13; 50:14

Ablom
Ether 9:3

Agosh
Ether 14:15–16

Akish, wilderness of
Ether 14:3–4, 14

Alma, valley of
Mosiah 24:20, 21

Ammonihah, city of
Alma 8:6–13, 16–18; chs. 9-14; 15:1, 15; 16:2-3, 9, 11; 25:2; 49:3, 10-11

Amnihu, hill
-Amlicites come upon it, and battle Alma and his Army.
-Very near Zarahemla, (“up” from Zarahemla)
-Directly east of River Sidon (Alma 2:17)
Alma 2:15

Amulon, land of
Mosiah 23:31; 24:1

Angola, city of
Mormon 2:4

Ani-Anti
Alma 21:11

Antionum, land of
Alma 31:3; 43:5, 22

Antiparah, city of
Alma 56:14, 31–34; 57:1-4

Antipas, mount
Alma 47:7, 10

Antum, land of
Mormon 1:3

[B]
Boaz, city of
Mormon 4:20–21

Bountiful, city/land of
Alma 22:29–33; 27:22; 50:11, 32; 51:28, 30-32; 52:9, 15,17-18, 39; 53:3-4; 55:26; 63:5; Helaman 1:23, 28; 4:6; 5:14; 3 Nephi 3:23; 11:1

[C]
Comnor, hill
Ether 14:28

Corihor, land/valley of
Ether 14:27–28

Cumeni, city of
Alma 56:13–14; 57:7-8, 12, 23, 31, 34

Cumorah, land/hill of
Mormon 6:2–6, 11; 8:2

[D]
Desolation, city of
Mormon 3:7; 4:2, 3, 8, 13, 19

Desolation, land of
Alma 50:34; 63:5; 3 Nephi 3:23; Mormon 3:5; 4:1-2, 19; Ether 7:6

[E]
Ephraim, hill
Ether 7:9

[G]
Gad, city of
3 Nephi 9:10

Gadiani, city of
3 Nephi 9:8

Gadiomnah, city of
3 Nephi 9:8

Gid, city of
Alma 51:26; 55:7-26

Gideon, city/land/valley of
-named after Gideon who was killed by Nehor (6:7-8)
-Nehor lived here or near here? thus near Ammonihah who were his converts?
-east of the river Sidon (Alma 6:7)
-first church Alma visited after putting Zarahemla in order. Thus close (next door) to Zarahemla. (Alma 6:8)
Alma 2:20–26; 6:7-8:1; 17:1; 30:21; 61:5; 62:3-6

Gilgal, city/valley of
3 Nephi 9:6; Ether 13:27–30

Gimgimno, city of
3 Nephi 9:8

[H]
Helam, city/land of
Mosiah 23:3–4, 19–20, 25–26, 29, 35, 37–39; 27:16

Hermounts, wilderness of
Alma 2:37

Heshlon, plains of
Ether 13:2–8

[I]
Ishmael, land of
Alma 17:19–21; 20:14-15; 21:20-21; 22:4; 23:7-9; 24:5; 25:1

[J]
Jacob, city of
3 Nephi 9:8

Jacobugath, city of
3 Nephi 9:9

Jashon, city/land of
Mormon 2:16–17

Jershon, land of
Alma 27:22–24, 26; 28:1, 8; 30:1, 19-21; 35:6, 13-14; 43:4, 15, 18, 25

Jerusalem, city/land
Alma 21:1–4; 24:1; 3 Nephi 9:7

Jordan, city of
Mormon 5:3

Josh, city of
3 Nephi 9:10

Joshua, land of
Mormon 2:6

Judea, city of
Alma 56:9, 15, 18, 57; 57:11

[L]
Laman, city of
3 Nephi 9:10

land northward
Alma 22:32

land southward
Alma 22:32

Lehi, city/land of
Alma 50:15, 25–28, 36; 56:24, 26; 62:30; Helaman 6:10

Lehi-Nephi, city/land of
Mosiah 7:1–4, 21; 9:1-6, 8

Lemuel, city of
Alma 23:12–13

[M]
Manti, city/land of
Alma 16:6–7; 17:1; 22:27; 43:22, 24-54; 56:14; 58:26-30; 59:6

Manti, Hill
-Nehor is executed here after trial in Zarahemla. Thus just outside Zarahemla
Alma 1:15

Melek, land of
Alma 8:3–4; 35:13; 45:18

Middoni, land of
Alma 20:2–3, 4–7, 14–15, 28–30; 21:12-13, 18; 23:10

Midian, land of
Alma 24:5

Minon, land of
Alma 2:24

Mocum, city of
3 Nephi 9:7

Moriancumer, land of
Ether 2:13

Morianton, city/land of
Alma 50:25, 36; 51:26; 55:33; 59:4-5

Moriantum
Moroni 9:9–10

Mormon, place/waters/forest of
Mosiah 18:4–16, 30–35; 25:18; 26:15; Alma 5:3

Moron, land of
Ether 7:5–6, 17; 14:6, 11

Moroni, city/land of
-drown in sea at time of Christ.
Alma 50:13; 51:22-24; 59:5; 62:25, 32-34; 3 Nephi 8:9; 9:4

Moronihah, city of
-a mountains comes upon it at the time of Christ.
3 Nephi 8:10, 25; 9:5

Mulek, city/land of
Alma 51:26; 52:2, 16-26; 53:2, 6; Helaman 6:10

[N]
narrow neck of land
Alma 22:32; 63:5

narrow pass
Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:29; 3:5

Nehor, city of
Ether 7:9

Nephi, city of
Mosiah 9:15; 21:1, 12; Alma 23:11; 47:20; 47:31

Nephi, land of
2 Nephi 5:8; Omni 1:12, 27–30; Words of Mormon 1:13; Mosiah 7:6–9; chs. 9-22; 28:1-9; 29:3; Alma 2:24; chs.
17-26; 27:1, 20; 28:8; 47:1, 20; 50:8; 53:6; 58:38; Helaman 4:12; 5:20

Nephihah, city/land/plains of
Alma 50:14; 51:24-26, 59:5-11; 62:14, 18-26, 30

Noah, city/land of
Alma 49:12–15

[O]
Ogath
Ether 15:10

Ornner, city of
Alma 51:26

Onidah
Alma 47:5

Onidah, hill
Alma 32:4

Onihah, city of
3 Nephi 9:7

[R]
Ramah, hill
Ether 15:11

Riplah, hill
Alma 43:31, 35

Ripliancum, waters of
Ether 15:8

[S]
Sebus, waters of
Alma 17:26, 34; 18:7; 19:20

Shem, city/land of
Mormon 2:20–21

Shemlon, land of
Mosiah 10:7; 11:12; 19:6; 20:1-5; 24:1; Alma 23:12

Sherrizah
Moroni 9:16–17

Sherrizah, tower of
Moroni 9:7

Shilom, city/land of
Mosiah 7:7, 21; 9:6, 8, 14; 10:8, 20; 11:12-13; 22:8-11; 24:1; Alma 23:12

Shim, hill
Mormon 13; 4:23; Ether 9:3

Shimnilom, city of
Alma 23:8, 12

Shurr, valley of
Ether 14:28

Sidom, land of
Alma 2:15, 3, 11, 13–17

Sidon, river
-a hill called a Amnihu lies east of it. (Alma 2:15)
-runs by the land of Zarahemla. (Alma 2:15)
-deep enough near gideon to throw bodies into and have them float to sea. (Alma 3:3)
-is the chosen location for baptism of those in Land of Zarahemla. (Alma 4:4)
Alma 2:15, 34; 4:4; 22:29

Siron, land of
Alma 39:3

[T]
Teancum, city of
Mormon 4:3–8, 14

[Z]
Zarahemla, city of
Alma 2:26; 5:2; 6:1-7; 7:3-5; 8:1; 31:6; 56:25; 60:1; Helaman 1:18–33; 7:10; 13:12; 3 Nephi 8:8, 24; 9:3;
4 Nephi 1:8

Zarahemla, land of
Omni 1:12–13, 24, 28; Mosiah 1:1, 18; 2:4; 7:9, 13-14; 8:1-8, 14; 9:2; 21:24-26; 22:11-13; 24:25; 25:19-23; 27:35; 29:44; Alma 2:15–25; 4:1; 5:1; 15:18; 16:1; 22:32; 27:5-20; 28:1; 35:14; 59:4; 60:30; 62:6-7; Helaman 3:31; 4:5; 5:16-19; 6:4; 7:1; 13:2; 3 Nephi 3:22–23; Mormon 1:6

Zeezrom, city of
Alma 56:13–14

Zerin, mount
Ether 13:30

Animals in the Book of Mormon

 

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

Throughout this article, keep in mind that our model places the Nephites primarily in the Mexican Highland, the Lamanites in the Yucatan and the Jaredites primarily in North America— the early Jaredite record being an abridged oral & channeled history spanning from the Ice age to the Nephite era.

 

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

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

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

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

Elephants

Note that Elephants are in the list for animals useful for the early Jaredites. Evidence for the extinction of all North American Elephants (Mammoth & Mastodon) by carbon dates of 7,000 BC is overwhelmingly conclusive. This requires that the early Jaredite record was older than most people (including possibly the Book of Mormon authors themselves) believed. Unless carbon dates are somehow wrong, it seems likely that the Jaredite record (much like the Biblical & Babylonian records) may have presented a somewhat condensed version of cultural histories leading back to the ancient Babel tower myth. The mention of elephants and other extinct animals, along with the obvious fact that the Book of Mormon tells us the Jaredites were the first inhabitants of this continent is the most striking evidence for our correlated timeline which correlates the early pre-dearth Jaredites with North American paleo Indians living prior to the end of the ice age. (The “dearth” in Ether 9:30 being a massive episode of climate change ending the last ice age cycle) Because of the mention of elephants, correlating the paleoindian with the archaic cultures of North America is THE ONLY plausible correlation. (see this article which covers date discrepancies). This is certainly plausible since the record itself does not give any concrete dates for the Jaredite culture (only a genealogy table). There are literally thousands of archeological sites showing that the clovis and paleoindians lived on diets rich in megafauna.  Many archaeologists have in fact suggested that these native american groups may have been responsible for hunting many of these animals to extinction. This highly debated theory gives a lot of weight to the idea given in the book of Ether where it states,

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

 

size comparison of mammoth, mastodon and african elephants

Cureloms and Cumoms

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

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

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

Cattle, Oxen, and Cows

Concerning the Jaredite “cattle, of oxen, and cows” mentioned in Ether 9:18, likely matches would have to be American Bison (subfamily Bovinae/bovine), shrub ox (family Bovidae: went extinct with other megafauna); Harlan’s muskox (family: bovidae, subfamily: caprinae), Moose (family Cervidae, could have been classified as either cow or horse by Mormon/Ether depending on their cultural classification system) and for Mesoamerica and 1 Nephi 18:25, Baird’s Tapir which is locally known as the “Mountain Cow”. Each of these species ranged far south of their current habitat during the last Ice Age. There is of course no evidence for moose or shrub ox in Mexico, so the only option for the Nephite list is Bison as an Ox, which historical accounts put as far south as Zacatecas (Lst et. al 2007); and Tapir, perhaps as a swine or cow type animal. (It’s certainly nothing like a horse! LOL)

cattle, oxen and cows

cattle, oxen and cows

Large tapir.

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

 

Goats

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

The North American Mountain Goat.

The North American Mountain Goat.

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

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

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

 

Sheep

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

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

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

Swine

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

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

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

 

Ass & the Horse

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

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

Horses aren’t specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being the type of animal that carried people. In fact in the instances that they are mentioned in relation to “chariots”, the wording could easily be referring to some type of supply slay (3 Nephi 3:22; Alma 18:9–12).  So its actually pretty plausible that the Book of Mormon translators used the biblical/European word “horse” to refer to a different type of native animal.  Just as Reindeer are the “horse” of Norse peoples, it seems fairly possible that the purported Book of Mormon channelers translated words for White-tale and Mule Deer (or even Elk, North American caribou or moose for those living farther north) in instances it was used. Both elk and deer have been readily domesticated in modern times. Elk farming in North America has become increasingly popular in recent years and Siberian natives have been domesticating elk and deer for thousands of years. Europeans also have occasionally domesticated deer for hundreds of years. Deer in most national parks and many urban settings as well as Elk in National Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone have become so docile as to cause problems by their constant dependence and interaction with people. There are even numerous historic images of old cowboys riding elk. It seems logical that if many Nordic cultures could get a caribou to pull a sleigh then it is certainly plausible that some talented ‘deer whisperers’ could train a strong mule deer to pull a ceremonial supply ‘chariot’ as mentioned in Alma 18:9–12. I also find it interesting that settlers named the deer species O. hemionus “Mule Deer” because the animals large ears reminded them so much of a Mule or Ass. Deer are incredibly common in Mexico and even provided a main source of food for cultures as far south as the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala.

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

 

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

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

 

Comparison of modern horse and North American cow Elk.

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

Flocks & Herds

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

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

Domesticating Deer. Nora Deer Park, Japan

Video of man Riding Buffalo

Video of man attempt at Riding Elk

Video of man attempted Moose Ride

Video of domesticating Antelope

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

Book of Mormon Archeology Unearthed

by Thomas Weaver   

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

INTRODUCTION

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

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

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

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

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

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

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

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

The Formative

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

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

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

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

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

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

Pre-Classic

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

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

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

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

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

Correlated timeline of archeological and scriptural dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selected Bibliography can be found here