Finding the Book of Mormon Narrow Neck.

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

Something is strange about the ‘Narrow Neck’

Have you ever noticed that in many references Mormon makes to the entire width of the land or isthmus he lived on, he uses the full term “from east sea to the west sea

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

But every time it refers to Desolation or Bountiful on the Book of Mormon’s “narrow neck”, it only specifically mentions ONE sea. Almost like the ancient author THINKS its a narrow isthmus (as suggested by the use of the word “neck” in Alma 22:32; 63:5 & Ether 10:20), but tries to stick to the wording of the maps & texts he’s copying which NEVER clearly say “from the east sea to the west sea” as they did with other parts of the land. Instead its always explained in terms of a pass on only one sea, with an ambiguous reference to the other.

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

Could this be evidence that Mormon was a bit confused when it came to his “narrow neck?”

Expecting too much from ancient geographers

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 (featured above), 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 ancient travel & trade, occurred along the ‘narrow passes’ between the coasts and the steep mountain ranges, with only a few sparsely inhabited mining communities existing in the Deserts of the northern interior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”.

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

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. High quality version available here.

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

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

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

1609 Shanhai Yudi Quantu (not by Ricci)

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

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

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

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

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

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