Critics who claim that references to “steel” in the Book of Mormon are anachronisms make assumptions that are not valid.
- Steel is mentioned only five times in the Book of Mormon, once in the Book of Ether (7:9), and four times in the Nephite records (1 Ne. 4:9, 1 Ne. 16:18, 2 Ne. 5:15 and Jar. 1:8).
- Nephite steel is not mentioned after about 400 B.C (Jarom 1:8). That it was not discovered when the Spaniards arrived is not surprising.
- Two of the references refer to Near Eastern weapons of the early sixth century B.C. 1 Ne. 4.9 states that the blade of Laban’s sword was “of most precious steel.” Nephi’s Near Eastern bow was “made of fine steel” (1 Ne. 16.18). Such references are not anachronistic; blacksmiths in the Middle Eastern were making steel by 1000 B.C.
- Archaeologists have discovered evidence of sophisticated iron technology from the island of Cyprus. One interesting example was a curved iron knife found in an eleventh century tomb. Metallurgist Erik Tholander analyzed the weapon and found that it was made of “quench-hardened steel.”
- Another discovery included a carburized iron sword near the ancient site of Jericho. The one meter long sword with a bronze shaft dates to the time of king Josiah, who would have been a contemporary of Lehi. This find has been described as “spectacular” since it is apparently “the only complete sword of its size and type from this period yet discovered in Israel.”
- The absence of the mention of "steel" after the Book of Jarom (fifth book in the Book of Mormon) supports that its use diminished or vanished. Regardless, it is impossible to prove steel did not exist simply because it has yet to be discovered.