Book of Mormon Archaelogy Compared to Other Civilizations

CES Letter Core Question

Where are the Nephite or Lamanite buildings, roads, armors swords, pottery, art, etc.? We see evidence of Roman, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations.

Compare this with the archaeological evidence of other hillside battle sites. Caerau Hillfort, in the Wales capital of Cardiff, was found to have abundant archaeological evidence of inhabitants and weapons of war dating as far back as 3600 BC in the form of stone arrowheads, tools, and pottery.

Compare the absent evidence of Book of Mormon civilizations to the archaeological remains of other past civilizations such as the Roman occupation of Britain and other countries. There are abundant evidences of their presence during the first 400 years AD such as villas, mosaic floors, public baths, armor, weapons, writings, art, pottery, and so on. Even the major road systems used today in some of these occupied countries were built by the Romans. Additionally, there is ample evidence of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations as well as a civilization in current day Texas that dates back at least 15,000 years. Another recent discovery has been made of a 14,000-year-old village in Canada.

Admittedly, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but where are the Nephite or Lamanite buildings, roads, armors, swords, pottery, art, etc.? How can these great civilizations just vanish without a trace?


CES Letter, Page 12

Religious critics frequently like to assert that there is voluminous support for Biblical archaeology and none for the Book of Mormon. It is a contrived comparison because of the remarkable differences between the two worlds (Old and New) regarding epigraphic data, iconographic data, the continuity of culture, and toponyms.

When examining ancient evidence archaeologists work with a very fragmentary record. In general, they find physical evidence, but such evidence in and of itself doesn’t provide much information unless it is placed within a context—a framework by which it can be understood.

Even acknowledging the archaeological advantages for determining the location and historical actuality of biblical lands, we find that only slightly more than half of all place names mentioned in the Bible have been located and positively identified.

Despite the identification of some biblical sites, many important Bible locations have not been identified. The location of Mt. Sinai, for example, is unknown, and there are over twenty possible candidates.

The only way archaeologists can determine names is through written records. Archaeological data alone tells little about a people. Judaism as a distinct religion would not exist without the ancient texts that bound the people together. A distinct Jewish religion is not discernable in the archeological record.

The Book of Mormon provides very limited geographic data and the primary record keepers died out in the fifth century. Their enemies embraced a much different culture that was antithetical to the Nephites, their lifestyles, and record keeping.

Claims that there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon are based on naive and erroneous assumptions. Without epigraphic evidence from the Americas (which is currently very limited from Book of Mormon times), it is impossible to know the contemporary names of ancient Mesoamerican cities and kingdoms.

For the time period in which the Nephites lived, scholars are aware of only a very limited number of inscriptions from the entire ancient New World that can be read with any degree of certainty. One of the very few ancient cities in Mesoamerica for which the pre-Columbian name is known is named "Lamanai"? The site's name is pre-Columbian, recorded by early Spanish missionaries, and documented over a millennium earlier in Maya inscriptions as “Lam'an'ain."  

To dismiss the Book of Mormon on archaeological grounds is not justified. Many recent archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we the exact location of Book of Mormon cities is unknown.


Additional Resources:

Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon –  by William J. Hamblin

Fair Issues 78: What is the correct Book of Mormon geography?, Miachael R. Ash

Fair Issues 77: What is the correct geography for the Book of Mormon?, Michael R. Ash

Book of Mormon Geography (PDF) (2008 FAIR Conference) by Larry Poulsen

Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography (2013 FAIR Conference) by Mark Alan Wright

A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies –   by John E. Clark

Book of Mormon 10 No Confirmed Locations by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon cities match Maya cities

Book of Mormon Geography

Book of Mormon Geography

Book of Mormon Geography, Old World

Geography of The Book of Mormon: the river Sidon

Archaeology and the Book of Mormon (PDF) by Michael Ash

Arabia and The Book of Mormon by Cooper Johnson

Arabia and the Book of Mormon (2001 FAIR Conference) by S. Kent Brown

Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon by Michael Ash

FAIR Issues 20: Book of Mormon geography may be smaller than you think, Michael R. Ash

FAIR Issues 40: Two points about Book of Mormon geography, Michael R. Ash

Fair Issues 79: A consistent Book of Mormon map, Michael R. Ash

Articles of Faith 11: Neal Rappleye – “War of Words and Tumult of Opinions”: The Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography, Neal Rappleye

 Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon GeographyMark Alan Wright

Axes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of MormonMark Alan Wright

“War of Words and Tumult of Opinions”: The Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography,Neal Rappleye

Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon –  by Mark V. Withers

Interpreting Book of Mormon Geography –  by Randall P. Spackman

Joseph Smith, Revelation, and Book of Mormon Geography –  by Matthew Roper

Book of Mormon Geography in the Old World

Book of Mormon Geography in the New World

The Book of Mormon in a New World Setting by Brant Gardner

Journey of Faith: Book of Mormon Documentary

Journey of Faith: The New World video

Summary of Book of Mormon evidence and Geography by Steve Carr

Truth about Joseph Smith’s Beliefs on Geography of The Book of Mormon

LDS Temple dedicatory prayers and Book of Mormon geography

Ancient Mayan city Lamanai and The Book of Mormon

BOM Geography debate — 3 Unique Characteristics with Jerry Ainsworth

Book of Mormon 10 No Confirmed Locations by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon cities match Maya cities

Book of Mormon Geography

Book of Mormon Geography

Book of Mormon Geography, Old World

Geography of The Book of Mormon: the river Sidon

Heartland as Hinterland: Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography

In Search of Ancient Cumorah Segment 1

In Search of Ancient Cumorah segment 2

In Search of Ancient Cumorah segment 3

Indians of the Great Lakes region and The Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon geography

Joseph Smiths Book of Mormon geography

Archaeology and the Book of Mormon (PDF) by Michael Ash

 Arabia and The Book of Mormon by Cooper Johnson

Arabia and the Book of Mormon (2001 FAIR Conference) by S. Kent Brown

Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon by Michael Ash

FAIR Issues 20: Book of Mormon geography may be smaller than you think, Michael R. Ash

FAIR Issues 40: Two points about Book of Mormon geography, Michael R. Ash

Fair Issues 79: A consistent Book of Mormon map, Michael R. Ash

Fair Issues 78: What is the correct Book of Mormon geography?, Miachael R. Ash

Fair Issues 77: What is the correct geography for the Book of Mormon?, Michael R. Ash

Book of Mormon Geography (PDF) (2008 FAIR Conference) by Larry Poulsen

Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography (2013 FAIR Conference) by Mark Alan Wright

A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies –   by John E. Clark

Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon –  by William J. Hamblin

Articles of Faith 11: Neal Rappleye – “War of Words and Tumult of Opinions”: The Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography, Neal Rappleye

 Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon GeographyMark Alan Wright

Axes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of MormonMark Alan Wright

“War of Words and Tumult of Opinions”: The Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography,Neal Rappleye

Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon –  by Mark V. Withers

Interpreting Book of Mormon Geography –  by Randall P. Spackman

Joseph Smith, Revelation, and Book of Mormon Geography –  by Matthew Roper

Book of Mormon Geography in the Old World

Book of Mormon Geography in the New World

The Book of Mormon in a New World Setting by Brant Gardner

Journey of Faith: Book of Mormon Documentary

Journey of Faith: The New World video

Summary of Book of Mormon evidence and Geography by Steve Carr

Truth about Joseph Smith’s Beliefs on Geography of The Book of Mormon

LDS Temple dedicatory prayers and Book of Mormon geography

Ancient Mayan city Lamanai and The Book of Mormon

BOM Geography debate — 3 Unique Characteristics with Jerry Ainsworth

Heartland as Hinterland: Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography

In Search of Ancient Cumorah Segment 1

In Search of Ancient Cumorah segment 2

In Search of Ancient Cumorah segment 3

Indians of the Great Lakes region and The Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography

Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon geography

Joseph Smiths Book of Mormon geography