Book of Mormon Archaeology - Limited Geography Model
There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon or the Nephites and Lamanites, who were supposed to have numbered in the millions. (Response: already addressed here) This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists have developed the Limited Geography Model (it happened in Central or South America) and claim that the Hill Cumorah mentioned as the final battle of the Nephites is not in Palmyra, New York but is elsewhere. This is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith and other prophets have taught. It also makes little sense in light of the Church’s visitor’s center near the Hill Cumorah in New York and the annual Church-sponsored Hill Cumorah pageants.
We read about two major war battles that took place at the Hill Cumorah (Ramah to the Jaredites) with deaths numbering in the tens of thousands – the last battle between Lamanites and Nephites around 400 AD claimed at least 230,000 deaths on the Nephite side alone. No bones, hair, chariots, swords, armor, or any other evidence of a battle whatsoever has been found at this site. John E. Clark, director of BYU’s archaeological organization, wrote in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies:
In accord with these general observations about New York and Pennsylvania, we come to our principal object – the Hill Cumorah. Archaeologically speaking, it is a clean hill. No artifacts, no walls, no trenches, no arrowheads. The area immediately surrounding the hill is similarly clean. Pre-Columbian people did not settle or build here. This is not the place of Mormon’s last stand. We must look elsewhere for that hill.
CES Letter, Page 12
Like all Book of Mormon geography, there is no official Church position regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah where the prophet Mormon hid up his records. For many decades researchers have proposed "Limited Geography Theories," some of which posit that the Hill Cumorah is not in New York.
There is no revelation declaring Book of Mormon geography. Early leaders offered their own speculations, which did not always agree, but no leader claimed a revelatory source for their opinions.
Joseph Smith said very little about the geography of the Book of Mormon. What little he did say suggests that he may have shared the view held by his associates, that the Book of Mormon narrative describes events occurring in North, Central, and South America.
The angel Moroni did not identify the geography of locations mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon itself does not identify the hill in which it was buried. Instead, the hill in which all the Nephite plates other than those of the Book of Mormon were buried is identified (Mormon 6:6).
In an article published in 1848, former apostle John E. Page reported a correlation between Central America and the main lands of the Book of Mormon:
"All who are familiar with the Book of Mormon are probably aware of the fact that the whole account of the history of the fore fathers of the American Indians, called the Nephites, Lamanites and Zoramites, is confined to Central America entirely until the 394th page [Alma 63]." ("Collateral Testimony of the Truth and Divinity of the Book of Mormon.—No. 3," Gospel Herald, 14 September 1848, 123.)
In John Sorenson's Geography of Book of Mormon Events, the "Plain Facts" model from 1887 limits the action in the Book of Mormon to between Columbia and Mesoamerica, considerably smaller than the Hemispheric Geography (see pp. 135–37). The Holmes model from 1903 extends from Ecuador and Arizona (pp. 96–97). The Hills model from 1917 centers on Mesoamerica, and is the earliest that corresponds with modern Mesoamerican theories (pp. 87–89). The Young model from before 1920 focuses on Central America (pp. 205–06).
While the early Saints may have thought of Book of Mormon events in hemispheric terms, neither the prophecies in the Book of Mormon nor Joseph Smith's account of Moroni's visit requires such an interpretation of Book of Mormon geography.
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