Book of Mormon Artifacts;
Smithsonian & National Geographic Response to Inquiry
This is the one subject about Mormonism that I put off the longest. It was such a huge undertaking in my mind that quite frankly, it scared me! I’m not an archaeologist, nor am I a theologian; but, the one thing I’ve been gifted with is literacy. I can figure out when/if something isn’t sound and make a determination if the information provided can be deemed trustworthy.
I looked at countless Christian, aka “anti-Mormon” websites, in addition to FAIR and FARMS to get a collective list of which things were questionable in the Book of Mormon and came up with nineteen items. I’ve used the official websites of dictionaries, encyclopedias, universities and research analysts of various fields to retrieve the data needed and have listed my findings here.
As I’ve already said, I’m a simple person. I raised a couple of kids, a couple of Rottweilers and I like to study. Additionally, I’m a nosey person and I want to know why things like silk, iron or horses weren’t in the Americas during the time of the Book of Mormon and that is what drives me to get each question I have answered.
I want to know when these things arrived here or how long they’ve been known to be here in America and I want to be sure I personally know for an absolute certainty from historical records that each of my findings is correct. For every website I’ve listed there were at least five others that I went to for corroboration.
I think it’s also important to see what the original source has to say about themselves so what does one of the greatest thinkers of Mormonism have to say about the Book of Mormon? From B.H. Roberts himself, here is an analysis of Joseph Smith’s work.
Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 271; “There were other Anti-Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators… they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are a product of history, that they came upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America.”
If this guy doubts the authenticity of the Book of Mormon shouldn’t we?
1 – Barley
Mosiah 7:22; “And all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people into subjection or into bondage. And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind, and one half of the increase of our flocks and our herds; and even one half of all we have or possess the king of the Lamanites doth exact of us, or our lives.”
CFW (Cereal Foods of the World) has an incredibly detailed account of the history of food grains on their website. (1) Yeah I know it might sound boring from that explanation, but it is interesting to find out who ate what and when. The massive amount of work performed by these people serves as proof barley was not in the Americas until the arrival of Columbus’ second visit here in 1494, more than one thousand years after the end of the Book of Mormon story.
This particular site is provided by C.W. Newman and R.K. Newman from Newman Associates, Inc. Bozeman, MT. Performing a basic search on the net in addition to his site you’ll learn that Mr. Newman is cited in several works regarding the history of barley and “received his Ph.D. in animal science at Louisiana State University in 1965”. He did “extensive work and research exploring the food and feed value of barley”. Here is part of what he had to say regarding barley;
“Columbus brought barley to the North American continent in 1494 on his second voyage (27). The original introduction site was not conducive to barley culture, and there were no further reports of production in the area. Later there were two additional pathways through which barley was introduced more successfully in North America. Barley was brought to the East Coast colonies from England at the turn of the 17th century and into the Southwest during the Spanish mission movement (29). There is little or no indication that barley was used for food during these early years; most of the crop was grown for malting, and the remainder was used as animal fee. The same pattern continues today in the United States, with the majority of barley used for animal feed (65%) and malt and alcohol production (30%) and the remainder consumed as food (1.5%) or used for other purposes (15).”
2 – Bees
Ether 2:3; “And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind”.
According to Tom Turpin, professor of Entomology at Purdue University, the honey bee didn’t arrive in America until they were imported here by European settlers around 1622.
3 – Bows and Arrows
1 Nephi 16:14; “And it came to pass that we did take our bows and our arrows, and go forth into the wilderness to slay food for our families; and after we had slain food for our families we did return again to our families in the wilderness, to the place of Shazer. And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea.”
From the many websites I visited throughout this research it was generally agreed that bows and arrows didn’t come into the Americas until the late Woodland (500 AD) or early Mississippian (800-1100 AD) time period. The dates listed here are an average from data collected. As you can see this is at least 400 years after the story in the Book of Mormon ends!
Typically arrows were made from the rudimentary carving of various sharpened stone while bows were made from hickory, ash or black locust woods that could have “a pull weight of about fifty pounds”.
The iron hatchet came with the arrival of the white man in the eighteenth and nineteenth century which greatly changed the scenery of warfare in the lives of the American Indians. Up until the fifteenth century American Indians had pretty much stayed to themselves in their own villages, with the remnants of palisades being found from the southeastern part of the U.S. to north of the Ohio valley.
Historical warfare periods weren’t known to the American Indians until the arrival of the white man. There were the occasional “Indian raids”, but these never consisted of more than a few hundred men at a time, nothing in scale to what the Book of Mormon claims. (2)
Helaman 3:7; “And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.”
I keep learning the older I get, the less I know in life and this is a perfect example. Ha! Cement is an ingredient in concrete. I’ve always thought they were the same thing and used the words interchangeably not knowing my ignorance…sigh! From the website of www.dictionary.com it says this about cement;
“Any of various calcined mixtures of clay and limestone, usually mixed with water and sand, gravel, etc., to form concrete, that are used as a building material.”
Cement became very popular during the Roman Empire during the time of Nero, circa 60 AD. It was used to build palaces, malls and temples like the Pantheon. Aside from these large structures people didn’t use it to build homes or other buildings with it, but used it only as the glue between bricks or stones. (3)
And just when I thought learning about cement would bore me to death I learned something very curious which caught my immediate attention;
“Construction of a system of canals in the first half of the 19th Century created the first large-scale demand for cement in this country. In 1818, a year after the Erie Canal was started, Canvass White, an engineer, discovered rock deposits in Madison County, NY, from which natural hydraulic cement could be made with little additional processing. He produced large amounts of this cement for use in the Erie Canal.” (4)
Hmmm…it makes me wonder if Smith used the idea of cement homes from the local construction sites surrounding his neck of the woods…certainly he would’ve heard about this and/or read about it in the local papers!
5 – CHARIOTS
Alma 18:9; “And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.”
There were a number of uses for the chariot most of which included war battles, racing, parades and games. The first recorded location of chariots is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, but even that is disputed. It seems the last recorded use of a chariot was circa 540 AD timeframe and by that time in history they were only being used in parades. (5)
The website of www.encyclopedia.com gives a good concise explanation of the origin, uses, and geographical spread of the chariot. Nothing I found said anything about the chariot being in the American continent at any time so that pretty much negates the story of the father of Lamoni gathering the chariots to go for a feast!
6 – Chickens
While I am fully aware that the word “chickens” was not used in the Book of Mormon the verse above indicates that this is most probably what they were talking about. However, according to the National Geographic Society and every reputable website out there we read otherwise. As noted they have recently found fragments of a chicken bone in Chile which they believe is around 1550 – 2000 years old. It was one chicken bone in Chile…were the Book of Mormon people ever known to have been in Chile? (6)
In defense of using the chicken in this article the reader might also want to read an interesting book written by LDS author Paul Cheesman called “Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture”, pg. 191. It is in this chapter that Cheesman defends early voyages from China and other eastern countries at or around the sixteenth century AD. Keep in mind they are eastern countries some 1200 years after the end of the Book of Mormon stories…
7 – CIMETER (SCIMETER)
Jarom 1:20; “And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God…and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.”
I wanted to address two items of interest in this section. One is the topic of the National Geographic Society and their official statement of “finds” in Mesoamerica and the other topic is the scimeter. Now the scimeter is an old-world weapon that would be categorized as a curved spear or sword that is typically held by two hands. For a list of Aztec weapons click on the link below.
The LDS apologists will tell you that Smith was referring to the Mesoamerican cimeter but these are made of hardwood clubs, not spears made of steel that Smith claims. The spears that people in the Mesoamerica areas used were made of stone that had been sharpened. These proved to be a formidable weapon; however they weren’t made of any type of metal.
We’ve already established through the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institute that the Book of Mormon has never proved to be reliable in any archaeological sense (7). This is part of what Ms. Walker from the National Geographic Society said to me through an e-mail:
“The National Geographic Society has not examined the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. We know of no archaeological evidence that corroborates the ancient history of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon, nor are we aware of empirical verification of the places named in the Book of Mormon.”
So why does the LDS Church have people like John Sorensen saying things like this?
“When Cortez crossed southern Mexico during his epic journey to Honduras, he discovered fortifications around the Laguna de Terminos area very similar to those Moroni erected in the first century B.C. (Alma 53:1-5) in the east coastal lowlands only a few score miles from Cortez’s route.”
Sorensen is a gifted writer as we can see and he has the gift of being able to twist words to make it look as if these two places match up in identity, therefore authenticating the Book of Mormon. Sorensen goes on to say:
“The Book of Mormon describes a ditch being dug around the protected area; the excavated earth was piled inward to form a bank. Atop it a fence of timbers was planted and bound together with vines. That very arrangement is now well documented archaeologically. The National Geographic Society-Tulane University project at Becan in the center of the Yucatan peninsula has shown the pattern to be very old.” John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 261.
Pay close attention to this previous section because Sorensen made it sound like the National Geographic Society from Tulane authenticated the Book of Mormon claims, but they did not! What they documented is what Cortez discovered when he went to Honduras. And Cortez never said anything about Laguna de Terminos being similar to what Moroni supposedly built! When the average Mormon reads something like that, they’ll assume the National Geographic said it was true! On the very next page of Sorensen’s book it says this about the cimeter;
“The Mesoamerican parallel would be the weapon the Aztecs called the maccuahuitl, a hardwood club edged on both sides with razor-sharp obsidian blades. The Spaniards called this feared weapon a “sword,” said it was sharper than their own weapons, and learned with dismay that one blow with it could cut off the head of a horse. Bernal Diaz, among the conquering Spaniards, also reported “broad swords” distinct from the maccuahuitl, but these are not elsewhere described, as far as I know.” John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 262.
The truth is that these two weapons are vastly different. They were made by two different cultures, from two different types of material. (8) And the National Geographic Society never authenticated what the Book of Mormon says no matter what BYU says. From what all the well respected archaeologists and scientists have said it is even more unlikely the Middle East and Mesoamerica even knew of each other during the years that Smith claims this was going on!
To the Mormon: it is easy enough to be startled when reading or hearing anything from F.A.R.M.S. They make it sound so good, but the true evidence has always proved otherwise…there will never be any evidence with proof the lands of the Book of Mormon existed. As B.H. Roberts said, the only place they did exist is in Joseph Smith’s own mind and Satan’s of course!
For further reading on this subject from the Maxwell Institute please read what they have to say here.
8 – COMPASS
Here are two examples of this word in the Bible and how they are used.
Exodus 27:5; “And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.”
Exodus 38:4; “And he made for the altar a brazen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it.” The Hebrew word for compass is: karkob. It means rim or top margin. In the New Testament we see it used in Acts 28:13;
“And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli.”
The Greek word is perierchomai. It means: to come all around, that is, stroll, vacillate, veer—fetch a compass, vagabond, wandering about.
Now let’s look at what 1 Nephi 18:21says about the word compass which supposedly took place circa 589 BC;
“And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.”
We can see from this passage of First Nephi that they are referring to a navigational device. After spending about 10 minutes searching on the internet for information on who invented the compass I came upon the website of Smith College History of Science. Here is what they said about the compass:
“Earliest records show a spoon shaped compass made of lodestone or magnetite ore, referred to as a “South-pointer” dating back to sometime during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE).” The report goes on to say; “…By the time of the T’ang dynasty (7-8th century CE), Chinese scholars had devised a way to magnetize iron needles, by rubbing them with magnetite, and then suspending them in water (early 11th century)…during the Sung dynasty (1000 CE) many trading ships were then able to sail as far as Saudi Arabia without getting lost.”
The Europeans didn’t use compasses for navigation until the twelfth to thirteenth century (9), so why did the Nephites have them some 1,800 years before the Europeans and at least 400 years before it was invented by the Chinese? In addition, why when it broke was no one able to fix it except one person?
You can find the Smith College History of Science website here.
So from what the Bible says about the word compass and its transliterations, and from what we can learn by just reading a history lesson of sorts, we can see there is no way at all the “Nephite” Jews were using a compass to guide themselves around.
Granted, Joseph Smith didn’t have access to the internet back in 1830 but certainly if this was theopneustos (God breathed), Joseph Smith would have had access to God! Wouldn’t God know when the compass was invented?
9 – Cows
1 Nephi 18:25; “And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, 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. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.”
As we can see from the two sites below there is at least an eleven hundred year discrepancy between what the Book of Mormon claims and historical facts are. (10)
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy reports the Pineywoods descends from Spanish cattle and were one of the first breeds brought to America in the early 1500’s. (10)
And in case there was any doubt as to what type of cattle or dairy cows we’re talking about there is also this site that tells us about the first dairy cows that were brought to America;
“Dairy cows first arrived in America in 1611 which helped end severe starvation in Jamestown Colony.” They also report “In 1623, two Devon heifers and a Devon bull were imported to the Plymouth Colony from Britain. These three cattle were probably the first purebred cattle to reach North America. Devon cattle were highly valued as oxen in the American Colonies.” (10)
Interestingly enough we also see in Studies of the Book of Mormon, pg. 99, B.H. Roberts quoted well respected Mr. W. H. Holmes from the Bureau of American Ethnology who thought it was interesting that the characters in the Book of Mormon never mentioned drinking milk;
“…Strange, this absence of the use of milk as a diet since the Book of Mormon peoples were immigrants into the New World from regions where the use of milk was a common diet, and came to a land of “cattle and cows,” yet no mention is made of the use of milk as a diet in the Book of Mormon.”
10 – Donkey/Ass
Mosiah 5:14; “And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called.”
The simple explanation below gives proof the ass/donkey wasn’t in the Americas when Joseph’s story in the Book of Mormon claims they were. I wonder how many times things like this have to appear before a member of the Church gets sick of having so many “coincidences” of things not being right?
“Equines had become extinct in the Western Hemisphere at the end of the last Ice Age. However, horses and donkeys were brought back to the Americas by the Conquistadors. In 1495, the ass first appeared in the New World when Christopher Columbus brought four jacks and two jennys. It is from this bloodline that many of the mules which the Conquistadors used while they explored the Americas were produced.” (11)
11 – Elephants
The evolution explanation of the elephant in America is listed below. I found it rather interesting that their surmising of what happened with the elephant sounds a lot like the surmising of what took place in the Book of Mormon…they “multiplied astonishingly and then became extinct…” Remember what God told us in Ecc.1:9?
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
From the website of “Revolution Against Evolution” it states;
“The mastodon elephant arrived in America during the Miocene epoch, according to the texts, multiplied astonishingly, and then became extinct. Assorted explanations have been offered, including the theory that early hunters wiped them all out. Various dates, for example, 4500 B.C., are given when the last elephant in America died. A far more recent date is suggested by the following. Near Concordia, Columbia, a complete skeleton of a mastodon was found in an artificial salt pond, which had been constructed by Indians. The pond, with its bottom of paved stones together with the animal, had been entombed by a sudden landslide (Victoria Institute, 1886, 22:151).” (12)
12 – Glass
Ether 3:1; “And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass…”
A couple of things should be noted for this section just to make sure we are fair when looking at this subject.
First, according to the website of www.inventors.about.com it says that glass is thought to have been first created around 3,000 BC during the Bronze Age (3300 – 1200 BC).
Secondly, because we’re dealing with a type of window glass for this particular study, the information I found for this invention took place during the Imperial Period (44 BC). The website of Met Museum says this about window glass;
“Glass windowpanes were first made in the early imperial period, and used most prominently in the public baths to prevent drafts. Because window glass in Rome was intended to provide insulation and security, rather than illumination or as a way of viewing the world outside, little, if any, attention was paid to making it perfectly transparent or of even thickness. Window glass could be either cast or blown.” (13)
So we see from what the Met Museum reports there is little to no chance that windows were readily available for ships or boats at the time of the Jaredites which supposedly dates to 2,700 BC to 600 BC. The main story of the Jaredites can be found in the book of Ether.
American glass has an interesting story if you’re so inclined to read a synopsis of that! The contributor to this site is Steve W. Martin, Ph.D., Professor of Materials, Science and Engineering, Iowa State University. (14)
In part this is what Dr. Martin reports on this site;
“Early American glass. The first factory in what is now the United States was a glass plant built at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1608. The venture failed within a year because of a famine that took the lives of many colonists. The Jamestown colonists tried glassmaking again in 1621, but an Indian attack in 1622 and the scarcity of workers ended this attempt in 1624. The industry was reestablished in America in 1739, when Caspar Wistar built a glassmaking plant in what is now Salem County, New Jersey. This plant operated until 1780.”
13 – Horses
The verse above supposedly took place between 550 and 545 BC; however, this is a huge problem with archaeological studies and evidences according to researchers. From the website of the Columbia Encyclopedia it said;
“The Spanish conquistadors brought horses to the New World, where Native Americans soon acquired them from ranches and missions. The Plains Indians of North America quickly developed a horse culture that led to their ascendancy in numbers and power. Horses were used for hunting buffalo and other game, for warfare, and for pulling loads on a travois . Escaped Indian horses were ancestral to the mustang , the so-called wild horse of the W United States.” (15)
Now if you’re a Mormon and believe in the validity of the Book of Mormon then you’ve got a problem according to the website mentioned above. If you believe that horses were in the Americas before the time of the Conquistadors then you have to believe in evolution.
If you look at the side in favor of Mormonism you’ll see what they continue to say at FAIR about the horse. I find the majority of their insights to be totally lacking factual evidence based upon what their own apologists state. The reader will also notice how they typically try to explain away the problems for the lack of evidence by making excuses for what the Book of Mormon actually claims.
From FAIR it says; “Non-LDS Canadian researcher, Yuri Kuchinsky, also believes that there were pre-Columbian horses…Unfortunately, however, such theories are typically seen as fringe among mainstream scholars. Due to the dearth of archaeological support, most scholars continue to believe that horses became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period. Is it possible that real horses lived in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? And if so, why does there seem to be no archaeological support?
First, it is important to recognize that the Book of Mormon never states or implies that horses roamed the New World in large numbers–in fact, horses are mentioned very infrequently…”
See what I mean? The above explanation is case in point.
14 – Iron
2 Nephi 5:15; “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.” – BC 588 – 570.
The findings for this particular subject matter are just as damning as all the others in Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon. In the tenth chapter of a book called “History of the Manufacture of Iron in All Ages, pgs. 100-103, by James Moore Swank it says;
“It would not be profitable to inquire minutely whether the mound-builders or any other aboriginal inhabitants of the United States, or the aboriginal inhabitants of any other part of the American continent, possessed a knowledge of the use and consequently of the manufacture of iron. It may be said with positiveness that it has not been proved that they possessed this knowledge even in the slightest degree, if we except the very rare vise of meteoric iron. Antiquarians have not neglected a subject of so much importance, but their researches have produced only negative results. Rude hatchets and other small implements of iron have been found in situations which give color to the theory ‘that they may have been of aboriginal origin and may have been made from iron ore, but the weight of much concurrent testimony is wholly against this supposition. Foster, in his Prehistoric Races of the United States of America, says that “no implement of iron
has been found in connection with the ancient civilizations of America.” (16)
I highly encourage the reader to investigate this claim by the Book of Mormon in addition to reading the entire chapter of the book mentioned above. It gives quite an extensive history of the early American Indians, the mounds throughout Mesoamerica and northern America regarding their use of iron. The book was written in 1892. You can read a pdf copy at the link provided or see the real thing at Stanford University Library.
The Mormon Church will tell you of course the archaeologists have definitively found direct evidences of just the opposite of what all other researchers have to say. In Milton R. Hunter’s book, Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, chapter six, pg. 127 it says;
“The inhabitants of ancient America not only used steel, but they also mined and refined numerous metals, including iron. After the colonists had arrived in America and Nephi had become the leader of the Nephites, he taught them many industries.”
What is so incredulous about this is the fact that the LDS archaeologists are purportedly down in Mesoamerica in the temples of people who performed human sacrifices and they’re claiming these are the holy people of God in the Book of Mormon?! If these are the people of their god I am utterly grateful that I got out of Mormonism!
15 – Millet
Ether 9:17-18; “Having all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things;18 And also 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.”
The reason I bring up the subject of millet is because of what the Book of Mormon claims they used. As you can see in the passage above they claim they grew grains of all kinds. Millet is a grain that has been around since BC 4,500 so it stands to reason they would have this on hand coming from the Middle East. (17)
Yet once again here we see how the experts from the Church speculate on what Smith may have meant when he “translated” the plates while downplaying a written work by Deanne Matheny about the topography of the Tehuantepec Geography called “Does the Shoe Fit?” In FARMS review of Books, vol. 6, no. 1 (1994): pg. 337 it says;
“…millet, introduced by the Spaniards in Yucatan and said in the sixteenth century to grow “marvelously well,” could not be located at all in the Carnegie Institution’s botanical inventory of the area early this century. The same might have been the case with the seeds brought with Lehi’s party and planted (but, realize, only after at least nine years of being hoarded through the Arabian desert; they may or may not have been healthy by then, and the new moist tropical environment would hardly welcome desertic Near Eastern grains). Yet realize that nothing is said in the text about the species those seeds represented…”
It is one thing to have to defend the works of what you believe in, but why do you have to defend every single thing that continually defies logic and the historical truth? While mankind will never be able to explain every single thing in the Bible, I believe there’s a huge difference between taking what God says on faith and because He’s proven Himself time and again; to defending things over and over that never prove themselves to be true at all. It must be exhausting to say the least.
16 – Pigs/Swine
There are times when I go out of my way to try and give Smith the benefit of the doubt; this is not one of those times! Every time I see the above verse I am reminded of an eye-opening experience I had with my mother in Ogden, Utah while ordering an Egg-McMuffin of all things at a McDonald’s.
We pulled up to the drive through window and I placed our order, with the direction that I wanted only the egg with no meat on my sandwich. When we got to the pick-up window I checked my order and sure enough my sandwich had a slice of ham on it.
While they were exchanging my order, I made an off-hand comment out loud. I said; “What if I were Jewish and I couldn’t eat it”? I had never seen such a blank look on my mother’s face before. After a few moments of silence she told me that I was being very rude to the Jews.
I then asked her what she meant by that and she told me she couldn’t explain it, but wondered what the Jews had to do with my order.
This is when the absurdity of the Church irritates me to no end. Here I have my own mother not knowing enough about Jewish culture to know that they don’t eat pork, good grief. Thanks a lot Joe. My heart just broke for her and the other Mormons who’ve bought into this lie. How very sad.
Shouldn’t a man of God who is supposedly translating a holy work for the people know that Jews don’t eat pork? And why wouldn’t you be teaching your congregants about Jewish culture if you’re proclaiming that you’re the true Jews? (See Mormon Doctrine, pg. 311.)
It is well documented historical fact that the swine came to America from Europe through the Spanish explorers. (18) From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources it says this about the domestic pig in America;
“Domestic pigs were introduced from Europe to the Americas by Spanish explorers. Over time, some pigs escaped or were intentionally released into the wild. Subsequently, free-ranging, feral populations established themselves on American soil.”
I also found further information on the domestic pig on a Google timeline website and it said;
“1493 – North American pigs originated from wild stocks still found in European, Asian and North African forests. Wild pigs are not truly native to North America but are believed to have been introduced after Columbus’ second journey in 1493. Domestic pigs are …North American pigs originated from wild stocks still found in European, Asian and North African forests. Wild pigs are not truly native to North America but are believed to have been introduced after Columbus’ second journey in 1493. Domestic pigs are categorized according to three basic types: large-framed lard types with a thick layer of fat; bacon types that weigh about 150 pounds; and pigs prized for their meat.” (19)
17 – Rice
Enos 1:21; “And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats and also many horse.”
Now in the above description provided by the Church, you’d have to believe the Nephites had all types of grains; rice included.
If someone in the Church tells you there is no proof they had rice ask them what grain exactly they are talking about. Have them be specific, just as the Bible is!
It is a known fact that rice didn’t make an arrival to the Americas until 1694. It was imported through Madagascar and grown primarily in South Carolina and Georgia where there was an abundance of slaves. The slave owners did this purposefully as they knew full well they’d have someone to cultivate this crop at a prolific rate considering the slaves already knew how to grow rice. (20)
18 – SILK
Alma 4:6; “And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.”
Surfing around on the net I found many interesting facts about silk but I think the most concise explanation of it came from the official site of the Silk Road. With the information I was able to glean, it became painfully obvious there was no way the Nephites had the ability to have silk in their possession in 37 BC.
What also convinced me this was impossible is when I learned how arduous of a process it was to produce silk. You have to wonder how Nephi could’ve kept this up and then passed down the traditions all the way to Alma which is where we see the first sign of the people in possession of silk.
According to reports silk was first produced in China circa 3,000 BC and could only be used for the emperor, his family and selected dignitaries. This went on until 550 AD when two Nestorian monks smuggled some of the silkworm eggs out in hollow bamboo staves. Once this took place China’s complete monopoly on the silk trade was done and allowed the industry to spread to the Middle East.
This website reports that silk was a very demanding process which needs very close attention and while this takes place two things must be adhered to; perfecting the diet of the moth and prevention of the hatching out of the moth. The eggs had to be kept at 65 degrees Fahrenheit being raised gradually to 77 degrees so they could hatch.
While maintaining the same temperature once the baby worm hatches they must be fed every half hour around the clock on fresh hand-picked white mulberry leaves which are unique to China. At this time they said the baby worms are kept on trays stacked on top of each other while it multiplies its weight 10,000 times within a month and sheds its skin several times. (21)
On the contrary this is what the Church says in FARMS Review of Books, vol. 4 (1992): pg. 209 while denouncing the Tanners work Mormonism, Shadow or Reality. Once again we have an explaining away of the evidentiary truth.
“The term silk is not limited to the fiber produced y the Asian moth, but can also refer generally to something silk-like. There were a number of substances in pre-Columbian Central America that would have fit this Book of Mormon description. Silk-like fiber was gathered from the pod of the Ceiba tree in Yucatan and spun. The wild pineapple plant in tropical America produced a silky fiber that was greatly prized by Mesoamericans. The Aztecs even made silk-like fabric from rabbit hair. Some of the earl conquerors referred to these substances as “silk”. Certainly, any number of such substances could fit the Book of Mormon designation of silk (Alma 1:23; 4:6).
If the material that the Nephites made were silk-like then why doesn’t it say so? How difficult would it have been to include such a thing? You really think that someone like my mother would know that it wasn’t really silk?
19 – Steel
Jarom 1:8; “And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.”
According to the Wikipedia website on the history of ancient steel it says;
“Some of the first steel comes from East Africa, dating back to 1400 BC. In the 4th century BC steel weapons like the Falcata were produced in the Iberian Peninsula, while Noric steel was used by the Roman military.” (22)
The article goes on to say this about modern steel making in America;
“The modern era in steelmaking began with the introduction of Henry Bessemer‘s Bessemer process in 1858. This enabled steel to be produced in large quantities cheaply, so that mild steel is now used for most purposes for which wrought iron was formerly used.”
There doesn’t seem to be getting around this one! How would the Nephites have the knowhow to make this type of steel here in America circa BC 420? Another great website on the history of steel making can be found at the link below.
As you can see from all the items I’ve listed here I did not use all items the National Geographic Society or the Smithsonian cited in their letters about the Book of Mormon. I left out just a few items that are easy enough for anyone to do a search for on the internet for further study.
If you are LDS and have questions there are other resources available to you that goes into much greater detail than what I’ve provided here. We have a DVD that we can send you at no charge if you’re interested in taking a look at what the experts have found, it’s called DNA and the Book of Mormon. Above all, know that we provide this information to you out of love and we pray for you daily.
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18
10 – www.albc-usa.org
Citation for this page
Trentinella, Rosemarie. “Roman Glass”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rgls/hd_rgls.htm (October 2003)
Responses to the Book of Mormon
For years we have heard from the missionaries that the Smithsonian Institute and National Geographic have both corroborated the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I’ve been told by countless missionaries that all I had to do was contact them for the information so that is what I did via e-mail. The following are their responses to my inquiry.
Dear Sir or Madam;
I am looking for information from the Smithsonian Institute that will help me verify that you do/do not have anthropological evidence that there was a large civilization that supposedly existed in the Americas that the Book of Mormon claims. I’ve been told by countless people that your organization holds maps, etc of said finds. I’ve also been shown letters from you to other people that there is no such evidence of the Mormon Church. Any help you could provide me with would be greatly appreciated!
Life After Ministries
Dear Michelle Grim:
The National Geographic Society has not examined the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. We know of no archaeological evidence that corroborates the ancient history of the Western Hemisphere as presented in the Book of Mormon, nor are we aware of empirical verification of the places named in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830.
Yet Smith’s narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for the history of the Americas. Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.
In fact, students of prehistoric America by and large conclude that the New World’s earliest inhabitants arrived from Asia via the Bering land bridge.
(Lower sea levels during ice ages exposed the continental shelf beneath Bering Strait, allowing generations of ancient Siberians to migrate east.) National Geographic carried the article “Hunt for the First Americans” and the map supplement “The Dawn of Humans: Peopling of the Americas” in the December 2000 issue, perhaps on your library’s shelf.
You might want to write the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and ask for their latest statement on this topic. You can write the museum in care of P.O. Box 37012, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012.
I hope this information proves helpful.
Dear Sir or Madam;
I am looking for information from the Smithsonian Institue that will help me verify that you do/do not have anthropological evidence that there was a large civilization that supposedly existed in the Americas that the Book of Mormon claims. I’ve been told by countless people that your organization holds maps, etc of said finds. I’ve also been shown letters from you to other people that there is no such evidence of the Mormon Church. Any help you could provide me with would be greatly appreciated!
Life After Ministries
This letter from the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology is in response to your inquiry regarding the Book of Mormon.
The Smithsonian considers the Book of Mormon a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research and has found no archaeological evidence to support its claims.
You might wish to consult the following publications:
Coe, Michael D. and Rex Koontz. Mexico. 5th rev. and expanded ed. Thames & Hudson, 2002. (A well-written, authoritative summary of Mexican archeology.)
Coe, Michael D. The Maya. 6th fully rev. ed. Thames & Hudson, 1999. (A general summary of the archeology of the Maya.)
Coe, Michael D. and Richard A. Diehl. In the Land of the Olmecs. 2 vols. Univ. of Texas Press, 1980.
Fagan, Brian. Ancient North America: The Archaeology of a Continent. 3nd ed. Thames & Hudson, 2000.
Kingdoms of Gold, Kingdoms of Jade: The Americas Before Columbus. Thames & Hudson, 1991.
Freidel, David, Linda Schele, and Joy Parker. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand years on the Shaman’s Path. 1st Quill ed. William Morrow & Co., 1995.
Hammond, Norman. Ancient Maya Civilization. Rutgers Univ. Press, 1982.
Hunter, Milton R. and Thomas S. Ferguson. Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. Kolob Book Co., 1950. (The Mormon point of view is presented.)
Jennings, Jesse D. Prehistory of North America. 2nd ed. McGraw Hill, 1989.
Jennings, Jesse, editor. Vol. 1. Ancient North Americans. Vol. 2. Ancient South Americans. W. H. Freeman, 1983.
Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C. and Jeremy A. Sabloff. Ancient Civilizations; The Near East and Mesoamerica. 2nd ed. Waveland Press, 1995. (Chapter 4 discusses the first Mesoamerican civilization and its origin. Very readable.)
Larson, Stan. Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s Archaeological Search for The Book of Mormon. Freethinker Press, 1996.
Marcus, Joyce. Mesoamerican Writing Systems: Propaganda, Myth, and History in Four Ancient Civilizations. Princeton University Press, 1992.
Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation. Brigham Young University, 1952-. (Published results of archeological investigations in Mesoamerica by the Foundation, supported by the Mormon Church.)
Riley, Carroll L. et al., editors. Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts. Univ. of Texas Press, 197l. (A collection of articles, mostly by well-qualified specialists, concerning transoceanic contacts.)
Sabloff, Jeremy A. The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya. Scientific American Library, 1994.
Sabloff, Jeremy A. Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World. Thames & Hudson, 1990.
Schele, Linda, and David Freidel. A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. William Morrow & Co., 1992.
Schele, Linda. The Inscription on Stela 5 and Its Altar. Copán Mosaics Project, 1987.
Wauchope, Robert. Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974. (Chapter 4 covers Mormon theories, setting them in the context of other nonscientific schemes. Author is a well-qualified specialist on Mexican archeology.)
Williams, Stephen. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1991. (See the chapter “Archaeology and Religion: Where Angels Fear to Tread.”)
Thank you for your interest in the Smithsonian Institution.
Department of Anthropology