Book of Mormon archaeology

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Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon archaeology is the endeavor to find physical evidence of the ancient peoples and societies described in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a history of three groups of people who migrated from the Middle East to the Americas: the Jaredites, who departed with their language intact at the destruction of the Tower of Babel; the Mulekites, who departed from Jerusalem around 550 B.C. upon the Babylonian invasion; and the Nephites/Lamanites, who departed from Jerusalem just before the Babylonian invasion and destruction of the city. The Nephites/Lamanites, descendents of the tribe of Joseph, are the main focus of the book. The Book of Mormon is meant to be a religious account, a message of Christ's dealings with branches of Israel, but it also contains records of wars and contentions, the rise and fall of governments, migrations, and genealogies.

There are certain main focuses of Book of Mormon archaelogy:

  • Attempting to determine the land route taken by Lehi and his family (father of the Nephites and Lamanites) from Jerusalem, through Arabia, to "Bountiful," from where they launched out by sea to the Americas.
  • Attempting to determine where Lehi's party first landed and settled in the Americas.
  • Attempting to determine from loose descriptions of geography where various tribes and groups settled.
  • Attempting to decide whether the Book of Mormon peoples spread over both North and South America, or whether they inhabited only a small, isolated area.
  • Attempting to determine whether any currently existing Amerindian tribes are descendants of the Nephites/Lamanites.
  • Attempting to determine what other populations of people co-existed with the Book of Mormon peoples.

The information in the Book of Mormon both helps and hinders these investigations:

  • A massive and widespread earthquake is described, happening at the time of Christ's crucifixion. The earthquake altered many geographical features previously described in the book, sinking whole land masses into the sea, raising mountains from valleys, and sinking mountain ranges into valleys.
  • The Book uses "the narrow neck of land" as an anchoring geographical description. People of our day automatically visualize this as the area of Panama. Because of the earthquakes, this may or may not be correct.
  • The metal plates, from which the Book of Mormon was translated, were found in New York, but ruins showing Middle Eastern influence (such as pyramids) are found in South America and Central America.
  • Book of Mormon writers made casual mention of ores, crops, and animals without citing their origins. For instance, corn became a staple, but could not have been brought over from the Middle East. Nor could it have grown wild in the New World. Someone else in the New World must have been cultivating corn, and they in turn, must have trained the Nephites to do it.
  • Geography is not exactly described, being secondary to the religious message.

Methods used in Book of Mormon archaeology:

  • Archaeological digs
  • Investigation of clues given in the book regarding populations, building methods, implements, geography, etc.
  • Finding hints of Middle Eastern connections in remnant societies—legends, languages, art, archetecture, social structures
  • DNA research looking for Middle Eastern descendancy of current Amerindian populations

For a number of informative articles on Book of Mormon archaeology, go to the index at the following website: [1]

For an index of articles regarding DNA research as it relates to the Book of Mormon, go to [2]

For videos of presentations on Book of Mormon proofs, go to fairlds videos on

For evidences that the Book of Mormon is true. Go to the following online books:

  • John W. Welch, Donald W. Parry, and Daniel C. Peterson, eds., Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 2002), which summarizes the main arguments and findings of Book of Mormon research since Hugh Nibley.

Additional Resources

Other References