Book of Mormon Geography Correlations
Archaeologists studying building sites, settlement patterns, burial practices, pottery, agriculture, and a wealth of other subjects have amassed a huge volume of research on the ancient cultures of America. In the past decade archaeologists have made amazing breakthroughs in their understanding of these cultures as they synthesize and bring together over one hundred years of research. The story they are piecing together sounds familiar. Using the scriptures, quotes by Joseph Smith, and extensive archaeological research, the Weaver Research Institute presents the following model correlating the findings of the world's leading archaeologists with our sacred writ.
The Jaredites: PaleoIndian &
According to geneticists, between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago modern man (Homo sapiens) spread from the Fertile Crescent to every continent of the world. Those arriving in the Americas fanned out from the Southwest to cover all of North America with a culture matching Moroni's description of the early Jaredites, including elephants. Their history is bisected by a great drought which ended the Ice Age. The culture that followed made great technological advancements in agriculture, textiles, weaponry, metallurgy, trade, and wood exploitation, matching Moroni's list for the days of Lib. The Archaic ended with widespread "cremation burials," "ceremonially burned villages," and bones strewn across the land which the next group to settle the land gathered and dumped in the trash.
Early Lehites: Valdivia, Zoque & Early Maya
Around the time Babylon's first great kingdom was being established in Mesopotamia, Ecuador received a small group of seagoing immigrants from an unidentified location in the Orient; their pottery, burial practices, and architecture are very similar to those of Bronze Age Palestinians. This new culture split and spread quickly up the coast to Guatemala and Southern Mexico. The more progressive group [Nephites] settled the Grijalva Valley in Central Chiapas; the other group [Lamanites] is known by archeologists for their nomadic hunting (including beasts of prey), alcoholism, worship of the storm god Chac [Baal], and pornographic clay figurines.
Mosiah, Alma & Zeniff: Formative
The group living in the Central Chiapas Highland suddenly vanished. At the same time, an influx of Zoque traits entered Central Mexico and mixed with the existing Otomangue culture [Mulekites]. Shortly thereafter, cultures again changed back in Chiapas as a new group of ethnically distinct immigrants rebuilt the land [People of Zeniff]. These people prospered, then became extravagant, and then they too, disappeared. Suddenly, a small farming village in Veracruz gave birth to a major empire which would ever after influence Mesoamerica: The Olmecs [Amulonites]. Their culture used slave labor to build up their lands and sent merchant-missionaries to teach and exploit the Maya [Lamanites] throughout Mesoamerica. Commerce flourished and the Olmec built many great cities before they were destroyed by internal revolts. Central Mexico, in the meantime, had continued to prosper; many lands built churches, then temples, and finally government buildings; the scaled date corresponds to the time the Book of Mormon teaches that Alma was restoring the church and Mosiah II was establishing the reign of the judges.
Captain Moroni: Pre-Classic
Soon, wars enveloped the Mexican Highland and the Mayan lands. The war-like Olmecs led the early attacks, but even after their collapse, weapons production only intensified. The peoples of Central Mexico moved many of their cities to hilltops and other defensible locations and built massive fortifications around new and existing communities. Archaeologists compare it to the synoikism of ancient Greece. One scholar laments that he will never know the political leader who inspired such amazing activity among the population. Similar admiration is seen in Mormon's writings as he relates the story of his hero after whom he named his son, Moroni.
The following period saw tomb robbing, more wars, mass migrations to North America, the arrival of the Polynesians from some unknown location, and a surprising change of culture among the Maya: improvements in diet, an increase in musical instruments, and a decrease in weapons manufacture, to name a few.
Zion: Early Classic
The Early Classic signified major changes throughout the Americas. Many Pre-Classic sites were disrupted at the transition: Cuicuilco in the valley of Mexico was covered by a lava flow, the Olmec's La Venta was drowned by a rise in the ocean level, other cities were covered by a thick layer of volcanic ash. After the smoke cleared, a more peaceful culture arose. The church prospered; evidences of social classes disappeared; local manufacture increased in importance. Skeletons show increased health; pollen surveys show greater varieties of food; population surveys show that though great ceremonial centers were still being built, the masses were living in small villages surrounding the centers. Surveys show that Pre-Classic metropolises were actually depopulated, thereafter used only as ceremonial centers for the surrounding villages and hamlets, perhaps for their version of regional conferences.
Pride & Destruction: Late Classic & Post-Classic
The peace was not to stay. Midway through the Classic, social classes appeared again. An extravagant upper class emerged; churches began to decorate their temples with riches; idol worship commenced; mass production and long distance trade networks appeared. Gambling, tattoos, body-piercing, and drugs became vogue, enveloping society. The gods and culture of the Pre-Classic Maya returned in places and Teotihuacan responded by exercising harsh dominion. Wars spread across the land. Soon, two distinct super-powers emerged: the Quetzalcoatl Cult centered at Teotihuacan and the Jaguar Cult of Southern Yucatan.
Mayan frescos paint the conflicts. In Maya lands they portray early local victories. As the Jaguar Cult grew in numbers and power they began conquering Central Mexico: at Xochicalco archaeologists have found a mural depicting the Eagle Warriors of the Jaguar Cult crushing the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl. It dates to just before Teotihuacan was abandoned.
War moved in succession from Teotihuacan to the Chichimec lands, to the coast of West Mexico, then north across a "narrow ecological strip" in the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Southwest. The amazing burst of economic activity in the Anasazi lands followed, corresponding with the build-up of the Toltec Kingdom and the evacuation of the upper class in Maya lands. Then came the great slaughter.
Starting in the south and moving north the entire Southwest was desolated. Smaller sites were abandoned and great defensive cities were built, but to no avail. Archaeologists find site after site burnt, abandoned, or covered with unburied bodies. The massacre is staggering. It moved to a line of sites from Mesa Verde, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico but then these too were abandoned. Then the entire Midwest was abandoned and the Mississippian culture disappeared. To where? Archaeologists do not know, but the early farmers of Upstate New York found the area covered with arrowheads, body armor, and a layer of calcium rich soil so thick they could not plant crops before removing it. When analyzed, it was found to be a special type of calcium only found naturally in human bones.
You decide. Is it all coincidence? We believe the boy from Palmyra told the truth and now scientific research is proving it. God lives. The Book of Mormon is true. And we must repent and prepare for what is to come or the end of our story will be as sad as theirs (D&C 38:39).