Book of Mormon/Geography

Table of Contents

Book of Mormon Geography

Summary: The geographical setting of the Book of Mormon has been the subject of serious study and casual speculation since before the book was first published. The Church has been neutral when it comes to issues relating to Book of Mormon geography, as is FairMormon. The articles linked below will describe the various theories and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Jump to Subtopic:


Book of Mormon Old World Geography

Summary: A discussion of the Arabian, or Old World, geography of the Book of Mormon enjoys many advantages over discussion of New World matters. Chief among these is the fact that we know we certainty where the story begins—in Old World Jerusalem. There is simply no way that Joseph could have obtained enough information about Arabia to fabricate more than a minute fraction of the travels described in First Nephi.

Jump to Subtopic:

Matching geographical locations in the Old World with locations described in the Book of Mormon

Jump to Subtopic:


The "Valley of Lemuel" in the Book of Mormon

Summary: The valley of Lemuel requires several characteristics. In 1995, Potter and colleagues found a hitherto unrecognized wadi[1] which has parallels to the requirements of the Book of Mormon text, including a river of water which is "continually running," which they interpret as requiring a year-round water flow. Although Saudi and US geological surveys have concluded that Saudi Arabia "may...be without any perennial rivers or streams," visits to the area in April, May, July, August, November, December, and January have all found flowing water in the candidate valley which Potter's team identified.

Jump to Subtopic:


The Frankincense Trail and the Book of Mormon

Summary: Lehi's journey paralleled the ancient "Frankincense trail," a trade route used in ancient Arabia

Jump to Subtopic:


The place "Shazer" in the Book of Mormon

Jump to Subtopic:


The name NHM and the "place called Nahom" in the Book of Mormon

Summary: Nephi's party reaches an area "which was called Nahom" (1 Nephi 16:34) near the time that they make an eastward turn in their journey. NHM [the root for naham] appears twenty-five times in the narrative books of the Bible, and in every case it is associated with death. Strikingly, altars dating from the time of Lehi have been found with the inscription "NHM." As one travels south-southeast of Jerusalem along the major trunk of the ancient Arabian trade route, the route branches east toward the southeastern coast at only one point: in the Jawf valley (Wadi Jawf) just a few miles from Nehem. From thence the eastern branch of the trade route goes toward the ancient port of Qana--modern Bir Ali—on the Hadhramaut coast, where most of the incense was shipped. This eastern branch was the major route—the pathways to the south were less used.

Jump to Subtopic:


The place called "Bountiful" in the Book of Mormon

Summary: If Nehem is the Book of Mormon site Nahom, then is there a Bountiful to the east of it on the coast? Amazingly, we have the luxury of two excellent candidate sites that are roughly due east of Nehem on the Oman coast. The Astons propose Wadi Sayq as the best candidate for Bountiful, and it impressively fits the criteria that one can derive from the Book of Mormon. Potter and Sedor propose the area of Salalah and the nearby ancient port of Khor Rori as the general site for Bountiful.

Jump to Subtopic:


Book of Mormon geography in the New World

Summary: New World geography - location of the majority of the Book of Mormon narrative, in the "promised land"—somewhere in the western hemisphere.

Jump to Subtopic:

The Church's position on questions related to Book of Mormon geography

Jump to Subtopic:


Evaluating Book of Mormon geographical theories

Jump to Subtopic:


Book of Mormon Hemispheric Geography Theory

Summary: The Hemispheric Geography Theory (or HGT) is the traditional understanding of the Book of Mormon. It postulates that the events in the book took place over North and South America, with the Isthmus of Panama as the narrow neck of land.

Jump to Subtopic:


Limited geography theory (LGT)

Summary: The Limited Geography Theory (or LGT) is a non-traditional interpretation of the text, but one that has gained wide acceptance among the Book of Mormon scholars and readers over the last 60 years. It is based on a close reading of the text, which indicates that the lands inhabited by the Lehites could be traversed on foot in only a few weeks, making the area no larger than present-day California.

Archaeology and the Hill Cumorah

Summary: If Mormon chapter 6 is a literal description of the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites — approximately 100 thousand were killed by swords and axes — why hasn't any evidence of the battle been found at the site that was traditionally identified as the hill Cumorah in western New York state?

Jump to Subtopic:


Great Lakes geography

Summary: I've heard some members claim that the Book of Mormon fits best in a geography located around the Great Lakes, between the United States and Canada. What can you tell me about this geographic model?

Jump to Subtopic:

Hoaxes used to support the Book of Mormon

Summary: Some fraudulent objects have been used in an attempt to support the Book of Mormon.

Jump to Subtopic:


Statements made by Church leaders on the subject of Book of Mormon geography

Summary: This page collects a variety of writings by Church leaders and members throughout its history, illustrating that debate and discussion about Book of Mormon geography has been very free, precisely because there was no revealed or "authoritative" geography. This collection is a work in progress; readers who know of additional statements are invited to contact FairMormon. Jump to statements in: 1829–1840|1841|1842|1843|1844|1844–1899|1900–1999|2000–

The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.
—Fax from the Office of the First Presidency to FARMS, April 12, 1993.

Critical sources on geography statements

No revealed geography

Summary: A collection of statements indicating that there is no revealed geography for the Book of Mormon (these quotes are also in the collections below, by date).

Jump to Subtopic:

Nineteenth century

Joseph's lifetime (1829–1844)

After Joseph's death (1844–1899)

Twentieth century (1900–1999)

Twenty-first century (2000–)


Book of Mormon geography models

Jump to Subtopic:


Criticisms related to Book of Mormon geography

Jump to Subtopic: