Book of Mormon/Plants/Barley

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Barley in the Book of Mormon

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Question: Is the mention of barley in the Book of Mormon an anachronism?

Evidence of pre-Columbian barley has been found in the New World

It has been claimed that barley was unknown in the ancient New World. One author insists that, "barley never grew in the New World before the white man brought it here!" [Scott, 82.] However, evidence of pre-Columbian barley has been found in the New World.


Sorenson and Smith: "three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas"

Pre-Columbian New World barley was first reported in the scientific literature in 1983.

The December 1983 issue of the popular magazine Science 83 reported the discovery in Phoenix, Arizona, by professional archaeologists of what they supposed to be pre-Columbian domesticated barley. That same month, F.A.R.M.S. carried a preliminary notice of the discovery. This Arizona find is the first direct New World evidence for cultivated pre-Columbian barley in support of the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 9:9 lists barley among several crops that were cultivated by the Nephites in the land of Nephi, and Alma 11:7 singles out barley as the primary grain into which silver and gold were converted in the Nephite system of weights and measures.

That there are copious samples of cultivated barley at pre-Columbian sites in Arizona seemed a first for the Western Hemisphere, but Professor Howard C. Stutz of the BYU Department of Biology tells us that three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas. The real surprise is that this barley is of a cultivated ("naked") type, although the ethnobotanist for the Arizona project, Dr. Vorsila Bohrer (Eastern New Mexico University, Portales), says that it is not yet clear whether the samples were truly naked (unhulled) or simply naturally degraded in context.[1]

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More evidence related to barley in the Book of Mormon

Notes

  1. John L. Sorenson and Robert F. Smithh, "Barley in Ancient America," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 36.