Book of Mormon/Warfare/Defense

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Warfare in the Book of Mormon: Defense

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Question: Is the armor described in the Book of Mormon consistent with armor used in ancient Mesoamerica?

Book of Mormon armor does not match the type of armor that Joseph Smith would have been familiar with, nor does it reflect European styles of armor, but it does match Mesoamerican armor

Book of Mormon armor does not match the type of armor that Joseph Smith would have been familiar with, nor does it reflect European styles of armor:

19 And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm–shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothingAlma 43:19

The arm shields described in the Book of Mormon are consistent with those used in ancient Mesoamerica

"Mayan “arm shield”, from Stela 17, Dos Pilas, Tetexbatun, Guatemala, Around A.D. 733"; from William J. Hamblin, “Armor in the Book of Mormon", p. 415; in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1990). Note that this image post-dates the Nephite period.

The breastplates described in the Book of Mormon are consistent with those used in ancient Mesoamerica

"Mayan headdress and “pectoral” [chest or breastplate] hung or attached around the neck. Stela 16, Dos Pilas, Tetexbatun, Guatemala, Around A.D. 733. William J. Hamblin, “Armor in the Book of Mormon", p. 414; in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1990).Note that this image post-dates the Nephite period.

The quilted armor described in the Book of Mormon is consistent with that used in ancient Mesoamerica

This description matches Mesoamerican quilted armor:

"The garment worn by this figure is believed to represent the quilted armor worn by warriors, but the elaboration of the costume and its accoutrements suggest a figure of high rank and noble status." Costumed Figure, 7th–8th century -- Mexico; Maya Ceramic, pigment; H. 11 17/32 in. (29.3 cm) (1979.206.953) – Metropolitan Museum of Art Note the pectoral ("breast plate"). Note that this figure post-dates the Nephite period.
From William J. Hamblin, “Armor in the Book of Mormon", p. 413; in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1990). Note the arm shields and pectoral. Note that this figure post-dates the Nephite period.


Question: Are the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon consistent with those built in ancient Mesoamerica?

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica

4 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance. (Alma 49:4).

3 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. 4 And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height. 5 And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after; and in this city they did guard the prisoners of the Lamanites; yea, even within a wall which they had caused them to build with their own hands. Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites.(Alma 53:3-5).

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica. Multiple sites have been found; the city of Becan is well-known:

The moat at Bécan in the Yucatan is 16 meters wide, and covers a distance of 2 kilometers. The enclosed city covers 25 hectares (almost 62 acres). Reconstruction, on-line at http://mayaruins.com/becan.html
Artist’s rendering of Bécan fortifications [AD 100-250]; From John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1998), 133 (Andrea Darais, artist).
“Bécan” earthworks, fortifications from Early Classic period (250-400 AD) David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.
Note the modern highway in the upper left corner! [Gives a sense of the scale.] David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.

The rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C.

It should be noted too that the rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C. (See Alma 49:8).The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "Possible" sites:

John L. Sorenson, "Fortifications in the Book of Mormon Account Compared with Mesoamerican Fortifications" (Table 2, p. 429) in Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (eds), Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 425-444. The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "possible" sites.


Question: Are gunpowder, pistols or firearms mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

There is no mention of "gunpowder" or firearms, or anything like them, in the Book of Mormon

It is claimed that the Book of Mormon mentions "gunpowder," and "pistols and other firearms," which are clearly anachronisms.

The claim is false. There is no mention of "gunpowder" or firearms, or anything like them, in the Book of Mormon.