Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/For my Wife and Children (Letter to my Wife)/Chapter 13

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Response to "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife"): Chapter 13 - Anachronisms

A FairMormon Analysis of: For my Wife and Children (Letter to my Wife), a work by author: Anonymous
Chart LTMW anachronisms.png

Response to claims made in "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife"): Chapter 13 - Anachronisms

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Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Elephants"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Elephants ... While the fossil record shows contact early humans, these animals disappeared long before the Jaredite story begins.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It depends upon which experts you consult: There is circumstantial evidence that supports the idea that mammoths may have survived until the time of the Jaredites. (Elephants are only mentioned in the Book of Ether, and are only associated with the Jaredites.)

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Question: In what context are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

Elephants are only mentioned once in the Book of Mormon in connection with the Jaredites. They were noted as being among the most useful animals. The Jaredites are estimated to have arrived in the New World between 2600 and 2100 BC.

And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. (Ether 9:19)

There is no mention in the Book of Mormon of elephants having existed in the New World during the Nephite period.


Wikipedia: Mammoths "were members of the family Elephantidae"

Mammoths could have easily been present in North America at the time of the Jaredites (the only time that elephants are mentioned in the Book of Mormon). The Wikipedia article "Mammoth" notes:

A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, proboscideans commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived from the Pliocene epoch (from around 5 million years ago) into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago[1][2] in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. They were members of the family Elephantidae which contains, along with mammoths, the two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors. [1]


Johnson: "Probably it is safe to say that American Proboscidea have been extinct for a minimum of 3000 years"

The Elephant is only mentioned in the Book of Ether. If the elephants had died off at least 3000 years ago, they would still have been well within range of the Jaredite era. Ludwell Johnson wrote in 1952:

Discoveries of associations of human and proboscidean remains [Elephantine mammals, including, elephants, mammoths, and mastodons] are by no means uncommon. As of 1950, MacCowan listed no less than twenty-seven” including, as noted by Hugo Gross, a “partly burned mastodon skeleton and numerous potsherds at Alangasi, Ecuador...There can no longer be any doubt that man and elephant coexisted in America.... Probably it is safe to say that American Proboscidea have been extinct for a minimum of 3000 years." [2]


Miller and Roper: "This was long enough to bring them (mammoths) to the time of the Jaredites"

Elephants are only mentioned in the Book of Ether. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper note that mammoths survived until the time of the Jaredites: [3]

Along with a number of large mammals thought to have become extinct about 10,000 years ago, it’s now known that the mammoth survived for a few thousand years longer. This was long enough to bring them to the time of the Jaredites. A date for a mammoth in northern North America was cited at 3,700 years before the present. [4] An Alaskan mammoth was dated at 5,720 years ago. [5] In the contiguous United States Mead and Meltzer provided an age of 4,885 years for a dated mammoth specimen. [6] As more mammoth (elephant) finds are made, even younger dates will no doubt arise. Generally, when animal species’ populations decrease, they survive longer in southern refugia. Small populations could well have survived in Mesoamerica well past the close of the Pleistocene. The fact that known dates of mammoths in Mesoamerica are numerous up to the end of this epoch helps support this view. It should be pointed out that the mammoth never did range as far south as South America.


Miller and Roper: "Evidence for the survival of the elephant can be found in Native American myths and traditions"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper note that "evidence for the survival of the elephant can be found in Native American myths and traditions": [7]

Gulf of Mexico: "giant beasts with long noses that could trample people and uproot trees"

Indigenous people along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico have traditions of giant beasts with long noses that could trample people and uproot trees.[8]

The Abenaki (New England region): "a kind of arm which grows out of his shoulder"

Abenaki tradition tells of a great “elk” that could easily walk through more than eight feet of snow, whose skin was said to be tough and had “a kind of arm which grows out of his shoulder, which he makes use of as we do ours.” [9]

The Naskapi (Quebec region): "large ears and a long nose with which he hit people"

The Naskapi people tell of a large monster that once trampled them and left deep tracks in the snow had large ears and a long nose with which he hit people. [9]

The Penobscot (Maine region): "huge animals with long teeth which drank water for half a day at a time"

The Penobscot culture hero Snow Owl is said to have gone on a long journey to a far valley in search of his missing wife. When he reached the valley he saw what appeared to be hills without vegetation moving slowly about. Upon closer inspection he found that these were the backs of huge animals with long teeth which drank water for half a day at a time and when they laid down could not get back up. Snow owl was able to trap the large beasts by making them fall on sharpened stakes where he then was able to shoot and kill them. [9]

Native American groups from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico

Similar traditions have been documented for Native American groups from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico persuading some scholars that they are based upon a core memory of actual historical encounters with elephant-like species who may have survived into the region as late as 3,000 years ago. [10]

Mexico: "long tapering arms and could tear up trees as if they were lettuce"

Pre-Columbian traditions from Mexico tell of monstrous ogre-like giants who once inhabited the region and were subsequently killed following the arrival of Aztec ancestors. These tales attribute some human characteristics to these legendary giants, while other ones seem less so. The giants were said to have long tapering arms and could tear up trees as if they were lettuce. [11]

Mexico: "a vague memory of prehensile trunks, something like the `extra arm’ of the Giant Elk in Abenaki and Iroquois myth"

These legends say, notes Adrienna Mayor, “… that the giants destroyed by the ancestors pulled down trees and ate grass, elephant-like behavior.” and she suggests that these stories may reflect “a vague memory of prehensile trunks, something like the `extra arm’ of the Giant Elk in Abenaki and Iroquois myth.” While this cannot be proven, she thinks it possible that “…localized mammoth species (and other large Pleistocene animals and birds) may have survived to later dates in the Valley of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.” … and also that “some aspects of the legendary giant-ogres may have originated in ancestral memories of Columbian mammoths and may have been later confirmed by discoveries of fossils.” [12]


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Cattle"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Cattle

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The current consensus is that ancient Americans did not keep herds of large animals for use as food. There is, however, some evidence to the contrary.

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Sorenson: "The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them 'wild cows'"

John L. Sorenson:

As with many other animals in the Book of Mormon, it is likely that these Book of Mormon terms are the product of reassigning familiar labels to unfamiliar items...The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them “wild cows.” Likewise the “explorer DeSoto called the buffalo simply vaca, cow. The Delaware Indians named the cow after the deer, and the Miami tribe labeled sheep, when they first saw them, ‘looks-like-a-cow’”[13]


Miller and Roper: "Bones of domesticated cattle...have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [14]

Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus – see Figure 2) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.[15] In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens. It is especially interesting that along with these cow and horse remains, human artifacts were found in association with them! The indication is that domesticated cattle and the horse coexisted with humans in pre-Columbian time. [16]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Pietro Martire d'Anghiera (1912): "the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle"

The current consensus is that ancient Americans did not keep herds of large animals for use as food. However, Pietro Martire d'Anghiera noted the following in 1912:

In all these regions they visited, the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle. These deer bring forth and nourish their young in the houses of the natives. During the daytime they wander freely through the woods in search of their food, and in the evening they come back to their little ones, who have been cared for, allowing themselves to be shut up in the courtyards and even to be milked, when they have suckled their fawns. The only milk the natives know is that of the does, from which they make cheese.[17]


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...sheep"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...sheep ... Although wild big horn sheep, mountain goats and boars are native to some areas in North America, there is no evidence of domesticated sheep, pigs and goats used as livestock anywhere in the Americas

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

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Miller and Roper: "there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [18]

Sheep were probably among the animals brought to America by the Jaredites, although they were not stated explicitly by name (Ether 6:4). They most likely are to be included in the term “flocks,” and are mentioned by name in Ether ( 9:18) several generations later. Sheep have been useful to man for many centuries and were probably man’s first domesticated animal [19] (along with the dog). They are useful for both food and clothing. In addition to Old World sheep, apparently brought to the New World by the Jaredites, there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis. Their current geographic range extends south only to northern Mexico. However, their past range was more extensive, as was their habitat before human settlements expanded. [20] They are an animal that can be tamed or at least semi-domesticated. According to Geist , “It is hard to imagine a wild animal more readily tamed than mountain sheep.” [21] Sorenson noted the apparent recovery of sheep wool from a pre-Columbian burial site near Puebla (southeast of Mexico City). [22] Petroglyphs from Mexico and the southwestern United States show many prehistoric depictions of sheep. It appears certain that the association of sheep and man occurred in America before this animal was brought over beginning in 1493 with Columbus’ second voyage.


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...pigs"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...pigs ... Although wild big horn sheep, mountain goats and boars are native to some areas in North America, there is no evidence of domesticated ... pigs ... used as livestock anywhere in the Americas

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Although the concept that swine were domesticated can only be inferred from Ether 9:18 (the Jaredites "had" swine), peccary living in the ancient New World were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times, and their remains have been found associated with man for several thousands of years.

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Sorenson: "There is an animal which they call chic, wonderfully active, as large as a small dog, with a snout like a sucking pig. The Indian women raise them"

John L. Sorenson:

A good example of the confusion is with the coatimundi (Nasua narica). Landa, the padre who favored us with a detailed description of Yucatan, wrote of the beast, "There is an animal which they call chic, wonderfully active, as large as a small dog, with a snout like a sucking pig. The Indian women raise them, and they leave nothing which they do not root over and turn upside down"...Another name, from the Aztecs, is pisote (Nahuatl pezotli), which means basically glutton. Yet pisote is sometimes applied also to the peccary or wild pig. In regard to the peccary, the Nahuatl terms quauhcoyametl and quahpizotl were developed after the conquest to distinguish the native species from the introduced Castilian pig, so by extension, the coati was sometimes termed quauhpezotli, tree-glutton, to distinguish it from the peccary, the ground-glutton.[23]


Miller and Roper: "two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica....They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [24]

Presently two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica. These include the Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) and the White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari), both of which can be found in the tropical regions near the Tuxtlas Mountains of the Yucatan. [25] The Jaredites as they presumably established settlements in Mesoamerica no doubt would have encountered them. They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times. Remains of these animals have been found associated with man for several thousands of years. There is a paleo-Indian carving of an extinct camel sacrum in the shape of a peccary. A Picture of this bone is shown by Evans. [26] The bone of this extinct camel came from deposits in central Mexico, and shows ancient interaction between this extinct animal and Pre-columbian natives. Remains of Pre-Columbian peccary have been found finds in Loltún Cave in the Yucatan [27] and in several other caves in the region associated with human artifacts. [28] There is no question that peccaries (“wild pigs”) and man shared this area since prehistoric times.

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...goats"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...goats

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

It is true that modern goats were brought to the New World by the Spaniards in the same manner as modern horses.

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Miller and Roper: "Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [29]

Goats are mentioned among the animals once had by the Jaredites (Ether 9:18). Later, after their arrival in the land of promise Lehi’s family encountered “the goat and the wild goat” as they traveled in the wilderness in the land southward (1 Nephi 18:25). Sometime after the death of his father Jacob, Enos wrote that the Nephites raised “flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats” (Enos 1:21). During Alma and Amulek’s miraculous escape from the prison in Ammonihah, their terrified persecutors are said to have fled “even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions” (Alma 14:29). There is no indication in the text that the Lehites brought goats with them to the land of promise; however, it is possible that they may have been included among those flocks and herds brought by the Jaredites in their journey over the sea (Ether 6:4). If so, it is possible that some of those encountered later by Lehi’s people were descendants of those had by the Jaredites. They would have been a useful animal to both the Jaredites and Nephites, just as they have been for man through the ages in the Old World. Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan. [30] It was not made clear whether this was a wild or a domesticated type of goat.


Miller and Roper: "In post-biblical Jewish literature some Jewish writers distinguished between wild and domestic cattle such as goats"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [31]

Mention of the “wild goat” may at first seem peculiar. Biblical animals that could be eaten under the Law of Moses included the “goat” and the “wild goat” (Deuteronomy 14:4-5). In post-biblical Jewish literature some Jewish writers distinguished between wild and domestic cattle such as goats. Both were considered clean and could be eaten, but only the domestic variety was thought acceptable for sacrifice. [32] .... The only native wild goat in North America is the Mountain Goat, Oreamnos americanus. Its geographic range, though, currently only extends south from southwest Alaska down to the northwest United States. Even with a possible extended range for this animal during Book of Mormon time, it is extremely unlikely it got as far south as Mesoamerica. A closely related, but extinct, species is Oreamnos harringtoni. This goat did have a much more southerly distribution, extending into Mexico. While this goat might have survived much past the terminal Pleistocene along with other animals, there is not sufficient evidence yet for this.

It has already been indicated that a referenced animal in the Book of Mormon could actually be something somewhat different, but had a similar appearance. There is an animal now living in Mesoamerica that fits this description, the Red Brocket deer, Mazama americana. Unlike other deer it has but a single goat-like horn – which is really an antler that is shed and regrown annually like other cervids. [33]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Honey Bees"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Honey Bees

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon does not state that the Jaredites brought honeybees across the ocean. It says that they brought them to the coast of the Old World. The Maya codex Tro-Cortesianus, which predates the arrival of the Spaniards, shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs.

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Question: Did the Jaredites bring swarms of bees across the ocean in their barges?

The Book of Mormon states that the Jaredites carried swarms of bees with them to the seashore in the Old World

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World. It does state that they carried swarms of honeybees with them to their encampment on the sea shore, where they spent the next four years as they built barges. This is entirely feasible.

There is only one reference to honeybees in the Book of Ether (Ether 2:3-4), and it talks of them being among the provisions that the people of Jared took with them as they traveled to the land of Moriancumer, where they spent the next four years. (Ether 2:13)

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should ago forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World

So, the Jaredites definitely carried swarms of bees with them to the place of the "great sea which divideth the lands," where they "dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years." Does this mean that the Jaredites carried the swarms of honey bees to the New World with them? The Book of Mormon does not state this. This does not preclude the possibility that they did.

Michael Ash notes,

Among the supposed Book of Mormon anachronisms is the mention of “bees” (Ether 2:3)...It should be noted firstly that the Book of Mormon's use of the term "bees" occurs in an Old World (Jaredite) setting, it is never used in connection with the New World, therefore the argument could simply end here. Did the Jaredites bring bees to the New World? We may never know. Some studies suggest, however, that bees were known in the ancient New World. Bruce Warren, for instance, notes that there “are many references in the Maya region to honey bees in ancient times, and these references occur in ritual contexts, i.e., are of native or pre-Spanish origin." Other New World scholars have observed that “not only was the domesticated bee in ancient America but that there were gods of bees and beekeepers . . . Honey was considered a real treat for the Indians. Equally important was black wax taken from the hives which was often traded for other commodities." [34]


Padilla et al.: "The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs"

Padilla et al:

In America some stingless bees were kept by the native population. The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs. Maya beekeepers worked in Yucatan and adjacent regions with the specie Mellipona beecheii, using horizontal logs with end enclosures of clay or stone. With the arrival of spanish colonizers the indians of Yucatan were obliged to pay tributes which consisted mainly of clothing (mostly blankets) and food, although they also allowed payment in wax and honey. [35]


Head: "The indigenous American bee is the melipona (a stingless bee). It produces only about one kilogram of honey per year"

Ronan James Head: [36]

The apis mellifera species was not found in the New World until it was imported from about the seventeenth century AD onward.[37] The indigenous American bee is the melipona (a stingless bee). It produces only about one kilogram of honey per year (compared with apis mellifera, which can produce fifty kilograms). Nevertheless, pre-Columbian Americans did indeed have knowledge of beekeeping and made the most of the melipona.[38] Cortés wrote to the king of Spain in 1519 about the extent of beekeeping among the Indians of Cozumel (Mexico):

The only trade which the Indians have is in bee hives, and our Procurators will bear to Your Highness specimens of the honey and the bee hives that you may commend them to be examined.[39]

The earliest archaeological evidence for American apiculture comes from the Late Preclassic Maya period (ca. 300 BC–AD 300).[40] Modern peasant apiculture in the Yucatán is reminiscent of Egyptian beekeeping: hives (often hollowed-out logs) are stacked vertically on a rack. The lost-wax technique was known in the New World,[37]. and the ancient Maya pantheon included a bee god called Ah Mucan Cab.[38].


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Horses"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Horses

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Ancient horses are believed to have vanished before the time of the Lehite's arrival, and modern horses were brought to the New World by the Spaniards. Yet there are a few pieces of circumstantial evidence of horses which are currently not accepted as valid by the scientific community. The idea that all defenders of the Church (e.g. "apologists") believe that New World horses are actually "tapirs" is a popular strawman put forth by the ex-Mormon community, and only represents a single suggestion offered by LDS anthropologist John L. Sorenson. Any others who mention tapirs as a possibility (such as Mike Ash), are simply citing Sorenson's work. The idea that Daniel C. Peterson promotes tapirs as horses is a popular meme within the ex-Mormon online community, however, at present we can find only a single quote attributable to Dr. Peterson, which also cites John L. Sorenson. Peterson, in fact, favors the idea that actual horses existed at the time, noting that "it remains possible that the term horse in the Book of Mormon-which, by the way, does not occur very often, and even then in rather puzzling contexts-refers simply to deer or tapirs or similar quadrupeds thought by the Nephites to be analogous to the horse....But there is archaeological reason to believe that horses may, in fact, have existed in the Americas during Book of Mormon times. The question remains very much open."[41] Peterson's footnote to this statement adds "Valuable discussions of the evidence can be found at John L. Sorenson, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: An Annotated Bibliography." In fact, every mention of a "loan-shift" of the name "horse" to "deer" or "tapir" cites John L. Sorenson's original work.

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Question: Why are horses considered an anachronism in the Book of Mormon?

Horses existed in the New World anciently and spread to other parts of the world, however, it is currently believed that "The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene." [42]

Modern horses did not arrive in the New World until they were brought by Spanish explorers. Thus, the mention of "horses" in the Americas during Book of Mormon times presents an anachronism--something that doesn't fit the time frame for which it is claimed.

There are at least two possible resolutions to the "horse" problem in the Book of Mormon:

  1. Horses were present but their remains have not been found.
  2. Definitions of the word "horse" were expanded to include new meanings.


Question: What is the origin of the modern horse in the New World?

Most scientists believe that the horse originated in the Americas and spread across land bridges from the Americas to Asia, eventually migrating into Africa and Europe. Over the course of millions of years the horse evolved from a smaller breed to the larger horses of today. Near the end of the Pleistocene period--about 10,000 years ago--the most recent ice-age came to an end. During this time many large mammals that once roamed the Americas became extinct. Among these were mammoths, camels, and the mid-sized horses that once lived in abundance in the New World. Scientists typically postulate that these animals died off due to climate changes and possible over-hunting. In other parts of the world, however, horses continued to thrive and eventually evolved into modern-day horses. When the Spaniards came to the New World in the early sixteenth century, they brought horses with them. Some horses eventually escaped and multiplied in the wild.

A horse skeleton from the La Brea Tarpits, in Los Angeles, California. The Museum notes that this is an example of the "extinct Western horse". Image taken from [1] on the La Brea Tarpits Museum website.



Verses in the Book of Mormon that talk about "horses"

Horses associated with travel and chariots

  • Alma 18:9-10
    And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi...Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished...
  • Alma 18:12
    And it came to pass that when Ammon had made ready the horses and the chariots for the king and his servants...
  • Alma 20:6
    Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots.
  • 3 Nephi 3:22
    And it came to pass in the *seventeenth year, in the latter end of the year, the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies.

(It should be noted that we are not told if these chariots served a purpose in riding, or if they were for transport of goods, or if they had a ceremonial function. One assumes some sort of practicality or ritual use in war, since they brought chariots to the siege in 3 Nephi.)

Horse mentioned in quotes of Old World scripture

  • 2 Nephi 12:7
    Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
  • 2 Nephi 15:28
    Whose arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent, and their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind, their roaring like a lion.
  • 3 Nephi 21:14
    Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;

Wild horses

  • 1 Nephi 18:25
    And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men.

Domesticated horses

  • Enos 1:21
    And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses.

Horses as a potential source of food

  • 3 Nephi 4:4
    Therefore, there was no chance for the robbers to plunder and to obtain food, save it were to come up in open battle against the Nephites; and the Nephites being in one body, and having so great a number, and having reserved for themselves provisions, and horses and cattle, and flocks of every kind, that they might subsist for the space of seven years...
  • 3 Nephi 6:1
    And now it came to pass that the people of the Nephites did all return to their own lands in the *twenty and sixth year, every man, with his family, his flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle...
  • Ether 9:19
    And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.

It is interesting that the horses are often grouped with cattle, and seem to have played a role in the diet (though this may have been under the exigencies of the siege of 3 Nephi.)


Question: What role do horses not play in the Book of Mormon?

Horses are never ridden or used in battle

Conspicuously absent is any role of the horse in the many journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon. Nor does the Book of Mormon text indicate that horses or chariots play any role in the many Nephite wars (despite a popular classic Book of Mormon painting by Arnold Friburg depicting Helaman leading the 2000 stripling warriors while astride a battle-ready horse); this is in stark contrast to the Biblical account, in which the chariots of Egypt, Babylon, and the Philistines are feared super-weapons upon the plains of Israel.

Nor do we see a role for the horse in gallant cavalry charges that were the romantic warrior ideal in Joseph Smith's day. Nor is there any sign of the rapid war of maneuver and skirmish favored by the cavalry of the western nations. These are not the horses of the nineteenth century's practical realities or fanciful dreams.

There are societies in which the horse was vital, such as among the Hun warriors of Asia and Eastern Europe, for whom horses were a sign of wealth and status, and for whom they were essential for food, clothing, and war. Yet, there is no known horse bone from this period in the archaeological record.[43]


Question: Have any ancient horse remains from the Nephite period been found in the New World?

A few non-Mormon scholars have proposed that real horses survived the New World extinction

Wild horses were present in ancient America during the Pleistocene period (Ice Age), yet were not present at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. Horses thrived once they were re-introduced by the Spaniards into the New World. The question then is: "Why were horses missing when the Spaniards arrived?" Is it possible that real horses lived in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? And if so, why does there seem to be no archaeological support?

At least a few non-Mormon scholars believe that real horses (of a stature smaller than modern horses) may have survived New World extinction. The late British anthropologist, M.F. Ashley Montague, a non-LDS scholar who taught at Harvard, suggested that the horse never became extinct in America. According to Montague, the size of post-Columbian horses provides evidence that the European horses bred with early American horses.[44]

Non-LDS Canadian researcher, Yuri Kuchinsky, also believes that there were pre-Columbian horses. Kuchinsky, however, believes that horses (smaller than our modern horses) were reintroduced into the west coast of the Americas about 2000 years ago from Asians who came by ship. Among Kuchinsky's evidences for pre-Columbian horses are:

  1. Horse traditions among the Indians that may pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards.
  2. Supposedly pre-Columbian petroglyphs that appear to depict horses.
  3. Noticeable differences between the typical Spanish horse and the much smaller American Indian ponies.[45]


Question: Why don't potential pre-Columbian horse remains in the New World receive greater attention from scientists?

Theories that horses survived extinction after the Pleistocene extinction are viewed as fringe by mainstream scholars and are dismissed

Unfortunately for this solution for the Book of Mormon, however, such theories are typically seen as fringe among mainstream scholars. Due to the dearth of archaeological support, most scholars continue to believe that horses became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period.

We know, for example, that the Norsemen probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into the Eastern North America in the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals didn't spread throughout the continent and they left no archeological remains.[46] According to one non-LDS authority on ancient American, the Olmecs had domesticated dogs and turkeys but the damp acidic Mesoamerican soil would have destroyed any remains and any archaeological evidence of such animal domestication.[47]

Even in areas of the world where animals lived in abundance, we sometimes have problems finding archaeological remains. The textual evidence for lions in Israel, for example, suggests that lions were present in Israel from ancient times until at least the sixteenth century AD. Robert R. Bennett of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute Of Religious Scholarship notes,

A parallel example from the Bible is instructive. The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region.6 Thus there is often a gap between what historical records such as the Book of Mormon claim existed and what the limited archaeological record may yield. In addition, archaeological excavations in Bible lands have been under way for decades longer and on a much larger scale than those in proposed Book of Mormon lands.[48]

In the Bible we read that Abraham had camels while in Egypt, yet archaeologists used to believe that this was an anachronism because camels were supposedly unknown in Egypt until Greek and Roman times. More recently, however, some researchers have shown that camels were used in Egypt from pre-historic times until the present day.

The fact is, however, that there does appear to be archaeological support that horses existed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In 1957, for instance, at Mayapan (a site corresponding to Book of Mormon lands/times) horse remains were discovered at a depth considered to be pre-Columbian. Likewise, in southwest Yucatan, a non-Mormon archaeologist found what may likely be pre-Columbian horse remains in three caves. Excavations in a cave in the Mayan lowlands in 1978 also turned up horse remains.[49]

As an article for the Academy of Natural Science explains, such discoveries are typically "either dismissed or ignored by the European scientific community."[50] The problem may be one of pre-conceived paradigms. Dr. Sorenson recently related the story of a non-LDS archaeologist colleague who was digging at an archaeological dig in Tula and discovered a horse tooth. He took it to his supervisor--the chief archaeologist--who said, "Oh, that's a modern horse, throw it away" (which he did)--it was never dated.[51]

Dr. John Clark, director of the New World Archaeological Foundation has expressed similar concerns:

The problem is archaeologists get in the same hole that everybody else gets in. If you find a horse--if I'm digging a site and I find a horse bone--if I actually know enough to know that it is a horse bone, because that takes some expertise--my assumption would be that there's something wrong with my site. And so archaeologists who find a horse bone and say, "Ah! Somebody's screwing around with my archaeology." So we would never date it. Why am I going to throw away $600 to date the horse bone when I already know [that they're modern]? ...I think that hole's screwed up. If I dig a hole and I find plastic in the bottom, I'm not going to run the [radio]carbon, that's all there is to it. Because ...I don't want to waste the money.[52]


Question: Could ancient Americans have expanded the definition of "horse" to include new meanings?

Loan shifting: We must consider the possibility that the ancient author was applying familiar terms to unfamiliar animals that were encountered in the New World

Joseph Smith obviously knew what a "horse" looked like. It stands to reason, therefore, that when Joseph said "horse" that this is exactly what he meant. If we consider, however, that Joseph was receiving revelation that simply conveyed what was written by the ancient author, we must consider the possibility that the ancient author was applying familiar terms to unfamiliar animals that were encountered in the New World. It is important to remember that the Book of Mormon itself is not an ancient text—it is a nineteenth-century translation of an ancient text. Modern readers need to have an understanding of what the ancient author was attempting to convey. Some of the things that seem "plain" to us are not so "plain" upon further investigation or once we understand the culture that produced the text.

For a detailed response, see: Loan shifting: "Horses" as deer and tapirs


Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: "Pottery and other cultural materials were found in levels VII and above. But in some of those artifact-bearing strata there were horse bones, even in level II"

The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: [53]

Publications from the late 1950s reported results from excavations by scientists working on the Yucatan Peninsula. Excavations at the site of Mayapan, which dates to a few centuries before the Spaniards arrived, yielded horse bones in four spots. (Two of the lots were from the surface, however, and might represent Spanish horses.) From another site, the Cenote (water hole) Ch'en Mul, came other traces, this time from a firm archaeological context. In the bottom stratum in a sequence of levels of unconsolidated earth almost two meters in thickness, two horse teeth were found. They were partially mineralized, indicating that they were definitely ancient and could not have come from any Spanish animal. The interesting thing is that Maya pottery was also found in the stratified soil where the teeth were located. [54]

Subsequent digging has expanded the evidence for an association of humans with horses. But the full story actually goes back to 1895, when American paleontologist Henry C. Mercer went to Yucatan hoping to find remains of Ice Age man. He visited 29 caves in the hill area—the Puuc—of the peninsula and tried stratigraphic excavation in 10 of them. But the results were confused, and he came away disillusioned. He did find horse bones in three caves (Actun Sayab, Actun Lara, and Chektalen). In terms of their visible characteristics, those bones should have been classified as from the Pleistocene American horse species, then called Equus occidentalis L. However, Mercer decided that since the remains were near the surface, they must actually be from the modern horse, Equus equus, that the Spaniards had brought with them to the New World, and so he reported them as such.[55] In 1947 Robert T. Hatt repeated Mercer's activities. He found within Actun Lara and one other cave more remains of the American horse (in his day it was called Equus conversidens), along with bones of other extinct animals. Hatt recommended that any future work concentrate on Loltun Cave, where abundant animal and cultural remains could be seen.[56]

It took until 1977 before that recommendation bore fruit. Two Mexican archaeologists carried out a project that included a complete survey of the complex system of subterranean cavities (made by underground water that had dissolved the subsurface limestone). They also did stratigraphic excavation in areas in the Loltun complex not previously visited. The pits they excavated revealed a sequence of 16 layers, which they numbered from the surface downward. Bones of extinct animals (including mammoth) appear in the lowest layers.

Pottery and other cultural materials were found in levels VII and above. But in some of those artifact-bearing strata there were horse bones, even in level II. A radiocarbon date for the beginning of VII turned out to be around 1800 BC. The pottery fragments above that would place some portions in the range of at least 900–400 BC and possibly later. The report on this work concludes with the observation that "something went on here that is still difficult to explain." Some archaeologists have suggested that the horse bones were stirred upward from lower to higher levels by the action of tunneling rodents, but they admit that this explanation is not easy to accept. The statement has also been made that paleontologists will not be pleased at the idea that horses survived to such a late date as to be involved with civilized or near-civilized people whose remains are seen in the ceramic-using levels.[57] Surprisingly, the Mexican researchers show no awareness of the horse teeth discovered in 1957 by Carnegie Institution scientists Pollock and Ray. (Some uncomfortable scientific facts seem to need rediscovering time and time again.)


Martin: "no theoretical reason why a herd of mastodons, horses, or ground sloths could not have survived in some small refuge until 8000 or even 4000 years ago"

Paul S. Martin:

Admittedly, there is no theoretical reason why a herd of mastodons, horses, or ground sloths could not have survived in some small refuge until 8000 or even 4000 years ago. But in the past two decades, concordant stratiagraphic, palynological, archeological, and radiocarbon evidence to demonstrate beyond doubt the post-glacial survival of an extinct large mammal has been confined to extinct species of Bison…No evidence of similar quality has been mustered to show that mammoths, mastodons, or any of the other 29 genera of extinct large mammals of North America were alive 10,000 years ago. The coincidence in time between massive extinction and the first arrival of big game hunters cannot be ignored.[58]


Grayson: "extinct North American mammals...losses began in Mexico and Alaska during the Pleistocene and ended in Florida perhaps as recently as 2000 years ago"

Grayson:

In the first thorough review of radiocarbon dates associated with the extinct North American mammals, Martin (1958) concluded that the losses began in Mexico and Alaska during the Pleistocene and ended in Florida perhaps as recently as 2000 years ago (1958:405). Soon after, however, Hester (1960:58) concluded that the great majority of herd animals seemed to have been lost swiftly and together around 8,000 years ago even if some, like the mastodon, may have lingered on beyond then. Hester was thus the first to suggest, based on radiocarbon evidence, that a significant number, if not all, of the North American extinctions were synchronous. [59]


Bernardino de Sahagun: "Fodder was provided the deer—horses—which the Spaniards rode"

Bernardino de Sahagun:

Fodder was provided the deer—horses—which the Spaniards rode....The horses—they looked like deer—neighed and whinnied. They were all sweating; water fell from their bodies....[60]


Sorenson: Horse bones in Yucatan "considered to be pre-Columbian on the basis of depth of burial and degree of mineralization"

John L. Sorenson: [61]

Excavations at the Post-Classic site of Mayapan in Yucatan in 1957 yielded remains of horses in four lots. Two of these specimens are from the surface and might have been remains of Spanish animals. Two other lots, however, were obtained from excavation in Cenote [water hole] Ch'en Mul "from the bottom stratum in a sequence of unconsolidated earth almost 2 meters in thickness." They were "considered to be pre-Columbian on the basis of depth of burial and degree of mineralization. Such mineralization was observed in no other bone or tooth in the collection although thousands were examined, some of which were found in close proximity to the horse teeth." Clayton E. Ray somewhat lamely suggests that the fossil teeth were of Pleistocene age and "could have been transported . . . as curios by the Mayans." [62]


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Wheeled Transport Vehicles"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Wheeled Transport Vehicles

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Wheeled chariots pulled by draft animals did not exist during this period.

Jump to Detail:

Question: In what context are chariots mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon mentions "chariots," which one assumes to be a wheeled vehicle. It is also claimed that no draft animals existed in the New World to pull such chariots. It should be remembered that chariots do not play a major role in the Book of Mormon. They are mentioned in the following contexts:

Quotations from Old World scriptures

Apocalyptic teachings in Old World style

  • 3 Nephi 21:14 - Jesus speaks of "horses and chariots" in a symbolic and apocalyptic address

Used in conjunction with horses

  • Alma 18:9 - Ammon feeds the Lamanite king's horses, which are associated with his "chariots."
  • Alma 20:6 - Lamanite king uses horses and chariot for visit to neighboring kingdom
  • 3 Nephi 3:22 - Nephites "had taken their horses, and their chariots" to a central fortified area for protection against robbers

(It should be noted that we are not told if these chariots served a purpose in riding, or if they were for transport of goods, or if they had a ceremonial function. One assumes some sort of practicality or ritual importance in war, since they brought chariots to the siege.)

Conspicuously absent is any role of the chariot in the many journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon. Nor do horses or chariots play any role in the many Nephite wars; this is in stark contrast to the Biblical account, in which the chariots of Egypt, Babylon, and the Philistines are feared super-weapons upon the plains of Israel.


Gardner: "a correct approach to a Mesoamerican battle required all three elements: king, litter, and battle beast"

Wrote Mesoamerican expert Brant Gardner, who believes the Book of Mormon was situated in Mesoamerica:

Regardless of the reason for the presence of "horse" and "chariot" in the text, we must still deal with the question of what the original text might have meant the animal and conveyance that Joseph translated as "horse" and "chariot" to be. From this point on, all is speculation—but speculation consistent with the Mesoamerican world.

The wording describing horses and chariots is at least suggestive that the king would be transported in connection with the horse and chariot: "they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth." "Conduct him" does not necessarily mean that Lamoni was conducted in the horse/chariot. Indeed, verse 9 mentions horses and chariots, but only the king is "conducted." It is possible that we are dealing with several ritual objects rather than a conveyance. Verse 12, however, does suggest that conveyances are available for the king and his servants; but if would be highly unusual for servants to ride in a culture where everyone walks. Riding would confer upon them the same social status as the king—not to be thought of unless chariots were so common that they were in universal use. And nothing in the text suggests that they were.

If we are dealing with a conveyance, there is a Mesoamerican possibility. A king might be conveyed in a litter, but the litters were carried by men, not pulled by animals. However, an interesting connection between the litter and an animal occurs on what has been termed a battle litter. Freidel, Schele, and Parker note:

Lintel 2 of Temple 1 shows Hasaw-Ka'an-K'awil wearing the balloon headdress of Tlaloc-Venus warfare adopted at the time of the Waxaktun conquest, and holding the bunched javelins and shield, the original metaphors for war imported from Teothuacan. He sits in majesty on the litter that carried him into battle, while above him hulks Waxkluha=un-Ubah-Kan, the great War serpent.... Graffiti drawings scratched on the walls of Tikal palaces, depicting the conjuring of supernatural beings from the Otherworld, prove that these scenes were more than imaginary events seen only by the kings. Several of these elaborate doodles show the great litters of the king with his protector beings hovering over him while he is participating in ritual. These images are not the propaganda of rulers, created in an effort to persuade the people of the reality of the supernatural events they were witnessing. They are the poorly drawn images of witnesses, perhaps minor members of lordly families, who scratched the wonders that they saw during moments of ritual into the walls of the places where they lived their lives.

Thus, Maya art represents the king riding on a litter. In battle, capturing the litter was tantamount to capturing that king's gods. However, the graffiti litters at least open the possibility that these were simply formal litters and not limited to battle context. These litters were accompanied by a "battle beast," or an animal alter ego, embodied in the regalia of the king and litter. Thus, a correct approach to a Mesoamerican battle required all three elements: king, litter, and battle beast.

If Joseph Smith, while translating, came upon an unfamiliar idea but which seemed to describe a kingly conveyance associated with an animal, would it not have seemed logical to him to describe it as a horses and chariot for the king? I see the plausible underlying conveyance as an elaborate royal litter, accompanied in peacetime by the spiritual animal associated with the king. This animal was a type of alter-ego for the king, and was called the way [pronounced like the letter "Y"]....[63]

Gardner's case may be strengthened by the mention of chariots being brought to the lengthy siege in 3 Nephi—suggesting again a possible ritual use associated with warfare.


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Metal Working"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms...Metal Working ... Much like the invention of the wheel, the military and structural advantages of steel would have seen widespread adoption in the Americas. There is no record of steel or iron having ever been smelted in the New World.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author assumes that "steel" refers to modern steel, which did not exist in pre-Columbian America. Steel has been found in the Old World in the appropriate time period.

Jump to Detail:

Question: What was known about steel in ancient America?

The steel of the Book of Mormon is probably not modern steel. Steel, as we understand today, had to be produced using a very cumbersome process and was extremely expensive until the development of puddling towards the end of the 18th century. Even in ancient times, however, experienced smiths could produce steel by heating and hammering pig-iron or, earlier still, the never-molten iron from a bloomery to loose the surplus of carbon to get something like elastic steel. Early smiths even knew that by quenching hot steel in water, oil, or a salt solution the surface could be hardened.

Any Mesoamerican production likely depended upon the first method, which requires lower temperatures and less sophistication. Laban's "steel sword" is not anachronistic; Middle Eastern smiths were making steel by the tenth century B.C.[64]


Madden et al.: "by the beginning of the tenth century B.C. blacksmiths were intentionally steeling iron"

Robert Maddin, James D. Muhly and Tamara S. Wheeler:

It seems evident that by the beginning of the tenth century B.C. blacksmiths were intentionally steeling iron. [65]


Roper: "For example, an iron knife was found in an eleventh century Philistine tomb showed evidence of deliberate carburization"

Matthew Roper:

Archaeologists, for example, have discovered evidence of sophisticated iron technology from the island of Cyprus. One interesting example was a curved iron knife found in an eleventh century tomb. Metallurgist Erik Tholander analyzed the weapon and found that it was made of “quench-hardened steel.” Other examples are known from Syro-Palestine. For example, an iron knife was found in an eleventh century Philistine tomb showed evidence of deliberate carburization. Another is an iron pick found at the ruins of an fortress on Mount Adir in northern Galilee and may date as early as the thirteenth century B.C. “The manufacturer of the pick had knowledge of the full range of iron-working skills associated with the production of quench hardened steel” (James D. Muhly, “How Iron technology changed the ancient world and gave the Philistines a military edge,” Biblical Archaeology Review 8/6 [November-December 1982]: 50). According to Amihai Mazar this implement was “made of real steel produced by carburizing, quenching and tempering.” (Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 B.C.E. New York: Doubleday, 1990, 361).[66]


Roper: "archaeologists have discovered a carburized iron sword near Jericho"

Matthew Roper:

More significant, perhaps, in relation to the sword of Laban, archaeologists have discovered a carburized iron sword near Jericho. The sword which had a bronze haft, was one meter long and dates to the time of king Josiah, who would have been a contemporary of Lehi. This find has been described as “spectacular” since it is apparently “the only complete sword of its size and type from this period yet discovered in Israel.”(Hershall Shanks, “Antiquities director confronts problems and controversies,” Biblical Archaeology Review 12/4 [July-August 1986]: 33, 35).

Today the sword is displayed at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum. For a photo of the sword see the pdf version of the article here.

The sign on the display reads:

This rare and exceptionally long sword, which was discovered on the floor of a building next to the skeleton of a man, dates to the end of the First Temple period. The sword is 1.05 m. long (!) and has a double edged blade, with a prominent central ridge running along its entire length.

The hilt was originally inlaid with a material that has not survived, most probably wood. Only the nails that once secured the inlays to the hilt can still be seen. The sword’s sheath was also made of wood, and all that remains of it is its bronze tip. Owing to the length and weight of the sword, it was probably necessary to hold it with two hands. The sword is made of iron hardened into steel, attesting to substantial metallurgical know-how. Over the years, it has become cracked, due to corrosion.

Such discoveries lend a greater sense of historicity to Nephi’s passing comment in the Book of Mormon.[67]


Sorenson: "By 1400 BC, smiths in Armenia had discovered how to carburize iron by prolonged heating in contact with carbon"

John L. Sorenson: [68]

Steel is "iron that has been combined with carbon atoms through a controlled treatment of heating and cooling." [69] Yet "the ancients possessed in the natural (meteoric) nickel-iron alloy a type of steel that was not manufactured by mankind before 1890." [70] (It has been estimated that 50,000 tons of meteoritic material falls on the earth each day, although only a fraction of that is recoverable.) [71] By 1400 BC, smiths in Armenia had discovered how to carburize iron by prolonged heating in contact with carbon (derived from the charcoal in their forges). This produced martensite, which forms a thin layer of steel on the exterior of the object (commonly a sword) being manufactured. [72] Iron/steel jewelry, weapons, and tools (including tempered steel) were definitely made as early as 1300 BC (and perhaps earlier), as attested by excavations in present-day Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Jordan. [73] "Smiths were carburizing [i.e., making steel] intentionally on a fairly large scale by at least 1000 BC in the Eastern Mediterranean area." [74]


Hamblin: "there are no references to Nephite steel after 400 B.C."

William Hamblin: [75]

Steel is mentioned only five times in the Book of Mormon, once in the Book of Ether (7.9), and four times in the Nephite records (1 Ne 4.9, 1 Ne 16.18, 2 Ne 5.15 and Jar 1.8). Of these, two refer to Near Eastern weapons of the early sixth century B.C. 1 Ne 4.9 states that the blade of Laban’s sword was “of most precious steel.” Nephi’s Near Eastern bow was “made of fine steel” (1 Ne 16.18). The next two references are to steel among generic metal lists. The first is to the time of Nephi, around 580 B.C.:

“work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (2 Ne 5:15)

The second is from Jarom 1:8, around 400 B.C.:

“workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war–yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war”

Notice that these two texts are what is called a “literary topos,” meaning a stylized literary description which repeats the same ideas, events, or items in a standardized way in the same order and form.

Nephi: “wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel” Jarom: “wood, …iron and copper, and brass and steel” The use of literary topoi is a fairly common ancient literary device found extensively in the Book of Mormon (and, incidentally, an evidence for the antiquity of the text). Scholars are often skeptical about the actuality behind a literary topos; it is often unclear if it is merely a literary device or is intended to describe specific unique circumstances.

Note, also, that although Jarom mentions a number of “weapons of war,” this list notably leaves off swords. Rather, it includes “arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin.” If iron/steel swords were extensively used by Book of Mormon armies, why are they notably absent from this list of weapons, the only weapon-list that specifically mentions steel?

Significantly, there are no references to Nephite steel after 400 B.C.


Response to claim: "the problem does not lie in a lack of any Nephite coin discoveries, rather, it lies in Joseph Smith’s idea that such coins existed in the first place"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

the problem does not lie in a lack of any Nephite coin discoveries, rather, it lies in Joseph Smith’s idea that such coins existed in the first place.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph Smith never claimed that "coins" were mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The actual text of the 1830 Book of Mormon does not mention coins. The word "coins" was added in the 1920 edition to the chapter heading for Alma 11, and it is removed in the most recent edition available on the Church website.

Jump to Detail:

Question: Does the Book of Mormon refer to "coins"?

The actual text of the 1830 Book of Mormon does not mention coins

It is claimed that Book of Mormon references to Nephite coins is an anachronism, as coins were not used either in ancient America or Israel during Lehi's day. One critical website even speculates: "Do you think that the Church just casually adds words to their sacred scriptures specifically for the purpose of summarizing and clarifying the text without being pretty confident they are doing so correctly?" [76]

The actual text of the 1830 Book of Mormon does not mention coins. The word "coins" was added in the 1920 edition to the chapter heading for Alma 11. In the 1948 edition of the Book of Mormon, we see the following chapter heading:

Judges and their compensation—Nephite coins and measures—Zeezrom confounded by Amulek

Seeing "coins" in the Book of Mormon occurs when readers apply their modern expectations and an inadequately close reading of the text. There are units of exchange (weight-based and tied to grain) in the Book of Mormon, but no coins.

The Book of Mormon chapter headings are not revealed text, and they have been subject to change over the years

Note the absence of the word "coins" from the chapter heading for Alma 11 found in the current edition of the Book of Mormon on the official Church website "lds.org":

The Nephite monetary system is set forth—Amulek contends with Zeezrom—Christ will not save people in their sins—Only those who inherit the kingdom of heaven are saved—All men will rise in immortality—There is no death after the Resurrection. About 82 B.C.

The pieces of gold and silver described in Alma 11:1-20 are not coins, but a surprisingly sophisticated [77] system of weights and measures that is consistent with Mesoamerican proto-monetary practices. [78] BYU Professor Daniel C. Peterson notes,

It is, alas, quite true that there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of Book of Mormon coins. Not even in the Book of Mormon itself. The text of the Book of Mormon never mentions the word 'coin' or any variant of it. The reference to 'Nephite coinage' in the chapter heading to Alma 11 is not part of the original text, and is mistaken. Alma 11 is almost certainly talking about standardized weights of metal—a historical step toward coinage, but not yet the real thing" [79]

The mention of "Nephite coinage" in the chapter heading of Alma 11 in some editions of the Book of Mormon is in error

The chapter headings are not part of the inspired text. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who composed the chapter headings for the heavily revised 1981 edition of the LDS scriptures, said:

[As for the] Joseph Smith Translation items, the chapter headings, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, footnotes, the Gazetteer, and the maps. None of these are perfect; they do not of themselves determine doctrine; there have been and undoubtedly now are mistakes in them. Cross-references, for instance, do not establish and never were intended to prove that parallel passages so much as pertain to the same subject. They are aids and helps only. [80]

Some critics have attempted to argue that the text's reference to "different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value," means that these were, in fact, coins. In short, they read this as a reference to "gold and silver pieces [i.e., coins]."

Such critics ignore that "pieces of gold and silver" is not necessarily the same as "gold pieces" or "silver pieces." They have not paid close attention to the text.

John L. Sorenson noted in 1985:

Most recently a burial containing 12,000 pieces of metal "money" (though not coins as such) was found in Ecuador, for the first time confirming that some ancient South Americans had the idea of accumulating a fortune in more or less standard units of metal wealth. Such a startling find in Mesoamerica could change our present limited ideas. [81]

Here we see that "pieces of metal" can act as a unit of exchange without being "coins."

Likewise, Webster's 1828 dictionary mentions coins as a possible use of the word in the eighth definition. But, earlier definitions do not require the application to coinage:

1. A fragment or part of any thing separated from the whole, in any manner, by cutting, splitting, breaking or tearing; as, to cut in pieces, break in pieces, tear in pieces, pull in pieces, &c.; a piece of a rock; a piece of paper.

2. A part of any thing, though not separated, or separated only in idea; not the whole; a portion; as a piece of excellent knowledge.

3. A distinct part or quantity; a part considered by itself, or separated from the rest only by a boundary or divisional line; as a piece of land in the meadow or on the mountain.

4. A separate part; a thing or portion distinct from others of a like kind; as a piece of timber; a piece of cloth; a piece of paper hangings. [82]

Clearly, any of these definitions could apply to standard weights of precious metal used in exchange. (It is interesting to note that by 1913, Webster's dictionary shifted the definition involving coins to third place: a suggestion that use of the term may have evolved.)

There are many examples of "piece of gold" or other metal that do not apply to coined money

For example, Brigham Young observed in 1855:

a very ignorant person would know no difference between a piece of gold and a piece of bright copper. [83]

Gold or copper coins could easily be told apart because they are minted to appear different from each other. By contrast, the raw metal gold and bright (i.e., shiny, like gold) copper could be confused.

Writing in the early 1900s, B.H. Roberts said of the California gold rush:

Hudson picked out one piece of gold worth six dollars. [84]

Here we have a "piece of gold" (not "a gold piece") and a value given to it—but this is only raw gold, found and valued without any human coining or refining: it is simply the weight of raw metal. Andrew Jensen likewise wrote of "Mormon Island" in California:

On the 24th of January, 1848, Mr. James W. Marshall discovered a few pieces of gold in a mill race which had just been dug by members of the Mormon Battalion, who had recently received an honorable discharge from military service. [85]

Again, this raw gold is not coined.


Response to claim: "If Joseph had actually translated each word of the gold plates by the power of God, then there is no room for errors of logic, terminology, naming, or placement"

The author(s) of "For my Wife and Children" ("Letter to my Wife") make(s) the following claim:

If Joseph had actually translated each word of the gold plates by the power of God, then there is no room for errors of logic, terminology, naming, or placement.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is nonsense: As long as human beings are involved, there will always be "room for errors of logic, terminology, naming, or placement" in the production of scripture. Even the prophet Mormon himself addresses this very issue in his introduction to the Book of Mormon:

And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.


Notes

  1. “Mammoth,” Wikipedia (accessed 24 Sept. 2014)
  2. Ludwell H. Johnson, “Men and Elephants in America,” The Scientific Monthly 75 (1952), 220-221.
  3. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  4. S. L. Vartanyan, V. E. Garutt, and A. V. Sher, “Holocene dwarf Mammoths from Wrangle Island in the Siberian Arctic,” Nature 362 (1993),337-340.
  5. David R. Yesner, Douglas W. Veltre, Kristine J. Crossen and Russell W. Graham, 5,700-year-old Mammoth Remains from Qagnax Cave, Pribilof Islands, Alaska. In L. D. Agenbroad and R. L. Symington (eds.), The World of Elepahants (Short Papers and Abstracts of the 2nd International Congress, 2005), 200-204.
  6. James I. Mead and David J. Meltzer, “North American late Quaternary extinctions and the radiocarbon record, In P. S. Martin and R. G. Klein (eds.) Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, (Tucson, University of Arizona Press. 1984), 440-450.
  7. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  8. John R. Swanton, Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Adjacent Coast of the Gulf of Mexico (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911), 355.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 W. D. Strong, “North American traditions suggesting a knowledge of the mammoth,” American Anthropologist 36 (1934), 81-88.
  10. Ludwell H. Johnson, “Men and Elephants in America,” The Scientific Monthly 75 (1952), 220-221.
  11. Juan de Torquemada, Monarchia Indiana (Mexico, 1943), 1:38; Jose de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (2002), 384.
  12. Adrienne Mayor, Fossil Legends of the First Americans (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005), 97.
  13. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 294.
  14. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  15. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953), 1-42.
  16. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Oscar Polaco, “Caves and the Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology of Mexico.” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 273-291.
  17. Pietro Martire d'Anghiera, De Orbe Novo: The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr d'Anghera (1912), 2:259.
  18. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  19. C. Radulesco and P. Samson, Sur un centre de domestication du mouton dans le Mesolithique de grotte “La Adam, en Dobrogea,” Tierzüchlung und Züchtungsbiologic 76 (1962), 282-320.
  20. E. Raymond Hall and Keith R. Kelson, The Mammals of North America,” (New York, Ronald Press, 1959).1
  21. Valerius Geist, “Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior and Evolution,” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago press, 1971), 41.
  22. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1985), 296-97.
  23. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 290.
  24. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  25. A. Starker Leopold, “Wildlife of Mexico: The Game Birds and Mammals,” (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1959), 493-500.
  26. S. T. Evans, “Ancient Mexico & Central America: Archaeology and Culture History,” (London, Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2004).
  27. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Ticul Alverez, “A preliminary report of the late Quaternary mammal fauna from Loltún Cave, Yucatán, México,” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 266.
  28. Robert T. Hatt, Faunal and Archaeological Researches in Yucatan Caves (1953), 1-42.
  29. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  30. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953),29.
  31. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  32. Jehuda. Felilks., “Animals of the Bible and Talmud,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1996)3:8.
  33. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Ibid), 299; Roper, “Deer as `Goat’ and Pre-Columbian Domesticate,” Insights: An Ancient Window 26/6 (2006), 2-3.
  34. Mike Ash, mormonfortress.com
  35. Padilla, F., F. Puerta, J.M. Flores and M. Bustos, "Abejas, Apicultura y el Nuevo Mundo" (Bees, Apiculture and the New World)," Archivos de zootecnia, vol. 41, núm. 154 (extra), p. 565 (Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. 14005 Córdoba. España.)
  36. Roman James Head, "A Brief Survey of Ancient Near Eastern Beekeeping," FARMS Review 20/1 (2008): 57–66. off-site wiki
  37. 37.0 37.1 Eva Crane, The Archaeology of Beekeeping (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), 33.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Eva Crane, The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting (London: Duckworth, 1999)
  39. Charles F. Calkins, "Beekeeping in Yucatán: A Study in Historical-Cultural Zoogeography (PhD diss., University of Nebraska, 1974), as quoted in Crane, World History of Beekeeping, 292. Calkins cites the original translated source as Hernán Cortés, Letters of Cortés: The Five Letters of Relation from Fernando Cortes to the Emperor Charles V, trans. and ed. Francis A. MacNutt (New York: Putnam, 1908), 1:145.
  40. Head note that "The Inca and Aztec civilizations settled at altitudes too high for apiculture."
  41. Daniel C. Peterson, "Yet More Abuse of B. H. Roberts (Review of The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts: Five Questions That Forced a Mormon General Authority to Abandon the Book of Mormon)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 69–86. off-site
  42. Jay F. Kirkpatrick and Patricia M. Fazio, "The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses," LiveScience.com (July 24, 2008) off-site
  43. S. Bokonyi, History of Domestic Mammals in Central and Eastern Europe (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1974), 267.
  44. Paul R. Cheesman, The World of the Book of Mormon (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1984), 194, 181.
  45. http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/NABR5.pdf
  46. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  47. John Tvedtnes, “The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy” (unpublished, 1994), 29-30 (copy in Mike Ash’s possession); Benjamin Urrutia, “Lack of Animal Remains at Bible and Book-of-Mormon Sites,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, 150 (August 1982), 3-4.
  48. "Horses in the Book of Mormon" (Provo: Utah, FARMS, 2000). off-site
  49. Clay E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38:2 (1957), 278.
  50. http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/equus.php)
  51. Mike Ash notes that this story was told at the Q&A session following Dr. Sorenson’s presentation, “The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies,” 2 August 2007 at the 2007 FAIR Conference; audio and video in author’s possession.
  52. John Clark during Q&A session following Dr. Clark’s presentation, “Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief,” 25 May 2004 at BYU; audio of Q&A in author Mike Ash's possession.
  53. Anonymous, "Out of the Dust: Were Ancient Americans Familiar with Real Horses?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): N/A–N/A. off-site wiki
  54. See Harry E. D. Pollock and Clayton E. Ray, "Notes on Vertebrate Animal Remains from Mayapan," Current Reports 41 (August 1957): 638; this publication is from the Department of Archaeology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. See also Clayton E. Ray, "Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan," Journal of Mammalogy 38 (1957): 278.
  55. Henry C. Mercer, The Hill-Caves of Yucatan: A Search for Evidence of Man's Antiquity in the Caverns of Central America (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1896), 172.
  56. Robert T. Hatt, "Faunal and Archaeological Researches in Yucatan Caves," Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bulletin 33, 1953. See Peter J. Schmidt, "La entrada del hombre a la peninsula de Yucatan," in Origines del Hombre Americano, comp. Alba Gonzalez Jacome (Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica, 1988), 250.
  57. Schmidt, "La entrada," 254.
  58. Paul S. Martin, "The Discovery of America," Science 179 (1973): 974 n. 3.
  59. Donald K. Grayson (Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195), "Deciphering North American Pleistocene Extinctions," Journal of Anthropological Research, in press (2007 JAR Distinguished Lecture)
  60. Bernardino de Sahagun, The War of Conquest: How It Was Waged Here in Mexico: the Aztecs' own story (University of Utah Press, 1978).
  61. John L. Sorenson, "Once More: The Horse," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 10.
  62. Clayton E. Ray, "Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan," Journal of Mammalology 38 (1957): 278; Harry E. D. Pollock and Clayton E. Ray, "Notes on Vertebrate Animal Remains from Mayapan," Current Reports 41 (August 1957): 638 (Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C., Dept. of Archaeology).
  63. Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 Vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 4:287–288. Footnotes and one obvious typographical error have been silently omitted. Italics added to the internal quotation.
  64. Matthew Roper, "Right on Target: Boomerang Hits and the Book of Mormon," FAIR Conference, 2001.
  65. Robert Maddin, James D. Muhly and Tamara S. Wheeler, “How the Iron Age Began,” Scientific American 237/4 [October 1977]:127. Cited by Matthew Roper, "Laban’s Sword of 'Most Precious Steel' (Howlers #5)," FairMormon Blog (17 June 2013)
  66. Matthew Roper, "Laban’s Sword of 'Most Precious Steel' (Howlers #5)," FairMormon Blog (17 June 2013)
  67. Matthew Roper, "Laban’s Sword of 'Most Precious Steel' (Howlers #5)," FairMormon Blog (17 June 2013)
  68. John L. Sorenson, "Steel in Early Metallurgy," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 15/2 (2006): 108–109. off-site wiki
  69. Lenore O. Keene Congdon, "Steel in Antiquity: A Problem in Terminology," in Studies Presented to George M. A. Hanfmann, ed. David Gordon Mitten et al. (Cambridge: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1971), 18–19.
  70. Robert James Forbes, Metallurgy in Antiquity: A Notebook for Archaeologists and Technologists (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1950), 402.
  71. Harvey Harlow Nininger, Find a Falling Star (New York: Paul S. Erikson, 1972), 238.
  72. Congdon, "Steel in Antiquity," 24–25; D. Davis et al., "A Steel Pick from Mount Adir in Palestine," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 44/1 (1985): 42; and Muhly, "Mining and Metalwork," 3:1515.
  73. Patrick E. McGovern, "The Innovation of Steel in Transjordan," Journal of Metals 40/7 (1988): 50; Jane C. Waldbaum, From Bronze to Iron: The Transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the Eastern Mediterranean (Göteborg, Sweden: Paul Åström, 1978), 54; and Robert Maddin et al., "How the Iron Age Began," Scientific American 237 (1977): 122.
  74. Tamara S. Wheeler and Robert Maddin, "Metallurgy and Ancient Man," in Coming of the Age of Iron, ed. Wertime and Muhly, 116.
  75. William Hamblin, "Steel in the Book of Mormon," FairMormon Papers
  76. MormonThink.com page "Book of Mormon Problems" http://mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm
  77. See "The Numerical Elegance of the Nephite System": Table 1 and Table 2, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/2 (1999); John W. Welch, "Did the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica use a system of weights and scales in measuring goods & their values?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/2 (1999): N/A–N/A. off-site wiki; John W. Welch, "Weighing & Measuring in the Worlds of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/2 (1999): 36–46. off-site wiki
  78. Marion Popenoe de Hatch, Kaminaljuyú/San Jorge: Evidencia Arqueológica de la Actividad Económica en el Valle de Guatemala, 300 a.C. a 300 d.C (Guatemala: Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, 1997), 100.
  79. Daniel C. Peterson, "Chattanooga Cheapshot, or The Gall of Bitterness (Review of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon)," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 1–86. off-site, see especially p. 55.
  80. Mark McConkie (editor), Doctrines of the Restoration: Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1989),289–290. ISBN 978-0884946441. GL direct link
  81. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 232–233.
  82. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "piece."
  83. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:308.
  84. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 3:365–366. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  85. Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Deseret Book Company, 1941), 537.