Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe that Mayan cities were inhabited by the Nephites?

Table of Contents

Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe that Mayan cities were inhabited by the Nephites or the Lamanites?

The assumption that one can associate the Nephites and the Lamanites with "the Maya" is an oversimplification of the facts

The Maya and the Olmec are often associated with the Nephites and Jaredites. However, Dr. Michael D. Coe, a prominent Mesoamerican archaeologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, stated, "As far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing [the historicity of The Book of Mormon], and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group".[1]

The assumption that one can associate the Nephites and the Lamanites with "the Maya" is an oversimplification of the facts. Most Church members view "the Maya" as a single, homogeneous group of people whom they associate with the magnificent ruins of the Classic Mayan civilization found in Mesoamerica. LDS research has focused on identifying the characteristics of the Preclassic Mayan culture, which does indeed cover the time period addressed by the Book of Mormon.

Notes

  1. Michael D. Coe, "Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2 no. 2 (Summer 1973), 40-48.