Question: How does archaeology in the New World fit with the Book of Mormon?

Table of Contents

Question: How does archaeology in the New World fit with the Book of Mormon?

There is a growing body of evidence from New World archaeology that supports the Book of Mormon

It is also worth noting that there is a growing body of evidence from New World archaeology that supports the Book of Mormon. Dr. John Clark of the New World Archaeological Foundation compiled a list of sixty items that are mentioned in the Book of Mormon and were publicly criticized in Joseph Smith's day and matched it with the best research available at that time. The list includes items such as “steel swords,” “barley,” “cement,” “thrones,” and literacy. In 1842, only eight (or 13.3%) of those sixty items were confirmed by archaeological evidence. Thus, in the mid-nineteenth century, archaeology provided little support for the claims made by the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon text ran counter to both expert and popular ideas about ancient America in the early 1800s.

As the efforts of archaeology have shed light on the ancient New World, we find in 2005 that forty-five of those sixty items (75%) have been confirmed. Thirty-five of the items (58%) have been definitively confirmed by archaeological evidence and ten items (17%) have received possible—tentative, yet not fully verified—confirmation. Therefore, as things stand at the moment, current New World archaeological evidence tends to verify the claims made by the Book of Mormon.[1]

Status of Book of Mormon evidence in 1842. This chart includes both Old World and New World evidence.
Status of Book of Mormon evidence in 2005. This chart includes both Old World and New World evidence.

This list has been criticized but the important things to keep in remembrance are the selection of the anachronisms based in the publicly documented criticisms from Joseph Smith's day, the careful methodology employed by Clarke to substantiate te claims with the best research, and the purpose of this list which is to show the trend that has been occurring over the last couple hundred years since the Restoration's inauguration (1 Cor 4:5). Clarke is one of the most well-recognized Mesoamericanists working currently. He plans to update this list in the near future. For now, more information on this can be found in the articles addressing anachronisms and the research presented in the FairMormon Conferences.

Notes

  1. John Clark, “Debating the Foundations of Mormonism: Archaeology and the Book of Mormon,” presentation at the 2005 FAIR Apologetics Conference (August 2005). Co-presenters, Wade Ardern and Matthew Roper.