Question: Is there a real-world match in the Old World for the land "Bountiful" described in the Book of Mormon?

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Question: Is there a real-world match in the Old World for the land "Bountiful" described in the Book of Mormon?

There is a very good candidate for the Old World "Bountiful" that is located in the correct place for Lehi's group to arrive at after the made the "Eastward turn" at Nahom

There was considerable mourning at Nahom. After a while, they traveled eastward (1 Nephi 17:1) until they reached a place they called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5) on the coast of the Arabian peninsula, described as rich, green garden spot with trees, abundant fruit, water, honey, and a mountain. At this wonderful site they stayed at least long enough to construct a ship from the abundant timber. Metal obtained from ore was also used to make tools.

If Nehem is the Book of Mormon site Nahom, then is there a Bountiful to the east of it on the coast? Amazingly, we have the luxury of two excellent candidate sites that are roughly due east of Nehem on the Oman coast. The Astons propose Wadi Sayq as the best candidate for Bountiful, and it impressively fits the criteria that one can derive from the Book of Mormon. [1] Potter and Sedor propose the area of Salalah and the nearby ancient port of Khor Rori as the general site for Bountiful. [2]

Finding a garden spot on the coast of the Arabian peninsula was absurdly funny, and was laughed at in the 1800s, because nobody knew of a place that could come anywhere close to being a candidate for Lehi's Bountiful.

Both Wadi Sayq and Khor Rori fit the description of being nearly due east of Nehem, as the Book of Mormon requires (1 Nephi 17:1). But the path to Wadi Sayq better fits Nephi's description of nearly due east from Nahom, while more zig-zags are needed to reach Khor Rori. Regarding the other Book of Mormon criteria for the place Bountiful, the Astons list the following, along with several others:

  • The journey from Nahom must have provided reasonable access from the interior to the coast (not a trivial requirement given the difficult obstacles posed by mountains along much of the coast).
  • Bountiful was on the coast, offering a place suitable for camping on the shore (1 Nephi 17:5,6) and for launching a ship (1 Nephi 18:8).
  • It was very fertile, with much fruit and honey, possibly game (1 Nephi 17:5,6; 1 Nephi 18:8).
  • Enough timber existed to build a durable ship (1 Nephi 18:1,2,6).
  • Freshwater was available year-round to enable a prolonged stay.
  • There was a nearby mountain that Nephi described as "the mount" (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3).
  • Cliffs were available from which Nephi's brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea (1 Nephi 17:48)
  • Ore and flint were available (1 Nephi 17:9–11,16).
  • The winds and ocean currents there could permit travel out into the ocean.

Salalah appears to offer much more in the way of fruit and timber than does Wadi Sayq, but this may be due to recent irrigation. Khor Rori does provide a good harbor with an ancient tradition of ship building, but there is no evidence that ship building skills were there anywhere close to Nephi's time. Wadi Sayq, on the other hand, offers an inlet that anciently may have been quite suitable for launching a ship.

But Wadi Sayq has all the elements of Nephi's story—the mountain, the trees, the place to build a ship—all close together.

Wadi Sayq offers the largest body of coastal fresh water on the Arabian peninsula, with a beautiful freshwater lagoon. Wadi Sayq has dates, honey, and several species of trees, such as the sycamore fig and tamarind, that may be suitable for ship building. Both sites have coastal areas ideal for an encampment on the seashore, and it is accessible from the interior desert. [3]

Ore has been found at both sites, though it had not been found at Wadi Sayq when the Astons published their findings in 1994. The subsequent discovery of iron ore suitable for tool making using wood-fired furnaces in the region of Bountiful is a far more impressive find than one might realize, for there are very few places in the Arabian Peninsula that have such ore. [4]

Figure 5: After rain in Dhofar, near a candidate site for Bountiful (Wadi Sayq). Note the trees.
Figure 6: A view in Salalah, another candidate region for Bountiful in Oman. [5]

Notes

  1. Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi's Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 1. ISBN 0875798470 See also Warren P. Aston, "The Arabian Bountiful Discovered? Evidence for Nephi's Bountiful," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 4–11. off-site wiki; S. Kent Brown and Terry B. Ball and Arnold G. Green, "Planning Research on Oman: The End of Lehi's Trail," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 12–21. off-site wiki
  2. George Potter and Timothy Sedor, "Following the Words of Nephi: The Land Bountiful," video presentation, available by order from[www.nephiproject.com|here].
  3. Jeff Lindsay, "Warren Aston on the Superiority of Khor Kharfot as a Candidate for Bountiful," mormanity.blogspot.com post (12 June 2006, accessed 8 September 2006) off-site; citing Warren P. Aston, "Finding Nephi's "Bountiful" in the Real World, Meridian Magazine off-site
  4. Ron Harris, "Geologists Discover Iron Ore in Region of Nephi's Bountiful," Meridian Magazine, (28 July 2004). off-site
  5. Used with kind permission from the official site for the Ministry of Information of the Sultanate of Oman, http://www.omanet.om. The original, larger photos are in their beautiful photogallery. To access it, go to their site and click on "gallery" and then "tourism," and then click through their photos.