In John Lunds book “Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?”, he discusses Geology and The Book of Mormon. He notes that gold, silver and copper are mentioned several times in The Book of Mormon being found in abundance in the land. 1 If there are proposed Book of Mormon geographical theories that do not have all of these in abundance, then they would fail the test of being a possible site. Lund explains “Four separate mining areas possessing gold, silver and copper are required in order to qualify as the lands of the primary events in The Book of Mormon. Where are those criteria met? The answer is Mesoamerica, Southwestern United States, the Northern Rockies, and Western Canada. However, there is no single place east of the Mississippi River, including all twenty-six states, where one can find gold, silver, and copper together in one locale in abundance, much less four separate locations. This single fact alone is a nail in the coffin of Great Lakes advocates.” 2
Mesoamerica is known for its “abundance” in precious ores 3, which is why it was an area of such focus of the conquistadors. They raided and conquered entire civilizations in order to get gold and silver. “When Cortes reached Mexico with his army in March, the gold and silver he saw led him to conclude that ‘it is entirely possible that this country has everything which existed in that land from which Solomon is said to have brought gold for the Temple.’” 4
David, in preparing the Temple of the Lord, gathered 100,000 talents of gold, and a million talents of silver among many other valuable metals 5. A talent is roughly 75 lbs, which would make about 7.5 million pounds of gold and 75 million pounds of silver. I doubt that Cortes did the math, but he did know that he was finding A LOT of gold and silver.
Mesoamerican Indians also used a gold and copper (and sometimes silver) alloy called “tumbaga”. This mixture makes a strong product, but is still malleable, and is a much lighter weight than pure gold. Some scholars believe this is what the Gold plates were made out of 6. This was a common metal alloy that Mesoamericans used. When the conquistadors stole gold items from the natives, they would melt them down into bars and ship them back to their homeland. One of these ships was sunk in the Bahamas, and 200, 5.66 lb. tumbaga bars were found in the sunken ship 7. In order to make large amounts of tumbaga, there must be an abundance of both gold and copper in the area.
What about the Great Lakes? Well, it does not stand up to the test as well as Mesoamerica does. Lund writes “An exhaustive search of all twenty-six states east of the Mississippi found copper in Michigan, Wisconsin and one unproductive copper mine in New Jersey. Gold was found in South Carolina, Georgia and Maryland, and only trace amounts of gold in the Adirondacks and trace quantities of silver in the Appalachians. This hardly qualifies as abundance. Furthermore, these areas are separated by distances so great as to exclude the possibility of being in the five hundred to six hundred and fifty mile limitation imposed by the internal restrictions of The Book of Mormon.” 8
Mesoamerica also fits The Book of Mormon description of having Precious stones 9. The Maya had turquoise, emeralds, obsidian 10, and a quality of jade 11 that surpassed that of the Chinese jade 12. Earthquakes 13 are also mentioned several times within the text, so one would expect to find seismic activity in Book of Mormon lands. This is exactly what we find in Mesoamerica. The Motagua fault line runs through several Central American countries and has been active since the Mayan times, as well as the Chixoy-Polochic fault line. Volcanoes, a result of seismic activity, are also found throughout Mesoamerica. Lund finds that “There are sixteen active volcanoes in Mesoamerica and none east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Current scientific evidence for the past three thousand years has not found in the Great Lakes area the kind of seismic activity reported in The Book of Mormon.”14. He also notes that the Book of Mormon peoples would have a written language 15, and vultures 16 to fit the description in The Book of Mormon. Both of which, are found in Mesoamerica.
1. Nephi 18:25, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jacob 2:12, Jarom 1:8, Helaman 6:9-11, Ether :17, Ether 10:23
2 . John L. Lund, Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, (The Communication Company 2007), pg 128
3 . Elizabeth H. Paris, Metallurgy, Mayapan, and the Postclassic Mesoamerican World System, Ancient Mesoamerica, 19 (Cambridge University Press , 2008), 43–66
4. Jayne A. Sokolow, The Great Encounter: Native Peoples and European Settlers in the Americas, 1492-1800, (M.E. Sharpe, December 2002), pg 74
5. 1 Chronicles 22:14
6. “Of What Material Were the Plates?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume – 10, Issue – 1, (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2001) pg. 21
7. Warren Tucker, HWCA World NY Coin Auction 425 Catalog Vol. 2 (New York, New York, RSM Press, 2006) pg 251
8. John L. Lund, Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, (The Communication Company 2007), pg. 132
9. Alma 17:14
10. Sharer, The Ancient Maya, pgs. 454-455, 730
11. John L. Lund, Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, (The Communication Company 2007), pg 132
12. Mosiah 27:11, Helaman 5:27-31, 3 Nephi 8:6-19
13. Mosiah 27:11, Helaman 5:27-31, 3 Nephi 8:6-19
14. John L. Lund, Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, (The Communication Company 2007), pg 135
15. The Book of Mormon people had a written hieroglyphic language (Mormon 9:32) as well did the Mayan. The Hopewell culture had no written language.
16. Alma 2:37-38, The Turkey vulture, a native to the Americas lives year round in Mesoamerica, but only in the Great Lakes area between May and August. Odds are the vultures mentioned were in Mesoamerica, John L. Lund, Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, (The Communication Company 2007), pg. 135-136