Book of Mormon/Anachronisms/Animals/Silkworms

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    Book of Mormon anachronisms: Silkworms


The production of Old World "silk" requires both silkworms and the mulberry trees upon whose leaves they feed

  • Why would the Book of Mormon mention "silk" in the New World?

Detailed Analysis


There are several examples of silk or silk-like fabric in pre-Columbian America:

  • wild silkworms do exist, and some commentators insisted that the Amerindians spun and wove it from their cocoons
  • hair from rabbit bellies was also spun into a cloth dubbed "silk" by the Spanish conquerors
  • floss from the ceiba (silk-cotton) tree was made into a "soft delicate cloth," kapok.
  • fibers from the wild pineapple were also prized for their ability to be woven into a fine, durable fabric
  • cotton cloth in Mexico from A.D. 400 is "even, very fine, and gossamer-thin."[1]

Wild silk

The theory that "wild silk" was used anciently in Oaxaca, near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, "has been greatly debated."

Wild silk was produced by the Gloveria paidii, a moth, and the Eucheira socialis, a butterfly, found in the Oaxaca area (de Ávila Blomberg, 1997). It is suggested by de Ávila Blomberg that wild silk was used in Oaxaca in pre-Columbian times, a theory that has been greatly debated. However, in a 1777 document, an excavation of a pre-Columbian burial site is described as containing wild silk.[2]



  1. 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. John L. Sorenson, "Research and Perspectives: Silk and Linen in the Book of Mormon," Ensign (April 1992), 62.
  2. Careyn Patricia Armitage, "Silk production and its impact on families and communities in Oaxaca, Mexico," Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Iowa State University (2008) off-site References de Ávila Blomberg, A. (1997). Threads of diversity: Oaxacan textiles in context. In K. Klein (Ed.) The unbroken thread: Conserving the textile traditions of Oaxaca (pp.87-151). Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.

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