Book of Mormon/Archaeology/Hill Cumorah/Further Reading

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Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles


The geographical setting of the Book of Mormon has been the subject of serious study and casual speculation since before the book was first published. The Church has been neutral when it comes to issues relating to Book of Mormon geography, as is FairMormon. The articles linked below will describe the various theories and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each. (Click here for full article)


Old World or Arabian, geography - this considers the journey from Jerusalem to Old World Bountiful, where Nephi constructed the ship. (Click here for full article)

  • Valley of Lemuel
    Brief Summary: Is there a viable real-world candidate in the Old World for the Valley of Lemuel described in the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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  • Nahom
    Brief Summary: How does the Book of Mormon name "Nahom" correlate with the Old World? (Click here for full article)
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  • Bountiful
    Brief Summary: Is there a real-world match in the Old World for the land "Bountiful" described in the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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  • Lehi's cave
    Brief Summary: I've heard about a place in the Arabian desert called "Lehi's cave." Does this provide evidence for the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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New World geography - location of the majority of the Book of Mormon narrative, in the "promised land"—somewhere in the western hemisphere. (Click here for full article)

  • Hemispheric geography theory (HGT)
    Brief Summary: The Hemispheric Geography Theory (or HGT) is the traditional understanding of the Book of Mormon. It postulates that the events in the book took place over North and South America, with the Isthmus of Panama as the narrow neck of land. (Click here for full article)
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  • Limited geography theory (LGT)
    Brief Summary: The Limited Geography Theory (or LGT) is a non-traditional interpretation of the text, but one that has gained wide acceptance among the Book of Mormon scholars and readers over the last 60 years. It is based on a close reading of the text, which indicates that the lands inhabited by the Lehites could be traversed on foot in only a few weeks, making the area no larger than present-day California. (Click here for full article)
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  • Location of the Hill Cumorah
    Brief Summary: If Mormon chapter 6 is a literal description of the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites — approximately 100 thousand were killed by swords and axes — why hasn't any evidence of the battle been found at the site that was traditionally identified as the hill Cumorah in western New York state? (Click here for full article)
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  • Great Lakes geography
    Brief Summary: I've heard some members claim that the Book of Mormon fits best in a geography located around the Great Lakes, between the United States and Canada. What can you tell me about this geographic model? (Click here for full article)
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  • Disdaining Joseph?
    Brief Summary: Do LDS scholars "disdain" the statements of Joseph Smith related to Book of Mormon geography? (Click here for full article)
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  • Definition of "continent" in the 1820s
    Brief Summary: With regard to the location of Book of Mormon lands, it is sometimes claimed that "[t]here's a North American continent and a South American continent in Noah Webster's [1850] dictionary," and that this means that all references to "this continent" must refer to North America. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines a ""continent"" as follows: "1. In geography, a great extent of land, not disjoined or interrupted by a sea; a connected tract of land of great extent; as the Eastern and Western continent. It differs from an isle only in extent. New Holland may be denominated a continent. Britain is called a continent, as opposed to the isle of Anglesey." Therefore, Webster's definition of a "Eastern and Western continent" is equivalent to today's definition of "Eastern and Western hemisphere." (Click here for full article)
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  • Location of Zarahemla
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the location of the city of Zarahemla was provided to Joseph Smith through revelation and that it was located on the Mississippi River opposite where Nauvoo is located today. (Click here for full article)
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  • Borders of the Lamanites
    Brief Summary: Does the proposal of a Mesoamerican limited geographical Book of Mormon setting contradict D&C 54:8, which discusses the "borders of the Lamanites" being in North America? (Click here for full article)
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  • No maps in the Book of Mormon
    Brief Summary: Why are there no maps in the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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  • Transoceanic Crossing
    Brief Summary: The Book of Mormon, in 1 Nephi chapters 17 and 18, recounts that Nephi built a ship in which the Lehi colony sailed from the old world to the new. In June 2010 the History Channel aired a documentary, "Who Really Discovered America?" which claims that it would have been impossible for a ship (such as that made by Nephi) to have successfully carried the people and necessary supplies in a transoceanic crossing. (Click here for full article)
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Sometimes falsified artifacts are used to promote a Book of Mormon geography (Click here for full article)

  • Bat Creek Stone
    Brief Summary: The "Bat Creek Stone" purports to a stone written in Paleo-Hebrew reading "for the Jews". A preponderance of the evidence available argues that the stone is a modern forgery. As exciting as it would be to find a genuine ancient inscription, it would only harm others' belief in the Book of Mormon to advocate forgeries in contradiction of good evidence. (Click here for full article)
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  • Burrows Cave artifacts
    Brief Summary: The Burrows Cave collection is a group of objects supposedly found in a Cave in Illinois, named after Russell Burrows, the person who claimed to have found the cave. To this day, Burrows Cave enthusiasts have never demonstrated the existence of the cave. The artifacts contain many obvious hallmarks of modern manufacture, including the so-called "mystic symbol" found on artifacts in the Michigan artifacts collection. This is offered as evidence that the hoaxers deliberately meant to associate these artifacts with the Michigan collection. Some LDS people have fallen prey to those who push these artifacts as genuine. (Click here for full article)
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  • Michigan artifacts
    Brief Summary: The "Michigan Artifacts" or "Michigan relics" are a group of "artifacts" produced by hoaxers in the late 19th century and around the turn of the 20th Century from Michigan. They wanted to produce "proof" of the existence of the ancient civilization known in 19th century lore as the Mound Builders. Many contain scenes from biblical stories. Some LDS members have been misled into believing that the artifacts are genuine. Not surprisingly, advocates of the Michigan artifacts also push the Burrows Cave collection. (Click here for full article)
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  • Newark Decalogue Stone
    Brief Summary: These items, which were presented to the public in 1860, have Hebrew writing on them. Some have used them as evidence for the Book of Mormon, but this is problematic on two grounds: (1) the items may be modern forgeries; and (2) even if authentic, the writing dates to around AD 100-300, which is too late to represent the 600 BC Lehi colony. (Click here for full article)
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FairMormon web site

External links

Book of Mormon archaeology articles
  • William J. Adams Jr., "Synagogues in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/1 (2000): 4–13. off-site wiki
  • Anonymous, "Book of Mormon Archaeology,": A Rich Source for LDS Folklore," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 19–19. off-site wiki
  • Warren P. Aston, "Newly Found Altars from Nahom," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/2 (2001): 56–61. off-site wiki
  • David E. Bokovoy, "The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon: Still Losing the Battle: Review of The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon by Joel P. Kramer and Scott R. Johnson," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 3–19. off-site wiki off-site
  • Stewart W. Brewer, "The History of an Idea: The Scene on Stela 5 from Izapa, Mexico, as a Representation of Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 12–21. off-site wiki
  • Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "Has the Seal of Mulek Been Found?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/2 (2003): 72–83. off-site wiki
  • John E. Clark, "Archaeology and Cumorah Questions," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1 (2004): 144–151. off-site wiki mp3 offsite
  • John E. Clark, "Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 38–49. off-site wiki
  • John E. Clark, "Looking for Artifacts at New York's Hill Cumorah," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 50–51. off-site wiki
  • John E. Clark, "A New Artistic Rendering of Izapa Stela 5: A Step toward Improved Interpretation," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 22–33. off-site wiki
  • John E. Clark, "Searching for Book of Mormon Lands in Middle America (Review of: Sacred Sites: Searching for Book of Mormon Lands)," FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 1–54. off-site
  • Allen J. Christenson, "The Sacred Tree of the Ancient Maya," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6/1 (1997): 1–23. off-site wiki
  • Brant Gardner, "The Other Stuff: Reading the Book of Mormon for Cultural Information (Review of: Nephite Culture and Society: Selected Papers)," FARMS Review of Books 13/2 (2001): 21–52. off-site
  • Brant Gardner, “A Social History of the Early Nephites,” FAIR Conference presentation (August 2001). FairMormon link
  • Brant A. Gardner, "Too Good To Be True: Questionable Archaeology and the Book of Mormon," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, September 2002). FairMormon link
  • John Gee, "New and Old Light on Shawabtis from Mesoamerica," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6/1 (1997): 64–69. off-site wiki
  • William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link (Key source)
  • William J. Hamblin, "Review of Archaeology and the Book of Mormon by Jerald and Sandra Tanner," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 250–272. off-site
  • William J. Hamblin, "Review of Explorers of Pre-Columbian America?: The Diffusionist-Inventionist Controversy;Legend and Lore of the Americas before 1492: An Encyclopedia of Visitors, Explorers, and Immigrants by Eugene R. Fingerhut & Ronald H. Fritze," FARMS Review of Books 7/1 (1995): 120–122. off-site
  • V. Garth Norman, "Review of Angular Chronology: The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America by Michael M. Hobby, June M. Hobby, and Troy J. Smith," FARMS Review of Books 8/1 (1996): 112–117. off-site
  • Matthew Roper, "On Cynics and Swords (Review of Of Cities and Swords: The Impossible Task of Mormon Apologetics)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 146–158. off-site
  • Matthew Roper, "Swords and "Cimeters" in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 34–43. off-site wiki
  • Cherry B. Silver, "Connecting the Nephite Story to Mesoamerican Research (Review of: Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life)," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 23–34. off-site
  • John L. Sorenson, "Ancient Voyages Across the Ocean to America: From "Impossible" to "Certain"," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 4–17. off-site wiki
  • John L. Sorenson and Matthew Roper, "Before DNA," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 6–23. off-site wiki
  • John L. Sorenson, "Last-Ditch Warfare in Ancient Mesoamerica Recalls the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 44–53. off-site wiki
  • John L. Sorenson, "Review of Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory by Stephen Williams," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 254–257. off-site
  • John L. Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe! (Review of "Does the Shoe Fit? A Critique of the Limited Tehuantepec Geography" by Deanne G. Matheny," FARMS Review of Books 6/1 (1994): 297–361. off-site
  • Brian D. Stubbs, "Looking Over vs. Overlooking: Native American Languages: Let's Void the Void," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/1 (1996): 1–49. wiki
  • Terrence L. Szink, "Jerusalem in Lehi's Day(Review of: Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem)," FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 149–160. off-site
  • John A. Tvedtnes, "Can Early Chinese Maritime Expeditions Shed Light on Lehi’s Voyage to the New World? (Review of: 1421, the Year China Discovered America)," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 427–428. off-site
  • John A. Tvedtnes, “Historic archeology and the Geographic Imperative,” FAIR (2005). FairMormon link
  • John A. Tvedtnes, "Jewish Seafaring and the Book of Mormon (Review of The Children of Noah: Jewish Seafaring and the Book of Mormon)," FARMS Review of Books 10/2 (1998): 147–155. off-site
  • Bruce W. Warren, "Review of Angular Chronology: The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America by Michael M. Hobby, June M. Hobby, and Troy J. Smith," FARMS Review of Books 8/1 (1996): 118–121. off-site
  • Diane E. Wirth, "Review of Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life," FARMS Review of Books 11/1 (1999): 10–17. off-site
  • Diane E. Wirth, "Quetzalcoatl, the Maya Maize God, and Jesus Christ," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 11/1 (2002): 4–15. off-site wiki
  • Diane E. Wirth, "Review of Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory by Stephen Williams," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 251–253. off-site

Print material

Book of Mormon archaeology printed works
  • 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
  • John E. Clark, "Archaeological Trends and the Book of Mormon Origins," Brigham Young University Studies 44 no. 4 (2005), 83–104.
  • Eugene England, "Through the Arabian Desert to a Bountiful Land: Could Joseph Smith Have Known the Way?," in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 [1982]),143–154. ISBN 0884944697 GospeLink (requires subscrip.) GL direct link
  • Alan Goff, "Mourning, Consolation, and Repentance at Nahom," in John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (eds.), Rediscovering the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 92–99. ISBN 0875793878. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)GL direct link
  • 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]), 1.
  • John L. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican codex," in Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology No. 139: (Provo, UT, 1976): 1–9.
  • John L. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican record," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997),391–521. ISBN 093489325X ISBN 0934893187 ISBN 0884944697. off-site GL direct link
  • John L. Sorenson, "Fortifications in the Book of Mormon account compared with Mesoamerican fortifications," in Ricks and Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 425–444.
  • John L. Sorenson, "How could Joseph Smith write so accurately about ancient American civilization?," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), 261–306. ISBN 0934893721 off-site
  • John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998), 1. ISBN 0934893284 (Key source)
  • John L. Sorenson, "The political economy of the Nephites," in Nephite Culture and Society: Collected Papers, edited by M.L. Sorenson, (Salt Lake City, Utah: New Sage Books, 1997), 195–226. ISBN 1890902012. ISBN 978-1890902018.
  • John L. Sorenson, "Seasons of war, seasons of peace in the Book of Mormon," in John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (eds.), Rediscovering the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 249–255. ISBN 0875793878. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  • John L. Sorenson, "The significance of an apparent relationship between the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica," in C. L. Riley et al. (editors), Man across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971), 219–241.
  • John W. Welch, "Lehi's Trail and Nahom Revisited,," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), 47–49. ISBN 0875796001 off-site FairMormon link GL direct link
  • Diane E. Wirth, Parallels: Mesoamerican and Ancient Middle Eastern Traditions (St. George UT: Stonecliff, 2003). ISBN 0960209603. 978-0960209606.

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