Question: Are the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon consistent with those built in ancient Mesoamerica?


Question: Are the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon consistent with those built in ancient Mesoamerica?

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica

4 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance. (Alma 49:4).

3 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. 4 And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height. 5 And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after; and in this city they did guard the prisoners of the Lamanites; yea, even within a wall which they had caused them to build with their own hands. Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites.(Alma 53:3-5).

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica. Multiple sites have been found; the city of Becan is well-known:

The moat at Bécan in the Yucatan is 16 meters wide, and covers a distance of 2 kilometers. The enclosed city covers 25 hectares (almost 62 acres). Reconstruction, on-line at http://mayaruins.com/becan.html
Artist’s rendering of Bécan fortifications [AD 100-250]; From John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1998), 133 (Andrea Darais, artist).
“Bécan” earthworks, fortifications from Early Classic period (250-400 AD) David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.
Note the modern highway in the upper left corner! [Gives a sense of the scale.] David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.

The rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C.

It should be noted too that the rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C. (See Alma 49:8).The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "Possible" sites:

John L. Sorenson, "Fortifications in the Book of Mormon Account Compared with Mesoamerican Fortifications" (Table 2, p. 429) in Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (eds), Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 425-444. The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "possible" sites.

Notes