Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Interesting Thought on Cumorah – Part I

According to Mormon, discussing his own troops and deployment at the hill Cumorah, he claimed he had 23 commands of 10,000 each, or a total of 230,000 troops. Whether this included women and children is not known, though there were definitely women and children in the Nephite ranks that awaited the Lamanites at Cumorah.

Images of Cumorah in Western New York. Note the Yellow Arrows showing the short distance from the ground level to the top of the hill on an easy to limb sloping angle, something an averge man oould climb in a couple of minutes. Also note the flat ground all around the hill. All three views are from the west, looking east toward the hill
    According to Mormon, “when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah” (Mormon 6:6), and when they readied themselves for battle, in whatever formation or groupings or commands Mormon decided, that “my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them” (Mormon 6:7).
    So here, at Cumorah, was the entire remnant of the Nephite Nation, ready to defend themselves against an overwhelming Lamanite army. As Mormon stated, “they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers. And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war” (Mormon 6:8-9).
The area around the Hill Cumorah in New York is completely flat and an area where a battle of half a million men would have overflowed, for space in which to fight the battle
Now the number of Nephites, whether just the men or including women and children, is listed in the verses following. As Mormon states: “my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, and I fell wounded in the midst; and they passed by me that they did not put an end to my life” (Mormon 6:10). Note here that Mormon uses the wordage “My men, yea, even my ten thousand” which might suggest that his fighting force numbering in the 230,000 was made up of men, who, in addition, had their wives and children with them in camp.
    Continuing, Mormon states: “And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah” (Mormon 6:11):
• 10,000 of Mormon’s men;
• 10,000 of Moroni’s men;
• 10,000 of Gidgiddonah, 10,000 of Lamah, 10,000 of Gilgal, 10,000 of Limhah, 10,000 of Jeneum, 10,000 of Cumenihah, 10,000 of Moronihah, 10,000 of  Antionum, 10,000 of Shiblom, 10,000 of Shem, 10,000 of Josh;
• 10,000 each of ten more who had fallen.
    Making a total of 23 commands of 10,000 each, or 230,000 Nephites died that day, and possibly more, if wives and children are factored in; at least another 100,000 to 150,000 or so.
    Granted a few had escaped into the south countries, which might have totaled a thousand or so and were later caught and killed according to Moroni, but the point is, counting extra women and children, that as many as 450,000 to 480,000 or so died that day, not counting the Lamanite dead. This leads us to the interesting thought at Cumorah.
    Since the fields around the hill Cumorah have been plowed up and planted many times over the past roughly 186 years, there has never been found any trove of bodies, i.e., bones, skeletons, etc., nor any true artifacts of such an enormous battlefield by anyone who has ever come forward about such finds. Granted there are a few stories, as told by those who work in the Visitor’s Center there, but no one has produced a live person who has found such artifacts or any evidence of such a monumental battle.
After all, finding a few arrowheads or spear points is hardly sufficient evidence of such a battle. I have been on several such arrowhead hunts in southern Utah over the years on family outings, get-togethers and actual artifact hunts, and there are always a few arrowheads, etc., that can be found almost everywhere. We are not talking about a place where Indians or ancients hunted for daily food, but a battle that is listed among the very largest engagements anywhere before the 20th century.
    With this in mind, 230,000 Nephite warriors, and as many as 400,000 to 500,000 Lamanite warriors, or as many as 700,000 fighting men including metalsmiths and artisans for making weapons, supply handlers, wagons or pack animals to carry supplies and food for the armies, all the accouterments of battle, relics, artifacts, arrow and spear points, and the sheer trash dumps of such a large amount of people, surely, something, somewhere, would be found commensurate with such a battle. Think of the food for hundreds of thousands of people, the animal remnants of antler picks, hooves, hide ropes, all the infrastructure needed to provide the materials and supplies needed.
    Surely, something of some magnitude would have been found before now with all the effort different archaeologists, groups, studies, digs, etc., that have been conducted there, not to mention the continual plowing the turning over of the soil for planting that has taken place on and around the Hill Cumorah since 1830, not to mention the sheer plowing work done for planting by early residents of the area.
The listings of the State of New York show no artifact sites within 60 miles of the Hill Cumorah, yet outside that ring, there are over 5,000 listed artifact sites. 
    In an article in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies regarding "Looking for Artifacts in 2005 at New York's Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York,” Landon Smith said “I have walked to the big meadow east of the hill. I have searched it thoroughly. No artifacts—not even flint chips of any kind. So I went north to the Clark farm. I was thinking [that] if this was the scene of the final battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites there have to be remains here, but where? [But} the Clarks’ fields yielded the same as the one east of the hill: not one single arrowhead and not one single piece of flint chipping.”
    Jonathan Nevile, a Great Lakes Theorist of the Book of Mormon Wars website, who we have quoted several times in the past, says of Landon not finding any artifacts to speak of at Cumorah states: “Apparently he didn't read Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII. He said the battles took place on the west side. Why would anyone look on the east side of the hill? On the north? This is as bad as searching on the east.”
    Response: Like many theorists, this one places too much emphasis on people, information or statements other than the scriptural record. Mormon—who was there, as opposed to Oliver Cowdery—makes it quite clear when he wrote: “we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah” (Mormon 6:4). Now, Mormon says “around” which defined in 1828 meant: “about, on all sides, encircling; encompassing” and ”in a circle; on every side.” In addition, or for emphasis, the word “About” means: “with the sense of circularity” “to encompass or circumference.”
The area Cowdery calls a vale shown here between the two drumlin hills, with Cumorah to the east  and the other about where the photo was takent. This is a small area, about a mile and a half square for more than half a million people to engage in battle unless they were all around the hill Cumorah 
    Thus, it should be clear that the Nephites had pitched their tents all around the hill of Cumorah, positioning themselves with the hill to their back to guard that quarter, and fought “all around the hill,” or stated differently, the battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites occurred in the west, east, north and south of the hill. This would mean that Oliver Cowdery was wrong in his west side battle, which makes sense when we recognize that at least 230,000 Nephites and a much larger number of Lamanites, more than half a million people fought around the Hill Cumorah. To limit any artifacts to be found to just one side of the hill, which is not a very big hill to start with, is simply inaccurate and in opposition to the meaning of the scriptural account.
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thought on Cumorah – Part II,” regarding the lack of artifacts found around the New York hill Cumorah despite more than half a million Nephite-Lamanite warriors who fought and died there in battle—not to mention all those Jaredites before that)


  1. Good points. On the other hand, has anyone searched for war related artifacts around the Cerro Imbabura or other possible South American Hill Cumorahs?

  2. Priddis wrote in her book "The Book and the Map" that the slopes of cerro Imbabura have names such as Batallon (Battalion), Compania (Company), and Zapallo Loma (sad person hill). She said that these sections "may represent events which have taken place on its slope." It would be very interesting to do an archaeological investigation on it's slopes. I'm sure lots of material would be found confirming the great battles that took place there.

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  4. According to an NRCS publication on the preservation of human remains, and according to WebSoilSurvey, the soils around Cumorah highly favor the preservation of human remains, and it should have been easy to dig mass grave trenches or pits. Personally, I can't wait to see Joseph Smith judged by God.