Gold bearing copper ore with silver, as Nephi said: “both of gold, and of silver, and of copper”
The point is, “There was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver and of precious ore of every kind” (Helaman 6:11). They obviously had a lot of gold, for their monetary system was not only based upon it, but it was extensively configured with gold and silver (Alma 11:4-19).
We also need to keep in mind the quantity of natural precious metals and their riches that brought great wealth to the Nephites. As Mormon wrote: “They became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:9). Mormon, in discussing both the Nephites and the Lamanites refers to the land—but before we go jumping to the conclusion the land northward and the and southward was meant we need to consider the following.
Obviously, the Lamanites were in the far south of the Land Southward, i.e., the Land of Nephi, and the Nephites were in the central and northern part of the land Southward, i.e., the lands of Zarahemla, Bountiful and the land in between.
The Land North and the Land South were both within the Land Southward where both Mulek and Lehi landed
So we would better understand this arrangement and the Nephite terms, Mormon goes on: “Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10). This is verified by Mormon’s description of the land of first inheritance, i.e., where Lehi landed: “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28); and by Amaleki’s writing: “And they [Mulekites] journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16), i.e., Mosiah discovered the “Mulekites” in the Land of Zarahemla--where they had always dwelt.
Thus, the Land South and the Land North were both in the Land Southward, and this entire Land Southward was filled with “an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals” (Helaman 6:9). And as for the Land Northward, the Jaredite lands also had “all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silk, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things” (Ether 9:17), which also included beside gold and silver; iron and copper for making brass (10:23); carbon for making steel (1 Nephi 4:9; 1 Nephi 16:18; Jarom 1:8; Ether 7:9) and all manner of metals” (Ether 10:23).
Two pure, unaltered genuine nuggets classified as “pure gold”
In addition, Mormon makes it clear that the Nephites also had “pure gold” (Mosiah 8:9; 11:11). As an example, today, pure gold has no alloys. An alloy is a mixture of different types of metal, adding such other metals as Palladium, Copper, Aluminum and silver. This makes the metal stronger, and better for use in dentistry for example. It also makes it cheaper for the manufacturer to produce, as less gold is used. Different percentages/ratios of gold to other metals, determines what carat rating, the gold is given—such as a ring today that is 24k gold, which is actually 99.95 to .9999 pure gold.
• 24k gold contains 99.95 % (or more) gold by weight
• 22k gold contains 91.67% gold by weight
• 18k gold contains 75.00% gold by weight
• 14k gold contains 58.33% gold by weight (in US, commonly advertised jewelry is usually 14k.
While we are not certain what Mormon meant by “pure gold,” 100% pure gold would be so soft, like lead, and lack rigidity. Gold that is 99.999% gold is pure for any real need, and today used only for scientific purposes, while 99.9% is pure enough for almost all industrial and jewelry applications.
The use of “pure gold” should show to any writer of the scriptural record that Mormon was not talking about what the Spanish called “tumbaga” gold, which was actually an alloy of gold and copper, which was found in widespread use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, containing anywhere from 97% gold to as little as 3% and 97% copper, and at times as much as 18% of metals besides gold or copper (200 tumbaga bars were recovered from a wreckage off Grand Bahama Island composed of mainly silver, copper, and gold, plundered by the Spanirds during the Conquests of Cortés and hastily melted into bars for transport across the Atlantic).
Left: Carbon; Right; Glassy Carbon
Of course, when Mormon or Nephi writes of fine steel, they are talking about iron alloyed with carbon, and such an alloy in ancient times would have been the method of producing steel blades for swords (Ether 7:9)
Mild, or plain-carbon steel is the most common form of steel; however in ancient Japanese sword making, three types of steel are chosen for the blade; a very low carbon steel called hocho-tetsu is used for the core of the blade, called the shingane. The high carbon steel, called tamahagane, and the remelted pig iron, called nabe-gane, are combined to form the outer skin of the blade, called kawagane. The process starts in the combining of the iron and carbon, by heating iron sand to 1200-1500 degrees Celsius in a traditional furnace, or tatara for 72 hours. The tamahagane is then cooled and the smelter selects the best pieces to send to the swordsmith.
One of the most important,and longest-lasting, tpes of prehistoric European swords was the Naue II tpe (named for Julius Naue), known as Griffzungenschwert, or "grip-tongue-sword." It first appears in the 13th century B.C.in Northern Italy in the general unified period, and survived well into the Iron Age,with a life-span of about seven centuries, until the 6th century B.C. During its lifetime, metallurgy changed from bronze to iron, but not its basic design. Naue II swords were exported from Europe to the Aegean, and as far afield as Ugarit in Syria, beginning about 1200 B.C.--jut a few decades before the final collapse of the palace cultures in the Bronze Age period. Naue II swords could be as long as 33.5 inches, but most specimens found fall in to the 25.5 to 27.5 inch-range
It is noteworthy that while the term heat treatment applies only to processes where the heating and cooling are done for the specific purpose of altering properties intentionally, heating and cooling often occur incidentally during other manufacturing processes such as hot forming or welding. Anciently, this heat treatment provided an efficient way to manipulate the properties of the metal by controlling the rate of diffusion and the rate of cooling within the microstructure. That the Nephites were said to have practiced metallurgy and that ancient metallurgy has been found in Andean Peru dating to early B.C. times, seems to suggest that the early Peruvians knew both metallurgy and the process of alloying carbon with iron.
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part V,” as to the type of ore Nephi found and why it is so important to understand the significance of this ore and, more importantly, how Nephi knew there was gold, silver and copper in the area of their first landing.)