Monday, October 31, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XXII

Continuing with more of the scriptural record statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise, for there can be no question that any Land of Promise must have all these descriptions Mormon and Moroni left us, must be reachable by ship “driven forth before the wind” by an inexperienced crew, and qualify for an island as Jacob said, or existed at the time of the Nephites. In this particular article, we take a look at the extensive use of metallurgy in the Land of Promise, from the time of the Jaredites onward. 
The Jaredites did dig it out of the Earth 

    As Moroni in his abridgement of Ether’s record, states: “And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work… And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash. And they did make all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts. And they did make all manner of weapons of war. And they did work all manner of work of exceedingly curious workmanship” (Ether 10:23, 25-27).
    This was in the days of Lib, who was the 17th generation from Jared (Ether 1:17-18), about in the middle of the Jaredite period, making the year around 1300 B.C., whether they were working metal before that it is not known, but one can surmise that they were, since Moroni’s statement suggests prior knowledge of metallurgy before the time of Lib.
    Of course, this continued with the Nephites, when Nephi tells us that either knew how or was going “to make tools to construct his ship” (1 Nephi 17:9), and then later tells us that he taught his people “to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15), which was around 580 B.C. Later, Jarom added, “fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind” (Jarom 1:8), around 399 B.C., and about 240 years later, they are still working in metal (Mosiah 11:3, 8). We find this tradition still in full swing over two hundred years later with the Nephites “in the north and in the south” (Helaman 6:11). Consequently, for at least a two thousand year period, metallurgy was being worked in the Land of Promise, from 1300 to 25 B.C., and obviously later.
Left: Very early breastplate made binding gold plates together; Right: Hammered gold into writing sheets

    The Jaredites not only hammered out gold into thin sheets for writing, they had “breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound“ (Mosiah 8:9-10; 28:11). They also made small things of metal, “ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with” (Alma 31:28). In fact, “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).
It would seem obvious that in the Land of Promise one should find evidence of metallurgy dating back to at least 3300 years ago, and worked from at least 1300 B.C. forward. However, this is not the case in Mesoamerica, where metallurgy dates no earlier than 600 A.D. (two hundred years after the demise of the Nephites), and as much as 900 A.D., depending on which archaeologist you encounter.
    John L. Sorenson, in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (1985, p278), states: “Critics of the Book of Mormon have been fond of pointing out that statements in the scripture regarding use of metals by the Nephites and Jaredites run contrary to authoritative pronouncements on the subject by experts.” However, that statement is for Mesoamerica only—not for South America where numerous studies have shown metallurgy dating far back into B.C. times.
Sorenson then goes on to claim an earliest date of 600 B.C., inferring that this date is probably closer to the first century B.C. Yet, three years after his statement, Dorothy Hosler (above) in “Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American Origins and West Mexican Transformations,” American Anthropologist 90 (1988, pp832-855) stated that “The emergence of metallurgy in pre-Columbia Mesoamerica occurred relatively late in the region's history, with distinctive works of metal apparent in West Mexico by roughly AD 800, and perhaps as early as AD 600,” and again in 2009: “West Mexican Metallurgy: Revisited and Revised.” Journal of World Prehistory 22 (3): pp.185–212.
    Scott E. Simmons and Aaron N. Shugar in a research paper entitled “Archaeometallurgy in Ancient Mesoamerica, quoting from 117 professionals in the field of Metals in Antiquity and in Mesoamerica, with 90 of them written and published after Sorenson’s statement and several as late as just 6 years ago in 2009, all showing no earlier date for metallurgy in Mesoamerica than Classic Times 300-900 A.D.
    After 11 pages in his book (p278-288), Sorenson concludes with: “The conventional scientific view about the role of metal in Mesoamerica, and particularly about its date, is in the process of major change. Scholarly developments on the topic in the coming decade will be worth watching.” Well, as shown above, scholarly work on the subject has been reporting the same basic information about no metallurgy in Mesoamerica during Jaredite times, and a possible overlap of 100 years in Nephite times, though more likely after Nephite times since a period quoted covers 700 years. That is, Scholarly work on metal in Mesoamerica over the next twenty-five years after Sorenson’s book has turned up no changes at all in dates, and obviously has not been worth watching whatever.
Scott E. Simmons and Aaron N. Shugar: Top: (p2) table showing no metallurgy found in the Maya Lowlands, Maya Highlands, Basin of Mexcico and West Mexico until after 900 A.D., covering a period from 2000 B.C. to 1800s A.D.; Bottom: (p3) The area of (Red Arrow) West Mexico where metallurgy has been found after 600 to 900 A.D.; the area (Blue Arrow) of Guatemala where metallurgy has been found after 900 A.D. (along the border with Honduras)

    On the other hand, according to Jamie Turner, in “The History of Metallurgy in Mesoamerica,” Physical Science, (2015) states: “Metalworking in South America dates back to at least 1936 B.C.,” while adding that “Archeological excavations in Mesoamerica have found evidence for the use of smelting, casting, and alloying of metals starting in the Late Post classic period around 800A.D.,” and stating that: “From 800-1300 A.D. Mesoamerican metallurgy shared many common traits with Peru,” suggesting, of course, that it started much earlier in Peru and eventually moved northward into Mesoamerica.
    Monette Bebow-Reinhard, who has compiled the largest database of copper artifacts ever found, in “Mesoamerican Copper-An Industry of Connections,” (2013) states that “Mexico was a latecomer to the copper industry.” In fact, copper tooling suggests that South America began using copper in 2155 B.C., while Mexico is dated between 200 B.C. and 500 A.D.
Top  2 Rows: Ceremonial knives, such as those above (lower left) were plentiful around 300 B.C. along the Peruvian coast; also ceremonial masks were very common in the ground throughout Peru; Bottom Row: Left: An intricately worked gold piece dating to about 100 A.D., was discovered in Peru at the base of an eroded mud-brick pyramid. Other items were 19 golden headdresses, various pieces of jewelry, and two funerary masks; Center/Right: Chavin metal work dating to the last millennia B.C.

    In addition, according to Aldenderfer, Speakman, and Popelka-Filcoff, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, in their report “Four-thousand-year-old gold artifacts from the Lake Titicaca basin, southern Peru, claim that “South American metal working seems to have developed in the Andean region of modern Peru, Bolivia and Chile,” with gold and copper being hammered and shaped into intricate objects, particularly ornaments.”
    In fact, it is widely reported that the metallurgy of the Andes outclassed most Old World accomplishments, using skills and techniques not known in the Old World until long after the period of use in America. Recent finds show that the Andean people were smelting copper for over a thousand years before the Spaniards arrived. Even today, according to the GSA (Geological Society of America), Peru is the leading producer of gold in Latin America, and the world's leading producer of silver, the world's second leading producer of copper, behind Chile, which produces five times more than any other country, and one-third of the world copper. 
   “The Andes represent the largest source of mineral wealth in the Americas and the birthplace of New World metallurgy, appearing millennia prior to colonial contact
On the other hand, the emergence of metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica "occurred relatively late in the region's history," with distinctive works of metal apparent in west Mexico by roughly 800 A.D., and perhaps as early as 600 A.D., and that in Guatemala even later, basically around 900 A.D. In fact, metallurgy in Mesoamerica is reported to have developed from contacts with South America.

This boat route demonstrates how South America had contact with West Mexico, far more likely than coming up by land because these types of tools are completely absent from southern Mexico through Nicaragua between 200 and 600 A.D. Valentini wrote about copper in the lat 1800s, and confessed he had never seen a bronze Mexican artifact; he only assumed they existed 

    North American metallurgy also dates to the later A.D. periods, and according to Rapp, Gibbon and Ames in Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America, “Archaeological evidence has not revealed metal smelting or alloying of metals by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples north of the Rio Grande; however, they did use native copper extensively. Neither of these two areas, obviously, qualify for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, as does Andean South America.
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XXIII,” for more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise)


  1. I continue to find it strange that so little credit is given to the Andes model. The metallurgy evidence is one of several overwhelming evidences for the model, but none of these strong evidences seem to matter. The entrenched camps almost ridicule the Andes model, but the truth is their models are the ones that are ridiculous.

  2. There is one evidence after another. They don't seem to be able to counter these points, so I guess they just ignore them hoping they will go away.

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