Monday, April 10, 2017

Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part III

Continuing from the previous posts regarding the importance that the lack of metallurgy in Mesoamerica is, when considering where the Land of Promise truly was located. It should also be remembered, that when talking about metallurgy, we are not talking about a minor issue, but one of the greatest importance, and one mentioned time and again within the pages of the scriptural record by numerous ancient prophets.
John L. Sorenson, in his book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, writes (p278) “The earliest piece so far probably dates back to around the first century B.C. It is a bit of copper sheathing found on top of an altar at Cuicuilco in the Valley of Mexico.” However, a search of his reference and allied articles turns up no such piece, yet there is singular mentions of copper, such as: copper rattles found in Mexico dated to the Post-classic period, which is after 1000 A.D. (Robert Wane Hope, Ten Years Of Middle American Archaeology,  Annotated Bibliography And News Summary, University of Connecticut, 1948-1957). Also, a sheet of copper, from a pre-classic (1000 B.C. to 250 A.D.) tomb in Guatemala (reference John L. Sorenson, "Preclassic Metal?" American Antiquity 20, 1954), and also along with pottery, alabaster, and copper, from a mound a few miles from Ixtlán del Río on the national highway to Tepic (no date given, but possibly 1946, and possibly by E. W. Gifford). However, none of these, except for the later period rattles, indicate metallurgy or the working of metal, i.e., “sheathing” is a casing or covering; and a sheet of copper—none of which suggests even hammered copper, let alone metallurgy. Nor in Gifford’s 1950 extensive report “University of California Publication in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol 43, No2, have a single mention of copper, and nothing about metals in connection with metallurgy.
    Sorenson uses as his reference for his view that metal or copper specimens have been found in Mesoamerica, to his own work: John L. Sorenson, "A Reconsideration of Early Metal in Mesoamerica," Katunob 9 (March 1976, pp1-18), then in searching that reference, he quotes: “There have proved to be several hundred such specimens dating from 400 B.C. to AD 900, 153 of which were excavated by professional archaeologists,” referencing, you guessed it, his own work of: John L. Sorenson, Metals and Metallurgy Relating to the book of Moron Text, FARMS, Provo, 1992.
    In another case where Sorenson references himself, he states in his Open Letter of Michael Coe in 2012, “At one point in Jaredite history the record says that they made “swords out of steel.” This is clearly an unexplained anomaly.
Where is the anomaly? Mormon tells us the Jaredites made swords of steel. Steel is iron mixed with carbon and is malleable, relatively easily formed and a versatile material. Is it unexpected to think that the Jaredites, who were familiar with the Tower of Babel and the metallurgy known to the ancient Babylonians? They built a tower meant to reach the heavens and of them the Lord said, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6)
    However, Sorenson goes on to add parenthetically, “However, note that the term that is read ‘steel’ in the King James Bible is currently translated by experts as ”bronze”),” he then quotes his own work: John L. Sorenson, “Steel in Early Metallurgy,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 15/2 (2006): 109-109.
    It is really amazing that Sorenson is not only his own often quoted reference, but is almost the only referenced source regarding Book of Mormon metallurgy in Mesoamerica. As an example, in an article: “Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” in one article Sorenson is referenced 27 times as the source material for information regarding metals in Mesoamerica.
    Since Sorenson is neither a metallurgist, nor one who has searched ancient sites and digs looking for artifacts and evidence of metal in the ancient Americas, there is no possible way he should be the source material for “proof” that metallurgy existed in the ancient Americas. Such ludicrous sourcing and citing is neither scholarly nor helpful, and it certainly is not suggestive to critics of the Church and the Book of Mormon that any written material with such referencing is either accurate or honest.
    In factual examples, under the heading of: “Phase 1: AD 600 - 1200/1300,” an article states: “West Mexican smiths worked primarily in copper during the initial period, with some low-arsenic alloys, as well as occasional employment of silver and gold. Lost-wax cast bells were introduced from lower Central America and Colombia during this phase, along with several classes of cold-worked ornaments and hand tools, such as needles and tweezers. The prototypes for these small, often utilitarian items appear rooted in southern Ecuador and northern Peru (Dorothy Hosler, “Sound, color and meaning in the metallurgy of Ancient West Mexico,” World Archaeology 27, 1995, pp100-115). Small copper rings, generally found in burial contexts, are also common to Ecuador and Western Mexico and are abundant during this phase.
Lost Wax: LtoR: Mold, Lost Wax, and Final product

    Excavated assemblages from the initial phase indicate that lost-wax cast bells—also called "investment casting", "precision casting", or cire perdue in French, is the process by which a duplicate metal sculpture, often silver, gold, brass or bronze, is cast from an original sculpture—also occupied a substantial portion of West Mexican artisans' efforts. Unlike similar bells recovered from coastal Ecuador, West Mexican bells were cast, rather than worked, metal. Typically composed of a smooth, suspended metal shell encasing an interior clapper, the West Mexican bells were generally fashioned from copper alloys and bore particular resemblance to bells made in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.
    In the first of this series, we showed a map of where West Mexico is located. Below is a map you will never ever see on any Mesoamerican site showing West Mexico overlaid on a map of Mexico and then compared with Sorenson’s (and other Mesoamericanists’) Land of Promise map.
As can easily be seen, West Mexico, where the earliest artifacts of metallurgy have been found and all Mesoamericanists, including Sorenson, refer to when discussing Mesoamerican metallurgy, was started. There is question between when it was started, but the point of the map is to show it is not even within the Mesoamericanists’ Land of Promise!

    In language that is hedged by Sorenson so as to cause the reader to feel that the scriptural record as it stands is not self-explanatory and that the reader needs Sorenson to guide him through the complexities of Mormon’s meanings, Sorenson writes (p280): “Let’s now look very carefully at some statements about metals in the Nephite volume But we must not let our preconceptions about the text stand in the way of gaining understanding.” He then goes on to outline Nephi’s history of metallurgy, suggesting that “Nephi could have known the basics of the processes, but he probably did not control the full repertoire of skills” (p281), then quotes: “And I did teach my 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), then adds: 
    “This is an impressive list. Unfortunately, the language leaves us uncertain what the Nephites did with these substances. We could infer that practical as well as decorative use was made of some of these (regarding precious things). If so utility soon took second place.”
    First of all, “utility” is defined as “state of being useful or beneficial. ”It should be kept in mind the context in which Nephi is writing. They just migrated to a new, virgin area, escaping from his older brothers and the sons of Ishmael who threatened his life. So he starts out by making “many swords” (2 Nephi 5:14), following that, they built a temple (2 Nephi 5:16), and Nephi says he “did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17). And in the very verse Sorenson quoted, but left out, the first part, Nephi says, “I did teach my people to build buildings…” (2 Nephi 5:15).
    Now, how on earth can any intelligent being not know that 1) Nephi taught his people to build buildings, and 2) he taught his people to work in several different and unrelated mediums, and then conclude that “Unfortunately, the language leaves us uncertain what the Nephites did with these substances” and then add that “utility soon took second place.”
    What is more utilitarian (useful and beneficial) than building buildings and making weapons for defense?
    This is the person, and type of thinking and writing, we should use as a source material to say that metallurgy existed in Mesoamerica prior to when all the experts claim it did not?
(See the next post, “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 B.C. – Part IV,“ to see how far theorists go to try and bend the facts presented in the scriptural record to maintain their erroneous beliefs, paradigms and models)


  1. I'm confused. I keep seeing 600bc then it switches to 600ad. I think it should be 600ad. Title says 600ad but then the title of the next one is 600bc.

  2. You wrote: "referencing, you guessed it, his own work of: John L. Sorenson, Metals and Metallurgy Relating to the book of Moron Text, FARMS, Provo, 1992."

    I can understand you might think that Sorenson is a Moron.. but I am quite sure you meant to say.. Book of Mormon. LOL

  3. Del, you are doing a fantastic job, but you need someone proofreading for you.

  4. Sorry about that. For the past week plus we have been traveling and started this series at the same time. Didn't have time to proof read a couple of days. Will do better the rest of the trip.

  5. Mr.Nirom: During my earlier life in psychology, we used to call that a "Freudian Slip"... :)