Thursday, September 6, 2018

Have They Found Where Battles Were Fought Around Cumorah? – Part VIII “Hunting for Arrowheads”

Continuing from the previous post regarding the fallacy that ancient Nephite forts have been found in upstate New York and the effect of the Indian wars of more modern times has had on the artifacts that should exist there and the result of numerous searches around Cumorah.
An ancient arrowhead claimed to have recently been found on the hill Cumorah

As covered in the previous post, there are stories of finding “bushels of arrowheads” around Cumorah, but no such artifacts have surfaced, except for a mere handful. In fact, a single arrowhead was found by Daniel Lawson of Illinois, on the hill in 2011, said to be dated to 1000 BC., according to the Nephite Explorer website article dated October 31. On the other hand, in all fairness, no actual archaeological digs have been performed at the site to actually attempt to find artifacts.
    Still, people have searched the area over the years, yet very few reports show any success in such endeavors since the publication of the Book of Mormon. It is claimed that many people have found arrowheads there, and that “all the arrowheads that could be found were tampered with and carried away and sold.” Now, if that is true, and all the arrowheads that have been reported by some as having been found and displayed there in the 19th century were sold to people, it is interesting that with such importance to these relics, at least to members of the Church, to such finds relating to the Book of Mormon, that no such major finds have ever been seen—just talked about. Does anyone think that such finds would not have found their way into the public domain, displayed as such, to draw large crowds and profit?
    However, all we have are so-called accounts of such finds, but nothing is left but the accounts themselves, which are not archaeological evidence nor proof, nor even supportive evidence. Such information is almost useless, having no way to support it with any factual knowledge and artifact(s). After all, arrowheads are small and easily kept and stored. They would not have mysteriously disappeared.
    The idea of finding something on and around the hill Cumorah, the place where one-third of a million were killed in battle about 1600 years ago, should be highly likely, but such is not the case. Take the questionable (depending on what side of the argument you are on) case of Langdon Smith that lends credence to this debate.
The hill Cumorah in western New York. The small, drumlin hill overlooks the farmlands to the west, north and east where fields have been plowed numerous times since the Book of Mormon publication

In a letter by Langdon Smith of New Haven, Vermont, and addressed to John E. Clark, professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University and director of the BYU New World Archaeological Foundation, based in Chiapas, Mexico, he states: “I traveled to Palmyra during the early planting season—fields just plowed and harrowed, following a good rain to wash the dirt off any artifacts…on this site even if all of the arrow points were picked up, there are still all of the chipping areas—big or small, they are present. In these areas a person should find broken arrowheads that were damaged while being made. Then we should also find the flakes, slabs, and chips in the various work areas that can be seen throughout the plowed parts.
    “Asking for permission to search the grounds on the Clark farm, I said of the owner: ‘You must get pestered a lot by people wanting to go out there looking around.’ The woman shook her head and said, ‘We’ve been here over 40 years, and you’re the first to come and ask to hunt for arrowheads.’ The Clark fields yielded the same as the one east of the hill: not one single arrowhead and not one single piece of flint chipping. Crisscrossing all those plowed fields, which are hundreds of acres, I found no evidence of any kind. If a large group of people came to this hill and had a big battle, they would have been making and sharpening more tools—artifacts. If there are no arrowheads, what about all of the broken pieces, the chips, the flakes—leftovers from making and sharpening? Some of these pieces would be smaller than a little fingernail. Where are these pieces? People do not generally pick up this trash. No artifacts—not even flint chips of any kind” (John E. Clark, “Looking for Artifacts at New York’s Hill Cumorah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Vol.14 No.2, 2005)
    In another instance, the historian, antiquarian and archaeologist, John Sheldon Fisher, known to the Seneca Indians as Hiawasees, meaning “the eagle who gathers news and history,” owned the Valentown Historical Museum in the small town of Fishers, about 10 miles southwest of the hill, where he supplied most of the early 1800s furniture used in the area’s visitors’ centers.
The best place to find ancient artifacts is in a recently plowed field or where ground is being turned over

He worked as a professional archaeologist for the state of New York for over 30 years, and later had a standing agreement with all of the bulldozer and backhoe people in the county to call him when they were about to start jobs in the area of Cumorah. He would beat them to the site, and watch the soil as they dug it or pushed it around. But he never found any artifacts of any kind (Shaun D. Stahle, “Excavating Brigham Young’s mill site,” Church News, 3 March 2001).
    It might also be of note that when one is writing about or looking for artifacts of the past, it is important to know what kinds of evidence for which one is searching, and of that, what types of artifacts would be preserved over time. Obviously, items made of stone, shell, gold, or cement, and sometimes even wood, are the most likely to exist over long periods of time.
    It is interesting that about twenty years ago, my brother-in-law, a lifetime Utah, Wyoming and Colorado resident, had a hobby of hunting for arrowheads. A few times we went with him on one of his searches. We would be driving along the highway and suddenly he would decide to stop and start looking. Generally, within an hour or so, he had a pocketful of ancient arrowheads. Walking the same ground as he and at the same time, I might have found one or even none.
Arrowheads can be found on the ground, especially after the earth has been plowed or turned over. It takes a keen eye, but arrowheads can be found in most anyplace in the U.S.

I learned that you have to know how to look for arrowheads to find them in any qauntity, and he was very good at it. The point is, arrowheads were found all over these three states, just lying on the top of the ground from the Indian period nearly 200 years earlier. He showed me how those under the ground could also be found, since when arrowheads appear on the surface, others are likely going to also be under that surface he told me.
    It was also quite interesting that he would sometimes go back over the same ground he had been over before, sometimes a month or two later, sometimes a year or two later, and often found more pocketfuls of arrowheads. Time, it seems, has a way of moving arrowheads to the surface through animal diggings, rainstorms and other acts of nature, as well from human disturbance, as in plowed fields and construction sites. The point is, he insisted that there is no end to such artifacts, and no field is ever picked completely clean.
(See the next post, “Have They Found Where Battles Were Fought Around Cumorah? – Part IX,” for more information on the results of the numerous Indian wars fought in and around the area of the Great Lakes and its effect on artifacts found there today)

1 comment:

  1. One thing missing in this discussion is how the battles were fought. The bom discusses that The battles were hand to hand or club to club. Others have commented on the finding of star shaped club heads. That is what is consistent with the record. Arrowheads would not be consistent. They were used for hunting not combat. There might be some of course but you would expect clubs as found in South America.