Friday, September 13, 2019

Hebrew Artifacts in North America? – Part I

We received a question lately that deserves a more complete answer than the short ones given in our periodical Reader’s Comments section. This is because the continual debate between North, Central and South America wages on, “with no end in sight.” And because of that much confusion exists among members because of a lack of knowledge to evaluated theorists views, creating and clouds the issues and tends to place a wedge between theory and actual writings of the Book of Mormon.
What mysterious artifacts are buried beneath the plowed fields of Ohio?

First the letter addressed to us:
“I have been binge reading your blog for several months now. I have read several years-worth of posts and am currently reading your book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica. I have to say that I absolutely love your blog and book! I'm blown away by your knowledge. I have a question that maybe you can answer. What do you make of the artifacts purporting to be engraved in ancient Hebrew which have been found in North America? According to the Heartland theorists at there is even an artifact depicting a priest wearing Temple apparel and containing an inscription of the 10 commandments in ancient Hebrew.
    “I know the various Heartland models do not square with the geography described in the Book of Mormon, and that the burial mounds have no correlation to ancient Mesopotamia, but if these artifacts in North America authentically contain Hebrew inscriptions that are dated to the correct time period this is evidence that is very tough to ignore. What do you make of it?
    “Are these artifacts forgeries, evidence of those who left in Hagoth's ships moving northward into the American heartland, evidence that the Hopewell could have been Israelites but not those from the Book of Mormon, evidence that in spite of all the problems with the Heartland models that there is a chance that it could be the land of the Book of Mormon, or something else?” (Matthias)
Response: There seems to be a dogged determination on the part of several of these theorists to make their model the only one that is correct to the exclusion of all others. As an example, John L. Sorenson, said to be the guru on the Land of Promise location, unabashedly claims that no other place in the entire Western Hemisphere matches the Book of Mormon descriptions of the Land of Promise other than Mesoamerica, even though his model does not match the plain and clear descriptions of the directions of the land given us by Mormon. Sorenson also stated that “nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere is there convincing evidence for genuine writing being used on a consistent basis other than Mesoamerica.” And also that his research “confirms Mesoamerica as the only plausible location of Book of Mormon lands.”
Mesoamerica map established by John L. Sorenson, showing a sea to the north called the East Sea and a sea to the south called the West Sea. It has no North or South seas

Though Mesoamerica does not have a north or south sea, John E. Clark, well-known BYU anthropologist and professor involved in Mesoamerican theories, wrote “Any geography that tries to accommodate a north and south sea is doomed to fail.” However, Helaman made it clear that the Nephites at one time had spread from the North Sea to the South Sea (Helaman 3:8). So if there was no north or south sea as Clark claims, why did Helaman claim there was?
    Ralph Olsen, retired chemistry professor at Montana State University, in his Malaysia model, states: “All Book of Mormon accounts can be reasonably accommodated to the Malay Hypothesis” (Ralph A. Olsen, “A Malay Site for the Book of Mormon Events,“ Sunstone Magazine, March 2004, p33). Olsen stated: “In presenting what I label the ‘Malay Hypothesis,’ I realize I am suggesting that studies aimed at locating Book of Mormon lands and accurately identifying the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples would need to undergo a radical paradigm shift—one that many would consider quite farfetched. I am fully aware that no Church leader, Joseph Smith included, has pointed toward a Southeast Asian setting, but neither have they made statements which rule it out.”
    However, Joseph Smith himself stated that the Angel Moroni told him that the plates (which became the Book of Mormon) “gave an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang” ("History of Joseph Smith” Times and Seasons 3 no.12, 15 April 1842, p753; JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843). In addition, Joseph’s mother said that “her son told ‘amusing recitals’ about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent occurred during the years that Joseph was being prepared to receive the plates” (Dan Vogel (ed), Early Mormon Documents, Signature Books, Lake City, vol.1, 1996–2003, 5 vols, vol.1:294-296; Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations, Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853, pp36-173).
    The statement that the Book of Mormon peoples had lived on this continent was also made by George Q. Cannon (1869), John Taylor (1877 and again in 1879). Numerous other articles can be cited for this information that Olsen seems never to have read.
    Rodney L. Meldrum, developer of the Heartland model claims that North America is the only likely location where the Book of Mormon history played out. He also feels that “anyone who differs from his ‘revealed’ theory is an apostate.”
    To arrive at this, Meldrum lists selective quotes of Hugh Nibley suggesting he was in favor of the Heartland theory; however, Nibley actually said, “The Moundbuilders actually resemble the Book of Mormon people not at all. Who said they did? The Book of Mormon tells of a people ages removed from the Mound-builders and very far away” (Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, vol.11, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City); “No Ma’am, That’s Not History, Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991).
Giant symbol of raised earth prior to 1848, which was later destroyed in suburban sprawl by leveling the field for planting. It is claimed by Heartland theorists that this symbol represents: Red: Hebrew Oil Lamp; Blue: 9 candle menorah; and other Hebrew symbols: Green: Compass; yellow: Square

1823 drawing by Major Isaac Roberdeau of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey drawing of a massive structure southwest of Fayetteville, Ohio, claimed to be a Hebrew symbol: (Ephraim G. Squire and Edwin H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, Plate XXXIV, 1848, Smithsonian Institution). While the Heartland theorists claim this was a Hebrew symbol, they use its drawing now to show that there were Hebrews in North America. However, their evaluation of what has become known as the Little Miami River earthworks, is based on a very loose interpretation
    Since Roberdeau served in Washington, D.C. for most of the time after 1820, the map must have been based on observations made sometime before 1823, or else was not by Roberdeau. J. Huston McCulloch, author of “The Hanukkah Mound” (Ancient American magazine, iss.12, 1996) used this map extensively for his article and study. He now believes the map was drawn in Washington. The same earthwork was previously depicted on page 195 of Hugh Williamson’s Observations on the Climate in Different Parts of America (1811), from an 1803 survey by William Lytle, a friend of Andrew Jackson who was later the surveyor-general of the Northwest Territory. Williamson dutifully notes that the shape of the northernmost wall of the “fort” was determined by the shape of the Little Miami River, which it bordered.
    Two major points are made from this drawing by Heartland theorists: 1) a menorah, and 2) an oil lamp. So let’s take a look at these two points.
(See the next post, "Hebrew Artifacts in North America? Part II," for an insight into these two areas the Heartland theorists claim are proof positive that the Hebrews were in North America)


  1. What a cliff hanger. I hope you discuss a 7 candle menorah vs 9 candle.

  2. Hey. Hebrew Artefacts in North America? – Part I
    You misspelled "Artefacts".