The Ancient Ruins of Meso-America
We pose a question: Where do the still-standing ancient structures of Meso-America fit into this divinely declared and divinely fulfilled prophecy that Nephite dwelling places would become completely desolate, that is, destroyed and obliterated as were the dwelling places in the land of Jerusalem?
We are often asked: What do your geographical findings mean to the many archaeological discoveries in Meso-America? And we respond: These intriguing and awe-inspiring archaeological ruins and findings in Meso-America deserve to be investigated, in their own right, but not because they sit on the sites where the Book of Mormon story took place or because they were built by Book of Mormon people during the years of their recorded history. As we have noted, the Book of Mormon record describes a people who built humble homes, cities, temples, and synagogues. We need not look to areas of impressive and elaborate stone ruins such as have been discovered in Meso-America to find the Nephite and Lamanite locations mentioned in the Book of Mormon record. We suggest that these imposing structures were built by a feudal or slave-based civilization, as has happened throughout history, and not the people directly associated with the Book of Mormon record keepers. Certainly there appears to be nothing recorded in the Book of Mormon record, as shown by the above analysis, that describes or matches these imposing structures in construction materials, building shapes or design details or their intended purpose. We should be quick to note, however, that those who built these structures in Meso-America could well be estranged cousins or distant descendants of the Book of Mormon people, not only Lamanites and Nephites but also the many Jaredite families who came to this continent.
The numerous families (at least 11) of the friends of Jared and his brother, like the descendants of the brother of Jared, “began to spread upon the face of the land, and to multiply and to till the earth; and they did wax strong in the land” (Ether 6:18). It would appear that all these families separated themselves from the descendants of Jared. They are never mentioned again in the Book of Ether, and yet the family of Jared is only one out of minimum of 13 first-generation families arriving in the promised land. As a consequence, we never learn the fate of the descendants of the brother of Jared nor the descendants of the many “friends.” Did they suffer a similar end as the descendants of Jared, with a complete annihilation and destruction of their civilizations at locations similar to hill Ramah? Maybe only a few families completely perished. We do not know, because we have no record of their history. We strongly suspect that many of them eventually scattered to distant locations throughout North and South America. Their descendants today could be among the millions of indigenous people now living in widespread locations on these two continents, most of whom have cultures, languages and DNA that do not seem to match the cultures, languages and DNA one might expect if they were descendants of the Lamanites and Nephites. It is our opinion that this is the case. The record of Ether certainly provides a credible background for such a scenario to unfold and evolve over time.
In the past, attempts have been made to link the Nephite and Lamanite cultures of the Book of Mormon to all or most of the indigenous people of North and South America. A close reading of the Jaredite history, as we outline above, cautions strongly against attempting to explain how all indigenous groups—and ancient civilizations—in the New World are descendants of the Lamanites and Nephites. Instead, the Jaredite story provides a compelling link to numerous Jaredite families and their friends who scattered and migrated across the western hemisphere, including, of course, Meso-America. The implications and consequences of these wide-ranging Jaredite migrations prompt many questions. We encourage anyone interested in the subject of Book of Mormon migrations to read our topic article, Jared, his Brother and their Friends—A Geographical Analysis of the Book of Ether. We have attempted in our writings to show that the Lamanite and Nephite people were confined primarily to the peninsula of Baja California and only later, after the near annihilation of their population, expanded to the surrounding areas. The Jaredite migrations in North America, on the other hand, appear to have started at least 1,500 years earlier, with numerous families quickly scattering and multiplying throughout the hemisphere and creating a larger and a more-widespread imprint on the land than the Lamanites and Nephites. It is to be hoped that we have provided a groundbreaking framework, using our geographical analysis of the Book of Ether, that will allow us and others to ponder, evaluate and attempt to fill-in the missing pieces of this far-reaching puzzle.
Updated: Saturday, 27 November 2010
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