What should we expect to find?
Have you seen an ancient Nephite building? What did it look like? Did it match a description in the Book of Mormon, or did it match an artist’s depiction of what a Nephite structure is expected to look like? Or were you told it was a Nephite building because it was in a location where one hopes to find the remains of Nephite structures?
To confirm our research on Book of Mormon geography, there are some who appeal for us to find ruins of buildings in our proposed lands that match the mental images of what an ancient Nephite building or city is expected to look like. Thus some have discounted Baja California as the location of Book of Mormon lands simply because that land has not yielded any grand and elaborate ruins of stone buildings they assert would be necessary to represent structures built by Book of Mormon people. We have scoured the scriptures trying to validate any of the claims that the people in the Book of Mormon record built large stone structures. We have found from the text of the Book of Mormon that the people, not unlike the children of Israel in the Biblical record, built with wood, metals and sometimes cement materials. The ruins found in locations such as Meso-America remind us of structures built by the ancient Egyptians with hundreds, if not thousands of workers. We have found that the Book of Mormon is a record of people who built humble homes, cities, synagogues and temples. It is feudal or slave-based civilizations who traditionally build elaborate structures for governing and worship, such as the pyramids of Egypt, the seven wonders of the world, or the tower of Babel which was built to “reach unto heaven” so the builders could “make [them] a name” and a fame (Gen. 11:3–4). Why did the Book of Mormon record keepers not mention any stupendous building feats that were representative of their culture and their construction abilities? It would appear that their most formidable civil project was the building of a “breastwork of timbers” and “ridges of earth” around several cities for the defense and safety of their people (Alma 50:1–5; 53:4–5). We need not look, therefore, to areas of ostentatious and extensive ruins in the Western Hemisphere to find the heartlands of the Book of Mormon peoples, that is, the actual locations where the record keepers lived and wrote the geographical descriptions of their land. The prophesied “desolation” of their lands and the erosion of time could have obliterated all the structures and artifacts they abruptly left behind. With our backgrounds as a geographer and engineer, we have found that descriptions of the geographical settings of the Book of Mormon lands, such as climate, plants and animals, and the relative location and scale of their lands have proved to be the most fruitful clues to their location.
Updated: Friday, 25 April 2014
Articles Book of Mormon Geography Sea West to the Sea East Narrow Strip of Wilderness Jaredites Searching for Ruins The River Sidon Cursing and Blessing Narrow Neck of Land Environmental Descendants Great Signs and Wonders Longitude of Zarahemla Christ in Bountiful
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