Monday, September 21, 2009

Other Book of Mormon Anomalies

As we approach a few archeological evidences in support of the Book of Mormon, it is with notice that a few such evidences have already been either directly, or indirectly, considered in previous chapters. Such items can be so numerous that books-upon-books have been written about them, but with little regard by anti-Book of Mormon people.

There is much support for Book of Mormon claims that come from other areas that are not where the drama of that book played out. One of the BIG problems Mormons have in trying to prove the Book of Mormon by archeological means is that they have mostly been looking for proof in the wrong place. Back many years ago, various ruins were uncovered down in Central America, so some of the professors from Mormon-ran colleges in Utah went down to see what it was all about. Having discovered a few interesting artifacts, they proceeded to claim that this was the land of the Book of Mormon people.

Although many of their continued discoveries do show evidence of Book of Mormon influence, those discoveries still do not prove that is the land where the story of the Book of Mormon took place. Several scholars have come up with various theories and maps, all of which cannot be proven, nor do they hold water, so to speak. When challenged about this problem, their pat answer is that the lack of geographic evidence is due to the great destruction that took place during the time of Christ’s crucifixion.

Consequently, the Book of Mormon bashers have the same problem. Because many Mormon scholars try to prove the book by reference to Central and South America, the anti-Mormons have proceeded to go to the same areas in trying to disprove it. Neither of which works, for Central and South America are not where the story of the Book of Mormon took place.

Let me give a personal example: I was born, raised, went to school, worked, and lived for nine years after marriage and four children before I moved with my family to Provo, Utah. So if you want to investigate my existence after leaving Virginia, you would not go to Alaska, nor will you find evidence of my existence in Hawaii, two places I have never been. And that’s the way it is with trying to prove that Central and South America is the land of the Book of Mormon. A lot of People are looking for evidences in the wrong place in trying to support both of their theories.

And there’s another thing we must keep in mind: people can travel and migrate long distances in a very short time. Look what has happened to North America since about 1750 when Indiana and Kentucky were still considered the far west! Think then what could have happened throughout the North, Central, and South Americas in over a thousand years. Although a history of a given people might be confined to a specific area, their influence, either religiously, politically, or culturally may spread to other lands; and, of course, the opposite could be true: the influence of those in other lands affect those living here, as it does today.

In our exploration of some archeological discoveries we will be considering, I will not present everything that is possible, for they are voluminous as new finds are almost daily. But some subjects have bothered people from the very beginning. For the sake of interest, we will take up just a few of them that should be sufficient to establish a particular point which we will consider at the end of the chapter.

The Use of Copper
It was mentioned in Chapter Seven that both the Adena and Hopewell people made use of much copper, as did the Nephite and Jaredite people. This is not surprising when we understand that their cultures included the area of the Great Lakes, with one of the world's finest copper deposits being in the upper Michigan Peninsula. On his web site, Walter Baucum points out the following about copper in North America:

“North America figured prominently in the Bronze Age. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and only a few places on earth have copper ore in large, easily accessible quantities. North America is one of these places. Good copper ore is abundant in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona. Ancient mining activity has been found in each of these states. The most active, though, appears to have been the upper Michigan Peninsula.

“On Isle Royale in Lake Superior and in northern Michigan, thousands of worked copper mines were discovered as early as the sixteenth century by French Jesuit missionaries, who also reported that the Indians of the peninsula knew absolutely nothing about their origins. Their presence, which includes skid logs, axe marks, cedar shovels, mauls, copper gads or wedges, charcoal, and great masses of copper, has perplexed scholars for years. One mine itself had a detached mass of copper weighing nearly six tons. Henriette Mertz (Atlantis: Dwelling Place of the Gods) says that engineers claim more than a billion pounds of copper was mined out of the Michigan Peninsula and the Isle Royale.

“‘This incredible amount of copper has not been accounted for by American archaeologists–the sum total according to archaeological findings here in the states amounts to a mere handful of copper beads and trinkets–float copper. Five hundred thousand tons of pure copper does not disintegrate into thin air–it cannot be sneezed away–it must be somewhere and, to date, it has not been located in the United States.’ (Trento, p. 65.)

“Carbon-14 dating of the organic matter taken from the mineshafts places them back around 1000 BCE. This was the time of major Phoenician naval power during the Bronze Age, and it might give insight to where the copper went. Mertz argues that it was mined for extensive shipment (presumably by Phoenician ships) to various Mediterranean civilizations. She mentions Egypt as requiring incalculable amounts of copper for tools necessary for pyramid and temple construction; Greeks too needed unlimited quantities for copper lining the interiors of such structures as the 50 foot dome of the Treasury at Mycenae and that at Orchomenus–while roads leading into these magnificent edifices blazed with gleaming copper–so Schliemann found. (Ibid., pp. 65-70.)

“But there perhaps was a greater need for copper, tons and tons of it, which was for use in the first Temple that King Solomon built. The time element is the same. The Phoenicians [either Israelites or Israelite dominated] would have carried out extensive colonizing and mining as navies of Kings David and Solomon. This was during the Golden Age of Israel, around 1000 to 900 BCE, in which Israelite ships sailed around the world collecting gold, silver, exotic animals, and, in particular, copper for use in the making of bronze or use in the Temple or both.

“Phoenicians and Israelites in the service of King Solomon were probably responsible for the exploitation of copper resources in North America in the period between 1000-800 BCE! (Collins, Steven M., The ‘Lost’ Ten Tribes of Israel … Found! p. 26.) (Right: Ornaments made with North American Copper.)

“The inspirational source for this opinion is Fell (Bronze Age America, 1982, 261), wherein the actual dating for the copper-working is given as 2000-1000 BCE based on radio-carbon dating. Collins makes a good point that this dating would not make allowance for sun-spot activity now acknowledged to arrest the process of Carbon-14 disintegration on which radio-carbon dating is based. An adjustment downwards in the dating is therefore allowable.

“Collins, Fell, and others show proof that the Phoenicians and many other ancient peoples had sea-contact with the American continents. ‘King David and Israel were likely the biggest customers in the world for copper and many other raw materials at that time. Solomon’s building projects eventually went far beyond anything David himself envisioned, so the demand upon available world sources of raw materials in their reigns must have been immense indeed! With this in mind, it is significant that these ancient Lake Superior copper mines were apparently worked to exhaustion during the reign of King David, precisely the time frame in which David was stocking the Temple for God! Since the North American copper mines had been known to the Old World for centuries before David lived (he reigned from 1010-970 BCE), and since there is evidence that Phoenician ships called at ancient North American ports, the means to transport Lake Superior copper ores to King David of Israel did exist.’ (Ibid, p. 26.)”(1)

Another author stated that, “The general view of America is that the native Americans were still living in the stone age when the westerners arrived. But aside from a rich production of artifacts in gold and silver, metal tools had been in use for a very long time. In North America, axes and knives were made from native copper, which was hammered into shape.”(2) And on one Wisconsin historical web site we find mention of such things as a 3,500 year old copper complex, and said that, “copper was mainly used to make knives, spear points and other tools” and that “copper was used to make jewelry.”(3)

The Bible mentions the word “copper” only one time, but the Book of Mormon mentions the use of copper nine times. This is quite interesting since we know that some of the world’s largest and finest copper deposits are where both the Hopewell and Adena cultures thrived, as well as where the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations flourished.

The Book of Mormon not only makes mention of writing on copper plates, but that both the Jaredite and Nephite people used head-plates and breast-plates made of copper, as well as copper weapons, during times of war. Such head-plates and items have been found in Hopewell burial mounds. (Right: Head and breast plates made of copper, Ohio Hopewell group, 100 BC-500 A.D. Excavated from the Hopewell mound group, Ross County, Ohio, 1925. These objects are held in the Ohio Historical Society Archaeology Collection.)(4)

(Above left: Hopewell man with copper head plate; Below left: close up of the same; Above right
: Another Hopewell grave showing head plate; Below right: closeup of the same — Complements of Rod Meldrum, DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography DVD.)
(Above left: Copper breast-plate; Second from left: Copper breast plate and other implements; Far right: Implements of war made of copper and other elements — Complements of Rod Meldrum, DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography DVD.)

The Use of Wheels
The Mormon antagonists had a field-day when the Book of Mormon mentioned the word “chariots.” It is generally accepted that native Americans, north or south, did not develop the use of the wheel before Columbus, yet hundreds of examples of wheels have been unearthed in Mesoamerica, for example.

The wheeled pull toy resembling a small dog from Mexico, (Left), and the one resembling a cat from Mexico (Middle), from 550-950 A.D., and a wheeled toy from Mexico, about 100-200 A.D. (Far right), indicates the Aztecs knew the wheel. (Popular Mechanics Magazine, July 1963, p. 73.)

One person asked, “The real question is, how can anyone think these people were so stupid that they couldn’t figure out how to use the wheel for anything other than toys?” There was an ancient wheel found next to carvings of horses on rocks in Indian Creek Canyon near Monticello, Utah (At left: Photo courtesy of LDS Church News, September 30, 1961, p. 12), and the ancient carved stone discovered under lava layers in the Ocucaje Desert near Ica Peru shows what appears to be a wheeled cart being pulled by a horse. (Right of wheel: Ica Stone carving of wheeled cart and horse; photo courtesy of Ancient American Magazine, Nov/Dec 1993.)(5)

Horses in Ancient America
And speaking of horses, many Book of Mormon critics believe that horses did not exist in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus; and some scientist say that horses did exist in the Americas, but became extinct some 10,000 years ago. Either way, these claims, are made to show that the Book of Mormon was wrong when it speaks of horses being in the Americas before Christopher Columbus. Yet, the abundant evidence to the contrary tends to be ignored. One ex-Mormon, wrote: “We should see images of the horse in ancient-American art, along with other animals that ARE included in that art,” and another critic said, “How much art has survived prior to 200 BCE? No mention of horses is made after that time.” So here are a few examples of such art for which these, and other such critics, have been concerned.

Pre-Columbian Pictograph from Anubis Cave 2, Colorado; Middle: Pre-Columbian Pictograph from western Oklahoma; Far right: Pre-Columbian Pictograph from Picture Canyon, Colorado. All courtesy of Gloria Farley, “In Plain Sight”, 1994.)(6)

Robert R. Bennett, of the Maxwell Institute, had the following to say about the archaeological considerations of horses: “... archaeological evidence for the presence of the horse in the pre-Columbian Americas is presently scant and inconclusive. How can this be explained? Careful consideration of this question begins with an examination of what the Book of Mormon says and does not say about horses. ...

“In short, the Book of Mormon claims only that horses were known to some New World peoples before the time of Christ in certain limited regions of the New World. Thus we need not conclude from the text that horses were universally known in the Americas throughout pre-Columbian history. Moreover, the Book of Mormon never says that horses were ridden or used in battle, although some passages suggest that at times they may have been used by the elite as a draft animal (see, for example, Alma 18:9; 3 Nephi 3:22).

“Small herds of animals in a limited region sometimes leave no archaeological remains. We know that the Norsemen probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into Eastern North America during the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals did not spread throughout the continent and have left no archaeological remains. ‘It is probable,’ writes Jacques Soustelle, an authority on the Olmec, ‘that the Olmecs kept dogs and turkeys, animals domesticated in very early times on the American continent, but the destruction of any sort of bone remains, both human and animal, by the dampness and the acidity of the soil keeps us from being certain of this.’

“Even if horses had been abundantly used and had been a vital element in the culture of Book of Mormon people (a claim never made by Book of Mormon writers), one cannot assume that evidence for this would be plentiful or obvious from the current archaeological record.

“The study of fossilized animal remains from archaeological sites is known today as ‘zoo-archaeology.’ Zoo-archaeologist Simon J. M. Davis notes that the majority of bones found in archaeological sites are those of animals that were killed for food or other slaughter products by ancient peoples. It is rare to find remains of other animals in such locations.

“The horse was the basis of the wealth and military power of the Huns of central Asia (fourth and fifth centuries A.D.). Nonetheless, according to S. Bokonyi, a leading authority on the zoological record for central Asia, ‘We know very little of the Huns’ horses. It is interesting that not a single usable horse bone has been found in the territory of the whole empire of the Huns. This is all the more deplorable as contemporary sources mention these horses with high appreciation.’

“The lack of archaeological evidence for the Hunnic horse is rather significant in terms of references to horses in the Book of Mormon. During the two centuries of their dominance, the Huns must have possessed hundreds of thousands of horses. If Hunnic horse bones are so rare, notwithstanding the abundance of horses during the Hunnic empire, how can we expect abundant archaeological evidence for pre-Columbian horses in the New World, especially given the scant and comparatively conservative references to horses by Book of Mormon writers?

“A parallel example from the Bible is instructive. The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region. Thus there is often a gap between what historical records such as the Book of Mormon claim existed and what the limited archaeological record may yield. In addition, archaeological excavations in Bible lands have been under way for decades longer and on a much larger scale than those in proposed Book of Mormon lands.(7)
(Left: Pre-Columbian carving of hunter on horse found on ledge rocks in Indian Creek Canyon near Monticello, Utah; LDS Church News, September 30, 1961, p. 12.)

The following come from an article in a Meridian Magazine web site by Alan C. Miner: “The claim made by the Book of Mormon that horses were on this continent and used in ancient America for purposes similar to the uses we make of them today finds strong support in the numerous fossil remains of horses that have been obtained from the asphalt deposits of Rancho La Brea in southern California.

“We could do no better at this point in dealing with this subject than to quote from an official publication of the Los Angeles County Museum on the subject of the existence of horses in early times in America: “The presence of herds of horses in the vicinity of the asphalt deposits during the period of accumulation is clearly testified to by the numerous remains of these mammals found at Rancho La Brea. While many individuals are recorded in the collections, all of them belong to a single species, the extinct western horse (Equus occidentalis Leidy). In stage of evolution and in general body structure this type resembles the modern horse, although differing from it in a number of specific details. Standing on the average about 14 1/2 hands (4 feet, 10 inches) at the withers, this animal was of the height of a modern Arab horse. It was, however, of considerably heavier build…

“Joy Osborn provides the following interesting quote relative to horses in the Americas: Fossil remains of true horses, differing but very slightly from the smaller and inferior breeds of those now existing, are found abundantly in deposits of the most recent geological age, in almost every part of America, from Escholz Bay in the north to Patagonia in the south. In that continent however, they became quite extinct, and no horses, either wild or domesticated, existed there at the time of the Spanish conquest, which is the most remarkable as, when introduced from Europe the horses that ran wild proved by their rapid multiplication in the plains of South America and Texas that the climate, food, and other circumstances were highly favorable for their existence.” (Right: Comparison of horse used by early Indians at left, to horse brought over by Europeans.)

Alen Miner also noted, “ is claimed that those fossil remains pre-date Book of Mormon times. However, there is no logical reason for believing, since horses were here prior to the arrival of the Jaredites and the Nephites, that horses could not have still been in America during the period in which those ancient civilizations flourished.”(8)

Elephants in the Americas
In the Book of Mormon we read, “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man...” (Ether 9:19.) The critics say that “everyone knows” there were no elephants in the Americas. Even Joseph Smith should have known that! And since they could not have been here, then all evidence to the contrary must be ignored. When the critics are shown evidence of elephants in the Americas, they invariably claim it depicts nothing more than prehistoric mammoths. (Left: This Native American pipe, is made of a light-colored sandstone, and contained evidence of grease, resin and smoke. It definitely lacks the characteristic tusks and shoulders of a mammoth. It was taken from a burial mound near an old bed of the Mississippi by the Reverend Dr. Blumer on March 2, 1880.)

But even if there is a difference between an Elephant and a Mastodon, it could be very possible for one to mistake a Mastodon for an Elephant, especially if that individual had not known there was such a thing as a Mastodon.

(At right:
Elephant Figures on ancient Mayan ruins, circa 500 AD Chichen Itza, Mexico; Far right: Stelae B, Mayan artworks showing elephants which critics say are “parrots.” What do you think?)(9)

“From the City of Mexico comes a statement bearing the signature of Dr. Nicholas Leon, archaeologist of the National Museum of Mexico. The signature would justify the belief that proper investigation of the facts related has been made. The one great fact is that an ancient city, which was located near the present town of Paredon, in the state of Coahuila, some 500 miles north of the City of Mexico, was suddenly destroyed in some past age by an overflow of water and mud, and that its remains are still existent on the spot. Many massive walls have been found, but they are covered with a mass of deposited earth, sixty feet in thickness. And mingled in this earth are human skeletons, the tusks of elephants, etc. , are distributed in a way which indicates that the overflow of water and mud was sudden, giving no time for escape...

According to the estimates of the scientists under whose directions the excavations are now being made, the city in question had a population of least 50, 000.

“‘The destruction which was brought by the flood was complete. All the inhabitants of the cities were killed, as well as all the animals. Skeletons of the human inhabitants of the cities and of the animals are strewn all through the debris, from a depth of three feet from the surface to a depth of sixty feet, showing that all the debris was deposited almost at once. Measurements show that the debris is on an average, sixty feet deep where the largest of the cities stood.’

“‘Most remarkable of the minor finds that have been made at Paredon is that of the remains of elephants. Never before in the history of Mexico has it been ascertained positively that elephants were ever in the service of the ancient inhabitants. The remains of the elephants that have been found in Paredon show plainly that the inhabitants of the buried cities made elephants work for them. Elephants were as much in evidence in cities as horses. Upon many of the tusks that have been found were rings of silver. Most of the tusks encountered so far have an average length for grown elephants, of three feet, and an average diameter at the roots of six inches. Judging from the remains of the elephants so far unearthed, the animals were about ten feet in height and sixteen to eighteen feet in length, differing very little from those at present in existence.’” (Elephant remains in Mexico Anonymous; American Antiquarian, 25:395-397, 1903.)(10)

Ancient American Honeybees
In the Book of Mormon we read, “And they did carry with them deseret, which by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees...” (Ether 2:3.)
“Critics are usually quick to point out that honey bees are not native to the Americas and were not introduced until the 1600s by European colonists. But they are only half right.

Although not as yet proven, it may be considered that the European honeybee (Apis Mellifera Linnaeus) is not native to the Americas, and was introduced in the 1600s. However, the Mayans, Aztecs, and other ancient Mesoamericans, cultivated a species of native honey bees called Apis Mellipona.

Some have speculated that the Book of Mormon Jaredites may have imported these stingless bees from northern Australia, or they may have imported a Mediterranean strain of European honey bees, which may not have flourished or survived in the climate of the Americas.

In a work entitled, Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future, we find that, “For thousands of years in the tropical Americas, Indians have raised them [Apis Mellipona honey bees] in special hives made out of logs, gourds, clay pots, and other simple containers. Honey from these bees has lower sugar content than honey from the introduced honeybee, but the Melipona honey is considered better tasting. The Maya so honored honey and honey wine, and they had festivals dedicated to the god of honey, Ah Mucan Cab.” (Above: Apis Mellipona stingless honeybees: A species cultivated by Mayans a thousand years before Columbus; At left: Ah Mucan Cab, Bee god; At right: Bee from Mayan Codex Tro-Cortesianus.)(11)

In 1519, Hernán Cortés reported beekeeping by natives of Mexico. Maya, Aztec, and other indigenous groups kept domesticated Melipona bees. The Meliponids are warm-climate bees and are the natural pollinators for the Vanilla orchid. Unlike the introduced European honeybee (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) which constructs combs, Meliponid bees store honey in wax cups.

In Summary
Over the years, many have pointed out various things of archeological interest in trying to validate the Book of Mormon, and we have briefly covered only five of them in this chapter, although we could have considered many more. And from the first coming forth of the Book of Mormon, antagonists have refuted the claims made in that book. Could it have just been a lot of coincidental luck, or guessing, on the part of Joseph Smith, that most of the claims made in the Book of Mormon have been vindicated in one way or another? I mean:

1. How did Joseph Smith know that ancient records were kept on metal plates, a fact that was not proven until after his death?
2. How did he know that the use of copper was widely used by both the Adena and Hopewell cultures (as well as the Jaredite and Nephite people), with some of the world's finest copper deposits being in the same geographic area of their civilizations — facts that were not available until after the publication of the Book of Mormon?
3. Was he aware that the Hopewell people used head-plates, breast-plates, tools and weapons made of copper, as he said the Nephites did?
4. Although it was commonly believed that horses did not exist in the Americas in ancient times, did Joseph Smith know that such claims would be validated in years to come? Or,
5. That indications of elephants being in the Americas would be found, although believed otherwise? And,
6. That honeybees were cultivated in the Americas as well, as the Book of Mormon points out?

As stated earlier, we would not be considering every single thing that is possible in support of the Book of Mormon, for new finds are being unearthed on nearly a daily basis. But we covered just a few to establish a point, that point being that we find, once again, the quest of early Book of Mormon critics have been premature in their critical evaluations of what many others feel is a work that came from God.
6. Ibid.