I will post here some of the letters/emails that I receive, and my response to them. I may also include a few of Jerry's communications on this page. I'm not going to take the time to categorize anything so you'll just have to keep on reading, or scroll down until you find something that interests you.
Your Letters - Our Responses
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006
Hi! My name is Katie, a fellow faithful Latter-Day Saint and avid reader of the Book of Mormon. I just read your website about finding Cumorah, and I just have one question.
Okay, so Mormon and the Nephite armies gather at Cumorah, and as they are awaiting the Lamanites and the great battle that brings about the Nephites' destruction, Mormon explains that he "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni" (Mormon 6:6). So Mormon, while at Cumorah, gave some of the records to Moroni. So Moroni then takes these records, compiles the records of the Jaredites into the book of Ether, writes a little himself, and then hides these records in a hill somewhere --- a place in which the prophet Joseph Smith found and later received the gold plates, those records which Moroni himself had buried. Joseph Smith found the gold plates in a hill near his home in New York. Correct, no?
Here's my question. If Moroni was at Cumorah when he received the records and worked on writing/putting them together, and you are suggesting that the location of this hill Cumorah is NOT that hill in New York but a different hill that is somewhere in Mexico, then I wonder: Why and how would Moroni take those records (which later were delivered into the hands of Joseph Smith) travel from this particular place in Mexico alllll the way to New York just to bury the records there?
It doesn't make sense to me.
Thanks for your time. : )
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006
Subject: Re: Cumorah
I appreciate your interest in what we are doing. I'll respond to your comments in my own limited way and will copy in Dr. Ainsworth who may want to add a few things and email them directly to you. If you haven't yet read "The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni" I suggest for added background that you read the articles in the Mormon Sites "Reading Room," perhaps particularly Jerry's article titled:
Yes, indeed, Moroni buried the plates that Joseph Smith translated from in a hill now called "Cumorah" that is located near Palmyra, New York. Joseph declared that his final disposition of the plates was to return them to Moroni. As a resurrected being Moroni could then have hidden the plates anywhere on earth that he wanted to, so they are not necessarily near Palmyra today. But it is most likely that the other Nephite records that Ammoron hid in the hill Shim and then told young Mormon about, and Mormon later transferred to the original hill Cumorah on the way to the final battles, are still in that hill.
As you will note from the dates at the bottom of the pages of The Book of Mormon, the final battle of the Nephites took place at the original hill Cumorah about 385 AD. And the last we hear from Moroni in the book is dated about 421 AD. So he had many years in which to travel and he would have gone northward because the Lamanites were thick in the south and they killed every Nephite they found who "would not deny the Christ."
There are many evidences that Moroni was at least as far north and west as St. George, Utah where Brigham Young says Moroni dedicated the temple site, as well as other sites where temples stand today. Don't forget that Moroni had access to the Brother of Jared's record and was privileged to see everything in the future; he knew where all the temples would be built in our time.
Indian legends all over the USA and Canada speak of a great white man who visited many villages and taught the gospel to them; the Navajo today still wait for his return. It's quite possible that the man was Moroni. We know for sure too that Moroni's journeys over those many years included a trip from where St. George, Utah is located today to the place in New York where he buried the plates. He knew that Palmyra, New York would be the place where Joseph Smith would be located at the proper time for the plates to be revealed and the Book of Mormon brought forth to the world.
Perhaps we are getting close to the time when the "wagon loads" of Nephite records that Mormon took to the original hill Cumorah will be discovered, translated, and brought to the attention of the world's people. Such an event of course would generate enormous added interest in the Book of Mormon and the precious saving truths for all of God's children that it contains.
With my own limited intellect and understanding, it seems to me that if credentialed archaeologists were in on the discovery of those records, or if the discovery was captured on film and made available to the media, that would have an enormous favorable impact towards convincing people everywhere to sincerely read the Book of Mormon and apply Moroni's spiritual test of its truthfulness.
Dr. Ainsworth and those associated with him are doing what they can to find, prove, and promote physical evidences that the Nephites lived in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and perhaps parts of Honduras and El Salvador.) Finding and proving the original Hill Cumorah/Ramah is the first priority.
I hope that helps a bit Katie. Let me know if I missed the question entirely or if you have others that I might be able to respond to. I'll probably start a new page on the Mormon Sites website where I'll post your letter (without your name and email address) and this response. So, you have made a big contribution to the Mormon Sites website today :-)
I read the site and very much enjoyed your writing style. This exploration is quite exciting and I agree with what you have written and are trying to accomplish. I know that the focus is on the Hill Cumorah right now, but I was thinking about the Hill Shim the other day and it occurred to me that the reason the locals won't let you in the cave is a tradition that has carried over from Book of Mormon times. I was reading in Mosiah chapter 8 about the Jaredite plates. They only brought 24 plates back to Limhi and I would not be surprised if they found others and were unable to bring them back. The thing I pondered on the most was that it states in verse 13 that a seer (prophet) would be able to view the records and translate them. Is it possible that the locals would need to recognize the prophet (missionary work) and then at that point allow him in to view? Have you been able to find out why they carry this tradition of death for anyone who would enter the cave? It seems to me that the Hill Cumorah and the Hill Shim may very well be linked in some way. Don't get me wrong they are not the same hill, but if you could prove one, you would most likely prove the other as well. Anyway, just some thoughts I have pondered on. Please let me know if I am a little confused or possibly in error.
(I referred Misty's email to Jerry.)
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006
Subject: Hill Shim
You ask some very good questions. I'll do my best to address them.
The plates that were discovered by the 43 soldiers of King Limhi were discovered in the land of Cumorah, where the last portion of the Jaredite battle took place. Those plates were written (or at least completed) by Ether, as he witnessed the destruction of this nation. We know this last struggle of the Jaredites was in the land of Cumorah, but are not told that their records were hidden there. Many people assume that the Jaredites used this same hill for their historical records, but that is just an assumption. We don't know for sure. Anyway I don't. In fact, we are not told where their records are buried. It could very easily be in the western part of the U.S. as Moroni tells us that this is where a large portion of the Jaredites lived (see Ether 1:1.)
I doubt seriously that the 43 soldiers found any additional records, as they certainly would have mentioned it. It has always been my belief that they found these plates, kind of like they found the other artifacts, (swords, breastplates, etc.), not in a cave, but in a place easy to be found. If there were other historical documents, I assume they were kidden well in a hill. The 24 plates of Ether contain the whole history of this planet, (as well as a little info about two others). It has the account of every event and every person ever to have lived, or ever to live on this earth. That was clearly what the Lord wanted shared with other people and times. What would be the purpose of allowing the 43 men to view the other records, assuming they were any place close to Cumorah?
I am fairly certain that the local people around this hill, which we believe is Shim, do not have a clue why they keep people out. The hill is sacred to them, and they don't want folks in there - any more than we would want folks taking tours through our temples. To the ancient Maya, (and even to current ones), caves are sacred places, as certain gods are believed to dwell in such places.
Mosiah 8:13 does not say that a prophet can look at these kinds of plates and read them. It states that a Urim and Thummim is required. Then once a person is commanded to look with the Urim and Thummim, he is automatically a Seer. Joseph Smith was a Seer before he was ordained to any priesthood position.
When a person used the Urim and Thummim, he was than automatically a Seer. The reason for that, is that the Urim and Thummim actually allowed the person to see the history. They didn't read it, they saw it, and that is why they were called a Seer. Ammon also explained that this position is so precious and high, that it also includes the position of Prophet and Revelator - and is the highest position a mortal can hold. In the early days of the church, Joseph was never called Joseph the Prophet. He was called Joseph the Seer. People did not bear their testimony that they knew Joseph was a prophet, but that Joseph was a Seer. We have modified it - to Joseph the Prophet, which has now become custom.
If an LDS prophet went into the Hill in (name edited out), Mexico, they would kill him, like anyone else. Yes, I have found why they don't want people in their hill. It goes like this, "It is our sacred hill. We don't want outsiders going into our sacred hill." Pretty simple and straight forward stuff - and not very different from Muslims and their sacred shrines, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc.
Proving the hill Cumorah is infinitely easier than proving the hill Shim. For the hill Cumorah there are ample descriptions of the land and the hill. Plus there are momentous events that transpired around this hill. The names of this hill, (Ramah and Camorah) are names that actually describe the hill, as we know what those terms mean. None of this is available for the hill Shim. Plus, they are very far from each other
There are two ways I can prove the hill Cumorah. I can match the hill with the description of its characteristics given in the BofM. That at least narrows it down. And then once I think I have found it, I can go in and see the Nephite library, which is absolute proof. Neither of these possibilities holds true for the hill Shim - that I know for sure.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Subject: Re: Hill Shim
I just want you to know that I greatly appreciated the time that you took to answer some of my questions and to shed some new light on my musings. It was especially good of you to give me some scriptural refrences that I may use for further growth and understanding in the gospel. I look forward to reading or hearing of future findings regarding the Hill Cumorah.
I am very concerned about the lack of "science" in Dr. Ainsworth's book. I genuinely believe that there has been far too much of this kind of logically unfounded geographical speculation advanced over the generations since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It has made us a laughing stock in many quarters, as cooler heads have carefully considered the facts and the circumstances surrounding the BofM peoples.
The BofM is fact. Geographical speculations that do not agree with the information contained within its own pages are, at best, humorous...and certainly counter productive to the subject and the mission of the Bof M. Dr. Ainsworth does not use the best available information in some areas...and one must ask...why not? Is he a poor scholar...or no scholar at all? Is his agenda so based on emotion and mysticism that he can't give the hard facts of the geographical content of the book their due? In some areas he does okay, in my judgment, but in others he is so far off base that it discredits the entire work.
I would appreicate reading his explanations for his having ignored what many other BofM researchers are finding more palatible.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Subject: Re: Book of Mormon Geography
Thanks for responding to my email introducing the Mormon Sites website.
As you know, more than fifty years of "science" has failed to come up with much of anything by way of physical evidence that the Nephites ever existed in the Americas. It is my opinion that the prevailing fear among credentialed scientists that they may become a "laughing stock" among their peers if they ever dare step outside the tight box defined by their peers as the proper playing field for their discipline, is precisely what may keep "science" from discovering anything new in the field of Book of Mormon geography for perhaps another fifty years...
I personally find Jerry Ainsworth's book refreshing and informative, it has opened up huge new vistas for me and has brought me much closer (albeit in a "mystic" way) to the Book of Mormon peoples. The Book of Mormon of course is a book that came to us by way of spiritual "mystic" sources, it was not a "scientific" discovery, and it was not brought forth by a "scholar." Perhaps those same sources will again work through the uncredentialed to bring forth new knowledge, prophecies are that many more records will become available in these times.
But your point of view is probably quite common and your concerns and questions are valid, thank-you again for expressing them.
I'll copy Jerry into this email, he may wish to respond to you, or you could forward your message or compose another directly to him. I expect that he will be quite pleased to communicate with you.
Again, thanks for your email Brian, I hope you will read the Mormon Sites website and join with us in the search for physical evidences of Nephites in the Americas. You may be particularly interested in Jerry's current Cumorah3 project in which he plans to once again get his scholarly hands dirty by digging in some 20 or more preColumbian mass burial sites near the hill he proposes to be the original Hill Cumorah/Ramah. Once he unearths bones and artifacts the credentialed scientists can do their part in the labs and see if the bones date to about 325 AD, the date of the final Nephite battles. If they do, that in my opinion should constitute pretty solid "scientfic" evidence that would not be laughed at by anyone...
It's worth a try don't you think?
Enjoy the day Brian.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Subject: Re: Book of Mormon Geography
I couldn't agree with you more. However, if God is anything, He is intelligent. For example...to suppose that the Usamacinta River is a good candidate for the River Sidon is, in my judgment, bad intelligence. God expectds us to use our thinking aparatus---not just leap onto any available idea. Thinking would tell us that an area that had no sophisticated settlement during BofM times...and not until much later...may suggest a poor candidate for Sidon, Zarahemla, etc., etc., etc. That's just using your brain for what our "mystical" God intended it. The problem with past science in Book of Mormon studies is that there hasn't been much. Look at the farms publications about all the geography theories. They don't even come close to jibing with what the BofM says within itself. As you are no doubt aware, there really is a wealth of geographical information, most of which is quite consistent within itself, within the text. This leads me to suppose that even the scientists, so called, have largely been stumblebums in the way they've dealt with the text. Possibly too enamored with the "mystical" side of our religion to realize that our intelligence eventually will find total harmony with the text and the actual ground the BofM peoples lived on. There is a reason the Lord gave us all the geographical input he did within the text. The interestesting question is...why has it taken so long for intelligent people to deal with the text...such as some are doing now...to great profit.
As to the value of Dr. Ainsworth's book and proposals. I agree. Any time we talk hopefully about the BofM, there is much to be gained. Much profit. But that has nothing to do with the outright inconsistencies of imbedded proposals and speculations when they stray from what the text tells us. For years people reckoned the Nephite land northward, where much of the plot was unwinding, was North America and the land southward was South America...totally discredited notoins in view of what the text says within itself. The text is very clear that the bulk of the plot was dealing with a much smaller area. This information was just as available to early students of the text as it is to you and me. But apparently they failed to do their homework and approach the information within the text "scientifically" or intelligently. Accordingly they rushed to judgment and advanced absurd proposals, in light of later studies (in my judgment). There are proponents of such a Western Hemisphere idea all over the place within the Church, even today...but not anybody that I know of who has studied the text with sufficient care to realize that such a view is simply not consistent with what the Lord tells us within the text.
I have a home in Belize. I have a member of the branch in San Ignacio who is absolutely certain that the River Sidon is the River Macal and that his farm in Spanish Lookout is where Zarahemla was located. I've never challenged his views to his face, but they fail in so many ways, the list would weary this word processor---as relating to the BofM text. In some ways, I feel that way about many of Dr. Ainsworth's proposals. This takes what is otherwise a wonderful book, even a very pretty book, and puts it on my shelf with others of those who have leaped before they looked.
My old attorney, the late Tom Ferguson, was one such man who I believe looked before he leaped. He accomplished much in his own right, but most of his assertions about archaeology and the BofM were ridiculous. He tried to pass himself off as a scientist without doing the science...and it may have cost him his testimony of our entire cause before he passed away. Young Tom, his son, says not, but many of his neighbors thought so. He expected to find truth without doing what truthseekers must do. Think and explore and think some more...and let the body of evidence grow and speak for itself. He wanted truth right now...and was ready to declare it before he had it. You and I both know the Book of Mormon is true. It is fact. But discredited or rush-to-judgment ideas about the geography, not based on the text, waste everybody's time...and really do embarrass us. I don't believe that the current crop of Mayanists stand as any reasonable example of truthseekers, in the context of Book of Mormon geography. They are closed-minded men and women who are busy learning more and more about less and less...and can't be troubled with the big picture. The real big picture. I have met and conversed with many of them...and I can tell you that they think we are a bunch of bumpkins. Again, largely because we have practiced "open mouth, insert foot" for way too long...and it clouds the truth of the matter for them.
There are other examples of what I would call clumsy thinking...
A case in point: The big map hanging on the wall in the National Museum at Tuxtla Gutierez shows that almost all the early pre classic settlements were located along the Grijalva River, not the Usamacinta. Four-hundred years later these settlements had moved out of the Chiapas Depression over into the Peten, in the area of the Usamacinta. My guess would be that the "pioneers" exploited the land, cut down all the trees, wasted the soil in their earlier homesteads, just as most pioneers do. In any case, if this data is correct, and if it has been correctly portrayed on the maps, focusing on the Grajalva Region could prove profitable for students of Book of Mormon geography. Perhaps more so than the Usamacinta, where no major settlements prior to about 250 a.d., of the kind that would characterize the Book of Mormon peoples, have thus far been found. On the other hand, to leap onto the Usamacinta because it is a river...and because it is just THERE isn't very scientific. Joe Allen has explored this particular idea to great depth. I personally live there and have traveled in the area and know that there is much yet to be explored and to be found in the area of the Usamacinta...but even finding it...there is much about the area that is not consisent with other requirements of the all-powerful TEXT.
Thanks for letting me visit with you in this totally neat way. I haven't talked about these things for far too long...and would welcome TRUTH in these matters with open arms. Tell me some things that fit with the text of the book. Make me smarter tomorrow than I am today. I welcome your friendship and that of Dr. Ainsworth, as well.
P.S. please excuse the clumsy writing. Time is of the essense. No time for revisions.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: Book of Mormon Geography
It's good to hear from you again and so soon Brian.
Really, you should be having this discussion with Jerry Ainsworth, I'll ask him to respond to your email. I'm just a neophyte at these matters, your thoughtful message deserves a much better response than I could give.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if an appeal to the TEXT would work for everyone! However, I'm sure you'll agree that human minds easily place differing interpretations on almost every string of words. The 10,000 or so Christan churches with conflicting opinions and doctrines but each appealing to the Bible for validation comes quickly to mind.
I have not found another person who has so masterfully in my opinion combined spiritual learning derived from hundreds and possibly thousands of hours prayerfully pondering the Book of Mormon, with scholarly discussion, book learning, attending conferences, seminars etc., and who has for decades dared to wander from the ivory towers of academia and actually get his hands dirty and place his life on the line with unique field explorations in Mesoamerica.
I'm copying at the bottom of this email some excerpts from very recent comments made by Joseph Allen and Jerry Ainsworth that now appear in the Mormon Sites members' bulletin board. Please scroll down to read them. Jerry has not yet provided a full response to the River Usumacinta debate, but his comments are pertinent to things you expressed in the email I am now responding to.
You are a thinker Brian and you express yourself well. It is my hope that you and Jerry can find some common ground and that you will eventually consent to be a member of our Advisory Council :-)
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Subject: Re: Book of Mormon Geography
I received a copy of your email from Marcel, and will jot a few responses.
As I state in the foreward of my book, I welcome dialogue about the Book of Mormon geography. It has always been kind of a fantasy of mine that at some point, I and other authors/people of interest, would gather some day and just hammer these divergent views out. Obviously that has not happened, but I still long for it.
As for the Usumacinta not being Sidon, as per Joe Allen's article, I have already penned a few responses to that, and I believe Marcel has made them available. I also suggest reading my most recent article, The Jaredites & the Land Southward.
There is no doubt that there were people on the Pacific side of Guatemala, as well as in the Central Depression early on. In fact, they were there hundreds of years before 600bc, as reported at the Maya conference at the University of Texas last March. I just know of no evidence that they are related to Lehi's folks.
As far as there not being cities related to the Usumacinta before 250ad, that runs contrary to what I have heard for the past ten years at the Maya conferences. But I may be defining "close to the Usumacinta" differently than others.
El Mirador goes back over a thousand years into the bc era. I was there with Ray Matheny and he discussed at length the three separate inhabitations and then abandonments, etc., the first going back to well before 1000bc.
Palenque is now documented to go back to at least 150bc, and the arcaheologist now doing the excavations, told me he expected to go back even further, as did Mearle Green Robertson, the Grand-Lady of Palenque.
Tikal is a challenge to go back before this date, as the stela of that city, giving the reign of kings, stops around the 300s ad. When I spoke with Chris Jones about this, (he was the primary person who excavated Tikal), he told me that they dated Tikal to that time period, initially any way, because the kings mentioned in the stela stop at that time. (I explained why in the response to Joe Allen's article).
I can think of close to a dozen cities that date back to bc dates in and around Belize. Lamonae' does, Santa Rita does, El Mirador does, Nock Bay (sp?) does. The sign in front of Kalakmul states that the people who inhabited that city were there around 800bc, and some time between then and after 600bc they hooked up with the highland Maya. That is what the sign says - which is pictured in my book.
The Book of Mormon states there were cities that sank into the East Sea at the Crucifixion of Christ, and even names some of them. I have spoken to the minister of Archaeology of Belize, as well as a number of archaeologists, and they all confirm that there are ruin sites under water off of the coast of Belize. On any given morning you can walk the coast in these areas and pick up potshards that have washed up the night before, from these sites. I have TL tested these shards, and they date to the time period of the sinking of these cities.
If the East Coast of Belize is not the East sea mentioned in the Book of Mormon, with the sunken cities, I'd be pleased to know where that East sea is, and where the sunken cities are?
So, how is that for starters?
And by the way, I really don't care where Zarahemla was. Nor do I care if I am wrong or not. I just want to know what the truth is - and therefore, I am open to enlightenment and to the possibility that I am wrong.
I am happy to find this website. I had the opportunity to serve a mission in Connecticut and was able to visit with both Jerry and Dr. Poulsen and be in their homes. It was a great experience and have been interested in learning more about Mesoamerica ever since. I look forward to seeing what all comes of the website. Thanks so much in advance.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You have provided the needed link between the incredible work that Jerry Ainsworth quietly does and opportunity to colaborate and include others in this exciting and wonderful journey. I am impressed and pleased with all that you have done and certainly look forward to more.
I am a recently retired school teacher/librarian. I live in Ogden, Utah. I have savored "Lives and Travels" and experienced a life changing trip in Mexico with Jerry and Estaban. Know that I am enthusiastically supporting your work and certainly ready to assist any way that I can.
Again, thank you for what you are providing. The time is right for this to move forward, and the Lord's touch is felt.
The Zelph Incident
Dr. Ainsworth's response to a question about the Zelph story:
The Zelph story again. Here is a quick but accurate response.
The account of the Zelph incident that you sent, is the unedited version of the story. Although Joseph Smith edited this story, for some odd reason, the unedited version was placed in the Church History books, until 1903, when it was finally removed. This problem is thoroughly explained on page 76 of David Palmer's book, IN SEARCH OF CUMORAH. He even has a photo copy of the document, showing the unedited story, and then with the edits that Joseph Smith made - written so as to edit and correct the account.
The prophet edited out the reference to the Lamanite warrior being at the final battle of Cumorah. The quotation that you sent, (the unedited version), states that this was a "man of God," etc, at the final battle. According to Mormon, there was not one righteous Nephite or Lamanite warrior during the time of Mormon. There were certainly no men of God, Nephite or Lamanite at the battle of Cumorah, excluding Mormon and Moroni.
So, the rest of the account is accurate. He was a white Lamanite warrior, he was a man of God, and he was killed in battle. The battle he was killed in, was not the battle of Cumorah - as that is the part the Prophet Joseph edited out.
I love Joseph Fielding Smith, and know him as one of the best informed LDS leaders in our history. All well read LDS scholars know that he has been wrong on a number of issues. He was wrong on this one. On this one I can give a personal account, as he and my parents were good friends. On a number of occasions I recall him eating with us in the evening and then he and my parents sitting around the dining room table and have extended gospel discussions.
On one of those occasions I recall this very topic being discussed, and JFS made the same statement to my parents, that is represented in your email. (i.e. that the BofM lands were not restricted to Mesoamerica). In fact, he said that (I cannot recall if it was the Mississippi, or the Missouri), either one or the other was the River Sidon. My mother then said, Elder Smith, does it bother you that the River Sidon ran from South to North, and that the Mississippi, (or Missouri), river runs from North to South?" His response was, "No it does not bother me."
But I don't even need to challenge JFS's position. The position of the church is that, "we don't know where the BofM took place, except to say that it was some place on this continent." Clearly JFS's view is not that of the church's. I invite people who are interested, to view the movie that shows the two events of Jesus' life - his life in Jerusalem, and his visit to the Nephites, (I forget the name - The Two Testaments of Christ - or something like that.). Look closely at the Nephite costumes, the city backdrops, the public monuments and writing. They are all Maya.
The last statement in your email, that of Heber C. Kimball is very revealing, as he clearly states that this event of Joseph and Oliver, was a "vision," not a visitation.
Joseph and Oliver went into the chamber, as a visionary experience, the same way many prophets, (Nephi, Lehi, Isaiah, Moroni, and many others) have visited places in the spirit.
Joseph and Oliver did not walk into the chamber where Mormon buried all of the plates, having moved them from the hill Shim to the hill Cumorah.
Hope this helps. Jerry
Sure like the website readings that I have received. Marcel, thank you for doing what you are doing -- we need this! Thanks, Kathy
Good Evening, Sir:
I just spent about five minutes browsing your website and am deeply impressed. Before we moved to this part of Idaho we lived near Dr. Richard Hansen, an archealogist who has spent many years in central America working at sites that have just got to be of the Book of Mormon peoples. I want you to know that I stand in awe of what you're doing. I have bookmarked your webpage and will be more thorough with it when I have some time.
Re Hagoth and the Islands of the Sea
Q. August, 2007 Reading the meaning name for ancum. The last paragraph struck me as the meanig for mori = west. Jus t wondering with the links with the moari peoples in new zealand who are obviously west of central america. I was once told that the moari people could trace there ancesty back to hogath who left by the west sea. of course this is unsubstantiated butu maybe someone know more than this?
I just returned from Guatemala, which is why I did not answer your email earlier.
My response to your idea of fusing the term mori and the name Moari, is that I doubt seriously the two are connected. LDS members frequently do this, take a name in one language that has a similar sound to a word in another language, and assume there is a connection. This kind of linguistic gerrymandering frequently gets us in trouble and makes linguists and ethnographers laugh at us.
I have never been persuaded that the people who inhabit some of the Pacific islands are related to Hagoth, of the Book of Mormon. My reasons for such skepticism are as follows:
1. This does not appear to be the Lord's way of sending people to inhabit foreign lands. Alma 63 states that Hagoth was a mariner who specialized in shuttling goods and people from the land Bountiful to the land Northward. During one of these "cruises" he simply never returned. Alma (63:7-8) states that no one knew what happened to Hagoth and his passengers, and therefore supposed they were "drowned in the depths of the sea."
2. Since Alma was a prophet, there would be no reason for the Lord to withhold information about Hagoth, if indeed he did end up in Hawaii and/or other Pacific islands. If the Lord really wanted to move people from this continent to the Pacific islands, I suspect he would do so in a manner similar to how he instructed Lehi, Mulek and Jared.
3. Hagoth took enough supplies on this cruise to last his passengers the time it would take to sail from Bountiful to the land Northward. I assume that would mean supplies to last his passengers a few days. Sailing to Pacific islands would take much longer, possibly months. I also suspect a different kind of vessel would have been needed, which is why the Lord directed Jared and Nephi how to build their vessels.
4. If we take Lehi, Mulek and Jared as examples of how the Lord prepares people for, and directs people to foreign lands, having them accidentally blown of course, does not appear to conform to his M.O. It appears the Lord's method is to choose a special spiritual person(s), give them specific directives, have them prepare a special vessel(s), with ample provisions, and then reveals to them their specific mission and directs them accordingly.
5. I know of no DNA testing that connects the people from the Pacific islands to the people of Mesoamerica.
I have attended most Maya conferences for the last 25 years, and spent an inordinate amount of time speaking with archaeologists, relative to the ancient people of this continent. For years Mormons have been telling these professionals that the Book of Mormon was an account of all the ancient cultures on this continent, and the three groups, (Lehi, Mulek and Jared), as well as their descendents occupied the whole continent, South, Central and North America. Testimonies have been born to these archaeologists regarding such views.
We now know that there were many divergent groups that occupied this continent, coming from various parts of the world, and that Lehi, Mulek and Jared were just three groups of many many others that lived here contemporaneously. Also, it is currently assumed that the Nephites and Lamanites occupied a very small area around Central America. Yet, for years, Mormons have declared just the opposite to archaeologists. It's why most professionals give no credibility to things that we say about the Pre-Columbian people, including Hagoth, his ships and the Pacific islands.
Fillmore glyphs and Jose Davilla
Q: August, 2007
Hello, I want you to know how much I enjoy this site! I have been a long time fan of Jerrys and frequent reader. I have to say that " The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni" is one of my all time favorite books. My goal has been to read the Book of Mormon each year since Pres. Benson told us to in 1986. Little by little the geograghy of the book can make it come alive. I live in Utah, not far from Fillmore. I have long been quianted with Jose Devilla , his daughter Ruth and his translation of the glyphs there in Fillmore. I met him once on a trip to Tullum where he was a tour guide. I have recently read a book by Robert A Pate on Book Of Mormon geograghy. He has an interesting twist on things. I have read all the other works, Allen,Sorenson, Hunter, etc. I just wondered what you thought of his theories. Also my son is getting married in the Guatemala Temple at the end of the month. We have a few extra days and wondered what special sites you would reccommend. Thanks. P.S. If you have any special info on the Fillmore glyphs please inform.
A: Kelly: I just returned from Guatemala myself, and I assume you know they are building an additional temple there, as the one in Guatemala City cannot handle the volume of work being done.
The only interpretation I know of the Filmore glyphs, is the one Jose gave some 40 years ago. And by the way, Jose is very ill and has been for over a year. He has had a protracted bought with prostrate cancer. He still can be found at Tulum, but he no longer gives tours, as his mind is going the way of his prostrate.
City of Jerusalem under Guatemala's Lake Atitlan?
Q. September 1, 2007
Last year I visited Guatemala and learned that there is a Mayan city under water in Lake Atitlan, near the base of Mount Agua or is it Fuego?. (In pictures of Lake Atitlan and the mountains it's the one on the right with a small cove near it. The Book of Mormon says that Jerusalem was near the Waters of Mormon (Lake Atitlan). If what you say is true that the "waters came up..." then this buried city is Jerusalem. Mark
A: Thanks for your information on the BofM city of Jerusalem. As I indicated in my original article, I do not know where the cities mentioned in 3 Nephi 9:7 are located and therefore made a guess. So, you may be closer to identifying its whereabouts that me.
I had also heard, from numerous LDS folks I might add, that there was an ancient Maya city under the waters of lake Atitlan, which is one of my purposes for making my visit there last month. While there I drove completely around the lake, visiting many of the small villages on the lake, and looking intently in the clear waters of the lake. I never saw any signs of an underwater city, nor could I find anyone that could confirm the existence of such a city. I am not saying that it is not there, only that I could not find it.
I have a dear friend who now owns a home on the lake's edge, a few miles from Santiago Atitlan, and has lived in this area for around five years. He is a member of the church, a graduate of Yale Medical school and a fellow Maya enthusiast. He and I have traveled through the land of the Maya for over twenty years. He reads the glyphs and can quote the historical records of these highland Maya better than most can quote the scriptures. I stayed a few days at his lake Atitlan home, asking him the same question about the proposed under water city - and discovered that he had been unable to confirm its existence also.
So, if there is a city under the waters of lake Atitlan, neither of us has been able to confirm it. It may be there, but if so, it is well hidden. One thing that we did discover, is that the lake level does go through cycles of rising and falling. One of the lake front properties that I looked at, (a potential purchase), showed where the lake level in recent years, (like 30 years ago), was a good thirty feet higher than it currently is. It is now at one of its lowest levels, which is apparent when you see boat docks and jetties that had to be built further into the lake to accommodate the current low level of the lake. And by the way, the lowering of the lake a good thirty feet, has not revealed any ancient cities that were thirty feet under water.
It would be easy for me to envision the lake covering newly built villages, that were built when the lake was low, once the cycle raises the level of the lake thirty feet, as it has previously been. It may be that such a small village is what people are referring to - but once again, that is a guess.
As for as the city of Jerusalem being near the waters of Mormon, that is really not what the Book of Mormon says, although that may be the case. What the Book of Mormon does say about the city of Jersualem, and its proximity to the land of Mormon, (not the waters), is as follows:
"Now when Ammon and his brethren separated themselves in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, behold Aaron took his journey towards the land which was called by the Lamanites, Jerusalem, calling it after the land of their fathers nativity; and it was away joining the borders of Mormon." (Alma 21:2)
"Now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem." (Alma 21:3)
"And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And after he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of Nehors:..." (Alma 21:5)
These scriptures tell me four things about the city of Jerusalem:
1. The city of Jerusalem was in the land of Jerusalem, not the land of Mormon.
2. It was the land of Jerusalem that was adjacent to the borders of Mormon, not the city of Jerusalem. But in either case, neither the land, nor the city of Jerusalem was in the land of Mormon, only adjacent to it and neither are representing as being near the waters of Mormon.
3. Since it is a safe assumption that the waters of Mormon were in the land of Mormon, (not the land of Jerusalem), it is a pretty good assumption that lake Atitlan did not swallow up the whole land of Mormon, and the land of Jerusalem also. I guess that is possible, but it doesn't hang together for me, especially since the waters of Mormon, (lake Atitlan), is pretty well surrounded by very high and steep volcanos.
4. The city of Jerusalem, as described by Alma in 90 B.C. was a very large city, (the term great is used), having numerous synagogues, and assumedly other large buildings. If these large structures were under the waters of lake Atitlan, I assume they would be easy to spot and people around the lake would know about them being there under water. I could find no one who knew of the existence of such an underwater city. Once again, there may be one, and I may not have spoken to the right people, but I could not locate the city.
And there is one other assumption I make, and once again, it is just an assumption. I have always assumed that the other cities that the Savior mentions in 3 Nephi 9:7 as being covered by water, (viz, Onihah and Mocum), were in the same general location as the city of Jerusalem. That may be an incorrect assumption, but if it is correct, then we are looking for two additional cities that were covered with water. If it was the waters of Mormon that did the covering, then there are three cities under that water, and so far I cannot locate one.
While I am at it, allow me to make one other observation. The Lord (and Nephi) in explaining the judgment passed on the cities he caused to be destroyed, use the term "sunk" and/or "buried" to describe there disposition. (see 3 Nephi 8:9, 14 and 3 Nephi 9:4, and 8). However in describing what happened to the cities of Jerusalem, Onihah and Mocum, the Lord says, "...waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof,..." My interpretation of this statement is that the cities were not sunk or buried, but stayed at the same level they were at and waters covered them over. Having visited lake Atitlan many times, this does not sound like a reasonable event, given the characteristics of the lake.
So, I conclude with the same statement I started with, I don't know where the city of Jerusalem was. I am fairly certain where it was not however. It was in the land of Jerusalem, not the land of Mormon, and therefore not "near the waters of Mormon." Jerry
Hi M, I was throughly entertained by the website.I have yet to read Jerry's book but am waiting for it to come in the mail. I have always believed that the Usamacinta(sp) was the river Sidon. I have been constantly frustrated by the scarcity of books with the Usamacinta as Sidon. It seems that most are convinced that the Grivalja is Sidon.
I would like to know what Jerry thinks about the recent work by Tom Gidwitz on the bajo's of Northern Guatemala. His work shows that these bajos where once perennial fresh water lakes. That deforestation caused them to silt up and become swamps. This happened in about 200ad. To me this changes the possibility of where the narrow neck could be.
Cheers Dave G
----- Original Message -----
To: David and Fiona
Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2007 11:55 PM
Subject: Re: Q's about Jerrys BoM Geography
David and Fiona:
Thanks for your remarks about the north part of Guatemala, as it relates to water, lakes, etc. I am not familiar with the work of Tom Gidwitz, in fact I have never heard of him - which doesn't mean anything, as there are many scholars I have not heard of.
Last year I attended both Maya conferences at the University of Texas, as well as the University of Pennsylvania, as they focused on the area and sites around the Usumacinta and northern Guatemala. It was reported in both of these conferences that the ruin sites in northern Guatemala, such as El Mirador, etc, were indeed much more involved with water than presently. They reported that these places had such a presence of water, that the people made canals and islands, similar to Xochimilco in Mexico City and the Gulf coast area. The inhabitants raked the muck up forming islands, and water ways along which they used canoes to float goods, etc. If you are interested, I can provide the names of those giving this data, at the conference last March.
None of the archaeologists reported that there were large lakes in this area, although it would not surprise to discover that some place in the past, that was so. There are however many archaeological sites in the northern area, and I mean all over the place, that date back to 1200BC, and before, El Mirador being but one of those sites.
From what I heard last March, it would make it very difficult for there to be anything other than a lot of water, swamp land, canals, etc, rather than enough water to create a narrow neck in Northern Guatemala. I have walked the area of northern Guatemala, El Mirador, Nak Be, etc, and during the rainy season, it still gets pretty mucky and swampy. I was even there at the tail end of the rainy season and can attest to that.
I have always kind of assumed the opposite of what you propose, rather than it being really swampy before these major Pre Classic sites were established, it became that way after they were established and is one of the reasons Mormon did not mind giving that land to the Lamanites.
If you want the names of the archaeologists making the reports that I referred to, let me know and I will email them. Right now Esteban and I are packing for our trip back to Cumorah3, as we leave tomorrow.
As I freely admit, I have no training in archaeology. I therefore attend the conferences where those with credential report what they discover and conclude. From what I had heard reported during the past 25 years, I would have to concluded that northern Guatemala was a rain forest during BofM days, had many ancient ruin sites there, but was not under water.
Dr. Ainsworth, Thank you for publishing your book, good stuff. I am about to finish it and have enjoyed it very much. I will probably re-read it right away.
I shared it with some members of my family home evening group and you'll probably be getting a couple more orders. Everyone is very impressed.
It really helps to visualize the event of the Book of Mormon. Maybe you should investigate putting it on a DVD. Find a good narrator and scan all your visuals in then maybe divide it up so it could be viewed in chunks. (chapters)?
Anyway, Thanks again for such a good effort.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 12:40 PM
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you so much for your kind words about The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni. This is going to sound a little odd, but I re-read it at least once every year myself. There is a lot of info in the book. About four years ago, I received an email from a lady in California who had just finished the book, and told me that she had told her friends the following:
"Get the book, and if you do not learn at least 15 things about the Book of Mormon that you did not know before, I will reimbuse you the cost of the book."
I have never considered putting the whole book on CD/DVD, but there are some possibilities in the works, that will address pieces of the book. The webmaster of this website, Marcel, has spoken with some LDS movie producers, about doing possible documentaries of selected segments of the book, starting with the hill Cumorah.
So, thanks for the suggestion, and in some simple way, segments of the book may indeed end up on CDs.
As you probably know, from reading the website, I just returned from the area I consider to be Cumorah, where we discovered some very interesting things. They will be published during the next 2-3 months on the website.