This blog is designed to share research and evidences that I find interesting or informative in regards to the Book of Mormon, Bible, and other standard works. I usually focus on the ceremonial ties between the Israelites the Hopi and those found in Mesoamerica or the possible lands of the Book of Mormon.
In The Cavity of a Rock
Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Book of Mormon's elusive "reformed Egyptian" may not be so elusive after all
Over the past few weeks during my studies I found a continuing pattern of running into questions about “reformed Egyptian”. These were usually from naysayers stating that there is either no such thing as reformed Egyptian or people just questioning if we have any documents or findings that have reformed Egyptian because this is what we are advised by Nephi that the Book of Mormon was written in. Also if we do have any relics or documents with reformed Egyptian how do they compare with the Anthon Transcripts.
To those not familiar with the Anthon Transcript it is a document that was a copy of some of the characters that were taken from the golden plates (Reformed Egyptian) used in the translation process of what is now the Book of Mormon. They were copied by Joseph Smith jr. and taken by Martin Harris to scholar/Egyptologist Charles Anthon of Columbia University who would confirm their authenticity and correct translation but when he asked Harris how they were obtained and finding out that they were part of the Golden plates that were given to Joseph Smith jr from an angel (Moroni) Charles Anthon tore up his confirmation of authenticity. In 1838, Joseph Smith related an account based on Harris' version of the meeting. Smith wrote that Anthon "stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. [Harris] then showed him those not yet translated, and said they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and that they were "true characters." According to the same account, Anthon provided Harris with a certificate as to the veracity of the characters but tore it up after learning the characters were copied from a book said to have been delivered by an angel.
Example of Micmac writing system
With that aside it has always been of interest for LDS scholars to try to find some of these same reformed Egyptian characters in other writing systems because it would add authenticity to the Book of Mormon and be looked upon as a direct bulls eye as far as evidences for the book are concerned. I have heard from Rod Meldrum who favors a North American setting for the Book of Mormon (Heartland theory) that some of these characters are similar to ones that have been found in the Native American Micmac (Algonquin) writing glyphs, which I personally do find interesting although I openly do not support an North American setting for the Book of Mormon. (Rod and I can agree to disagree but there is no disputing his love for researching the Book of Mormon as I have attended a few of his seminars).
Along with the Micmac characters there are other relics that have raised some eyebrows because of their similarities to the characters on the Anthon Transcript. One of these was pointed out by Welby W. Ricks and Diane E. Wirth. It is a roller stamp from Tlatilco, Mexico. Roller stamps were used in Mesopotamia (Near East) and in Mesoamerica. They were used to impress a signature kind of like a rolling pin thus becoming a sealed stamp. The design was impressed on clay tablets. According to Mr. Ricks “cylinder seals” were made in three different styles. 1.With handles like a rolling pin 2.With slight concave depressions at each end for holding between one’s fingers, and 3. With a hole through the center lengthwise for the use of a stick or a wire to support and roll the stamp.
Roller Stamp from Tlatilco, Mexico
In the July 1966 issue of American Antiquity, an article by David H. Kelley tells of the finding in 1948 at Tlatilco of a “cylinder seal” or roller stamp, 8.5 cm. long and 3.5 cm. in diameter, which was identified as belonging to the “Olmec” horizon (i.e., c. 1000-500 BC). The stamp is separated into 3 registers and one is partially broken away. The other two are complete. As noted by Kelly “All three registers clearly carry sequences of arbitrary symbols which are surely part of a hitherto unknown writing system.” As pointed out by Diane E. Wirth the roller stamp found in Tlatilco is of particular interest because it has writing glyphs similar to that of the Anthon transcript. Because this writing system is currently undecipherable it is of interest as well. It must be remembered that the Nephite writing was a priestly script and those scribes were educated to be able to do this as was seen in the case of Mormon when he received the “calling” from Ammoron.
Dr. Ainsworths friend Esteban and
reformed Egyptian stele
Dr. Jerry Ainsworth in his book, “The Life and Travels of Mormon and Moroni” actually showed a few examples of reformed Egyptian that he claims were found by a friend of his Dr. Jose Padilla. One was a stele roughly about 5-6 feet tall and 8 inches thick. Dr. Padilla advised Dr. Ainsworth and his friend Esteban that he obtained it from Xochicalco Mexico in a cave where it was being used to mark a grave. One side of the stele has a Mayan in ceremonial garb holding an ephod and a shepherds crook. The opposite side has what appears to be reformed Egyptian script. This is not the only artifact that Dr. Ainsworth revealed in his book. He also had an artifact he referred to as “the lock” that appears to also have some sort of a reformed Egyptian script that along with the stele have many comparable hieroglyphs to that of the Anthon Transcript. These are just a few examples of what could be a version of reformed Egyptian or texts that were influenced by Nephite reformed Egyptian. I personally think there are many more evidences like these out there that are yet to see the light of day and only time will tell.