In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Book of Mormon Phrase "To Breathe Out" and the Mesoamerican Speech Scrolls

Aztec Murals with speech scrolls
In my continual attempt to find evidence of Mesoamerica in the text of the Book of Mormon I stumbled across an article by Diane E. Wirth from the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum called, “Mesoamerican Speech Scrolls”. In this article Diane points out that the words “breathed out” is not used anywhere in scripture other than in the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon with reference towards expressing speech. This is ironic because it is also used in Mesoamerican art to express speech or communication. In Mesoamerican art it is referred to as “speech scrolls”.

The concept behind the speech scroll is similar to the way we portray cartoons now days with a cloud or balloon shape filled with whatever words the character is saying. In the context of a Mesoamerican speech scroll it is usually on a hieroglyph, stela, pottery or codices (screen-folded books). In the Mesoamerican speech scrolls the scrolls usually extend out of the mouth of the characters in vocalization. Diane points out that there are many examples of this speech scroll being used for threatening the same way the words “breathed out” were used in the Book of Mormon.

Murals of Tepantitla, Teotihuacan
In the Book of Mormon (Alma 35:9) states, “And he [The Ruler of the Zoramites] breathed out many threatenings against them. And now the people of Ammon did not fear their words.” And it is used again in Alma
54:19, in conjunction with a conversation that was taking place between Moroni and Ammoron via epistles back and forth to each oother. In one of Ammoron’s epistles back to Moroni he says, “Behold, ye have breathed out many threatenings against me and my people; but behold, we fear not your threatenings”.

Examples of this speech scroll can be seen in the murals of Tepantitla, Teotihuacan (screaming speech scroll, tears and blood from chest) or Stela 13 from Seibal. Other speech scrolls date back to Olmec time periods such as the cave paintings of Oxtotlan, Guerrero and the ceramic cylinder seal from San Andreas Tabasco Mexico. The Olmec time period correlates with the same time frame as that of the Jaredites from the Book of Mormon roughly 2500 B.C. to 400 B.C.

Stela 13 from Seibal
As can be seen it interesting that this same form of threatening or emphasizing the importance of a message or speech is found in both the Book of Mormon through the phrase “breathed or breathe out” and also in Mesoamerican art through speech scrolls that show this “breathing out” visually. I have only posted pictures of a few of examples of these speech scrolls but Diane E. Wirth has noted more examples in the article. This stands as another correlation between the Mayans and their surrounding civilizations and those civilizations found in the Book of Mormon. I have included a copy of the article that is located on the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum website.


  1. Hi
    I "stumbled upon" your blog when I was googling information on the "garment" of Joseph, I believe your post "A Remnant of the garment of Joseph..." was informative.
    In response to this post, have you read or heard of this book.. "Lehi Never saw Meso America by Dell Dowdell? His blog is Nephi He has some very interesting theories.
    Thank you

    1. I have not read that book and will definitly do so. I am familiar with the South American theory (Peru theory)and I still feel the evidences are stronger for Mesoamerica but thats just my opinion. I love any and all insights into the Book of Mormon so I will check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Hi! I am very interested in if you have a lot of visitors of your journal?

    1. I've got over 55k but I've had it for a few years. I imagine that I would have more if I updated it a bit more