In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weights and Measures from the Old World to the New

"Laws of Eshnunna" tablets found at
(Tell Harmal) Baghdad, Iraq.
The early stages of the Nephite civilization began with a population of more or less around 50 people.  It is assumed that due to the difficult process and circumstances the time allotted in getting from the old world to the new that this would be enough to deculturalize this small group of refugees.  If that was indeed the case by the time they arrived from Jerusalem to what has been assumed was somewhere in Mesoamerica (possibly southwestern Guatemala) shortly after 600BC than within a few hundred years they had become a very cultured civilization through mixing with the indigenous population.  By 82 BC they had established a form of government consisting of judges and a court system with laws and regulations for the Nephite civilization.  This same level of sophistication was incorporated all the way down to a monetary system of weights and measures of goods designed for barter and daily wages.  It states in Alma chapter 11 the names of the different weights and measurements of gold, silver, barley and other grains and how they coincide for daily use.  These names and measurements were established by the Nephite king at the time named Mosiah.

Other old world ancient civilizations appear to have used a similar code of conduct for their wages and barter system.  This can be seen in the "Laws of Eshnunna" which consists of two tablets found at Shaduppum (Tell Harmal) Baghdad, Iraq.  They were unearthed in 1945 and 1947 and are copies of an older source that dates back to 1930 BC. Similar to the barter system established among the Nephites the Laws of Eshnunna allowed people to deal confidently with barley, silver, oil, lard, wool, salt, bitumen and different forms of copper.  Both appear to have been instituted by kings and established daily wage value as well as penalties. 

Because the Laws of Eshnunna predate the Book of Mormon by over 1300 years some antagonists would be quick to call for more evidence like this dating to Book of Mormon timeframes (600BC-400AD).  Although less than 2% of all known ruin sites in Mesoamerica have been excavated we do have some promising leads of archaeological evidence especially in the area of a site known as El Zotz.  El Zotz is a Mayan archaeological site in Guatemala just west of Tikal.  In 2010 Stephen Houston of Brown University led the excavation of a tomb that roughly dated between 350-400 AD.  According to partially deciphered hieroglyphics on the tombs walls the occupants name translates into "Red Turtle" or "Great Turtle".  Inside the tomb were found many relics and objects.  Of particular interest was a pile of 15 hematite cubes or ingots precious pigment.  Kristina Cheung, in her peer review of the findings entitled, "Inferring Ancient technology and Practices of the Elite Maya Kingship Through the Application of Materials Engineering Characterization Modalities" states the following,

Hematite Ingots found in tomb at El Zots Guatemala
(top right hand corner)
"The specular hematite ingots (15 of them) found at this archaeological site are the first of this quantity and form to be recorded in the Maya region.  The pigment is not indigenous to the area, which confirms that these ingots must have been imported from other parts of the Maya area such as central Mexico.  The scarcity of the pigment ingots is the most likely due to their status as valued trade objects."

Stephen Houston himself stated, "I would also note what came as a great surprise to me was the presence of balls of basically cubes of precious imported pigment which was remarkably uniform in height and these appear to be literally a kind of trade ingot of a precious substance that's been heaped like so much gold in a Swiss Bank vault in the corner of the tomb.  And it's some of the first evidence we have ever seen of systems of measurement used by traders in the Maya lowlands."

So these precious hematite uniformed sized ingots appear to be some of the first evidences we have of a uniform system of measurement that would have been used by traders throughout the area when dealing with specific materials.  Future excavations throughout the area will hopefully be able to support these findings.  This would line up great with the claims quoted above by King Mosiah in the Book of Mormon  and would have been something that would have been considered ridiculous by naysayers of the Book of Mormon at the time of its translation in the early 1800's.  It goes to show that with a little time and patience things that at one point may have seemed outlandish such as a civilization in the new world that was on a level of sophistication that it would allow for it's own monetary system, may not be as absurd as once thought.  In fact it seems to be logically right on target with the original suggestion of the Book of Mormon.   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cortez, the Aztecs and Judges in The Book of Mormon

Aztec Marketplace
I want to post this interesting little tid-bit that I had stumbled across from John Sorenson a while back but for one reason or another I haven't put anything together for it. Of the many interesting parallels that can be found between the cultures of the Mayans and Aztecs when compared to those of the Nephites and Lamanites found in the Book of Mormon it is the interesting but often overlooked quick convergences like this that I really love.  It is as follows,

"Of the many other areas showing parallels to the Book of Mormon, consider the Mesoamerican justice system.  John Sorenson explains, (Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life, (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1998), p. 116):

 "One of the primary duties of a ruler was to settle disputes among his people.  Sometimes that could be done by him personally, but in a population of much size, he would not have time to deal with every conflict.  Judges were delegated to carry out that duty.

Hernan Cortez
Cortez , for example, described the situation at the great market in the Aztec capital: "There is in this square a very large building, like a Court of Justice, where there are always ten or twelve persons, sitting as judges, and delivering their decisions upon all cases which arise in the markets." [Fernando Cortees:His Five Letters of Relation to the Emperor Charles V, ed. and transl. Francis A. MacNutt Mexico: Rio Grande Press, 1977) 1:259] In public assemblies, the Spaniards observed native police officers with pine cudgels (a short stout stick used as a weapon) who enforced order if required to do so by the authorities."

In the Book of Mormon Mosiah 29:25 it speaks of the time when the king of the land Mosiah proposes that a judge system with a Chief Judge at their head should be installed because unrighteous kings lead their people into sin.  The time keeping from this point on is referred to as the first year of the 'reign of the judges' continuing from the forward to the 2nd,3rd, and 4th year of the reign of the judges and so on. 

"Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord."

In Joseph Smiths time the Native American cultures were looked upon as a savage and primitive people hardly capable of putting together such a complex society that composed of markets, merchants, judges and different classes of citizens as was later found in Mesoamerica.  Although it was during Joseph Smiths lifetime that the knowledge of Mesoamerica spawned, it was still in its infancy when the Book of Mormon was translated. Meaning that this is another direct hit for the Book of Mormon.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Ancient and the Academic Hugh Nibley’s Teachings, Dealings and Understanding of the Hopi

I am posting a link to an article I wrote a while a go for the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum entitled, 'The Ancient and the Academic Hugh Nibley’s Teachings, Dealings and Understanding of the Hopi".  Its a great read and I had fun collecting the material that I used to put this together.  It is a collection of three of my favorite subjects, the Hopi, Hugh Nibley and the gospel. I have posted the link below.  I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave me any feedback.  Thanks!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Since I've Been Gone

Picture from Mark's Blog of Jadeite item plaque -
masks & ceremonial knife from Guatemala
I would like to apologize that I haven't been able to post very much research here lately.  I have been extremely busy with work, my artwork, Book of Mormon research, and my children's soccer games (in no particular order).  With that said I have a remedy for the situation.  I promise I will be posting much more in the very near future.  I would also like share the blog of a friend of mine Mark Cheney.  His blog is called "The Book of Mormon & My Maya Travels & Collection"  Its a fascinating blog and his collection of items insights and the pictures he shares are truly priceless to those of us who can't get enough of this stuff. 

He has contributed multiple articles through (Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum) and is also the author of novel entitled "Mark of the Jaguar, A Book of Mormon Adventure In The Land of the Maya"  Listen to the description of this novel and tell me you're not intrigued!!!!

"MARK OF THE JAGUAR, a landmark novel, a unique Book of Mormon adventure AFTER 421 A.D. and before Columbus! Based on real archaeological finds in Mesoamerica, the land of the Maya, this tale follows a young man as he is trained as a shaman, healer, scribe and stonecutter, as he accepts the challenge given by his old mentor from his death bed. Yax Kan will do what is needed to find the truth about Kukulkan, the white and bearded god represented by the feathered serpent. Who is he? Is he worthy of worship - even to the point of human sacrifice? Come join Yax Kan in some life-changing experiences that will thrill and delight!"

I have included the like to his blog and would advise following him as I have.  I promise you will not be disappointed! I have also included the link to his book, "The Mark of Jaguar" below.  Please follow him and don't be shy on sharing his posts with your friends and family via Facebook or email. 

Author House Bookstore Link for the Book:

Link to Marks Blog:

Link to one of Marks articles on entitled, "Samabaj, The Underwater Village In Lake Atitlan and the Book of Mormon":

Some ruins from Samabaj in Lake Atitlan


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ammon and the Monsters of Mesoamerica

Ammon before King Lamoni
This post is in regards to an idea that crossed my mind while doing some family scripture study and reading about Ammon in Alma 19:26 which states:

"But others rebuked them all, saying that he was a monster, who had been sent from the Nephites to torment them."

The story line is when Ammon is preaching the gospel to King Lamoni and his family and they all fall into a trance including his wife the Queen, servants as well as Ammon while either retaining a remission of their sins or being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit.  It is during this scenario that Abish a servant of the Queen draws the communities attention to what has happened in the confines of the King's home.  When people gather to see what has happened many say because the King allowed Ammon a Nephite (their sworn enemies) among their community, others say it is because King Lamoni killed his servants whenever they lost his sheep at the waters of Sebus.  At one point some people refer to Ammon as the Great Spirit or as someone who was sent by the Great Spirit and others referred to him as a monster that had been sent by the Nephites to torment the Lamanites.  As I have mentioned numerous times in this blog, I tend to look for hints of Mesoamerica in the text of the Book of Mormon.  I couldn't help but wonder if the use of the word "monster" is referring to something similar to the Mesoamerican or Mayan belief in monsters or creatures?

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in Belize
In Mesoamerican religions and folklore the belief of monsters is very common place.  A monster could be anything form the Hauy Chivo which is a legendary Mayan creature that is half-man half-beast who is often noted as a sorcerer or shaman with the ability to transform himself into a supernatural animal (also known as a Nagual or Shape-shifter) to the Vision Serpent who was a religious symbol used by the Maya to describe a vehicle by which the sun, starts and the moon would cross the heavens (often associated with Quetzalcoatl).  There are many types of monsters that are associated with mountains or caves and their ability to bring those who enter to a sacred area.  There are many cave entrances that have been carved to have the face of a monster or being, usually with the cave's entrance being the creature's mouth.  Water was also commonly associated with caves or mountains so it was also considered to have spiritual significance.  Cenotes are pits or sinkholes that expose ground water and are commonly used as places of sacrifice.  Anthropologists James E. Brady and Wendy Ashmore had this to say about the use of caves and cenotes as places of implication,

"Desire to be near the sacred has influenced Mesoamerican settlement.  Mountains and caves were important elements in Mesoamerican creation myths.  Mesoamerican belief systems link water to fertility and mountains give flowing water and rainfall through caves.  Accordingly, these natural features were considered sacred and were sought out by Mesoamerican migrants looking for a new home.  A cave could be considered an axis mundi if it marked the center of a village.  The Late Post classic site of Mayapan incorporated several cenotes into its ceremonial groups and the Cenote Ch'en Mul is at the site core.  At Dos Pilas house platforms were often in front of cave entries and the tunnel went beneath the platform."

As noted above there were ties between these caves associated with water or cenotes that were common as a spiritual place or an axis mundi, a place where the heavens and underworld meet this world.  This creating a place where the unexplained or mythical beings or creatures could be accessed.  This is seen with the Hopi sacred Kachinas and the sipapuni which is a hole to the underworld.  Could the Lamanites actually have held the water of Sebus as a ceremonial place or axis mundi where a deity or monster such as Ammon could surface?

The waters of Sebus were a place where the Lamanites took the kings flocks (and I suppose other Lamanite flocks) to get water and graze.  It was at these waters of Sebus that Ammon first displayed deity like attributes when he slayed Lamanites who attempted to scatter the kings flocks by using only his sling and some stones.  He then smote off the arms of any of those who attempted to confront him in their anger with his sword.  It was such an astonishing feet that his fellow servants saved those smitten arms to display to the King as a show of Ammon's power.

It was common practice among the Lamanites to attempt to scatter the flocks in this ways as if it were a game of chivalry according to Alma 18:7 which states,

"Now it was the practice of these Lamanites to stand by the waters of Sebus to scatter the flocks of the people,  that thereby they might drive away many that were scattered unto their own land, it being a practice of plunder among them."

With the above referenced information I ask is it plausible that those of the community who had gathered and witnessed the things that had happened to the King and his family, including his servants and Ammon, could they be referring to Ammon as a "monster" in the sense of  Mesoamerican terms of a "monster" or supernatural being who may have some association with an axis mundi at the waters of Sebus?  It could make sense in a Mesoamerican setting.  I suppose if we had more information about the waters of Sebus such as where it's headwaters existed (possibly from a cave or a mountain) and any other settings or uses for the waters such as a place of ceremony or sacrifice (or other games of chivalry) as cenotes were commonly used for, then we could obtain further clarification or if the use of the word "monster" were more frequently used in the Book of Mormon than we could reference this with stronger ties.  Until then I offer this as an area opened for further thought and discussion.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book of Mormon Names in Saudi Arabia

Old City al-Ula Saudi Arabia
The vast majority of my blog posts deal either with a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon on in regards to insights or evidence given for the Book of Mormon when compared to the culture and ceremonial practices of the Hopi.  This post will differ to some degree with a the focus devoted to the earlier chapters of the Book of Mormon, or in particular to the early setting of the Book of Mormon in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the early travels of Lehi and his family .  This post is influenced by the research and scholarship of George Potter, Richard Wellington and that of Lynn and Hope Hilton.  As I have stated in previous posts I have enjoyed some of the insights and conjectures given in George Potters DVD's "Discovering Lehi's Trail" and "The People of Lehi" both of which can be purchased on his website In these documentaries and some of the research papers completed by Mr. Potter he shares some interesting insights on Book of Mormon names found throughout the trail taken by Lehi and his family into the desert on the way to the land of Bountiful.  This trail for the most part is known to historians as the Frankincense Trail. 

When Lehi and his family (this included Ishmael and his family as well as Zoram) started their journey into the wilderness, heading south from Jerusalem they shortly found themselves in   Northern Arabia at the head of the Frankincense Trail around the 6th century BC.  This area is known as al-Ula or Dedan which was the capital city of the Lihyanite Empire.  It is theorized that Lehi and his family spent time in this area preaching the gospel during their wandering.  We know that they did preach the gospel according to D&C 33:7-8.  So the idea is that descendants of some of the converts of Lehi and Nephi named the empire in honor of these great leaders and teachers.  It was common to name tribes or communities after local heroes or traditional elite figures so this theory does fit a historical setting.  Potter notes that Dedan was part of the Frankincense Trail that was known and used from the time of Ramesses II (2nd Millennium B.C.) to Mohammed (6th Century B.C.) It is precisely in the Dedan area that would have been considered the more "fertile parts" which is the course Lehi and his family traveled.

Potter points out that the name Lihy was also carried through the Lihyanite kings quoting Dr. Al-Anary who wrote, "Lihyanite inscriptions were found along the trade routes in Tayma and Al-Fau (approximately 1,000 miles).  In Tayma, a black obelisk mentions, "Fadju, shahro bin Malik Lihyan", son of the king of Lihyan" ('an' makes a word plural in Arabic).  Pliny, who died in 19 A.D. referred to the Gulf of Aqabah as the "Gulf of Laeanitie."

Lihyanite Inscription that includes the name 'Sam'
The Hiltons discovered and noted that the name 'Nafy' is used as a personal name on a 3rd-4th century tomb by al-Ula.  In 2004 another Lihyanite inscription in the same valley of al-Ula included the name of 'Sam'.  Potter then points out a thought provoking insight into the name of Sam being found in Arabia.  He states that the Hebrew version of the name Sam is 'Samuel' and the Arabic version is 'Sami' but the Book of Mormon pronunciation is exactly the same as the Lihyanite version 'Sam'.  He also noted that another Lihyanite inscription of the name 'Sam' is displayed on the National Museum of Saudi Arabia with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website.  Potter finishes by pointing out that no westerner had visited the land of the Lihyanites until it was discovered by Charles Doughty in 1876 approximately 46 years after the Book of Mormon had already been translated by Joseph Smith.  Once again there is no way Joseph could have known that these names were in common use in modern day Saudi Arabia exactly were the Book o Mormon says they would be.  So I add this as one more insight that leads to the plausibility of the Book of Mormon, as well as another area of interest for future research and scholarship. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DNA and the Book of Mormon

This is one of my favorite FAIR LDS production videos.  It covers a lot of information and does a great job especially in handling the DNA issue.  This is an issue that is so commonly thrown around and so commonly the point it is frustrating.  Anyways this video is a bit long but very thorough. Enjoy

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Tower of Babel, Zacuali and Early Mexican History

Mariano Veytia
So recently I obtained a copy of Mariano Veytia's "Ancient America Rediscovered" which I was excited to get because I am familiar with some of the other early authors and historians who recorded the history of Mexico and Guatemala through documents, paintings, statues, charts and diagrams.  Being familiar with the writings of Fernando De Alva Ixtilxochitl I wasn't surprised to see that Veytia quotes and compares Ixtilxochitl's writings with that of his own and that of his mentor Lorenzo Boturini.  With many of the comparisons being in regards to dating specific events using different calendar approaches I won't be getting into the specifics of those comparisons but instead will be briefly going over one event in general and how that compares to a similar event found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

The event in question is that of the confounding of the languages at the Tower of Babel found in Genesis 11:1-9 in the Bible.  As the story goes the people of the earth created a tower so that they could reach heaven.  The creation of this tower displeased the Lord so he scattered the people and confounded their languages.  Although there are only a few short verses covering this obviously massive event in human history located in the Bible we get more information from the Book of Mormon through a prophet named Ether. 

According to Ether, at the scattering of the people and confounding of the languages there was a man named Jared whose brother (who was named Mahonri Moriancumer) was highly favored of the Lord.  Through the compassion of the Lord these brothers, their families and a few others with their families were able to avoid having their language confounded and they were led by the Lord to a choice land in the Americas through a route that required them to build eight barges in which to sail to the Promised Land.  Upon landing in the Americas they became a great civilization called the Jaredites.  They eventually dwindled away through wars and contentions and unbelief .  It is thought by current LDS scholars and apologists that the correlations and timeframe of events of the Jaredites coincides well with the Olmec civilization that resided in modern day southern Mexico and Guatemala around 2500-500 BC.

With the above noted information from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon  the only obstacle that stands in our way is to see if this information can be confirmed through new world history and documents.  This post is an attempt to do just that. 

early map showing what is in the center of the Great
Pyramid of Cholula (a spiral pyramid)
In Veytia's "Ancient America Rediscovered" he shares the following,

"Returning to pick up the thread of our history, I say that the human race had multiplied considerably, and they say that men, fearful of another flood, and wanting to make their name famous, undertook the construction of a very tall tower to which they gave the name Zacuali, ...when they were the most involved in the construction of their tower, suddenly their languages were confused so that they did not understand each other, and so the construction ceased and everyone divided up, spreading out over the whole face of the earth.  This information noted in so much detail by the Toltec nation, from whose historical charts it was obtained by the authors who wrote in these monarchies of Mexico and Texcoco, was found to be in agreement and without variation among the Indians of Chiapa, as affirmed by Francisco Nunez de la Vega, the bishop of that diocese, in the prologue of his Constituciones diocesanas (diocese constitutions), who assets that in his archives he keeps an old manuscript of the first natives from there, who learned how to write our characters, in which it is on record that they always kept the memory that the first progenitor and father of their nation was named Tepanahuaste, which means the Lord of the Hollow Pole, and that Tepanahuaste was at the construction of the great wall, as they called the tower of Babel, and with his own eyes he saw the confusion of tongues, after which the Creator God commanded him to come to these extensive lands to distribute them among men."

In addition to this history Dr. Jerry Ainsworth and his colleague Esteban Mejia (both Book of Mormon scholars and historians) advised that upon reaching the Promised Lands in southern Mexico that the Jaredites built a similar tower or pyramid to remember what had caused their trials they faced in migrating to the Promised Lands.  It was advised that this pyramid was a spiral pyramid built in Tulan (Tula) which they traced back to modern Cholula.  Of this Ainsworth stated in his book" The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni" that,

"Ruins in the state of Puebla themselves go back to the time of the Quinamis, who were contemporary with the Olmec.  The pyramid of Cholula in that area, which is the largest structure in the world, consists of many built-over pyramids.  When archaeologists dug tunnels into this structure to document the number of superimpositions, they concluded that the original pyramid in the very center was built by people who lived at the time of the Olmec (Jaredites), around 2500 B.C.  Archaeologists now make distinction between the Olmec, the ancient people of the Caribbean side of Mexico, and the people of the central highlands of Mexico (valleys of Puebla and Tlaxcala, and those of the west coast of Mexico.  It appears that although these people shared similar cultural traits and habits, they were considered distinct and separate "countries."

The Great Pyramid of Cholula
In Dr. Ainsworth's and Dane Hurt's documentary "Finding Moroni" Mejia and Ainsworth attempt to get to the center of the Cholula pyramid but only can go so far since it has been built over by many pyramids and most recently by a Catholic church (with a portion of one of the ancient pyramid temples still protruding out of the side) but they do offer an older drawing or map showing a conical or spiral pyramid at the center.  They also site an ancient fragmentary account mentioning the first pyramid at Cholula which was on the wall of the mayor's palace in that same City.

So with the culmination of the information provided we see that there are early native accounts that fit quite well with what the prophet Ether stated took place in the Book of Mormon.  I would like to advise that when dealing with these early accounts that they be taken with a grain of salt.  This is because many of them are post Spanish Conquest and are considered questionable due to the high influence of Christianity pushed (or forced) by the conquistadors.  Many of the second hand oral traditions used to compile some of the codices definitely predate the conquest but with how much accuracy we are unable to tell.   This is because we are limited on comparable documents because most (all but four) of the pre-Hispanic codices were burned and destroyed by the early Catholic friars in fear that they were teaching idolatry.  With that warning I still share these insights because as I noted above we have multiple historians (Veytia, Ixtilxochitl and Boturini as well as others) who seem to share many of these same conclusions without having any knowledge of the Book of Mormon.  Thus allowing these insights to remain exactly that "insights" not necessarily evidence, but with the assistance of future research and the possibility of other codices coming forth to confirm this information it remains to attest to the plausibility of  and historicity of the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Egyptian Female Gods, The Book of Abraham and the Hopi Hemis Kachina

Book of Abraham Facsimile 3
Critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for years have pointed out an apparent error made by Joseph Smith in his translation of the Egyptian facsimile 3 found in the Book of Abraham.  There are a handful of questions with Joseph Smith's translation that are ongoing for further research but this post will be focusing on one in particular.  Before I go into details on the assumed error I would like to note that facsimile 3 is probably the least researched facsimile of the three facsimiles we have in the Book of Abraham by LDS scholars and apologists.  With that said there is plenty of information on the facsimile that is to be had so the question at hand relates to the Egyptian goddesses of Isis and Maat shown as figures 2 and 4 in facsimile 3.

Maat and Isis
To even the most untrained eye's it is plain to see that the figures of the Egyptian goddesses Isis and Maat are female figures.  But according to Joseph Smiths translation he states that figure 2 (Isis) is the Pharaoh and figure 4 (Maat) is the Prince of Pharaoh, both male characters.  So the question is how could Joseph make such a blunder?  Or is it a blunder at all?

According to Hugh Nibley's "Abraham in Egypt" page 229 he points out that the Egyptians mixed gender roles and linked humans with gods in ritual scenes, which is exactly what we have her in facsimile 3.  Now in Hugh Nibley's "All the Courts a Stage: Facsimile 3, a Royal Mumming" he traces the changing gender roles to the claims of patriarchal vs. matriarchal succession stating that it was not the patriarchal line for priesthood authority that Pharaoh followed but a matriarchal line thus not holding the proper authority and also opening the door for the changing gender roles during any ceremonial rituals.

The Egyptian goddess Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife.  The name Isis actually means "Throne" her headdress is a throne and as a personification she represented the Pharaohs power which in itself is an interesting correlation to Joseph Smiths translation.  Figure 4 Maat is said to bring order to the world and her presence in the ceremonial depiction is required for imparting of the legitimate rule along with her mother Isis.  Maat means "truth" in Egyptian and also helped guide the sun god Re in his boat across the skies.  It was Maat that determined the course of that boat thus assisting with the order and timing of the harvest and other seasons. 

Hopi Hemis Kachina
So now that I have briefly covered the role of the female goddesses in facsimile 3 in the Book of Abraham, I would like to revert to classic Nibley fashion and tie in a Hopi correlation.  It is always interesting how the Hopi ritual practices tie into ancient near eastern practices in many different aspects.  The portrayal of the Hopi Kachinas have a relevant tie in the above noted Egyptian female god scenario, but first I would like to share the purpose of the Kachina.  The Hopi Kachina represents a spirit or deity, beginning with the Winter Solstice and extending to about mid-July, masked dancers initiated into the various clans of the Hopi Pueblos impersonate these spirits.  Both male and female Kachinas are personified by costumed men-rarely ever women-wearing elaborate masks with headdresses, or as carved and painted dolls which are used as gifts which the Kachinas distribute to women and children along with toy bows (for boys), rattles, fruits and candy.  The Kachina dolls are used to teach the children the traditional stories and represent an animal, plant or deity in spirit.  There are hundreds of different Kachinas of which only a certain few are female Kachinas.  These include maiden Kachinas such as corn, warrior, and butterfly maidens.  The Hopi Pachavuin Mana also known as the female Hemis Kachina Mana, if masked this figure is a women.  The Hemis Kachinas represents a successful harvest season of squash, beans and corn or the ability, authority or blessing to have a successful harvest.  Interesting when compared to the position that Maat played in assisting Re in the suns course and harvest seasons. 

 So we have another culture with a similar ceremonial practice that allows the authoritative roll of a woman to be depicted by a man in a ceremonial setting.  I am assuming that this may be a somewhat common practice among other cultures but just wanted to show a religious ceremonial setting that correlates well with what Joseph Smith has described in his translation of facsimile 3.  I don't offer this as an answer to all issues or questions that may arise from the translation of the facsimile only as a correlation to the explanation offered by Nibley to the inquiries of figures 2and 4 on the above referenced facsimile.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recent Blog Updates

So recently I have received some feedback in regards to a blog post I did back in 2010 in regards to comparisons to the Hopi kachina mask and costumes and practices found in the Old Testament.  The feedback I have received was filled will malice and hatred towards me and my religion.  In stead of retaliating back I chose to delete the comments and attempt to be the bigger person.  I have since received a request supposedly from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office asking that I remove the information regarding the kachina masks immediately.  Anyone reading the post should be able to see that I have never meant harm nor ill will to the Hopi or any of the indigenous of the Americas to whom I have made comparisons and drawn parallels.  I have decided to once again choose the high road and have removed the blog post in respect for sacredness of the information I shared about the Hopi kachina masks.  Now whether  the comments were actually from the HCPO or not does not matter to me.  I will continue to post comparisons and research I find interesting with the Book of Mormon and the Hopi and other civilizations that were contemporaries to the Nephites and Lamanites, I will just have to supply more due diligence in avoiding things held sacred. I would like to note that there are numerous convergences that I have avoided posting on due to the reverence held and the sacredness of the ceremonies.  In return I would hope that those that I may have offended would approach me or any others in my situation in a much, much more professional manner and remember the people and culture they are supposed to be representing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican Military Numbers

Battle of Cumorah aftermath
If the average Mormon was asked about the ending of the Book of Mormon most would speak of the great battle of Cumorah roughly around 380 AD.  Was this a legitimate "final" battle so to speak?  It would appear not.  Although it is considered the end of the Nephite civilization we know that the Lamanites and Gadianton Robbers did survive.  Among those two groups there were many Nephites who found it easier to deny their God and join forces with either the Lamanites or the Gadianton robbers to avoid being targeted for genocide. In the battle at Cumorah Mormon speaks about a massive amount of soldiers who were under his command and the command of 22 other Nephite leaders.  Each of these commanders had a regiment of 10,000 men whom they led to this final battle.  Now the Nephites were decimated but the numbers involved in this war has raised concern for critics of the Book of Mormon.  Because the Book of Mormon never names the modern day land where this takes place most LDS scholars have determined that due to these numbers, the use of a calendar system and a written language (among other geographical correlations) that the most logical location to support these points would be Mesoamerica (modern day Guatemala, Mexico and Belize).

John Sorenson emeritus professor of anthropology at BYU shares some interesting insights on military numbers in Mesoamerica in his book "Mormons Codex" so that we can compare them to the numbers reported in the Book of Mormon.

"Around AD 380, in the final battle that resulted in the extermination of the Nephite people, Mormon reported a Nephite force of 230,000 under his command (Mormon 6:10-15), although it is unclear whether the number referred only to warriors or the total population of the Nephites at the battle.  A legitimate question to ask is whether a quarter-million or even half a million (counting both sides), would make sense in Mesoamerican terms.

One relevant comparative datum comes from a tradition about the Toltecs in the 10th century.  Native historian Alva Ixtlilxochitl reported a tradition proclaiming that a three year war resulted in 5.6 million Toltec deaths.  Even discounting vastly for probable exaggeration, the size of the armies engaged in the conflict in Central Mexico would have been of an order of magnitude that easily encompasses the Nephite figure.  Furthermore, certain peoples in highland Guatemala shortly before the conquest are reported to have fought with armies of up to 200,000 on a side for decade after decade."

Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Conquistador of Spain
I share this information on the heels of a previous blog post that I put together entitled, "A couple of Nephite Combat Correlations" (link provided below) just a few short weeks ago.  It includes an insight that when combined with the above links in military numbers gives Mormon's account of Nephite war more probability in the Mesoamerican setting.  It is as follows,

"In correlation with the organization of the Nephite armies in groups of ten thousand as found in Mormon 6:14 in the climactic battle at Curmorah the Tlaxcalan forces whom Cortez met on his approach to the Aztec capital were organized into five armies: "of the followers of the old Xicotenga...there were ten thousand, of another great chief...another ten thousand, and of a third...there were as many more."  All this according to Bernal Diaz del Castillo: The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico."

From the following insights provided by John Sorenson we can see that the numbers provided in the final battle at Cumorah would be more than fitting in a Mesoamerican perspective.  This combined with Bernal Diaz del Castillo's insights on how these armies were divided  and commanded also makes the Mesoamerican connection to the Book of Mormon that much more probable.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book of Mormon Evidences Fireside

This is a fireside that Tyler Livingston who is member of the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum and a member of the group did a few weeks back in Syracuse UT.  There are some great insights into this presentation.  It doesn't just focus on Book of Mormon lands and evidences although that is the main point to the presentation but he touches on a vast array of topics.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

From Teotihuacan to Tikal: Fire Is Born and the Book of Mormon

Stone Monument from Tikal representing the
arrival of Fire Is Born 378 AD
So I was recently directed to an interesting article from the August 2007 National Geographic titled, "The Maya: Glory and Ruin" by Guy Gugliotta.  In his article he speaks of a few different cases that changed the history and outcome of the Mayans.  One of the occasions was in regards to inscriptions on Stela 31 in Tikal that gives the date of January 8, 378 AD and speaks of four different people.  I will list these for people in hopes to give a better understanding of the circumstances that took place and to hopefully clarify an incorrect assumption I have previously seen tied to this story and to point out a convergence with what is taking place in the Book of Mormon during the exact same timeframe.

Not in any particular order the first person is Spear-thrower Owl who was a king at Teotihuacan (near modern Mexico City).  The second is his son Curled Snout (also known as C'ahc ay ayinon) who was a young man at the time this takes place.  The third is a military regent or commander under Spear-thrower Owl named Fire Is Born (also known as Siyaj K'ak').  And the fourth person is Great Jaguar Paw king of Tikal.  According to what archaeologists and Mayan experts have been able to put together based off of stela inscriptions it appears that on January 8, 378 AD under the instructions of Spear-thrower Owl he sent his military commander Fire Is Born and his army to Waka in central Peten.  Along with Fire Is Born was the kin's son Curled Snout.  Within a week of this date (January 16th, 378 AD) it appears that Fire Is Born and his military regiment along with support from garrisons of fighters from Waka traveled around 50 miles east to Tikal the most influential city in the region and conquered the city.  It is noted that on this same day the king of Tikal Great Jaguar Paw died, more than likely during this conflict. 

At this point a new era begins; Fire Is Born becomes an ambassador in Tikal taking the place of Great Jaguar Paw.  Although he has placed the king's son Curled Snout as the new King of Tikal, he is probably taking an ambassador/king or lord position until Curled Snout is considered competent enough to lead (Curled Snout would have been only 20 years old at the time).  It is during this time that notable changes take place not just in Tikal but also throughout the region.  Stela and shrines erected to previous rulers of Tikal were all defaced and new ones placed which show figures wearing Teotihuacan military regalia.  Fire Is Born spread the influence of Tikal throughout the Mayan lowlands as far away as Palenque, Uaxactun and other cities.  At one location a stela depicting a warrior guard in Teotihuacan garb is placed in front of a tomb in which archaeologists found the remains of two women, one pregnant, a child, and an infant.  Experts have concluded that these were the remains of Uaxactun's royal family, slain by Tikal's forces.  The king of Uaxactun was presumably taken to Tikal and sacrificed there. 

Mormon the Nephite military leader
and prophet
With this great sweep of military conquest from Teotihuacan to Tikal and surrounding areas around 378 AD it has been pointed out that this timeframe correlates well with what is taking place in the Book of Mormon  during this same period.  We read in Mormon 2 around 350 AD that on the heels of winning a few battles and regaining possession of the "lands of our inheritance" Mormon all the sudden makes a treaty with the Lamanites and Gadianton Robbers, "in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided.  And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward and we did give the Lamanites all the land southward."

Why would the Nephites on the heels of a victory which gave them there lands of inheritance, then sign a treaty splitting part of their lands of inheritance?  Well if the Mesoamerican LGT (Limited Geography Theory) model is a correct setting for the Book of Mormon this would place the Nephites in or around the narrow neck of land known as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec thus placing them right between the new encroaching superpower of Teotihuacan (Southern Mexico) and the lowland Maya civilizations (lowlands Guatemala) a perfect spot to be wiped away from either side (or both).  Now Fire Is Born is more than likely not anyone of note in the pages of the Book of Mormon but the influence that he brought with his conquering military and the implications that followed more than likely were part of the cause that eventually lead to the treaty and probably the eventual wiping out of the Nephite civilization.  This group of Teotihuacan sounds very similar to what we would know as the Gadianton Robbers also a power from the north (or northwest).   The Book of Mormon notes similar circumstances to those noted above about the handling of royal family of Uaxactun.  It states in Mormon 4:14,

"And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods."

Brand Gardner author and speaker on Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican studies has noted that, "In the greater context of Mesoamerican history, there is every reason to suppose that Mormon was concerned with militaristic influences coming from Teotihuacan.  The time period ascribed to Mormon's last Gadianton robbers directly parallels the time frame for the expansion of Teotihuacan and their particular brand of militarism throughout the Mesoamerican region.  The rise of the Gadianton influence beginning after 200 AD  in the Book of Mormon is a direct parallel to the rise of Teotihuacan's expanding influence, and the time period that saw the construction of many of the cement buildings in that city, including the temple of the feathered serpent which is now understood as dedicated to the cult of war.  This influence increased in geographic spread and physical presence from about this time until the time of Mormon, and continued after the close of the Book of Mormon.

Map of Mesoamerica

The epigraphic record of Tikal records the installation of a new ruler, Siyaj K'ak', who founds a new dynasty in 378 AD.  By iconographic and epigraphic representation, it is absolutely certain that he came from Teotihuacan, and his descendants thereafter ruled in Tikal. Many sites of the time witness either a change in ruling dynasties or an increase in militarism that is represented in new ways that clearly point to Teotihuacan influence.  When we place known Mesoamerican history side by side with Mormon's spiritual history, we find in both accounts militarism exacerbated by a small contingent of a foreign element from the lands northward.  The Book of Mormon timing for this description corresponds directly to the secular history of the expansion of Teotihuacan throughout  all of Mesoamerica, but particularly the Maya region to their south."

I have seen noted that by some LDS Mesoamerican geography followers that the name of C'ahc ay ayinon especially the "ayinon" section is close to the name Aaron who was a Lamanite commander according to Mormon 2:9.  Some have tried to tie him into Fire Is Born but upon further review it appears that C'ahc ay ayinon was not Fire Is Born but was Curled Snout the child king that was placed on the throne in Tikal (Fire Is Born is Siyaj K'ak').  This would place him after the time of Aaron in the Book of Mormon which makes any sort of correlation or convergence on that front highly unlikely.

Stela 31 Tikal
In closing we definitely have some conversion points to look into for further study with the parallel warfare sweep found throughout the land in the Book of Mormon and in Mayan history.  Another interesting thought is that both Fire Is Born and Mormon are from the lands north and would more than likely be from prominent families.  How did this assisted in the influence both held with their contemporaries?  As I noted above although we don't specifically have Fire IS Born named in the Book of Mormon we must also keep in mind that the first thing that he did was to destroy the stela of the conquered cities and deface objects virtually doing away with their previous history.  This would be similar to the burning of records found in the Book of Mormon and also not allowing the enemies history to survive.  Without these surviving histories we would have a hard time confirming any names to Lamanite or Gadianton leaders of the time.  I would also like to note that some Mayan scholars still debate about his role suggesting that Fire Is Born came from Kaminaljuyu (central highlands Maya) and merely had appropriated symbols of prestige and legitimacy from Teotihuacan.  This would make Fire Is Born coming from lands associated with the Land of Nephi which was Lamanite territory (although this seems to be the losing side of the debate).  With that said as believers in the Book of Mormon we should not fear history and should welcome these sparks of light on Mesoamerican history when they come.  They bring excitement and many times further insight and although  they are not the type of things that we should try to build a testimony on, they sure can create an environment that allows for continual study, faith and prayer in order to obtain that testimony.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Speculative Insights on How Many Languages Moroni Spoke

Those of you who know me know that I have been a fan of Jerry Ainsworth's way of looking outside the box to find interesting insights that can be obtained from his understanding of the Mayans and how they apply to the Book of Mormon.  I will be posting some of his short videos which really are food for thought.  Enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Couple of Nephite Combat Correlations

Battle at Cumorah artwork by Terry Rutledge AD 385.
The aim of this post is in regards to a couple of correlations that the Book of Mormon seems to have gotten right about certain scenarios of military combat between the Nephites and Lamanites and what we know of how combat took place in Central America, mainly in the Mayan and Aztec geographic locations and time frames. In Mormon chapter 6 versus 11-15 it states,

11. And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me.
12. And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni.
13. And behold, the ten thousand of Gidgiddonah had fallen, and he also in the midst.
14. And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each. 

In regards to the above noted verses John Sorenson author of "Mormon's Codex" states,
"In correlation with the organization of the Nephite armies in groups of ten thousand as found in Mormon 6:14 in the climactic battle at Cumorah the Tlaxcalan forces whom Cortez met on his approach to the Aztec capital were organized into five armies: "of the followers of the old Xicotenga...there were ten thousand, of another great chief ...another ten thousand, and of a third...there were as many more."  All this according to Bernal Diaz del Castillo: The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico".

Captain Moroni and the
Title of Liberty by Joseph Brickey
Dr. Sorenson also provides us with another interesting correlation that is paralleled in Alma 46, which speaks of Captain Moroni who upon hearing of dissensions among his people (the Nephites)
he did the following,

12. And it came to pass that he rent his coat: and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it-In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children-and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13. And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins: and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land-

Dr. Sorenson then quotes an interesting insight also by Bernal Diaz who reported that commander's lead there men to battle with a "great standard" or flag on a pole strapped to their backs.  This correlates well with the standard erected better known as the, "Title of Liberty" by Captain Moroni as noted above. So in conclusion we have a couple of interesting insights or parallels in regards to the organizing of military forces and the practice of men being led to battle by a "great standard" or flag on a pole by their commander.  Both practices are found conveniently in the Book of Mormon and tend to lend themselves as more evidence of a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ancient Mesoamerican Political Titles and Leadership Succession and the Book of Mormon

Nephi about to slay King Laban
This blog post is based off of a few insights from John Sorenson's book, "Mormons Codex" that I found rather interesting.  They are parallels that coincide very well with the way that leadership was titled and leadership succession took place in ancient Mesoamerica (Maya and Aztec) and in the Book of Mormon among the Nephites and Lamanites.  The first parallel custom noted by Sorenson is in regards to the formal title of early nephrite kings of which Dr. Sorenson states,

"One of the things a king inherited was a formal title.  According to Quiche Maya tradition, their "first lord" was a man who had six sons.  He "engendered Keh Nay and five other sons, who were provided by this king as governors.  Hence until the Spaniards came the kings had this name [title] of Keh Nay because it is like [the title of many kings] 'Caesars' among the natives."

The Nephite account tells us that Lehi had six sons.  One of them Nephi became king of the Nephite faction of the immigrant population.  After "Nephi began to be old...he anointed a man [presumably a son] to be a king and ruler over his people" (Jacob 1:9).  His people being desirous to retain in remembrance his name, "the succeeding kings" were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever name they would" (v.11).  Because of how far they are chronologically, the two instances (Quiche and Nephite) of the same practice are unlikely to be historically connected, but the parallel custom of giving a personal name as a royal title is at least extremely interesting."

The next insight Dr. Sorenson offered is in regards to the succession of leadership in which he advised, "People who are uninformed about the varied patterns of ancient royal succession might suppose that the right to kingship always passed from father to son, but other arrangements were sometimes preferred.  For instance, among the Quiche Maya, "the inheritance of titles usually passed from father to oldest son.  [but] if the older son was not fit to succeed, a brother of the ruler might inherit the office."  For the Chontal Maya of the Gulf Coast, "when a ruler died, he was succeeded by his brothers in turn, if any, before his oldest son succeeded."  The same practice prevailed among the Mexica (Aztecs) and elsewhere in Mesoamerica.

The Nephite pattern was similar: "Pacumeni was appointed, according to the voice of the people, to be a chief judge and governor over the people, to reign in the stead of his [deceased] brother Pahoran; and it was according to his right" (Helaman 1:13).  Seezoram killed his brother, presumably so he could succeed to his brother's office (9:6).  The custom was similar among the Lamanites: in the one case recorded in the Book of Mormon, when Amalickiah, the Nephite defector who had usurped rule over the Lamanites, was killed. "the brother of Amalickiah was appointed king over the people" (Alma 52:3).

So as Dr. Sorenson pointed out we have correlations between the ancient Mesoamerican political layout and that of the Nephite and Lamanite societies in the Book of Mormon.  The more these correspondences are brought to light the easier it will be to see the Book of Mormon in the light of a Mesoamerican setting.  The more we understand the people of the Book of Mormon in their cultural setting the better we can understand the covenants and promises contained therein.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Unfolding of the Scriptures

So this post is from the above video that was recently posted on the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum Facebook page.  Its a video of Dr. John Lund speaking about the Dresden Codex and an interesting little insight about how the Mexican codices work in comparison to some of Alma's wording on unfolding the scriptures in the Book of Mormon.  Another insight John Sorenson noted is that "The book of Alma relates an account of book burning.  At the city of Ammonihah, women and children adherent to the church that Alma headed were "cast into the fire" to be burned alive , and their oppressors, who were leaders of the rival religious order of Nehors, "also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire" (Alma 14:8).  From this incident we learn,

1. Multiple sacred records were possessed by lay worshippers
2. Records were combustible, that is, they were of similar material and that documents in everyday circulation were written on paper.

The ancient Pre-Columbian Mayan records known as a codex or codices fit the above description.  They were written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth, made from the inner bark of certain trees.  The "paper" was known by the Nahautl word "amalt" and was named by the Mayas "huun".  Most of these books were destroyed in fires in the 16th century by the Conquistadors and Spanish priests.  Bishop Diego de Landa in July of 1562 wrote: "We found a large number of books in these characters and , as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction." These codices in all likelihood contained the history, traditions, myths and stories, all of which has been lost except what was contained in four remaining codices.  About the loss of these codices and Mayan history archaeologist and anthropologist Michael D. Coe stated, "Our knowledge of ancient Maya thought must represent only a tiny fraction of the whole picture, for the thousands of books in which the full extent of their learning and ritual was recorded, only four have survived to modern times (as though all that posterity knew of ourselves were to be based upon three prayer books and Pilgrims Progress)."

Mesoamerican Codices
Although its a sad loss there seems to be an insight into the workings of these codices and the way the prophet Alma worded his use of Nephite records or scriptures in Alma 12:1 which states, "Now Alma, seeing that the words of Amulek had silenced Zeezrom, for he beheld that Amulek had caught him in his lying and deceiving to destroy him, and seeing that he began to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt, he opened his mouth and began to speak unto him, and to establish the words of Amulek, and to explain the things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done."

These ancient codices folded like an accordion so when they were closed they would be compact for carrying or for storage but if someone wanted to read the full history, story, or myth contained in the codex they would have to unfold the codex.  With that said we may have Alma giving us an insight into the setting of the Book of Mormon unknowingly with his wording.  I would like to add a side note, that when this insight started getting some attention Brant Gardner Book of Mormon scholar who has an M.A. in Anthropology advised a word of caution noting that, although the correlation with the word "unfold" is a cool correlation, it wasn't consistent enough in the scriptures (meaning it is only used this once) so since this isn't a foreign English idiom it may not be the most useful connection.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Spread and Practice of Nephite/Lamanite Cannibalism and its Influence on Other Ancient Cultures

Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon
The complex migration history held by the Pueblo and more specifically the Hopi and their relationship to the ancient civilizations in the South namely the Aztec, Maya and Olmec is one of the main reasons that I started this blog.  In general I have put much of my focus on correlations between book of Mormon groups thought to have been in Mesoamerica and correspondences they have with the Hopi, or any of their Anasazi predecessors.  Some of my favorite interrelations have been the connections between the peaceful "People of Ammon" and the Hopi.  Researching their parallels has brought interesting insights to my studies.  This blog post is still aiming at connections between the histories of these groups but with a focus on the more gruesome side of the pendulum.  Rather than focusing on the peaceful people of the Book of Mormon I am starting this post by quoting a sad and brutal part of the Lamanite and Nephite history in Moroni 9:8-10 which takes place around 400AD. and states,

"8. And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them. 
9. And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum.  For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue-
10. And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of their bravery."

Aztec Cannibalism from Codex from Machilabechiano
Here we have the charge of cannibalism among the Nephites and lamanites.  The topic of cannibalism can be an emotionally charged and controversial issue  when applied to the ancients of the Maya, Aztec and especially the Anasazi.  We know through traditional stories that the migration routes of many of the clans that make up the Hopi and Zuni and other Pueblo tribes today lead through the Ancestral Pueblo home of Chaco Canyon in north western New Mexico.  My most recent visit of Chaco has sparked my interest in their position of the migration process.  With the above noted cannibalism present in the declining Nephite/Lamanite society, I ask the question what signs do we have in the progenitor societies that this practice continued?

Well it's been a commonly known fact from the diaries of the Spanish conquistadors and priests that cannibalism existed in a large degree among the Aztecs who would be considered one of the successor civilizations following the Nephite/Lamanite/Mayan time period.  Aztec war expeditions would be used to claim more sacrificial victims.  Most of the sacrifices involved tearing out the heart, offering it to the sun and a little blood to the idols.  The corpse was then tumbled down the steps of the pyramid and carried off to be butchered.  The head went on the local skull rack, displayed in central plazas along the temple-pyramids.  At least three of the limbs were the property of the captor if he had seized the prisoner without assistance in battle.  Later, at a feast given at the captor's quarters the central dish was a stew of tomatoes, peppers, and the limbs of his victim.  The remaining torso, in Tenochtitlan at least, went to the royal zoo where it was used to feed carnivorous mammals, birds, and snakes. 

Archaeologists excavating at an Aztec sacrificial site in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City between 1960 and 1969 have uncovered headless human rib cages missing the limb bones.  Along with these remains were some razor sharp obsidian blades, which are believed to be used in the butchering process.  Also discovered were piles of human skulls, which apparently had been broken open to obtain the brains, possibly a choice delicacy reserved for the priesthood, and to mount the skull son a ceremonial rack.

Anthropologist Christy Turner
at Chaco Canyon
The late Anthropologist and Professor at Arizona State University Christy Turner and his late wife Jacqueline Adams Turner put together a controversial but ground breaking book entitled, "Man Corn" named after the Nahuatl word tlacatlaolli, a "sacred meal of sacrificed human meat, cooked with corn".  In their book the Turners discuss 76 Anasazi sites where cannibalism or other violence occurred (most notable and the primary location is in Chaco Canyon).  Of the 76 sites 31 were located in New Mexico, 18 from Arizona, 16 from Colorado, 10 in Utah, and one from Casas Grandes (Paquime) in northern Mexico.  Of the 76 cases the Turners confirmed 54 instances of cannibalism.  The sites that do exhibit cannibalism show equal frequency of victims among adult male and females.  The majority of the cannibalism appears to have taken place between 900-1300 AD (with some instances taking place before and after).

As I stated earlier the idea of cannibalism among the Anasazi is a controversial one to say the least.  This is because the Hopi and many other Pueblo tribes state that their traditional stories and histories do not speak of any sort of cannibalism.  They do not deny violence and other hideous instances that spawned migrations in the past but the act of cannibalism usually denotes a degenerate society of savages which creates a negative connotation on the whole perspective of the Hopi and Anasazi.  This has been highly disputed among anthropologists and archaeologists and traditional Native Americans as well.  Some of Turners earlier studies were on a group of bones found on Polacca Wash on the Hopi Reservation that he stated showed all six of his forensic signs of cannibalism.  He traced this activity to the traditional stories of the destruction of the ancient Hopi village of Awatovi, which is partially why many Hopi find the claim absurd.  He did advise that if any of the forensic signs were missing than the claim of cannibalism was dismissed immediately.  These signs include the following:

cuts from dismemberment
 1. Cuts: Bones show signs of chopping, dismemberment, butchering and cutting by stone tools.  These are distinct marks especially when cutting tendons on round bones.  Stone scrappers also leave a distinctive scratch pattern.

Anvil abrasions
 2. Anvil abrasions:  These are faint parallel marks caused when a bone (skull) is braced on a larger stone and then a smaller stone is used to smash or crack it open.  Slippage takes place when the blow hits causing the distinctive scratches.

Burns on skull
 3. Burns: Skulls in particular, often show burn-marks on the back or top of the head.  These burns indicate that the head was set, face up, on coals in order to roast the brains.

Crushed bone exposing the marrow
 4. Marrow: Large bones have been broken open for the marrow.  marrow is a rich source of protein, but to get to it, the bones must be smashed open.

Crushing Vertebra for bone cake
 5. No Vertebrae: Most of the vertebrae and spongy bones are missing.  This is because they are full of marrow and can be used to make what is called "bone cake" (commonly done with animal vertebrae) or to extract grease through boiling. 

Pot Polish seen through
 magnifying glass
6.  Pot Polish: Pot polish is evidence that bones have been boiled in a ceramic pot.  Bones that have been cooked in a clay pot show a faint beveling and polishing at the tips from scraping against the coarse interior of the pot.  Many of these bones have been broken to the same size as animal bones to fit into the Anasazi pot.

Awatovi Ruins
 Awatovi was a village destroyed in the 1600's because a lot of the residents had converted to Christianity and also practiced witchcraft under the influence of the Spanish friars.  The other Hopi villages decided to purge this tribe and did so by killing all the men inside of the kiva and escorting the women and children away. According to Turner the women and children were then tortured, and dismembered to be eaten.  He traces the practice of cannibalism that would have been present at this case in Awatovi back to other Anasazi locations, in the four corners region but in particular to the location of Chaco Canyon where he has found bones showing all six designated cannibalistic signs. 

Turner is supported by other archaeologists and anthropologists in his findings but he also has those who disagree who state that the bone damage and boilings could have been done as a way to purge witchcraft minus the cannibalism.  This is an option that could easily be the truth but the problem is that at another site in Colorado called Cowboy Wash the smoking gun seems to have been found.  The Hopi tribal Archaeologist Kurt Dongoske in defending against cannibalism suggested that cannibalism could not be proven until " you actually find human remains in prehistoric human excrement".   At Cowboy wash archaeologists found three kivas with all the signs of cannibalism except in the third kiva they found what was classified as "macrobotanical remain".  These remains were tested by the University of Nebraska and confirmed that the remains were coprolite formed from digested human meat.  It was later tested by the University of Colorado for the presence of human myoglobin (a protein found only in skeletal and heart muscle and could not get into the intestinal tract except through eating.  It tested positive, human DNA in ancient excrement.

I don't know how to dispute those findings but with all things archaeology I don't set anything in stone.  With that said Emory Sekaquaptewa who was a Hopi Tribal Council member stated, "I believe there were times in the Southwest when cannibalism was necessary.  As a child, I heard stories of historic Pueblo people's resorting to eating other people during times of extreme stress." (Swentzell) "There were also people who had traditions of human sacrifice, who were also not admitted (into Hopi)."

Turner proposed that this cannibalism came from civilizations from the south mainly in Mesoamerica with the Toltec and Aztecs.  he stated, "We propose that these southerners were practitioners of the Xipe-Totec (or Maasaw) and the Tezcatlipoca- Quetzalcoatl (plumed serpent) cults.  They entered the San Juan basin around AD. 900and found a suspicious but plaint population whom they terrorized into reproducing the theocratic lifestyle they had previously known in Mesoamerica.  The Mexicans achieved their objectives through the use of warfare, violent example, and terrifying cult ceremonies that included human sacrifice and cannibalism.  after the abandonment of Chaco, human sacrifices, and cannibalism all but disappeared, suggesting some kind of prehistoric discontinuity."

Paquime in Chihuahua Mexico
So here we have the successor civilizations that followed the Nephite/Lamanite societies still showing the practice of cannibalism for a time.  Although the practice was at a different level with each civilization (some more than others) it looks as though the practice did continue through the Mayan (Nephite/Lamanite), Toltec, Aztec and Anasazi societies as well. Another interest correlation is the route this practice spread.  It appears to be the same route used for mass trading between these societies.  This was a northern route from Mesoamerica Guatemala area north through Mexico all the way to northern Mexico to the Paquime location and continued northward into what is now southern United States in the Anasazi, Mogollon, and Hohokam area.  Relics and practices between these societies also stand as proof of influence from Mesoamerica.  With that said I currently know of no cannibalistic evidence in the Hohokam society which is ironic being further south and more influenced by Mesoamerica.  This may be because research on the Hohokam has only grown in recent years and some of their largest excavation sites have been buried by the Gila River Native community for preservation (Snaketown).  Future research of the Hohokam my be able to further this cannibalistic suggestion. 

In closing I would like to add that when Nephites put this evil practice into play they did it as an act of bravery as stated in Mormon's second epistle to his son Moroni noted above.  It seems it was this same mind set that existed among the Aztecs and possibly the Anasazi.  Brutality never was bravery and although it makes for an interesting correspondence in this study of cannibalism and the Book of Mormon, the fact that we are putting this study together off of the remains of civilizations shows that the Lord will not protect those who uphold and practice these barbaric acts.   It is also of interest that around this same timeframe that Chaco Canyon was abandoned and places like Mesa Verde, Montezumas Castle and other cliff dwellings  became the hideout homes as if hiding from someone or something.  Well that all makes since in this light.