In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pre Classic Guatemalan Mayan Figurines and Early Nephite Migrations

Lighter and Darker Mayan
I will once again be referring back to John Sorenson's book "Mormons Codex" for this blog post.  Sorenson points out an interesting correlation between ancient figurines found in the Guatemalan highlands and the timeframe of the early Nephite migrations out of the land of Nephi to Zarahemla.   Sorenson states, "In the Pre-Classic Las Charcas and Providencia periods in the Valley of Guatemala around 600-300 BC, nearly all of the figurines had a white surface (either by being made of an unslipped light-colored clay or of a darker clay covered with a white slip).  Yet in the succeeding (Verbena) phase (ca. 200 BC), figurines either were exclusively of unslipped red/brown paste or else were red slipped.  Why the later images were colored differently is hard to explain unless they reflected different skin pigmentations of the original living models.  The systematic change in appearance would appear to mirrored change in the population's predominant pigmentation.  According to the Book of Mormon, the fair-skinned Nephites who dwelt in the land of Nephi from 600 to near 200 BC were replaced by darker Lamanites around the later date.

slipped clay figurine
Most Book of Mormon scholars associate the land of Nephi with the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu which is located in the highlands of Guatemala (southern Guatemala).  From around 600 BC, to around 300-200 BC it would have been the main settlement of lighter skinned Nephites.  In between 300-200 BC the Nephites under the direction on Mosiah (the first) migrated away from their
enemies the darker skinned Lamanites and migrated north to the land of Zarahemla.  At this point the Lamanites inhabited the land of Nephi unto themselves.  This would explain the change of pigmentation on the population around the 200 BC mark.  Sorensen explained that his research on these figurines stems from some of the work from the archaeologist Alfred V. Kidder.  There will need to be further research and studies on these correlations in the future but so far what has been observed seems very promising. 

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