Proposed Book of Mormon geographical setting
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2014)|
It is difficult to discuss the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon without either suggesting that the book is historical and set in real-world geography or suggesting that it is fiction. Either assumption carries profound implications for the claims of Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Latter Day Saint movement. To Latter Day Saints, the book is regarded as a historical record, whereas secular historians consider it to be fiction.
According to Smith, an angel named Moroni told him "there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang." Smith identifies these "inhabitants" as the "indians" of his own country. According to Smith, Moroni explained that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was concomitant with the fulfillment of various ancient prophecies. According to Latter Day Saint scripture, these divine pronouncements came to an end in the ancient land Cumorah, which some claim is the same land containing the "Hill Cumorah" near Joseph Smith's home in Palmyra, western New York (from whence the gold plates of the Book of Mormon were retrieved).
The largest of the Latter Day Saints churches—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)—has never endorsed an official position for the geography of the Book of Mormon, although some of its leaders have spoken of various possible locations over the years. There have been several attempts to identify the people in the Book of Mormon, who are dated in the text as living from 2500 BC to 400 AD.
- 1 Joseph Smith's statements regarding Book of Mormon geography
- 2 Internal map
- 3 Hemispheric models
- 4 Central America models
- 4.1 Allen 1989 model
- 4.2 Christensen 1969
- 4.3 Davila 1961 model
- 4.4 DeLong-Steede-Simmons 1977 model
- 4.5 Driggs 1925
- 4.6 Ellsworeth 1980
- 4.7 Ferguson 1947
- 4.8 Ferguson/Hunter 1950
- 4.9 Hammond 1959
- 4.10 Hansen 1951
- 4.11 Hauck 1988
- 4.12 Hills 1917
- 4.13 Holmes 1903
- 4.14 Jakeman 1940s
- 4.15 Norman 1966
- 4.16 Young 1921
- 4.17 Ivins 1921
- 5 South America models
- 6 Great Lakes theories
- 7 Alternative theories
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Joseph Smith's statements regarding Book of Mormon geography
It is not certain that Joseph Smith placed Book of Mormon lands in Central America. His published statements indicate that Book of Mormon peoples or their descendants, migrated from “the lake country of America” (near Lake Ontario) to Mexico and Central America. In 1841 Joseph Smith read Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America. Smith held Stephens’ work in high regard and recommended it. However, Stephens’ bestseller did not change Smith’s position that Book of Mormon events took place in northern America, in lands occupied by the United States. In his “AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES” editorial of July, 1842, Joseph Smith corroborates wars described in the Book of Mormon with archaeological finds in northern America. Joseph Smith quotes Josiah Priest’s American Antiquities as follows:
On the shores of the Mississippi, some miles below Lake Pipin, on a fine plain, exists an artificial elevation of about four feet high, extending a full miles, in somewhat of a circular form. It is sufficiently capacious to have covered 5000 men. Every angle of the breastwork is yet traceable, though much defaced by time. Here, it is likely, conflicting realms as great as those of the ancient Greeks and Persians, decided the fate of ambitious Monarchs, of the Chinese, Mongol descent.Weapons of brass have been found in many parts of America, as in the Canadas, Florida, &c., with curiously sculptured stones, all of which go to prove that this country was once peoples with civilized, industrious nations...
Editor Joseph Smith then proceeds to comment (in the “American Antiquities” Times and Seasons article) that “The Book of Mormon speaks of ores, swords, cities, armies, &c....In regards to there being great wars, the following will shew [show]:” Joseph Smith then quotes from the Book of Mormon the account of the battle of Coriantumr and Shiz (found in Ether 15:12-16 of the current edition) and concludes with the following remarks:
If men, in their researches into the history of this country, in noticing the mounds, fortification, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, &c.-were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of history, unfolded in that book...-ED
Joseph Smith associates earth, timber and metal works found in northern America (presumably artifacts of mound builder societies) with implements and constructions described in the Book of Mormon. As much as Joseph Smith approved of Stephens’ work, he only makes minor mention of it, and then only to conclude in his “American Antiquities” editorial, that the peoples of Central America are tied historically to the Book of Mormon. Regarding the peoples of Central America, Joseph Smith's exact words are,
Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatemala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon] unfolds their history.-ED.
Smith does not actually say that Book of Mormon lands are to be found in Central America. This assertion came later in several unsigned newspaper articles, published in the fall of 1842. The use of first person plural (“we” and “us”) indicates that the articles may have been a collaborative effort. A recent “word-print” stylometry study of the unsigned articles reports they contain Joseph Smith’s vocabulary and average sentence lengths. One LDS apologist, however, argues that the statistical word-print analysis cannot identify everything that was edited in the articles and by whom. Without an endorsing signature we cannot tell the extent to which Joseph Smith agreed with the opinions expressed in the unsigned articles.
In the March 15, 1842 edition of the Times and Seasons, editor Joseph Smith informed readers, that he would endorse papers with his signature. Coon argues that the unsigned, 1842 articles contradict. One of the articles in question mentions “Joseph Smith” in the third person. This same article alleges that Lehi “landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien” which would place Lehi’s landing on a western shore of South America. The 1842 Times and Seasons editorials, written by Joseph Smith, are readily identified as they end with his “ED”. Joseph Smith had found it necessary to go into hiding for much of the fall that year. Though he was still official editor of the Times and Seasons, it is doubtful that he was acting editor at the time in as much as he was keeping a low public profile and had been in hiding as Doctrine and Covenants 127:1 and 128:1 attest. LDS Church History Scholars believe that John Taylor may have served as “the acting editor for the Times and Seasons” in Joseph's absence. In November 1842, Joseph Smith officially resigned as editor, explaining that, “The multiplicity of other business that daily devolves upon me, renders it impossible for me to do justice to a paper so widely circulated as the Times and Seasons.” John Taylor was then made official editor of the newspaper.
Published in the same issue as the unsigned “ZARAHEMLA” article (October 1842) with its anachronistic claims about the ruins of Quirigua, is a signed epistle to the church from the Mormon prophet in hiding. In Joseph Smith’s letter (canonized as the 128th section of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants) the Book of Mormon land Cumorah is referenced among other locations of significance near the Finger Lakes.
Several earlier statements by Joseph Smith, indicate that events described in the Book of Mormon took place in lands occupied by the United States of America. In an 1833 letter to N.C. Saxton, Smith wrote:
The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power [of] God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land [of] America is a promised land unto them, and unto it, all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem.
The expression, “our western tribes of Indians” refers to Indian tribes who lived west, or were pushed west from the east coast of the United States by European expansion. LDS missionaries were sent to these peoples in the early days of the Church. Latter-day scripture refers to these peoples as “Lamanites”. Several passages in LDS scripture associate these native peoples with peoples of the Book of Mormon. LDS scripture teaches that the land of their Book of Mormon ancestors (now occupied by the United States of America) was ordained to become a land “free unto all...”. The ancient land of their inheritance is, according to LDS scripture, associated with the land of “New Jerusalem.”. New Jerusalem, “the city of Zion” is, according to LDS scripture to be built in northern America.
On June 4, 1834, during the Zion's Camp trek through Illinois, Joseph Smith stated that the group was "wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as proof of its divine authenticity..." Joseph Smith came to believe that the Maya ruins on the Yucatán Peninsula discovered in the late 1830s, offered evidence in support of the Book of Mormon's authenticity. A more recent inclusion in History of the Church proclaims the ruins were likely Nephite or belonging to “the ancient inhabitants of America treated of in the Book of Mormon”. In view of the position that ancient peoples migrated from the north into Mexico and Central America, the linking of Mesoamerican artifacts with “ancient inhabitants ...of ...the Book of Mormon” is not inconsistent with Joseph Smith's statements placing Book of Mormon lands in northern America. The History of the Church statement was inserted under the date June 25, 1842 and is not taken from any holograph writing of Joseph Smith's or records kept by his clerks. The date, in fact, is only a few weeks prior to the publication of the AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES editorial, citing northern American evidence of Book of Mormon history. The inclusion in History of the Church reads as follows:
Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood have succeeded in collecting in the interior of America a large amount of relics of the Nephites, or the ancient inhabitants of America treated of in the Book of Mormon, which relics have recently been landed in New York.
Stephens brought to New York hundreds of artifacts from Mayan sites. Among these were sculptures and architectural remnants. Shortly after arriving in New York, most of these relics were lost when the building that housed them was destroyed by fire.
According to Mormon 6:5, Nephite civilization came to an end near the year 384 A.D., with only a few Nephites surviving (Mormon 6:11), of which some or all were "hunted until they were destroyed" by the surviving tribal civilization. The Copan and Quirigua, sites in the Yucatan visited by Stephens and Catherwood contain artifacts that date more recent than Book of Mormon times. It has not been shown that any of Stephens’ artifacts date to Book of Mormon times, and Joseph Smith does not actually make this assertion.
The first history of the Church was written in 1834 and 1835 by Oliver Cowdery, as a series of articles published serially in the Church's Messenger and Advocate. In this history, Cowdery stated that the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites occurred at the "Hill Cumorah," the very same Hill Cumorah in New York, where Joseph Smith said he obtained golden plates and other artifacts which were used to translate the Book of Mormon. These plates and artifacts were shown to only a few witnesses and never to the general public. The plates were later claimed to have been removed via divine means. Cowdery also identified the Jaredites' final battle as occurring in the same area as the Nephite/Lamanite final battle. Since Smith was an editor of the Messenger and Advocate and approved the history, all but proponents of limited South American and Mesoamerican geography theories believe it conclusively demonstrated Joseph Smith’s belief as well. In any case, evidence appears to show that Smith did not subscribe to the limited Mesoamerican or South American geography theories promoted by some LDS today. Joseph Smith clearly advocated a northern American setting (near the Finger Lakes) for the Book of Mormon land Cumorah, hence Doctrine and Covenants 128:20.
Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith’s mother, in her account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, says that the divine messenger called the hill where the plates were deposited the “hill of Cumorah” meaning “hill of” the Book of Mormon land “Cumorah”. In another account, Mother Smith says that young Joseph, referred to the hill using this description. Joseph Smith’s preeminence as an authority on the Book of Mormon is evinced by the following account given by his mother:
During our evening conversations, Joseph, would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities and buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.
Efforts to associate Joseph Smith with the geographic notions of his contemporaries remain speculative. A note in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, one of Joseph Smith's counsellors and scribes, asserts that Lehi's people landed in South America at thirty degrees south latitude. Early LDS church leader, Orson Pratt also speculated that the Nephite landing site was on the coast of Chile near Valparaiso, but Pratt indicated that this hypothesis was arrived at by supposition, not divine revelation There is no proof that William’s unsigned, undated writing represents a revelation given to Joseph Smith. An official statement by the LDS Church discourages Church members from making too much of the Williams document.
Internal Book of Mormon geography focuses on the relationships between lands and other geographic features, independent of where they might be physically located. The purpose of constructing internal maps is to orient major lands, seas and landmarks mentioned in the text, and to estimate relative distances between them. A careful investigation of the Book of Mormon’s internal geography is useful to guard against bias by researchers using favored “real-world” settings and/or traditions.
The following is a brief overview of the Book of Mormon’s New World internal geography, meaning after they arrived in the Americas. Three groups are known to have migrated: Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites:
- The Jaredites along with 22 other families landed in what is called the "Land Northward" during the time of the building of the "great tower." There is no mention of any of the other families after the landing. It is commonly presumed that they remained with the descendants of Jared and his brother, but this is inconclusive. The Jaredites remained there until destroyed between 600 and 300 BC. Their land is described as being surrounded by four "seas" with a "Narrow Neck" linking to a "Land Southward" to which they never ventured except for hunting. This core area does not preclude expansions into areas beyond the north, east or west seas.
- The Lehites landed on the west coast of the "Land Southward" around 589 BC. The term "Land Southward" seems to be used in different contexts as the Nephites gradually migrate Northward with what is possibly an explicitly-defined change in the terminology in Alma 22:31-32. The Land Southward was nearly surrounded by seas. One sea which was near the dividing line of the latter definition of the "Land Southward" from the "Land Northward" was described as the "Sea that Divides the Land." The Book of Mormon does not explicitly identify the “West Sea” or the “East Sea” with the “waters of the great deep”, “great waters” or “many waters” crossed by Book of Mormon peoples to the New World. Though the term “lake” is not used in the Book of Mormon the term "sea" is used in the Bible to identify inland bodies of water. There is at least one instance in the Book of Mormon in which an inland body of water is called a “sea”.
- The Mulekites landed in the Land Northward  around 587 BC and proceeded southward through the Narrow Neck founding the city "Zarahemla" which was in the heart of the land along the river "Sidon."
After arriving in the New World, Nephi, the son of Lehi left the place of their first landing and traveled with his followers “many days” in the wilderness. “Many” is a non-specific word that can mean anything from "three hours" to “forty days.” This particular journey did not take Nephi and his followers beyond the territory that would later be called the land of Nephi.
According to the Book of Mormon, a group ostensibly consisting of the very young and old with “their flocks” and some belongings, could travel on foot from the land of Nephi “down” through thick wildernesses to the land of Zarahemla in less than 21 days.
- The land of Zarahemla is north of the land of Nephi, and at lower elevation. The lands of Zarahemla and Nephi were bordered on the east and on the west by bodies of water called seas. A narrow strip of wilderness, running east and west, divides the land of Zarahemla from the southern land of Nephi. The region of Zarahemla features the nearby river “Sidon” - the only river named in the localized New World setting. The shallow, northward flowing river Sidon originates in highlands to the southeast of the city of Zarahemla, near a land and city called Manti. The river Sidon is not mentioned north of the land of Zarahemla.
- The land of Bountiful situates north of the land of Zarahemla. A fortified line between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Bountiful could be crossed in a single day. The “west sea” clearly borders Bountiful, but the “east sea” is not explicitly stated, the word "sea" being elipted or removed. There is explicit reference to a “sea” east of the land of Zarahemla, as far north as the southern borders of Bountiful, A sea east of Bountiful seems to be implied.
- The land of Desolation north of Bountiful, resides at even lower elevation. The border between the land of Bountiful and Desolation is described as a “line” running east to west. This “line” could be traversed by a Nephite in “only” a day and a half. In the vicinity of Desolation was a “place where the sea [singular] divides the land [singular]”. A “narrow pass” or “passage” ran northward near the Bountiful/Desolation border which is mentioned in context with the nearby east and west seas. In contrast to the breadth of the Desolation / Bountiful border (which is described as a “line”), the entrance to “the narrow pass which led into the land northward” is described as a “point”. Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, a “narrow” or “small neck of land”, by the border of the land Bountiful and the land Desolation is described connecting “the land northward and the land southward”. Serving as the entrance to “the land south”, this pass, or perhaps the whole "narrow neck of land", appears to have been narrow enough to be blocked by a “poisonous serpents” epidemic.
- The land northward is covered “with large bodies of water and many rivers.” The land is bordered in each of the cardinal directions by bodies of water called seas. There are limits to how far north the land extends.
- Cumorah situates in “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains”, south of a particularly “large” body of water called “Ripliancum” and east of the Jaredite Land Northward. The land of Cumorah was the decisive gathering place of both the Nephite and earlier Jaredite armies. The Jaredite King Omer and his family settled east of the place where the Nephites nation would be destroyed. Lands south of Cumorah, where a "few" Nephites had temporarily escaped destruction, are referred to as the "south countries". This "country southward" may have been beyond the borders of principal Book of Mormon lands frequently mentioned in the text. A Jaredite land of “many waters” and Zarahemla were near enough to each other, that travelers from the land of Nephi in the south could confuse the general region where the Jaredite nation was destroyed with the land of Zarahemla.
Numerous other details in the Book of Mormon indicate principal lands that are quite localized.
John E Clark, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, vol 1, 1989, p 20-70.
Source: BYU Library (call number MOR M222 A1a #33). John Sorenson notes in his book, The Geography of the Book of Mormon: A Source Book the following on page 102,
"This map is identical in practically all substantive details to Ludlow et al.... The near identity of these three maps raises a question of directions of unatttributed influence. If not plagiarism, at least an odd kind of liberty comes to mind."
Source: Lynn C. Layton, An "Ideal" Book of Mormon Geography, Improvement Era 41 (July 1938): 394-395.
Evidence indicates that early members of the church did not pay a great deal of attention to Book of Mormon details about distances. The “Hemispheric” or “Two-Continent” model proposes that Book of Mormon lands stretch many thousands of miles over much of South and North America. There is no first hand, verifiable statement by Joseph Smith endorsing this view. One of the earliest advocates of a hemispheric setting was the zealous young missionary Orson Pratt, who as early as 1832 publicly promoted the idea that Lehi “crossed the water into South America”. For those who cursorily read the Book of Mormon, with maps of the Western Hemisphere in view, the Isthmus of Panama seems an easy fit for the Book of Mormon’s “narrow neck of land”. Pratt claimed that the “running battle”, culminating in the destruction of the Nephite nation, started at “the Isthmus of Darien” (Panama) and “ended at Manchester” (western New York). Pratt never attributed his geography (or one like it) to Joseph Smith. Orson Pratt in fact, indicated that the South American landing idea was supposition, not revelation. Apostle Orson Pratt’s influence in the church saw his speculative geographic views published in the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon (later retracted).
There was no consensus of opinion among early Mormon leaders on the topic of Book of Mormon geography. The hemispheric setting of Apostle Parley P. Pratt, for instance, differed from that of his brother Orson’s. Strongly influenced by John Lloyd Stephens’ 1841 bestseller, Incident of Travel in Central America, Parley Pratt set various Book of Mormon lands (including, apparently, the narrow neck) farther north and west of Panama. As early as 1842 Apostle John E. Page published a more limited, non-hemispheric setting for the Book of Mormon. Page originally placed the narrow neck at the Bay of Honduras; and by 1848 appears to have relocated the narrow neck more to the northwest. Other LDS, in 1842, obtusely figured all of Central America to be the narrow neck. Prior to the influence of John Lloyd Stephens’ popular book, some church members placed the southernmost Nephite land of Manti well within the boundaries of United States territory.
In the 1850s the following unsigned statement was circulated among Latter-day Saints:
“The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then, nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a southeast direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili [Chile] thirty degrees south latitude.”
The original is in the handwriting of early church leader Frederick G. Williams, who held a definite opinion on the subject of Book of Mormon geography. The statement was partially rewritten by church authorities Richards and Little and published as a “Revelation to Joseph the Seer” - a statement which the original did not contain. The Chilean landing site, promoted in the William’s document, matches Orson Pratt’s geography. Prominent LDS would later call into question the statement’s authority; but before this would happen, church leaders publicly attributed (without verification or proof) features of Orson Pratt’s geography to the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. The ideas that Lehi landed on the coast of temperate Chile, thousand of miles south of Panama’s narrow neck, and that tropical Colombia's thousand mile long Magdalena River is the River Sidon, were presented by church scholars as mainstream, majority views in the LDS community.
Bagley 1927 model
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Source: JM Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, 1927, pages 415-418.
Comer/Maeser 1880 model
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is Panama. Source: JA and JN Washburn, An Approach to the Study of the Book of Mormon Geography, Provo, Utah, 1939.
Source: Just One Cumorah by Riley Lake Dixon, SLC, Bookcraft, 1958
Source: John L Sorenson, The Geography of the Book of Mormon: a Source Book, FARMS, 1992, page 75-76.
Source: Jeremiah Gunsolley, A Study of the Book of Mormon...., Zions Religio-Literary Society, Herald Publishing House, Lamoni, Iowa, 1917
Source: Michael Hobby and Troy Smith. A Model for Nephite Geography. Zarahemla Quarterly 2(1)(1988): 4-14. Source: Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, Zarahemla Quarterly 2(1)(1988): 36ff.
By 1921 Joel Ricks of Logan had distributed 6000 copies of his map of Book of Mormon geography. Source: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921, January 14–24. See Joseph Trevor Antley's extracts of Talmage's journal: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921: Book of Mormon Geography Hearings.
Also see the following article:"PANAMA: An Introduction," Michael M. Hobby and Troy J. Smith, Zarahemla Quarterly, Vol Two, No. Two, 1988; pp. 4–20. The following rivers were run by Hobby and Hobby, or Hobby and Smith to determine the minimum crossable land constrictions: Rio Bayano (central Panama), 22 mile passable width; Rio Tuira (eastern Panama), 40 miles from the southern Bay to the Caribbean,reduced by 25-35% due to the width of the lower Tuira (However,significant population existed along rivers to the southeast); Rio Chagres (Canal Zone), 27–40 miles; however, former path of the Chagres is obscured by Lake Gatun, not a natural geomorphological feature. Rio Atrato and tributaries flow into the Gulf of Uraba (also termed the Gulf of Darien, associated with the Darien Gap) Colombia. The Gulf is located at the southeastern terminus of the North Panamanian Deformed Belt, an arc which determines the shape of the Gulf and the Atrato drainage basin, both of which it underlies, including much of the Atrato, still pronounced along the northern part of its length. Hobby asserts that the massive sediment loads deposited by the Atrato (and other rivers flowing into the Gulf on it eastern perimeter) have nearly divided the present gulf in half, due to E/W delta deposits and a highly restricted flow pattern north into the outer gulf he observed in satellite photography. The land-locked lakes to the south were once part of the Gulf. Therefore, he argues that geologic and hydrogeologic data confirm the minimum passable width several thousand years (bp) was likely as much as 40% or more less than observed today.
Central America models
It has been claimed in recent years, that within the Mormon community, more scholars have gravitated toward this general group of geographic scenarios than any other group of theories. While there are disagreements about where the “narrow neck of land” resides, e.g. southern Mexico, Honduras, the Isthmus of Rivas between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Panama, the following list of theories can all be categorized as Central American based.
Early LDS became engrossed with John Lloyd Stephens’ 1841 bestseller, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. Despite Stephens own published conclusion that the marvelous stone ruins which he and Frederick Catherwood documented, were not of “great antiquity”, some LDS nevertheless, placed much importance on matching these stone ruins to Book of Mormon cities. For some, this endeavor had higher priority than looking for the narrowest and correctly oriented Mesoamerican isthmus. In time, more Mormon scholars came to realize that the New World Book of Mormon lands were quite localized.
The earliest, most limited Central American models were posited by members of the RLDS Church. In one detail, none of these proposed settings are exactly limited geographically: they all require Moroni to have transported the plates and other articles thousands of miles to western New York.
LDS apologist Vincent Coon cites non-LDS archaeologist Salvatore Trento, who posits the possibility that Joseph Smith actually discovered buried metal tablets engraved with “weird markings”. Trento notes comparable discoveries in Northeastern America which Coon points out are not likely the result of a singular ancient individual traveling thousands of miles from Central or South America. Such finds are consistent with the 19th century “Mound Builder” literary setting in which the Book of Mormon is classed by mainstream American History and Literature specialists.
Allen 1989 model
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica. Source: Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, By Joseph Allen, SA Publishers, Orem, Utah, 1989, pg 181-390
Cheesman's, The World of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, 1978.
Davila 1961 model
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica. Source: BYU Library, "An account of our Book of Mormon Lands Tour", Jan 27th to Feb 16th, 1961.
DeLong-Steede-Simmons 1977 model
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica. See FRAA Newsletter 23 (11 May 1976).
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Bay of Honduras, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica. Source: Jean Russell Driggs, The Palestine of America, SLC, 1925.
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is somewhere in Costa Rica, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica. Source: Robert B Ellsworth, Lectures Notes on an Interpretation of a Map of Zarahemla and the Land Northward as Described in the Book of Mormon, Ogden, Utah, 1980.
Source: Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Cumorah—Where?, The author, Oakland, CA, 1947.
Source: Ferguson, One Fold and One Shepherd, San Francisco: Books of California, 1953, p 252
Source: Fletcher B Hammond, Geography of the Book of Mormon, SLC, 1959
Source: Book of Mormon Geography, Saints' Herald, January 8, 1951.
Source: F Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon: Settlements and Routes in Ancient America. SLC, Deseret Book, 1988.
Source: Louis Edward Hills, Geography of Mexico and Central America from 2234 BC to 421 AD, Independence, Missouri, 1917.
Source: Robert Holmes, Geographical Sketches of the Book of Mormon, 1903. (Located in LDS Church historical Dept)
Source: Summarized by Paul R Cheesman, These Ancient Americans, Deseret Book, SLC, 1974, pages 164-166.
Claims the Narrow Neck of Land is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the basic area is that or Mesoamerica.
Willard Young claimed that most of the Book of Mormon scenes were laid in Guatemala, and Honduras. Source: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921, January 14–24. See Joseph Trevor Antley's extracts of Talmage's journal: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921: Book of Mormon Geography Hearings.
Elder Anthony W. Ivins of the Council of the Twelve suggested that the Book of Mormon lands embraced mainly Yucatan and Mexico. Source: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921, January 14–24. See Joseph Trevor Antley's extracts of Talmage's journal: James E. Talmage Journals, 1921: Book of Mormon Geography Hearings.
South America models
A dubious, unsigned document in the handwriting of early church leader Frederick G. Williams alleges that Lehi landed 30 degrees South of the equator, in what would be modern day Chile. There are several theories that try to confirm this. Many people who support this group of theories believe that part of South America was under water, and that the continent rose up during the major earthquakes mentioned in the Book of Mormon during Christ’s crucifixion in the Old World.
The Narrow Neck of land is the Maranon River narrows, or the Andean passes in Southern Ecuador. Source: Verla Birrell, The Book of Mormon Guide Book, SLC, 1948
Priddis 1975 model
Kocherhans 1986 model
Great Lakes theories
Proponents of the Great Lakes theory adhere to the teachings of LDS Church leaders, official church history, and church canon that identify the hill in Palmyra, New York as the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon, the place of the final Nephite battle. Great Lakes theories differ in that they incorporate the land of Palmyra, New York as the place of the final Nephite battle and the place where Omer, a Jaredite walked.
Curtis 1988 model
Source: Duane Erickson, self-published brochure of 33 pp. available from the author in Salt Lake City.
Source: Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, Zenos Publications, Ogden, Utah, 1983. The late Vernal Holley served in various mid-level LDS leadership positions. His appointments included three successive stake missions, President of a Stake Mission, Senior President of the 54th Quorum of Seventies, and many other positions of responsibility within the LDS Church. See also the Spalding-Rigdon theory.
Source: Phyllis Carol Olive, The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, Printed by Bonneville Books, Springville, Utah, USA, first printing 2000. ISBN 1-55517-510-4, Library of Congress Catalogue Number 94-98119. For the most current treatment, discussion and map of the setting visit: bookofmormonlands.com and bookofmormonpromisedland.com
Source: W. Vincent Coon, Choice Above All Other Lands, Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources, Printed by Brit Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, first printing 2009. ISBN 978-0-615-26543-8. Coon (MS Physics, Hebrew language background) is an advocate of Olive's work. bookofmormonpromisedland.com
Some people believe that the Book of Mormon took place in areas outside of the Americas
The African theory
Embaye Melekin is the author. Michael R. Ash wrote a review of this theory in 2001. Melekin claims that his book titled, “Manifestations mysteries revealed,” has proven “beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is an African book and about Africans. . . . My book will change the church and the belief of the Mormons drastically.”
The Malay theory
The theory that the Malay Peninsula is the geographic setting for the Book of Mormon, asserts that a 4,000 mile journey to the Malay Peninsula, with appropriate winds and currents from the Middle East, would have been much easier for Nephi and his party to travel than a 16,000 mile voyage across the Indian and Pacific Oceans (with no appropriate currents) to the Americas. The proponent of this theory, Ralph Olsen, notes 220 advantages as to why he thinks his theory is better than ones proposed in the Americas. These proposed advantages include language and cuisine (e.g. karipap, nasik lemak and kopi 'O') similarities, DNA evidence, and more appropriate plants, fruits, animals and metals.
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (October 2010)|
- Joseph Smith—History 1:34.
- The Joseph Smith Papers, Vol. 1, Monday, 9 November 1835, pg. 88; see also “Church History”, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 9, March 1, 1842, pp. 706-707
- Joseph Smith – History 1:36-41
- Mormon 6:2-5
- Doctrine and Covenants 128:20
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992) states, "Church leaders have generally declined to give any opinion on issues of Book of Mormon geography. When asked to review a map showing the supposed landing place of Lehi's company, President Joseph F. Smith declared that the "Lord had not yet revealed it" (Cannon, p. 160 n.). Previous to this disclaimer, President George Q. Cannon (First Counselor in the First Presidency), had expressed his concern that children might “be permitted to conceive incorrect ideas concerning the location of the lands inhabited by the Nephites” from “agencies which are unreliable”. (Cannon, George Q. (editor), “Topics of the Times”, Juvenile Instructor, July 15, 1887, Vol. 22, No. 14, pg. 221) President Cannon published in the same article the following:
“It is also known that the landing place of Lehi and his family was near what is now known as the city of Valparaiso, in the republic of Chili [Chile]. The book itself does not give us this information, but there is not doubt of its correctness.”
President Cannon was promoting a prevailing view endorsed by the Church in 1887. (See for instance Apostle Orson Pratt’s speculative geographic footnotes published in the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon) In 1929, Anthony W. Ivins, counselor in the First Presidency, commented, "There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question [of Book of Mormon geography].... We are just waiting until we discover the truth" (CR, Apr. 1929, p. 16).
In 1938, Joseph Fielding Smith and his assistants in the Historian’s Office of the church published, as part of a compilation, an article giving readers the impression that Joseph Smith taught that Lehi “had landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien”. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 267) The Isthmus of Darien (Panama) is thousands of miles north of Valparaiso, Chile. The popular LDS work quotes an unsigned Times and Seasons article that was published during a “short season” when the official editor of the newspaper (Joseph Smith) was publicly absent. (Times and Season, Sept. 15, 1842, 3:921-922; see also D&C 127, 128) The newspaper article, in fact, mentioned Joseph Smith in the third person and there is no proof that the piece was authored by him. (Reynolds, George, Commentary on the Book of Mormon (1955), Vol. 3, pp. 330-331)
While the LDS Church does not currently take an official position with regard to location of geographical places, the authorities do not discourage private efforts to deal with the subject (Cannon)."
- American history scholars place the Book of Mormon in the 19th century literary genre dealing with the mound-builder mystery. The original and academically accepted setting for the Book of Mormon therefore treats the mound-builders of North America: Robert Silverberg, “and the mound-builders vanished from the earth”,American Heritage Magazine, June 1969, Volume 20, Issue 4
- ”Traits of the Mosaic History Found Among the Aztaeca Nations”, Joseph Smith, Editor, Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, Volume 3, Number 16, pp 818-820.
- Letter to John Bernhisel, 16 November 1841, Personal Writing of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p. 533
- Ibid, LDS apologist Coon comments on Joseph Smith’s letter of appreciation for Stephens’ work; as far as it “pertains to the antiquities of this country”. Stephens in fact discusses “American antiquities” in “our own country” (the United States) and lists among other things, “mounds and fortifications”. See Incidents of Travel in Central America, pp. 97-98, and Coon, W. Vincent, Choice Above All Other Lands – Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources, pp. 75-76
- “American Antiquities”, Times and Seasons, July 15, 1842, Volume 3, number 18, p. 859-60.
- “American Antiquities”, Times and Seasons, July 15, 1842, Volume 3, number 18, p. 860
- “AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES”, Joseph Smith, Editor, Times and Seasons, July 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No 18, p. 858.
- Times and Seasons, July 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No 18, p.860
- Coon, W Vincent, “Book of Mormon geography articles signed by Joseph Smith”
- De Groote, Michael, “Book of Mormon Geography article by Joseph Smith?”, MORMON TIMES, 30 Oct. 2009; Toone, Trent, “FAIR Conference: Roper's take on Book of Mormon geography”, MORMON TIMES, 6 Aug, 2010
- Coon, W Vincent, of Mormon geography articles signed by Joseph Smith”, “Book of Mormon Lands and the Times and Seasons Newspaper”
This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publication, or arrangement of the former paper; the matter did not come under my supervision. JOSEPH SMITH.
Editor, Times and Seasons, March 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No. 9
- Coon, W. Vincent, Choice Above All Other Lands – Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources, Ch. 4, “Unsigned Articles and a Popular Book”, pp. 72-104
- “FACTS ARE STUBORN THING.”, Times and Seasons, September 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No 22, p.922.
- Prior to his going into hiding in the fall of 1842, Joseph Smith Published several editorials pertaining to the subjects of archaeology and Book of Mormon geography. As both official and acting editor, all of the following Times and Seasons editorials end with his official “ED”:
- “A CATACOMB OF MUMMIES FOUND IN KENTUCKY”, Vol. 3, No 13, May 2, 1842, p. 781
- “Traits of the Mosaic History, Found Among the Aztaeca Nations”, Vol. 3, No 16, June 15, 1842, p. 818
- “AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES”, Vol. 3, No 18, July 15, 1842, p. 858
The Times and Seasons, IS EDITED BY Joseph Smith. Printed and published about the first and fifteenth of every month, on the corner of Water and Bain Streets, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, by JOSEPH SMITH.
Whereas editions possibly edited and printed by others (acting in Joseph Smith’s stead) end with:
The Times and Seasons, Is edited, printed and published about the first and fifteenth of every month, on the corner of Water and Bain Streets, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, by JOSEPH SMITH. (Coon, Choice Above All Other Lands, pp. 95-100)
- Doctrine and Covenants 127:1
- See for example: Matthew Roper, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations, section titled “John Taylor’s View”, BYU Maxwell Institute, 2004, pp. 225-76
- “VALEDICTORY”, Times and Seasons, November 15, 1842, Vol. 4, No 1
- The following quotes from LDS General Authorities, demonstrate the fact that the Finger Lakes location of Cumorah has been taught as official Church doctrine. On the subject of a Mesoamerican Cumorah, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith said: “...This modernist theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, not withstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years...” “It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, ‘by interpretation, is large or to exceed all.’...It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York...for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes, and also in the land of many rivers and fountains...” (Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 3, pp. 233-234) Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, who was also aware of the Mesoamerican Cumorah theory, stated that: “Both the Nephite and the Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it)...Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many early brethren, who were familiar with the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah.” (Mormon Doctrine; CUMORAH, pg 175) In April Conference, Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve stated: “...I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America, and the other one in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates. I do not believe we can be good Latter-day Saints and question the integrity of Joseph Smith.” (The Improvement Era, June 1953, pg 423, 123 Annual Conference of the Church, April 4–6, 1953,General Conference Report, pp. 83-84
- Hill 1995, p. 33"Sir, Considering the Liberal Principles," Joseph Smith to N.C. Saxton, editor, American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, 4 January 1833 (from Times and Seasons [Nauvoo, Illinois] 5 [15 November 1844], 21:705-707)
- Doctrine and Covenants 28:8-9
- Doctrine and Covenants 19:27, Doctrine and Covenants 57:4, 2 Nephi 30:4
- Doctrine and Covenants 10:45-52, 1 Nephi 14:1-2
- 3 Nephi 20:22, 3 Nephi 21:22-23, Ether 13:2-8
- Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-4, Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3
- Jessee 1984, p. 324(See also Zelph)
- "Did the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842 Locate Book of Mormon Lands in Middle America?", by V. Garth Norman
- History of the Church Volume 5, pg 44. The insertion is not taken from any known holograph writing belonging to Joseph Smith. The Prophet’s journal entry for this date (in the handwriting of Willard Richards, clerk) makes no mention of the work of Stephens’ and Catherwood, or of relics. (The Papers of Joseph Smith Volume 2, edited by Dean C. Jessee, pg 391; see also “Introduction to Joseph Smith’s Journal”, pp. xxii – xxv)
- Roberts, Jennifer, The Art Bulletin, “Landscapes of Indifference; Robert Smithson and John Lloyd Stephens in Yucatan”, September 1, 2000.
- Oliver Cowdery, "Letter Seven," Messenger and Advocate, July 1835
- The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith By His Mother, Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor, Bookcraft, 1996, p. 107 n. 14; See also History of Joseph Smith by His Mother Lucy Mack Smith, p. 100
- History of Joseph Smith by His Mother Lucy Mack Smith, pg 83
- U.A.S. Newsletter (Provo, Utah: University Archaeological Society at Brigham Young University) January 30, 1963, p. 7.
- Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses (London, England: Albert Carrington, 1869), vol. 12; p. 342; Volume 14, p. 325, 1872
- Frederick J. Pack (Chairman of the Gospel Doctrine Committee of the Church) and George D. Pyper, The Instructor 73, No. 4, 1938, pg 160.
- The adjective “New World” is justified in that the Book of Mormon seems to prophetically describe the arrival of the Pilgrims, the American War of Independence, and the rise of the United States of America, “lifted up...above all other nations”, as events taking place on the Book of Mormon covenant land of “inheritance”. See 1 Nephi 13:10-30
- Ether 1:33
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 717.
- Helaman 3:8
- Ether 10:19-21
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 186.
- Ether 10:20
- “West Sea” and “East Sea are capitalized as proper nouns in the original 1830 edition (Book of Mormon). See pp. 363, 364, 375, and 406. Whereas “sea west” (meaning “sea” on the “west”) is not capitalized. (pp. 412, 437) More recent editions make no distinction, in that “west sea” is not capitalized.
- Joshua 13:27
- John 6:1
- Ether 2:7
- Alma 22:30
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 969.
- Helaman 1:18
- Alma 6:7
- 2 Nephi 5:7-8
- Helaman 14:263 Nephi 8:19
- Mosiah 7:4
- Mosiah 23:1-3; 24:20, 25
- Alma 49:10; 51:11; 53:10
- Alma 50:7-11
- Alma 22:27; 16:6-7; 6:7
- Alma 22:29
- Helaman 4:5-7
- Skousen says "sea" was purposely "ellipted" or removed in several cases: compare Alma 22:27 (note that “east” and “west” are not capitalized in the 1830 Ed. of this verse, pg. 287-288), Alma 22:32-33 (note that “East” implies the proper noun East Sea in the 1830 Ed., pg. 288), Alma 50:8 (note that “West” implies the proper noun West Sea, pg. 363, 1830 Ed.), Alma 50:34 (note that “west” and “east” are not capitalized, pg. 365), Helaman 4:7 (note that “East” implies East Sea, pg. 415, 1830 Ed.). Implicitly, there was a "sea" east of Bountiful. (Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part Four, FARMS, 2007, p. 2069)
- Alma 27:20-22; Alma 51:28-32
- Alma 22:31
- Alma 22:32
- Alma 50:34, Mormon 2:29; 3:5-8
- 3 Nephi 3:23
- Alma 52:9
- Alma 22:32; 63:5, Ether 10:20
- Ether 9:31-33
- Alma 50:29, Helaman 3:3-4
- 3 Nephi 4:23; 3 Nephi 7:12
- Ether 15:8-11, Mormon 6:4-6
- Ether 9:3
- Mormon 6:1-2, Ether 15:11-14
- Mormon 6:15
- Mormon 8:2
- Mosiah 8:7-8; 21:25-26
- Coon, W. Vincent cites Doctrine and Covenants 84:54-57, Coon, "How Exaggerated Settings for the Book of Mormon Came to Pass"
- Roper, Matthew, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations”, see section titled “Hemispheric Interpretations of Book of Mormon Geography”, Maxwell Institute, 2004
- Roper cites, Orson Pratt’s comments as published in “The Orators of Mormonism”, Catholic Telegraph, 14 April 1832, a reprint from the Mercer Free Press. Similar statements were published (early 1832) in the Franklin Democrat, another Pennsylvania newspaper
- Pratt, Orson, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, pg. 325
- Roper, Matthew, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations”, see section titled “Parley P. Pratt’s View”, Maxwell Institute, 2004
- Roper, Matthew, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations”, see section titled “John E. Pages View”, Maxwell Institute, 2004; Roper notes one other less exaggerated, 19th Century geography set between Colombia and Southern Mexico: Plain Facts for Students of the Book of Mormon, with a Map of the Promised Land (An anonymous pamphlet, ~1887)
- ”Extract from Stephen’s “Incidents of Travel in Central America”, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 22, Sept. 15, 1842, pg. 911
- Millennial Star, “History of Joseph Smith”, May 13, 1854, Vol. 16, pg. 296; see also Journal of Samuel D. Tyler, Sept. 25, 1838
- Richards, Franklin D. and Little, James A., A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel, 1882 edition, pg. 289
- Pack, Frederick J. (Gospel Doctrine Committee Chair) and Pyper, George D. (asst. ed. of The Instructor), “ROUTE TRAVELED BY LEHI AND HIS COMPANY”, The Instructor, Vol. 73. No. 4, April 1938, pg. 160; see also Roberts, B.H., New Witness for God, Vol. 3, pp. 501-503
- Cannon, George Q. (editor), “Topics of the Times”, Juvenile Instructor, July 15, 1887, Vol. 22, No. 14, pg. 221
- Coon notes that Pratt’s landing cite at Valparaiso, Chile is essentially the same latitude as proposed in the William’s document (~33 deg. South Latitude). Placing Lehi’s landing site as far south of the equator as Jerusalem is north would presumably allow seeds brought from Jerusalem to thrive in the New World. 1 Nephi 18:24 Coon however, challenges the logic of this argument as well as the “extreme” Indian and Pacific Ocean crossing: Coon, W. Vincent, Choice Above All Other Lands – Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources, pp. 64-69
- Reynolds, George, Commentary on the Book of Mormon (1955), Vol. 1, pp. 14, 189, 190; Vol. 2, pp. 6, 308-309, 376, 381; Vol. 3, pp. 311, 312, 315, 330-331; Vol. 4, pg. 237; Dictionary of the Book of Mormon (1954), pp. 208-209, 238, 253, 255, 285, 326; see also Roberts, B. H., Seventies Course in Theology, First Year, pg. 118; Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, pp. 73-74; McConkie, Bruce R, The Millennial Messiah, pg. 206
- Stephens, John Lloyd, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Vol. II, Ch. XXVI, “COMPARATIVE MODERN DATE OF RUINS”, pp. 442-443
- The Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons, April 1, 1845, Vol. 6, No.6, pg. 855, assured its readers that “cities have been discovered by Mr. Stevens [Stephens] in Central America, exactly where the Book of Mormon left them.”
- Roper, Matthew, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations”, Maxwell Institute, 2004
- See Hills, L.E., Geography of Mexico and Central America from 2234 BC to 421 AD, Independence, Missouri, 1917; A Short Work on the Popol Vuh and the Traditional History of the Ancient Americans by Ixt-lil-xochitl (Independence, MO, 1918); New Light on American Archaeology (Independence, MO, Lambert Moon, 1924); see also Gunsolley, J.F., “More Comment on Book of Mormon Geography”, Saints Herald 69/46 (1922), 1074-1076
- Trento, Salvatore M., Field Guide to Mysterious Places of Eastern North America, pp. 240-244
- Coon, W. Vincent, Olive's Near Cumorah Setting by Deduction and Best Fit
- Silverberg, Robert, "...and the mound-builders vanished from the earth", American Heritage Magazine, June 1969
- Roberts, B.H., New Witness for God, Vol. 3, pp. 501-503, as well as other LDS Church authorities, conclude the relatively recent attempt to attribute the statement to Joseph Smith to be untenable.
- Priddis, Venice, The Book and the Map – New Insights into Book of Mormon Geography
- Priddis, Venice (1975). The Book and the Map: New Insights into Book of Mormon Geography. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. ISBN 0-88494-277-5.
- Lehi's Isle of Promise, by Arthur J Kocherhans, Salt Lake City, 1990.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1956, vol.3, pp. 232-243.
- LATTER DAY SAINTS' MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, Volume I. No. 1. KIRTLAND, OHIO, OCTOBER, 1834, p. 12, 157-158]
- D&C 128:20
- Ether 9:3
- The Land of the Nephites, by Delbert W. Curtus, American Fork, Utah.
- Olive, Phyllis Carol, “Nephite Territory in a Nutshell”, Book of Mormon Lands in Western NY
- Coon, W. Vincent, CHOICE ABOVE ALL OTHER LANDS
- Olsen, Ralph A. (March 2004). "A Malay Site for Book of Mormon Events" (PDF). Sunstone. pp. 30–34. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, by John L Sorenson, FARMS, 1992.
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism
It has been noted that there are no favorable currents or winds that would carry the Nephites from the area of the Arabian Sea to South America. That generally appears to be true except during El Nino when the currents reverse.