From time to time, I get an email from George Potter. He has a website called the Nephi Project. I heard him speak a few years ago on research he has done in Yemen. His research is pretty well-respected, and it appears he has a very good candidate for Nephi’s Harbor, and he may have found the River Laman in Saudi Arabia that is mentioned by Lehi in the Book of Mormon. (I really need to write a review of his and another researcher’s work–they are really good.) Potter thinks that Lehi and his family followed the frankincense trail to Yemen before setting sail for the New World.
George has recently shifted his focus from the Old World to the New World. George is a proponent that the Book of Mormon lands are in Peru. His latest newsletter dated Oct 13, 2009, says,
10 Reasons Why the Book of Mormon Took Place in Peru
By George Potter
My new book, Nephi in the Promised Land is now available in the Nephi Project Discovery Store. When I started writing Nephi in the Promised Land, several people questioned my efforts. I heard typical comments like these: “The Book of Mormon people were the Mound Builders of North America.” “I took a cruise to Mexico, and our LDS guide showed us the ruins of Zarahemla.” While these members are sincere in their beliefs, they must either have an extremely limited knowledge of New World archaeology, or their version of the Book of Mormon is quite different from the one I grew up reading. Here is what my copy of the Book of Mormon states:
1. The Book of Mormon was inscribed on metal plates.
2. The Nephites mined gold and also worked copper and silver.
3. The Nephites made swords of steel, a derivative of iron.
4. The people of the Book of Mormon had herds of animals that could be described as sheep.
5. They also had animals that were described as horses.
6. The Nephites had a Semitic-like language.
7. The Nephites had a written language that became lost (Jacob 4:1,2).
8. The Nephites and Jaredites worshipped a white god who had the form of a man.
9. The Nephites had costly apparel.
10. The Jaredites built cities has early as the third millennium B.C.
These ten characteristics of the Book of Mormon people are not fringe elements of their storyline. During the next three months I will discuss, one by one, each of these elements of the Book of Mormon account and why they all point to Peru.
The newsletter lists a few more of the reasons Potter likes Peru. I’ve previously quoted from Potter’s newsletter when he heralded an iron ore discovery and Cohen DNA in Peru. What do you think?
These are very interesting, but I have two problems. First, alot depends on your interpretation of the text. Are you looking for a strict application of “steel” swords or are you just looking for some kind of metallic slashing weapon? Depending on how you read the text you will have a very different set of criteria to look for. Second, there are many ancient sites that match these characteristics. So his list of ten is more like a narrowing mechanism than a way to definitely find a spot. According to his list I came up with at least three different places (two in Mesoamerica, Peru, and maybe north American depending on #1). So I am not convinced in the least by his reasoning.
I’d be more impressed if he discussed what the BoM doesn’t say. What kinds of things (plants, animals, etc.) were common in Peru back then? What kinds of crops did the natives raise? Does the BoM discuss those things?
In other words, turn the question around. If the BoM peoples lived in Peru, what kinds of things would we expect the BoM to mention in the text?
I have also been to one of George Potter’s presentations. He does a very thorough job of researching. The one I went to mainly discussed their journey over in Saudi Arabia. I’m very intersted in learning more about his Peru theory. I tend to lean towards a meso-america theory of some sort myself anyways.
Are you familiar with Jerry Ainsworth work in the highlands of Guatamala?
Clothing (not land) was a sign of wealth and status in both Mayan and Aztec cultures as well.
Morgan, I completely agree with you. Interpretation plays such an important role in how we evaluate theories–that’s why there are so many of them.
CHJ, that’s an interesting way to look at it, “If the BoM peoples lived in Peru, what kinds of things would we expect the BoM to mention”, but I think that introduces bias into any theory. It seems to me that so many people figure out NY, or Peru, or Baja, and then read the BoM to make it fit. I like Sorenson’s approach to first figure out the internal geography, and then try to fit that to a location. To do it the way you’re suggesting seems inherently biased, IMO.
AMA, welcome back! It seems geography is getting quite a few hits on your site as well. I love Potter’s research on old world geography, but I must say I’m a bit skeptical about his location of Peru. I will say that the MS Word Docs with his email newsletter are very interesting to read–perhaps he will persuade me someday.
Rob, I’m not familiar with Jerry Ainsworth. Do you have some weblinks, books, or other references you can steer me toward?
Seth, I’m not sure what you are saying in regards to Peru–is this a disqualification of some sort?
Anyone trying to prove or disprove the BoM is biased.
I can’t think of a single scenario that eliminates that.
All BofM lands theorists have to overcome one hurdle: getting Moroni to Hill Cumorah in New York. “I am Moroni. I witnessed a nasty battle at Hill Cumorah in Peru, now I am going to spend the next twenty years walking through Central America, Mexico, the Southwest, the Southeast, and into the Mid-Atlantic States with a very heavy load of metal plates. I’ll probably pass by a variety of different civilizations, yet I will am still on the run from the bad guys down in Peru. I will bury these metal plates in another hill, but I am going to call it Cumorah, too, without clarifying in the record itself that I am doing this. I am all alone, but I really feel I should name this hill anyway.”
Sam, not all BoM geography theories must overcome the hurdle of getting Moroni to Hill Cumorah (though I admit many do.) While the scholarship on this site I reviewed is shoddy, there is a camp of people who believe the BoM lands take place in the Great Lakes Region. (I’m sure there is probably a better proponent of Great Lakes than this fellow.) I also note that Rodney Meldrum’s theory doesn’t have a problem getting Moroni to NY.
If you were to accept for the sake of argument that Moroni had, in fact just been through a nasty battle in which he’d seen his people destroyed according to prophecy and had seen the testimonies he’d seen, why in the world would you expect him to do anything BUT spend the next twenty years of his life dragging the plates to wherever he was told to put them. And why would he name the hill in New York anything BUT the same name as the Hill where sacred records among his people had been buried originally?
Should he have called it Manhattan?
People do cross continents at the risk of their lives. Some of them are called Mormons.
I have not found anything on the Internet, or on the Nephi Project website, that gives me any evidence the Book of Mormon lands are in Peru. I’m not going to buy into a theory that states that the land has changed so much that nothing can be identified. Just going by animals, traditions and DNA doesn’t cut it. I wanna see a map! Where’s Sidon? Zarahemla? Cumorah? Mesoamerica still looks like it has the most going for it, but I can change my mind.
I’d like to see Potter’s views reviewed.
John, I haven’t really looked into Potter’s claims in depth. Another blogger told me he bought Potter’s DVD and liked it. (See one of the last comments at http://graceforgrace.com/2009/09/08/book-of-mormon-geography-which-theory-do-you-believe/
It’s an interesting idea. I should put this on my list of topics to post on. I have reviewed a few theories on Malay, a Great Lakes Theory, and a general South American theory that I don’t know if it matches Potter’s conclusions. I definitely need to study Potter’s theory more in-depth.
Perhaps you could add this to my list of Future Posts.
I find Rod Meldrum’s recent work interesting. According to his research, all the available evidence that supports Hebrew DNA in the New World places the Lehites in North America. That, combined with a plethora of archeological, historical, and scriptural evidence, makes it very compelling indeed. A South American setting has never really worked for me.
John, if you’re not already familiar with his work, Rod Meldrum draws that map for you. The map seems to be the toughest part to deliver and Rod’s is the best I have encountered.
I really need to do a formal review of Meldrum’s work. I agree that it is interesting. My biggest problem with Meldrum is that he cherry picks Joseph Smith’s quotes to support his theory. There are other quotes from Joseph which do not support Meldrum’s theory. For example, Smith said that Lehi landed 30 degrees South of the Equator. Smith also said that the city of Zarahemla was in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is also evident that Smith believed that the BoM lands covered all of North and South America. Meldrum conveniently ignores these quotes.
Simon Southerton stopped by my blog and said that Meldrum is relying on 20-30 year old DNA results. These have since been disproved to originate from the Mediterranean. You can read more on the DNA issue at http://www.signaturebooks.com/dna.htm
I also don’t think that the Hopewell peoples are a very good candidate for either Nephites or Lamanites. Nephi discusses chariots, and palaces. The Hopewell didn’t have a wheel, didn’t use metal, and were much less advanced than the BoM seems to indicate.
I’m not completely discounting Meldrum, but it seems to me that his work should be referred to as “science, mingled with scripture.” I’ve found some pretty significant holes in Meldrum that I think he needs to better address. Perhaps I’ll put together a more formal review in the coming months. The presentation I attended last year with Bruce Porter is not a very scientific presentation.
I have no idea where the Book of Mormon events took place. If only Mormon had left us GPS coordinates….
The best theory that I have seen so far is the wierest. Since Joseph Smith only translated part of the plates. The part dealing with the former inhabitants of this continent may be in the part that was not translated. What we have could be an account of the source from whence they came. This could be some place where Elaphants, horses, cattle and Sheep actually lived during the Bokk of Normon time period. Since bothe the Jaredites and Nephites had an abundance of silk it may have been accesible to Chinese silk merchants,
Someone has come up with a theory as you mention. Have you seen my post on the Malay Theory? I did a follow up post showing a proposed map, and have a download link for the theory if you are interested.
I have just read the book “Lehi never saw Mesoamerica”. WOW.. talk about an intense book! This author goes into so much detail about actually matching what the scriptures say vs what is on the land.
I have read many theories.. and this person is so right on! If you are interested in visiting the author’s web site and blog on the matter.. you can find him here —> http://nephicode.blogspot.com
In 2 Ne 10:20, Jacob tells us exactly the land he is living on: …we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.
If we read in Helaman 3:8.. it says: And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.
The promised land needs to be surrounded by water.. “except for the narrow neck of land”. So.. the Land Southward would be surrounded by water.. (except for the narrow neck of land)… and the land northward would be surrounded by water (except for the narrow neck of land) But the entire land northward and southward together would be an isle of the sea and all would be surrounded by the sea.. not a lake.. a sea.
Hey.. what do you have to lose? 🙂
The huge problem with the Peru geographical candidate is that Moroni and Joseph Smith both specifically referred to the Book of Mormon lands being on “this continent.” Mesoamerica is on this, the North American continent, but South America doesn’t meet this requirement. The problem with the “heartland” and “Palmyra” models primarily have to do with climate, poisonous serpents, population and geography. No one advocating the Northern America and South America models has been able to drop a viable map on the area and make a case! Mesoamerican models meet the climate, population and geographical criteria. There’s also no shortage of poisonous serpents in places one would expect them to be. I think the FAIRLDS presentations on YouTube to make irrefutable points that point to Mesoamerica.
I also recently came across the work of Del Dowdell’s at Nephicode.com and have read his books. After having read many book on the mesoamerica theories and Meldrum’s Great Lakes/ heartland theory, and others, I am convinced Peru is by far the most likely location of the Book of Mormon lands. Check out Nephicode.com. It’s very logical and factual and near impossible to disagree with if you give it an honest study.
I think you can put the geography in lots of places and make the case that many BoM verses match. The problem is that when you start looking for iron, horses, wheat, and “great buildings”, you’re going to run into problems whether in Mesoamerica, or Peru.
To My way of thinking there is one verse that rules out most other lands as candidates for the book of mormon geography the only land that fits this verse is Mesoamerica. Alma 22:27.
And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, (which ran from the sea east even to the sea west), and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west—and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.
The part in brackets is the most important. The Narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea. The Sidon river had its head there, so it is most likely mountainous.
[…] Peru […]
It is all very interesting. The best explanation that I have found so far is on this blog: http://nephicode.blogspot.com/
He places the Land of Promise in Peru. It has been discovered quite recently that the mountains of Peru are very young and that they have evidence of once being at sea level. Also, the Amazon basin is very young and used to be under the sea. Remember that Samuel prophesied that “there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great.” There are many other interesting things he goes over in the blog that are of great value. Check it out.
Here is a Study Guide to the Andes model:
Click to access Evidences.pdf
I’ve found evidence of the Liahona in Peru.