Mormonism Mormon Archaeology

By John McCort

The Mormons have deceived many people into believing that archaeological finds in Central and South America have verified the Book of Mormon as being the word of God. To the average Christian the claims of the Mormon “elders” about recent archaeological finds are very difficult to deal with since the average Christian has little or no background to dispute the claims of these self-styled experts. The truth of the matter is that archaeology has produced nothing of any consequence that verifies the Mormon claims.

The Mormons need to listen to their own archaeologists. The few qualified archaeologists that the Mormons have within their ranks violently disagree with the popular Mormon notion that archaeology has verified the Book of Mormon. Dr. Ross T. Christensen, a leading Mormon archaeologist from Brigham Young University, stated,

“The statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archaeology is misleading. The truth of the matter is that we are only now beginning to see even the outlines of the archaeological time-periods which could compare with those of the Book of Mormon. How, then, can the matter have been settled once and for all? That such an idea could exist indicates the ignorance of many of our, people with regard to what is going on in the historical and anthropological sciences” (Dr. Ross T. Christensen, “University Archaeological Society Newsletter”, No. 64, January 30, 1960, p. 3).

Many of these zealous Mormon missionaries have boastfully claimed that many non-Mormon archaeologists are now using the Book of Mormon as an archaeological guide to help them find ancient civilizations in Central and South America. M. Wells Jakeman, another prominent Mormon archaeologist, had this to say about that claim,

“It must be confessed that some members of the ‘Mormon’ or ‘Latter-Day Saint Church’ are prone, in their enthusiasm for the Book of Mormon, to make claims for it that cannot be supported. So far as is known to the writer, no non-Mormon archaeologist at the present time is using the Book of Mormon as a guide in archaeological research. Nor does he know of any non-Mormon archaeologist who. holds that the American Indians are descendants of the Jews, or that Christianity was known in America in the first century of our era. This in itself, of course, does not disprove the Book of Mormon; for not enough is yet known of the actual period of that record in ancient America, or of the origin of the American Indians, for a final judgment at this time, scientifically speaking” (M. Wells Jakeman, “University Archaeological Society Newsletter”, No. 57, March 25, 1959, p. 4).

Many of the archaeological proofs that these overzealous Mormon missionaries present to verify their claims are unreliable. Many colorful highly illustrated books have been published by the Mormons to try to verify their assertions. Again, their own scholars reject the evidence that has thus far been presented,

“. . . however, we must not overlook the fact that some Mormons have popularized equally mistaken ideas, which they have held, about the book and have thus helped retard the development of Book of Mormon archaeology. For example, some popular ‘Mormon’ ‘books show pictures of classic Maya, Inca, and Aztec ruins and attribute them to the Nephites. Scholars are aware that these civilizations postdate Book of Mormon times. Other gross errors include the use of outdated or other wise unreliable source materials and the tendency to make every piece fit neatly into the Book of Mormon picture, whether it is there or not” (University Archaeological Society Newsletter, No. 54, November 19, 1958, p. 2. The statement was made by Dee F. Green, M.A., Latter Day Saints archaeologist, editor of the U.A. A. Newsletter )


“The publication of magnificent volumes of photographs of the ruins of buildings and cities located in the area of high civilizations in the Americas is another example. These lavishly illustrated books are frequently written and published in an endeavor to prove that complex civilizations existed in the Book of Mormon period. Unfortunately, their photographs for the most part are of cities that were built after the Book of Mormon period” (Papers of the Thirteenth Annual Symposium On The Archaeology Of The Scriptures, Delivered on April l, 1961).

According to their own admission the Mormons have very few men who are qualified. to speak with authority in the field of archaeology or related fields.

“Latter-Day. Saints who have had any formal training in archaeology are exceedingly few. In other words, the interest which they have in this field has been up to the present largely on an amateur rather than professional level. I am convinced that this sort of archaeology in the church will be no more effective in solving the problems which face us than folk medicine would be in protecting the health of the people” (Christensen, “U. A. S. Newsletter,” No. ’64, January 30, 1960, PP. 5-6).

The Mormons, are, by their own admission, alone in their claims and interpretation of archaeology. They have taken the proverbial attitude, “The rest of the world is crazy except me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee.” For years the Mormons claimed that the Smithsonian Institute used the Book of Mormon as a guide in archaeological research. The Smithsonian Institute finally published a letter disclaiming any confidence in the Book of Mormon as an archaeological guide. This letter can be obtained by writing a letter to the Institute and requesting a copy.

The Christian public should not be fooled by the confident assertions of over-zealous Mormon missionaries about archaeological finds. Even their own scholars won’t and can’t back them up. The evidence is not there:

Truth Magazine, XX:9, p. 9-10
February 19, 1976