The Helaman Migration and the Mixe-Zoqueans of Central Mexico

Disclaimer: The following does not represent much original thinking of my own nor does it "prove" Joseph Smith Jr. was a Prophet of God. Checkout Brant Gardner's work; it's my main source for this and other posts.

 In Helaman 3, we read the description of a group of people who, in 50 BC, migrated to a land that:
1)is an "exceedingly great distance" northward of Nephite lands
2)a land of "large bodies of water and many rivers"
3)a place where people are expert in the use of cement.
4)a place that underwent deforestation.
5)a place which had people who hailed from south of the isthmus, Nephites and Ammonites.
6)and whose inhabitants "began to cover the face of the whole earth".

 From about 200 AD to 600 AD the only area in the Americas that possibly matches these six criteria is the city of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is:

1)northward from the central depression of Chiapas.
2)is in the Teotihucan Valley, a side pocket of the Valley of Mexico. The Valley of Mexico was home to Lakes Xaltocan, Texcoco, Xochimilco and Chalco.
3)Teotihuacanos made extensive use of cement.
4)It has been proposed that the destruction of the surrounding forests necessary for the burning of the lime which went into building Teotihuacan contributed to erosion and desiccation of the region.
5)There was a strong Southern(Mayan) presence at Teotihuacan.
6)Teotihuacan influence extened into the Gulf Coast of Mexico, Oaxaca and as far south as Guatemala.

Of all these convergences, a seventh one might be added:

"... there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land. And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, ...".

Mormon tells us that these people, who migrated far north, came specifically from the land of Zarahemla, which, per Sorenson's model, would be the central depression of Chiapas. These Nephites would then be Zoquean speakers and they eventually settled in Teotihuacan(See Here). And it was from there that Mormon's contemporary "Gadianton Robbers" flourished and eventually came down to southern Mexico for profit then conquest.

What's interesting is that according to Terence Kaufman, Mixe-Zoquean speakers settled in Central Mexico, sometime between 100 BC and 400 AD, eventually becoming a heavy influence on the Nahuatl(Aztec) language:
If Kaufman is right, then Mixe-Zoquean speakers were moving up to Central Mexico, from Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas or Tabasco, at about the same time some Nephites were moving far north, from Chiapas. In other words, just as the Mormon exodus to the Great Salt Lake was part of a larger migration of Yankees into what became the American West, other people came too, the Oregon Trail, the Gold Rush etc, the Mixe-Zoquean migrants to Central Mexico  were NOT the Nephites but the Nephites were part of  that Mixe-Zoquean movement to Central Mexico. Fascinating stuff.


  1. This criteria can be applied pretty well to a model having Zarahemla in the Peten and the land northward being the Yucatan(this doesn't rule out migrations into other northern lands, but would explain why the Nephites made a final doomed stand, and simply didn't continue fleeing northward, the fact that some Nephites are reported escaping to the south, may indicate going north from this point was impossible, as it would be for a nation trapped in the Yucatan).

    The Peten is also unique in having the only Book of Mormon era highway network. Exact style fortifications exist at Becan and Tikal, and a common belief system both in the Peten and extending to what are likely satellites in the Yucatan. Their main and largest structures being triadic temples.
    All the lowland triadics built during the Book of Mormon period are believed to have a common theme: The Maize god’s sacrifice, resurrection and his entering into heaven.

    Triadic temples during the preclassic do not occur south of the city of Caracol, indicating a different system of worship in the southern highlands.

    There is no indication that those migrating north were apostate, so we could assume they took their religious practice with them intact.

    The Peten were literate. The conquest of Tikal, with its ditch and inner wall fortification, is recorded taking place January the 16th 378 according to a stella erected in Tikal by the conquerors. Other cities throughout the region have similar inscriptions.


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