Fortifications in the Book of Mormon Account Compared with Mesoamerican Fortifications


John Sorenson wrote a fascinating article on mesoamerican fortifications, which can be accessed here. There are several things that jumped out at me. Actually, you should probably read it first. Sorenson shows how the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon mirror those found in Mesoamerica. It's a great read. Two things stick out to me from Sorenson.

Up until at least 1990, there were 10 named fortified sites in the Central Depression of Chiapas, our candidate for Nephite territory. However, there were 30 named fortified defensive sites in Western Highland Guatemala, our candidate for Lamanite territory. No wonder the Nephites never went down to invade and were under constant threat of invasion. It was an impossible task for them but seemingly easy pickings for the Lamanites thus making Nephite victories all the more miraculous.


The above chart shows when the numerous fortified defensive sites were constructed, for all Mesoamerica, not just the Central Depression or Western highlands of Guatemala. As far as the Nephites go, the Book of Mormon covers from 600 BC to 421 AD, give or take a year. Sorenson's chart speaks for itself.

With this in mind, I did a search in the Book of Mormon for the times the word fortifications appeared in the text. I did the same for of security, strongholds , fort and towers. Towers are relevant because they were a part of the Nephite fortifications.

For the purposes of this post, I excluded references to towers were someone was praying or preaching, only counting references to towers that occurred in a military context. I also excluded references to the tower of Babel, Nephi's visions of the future and his quotations of Isaiah.

With the exemption of Captain Moroni and King Noah, we can't tell when all of the towers mentioned in the Book of Mormon were built but we can see for what times they were mentioned.

Obviously, they won't be mentioned for times they didn't exist and they will be mentioned for times they did exist. Though it is possible that they existed for times not mentioned, we have no way of knowing is such is the case.

Chronology of Defensive Fortifications in the Book of Mormon
Source
Pre- 1000 BC: 0
1000BC - 600 BC: 0
600 BC-400 BC: 0
400 BC-50 BC: Mosiah, Alma, Helaman
50 BC - 200 AD: 3 Nephi
200 AD - 421 AD: Mormon, Moroni

The Book of Mormon converges with Mesoamerica in not only the style of defensive fortifications built but when they were built. Of course, it should go without saying, not every fortification built in Mesoamerica was Nephite or Lamanite.

Just like Mormons in the American South West, the peoples described in the Book of Mormon were subsets of much larger cultures. Also, the vast majority of Book of Mormon era, Pre-Classic sites have yet to be excavated so these findings, though promising, are tentative.

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