Comments about ‘Ancient gold plates in Mesoamerica’

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Published: Saturday, April 30 2011 3:30 a.m. MDT

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Idaho Falls, ID

This is nothing but spin. Another example of journalistic bias. Just because they find "grabados de oro" or codices written on small pieces of gold, does NOT equate them with being plates. That is a massive stretch and a half truth. Might I also suggest that there has never been anything ever found in the Americas written in Reformed Egyptian. Michael D. Coe, a prominent Mesoamerican archaeologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, wrote,

"As far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the historicity of The Book of Mormon, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group".

Mormon Boy
Springville, UT

Awesome article! Thanks!

Cedar City, Utah

@elchupacabras, your opinion is noted, but referencing an expert with a 38-year-old quote does not bolster it. four decades of additional research in this area is very long time to have found more evidence. perhaps Prof. Coe and others at his level of expertise have modified acceptance of Book of Mormon historicity now, in the 21st century

Idaho Falls, ID

@crunchem Coe is not the only one to have made such a statement. The Smithsonian has affirmed it, and so has Johan Normark, one of the greatest archeologists in recent years to study Mesoamerica. I live among the Maya in southern Mexico, and have visited the ruins on many different occasions. I have found absolutely NO connection with the Old World. The only ones to argue in favor of these dubious links are those from the Maxwell Institute, and apologists such as Daniel Peterson, who equates the "horse" with a "tapir." The Book of Mormon is a fantastic 19th Century epic tale, representing theological arguments from Joe Smith's day, but I have no doubt in my mind that it is definitively NOT historical.

Mr. One Two
Layton, UT

crunchem - "perhaps Prof. Coe and others at his level of expertise have modified acceptance of Book of Mormon" or perhaps he hasn't. Do you have anything to show that Coe has modified his acceptance. Or are you just speculating that he has. Way to much speculation going on... both in the article and in the comments.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Here is a question for all
If an archaeologist found something that made him/her believe that the Book of Mormon was true would that person then not be more likely to join the LDS Church and as such then be discounted because he/she is LDS?

Why So Serious
Magna, UT

Oh no here comes some more controversy, I like when people swing the Smithsonian like its a large baseball bat. The Smithsonian has more secrets buried in it then the Vatican (maybe not but close), there has been many interesting things found in our nation and they are now hidden there in wooden boxes.
"I'm no big city lawyer" (quote form Homer Simpson) but if there was as much money spent on finding things in Mesoamerica as is spent in Egypt, I believe much more awesome artifacts would be found that just might explain some things further. There is proof all through our country that there was a large contingent of intelligent people that lived here before, who were the mound builders, who named places in the Grand Canyon Egyptian names before the native Americans, the serpent mound in Ohio, Memphis which was a large burial ground from a large war.

We believe what we want to believe; there are some that want so badly to find proof that their beliefs are correct, there are others that so badly want to disprove anything to do with LDSism, and others that just have faith in their beliefs.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT


Also, The Smithsonian in 1998 stated that "The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide." Meaning, its purpose is to bring souls to Christ, not to be used as an historical guide - it doesn't contain enough detail for that.

While archaeology could be useful in determining where the events of the Book of Mormon took place, the BOM does not contain the sort of historical detail that would make it useful for archaeologists.

Non-LDS archaeologists' opinions on the matter say nothing about the divinity and truthfulness of the BOM. One must also be a scholar in what the BOM actually says in order to make any opinion on the matter.

The best that can be expected, are some similarities and parallels, which I believe some LDS scholars have done.

But God will provide a spiritual answer to it being a true book if one has the faith and real desire to ask. That is the real issue.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT


"The only ones to argue in favor of these dubious links are those from the Maxwell Institute, and apologists such as Daniel Peterson, who equates the "horse" with a "tapir." "

It was actually Michael D. Coe, a "prominent Mesoamerican archaeologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University", whom you mentioned in your first post who originally equated "horse" with "tapir".

Not Easily Persuaded
Sacramento, CA

I believe this article is important if only from the view the author takes with respect to knowledge and the reliability of statements. He doesn't even have to be precisely correct to succeed.

Clearly, just because LDS have a conviction the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith, etc, and I personally accept this as being true, one simply cannot widely speculate and think such speculation is viable. There has to be evidence, and the author's position that by many LDS making less than acceptable claims with respect to standard archaeological practices diminishes LDS credibility is very important.

His conclusion that there is documented evidence of metal plates before the Jaredite period as well as after the Book of Mormon scriptural record ends suggests the strong possibility of plates either hidden, destroyed, or not discovered in between those two time periods. That claim is sufficient.

I believe in process of time other plates will show up, hopefully by non-LDS so the reality of their content will not be easily refuted, with hopefully at least a portion of them being translatable.

Buena Park, CA

"At times, intriguing but often spurious evidence is used by well-intentioned apologists in support of the Book of Mormon. These claims are easily refuted by critics and do not improve our standing in mainstream archaeology. Solid and sound scholarship is essential here."
Oh, thank you for that. Every minute explaining why someone who has accepted the truth of The Book of Mormon says untrue things to support it is a minute not discussing the truth of The Book of Mormon.

Littleton, CO

Sorry for straying too close to the original topic here...
Could it be possible that these gold disks are hypocephali? They were found at the bottom of a well along with human remains, after all. They "represented portals into the next world, revelation and prophecy", which sounds pretty close to Hugh Nibley's description of Egyptian hypocephali found with mummies. A hypocephalus, like for example Facsimile number 2 in the Book of Abraham, was typically placed over the head or face of the deceased person as a "passport" to the afterlife.

Florissant, MO

Awesome article, OK, so I already believe in and accept the Book of Mormon, so this doesn't change my feelings nor did the article that Deseret News have a month ago which referred to Fox News about Ancient Books being discovered in Jordan. Now that one really was awesome, cause it looks just like the pictures I have seen that depicted what the gold plates looked like. Well this article and the picture is awesome, cause it shows the writings on the gold plates. But the most awesome thing of all, is reading the Book of Mormon and the spirit it brings into my life and the greater understanding of the Savior from those words. So, no this article doesn't change my feelings, I already felt those feelings. I am sorry that people can't read and pray about the words, and then have all these things come forward that Joseph Smith would have been clueless about, and yet their hearts still won't open to find the truth of the words. But then Lamen and Lemuel saw angels and still could not believe in the end.

Tooele, UT

When discussing archeology or DNA or other issues relating to the Book of Mormon here are a few important points.

#1 - The Book of Enos to the Book of Omni is three very short chapters which cover a period of about 400 years. Any guess of how the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations evolved and adapted to their surroundings is not mentioned once, so anything is possible.

#2 - Following the three days of darkness recorded in 3rd Nephi it says in the Chapter 11 verse 1 the people were, "...showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place."

The point being, any mention of lands or cities or inhabitants prior to 3rd Nephi may be a moot point. How much "change" took place, no one can say for sure.

Occasionally, I enjoy reading about Mesoamerican findings, but I would caution anyone not to base their testimony of the BOM solely on this. It is a 522 page book which covers 2000 years, and while there are a few hints here and there of people and places, most of these are too vague to come to any certain conclusions.

Spanish Fork, UT

There is not concrete tangible evidence that proves the Book of Mormon is true. Those who believe it, do so based upon non-physical evidence. Those who don't, have their own reasons. The debate is therefore noisy, but unproductive.

What is interesting, however, is the intense feelings those who don't believe, fertilize toward those who do. Logically, if an individual is secure in their beliefs, then a counter belief should have no effect. For example, if I avowed that the sun will not rise tomorrow, you might be amused, but certainly you wouldn't be angry. Or if I believed Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the best musicals and you believe that the honor goes to Sondheim, I doubt you would be angry.

The triggers for anxiety, contempt, and anger are internal, not external. I do not know why people become angry when someone cherishes a religious belief, but they do.

Some argue that they are angry because religious beliefs motivate votes for laws they don't like. This is a complex argument. Anger happens in a nanosecond, so this sounds more like an ex-post facto justification.

The answer is deeper and worth inspection if not introspection.

Idaho Falls, ID

The Deseret News should have mentioned that Daniel Johnson, the author, is connected with the Book of Mormon Archeological Forum. What happened to full disclosure?

Lindon, UT

To elchupacabras: Had the article been clearly attempting to discount the B of M, would you have played the "full disclosure" card?

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

"Why not believe Smith could have supernaturally carried 200 pounds under his arm and be done with it? The fact is, no Mormon apologist or LDS leader argues that God gave Smith supernatural strength to carry the plates."

While God-given ability to carry the plates is certainly a possibility, it is also probable that Joseph Smith did not need it. Granted, it would not have been easy, but he was a very strong person, and working on the farm and with all that heavy physical labor, carrying 50 or 60 pounds down from a hill is certainly plausible. It's likely the plates weighed far less than 200 pounds that critics claim.

Joseph's brother William, who had handled the plates in a pillow-case, claimed on several occasions that the set of plates weighed about sixty pounds.

Martin Harris claimed the plates weighed "altogether from forty to sixty lbs."

Joseph's sister Catherine, while she was dusting in the room where he had been translating, handled the plates while covered with a cloth and claimed she "found them very heavy." (How much could a woman reasonably move? Certainly nowhere near 200 pounds.)


269 WORDS, of which too many where capitalized and a profile that did not include a town, so lets see if this makes the cut, those who comment with emotion and bias are entertainment for those who set forth bait. intellectual pursuit can lead one to convert to mormon beliefs if that subjects study so leads them,and detracts not from the facts. Plates be they large or small light or heavy, if containing links to the old world would be seized by the discoverer to protect the claim to the land by representatives of the church or throne, so there absentia is proof of nothing, except the ease with which the clowns will rise to the bait to entertain the instigator, both of whom diminish the discussion.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

RTMESSENGERCan I recommend you find a better source then the Tanners, they have been proven to remove facts to make things appear different then they are. One case I documented my self in speaking of the First Vision they claimed that even as late as the 1850's LDS leaders were not aware of the Father and Son official version. to show this they used a discourse of Orson Pratt. Reading it the way present it it does appear to support their view. However I noticed an ellipse (...) in it. When I went to the JD and looked at the original 249 words were removed. Those 249 words were the official version, they also fail to mention that he published a version of it in England a year before the official version was published by Joseph.
As for the weight of the plates William Smith said they were not pure Gold but a copper gold alloy. This is another item that was unknown in Josephs day but was even mentioned in the article. Turns out simply rubbing it with citric acid dissolves a thin layer of copper leaving the appearance of pure gold just as Joseph said.

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