Part one of a series.

"And 'X' never, ever, marks the spot." — Indiana Jones

Rod Meldrum is like a latter-day Indiana Jones — except he doesn't look the part at all. He is tall, in his 40s, and has a mustache more reminiscent of David Niven than Harrison Ford. And unlike Indy's adventures in the spider web-infested caves of Peru, Meldrum explores the mysteries of DNA, the Book of Mormon and geography in peer-reviewed journals and on scientific search engines.

If he is right, most theories about where the Book of Mormon took place are off by about 2,000 miles.

Meldrum saw an anti-Mormon banner at a 2003 church general conference that declared: "DNA Evidence Proves Book of Mormon Wrong!" The critics claimed the Book of Mormon says American Indians were only descended from migrations from the Middle East. They then argued DNA studies showed American Indians have only Asian DNA markers.

This didn't bother Meldrum. As early as the 1920s, LDS scholars had recognized that the Book of Mormon not only allowed for but also gave strong hints that the Americas were populated long before the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi led his people from Jerusalem to the Americas by boat in 600 B.C.

What troubled Meldrum was that most of the responses from the LDS community were highly technical explanations why no DNA related to Book of Mormon people had yet been found. The thrust of these arguments is twofold: First, the DNA makeup of the various Book of Mormon peoples is unknown. Second, these groups were small enough that it is possible that the larger existing populations could have diluted their distinctive DNA out of existence. The chance of finding any Book of Mormon DNA may be unlikely. Lehi's DNA might be lost to time.

Meldrum accepted this as a possibility. But he wasn't satisfied.

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