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paulpatter

What's the Latest on Archaeology Evidence for BoM?

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As far as steel objects produced in a Bessemer Converter are concerned, this is clearly nonsense. In the sense of carbon-hardened iron, however, steel was contemporaneous and pre-contemporaneous with Lehi, and Laban's sword was clearly made of it.

The "steel" of Nephi's bow, however, isn't likely to have been made of hardened iron. Ever try to bend a steel bow? I don't think Nephi, for alll of him being portrayed as pretty buff in Friberg's paintings, could pull such a bow. The problem with the word "steel" is that its an English word that historically has been used for other purposes than just hardened iron.

There's your bow of steel that Nephi used. He broke his, too. In fact, a bow of steel is simply a bow strengthened by resilient materials so it is very strong and can drive an arrow a long way. The word steel does not necessarily mean what you think it does (with apologies to Enigo Montoya).

As far as the rest of the steel in the Book of Mormon is concerned, lack of evidence of any steelmaking does not provide evidence of absence. For example, nobody would have believed that an obscure African people on Lake Victoria could have been producing medium-carbon steel as far back as 2000 years ago, but they were. This was steel of such high quality that it wasn't duplicated by European metallurgy until the Siemens and Bessemer processes in the 1850's. This was discovered back around 1978ish, which was about 50 years after they had stopped making their own steel because they could buy it readily. Now, if the Haya people of Tanzania could make advanced steel products that far back, what stops the Nephites from having found a process for doing something similar, even if something not so advanced?

This was new to me: I was amazed about the Haya people and their steel.

We might want to think of the "steel" -- meteoric iron dagger or short-sword of King Tutankhamun (long before Laban). How did Joseph know that a gold hilt was called for in the case of Laban's steel sword, just as in the case of King Tut?

It isn't only the Haya people on Lake Victoria who used to produce steel (when Dr Livingston was there, the Haya called European steel "rotten iron"). The Kpelle Tribe of Liberia has been producing and alloying various types of steel at the village level for centuries. One doesn't need to melt or smelt the iron, carburization can take place quite well when the bloom is red hot. Other materials (manganese, chromium, etc,) can also be hammered into the iron during the blacksmithing process.

The notion of a composite bow makes sense -- with bronze (KJV "steel") pieces added to wood for strength.

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We might want to think of the "steel" -- meteoric iron dagger or short-sword of King Tutankhamun (long before Laban). How did Joseph know that a gold hilt was called for in the case of Laban's steel sword, just as in the case of King Tut?

It isn't only the Haya people on Lake Victoria who used to produce steel (when Dr Livingston was there, the Haya called European steel "rotten iron"). The Kpelle Tribe of Liberia has been producing and alloying various types of steel at the village level for centuries. One doesn't need to melt or smelt the iron, carburization can take place quite well when the bloom is red hot. Other materials (manganese, chromium, etc,) can also be hammered into the iron during the blacksmithing process.

The notion of a composite bow makes sense -- with bronze (KJV "steel") pieces added to wood for strength.

Rather than debate the possibility of when fine steel could be produced, wouldn't it stand to reason that a battle that happened using that steel would leave remnants?

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Rather than debate the possibility of when fine steel could be produced, wouldn't it stand to reason that a battle that happened using that steel would leave remnants?

Not in a tropical, salt air enviroment.

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Not in a tropical, salt air enviroment.

What you're saying is all the evidence that steel was used in battle would be lost, along with the process to make it, because it was all exposed to a salt air environment?

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What you're saying is all the evidence that steel was used in battle would be lost, along with the process to make it, because it was all exposed to a salt air environment?

How much physical evidence was uncovered at the Horns of Hattin, or Ayn Jalud?

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How much physical evidence was uncovered at the Horns of Hattin, or Ayn Jalud?

You answered my question with a question... that's not an answer, but another (different) question.

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Inigo...you owe him another apology. ;)

http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0003786/

Wha'? Cal? Did you say something?

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Rather than debate the possibility of when fine steel could be produced, wouldn't it stand to reason that a battle that happened using that steel would leave remnants?

We have only 4 references to "steel" in the KJV, and all are translations of a Hebrew word for "bronze," or "copper."

In the Book of Mormon we have only 5 references to "steel," one of which is Jaredite (Ether 7:9 probably in the 3rd millennium B.C.), two of which are Old World (I Nephi 4:9, 16:18), and the other two occur very early in Nephite history (II Nephi 5:15, Jarom 8 ), with no further mention. Even if these references are to actual carburized iron (which is what steel is), there cannot have been much of it. And, as has been pointed out, the wet Mesoamerican environment might very well rust them away in short order.

I have pointed out previously here that tons of iron artifacts have been found archeologically in Olmec sites, and that plenty of iron outcroppings were available.

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I have no issue with an astronomer saying life is possible/probable. Even intelligent life. However, if that astronomer goes as far to say that it disobeys the laws of physics, or can hear everything we say so we should start a religion after this inevitable life- I would smile and tell him that he needs more evidence than that.

Of course, claimed abrogation of the laws of nature (physics, chemistry, biology, and the like) always raises doubts in the rational mind, and you are right to think that. That was one of the prime reasons why the late Bertrand Russell rejected religion entirely. At the same time, it should be made clear that LDS theology (never considered by Russell) does not opt for abrogation of natural law, nor claims any miracles of that sort -- except for what people ordinarily call "miracles" simply because they do not understand the natural processes involved. A little time with the writings of Orson Pratt might very well give you pause, just as meeting those advanced sentient beings from some other corner of our galaxy might very well seem authentically miraculous -- but only due to our relative ignorance.

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You answered my question with a question... that's not an answer, but another (different) question.

Answering a question with a question can be very effective.

I mentioned two battlefields from less than a thousand years ago. Both locations are known and indisputable. The battles weren't small skirmishes.

We have a fair amount of details about them, yet how much physical evidence has been uncovered from them?

Answer, almost entirely nothing.

Why should the BoM be different?

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As far as the unfounded claims of steel and iron in the Book of Mormon are concerned, I don't think these are as unfounded as you (or others with similar inclinations) might think.

As far as steel objects produced in a Bessemer Converter are concerned, this is clearly nonsense. In the sense of carbon-hardened iron, however, steel was contemporaneous and pre-contemporaneous with Lehi, and Laban's sword was clearly made of it.

The "steel" of Nephi's bow, however, isn't likely to have been made of hardened iron. Ever try to bend a steel bow? I don't think Nephi, for alll of him being portrayed as pretty buff in Friberg's paintings, could pull such a bow. The problem with the word "steel" is that its an English word that historically has been used for other purposes than just hardened iron.

In the King James version of the Bible we have the following for 2 Sam. 22:35:

35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

There's your bow of steel that Nephi used. He broke his, too. In fact, a bow of steel is simply a bow strengthened by resilient materials so it is very strong and can drive an arrow a long way. The word steel does not necessarily mean what you think it does (with apologies to Enigo Montoya).

As far as the rest of the steel in the Book of Mormon is concerned, lack of evidence of any steelmaking does not provide evidence of absence. For example, nobody would have believed that an obscure African people on Lake Victoria could have been producing medium-carbon steel as far back as 2000 years ago, but they were. This was steel of such high quality that it wasn't duplicated by European metallurgy until the Siemens and Bessemer processes in the 1850's. This was discovered back around 1978ish, which was about 50 years after they had stopped making their own steel because they could buy it readily. Now, if the Haya people of Tanzania could make advanced steel products that far back, what stops the Nephites from having found a process for doing something similar, even if something not so advanced?

Just because people are ancient doesn't make them stupid.

This was new to me: I was amazed about the Haya people and their steel.

I steel myself for your reply. :rolleyes:

Interesting stuff. Yes, I accept that the very word "steel" can mean other than the carbonized iron. So that can account for some of the mysterious appearances of the word, specifically Nephi's "steel" bow, which I have always had great doubts about the literalness of.

The African steel workers: did their "2000 year-old" smithing leave tailings? You see, I have this inculcated factoid vis-a-vis ore tailings. I live next door to one of the world's largest mines. As a boy, I saw only the first appearance of tailings showing in the Oquirrh mountains, when viewed from the Valley. By now the mine has deposited tailings in a giant sprawl as the mountain itself is torn down seeking the ore. Any mining of iron and working of it into steel must leave behind the much larger deposits than the mass of ore itself. And for the BoM peoples we have NOTHING to show that they were miners. Workers of metal, yes, but not to the degree described, if the present archeological record is what we go by....

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Answering a question with a question can be very effective.

I mentioned two battlefields from less than a thousand years ago. Both locations are known and indisputable. The battles weren't small skirmishes.

We have a fair amount of details about them, yet how much physical evidence has been uncovered from them?

Answer, almost entirely nothing.

Why should the BoM be different?

A known battlefield is a rare place for an equally rare event. The locals will plunder it within hours of any immediately useful items; the junk will also get taken away as time passes. Any bodies buried there will possess little of value. Broken or incomplete "armors" might remain with the slain in their graves (My link e.g. Visby, Sweden). But there is not NO evidence of Hattin or Ayn Jalut. The battle of Hastings is also asserted to be a positively located battlefield (although some question remains as to whether it was on "Senlac" or "Caldbec" hill). Yet I have never heard of any artifacts of this rather large battle turning up, ever, at all, in the 1945 years since it took place.

So either the BoM apocalyptic battlefield of Cumorah is nonexistent or we don't know where to look for it. Assuming it happened at all, there will be evidence for it: there is no battlefield where all the evidence is gone.

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We have only 4 references to "steel" in the KJV, and all are translations of a Hebrew word for "bronze," or "copper."

In the Book of Mormon we have only 5 references to "steel," one of which is Jaredite (Ether 7:9 probably in the 3rd millennium B.C.), two of which are Old World (I Nephi 4:9, 16:18), and the other two occur very early in Nephite history (II Nephi 5:15, Jarom 8 ), with no further mention. Even if these references are to actual carburized iron (which is what steel is), there cannot have been much of it. And, as has been pointed out, the wet Mesoamerican environment might very well rust them away in short order.

I have pointed out previously here that tons of iron artifacts have been found archeologically in Olmec sites, and that plenty of iron outcroppings were available.

Just a thought: Could there be a distinction between what Nephi called a sword or "most precious steel" and his bow of "fine steel"?

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A known battlefield is a rare place for an equally rare event. The locals will plunder it within hours of any immediately useful items; the junk will also get taken away as time passes. Any bodies buried there will possess little of value. Broken or incomplete "armors" might remain with the slain in their graves (My link e.g. Visby, Sweden). But there is not NO evidence of Hattin or Ayn Jalut. The battle of Hastings is also asserted to be a positively located battlefield (although some question remains as to whether it was on "Senlac" or "Caldbec" hill). Yet I have never heard of any artifacts of this rather large battle turning up, ever, at all, in the 1945 years since it took place.

So either the BoM apocalyptic battlefield of Cumorah is nonexistent or we don't know where to look for it. Assuming it happened at all, there will be evidence for it: there is no battlefield where all the evidence is gone.

You are absolutely correct about plundering. Why though would Nephite battlefields be any different?

Anyway, there is no compelling physical evidence for identifying the sites above with those battles, nor any evidence which would compell us to conclude that a major battle took place there in the absence of detailed information, specifically geographical information.

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We have only 4 references to "steel" in the KJV, and all are translations of a Hebrew word for "bronze," or "copper."

In the Book of Mormon we have only 5 references to "steel," one of which is Jaredite (Ether 7:9 probably in the 3rd millennium B.C.), two of which are Old World (I Nephi 4:9, 16:18), and the other two occur very early in Nephite history (II Nephi 5:15, Jarom 8 ), with no further mention. Even if these references are to actual carburized iron (which is what steel is), there cannot have been much of it. And, as has been pointed out, the wet Mesoamerican environment might very well rust them away in short order.

I have pointed out previously here that tons of iron artifacts have been found archeologically in Olmec sites, and that plenty of iron outcroppings were available.

From Jeff Lidsay's site:

http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_metals.shtml#laban

The Book of Mormon mentions a steel sword owned by a military leader named Laban in Jerusalem near 600 B.C., a time when many people believe steel had not yet been discovered. Laban's sword had a hilt of pure gold, a blade "of the most precious steel," and exhibited "exceedingly fine" workmanship (1 Nephi 4:9). An excellent discussion of Laban's sword of steel is offered by Matthew Roper in his article "On Cynics and Swords" in FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1997, pp. 146-158.

And this about Zelph from the Maxwell Institute:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=8&num=2&id=202

Those who did write about the discovery of Zelph are generally consistent with one another, but they leave a number of details in doubt. Who was Zelph? Was he a Nephite or a Lamanite? When did he die? What army was he in? The answers to these questions cannot be given with certainty from the complex historical sources that resulted from this event. This means that Book of Mormon scholars must remain tentative in drawing implications from this notable incident, though it does not diminish the fact that Joseph was moved by the spirit of revelation to speak about Zelph and his noble past in connection with Book of Mormon peoples or their descendants.

Wilford Woodruff recorded that while the camp traveled they visited many of the mounds which were probably "flung up" by the "Nephites & Lamanites." "We visited one of those Mounds," Woodruff writes, "and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man." According to Woodruff, Joseph Smith was told in an open vision that the bones were those of a white Lamanite whose name was Zelph, a warrior under the great prophet who was known from the Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains. This is the earliest source for this geographical data. (In Reuben McBride's account it is Zelph who was widely known.) Later in his life President Woodruff penned two other accounts of this incident, but their wording is essentially identical.4

In 1845 the Times and Seasons published Heber C. Kimball's account of finding Zelph under the title, "Extracts from H. C. Kimball's Journal." Kimball states that Zelph was killed in "the last destruction among the Lamanites" but is unclear as to whether it was the final destruction of the Nephites or the last battle of Zelph's people, whoever they were. It may refer to a battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites or to a battle of Lamanites against other Lamanites, if we assume that the Lamanites may have had prophets among them. Kimball's account is also unique in that he says he went with Joseph Smith to the top of the mound and relates that they felt prompted to dig down into the mound but first had to send for a shovel and hoe. The other early accounts do not say that Joseph was present when the bones were dug up; rather, they either state or imply that he was not involved until some later time. According to Kimball, it was later in the day while continuing on the journey westward that the Prophet made the identification of the person whose bones they had found. This is consistent with Hancock's statement that Joseph spoke "as the camp was moving off the ground." Kimball's account makes no explicit reference to the Nephites, and he sees the value of Joseph's vision primarily not in what is revealed about the ancient inhabitants of that region, but in how it showed that "God was so mindful of" the camp and especially his "servant, Brother Joseph."5

Following the death of Joseph Smith, the Times and Seasons published serially the "History of Joseph Smith." When the story of finding Zelph appeared in the 1 January 1846 issue, most of the words crossed out in the Richards manuscript were, for some unknown reason, included, along with the point that the prophet's name was Omandagus. The reference to the hill Cumorah from the unemended Wilford Woodruff journal was still included in the narrative, as was the phrase "during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites."8

My question to you, is why isn't there artifacts of this battle in Illinois? Would steel not be a part of this "last great struggle"?

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Wha'? Cal? Did you say something?

Shhhh......go back to sleep.

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From Jeff Lidsay's site:

http://www.jefflinds...als.shtml#laban

QuoteThe Book of Mormon mentions a steel sword owned by a military leader named Laban in Jerusalem near 600 B.C., a time when many people believe steel had not yet been discovered. Laban's sword had a hilt of pure gold, a blade "of the most precious steel," and exhibited "exceedingly fine" workmanship (1 Nephi 4:9). An excellent discussion of Laban's sword of steel is offered by Matthew Roper in his article "On Cynics and Swords" in FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1997, pp. 146-158.

And this about Zelph from the Maxwell Institute:

http://maxwellinstit...=8&num=2&id=202

My question to you, is why isn't there artifacts of this battle in Illinois? Would steel not be a part of this "last great struggle"?

I very much appreciate your calling everyone's attention to the excellent Jeff Lindsay site for additional information on the Book of Mormon and metallurgy, even though I don't understand why you cite the particular quotation (above). What is your point?

As to Zelph, and any related traditions, he is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, nor in any other part of the LDS Canon of Scripture. In other words, he has apocryphal status only. Moreover, I know of no scholar who gives any credence to the idea that any Book of Mormon related battles ever took place in Illinois, nor anywhere else outside of Mesoamerica. And whatever final battles might be described need not include any items of steel or iron. Certainly we have no such claims or descriptions.

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I very much appreciate your calling everyone's attention to the excellent Jeff Lindsay site for additional information on the Book of Mormon and metallurgy, even though I don't understand why you cite the particular quotation (above). What is your point?

He mentions the "fine steel" sword. The process to make fine steel would imply there would be more than just one sword, and it wouldn't rust as easily as iron.

http://www.chemistryexplained.com/St-Te/Steel.html

Steel is an alloy of iron with about 1 percent carbon. It may also contain other elements, such as manganese. Whereas pure iron is a relatively soft metal that rusts easily, steel can be hard, tough, and corrosion-resistant.

As to Zelph, and any related traditions, he is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, nor in any other part of the LDS Canon of Scripture. In other words, he has apocryphal status only. Moreover, I know of no scholar who gives any credence to the idea that any Book of Mormon related battles ever took place in Illinois, nor anywhere else outside of Mesoamerica. And whatever final battles might be described need not include any items of steel or iron. Certainly we have no such claims or descriptions.

From the Maxwell institute on Zelph:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=8&num=2&id=202

The Zelph Story and the History of the Church

In 1842 Willard Richards, then church historian, was assigned the task of compiling a large number of documents and producing a history of the church from them. He worked on this material between 21 December 1842 and 27 March 1843. Richards, who had not joined the church until 1836, relied on the writings or recollections of Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and perhaps others for his information regarding the discovery of Zelph. Blending the sources available to him, and perhaps using oral accounts from some of the members of Zion's Camp, but writing as if he were Joseph Smith, historian Richards drafted the story of Zelph as it appears in the "Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1." With respect to points relative to Book of Mormon geography, Richards wrote that "Zelph was a white Lamanite, a man of God who was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the [hill Cumorah is crossed out in the manuscript] eastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains. He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a [last crossed out] great struggle with the Lamanites" [and Nephites crossed out].7

In the above, we have multiple accounts that state the same thing regarding Zelph, who he was and the battle that took place. If you discount this because it isn't mentioned in the Book of Mormon, then I must assume you discount the factual history written by Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff which are acknowledged by the Maxwell Institute paper and the Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1.

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What you're saying is all the evidence that steel was used in battle would be lost, along with the process to make it, because it was all exposed to a salt air environment?

The steel itself would be lost. I'm no scholar or metallurgist just a sailor. It's a constant battle to preserve my metal objects of modern stainless steel, aluminum, bronze etc in a tropical salt air environment.

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The steel itself would be lost. I'm no scholar or metallurgist just a sailor. It's a constant battle to preserve my metal objects of modern stainless steel, aluminum, bronze etc in a tropical salt air environment.

Don't expect the arm chair experts to believe you. After all the only thing you have is experience.

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He mentions the "fine steel" sword. The process to make fine steel would imply there would be more than just one sword, and it wouldn't rust as easily as iron.

The phrase "fine steel" does not tell us what the substance was. We can suppose any of several possibilities: (1) following KJV precedent, the word "steel" meant "bronze," which was often used for weapons; (2) "steel" may mean rare meteoric iron (with high nickel content) which was heated and shaped to form a sword, as in the case of King Tut, (3) "steel" could mean carburized iron, which was readily available (but without gold hilts) in Lehi's day. In any of the three cases, there is no reason to expect that such swords came into common use in the New World. Certainly the text of the Book of Mormon gives us no reason to think so.

In the above, we have multiple accounts that state the same thing regarding Zelph, who he was and the battle that took place. If you discount this because it isn't mentioned in the Book of Mormon, then I must assume you discount the factual history written by Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff which are acknowledged by the Maxwell Institute paper and the Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1..

Mormons need not be bound by apocryphal tales, no matter how well intentioned the tellers of those tales (that includes tall tales about people on the Moon, or that the Moon is made of green cheese, etc.). They are bound only by Holy Writ, which includes only the Canon of Scripture of the LDS Church.

Of course anyone is free to adopt any view he wishes about anything!! However, I think it wise to be careful and thoughtful about whatever views one adopts -- especially when they fly directly in the face of common sense, logic, or science. In the present case credulity is not necessarily an advantage.

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