Archaeology Confirms the Bible is Historical
. . .with an Example Comparison:
The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
- R. Totten - (C) 2004, updates 2005
The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon (from Joseph Smith): Are they true historically? People who believe these writings to be "scripture," consider them to portray actual history. For example, the person and deeds of Jesus Christ, and his literal resurrection from the dead, must be actual historical events for the Bible and Christianity to be true.
--With some religions (such as Buddhism and Hinduism, with an Eastern worldview) it makes no difference whether their teachings (or writings) are associated with actual history, because they are basically just religious philosophy --but in contrast, both of the "Scriptures" of Christianity (the Bible) and Mormonism (the Book of Mormon) clearly portray themselves as though they give histories with real people, places and events.
--But do they?
For both of these writings, the answer to this question revolves around two issues:
Does the writing consist of original and unique information which is not obviously copied from another work? (other than brief quotes, like a sentence or two). This is key, because material which is clearly and extensively copied from an outside source, does not demonstrate the originality and value of the work in question --and the copied (plagiarized) material must be excluded from consideration. Rather, it is only the material which is unique and original to the work in question which may give evidence that the work is historical.
Does the unique and original material in the work accord with actual history?
--Similarly, if it can be clearly demonstrated that some plain assertions which a work gives as being historical accounts are clearly not historically true, but are clearly contradicted by archaeological facts, then the truthfulness of that work can validly be called into question.
But is this history issue really that important? Many understand that it really is. --If most (or even many) of the people, places and events of the Bible or Book of Mormon are not based on actual historical things and people, then that work must be considered to contain untruth ---which likely indicates that the entire book is basically not true.
--However, in contrast to such a description, it has been demonstrated that the Bible is virtually totally based on actual historical places, events and people, as this article will now work to show.
The Bible and History
Time and time again we find that the history in the Bible is confirmed by the discoveries of archaeology, especially over the past century. Reformed Jewish scholar, Dr. Nelson Glueck, arguably one of the greatest authorities on the archaeology of Israel, once said, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a single properly understood biblical statement. ...Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."
(ref: Rivers in the Desert, Glueck, New York: Farrar, 1959, p.6,31).
To continue this same line of thought, Dr. Merrill Unger continues, "Old Testament archaeology has rediscovered whole nations, resurrected important peoples, and in a most astonishing manner filled in historical gaps, adding immeasurably to the knowledge of biblical backgrounds."
(ref: Archaeology and the Old Testament, Unger, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, p.15).
So, as a result of many examples over many years of archaeological and historical research, the Bible's reliability concerning history has repeatedly been confirmed, and never actually contradicted.
The Bible is increasingly confirmed in its historical facticity as further archaeological discoveries are made down through the years. Let's now take a look at some examples of this :
Archaeological Verifications of the Bible's Historicity
To begin with, one needs only to look at the maps in the back of a good Bible-Atlas or study-Bible, and one can see a large number of real places that are spoken of in the Bible. (In addition, such a study-Bible often has a fairly good archaeological section.) Most of these places either still exist today, or have been found in archaeological digs. Some cities have even been found on the basis of the Bible's statements alone about the locations of those cities. Another good place to research the historicity of the places in the Bible, is in a Bible-Dictionary. --Similarly, when the Bible asserts the existence and activities of certain people, many of these things have also been confirmed by histories outside the Bible.
The "Black Stele" of Hammurabi
Bible-critics once maintained that Moses could not possibly have written the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), because writing did not exist at the time of Moses (1700 B.C.), --however, the laws of Hammurabi where later discovered, and they were written on the "Black Stele," in wedge-shaped characters, in about 2000 B.C., more than 300 years before the time of Moses. --In addition, 20,000 tablets unearthed from the time of the kingdom of Ebla proves that there was abundant writing in the middle-eastern part of the world even 1000 years before Moses. -- Also, in July 2005 at a dig at Tel Zayit, even an early form of the Hebrew alphabet (similar to a form of Phoenician) has been found by archaeologist Ron E. Tappy (a professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), inscribed on a stone from about the year 1000 B.C.
(ref: Unger's Bible Dictionary, by Merrill F. Unger, Chicago:Moody, 1971, p.444)
Archaeologist G.Ernest Wright explains that after King Shishak of Egypt fought against Jerusalem (in 918 B.C.) and took away the treasures of the Jewish Temple, as well as some gold from the house of the king of Israel (see 1Kings 14:25-26), then Shishak commissioned his artisans to carve a picture of himself smiting the Asiatics in the presence of the Egyptian god Amon, and presenting various defeated Israelite towns or localities before the god. Some of the towns and areas that were attacked were Esdraelon, Transjordan, and the hills of Israel and Judah (and even Edom). Then, there is an intriguing reference to "the Field of Abraham," evidently in the Hebron area. G.E. Wright says, "this is the first time that a source outside the Bible confirms that patriarch's connection with a locality in Palestine."
(ref: Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Vol. II, revised, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publishers, 1981, p.80-81)
Cities that are integral parts of the account of Abraham, are historical places of that time-period, e.g. when Abraham moved to Harran (Genesis 11:31). Jeffery Sheler writes:
The ruins of a number of important biblical sites --including Ur, Shechem, and Hebron-- have been clearly identified and studied. One ancient city, Haran in upper Mesopotamia, appears to have been a major commercial hub in the period when Abraham and his father would have arrived there after leaving Ur. The site, which was excavated by archaeologists from the University of Chicago, was abandoned shortly after the patriarchal period in about 1800 B.C. and remained unoccupied until about the seventh century B.C., experts say. "It's highly improbable," says Barry Beitzel, that someone inventing a story later "would have chosen Haran as a key location when the town hadn't existed for hundreds of years."
(ref: Is The Bible True?, by Jeffery Sheler, Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p.75)
Camels and Abraham
Having mentioned Abraham, it should be noted that some people dispute the historicity of this part of the Bible's account, because they say that the mention of domesticated camels is anachronistic, thus disconfirming the biblical account. Genesis 12:16 says, "Abraham acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels." Some people say there were no domesticated camels in the Middle East around 2000 B.C. when Abraham was alive.
However, this is not the case.
Archaeologists found a petroglyph from 2345 B.C. chiseled into a rock wall near Aswan and Gezireh in Upper Egypt, which depicts a man leading a camel on a rope:
Petroglyph: Man Leading Camel On Rope
In view of this depiction from 2345 B.C., we know that domesticated camels were present in the Middle East for more than 300 years before the time of Abraham (2000 B.C.), so his possession of camels is not an anachronism.
Furthermore, Pierre Montet found a 2nd millennium B.C. stone container in the form of a camel in Egypt. And Parrot uncovered a picture of the hindquarters of a camel on a jar at Mari [Syria] (2000 B.C.), and also found camel bones dating from around 2400 B.C.
In addition, there are thousands of camel figures carved in rocks throughout the Arabian Peninsula, the ones at Jubbah are believed to be the oldest, dating back to the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 4000 years.
Five Cities of the Plain
For years the account in Genesis 14 (including Abraham's victory over several Mesopotamian kings) was said by critics of the Bible to be unreliable because the five "Cities of the Plain" (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela or Zoar) were thought to be places of merely fictitious legend.
--However, starting in the 1960s, tens of thousands of tablets with writing on them were discovered in northwestern Syria in the rubble-mounds of the ancient city of Ebla, and one tablet (No.1860) from about 1900 B.C., refers to all five of these "Cities of the Plain." Dr. David Noel Freedman points out that the factuality of the time of these five cities precedes the rescue of Lot as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.19).
(Ref. "Archaeological Supplement", by G. Frederick Owen, D.D., Ed.D, in Thompson Chain Ref. Bible, NIV, Zondervan, 1983, p.1655)
Other Biblical Cities and Places
Archaeological research has confirmed the existence of many other cities and places named in the Bible, including:
Acco or "Acre" (Judg. 1:31, ruins are on Mediterranean coast), Anathoth (1Ki. 2:26, is three miles n.e. of Jerusalem), Antioch (300 miles north of Jerusalem), Antipatris (Acts 23:31, now known as "Ras el-Ain"), Ashdod (1Sam. 5:1, excavated by M.Dothan & D.N.Freedman), Ashkelon (Josh. 13:3, excavated by J.Garstang), Asshur (Ezek. 27:23, a capital of Assyria), Athens (in Greece), Beersheba (excavated by Condor), Bethany, Bethel (Gen. 35:1-7, excavated by Albright & Kelso), Bethesda (Jn. 5:2, excavated by C. Schick), Bethlehem (excavated by Wm. Harvey), Bethsaida, Beth Shemesh (Josh. 15:10, excavated by D.MacKenzie & E.Grant), Beth Zur (Neh. 3:16, excavated by O.R.Sellers & W.F.Albright), Caesarea (Acts 9:30, excavated by Israel's Department of Antiquity), Caesarea Philippi (at the foot of Mt. Hermon, Mat. 16:13), Calah or "Nimrud" on the Tigris River (Gen. 10:11, excavated by H.Layard), Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee (Mat. 4:13), Carchemish (Jer. 46:2, excavated by L.Woolley & T.E. Lawrence), Colossae (excavated by Wm.J.Hamilton), Corinth (in Greece), Damascus (in Syria), Dan (now known as "Tel el-Qadi"), Dothan (Gen. 37:17, 2Ki. 6:13, excavated by J.P.Free), Ephesus (Acts 19, excavated by J.T.Wood & D.C.Hogarth), Ezion Geber (1Ki. 9:26, excavated by F.Frank & N. Glueck), Gaza (Judg. 1:18), Gerar (Gen. 20:1, excavated by W.J. Phythian-Adams & F. Petrie), Gezer (1Ki. 9:16-17, excavated by R.A.S.Macalister & A.Rowe), Gibeah (1Sam. 11:4, excavated by W.Albright), Gibeon (Josh. 9:3-27, now known as "Al Jib," excavated by J.B.Pritchard), Gilgal (Josh. 4:20, excavated by J. Muilenburg), Hamath (2Ki. 14:25, excavated by Burckhardt & Wright), Haran (referred to in the Mari tablets), Hazor (Josh. 11:1, excavated by Y. Yadin & J.A.de Rothchild), Mt. Hermon (in northern Israel), Jacob's Well (John 4:12, excavated by Robinson & C.A.Barclay), Jericho (Josh.6, excavated by C.Warren, E.Sellin, J.Garstang & K.Kenyon), Jerusalem (a 3000 year-old city), Jezreel (at the foot of Mt.Gilboa), Joppa (2Chr. 2:16, on the Mediterranean, 30 miles n.w. of Jerusalem), Kadesh Barnea (Num. 32:8, about 49 miles s.w. of Beersheba), Korazin (now called "Kerazeh," is two miles north of Capernaum), Lachish (Josh. 10:32, is today's "Tel ed-Duweir," excavated by J.L.Starkey), Laodicea (Rev. 1:4,11, ruins of old city walls still visible, ten miles west of Colossae), Lydda (Acts 9:38, is today's "Ludd"), Lystra (Acts 14:6, excavated by J.R.S. Sterrett), Megiddo (2Ki. 9:27, excavated by G.Schumacher, H.Breasted, C.Fisher & P.L.Guy), Nazareth (boyhood town of Jesus, a city of 10,000 today), Nineveh (Jonah 1:2, excavated by H.A.Layard), Philippi (Acts 16:9-12, excavated by French School of Athens), Rome (book to "Romans"), Samaria (Acts 1:8, is 42 miles north of Jerusalem, excavated by G.A.Reisner & C.S.Fisher), Sardis (Rev. 3:1, excavated by H.C.Butler, Haufmann & Detweiler), Shechem (Gen. 12:6-7, excavated by C.Watzinger & E.Sellin), Shiloh (Judg. 21:19, excavated by A.Smith), Sidon (Judg. 1:31, excavated by E.Renan), Taanach (Judg. 1:27, excavated by E.Sellin), Thebes (Ezek. 30:14, capital of Upper Egypt, 418 miles south of today's Cairo), Thessalonica (Acts 17:6, today's Salonica), Tyre (Ezek.26, 20 miles south of Sidon), Ur (Gen. 11:31, excavated by J.E.Taylor, H.R.Hall & C.L.Woolley), Zion (1Ki. 8:1, the lower eastern hill of Jerusalem), Zoan (Num. 13:22, excavated by Mariette, Petrie & P.Montet), and Zorah (Judg. 13:2,25, is today's "Sur'ah," located 15 miles west of Jerusalem)... and many more.
(ref: Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (NIV), Frank Charles Thompson, Ed., "Archaeological Supplement," by G. Frederick Owen, D.D., Kirkbride/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978, pp.1629-99)
Archaeologists who do not necessarily believe the Bible to be a source of religious truth, confirm the facticity of the above Bible locations.
The Exodus out of Egypt
The Exodus under the leadership of Moses is one of the most pivotal events in the Old Testament, and a discussion of its possible archaeological corroboration may be accessed by clicking HERE.
David, King of Israel
An amazing and important discovery was made in 1993, when an archaeological team working with Avraham Biran (of the Israeli Department of Antiquities and Hebrew Union College) were working at "Tel Dan" (a "Tel" is a mound of rubble and remains of an ancient city) in northern Israel. In an ancient wall, a one-foot-square piece of basalt was discovered, with the beginnings of 13 lines of text, including mention of "Bet David" (the "House of David," or dynasty of David).
Part of that text [with English equivalent of missing words/letters in brackets] reads as follows:
"And I slew of [them XX footmen, YY cha]riots
and two thousand horsemen...
the king of Israel. And [I] slew [...the kin]g
of the House of David. And I put...
(ref: Is the Bible True?, by Jeffery L. Sheler, Harper/Zondervan, SanFrancisco, CA, 1999, p.60)
The stone with the above words inscribed had been part of a larger "victory stele" made by King Ben-Hadad of Damascus, erected in about 890 BC (about 100 years after David) after a military campaign by Ben-Hadad against Dan and a few other cities in Israel. Ben-Hadad is also mentioned in the Bible, in 1 Kings 15:18 and other verses.
While some Bible-critics had long maintained that David was merely a character of legend, such a notion is no longer tenable. --This is important because the New Testament teaches that Jesus of Nazareth is a descendant of David.
(ref: Christianity Today Magazine, by Gordon Govier, October, 1993)
Other Israelite Kings
In the 1800s, inscriptions made by the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (ruled 858 to 824 BC) were found that mention the Israelite kings Omri (1K.16:21f), Ahab (1K.16:28f) and Jehu (1K.19:16), corroborating biblical accounts of their histories.
Fifty years ago (and before), it was insisted that the Hittite civilization was a fictitious myth, and that there were no Hittites at the time of Abraham --or any other time in history, for that matter. --However, archaeological discoveries have unearthed hundreds of inscribed references which verify that there had been over 1,200 years of Hittite civilization.
(ref: Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Vol.2, by Josh McDowell, SanBernadino, 1981, p.79-83, 339-41)
Book of Numbers in 600 B.C.
In 1979, archaeologist Gabriel Barkay found two small silver scrolls in a Jerusalem tomb, which were dated around 600 B.C. On the little scrolls a benediction from the Book of Numbers was found, which provides evidence that the O.T. was already being copied at a time when skeptics thought the text didn't even yet exist!
The Scribe of Jeremiah
A remarkable archaeological find which verifies the historicity of the book of Jeremiah, is the discovery in 1975 of the ancient clay Seal of Baruch, the son of Neriah (Jer. 36:4). Baruch was the scribe or emanuensis who wrote down the prophecies of Jeremiah in about 607 B.C.
For many decades there was no archaeological corroboration of the existence of this Babylonian king, and during the 1800s skeptics maintained that Nebuchadnezzar was a mythological figure who never existed. However, in 1899, the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey, excavated the ruins of a temple area near today's Baghdad, which turned out to be King Nebuchadnezzar's "Temple of Marduk" which included the "Ishtar Gate." Near the gate, about 300 cuneiform tablets from the sixth century BC were unearthed, confirming the existence of Nebuchadnezzar. There, among the king's book-keeping records are also references to Judah and Jerusalem, as well as a notation of a food allotment for "Yaukin, king of Judah," which evidently a reference to king Jehoiachim of Judah, who eventually was taken captive to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem in 597 BC.
(ref: Is the Bible True?, by Jeffery L. Sheler, Harper/Zondervan, SanFrancisco, CA, 1999, p.106)
Coins of Antiquity
Among other cultural items, many ancient coins mentioned in the Bible have been unearthed in and around Israel. Here we see a couple of examples: The Denarius and the Widow's Mite.
Denarius, 49 BC
Prutah or "Widow's Mite," 103 BC
It is significant that Christ is not only spoken of in the Bible, but also in historical sources outside the Bible.
Cornelius Tacitus (born about 52 A.D.) was a Roman historian, who was also a Governor of Asia in 112 A.D. He mentioned Christ at least three times, --in fact, while writing about the reign of Nero, Tacitus mentions the death of Christ ("Christus") as well as the presence of Christians in Rome:
"But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence, to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also (Annals, XV. 44).
(ref: The Best of Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publ., San Bernardino, CA, 1990, p.198)
Flavius Josephus (born in 37 A.D.) was a Jewish Historian, who became a Pharisee when he was 19, was the commander of Jewish forces in Galilee in 66 A.D. When Roman forces captured Josephus, he was conscripted to the Roman headquarters. In about the year 105 A.D., Josephus writes:
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake Him; for He appeared to them alive again in the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. And the tribe of Christians so named from Him are not extinct at this day (Antiquities, xviii. 33).
(ref: The Best of Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publ., San Bernardino, CA, 1990, p.199)
A good number of ancient and secular sources refer to Jesus. There are allusions to Christ in the writings of such ancient authors as:
Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - 50 AD)
Galen of Pergamum (ca 130-201 AD)
Celsus (True Discourse, c.170)
Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)
Lucian (mid-2nd century)
Even the Jewish Talmud and Midrash mention Jesus
Other ancient historians who mention Christ in their writings are:
Thallus, a Samaritan (wrote about in about 52 A.D.)
Seutonius, who was on the staff of Emperor Hadrian, wrote about Jesus in about 120 A.D. ("Lives of the Caesars," c. 125).
"Plinius the Younger," a Governor of Bithynia in Asia-Minor in about 112 A.D., who wrote the following about the Christians:
"They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god (Epistles, X. 96).
(ref: The Best of Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publ., San Bernardino, CA, 1990, p.200)
At Caesarea: Center Line is "[Po]ntivs Pilatvs" ...or, Pontius Pilatus.
It is quite interesting that various authorities and "experts" maintained for a number of years that Pontius Pilate was not substantiated as an actual historical figure, and was therefore most probably a fictional embelishment added to the story about Jesus.
However, this present author has personally seen a slab of stone (about 15 inches by 30 inches, picture at left) unearthed by archaeologists in Caesarea by the Sea, Israel, which includes the name of "Pontius Pilate" ("Pontivs Pilatvs," with the letter "u" shaped like a "v") in the inscription on it. This find substantiates the historical reality of one of the central figures in the gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus.
With regard to the New Testament, archaeological support is excellent, as F.F. Bruce remarks, "Where Luke has been suspected of inaccuracy, and accuracy has been vindicated by some inscriptional evidence, it may be legitimate to say that archaeology has confirmed the New Testament record."
("Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament", Revelation and the Bible, R.F. Bruce, Grand Rapids, 1969, p.331)
Few archaeologists and scholars doubt that the people mentioned in at least the latter part of the Old Testament (such as Nebuchadnezzar, David and Jeremiah), as well as through most of the New (Jesus, Peter and Paul), were people who really existed.
William R. Albright, professor of Semitics at Johns Hopkins University, became one of the most prominent and respected archaeologists of modern times, and after working at many sites in and around Israel, he states: "Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition of the value of the Bible as a source of history."
(Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1997), p.10.)
Yale archaeologist Millar Burrows maintains, "On the whole, however, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine."
(What Mean These Stones?, Burrows, New York, 1965, p.1).
Concerning the text of the Bible itself, Burrows says, "Such evidence as archaeology has afforded thus far, especially by providing additional and older manuscripts of the books of the Bible, strengthens our confidence in the accuracy with which the text has been transmitted through the centuries."
(same as last citation, p.42)
Because of abundant historical facticity of the Biblical accounts, the field of Biblical archaeology is so big that there are whole journals and university departments dedicated to its study in various places around the world.
The archaeological confirmation of the historicity of much of what the Bible records is very extensive and solid, and grows constantly.
on to an example comparison:
History and The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is thought by some to be based on historical people, places and events, however:
The first issue in evaluating this work, is its originality (or lack thereof).
--When someone who knows the Bible reads through The Book of Mormon, it becomes quite obvious that multiple and extensive portions --even whole chapters-- of the Bible were copied (basically word-for-word) from the King James version of the Bible (even incuding the same peculiar translation errors of the KJV). For example, Moroni 10:8-17 is obviously copied from 1Cor. 12:4-11; and 2 Nephi chapter 12 all the way through chapter 24 are copied from Isaiah chapters 2 through 14 (KJV). And there are many more.
--Such portions are clearly not original to The Book of Mormon, demonstrating that (quite evidently) Joseph Smith was liberally copying text directly from the King James Bible. Therefore, such copied Bible texts and historical names must be excluded from consideration as to the historicity of The Book of Mormon. And by extension of such plagiarism from the Bible, the various people and places from the Bible (such as David, Isaiah, Israel and Jerusalem) must be excluded from consideration in trying to verify the historicity of The Book of Mormon. Only original portions from the Book of Mormon should be used to substantiate it. --This is a very fair procedure, because the Bible was in world-wide circulation for many centuries before the first purported "ancient" copy of the Book of Mormon appeared in modern history (supposedly to Joseph Smith).
The second issue has to do with the remaining (non-Bible-copied) portions of The Book of Mormon which are original and unique to it: There are no known ancient copies (pre-dating Joseph Smith) of The Book of Mormon available for inspection by scholars (esp. outside the LDS organization), --therefore, we can only go by the wording published in the English forms which appeared after Joseph Smith.
Despite many years of work by archaeologists (both Mormon and non-Mormon), the following situation has become clear concerning the assertions of purported historical records of events, places, people and artifacts in the Americas uniquely mentioned in The Book of Mormon:
1. - No ancient cities named uniquely/originally by The Book of Mormon -- (eg, the large cities of "Zarahelma" or "Bountiful") have ever been located (by their remains) anywhere in the Americas from a time in antiquity (B.C.) --though about 30 such cities are mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
2. - No ancient peoples or nations (eg, the "Lamanites," "Nephites" or "Jaredites") unique to The Book of Mormon have ever been found or mentioned in any archaeological inscriptions anywhere in the world.
3. - No individual persons (eg, Nephi, Lehi, Zoram or Shule) unique to the Book of Mormon (not found in the Bible) have ever been mentioned in any archaeological inscriptions found anywhere in the world.
4. - No widely-attested genuine ancient inscriptions in any language resembling Hebrew (which the Lamanites and Nephites supposedly spoke in the Americas) have ever been found in the Americas.
Resource: Native American Indians --on their own languages and heritage
5. - No genuine ancient inscriptions in any language resembling Egyptian (to possibly correspond to Joseph Smith's "Reformed Egyptian" --the language in which he said The Book of Mormon was supposedly originally given) have been found in the Americas. --And no examples of this purported language exists in writing anywhere, for scholars to investigate it.
6. - No archaeological inscriptions have been found which might indicate that ancient inhabitants (Indians) in the Americas had Hebrew (or Christian) beliefs or cultural patterns, as is maintained in The Book of Mormon.
7. - No Book of Mormon cultural artifact of any kind (eg, the coins described in Alma 11:4-19, or weights, or measures) has ever been found in the Americas.
(Above 7 points, ref: Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, by Hal Hougey, p.12)
8. - The Book of Mormon says that Nephi and Shule (who supposedly lived in the Americas in 600 BC) possessed "steel" implements along with the knowledge to "forge" steel (1Nephi 4:9, 16:18 ; 2Nephi 5:15 ; Ether 7:9), --however, although iron-rich dirt was mined in the Americas for its red color-- still, refined "Iron remained unknown in the Americas until the arrival of Columbus" in 1492 A.D. ---and the actual forging of steel is even much more recent.
(Ref: Encyclopedia Britannica, '86, Vol.21, "Iron Production ...History", p.361)
9. - The Book of Mormon says that people it describes in the Americas (in about 90 BC) possessed and used silk (Alma 4:6 ; Ether 9:17 & 11:24), --whereas it has not been shown that any silk was ever known by people in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans after the time of Columbus.
(Ref: Encyclopedia Americana, '95, Vol.26, "Textile ...History of Textiles", p.568)
10. - The Book of Mormon incorrectly predicts (supposedly in about 90 BC) that Jesus was to be born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) --whereas Jesus was actually born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4) as accurately predicted in Micah 5:2. --This makes the prediction in Alma 7:10 a false prophecy.
11. - The Book of Mormon says that believers were called "Christians" back in 73 BC (per Alma 46:15) --but the reality is: the Bible (in Acts 11:26) states this first occurred in Antioch, which was in about 35 AD. There were no Christians anywhere before 35 AD.
12. - No ancient copies (before the 1800s A.D.) of The Book of Mormon have been found anywhere in the world, and opened for scholarly inspection ...including the golden "plates" that Joseph Smith supposedly used.
More instances could be cited (and you can read about more of them by clicking HERE), but suffice it to say that it is because of the above situation, that I am not aware (for instance) of the existence of any map of the cities and places in the Americas spoken of in The Book of Mormon which are confirmed by any non-Mormon archaeological scholars of any standing.
I have personally seen a Mormon publication with color pictures of Aztec, Mayan and Incan ruins (such as Incan pyramids, and Machu Picchu in Peru) from Central and South America, but there is as yet not a shred of actual archaeological evidence --confirmed by legitimate archaeological scholars-- which shows that these ancient peoples of the Americas are descended from (or have anything to do with) the "Lamanites" (or any Israelite descendants) who --according to The Book of Mormon-- purportedly emigrated from the Middle-East to the Americas; in fact, there is no evidence that any "Lamanites" actually existed.
The DNA-History Issue
DNA's Double Helix Structure
According to The Book of Mormon, a group of Israelites emigrated in 600 B.C. from Jerusalem to America. This group of Israelite emigrants eventually became the "Lamanites," and then in the introduction to the Book of Mormon it says that these "Lamanites" are "the principal ancestors of the American Indians" (my emphasis). Confirming that this is the actual Mormon teaching, the first introductory paragraph in the Book of Mormon (2001) states that these "Lamanites... are a remnant of the house of Israel." --So, native Americans --commonly called American "Indians"-- are declared by The Book of Mormon to be of Hebrew ancestry.
But is the Israelite ancestry of American Indians historically accurate?
In recent years, anthropologists have run DNA tests on various groups of American Indians, and it has been determined that there is no match with Israelite (Hebrew) DNA with that of any American Indians. --By the way: This is easy, any one of us can run a DNA test to find out what his ancestry basically is.
Professor Thomas W. Murphy --chairman of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, WA-- had been raised as a Mormon, and he decided that he would see if DNA analysis would confirm that many Native Americans are descended from ancient Israelites. And the LA Times reported about Murphy's investigation: "He analyzed data collected by a multimillion-dollar 'molecular genealogy' project at Brigham Young [University] as well as other, similar projects that track ancestry from people worldwide via DNA in blood samples." Murphy was looking for genetic markers in Native Americans which would be identical to those found in actual descendants of ancient Hebrews.
--What did Murphy find? ---He determined that Israelis (Hebrews) and American Indians do NOT have common ancestors, because the genetic markers are too different. American Indians do not have Hebrew ancestry. In fact, it has been determined quite conclusively that American Indians are actually descended from eastern Asian stock (like ancient northern Chinese). --As a result, Murphy concluded that, "the Book of Mormon is a piece of 19th century fiction" --at least in this regard.
A molecular biologist, named Simon Southerton (a former Mormon bishop), investigated the same sort of DNA genetic evidence (discussing it in his book entitled Losing a Lost Tribe), and his conclusion was: "The DNA evidence backs up decades of archaeological, linguistic, cultural, and anthropological research that indicates there is no Israelite influence in the Americas before Columbus arrived." Southerton states: "Decades of serious and honest scholarship have failed to uncover credible evidence that these Book of Mormon civilizations ever existed," and he adds, "The only conclusion I could reach from this research was that The Book of Mormon does not contain a true history." --Southerton has determined that the Book of Mormon is fiction in this regard.
To view an online video explaining most of these issues, and including personal testimony from university doctorates who work in these technical fields (such as genetics), watch the video about "DNA and the Book of Mormon" at the following link: http://www.lhvm.org/streaming.htm
To read more in-depth from Simon Southerton, click here
On the one hand, the unique portions of The Book of Mormon (which are not copied from the Bible) do not demonstrate that they are accounts of anything historical, and they are not at all corroborated by archaeology. In addition, issues such as the supposed manufacture and use of things like "steel" and "silk" in the Americas before they were actually here, are anachronisms which are contradicted by actual known history. Finally, there are items which are factually wrong, such as the name of the birth-place of Jesus and the time when believers were called "Christians."
As a result, there is no indication that the uniquely original (non-Bible) parts of The Book of Mormon are anything more than fiction; and the portions of the Book of Mormon which are original to it, contain verifiable errors of historical facts, as well as fictions not verfied by history. Therefore, The Book of Mormon must evidently be regarded as untrue, and we must conclude that it is not scripture from God, since actual words from the God of truth cannot contain such an abundance of clearly verifiable falsehood.
On the other hand, in contrast, concerning both the Old and the New Testament of the Bible, archaeological support is excellent and extensive.
About the Old Testament, William F. Albright, one of the world's most renowned archaeologists, states : "There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition" (Archaeology and the Religions of Israel, Albright, Baltimore, 1956, p.176). Albright also says, "The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history" (The Archaeology of Palestine, Albright, Middlesex, 1960, p.127).
About the New Testament, F.F. Bruce remarks, "it may be legitimate to say that archaeology has confirmed the New Testament record" ("Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament", Revelation and the Bible, Bruce, Grand Rapids, 1969, p.331).
God loves you, my friend, and that's why he provided the Bible to explain the work and ministry of Jesus Christ, who came to provide the way of salvation. We invite you to investigate, by reading the Bible.
. . . To understand more about Mormonism in comparison with actual Christianity (which is biblical) please read several of the excellent articles at the CARM.com website.