Hill Cumorah Soils Test

BMAF encourages feedback and questions from you, our readers. We have received several queries asking if anyone has ever taken soil samples around the New York Hill Cumorah looking for evidence of massive human burials. We did some search and research and found the following:

Wayne May, author of Ancient American Magazine and promoter of the Heartland geography model for the Book of Mormon has stated that a man named J. Golden Jensen wrote a letter to  Riley Lake Dixon in which Jensen said he [Elder Talmage] stood on....”he [Elder Talmage] stood on the crest of the hill near Palmyra, New York in Jensen's presence in 1920.  May claims that he [Talmage] had found as a result of a survey and extensive analysis he had done while a student in an easternuniversity, that the soils of the  area adjacent to the Hill Cumorah are very rich in calcium and phosphate. With further investigation he discovered that there was a lack of these elements in the land which lay further than a few miles in radius in any direction from the Hill Cumorah.  To him, this discovery was indicative of the fact that there was decaying of bones of the Nephite and Lamanite armies that perished there...."

Duane Dahlem, a BMAF member, has recently written an article called "Wayne May Distorts Facts about Hill Cumorah." In it, Dahlem shows these claims centering around Elder Talmage to be spurious. Read the entire article at: http://www.bmaf.org/articles/distorts_facts_hill_cumorah__dahlem.

Another BMAF scholar who asks to remain anonymous due to family and friendship complications reports that "other than maybe some typical farm K, N, and Ph element tests for cropping purposes I don't know of any soil sample work done at the hill locality. I grew up on a farm, took ag soils, have farmed and taken those types of samples, but I leave the details of this subtle soils evaluations to the experts. I know enough to realize that they can be a good diagnostic tool in some settings for some types of investigations. The soils experts inform me that unusually elevated levels of certain elements can indicate human habitation areas, activity zones, possible burials, etc. There are currently soils tests being done in the Mountain Meadows area because they can be useful. There are lots of reasons most serious Mormon archaeological researchers think the New York Cumorah is not the battlefield hill and I am certainly one of them. Having done archaeological work in that area and examined by visual recon etc. various areas of that and adjacent properties, I fail to find any good information that suggests a battlefield hill. Now, a record repository hill for the limited materials Joseph Smith found, that is another matter. There is a lot of interesting documentary evidence and a good, known landform match for the limited repository hill approach but absolutely zip physical evidence for the battlefield hill."

Once again, "evidence" for the Heartland model proves not to be convincing.

Suggested supplemental reading:  An article about hunting for arrowheads around the hill.
(Looking for Artifacts at New York's Hill Cumorah),  www.bmaf.org/articles/looking_artifacts_new_york__staff


BMAF Staff