by  Joe V. Andersen 
April 17, 2011,   joeandersen38@gmail.com

This is a response to Lawrence Poulsen’s article dated 2011 entitled Book of Mormon Geography and the Book of Ether, located at BMAF.orgPoulsen suggests that the hill Shim and hill Ramah/Cumorah might have been located about 3 miles north of the town of Misantla, Vera Cruz, Mexico. Below is a satellite map of the Misantla area showing the hill La Espadilla (Poulsen’s proposed Shim).  Due east 6.5 miles is “’Bone Hill” (Poulsen’s proposed Cumorah). Misantla is located about 200 miles northwest of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Poulsen also suggests that Tepezintla, (meaning “Corn Mountain” and located about 150 miles north of Misantla) also has a couple of hills close together that could have been hills Shim and Cumorah.  Both the Misantla and Tepezintla areas are outside the area known as the Olmec Heartland.  Most Mesoamericanists believe that the hill Vigia, located near Lake Catemaco about 150 miles southeast from Misantla and within the Olmec Heartland, was the hill Ramah/Cumorah. Some scholars suggest that hill Cintepec (meaning Corn Hill) located about 20 miles southeast from hill Vigia was hill Shim.

The following map shows the geographic locations of these three areas. It shows the areas that Dr. Richard Hauck and I propose as Book of Mormon locations for Moron, Joshua, Desolation, Jashon, Boaz, Nephi (Salama), and west sea land Bountiful. It also shows the location of Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala City and Santa Rosa and San Lorenzo in Mexico.  The large yellow oval is the approximate Olmec Heartland.  The small yellow oval is proposed west sea land Bountiful. The yellow triangle is proposed Desolation.  The yellow rectangle is the narrow strip of mountainous wilderness that extended from the east sea to the west sea.



Poulsen claims that both hills, Shim and Cumorah, were very close together and that both were located about 200 miles north and west from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He also states that the “land of the Jaredites” was located far northward from Ramah/Cumorah/Misantla and that Moroni did not transcribe the book of Ether until after he had fled from Ramah/Cumorah right after the last battle in AD 385.

This article will show, according to the Book of Mormon:

1.     That the hill Shim could not have been located near Misantla. Nor could it have been located near hill Ramah/Cumorah.

2.     That hill Shim could not have been located due east from Cumorah.

3.     That the principal land of the Jaredites could not have been located many miles northward of Ramah/Cumorah.

4.    That Moroni did not leave the Ramah/Cumorah/Isthmus area until after AD 400.

Quotations from Poulsen’s article will be in blue and my comments within his words will be in red. He reasons as follows:

After the battle at the hill Ramah/Cumorah, we can reasonably conclude that Moroni at any given time could be found somewhere between Ramah/Cumorah and Cumorah/New York [We have no way of knowing that he immediately left the Ramah/Cumorah area after the last battle.] as he journeyed toward the place where Joseph Smith was destined to receive the plates. Based on this conclusion, “this north country,” the land of the Jaredites, was in all likelihood somewhere north of the land Ramah/Cumorah. [It seems presumptuous to believe that the “land of the Jaredites” was located north from Ramah/Cumorah based on a guess that Moroni left for New York immediately following the last battle.] Omer departed out of the land of his inheritance, probably near the center of the land of the Jaredites [We do not know if Moron was located in the center of the land of the Jaredites or not but the Book of Mormon clearly says he departed from his kingdom at Moron which was located near the place called Desolation (by the Nephites).  Desolation began on the west sea.] traveled many days in an unspecified direction [True, but he could have gone in several directions or wandered looking for a good place to start a new kingdom.], passed by the hill Shim [It says they “came over” and then passed by hill Shim, indicating some distance and crossing over something] and then the hill Ramah/Cumorah [Again it says they “came over” by Ramah/Cumorah,] and then traveled eastward to the seashore where he took up residence. Omer’s goal is the seashore [The Book of Mormon gives no indication of what his initial goal was when he fled Moron.] and it is Moroni who informs us of the name Shim [Not true; It was Mormon who first introduced us to the name Shim (AD 322) and again in the year about AD 378 when Mormon was fleeing from Boaz to Jashon.] and the nature of the hills relative to the last battles of the Jaredites and Nephites, [Not true again; It was Mormon who informs us, not about the nature of hill Shim, but only of Ramah/Cumorah. Moroni did not transcribe the Book of Ether until after AD 385.] neither of which has yet taken place. Apparently, the land of Omer’s first inheritance was many days removed from the land of Cumorah and somewhere to the north and west of that land [Not true again; The Book of Mormon does not indicate what direction Moron was located from Ramah/Cumorah. The only direction we have is that Moron was located near Desolation and Desolation was located near the west sea.] Moroni does not give us enough information to know whether the land of Ramah/Cumorah was another part of the land of the Jaredites or merely under Jaredite control, but if it was either of these, then the lands of the Jaredites comprised an extensive territory. However, communication must have occurred between these two areas because when conditions changed in Omer’s land of inheritance, he was notified and restored to his throne [Not only that, but when Nimrah fled Moron it says; {He}…gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land and came over and dwelt with Omer.” When Nimrah “came over” it is clear that the term “came over” must have meant a distance far greater than 6.5miles].  

I submit that Mormon and his son, Moroni, would have used the same terminology (“came over”) having a similar meaning. Therefore, it seems to me that either Moron is not a great distance from Ramah/Cumorah or that hill Shim was a great distance from Ramah /Cumorah. I suggest that the term “came over,” at a minimum, means crossing a formidable barrier or distance. Certainly in this case the term “came over” meant that Nimrah traveled many more than 20 miles from Moron to Ramah/Cumorah and the sea where Omer was residing. I believe that when Omer “came over” from Shim to Cumorah it was likewise a distance greater than 20 miles.

It seems to me that there are many erroneous assumptions and conclusions in the above statement by Poulsen, including the following:

1.      That Shim was so close to Ramah/Cumorah that whatever the description was of the area around Ramah/Cumorah it also applied to Shim;

2.      That Moron was at the center of the “land of the Jaredites” and was located many days to the northward of Ramah/Cumorah and the sea where Omer settled;

3.     That, therefore, the principal “land of the Jaredites” was northward from Raman/Cumorah;

4.     That because Omer “passed by” hill Shim and then “passed by hill Cumorah” that they were adjacent hills (within 6.5 miles apart);

5.     That Moroni left for New York Cumorah immediately following the last battle in AD 385;

6.     That, therefore, the term “this north country” meant that Moroni wrote the Book of Ether while traveling towards New York and north from the Misantla/Cumorah area.

7.     That, therefore, this is another indicator that the “land of the Jaredites” was located north of Misantla/Shim/Cumorah area.

Where was hill Shim located according to the Book of Mormon?

The following Scriptures give greater understanding of the relationship of hill Shim to Desolation, Boaz, Jashon/Jordan, and Ramah/Cumorah and show that hill Shim was located, not near or even close to Cumorah but many miles southward from there (my comments within the scriptures will be in red):

AD 322; Mormon 1:3 [Ammaron had told Mormon (age 10) that when he was age 24 to]…go to the land of Antum, unto a hill, which shall be called Shim.

AD 345; [Mormon had fled Joshua, which was located “in the borders west by the seashore”, Mormon 2:6, (the Pacific Ocean).  He fled northward into the land northward stopping at Jashon.] Mormon 2:16 …in the 345th year the Nephites did begin to flee [from Joshua] before the Lamanites; and they were pursued until they came even to the land of Jashon, [within the Isthmus] before it was possible to stop them in their retreat. 

Mormon 2:17. …the city Jashon was near the land [hill Shim] where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the lord, that they might not be destroyed. …I had gone according to the word of Ammaron, and taken the plates of Nephi[Hill Shim was located near Jashon. According to Ammaron’s instructions Mormon left the rest of the records in hill Shim.]

AD 345; Mormon 2:20 …in this year the people of Nephi again were hunted and driven [from Jashon]….we were driven forth until we had come northward to the land which was called Shem. [Shem was located northward from the hill Shim (near city Jashon). Therefore, the land and city of Shem had to have been located between hill Shim and hill Cumorah.]

Mormon 2:21…we did fortify the city of Shem and we did gather in our people as much as it were possible, that perhaps we might save them from destruction. [This area had to have been in the heartland of the Nephites in the land northward because they gathered in many people and amassed an army of 30,000 (plus other armies. It was also within the Jaredite land northward because Omer had visited the hill Shim area.]

Mormon 2:22…in the 346th year they began to come upon us again. [Not only did they defeat the Lamanites at city Shem but chased them out of the land northward and in the 349th year the Nephites regained the lands of their inheritance (land southward) including at least to Joshua on the west sea.]

Mormon 2:27 …until we had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance.

Mormon 2:28 …in the 350th year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers…29….the Lamanites gave unto us the land northward, yea, even to [not “in”. This describes the “treaty line” between the land Desolation and Bountiful] the narrow passage [possibly the same area as the “small neck of land that divided the land northward from the land southward] which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward [from the line between land Desolation and land Bountiful. They gave up all of the west sea land Bountiful including the city of Joshua which they had just regained in the year AD 349. Notice that this “narrow passage” that led into the land southward was part of the land southward that was given to the Lamanites because the Nephites were given all the land northward from where that passage began. This was the defined “Treaty Line”.]

Mormon 3:5 …I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. [City Desolation was located “by” (but not “in”) this narrow pass because the Nephites had given that narrow pass to the Lamanites in the Treaty as part of the land southward.]

Mormon 3:8. …in the 362nd year they did come down [out of the mountains to attack city Desolation] again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea. [This had to have been the west sea or the Pacific Ocean. See my article entitled Why City Desolation could not have been located near the Gulf of Mexico, located at BMAF.org.]

AD 378; Mormon 4:22. Mormon had fled Desolation and Teancum located on the west sea after the fifth attack by the Lamanites and then had defended Boaz located inland and northward from Desolation and Teancum. They then fled Boaz after the second attack. the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages. 23. And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land [near hill Shim but they were not about to overthrow the land near Ramah/Cumorah], therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord. [Mormon took all the records from hill Shim after leaving Boaz and before arriving at Jashon/Jordan.]

Mormon 5:3. …the Lamanites did come against us as we had fled to the city of Jordan [/Jashon]. [In Joseph Smith’s manuscript the word used was Jashon not Jordon. There was a transliteration error in the printer’s manuscript (See Royal Skousen’s article entitled Piecing together the original Manuscript located in the May 1992 issue of BYU Today)]

(Mormon 5:7) After the third attack at Jashon/Jordan, the Nephites fled northward toward Cumorah. “…we did again take to flight, and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites’ were swept down and destroyed”. [It had to have been northward because in Mormon 2:20 in the year AD 345 Mormon and his army were driven by the Lamanites from Jashon/Jordan northward to Shem. If hill Shim was located anywhere near the sea (like at Cintepec or Misantla) then Mormon would have been driven into the sea in the year 345. Therefore, hill Shim had to have been located many miles southward from Cumorah.]

There can be no doubt but that hill Shim was located somewhere between Boaz and Jashon but closer to Jashon because it says the hill Shim was located near city Jashon. I believe that both cities were located within the land of Desolation and at a substantial distance southward from Ramah/Cumorah. Hill Shim was certainly not located 6 miles due west from Ramah/Cumorah. 

It then makes more sense in Ether 9:3 when Omer fled Moron, after traveling many days, that he came over and passed by the hill Shim in the pass of Tehuantepec and from there came over the pass and northward by Ramah/Cumorah before settling east from Ramah/Cumorah near the sea.  I submit that all of this activity happened within the “heartland of the Jaredites” and within the heartland (or “this north country”) of the Nephites living in the land northward. I believe that this part of the Book of Mormon could not have occurred northward from Ramah/Cumorah but southward.


There are several definitions for the term “this land” depending on the context in which it is used in the Book of Mormon. On many occasions “this land” has reference to this Western Hemisphere being the land reserved for the inheritance of the seed of Lehi (see my article entitled Critical review of Prophecies and Promises by Bruce Porter and Rod Meldrum, located at BMAF.org. However, in other cases it has reference to a lesser land depending on how it is used.

For example, in Mormon 8:23 it has reference to both the land northward and the land southward. Moroni was writing and said “…those saints who have gone before me, who have possessed this land…” Here “this land” certainly included the land where Moroni was writing from and he was not referring to the entire western hemisphere. The term, “this land,” was limited to the area where the righteous Nephites (saints) had lived, which was southward from Cumorah. Therefore, the term “this land” must be understood by referring to the intent of the author in each instance. 

There are only two scriptures describing “north country” in the Book of Mormon. Helaman 4:6-7 says:

34 BC. 6. And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful [They were driven out of Zarahemla into land Bountiful by the west sea.]

7. And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea [the Pacific Ocean], even unto the east; it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified [They had fortified the entire line] and stationed their armies to defend their north country.

Clearly “their north country” included everything north of that line that ended on the west sea.   Nephites had started inhabiting the land north of that line beginning with large migrations into the land northward in the year 56 BC. I believe that that line was the same line that divided the land Bountiful, located on the west sea, from the land Desolation, which also began on the west sea.

I submit therefore, that when Moroni wrote in Ether 1:1:

  And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who           were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country.

he was talking about all of “their north country” which the Nephites were inhabiting in the land northward from that same line between Desolation and Bountiful. I believe that it was also the same line near where the “great city” or the city of “Lib” was built new by King Lib (about the year 900 BC) to facilitate securing of wild animals of every kind for his people and for commerce from the land Bountiful (see my article at BMAF.org entitled Why city Lib was not located at La Venta or anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico). 

Everything west and north from that line is described in Alma 22:32 as the land northward:   

“…it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla [the land southward] were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.”

Therefore, I submit that the land of the Jaredites (the land northward) consisted of all of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, mainly west of the Coatzacoalcos River, and west and north of the small neck of land (being the land from, perhaps, the headwaters of the Coatzacoalcos River south including the line between Bountiful and Desolation). How far westerly and northerly from that line did the land northward, (or the “north country),” extend? I believe the best way to determine this is to locate the principal area of the Olmec people. This is the area, currently described by Olmec scholars as the “heartland of the Olmecs,” (see Satellite map above).

Misantla was not located within the heartland of the Olmec people.  I believe that Misantla was likewise not located in the principalarea of the Jaredites either. Therefore, when Moroni said “upon the face of this north country” he must have been still residing within the area where most of those ancient inhabitants had lived in the area from Cumorah southward.  I believe that Moroni had not started his trek to Palmyra at the time he made that statement. I further submit that he did not start his journey northward until after AD 400. If that was the case then the principal land of the Jaredites could not have been northward from Ramah/Cumorah as claimed by Poulsen and certainly not northward from Misantla. The following scriptures support the above conclusions.

Moroni completed the writing of Mormon, Ether, and most of Moroni before traveling northward and before about AD 401.

It appears to me that most of the Book of Moroni, except probably chapter 10, was written in the same area near where the last battle occurred and that it was written about AD 401 or before. If that were true than it would mean that the principal “land of the Jaredites” could not have been located northward from Ramah/Cumorah.

I submit that when Moroni said “this land” he meant the land southward from Cumorah. Moroni 1:1-3 states (writing in the present tense):

Moroni 1:1 …after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me.[He was not so far north of Cumorah that he did not recognize the Lamanites.  He was purposefully hiding from them and not traveling towards New York yet. I believe that Moroni had access to all the records left by Mormon in the hill Cumorah and that when he finished abridging the record of the Jaredites that he left the 24 gold plates in the hill Cumorah.  There is no indication that the 24 plates were with the plates that Moroni gave to Joseph Smith.  Also this scripture seems to imply that he still had space to write more.]

1:2   For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. [This was written in the present tense. The Lamanites were still finding Nephites and putting them to death if they did not deny the Christ. How did he know this information if he was not still living in the area where his people were still being destroyed? I believe that Mormon stayed in the area where his father had recently traveled with his army from Cumorah southward and where he still had friends until they were all killed by AD 400. He was also witnessing the fierce Lamanite battles.]

1:3   And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander withersoever I can for the safety of my own life. [Notice he did not flee northward for safety. He was wandering from place to place hiding himself yet still observing their activities.  Had he been traveling northward from Cumorah he would have been outside the influence of the Lamanites and of the robbers. Notice also that he did not mention about having limited space in which to write.]

The first chapters of Moroni were written shortly after finishing the book of Ether (between AD 485 and AD 400) and prior to his leaving the Ramah/Cumorah area. I believe that Moroni was fulfilling his father’s commands that he witness and write of the utter and total destruction of the Nephites. He remained in the area around Cumorah until he was though writing about it.

It appears to me that Moroni finished his father’s book (Mormon) after he had finished Ether and after he had started his own book. The first part of Moroni shows Moroni to be still living and observing the activities of the Lamanites who were still finding and killing the Nephites.  This included Nephites who had fled into the land southward. There is no reference to a date when he wrote the first part of Moroni but it had to have been before AD 400 because he was writing in the present tense.

In Mormon chapter 8, however, Moroni states (now writing in the past tense) that it was after AD 400 and that he had observed that all the Nephites had then been destroyed. He had completed the book of Ether, and I suggest, he had written all of Moroni except chapter 10.   Now he says he has little more to write and he has limited space, no ore, and he is alone and has no friends. I submit that at this time he had only space enough to finish his father’s book and probably only chapter 10 of Moroni. I believe the following scriptures corroborate the above conclusions:

         Mormon 8:6. …four hundred years have passed away…

Mormon 8:1…I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded to write by my father. [He wrote this in the year AD 401.]

2. … the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed [past tense. He had to have visited the area southward to have known this. Some suggest that he could have talked to some friendly Maya who were not participating in the Lamanite civil war who could have advised him of the total demise of all the Nephites who had fled southward.]

3. …I even remain [“remain” clearly means he had not left the area of Cumorah] alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfill the commandment of my father.  [He was commanded to witness and record the final destruction of the Nephites.] And whether they will slay me, I know not[He clearly had not fled the area yet. The term “will slay” shows that he was still in the area where the warring Lamanites could still kill him. Moroni had complied with his father’s commandment and witnessed the final destruction of the Nephites. Therefore, he wrote this part of Mormon after he had written the first part of Moroni because in the first part of Moroni all of the Nephites had not yet died.]

            4. …I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.

5….My father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. …I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go. [Since his father had not been slain in the last battle in 385 this scripture means that Mormon must have taken all the rest of the 24 survivors except Moroni and continued fighting the Lamanites until all of the soldiers were killed except Moroni. This also certainly implies that he had not started northward yet, otherwise how did Moroni know that his father had been killed in battle?]

7…the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; [Undoubtedly there were more Nephites than the 24 surviving soldiers remaining in the area after that last battle in AD 385. I believe Moroni witnessed these events from “city to city and from place to place” until he could personally testify that there were no Nephites left.]

8…the Lamanites are [present tense] at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed[He is witnessing the continuing wars among the Lamanites and the robbers so he is still in “this land”, the area where the Lamanites had finished off the Nephites from Cumorah southward.]

9…there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land [this seems to preclude Moroni visiting with “friendly Maya” in that area.]

23…those saints who have gone before me, who have possessed this land…shall cry from the dust…[The term “this land” must refer to the same area where the Nephites had lived and perished, therefore, Moroni had not left the area and was not traveling towards New York by the year AD 400.]

There was clearly a break of about 20 years in finishing the writing of the Book of Mormon.  Moroni wrote the 10th chapter of Moroni just prior to “sealing up these records,” presumably in the New York Cumorah area, about AD 421:

Moroni 10:1-2 states …I, Moroni ,…write [present tense] unto my brethren, the Lamanites:…more than 420 years have passed away…2. And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you [Notice it is no longer by way of commandment from his father.]

Considering all of the above, I believe that Moroni never left the area surrounding Ramah/Cumorah, located within the Olmec Heartland and within the Isthmus of Tehuantepec until after AD 400. When Moroni said “this land” I submit that he was not talking about some land northward from Ramah/Cumorah as being the land of the Jaredites.

Summary and Conclusion

As shown above, the Book of Mormon does not allow for the hill Shim to be located as close as 6 miles from Cumorah, or for that matter even within 20 miles. Think about it.   What sense does it make for Mormon, fleeing from the Lamanites in the year about AD 378, to have taken all the records out of hill Shim, (if at the hill Espadilla near Misantla), and have carried them 6 miles to hide them in Bone Hill about 3 or 4 years later?   Did Ammaron not hide them good enough in hill Espadilla that Mormon had to find a new cave 6 miles away in “Bone Hill”? 

The Book of Mormon also requires hill Shim to have been located many miles southward from Ramah/Cumorah. It also requires hill Shim to be in a different climate than Ramah/Cumorah.

For clarification and confirmation of the above conclusions, (even though a bit redundant) let us follow the sequence of the last battles of the Nephites commencing with the fifth battle at, and final fall of, city Desolation in the year AD 378 (remember that city Desolation was located near the west sea, the Pacific Ocean):

Mormon 4:19 …the Lamanites did come down [out of the Mountains] against the city Desolation; and there was an exceedingly sore battle fought in the land Desolation, in the which they did beat the Nephites. [Notice that the terms “city Desolation” and “the land Desolation” are used to describe the same general area. Certainly the term “land Desolation” was not synonymous with the greater land northward because Moron was located in the land northward but not in the land Desolation. Desolation, however, was a part of the greater land northward because it was located north of the small neck of land that separated the land northward from the land southward.]

20. And they fled again from before them. And they came to the city Boaz; …and there they did stand against the Lamanites …and did beat them until they had come again the second time. [The time before when they had fled city Desolation they had fled to Teancum which was located right on the Pacific Coast. This last time they did not go to the coast but inland to Boaz. Because they were steadily moving toward their “north country,” being the land northward, then they had to have been traveling in a northerly direction from city Desolation because it was located north of the line between Bountiful and Desolation.]

21. …the second time, the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with an exceedingly great slaughter.

22…the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants [meaning those living in the area before the fleeing Nephites had arrived] with them, both in towns and villages. [To me this means that the entire Isthmus was populated with Nephites and, therefore, the entire Isthmus of Tehuantepec was part of the land northward or at least part of the Nephite “north country”.]

23… And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord. [About AD 378:  Notice that this occurred before they got to Jashon/Jordan. He had (in the year AD 345) already taken the plates of Nephi from hill Shim (which was located near Jashon. Mormon2:17).  Mormon had been carrying the plates of Nephi with him all this time (over 30 years). Notice also that they were not about to overthrow the land of Cumorah yet as they were far away from that land. If hill Shim was located 6 miles from Cumorah then I submit that the land of Cumorah would also have been overthrown along with hill Shim in the year AD 380 instead of the year AD 385.]

About AD 378 Mormon 5:3…the Lamanites did come against us as we had fled to the city of Jordan [Jashon] but behold, they were driven back that they did not take the city at that time. [Mormon had taken up all the records from hill Shim before they arrived at Jashon/Jordan. Therefore, I suggest that hill Shim must have been located somewhere between Boaz and Jashon and somewhere within the pass within the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and just southerly of the city Jashon/Jordan.]

4. …they came against us again, and we did maintain the city. And there were also other cities which were maintained by the Nephites, which strongholds did cut them off that they could not get into the country which lay before us, [This was the north country spoken of in Helaman 4:7] to destroy the inhabitants of our land [These were the people living in the “north country” (within the land northward from Jashon to Cumorah) before Mormon arrived with his army.] 

5. …whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites and their towns and villages, and cities [located between Desolation and Jashon] were burned with fire; and thus 379 years passed away. [They were still in Jashon/Jordan which I believe was located within the pass within the Isthmus. Notice also that between city Desolation (on the west sea) and Jashon/Jordan (within the pass within the Isthmus) there had been a great slaughter of people and a decimation of their lands.  I submit that this was the location of the same dryer area that had also been heavily populated about 500 years earlier by many of the Jaredite people.]

6. …in the 380th year the Lamanites did come again against us to battle, and we did stand against them boldly; but it was all in vain, for so great were their numbers that they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet. [Because Mormon had defeated the Lamanites twice at Jashon it can be safely assumed that at least one year, and more likely two years, had gone by since Mormon had secured all the records from hill Shim. Therefore, I submit that he retrieved all of the remainder of the records about the year AD 378 or before.]

            7. …we did again take to flight and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites’ did escape and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites were swept down and destroyed[We do not know how far this flight was or how long it continued, however, I submit it was much more than 6 miles from Jashon/Jordan.   And it must also have been many more than 20 miles from hill Shim. Also notice in Mormon 2:20 it says that Mormon was driven northward from hill Shim area until they came to the land of Shem where Mormon mounted a successful defense. “…we were driven forth until we had come northward to the land which was called Shem”.  Thus, at the very least, there was a land (where many Nephites lived) called Shem between hill Shim and hill Cumorah which fact precludes Misantla from being the area where hill Shim was located.]

Mormon 6:1. …we did march forth before the Lamanites[It was after they fled from Jashon/Jordan and after they had marched before the Lamanites that Mormon wrote for permission to gather at Cumorah. Clearly Cumorah had not been overthrown but hill Shim and Jashon/Jordan had been overthrown, demonstrating that hill Shim could not have been located only a few miles from Ramah/Cumorah.]

2. …I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.

4. ..we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites. [If Misantla was the area of both Cumorah and Shim, then all this fleeing from Jashon (near Shim) and then marching before the Lamanites, and marching to Cumorah with permission from the Lamanites would had to have occurred within the 6.5 miles between the top of La Espaldilla (Shim) and the top of “Bone Hill” (Cumorah}.  Mormon would have retrieved all the records in AD 378 and kept them in his possession all this time until about the year AD 384 and then traveled less than 6 miles to deposit them in a new cave in Bone Hill? I submit that we must not get caught up in such “subjective analysis, illogical reasoning, or a lack of adequate criteria” and we must be “totally objective in examining the data and drawing valid conclusions.” These quotes can be found in an article entitled, The Waters of Sidon: The Grijalva or the Usumacinta, 2009, located at BMAF.org written by Ted Stoddard and the Allens.]

6. …when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to by the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all of the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. [Mormon did not hide up all the records in Cumorah until after all the Nephites had been gathered unto Cumorah and until after he felt “old”. He did not give the few plates to Moroni until about the time that he hid up all the other records.]

The belief that the hill Shim must have been located many miles from hill Cumorah is further supported by following Omer’s travels when he fled Moron.   Contrary to what Poulsen claims, (that Omer came from the “Olmec heartland”), Omer was king over all the Jaredite land and reigned from Moron, which was located by Desolation which was located by the west sea (therefore, not in the Olmec Heartland). I believe Ether 1:1  means that Omer, with his family, traveled many days from Moron coming over by hill Shim within the Isthmus and then over by Ramah, and then eastward to the sea. We do know how far “over” meant but I submit it was many more than 6.5 miles. 

Also notice that Mormon 2:20 requires that the hill Cumorah must be northward from the hill Shim instead of east. This is another reason why Misantla cannot be a viable candidate for the land of Cumorah, much less for the hill Shim.   

Hill Shim was not located in a land of many waters, rivers, fountains.

The Book of Mormon never states that the hill Shim was located “in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains.” It was clearly the land of Cumorah that was located in such a bountiful, wet, and advantageous location. 

When Mormon retrieved all the records in about the year AD 378 he was in the process of fleeing from Boaz to Jashon/Jordan.  Boaz was inland from Desolation and Teancum both of which were located by the west sea. And clearly Jashon was located farther inland than Boaz. No mention is made that Jashon was located in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains. It seems obvious to me that the terrain and location in an area of many waters, rivers and fountains at Cumorah was substantially different than the terrain at Jashon, else why did Mormon mention that, after leaving Jashon, they fled and marched until they came to this land of many waters, rivers, and fountains? They certainly did not leave the area of “many waters, rivers, and fountains” only to go to the same area of “many waters, rivers and fountains.”


I submit therefore, that Hill Shim could not have been located only 6, or even 20, miles from Cumorah. It could not have been in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains. The Book of Mormon clearly says that hill Shim was located near Jashon and that Jason was located southerly of Cumorah and not east or west. There can be no doubt but that Jashon was located in the “Jaredite land northward” because Omer visited the area.

Jashon and the hill Shim were located in an area where the Nephites, died by the thousands. I submit that this was the same area where many thousands of Jaredites had been killed about 500 years earlier and where their “dry bones” had been found by Limhi’s scouts in the year 121 BC.    I believe that Jashon/Jordan must have been located on the dryer side of the Isthmus before it opens up into the “heartland of the Olmecs.”

This all seems to me to be so reasonable, logical and according to the precise wording of the Book of Mormon.   I do not take credit of most of this rationale. It was Dr. Richard Hauck (archaeologist) who so completely, and I believe for the most part, correctly, analyzed the book of Mormon geography. He put it in writing in his wonderful book, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, way back in 1988. It is a shame that more Book of Mormon scholars haven’t seriously studied his book.

A final thought about “corn”

I have read so much about the importance of the name “Shim,” meaning “corn” and that, in order to find the hill Shim, one must look to some place, near Cumorah, where there is a hill with a name that might mean “corn hill” to the local people. Allen and others claim hill Cintepec to be hill Shim because Cintepec means something like Corn Mountain. Poulsen suggests there is a hill near Misantla called “corn hill” and that the name of Tepecintla means “Corn Mountain”.

There must be hundreds of hills or areas that go by a name similar to “place of corn” or “corn hill” or “where the corn God resides” or some such name. Apparently hill Shim was not known by that name to Ammaron because maybe there was no corn growing there at the time. How things change over time. Therefore, I suggest that we must be very careful about giving too much significance to current local names and their possible meanings. 

Poulsen closed his article by stating, (talking about “corn” and the hills Shim and Cumorah):

When we consider the very important role that corn played in the cultures of ancient America and corn’s role as described in the Book of Mormon as an important crop grown in the land of Zarahemla, this correlation [What correlation? Corn can be correlated with almost any area within Mesoamerica and, therefore, has no special probative value of any kind for proving that Misantla might be the location of hills Shim and Cumorah.] with the textual description of the geography strongly supports the proposal that the Misantla basin is an excellent candidate for the land of Ramah/Cumorah in the Book of Mormon. It is interesting to speculate about why Moroni [it was Mormon not Moroni], speaking of the hill Shim, introduced it as “a hill which shall be called Shim.” Could it be because this hill [Espadilla or Bone hill near Misantla] as a repository of records would end up in legend as the place where the gods gave corn to man? [God gave corn to man in Oaxaca valley over 6,000 years ago, see Wikipedia] As is well known, corn is indigenous to the Americas and has the unique characteristic that it cannot survive and propagate without the assistance of man. Could it have been this hill [Bone Hill] that contained the records of how the Jaredites obtained this gift [of corn? Where does it say that the Lord gave corn to the Jaredites? Or that the Jaredites even had corn? Now I believe the Jaredites had corn but the Book of Ether does not state “how the Jaredites obtained” the gift of corn. Note also that there is no indication in the record that any Jaredite record was deposited in hill Ramah.] from God that has so benefited not only ancient Americans but also the modern world? Think about it as you eat your corn flakes each morning.

I have lived many years in Guatemala and traveled extensively throughout Central America. I submit that there is hardly a hill in the entire area that at one time or another might not have been considered a “corn hill” to one culture or language or another. 

As I was eating my cornflakes this morning, I thought “thank goodness that there are so many more probative, more important, and more compelling indicators for the location of hills Shim and Cumorah than ‘corn’”.

Andersen, Joe V.