Were the Lehites Big Fish in a Little Pond,
or Little Fish in a Big Pond?
By Douglas K. Christensen
Stephen L. Carr
Materials, concepts, maps or conclusions presented at our forums or appearing on this website or
emailed to BMAF members and guests is the sole responsibility of the contribiuting author(s) and does
not necessarily imply that members of the Board of Directors or members of BMAF agree with all or
any part of the subject matter and is not sponsored in any way by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
It is easy, as we read the Book of Mormon record, to visualize the descendants of Lehi becoming the dominant, if not exclusive, population in the land where they lived. After all, don't we read in the book itself that they began to cover the whole land?
And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east. (Helaman 3:8)
The question posed in the title of this article has far reaching implications. In this paper we will analyze only the Lehites since the Jaredite experience is quite similar. Many readers of The Book of Mormon account visualize Nephi's boat pulling up to the shore of a virgin land without population and filled with fruits and berries. They understand that all eventual populations of Book of Mormon lands are either Nephites or Lamanites or descendants of other occupants of Nephi's ship. After all, the account never mentions any peoples other than these descendants. Papers have been written by “population experts” to show that this is, indeed, possible.
This scenario, however, is seriously challenged by the book itself. For instance, in the late first or early second generation after arriving in their promised land, a man named Sherem shows up seemingly from nowhere to challenge Jacob.(Jacob 7) It doesn't appear that Sherem is a descendant of Lehi, though nothing is stated in the record. The record would seem to indicate that he was an outsider. Yet, he obviously interacted with Nephites somewhere, enough to become very familiar with the Nephite culture. He had prepared himself in the Nephite culture, language and religion sufficiently to debate Jacob, brother of King Nephi and designated religious leader (prophet). In fact, he knew the law of Moses well enough to accuse Jacob of not living it correctly. This story of Sherem would indicate that there were people already in the Lehites' promised land upon their arrival and that they were unaware of their presence for some time. I think it logical to assume that the Lehite family was not large enough to explore their new environment until their numbers dramatically increased due not only to natural population growth, but also to the assimilation of or association with indigenous people.
Another indication of the presence of indigenous people (some of whom had probably been converted to the gospel by their new friends the Nephites) is the fact that after leaving the land of first inheritance where they had first come ashore, Nephi and “all those who would go with him” (2 Nephi 5:5) fled inland and built a heavily fortified city which included a temple patterned after the temple of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:16). This had all happened within 30 years of leaving Jerusalem (2 Nephi 5:28). I find it doubtful that the few hundred literal descendants of Lehi (minus Laman and Lemuel) could have accomplished all this.
Stephen L. Carr in the rapidly expanding Book of Mormon Resources blog site (http://bookofmormonresources.blogspot.com/ ) states:
“The Book of Mormon never states or even infers that the various groups of people mentioned in its pages were the only peoples living in the Americas during the time period of approximately 2500 BC to 300 BC during the Jaredite period; or from 590 BC to 421 AD during the Nephite/Lamanite period. On the contrary, there are numerous suggestions and indications that there were other groups of people with which the main Lehite colony, or its sub-parts, came in contact. Following are the scriptural references of many passages that suggest or infer the existence of other groups of indigenous peoples:
2 Nep. 1:5-11 - Other peoples would be led to the Americas. These could have preceded the Book of Mormon people.
2 Nep. 5:6-9 - All those who would go with Nephi: inferring that there were others besides his own family and those mentioned by name.
2 Nep. 5:15-16 - Within barely 30 years after leaving Jerusalem, the Nephites had built a large temple. In that short period of time there probably weren’t more than 100 Nephites, many of whom would have been children or teenagers, so the inference is that there must have been many other able-bodied men, enough to construct the temple in addition to their own homes.
2 Nep. 5:34 - After only 30 years in the New World (essentially only 40 years since leaving Jerusalem) the Nephites had already had wars with the Lamanites (in only 2 generations); and there would have been only approximately 150 people on each side, hardly enough to be considered having a war unless thousands of indigenous peoples were also involved.
2 Nep. 10:20-22 - Jacob says the Nephites “are upon an isle of the sea.” (At least it appears to be an island to the Nephites, being nearly surrounded by water.) There are multiple “isles of the sea . . . and they are inhabited also by our brethren.” (Again, not necessarily actual islands.) The Lord has led these other Israelites away from Jerusalem (or Israel/Palestine), possibly to other parts of the New World.
2 Nep. 29:7, 12-14 – The Lord remembers the seed of Abraham and will give his word to them. (Wherever they may be.)
Jacob 1:14 - People friendly to Nephi are called Nephites; those who want to destroy the people of Nephi are called Lamanites, not necessarily blood descendants on either side.
Jacob 3:13 - Nephites had become numerous. This is a general statement but there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.
Jacob 7:1-6 - Sherem had never met Jacob even though the direct descendants of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, and Joseph were very few in number, ~ less than 80-100.
Jarom 1:6 - Lamanites were more numerous than Nephites. Why? Initially, Laman, Lemuel, 2 sons of Ishmael became Lamanites - 4 groups. Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, Joseph became Nephites - 4-5 groups.
Possibly the Lamanite families were joined by more of the indigenous peoples than were the Nephites.
Mosiah 24:5-7 - Groups of Lamanites friendly with each other, yet occasionally fought among themselves except with their own tribes.
Mosiah 25:3 - Lamanites more numerous than Nephites and people of Zarahemla combined. They might have commandeered other indigenous groups south of the narrow strip of wilderness.
Mosiah 25:12 - Whenever outsiders joined with Nephites they were called Nephites.
Mosiah 29:44 - Reign of judges was established among all the people who were called Nephites. Inference is that there were other peoples besides the descendants of the Lehite colony.
Alma 3:11 - Whoever didn’t believe in the Lamanite traditions were Nephites, inferring there were others than direct descendants of the Lehite colony.
Alma 3:17 - Nephi’s seed is whoever follows him (regardless of lineage).
Alma 7:1, 6 - Alma speaks to the people of Gideon “in my language;” possibly inferring that the people of Gideon were of a different lineage and had learned the Nephite language enough so he could communicate with them, but he didn’t know their specific language or dialect. Verse 6 - the Gideonites were not prideful and set upon riches and vain things. They may have been a completely different people than those in Zarahemla, who were prideful and concerned about worldly things, yet all in the Nephite nation.
Alma 17:26 - Lamanitish servants - why this designation if they were not true Lamanites?
Alma 19:16 - Abish (secret Church convert) was one of the Lamanitish women. What is a Lamanitish woman compared to a true Lamanite woman?
Alma 21:2-5; 22:7; 24:1, 28; 27:12; 43:6, 17 - Amalekites. This is a hard-hearted, wicked group of otherwise unidentified people living among the Lamanites in the land of Nephi. Some LDS scholars think that their name had been misspelled by Oliver Cowdery when writing the manuscript and are actually the Amlicites, followers of a Nephite dissenter named Amlici, who, himself and many of his followers, may also have been other than pure Nephites (See Alma 2:1-38; 3:1-18). The Amalekites were of a definitely different lineage than Lamanites (See Alma 24:29).
Alma 30:6 - Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla. If the “land of Zarahemla” means the entire land, which is the nation of the Nephites, it means that he was a non-Nephite coming from another group of people who were not Nephites. Some LDS researchers have shown that Korihor is actually a Jaredite name and that he may have been a descendant of some Jaredites who were not involved with the great war that ended the Jaredites as a people. If the “land of Zarahemla” means the local county-like area immediately around the city of Zarahemla, then Korihor could have been a Nephite (still possibly with Jaredite ancestry) from another land within the greater land of Zarahemla.
Alma 31:35 - Many of the Zoramites were brethren of Alma and his missionary group. This infers that others of the Zoramites, possibly the majority, may have been of a different lineage from the original Lehite colony. The Zoramites, in general, were dissenters from the Nephites (Alma 31:8).
Alma 43:17 - Amalekites are mentioned as dissenters from the Nephites, yet nowhere previously is it mentioned when they dissented, unless they are the Amlicites who did defect and join the Lamanites (See Alma 21:2-5, etc., above).
Alma 50:32 - Why was Moroni concerned that the people in the land Bountiful would join with the rebellious people of the land of Morianton unless they were of a different stock, and prone to be rebellious themselves from the regular (pure) Nephites?
Alma 51:8, 21 - The king-men were of high birth. Where did they come from? Were they descendants from the people of Zarahemla, thus from Mulek who was of high birth; or were they a completely separate group of people assimilated earlier into the Nephites from a culture that had nobility and high births, and were now becoming disaffected?
Helaman 1:15 - Coriantumr2, a defector to the Lamanites, was a direct descendant of the Mulekites. Some of this lineage may not have been happy with their ancestors joining with the Nephites and having their subsequent kings only from pure descendants of Nephi.
3 Nephi 3:9-10 - somewhat nebulous - The leaders of the Gadianton band may have been part of the dissenters, like the Amlicites, who felt they should have had more privileges being of noble birth, etc.
3 Nephi 3:14, 24 - “... all them who were numbered among the Nephites....” (possibly inferring that there were other peoples besides the Nephites and converted Lamanites who were friendly to the Nephite leadership).
3 Nephi 7:2-4, 14 - During the anarchy and the formation of numerous tribal associations before Christ’s coming to America - it would be interesting to know if the tribes that developed were based on prior ethnicity.
4 Nephi 1:10, 23 - The Nephites “multiplied exceedingly fast” - could this have been augmented by many converts from other nearby peoples as well as those who were already Nephites?
Mormon 1:7 - Nephites were extremely numerous. See question immediately above.
Mormon 4:17 - “... greatness of number....” - Again, question of natural increase or conscription of other indigenous or other non-Nephite peoples.”
The archaeological record shows the presence of many people in what we call Book of Mormon lands at 600 BC. These people included the Mayas, descendants of surviving Olmecs, the Zoqueans and others.
“Here we might ask three questions posed previously: (1). Were the Nephites Maya? (2). Were the Lamanites Maya? (3). Were both the Nephites and the Lamanites Maya? If Steve Carr is right in concluding that we can equate the term “Lowland Maya” with the Book of Mormon term “wilderness” and also equate the term “Highland Maya” with the Book of Mormon term “mountains,” as found in Helaman 11, then I think we can justifiably build a case for answering all three of the above questions in the affirmative. Frankly, that’s the only logical solution to the 'Maya problem' once we understand the magnitude and scope of the Maya civilization in the Book of Mormon’s land southward.”(1)
In Ted Stoddard's analysis Nephites and Lamanites joined with indigenous people (the Maya and the Zoqueans) and though the Lamanites vastly outnumbered the Nephites, together they constituted the vast majority of inhabitants of the land southward.
This view is contrasted by archaeologist David Swingler who writes: “My first perspective of the "Lehiaic Invasion" (my term) (2) circa 585 BC is that this VERY small group found a land largely uninhabited – that is to say, vacant of human settlements - with some existing cultures and settlements eventually being found . . . it was truly pitifully small, a mere handful of humans in a vast tropical jungle region already inhabited by scattered villages of tribes and peoples with dark skins, whom they co-existed with for some time without being discovered or discovering others. My perception is that over time, as the Nephite geography expanded, they still knew less about what lay beyond the walls of jungle surrounding them than we give them credit for. They cared little about it in keeping their religious records focused on spiritual matters.”
Jacob lamented in his old age, and after being in the promised land some 70 plus years, that......”I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days..” In trying to have empathy for Jacob, he certainly doesn't sound like the spiritual leader of a group of people who are enthusiastically exploring and exploiting their new environment. He almost sounds like a prisoner consigned to a small cell for his life. (Jacob 7:26)
Brant Gardner comments that “ I certainly don’t see Lehi and family invading anything. I also believe that there were a lot more people around. It wasn’t a heavily populated time, but there were at least 6 communities of 1,000 or more along the Guatemala coast when the family arrived. When they arrived they weren’t in any shape to invade and certainly had to rely somewhat on the mercy of the existing populations. I think merger with some of those populations occurred fairly early, and voluntarily rather than forcefully.”
What about the intermarriage question? Did the Lamanites marry into local Maya populations? What about the Nephites? In the above quote, Gardner thinks merger (which would include intermarriage) occurred early and voluntarily. Swingler disagrees, “My perception is that while "The Nephites" followed Hebrew custom and only married within their circle, Laman and Lemuel left the group and intermarried with "the locals" and in the classic Hebrew tradition of "Goyim" we see the Nephites called all non-Nephites "Goyim" - or as we have it recorded, "The Lamanites." This idea is refuted by Gardner who doesn't believe that the Nephites married exclusively within their circle. He states, “While it is true that there were endogamy rules, there were also much stronger rules against incest. Brother was not going to marry sister, and even first cousins should have been prohibited. Everybody, virtually from necessity, was marrying “others” when the children of the original landing party required mates. Of course, when those “others” joined with the Nephites, they became Nephites and part of the community. That might have been a large enough group for endogamy, but I doubt it. I see evidence in Jacob that there was marriage with non-Nephites.
Stoddard hints at a more or less complete merger of Book of Mormon people (at least at later time periods) with the Maya. He states, “Helaman 11 tells me that the Nephites were involved in many respects with the Maya who lived in the lowland jungle territory of the Peten and Belize. Obviously, the extent and nature of that involvement varied from time to time. For example, the Book of Mormon tells us essentially nothing about the Lowland Maya of the Peten and Belize during the two hundred or so years following the visits by Christ among the people of the land southward. We are told, however, that the people were not known during this time as “Nephites” and “Lamanites”: “There were no . . . Lamanites, nor any manner of –ites; but they were in one, the children of God” (4 Nephi 1:17). I see no reason why that scripture does not include the Maya people living in the lowland jungle area of the Peten and Belize. Common sense tells me that intense missionary endeavors must have been undertaken in that territory during the first and second centuries AD.”
Swingler sees a very different picture. He states “My perception of the “Jaredite Invasion” is that it happened, they evolved, they built, they declined, they died out, leaving their cities in ruin. They are there somewhere, whether we have found them yet and not recognized them, or still have to find them and hope to recognize them. My perception of the “Lehiaic Invasion” is that it was truly pitifully small, a mere handful of humans in a vast tropical jungle region already inhabited by scattered villages of tribes and peoples with dark skins, whom they co-existed with for some time without being discovered or discovering others. My perception is that over time, as the Nephite geography expanded, they still knew less about what lay beyond the walls of jungle surrounding them than we give them credit for. They cared little about it in keeping their religious records focused on spiritual matters.”
What about the statements in Helaman 11 where Mormon tells us that the people of Nephi “did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 11:20). Further, “the church did spread throughout the face of all the land; and the more part of the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, did belong to the church” (Helaman 11:21). How does one interpret Mormon's meaning of the words “the land?” He is quoting from Nephite records dating to 16 BC. As illustrated above, scholars understand “the land” to mean anything from a relatively small area (strip?) from the sea west to the sea east, to all of the Land Southward being occupied by the Maya.
Swingler comments: “In describing land - "all the face of the land" could be a 5-mile radius. REMEMBER: These people did not have airplanes or cut-paved roads to see "from sea to shining sea" and in ancient times "all the land" was your greater radius area - not your continent. We must "Think Ancient" and think in terms of radius of known land, or land they called "ours." Not the continent - only we have this awareness today.”
“We are too accustomed today to our world of billions of souls, with cities numbering tens of millions of souls, with metropolitan geographies occupying hundreds of square miles as contiguous cities taking hours to drive through on freeways speeding 65 miles an hour and faster - driving hours without seeing an end to city. In 1976 it was my need in a university lecture to coin the phrase "Think Ancient" - to counter the unconscious thinking that words used 2,000 years ago describe the same scenarios we see and know today. In trying to understand the Book of Mormon text we must discard our modern-day visualized understandings of words and go back into historical reality to re-visualize the true scope and magnitude of ancient description. Anciently, cities were small. Rome, which was the largest population assembled into a city, at its height reached 1 million souls. ONE million souls. This is Rome, which sprawled out over a huge geography. Normal cities were what, today, we would call small towns and villages. Anciently a city of 5,000 was enormous. A city of 10,000 was a megalopolis. We must re-calibrate our thinking to visualize this. The terms "numerous" and "a great host" "great people" "entire nation" - in a tribal world - can mean 80 people! This was noted as recently as the 19th century in the Middle East where even small family tribal groups were considered "Nations" and "Peoples" and "Kingdoms." When T.E. Lawrence led the Arab Army for Prince Faisal he made world headlines leading the huge legion of 1,000 men. This was HUGE in that part of the world - a true hoard. We read in the Bible that Abraham was a great man, of flocks and many servants - a tribal leader - and he had fewer than 200 souls with him. This was an entire Nation. From his Grandson Jacob, Israel, 12 sons eventually became Twelve Tribes which after 400 years in Egypt - 400 years in a healthy environment where as slaves - property of value - they were cared for, fed and allowed to multiply, as we read. This mighty population explosion resulted in an Exodus of less than half a million souls - 600 years after Abraham, a good parallel to Lehi's Group.
So, our estimates of numbers - which we tend to always inflate enormously to fulfill some modern-day imagining of OUR idea of "a vast people" causes us to do mathematical acrobatics which even rabbits would have a difficult time duplicating. We must "Think Ancient" and see a people used to small villages and towns in Palestine, who were used to seeing small villages and towns in their new land, and called them - in typical human pride - "cities" and "great cities" - which could have been very small by our standards today. Look at the actual remains found both in the Old World regions as well as in the jungled Mesoamerican regions. We just don't see the numbers. Why? Because 'a multitude" 2,000 years ago could be 300 people. We must get out of denial, see the remains of town and villages called cities and accept the much smaller numerical realities which the words are describing - "according to their language, according to their understanding." As for the so-called "population experts" whose mathematical acrobatics defy the multiplication of rabbits - ignoring newborn death-rates from disease - infant mortality which continues to be high in these regions today; decimations of adult populations by disease and war - all from Lehi's virile sons? The intermarriage factor must be accepted, and, we must "Think Ancient" and reduce our definitions of generic words such as "great" "numerous" "vast" etc.”
Stoddard addresses this question by quoting and commenting from Helaman 11: “And it came to pass that the [year 16 BC] did end in peace. And the [year 15 BC] began in peace; and the church did spread throughout the face of all the land; and the more part of the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, did belong to the church; and they did have exceedingly great peace in the land; and thus ended the [year 15 BC]. (Helaman 11:20–21; emphasis added) From these verses, we should note that, at this time, “the more part of the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites,” belonged to the church and that “the church did spread throughout the face of all the land.” To me, those words from Mormon sound like a majority of all the people in Maya country (the land southward) belonged to the church. That doesn’t necessarily mean they became Nephites and thereby adopted the social customs and religious practices of the Nephites.
Stoddard, who was the editor of Joseph and Blake Allen's Exploring the Lands of The Book of Mormon further states: “In this second edition of Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, we have elected to label both Nephites and Lamanites as being affiliated with the same culture, that which is referred to today as the Maya. Therefore, for clarification purposes, we will use the terms Nephite Maya and Lamanite Maya in our geographical discussions.”
This statement is, to my knowledge, the most liberal interpretation of the Lehite/Maya relationship.
David Swingler is on the other end of the spectrum, he espouses the idea that the Nephites were never more than a small speck more or less lost amongst a large Maya population. He treats the Jaredites pretty much the same. His opinion is that that is what the record says and gives the following examples: “Those who believe The Book of Mormon records everything about all peoples in this geography need to go back and look at The Old testament and The New testament – highly exclusive cultural religious narratives set in a small geography mostly ignoring the surrounding peoples, omitting the neighboring nations’ concurrent histories and events.
The Hebrew writers of the Old Testament knew everything about the world and peoples around them, having regular news from caravans and ships, merchants and travelers. Yet their perception as OT writers was utterly narrow, and these Jews never wrote much about any of the outlying “Goyim” – because it did not pertain to their Jewish history or the religious history they were writing. Likewise the Jewish writers of the New Testament knew everything about the peoples surrounding them – all the Greco-Roman culture and cities in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Rome, and Mesopotamia - from caravans, ships, merchants, travelers and the imprinted “news” on the numerous “newsy” stamped coinages of even far-flung kingdoms and the vast Roman Empire circulating in their hands every day. Yet the perspective of the Jewish NT writers was also utterly narrow, and none of these “newsy” outside peoples – “Goyim” - or their current events get much coverage in the NT record. So we see that 99.9% of the history of the Middle East and the Levant is ignored by these classic Hebrew and Jewish texts, and only very few mentions about Goyim appear in their specifically one-sided exclusive religious narratives.”
Swingler further comments by saying, “the Nephite record is relatively a very SMALL record of a small people in a vast land. This same perception is the correct world-view of the Hebrew Record we call The Old Testament: a VERY small people wrote a very big book, they star in it almost exclusively, and, geographically they occupied a very SMALL area of land.”
Gardner generally agrees with this position: “I am not sure that I would agree with “speck,” but I certainly agree with the general idea that the Nephites (and Jaredites) participated in a larger culture and formed only one of a group of people that shared linguistic and cultural traits. If you use Sorenson’s correlation (which I also think is the best available) then you have a large portion of our record centered on some city in the Grijalva River valley. The cities there were not of the size or influence of those in Highland Guatemala (which I believe is one of the reasons that Zeniff and others were so eager to return). There is also the de facto separation of Nephites from the cultures in the highlands. In Mesoamerican terms, the Grijalva River valley was Zoquean and the Highland Guatemala region was Mayan. That would make the Lamanites Maya at that time. However, understanding that the Maya were centered around their own cities (and later in dependency on some larger ones), it is still an oversimplification to expect that genetic Lamanites existed in all of those cities. It didn’t matter to the Nephite writers. They were all goyim/Lamanites.
Another concept that causes confusion when visualizing the Nephite/Lamanite/Robber populations is the size of the many wars recorded in The Book of Mormon. I think most readers imagine wars to be large scale affairs. We tend to think of the vast numbers of combatants recorded in Ether and in the last war of extinction of the Nephites. Swingler helps us put this in perspective: “The term 'wars' describes a conflict between enemies, and these could be families, tribes, villages, as history has recorded to us across the ages across the globe. Polynesian 'wars' were usually comprised of a few hundred warriors again a similar number. Helaman led 2,000 young warriors - against an equally small army. We must 'Think Ancient' about the 'Lehitic Invasion' and its slow penetration across 'all the land.' “
Swingler concludes by stating that . . . “In terms of historical perspective as a cultural invasion, the Lehiaic migration was a failure: it kept to itself, it took on more cultural ways than it gave to its Goyim neighbors (due to climate, clothing materials, building materials and flora and fauna materials available) and it was poorly tolerated by the indigenous population as it came into contact with them.”
Gardner agrees in principle: “Generally I agree. We know that the Nephites struggled to maintain their religion, and that it was a very real struggle. Mark Wright and I have a paper that should appear in the Mormon Studies Review some time soon which argues that the particular nature of the surrounding Mesoamerican religion provides the requisite features to describe the reason that Nephite apostasy always took a particular path—one that syncretized Nephite religion with the surrounding areas. So, I see much more interaction with the non-Nephites. I also suggest that the material culture was pretty thoroughly Mesoamerican and the religious culture was the defiant, uniquely Nephite, aspect.”
My opinion, which is subject to change, is somewhat of a compromise between Stoddard and Swingler on population. I think there was some intermarriage between Nephites and indigenous folk with the Nephite culture being adopted by the couples. I think there was a lot of intermarriage between the Lamanites and locals with the indigenous culture surviving. Over the years there were a lot of Nephite dissenters. Many if not most of them joined with the Lamanites/natives. There was very little conversion of Lamanites into the Nephite culture (the anti-Nephi-Lehis being a notable exception) which is evidenced by the disproportionate amount of space on the plates that Mormon gave to relating the story of Ammon and his brothers' 14 year mission to the Lamanites. That was a real exception.
As to population size, I identify more with Swingler than Stoddard. I see both their proposals as extremes, but I don't see the idea of BofM cities being large enough to support hundreds of thousands of people. The archaeological record does not show large populations. When we see large ruins such as Palenque, Tikal, etc. we need to remember firstly that these are classical period structures when population numbers would be significantly greater and that primarily the royalty and their attendants were housed there while most of the population lived in villages surrounding the cities . . . . exactly as you see it today. I think perhaps the only difference between an ancient Nephite/Lamanite "house" and a modern one is the single, bare light bulb hanging from the rafters in the center of the modern hut.
1. Ted Dee Stoddard www.bmaf.org/node/470 Stoddard states that “around 90 percent of the New World archaeological sites that date to the Late Preclassic and Early Classic Periods” . . .are in the same area where “the major portion of what we read in the Book of Mormon about the Nephites probably took place in this territory, which we could call the “Nephite homeland.”
2. Swingler states that “The use of the word "invasion" is absolutely correct and must be used for the Lehite Group arrival. This word is a word-perspective visualized from the side of the body invaded, not the penetrators. The New World was penetrated; MesoAmerica was penetrated. As the Nephite Culture spread, it was not universally or unanimously welcomed nor wanted nor tolerated by the indigenous people - from their perspective it was by fact an invasion. The penetration of a single microbe or virus into a body - which multiplies and begins to take over areas of the body - is by terminology an invasion. Numbers are not the question: it is the arrival, persisting, and expansion usurping land. This Lehite arrival, penetration, expansion and land usurpation is said to have "covered the face of all the land." So - invasion is the correct word, like it or not. To the indigenous inhabitants, the Lehitic Group invaded their land.
Brant Gardner personal correspondence, in possession of author.