Tag Archives: Nephites

Ancient Cities of the Mississippi Valley

As European settlers in North America moved westward they came across more and more curious looking earthworks. Some were simply man-made mounds, some detailed effigies and some were the remnants of great cities.

Between 1845 and 1847 two men traveled through much of the Mississippi Valley surveying and documenting many of these earthworks. Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis recorded their findings in a publication called “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”.

For students of the Book of Mormon, one of their findings is of particular interest. On a site called the East Fork Works (Sometimes called “Gridiron” or “Hebrew Works”) in Clermont County, Ohio, Squire and Davis found the remains of a large complex or city laid out in a very particular manner.

Hebrew-works-framed

This “Gridiron” (on the right in the above image) was laid out as a walled city with detailed formations. As you can see in the over-lay below, one section of the city was laid out in the shape of a menorah.

Above the menorah section of the city, we can see a Jewish clay lamp.

Hebrew-works-lamp-framed

Also visible in the design and construction of the city are two ancient and important symbols, the compass and the square.

Hebrew-works-Sq-Compass-Framed

The Hopewell culture, of which this city is a part, dates from 100 B.C. to 600 A.D. Many of their structures and the artifacts found in and around them indicate there was a strong Hebrew influence. This Hebrew culture such as we find in the East Fork site can be explained in the Book of Mormon. A group left Israel in 600 B.C., traveled across the ocean, landed in North America, formed governments, built cities, and about 70 B.C. built, in a particular manner, the great City of Lehi.

“And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites.

“And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah.

“And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore.” (The Book of Mormon, Alma 50:13-15 – emphasis added)

Whether the city found in Clermont County, Ohio is the City of Lehi, or just another Hopewell city, the Hebrew influence is clear. Combined with evidence from other sites throughout North America, the East Fork site confirms that the early inhabitants of this continent were sophisticated, educated, and religiously devoted.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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Additional information:

They Wrote the Book – Evidence of the Book of Mormon in North America from those that lived it.

Zelph’s Mound – He served under the Prophet Onandagus.

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Images in the article are from the Squire and Davis book “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”, plate XXXIV, page 95.

The Menorah added in over-lay is from: wikimedia commons.

The oil lamp added in over-lay is from MormonMediaNetwork.com

Newark Holy Stones

In the summer and fall of 1860 an archeological paradigm was turned on its head. Two artifacts were found in Ohio. They were immediately labeled as a hoax because they didn’t fit within the accepted thinking of the day. David Wyrick, a Licking County surveyor found the artifacts. The first (#2 in the photo above) was a triangular, wedge shaped stone found in the bottom of a pit near ancient Hopewell earthworks in Newark, Ohio. The second (#1 in the photo) was found 10 miles south during the excavation of a burial mound.

Joseph-Knew-Newark-Holy-Stone-KeystoneThe triangular stone, known as a “keystone” is inscribed on all side with Hebrew characters. It translates as:

“The Holy of Holies, The Law of God, The King of the Earth, The Word of the Lord.”

The other stone, known as the Decalogue Stone was found inside a sandstone box or case . The case was carved specifically to house the Decalogue Stone. The stone itself is inscribed on all sides with characters, which have been determined to be “Block Hebrew” or “Monumental Hebrew”. On the front of the stone is a robed man who appears to be holding a tablet. Above his head is written “Moses”. When translated, the writings, which cover the Decalogue stone were found to be the Ten Commandments.

Joseph-Knew-Newark-Holly-Stones----Stone-Box

The Hopewell mounds around the area where these artifacts were found carbon date to 150 – 250 AD. Skeptics, believing the artifacts were part of a hoax, posed two questions about these stones.Joseph-Knew-Newark-Holy-Stone---Decalogue-Stone

How could there be Hebrew writings on stones in North America during this time frame?

How could people living in North America two centuries after Christ have knowledge of the Ten Commandments?

Both of these questions can be answered if one accepts that a group of Jews, led by the Prophet Lehi came to North America in 600 BC and brought with them brass plates which contained the five Books of Moses.

Another argument proposed by skeptics is that the limestone used to make the Decalogue stone is not indigenous to the Newark area. However, in a paper published on an Ohio State University website , James L. Murphy of Ohio State University says such limestone is common in Muskingum County, Ohio.

The Hebrew script found on the Newark Holy Stones differs from that used today.

The Hebrew alphabet changed significantly after the Babylonian exile (597 – 582 BCE). If a group came to North America around 600 BCE we would expect that their script and the script of their descendants would differ from present-day script.

Joseph-Knew-Newark-Holy-Stones---Ceremonial-BowlAlong with the Keystone and the Decalogue stone, a small stone bowl was found. In his book, “The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland – A Visual Journey of Discovery”, Rod Meldrum presents an explanation for the bowl’s purpose.

“The small stone bowl or cup is significant because similar stone vessels are typical of Jews who kept the purity laws. Stone vessels do not become impure, and purity was very important.

“After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, the use of stone bowls as ritual objects were discontinued. Stone bowls to hold ceremonial oils, such as this, are significant because it could have been part of Hopewell sacred rituals, as it was for the Jews.”

Such ceremonial bowls would have still been in use by a Hebrew culture in North America in 150-200 AD because the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD did not affect their culture.

Skeptics when these stones were found, and some skeptics today, believe these stones are forgeries because there is no evidence of a Hebrew civilization or even a Hebrew influence in the Hopewell civilization. These stones were some of the first artifacts found that depicted Hebrew script. Just because something is new or unusual doesn’t make it a forgery. Since 1860, many other artifacts have been found which support the idea that early inhabitants of North America were of Jewish decent.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Holy Stone photos by: Mormon Media Network.

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Additional Information:

Hebrew-alphbet-chart-w-border

Alphabet Chart from: econ.ohio-state.edu — Click chart for larger view.

Additional Reading:

“The Script of the Torah” Jerusalem, Israel: Aishdas. 2002., Sanhedrin 21b-22a

“An Annotated Transcription of the Ohio Decalogue Stone.” by J. Huston McCulloch, Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers vol. 21 (1992): 56-71.

“A History of the Hebrew Language”. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1993. ISBN 0-521-55634-1.)

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Previous Posts:

Zelph’s Mound

They Wrote the Book

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Zelph’s Mound

Joseph-Knew---Zions-Camp-map
Zion’s Camp Trail

In May of 1834 Joseph Smith organized a group of Latter-day Saints that came to be known as Zion’s Camp. During May and June, this group of approximately 200 men, several women and a few children traveled on foot from Kirtland, Ohio to Western Missouri. Although it was not the main goal of the expedition, the march gave Joseph Smith and the Saints a greater understanding of Book of Mormon lands. It was clear to Joseph that they were traveling across the very lands occupied by the Nephites. In a letter to his wife Emma, he wrote:

“The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recording occasionally, the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendor and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed.” (The complete letter is in the possession of the Community of Christ church.)

From this letter we learn two things:

  1. Joseph knew North America was where the Book of Mormon took place.
  2. Joseph knew the many man-made mounds in the Heartland of America were created by the Nephites.
Joseph-Knew---Heber-C-Kimball
Heber C. Kimball

On the morning of June 3 near Grigsville, Illinois Joseph took several men to the top of a hill, known today as Naples-Russell Mound 8. About this event, Heber C. Kimball wrote:

“On the top of this mound there was the appearance of three altars, which had been built of stone, one above another, according to the ancient order; and the ground was strewn over with human bones.”

Seeing this, Joseph sent for a shovel and a hoe and they began to excavate at the top of the hill. Again, Kimball reports:

“At about one foot deep we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire; and between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evidently been the cause of his death. We took the leg and thigh bones and carried them along with us to Clay County. All four appeared sound.”

Another account was recorded by Elder Burr Riggs:

“The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow which evidently produced his death.”

There are several written accounts of what Joseph Smith said about the man whose remains they had uncovered. The accounts vary somewhat. However, in 1842 Willard Richards was assigned by Joseph Smith to compiled and record a History of the Church. The following was recorded by Richards as part of that official history. It appears to have been gleaned from the many different accounts spoken or recorded in journals of those who were in attendance at the event.

“The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick set man and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea, to the Rocky Mountains . . . He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites.” (History of the Church, Vol. 2, pg. 79-80, June 3, 1834, 1948 edition)

From this account we learn four things:

  1. The last great struggle with the Lamanites and the Nephites took place in North America.
  2. The Hill Cumorah is in the Eastern Part of North America.
  3. The people of the Book of Mormon spread across North America from at least as far west as the Rocky Mountains to at least as far east as the Hill Cumorah.
  4. Joseph knew North America was where the Book of Mormon took place.

Zelph’s Mound (Naples-Russell Mound 8) is a man-made mound. Mounds such as this can be found throughout the heartland of America. Whether Zelph’s mound was a burial mound specifically for the warrior Zelph, or was a mound burying others is not known for certain. Many burial mounds have been found to have many people buried in them, but upon further examination, it has been found that is was a common practice for people centuries later to bury their loved one’s in such mounds.

Zion’s Camp was a pivotal event in church history. It served to strengthen the resolve of the saints in adversity. It strengthened their faith in the Lord, and it solidified testimonies of the Book of Mormon.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Like Joseph Knew on Facebook to stay up to date on what’s happening.

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Additional information:

Joseph Knew is part of the Mormon Media Network.

Heber C. Kimball was called as an Apostle by the Three Witnesses in February, 1835.

Elder Burr Riggs was a Seventy who served in the first Quorum of the Seventy. He was a physician by profession. He was excommunicated in February 1833, but was re-baptized the following year. He became disaffected from the church in 1838 and in 1839 became one of the few members of the church to be excommunicated twice. Riggs is spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants when he is called to travel south to do missionary work. (Doctrine and Covenants 75:17)

In these two “Past Impressions” episodes on The Mormon Channel, Dr,. Alex Baugh and Dr. Max Parkin discuss Zion’s Camp. “Establishing Zion’s Camp – Part 1”, “Establishing Zion’s Camp – Part 2.”

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Image credits:

Main title image – Naples-Russel Mound 8 (Zelphi’s Mound) by: wikimedia commons, HotWheels53

Zion’s Camp Trail by: lds.org

Heber C. Kimball by: Unknown photographer – public domain