During the winter of 2011–2012, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and Office of Public Archaeology (OPA) at Brigham Young University (BYU) conducted archaeological explorations in urban Provo, Utah. The purpose of the research was to uncover and document the extant remains of the Original or Old Provo Tabernacle (OPT; 42UT1844). The data recovered from that excavation was the impetus for the current study. Through a combination of documentary and archaeological evidence, and using Mormon theology as a lens through which to interpret the actions of nineteenth century Latter-day Saints, this thesis demonstrates the important role played by the OPT in the project of Mormon Zion in the American West. The OPT was the first proposed and eighth completed tabernacle in the LDS Church. In the OPT, Brigham Young initiated a dynamic new building form which was intended to accommodate both the political and economic needs of LDS settlements at a distance from Salt Lake City and the central hierarchy of the Church while simultaneously providing space for Mormon worship and ritual practice. These buildings sought to prepare the Saints of early Utah for the eventual construction of temples throughout the region and, like the Tabernacle of the Congregation anciently, served to build strong communal ties in outlying Mormon settlements.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Original Provo Tabernacle, Historical Archaeology, Mormonism, Settlement Studies, Phenomenology of Religion

Included in

Anthropology Commons