Kinderhook Plates, Tucson Artifacts, Hoaxes, Forgery of Antiquities, Archaeology, Book of Mormon Evidences, Arizona, Illinois


“The Kinderhook Plates, the Tucson Artifacts, and Mormon Archeological Zeal” discusses Mormon archeological zeal, or the short-sighted enthusiasm shown by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) regarding relics or artifacts that might "prove" the veracity of the Book of Mormon or even of the LDS Church. This article summarizes the history of both the Kinderhook Plates and the Tucson Artifacts within this context, stating that the Kinderhook Plates have been proven fraudulent but that the Tucson Artifacts still provide mystery to researchers. The Kinderhook Plates were created by three conspirators who lived in Kinderhook, Illinois, who wanted to expose Joseph Smith as a fraud. The Tucson artifacts (also known as the Tucson Lead Crosses, Tucson Crosses, Silverbell Road artifacts, or Silverbell artifacts) were thirty-one lead objects that Charles E. Manier and his family found in 1924 near Picture Rocks, Arizona which were initially thought to be created by early Mediterranean civilizations that had crossed the Atlantic in the first century. The fascination many Mormons have for archaeology goes back to the early days of the LDS Church. This article explores what lies behind that fascination.

Original Publication Citation

J. Michael Hunter, "The Kinderhook Plates, the Tucson Artifacts, and Mormon Archeological Zeal," Journal of Mormon History 31, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 31-70.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Mormon History Association




Harold B. Lee Library