Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, Geography, Mesoamerica


We construct a detailed geographical model of the Nephite homeland areas of Manti, Zarahemla, and the river Sidon using the Book of Mormon text of around 80 BC. This model assumes that these areas are located in Mesoamerica, that the names of their surrounding seas do not necessarily correspond to local compass directions, and that the directions stated in the text are to be understood in the nontechnical normal English sense. We then describe the southern end of the Grijalva river basin, located across the southern part of the Mexico–Guatemala border. We nominate this area as a possible candidate for the ancient Nephite homeland because it corresponds to the text’s topography from the most general to the most detailed parts of the description. Furthermore, significant geographical and climatic changes in this area over the last 2,000 years are unlikely. The number and detail of the topological matches encourage further careful study.