Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, Civilization, Warfare, Mesoamerica, Archaeology


Warfare is a constant theme in the Book of Mormon. Conflicts with varying motivations erupted between the Nephites and Lamanites from the beginning of their sojourn in the New World. Ultimately, the Nephites as a sociopolitical group were exterminated in one climactic battle when hundreds of thousands died in a single day. Have Mesoamerican archaeologists detected an intensity and scale of warfare great enough to account for the extermination of a people like the Nephites? Yes, there is now good reason to believe that the period when the Nephites were being destroyed by their enemies was characterized in southern Mexico and Guatemala by widespread disruption rather than an orderly evolution in the Classic era that once was the standard claim of archaeologists. The process of the complete destruction of the Nephites and their culture agrees with a recurrent pattern in Mesoamerican history.