The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced this week that part of their research arm The Church of Mormon Archaeological Research Group has found archaeological proof of the events included in the Book of Mormon.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ came to North America after his death and resurrection to teach Native Americans. It has been a desire of the church for years to prove their beliefs through the science of Archaeology. So in 2001, the church financed the education of a group of Mormon college students. In 2004 they hired the first student to graduate with a Doctorate, Daniel Jackson, to run their new archaeology program.
“The first objective for us was to start investigating native sites from the correct period. We really looked hard at sites dating from the decades around 0 A.D. At first we didn’t have much luck” Said Jackson.
The group started excavating sites in the southwestern United States, without much luck. Eventually in northeastern Nevada, the archaeologists started to find metal at the sites. Native American peoples are not known for metalwork.
“It was shocking, said Jackson, It was something that we had hoped and prayed about, but to actually find it was just so exhilarating.”
Eventually the research group narrowed down the search radius and started to excavate sites in what they are calling “The Metal Belt”. They started finding more and more sites with refined metal. Eventually the archaeologists say they made a remarkable recovery.
Dr. Danial Jackson, said of the discovery, “Finally on a site near Owyhee Nevada this summer we found a truly amazing find. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it. We found a silver cross with inlaid turquoise.”
The archaeologists knew that their find would be controversial, so they hoped to find something that they could scientifically date using the Carbon-14 technique. Testing of the C-14 isotopes in most organic residue can give a somewhat date of the artifacts around the sample. Scientists usually use charcoal to do the testing on, but no charcoal was found near the find, which the archaeologists say
was found on a area of the site set away for religious observances. But they did manage to recover a datable piece of Charcoal a few yards away from the find that dated to approximately 45 A.D. (+/- 15 years)
The archaeologists also found more traditional Native American artifacts at the site as well, including 87 arrowheads made from a volcanic glass known as obsidian. Obsidian is known to science to be one of the sharpest materials on the planet. Surely this material helped the Indians that lived at the site to hunt and procure plenty of food for the residents of the village. Also found at the site were thousands of shards of pottery that the scientists will eventually try to piece back together. In addition to the small pieces of potter the archaeologists also found around ten entire pottery bowls.
“Now does this mean that we have scientific proof that Jesus Christ came to America to teach the Indians? No, but it certainly indicates that someone from the old world came here and was teaching them about what was happening in the bible lands. It’s a start.” said Jackson.
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