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Arguably among the two greatest linguistic discoveries relating to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon in modern history: two ancient stones bearing Hebrew inscriptions can now take their rightful place in the history of the world! Recent scientific verifications establish that people with a knowledge of ancient Hebrew written language were in the Heartland of North America during Book of Mormon time frames! Read on for the entire history making story…the case for Book of Mormon written language in America's Heartland!
Update: Dec. 14, 2013
The Book of Mormon claims to be a history of several groups of people from the Old World who came to the America’s by boat. At least one of these groups, known as the Nephites, kept a written history of their people on metal plates which was passed down through their prophets and was written in what they called “reformed Egyptian.”
“And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
“And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.” Mormon 9:32-33
From the text we learn that if there would have been more space on the plates, they would have preferred writing in their native Hebrew language and had they been able to do so there would have been “no imperfection” in their record.
Many of those critical of the Church have pointed to the lack of written Hebrew language in the America’s as evidence against the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Some LDS students of the Book of Mormon contend that the rather sophisticated glyph language system of the Maya civilization in Mesoamerica is evidence that the Book of Mormon history occurred there. However, the written language of the Maya is neither Hebrew or Egyptian. Mayan is as unrelated to Hebrew or Egyptian as Chinese is to Latin. Still some tenaciously hold that at least there was a written language. While true, it was emphatically not the language specified in the Book of Mormon, which does not help in validating any Book of Mormons claims. There has never been found any evidence for ancient Hebrew or Egyptian written language in Mesoamerica or South America and this archaeologically well established fact has been used to dismiss and reject the Book of Mormon. (Click image below for Sneak Preview of the Series!)
In the opening episode of the second season of the History Channels America Unearthed TV series, aired Nov. 30th, 2013, forensic geologist Scott Wolter (pictured above) traveled to Newark, Ohio to meet with Ohio State University professor J. Huston McCulloch to conduct an analysis of the famed Newark Holy Stones held in the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. Their scientific findings are now validating the claims of the Book of Mormon.
Only Two Written Language Forms
Only two written languages are mentioned as in use during the Nephite period of the Book of Mormon; Reformed Egyptian and Hebrew (Mormon 9:32-33). Yet, entire Book of Mormon geography theories have been proposed based on the erroneous assumption that no written language existed in ancient North American civilizations. It was mistakenly thought that the only literate culture in the Americas were the Maya of Mesoamerica, but scholars know that the Mayan glyph system originated from Asiatic writing systems, which have nothing to do with either of the languages specified by the Book of Mormon - thus eliminating any linguistic connection between the Maya and the Nephites.
Today, non-LDS scientists have verified two stones having Hebrew inscriptions in America’s Heartland, thereby validating the January 1st, 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons (Vol. 3, No. 5) article, Evidences In Proof of the Book of Mormon, which records descriptions of the ancient fortifications “Near Newark in the county of Licking, Ohio” which are “but a few of the corresponding accounts of fortifications and works of defense there are to be found in the Book of Mormon and American Antiquities, but these are sufficient to show the public that the people whose history is contained in the Book of Mormon, are the authors of these works.”
In contrast to the lack of evidence for Hebrew or Egyptian language in Mesoamerica, many artifacts have been found in North America bearing Hebrew and other Old World inscriptions. These have been met with skepticism, overwhelming bias and even contempt by archaeological and scientific communities. They hold that no written language was had by the aboriginal inhabitants of North America until after European exploration. John Wesley Powell while at the Smithsonian even went so far as to claim it was "illegitimate" to even consider any written language before Columbus (see The Lost Civilizations of North America documentary clips on the Video Gallery # 24-28). Thus the vast majority of these artifacts, numbering in the tens of thousands by some estimates, were summarily dismissed and pronounced as hoaxes or fraudulent efforts to uphold theories of the day. Many people of the late 1700's believed that the evidence from the artifacts being dug from the ground supported an occupation of North America by one or more of the lost tribes of Israel.
Until now, such artifacts have been relegated to the realm of forgeries and fakes, most often by individuals and organizations having an agenda to maintain the status quo against any evidence suggesting advanced civilization or capabilities of the ancient Native American peoples. This has been well documented in the film, The Lost Civilizations of North America (click on the image below), which won best of show at the International Cherokee Film Festival in 2010, and the book by S. Edgar Smoot, Lost American Antiquities; A Hidden History (see bookstore). Until now there has been no verification or acceptance of any of these artifacts bearing Hebrew inscriptions as being ancient, authentic or linguistically accurate.
Now, a second independent scientific analysis of a stone having ancient Hebrew inscribed into its surface has been completed in the America’s. And where was this stone recovered? In a Hopewell burial mound in Ohio in 1860.
The Newark Holy Stones - The Decalogue Stone
A Second Validation of Ancient Hebrew, Confirming its Use in America’s Heartland
In June and November of 1860 respected Licking County, (Newark), Ohio surveyor, David Wyrick, unearthed two stones bearing Hebrew inscriptions. The first was a triangular shaped “keystone” (#2 in photo above) and the second was called the “Decalogue” stone (#1) - encased in a sandstone “sarcophagus” (#3-4) and accompanied by a small stone bowl (#5) nearly the size and shape of Hebrew temple ritual bowls.
The Keystone & Decalogue Stone
Photo's from Exploring the Book of Mormon in America's Heartland, page 167
The Keystone inscription translates as “The Holy of Holies, The Law of God, The King of the Earth, The Word of the Lord”
The black Decalogue stone depicts a man in full length robes, a sash and Jewish temple ceremonial hat along with the name of Moses above the image. The inscribed writing has been determined to be an ancient script now called “Block Hebrew,” or “Monumental Hebrew” because of its being found in Jerusalem near the 4th century, A.D. (Biblical Archaeology Review Nov./Dec. 1986, p. 33). Upon translation it was found to be a complete rendition of the 10 commandments. The robed figure on the front is identified by three characters above the head, identifying the figure as “Moses.” To learn more visit the Holy Stones page on professor J. Huston McCulloch's website HERE. See correlations between the Hebrew characters on the Decalogue stone, Monumental Hebrew found in Israel, and Roman characters with their Hebrew letter names in photo below. Photo from Exploring the Book of Mormon in America's Heartland, page 168
In Sept. 2013, following his examination of the Decalogue stone, Scott Wolter declared,
“Geologically, I don’t see any problems here that would make these things obvious hoaxes. The evidence seems clear, there’s no reason not to accept these as genuine, legitimate artifacts.” - Scott Wolter, American Petrigraphic Services, St. Paul, MN
The Bat Creek Stone
The Bat Creek Stone was recovered during a professional archaeological dig by John W. Emmert of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of Ethnology in 1889, during its Mound Survey Project. The inscribed stone was found in an undisturbed Hopewell burial mound along the Little Tennessee River near the mouth of Bat Creek. Additional Hopewell diagnostic artifacts recovered with the stone include bone and wood pieces and two brass bracelets whose metallurgical properties nearly match those of ancient Jews in the Levant (Israel) portions of the Mediterranean (see video of Dr. Wolter's presentation and analysis HERE or under Petrographic Analysis below at 8:30 timestamp). The inscription on the stone was assumed to be “Paleo-Cherokee,” and was subsequently published by the Smithsonian in their Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1890-1891 on page 392.
In 1964, Chicago patent attorney Henriette Mertz and Hebrew linguistics expert Dr. Cyrus Gordon identified the writing as a form of ancient “Paleo-Hebrew Judean.” They discovered that the stone had been published by the Smithsonian upside down and that it was legible Hebrew, once the stone was rotated 180 degrees.
The Inscription’s Translation
The stone’s inscription was translated into English by several Hebrew language scholars. What was the translation?; ”For the Judeans,” or “For Judea,” a clear reference to ancient Israel.
History of the Bat Creek Stone by non-Mormon Historian for BTN-TV
For a concise, well researched history of the Bat Creek Stone, click on the image of forensic geologist Scott Wolter below.
History Channel Documentary, A Historical Account of the Bat Creek Stone
The History Channel began showing a new documentary in 2010 titled Who Really Discovered America in which they explore the many possible excursions to ancient America before Columbus, including a segment on Lehi’s voyage of the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, because of incorrect assumptions by Mesoamerica Book of Mormon geography theorists, they dismiss the Book of Mormon and the Church… (more on this in an upcoming presentation by Rod L. Meldrum on Lehi’s voyage). This documentary is now available on DVD. In it the narrator states, “Another stone with a mysterious seemingly Hebrew inscription was found here, along the Bat Creek in eastern Tennessee. Some say the inscription translates to ‘For Judea,’ a reference to ancient Israel. It was found in 1889 along with wood fragments that were carbon 14 dated to sometime between the first and eighth century AD. It was found in a Cherokee burial mound.”
To watch this clip go to http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/video_gallery.php and watch video clip # 29 or simply click on the image below to see the Cherokee DNA information from the History Channel. The Bat Creek Stone information in the video is at 2:34 is you want to skip to it. You might also want to watch Video Gallery #30 regarding the Los Lunas Stone in New Mexico, which also has ancient Hebrew writing.
Glenn Beck "Blown Away" by Bat Creek Stone & Lost Civilizations of North America
Former Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, after having his research team conduct a thorough review of the materials and quotations in the new documentary, The Lost Civilizations of North America, claimed he was "blown away" by what had been found by the experts in the film regarding the highly advanced ancient Hopewell Mound Builder civilization with special emphasis on the Bat Creek stone. Watch the video segment of Glenn talking about the stone and its significance on our FREE Video Gallery # 24 to watch the segment.
Dating the Inscription
Because of the style of writing, Dr. Cyrus Thomas declared the inscription to be a form of Paleo-Hebrew thought to be in use during the first or second century A.D. Hebrew scholar Robert Stieglitz confirmed Gordon’s translation. Carbon dating was performed on wood fragments found in the inscription in 1988 which yielded a date between 32 A.D. and 769 A.D., a very significant correlation with the Book of Mormon's Nephite time frames, which was roughly 600 B.C. to 400 AD.
What Happened to the Stone and Where is it Now?
The Smithsonian held the stone for many years until recently when it was moved from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. to the McClung Museum of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The stone was then submitted for examination by American Petrographic Services of Saint Paul, Minnesota who, upon completion of their analysis, returned the stone for prominent display at the McClung Museum where it is located currently.
Comprehensive information about the excavation, the find, the publication and the controversy, can be obtained from the fully referenced article by Professor J. Huston McCulloch at Ohio State University. Click HERE to read this important article. http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/batcrk.html
The Petrographic Analysis
In June 2010 the stone underwent Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) examination by Forensic Geologist Scott Wolter of American Petrographic Services at the McClung Museum on the campus of the University of Tennessee. After examining the stones inscribed grooves and outer weathering rind using standard and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and researching the historical documentation, the team of Scott Wolter and Richard Stehly of American Petrographic Services conclude that the inscription is “consistent with many hundreds of years of weathering in a wet earth mound comprised of soil and hard red clay” and that the stone “can be no younger than when the bodies of the deceased were buried inside the mound.” This was an undisputed Hopewell burial mound, and therefore the Hebrew inscribed artifact falls within the time frames of the Book of Mormon... in the heartland of America.
Their findings were subsequently published and an online version is available on their website at http://www.ampetrographic.com/files/BatCreekStone.pdf .
Such findings may finally provide precedent to re-examine the Newark Holy Stones which also bear ancient Hebrew inscriptions and were recovered from a Hopewell burial mound near Newark Ohio. One of the arguments against the authenticity of these stones is the supposed lack of corroborating evidence for Hebrew language. Together, these stones may work in concert to verify the presence of ancient Hebrew civilizations in the heartland of America. Many previously declared “hoaxes” may be reanalyzed using more objective observations and scientific analysis and less simple blind bias and dogma. An excellent example of this is the Kensington Rune Stone of Minnesota which was almost immediately declared by "experts" as a fake or forgery prior to any actual examination of the stone.
Such reversals of previous unsubstantiated and bias claims is especially exciting when considered in the context of the DNA evidence, Joseph Smith’s statements, and all the other archaeological evidence for highly advanced civilizations in the heartland of America during the Book of Mormon epic.
Mesoamerica Bias Withholding Facts from Church Membership
Why has information of this magnitude not been featured on the front page headlines of LDS related new articles, magazines and websites? While this new evidence should certainly be exciting news for all LDS faithful, there are likely a few in the LDS scholarly community who will, like anti-Mormon critics, try to find some way to discredit or dismiss this evidence that so powerfully corroborates the claims of the Book of Mormon, because it does not support their preferred Mesoamerican geography paradigm.
One might ask, if an archaeological finding was made in Mesoamerica of a stone inscribed with ancient Hebrew and then verified scientifically to be authentic and within Book of Mormon times, what would be their reaction? Wouldn’t they be broadcasting such wonderful news to show forth this marvelous evidence on the front pages of their websites and publications, or would their response be to attempt to dismiss the finding?
While no one knows what the reaction the Mesoamerican leaning portions of the LDS scholarly community will have to this news, it will be interesting to watch their reaction and by it we will be able to know of their proclaimed neutrality on this subject. It is expected that rather than seeing the plausibility of the Book of Mormon occurring in America’s heartland, and being excited about having new evidence supporting it, those entrenched in their Mesoamerican theories will try to discredit the only known archaeological finding verified through scientific rigor to confirm the existence of ancient Hebrew written language in the Americas during Book of Mormon time frames. There has never before been such profound evidence with such powerful implications in support of the Book of Mormon. The position they take will tell volumes of their openness to alternative theories for Book of Mormon lands.
What would be the effect on the world if efforts, similar to those that have been amassed in looking for evidences for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica by LDS scholars, were now applied toward America’s heartland? Is it possible that far more evidence in support of its historicity and truthfulness could be found with their help, combined knowledge and resources? There is an ongoing hope that those in the Mesoamerican leaning LDS scholarly community may determine to subjectively reexamine the possibilities and join with us in helping to show forth the evidence for the Book of Mormon where Joseph Smith indicated by his words, writings and actions for it to have been… in the Heartland of North America. The evidences continue to build for the Heartland geography model.