Zeniff records some of the Book of Mor­mon seeds:

Mosi­ah 9:9
And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all man­ner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of bar­ley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all man­ner of fruits; and we did begin to mul­ti­ply and pros­per in the land.

From wikipedia:

Grains are men­tioned twen­ty-eight times in the Book of Mor­mon, includ­ing bar­ley and wheat. The intro­duc­tion of domes­ti­cat­ed mod­ern bar­ley and wheat to the New World was made by Euro­peans some­time after 1492, many cen­turies after the time in which the Book of Mor­mon is set.

Tak­en from a Book of Mor­mon crit­ic’s view­point:

When Joseph Smith con­coct­ed the Book of Mor­mon, he just assumed that the ancient Amerindi­ans had the same kind of agri­cul­ture as that which he knew in upstate New York. Con­se­quent­ly, he had his ancient char­ac­ters grow­ing wheat, bar­ley, corn, and flax, and plant­i­ng vine­yards for wine, and being able to under­stand the sym­bol­ism of the olive and trees. Now, of course, Smith was right about the corn — that is, maize. But is there any­one of Smith’s day who had not heard of “Indi­an corn,” or did not know that corn had come from the Indi­ans? What Smith did not know, how­ev­er, was that corn was but one of three sta­ple crops raised by the Indi­ans of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca — the region in which the dis­cov­ery of ruined civ­i­liza­tions had trig­gered enor­mous amounts of spec­u­la­tion in the time of Smith’s youth. The oth­er two major crops were squash and beans. These were sup­ple­ment­ed by such things as avo­ca­dos, ama­ranth, etc. You can search all you want in the Book of Mor­mon, but you won’t find any men­tion, apart from corn, of the crops actu­al­ly raised in ancient Amer­i­ca. Inci­den­tal­ly, we have numer­ous cas­es where these crops have been pre­served in archae­o­log­i­cal sites and are eas­i­ly identifiable.

What does archae­ol­o­gy tell us of the pres­ence or absence of the crops Smith claimed were the sta­ples of ancient Amer­i­ca? No remains of wheat or domes­ti­cat­ed bar­ley have ever been found. In fact, the one pos­si­ble pre-Columbian spec­i­men of bar­ley dis­cov­ered at a site in Ari­zona is of a species dif­fer­ent from the species of domes­ti­cat­ed bar­ley alleged­ly brought from the Near East. And what of flax? No dice, again. For­tu­nate­ly for lovers of truth, the Mor­mon apol­o­gists can­not sim­ply say we haven’t been look­ing in the right place, or that the remains of these plants have all per­ished with the pas­sage of time. The rea­son for our good for­tune is the fact that these domes­tic plants are all flow­er­ing plants. As such, they pro­duce pollen — in great abun­dance. If the so-called Mor­mon­ic civ­i­liza­tions had been grow­ing these crops for even a few decades — let alone the thou­sands of years alleged­ly chron­i­cled by the Book of Mor­mon — every soil cor­ing tak­en in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca should show traces of wheat, bar­ley, and flax pollen. Pollen is one of the most inde­struc­tible nat­ur­al objects known.

An exam­ple of the type of research that shows Book of Mor­mon agri­cul­ture to be nine­teenth cen­tu­ry phan­ta­sy is David J. Rue’s 1987 paper in Nature titled “Ear­ly Agri­cul­ture and Ear­ly Post­clas­sic Maya Occu­pa­tion in West­ern Hon­duras.” By study­ing soil cor­ings from Lake Yojoa and Petap­i­da Swamp, both in west­ern Hon­duras, Rue was able to recon­struct the agri­cul­tur­al his­to­ry of the area from a time 4770 years before the present up to modem times. He could tell from pollen when the region was forest­ed, when the for­est was cut and burned for agri­cul­ture, what crops were grown and for how long. Although he found clear records of pollen from corn (maize) and ama­ranth — two Amerindi­an sta­ples — he makes no men­tion of wheat, bar­ley, or flax pollen. Per­haps the Mor­mon Church would like to pay him to go through his cores again, look­ing more care­ful­ly for the myth­i­cal motes that should be in them if the Book of Mor­mon be true!

There was no wheat or bar­ley, and we have no idea what neas or sheum are. Again, if wheat or bar­ley was not wheat or bar­ley, then Joseph Smith, Jr would have used some oth­er name like neas or sheum.

Series Nav­i­ga­tion: My Search for Truth — Wes Trexler« Book of Mor­mon Issue 1: Ani­malsBook of Mor­mon Issue 3: Technology »
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments