CES Letter Mormon: When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Horses There? (Knowhy 649)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

When the Book of Mormon describes Lehi and his family arriving in the Americas, it states that they found horses. But how does this relate to the CES Letter Mormon? This has been a subject that has long perplexed many readers since conventional thinking among scientists maintains that horses went extinct in the Americas about 10,000 BC, well before Book of Mormon times. Some have used this to try and discredit the Book of Mormon. Others, however, have argued that various possibilities could account for it. For example, some have suggested that the use of the term “horse” could be an instance of what scholars call loan shifting, where a culture might use a familiar word in place of a foreign item or concept. Others have proposed that words like “horse” may be a result of the Book of Mormon’s translation into English, due to examples of various translators using modern words when translating actual ancient texts. While these remain important possibilities to consider, a recent study indicates that horses may have been in the Americas during Book of Mormon times after all. An international team of scholars recovered specimens of horse and other megafauna from ancient layers of rock and dirt to establish the chronology of the site. Several radiocarbon dates were obtained at each layer of strata from charcoal and other organic material recovered during excavations. Importantly, several horse specimens were recovered in close association with materials carbon-dated to Book of Mormon times. The authors of the study concluded: “The remains of Equis that we recovered from multiple stratigraphic layers, all with associated radiocarbon dates, all in a fair stratigraphic continuum and showing no mixing between geological units, imply that horses may have persisted in this region of Mexico well after the classical late Pleistocene extinction time.” Although this doesn’t seem to line up with the commonly assumed date for the extinction of the horse in America, it is consistent with the traditions of several Native American groups, which insist that their people had horses before the Spanish arrived. It is also part of a growing body of evidence that suggests that at least some pockets of horses survived for several millennia after the end of the last Ice Age. Although the issue is not yet definitively settled, if these findings are valid, they support the existence of horses in all periods the Book of Mormon mentions them in. These recent findings illustrate why it is important to remain patient and open-minded as archaeology continues to unfold the past, rather than jump to hasty conclusions based on a mere lack of evidence. The potential discovery of pre-Columbian horses during Book of Mormon times is but a single data point in a much larger trend towards confirming things once thought to be anachronous in the Book of Mormon and answer some of the questions raised in the LDS CES Letter . And now you know why.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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