A NEW MODEL FOR
BOOK OF MORMON GEOGRAPHY
By James Lee Warr
The Jaredites Lands
Criteria for the Jaredite Lands
They inhabited the area north of the land of Bountiful beginning with the land of Desolation.
Their domain included and extended north of the narrow neck of land (Hel. 3:3-7, Ether 7:5-6, Ether 10:20).
There should be extensive evidence of the Jaredite civilization as the Lord promised that they would become the greatest nation on the face of the earth (Ether 1:43).
There should be no evidence of Jaredite ruins south of the narrow neck. This area was reserve for hunting (Ether 9:33; 10:20-21)
The Jaredite capitol Moron was "near" the land desolation (probably to the north) (Ether 7:5-6).
There should be archeological evidence of a Jaredite city by the narrow neck of land, where the sea divides the land (Ether 10:20).
The Jaredites may have created stelae, or stone monuments, to record the reigns of their kings (Omni 20-21).
The Mulekites landed in the Jaredite lands and found the surviving king Coriantumr who lived with them for 9 "moons". It is possible that the Mulekites had substantial contact with the Jaredites (Omni 21, Hel. 6:10).
The Hill Cumorah (Ramah) was found within the Jaredite lands near the east sea (Ether 9:3, Ch. 15).
As the Jaredites came from ancient Sumer (later Mesopotamia), and were present at the Tower of Babel, they may have perpetuated the ancient practice of building stepped pyramids (or Ziggurats) which originated there.
If the Jaredites traveled by way of eastern Asia (as I believe), there may be evidence of cultural similarities.
According to my model, the original landing place of the Jaredites would have been along the Pacific coast of southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua sometime between 2000-1500 BC. (I tend to favor El Salvador as it is a better fit for my model.) This location correlates with the Ocos and Barra phase archaeological sites in Pacific Mesoamerica which date to the early Formative period (1500-900 BC) (15). Evidence of the Olmec culture has been discovered from Honduras and El Salvador, northward through southern Mexico, so it is safe to assume that this area was the center of the Jaredite civilization.
As a rule, the Jaredites did not occupy the land southward (although it is likely that there were stray bands of Jaredite nomads south of the narrow neck), but they preserved it as a wilderness for hunting (Ether 10:21). It should also be noted that the Jaredites had no access to the land southward (Zarahemla) for a period of 300-400 years. This hiatus resulted from a severe drought during the reign of King Heth, and an accompanying infestation of venomous serpents. This plague of snakes moved southward as a body through the Jaredite lands driving all the animal life ahead of them into the south wilderness. Then they completely blocked the narrow neck of land so that neither man nor beast could pass. This south wilderness was later know as the land of Bountiful by the Nephites. As Mormon explains, "the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food (Alma 22:31)." After eight generations King Lib was finally able to destroy the poisonous serpents and gain access to the southern lands. However, no Jaredite cities were built south of the narrow neck and as noted above the south wilderness was reserved for hunting. When the Mulekites, under their leader Zarahemla, migrated southward and establish the city of Zarahemla, this area (the land southward) was described as a wilderness (Mos. 25:2). It was still a wilderness when Limhi's party went northward looking for the city of Zarahemla and traveled as far as the former Jaredite lands (Mos. 8:7-8). Evidence of the Jaredite civilization was only found in the land northward, in the land which the Nephites called Desolation (Hel. 3:3-7). The name Desolation resulted from the destruction still evident from the Jaredite wars, and the general scarcity of trees.
The Jaredite capitol of Moron was near the land of Desolation (Ether 7:6), probably northward. The reign of the Jaredite kings, culminating with Coriantumr, ended in approximately 300 B.C. with the destruction of Coriantumr's kingdom and household. The Jaredites inhabited their lands for appoximately 1500 years, therefore there should be archeological evidence of their presence during this time frame. The Jaredites kept records and had an ancient system of writing. They apparently created stelae to honor their kings (at least in the case of Coriantumr) (Omni 20-21). There appears to have been an overlap of Jaredite and Mulekite cultures, with the possibility that the Mulekites lived among the Jaredites for some time, adopting their culture, and speaking their language.
In conclusion, it is my opinion the Jaredites landed on the Pacific coast near the Bay of Fonseca in El Salvador-Honduras-Nicaragua, and thereafter spread northward to occupying all of Mesoamerica, and possibly even into continental North America. Moron, their original capitol, would have been somewhere near the Bay of Fonseca, probably on the Nicaraguan side. They were the mother culture of the Olmecs, who in turn were the mother culture of the Maya. The magnificent ruins of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are the products of these Jaredites, their friends, and their descendants.