Category:Book of Mormon/Grains

Grains in the Book of Mormon

Parent page: Book of Mormon

Sorenson and Smith: "three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas"

Pre-Columbian New World barley was first reported in the scientific literature in 1983.

The December 1983 issue of the popular magazine Science 83 reported the discovery in Phoenix, Arizona, by professional archaeologists of what they supposed to be pre-Columbian domesticated barley. That same month, F.A.R.M.S. carried a preliminary notice of the discovery. This Arizona find is the first direct New World evidence for cultivated pre-Columbian barley in support of the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 9:9 lists barley among several crops that were cultivated by the Nephites in the land of Nephi, and Alma 11:7 singles out barley as the primary grain into which silver and gold were converted in the Nephite system of weights and measures.

That there are copious samples of cultivated barley at pre-Columbian sites in Arizona seemed a first for the Western Hemisphere, but Professor Howard C. Stutz of the BYU Department of Biology tells us that three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas. The real surprise is that this barley is of a cultivated ("naked") type, although the ethnobotanist for the Arizona project, Dr. Vorsila Bohrer (Eastern New Mexico University, Portales), says that it is not yet clear whether the samples were truly naked (unhulled) or simply naturally degraded in context.[1]

The grain "Amaranth" in Mexico

John L. Sorenson: [2]

Amaranth, considered an Old World grain, was grown and used in Mexico at the time the Spaniards arrived. Botanist Jonathan Sauer thought its origin to be American, but he noted too that it was widely distributed in the Old World in pre-Columbian times. Its uses in the two hemispheres were strikingly similar also (it was popped and eaten as "popcorn balls" on special feast days); the similarities have suggested to some scholars that amaranth seed was carried across the ocean in ancient times.[3]

Wikipedia: Amaranth and the Aztecs

Amaranth has a similar nutritional profile to grain (the Aztecs got up to 80% of the calories from it prior to the Spanish conquest), and it is even today termed a "pseudograin" because it can be ground into flour like wheat or other seed grains, which biologically are grasses.[4] Even today, Amaranth is used to replace wheat flour in gluten-intolerant patients (e.g., celiac disease) or to increase the nutritional content of standard whole-wheat flour.

Video: The Book of Mormon and Grains


  1. John L. Sorenson and Robert F. Smithh, "Barley in Ancient America," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 36.
  2. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 184-185.
  3. Jonathan D. Sauer, "The Grain Amaranths: A Survey of Their History and Classification," Missouri Botanical Garden Annals 37 (1950):561-632. George F. Carter, "Domesticates as Artifacts," in The Human Mirror: Material and Spatial images of Man, ed. Miles Richardson (Baton Rouge: Louisiana Stage University Press, 1974), pp. 212-13. (Sorenson, Chapter 5, endnote 65. Note: This is erroneously indicated in the text as endnote 64).
  4. "Amaranth," and "Pseudograin," Wikipedia, accessed 28 June 2014.