Source:Echoes:Ch12:16:Burying metal plates with writing

Writing on and Burying Metal Plates

Writing on and Burying Metal Plates

On 21 September 1823, when the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, "he said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent" (Joseph Smith—History 1:34). Following Moroni's appearance, Joseph went to what was later called the Hill Cumorah and reported: "On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth" (Joseph Smith—History 1:51).

A striking parallel to Joseph Smith's receiving the gold plates from a stone box occurred in September 1933, when the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld discovered in Persepolis that "two shallow, neatly made stone boxes with [sealed] lids, each containing two square plates of gold and silver, had been sunk into the bedrock beneath the walls at the corners of . . . the apadana," the multicolumned audience hall of the palace at Persepolis."34 These plates "were laid down, probably in the presence of Darius, in 516–515 BC" and were recovered in perfect condition, "the metal shining as the day it was incised."35 According to Herzfeld:

All these tablets—one gold and one silver from Hamadan, two gold and two silver from Persepolis—were discovered in situ. . . . The texts of the gold tablets from Hamadan and Persepolis vary only in the line arrangements imposed by different formats. The Persepolis tablets underlie the issuance of this "edition," whose unconventional writing [of a particular word] . . . shows that all of its copies were created from one and the same Urtext in a central office. Darius had undertaken simultaneous building projects in Persepolis, Susa, and Ecbatana, and the administration of these buildings was a unified thing.36
This is only one example, among many that could be cited, of the burial of metal documents in stone boxes,37 providing evidence not only of the format of the Book of Mormon record but also of the manner in which it was concealed for some fourteen hundred years. [1]


  1. Stephen D. Ricks, "Converging Paths: Language and Cultural Notes on the Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Book of Mormon," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 12, references silently removed—consult original for citations.