Source:Echoes:Ch9:14:New World archaelogy: Santa Rosa

Book of Mormon "Hits": Santa Rosa

Book of Mormon "Hits": Santa Rosa

The archaeological site known forty years ago as Santa Rosa, which sat beside the Grijalva River in the Mexican state of Chiapas (the ruin now lies beneath waters impounded by a large dam), meets all the geographical requirements for the Nephite city of Zarahemla.67 Test excavations in a limited portion of Santa Rosa were made in 1958. An exact chronology and full picture of life there could not be determined in detail, but it was concluded that a "tremendous amount of building activity" likely took place in about the first century BC. In addition to earthen mound foundations up to more than 40 feet high, a huge platform built in the center of the place measured over 150 feet wide by 180 feet long and 22 feet high; this platform lay directly on the center line through the site. Presumably, various public buildings had once been built on top of the giant platform, although no search was made for evidence of such structures. At some point, likely in the first century BC (approximately when Mosiah2 was alive), this platform was newly covered with a layer of gravel, and a plaster floor was laid over that. The gravel on either side of a line that ran exactly through the middle of this "temple" was found to be of distinct composition, half from one geological source, the other half of a different origin. The excavator suggested that the divided floor "may be taken to imply two separate groups, each working on its section" in a ceremonial context. The surrounding residential area was also divided into two sections that were separated along an extension of the line between the gravels. The archaeologist involved thought that a division of the community into two social groups had prevailed and that the gravel laying had been a ceremonial act acknowledging the social separation.68

This dual pattern recalls the situation in the city of Zarahemla at the time of King Mosiah2 when his subjects, who spoke two different languages, assembled to hear him—"all the people of Nephi . . . , and also all the people of Zarahemla, and they were gathered together in two bodies" (Mosiah 25:4). At the least, Santa Rosa provides an example of the type of ethnically or linguistically divided Mesoamerican community reflected in Mosiah 25:4, whether or not it was the actual scene of the historical event reported there.[1]


  1. John L. Sorenson, "How Could Joseph Smith Write So Accurately about Ancient American Civilization?," 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 9, references silently removed—consult original for citations.