Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:22:4:Warfare in Book of Mormon:Weapons and military tech

Ancient aspects of Book of Mormon warfare: Weapons and Military Technology

Ancient aspects of Book of Mormon warfare: Weapons and Military Technology

Another important element in premodern warfare was technology. Despite vast differences in detail, all premodern soldiers fought with roughly similar weapons. Face-to-face, personal combat was standard. Hence swords and other hand-held weapons were key, and armor was common. Missiles like arrows, javelins, and spears were all propelled by muscle power in some way. Since improvements in materials for weapons and armor always made a great impact on combat, leaders were constantly searching for new developments. But with the rise of long-range gunpowder weapons, guns replaced swords, spears, and arrows, and armor too was discarded.

The weapons, tactics, and military operations in the Book of Mormon fit this ancient pattern. The Book of Mormon provides a great deal of detail on military technology. As I have explored this area in several articles, I have found weapons and armor in the Book of Mormon to be consistent with patterns in the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica. Nothing in the Nephite record suggests that Joseph Smith could have invented such war stories, based on how fighting was done in his time.

Instead, warfare in the Book of Mormon consistently sounds like that in Mesoamerica before the European conquerors arrived. It differs from the ancient Near East in those features where Mesoamerican warfare differs from the ancient Near East. Coats of mail, helmets, battle chariots, cavalry, and siege engines—elements prominent in Bible lands—are all absent from both the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica. If Joseph Smith were copying from information in books available to him, like the Bible, Josephus's histories, or books about the Romans, that described ancient wars, he would have included those features. Instead, the Book of Mormon leaves out those features of armament frequently mentioned in biblical and classical sources but absent from ancient Mesoamerica.[1]


  1. William J. Hamblin, "Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 22.