Source:Echoes:Ch5:28:Old world Bountiful - ore

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Lehi's desert journey: Old World Bountiful:Ore

Lehi's desert journey: Old World Bountiful:Ore

Where could Nephi have found ore to make his tools? (see 1 Nephi 17:9–10,16). We know that there were copper mines at ancient Magan near the Persian Gulf that had been worked as early as the Sumerian period (third millennium BC). But the mines were more than six hundred miles to the north of where the party of Lehi and Sariah reached the coast.117 And because Nephi offers no hint that he had to travel far to find ore, particularly a trip that would have taken him back into the desert, it seems out of the question that he traveled to the distant Persian Gulf region in order to obtain copper. Moreover, concerning iron ore, Hourani observes that "Arabia does not . . . contain iron for nailing [ships], nor is it near to any iron-producing country."118

For the record, Nephi did not need a large deposit of copper or iron ore for his tools. Fifty pounds or so would have met his needs. In February 2000, geologists from Brigham Young University discovered two large deposits of iron ore in the Dhofar region of Oman. And they both lie within a few days' walk of any campsite along the seacoast.119 Although iron ore in the amounts that make mining profitable do not occur in southern Oman, ore does occur in sufficient quantities that Nephi could easily have traveled to a substantial deposit and extracted enough to smelt for his tools. Thus, the natural occurrence of iron ore in the Dhofar area offered a clear solution to Nephi's need for tools.[1]


  1. S. Kent Brown, "New Light from Arabia on Lehi's Trail," 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 5, references silently removed—consult original for citations.