May 23, 2020

The City of Desolation

The city of Desolation (as referenced in Mormon 3:5,7 and 4:2-3,8,13, and 19) was located on the border between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful.  It was situated at a strategic point in, or near, the Narrow Pass leading northward to the Narrow Neck of Land.
In my model of BofM geography it would be located in the valley of the Sapoa River, in Costa Rica, near it's border with Nicaragua.  This location would be in-between the city of La Cruz and Lake Nicaragua.  The modern village of San Dimas is near where the ancient city would have been located. 
This city was the site of a number of decisive battles between the Lamanites and Nephites during the prophet Mormon's lifetime, and prior to the Nephite retreat to Cumorah.  
The accompanying photo shows the cluster of archaeological sites which I feel mark the ancient occupations in this area.  The photo is a service of Origines, a branch of the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, which has maps and information on archaeological sites in Costa Rica.  Lake Nicaragua is in the upper right corner of the picture, and the Pacific Ocean in the lower left corner.  The vertical distance is approximately 25 miles.

Cluster of archaeological sites on Sapoa River.  See index map below for location of above map.

The Sapoa River itself forms the ancient boundary between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful, and the river valley itself forms the route referred to in Alma 22:32 which took a Nephite a day and a half to travel.

A number of important Book of Mormon events took place in this area.

The Jaredite King Lib was able to destroy the plague of poisonous serpents that had blocked the Narrow Neck of Land (Isthmus of Rivas).  This opened up the land southward which was full of wild beasts.  They reserved this south wilderness as a hunting preserve (Ether 10:18-21. 

King Limhi's 43 explorers passed through here in their fruitless and unsuccessful search for the city of Zarahemla, discovering instead the Jaredite destruction and the plates of Ether (Mosiah 8:7-11).

Teancum and his army chased Morianton and his group of rebels north to Desolation, killing Morianton and bringing the rest back to their homeland in Jershon (Alma 50:25-36).

The Chief Judge Lachoneus gathered the entire Nephite nation to the head of the Sapoa River where they fortified themselves against the attacks of the Gadianton robbers.  The Nephite general Gidgiddoni subsequently captured the Gadianton armies as they tried to escape by way of Desolation into the land Northward (3Nephi 3&4).

The Nephites lost all their lands in the land southward to the armies of the Lamanites and were driven north to the Narrow Neck of Land.  Later the Nephite general Moronihah regained half of the Nephite lands (probably the land of Bountiful) (Helaman 4:1-9).

Sometime around 326 A.D. the Lamanites drove the Nephites north from the land of Zarahemla clear into the land of Desolation, almost to the Hill Shim.  This is on the way to Cumorah.  Mormon later inspired his troops and they drove the Lamanites south back past the city of Desolation.  A treaty was arranged and the Lamanites gave the Nephites all the land northward starting at the city of Desolation.  The treaty lasted for 10 years, but then the war flared up again.  The Nephites won  the first 2 battles but were then driven north from city to city.  They finally arranged a truce so that they could gather all the remaining Nephites to the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 2 thru 6).