Mar 19, 2011

A Jade Discovery in Guatemala 
and the Book of Mormon

One interesting aspect of Costa Rican archaeology is the impressive abundance of jade artifacts present in the ruins and graves. Jade was prevalent among the Olmec era peoples and was elaborately worked and highly valued. Many beautiful specimens have been found in Mexico and Guatemala. Few other places outside of China have this tradition. But apparently the native culture of northern Costa Rica also followed this tradition. Many beautifully worked jade pieces have been recovered from the ancient graves of Costa Rica that rival in quality and quantity those of Mesoamerica. These artifacts are as numerous and well worked as those of the Olmec culture, however they have been generally dated to about 500 years after the Olmec dimise. This time gap is one of the puzzling questions of Costa Rican archaeology. Another one is the source of the Costa Rican jade. For years it was supposed that it came from a Costa Rican source, but no such source has ever been discovered, and I doubt that it will be. Why would this be? Because jade or nephrite is formed at extreme depths and pressure and such rock formations are not characteristic of Costa Rica. But they are to be found in the Motagua Valley of southeastern Guatemala.
The Motagua Valley is the surface expression of a major shear fault between two continental plates and deep seated, high pressure rocks, are to be found all along its course. Recently a geological team has found what is thought to have been the source of much of the Olmec jade, and probably the Costa Rican as well. There they have found a huge deposit of jade with outcropping boulders of bus size blue jade such as the Olmec prized. Studies have shown that the jade is of the same composition as the Olmec artifacts (see Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 29, Issue 8, August 2002, Pages 837-851)
How does all this relate to Book of Mormon geography? I would suggest that the tradition of jade was brought to Zarahemla (which I belive is in Costa Rica) by the people of Zarahemla, or the Mulekites. They had lived among the Jaredites for 300-400 years before coming to the site of Zarahemla and had learned this tradition and had come to appreciate it just as the Olmec (or Jaredites) did.  However, this tradition was not evident among the Lamanites to the south. After the Lamanites drove the Nephites north, and later destroyed them, the tradition disappeared from the former Nephite (Mulekite) area and is replaced by a tradition of gold. Whereas the Nephites had valued and prized jade objects, the later Lamanites valued and prized those of gold. This all fits in perfectly with the archaeology of Costa Rica and my theory of Book of Mormon geography. 

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