Aug 9, 2011

The Silvino Cave

Entrance Silvino Cave
Updated Nov. 15, 2017.  See update at end.

I have suggested that the mountain Cerro San Gil, in the Department of Izabal in Guatemala, is the famous Hill Cumorah (or Ramah) of the Book of Mormon.  This hill satisfies all of the criteria listed for this landmark.
One of the favorable features of this hill is the existence of a number of caves in the area.  These are found in the scattered limestone outcrops which are exposed on the mountain.  You will remember that the prophet Mormon hid all the Nephite records, other than his condensed version, somewhere in the Hill Cumorah, probably in a cave.  This cave was reportedly seen in vision (1) by the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
The geological map of the San Gil region, included below, shows these limestone outcrops in dark blue with the symbol Pc (Paleozoic carbonate).  They are considered to be karst formations which consist of limestone, or other carbonate rocks, which have been acted upon by mildly acidic surface water containing dissolved carbon dioxide. This combination forms a weak solution of carbonic acid, which over time dissolves the limestone forming cavities, channels and sometimes caves.
Geology Cerro San Gil.  Click to enlarge.
A number of caves are known in the region.  A well known example is the Silvino Cave (2). This cave is located on the south side of Cerro San Gil near the town of Morales.  It would be in one of the three smaller limestone outcrops shown on the lower half of the map.  It was discovered in 1954 by a road crew while excavating on the roadside of the main highway to Puerto Barrios. There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding this cave and it is somewhat difficult to distinguish truth from error.  But it appears that the cave extends back into the mountain for at least 600 feet (see diagram below). There are suggestions of chambers along the main passage.  At the end of the main cave there is an underground stream or pool.  I have been unable to discover whether the cave extends beyond the stream. A large population of bats inhabit the cave.  Some say that there are other caves in the immediate area, which would be reasonable considering the karst environment.
Could the vast store of ancient Nephite records be hidden in a concealed cave in this area?  I believe it is possible.  

Update.  On Nov. 4, 2017 I was in Guatemala doing further research on the Cerro San Gil and the surrounding area, in company with Warren Aston, discoverer of the Nahom, and Bountiful sites in Yemen and Oman, and my two brothers.  We found and explored the Silvino Cave which is located on the roadside east of the town of Morales.  It is easy to miss it as it is overgrown with no signs to designate it's location.  It appears that the government had originally improved it and installed steps, handrails, and lighting, but this is now all in disrepair.  My brother and I went back into the interior of the cave almost to the end.  The floor is covered with 2 to 4 inches of bat guano, the result of the huge population of bats that inhabit the cave.  The bats were swooping around us the entire time we were in the cave, but as is their habit, they always avoided contact with us.  The cave is moist with some water dripping from the roof and sides.  There are periodic enlargements and rooms along the corridors and some of them may extend out farther than the main corridor.  There are also small openings into chambers on lower levels, but we didn't explore these. We originally thought that this cave might be where Mormon concealed all his records but our impressions were that it was too wet and would have been unsuitable.  Talking with locals, they suggested that there were other caves on the mountain higher up and one of these could be the correct one.  

(1) Maxwell Institute Press / Periodical / Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1–2 (2004) / Cumorah's Cave by: Cameron J. Packer publication date: 2004
(2)  Wikipedia.
(4)  Silvino management plan.  Detailed analysis and proposals for cave (in Spanish).

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