Tall and handsome, with legal counsel’s practiced authority, Ferguson trusted that the various tools of science could persuade the world of the reality for the Book of Mormon. Quickly he began searching for clues in colonial documents that recorded some of Latin America’s indigenous traditions after he finished college. One, written around 1554 by way of a combined team of K’iche’ Mayan villagers when you look at the Guatemala highlands, reported that their ancestorsвЂ””sons of Abraham and Jacob”вЂ”had sailed across an ocean to attain their homeland. The K’iche’ had been beaten by Spanish conquistadors in 1524, and also the biblical recommendations had been most likely the merchandise of connection with Catholic priests, whom enthusiastically converted allies and previous foes alike.
But Ferguson, that has developed in a Mormon household in Idaho, eagerly took such syncretism as evidence that Israelites had as soon as settled when you look at the Americas. He had been additionally taken because of the misconception of QuetzalcГіatl, the feathered serpent deity that some colonial priests referred to as a bearded man that is white. Ferguson figured he had been Jesus, showing up in Bountiful after his resurrection just like the written Book of Mormon recorded. Their collection research spurred their hunt that is first for proof, in Campeche in 1948.
Ferguson knew, nonetheless, that colonial sources represented circumstantial evidence at most useful. Nor had been it adequate to locate ruins of previous civilizations much more or less the best location, as he’d carried out in Campeche. To persuade and transform outsidersвЂ”a concern for MormonsвЂ”he desired things mentioned in the Book of Mormon that archaeologists had not present in Mesoamerica: horses, wheeled chariots, metal swords, and, primary, Hebrew or Egyptian script. “the ultimate test of our views of Book of Mormon geography will undoubtedly be work that is archaeological the floor itself,” Ferguson penned in 1951 to their buddy J. Willard Marriott, the rich creator associated with the Marriott hospitality string and a robust figure into the church.
Ferguson’s proven fact that Mesoamerican communities had been seeded by Western people is commonly named racist today. However it fit straight into the archaeological thinking about the time, whenever Mesoamerican archaeologists had been consumed because of the concern of whether civilizations had developed individually in the Americas or had origins somewhere else. ” when you look at the 1940s and 1950s, these had been the concerns everyone was investigating,” states Robert Rosenswig, an archaeologist during the State University of the latest York (SUNY) in Albany.
Ferguson never received an education that is formal archaeology. He practiced legislation to aid their family that is growingвЂ”he had five childrenвЂ”as well as their research. But in 1951, he recruited leading archaeologists to explore the foundation of Mesoamerican civilization included in an institution that is new the newest World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF). First up to speed ended up being distinguished researcher Alfred Kidder of Harvard University together with Carnegie organization for Science in Washington, D.C. Kidder thought Mesoamerican civilizations had developed individually, but he and Ferguson had met at a museum in Guatemala City in 1946 and hit up a communication.
Kidder “is thought to be the most effective [Mesoamerican] archaeologist of this twentieth century,” claims archaeologist John Clark of Brigham younger University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, whom directed NWAF from 1987 to 2009. Getting Kidder in the task, Clark states, “there is no concern that Ferguson needed to be some charismatic man.” Additionally recruited ended up being Gordon Ekholm, an anthropologist during the United states Museum of Natural History in new york, who thought that Mesoamerican civilizations had their origins in advanced Asian countries.
A ritual figurine through the web web web site of Los Horcones is scanned at “” new world “” Archaeological Foundation head office.
Their timing ended up being good. Radiocarbon relationship had simply come to exist, and Ferguson instantly recognized its possibility of tracing the origins of Mesoamerican countries. “this is actually the best development considering that the start of archaeology,” he composed to LDS leadership. “we have always been associated with the personal viewpoint that god inspired [radiocarbon dating] so it may be utilized effortlessly associated with the Book of Mormon.”
Yet the very first several years of NWAF had been a hopeless scramble for cash. Ferguson contributed thousands himself and raised funds from rich Mormons and also the audiences of their lectures about Book of Mormon geography. In 1952, NWAF were able to send a few U.S. and Mexican archaeologists to review the drainage basin associated with the Grijalva River in Tabasco and Chiapas, which Ferguson considered to be the Book of Mormon’s River Sidon.
By this point, Ferguson had be more discerning about time durations than he previously held it’s place in the jungles of Campeche. The ruins he discovered there have been most likely Timeless or post-Classic Mayan, from between 250 C.E. therefore the Spanish conquestвЂ”much too belated to be Mesoamerica’s civilization that is earliest or even the period mentioned in the Book of Mormon, thought to be about 2200 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. “We’ll never ever re re re solve pre-Maya origins by digging up more Mayas,” Ferguson published to Kidder in April 1953. They required period that is formative, dating from about 2000 B.C.E. to 200 C.E., approximately matching the times linked to the Book of Mormon.
In May 1953, Ferguson found its way to Chiapas to assist.
Back on a lawn, Ferguson and Sorenson put down by jeep for the 10-day study to see just what else they might find. “We’d go from web site to web site, city to city, asking вЂAre there any ruins around here?вЂ™” says Sorenson, whom proceeded to get a Ph.D. in anthropology from UC Los Angeles (UCLA) and is now a teacher emeritus at BYU. Ferguson additionally asked locals whether or not they had discovered figurines of horsesвЂ”unknown in ancient MesoamericaвЂ”or resources of iron ore, which Sorenson discovered naГЇve. But his or her own archaeological training compensated off, and also at some web web web sites he had been in a position to determine the polished, monochrome pottery and hand-sculpted, irregular peoples figurines associated with Formative duration, therefore not the same as the intricate but standardized figurines the Vintage Maya had created from molds. In most, Sorenson and Ferguson surveyed 22 web web sites on that journey and built-up a number that is astounding of items. ” During my modest viewpoint there was little if any concern about itвЂ”they are Nephite generating,” Ferguson published to their church funders.