“Unto the Land Northward”

Brant Gardner

Geography: One possibility for the land “northward” is the area previously inhabited by the Jaredites. Mormon locates the hill Cumorah (Ramah, to the Jaredites) in a “land of many waters, rivers and fountains” (Morm. 6:4). However, I argue that this particular land was even farther north than Jaredite country.

The important characteristics that allow us to make a tentative identification of this area are: (a) northward from the land of Zarahemla, (b) many waters, (c) treeless, and (d) cement buildings. From perhaps 100 B.C. to A.D. 600, only one area in Mesoamerica meets all four descriptors: Teotihuacan. My reasons for identifying both the geography and society of Teotihuacan with this land northward at the time of Helaman and, even more significantly, at the time of Mormon, are laid out in Helaman, Part 1: Context, Chapter 3, “The Gadianton Robbers in Mormon’s Theological History: Their Structural Role and Plausible Identification.”

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5