“They Did Spread Forth into All Parts of the Land”

Alan C. Miner

According to Ammon O'Brien, located about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City is the valley of Cholula, famous for the fact that here Cortes found 365 ancient temples; one for each day of the year. Faithful to his quest, he tore them all down and built Catholic cathedrals over every one. . . . It is known that in ancient times this was a prominent center of Quetzalcoatl worship. Most of the temples and grand edifices here were built in his honor.

Cortes endeavored to destroy one temple he thought was on top of a mountain which turned out to be an immense pyramid. In fact so immense that in terms of the area covered at its base, you could take the largest pyramid in Egypt (the Pyramid of Cheops) and fit three of them in the space of this one at Cholula and still have enough area left over for a football field. . . . The cathedral which now crowns the top was constructed primarily with stone and bricks from the pyramid's main stairway and facings. The remaining bulk of the ancient structure covers at its base over 42 acres and easily qualifies as the biggest pyramid in the world. [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 16]

Helaman 3:5 They did spread forth into all parts of the land: Excavations on the [Great Pyramid at Cholula]. [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 16]

“Spread Forth into All Parts of the Land”

According to Joseph Allen, a question that often arises is, If the people "spread forth into all parts of the land" (Helaman 3:5), what about the mound builders of the eastern part of the United States; why couldn't they be part of the Book of Mormon people?

They could well be part of the Book of Mormon people. But a large enough cultural base does not exist from either the Hopewell or the Adena people of the Ohio Basin to form part of the heartland geographical base of the Book of Mormon.

In the first place, Ohio is not New York. We cannot claim to have a strong Book of Mormon culture in New York where none has been discovered. Nor can we legitimately say that Ohio is close enough to New York to qualify it as Book of Mormon lands.

The Hopewell and the Adena of Ohio both appear to have a Mesoamerica origin that ties in with the Olmec and the Maya Preclassic Time Periods. Indeed, the dating of the mound builders follows the same pattern as Mesoamerica--the dating ranges from 800 B.C. to A.D. 900 for the Adena and 600 B.C. to A.D. 1500 for the Hopewell. Early dates go back to 1000 B.C. Consistent with Mesoamerican dating, the Hopewell manifest carbon-14 dates of a cultural climax between 100 B.C. and A.D. 200--strictly Preclassic Mesoamerica and middle Book of Mormon time.

Silverberg, in his book, Mound Builders of Ancient America, writes:

The Mexican site most frequently discussed as a point of origin for the Ohio Valley mound-building concepts is La Venta, on an island covering two square miles, about a dozen miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico in a swamp near the Tonala River. (Silverberg 1968)

You will recall that La Venta is designated as the heartland of the Olmec culture in Mesoamerica.

The above suggest that the Book of Mormon society may have reached into North America; however, the geographical heartland must still be in Mesoamerica. That situation is similar to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being located in Utah but with branches of the Church reaching both into Canada and Mexico. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 352]

Note* The fundamental reasons for the Book of Mormon heartland not being in New York or Ohio are: (1) the lack of significant population centers; (2) the lack of correlated cultural development; and (3) the lack of written records for the time periods and peoples covered in the text. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

“They Did Spread Forth into All Parts of the Land”

According to Ammon O'Brien, moving northeastward about 30 miles from Mexico City, we come into Teotihuacan, the location of one of the largest monuments of ancient Mexico--the Pyramid of the Sun. This colossal structure which rises to a height of over 200 feet, is surrounded by vestiges of hundreds of other buildings and pyramids which dominate the ground of Teotihuacan.

Decades of excavation and research have given archaeologists the understanding that around 100 B.C., this location saw a surge in population, along with architectural and agricultural expansion. Evidence has also been uncovered that an earlier culture, generally know as the Olmec, occupied this site around 1000 B.C. Ultimately, the majestic image of Teotihuacan as portrayed by the structures of stone and cement which yet remain, stems from its apogee which occurred in the first four centuries A.D.

From an article about Teotihuacan the "mysterious city" by Richard Bluer, we find the following observation:

The Builders of Teotihuacan: The people responsible for constructing this great city of pre-Columbian times have not been identified. It was once believed that the Aztecs were its builders, but we have since learned that when this tribe discovered the city, it had already been in ruins for seven centuries. Indeed, the ruins so impressed the Aztecs that they named the place Teotihuacan, "the place of those who have the road of the gods." (The Atlas of Mysterious Places, 1987, p. 158)

[Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 7]

Helaman 3:5 They did spread forth into all parts of the land: (1) The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan. The[Pyramid of the Sun], covers about 550,000 square feet at its base, comparing closely to the largest of Egypt's pyramids--the Pyramid of Cheops--which covers 571,536 square feet, or about 13 acres. (2) Standing atop the Pyramid of the Moon, one embraces a view as shown here. (3) The Pyramid of the Moon prior to excavation. (4) 600 pyramids and 2000 residential compounds have been found at Teotihuacan. [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, pp. 7-9]

Helaman 3:5 They did spread forth into all parts of the land: Figure [8-2] Pyramid of the sun at Teotihuacan near Mexico City (150B.C.--A.D. 200); Figure 8--3a City plan of Teotihuacan, showing the Pyramid of the Moon (Period II) and the Pyramid of the Sun (Period I); Figure 8--3b City plan of Teotihuacan (continued), showing the Citadel of Quetzalcoatl (Period II); Figure [8--4] Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which was built during Teotihuacan Period II (A.D. 200 to A.D. 350); [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 99-102]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary