“All Manner of Their Buildings”

Brant Gardner

Mormon explained that, because of the scarcity of timber, the inhabitants exercised a kind of forestry program. They allowed any tree that germinated to grow until it reached a certain size. This scarcity did not, however, diminish the appetite for lime. While cutting was controlled, all trees were still cut after reaching a mature size. The population was still growing.

Mormon highlights the housing problem. Either people lived in tents (temporary shelters) or they lived in cement buildings. He does not describe any form of intermediate housing. This description of the large population fits Teotihuacan during Mormon’s time. Another feature of Teotihuacan was unique in Mesoamerica. Its people lived in some two thousand single story, state-sponsored “apartments” designed for urban living. Compared to the more individualized housing arrangements with separate family compounds with which Mormon would have been familiar, Mormon had reason to remark on the crowded housing conditions of that far land.

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