High and handsome, with legal counsel’s practiced authority, Ferguson trusted that the equipment of technology could persuade the global realm of the facts 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 band of K’iche’ Mayan villagers into the Guatemala highlands, claimed that their ancestorsвЂ””sons of Abraham and Jacob”вЂ”had sailed across an ocean to achieve their homeland. The K’iche’ had been beaten by Spanish conquistadors in 1524, additionally the references that are biblical most most likely this product of connection with Catholic priests, whom enthusiastically converted allies and former foes alike.
But Ferguson, who’d developed in a Mormon family members in Idaho, eagerly took such syncretism as evidence that Israelites had when settled into 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 their resurrection just like the written Book of Mormon recorded. Their collection research spurred their very first look for archaeological proof, in Campeche in 1948.
Ferguson understood, nevertheless, that colonial sources represented evidence that is circumstantial most useful. Nor had been it sufficient to get ruins of previous civilizations much more or less the best location, while he’d carried out in Campeche. To persuade and transform outsidersвЂ”a concern for MormonsвЂ”he desired items mentioned into the Book of Mormon that archaeologists had not present in Mesoamerica: horses, wheeled chariots, metal swords, and, most crucial, Hebrew or script that is egyptian. “the last test of our views of Book of Mormon geography will likely to be work that is archaeological the bottom it self,” Ferguson penned in 1951 to their friend J. Willard Marriott, the wealthy creator associated with the Marriott hospitality string and a robust figure when you look at the church.
Ferguson’s indisputable fact that Mesoamerican communities were seeded by Western people is commonly named racist today. However it fit straight into the thinking that is archaeological of time, when Mesoamerican archaeologists had been consumed because of the concern of whether civilizations had developed individually when you look at the Americas or had origins somewhere else. ” In the 1940s and 1950s, these had been the concerns everyone was investigating,” claims Robert Rosenswig, an archaeologist in the State University of the latest York (SUNY) in Albany.
Ferguson never received an education that is formal archaeology. He practiced legislation to guide their family that is growingвЂ”he had five childrenвЂ”as well as their research. However in 1951, he recruited leading archaeologists to explore the foundation of Mesoamerican civilization included in an institution that is new the brand new World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF). First up to speed ended up being distinguished researcher Alfred Kidder of Harvard University plus the Carnegie organization for Science in Washington, D.C. Kidder thought Mesoamerican civilizations had developed separately, 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 greatest [Mesoamerican] archaeologist associated with twentieth century,” says archaeologist John Clark of Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, whom directed NWAF from 1987 to 2009. To have Kidder from the task, Clark states, “there is no question that Ferguson must be some charismatic man.” Also recruited ended up being Gordon Ekholm, an anthropologist in the United states Museum of Natural History in new york, who thought that Mesoamerican civilizations had their origins in higher level cultures that are asian.
Their timing ended up being good. Radiocarbon relationship had simply come to exist, and Ferguson instantly recognized its prospect of tracing the origins of Mesoamerican countries. “this is actually the best development because the start of archaeology,” he had written to LDS leadership. “I have always been of this personal viewpoint that god inspired [radiocarbon dating] so it may be used effortlessly associated with the Book of Mormon.”
Yet the initial several years of NWAF had been a hopeless scramble for cash. Ferguson contributed thousands himself and raised funds from rich Mormons additionally the audiences of their lectures about Book of Mormon geography. In 1952, NWAF been able to deliver a small number of U.S. and Mexican archaeologists to review the drainage basin associated with the Grijalva River in Tabasco and Chiapas, which Ferguson thought to be the Book of Mormon’s River Sidon.
By this point, Ferguson had be much more discerning time durations than he’d held it’s place in the jungles of Campeche. The ruins he discovered allamericandating dating site there have been most likely Vintage or post-Classic Mayan, from between 250 C.E. while the Spanish conquestвЂ”much too belated to be Mesoamerica’s civilization that is earliest or even the duration mentioned in the Book of Mormon, considered to be about 2200 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. “We’ll never ever 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 from the Book of Mormon.
Straight straight Back on a lawn, Ferguson and Sorenson lay out by jeep for a survey that is 10-day see just what else they might find. “we would get from web web web site to web web web site, city to city, asking вЂAre there any ruins around here?вЂ™” says Sorenson, whom continued to get a Ph.D. in anthropology from UC Los Angeles (UCLA) and it 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 training that is archaeological off, and also at some web sites he had been in a position to recognize the polished, monochrome pottery and hand-sculpted, irregular individual figurines associated with Formative duration, therefore distinctive from the intricate but standardized figurines the Timeless Maya had produced from molds. In most, Sorenson and Ferguson surveyed 22 web internet sites on that journey and obtained a great wide range of formative items. ” During my modest viewpoint there was little if any concern about itвЂ”they are Nephite creating,” Ferguson published to their church funders.