“Let There Be a Famine in the Land”

“Let There Be a Famine in the Land” December 7, 2018


Guatemala farms in the highland area
In highland Guatemala (Wikimedia Commons)


New today, in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:  “Let There Be a Famine in the Land”.


Here is the abstract of the longer article:


The drought recorded in Helaman 11 is probably the only dated, climate-related event in the entire Book of Mormon that could have left a “signature” detectable over 2,000 years after it occurred. Typical methods to detect this kind of event using dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) or sediment cores from lake beds either do not go back far enough in time or are not of high enough resolution to detect the event described in Helaman 11. However, over the last 15 to 20 years, various researchers have turned to analyzing stalagmites collected from caves to reproduce the precipitation history of a given area. These analysis methods are now producing results approaching the 1–year resolution of dendrochronology, with 2 sigma (95%) dating accuracies on the order of a decade. There is an ongoing debate with regard to where the events in the Book of Mormon took place. One of the proposed areas is Mesoamerica, specifically in southern Mexico and Guatemala. This paper will test the hypothesis that the drought described in the Book of Helaman took place in Mesoamerica using the results of precipitation histories derived from the analysis of three stalagmites compared to determine if there is evidence that a drought took place in the expected time frame and with the expected duration.


You can support the efforts of the Interpreter Foundation in several different ways.  Here’s one:






The latest installment of the biweekly column that Dr. William Hamblin and I write for the Deseret News has now appeared:


“Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India”


As you read it, you will realize that it’s simply one more tiresome example of the hateful contempt, often noted by certain of my critics, in which Bill and I hold non-Latter-day Saint religious faith and experience.




Here are two related pieces from Stephen Smoot that were inspired by President Russell M. Nelson’s recent statements on the name of the Church:


“A “Mormon” By Any Other Name”


“What An Original Apostle Said About The Name of the Church”




“Groundbreaking Scheduled for the Bangkok Thailand Temple”


I like the way the temple’s design picks up echoes of Wat Arun (the eighteenth-century Buddhist “Temple of Dawn”), which is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.


A night view of the Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun at night (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)



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