Hamblin 27: The Entrada of AD 378

Hamblin 27: The Entrada of AD 378 July 8, 2015

The Book of Mormon dramatically describes a cataclysmic war which results in the desertion of many Nephites to the Lamanites, and the destruction of the Nephite polity and culture (Mormon 4-6, Moroni 9).   The traditional dates in the Book of Mormon footnotes are roughly AD 363-385.  (Assuming a 4 BC date for the birth of Christ, the actual dates may be closer to AD 360-381.)

The Book of Mormon thus predicts that the 360s and 370s were an era in Mesoamerica of major war, political disruption, and dynastic change.  How does that fit the archaeological context of Mesoamerica in the late fourth century?

One of the most famous events of the early Classic period–roughly AD 200-400, that is, coterminous with the end of the Book of Mormon–is the “Entrada” (“entrance” or “invasion”) of AD 378 by the warlord Siyaj K’ahk’.  As with most of Mesoamerican history and inscriptions, there is debate about many details of this even, including the pronunciation of Siyaj K’ahk’; his name is also given as Siyaj K’ak’, Smoking Frog, and K’ak’ Sih or K’aloomte’ (warlord).  Based on iconographic representations of Siyaj K’ahk’, it is generally assumed that he came from Teotihuacan, invaded the Maya lands, overthrew a number of cities and dynasties, and installed puppet vassal rulers in their stead.  He is mentioned  most famously in inscriptions in Tikal stele 31 (event dated to AD 378), but also in Uaxactun (inscriptions dated AD 378 and 396), Bejucal (around 381), and probably Río Azul (AD 393).  In other words, this was a major international invasion and war, with many cities submitting to his rule.  There can be little doubt that many other cities were conquered by Siyaj K’ahk’ which have left no inscriptions, or whose inscriptions have not been found.  Note that this was not the usual city-state feuding of the ancient Maya.

The Maya historical record thus broadly confirms the Book of Mormon claim of major wars and dynastic and cultural transformation in the 370s.

For more details, see David Stuart’s The Arrival of Strangers.  

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