This paper from the Smithsonian Institution has been
routinely sent to people who write asking for a statement regarding the
Book of Mormon as a guide to Western Hemisphere archaeology
Information From the
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20560
1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.
2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the people of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New world--probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age--in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.
3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who arrived in the northeastern part of North American around A.D. 1000. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.
4. One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels, etc., before 1492. The domesticated dogs of the Indians accompanied their ancestors from northwestern Asia. Domesticated sweet potatoes occurred in both hemispheres, but probably originated in the new world and spread from there into the Pacific.
5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Nuggets of native copper were used in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late pre-historic times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys but not iron.
6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia . It is by no means certain that even such contacts occurred; certainly there were no contacts with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.
7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and remains in Egypt.
8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New world in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492.
9. There are copies of the Book of Mormon in the library of the national Museum of natural History, Smithsonian Institution.