Brigham Young University anthropologists and archaeologists
are challenging the historicity of the Book of Mormon. For example, BYU
Professor of Anthropology Ray T. Matheny calls the constant reference in
the Book of Mormon to iron implements "a king-size problem":
"The Book of Mormon talks about ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical
industries. A ferrous industry is a whole system of doing something. It's
just not an esoteric process that a few people are involved in, but ferrous
industry...means mining iron ores and then processing these ores and casting
[them] into irons.... This is a process that's very compli-cated ... it
also calls for cultural backup to allow such an activity to take place....
In my recent reading of the Book of Mormon, I find that iron and steel are
mentioned in sufficient context to suggest that there was a ferrous industry
here... (Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium 6, "Book of Mormon
Archaeology," Aug. 25, 1984.)
But Matheny says archaeology proves that there was no iron mining
in the Western Hemisphere in pre-Golumbian times. And there is no room for
making a mistake about it:
"You can't refine ore without leaving a bloom of some kind or...
impurities that blossom out and float to the top of the ore ... and also
the flux of limestone or whatever is used to flux the material.... [This]
blooms off into siicas and inde-structible new rock forms. In other words,
when you have a ferroused metallurgical industry, you have these evidences
of the detritus that is left over. You also have the fuels, you have the
furnaces, you have whatever technologies that were there performing these
tasks; they leave solid evi-dences. And they are indestructible things....
No evidence has been found in the new world for a ferrous metallurgical
industry dating to pre-Columbian times. And so this is a king-size kind
of problems it seems to me, for the so-called Book of Mormon archaeology.
This evidence is absent." (Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium
6, "Book of Mormon Archaeology," Aug. 25, 1984.)