A Comparison of Relative Distances.

A comparison of internal distances from the Book of Mormon (as estimated by John Clark**) will now be made with the actual geography of the previous proposals. Clark has coined the term USD (Unit of Standard Distance), where one unit is based upon one day's normal travel over flat land. I am assuming that an average equivalent for one USD would be 15 miles (Clark did not give a milage equivalent for the USD and would probably equate it to a greater distance. I take full responsibility for making this specific assumption). This is of course only an approximation, but will give us a ball park range. For example if a USD is 4, the approximate milage equivalent would be 4 X 15 = 60. As these are only estimates, if locations come within plus or minus 50%, it will be considered a good match. Those proposed locations which meet the plus or minus 50% criteria are marked in red. As can be seen, 8 of the 11 meet this criteria, so the match is fairly strong. Although I have not identified the City of Zarahemla, it is felt that it is near Turrialba, Costa Rica. Therefore Turrialba will be used in comparing distances for this study. Similarly Gideon will be assumed to be near modern Suiza, Bountiful near modern Puerto Viejo, and Moroni near modern Limon.  The Bountiful--Desolation border would have been near the present day Costa Rican--Nicaraguan border extending from Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific, and the city Desolation would have been just north of this border, near modern Penas Blancas, Nicaragua.  A distinction needs to be made between a particular city, a land, and in some cases the overall land. For example we have the City of Zarahemla, the Land of Zarahemla (a much larger area), and the Greater Land of Zarahemla (which included all of the Nephite lands south of the narrow neck).  It should also be noted that references to distance in the Book of Mormon were in most cases made by Mormon (about 350 AD), who was a military man, and thought in military terms. I am assuming that when he speaks of distances, he is speaking in terms of military movements involving infantry, not individual travel records of exceptional athletes or marathon runners, which would have little value in military planning.  (Revised Nov. 13, 2003)

BOOK OF MORMON PLACES

Clark's compared cities and lands.

Clark's

USD miles

at 15 mi./unit

PROPOSED PLACES

Actual

miles

Bountiful from east sea to west sea.

60

North Costa Rican border area--Caribbean to Pacific.

140

Nephi to Zarahemla

135

Volcan, Panama to Turrialba, Costa Rica

120

Greater Land of Zarahemla--western edge

165

La Cruz, Costa Rica to Tarcoles, Costa Rica

115

Greater Land of Zarahemla--eastern edge

90

Caribbean coast of Costa Rica from Barra del Colorado to Limon

65

Zarahemla to Gideon

15

Turrialba, Costa Rica to Suiza, Costa Rica

7

Zarahemla to Bountiful

90

Turrialba, Costa Rica to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

73

Zarahemla to Moroni

75

Turrialba, CR to Limon, CR

94

Narrow stip of wilderness--east sea to west sea

135

Limon, CR to Tarcoles, CR

100

City of Nephi to Waters of Mormon

15

Volcan, Panama to Las Lagunas del Volcan

10

Bountiful border to City of Desolation

15

Near Penas Blancas, Nicaragua

0-5

Width of narrow neck

15*

Width of Isthmus of Rivas at La Virgen, Nicaragua.

15

*Clark estimates that the narrow neck was 2-3 USD across which would make it 30-45 miles wide (using my assumption of 1 USD=15 miles). I disagree with his reasoning, and feel that the literal estimate should be 1 to 1.5 USD (or 15 to 23 miles) which is what is given in the text (Alma 22: 32, Hel. 4:7).

**Clark, John. A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies, in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon. FARMS. Vol. 1. 1989

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