Were there really horses in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? A recent study utilizing carbon-dated materials suggests yes. Click to find out how this recent data may transform a supposed Book of Mormon anachronism into a reason for faith.
Recent evidence from carbon dated materials suggests that horses may have been present in the Americas during Book of Mormon times.
Horses in the Book of Mormon
When Lehi and his family arrived in the promised land, according to Nephi’s account, they found “beasts in the forests of every kind, … the ass and the horse, … and all manner of wild animals” (1 Nephi 18:25). The inclusion of horses in the Book of Mormon is a subject that has long perplexed many readers since conventional thinking among scientists maintains that horses went extinct in the Americas around the end of the last Ice Age (ca. 10,000 BC). Some have used this apparent discrepancy to try to discredit the Book of Mormon. Others, however, have argued that various possibilities could account for it.1
For example, it has been suggested that the use of the term “horse” is an instance of what scholars call “loanshifting” or “referential extension,” where a familiar word is applied to a foreign item or concept.2 This has happened frequently when new cultures encountered the horse in both the Old and New Worlds.3 Some scholars propose that something similar may have happened when Lehi’s family first explored the promised land—that is, they may have extended their term for “horse” to a new, unfamiliar species.4 Others have noted that translation sometimes introduces anachronisms into a text and so propose that words like “horse” may be a result of the Book of Mormon’s translation into English.5