Cumorah quiz

True or False:

Based on what I have read and understood, the hill in New York is the actual, physical location where Moroni buried the plates.


  1. Das ist stimmt.

  2. True in my book. Although I believe it’s not where the last battle took place, that Moroni walked there later. And I wonder, has anyone done an archaeological dig there to look for the stone box?

  3. #2: Where would you dig? Have you been there? It’s a HUGE hill. You’d have to tear up the whole place to look for one little stone box. Or if the room full of records that Joseph and others saw in vision is there (that would be a cool find), that could also be anywhere there. And who knows, maybe the Church placed the monument right over the location so no one get to it without moving the monument.

  4. That’s where Joseph dug them up, and since Moroni had charge of them, he must have been the one to bury them there. But whether he buried them there circa 421 A.D., or circa August 1823, or some other time in between, deponant saith not.

    (Clever way to get us to commit ourselves by name, rather than through anonymous poll.)

  5. True? I don’t know. I was certain it was true until I started asking myself where they are now. I don’t know. I think I am trying to avoid 1800’s church history because it seems more faith destroying than faith promoting to me.

  6. #2,#3, I don’t think you’d find anything if you dug there anyway. I believe there is an account by Oliver Cowdery (or someone prominent from early Church History) that remarked that the stone box had eroded down to the bottom of the hill.

    Does anyone else have the source for this account? If so, please link.

  7. Yep, I believe that’s where Moroni buried them, though (as with #2) I don’t believe it’s where the Nephite ‘last battle’ took place. There’s a gap of 35+ years between that last battle (cf. Mormon 6:5) and Moroni’s final date reference (Moroni 10:1), which is more than enough time for Moroni to wander from Mesoamerica to what is now upstate New York.

    As for the stone box itself, “David Whitmer, in an 1875 interview, called it a “casket” and said it was eventually washed down to the foot of the Hill Cumorah. Lyndon Cook, David Whitmer Interviews (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1991), 7 (cited at footnote 97 in

  8. Jonathan Green says:

    Norbert, maybe I’m a bit slow this morning, but I’m trying to figure out what the alternatives to “yes” are.

    No, the plates were teleported there?
    No, the plates are a figment of Joseph Smith’s pious delusions?
    No, Joseph Smith dug up the plates in Maryland, but he lied and claimed it was New York?

    Really, this appears to be a debate I don’t understand at all. Could you sketch out the positions for us?

  9. Jonathan, the ‘no’ options would be that Moroni or someone else put them there closer to 1830, as Ardis suggests.

    Although the Maryland theory is a good one… OK, maybe not.

  10. Wait. Why would Moroni bury the plates in 1820s? Why not just give them to JS?

  11. the poll doesn’t specify a date issue. yes/no he buried them there. when is a separate question. now if you wanted to ask, as ardis etc have theorized, did he bury them before or after his death–? that might be more interesting.

  12. Why make Joseph walk/drive to the Hill every year to see the buried plates, even if Moroni had buried them in 421? Why not just give them to him at his front door?

  13. Brant Gardner says:

    I vote with #s 4 and 7. Ultimately they were there. I don’t know when they were put there, and the NY Cumorah isn’t the same one as the Cumorah/Ramah of Nephite/Jaredite history.

    Re #2, as I recall, I think Martin Harris? indicated that the box had washed down the mountain and that he had seem the remains of it. I know of only that one statement (which obviously I am not recalling with precision).

  14. The title of this post is a little tricky because I don’t believe this hill is the Cumorah in the BoM, but your question actually isn’t about Cumorah but whether this is where the plates were buried and I believe it is.

  15. Ardis, why have Joseph translate them at all? Moroni spoke English.

  16. True.

    And just for the sake of having fun, I’m going to say that Moroni buried them in 421 because he doesn’t have a body yet. How could he possibly dig a hole?

    You could argue that he told one of the three Nephites to do it for him, but that’s just getting a little ridiculous.

  17. Coffinberry says:

    Ardis said what I was gonna say.

  18. We’re talking about a glorified resurrected being, here. He can pop in and out of Joseph Smith’s bedroom from some other dimension or however he does it. If he wanted to temporarily make the hill in New York correspond exactly to a hill anywhere else in our spacetime or some other spacetime, he could probably do it. So I see no need for the original burying place to have been that particular spot in New York. The plates were dug up in New York, but I don’t want to put false limitations on beings who are obviously far above our current level of knowledge of physics and cosmology.

  19. Aaron Brown says:

    Norbert, I can’t answer your question, since I have no way of evaluating what you’ve “read and understood” independent of what you tell me.


  20. 12.
    Ardis – To teach Joseph and us to dig into the scriptures?

  21. Dang. I was gonna make Aaron Brown’s comment hours ago, but decided it was too flippant!

  22. Aaron Brown says:

    You gotta have really low standards to keep up, Mark. :)

  23. Why did the box stay put for 1,400 years, only to wash away during the early days of the Church?

  24. #23: Globle Warming. ( And how do you just walk by ?)

  25. What Tatiana said.

    Bob, although the original suggestion for the beginning of the Anthropocene would place it at 1784, (unless you’re Bill Ruddiman, that is), the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on the environment wasn’t significant until about halfway through the 1900’s. So, sorry, but you can’t blame this one on global warming.

  26. HighTower says:

    My seminary teacher told me that the Smithsonian Institute found the box and the underground chamber, but they are keeping it quiet because they don’t want to help the Church.

    They also have photographic evidence of Cain walking around as Bigfoot.

  27. #25: I was thinking of “Limited Globle Warming”.
    #26: I think you mean photographic evidence of Bigfoot walking around with a cane (?)

  28. Joseph (#23) —

    Maybe once you take a big rock off the top of a stone box, the ground around it could erode more quickly (?)

  29. True, Moroni hid the plates in the hill.

    But Mormon hid all the plates with all the history of the Nephites in ANOTHER Hill Cumorah back down in Guatemala.

  30. #24.

    Uh, the 1800s were still experiencing the Little Ice Age effects. No global warming for them. America hadn’t built up its industrial pollutants yet. ;)

  31. The “Globle Warming” was just a joke.
    The “box sighting” is just folklore ( imo).

  32. Yeah, why not? He certainly had time to wander up that way – even from Guatemala.

  33. StillConfused says:

    I don’t think it is there. If it were, someone would have dug it up by now. One of those Indiana Jones types.

  34. I do think that Moroni buried the plates to have them ready for Joseph Smith, but I do take Ardis’s view that I do not know when. If he buried them during his earthly sojourn, then I have tended to think that he followed the Lords counsel to travel to NY to bury them- I do not believe the big battle itself was in NY.

    I guess that I have always believed that the ‘song and dance’ about visiting Joseph in his room and then on the hill for a few years was because of Joseph and his weakness. (I am not trying to start a thread jack on Joseph and weakness, just suggesting that it would be hard for anyone to deal with what he dealt with and with a poor family and a history of trying to solve the problem through get rich schemes…having the time to really develop a testimony and readiness seems prudent.

  35. I like Tatiana’s no. 18 answer!

    Though I don’t really believe Joseph actually dug out any plates, sword, liahona, urim & thummin, etc; nor that there ever was any box/casket/compartment/chamber for that matter; I think her answer opens up the limitless possibilities of such beliefs.

    When the three witnesses recount being able to see the plates, they mention the angel appeared and somehow opened a vision/dimension gate/whatever so that a “table” appeared in front of them in which the objects were resting. Then the angel proceeded to flip the leaves of the plates. With this type of supernatural/physical/cosmological powers and abilities linked to the angel, anything is possible.

    On the other hand, the whole process of finding a hiding place and going several times (three to be more precise) and not being able to retrieve the plates, and taking several years, etc etc etc, seems to me like an allegorical parallel to mystic beliefs of the time, notably (yet not exclusively) the typical freemason practice of requiring a candidate to inquire three times before he is allowed into the knowledge, which is derived from the legend of the secret doctrine.

    Like other allegorical references made by Joseph Smith (like the actual burial place for Adam being in Missouri, the actual place of the Garden of Eden, etc etc etc), there probably isn’t much of a geographical accuracy to the gold plates either, but a self reflection in the current legends that fascinated him and in which he saw himself as the chosen one to retrieve the true message of God anew among the children of men. Let’s not forget Joseph grew up thinking he was going to be a prophet (as predicted by his grandfather), and he seemed to actively apply each and every one of the things he learned to this very goal.

    The following is a summarized version of the legend, which is spread out throughout the 13th, 14th and 21st degrees of the masonic rite, with which both his brother Hyrum and his father were already familiar:

    Enoch, in an effort to save the sacred mystery of God from being lost due to the upcoming flood, hides certain objects in a chamber found in a hill (Moriah) as he is shown in a vision. Enoch makes a triangular plate of gold with the ineffable name of God written upon it (which is actually the password).

    Enoch also placed two pillars inside the hill, one of marble upon which, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, were found the historical events connected with the tower of Babel, and one of brass, which contained the history of creation and the Secret Mysteries. These records were placed in the hill along with the treasure of the gold plate.

    The brass pillar had a metallic sphere on its top, within which were contained maps, and directions of the world and of the universe, and which also acted as a sort of oracle. Thus masons use often in their symbology pillars with two spheres: one that resembles the planet and one that contains the constellations and zodiac symbols, although it is intended to be one sphere.

    Enoch then placed a stone lid over the chamber at the hill
    and predicted that on the other side of the deluge an Israelite descendant would discover the sacred buried treasure.

    As predicted after the flood, King Solomon, came to power and desired to build a sacred house for the in-dwelling of the divine presence.

    Solomon and his builders, the Masons, while building and excavating for the temple at Mt. Moriah, discovered the cavern and the sacred treasure.

    After three attempts to obtain the treasure, they were finally successful.

    The recovered treasures then became part of the temple treasury. It consisted of the brass records, the gold plate, the metal ball, the breast plate and the urim and thummim.

    Therefore, my answer is absolutely no. The hill in New York is not the physical location where Moroni buried the plates, but an close and allegorical element of Joseph’s process of becoming a prophet.

  36. Observer and Joseph:

    #2: Where would you dig? Have you been there? It’s a HUGE hill. You’d have to tear up the whole place to look for one little stone box.

    Until they logged off up-State New York, it was heavily forested with end stage forest. When they logged it off, then farmers moved in to farm the land that was denuded of trees.

    There was quite a bit of erosion in places that had seen little erosion before.

  37. ———
    35. Enoch then placed a stone lid over the chamber at the hill
    and predicted that on the other side of the deluge an Israelite descendant would discover the sacred buried treasure.
    Does it really say an Isrealite would discover the treasure? There were no isrealites in Enoch’s day. It seems like that would be like Mormon saying a citizen of the United States would discover the Golden Plates. It just seems a bit too specific with regard to future nations to be believable. Any sources I can read more about this?

  38. #36: I doudt with today’s technology, finding a stone or wooden box would be that hard if you were looking for it. It would however, take time and money.
    Erosion is an artifact seeker’s dream. If at anytime that had happened on Cumorah, there would been a hundred seekers there.

  39. Glenn Smith says:

    I agree with the previous comments that Hill Cumorah in New York is not the one in the Book of Mormon. Guatemala – maybe???? I believe that Moroni did bury them in New York at some point over the 1400 years since the final battle. Remember your church history lessons – the NY hill was dug up by treasure hunters after Joseph received the plates. I hadn’t head the Martin Harris story before. It’s plausible, as is Moroni removing the box, or simply veiling it from prying eyes.
    Lots of opportunity for speculation, here. Does anyone recall when the Urim & Thummim and the Sword of Laban were retrieved? We’ll just have to wait for some of this information.

  40. My answer to the question is that I just don’t know.

    I believe there were real plates and a real hill Cumorah. But where everything was and where everything ended up is not entirely clear to me.

  41. True & false: JS got the plates there, but they probably weren’t buried there by Moroni. I think they can appear / disappear just like Moroni did. For some reason, it was important for JS to get them from the ground (maybe it’s something he could relate to, given his prior history. For someone else, it may have been a different way).

    The plates weren’t really that important anyway. For most of the translation, JS wasn’t even looking at them. They were covered up in the same room, or even a different location. I think they just served as a way to “stir up his mind” so he could be inspired to write.

  42. Glenn Smith says:

    To Mike S. #41 re “…it was important for JS to get them from the ground…” It was part of prophecy.
    Nephites shall speak as a voice from the dust—The apostasy, restoration of the gospel, and coming forth of Book of Mormon are foretold—Compare 2 Nephi 27.

    7. Isaiah 29:4
    And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

    Joseph Smith Translation Isa. 29: 1-8:4
    And she shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and her speech shall be low out of the dust; and her voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and her speech shall whisper out of the dust.

    2 Nephi 27:9
    But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;

    Moroni 10:27
    And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

  43. Theology has different proof than anything else. Case in point, Adam and the Flood. There can never be any physical proof of such occurrences.

    Why would you expect to find a stone box in a hill to absolutely prove the truth of the Book of Mormon? Why, indeed, like Tatiana says, would the hill have to be anywhere in particular?

    Do the particulars of anything theological make any physical sense?

    Recently (like 17 years ago) we went to the Pageant on Cumorah, while walking through the Sacred Grove I noticed people (somewhat to my disgust) running through the underbrush and throwing themselves on the ground in prayer. Hmmm. Does a physical location carry some magic power, a residual glow, of actual fact?

  44. I am intrigued by the idea that Mormoni may not have buried them in what we now know as the Hill Cumorah back in 421 or whenever. I’ve read that Brigham Young and others have said that Joseph Smith was not the only one to be prepared for the work of restoring the Church. (imo, he probably wasn’t the first one to be prepared in some way either) i.e. If Joseph had died young(er — like when he was 10 or 20 or something), the restoration would still have happened. And I feel like it’s kind of a hard sell that all the people who would have been prepared would have had to schlep to upstate New York.

    (Though the idea that they might have been somewhere else and then led to a sacred record separate from the Book of Mormon is also appealing.)

  45. Based on a new faith promoting rumor I heard last week while I was in Utah, I am reconsidering the possibility that the Cumorah in NY is indeed the Cumorah of the BOM. Not convinced, just reconsidering.

    So I guess my answer, given Moroni’s time to travel and this new theory, most likely true, but possibly still false.

  46. #43: ” Does a physical location carry some magic power, a residual glow, of actual fact?”
    The Church seems to think so by spending millons of dollars on the Hill in New York.

  47. There is a definite feeling of peace in the Sacred Grove. We used to leave for youth temple trips at 6 am just so that the kids could have a chance to stroll through the Grove and prepare themselves for the work they would later perform. Nobody threw themselves on the ground but many did stop and pray silently. Perhaps we have aided in creating a consecrated place there by all the prayers which have been uttered over the years.

  48. Ardis #4 yes. #3 Ground penetrating radar.


  49. Glenn Smith says:

    Sacred, or holy, places exist, just as do places where some great evil occurred retain a spirit of darkness. Before one can accept such things, though, one must accept that Satan is real, that he exists as much as one accepts that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real.
    In 1975, I participated in a 30-day BYU Survival trek in southern Utah ( a la Larry Dean Olsen). One of the trip leaders was an earlier acquaintance. He told me of a canyon in Utah that they shied away from, that the feelings of evil were so great that they just stayed away from it. No, I don’t know the location or its name. But, I am satisfied that it and other evil places exist. I have visited Palmyra three times, and each time, my faith is rejuvenated by the spirit of the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, the Grandin building, the Smith home and other sacred sites.
    Just as each of us have different personalities, we all worship differently. If someone is so overcome by the spirit that they prostrate themselves before the Lord in a holy place, while it may seem strange to my sense of decorum, it can be a real experience for him/her. My own aha moment happened in the Language Training Mission – it , too, involved many tears.

  50. This is the most bizarre thread in a while.

    My opinion is like that expressed by many, that the plates were actually in the hill in Manchester, but that Nephites as a people didn’t live or die in the vicinity.

    On the sacred place threadjack, I have been in places that seemed not only to attract evil-minded people, but also to have an evil vibe. There are also places that seem to attract those most disposed to do good.

  51. On the sacred place threadjack, I have been in places that seemed not only to attract evil-minded people, but also to have an evil vibe.


  52. 51. Ouch!

  53. Back to #1, “Das ist stimmt” should have been simply,
    “Das stimmt”.

    As for where the plates were or weren’t buried, how can one exercise faith if one continues to seek physical proof of what should be unprovable?

    And even heavenly beings must abide by the laws of the Universe that existed from the beginning, whatever that was, even though their understanding and ability to manipulate those laws would appear to be they having the ability to do things we have no clue as to how to do, let alone fathom how they did it….

  54. Pedro Olavarria says:

    The hill where we have the pageant every year is where Joseph recovered the plates from.

  55. On the sacred place threadjack…

    Is there any scriptural support that places can be good or evil, or have a good or evil vibe?

    I personally feel that Nauvoo and some other places I have been have had a sacred spirit about them, but I didn’t know if it was actually the place or something else (eg., the consecration of the missionaries). But Carthage Jail felt evil to me, and when the sister missionary wanted the tour group to sing “I am a Child of God” in there, I left. I’ve heard others talk about others receiving powerful testimonies of Joseph Smith in Carthage, though, so I wonder…

    Would make a great topic for your next poll, Norbert!

  56. Manuel (#35),

    That is quite the story. So Joesph, the 14-year-old boy was familiar enough with the legends to see himself as part of it? And his place in the legend is really as Solomon in your explanation? I guess that explains both his desire to build temples, and the impulse to reinstate polygamy.

    Or not.

  57. “Is there any scriptural support that places can be good or evil, or have a good or evil vibe?”

    That depends on whether you consider Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as scripture.

  58. Glenn Smith says:

    To Martin #55 (Talon #57 – this may interest you.)
    The chapel can be holy ground:
    Thomas S. Monson, “Sacred Ground,” Friend, Sep 2007, 2–3
    From an October 2005 general conference address.
    President Monson recalls an act of priesthood service that changed his life.

    I recall the time when I was ordained a deacon. Our bishopric stressed the sacred responsibility which was ours to pass the sacrament. Emphasized were proper dress, a dignified bearing, and the importance of being clean inside and out. As we were taught the procedure in passing the sacrament, we were told how we should assist Louis McDonald, a brother in our ward who was afflicted with a palsied condition, that he might have the opportunity to partake of the sacred emblems.

    How I remember being assigned to pass the sacrament to the row where Brother McDonald sat. I was fearful and hesitant as I approached this wonderful brother, and then I saw his smile and the eager expression of gratitude that showed his desire to partake. Holding the tray in my left hand, I took a small piece of bread and pressed it to his lips. The water was later served in the same way. I felt I was on holy ground. And indeed I was. The privilege to pass the sacrament to Brother McDonald made better deacons of us all.
    Exodus 3:5
    And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

    Doctrine and Covenants 124:46
    But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them.

  59. Wait. Why would Moroni bury the plates in 1820s? Why not just give them to JS?

    The Three Nephites probably kept digging them up and reburying them in a different location from time to time, just for giggles.

  60. In my youth, Our Ward met in a Moose hall. Sunday morning was spent by the AP cleaning out the beer bottles and cigarette butts. This place was never holy ground. I now wonder what our Ward leadership was thinking?
    We then moved to a Pentecostal meeting hall (a step up). But street people kept coming in for the free lunch offered later by the Pentecostals.

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