Monday, April 2, 2012


The land of Minon only appears once by name in the Nephite record, in Alma 2:24 during the Amlicite - Lamanite invasion of Zarahemla ca. 87 B.C. It is referenced a second time in the second Lamanite invasion that occurred a few days after Amlici's death Alma 3:20. The place where the Amlicites met the Lamanites was just across the river Sidon from the valley of Gideon. Here is what we can glean about Minon from these passages and their context:
  • Minon was above the local land of Zarahemla Alma 2:24 which we interpret to mean at a higher elevation 1 than and upstream from Zarahemla.
  • Minon was in the course of the land of Nephi Alma 2:24, so Minon was south 2 of the local land of Zarahemla, upstream on the Sidon.
  • The Amlicite army, after its defeat on Hill Amnihu east of Sidon Alma 2:15, fled toward the valley of Gideon Alma 2:20 and then crossed over the river Sidon and joined forces with Lamanite allies in the land of Minon Alma 2:24. This means Minon was west 3 of Sidon.
  • Minon and the local land of Zarahemla shared a common border 4 because the combined Amlicite - Lamanite army moved from Minon to the banks of the Sidon in Zarahemla in a single day Alma 2:27.
  • There was some kind of obstruction along the river 5 Sidon in between Zarahemla and Minon. Even with several hours head start, the combined Amlicite - Lamanite army still arrived at the battle field on the west bank of Sidon after the advance Nephite troops Alma 2:27. The Amlicites - Lamanites must have had to go around or over something rather than simply march downriver.
  • Minon, immediately upstream from the local land of Zarahemla, was less densely populated 6 than Zarahemla in the plains. We know this because the people of Minon fled to Zarahemla for protection when their land was invaded Alma 2:25.
  • Minon was on the border 7 of settled Nephite lands ca. 87 B.C. Alma 3:23.
We will use criteria 1 - 7 shaded in aqua to locate the land of Minon on the modern map. Our proposal for Minon is the upland region immediately south of the piedmont zone east of the Chilapa and west of the Usumacinta in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.
Proposed land of Minon in its setting
1. We compute average elevation of a proposed Book of Mormon land by letting Google Earth calculate the average elevations of northeast to southwest and northwest to southeast transects and then averaging the averages. Doing this with our Minon results in an average elevation of 258 meters.
Proposed land of Minon with elevation transects
Minon at 258 meters average elevation is substantially higher than Zarahemla at 53 meters average elevation (See point #6 in the article "Gideon" in this blog). Minon is also upstream from Zarahemla. Criterion 1 satisfied.

2 3. Our Minon is obviously south of our local land of Zarahemla, west of and upstream on the Sidon. Criteria 2 and 3 satisfied.

4. Our proposed Minon does indeed share a common border with our proposed local land of Zarahemla. Criterion 4 satisfied.

5. The Minon - Zarahemla border where the Usumacinta River comes out of the highlands and empties into the coastal plain is the dramatic Boca del Cerro (Mouth of the Hill) near Tenosique, Tabasco.
Boca del Cerro looking upstream from the bridge.
Photo by Kirk Magleby September 2006
Boca del Cerro is a narrow gorge flanked by high hills (325 meters elevation) on both sides. Modern watercraft can navigate the gorge, but horse trails and roads go around it. The Amlicite - Lamanite army almost certainly went around Boca del Cerro, giving Alma's troops time to reach the battleground west of Sidon slightly ahead of their enemy.
Likely routes of Amlici and Alma to their battleground west of Sidon
See the article entitled "Gideon" in this blog for additional information about the battle described in Alma chapter 2. Criterion 5 satisfied.

6. Overlaying our map of the local lands of Zarahemla and Minon with EAAMS data, we count 7 known archaeological sites in Minon and 45 in Zarahemla.
Known Archaeological Sites in our Zarahemla and Minon
It seems clear that the plains and the area around Palenque were more heavily populated in antiquity than the highlands immediately south of the piedmont zone. Criterion 6 satisfied.

7. On our map, the southern boundaries of the lands of Minon, Gideon, Ammonihah and Sidom constitute one of the borders of the greater land of  Zarahemla. Moving upstream from Minon on the Sidon, there is an area outside Nephite control, then the land of Melek, then another area outside Nephite control, and finally the land of Manti, southernmost outpost of the Nephite nation. This map shows the relationships:
Borders of the greater land of Zarahemla south of proposed
Minon, Gideon, Ammonihah and Sidom
The area we have identified as the borders of the greater land of Zarahemla mentioned in Alma 3:23 is a known border region between Piedras Negras (shown within a black circle indicating an area not under Nephite control) on the south and the related polities of Palenque, Pomona and Chinikiha on the north. All of the archaeological sites (represented as black pyramid icons) on the map above have known pre-classic (Nephite era) occupation layers. The modern east-west boundary between Tabasco, Mexico on the north and Peten, Guatemala on the south is close to the ancient northern edge of the Piedras Negras influence zone.

The region south of our proposed land of Minon is coterminous with the southern border of our greater land of Zarahemla, and this is a known border region from antiquity. Criterion 7 satisfied.

See the blog article entitled "The Usumacinta/Sidon Correlation" point #26 for a linked list of other mapped Book of Mormon toponyms.
A side note: I was standing on the Boca del Cerro bridge in 2006 when I took the photograph shown in point #5 above. That bridge was damaged in the massive floods of 2007 and 2008. It carries both road and rail traffic, and is a vital transportation link between Central America and points northward. Here is an aerial photo of the bridge.
Aerial photo of Boca del Cerro Bridge
looking upstream on the Usumacinta