Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The River

The Book of Mormon mentions only one river, the Sidon, by name, and it is referenced more than 25 times (e.g. Alma 3:3). Almost all references call it "the river Sidon" (e.g. Alma 6:7). There is one reference, though, where Mormon called the Sidon simply "the river" (Alma 43:52). All of these conditions (uniquely named, frequently mentioned, generically named), point to a singular river that dominated its landscape. Most contemporary Book of Mormon modelers (myself included) correlate the Sidon with the mighty Usumacinta, the largest river in Mesoamerica.
Main Channel of the Chixoy, Salinas, and Usumacinta
I recently found confirmation that the Chontal Maya called the Usumacinta Xocolha which can simply mean "the river." Ronald L. Canter, "Rivers Among the Ruins: The Usumacinta" in PARI Journal, Vol. VII, No. 3, Winter 2007.

This is the third geographic reference in the Nephite text where we have a precise correlate in Mayan. The other two are the "east sea" (see the blog article "Smoking Gun") and "the east" (see the blog article "Maya Place Names").