In January of 2010 a group of fourteen Book of Mormon believers embarked on a research trip to Mexico. The purpose of the trip was to help solidify current theories concerning the gaps found in Olmec history. The itinerary of this trip was to visit the various sites in the heart of the Olmec culture region along the Gulf Coast of Mexico from El Tajin south through Veracruz then east to LaVenta. It also included a trip to the Xalapa Museum which has the most extensive Olmec collections in the world. And, then venture to some of the early Nephite sites located in the southern Chiapas region of Mexico.
The first site the team visited was El Tajin and it was here that some very wonderful concepts were discovered. This metropolis was a center of Golden Age blending. Architectural influences are incorporated from several different areas; Huastec, Comalcalco, Totonoc and Teotihuacán. These influences are blended artfully into the structures and testify to the solidarity of the social fabric where there was no diversity as we know it for no structure is solely one style, but rather a unity with honor for all cultures as each structure is a blend. There is some speculation that the Huastec influence here is part of the Hagoth migration that took place some 50 years prior to the birth of Christ. The team was overwhelmed with this concept and this set the tone for the rest of the trip.
The team then traveled to the Xalapa Museum and took thousands of photos of the artifacts there, then traveled to Tres Zapotes and Santiago Tuxtla. Here the team studied the Colossal Heads and began a photo journal of all of them. The team moved on to LaVenta where more Colossal Heads were photographed along with Altar # 5 and other artifacts that are rife with Married Ogam markings. The team is making an effort to collect photos of all of the known Married Ogam marking.
Comalcalco was a site that was a marvel to research. This site has both Roman and Sri Lankan architectural and technological influences unlike any other in Mesoamerica. Clay tiles and fired bricks in Roman styles and Roman measurements, fired in kilns found in Sri Lanka in addition to burial styles found in the same region. This too was a city built from Golden Age influences.
LaVenta Park provided opportunities to film and photograph Neil on top of the Colossal Head that he studied and published on thirty years ago in a journal that announced the discovery of Married Ogam in Mesoamerica. It was here that Neil found the same gentleman that assisted him in getting those photographs thirty years ago; it was an amazing God-incidence.
The team then traveled to Palenque for a quick stop to view the thrones in the Palace then it was off to Tonina to gather information and see if this site can be validated as the ancient city of Ammonihah. Here the team found several very interesting items. A maze or labyrinth similar to the one found at Yaxchilan; room designs similar to the small temples at Rio Bec and Calakmul; layering and tiered plazas similar to Yaxchilan; but here was an unusual addition of plaster friezes that were still intact. One illustrated a rat character holding a head; is this an illustration of the lawyers who tried to have Alma and Amulek killed? This site certainly seemed to have many of the same architectural influences found at other Book of Mormon sites. Could this be the city that was destroyed by the Lamanites because of the wrath of justice they brought on themselves for rejecting the gospel? This certainly needs more study.
The team made the final major stop at Chinkultic which many believe to be the City of Nephi. The trip report tells much more of the incidents surrounding the site, but here the group was able to see for themselves and walk the pathway behind the temple where it is reported that King Limhi and his people slipped out from under the grip of the Lamanites by night. Here were stelae that testified of the many events that make this site the City of Nephi; Abinadi being burned by fire; discovery of the 24 Golden Plates; the twenty-four Lamanite women pleading for the life of their husbands; Nephi changing the social landscape by converting the Lamanites. It is all here and ready to change your faith into knowledge.
That really was the theme of our trip; God's goodness to provide knowledge for those who venture and seek to find it, all the while unifying the hearts of those who venture in His work. We felt the power and influence of the Spirit of God so strongly on occasions that it was hard to believe that the fourteen of us came from different backgrounds and different families. There were no barriers; being involved in something substantial for Christ has erased them all. We could not have asked for anything greater than that. Our faith in practice has become knowledge indeed.