ZARAHEMLA – The Seed Of The Spared (8/25/2023)

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Let us delve into a profound theme that connects generations and continents—a theme encompassing refuge, resilience, and the intricate tapestry of divine providence linking the stories of the ancient people of Carthage and of ancient Zarahemla with the experiences of the early Latter-day Saints. While the historical alignment may not be exact, the overarching concept of Zarahemla as a sanctuary resonates deeply and offers valuable insights into God’s watchful care for His children.

In the Book of Mormon, Zarahemla emerges as a haven for diverse groups—a place extending solace to those who have braved trials and upheavals. The term “Zarahemla” itself, often interpreted as “seed of mercy” or “seed of compassion” or even “seed of the spared,” evokes imagery that transcends time and resonates with ancient covenant peoples. Although the precise origins of the name may remain veiled, the historical backdrop of Zarahemla grants us glimpses into the Lord’s intent for this name. This intention became evident when Section 125 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed in response to Joseph Smith’s inquiry in 1841 regarding the Saints in the Territory of Iowa. The Lord’s response was clear: “Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it.” This deliberate choice of the name Zarahemla by the Lord, who comprehends the past and the future, has proven prophetic multiple times over.

We must recall that, irrespective of historical intricacies, the overarching principle of seeking refuge in the Savior unites us across generations and circumstances. Amid the grand tapestry of our spiritual voyage, the pursuit of sanctuary remains a consistent thread. Our ultimate shelter resides in the boundless grace of the Savior and the everlasting blessings He imparts.

Consider the journey of Mulek, a descendant of King Zedekiah. When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar slew the sons of Zedekiah, Mulek miraculously escaped to the American continent (2 Kings 25:7; Helaman 8:21). The lineage of Mulek persisted, and a descendant bore the name Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2). Guided by divine direction, Mosiah journeyed from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:12–15), where the “seed of the spared” dwelt—a legacy reaching back to Mulek and Zarahemla.

Intriguingly, Zarahemla wasn’t solely a haven for the descendants of Mulek and Zarahemla. In this same land, the Nephites encountered the Jewish Mulekites and Coriantumr, the last survivor of the Jaredite civilization, who had been spared for this destined meeting (Omni 1:21). The convergence of these groups appeared to be orchestrated by the divine—an interweaving of destinies within the city of sanctuary.

Zarahemla, a city that once stood as the glorious capital of a mighty ancient civilization, gradually faded across the passing centuries into a realm where only undulating mounds of earth and scattered remnants of artifacts bore witness to its former inhabitants, eventually slipping into the shadows of history, nearly forgotten.

— Text by Roger Cook, faithful worker on the PHOENICIA SHIP.



9.37 acres directly across Mississippi River from the Nauvoo Temple. This site has access to Highway 61 and is in front of the Proposed Zarahemla Temple.


All are welcome at the Phoenicia to see and feel ancient artifacts that are from the Old World in the Heartland. Cast and crew members from the Nauvoo Pageant are in the picture.

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The structural pieces are at the shop. The decking and others pieces will be made from the largest collection of Cedars of Lebanon in America.


Mike LaFontaine and Mike Stahlman Working on the Phoenicia in the Heat of the Summer’s Day.


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HRG History — by Jay Mackley

The Heartland Research Group is a grassroots, boots-on-the-ground organization that believes that the historical narrative of the Book of Mormon took place in the Heartland of North America. The HRG is active in archaeological research and in the acquisition, restoration and display of ancient American artifacts. The HRG is currently preparing an ancient ship replica called the "Phoenicia" for display. The ships construction design is patterned after a shipwreck dating to 600 BC. The Phoenicia ship made modern voyages, first around Africa and then also from the Middle East to Florida in 2019 – proving that voyages around Africa or from Sidon to North America were feasible anciently.

Heartland Research Inc is a 501c3 private operating foundation for archaeological research and to complete preparations for the Phoenicia display. Current plans are for a museum large enough to house the Phoenicia ship and many other ancient artifacts and exhibits from North America. The location of the museum is planned to be in Zarahemla which is Lee County Iowa, near the Mississippi river and east of Nauvoo, Illinois.

Our activities are too many to list, but some recent major expeditions are listed below. Many of these expeditions are open-ended and we expect to continue research in these and other similar activities as time, resources, and volunteers become available. We have dozens of volunteers and hundreds of donors, large and small, but we need many more. Check out the websites listed below for details of Heartland Research Group projects. Our current project is is our biggest yet: to refurbish the Phoenicia ship for display.

Go to the Donation Page

We invite you to support our efforts so we can complete these worthy goals!
If you have skills or knowledge to contribute to our research and discovery projects, please contact us directly to volunteer.

  • What: Sonar scanning of Mississippi between Nauvoo and Keokuk. The purpose of the expedition was to discover a crossing route that ancient people could have taken.
  • Who: Heartland Research Inc volunteers.
  • Where: Between Keokuk and Nauvoo, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations of money, time and equipment.

  • What: Magnetic scanning of 221 acres of farmland near Montrose, Iowa. The purpose of the expedition was the discovery of fire-pits and other evidence of ancient occupation.
  • Who: Members of the Heartland Research Inc, local farmers, volunteers, plus technicians from German company SYNSYS. Signs of habitation were found with magnetometery scanning and then C14 dating.
  • Where: Near Montrose Iowa and between Montrose and Fort Madison Iowa.
  • How: Large and small donations of money, time and equipment.

  • What: A one week seminar in Fort Madison, Iowa with 25+ participants. Included visits to the Putnam museum in Davenport, Iowa. There were twelve presentations on the ancient history and written languages of the upper Mississippi.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus presenters and interested attendees.
  • Where: Fort Madison, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations for space, time and lodging.

  • What: Ground penetrating electrical resistivity scanning for building foundations using electrical resistivity equipment from LandVisor.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc and volunteers.
  • Where: Zarahemla in Lee County, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations and ground support.

  • What: Metal analysis for alloy content. Ancient arrow and spearhead found in Wisconsin stream of cast bronze.
  • Who: Heartland Research Group
  • Where: Sample found in Wisconsin stream by scuba diver.
  • How: Private donations for lab analysis.

  • What: High resolution LiDAR scanning by supporter Air Data Solutions of 34,000 acres in Lee County, Iowa and also part of Illinois. The focus was to create high quality digital maps showing the terrain of the land, especially in the foothill areas where large earthworks are found. Discovery of 5-10 miles of ancient earthworks from LiDAR using QGIS and ArcGIS visualization software.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus AirData Solutions Inc.
  • Where: Lee County, Iowa and also part of Illinois, covering the much of Nauvoo.
  • How: Private donations for services, data processing, and analysis.

  • What: Commence process of restoring the world's oldest ship replica from 600BC, which has circumnavigated Africa and crossed the Atlantic ocean from the Middle East to America.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus volunteers.
  • Where: Lee County, Iowa between Montrose and Fort Madison.
  • How: Private donations for materials, space, and equipment plus donations in labor.

Mission Statement

The Heartland Research Group researches archaeological evidence of the ancient civilizations of America.
Heartland Research Group activities include:

  • Field Research
    Uses archeological techniques and scanning technologies to reveal the remains of ancient civilizations.
  • Ancient Artifacts
    Encourages and facilitate study of ancient North American artifacts, including tablets, tools, weapons, metal works, and other items.
  • Geography
    Research and develop maps, using scanning technologies and other means, to identify the locations and activities of ancient civilizations.
  • Linguistics
    Analyze and translate ancient writings found in North America, especially those relating to other civilizations world wide.
  • Preservation and Display
    Collect, restore, preserve, catalog and exhibit ancient artifacts and replicas, and make them readily available to researchers and viewable to the public.
  • Archaeology, Geology, and History
    Study and research into all aspects archaeology, geology, and history that shed light on ancient North American peoples and cultures.
  • Promotion and Support
    Raise awareness of our activities. Work directly with and support individuals and groups in activities that share our same goals.
The Heartland Research Group welcomes researchers and interested parties of all backgrounds to share their analysis and findings of ancient American heartland civilizations.

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