Book of Mormon Geography

The premise of the Heartland Research Group is that the lands and cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon are located in the heartland of North America, that the hill Cumorah is in upper New York state and that Zarahemla is located across the river from Nauvoo. We believe this is consistent with the scriptures and the physical discoveries made thus far in the heartland.

Beyond Cumorah and Zarahemla, the Heartland Research Group has no other consensus position but we encourage ongoing research and discussion and the study of the geography and history in the Book of Mormon. We wish to validate and better understand the Book of Mormons historical narratives and recognize that this is a shared goal of Book of Mormon researchers who have differing views.

For Heartland geography models, there are four distinct versions below. Please let us know of corrections or additions.

  1. THMx = Traditional Heartland Model:
    These models follow the original heartland model. There are three variants with minor differences: THM1, THM2, THM3.
  2. ZCHM = Zarahemla Centric Heartland Model:
    This is a new model abbreviated as ZCHM with locations further west than the THM.
  3. NAM = North American Model:
    This is a new model also quite different from the ZCHM and THM with locations further east.
  4. WNYMx = Western New York Model:
    WNYM1 is an unique older model concentrated in the western upper New York area. WNYM2 is another more recent and complete version for the same area.

Heartland Geography Model Comparisons


THM1
THM2
THM3
ZCHM
NAM
WNYM1
WNYM2
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Author Rian Nelson, Rod Meldrum Wayne May Jonathan Neville Jay Mackley William Peter Midgley Phyllis Carol Olive Arlin Ewald Nusbaum
Website? BookOfMormonEvidence.com No MoronisAmerica.com
WorksOfJoseph.com
Heartland.TheHolyScriptures.info
3Dmap.TheHolyScriptures.info
Google Earth .kmz download
NorthAmericaModel.com No BookofMormmongeography.org
Book?
  • Exploring The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland
  • Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation
  • Only One Cumorah
  • They Came from the EAST
  • America 2,000 B.C. to 500 A.D.
  • Moronis America
  • The Lost City of Zarahemla
No
  • The North American Model for the Book of Mormon
  • Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon
No
Methodology (rank)
  1. Archeaology sites
  2. Topography
  3. Scripture Text
  1. Archeaology sites
  2. Dowsing
  3. Scripture Text
  1. Archeaology sites
  2. Topography
  3. Scripture Text
  1. Scripture Text
  2. Formal Rules
  3. Computer Data Analytics
  4. GPS Topography
  1. Topography
  2. Scripture Text
  3. Archeaology sites
  1. Topography
  2. Scripture Text
  1. Topography
  2. Scripture Text
Formal Methodology? No No No Yes No No No
Hill Cumorah? Upper New York State Upper New York State Upper New York State Upper New York State Upper New York State Upper New York State Upper New York State
City Zarahemla? At or near Montrose, Iowa At or near Montrose, Iowa At or near Montrose, Iowa At or near Montrose, Iowa At or near Columbus, Ohio Near Buffalo, New York Near Buffalo, New York
City Nephi? Chattanooga, Tennessee Chattanooga, Tennessee Chattanooga, Tennessee St Louis, Missouri Northwest North Carolina Western NY, near Lake Erie Western NY, near Lake Erie
Extent/Size 1,500,000 square miles 1,500,000 square miles 1,500,000 square miles 150,000 square miles 650,000 square miles 12,000 square miles 12,000 square miles
Lands Mapped? 12% 10% 10% 100% 12% 8% 16%
Cities Mapped? 30% 15% 15% 100% 12% 8% 16%
Journeys Mapped? 0% 0% 0% 100% 0% 0% 0%
Battles Mapped? 0% 0% 0% 100% 0% 0% 0%
Named Topography? 25% 2% 17% 100% 48% 0% 30%
Interrelationships? No No No Yes No No No
Date Ranges? No No No Yes No No No
Jaredite Lands? No No No 100% No No No
Jaredite Cities? No No No 100% No No No
Jaredite Battles? No No No 100% No No No
Active Model? Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Accessibility Online, scattered. Book. Books, lectures, scattered. Online, books. Books required. Online Online partial. Book required. Book only. Online. In progress.

HRG History — by Jay Mackley
HISTORY AND MISSION STATEMENT OF THE

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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