Zarahemla Magnetometry

Zarahemla Magnetometry Scanning and Discovery

The Fires of Zarahemla, 11/27/2020
By John Lefgren, 11/27/2020

 The above map was drawn by Robert E. Lee in 1834 when he came as a young Army officer to deal with the geology of the Keokuk Gorge that stopped riverboats on the Mississippi. Lee came with a company of soldiers. He wanted to determine if it would be possible to create a channel for riverboats to go through the Des Moines Rapids.

From 1834 to 1837, Robert E. Lee and his men built an outpost known as Fort Des Moines No. 1. In 1837 the U.S. Army abandoned the outpost. From 1839 to 1846, Montrose became a landing place for many Mormons who were refugees from Missouri and immigrants from Europe. At first, the Saints lived in Lee’s abandoned barracks. The town soon became known as Montrose. Among the town’s residents were Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Erastus Snow. Indeed, Nauvoo’s streets aligned to the streets of Lee’s map for Fort Des Moines. For eight years, there were thousands of more Mormons living in Montrose than the town’s current population of 898. Montrose then as well as now had a town area of one square mile or 640 acres. In our research for the Fires of Zarahemla, we scanned the cropland of 21 acres inside the square mile of the city’s limits. Charcoal samples from the ground of this land will be the basis for determining the Carbon-14 dates of the fires.

It seems strange that we have started our detailed search for the City of Zarahemla on a site that Mormons farmed many years before they went to the Salt Lake Valley. It also seems strange that when we look at old maps, we find that the Mormons in the mid-nineteenth century named the very road next to this site as “Zarahemla Road.”

We will take core samples from the ground that the first generations of Mormons farmed more than 150 years ago when they associated the land with the City of Zarahemla. This result was certainly not our intention. We went to the site because it had a cornfield that is well suited for the SENSYS MX V3 scan. Nevertheless, we are grateful that we can start on a site that was part of the Saints’ early history. We take comfort in the fact that we are so close to the faith of the first believers in this Last Dispensation.

The full grid represents an area of about 2.2 acres. Preliminary calculations indicate that there are as many as 124 ancient fires in the ground of this area. Core soil samples will provide pieces of charcoal from the fire pits for which Carbon-14 dating will determine the distribution of the fire pits over a timeline before the arrival of the Europeans to Iowa. The high density of fire pits correlates with a high density of ancient populations.

The assumption is that each fire pit would have represented three people and that one acre of fire pits as found on the grid would have meant a density of populations for hundreds of people per acre over many generations. This result certainly supports the idea that this scanned land was a small part of the Lost City of Zarahemla.

Our magnetic scan showed fire pits and lightning strikes from ancient times. Almost 200 years of farming provided the necessary revenue to protect farmland from development. The cultivation of corn for six generations gave a protective cover for the evidence in the ground. Because of corn, we got the magnetic scans that made it possible to create digital maps that show traces of habitation for an ancient city.

Drone photo of field being scanned with Mississippi/Sidon river in the background.
Each field scanned in the Fall of 2020 is numbered on this map for reference.
Areas of interest identified by archaeologist Richard Moats. These areas are candidates for core sample drilling for C14 dating and possible future excavations.

To: Central Lee Community School District
From: John Lefgren

 We want to bring to your attention the names and professional experience of the people coming to Lee County to scan 1,000 acres of cropland. We will search for evidence of ancient habitation and activities under the ground’s surface in areas within two miles of the Central Lee Community School District. We have organized our efforts as a serious scientific project involving the talents of 15 people who have more than 400 years of professional experience. We know of no other research project in North America where such a group of talented people has come together to make magnetic scans of lands that will have 6,912 data sets for every square foot of land. A data set will include a super fine measurement of magnetic force (nano-Telsa) with two GPS coordinates (+/- 0.25″) for each point of observation. During the two weeks, we plan to collect, store, and digitally plot about 100,000,000,000 points. The research’s primary focus is to identify variations in the gradients of the nano-Tesla levels to locate fire pits, post holes, roads, and other changes that native people made in the soil as they lived their lives more than a thousand years ago. We believe that the Upper Mississippi and the Des Moines Rapids are significant indicators that an ancient population in Lee county could have been greater than today’s population.

We look forward to meeting the students at your school. We will show them how we can use the world’s best technology as we search about three feet under the ground for data that will begin outlining the pre-European history of your county. The German Company SENSYS has demonstrated the capability of its technology at several sites in Europe and Africa. We are pleased to sponsor the application of this technology in your community. We know that our results will be of great interest and that they will only add to your land’s legacy. …

By John Lefgren, 11/27/2020

Dateline — Montrose, Iowa, November 14, 2020.

Today clear evidence of significant features sprang out of cornfields that are in Montrose, Iowa. The SENSYS MV X3 unveiled from the ground earthworks that date to the timeline of the Book of Mormon.
Fourteen people from the Heartland Research Group are involved in this search. Together they have 400 years of professional experience in science, history, digital imaging, and other disciplines.
The new evidence is ancient and significant. The area of interest is more than 200 acres. On Monday the scanning team will continue to make more digital images that will come out of the earth.
Serious students of the Book of Mormon may mark this day as an time when physical truth began to come out of the earth to confirm the existence of the Great City of Zarahemla.
Doubters may replace doubts with faith. Mockers will have a hard time to explain what until now was unseen in the ground for thousands of years.
The Heartland Research Group is more than pleased with the results of today’s scans. We have spent years looking for such results. We have traveled the world looking for the right combination of technology and place. Today they came together. Tomorrow the truth will spring out of the earth in greater abundance.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Mike Mackley, Scott Willis, and Jay Mackley examine SYNSYS data screen.
After being shipped from Germany, Mike Baker assembled the SENSYS MX V3 magnetic scanner.
The first field scanned was Wayne Mays proposed Zarahemla Temple lot where a foundation has been discovered. Very little sign of ancient human habitation with a magnetic signature was found here (as expected).
Truck with mounted GPS receiver that communicates with the SENSYS MX V3 scanner. From left: Mike Baker, Mike LaFontaine, Mike Mackley, Simisi, Mike Stahlman
Mike Baker checks the GPS receiver
Mike Mackley and John Lefgren examine the SENSYS MX V3 equipment.
Wayne May addresses Central Lee Community School students on a field trip to learn about the activities.
Kevin Price speaks to the High School students. Presentation conducted in a nearby greenhouse.
High School students gather for presentations.
Mike Baker (field project manager) speaks to the High School students.
Mike Baker shows the equipment to the students.
Mike Baker takes questions from the students.
High School students and teachers have a hands-on moment.
Local newspaper reporters interview John Lefgren.
Local farmers and residents also in attendance ask questions and examine the equipment.
The first magnetic scanning test run is conducted near the greenhouse.
Students go to see the equipment in operation.
Student and local visitors observe the equipment in operation.
Mike Baker prepares for a test run.
John Lefgren and Wayne May present video slides to the students.
Students participating in Q&A session.
Nauvoo Temple visible from Montrose main street.
The Nauvoo temple is northeast of Montrose Iowa.
The first field to be officially scanned with SENSYS MX V3.
Assistants and onlookers at the first field.
At the end of each scanning session, a flash drive is exchanged so the data can be processed and recorded in cloud storage.
The GPS receiver provides satellite communication for the SENSYS MX V3 onboard computer.
Mike Baker constructed a special hitch to pull the SENSYS MX V3 around sharp corners.
The SENSYS MX V3 has 16 extremely sensitive fluxgate sensors that can pick up the slightest magnetic signature up to five feet into the ground.
The SENSYS MX V3 is engineered with a suspension system for the wheels to stabalize the sensors over rough terrain.
Prior to the SENSYS MX V3 operators had to physically walk the terrain with just four fluxgate sensors. With the newer configuration and a four-wheeler much more ground can be covered.
View of the Nauvoo Temple from the Wayne May Temple Lot. The Nauvoo temple is precisely east.
Protruding corn stalks in one field provides a challenge for stable readings and was hard on the equipment.
Arrangements were made to have the field beat off.
Local residents and farmers were very supportive of the scanning efforts and sometimes came to us requesting their fields to be scanned. Large quantities of arrow heads, stone ax heads, jewelry, pottery and other non-perishable items have been found over the years. Some farmers maintain extensive collections.
A lot of fun times were had by all participants. Pictured is Ryan Sorenson (Videographer) to the left and his family to the right. In the center is Mike Baker (Project Manager) and behind Mike Baker is Mike Mackley (equipment operator) and behind and to the right is Jeri Mackley (field photographer)

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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