"Hard" Evidence of Ancient American Horses | BYU Studies

"Hard" Evidence of Ancient American Horses

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"Hard" Evidence of Ancient American Horses

Author Daniel Johnson,

The suggestion of horses and chariots in pre-Columbian America has long been an easy target for critics of the Book of Mormon. In spite of difficulties in defending this claim, and although the evidence is incomplete, the geological and archaeological record does provide support for horses and even wheeled vehicles in ancient America. Much of this evidence is not questionable or even that new, but critics and faithful members of the Church are unaware of it. Several valid arguments are worth considering.

Several theories that attempt to address the issue of pre-Columbian horses are examined in this article, some of which are mutually exclusive. Therefore, not all can be correct. Evidence presented in this article includes (1) archeological evidence for large animals used for draft and transportation; (2) wheeled artifacts showing a person or animal riding on an obviously artificial wheeled platform; (3) the possibility that Book of Mormon peoples referred to native animals such as the Baird's tapir with names such as horse that they were familiar with; (4) early accounts suggesting that Native Americans had horses too early for them to come from strays that escaped the Spanish conquistadors, especially since the Spanish kept very careful records of their horses; (5) the prevalence of the pinto or piebald horse among Native Americans and its relative absence among Spanish expeditions; (6) images in Mesoamerican art that might depict horses; (7) evidence that horses survived far longer after the last ice age than previously thought; and (8) the question of the Bashkir Curly.