15. Is There Evidence That Mormon and Moroni Visited the American West?

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15. Is There Evidence That Mormon and Moroni Visited the American West?

Copyright © 2015 by Jerry L. Ainsworth



Jose Davila, my friend and mentor in Book of Mormon studies, believed that certain petroglyphs located in the foothills of Fillmore and Cedar City, Utah, were written by Moroni. These petroglyphs can be seen on page 214 of my book, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni.

Not shown in my book, however, was a singular petroglyph that Jose claimed was Moroni’s signature. I placed a semblance of that petroglyph—Moroni’s signature—at the top of page 215 and on other textual pages in my book.

Several professors who hold credentials in such matters have expressed a belief that these petroglyphs are graffiti—written as a lark and of recent origin.

“Moroni” Petroglyphs Are Scattered across the West

Since the publishing of my book, I have received feedback from readers identifying over twenty locations where this “Moroni” petroglyph appears. These identical “Moroni” petroglyphs have been located in Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and other locations in Utah.

Three friends and I have set in motion a formal investigation of these petroglyphs to see if the meaning of these writings can be ascertained. We have taken visitors to these petroglyph sites, LDS and non-LDS alike. A few of those who speak Aramaic languages, when looking at this “Moroni” glyph, have said (unsolicited) that the meaning of this glyph is “MR” (mir) and ANAE”—reading Mranai.

We are now in the process of studying these petroglyphs systematically to see if a scientific agreement can be reached respecting them. And I point out that this is no easy task, for few scholars agree on the meaning of these kinds of ancient petroglyphs.

The Burial Place of Mormon and the Plates of Ether

According to Jose Davila, the set of petroglyphs appearing in Cedar City (see page 214 of my book) was written by Moroni and gives the directions as to where he buried his father. If this turns out to be so, this means that Mormon would have been killed and buried outside of Cedar City, Utah.

The other group of petroglyphs on page 214, according to Jose, gives directions as to where Moroni buried the plates of Ether:

Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates; and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account. (Ether 1:4)

These are the petroglyphs located in Fillmore, Utah. And since the publishing of my book, we have either located or been made aware of this same petroglyph (Moroni’s signature)—behind the temple in Manti, east of the temple in Ogden, and in numerous other locations in the western part of the United States.

Could Jose Be Correct?

As I close this article, I remind readers that the meaning of these petroglyphs was rendered by Jose Davila, a man who has no professional training in ancient languages. The reason his “translation” impresses me is that I knew this man for over thirty years.

When I first met him, he was attending Maya conferences where he was explaining the meaning of the glyphs to those who hold credentials in the Mayan language. Once again, these professionals made sport of Jose, rejected his idea that Maya glyphs had phonetic meaning, and rejected what he said.

However, just recently, prior to the death of Jose, the Maya scholars announced that they had made a great discovery—that the Maya glyphs also have phonetic meanings to them.

My three friends and I are now recruiting those with credentials in ancient languages to determine if Jose’s ideas and translations may have merit. If so, then the actual travels of Mormon and Moroni become much easier to determine.

I expect to write much more on this topic as research progresses.

Contact me with a question or comment: eljefejla@aol.com


Ainsworth, Jerry L.