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Book of Mormon and Archaeology: The Scimeter
Brief Summarization by Kerry A. Shirts
Paul Y. Hoskisson has demonstrated very interestingly that the cimeters mentioned in the Book of Mormon is not an anachronism any more than it is in the Bible thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. His article entitled "Scimetars, Cimeters! We Have Scimitars! Do We Need Another Cimeter? found in Stephen D. Ricks/William J. Hamblin, editors, Warfare in the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book/F.A.R.M.S., 1990, pp. 352-359, discusses the claim that scimitars did not make their appearance or even exist in the pre-Islamic Old World and therefore could not have appeared to Book of Mormon peoples (the BofM mentions them 11 times, always in a context of weaponry). The scimitar is not mentioned earlier than the 16th century in English texts and the Persian word "Samsir" probably provided the etymon for the English word. These are two among other arguments against the BofM scimitar.
There is no question though that scimiters were known 600 B.C. in the Ancient Near East. We now know thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls that "kidon" denoted some kind of sword/scimitar according to Yigael Yadin and Kyle McCarter and Othmar Keel. The Israeli scholar M. Heltzer argued that 1QM V:11, 12, and 14 and from 1 Samuel 17:45 that "kidon" cannot be the normal straight sword so it must be the curved scimitar.
Hoskisson concludes that "With extant Late Bronze Age scimitars (including two from Palestine), with Iron Age glyptic evidence from the ancient Near East, and with an Iron Age and Hellenistic period lexeme for scimitar, there is no doubt that Lehi could have known the scimitar. Indeed, Jeremiah, a contemporary of Lehi, placed the "kidon" in the hands of the people who would spoil Jerusalem. The scimitar is no more anachronistic in the Book of Mormon than it is in the BIble." (p. 356).
What I found interesting about this article is that Hoskisson is responding to the argument against BofM scimitar from a letter of a Mr. Couch to James E. Talmage found in B.H. Roberts "Study of the Book of Mormon" and also mentioned by George D. Smith in his article "Is There Any Way To Escape These Difficulties? The Book of Mormon Studies of B. H. Roberts" in "Dialogue," 17 (1984):96.
Critics claim that B.H. Roberts study is the definitive study for the BofM and its weaknesses. This is simply untrue as well. Many of Hugh Nibleys books deal with the issues Roberts was discussing. Many other areas, in fact ALL areas of B.H. Roberts study dealing with BofM difficulties have become outdated thanks to the continuing effort of F.A.R.M.S. and their research and symposiums. Roberts certainly did not have the last word with things archaeologically or linguistically with the BofM, as Hoskisson has shown.