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How did Joseph Smith know there were chief marketplaces in Mesoamerica?

In Helaman 7:10 we read:

And behold, now it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi, which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway.

It seems odd that Joseph Smith would include a reference to a marketplace, especially as the Native Americans he would have been familiar with had no marketplaces. It is even more odd that he would reference a chief marketplace. Doesn’t this only add to the likelihood he could have been shown to be wrong about ancient inhabitants of America? 

From Michael R. Ash:

In Helaman 7:10 we read that Nephi went to pray on a tower in a garden by “the highway which led to the chief market”. This is the only use of the word “market” in the entire Book of Mormon and is mentioned only in passing.  Turning to Mesoamerica we find that a marketplace did indeed exist in ancient Mesoamerican times. Not only did large Mesoamerican cities have markets, but they typically had a main or chief market, according to recent discoveries by non-LDS scholars and archaeologists.

FAIR Latter-day Saints – Faith and Reason 53: The Marketplace

How would Joseph know there were not only marketplaces in Mesoamerica, but also Christ marketplaces? How would he have known that?


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