On our trips to Khor Kharfot, the best candidate for Bountiful, we used to wonder, did Nephi and his family leave anything behind here, and, of course, the immediate answer was, ‘no.’ How could it, in any way, be likely? They perhaps lived here only three or four years while they built a ship.
This place was a way station for them, a bit of relief from the miserable, thirsty 8-year journey they had made.
Small populations of people had obviously inhabited this verdant spot at times in the past and then abandoned it. We could certainly see the remains of their rock shelters, tower and mysterious double lines of rocks.
But these had been accomplished by larger populations of people who lived here for long periods. The Lehites were one small family of somewhere between 30 to 40 people, who came, lived here alone and went.
They already had an enormous building project in making a ship that could sail half way around the world. They wouldn’t have built and left something else, right?
Yet, in that estimation there was something critical we forgot. Worship for Nephi and his family often centered on sacred structures like the temple in Jerusalem. As soon as the family arrive at the Valley of Lemuel, Lehi “built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 2:7)
When his sons return from Jerusalem with the plates of brass, Lehi again “did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord”. This was obviously done at an altar (1 Nephi 5: 9).
We are told, too, that when they arrived in the Land of Nephi “I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon” (2 Nephi 5:16).
Several things become immediately apparent here. Of course, 1) they were living the law of Moses which required an altar and some kind of sanctuary; 2) Nephi knew how to build a temple; and 3) its construction followed the sacred geometry of the temple of Solomon. These were prophets with sacred knowledge.
Is it reasonable to suppose that they would have skipped having some place of worship at Bountiful? And, if they did have a sanctuary, isn’t it likely that some remnant of that would remain? It would be built after the manner of the Israelites, so it would distinguish itself as something distinct and different in southern Arabia.
Because we didn’t think about this, for years nobody went looking for a sanctuary at Bountiful. You might say that, instead, it found us.
What was found in Oman? Keep reading at Meridian Magazine to discover what this team of archaeologists found.