Map: dark-green = tropics & mtn. forests; light-brown = arid lands. Stelae = bearded first Ancestors traveling by land & sea to Central America (like Lehi, Popol Vuh, and Cakchiquel Maya history).
http://www.utexas.edu/cofa/art/347/347m_map.html# “Formative” 1500 BC to 250 AD = antiquities constructed in Book of Mormon times .
1. Archaeological studies of ancient cultures, of Mesoamerican trade and migration, can relate Mormon’s history (600 BC to AD 400) beyond its Mesoamerica boundaries to greater lands northward (see map above)  (North America), and southward  (South America). Archaeological history is showing these influences occurred by land and sea.
2 Mormon’s map description inserted in Alma 22:27-34 (see table references on next page) reveals an unbounded land northward  (in Mexico), first settled by the Jaredites, called Desolation , and adjacent land southward  “nearly surrounded by water” (the seas that embrace Central America). These two lands are connected by a small, narrow neck of land  (at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico).
3 A land southward  is composed of two territories: Zarahemla  and Nephi  that share a common border—a transcontinental mountain range called a narrow strip of wilderness (NSW) . This NSW ran east-west from sea to sea, near Manti “by the head of the river Sidon [see 8] running from the east toward the west” (Usumacinta), then northward to the sea thru the center of tropical lowland Zarahemla  (Chiapas & Yucatan). Zarahemla was also named Mulek after the first settler who arrived by ship on the north, east-sea coast  of the land Bountiful  and settled inland. Highland Nephi  south was also named Lehi-Nephi after the first ancestors who landed on the west sea coast  and settled first inheritance  (about 500 miles south of Mulek).
4 These ship landings on opposite shores of the land southward  settled Zarahemla  and Nephi , that in time grew together toward the common NSW borderline near Manti . This NSW was fortified in 72 BC from sea to sea by 7 cities (Alma 50:8-11,13; see war chapters 53, 56, 57). Archaeology is unfolding this history, including boat landings from the Middle East by 500 BC that integrated with existing peoples (a little-known fact of Nephite history; see Jacob 1:14; 3:13;Jarom 1:6-7), and influenced the rise of Izapan (Nephite)/Maya civilization. The above features reveal Mormon’s map.
Map Locations Modern Lands References
1. Unbound greater land northward North America Alma 22:34
2. Unbound greater land southward South America Alma 22:34
3. Land Northward Oaxaca to central Mexico Alma 50:29
4. Land Southward Oaxaca to Costa Rica Alma 22:32
5. Land Zarahemla-Mulek SE Mexico-Belize Alma 27:22,23
6. Land Nephi; Lehi-Nephi Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador Alma 50:9
7. Small, narrow neck of land Isthmus of Tehuantepec Alma 22:32
8. Narrow strip of wilderness (NSW) Rio Motagua valley, mtn. range Alma 22:27; 27:14
—-River Sidon Rio Usumacinta Alma 22:27
9. Mulek landing Tabasco northeastern Gulf coast Alma 22:30,31
10. Land Bountiful Tabasco to southern Veracruz Alma 22:31
11. Lehi landing Southern Pacific coast of El Salvador Alma 22:28
12. Land First Inheritance Southern El Salvador Alma 22:31
13. Land Desolation Oaxaca, Mexico northward Alma 22:30,31
5 Archaeology can prove history and illustrate religion. Mormon’s map is revealing genuine Book of Mormon history as antiquities sustain it. Mormon inserted his map in his account of the Lamanite mission to reveal the lands of his record for future readers and missionaries. He placed it after the Lamanite king’s miraculous conversion to Jesus Christ, in context with the king’s proclamation to Lamanites throughout the land to receive the missionaries. Mormon’s detailed description of the NSW Nephi-Zarahemla mountain range borderline (Alma 22:27) was inserted as a landmark intended to guide missionaries back to return his record to its people in Middle America in the latter days.
6 Knowledge of Central American geography and archaeology were unknown when the Book of Mormon was published in 1830. Maya ruins exploration published in 1841 led Joseph Smith to view Central America as the land southward. It would take a century for archaeology to develop before Book of Mormon history exploration in Mexico and Central America could begin in 1946, the year missionaries first went to Guatemala.
7 As American archaeological research advanced, academic and lay studies made slow progress in search of Book of Mormon historic geography. Joseph Smith’s Central America map started in 1842 has finally been completed as Mormon’s Mesoamerica map (shown here). Now, Mormon’s history record is no longer an unsolvable mystery.
8 The mission focus of Mormon’s map insert speaks to missionaries, who can return his book in our day to restore his people: “to the knowledge of their fathers [history], and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ which was had among their fathers” (2 Nephi 30:5 & 3:12). Mormon’s map time has come to help Book of Mormon history reach out across the Americas to prove Jesus Christ is the God of the world (2 Ne 29:11-12; 3 Ne 22:5).