John A. Tvedtnes discusses examples of writing on metal plates which were discovered post-1830.

John A. Tvedtnes

John A. Tvedntes, The Most Correct Book: Insights From a Book of Mormon Scholar (Salt Lake City: Cornerstone Publishing & Distribution, Inc., 1999), 26-27

John A. Tvedtnes
Reading Public


One of the most important of the Dead Sea Scrolls is a document inscribed on a copper plate that had been rolled up and hidden away. But this is just one of many examples of ancient texts that, like the Book of Mormon, had been written on sheets of metal.

Since the 1930s, nearly a hundred ancient and medieval documents written on metal plates or leaves have been found in various parts of the world. The ones that interest us most are the metallic records from the ancient Near East, the original homeland of the Book of Mormon peoples.

Three copper tablets containing a temple inscription from ancient Adab and dating to the third millennium B.C., were found in Iraq. A copper plate with Sumerian writing from the same time period has also been found. A small gold plate with an Akkadian inscription from the twenty-fifth century B.C. was found at Djokha Umma, Iraq, and is housed in the Louvre in Paris, along with

several other inscribed metal plates. A bronze tablet with a fourteenth-century B.C. Ugaritic inscription was found in Lower Galilee. Silver and lead plates with Hittite inscriptions were found in 1950 in the Beritz valley of Lebanon. Six bronze tablets written in pseudo-hieroglyphic and dating to 2000-1800 B.C. were found at the ancient Phoenician site of Byblos, in Lebanon.

Egyptian examples are also not lacking, the treaty between Ramses IE, king of Egypt, and the Hittite king Hatusilis, drafted in 1287 B.C., was written on silver plates. A decree of king Ramses in (1198-1167 B.C.) was found written on silver and gold tablets.

Thin gold plates that appear to have remnants of hieroglyphic writing were found in Egypt in the tomb of king Menkhure, builder of the third pyramid at Giza (ca. 2800 B.C.). A gold leaf with hieroglyphic writing from 2000-1788 B.C. was found at Lisht. A set of thirteen metal plates from after the fourth century B.C. contain a chronicle written in Egyptian demotic script, a type of reformed Egyptian.

Some metallic records have also been discovered in Israel. A small silver scroll written in Greek and Coptic and dating to about A.D. 400 was discovered in Bethany in 1968. In 1980, archaeologists opened a seventh-century B.C. tomb adjacent to the Scottish Presbyterian church of St. Andrew in Jerusalem and discovered two small rolled-up strips of silver with a Hebrew inscription from the Bible (Numbers 6:24-26).

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