the thinker

Michael Coe, non-Mormon archeologist

Michael Coe is the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University and curator emeritus of the Division of Anthropology at the school's Peabody Museum of Natural History. He is an expert on the Maya, who inhabited the same part of Mexico and Central American where Mormon scholars say the events of the Book of Mormon took place.

Professor Coe is one of the few non-Mormon scientific experts who have studied archeology and the Book of Mormon to see if there is any archeology in MesoAmerica that supports the Book of Mormon.

Coe is not an anti-Mormon and has many Mormon friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, his decades of research has given little hope to faithful LDS that want very much for there to be "historical evidence" for the Book of Mormon.

Coe was asked to write his first article on Mormon archeology in 1973 by Dialogue Magazine. In the article he states:

"The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere."

Reference: 1972 Dialogue Magazine, backup archive copy here.

DR. Coe was also interviewed by PBS for the 2007 documentary The Mormons. Coe's interview.

Dr. Coe's Autobiography: Final Report: An Archaeologist Excavates his Past.


Dr. Coe did a fascinating 3-part podcast interview with John Dehlin for mormonstories. In this interview, Coe discusses the challenges facing Mormon archaeologists attempting to prove the historical truth of their central scripture and his own views on Joseph Smith. Michael Coe podcast interview.


Back To Glossary