When I completed publication of my last book, Geology of the Book of Mormon, I started on another research project to identify what exactly was meant by the word "ziff," one of those undefined, untranslated words that are found in the Book of Mormon. Because of the context where ziff is found in the Book of Mormon, it is suspected to be some sort of metal. As part of my inquiry, I also looked at the metallurgy of the golden plates, as some have suggested that perhaps they consisted of ziff. While I was looking at various characteristics of the plates, and specifically at the nature of the engravings, I ran across the "Caractors" document, which in my youth many called the "Anthon transcript."
I recalled seeing the document, in my younger days, but had not really given it much thought. As I was evaluating the document to determine the character density (number of characters per square inch), I noticed something that I had really not noticed before—the bar-and-dot Mesoamerican number 9.
As an engineer, I have always liked to fiddle around with numbers, so I thought to myself that it might be interesting to see if there were any other numbers there, and that perhaps by so doing I could identify a date, which would be helpful to perhaps place the document in some sort of chronological context.
What I found was more numbers than I thought I would find and, proceeding methodically step by step, I have been able to translate the entire document. I need to make it clear that I am not an Egyptologist or a Mayanist, although I have been very interested in ancient Mesoamerica for some time. I do speak a few languages (Chinese and Italian) and have worked with my wife on and off as a translator and interpreter for the last 25 years, mostly in Italian, but have delved into a few other languages as needed.
As a scientist, by nature I am adverse to speculations, and unfortunately, the Book of Mormon studies field is full of persons who aren't so scrupulous. I have taken care to document the source of my translations and any interpretations.
This exercise is not designed to prove the Book of Mormon true; it is not a theological or doctrinal exercise. I leave it up to the reader (and other experts) to evaluate and process the impact of what I have found.
I can tell you I have no motivation to sell books. I publish only for the "thrill" of research, not to become a Mormon- themed retailer. My approach has been to do research and publish a small run of books to cover the cost of donating some to libraries and other centers of research, and then to provide the research free in e-book fashion to anyone who might be interested (not a huge following). I have no interest in fame or firesides; at one point in my life I had the misfortune (as did the electorate) of being elected to public office, so have already seen that side of the briar patch.
Finally, as I have already been hassled by my friends with regards to this particular research, I need to answer a few questions in advance:
"No, I was not helped by a sandy haired angel."
"No, I did not have to give my research and notes back to said sandy haired angel."
"And no, I don't have any interest in starting my own church."
I have also been asked whether the book has been peer reviewed. As a person who started out their career as a respected engineer and geologist, who is now an ex-politician, used car salesman (I restore vintage Fiats), working x for a real estate developer, my journey towards the dark side is now complete. No, I have few peers, and the world is a better place for it.
That being said, I did provide a draft of the book to persons who are experts in Egyptian and Mayan, providing them a small honorarium for their drudgery. Some were intrigued, some did not comment at all. Comments were incorporated, but I did not ask for their endorsement, realizing that even the act of muttering the words "Lamanite" or "Shiz" under their breath would be an act of hara-kiri in their secular academic worlds, let alone endorsing a book such as this.
This book will not involve an introduction of the genesis of the Book of Mormon and the golden plates; it is supposed that the reader will already be familiar with the foundations of Mormonism. With that groundwork laid, I invite you to enjoy the book. I'm sure you will find it original and interesting.