I am a recent convert to the wonderful Church and have a growing testimony of the Church. I had a quick question however. Time and time again, anti-mormons will use physical evidence – such as steel, horses, etc. against the Church. I have seen your answer to questions about these concerns and I completely agree! One thing I would like to know, however, is where are all the human remains from all the wars that took place? Weren’t thousands if not hundreds of thousands killed?
We need to deal with a few misconceptions. Yes the battles were large and hundreds and thousands were killed. Many were buried, some were thrown into the sea and some were eaten by wild beasts. And then life went on. Now you are thinking that a mass grave should be easy to find… But to find it you need to first know where to look. Other than on the American Continents (North and South) we really don’t know where the events in the Book of Mormon took place. There are many theories and ideas out there but no solid facts. Mass graves are by their very nature small compared to the number of bodies in them, even multiple mass graves would be less then a pin prick on a map of the Continents. So the first issue would be to find one.
Now lets talk bones and bodies. It is the nature of a dead body to decompose. Bones take longer but even bones will be decomposed over time unless something interferes with the process (prolonged extreme heat, cold, or dryness). It is more Hollywood than fact that your typical set of bones will survive forever. The length of time is highly dependent on the environment the remains are in and the steps taken to preserve them. With mass graves no real steps are taken so we can expect the bones to decompose at a speed related to the environmental conditions at the site. If we presume a reasonably wet and temperate climate we are looking at a 1 to 3 hundred year span before the bones are gone and they would be the last to go. That would only leave the non-organic stuff they were buried with.
Next lets talk time. Finding a mass grave is a big deal today. Word will get out and people will know about it and record it. But that has not always been the case. The further back in time we go the less likely we are to have a record of a find and the more likely the possibly that the sites would be found and picked clean by the locals without any record being made. Let’s be generous and assume that anything found from about 1700 AD would be known. With the Nephite record ending at 400 AD that is 1300 years that the locals could find and loot the graves of anything valuable or useful that survived.
So to sum it up, the easy to find mass graves have most likely already been found and destroyed. The hard to find ones will most likely only have whatever non-organic item they were buried with. Assuming someone finds a hard one and assuming they exist, then they would need to perform a lot of research and study to figure out what it was and what period it came from. So I don’t find it at all surprising we have not found any, and I accept that we might never find one.