Bells in ancient Greece and Byzantium
October 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm #11595ovidiu oanaParticipant
Bells of fairly small size were known across ancient Greece from the Archaic period onwards(B.C.), both in bronze and terracotta. They are found in sanctuaries, graves and, more rarely, in houses, and served a variety of purposes, both practical and more abstract, in daily life and ritual, and in both male and female contexts. Archaeological, iconographical and literary sources attest to their use as votive offerings in ritual and funerary contexts, as signalling instruments for town-guards, as amulets for children and women as well as, in South Italy, in a Dionysiac context. A use as animal (notably horse) bells, however, was not widespread before the later Roman period. The bells’ origins lie in the ancient Near East and Caucasian area, from where they found their way especially to Archaic Samos and Cyprus and later to mainland Greece. Here, the largest known find complex of bronze and terracotta bells, mostly of Classical date, comes from the old British excavations in the sanctuary of Athena on the Spartan acropolis and is published here for the first time. Spartan bells are distinctive in shape yet related particularly to other Lakonian and Boiotian bells as well as earlier bells from Samos. At Sparta, as elsewhere, the connotation of the bells’ bronze sound as magical, protective, purificatory and apotropaic was central to their use, although specific functions varied according to place, time, and occasion.
As examples see a Bell idol, Ancient Greek, c700 BC or Ancient Greek temple pendant, c630-620 BC.
small bells (crotals) was used for Jewelry during the Hellenistic period (323 to 31 BC) as you can see the pendant with naked woman made of electrum, origin Rhodes.
Tradition continue in Byzantium area same bells was used for human or for cattle.
I have in my collection a bronze bell cast aprox. 8,th century
or a double bronze bell for cattle with geometric decorations (the clapper is another small bell):
Excelent informations about religious bells in Bizantium area you cen find in John Burnettțs article
Overview of the Origin and History of Russian Bell-Founding
The next post will be about crotals and tiger bells.
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