Good evening European Time
I wonder if you can help me identify the bronze church bell illustrated in the attached pictures.
It was found during archaeological excavations in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2013.
The bell was found at the bottom of a large pit at the Ngongo Mbata site a few kilometers from the border with Angola in Bas-Congo province. Presumably the bell was a church bell (ruins of a small late 18th / early 19th century stone church a few meters away) and thrown in the pit with other rubbish.
A layer topping the pit is dated to Cal AD 1680-1764 or Cal AD 1800-1899. Fir the time being, this does not help too much I agree. We will have a radiocarbon date from the bottom of the pit in 2 months’ times, thus dating the bell.
For the time being the broad chronology of the artefact must be 16th-18th centuries (date of the small town on the hilltop). Meanwhile is there a possibility of identifying the artefact, knowing it has no markings at all either inside or outside. Do you know of anybody who could help me on this ? It has been suggested to me today to check on the bells made by the Portuguese.
Dr. Bernard Clist
Due to the fact that the bell is made of bronze, I’m also guessing that it was made by the Portuguese, or at least made in Europe and imported. Good luck, a lack of markings makes bell research extremely difficult.
For information sake, we now have the radiocarbon date of the archaeological layer in which this bell was found and the analysis of the European pottery associated (mostly Portuguese) imported to the old Kongo kingdom. We now have a bracket of 1633-1660 when this bell being sent to the garbage. It is indeed a first half of the 17th century bronze bell, probably Portuguese.