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Bronze Ship's Bell

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Artifact Description

A bronze bell was the first artifact recovered from the “Tortugas” wreck site. The bell was found with a gaping hole on one side. Missing its clapper, it is heavily patinated and degraded greenish blue with copper chloride corrosion products. No decorative symbols or inscriptions are visible; just three ridges set three-quarters down the body. The shoulder is surmounted by a single suspension canon ring subdivided into three sub-triangular spaces suitable for lifting with a single hand. One side of the bell is extensively broken and missing.

Ship’s bells were mainly utilized to identify the passage of time during the day, marking the half hours, changes of watch and time for prayers and dinner. The sounding of the bell also warned of danger, fire, fog or an enemy ship. The “Tortugas” bell would almost certainly have been the last sound that rang out wildly as the ship sank in the hurricane of September 5, 1622.

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