Bells, Copper

“Copper was found in three forms at Zacpetén: foil, bells, and a hatchet head. At nearby Topoxté, tweezers were found as well. Late Postclassic copper alloy artifacts at Lamanai were primarily from West México (Hosler 1994: 211), and we assume those at Zacpetén were from the same source. Copper artifacts primarily fulfilled ritual or ornamental functions. Each of the forms had various significances, but copper was associated with creation as in West Mexican myth, the first humans were partially composed of metal (Hosler 1994: 227). Among the Tarascans, bells produced sacred sounds; tweezers were emblems of priests and were used to remove body and facial hair; and axes were symbols of power (Hosler 1994: 158, 192, and 233-243). The significance of copper artifacts among the Maya is not clear” (Pugh 2001).

Bells appear to decorate the robes of deity effigy censers and may have likewise decorated those of humans.

The copper bells found in Peten are indigenous products and existed before the arrival of the Europeans and should not be confused with the Spanish trade bells of the Southeastern USA.

Of the sites investigated by Proyecto Maya Colonial, Proyecto Tayasal, and Proyecto Itza, copper bells have only been found at Zacpeten.