Carillon and organ pipes

Carillon and organ pipes

In 1863 during restoration works on the kitchen of the Franciscan convent and in 1906 when the foundations for the hospice were being excavated, thirteen bells were uncovered along with a large number of organ pipes. This discovery was of considerable interest.

From historical sources we know that in 1187 there was a prohibition on the use of bells by Christians. A similar prohibition was enacted in 1452 by Sultan Muhammad II, and it is plausible to hypothesize that the carillon was removed as a consequence of this decree, and that subsequently it was decided to bury everything in the vicinity of the convent.

Twelve of the bells can be divided into two separate series coming from different carillons. The first consists of seven larger bells, each corresponding to a note of the diatonic scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti. In the second series, four of the smaller bells have as a decoration a cross in relief with four equal arms, and also a letter: C / A / E / D, perhaps corresponding to the notes do, re, mi, fa. The fifth bell, even smaller in size, bears an inscription in Gothic letters: + VOX DOMINI (+ Voice of the Lord), a widely-attested motif in the 13th century. Twelve of the bells have a similar tall and narrow form with a nearly-flared base. The thirteenth, hand-molded, in contrast to the others is a low bell (like a timpani or stockpot) without a clapper.

The handles of this bell were molded in the form of winged dragons and it gave the tone of fa. Scholars have focused on the question of how these objects were used. It has been debated whether they were part of a clock or had been a gong.

Comparing them with other examples, notably one found recently during the excavations of the Abbey of St. Samuel at Nabi Samwil, it is now thought that they were a carillon played alongside an organ. The connection was provided by the clappers, which were linked to strings that the musician himself was able to move.

Based on what has been confirmed for the small 13th century bell, it is assumed that these were produced in either the 12th or 13th centuries and that, like the crosier and the candlesticks, were brought from Europe during the papacy of Innocent IV by Bishop Godfrey de Prefectis.

Carillon and organ pipes

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