Louisiana History
1650 - 1700
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Activity Sheet

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Hawk Bells Tell Two Stories
by Pam Wheat
La Salle Shipwreck Project, Texas Historical Commission

BELLS. Brass bells were part of the cargo in the Belle. When the archeologists saw the bells, they recognized them as "hawk bells."

IN EUROPE. These bells were used for falconry. Two bells of different pitches were tied to a hawk's foot so the owner could located the hawk or falcon as it flew after hunted game (rabbit, mice, etc.).

IN NORTH AMERICA. The bells were used as trade items by European explorers and traders who came to the New World. The American Indians used the bells as decoration. The American Indians had few (if any) items made of metal before the European traders.

It is reported that two bells of different pitches were paired and attached to the falcon so they could be heard farther away than one bell alone.

Develop an experiment to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Use (1) a jingle bell and (2) two jingle bells of different pitches.

Have a partner walk 5 meters away and ring (1) the single bell and (2) the two bells. On a chart, rate the intensity of the sound.

Rate the sounds (1) and (2) at different distances. 10 meters, 15 meters, etc.

What is your conclusion?

* Two bells of different pitches can be heard further away.

* It doesn't make any difference if you have one bell or two bells.

For further information on falconry read My Side of the Mountain or contact the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Material above is Copyright ©1997 Texas Historical Commission. You are free to use information or images from these pages for any non-commercial purpose. Any use of this information should credit the Texas Historical Commission.


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