Study on the Casting Method and Manufacturing Process of Bronze Bells Excavated from the Hoeamsa Temple Site

회암사지 금탁(琴鐸)의 주조방법과 가공기술 연구

  • Lee, Jae Sung (Restoration Technology Division, National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage) ;
  • Baek, Ji Hye (Conservation Science Lab., Gyeonggi Provincial Museum) ;
  • Jeon, Ik Hwan (Conservation Science Lab., Gyeonggi Provincial Museum) ;
  • Park, Jang Sik (Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Hongik University)
  • 이재성 (국립문화재연구소 복원기술연구실) ;
  • 백지혜 (경기도박물관) ;
  • 전익환 (경기도박물관) ;
  • 박장식 (홍익대학교 조치원캠퍼스 금속공학과)
  • Received : 2010.06.28
  • Accepted : 2010.08.25
  • Published : 2010.09.30


Three bronze bells excavated from the Hoeamsa temple site were investigated for their microstructures and chemical compositions in an effort to understand the technology applied in fabrication, which may represent the related industry established in the early Joseon period. The result shows that the bells were cast from alloys of approximately 85% copper-8% tin-7% lead. The chemical analysis for ten trace elements shows that they were all kept below 0.3 weight %, suggesting that the alloys were made of relatively well-refined copper, tin and lead. The presence of sulfur and iron indicates that chalcopyrite or chalcocite may have been used in the smelting of copper. Evidence has been found that the bells were cast by pouring the liquid metal from the top of the sand molds that were set up in an upright position. No additional treatments, thermal or mechanical, other than a little grinding were applied upon the completion of casting. After the shaping process, a balancing plate was attached to the top of the bell using a steel connection ring. The connection assembly was then fixed to the main body by using molten bronze as a solder. The surface inscription was found carved using different techniques. The differences in the order of strokes and the calligraphic style indicate that the carving was carried out by more than one master. In the absence of documentary evidence on past bronze technology, the present bronze bells with known chronology, provenance and the main agent of production, prove to be a rare and valuable archaeological material for the understanding of the related technology in use in the early Joseon period.