On Thursday, May 27, 2021, Dr. Russell K. Skowronek and Richard E. Johnson from the COTBONS Project gave a special presentation about the “Sacred copper” found in baptismal fonts, baptismal shells, and aspersorium across the Southwest. You can now view this presentation on You Tube. Learn how researchers used documentary, photographic, and portable X-Ray fluorescence-derived archaeometric evidence to decipher information about these precious artifacts.
Spanish colonial era terrestrial and shipwreck sites have been studied by archaeologists and historians for a century. Books and journal articles are full of artifacts made of ceramic, iron, and wood but those made of copper or copper alloys have been largely ignored. In 2017 the Copper on the Borderlands of New Spain (COTBONS) Project was started with the goal of creating a comprehensive study of copper sheet metal vessels. Over the past four years, collections dating from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries and housed in repositories in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts (Peabody Museum), New Mexico, Texas and Washington, D.C (Smithsonian Institution) have been examined. In 2019, researchers visited the Arizona History Museum in Tucson to study the baptismal font in the museum’s collection. What can the study of this object’s copper tell us?