Earthworks of Ijebu-Ode

Sequel to the archaeological survey carried out in Ijebu-Ode 2017, sites were identified and excavated in the 2018 field season. These sites are situated around the vicinity of earthworks. Earthworks are common in West Africa. Some researchers have argued that the functions of earthen architectural features in the form of banks, walls, and ditches vary from simple domestic usage to formal military defense of cities. Others have argued that they are defensive structures employed by elite and non-elites in their respective zones. In patterns, some earthworks appear in packed and clustered forms and are mostly boundary markers between landed property owners. Others are linear and extensive, enclosing a community. In the Yoruba-Edo region of Nigeria, these earthworks vary from small-scale enclosures surrounding modest compounds to walls around towns, and large-scale embankments enveloping urban centers. This year, I examined the Ijebu earthworks, in particular, those enclosing Ijebu-Ode, the capital of Ijebu polity. I report on the most recent survey and excavation carried out in Ijebu-Ode. I draw upon the relationship between Ijebu inner walls and the outer enclosures.Capture   Picture1

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Salvaging Earthworks in Ijebu-Ode: A Fruitful Archaeological Survey

For three weeks now, my team and I have been carrying out a pedestrian survey across the town of Ijebu-Ode, in Nigeria. The town is growing at a frantic pace, and its archaeological relics was fastly disappearing. This archaeological enterprise becomes pertinent at such a time as this. Up till now, what we know about Ijebu-Ode’s past in the light of archaeological record was its centeredness within the longest single monument in Africa, known as Sungbo Eredo. The Ijebu Kingdom is surrounded by Sungbo-Eredo which is about 180km in circumference and stretches along two states (Ogun and Lagos). The monument was first documented by the Portuguese Chronicler, Pacheco Pereira in the early 16th century as a large ditch that surrounds a kingdom. While Peter Lloyd and Patrick Darling were the first archaeologists/Historians to document this earthwork in 1959 and 1996 respectively, David Aremu, and the Chouin-led team of archaeologists from William and Mary, and the University of Ibadan respectively have consistently studied Sungbo Eredo within the last 10 years. It was thus concluded, although still under analysis, that the ditch is up to 600 years. That is, probably built around the second half of the fourteenth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century.

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In Search of Earthworks: Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project begins

IMG_5894The other members of the team arrived Nigeria on the 4th of June 2017. I arrived a little bit earlier to catch up with Family and friends, and to do preliminary preparations for the project. Ile-Ife has an intriguing past, it is well known for its naturalistic objects regarding artefactual endeavor as well as its recognition as the home/birthplace of the Yoruba civilizations.

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