Archaeology and the End of Empire in Nigeria: Learning from the History of Late Colonial Archaeology at Ile-Ife
Author(s): Tomos Evans
This is an abstract from the "African Archaeology throughout the Holocene" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
At the city of Ile-Ife (Nigeria) in 1953, three foreign archaeologists (Bernard Fagg, AJH Goodwin, and William Fagg), with the permission of the Oni of Ife, conducted several months of fieldwork in the old city. With the aim of uncovering evidence relating to Ile-Ife’s early industries (including exquisite brass and terracotta artworks), they excavated several sacred shrines devoted to specific Orisha across a city that was considered the religious and spiritual centre of the Yoruba people. As a result, the excavations inflamed tensions in the city and exposed the complexities of the relationships between the colonial state, Western archaeologists, traditional authorities and priests, Nigerian fieldworkers and local people. Using archival data from the University of Cape Town and the University of Glasgow including the field diaries of Bernard Fagg and AJH Goodwin, this talk will tell the tumultuous story of the 1953 field season at Ile-Ife, explore the nature of late colonial archaeology in Nigeria at a time when Nigerian independence was looming, and ponder what may be learned from the mistakes of Western archaeologists during this period when approaching discussions relating to the decolonisation of archaeology as a discipline.
Cite this Record
Archaeology and the End of Empire in Nigeria: Learning from the History of Late Colonial Archaeology at Ile-Ife. Tomos Evans. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452016)
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min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;
Abstract Id(s): 24724