UNIVERSITY OF MAIDUGURI
CENTRE FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
HIS 105: ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE NIGERIAN REGION UNIT: 3
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P R E F A C E
This study unit has been prepared for learners so that they can do most of the study on their own. The structure of the study unit is different from that of conventional textbooks. The course writers have made efforts to make the study material rich enough but learners need to do some extra reading for further enrichment of the knowledge required.
The learners are expected to make best use of library facilities and where feasible, use the Internet. References are provided to guide the selection of reading materials required.
The University expresses its profound gratitude to our course writers and editors for making this possible. Their efforts will no doubt help in improving access to University education.
Professor J. D. Amin
HOW TO STUDY THE UNIT
You are welcome to this study Unit. The unit is arranged to simplify your study. In each topic of the unit, we have introduction, objectives, in-text, summary and self-assessment exercise.
The study unit should take 6-8 hours to complete. Tutors will be available at designated contact centers for tutorials. The center expects you to plan your work well. Should you wish to read further you could supplement the study with more information from the list of references and suggested readings available in the study unit.
1. Self-Assessment Exercises (SAES)
This is provided at the end of each topic. The exercise can help you to assess whether or not you have actually studied and understood the topic. Solutions to the exercises are provided at the end of the study unit for you to assess yourself.
2. Tutor-Marked Assignment (TMA)
This is provided at the end of the study Unit. It is a form of examination type questions for you to answer and send to the center. You are expected to work on your own in responding to the assignments. The TMA forms part of your continuous assessment (C.A.) scores, which will be marked and returned to you. In addition, you will also write an end of Semester Examination, which will be added to your TMA scores.
Finally, the center wishes you success as you go through the different units of your study.
INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE
For the students of archaeology to have a proper grasp of the prehistory of the Nigerian region, an in-depth study will have to be undertaking on the Stone Age culture, the metal age and the beginning of agriculture i.e. the domestication of plants and animals. This led to the beginning of urban centres – chapter one identified the various periodozation in prehistory, chapter two highlights the direct and indirect evidence plants and animals. Chapter three delineated the three schools of thoughts as regard the origin of African iron working. Chapter four portrays the urbanization as a consequence to some of the earlier developments in prehistory. Chapter five to nine is a specific study of some prominent prehistoric sites in Nigeria.
HIS 105: ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE NIGERIAN REGION UNITS: 3
T A B L E O F C O N T E N TS
PREFACE - - - - - - - iii
HOW TO STUDY THE UNIT - - - - - iv
INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE - - 1
THE PALAEOLITHIC PERIOD - - - - 3
AGRICULTURAL BEGINNING - - - - 8
IRON AGE - - - - - - - - 13
URBANISATION - - - - - - 20
NOK CULTURE IN PRE-HISTORY - - - 25
IGBO-UKWU CULTURE IN PRE-HISTORY - - 29
BENIN CULTURE IN PRE-HISTORY - - - 33
IFE CULTURE IN PRE-HISTORY - - - - 37
ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE CHAD BASIN - - - 40
SOLUTION TO EXERCISES
T O P I C 1:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOPIC: THE PALAEOLITHIC PERIOD - - - 3
1.1 INTRODUCTION - - - - - - - 4
1.2 OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 4
1.3 IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 4
1.3.1 THE PALAEOLITHIC PERIOD - - 4
1.4 SUMMARY - - - - - - - 7
1.5 SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - 7
1.6 REFERENCES - - - - - - - 7
1.7 SUGGESTED READING - - - - - 7
1.0 TOPIC: THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD
This is the study of selected sites within the Nigerian region where adequate archaeological data are available to give experience in interpretation of Archaeological site reports, spectacular sites worth examining include Nok, Igbo-Ukwu, Benin, Ife and the Chad Basin. As a preamble, an in-depth study of the various prehistoric epochs are considered, such as the Paleolithic; Neolithic; Agricultural beginning; Iron Age and Urbanisation.
At the end of this topic, you should be able to:
i. Arrive at a harmonized or integrated picture of the prehistory, proto-history and history of the Nigerian Region through a study of the archaeological work undertaken to date.
ii. Outline the aims, methods and achievements
iii. Throw into focus the main problems to which future workers would address themselves
iv. Discuss the questions of archaeology and prehistory in the educational systems (Museums teaching programmes etc).
Discuss the study of urban sites and human settlements with an orientation towards historical reconstruction
Deal with the problems of applying archaeological method to historical questions.
1.3.1 THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD
This is the period when man emerged about 2 ½ to 3 million years ago and lasted through most of the Pleistocene ice age (8300 BC). The oldest form of man had evolved by the early Pleistocene (Australopithecus). The Palaeolithic period is divided into three phases based on the development of man’s economy and the manufacture and use of tools. The three periods are as follows:
Early Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
Late Stone Age
220.127.116.11 EARLY STONE AGE
Most tools during this period were made up of bones, wood and stones. Bones and wood are easily perishable materials, while stone tools can survive all the harshes of weather. The earliest stone tools consisted of pebbles which had a crude chopping and cutting edges, known as the oldowan type tools after Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Such tools are found in most grasslands in Africa. Evidence of oldowan type tools has been found in Bali on River Taraba.
The Early Stone Age is divided into three phases as follows:
Acheulean Industrial Tradition
The Oldowan: It is named after a type site of Olduvai gorge in Tanzania. The characteristics tool of the oldowan is the “pebble tool”, a hammer stone and a scraper. Homo Habilis and Australopithecus were the makers of this culture. The culture may have lasted from 2 million years to 500,000.
The Acheulian: It is named after a type site in Northern France, St. Acheul. The Characteristic tool is the handaxe, a cleaver and round stone balls. A number of Acheulian sites have been found in Nigeria around the Jos Plateau such as Mai Idon Toro and Nok. The culture must have started from 500,000 years ago with a terminal date of 55,000. Homo Erectus was the maker of this culture.
The Sangoan: It is named after a type site of Sango Bay on Lake Victoria. This culture has been questioned by Bassey Wai Ogosu. Bassey Wai Ogosu doubts whether there was a true Sangoan culture in the whole of West Africa. The culture is characterised by a heavier and cruder tools, typical is the pick. In Nigeria, the likely areas with evidence of the Sangoan culture is the old gravels around Jebba, Abuja, Keffi and Nassarawa areas to the south of the Jos plateau, along the Sokoto River, and Ibadan-Abeokuta Road. Homo Sapiens were probably the makers of this culture. The culture spans from 55,000 and 40,000 years ago. The Sangoan industrial complex adapts more to a wooded area than the open savannah.
18.104.22.168 THE MIDDLE STONE AGE
This term evolved in Southern Africa where it was used to describe a group of industrial complexes with a span 35,000 - 12,000 BC. The industries here were located in wooded areas surrounding the equatorial forests. The characteristics of the tool is the point (Lanceolate) were hafted and used as spears. Other tools include core axes and chisels. The type-sites in Nigeria include Afikpo in Eastern Nigeria, and Jos Plateau. The maker of this culture was probably Homo sapien.
22.214.171.124 THE LATE STONE AGE
This period was remarkable for the production of tiny tools called “microliths,” usually slotted into arrow shafts to form points and barbs. Typical sites are Mejiro Cave, near old Oyo, Rock Shelter on the Jos Plateau, Iwo Eleru near Akure, Ukpa Rock shelter near Afikpo. In the North East region of Nigeria, the example of the Late Stone Age sites include Kursakata, Daima, Mege and Ndufu. The Late Stone Age population of the areas mentioned above were cattle keepers and growers of sorghum (guinea corn). They had pottery and they sourced their stones from areas afar for production of ground stone axes and grinding stones for food production. They were engaged in the produclton of small fired clay models of animals and sometimes human beings depicting prehistoric arts. They buried their dead in crouched position closed to the settlement. This civilisation has an antiquity of 3000 years.
It highlighted the various phases of the Stone Age and the makers of the various cultures with the span of their antiquity.
1. Identify the various industrial complexes of the Palaeolithic period.
Balfour, H. (1934) Occurrence of Cleavers of Lower Palaeolithic in Northern Nigeria. Man. 25
Clark, J. D. (1982) Cultures of the Middle Palaeolithic/middle Stone Age. The Cambridge History of Africa Vol. I.
Jemkur, J. F. (188). The prehistory of Northern Nigeria Studies, in Nigerian Culture I. Zaria. Gaskiya Press.
Ogosui-wai, B. W. (1973) was there a sangoan Industry in West Africa. West African Journal of Archaeology 3:191-96.
Ozanne, P. (1964) Stone Axes. West African Archaeological Newsletter 1.
1.7 SUGGESTED READING
Rosenfeld, A. (1972) The Microlithic Industries of Rop Rock Shelter. West African Journal of Archaeology 2:17-28.
Shaw, T. (1978) Nigeria: its Archaeology and Early History, London: Thames and Hudson.
Soper, R. (1965) The Stone Age in Northern Nigeria. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3(2): 1975-94.
T O P I C 2:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOPIC: THE AGRICULTURAL BEGINNINGS - 8
2.1 INTRODUCTION - - - - - - - 9
2.2 OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 9
2.3 IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 9
2.3.1 THE AGRICULTURAL BEGINNINGS - 9
2.3.2 ANIMAL SOURCES OF FOOD - - 11
2.4 SUMMARY - - - - - - - 12
2.5 SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - 12
2.6 REFERENCES - - - - - - - 12
2.7 SUGGESTED READING - - - - - 12
2.0 TOPIC: AGRICULTURAL BEGINNING
This course examines the history of beginning of agriculture and the evidence available both for plants and animals which manifests themselves in archaeological record.
At the end of this topic, you should be able to:
Identify the various evidence for both plants and animals.
Identify some of the African cereals which are indigenous to Africa.
Many theories and speculations abound for the beginning and development of Agriculture in Africa. The lack of evidence in Africa about agricultural origins compared with other parts of the world resulted into a number of theoretical models. The concept of “Neolithic revolution” was introduced by Gordon Childe in terms of simple diffusion by movement of people and agricultural products. Some scholars are of the opinion that agriculture evolved once at a specific location and diffused to other areas; while some see agriculture evolving in different locations probably at the same time or at different times. Whatever the views expressed by the various school of thoughts, the change from dependence on hunting, fishing and gathering wild fruits/plants to crop raising and cattle rearing is a very significant revolution ever achieved by man in the last ten thousand years. Agricultural beginning radically changed man’s capacity in controlling his environment. It made sedentary life possible, and also the storage of food, the accumulation of wealth which led to the division of labour and social stratification. In considering the beginning and development of food production and domestication of animals, we have to consider the types of evidence available.
The Evidence: The different kinds of evidence both for food production and the domestication of animals are as follows:
Direct archaeological evidence: are the remains of domesticated plants and animals in context.
Indirect archaeological evidence: are all materials discovered in archaeological context that suggests the presence of plants and animals eg. rock paintings and terracotta representation.
Evidence provided by botanical, stocks breeding ethnographic and linguistic studies.
126.96.36.199 DIRECT BOTANICAL EVIDENCE
Direct archaeological evidence for food of botanical origin includes the finding in datable context of actual remains of seed, fruit, root or tree crops, their pollen or impressions of them on pottery. These products are sometimes by accident preserved as a result of aridity, water logging, or they are preserved in human or animal coprolites. There is little direct evidence for the early cultivation of crops in Africa. Egypt and the Sahara recorded direct evidence for the cultivation of crops from 6000BC to 4000 of Pennisetum (pearl) millet, bulrush (millet) and Triticum (wheat). In Nigeria, direct evidence of sorghum bicolor was obtained at Daima (N.E. Nigeria) from 9/10 century A.D. The carbonised grains at Daima represent the oldest guinea corn yet found in West Africa. Charred remains of domesticated pennisetum grains was found in Kursakata.
188.8.131.52 INDIRECT BOTANICAL EVIDENCE
Indirect botanical evidence could be inferred from the presence of certain technological traits such as pottery and ground stone axes. The presence of grinding stones and quern fragments have been taken as demonstrating the practice of agriculture in some parts of Africa. In Nigeria, examples of indirect evidence of a teeth of the skeleton from Rop Rock shelter is said to be of an agriculturalist. The Kotoko, living south of Lake Chad, regard Pennisetum as their oldest kind of food grain. It is also assumed that the first known iron-users in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nok people, were agriculturists because of the presence of two terracotta, which represent fluted pumpkins.
Yam cultivation may be ancient in West Africa. It has been suggested that the Sangoan Pick may have been a tool for grubbing up wild species, from which practice natural vegetative reproduction localised around living places, might have resulted. It is typical of yam to regenerate after the removal of the tuber if too much damage is not done to the vine and roots. Thus ancient hunter-gatherers would have accustomed to the idea of returning to the same spot for a source of food. In support for early domestication of yam. Coursey (1967), points to the prohibition in certain areas of the use of iron tools for digging of yams in new yam festivals, which strongly suggests that yam cultivation antedates the commencement of iron age. Posnansky (1969) suggested that the West African Yam began between 2500 and 1500BC.
Some of the African cereals (Crops) which are indigenous to Africa are: Sorghum, Pearl Millet, finger millet, African rice and fonio (Hungry rice).
2.3.2 ANIMAL SOURCES OF FOOD
Direct evidence of animal husbandry is often preserved in Archaeological record in the form of bones of domesticated animals or wild cattle.
184.108.40.206 DIRECT EVIDENCE
Gajiganna, a site in Borno proved to have evidence of flocks mainly of cattle and goats Gajiganna is one of the earliest sites with domesticated animals in West Africa, south of the Sahara. Excavation at the Rop rock shelter in Northern Nigeria have yielded a single equid tooth dated to over 2000bp. At Kariya Wuro, a rock shelter near Bauchi four equid teeth were found having the some age with that of Rop.
220.127.116.11 INDIRECT EVIDENCE
This is demonstrated in the form of rock arts (Paintings and engravings) or in the form of terracotta, or undatable skeletons. Rock paintings of cattle at Birnin Kudu depicted long and short horned humpless cattle not dated.
In Borno, at Gajiganna, animal figurines mostly incomplete figures represented cattle. The small clay figurines of Gajiganna represent the oldest prehistoric art of Borno, with an antiquity of between 2700 and 3100bp.
It defined the concept of Neolithic revolution and the achievement man had made in the last ten thousand years. It portrayed the various evidences for both plants and animals.
2.5 SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
1. What are the direct and indirect evidences of the beginning of Agriculture in West Africa?
Harlan, JH. R. de wet J. M. J. and Stemler, A. (1976) (eds) Origins of African Plant Domestication
Morgan, W. B. (1962) The Forest and Agriculture in West Africa. Journal of African History 3(2): 235-39.
Porteres, R. (1976) African Cereals. In Harlan et al. Origins of African Plant Domestication. The Hague.
2.7 SUGGESTED READING
Porteres, R. and Barrare, J. (1981) Origins, Development and Expansion of Agricultural Technique, In. J. K Zerbo (ed) UNESCO General History of Africa. Vol. I Heinemann.
Posnansky, M. (1969) Yams and the Origins of West African Agriculture, ODU 1: 101-7.
Davies, O. (1968) The Origins of Agriculture in West Africa. Current Anthropology 9:479-82
T O P I C 3:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOPIC: THE IRON AGE 13
3.1 INTRODUCTION- - 14
3.2 OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 14
3.3 IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 14
3.3.1 THE IRON AGE - - - - - 14
3.3.2 EARLY METAL USING COMMUNITIES- 15
3.3.3 METHODS OF COPPER WORKING - 16
3.3.4 METHODS OF IRON WORKING - - 17
3.3.5 SOCIO-POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
SIGNIFICANCE OF METAL WORKING - 17
3.3.6 DECLINE OF IRON SMELTING IN AFRICA 18
3.4 SUMMARY - - - - - - - 18
3.5 SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - 18
3.6 REFERENCES - - - - - - - 18
3.7 SUGGESTED READING - - - - - 19
3.0 TOPIC: THE IRON AGE
This course introduces the student to one of the epochs in prehistory which man had attained which led to successful agriculture and urbanization.
At the end of this topic, you should be able to:
The early metal using communities of West Africa.
Determine the significance of iron working.
THE IRON AGE
The Stone Age is carefully, delineated from the iron age because the appearance of iron in their assemblages of artefacts makes an obvious change in technology. As the knowledge of iron smelting became more widespread and iron cheaper, it had an effect in a greater capacity for bush and forest clearing for agriculture.
Presently there are three schools of thought as regards the origin of African iron working as follows:
This issue is debated by scholars like Andah (1979) and Phillipson (1985:148-186). To a certain extent both entertained the idea of independent development of African Iron working. They observed that more rigorous work still needs to be done. For this reason, Andah recorded that not enough is yet known about who? When? with whom iron working began in West Africa? For one to assert positively that the knowledge of the process was transmitted from outside, Phillipson (1985) on his part notes, that the first point is that the knowledge of iron working can no longer be assumed to have been brought to West Africa from the North.
Today because of the providence of TL dating more has been known about the origins of iron working in most parts of Africa.
3.3.2 EARLY METAL USING COMMUNITIES
Excavation of Rop Rock shelter on the Jos Plateau indicates that there was a continuity of occupation from Late Stone Age to early Iron Age. Daima is the only site where there is a clearly established continuity of occupation from Late Stone Age to Early Iron Age. The first appearance of Iron at Daima is now placed between 5th or 6th Centuries AD. During this period the use of stone and bone tools seemed to have died out. The Iron using communities were agriculturalists as evidenced by the presence of carbonized sorghum. Making of clay figurines of cows and the construction of a near permanent habitation of huts of mud was their preoccupation. They also used objects of adornment like bronze ornaments, stone lip plugs, and beads.
One of the Earliest Iron Age culture yet known in West Africa is that of the Nok valley located to the west of Jos Plateau. It extended as far south as Katsina Ala, Ankiring and Kagara. It was characterised by terracotta figurines mostly heads of human beings - the classic example being the Jema’a head. Other Nok artefacts include iron axe blades, tin beads, pieces of iron smelting furnaces, iron slag and tuyeres.