African Legacy - School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University


These items have been culled from various studies to illustrate various ways in which recent or contemporary practices can assist in a more complete understanding of the archaeological record.  In many cases, these examples have fallen between disciplines: ethnographers have tended to concentrate on rituals and beliefs and ignore features and everyday practices, whilst archaeologists are left to work with only a fraction of the material data.
Yam Barn

More details about this yam barn


The Nsude pyramids in 1935.  These ten circular stepped pyramids were associated with the Uto deity and were made of mud.  Their reconstruction is needed.

Tobacco Pipes
These tobacco-pipes used a long hollow stick in one side whilst the pipe rested on the ground and the smoker squatted. Many of these pipes are worn along the bottom and have spittle drainage holes.  These pipes were found in a midden heap outside the town wall, not in a local domestic borrow-pit - an important distinction between town and village contexts.
Shrine Pots
SHRINE POTS under an oil-palm which reverted to a wild version with 16 heads when Old Owu was deserted between about 1826 and the 1930's. If ever found in archaeological contexts, such pots would be inexplicable, as the biological rationale for a shrine here would have disappeared. The local gin bottle on the left is used in libations - alcohol here as elsewhere provides a short-cut to the spirit world (hence 'spirits' to describe strong alcohol).

See Orile Owu for more details


Kano Goats

GOATS, supposedly the harbingers of environmental destruction, provide the key to environmental enhancement in the Kano close-settled zone - an extensive, densely populated area in the semi-arid zone of northern Nigeria. Tethered (above) during the rainy season when crops are growing, their dung is gathered to make taki (manure), which is then placed on the fields under permanent cultivation. Over the centuries, more people has resulted in more goats, more taki, better soils, higher crop yields and more trees - the last being mainly gawo (Faidherbia albida), as this provides browse for the goats when it leafs during the dry season. This is just one of many examples, which qualify many of the negative arguments about the population/environment interface.

See Kano walls for more details of this area

Water Pots & small boy
See Udo water storage for more details

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