Ife, which flourished between the 11th and 15th centuries, emerged as a major power in the forested areas west of the Niger and south of Hausaland. Some of the characteristic features of Yoruba culture emerged during that time: a monarchical system based on city-states and nucleated villages; a pantheon of gods, a few of which were recognized widely but with several local variations; and divination centred on the deity Ifa, with its corpus of sacred chants. Ife is best known for its potsherd pavements and for the great artistry of its terra-cottas and bronzes, especially the naturalism of many of its bronze figures.
Oyo , founded in the 14th century and located in the savanna to the north of the forest, gradually supplanted the older kingdom of Ife. After more than a century of struggle with nearby Borgu and Nupe, it established itself strategically as the emporium for exchanging goods from the north—rock salt, copper, textiles, leather goods, and horses—with products from the south—kola nuts, indigo, parrots, and cowries.
By the 17th century it had built up a cavalry force with which it dominated people in western Yorubaland and in the dry gap to the coast; to the south, infestations of tsetse flies prevented kingdoms there from effectively utilizing horses. When the Portuguese arrived in the kingdom of Benin in the 15th century, they found a monarchy, dating back many centuries, with a complex structure of chiefs and palace officials presiding over a kingdom that was expanding in all directions. In time, Benin dominated not only the Edo-speaking peoples to the north and south but also the area eastward to the Niger and, along the coast, to Lagos which the Edo now claim to have founded and even into present-day Ghana.
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It also exerted considerable influence on eastern Yorubaland and maintained trading connections with Oyo. Benin art, which began to flourish in the 15th century, was characterized by naturalistic bronze sculptures and bronze door panels that covered the outside of the royal palace. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Load Previous Page.
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History Early Nigerian cultures The Nok culture Evidence of human occupation in Nigeria dates back thousands of years. Introduction There is one central problem that we must clear up before starting to talk about Nigerian history. Actually, what we know as Nigeria today only dates back to , when Great Britain grouped the northern and southern regions of Nigeria into a single colony.
But in this activity, we want to go much further into the past than because there were certainly people living in what came to be the colony and later country of Nigeria before that time. We will start with the early history of Nigeria, which will cover the time period up until the 12th century C. Then we will move on to talk about empires, states, and global trade from approximately the 12th to 19th centuries CE—up until the time when the British began colonizing Nigeria.
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We are saving the colonial period under British rule, and Nigeria after independence in for Activity Three. Africa with no country borders. Remember that political borders change all the time, so we must try to understand what political borders in Africa were like in the past. However, some archeological remains of human activity there date as far back as 12, BCE. These people are considered to be part of the Stone Age because they created and used tools made out of stone.
They were hunters and gatherers, who eventually made the transition to agricultural subsistence. Later, they also started using iron, copper, brass and bronze instead of stones to make tools. Nok Culture The earliest culture that we know about in Nigeria was in the iron age, and is called the Nok culture. As more artifacts were found, it was evident that Nok culture spread across an area of central Nigeria by miles. To see pictures of some of the Nok artifacts found, click on the following link:.
Not much is known about the first millennium CE in Nigeria. Hopefully with more research, historians and archaeologists will be able to piece together more information about the lives of people in Nigeria during this time period. But whatever was going on at this time, it was paving the way for a period that would follow of great empires and states, and extensive trade networks.
Pre-colonial Empires, States, and Global Trade From approximately the 12th century CE until the colonial period, the region that is now Nigeria was a collection of various empires, kingdoms, and states with elaborate networks of trade and complex political systems. This section highlights the most extensive and influential examples that rose and fell during this time period. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first complex societies in the forest regions of West Africa including southern Nigeria began to form even before the 12th century CE.
But not much is known about these early societies. However, it is evident that the people at Igbo-Ukwu were involved in well-organized trade networks. As we move into the 12th century to discuss other societies in this region, it will become evident that extensive trade is central to their existence. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it.
See our disclaimer. This book is then a pioneer study of the broad changes Igbo political systems have undergone since the prehistoric period"-- Although the Igbo constitute one of the largest ethnic nationalities of Nigeria and the West African sub-region, little is known about their political history before the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
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Political Organization in Nigeria since the Late Stone Age
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