Archaeological and Linguistic Overviews of Yoruba History.

  • Author: Akinwumi Ogundiran
  • Topic: 2000 to 10,000 BP,500 to 1000 BP,Environmental archaeology,Ethno-archaeology
  • Country: Benin, Niger, Togo
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

Archaeological investigations in Yorubaland during the past 60-plus years have involved intimate conversations with oral traditions and historical ethnographies. Efforts are only just beginning to involve systematic historical linguistics in dialogic relationship with the archaeology of the Yoruba past. This presentation is in two parts. The first section will provide a synthesis of the archaeological findings to address cultural historical concerns, especially the routes of temporal and spatial convergences and differences in symbolic, stylistic and material inventories from about the last millennium BC to ca. 1800 AD. The overlapping processes of regional interactions, sociopolitical networks, economic exchanges, and population movements will be inferred from these material inventories. The second part takes off from where the first part stops to showcase the recent Yoruba language classification work undertaken by the two presenters. The paper lays out two alternative possible histories of early Yoruba dispersion, with the supportive evidence. It concludes that the currently available archaeology is ambiguous as to which linguistic history is the better fit, but that fact in itself can be used to highlight a range of salient gaps and issues in Yoruba archaeology which particularly need to be addressed.

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