My project investigates the development of the historically-significant city of Ilorin, Nigeria, before the 19th century through its associated material culture. It seeks to outline regional social and political developments in the period between the 17th and 19th centuries, including the events that took place in the prelude to the fall of the old Oyo Empire in the 19th century.
The study will take place in the Okesuna area of Ilorin, one of the early settlements of the area. It is of particular significance because of the evidence for herringbone potsherd pavements, pottery of various sizes and decorative styles, bone scatters, iron tools, and grinding hollows. This material will be compared to that from neighbouring areas such as Ile-Ife, Esie, Igbaja, Old Oyo and Benin This study will also summarise current knowledge on the history and archaeology of the Okesuna area by considering oral, written and ethnographic sources.
This work contributes to existing discussions on the trajectory of social complexity, particularly as it relates to urbanisation, in African archaeology. There are still vast gaps in our understanding of the deep-time history of urbanisation in West Africa and in particular Nigeria, despite advances in this area of study. In addition, the historiography of Ilorin shows that archaeology and ethnography have been underutilised as sources for its history, especially as compared with the information provided on their much better studied neighbours such as Oyo, Ife, or Benin.