Colonial Modernity, Rituals and Feasting in Odùduwà Grove, Ilé-Ifẹ̀ (Nigeria)

in Journal of African Archaeology
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Abstract

Sacred groves are ubiquitous on the cultural landscape of Ilé-Ifẹ̀ and they have been the site of most archaeological research in the ancient Yoruba city. But these studies have been driven by the view that sacred groves were places of static ritual traditions. Recovering the paraphernalia of those rituals, especially the exquisite sculptures, therefore preoccupied the pioneering archaeological research in Ilé-Ifẹ̀. In contrast, the historical trajectories that defined the evolution and transformation of these groves as dynamic cultural sites have not been undertaken. We make the case in this article that sacred groves are dynamic and meaningful sites for historical negotiation. With this perspective, we conducted archaeological study of Odùduwà Grove in Ile-Ife with the goal to understand the broad sociocultural processes that have shaped the cultural landscape of the grove across different registers of time. The archaeological evidence in Odùduwà Grove dates back to at least the fourteenth century. We focus this article on the evolution of the grove during the twentieth century with emphasis on the materiality of colonial and postcolonial modernity and its implications for rituals of royal coronation, sacrificial rites, and feasting.

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