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Archaeo-Geophysical Investigation of Ife City Grand Resort Iron Smelting Site at Ile-Ife, Southwest Nigeria

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Geology, Obafemi Awolowo University, P.M.B. 13, Ile-Ife, Osun State, 220282, Nigeria
  • | 2 Natural History Museum, Obafemi Awolowo University, P.M.B. 13, Ile-Ife, Osun State, 220282, Nigeria
  • | 3 Department of Geosciences, Mountain Top University, Mowe, Ogun State, Nigeria
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Abstract

Ile-Ife in southwestern Nigeria is rich in art and craft traditions, most especially iron smelting. The town hosts hundreds of smelting sites with little or no archaeological record. Archaeo-geophysical prospection of a suspected smelting site in Ile-Ife involved the magnetic and electrical resistivity geophysical methods and archaeological excavation with the aim to identify its buried artefacts/features and date the site. The geophysical investigations located a circular/oval-shaped dipolar magnetic anomaly that coincided with a high resistivity zone, typical of a heat-impacted furnace or a slag trench. Iron slag, tuyere, fired clay furnace fragments, and charcoal were recovered from the pits excavated at the locations of the geophysical anomalies. Smelting activity at the site, from dated charcoal, took place at some point between the 13th-15th centuries AD, a middle to late age in Africa’s history of iron smelting. This study, therefore, validated the examined site as an ancient iron smelting site and situated its place in the archaeological history of iron smelting.

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