The location of Igbomina in the middle belt of Nigeria and as a frontier Yoruba region opened it to the influence from powerful, competing states of Oyo, Nupe, Fulani, and Ibadan. The expansion of the Oyo Empire in the 16th century, which was accompanied by the large migration of Yoruba northward, led to frequent military aggression on the northern boundary with the Nupe. This paper examines military aggressions in the Igbomina area of north central Yorubaland. Military threat or warfare had initiated various responses in Igbomina, as evident in community aggregation, building of fortifications, production of weapons, and settlement abandonment. The high level of military aggression in Igbomina had also acted as an instrument of socio-political changes in the area as seen in increased centralized control and hierarchy. Oral-historical sources, archaeological survey and excavation form the core of this examination of military aggression in Igbomina.
The 15th – 17th century AD was a period of sociopolitical changes throughout Yorubaland. A critical review of the traditional histories and the results of recent archaeological research in Igbomina reveal that these changes were not restricted to the central Yoruba areas but also manifested in the Yoruba periphery. Ila has been described as a major regional polity in northern Yoruba, whose early development may have followed a similar trajectory as the Old Oyo state. This paper is a report of our recent archaeological survey, excavation, and finds at Ila-Iyara, the major Ila political center occupied between the 14th and 17th centuries. Ila-Iyara exhibits evidence of large elite center, fortifications, sacred sites, iron working, and ceramic types similar to those found at Oyo, Ife, and Benin. The archaeological work in Ila-Iyara also provides further insight into the processes of socio-political development, the dynamics of changes, and the different web of interactions on the Yoruba northern frontier prior to the 18th century.