Name; Oderinlo olamide olutosin

Report of field work carried out at the Banmeke site University of Ibadan extension site Nigeria.

June 2010.

Archaeological Field report 2010.

Introduction

An archaeological investigation of any site demands a lot of investigative work on the part of the archaeologist who must be able and willing to study the environment and notice little abnormalities or differences in the environment that the lay man will not necessarily pay attention to. This is important as it is what makes the archaeologist work stand out to be appreciated by members of the community. The archaeologist must also be willing and able to interact with the members of the community, as this interaction; gives the people a sense of belonging and provides the archaeologist with the necessary information about his site and the world view of the people studied.

The report given here is that of the archaeological field work carried out at the University of Ibadan, on the new extension site where new roads are being constructed and new buildings intended to take shape. This invariably that archaeological work is done in the area. The University of Ibadan is located in some 6 kilometres to the north of Ibadan, a city in Oyo state, being the state’s capital, at latitude 7º26’ north and latitude 3º54’’ east and at a mean altitude of 277 meters above sea level. An area which has its annual rain fall at approximately 1220 mm (48’’) this mostly falls within April and October, while November to march is the dry season.

Archaeological investigation on the university premises dates back to as far back as 1981, with sites like the physics experimental site, the teaching and research farm, the international school Ibadan, Etc. investigated.

The major aim of the investigation is to set in line with the recent nature of the site, there is the intention to explore the inter face between the archaeological past and the ethnographic present.

On the acquisition of the UI landscape, old communities had to relocate and abandoned their old settlements to settle in new places within Oyo and Ogun state. Only the Ajibode community was left in existence. Later communities around Ajibode were acquired, and it is on one of such new acquisitions that this field work was carried out on.

There are several abandoned settlement around Ajibode area, some of which are; Alagogo,Onigbodogi,Baabani, Adamu, Oloola, Ori Okuta, Aba Banmeke, etc.

The site where the field work was carried out is known as the Aba Banmeke site, located on one of the roads being constructed. This is one of the five new road networks to be constructed on the universities extension site.

This site is also located within a short distance to the main river in the area, the Ona River. This was the river that had to be crossed to get to the site. Several works have been carried out in this site and an early Stone Age site is believed to exist around this area. This field work took place within the period of two weeks, starting from the 31st of May to the 11th of June, 2010.

Chapter one

Community archaeology and its impact on what archaeologist do.

What is community archaeology?

Community archaeology is that type of archaeological practise that aims at preserving and conserving the values and social history of any community through their full participation.

Community archaeology becomes important especially in societies undergoing drastic social / cultural change. It helps document the stages of transition and at the same time, it may keep the record of the forma state of such a society.

At the University of Ibadan, such a transition was experienced by the communities that once occupied the landscape, where some of them had to relocate to places both within the university premises and outside the university to other parts of Oyo and Ogun state.

They did not only leave the university they once occupied, but they left behind part of their cultures and social history via the cultural remains they left. With this the archaeologists have been able to reconstruct part of the formal ways of life in the area.

Archaeologist work during construction activities so as to be able to identify, if there be need to carry out any conservative work on any part of the landscape undergoing construction (i.e. salvage excavation) to this end during the construction of roads at the UI extension site, staffs at the department of archaeology were at the alert and this led to many fruitful work carried out in the past, e.g. Aremu’s discovery of human remains and clothing buried under a heap at the UI extension site ,which later pointed out the fact that that burial was an improper one as the briefs of the buried woman was seen with her. Also surveys carried out from 1982 to 1984 had thrown more light on the life ways of the pre-varsity community and identified over nineteen of such settlements within the university premise and which today is still very much relevant as reference points in Ibadan, Oyo state and indeed Nigeria. Aremu (2010 pers. com.). At this point it becomes necessary to note, that the government in Nigeria know the importance of what archaeologists and other environmentalists do, but the problem is that the present government lack the proper understanding of the importance of their activities and the populace itself is yet to understand the costs and benefits of the archaeological practice.

Case in point; according to Oyelaran (2010 pers. com.) the decree 22 of the 1968 constitution under the Babangida administration in the 1980s hold that before any construction work is done in an area, an EIS (environmental impact statement) must be submitted to the federal government so as not to destroy any cultural material and to protect the environment.

To tender an EIA (environmental impact assessment) the work of the archaeologist, geologist, urban and regional planner and some other environmental scientists are required and important. But it is disheartening to discover that such a law or decree lacks the necessary agencies of enforcement. There is the problem of who to enforce this laws and exact punishments on the defaulters.

He also stressed out the necessity of environmental archaeologists during construction activities; as such experts would identify the presence of cultural materials and carry out rescue excavation when it becomes necessary. Oyelaran. 2010. (pers.com).

Community participation in archaeology is important as it gives the members of the community a sense of understanding about their various communities. Members of the community are allowed to participate during archaeological work and what the archaeologist is doing is explained to them, this gives them a sense of understanding about their cultures and also that of importance and with this, they are more free in giving the information that is there possession having an understanding of the archaeologist intention. With this ethnography becomes easy for the archaeologist who only needs to pose questions in a well framed manner to obtain the necessary information.

The archaeologist and his implements

The archaeologist uses several implements especially when preparing a site for excavation or during reconnaissance.

The compass; the compass, either prismatic or ordinary is useful to the archaeologist in many ways. It can be used during navigation to locate the exact position of the north, south, east and west. This becomes helpful in identifying the north south base line during the gridding of a site.

The GPS; global positioning system is a tool useful in the process of navigating to and fro sites. It becomes very useful for recording site locations and it’s both useful on land and water. It calculates a grid reference for a position on earth from orbiting satellites.

The system operates on the map projection system as officially published maps i.e. topographic maps.

The GPS is based on the 24 orbiting satellites that are arching the earth at a distance of about 20000 kilometres above the earth. Each of these satellites has its own exact clock and it sends down information every time e.g. the Almanac data, giving exact time. The GPS because of its makeup is capable of locating and calculating the user’s exact position on earth through the waves it gets from the satellites, although it has an error margin of 2km to 5km depending on the type of GPS used and also humidity. However, whenever it is used the name and the type used should be indicated. There are two basic modes the German and the Megalin units.

The range pole; this is useful in establishing the primary and secondary base line, and also as a perpendicular bisector on any site during gridding together with the prismatic compass and the quick set.

The quick set; this is used to establish the hair line during gridding after the datum point has been established. It is also used alongside the staff to take readings of rise and fall on a site.

Other field are meter tapes, the plumb box, the cutlass for site clearing, the camera (either manual or digital) for proper documentation of field activities, rakes, hand trowels, etc.

It is important to note that good and proper documentation during any field activity will help in preserving the information about a site, and cause the archaeologist work to be positive and serve its conservative purpose. Otherwise archaeologists work may become destructive.

Chapter two

Reconnaissance and ethnography

Reconnaissance is the inspection or preliminary survey, carried out to obtain necessary information about a site. This is done to recognise, to know and be familiar with a site, this involves obtaining and documenting the physical characteristics of a site, in terms of topography, vegetation, identifying standing physical features and natural features present on any site.

Ajibode is a community situated north of the botanical garden of the University of Ibadan. The village starts from crossing the River Ona this is flanked by a refuse mound to the right and a stream like vegetation cover to the left. At the time of the field work the stream was turbulent taking with it everything on its part. While the motor able roads could not be crossed by vehicles as the level of the river had risen.

The Banmeke site is located in the U.I. new extension area, off the new tarred road which is also of the main Ajibode road. During reconnaissance, so many places were identified, what used to be a ditch had turned into a road. In the past a ditch was formed as a result of laterite movement by some construction company from Maniya in Ibadan, Oyo state.

However during road construction in the area, the bones of a female human were stumbled on accidentally, while a bulldozer was moving earth. What was found included skull and femur bones, and other parts of the human bones and some cloth materials with which the human bones were identified as belonging to a woman? All this were recovered from under a heap of sand and this was suspected as being an improper burial.

Vegetation

The vegetation of the area is a relatively thick one due to the fact that the archaeological field work was carried out during the rainy season. There are a lot of oil palm trees in the area (Elaeis guineensis) also mango trees (Magnifera indica), pawpaw (Karika papaya), bamboo trees, Iroko tree (Chlorophora excelsea), neem tree (Azardirachta indica), and food crops like cassava (Maniot esculenta), castor oil (Oro), and other shrubs and medicinal plants are available in the area.

The site is located in the rain forest belt, but human activities have reduced the population of trees in the area. There are a lot of rodents and pests in the area such as rabbits, snakes grass cutters, rats etc. And different types of ants, insects and mosquito, especially due to the dampness of the atmospheric condition.

There eleven roads under construction in the area, and also there are plans to build more departments in the area as part of the U.I extension project. There is also a bride under construction in the area across the Ona River; this will be used as link between the old and new university sites.

Datum or reference point

Ethnography of the Area

On the Banmeke site, there was a Neem tree on the portion cleared for excavation. The place to be excavated was identified as Aba Agbede, while the whole place was as the Alawode family house site. Here three houses were located .the area was presently used for farming by a woman, who identified herself as Mrs Wosilatu Alawode. There were three dilapidated mud wobbles identified in the area during site clearance. Also there were three graves identified.

The woman farming on the land planted some crops, she also extracted the seeds of the Oro tree (Strophanthus hispidus), while using the fruits fleshy part as fertilizer (this could also be eaten) the extracted seeds have a high economic value at the local markets. Medicinal plants like the Akintola leaf/plant was also identified on the site. This leaf was used to stop bleeding and used in treating wounds. During the field work, rocks were identified in the area, although some of them were being blasted as they fell on the portion where the road routes were supposed to feature. Through ethnographic information it was gathered that the former occupant of the building we were excavating was a blacksmith, some iron implements were seen on the site during the course of field work. Rusted iron roofing sheets were also found. Some farming implements and pieces of bottle were found also, some snail shells were found on a rock exposed close to a house wobble and some pot shards. From the ethnographic information obtained from an elderly woman Mrs Adeniran Adebayo, it was gathered that there were many other families settled in the area in the past.

Aho very close to the present Sasa area of Ibadan was the biggest settlement with about thirty houses; other sites include the Aba Banmeke, Ori Okuta, Aba Olola etc. Banmeke was populated by seven houses occupied by late Mrs Adebayo and five other of his brothers and their families.

The word Aba or Ahere refers to small settlements and they can be as few as two or three houses, usually built on farm lands, such as the Aba Olola. The women confirmed the nearness of the place to a source of water, a steam nearby. The people also used large hollows in rocks to store water during the rainy seasons. Most of the families that had lived on the site are now relocated in Ajibode, but some of them and a few strangers now farm on the former landscape, raising crops like cassava, maize, tending palm tree for palm oil and palm wine as the season will permit. Another woman interviewed, Mrs Adejare also said that she bought a land for farming in the area, that proper information about the area would be available at the town planning of in Oyo state secretariat.

  1. Some earthen vessels found on the Banmeke site
  2. Rock outcrop on the Banmeke site

Chapter Three

Actual field Expenditure: Gridding; Excavation and Inventory, with Remarks and Photographs.

The field expenditure took place over a period of two weeks, and a total of eleven days were spent. The field school was located in Ajibode. A reconnaissance of the whole was done (i.e. the university extension site). The site of Banmeke was worked on. The site was cleared gridded, and excavated from the 31st of May to the 11th of June, 2010.

At the Banmeke site several archaeological investigation were carried out, and several techniques were used in carrying them out. In this report some of such activities are mentioned. Some of the finds will also be discussed, while the whole inventory will be submitted alongside the report.

Summary of overall archaeological field expenditure

Gridding and Levelling

Gridding and levelling of the site started out on the fifth day of the commencement of the field work. The datum point was established on the most vivid spot where a rock was, which is also a permanent feature and the north south baseline was established. Before gridding the site clearing activities were carried out, the clearing of the site took several daysbecause the field work took place during the rainy season.

The site was overgrown with weed.

The prismatic compass was used to establish the north of the site, while the quick set was used to set the hair line. The range pole and metre tape were used at gridding the site at four metres (4m) interval each, a total of 24m was measured out on the north south baseline while, a total of 24m was also measured out on the east west line. Subsequently the grids were laid out while spot height readings were taking. The site was also extended further east as more features were exposed. The spot height reading obtained and the graph drawn will be submitted as part of the report.

Sport height reading and levelling

Station

Back sight

Intermediate sight

Fore sight

Rise

Fall

Actual height

Instrument station A 0N 12S

2.19

24S 8W

1.30

0.89

200.89

20S 8W

1.09

0.20

199.80

16S 8W

1.22

1.29

201.02

12S 8W

1.03

0.26

199.99

12S 12W

1.04

1.32

201.03

16S 12W

1.25

2.57

202.28

20S 12W

1.28

3.58

203.56

24S 12W

1.46

5.31

205.02

28S 12W

1.34

3.97

203.68

28S 16W

1.47

5.44

205.15

24S 16W

1.28

4.16

203.87

20S16W

1.32

5.48

205.19

16S 16W

1.29

3.19

203.90

12S 16W

1.00

2.19

202.90

8S 16W

1.23

3.42

204.13

8S 12W

0.69

2.73

203.41

8S 8W

0.43

2.30

203.41

8S 4W

0.46

2.76

203.47

4S 4W

0.46

3.22

203.94

4S 8W

0.17

3.15

203.76

4S 12W

0.67

3.82

204.43

4S 16W

1.04

4.86

205.47

0S 16W

0.76

4.10

204.71

0S 12W

0.78

4.88

205.49

0S 4W

0.26

4.62

205.23

4N 4W

0.22

4.40

205.01

Instrument station B. 4N 16W

0.56

4.96

205.57

0S 8W

1.54

6.50

207.11

4N8W

1.35

5.15

205.26

ON 0S (Datum)

O.44

4.71

205.32

0N 4S

0.01

4.70

205.31

0N 8S

1.65

6.35

206.96

8S 4E

0.85

5.50

206.11

4S 4E

1.19

6.69

207.30

0S 4E

0.81

5.88

206.49

0S 8E

0.90

6.78

207.39

4S 8E

1.13

7.91

208.52

8S 8E

0.65

7.26

207.87

Station

Back sight

Intermediate sight

Fore sight

Rise

Fall

Actual height

12S 8E

0.43

6.83

207.44

12S 4E

0.63

7.46

208.07

16S 4E

0.85

8.31

208.92

16S 8E

0.91

9.22

209.83

20S 8E

1.18

10.40

211.01

20S 4E

1.09

9.31

209.92

24S 4E

1.31

10.62

211.23

28S 4E

1.13

9.49

210.10

0N 28S

1.36

10.84

211.46

0N 24S

1.54

12.39

213.00

0N 20S

1.35

11.04

211.65

0N 16S

1.42

12.46

213.07

12S 4W

1.15

11.31

211.92

16S 4W

1.25

12.56

213.17

20S 4W

0.82

11.74

212.35

24S 4W

1.41

13.15

213.76

28S 4W

1.66

14.81

215.42

28S 8W

1.54

13.27

213.88

Inventory of finds Surface finds

At the site, there were a lot of features and materials on the surface. There was glass fragments, cowries, snail shells, coins and pot shards, there were also features such as graves and building wobbles, a Neem tree and some fruit trees which were exposed during the clearing of the site. Also rock outcrops were exposed and one of such was used as datum. At the excavated spot five spit levels were excavated at 10cm intervals the table below is an inventory of subsurface finds and the other shows surface features.

Table1 subsurface finds

Spit level

cowries

plastic

Palm kernel

metal

Decaying wood

Rim shards

battery

charcoal

glass

Body shards

Snail shells

rubber

0-10 cm

4

1

2

1

2

11-20 cm

1

5

1

1

1

5

21- 30 cm

1

1

31- 40 cm

1

2

1

5

1

2

41-50 cm

_

_


_

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

_

Grave1, grave 2,

And Grave 3 at the Banmeke site

Table 2 surface features

Location

feature

Length

Width

Between 8w4n and 0s4w

Grave 1

2.15m

0.18m

Between 16s12w and 16s8w

Grave2

2.69m

1.56m

Between 20s16w and 20s12w

Grave 3

2.92m

1.45m

Between 4s12w and 4s0n

Excavated building

13.23m

11.3m

rooms

3m

3m

Stratigraphic information and analysis

Stratigraphic documentation is important in any field excavation embarked on. Archaeological stratigraphy is the study of stratification; this is the physical deposit and any other Stratigraphic event, such as spits and post holes by which a site is composed through time. Stratification is an unintentional result of human behaviour and thus an unbiased record of past activities. It is only through the study of archaeological stratification by excavation, recording and analysis of strata features, and portable artefacts; that the history of any society without written record can be recovered.

At the Banmeke site, five levels were excavated from 0-50cm. The aim of the excavation was to determine the cultural materials and floor level of the house. The southern portion of the Agbede room was used as reference point for the excavation. The top soil was a loamy; this was scraped to expose a damp reddish soil. Below this damp reddish soil continued to appear until about 40cm below the reference point and close to the floor of the house which was exposed at about 50cm below datum. There was a high proportion of rubble of cement fragments from about 20cm to 40cm. The need for the use of mattock arose at this level to break down the compact soil. The lowest level contained lot rubble intermingled with roots and rootless. The cement floor of the house was cracked probably as a result of tree root movement. The lowest layer was sterile of cultural materials.

Analysis

Three basic strata could be identified:

- The first which comprises of loamy soil with some cultural material;

- The second is the strata containing the reddish damp soil with cultural materials and a high concentration of rubbles; and

- The third stratum which was sterile save for roots, rootless and wall rubbles which exposed the cracked cement floor of the house.

The above can be explained as a single occupational phase, which is that of the occupants of the agbede house at aba Banmeke. This occupational phase is represented between 10-40cm, while the upper part from 0-10cm represent the layer that accumulated with the passage of time and the accumulation of soil via farming activities. The lowest layer indicates the beginning of the occupation of the house. More field research in the area will sure throw more light on the length and depth of occupation of the site. The stratification of the trench is an unintentional one, which only occurred after the site was abandoned during the collapse of the building and with the passage and vagaries of time.

Chapter four

Remarks and conclusion

The Banmeke site is relatively young site that was abandoned some few years back. The site and its environment are now farmed by women who grew basic food crops; the vegetation is that of a derived savannah, with not many standing trees but a large population of shrubs and herbs. The aba Banmeke had graves on it the first from the datum to the west had no dates on it and was smaller in size than the other two which carried a date not later than 1946. Grave two carried a date of 5/10/1969 grave three carried the date10/1969, 14/4/1946.

There were signs of three buildings made visible with site clearing and indicated by collapsed wall posts. The excavation took place in one of such exposed buildings. There were some large pots located west on the site, there also litres of iron objects which indicates that the site was some peoples home stead as identified by ethnographic information. The extent of the rooms, are a little smaller than the normal room size of today based on the location of the wobble one will realise that the buildings were built close to each other as a sought of unity or peaceful co-existent may have obtained in the past. The Neem tree which is highly medicinal, also provides a shade and crucial meetings may have been held under it as well as recreation activities.

The Banmeke site reflects the way little settlements operated in this area in the past with a cluster of mall families (brothers) living together and interacting, this may also suggest a collective essence, where the farming activities were embarked on collectively alongside wives and children. The presence of fruit trees such as Oro (Strophanthus hispidus), mango (Magnifera indica), and orange (Citrus spp)around the home stead indicates an appreciation of such trees as important sources of refreshment and thus their being planted and tended near the home. The people would have had a knowledge of the use of the Neem tree (Azardirachta indica) bas a medicinal plant this may suggest the reason behind the planting of the tree as it is not native to the west, it is a northern tree and is called dongoyaro (tall boy) in Hausa dialect. The neem trees alongside the baobab tree (OSE) are good indicators of past human settlements Darling (2008), and are usually indicators of human occupation of any site in the archaeological record. The baobab especially is diagnostic of past settlements in West Africa.

Limitation of the study

Some difficulties were experienced during the course of the field work, and this came about majorly as a result of the season of the field work which was during the wet season. The ground was moist and the vegetation was thick as a result clearing the site was more tedious than usual. The soil from the excavation pit was also moist and hard to sieve. There were also lots of insects which constituted a nuisance during field sessions. There was also a problem of choosing a datum point which lead to gridding and re-gridding of the site.

There was the lack of motor able roads to the site and thus rigor was faced going to site and sometimes equipments were conveyed manually from one site to another, and to the spot where vehicles had to stop, which was a bit distant from the site.

Remark

The fieldwork was tedious and experiential; tedious because it subjected us to a lot of stress and made some of us prone to mosquito bites and even malaria. And experiential because, a lot more about fieldwork: and the various problems that could be encountered, during any archaeological field work was learnt; and how to overcome such too. We also learnt why field work should not be carried out during the rainy periods except it becomes unavoidably necessary and the measures to be taken should such a situation arise.

Recommendations

Future fieldwork should come up during the dry season. Proper provision should be made as to the welfare of students and lecturers alike during field school; such as the provision of first aid boxes on the site. There is also a need for proper funding of field expenditures, and the need to get more sophisticated equipments for up to date and concise archaeological field research.

The beauty of life is not in knowing that for some life is/was beautiful, but in experiencing that beautiful life. The Banmeke people may have had a beautiful life, but the attempted reconstruction of that beautiful life is what gives the experience to students and lecturers alike in the field of archaeology and to each individual a unique experience which is what leads to a constructive reconstruction of the past.

Other field work picturesThe excavated spot being mapped

1. Prof. Oyelaran during gridding and leveling

2. Dr. Aremu taking sport height reading for the sake of verification

3Uche during clearing of the site

4. Teju, Funmi, and Pero sieving and sorting during excavation

References

Andah B.W, et al: Archaeological investigation on the campus of university of Ibadan. (An unusual salvage experiment), in imprints of west Africa’s. Andah B.W. et al (Eds.). Wisdom publishers limited, Ibadan Nigeria. (1993). Pp 97-107

Andah B.W. and Okpoko A.O. : Practising archaeology in Africa. Wisdom publishers limited, Ibadan, Nigeria. (1994) Pp 1-13, 72-86.

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