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date: 29 November 2022

Archaeology of Igboland, Southeastern Nigerialocked

Archaeology of Igboland, Southeastern Nigerialocked

  • Chioma NgonadiChioma NgonadiUniversity of Cambridge


This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article.

Archaeological research began relatively late in southeastern Nigeria compared with other African countries. The site of Igboukwu, despite the remarkable discoveries made there accidentally in 1938, was not investigated thoroughly until 1959. The first systematic archaeological excavations in the region took place between December 1959 and January 1960. The Igboukwu excavations yielded hundreds of glass beads, intricately produced bronze objects, elaborately decorated potsherds, and various iron tools that revealed the artistic ingenuity of the Igbo people. These archaeological findings laid a good foundation for archaeological research in southeastern Nigeria. Subsequently, from 1964 to 1978, human-made tools including hand axes, flakes, cores, polished stone axes, ground stone axes, and microliths were discovered at various locations in the region. At the Lejja, Opi, and Aku iron smelting sites, evidence of slag blocks, tuyere fragments, furnace remains, iron ores, and potsherds are seen on the surface, suggesting large-scale intensive iron-working production in the past. These archaeological remains from stratified archaeological deposits showcase a people with a distinctive past.


  • Archaeology

In the intervening years, archaeological surveys and excavations have been conducted in many areas in Igboland. However, the local people know little about these archaeological sites and their contexts. It is necessary to examine and document past and current archaeological research conducted in Igboland from 1960 up to the 2010s, outlining research projects, discussing the findings, and suggesting trends for future research.