A Historical Archaeology of Trade and Material Culture Change in Kiawa, Nigeria


African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships


Department of Archaeology


Several studies have viewed the West African pre-colonial trade system as an accepted system of authority, where protection and trading facilities pervaded political divisions. Thus, the predominance of Sahelian Empire’s power: Ghana, Mali and Songhay, depended on the control of intermediate trade. However, with the fall of Songhay Empire and the subsequent decline of centralized power in the eastern River Niger bend, political and economic centres shifted to northern Nigeria, Kiawa being one of them. This research includes a phase of archaeological surveys, excavation and analyses at the archaeological site of Kiawa, where extensive city walls and other structural features of a large trading town survive. It aims to recover information pertinent to reconstructing material culture change in socio-ecological and political organization and the range of trade goods due to these shifts, and to investigate non-elite areas to determine their nature and degrees of access to traded commodities.