Investigating the dynamics of craft production in the socioeconomic and political complexities of Igbo Ukwu (9th-12th Century CE): Pathways for West African Archaeology

Kellogg Institute Graduate Research Grants
Grant Year

West Africa is one of the global centers for incipient social complexity and development of commensurate exchange and political systems. However, the dearth in knowledge about how West African societies developed sociopolitical systems before the Trans-Atlantic trade period leaves an enormous gap in our understanding of multiple pathways taken by human societies that evolved and managed production complexes and management infrastructures. Advancing anthropological studies of human development, craft production and socioeconomic organizations, I examine the emergence and development of socioeconomic and political complexities in Igbo Ukwu, Nigeria (9th-12th Century CE). I use archaeology ceramics to investigate Igbo Ukwu’s participation in regional and pan-regional trade networks, reconstructing the impact of these interactions on the sociopolitical dynamics of the society. I combine traditional archaeology approaches to studies of social complexities with material science to explore how potters participated and managed the socioeconomic and political transitions of the 1st to mid-2nd Millennium CE.