History : Department of Archaeology & Anthropology

ARCHAEOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT

HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT

The process which led to the establishment of what is today the department of Archaeology and Anthropology date back to 1946, when as a post-graduate student, Kenneth Onwuka Dike (later Professor of History and the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan), discovered the potentials of archaeology in providing the missing time-depth to Nigerian history. This discovery came as he read an article by none other than Thurstan Shaw, who was to become the founding Head of the department of Archaeology (as it first was).

Motivated by his patriotic and scholastic determination to have archaeology established at Ibadan, and with commendable ingenuity, Professor Dike, who had then become Vice-Chancellor, ensure that a research professorship in Archaeology was one the three to be created in the Institute of African Studies. This was the first step towards the establishment of a department of Archaeology. Thus in 1963, Professor Thurstan Shaw, was appointed to that research professorship as well as headship of the Archaeology Unit at the Institute of African Studies.

Through the personal conviction and dogged efforts of Professor Shaw, Senate and Council approved the establishment of the department of Archaeology, in the Faculty of Science, for the 1970/71 session. The department owes its appropriate location in the Faculty of Science to the incisiveness, vision and insight of Professor Shaw. At inception, the department had 15 members of staff, made up of six academic, six technical, two administrative/secretarial and one field personnel. The approval for the establishment of the department came too late for the admission of students for the 1970/71 session. However some of the staff members gave lectures on the Prehistory and Archaeology of Nigeria, and the Archaeology of Africa from the seventh to the sixteenth centuries, to second and third year students in the department of History during that session.

The first set of Archaeology students was admitted in October 1971. This foundation set comprised sixteen 100 level and two postgraduate students. Single Honours and Combined Honours ( with Geography, Islamic Studies, History and Religious Studies) Courses in Archaeology were offered, as well as Subsidiary Courses in Archaeology for students of the Faculties of Science, Arts and the Social Sciences. MSc Courses were also offered, and there was one Ph.D student. At the initiative of the late Professor Bassey Andah, the first Nigerian Head of the department, Courses in Cultural Anthropology were introduced. In 1982/83 the first set of students who graduated with Honours in Cultural Anthropology was produced. In 1986/87 session the name of the department was changed to the present one, to reflect the introduction of degree Courses in Anthropology. Subsequently, Combined Honours Courses with Botany, Geology and Zoology were introduced. In 2013, towards making her courses more relevant to national developmental needs, and rising to the challenges of the 21st century in line with the University of Ibadan vision 2010, the department started the first professional Master degree programme in Forensic Science.

The department, initially housed in a wing at the Institute of African Studies, began to move into its permanent buildings on Appleton Road in the 1986/87 session. The department has a small museum, both for teaching and viewing by the general public.

Courses

The Archaeology Courses taught at the undergraduate level may be broadly grouped into six as follows:

  1. Archaeological theory and methods
  2. Artefact classification
  3. Ethnoarchaeology
  4. Environmental Archaeology
  5. Regional Studies (mainly Sub-Saharan Africa)
  6. Field Methods

Postgraduate Courses are in the following main areas

  1. Palaeoecological principles and methods
  2. Quaternary studies
  3. Research Design and Execution
  4. Advanced regional studies
  5. Field Methods
  6. Ethnoarchaeology

Undergraduate Courses in Anthropology are in nine main areas:

  1. Anthropological theory and methods
  2. Hominid and Cultural evolution and development
  3. Peoples and Cultures of Africa
  4. Applied Anthropology
  5.  Field Methods
  6. Cultural Resource Management
  7. Media Anthropology
  8. Social Anthropology
  9. Development Studies

 

Postgraduate Courses in Forensic Science:

  1. Introduction to Forensic Archaeology
  2. Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
  3. Forensic Taphonomy
  4. Crime Scene Search and Handling of Buried Remains
  5. Forensic Pathology and the Law
  6. Forensic Genetics
  7. The Cadaver and Forensic Toxicology

Research

The main foci of research work, through which the department has made significant contributions, have been:

  1. The Nigerian peoples: their origins, settlement patterns, Culture, inter-relationships and the interaction with the rest of the environment, including ethnobotany and the beginning of agriculture.
  2. The vegetation history of Nigeria and environmental changes in the Late Quaternary period.
  3. Metallurgy and indigenous technologies
  4. Cultural and Medical Anthropology

Current Departmental Research Work

The current research work is a multidisciplinary one, especially between the archaeologist and the anthropologists in the department. The work is titled; Archaeological and Anthropological Cooperation on a search: Owu and Thoughts on the Diaspora.

International collaboration and notable contributions

The department has an understanding with the University of Birmingham, England and University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA.

The Editorial and Business Offices of the West African Journal of Archaeology are located in the department.