Sungbo's Eredo

Sungbo's Eredo

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Sungbo's Eredo is a rampart
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

 or system of walls and ditches that is located to the south-west of the Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

 town of Ijebu-Ode in Ogun
Ogun
Ogun can refer to:*Ogoun , a divinity in Yoruba and Haitian mythology*Ogun River, a river in southwestern Nigeria*Ogun State, a state in southwestern Nigeria*Ogun Records, a record label...

 state, southwest Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 (6.78700°N 3.87488°E). It was built in honour of the Ijebu noblewoman Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo, and is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.

Description


Total length of fortifications is more than 160 kilometres (99.4 mi). Fortifications consist of a ditch with unusually smooth walls and bank in the inner side of ditch. The height difference between the bottom of the ditch and the upper rim of the bank on the inner side can reach 20 metres. Works have been performed in laterite, a typical African soil consisting of clay and iron oxides. Ditch forms an uneven ring around the area of ancient Ijebu state, an area approximately 40 kilometres wide in north-sou, with the walls flanked by trees and other vegetation, turning the ditch into green tunnel.

As a construction project, it required more earth to be moved than the Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact...

.

History


The Eredo served a defensive purpose when it was built in 800 - 1000 AD, a period of political confrontation and consolidation in the southern Nigerian rainforest. It was likely to have been inspired by the same process that led to the construction of similar walls and ditches throughout western Nigeria, including earthworks around Ile-Ife, Ilesa
Ilesa
Ilesa is a city located in the south west of Nigeria; it is also the name of a historic state centered around that city. The state was ruled by a monarch bearing the title of Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesaland...

, and the Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 Iya, a 6,500 kilometer series of connected but separate earthworks in the neighboring Edo State
Edo State
Edo State is an inland state in central southern Nigeria. Its capital is Benin City. It is bounded in the north and east by Kogi State, in the south by Delta State and in the west by Ondo State.-History:...

-speaking region.

Sungbo's Eredo has also been connected with the legend of the Queen of Sheba which is recounted in both the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 and Koran. In the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, she is described as having sent a caravan of gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 and other goods from her kingdom to King Solomon. In the Koran she is an Ethiopian
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 sun worshiper named Bilqis involved in the incense
Incense
Incense is composed of aromatic biotic materials, which release fragrant smoke when burned. The term "incense" refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odor that it produces. It is used in religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a mood, and for...

 trade who converts to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Legends of the contemporary Ijebu clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

 link the Eredo to this fabled woman, a wealthy, childless widow who they know as Bilikisu Sungbo. According to them, the monument was built as her personal memorial. In addition to this, her grave is believed to be located in Oke-Eiri, a town in a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 area just north of the Eredo. Pilgrims of Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 and traditional African religions annually trek to this holy site in tribute to her.

It is believed that the Eredo was a means of unifying an area of diverse communities into a single kingdom. It seems that the builders of these fortifications deliberately tried to reach groundwater or clay to create a swampy bottom for the ditch. If this could be achieved in shallow depth, builders stopped, even if only at the depth of 1 meter. In some places small, conical idol statues had been placed on the bottom of the ditch.

The impressive size and complex construction of the Eredo drew worldwide media attention in September 1999 when Dr Patrick Darling, a British archaeologist then with the University of Bournemouth, surveyed the site and began publicizing his bid to preserve the Eredo and bring the site some prominence. Previously, the Eredo had been little-known outside of the small community of residents and specialists in Yoruba history. Forty years passed between Professor Peter Lloyd's publication of his analysis of the site and that of Darling, but it still served to necesitate a complete rethinking of West Africa's past.

World Heritage Status


This site was added to the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Tentative List on November 1st, 1995 in the Cultural category.

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