Amanda Lee Logan

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 10654

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Logan, Amanda (Northwestern U.) "Environmental and human health at the medieval urban center of Ile-Ife, Nigeria"

Our goal is to develop a new archaeology of environmental health by investigating the interplay of environmental change and human health at the urban center of Ile-Ife, located in the humid tropical forest of southwest Nigeria. Since colonial times, the African tropics have been portrayed as disease-ridden, unhealthy environments that pose considerable challenges to economic and agricultural production. Yet the archaeological and historical records suggest a different narrative. During the medieval period (1100-1400 CE), Ife was a vibrant, densely populated city, whose inhabitants innovated new kinds of crafts, created renowned artworks, and through its ideological power, captured the hearts and minds of a large number of people across West Africa. As a terminal node in the trans-Saharan trade, Ife was also connected to global trade networks, which brought new economic opportunities, but also exposed the city to new pathogens. At the same time, the onset of the Little Ice Age ushered in a series of major climatic challenges. We seek to understand how Ife’s inhabitants 1) managed and created their environments through a study of water management and biodiversity, as well as the strategies they used to ensure human health, through tracking 2) food security, and 3) disease burden.