Olanrewaju Blessing Lasisi

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

William and Mary, College of

Grant number

Gr. 10472

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Lasisi, Olanrewaju (William and Mary, College of) "Written in Sherds, Carved by Pavements: Investigating the Materiality of Cultural Astronomy and Social Memory in the Ijebu Kingdom, South of the Sahara."

This project investigates the multiplex functions of potsherd pavements. Potsherd pavements are a form of mosaic formed by arranging and pinning pottery sherds to the ground. They have been found in many ancient West African kingdoms and empires and are generally interpreted as household aesthetics and quotidian architectural floors. Two potsherd pavements discovered within a palace complex during a recently completed dissertation field research are the first archaeologically discovered evidence of potsherd pavements in the Ijebu Kingdom of Southwestern Nigeria. The bearing and astronomical alignment of the pavements and their associated ritual practices show that potsherd pavements might have served more functions than household floors. This post-doctoral research investigates the use of pavements as naturalistic effigies, and as mnemonic devices, including sundials. It combines archaeological excavations and intensive surveys with indigenous epistemologies and hermeneutics of ritual dramas to decode motifs on previously discovered pavements. It uses one of the pavements as a site map to identify and excavate other essential areas of interest within the Ijebu palace complex. By engaging the archaeology of pavements, this project seeks to reveal their multiple functions and begin novel discussions on the materiality of social memories and cultural astronomy in sub-Saharan Africa.