Rivals of the Ashanti and Yoruba stood mighty Benin home of a corp of Amazon warrioresses, shock troops and the Kings personal body guards, up on
their coming and going to and from the palace ordinary folks are required to fall upon their bellies so as not to look at them or be instantly
beheaded,and while there is much to admire about them but this state remained actively engaged in the Slave trade on a level unequalled to other
states even having their own trade officials on the other side of the Atlantic in Brazil to make sure business ran smoothly and the nobles back home
maximized their profits.
The Benin Empire (1440–1897) was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria. It should not be confused with the modern-day country
called Benin, formerly called Dahomey.
The Ogiso Period
Ogiso ("Rulers of the Sky"), who may have numbered as many as thirty-one kings, ruling the kingdom of Benin between 900 - 1170 AD, which is the
earliest period so far accounted for in Benin history (Plankensteine 2007).
The first ruler, according to Benin traditions, was Igodo, a prominent elder in his community (Odionwere) who exercised authority over all other
elders (Edionwere). Igodo is said to have ruled all the various small communities which collectively formed the kingdom known as 'Igodomigodo',
meaning 'land of Igodo' or 'town of towns'. The most prominent among the known Ogiso rulers are Igodo, Ere, Orire, Oriagba and Owodo. The kingdom
began as a union of juxtaposed clusters of independent communities, each surrounded by a moat (Egharevba 1968).
Note the grid iron streets
Fortification of Benin City
The defensive fortification of Benin City, the capital, consisted of ramparts and moats, call iya, enclosing a 4000 square kilometer (2485.5 miles) of
community lands. In total, the Benin wall system encompasses over 10,000 kilometres (6213.7 miles) of earth boundaries. Patrick Darling, an
archaeologist, estimates that the complex was built between 800 and 1000 up to the late fifteenth century (Keys 1994: 16). Advantageously situated,
the moats were duged in such a manner that earthen banks provided outer walls that complemented deep ditches. According to Graham Connah, the ditch
formed an integral part of the intended barrier but was also a quarry for the material to construct the wall or bank (Keys 1994: 594). The ramparts
range in size from shallow traces to the immense 20-meter-high rampart (66 feet) around Benin City (Wesler 1998: 144). The Guinness Book of World
Records describes the walls of Benin City as the world's second largest man-made structure after China's Great Wall), in terms of length, and the
series of earthen ramparts as the most extensive earthwork in the world.
During the second half of the 15th century, Oba Ewuare the Great ordered a moat to be dug in the heart of the city. The earthworks served as a bastion
and also afforded control of access to the capital which had nine gates that were shut at night. Travel notes of European visitors also described the
Benin walls (e.g. Pacheco Pereira 1956: 130-147; Dapper 1668). It was finalized around 1460, at that time being the world's largest earthwork.
Seventeenth-century engraving illustrating a court ceremony. In the foreground is the king of Benin on horseback, surrounded by musicians, dwarfs, and
attendants with tame leopards, and leading a procession of chiefs and warriors, also on horseback. The middle ground shows the royal palace, which has
high turrents surmounted by large cast-brass birds with outstretched wings. In the background, separated by a wall, is the town of Benin. Presided
over by the oba, or king, the city was both a major trading center and the religious and political capital of the Edo people.
From Olfert Dapper, Beschreibung von Afrika (1967: pl. opp. 486), first published in Amsterdam
King's Palace note the shingled roof
Home of one of the kings's chief
Part of the king's palace which was as large as Amsterdam a city like the forbidden city of China ordinary commoners did not have access
Note the embossed carvings functioned like the cartouch found in ancient Egypt aka kemet just one of themany features shared with that far-off
Voodoo shrine note many of the traditional wooden and Brass shingles have been replaced by zinc yuck!
One of the finest Bronze work of medieval Benin 13th-14th cent A.D
edit on 23-2-2013 by Spider879 because: (no reason given)