Political units in the history of West Africa
Ife, perched at the edge of Nigeria’s forest, is thought to have come to prominence through its control of local products – including ivory, gold and pepper – in external trade. By AD 1300, its walled capital was at the peak of its wealth, with many shrines featuring elaborate pavements made of pieces of pottery, and a rich tradition of creating brass and terracotta sculptures, including ones of people richly adorned in ceremonial regalia. Many of these have survived. Subsistence for the large elite and artisan population appears to have been based upon small livestock and the cultivation of vegetables. Around AD 1500, the city of Ife declined, and the region’s center of power shifted to Benin without any appreciable break in cultural tradition.