Exploitation of Aquatic Resources in Ahanve, Badagry, south-western Nigeria

Orijemie, Emuobosa Akpo

Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Email: orijemie5@yahoo.com

Cite this as: Orijemie, E.A. 2014 Exploitation of Aquatic Resources in Ahanve, Badagry, south-western Nigeria, Internet Archaeology 37. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.37.8


The Badagry Cultural Area (BCA) is one of the significant socio-cultural places in coastal south-western Nigeria. Palynological and archaeological studies at Ahanve, a settlement in the BCA were undertaken recently to improve the understanding of past human exploitation of aquatic resources. Collected data revealed contrasts in the availability and utilisation of aquatic resources between a first occupation phase (9th-17th centuries AD) and a second occupation phase (17th century AD to present). The environment during the first phase was characterised by secondary forest and freshwater swamp. During this period, the inhabitants consumed cat-fish (Clariidae) and bivalves (Anodonta sp.), and engaged in salt production. The salt was produced from brine obtained from the Atlantic Ocean. Aquatic food resources were supplemented with terrestrial animal and plant foods. During the second occupation phase, aquatic resources (cat-fish and bivalves) declined and subsequently disappeared; salt production was discontinued while terrestrial foods, particularly plant-based types, increased significantly. These events coincided with the arrival of European travellers. Oral sources suggest that the decline in the exploitation of aquatic resources was in part due to the fear of being taken captive while on fishing expeditions, restrictions by Europeans who controlled the water-ways, and the massive importation of salt which replaced local production.

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