The Yoruba people of Southwest Africa believe that Ile-Ife is the cradle of the human race and it is still revered as such, despite the new world order that imposes another form of governance and belief system on them. A new excavation site in the Ile-Ife area has yielded a treasure trove of more than 10,000 colorful glass beads, as well as evidence of glassmaking tools. These pieces of evidence suggest that the ancient city was one of the first places in West Africa to master the complex art of glassmaking, scientists have reported.
More than that, the finding shows that people who lived in the ancient city of Ile-Ife around the 11th to 15th century AD learned how to make their own glass using local materials and fashion it into colorful beads, said study lead researcher Abidemi Babalola, a fellow at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. Babalola discovered a treasure trove during the excavation, finding almost 13,000 beads, 812 crucible fragments, 403 fragments of ceramic cylinders (rods that were possibly used to handle the crucible lids), almost 7 lbs. (3 kilograms) of glass waste and about 14,000 potsherds, the researchers wrote in the study.
Also, he didn’t find any furnaces that would have helped artisans heat the crucibles, but “the abundance of glass-production debris and the presence of vitrified clay fragments [clay with melted glass on it] indicate, however, that these areas were in, or very near, a zone of glass workshops,” the researchers wrote in the study.
The majority of the beads are less than 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) across, and are colored blue, green, red, yellow or multicolored, Babalola said.
“Now we know that, at least from the 11th to 15th centuries [A.D.], there was primary glass production in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Babalola, who specializes in African archaeology. You can find the remaining story of this amazing discovery here.