Talk:Walls of Benin

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Confusion in the article.Edit

How can something be the largest structure lengthwise but also be second to the Great Wall of China. It can't be the largest and second-largest at the same time. The difference needs to be clarified. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 04:37, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

This article should be deleted and the statements lacks facts and are nothing more then a myth or the result of poor studies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:12, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

It's not very clear indeed. The article says "It enclosed 6,500 square kilometres" and "its length was over 16,000 km". This makes no sense. Assuming a square shape, one only need 320 km of walls to enclose 6500 sq km. A 16000 km wall could actually enclose most of Africa. There is clearly something bogus with the sources. --Raminagrobis (talk) 21:16, 1 April 2018 (UTC)

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The great wall of china is not as big as claimedEdit

i've seen from the comments here people believe the claims of this article are false or inaccurate. The Chinese government has flase claimed parts of ancient korean structures to triple it's size. there are many academic sources agreeing this is the largest man made structure so please stop pretending it is not (talk) 03:20, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

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Total lengthEdit

A quoted statement says "They extend for some 160 km in all". The lead says "The combined length of the walls ... was over 16,000 km". Those can't both be right. Maproom (talk) 15:25, 2 April 2018 (UTC)

That's clearly wrong, must check it. Doug Weller talk 15:34, 2 April 2018 (UTC)
@Maproom:I can't check the original source, but I find one article on JSTOR saying "The total length of walls and ditches within the Benin City Wall system so far discovered is about 150 km. The other wall-systems within the area of the former Benin Empire have a total length of several hundred - or even thousand kilometers. - There are principally three types of wall-systems to be considered: (1) the first, inner wall-system and probably the second and third directly around Benin City are probably for defence purposes of Great Benin; (2) walls and ditches which surround only small areas could have been constructed as war-camps or for the defence of a single village ; ( 3) other areas surrounded by walls and ditches could have combined farmland boundaries or military fortifications, provided enough people lived in these."[1]
this says " In Benin City, the circuit fortifications, consisting of a massive earthen bank and ditch, have a circumference of 11.6 kilometers. " and "On the frontier of empire: understanding the enclosed walls in Northern Yoruba, Nigeria" by Aribidesi A. Usman "The height of Benin wall, from the excavated bottom of the ditch to the top of the earthen bank, is about 17.4m and total length in excess of 16,000km (Connah, 2001).
Graham Connah's book African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective[2] mentions the 11.6 km figure but carries on to say "cance for our enquiry into state formation. That is not the whole story, however, because surveys by myself during the 1960s in the tangled vegetation around Benin City revealed a vast network of further interlocking enclosures, consisting of over 145 kilometres of earthworks. These appeared to hint at the process of synoecism (‘the union of several towns or villages into or under one capital city* {Oxford English Dictionary 1933)) by which a group of villages had developed into a city, at a date prior to the construction of the innermost and most massive of the ‘walls*. Nevertheless, subsequent work by Darling (Darling 1974; 1976; 1982; 1984; 1988; 1998) and by other researchers (Maliphant, Rees and Roese 1976; Roese 1981) showed that even this outer network that was mapped by me (Connah 1975) was only ‘a small peripheral part of a much more extensive pattern of rural earthwork enclosures’ (Darling 1982: Vol. 1, 387). This overall pattern has been found to cover an area of about 6500 square kilometres, and has been estimated to have a total length in excess of 16,000 kilometres (Fig. 5.8). It is thought to imply at least 150,000,000 person-hours of work over a period of several centuries (Darling 1982: Vol. 1, 392)." This seems to be a pretty definitive source unless we can find something later. Doug Weller talk 16:09, 2 April 2018 (UTC)
If it was 16 000 km long, it would not be just around a city, it could actually enclose most of africa... Raminagrobis (talk) 20:11, 29 November 2019 (UTC)

ikr 16.000 km moats but scattered all around in rural area?. its like counting all of the actual wall ever built in medieval china, by the one great wall alone is 21.000km of an actual wall. it will be impossible to even count all the wall ever built in numerous populous ancient city, port, canals, capital city, residents in mediaval china. also even the main benin moats looked like raised dirt road can u imagine the one in rural area, it would be just a sprinkle of dirt— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2404:8000:1002:7CDE:99F:ED01:D239:242 (talk) 09:59, 21 July 2020 (UTC)

Safe city and wallsEdit

The walls were also used to control movement, with many guarded gates. This would obviously make this a very safe place. At the moment my source is the programme "Africa's Great Civilizations" but there are obviously paper sources. Doug Weller talk 20:16, 28 June 2018 (UTC)

Longer than the China Wall?Edit

There is the claim spread overs everal articles that the Benin walls (sometimes all walls of the Kingdom, or just the city wall) were 4 times longer than the Great Wall of China which is obviously not true. (the walls of Benin alleged to have been 16,000 km long would make the Great China Wall just be 4,000 km which is not the case). It all is referred to an article in the New Scientist (Pearce, Fred. African Queen. New Scientist, 11 September 1999, Issue 2203) which is wrong in this quotation.Kipala (talk) 07:50, 3 December 2018 (UTC)

Conflict in the New Scientist sourceEdit

The New Scientist article is quoted as saying "They extend for some 160 km in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They cover 2,510 sq. miles (6,500 square kilometres) and were all dug by the Edo people. In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.[1]"

I don't have access to page 2 of this article since I don't have premium membership, but on page 1 the writer says the wall is 160km in length(which is far less than 4 times longer than the Great Wall of China) and that it only covers an area of the size of Greater London(about a sixth of the 6,500km^2 figure above). Could someone with premium membership please verify that the quote above is real and if so explain the contradiction? (talk) 11:36, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

I've found the original source. I think the problem is that we have "the Walls of Benin" - but these were at the edge of a huge set of banks and ditches:
"For the last half millennium, the wet forests of southern Nigeria have brooded silently over what is arguably the largest single JL archaeological feature on this planet (McWhirter 1980 et seq). It must have taken centuries of dry season toil to build; and by the time this colossal task was abandoned in the mid-fifteenth century, an intricate network of over 16,000 kilometers of banks and ditches (iya) enclosed a 4000 square kilometer cluster of community lands—a vast legacy in earth.
For some, the sheer size of this legacy is enough. The earthworks run four to five times longer than the Great Wall of China and involve the moving of a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. For others, such comparisons are invidious. For them, the value of these earthworks lies in a whole new set of archaeological and historical questions relating to the identity, time period, purpose, and methodology of those who dug these earthworks. This study is for these others.[3]. I'm trying to figure out how to use this great source. And you really need to be more careful in your reverts, it was easy to find the source for the quote and of course fractals don't need higher mathematics, termites make them. Doug Weller talk 15:02, 27 January 2019 (UTC)


No mention of the height of this "impressive" wall?

It's not a wall. It's a series of "earthworks made up of banks and ditches" - that's what the first sentence of the article says. If their total length isn't impressive I've no idea what would impress you. There's no standard height to the earthworks. Doug Weller talk 13:52, 28 July 2019 (UTC)

Two sets of walls or earthworksEdit

@Arminden: good catch. My source says, " this paper reviews the different perceptions over time of the fifteen-kilometer-long city Iya and the associated 16,000 km long rural iya—the world’s longest ancient earthworks and a phenomenon of global interest and importance in state-formation studies." "for the purposes of this paper, therefore, the decision was to focus on the Benin Earthworks—possibly the world’s most extensive archaeological feature" Doug Weller talk 11:23, 14 November 2020 (UTC)

@Doug Weller: hi. 15 and 16,000. City & country. I can get that. Where are the 160 km coming from? "Different perception"? 1:100 or 10:1 compared to the two figures in the paper? Hard to swallow. And users don't even get to know that much, about the changing perception, it's only here. I really wonder if the New Scientist guy (or his copy editor) got scared of the many zeroes, thought it must be a typo and cut a few off. Arminden (talk) 16:23, 14 November 2020 (UTC)

@Arminden: more recent research? The article no longer has the 160 figure. Doug Weller talk 16:35, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
@Doug Weller: I only arrived here because the BBC mentioned the topic. Not a passion of mine. I've noticed that you removed the quotation, which does "clean up" the article, but it feels a bit like the cheated husband who throws the guilty sofa out the window :)) Maybe it's a source one can easily ignore (1999; I don't know the magazine & how trustworthy it is), but it's kind of an 'expedient' solution. Not that I wouldn't use it myself sometimes, just to get peace of mind. Arminden (talk) 20:56, 14 November 2020 (UTC)

Article should actually be a redirect.Edit

The "walls" of Benin are not actually walls, though this is a common misconception. It is thus, in my eyes, more fitting for the article to be called "The Iya of Benin", "The Benin Earthworks", or the "Benin Dithes", with "Walls of Benin" serving as a redirect to a more accurately titled page.