Walls of Benin
The Walls of Benin are a series of earthworks made up of banks and ditches, called Iya in the Edo language in the area around present-day Benin City, the capital of present-day Edo, Nigeria. They consist of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) of city iya and an estimated 16,000 kilometres (9,900 miles) in the rural area around Benin.
The walls were built of a ditch and dike structure; the ditch dug to form an inner moat with the excavated earth used to form the exterior rampart.
The Benin Walls were ravaged by the British in 1897 during what has come to be called the Punitive expedition. Scattered pieces of the structure remain in Edo, with the vast majority of them being used by the locals for building purposes. What remains of the wall itself continues to be torn down for real estate developments. Fred Pearce wrote in New Scientist:
They extend for some 16,000 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.
Ethnomathematician Ron Eglash has discussed the planned layout of the city using fractals as the basis, not only in the city itself and the villages but even in the rooms of houses. He commented that "When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganised and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn’t even discovered yet."
Benin city in the 17th century.
- Patrick Darling (2015). "Conservation Management of the Benin Earthworks of Southern Nigeria: A critical review of past and present action plans". In Korka, Elena (ed.). The Protection of Archaeological Heritage in Times of Economic Crisis. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 341-352. ISBN 9781443874113. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
- http://www.beninmoatfoundation.org/clarioncall.html Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Pearce, Fred. African Queen. New Scientist, 11 September 1999, Issue 2203.
- Koutonin, Mawuna (18 March 2016). "Story of cities #5: Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace". Retrieved 2 April 2018.