The Journal of African History

Research Article

Those Igbo-Ukwu radiocarbon dates: facts, fictions and probabilities

Thurstan Shawa1

a1 Cambridge

In the discussion of the reliance which should be placed on the Igbo-Ukwu radiocarbon dates, it is necessary to make certain that what evidence we have is correctly used. The precise locations of the samples used for dating are recalled and possible sources of error discussed. Consideration is given to the arguments for a date later than that suggested by the radiocarbon dates, stemming from the state of preservation of the textiles, the character of the beads, the pottery evidence, analogies with the presumed dating of Ife and Benin, the quantity and the source of the copper, and what is known of pre-European trading patterns in West Africa. The latter is probably the most serious objection to a very early date, but the question will only be settled with the acquisition of more archaeological evidence.