Brown Bag | An Indigenous Hermeneutic Approach to the Archaeology of Potsherd Pavements in Yoruba Culture

Start Date
End Date
Brooks Hall Commons

Olanrewaju Lasisi
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Race, Place, and Equity, UVA School of Architecture

Through the lens of indigenous hermeneutics, this talk expands upon the previous interpretation of potsherd pavements in Yoruba culture, moving beyond their role as architectural floors. It emphasizes their multi-functional roles, serving as sundials, naturalistic art objects, and cartographic maps. By examining festival ceremonies associated with potsherd pavements in two Yoruba kingdoms— Ijebu and Ile-Ife— the presentation reveals that the newly identified functions of these pavements are integral to the Yoruba's systems of time-reckoning, ritual practices, power dynamics, and spatial politics, as well as to the broader fabric of their social organization. Therefore, this talk advocates for a nuanced approach to Yoruba archaeology, one that considers the 'unwritten documentations' found within this hermeneutical framework as a basis for locating sites, excavating units, and interpreting finds. Through this hermeneutical lens, we open new avenues for understanding social complexity in pre-colonial African societies.

Co-sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Program and the Carter G. Woodson Institute