Potters marks and social relations of ceramic distribution in the Oyo Empire

Akinwumi Ogundiran*, Paula V. Saunders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A recently collated inventory of potters' marks in the Oyo ceramic complex of southwestern Nigeria provides important insights into the social relations of ceramic production in the Oyo Empire during the Atlantic Age. Focusing on the serving and cooking bowls excavated in the imperial colony of Ede-Ile, this paper examines the formal and social aspects of potters' marks in the production and circulation of utilitarian vessels, as well as in the forging of an integrated and corporeal imperial identity from the early 1600s to the 1820s. The study draws attention to an important ceramic attribute that has, until now, gone unnoticed in the archaeology of Oyo Empire and in Yoruba Studies in general. It highlights the salience of potters marks for understanding the social, political and economic processes in Yorubaland during the mid-Atlantic age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-335
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Atlantic Africa
  • ceramics
  • Ede-Ile
  • Oyo Empire
  • potters marks
  • Yorubaland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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