Yoruba - Settlements



From early times, Yoruba settlements varied in size from hunting and farming camps to cities, the largest of which had 20,000 to more than 60,000 inhabitants by the 1850s. Most indigenous capitals were circular, densely settled, and protected by earthen walls. Typically, a royal compound measuring around a hectare and a market occupied the centers. Clustered around them in pie-shaped wedges were the residences of chiefly and commoner families. Agricultural lands lay outside the walls, and farmers commuted from town to farm. The usual in-town residence was a rectangular compound, the outer walls consisting of contiguous rows of rooms that surrounded an inner courtyard used for cooking, domestic work, and social life. Buildings were constructed of mud bricks and covered with thatch. Today they are of concrete blocks or concrete-washed walls roofed with tin or zinc. Compounds are being replaced by large multistoried, freestanding structures, arranged in two long rows of rooms bisected by a central corridor.


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