The History of The Walls of Benin


The Walls of Benin are a progression of earthworks comprised of banks and dump, called Iya in the Edo language, in the zone around present-day Benin City, the capital of present-day Edo, Nigeria. They comprise of 15 km (9.3 mi) of city iya and about 16,000 kilometers (9,900 miles) of rustic iya in the territory around Benin. The walls of Benin City and encompassing regions were portrayed as “the world’s biggest earthworks preceding the mechanical era” by the Guinness book of Records. A few evaluations recommend that the walls of Benin may have been built between the thirteenth and mid-fifteenth century CE and others propose that the walls of Benin (in the Esan region) may have been developed during the main thousand years CE.

First Encounters

The Benin City walls have been known to Westerners since around 1500. Around 1500, the Portuguese traveller Duarte Pacheco Pereira, quickly depicted the walls during his movements. Another depiction given around 1600, 100 years after Pereira’s portrayal, is by the Dutch voyager Dierick Ruiters.

According to Pereira, this city is about an alliance long from door to entryway; it has no divider except that it is encircled by an enormous channel, wide and profound, which does the trick for its protection. The palaeologist Graham Connah recommends that Pereira was mixed up with his portrayal by saying that there was no divider. Connah says, “[Pereira] looked at that as a bank of earth was not a divider in the feeling of the Europe of his day.”

Ruiter’s recounted “at the entryway where I entered riding a horse, I saw a high defence, exceptionally thick of earth, with an extremely profound expansive discard, however it was dry, and loaded with high trees. That entryway is a sensible decent door, made of wood in their way, which is to be closed, and there consistently there is watch holden.”


Assessments for the underlying construction of the walls range from the principal thousand years CE to the mid-fifteenth century CE. As indicated by Connah, oral custom and traveller’s accounts propose a construction date of 1450-1500 CE. It has been assessed that, expecting a 10-hour work day, a workforce of 5,000 men might have finished the walls inside 97 days, or by 2,421 men in 200 days. Notwithstanding, these evaluations have been condemned for not considering the time it would have taken to extricate earth from an always extending opening and the time it would have taken to pile the earth into a high bank.


The walls were worked of a dump and embankment structure; the discard burrowed to shape an inward canal with the unearthed earth used to frame the outside bulwark.  The Benin Wall was destroyed by the British in 1897 during what has come to be known as the Punitive expedition. Dispersed bits of the structure stay in Edo, with by far most of them being utilized by local people for building purposes.

Ron Eglash has talked about the arranged format of the city utilizing fractals as the premise, not just in the city itself and the towns yet even in the rooms of houses. He remarked that “When Europeans previously came to Africa, they considered the engineering disordered and in this manner crude. It never happened to them that the Africans may have been utilizing a type of arithmetic that they hadn’t been found yet.”

Source: Wikipedia

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