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Behind the Glass | New Discoveries in Early Nigerian Glassmaking

Newly discovered glass beads, crucible fragments, and raw glass from Ile-Ife, Nigeria, provide evidence for a massive workshop making glass beads for West Africans one thousand years ago. Previously, glass beads in Africa were thought to be made from glass imported from Europe, but Dr. Abidemi Babatunde Babalola has discovered early evidence of glassmaking in sub-Saharan Africa. In this lecture, Dr. Babalola discusses the results of his archaeological excavations at Ile-Ife in southwestern Nigeria, the ancestral home of the Yoruba people. His research demonstrates the technological sophistication of indigenous West African glassmakers before the time of European colonial expansion. Dr. Babalola received a Rakow Grant for Glass Research from The Corning Museum of Glass in 2017 and was a McMillan Stewart Fellow at the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University.