Now, the beads and glass working debris found and analysed by Dr Babalola and his collaborators appear to resolve the matter.
“The Igbo Olokun excavations have provided that evidence,” Babalola said.
Of the 12,000 glass beads found at the site, the researchers analysed 52 and found none matched the composition of glass produced anywhere else.
Two groups of glass were found at Igbo Olokun, one with high levels of lime and alumina, and one with low levels of lime and high levels of alumina.
Both were identified as unique to the region, and Dr Babalola and his team noted their composition reflected the local geology and raw materials that were available.
Notably, the glass found at Igbo Olokun was also dated to between the 1100s and 1500s, centuries before Europeans established trade networks in West Africa.
“We are now confident beyond reasonable doubt that both the high lime-high alumina and low lime, high alumina groups of glass represent a glass produced in early Ile-Ife using local recipes, raw materials and technology,” wrote the researchers in their paper documenting the findings.
Their results are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The occurrence of similar beads in other West African societies, as revealed by other archaeological excavations, indicated the glass produced at Igbo Olokun was part of a wider regional trading