period of circa the twelfth century ce. The second phase constitutes a c. fourteenth cen-tury occupation period identified with the laying of the pavements, the creation of an array of sculptures, along with the site’s eventual fourteenth–fifteenth century abandon-ment. The third and final phase at the Obalara Land site consists of Post-Florescence era finds subsequent to the main site occupation and abandonment.38Garlake’s recalibrated radicarbon dates (1974:146) for the Ita Yemoo site layer of terra-cotta sculptures excavated by Willett indicate a period potentially coeval with the radio-carbon dates of the Obalara’s Land sculptures (1312–1420 ce). As Garlake observes for this important and diverse group of terracottas (1974:146): “… on the dating evidence presently available, it seems that Obalara’s Land was occupied at the same time as Ita Yemoo although it is likely, but not certain, that Ita Yemoo was first occupied at an ear-lier date than Obalara’s Land.” The likely period of overlap between these two sites is
82|african artsWINTER 2012 VOL. 45, NO.41310–1350 ce, or what I posit as the High Florescence Era. Ther-moluminescence dates for the clay cores extracted from two of the Wunmonije site life-size heads indicate a similar period of 1221–1369 ce (Willett 1997:28). This period also is consistent with the likely reign era of Ife King Obalufon II. This dating addition-ally conforms with this king’s identity as the ruler who intro-duced bronze casting at Ife. A majority of Ife’s ancient arts thus were created in a relatively short time period, within a single generation of artists, in the early fourteenth century. An in-depth analysis of ancient Ife sculptural style by art historian Barbara Blackmun (n.d. in Willett 1994) reveals that works from a variety of Ife sites show discernable clusters of sim-ilarity consistent with artists working within the same broader time frame. Significantly, Garlake also furnishes evidence (1974, 1977) that Ife’s High Florescence Era came to a relatively quick end, a change accompanied by a notable shift in pottery decora-tion forms, specifically from roulette to cord impressions (see also Shaw 1978:155). Possible outside confirmation for this Ife early fourteenth century High Florescence Era is found in a well-known (but unexplored for the Yoruba) written source, namely Ibn Bat-tûta’s 1325–1354 travel account. Here we read (1958:409–10) that southwest of the Mâlli (Mali) kingdom lies a country called Yoûfi [Ife?]39that is one of the “most considerable countries of the Soudan [governed by a] …souverain [who] is one of the great-est kings.”40Battûta’s description of Yoûfi as a country that “No white man can enter … because the negros will kill him before he arrives” appears to reference the ritual primacy long associ-ated with Ife, in keeping with its important manufacturing and mercantile interests, among these advanced technologies of glass bead manufacturing, iron smelting and forging, and textile-pro-duction. Blue-green segi beads41from Ife have been found as far west as Mali, Mauritania, and modern Ghana, suggesting that Battuta may well have learned of this center in the course of his travels in Mali.