History of the Department

Archaeology as a discipline has been in the academic environment of the Ahmadu Bello University since the 1960’s. It came into being as a part of the defunct Centre of Nigeria Cultural Studies (as a research arm of the centre with its focus on the documentation and study of the early history of Nigerian). Scholars such as Sutton, Thurstan Shaw and Connah all played active roles in this formative stage of the archaeological enterprise in Ahmadu Bello University. Apart from the above, Ade Obayemi was also part of the Pioneers of the work in ABU. These scholars conducted research in and around Zaria as well as all over northern Nigeria.

In 1976 the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences strongly recommended to the Academic Planning Committee to Establish a Department of Archaeology within the Faculty. Approval for the running of Archaeology teaching programme as a Division of the History Department was given by the Academic Planning Committee.

Accordingly, a B.A. Degree Programme in Archaeology was started in October 1977. Meanwhile and approval had been given by the Academic Planning Committee that a separate Department be established either in the 1978/79 or 1979/80 session. The second Degree programme, the Comb. Hons. Archaeology/History was mounted in the 1981/82 session.

Since mounting the Archaeology Degree programme in the Department of History, members of that department as well as others from the Faculty have not relented their efforts in nurturing strong, active and dynamic teaching and research programmes. First championed by Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, (formerly head of Department of History) and later by Dr. Mahadi Adamu (also a former head of Department of history), the Department of History had consistently defended and advocated for a separate archaeology department.

That the university administration was also committed to their realization of this goal was borne out by the 1979 convocation address of the then vice-chancellor, Dr. Ango Abdullah in which he mentioned archaeology as one of the new departments to be established in the university from the 1980/81 session. In the 1983/84 session room 80 a – d in the faculty of Arts block was allocated to archaeology for its eventual take off. At the same time financial allocation for the purchase of office equipment and stationeries were made. However the take off could not be made following the sudden death of the then head of unit, Dr. K. Effah-Gyamfi.

The death of Dr. Effah-Gyamfi marked the beginning of the dark ages of the archaeology programme in ABU. It led to a sudden slowing down on activities pertaining to the realization of the establishment of the department. Suddenly external forces bent on scuttling the establishment of the department started to emerge. The forces came to the apogee of their activities between 2003/2004 of their activities between 2003/3004 session when they threaten to shut down the unit and draft history lecturers teach archaeology course.

The turning point for archaeology came with the enthronement of Dr. Kabir Chafe as the head of the Department of History as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts. Being liberally minded unlike the heads of History Department before him, he pursued vigorously the establishment of the archaeology department. The department finally took off in June 2006 under the leadership of Mr. K.T. Odofin. The department currently runs two undergraduate programmes. These are B.A. (Hons.) Archaeology and B.A. (Combined Hons.) Archaeology and History.