The Sophistication of African Town Planning

Prof. Suzanne Preston Blier of Harvard unearths the ancient plans of Yoruban towns, which were laid out as early as 350 BCE.
September 27, 2011, 1pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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Blier presented her findings in Dumbarton, California, and ASLA was there.

Blier explained that ancient Yoruban cities, like Ife (now in Soutwestern Nigeria) were "centrally planned":

"Ife's palace was an 'ancient center, with a garden environment.' The back of the palace was a historic forest used to grow herbs and medicinal plants. Buildings formed a square courtyard in the center where rainwater was collected. In ancient Yoruban culture, when people died, they were buried in their living or bedrooms. She discussed how this was important in the distinction between interior and exterior spaces."

Blier says today the ancient pathways have sometimes become overgrown, and restoring them would breathe new life into Ife.

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Published on Sunday, September 25, 2011 in ASLA's The Dirt blog
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