The Benin wove cotton.


The Edo civilisation, often referred to as the Benin Empire, is one of the topics looked at in KS2 history. The Edo people were some of the first in sub-Saharan Africa to trade with Europeans.

The Benin Empire refers to the Edo people of Africa, rather than the modern state of Benin - also in Africa, though not related to the Edo civilisation. The Empire lasted from 1440 to 1897 when it was conquered by the British Empire. The Benin people traded with Europeans from the 15th Century when they came into contact with Portuguese explorers. This trade continued for hundreds of years and a lot of what we know comes from European accounts. They traded tropical products such as ivory, peppers and palm oil which were rare in Europe.

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  1. What type of cloth did the Benin weave?
    This cotton was one of the items traded by the Benin Empire
  2. Where did the Benin live?
    The Benin Empire had Benin City, in the south of modern-day Nigeria, as its capital
  3. When did British merchant ships begin to arrive off the coast?
    The Dutch and the Portuguese were also trading with the Benin
  4. What was the capital city of Benin called, before its name was changed to Benin City?
    The people, the language and the capital city were all called Edo
  5. What was the name of Benin kings?
    Oba is the word for king in the Yoruba language
  6. Who ruled the Benin?
    There were 24 kings of Benin between 1440 and 1897
  7. What language did the Benin learn to write and read?
    The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Benin and the two Empires began to trade with one another
  8. When did the British destroy the Benin Royal Palace?
    Many of the treasures removed from the palace were put in European museums
  9. Which metal did the Benin make plaques from?
    They also made plaques from iron and ivory
  10. Which of these was NOT traded by the Benin?
    Tea grew mostly in Asian countries like India and China

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