KS2 History: The story of the Benin bronzes

The Benin civilisation is famous for its bronzes.

A young boy, Ibi, tells us how they are made using the 'lost wax' process, and why bronze was so important at the time.

The people of Benin traded as far away as India and throughout the whole of Africa.

When the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century, they began trading with Europe.

The Benin civilisation was one of the largest cities in Africa. Each trade had its own district - there was even a storytellers' district!

This clip is from the series Lost Lands.

Teacher Notes

Could be used to explore bronze-making, the process and the finished goods.

Why were the people of Benin so good at making bronze? Where did they learn to do this? Where did the copper and tin come from? Does it compare with bronze from Bronze Age Britain or Shang China?

Could be used as a starting point to explore the impact of Europeans on African society.

What happened to Benin, its wealth and power once the Europeans arrived?

This could also be used to explore the Oba and his powers.

How did he rule the country? Was he as powerful as, for example, a Roman emperor? Or a Shang emperor?

Curriculum Notes

This clip is relevant for teaching History at Key Stage 2 and Second Level.

More from the series Lost Lands

Introduction to the Indus Valley
Introducing Ancient Egypt
Introducing the Shang Dynasty
Introducing Ancient Sumer
Introducing the Maya civilisation
Baghdad in 900AD