The Kingdom of Benin

Come and discover the Kingdom of Benin, a prosperous thriving society that flourished between the 12th and 19th centuries within what is now southern Nigeria. Let our facilitators take you deep into the unique culture and practises of the Edo people.

Workshop details

Pupils will learn about the daily lives and spiritual practices of the Edo people. What did they eat, celebrate, trade, and create? How did the Oba (ruler) use their powerful leadership to develop Benin as a thriving and prosperous kingdom?

They will debate the displacement of sacred objects and how they arrived in the museum, begin to understand history from a post-colonial perspective and find out what happens to objects that are taken from their country of origin. Children will arrive at their own understanding of where the objects should be now.

Pupils will have opportunities to practice and develop the following skills and understanding.

Curriculum links


  • Spoken language - ask relevant questions to extend understanding and knowledge.
  • Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • Participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
  • Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others


Human and physical geography: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water


Knowledge of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history – one study chosen from:

  • early Islamic civilization, including a study of Baghdad c AD 900
  • Mayan civilization c AD 900
  • Benin (West Africa) c AD 900-1300.

Fundamental British Values

An appreciation of and respect for different cultural traditions. 

Learning outcomes

Pupils will:

  • Develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of world history.
  • Establish clear narratives within and across the period they study.
  • Understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies; and their achievements and follies.
  • Be introduced to African history and celebrate the achievements and success of a specific African culture and society
  • Learn to analyse and contribute to current debates from an independent perspective
  • Develop a neutral understanding of the British empire and its impact on global societies, gaining an insight into the perspectives of those once colonised by the British empire.


  • Identify significant events, make connections, and draw contrasts.
  • Recognise and identify artefacts used in the sessions and some of the evidence they reveal about life in the past.
  • Regularly address and sometimes devise historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.
  • Begin to recognise that the past is represented and interpreted in different ways, and to give reasons for this.
  • Improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.
  • Use historical terms and concepts in a sophisticated and empathetic way
  • Analyse primary sources, including reliability and bias

Concepts and attitudes

  • Learn about artefacts in a museum context and as primary sources of investigation
  • Understand how to treat and respect the objects they are working with, which are thousands of years old and hold sacred significance
  • Recognise cause and consequence.
  • See World Museum as a resource for historical research to help understand the ancient world.
  • Increase confidence in identifying and challenging colonial history.
  • Appreciate a variety of perspectives when leaning about historical events.