||These splendid portrait sculptures were probably made to honor and commemorate the lives of Ife's kings, queens, and other people of elite status. They were most likely placed on altars within the palace complex and used in religious ceremonies.
The altar was surrounded by a pavement made of small, circular potsherds laid on edge and quartz pebbles arranged in elaborate patterns. Remains like these have been found in archaeological excavations.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, sculptured heads were repeatedly
buried in the ground at the foot of giant trees where ceremonies took
place. The heads were dug up when needed for rituals, and afterwards
reburied because they were considered too precious to be left out
in the open.