Today a middle-ranking town, and home to the Obafemi Awolowo University and Natural History museum. Ife has a strong claim to be the spiritual centre of the Yoruba people. According to Yoruba legend, Ife is where the founding deities Odudua and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount deity Olodumare. Obatala created the first humans out of clay, while Odudua became the first divine king of the Yoruba. The Oni (King) of Ife, claims descent from the god Odudua, and is therefore counted first among the Yoruba kings.
Between 700 and 900 A.D., Ife began to develop as a major artistic centre. Ife is known worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, which reached their peak of artistic expression between 1200 and 1400 A.D. After this period, production declined as political and economic power moved to the nearby kingdom of Benin.