In March of 1727, King Agadja of Dahomey attacked and destroyed the Xwéda kingdom, prompted by the continued poor relationship between Xwédan King Huffon and his chiefs. The conquest began with the villages to the north of Savi, which were easily defeated despite the fact that Xwéda forces outnumbered the Dahomians several fold. Though Savi was bordered to the north by an easily defensible river, the Xwédas failed to mount a guard there, and the Dahomians crossed easily and approached Savi. The residents fled Savi to Gléwé, and the Dahomians burned Savi and brutally laid waste to Xwéda. Many of the Xwéda population were slaughtered – casualties were reported to be over 5,000 – and up to 11,000 others were taken prisoner. The ruins of the palace complex held such political significance that Agaja forbade Xwédas from resettling in direct proximity to the palace. The Xwéda kingdom never recovered from this defeat, and the area was thereafter controlled by Dahomey .
The ancient capital Savi remains largely unsettled. This lack of disturbance has left archaeologists with a wealth of cultural materials waiting to be unearthed. Initial archaeological work on the palace in the early 1990's by Kenneth Kelly of the University of South Carolina sparked a new interest in the Xwéda, giving us a better understanding of the palace complex, its kings, and the European visitors who frequented the area.
To better understand the lives of other Xwédan communities, it was necessary to explore the countryside communities surrounding the palace. This exhibit presents the archaeological research conducted on these communities by Neil Norman of the University of Virginia . These findings are presented in an inclusive new exhibit, “The Lost Communities of the Xwéda Kingdom ”, at the Ouidah Museum of History starting June 11, 2006. Through a presentation of archaeological findings in combination with interactive exhibits, artistic endeavors, and detailed explanations, visitors are offered a window into the Xwédan countryside…a countryside that was once lost in a fiery conflict with a story that awaited revisiting for over two hundred years.