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Visit Nigeria's Ancient Terrecota City



The ancient Nok settlement




The ancient Nok settlement holds profound historical and archaeological importance within Nigeria, as it served as the thriving heartland of the Nok culture, one of Western Africa's earliest known societies, flourishing from around 500 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. It is located at a village called Nok in present-day Jaba, Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State, Nigeria.


The Nok culture has garnered acclaim for its terracotta sculptures, revered as some of Africa's oldest and most sophisticated artistic creations.


These sculptures exhibit distinctive characteristics, including triangular or oval-shaped eyes, intricate hairstyles, and ornate embellishments. Moreover, some of these sculptures depict the use of iron tools and weapons, suggesting the Nok people's prowess in ironworking and agriculture.



In 1928, the Nok settlement was first brought to light when a visitor shared terracotta fragments with archaeologist Bernard Fagg. Since then, an array of sculptures and artifacts have surfaced across the expansive Jos Plateau, spanning an impressive area of over 78,000 square kilometers. The consistent use of clay from a central source implies a centralized authority governing the production and distribution of these remarkable artworks.


Despite the wealth of findings, the Nok culture remains enigmatic, with limited knowledge regarding its origins, identity, social structure, religion, and eventual decline. Some scholars speculate that the Nok culture left an indelible mark on subsequent artistic traditions in West Africa, influencing cultures such as Ife, Bura, Koma, Jenne-Jeno, and Igbo-Ukwu.


The ancient Nok settlement stands as an invaluable archaeological treasure within Nigeria's central region. This site provides a unique portal into the bygone era and cultural heritage of the Nok people, extending over two millennia ago.


Of notable significance within the Nok settlement are its terracotta sculptures, heralded as among sub-Saharan Africa's oldest creations. These sculptures captivate with their intricate representations of humans, animals, and mythical beings, offering a testament to the Nok civilization's artistic prowess.


Beyond their artistic achievements, the Nok culture made substantial contributions to early African metallurgy and agriculture, showcasing proficiency in ironworking and advanced farming techniques.


Continuing to be a focal point of research and exploration, the Nok settlement contributes to an enriched understanding of ancient African civilizations and their enduring impact. It bears witness to the profound historical tapestry and cultural richness of Nigeria and the broader African continent.

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