Aztecs of Mexico, Incas of Peru, NOK of Nigeria this simple sentence has shown that every Country have an Ancient civilizations associated to them which have been proven through Archaeology. This post will concentrate on the NOK civilization of Nigeria.
NOK Civilization has been labeled as ancient because of it is old and have only artifacts and ruins left which are studied mostly by Archeologist. NOK culture is a culture which provides evidence of the earliest ancient civilization of Nigeria.
According to recorded documents there were some archaeological findings at a small village known as Nok near Kafanchan in the southern area of Kaduna state. It has been said that the first Nok artifact was discovered in 1928 by Colonel Dent Young, a co-owner of a mining partnership, but it was mainly stumbled upon by tin miners who were using water to remove tin ore from the soil, what they saw during the process is what is called terra cotta (burnt clay) and it was in form of head of a monkey. It was accidentally unearthed at a level of 24 feet from an alluvial tin mine.
Some years later, terra cottas were discovered in other places, such as Wamba, Jema and Katsina-Ala. The area where these terra cotta figurines were found is called Nok culture Area.
The civilization has been seen as a transitional culture between the Stone Age and Iron Age in Nigeria because of the presence of a combination of stone and iron objects. However, Taruga, where the first terra cotta figurines were found was a fully Iron center because no stone tools were found there.
Radio carbonation which is a tool used by Archaeologist was carried out and it is believed that the Nok culture existed between the 5th and 2nd century B.C. It belonged to a people who had a lot of things in common including a well organized economy.
Nok culture is significant in Nigeria History because it showed that there was civilization in Nigeria before the coming of Europeans and this civilization was organized and the people made iron tools and weapons.
Apart from the iron smelting furnaces and the terra cotta sculptures of animal and human figurines found in the area, they also smelted tins because tin beads were found in some of the sites. Some of the people also made pottery.
To wrap up, Nok art has been described as geometric and rigid. Some areas in the Nok area still show practices seen in the artifacts such as in Jaba, it has been said that people still use the hair styles found on the Nok terra-cotta heads.
B.e.b Fags, The Nok Culture Prehistory, “Journal of Historical society of Nigeria Vol.1, no 4 pp 288-29.
Obaro Ikime, Groundwork of Nigerian History, Heinemann Educational book, 1980
Ibadan Tunde Odunobi and Ibi Iwagwu, Nigeria an Ethno Historical Survey.
The Pictures courtesy Goggle/ Wikipedia