The Nok Culture

The Nok people of Nigeria were smelters of iron but also agriculturalists. C. Elliott describes how the culture they founded may have a deep effect upon the ancient history of Africa.

Nok sculpture, terracotta, Louvre
Nok sculpture, terracotta, Louvre

Nigeria, the most populous of modern African states, and potentially the strongest, also possesses richer evidence of its artistic past than any other section of the continent south of the Sahara.

The most ancient of the Nigerian cultures known to us is also that about which least knowledge has been available. This is the ancient iron-working culture, known as the Nok culture, whose remains, of remarkable artistic value, have been coming to light in the ‘Middle Belt’ region of Nigeria during the past twenty years.

The term ‘Middle Belt’ usually refers to the country around and to the north of the Benue and the Niger. It is the home of the many tribes who lie between the Ibo and Yoruba in the south, and the Hausa and Kanuri of the ancient states and cities of the Northern savannah. The Middle Belt includes the valleys of the Benue and the Niger as far as their confluence.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email digital@historytoday.com.

X

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week