The highly advanced and mysterious ancient civilization of the Nok

The mysterious ancient civilization of the Nok - Nigeria


The remarkable civilization of the Nok was first discovered in 1928 when a wealth of unique terracotta artefacts was unearthed by tin miners in the southern part of Kaduna state in central Nigeria. Since then, extensive archaeological excavations and research into the Nok have revealed that they may have been the first complex civilization in West Africa, existing from at least 900 BC until their mysterious disappearance in around 200 AD.

The Nok were an extremely advanced society, with one of the most complex judicial systems of the time, and the earliest producers of life-sized terracotta in the Sub-Sahara.  Archaeologists have also found stone tools, rock paintings and iron implements, including fearsome spear points, bracelets, and small knives.

Terracotta Statues

But by far the most enigmatic and intriguing aspect of the Nok Culture were their Terracotta statues, described by the mémoire d’afrique, which houses a gallery of the statues, as “extraordinary, astonishing, ageless, timeless and almost extraterrestrial”.

The figures, which date back to at least 500 BC, are almost always people with large, mostly elongated heads with almond-shaped hollow looking eyes are parted lips. These unusual features are particularly perplexing considering that the statues have been constructed accurately with relative proportions of the head, body and feet, leading some to use the term ‘extraterrestrial-looking’ when describing them.

Microscopic inspection of the clay used in the terracotta shows it to be remarkably uniform over the whole Nok area, suggesting that the clay came from a single, yet-undiscovered source.  Not much is known about the purposes of these peculiar sculptures but some theories have suggested they were used as charms to prevent crop failure, illness and infertility, while others have suggested that they represent high status individuals who were worshipped by the people.

However, the construction of life-sized statues isn’t the only evidence of the advancement of their society. Research has revealed that the Nok people had a highly developed system of administration to ensure law and order.

Judicial System

It is a known fact that the Nok’s judicial system pre-dates the western judicial system. The Nok people created classes of courts used for adjudicating cases from minor civil cases, such as family disputes and false allegations, to criminal cases such as stealing, murder and adultery.  The people believed that every crime attracts a curse which was capable of destroying whole family and therefore must be uncovered to avoid the consequences.

The suspect was brought before an open court for traditional oath taking, which involved standing between two monoliths facing the sun, the most supreme god called Nom. The suspect then swore to tell the truth.  Cases that cannot be resolved in the open court are taken to the high court which sits within an enclosed shrine.

The court was presided over by the Chief Priest and various clan heads. Anyone found guilty was fined goats and chicken for sacrifice to the gods and local wine for the chief priest.  The town would then declare a day of celebration on which the people would thank the gods for their graces in successfully resolving the issue and averting doom for the people.

Disappearance

A sharp drop in the volume of pottery and terracotta in soil layers suggests that the once-thriving Nok population declined fairly rapidly and no evidence can be found of their existence after 200 AD, nor has any evidence been found which suggests a reason for their disappearance.  Some have suggested that overexploitation of natural resources and a heavy reliance on charcoal may have played a role, while others have said it could have been any number of different possibilities including climate change, a pandemic, invasion, epidemic or famine.

The Nok civilization left a remarkable cultural legacy for the people that followed after them, but there are still many unanswered questions about the Nok, from why they disappeared to the true purpose and nature of the unique and mysterious terracotta statues.

By April Holloway

Graham Hancock: “New Archaeological Discoveries Uncover The Mysteries Of A Lost Civilization”

Alternative history author Graham Hancock (Fingerprints of the Gods) has been traveling the globe, investigating a number of ‘anomalous’ megalithic sites that seem to push the date of the first human civilisations back many years, such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey and Gunung Padang in Indonesia. Though Graham’s new book about this topic isn’t due till next year, interested readers will definitely want to check out a new feature article, about his research so far, that has just gone live on his website: “From Indonesia To Turkey New Archaeological Discoveries Uncover The Mysteries Of A Lost Civilisation“. 

“Everything we’ve been taught about the origins of civilization may be wrong,” says Danny Natawidjaja, PhD, senior geologist with the Research Centre for Geotechnology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “Old stories about Atlantis and other a great lost civilizations of prehistory, long dismissed as myths by archaeologists, look set to be proved true.”

I’m climbing with Dr Natawidjaja up the steep slope of a 300-ft high step-pyramid set amidst a magical landscape of volcanoes, mountains and jungles interspersed with paddy fields and tea plantations a hundred miles from the city of Bandung in West Java, Indonesia.

The pyramid has been known to archaeology since 1914 when megalithic structures formed from blocks of columnar basalt were found scattered amongst the dense trees and undergrowth that then covered its summit. Local people held the site to be sacred and called it Gunung Padang, the name it still goes by today, which means “Mountain of Light”, or “Mountain of Enlightenment”, in the local Sundanese language. The summit, where the megaliths were found arranged across five terraces had been used as a place of meditation and retreat since time immemorial, archaeologists were told, and again this remains true today.

However neither the archaeologists, nor apparently the locals realized the pyramid was a pyramid. It was believed to be a natural hill, somewhat modified by human activity, until Natawidjaja and his team began a geological survey here in 2011. By then the summit had long since been cleared and the megalithic terraces recognized to be ancient and man-made, but no radiocarbon dating was ever done and the previously accepted age of the site – about 1,500 to 2,500 BC — was based on guesswork rather than on excavations.

The first scientific radiocarbon dating was done by Natawidjaja himself on soils underlying the megaliths at or near the surface. The dates produced – around 500 to 1,500 BC – were very close to the archaeological guesswork and caused no controversy. However a surprise was in store as Natawidjaja and his team extended their investigation using tubular drills that brought up cores of earth and stone from much deeper levels.

First the drill cores contained evidence – fragments of columnar basalt – that man-made megalithic structures lay far beneath the surface. Secondly the organic materials brought up in the drill cores began to yield older and older dates – 3,000 BC to 5,000 BC, then 9,600 BC as the drills bit deeper, then around 11,000 BC, then, 15,000 BC and finally at depths of 90 feet and more an astonishing sequence of dates of 20,000 BC to 22,000 BC and earlier.

“This was not at all what my colleagues in the world of archaeology expected or wanted to hear” says Natawidjaja, who earned his PhD at Cal Tech in the United States and who, it becomes apparent, regards archaeology as a thoroughly unscientific discipline.

The problem is that those dates from 9,600 BC and earlier belong to the period that archaeologists call the “Upper Palaeolithic” and take us back deep into the last Ice Age when Indonesia was not a series of islands as it is today but was part of a vast southeast Asian continent dubbed “Sundaland” by geologists.

Click through to read the entire article.

GRAHAM HANCOCK’S “QUEST FOR THE LOST CIVILIZATION” **FULL MOVIE*

Remember too that you can find Graham on Facebook and on Twitter.

Credits: DailyGrail