A Chronology of the Central Nigerian Nok Culture – 1500 BC to the Beginning of the Common Era

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The Central Nigerian Nok Culture and its well-known terracotta figurines have been the focus of a joint research project between the Goethe University Frankfurt and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria since 2005. One major research question concerns chronological aspects of the Nok Culture, for which a period from around the middle of the first millennium BC to the first centuries AD had been suggested by previous investigations. This paper presents and discusses the radiocarbon and luminescence dates obtained by the Frankfurt Nok project. Combining the absolute dates with the results of a comprehensive pottery analysis, a chronology for the Nok Culture has been developed. An early phase of the Nok Culture’s development begins around the middle of the second millennium BC. Its main phase, in which terracotta figurines and iron production appear, starts in the 9th century BC and ends in the 4th century BC. A later phase with vanishing evidence extends into the last centuries BC. On sites dating from the first centuries AD onwards no more Nok terracotta or pottery are found; the end of the Nok Culture is thus set around the turn of the Common Era.

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