|20 February 2015
Security threats delay research into Nok Culture
The on-going research into the Nigerian Nok Culture has recently received some good news but also suffered bad news also.
The 12 year old project, headed up by the Institute for Archaeological Sciences in Frankfurt (Germany), has been on-going since 2005. The project recently enjoyed a 1.6 million Euro cash injection from the German Research Foundation, which is sufficient to allow continuance of the project for a further 3 years.
However, the current unrest in Nigeria, including attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, has halted all research and efforts have been focused on finds already in the team's possession.
One of the main features of the Nok Culture was the production of large terracotta figures, some of which have been dated at over 2000 years old. The abandonment of the current 79 sites is further bad news, as these are now vulnerable to looters.
Professor Peter Breuing, a member of the research team, is quoted as saying "The sculptures are very highly sought after on the international art market. In their search for these treasures the looters systematically destroy one site after another".
Other areas of research undertaken by the team include investigations into the Culture's economy and environment, including analysis of crops grown and the change from small isolated groups to larger, more cohesive communities, as evidenced by the widespread finds of terracotta figures. It is hoped, when the security situation improves, that the research can continue into the history of iron smelting by the Culture, centred on a major settlement area.
Edited from Past Horizons (8 February 2015)
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