Nok sites are rich in finds of all categories. Especially pottery and stone tools are very common, most of them are grinders and axe blades. Terracotta fragments can be found on almost every site. Iron objects are known but come like other relics of metallurgy only occasionally. All finds are affected by weathering and erosion.
Terracotta sculptures
A typical feature for the stylized representations of the animals and humans is the elliptic or triangular shape of the eyes with a dimple or hole to depict the pupils. Individual attributes like beards, adornments and extravagant hairstyles or headgears are parts of the elaborated terracotta and attest the skills of the manufacturer. The rough texture is caused by the high percentage of granitic grit of the clay. The former smooth slip is weathered. The figures larger than 20 cm are hollow and built up by adding material successively.

Nok terracotta fragments

In contrast to the magnificent sculptures, which can be viewed in the catalogs , we find only fragments of which are heavily weathered and always broken. Actually just in one case the fragments fitted together to one complete figure. Beside this exception all figures are fragmented so that an intentional destruction is assumed. What features they had , remains speculative. Regarding this the context of the figures plays an important role! They were found both in the ordinary waste of the settlements as well as a part of complex hoards. Probably they served different purposes, their only similarity was the subsequent destruction. In general terracottas are frequent and were quite sure an important part of everyday life.


The pots have have a variety of surface treatments as well as a large range of shapes. The most common decoration techniques are incisions and impressions. Those designs are often placed between two lines and appear like belts. Like the terracottas the pottery was tempered with rough inorganic pieces. Some of the decoration motives have been used for the figurines as well. Unique is a depiction on the surface of a pot: a face with the typical Nok attributes.


Stone artefacts

Stone tools at Nok sites emerge frequently. Beside numerous, often broken grinding tools also axe blades, fragments of stone rings or beads are represented. Every tool has marks of use or appears broken. Raw materials have been Quartzite and granitic stones (grinders), Rose Quartz, Carnelian and Jasper (beads) or vulcanite (stone rings, axe blades). Most of the stones are likely to be in the vicinity of the sites. As many of the sites are nearby granitic rocks the opportunity for grinding could have been an aspect for the choice of the location. Dimples in the stones are common which seem to have been used for crushing different materials. To identify those materials some grinding stones had been analyzed. But these archaeobotanical samples didn't relieve remains of starch to answer this question.

Ground stone axes, huge fragments of grinding stones and a necklace of stone beads.

It's remarkable that tools for cutting like chipped artifacts or hunting projectiles like arrow points are absent so far. The occasional fragments of Hematite and Goethite have sanding marks and indirectly prove the production of color. The frequency of stone tools such as stone axes indicates a use for most of the daily works. It seems that iron as a raw material still was scarce.

Iron objects

The metallurgy seems to have a long tradition in this region. Huge slag heaps and remains of smelting furnaces imply metal production in almost industrial dimensions, up to 500 years ago. The production of iron in this region ranges back to the time of the Nok culture as dates of excavated smelting furnaces suggest. Most of them date to 500 BCE or even earlier and thus are among the earliest in sub-Saharan context. Finds of iron object with a certain context of Nok are very scarce. Among 50 excavations only 16 iron objects had been documented. One of them, an iron axe, is shown on the left picture. On the right a big piece of slag can be seen, which comes from a recent place for smelting and forging.

Nok Iron Axe