Sites of the Nok Culture  

Nok sites are in regions which are remote nowadays. It seems there wasn't any preference for special positions. They're located on flat areas or on slopes as well as on plateaus. Some are situated on high hilltops where a great overview of the landscape is possible. Dense forests and unapproachable situations account for logistical challenges.

The Nok sites known today lie within an area of 500 km in Central Nigeria (oval outline on the map). The focus of our studies, the case study, is on a region of about 340 km² (rectangle outline). Close to the centre of the rectangle outline our research station is located which also provides our camps during the fieldworks.

To date, we recorded more than 280 sites within the case study area sites which mostly had previously been unknown, indicating a high population density during the Nok culture.

The dating of the excavated sites spans from 1500 BCE to the beginning of the Common Era and attests a long continuity of settlement.

The places marked in red are at the borders of the distribution area of Nok and had been excavated in the 1960s and 70s. Taruga is known for the very early dating for iron production dating to 500 BCE.

Looted Nok site
A site completely destroyed by illicit diggings. In search of the terracotta hundreds of sites get destroyed. It's challenging for the archaeologists.
Artifacts are always inside structures like pits, which are distinguishable from the surrounded soil by the dark color. Only the lower zone with the rounded pits dates to the Nok culture. A hole made by illegal diggings. Characteristic charcoal concentrations cause the dark color of the soil. The diggers can't sale the terracotta fragments and left them aside.

Many sites are extremely destroyed by illicit diggings, so that only small areas remain for excavations.