The Nok civilization began to exist in Neolithic Africa perharps as many as 3,000 years ago. It developed through the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age before disappearing around 600 A.D.. We haven't a single clue as to what caused their disappearance. It might have been severe climate change, a pandemic, an invasion, an epidemic or famine, but we really cannot say with certainty.
Their statues are extraordinary, astonishing, ageless, timeless and almost extraterrestrial. Each one is astounding, a unique masterpiece, concerning principally human subjects, men and women, treated with the highest attention to detail and refinement. Some are animal subjects, though they are rare, and even more rare are zoomorphic, even anthro-zoomorphic subjects. It would appear that a shamanic religion was established in the Nok society. Certain representations of bird-men, half-sphinx and half-sphinge can be linked to the animism of ancient Egypt.
Our virtual gallery presents a selection of objects principally found on the Nok excavation sites in the 1960s. The majority of the pieces are smaller objects, fragments of larger and more rare pieces that have been battered and rolled around in the alluvial deposits of rivers and in the rubble of mining excavations.
At more that 150,000 square kilometers, the surface area of the archaeological zone is enormous. Classified by the region in which the statues were discovered, you will find rare and classical examples of Nok sculpture in our gallery. Further away from the principal sites were found other statues with Nok characteristics but with a longer face or head. These statues are called Katsina Ala to differentiate the strong prognathiscism of this particular style. In the regions even further from the principal sites in the north and northwest of the zone, were found Sokoto and Katsina statues, contemporary with the Nok statues, but with different characteristics. The Katsina statues seem to date from a more recent period than the Nok or Sokoto statues.
By clicking on a piece in our gallery, you will find a detailed explanation, as well as several photographs of the statue from taken from different camera angles (front, back, and sides). The pieces presented in this virtual gallery were photographed in various other galleries, auction houses and exhibitions principally in France. Some of the pieces are in private collections. Most of the Nok statues presented here have been physically and chemically dated by thermoluminescence.
We opened a Friend's Gallery where we exhibit other Nok, Sokoto or Katsina statues that you may encounter and photograph as a way to share your experiences with the amateur community, with the utmost confidentiality, of course.
We would also like to be in contact with you, hear your reactions, expectations and suggestions. Whether you are a connoisseur of African art, African ceramics, the Nok civilization, or simply an admirer, welcome to memoire d'afrique. Thank you for taking a moment to visit us and the Nok civilization.
We will try, in as much as it is possible, to regularly update this online exhibit with the goal of informing the visitors to our site and to begin an exchange of ideas between aficionados and collectors to preserve make known the Nok civilization. For more information or to give us your comments, do not hesitate to click on the link above to contact us by e-mail, or by normal mail with any questions or comments.