6 little known ancient sites of historical importance in Nigeria

When you hear the word history, archeology or artifacts, your mind probably automatically think about countries like Egypt, Iraq, Rome or even Mexico, hardly do you consider countries in the western Africa, and Nigeria might just be the least of your guesses.

As surprising as it turns outs, there are some really ancient archeological sites in Nigeria you’ve probably never heard of. Here are ten of them in no particular order of importance.

1. Lejja Iron Slags, Enugu

Iron Slaggs in Lejja, Nsude Enugu

If you’re looking for Historical sites to visit, a major site of historical attraction is found in Enugu state, Nigeria.
The Lejja site is located in Opi community of Enugu Nigeria, this community houses oldest iron smelting site in the world. This region is populated by Igbo people.

They melted iron in natural draft furnaces and molten slags were drained through shallow conduits to collecting pits, where they formed huge slag block which weighed up to 47kg.

lejja 11

Iron slags on site at Lejja

Over 800 slags of iron were found on the site with many still buried in many scattered location.
This prehistoric archaeological site which contains iron smelting furnaces and slag dated to 2000 BC. Although very little is known about the civilization that accomplished this feat, however this site stands as a historical monument.

If this site peaks your curiosity, then you can find further information in this study published by Chidozia S. Agu and Chukwuma C. Opara of the University of Nigeria Nnsuka .
For more of the latest archeological finds in Lejja, follow the Wiki page for updates

2. The Uto Circular Pyramids, Nsude Enugu

Uto Pyramids

Uto Pyramids

When talks of Pyramids are made, the first thing to come to mind is usually the ancient Egyptian pyramids, built about 3500years ago, very little is know about pyramids in other parts of the world.

However, pyramids have been located in many countries of the world, some of them are the Teotihuacan pyramid in Mexico and the pyramids of Sudan which unlike the pyramids of Giza attracts less attention.
Pyramids are a major center when it comes to historic attractions, and surprisingly, Nigeria has a tiny bit of share in that.

Uto Pyramids

An array Uto Pyramids

One of the Least places you’ll expect to find pyramids is in Nigeria, West Africa, but here we are. The Uto stepped pyramids which total 10 in number where constructed with clay, they have five steps with the base diameter at about 60feets followed by 45feet, with each step bolding a thickness of 3ft.

The pyramids stood at a height of 40feets in its glory days, sadly, due to abandonment, the integrity of this structure has almost completely degraded, leaving little to be seen.

The Uto pyramids which have not been dated was discovered in 1935 by an anthropologist and colonial administrator Mr. G.I. Jones, who took pictures of it.
Little or nothing is known about the actual purpose of the Uto pyramids, however as more research is geared towards it, we will find out soon enough.

3. The Ikom Monoliths

Ikom Monoliths

Ikom Monoliths

Ikom, a city in modern day Cross River State Nigeria, houses one of the most mysterious titanic artifacts in the world. The Ikom Monoliths have been a subject of many controversial issues.

Proponents of various theories surround the origin and purpose of the Monoliths, the chief of which is based off of the work of Prof Catherine Obianuju Acholonu, a writer and professor of African Cultural and Gender Studies who studied at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and served under former President of Nigeria, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo as Senior Special Adviser on Arts and Culture.

Ikom Monolith

Ikom Monolith

Her research has shed light on several a ancient archeological finding. While a proper radiocarbon dating has not been done, the monoliths are estimated to be around 1500 years old.

Dr Acholonu, the Director of the Catherine Acholonu Research Center is pioneering research into Africa’s pre-history, stone inscriptions, cave art, and linguistic analyses of ancient symbols and communication mediums from the continent.

She argues that Nigerian rock-art inscriptions, known as Ikom Monoliths, prove that “Sub-Saharan African Blacks possessed an organized system of writing before 2000 B.C.” and that she and her assistants are able to translate these.

There are others who believe that these Ancient Monoliths denote the earliest civilizations on earth previously belonging to the Sumerians, (The lost City of Arkad).
Whatever the truth behind these stones are and whatever you conclude they are, they are certainly worth visiting.

4. The Great Wall Of Benin

Great Wall Of Benin

Great Wall Of Benin

Not the Great Wall Of China, but this time, lets learn a bit about the Great Wall Of Benin.
I’m sure this is most likely news to you, but believe it, there’s a great wall in Nigeria as well.
With its mathematical layout and earthworks longer than the Great Wall of China, Benin City was one of the best planned cities in the world when London was a place of ‘thievery and murder’.

Having its peak in the 11th century, the Benin Kingdom was the capital of pre-colonial Africa, now located in what is now southern Nigeria. It was the oldest and most developed kingdoms in west Africa.

wall of Binin

Great wall of Binin

According to the Guinness Book of Records in 1974, the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era. According to scientists, the Wall of Benin was at one time four times longer than the Great Wall Of China and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

The Walls are exposed for about 15kilometers in the city and another 16,000 kilometers in the rural area. The Great Wall Of Benin is clearly a historical artifact to behold, best from an Helicopter ride.

5. Ancient City Of Nok

Among the many pre-colonial civilizations that has gone without recognition for so long is the ancient Nok kingdom of what is now a village in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
The Nok culture is an early Iron Age population, their terracotta sculptures were first discovered in 1928. The Nok Culture appeared in northern Nigeria around 1500 BC [1] and vanished under unknown circumstances around 500 AD, having lasted approximately 2,000 years.

Nok 22

The Nok society engaged in agriculture, pottery, art, and trading, They made their homes and buildings out of bricks, many of which still stand until present day.

Nok terracotta sculptures are hollow, coil built, nearly life sized human heads and bodies that are depicted with highly stylized features, abundant jewelry, and varied postures.

Although is known about their functions, Nok terracotta’s are prices in the international art market when found in well preserved formed as most of them are found in alluvial mud, within erosion and environmental degraded areas. Most sculptures found are of male or female heads with well detailed hairs.

6. Ancient Walls Of kano

Standing 50feet tall and 40feet thick at the base, the ancient wall of kano was built for defense against enemy invasions.
Built between 1095AD – 1134AD by the third king of the kingdom of Kano, Sarki Gijimasu, and was completed in the middle of 14th Century during the reign of Zamnagawa.

Kano-city-walls 2

Kano-city-walls 2

In the 16th century, the walls were further extended to their present position. The gates are as old as the walls and were used to control movement of people in and out of the city. Though, most of them are largely in ruins.
According to historians, the then General-Governor of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, Fredrick Lugard, wrote in a 1903 report about the Kano Walls that he had “never seen anything like it in Africa” after capturing the ancient city of Kano along with British forces.

Kano-city-walls 2

Kano-city-walls 2



The wall of Kano stands today as a reminder of one of the advancements of the sub-shaharan in Architecture and technology.
The kano Wall housed a Hausa speaking community which started sometime around 1000AD and lasted until and the proclamation of the Sultanate of Kano by King Ali Yaji Dan Tsamiya in 1349.
The kingdom was then replaced by the Sultanate of Kano, under the suzerainty of a Muslim Sultan .

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