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date: 15 November 2019

Igbo-Ukwulocked

  • Thurstan Shaw

Extract

Town in Nigeria (pop. c. 15,000 in the 1990s), situated 40 km south-east of Onitsha, which is on the River Niger. The name means ‘Great Igbo’ in the Igbo language. It is also the name given to the ancient culture that produced the elaborate metalwork and ceramics, dated to the 10th century ad, that were found at three sites on the outskirts of the town.

The first site came to light some time before the outbreak of World War II in 1939 while a man, Isaiah Anozie, was digging a cistern. Not far below ground-level he unearthed a highly decorated bronze bowl, and further digging led to the discovery of other bronzes, some of which were given to his neighbours who thought they would make good ‘medicine’. The remaining objects were bought by John Field, the area’s Assistant District Officer, who published an account of the discovery and presented the collection to the Nigerian Federal Department of Antiquities. At the invitation of the Department, the archaeologist ...

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