Thermoluminescence dating of ceramics
In 1928, the first find was accidentally unearthed at a level of 24 feet in an alluvial tin mine in the vicinity of the village of Nok near the Jos Plateau region of Nigeria (Folorunso 32).
As a result of natural erosion and deposition, Nok terracottas were scattered at various depths throughout the Sahel grasslands, causing difficulty in the dating and classification of the mysterious artifacts.
He brought it to the city of Jos and showed it to the trainee civil administrator, Bernard Fagg, an archaeologist who immediately understood its importance.
He asked all of the miners to inform him of all of their discoveries and was able to amass more than 150 pieces.
The archaeologist Bernard Fagg, in his studies on the Nok culture, identified the Nok culture with central Nigerian groups such as the Ham (Jaba) ethnic group of Southern Kaduna State, based on similarities between some of the cultural practices and dressing of those modern central Nigerian groups and the figures depicted in the Nok art.
In February 2013, Daily Trust reported that the Nigerian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and National Orientation repossessed five Nok statuettes looted by a French thief in August 2010.
Afterwards, Bernard and Angela Fagg ordered systematic excavations that revealed many more profitable lucky finds dispersed over a vast area, much larger than the original site.
In 1977, the number of terra cotta objects discovered in the course of the mining excavation amounted to 153 units, mostly from secondary deposits (the statuettes had been carted by floods near the valleys) situated in dried-up riverbeds in savannahs in Northern and Central Nigeria (the Southwestern portion of the Jos Plateau).
During these operations, one of the miners found a small terracotta of a monkey head.
The figures are hollow, with several openings to facilitate thorough drying and firing.
The firing process most likely resembled that used today in Nigeria, in which the pieces are covered with grass, twigs, and leaves and burned for several hours.
The statues are in fragments because the discoveries are usually made from alluvial mud, in terrain made by the erosion of water.
The terracotta statues found there are hidden, rolled, polished, and broken.