The Nok Civilization (1000 BC – 300 AD) in present day Nigeria is believed to have started around 1000 BC.
Excavations have found close to one hundred Nok settlements revealing terracotta sculptures from 500 BC (pictured above), pottery, and evidence of large iron furnaces also dating back to at least 500 BC.
The houses are large, especially that of the king, which is richly decorated and has fine columns. It is so well governed that theft is unknown and the people live in such security that they have no doors to their houses.” Just east of Benin was the Nri Kingdom of the Igbo people (948 – 1911 AD) (present day southeastern Nigeria) that ruled its people solely by political and spiritual influence absent any military.
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The city of Timbuktu was an important center of commerce and education during the Mali and Songhay Empires.
Timbuktu was the location of the University of Sankore founded in 988 AD (pictured above) which was famous throughout the Muslim world.
Mansa Musa appears on a Spanish map (above) made in the year 1325 holding a large gold nugget.
This is believed to be why European interest in the rich African continent grew.
Evidence of the Sao Civilization (500 BC-1500 AD) in present day eastern Nigeria, southern Chad, and northern Cameroon, near Lake Chad has traced its history to around 300 BC based on the discovery of pottery and terracotta sculptures (pictured above) at several sites in the area.