Some 2,500 years ago, a mysterious culture emerged in Nigeria. The Nok people left behind bizarre terracotta statues — and little else. German archaeologists are now looking for more clues to explain this obscure culture.
Half a ton of pottery shards is piled on the tables in Peter Breunig’s workroom on the sixth floor of the University of Frankfurt am Main. There are broken pots, other storage vessels, a clay lizard and fragments of clay faces with immense nostrils. The chipped head of a statue depicts an African man with a moustache, a fixed glare and hair piled high up on his head. He looks gloomy, almost sinister. Just a few days ago, the ceramics traveled 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) by sea from Nigeria, where they were unearthed.