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Alok Ikom Stone Monoliths

Date of Submission: 08/10/2007
Criteria: (i)(iii)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
National Commission for Museums and Monuments
State, Province or Region:

Cross River State, South South Nigeria


Coordinates: N6 00 E8 30
Ref.: 5173
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Akwasnshi/Atal as the monolith is called among the Ejagham people of the Cross River State is distributed among over" thirty communities. In each community, the stones are found in circles, sometimes perfect circles, facing each other standing erect, except where they have been tampered with by weather or man.

In some cases, the stones are found in the center of the village or in the central meeting place of the village elders, as in the case of Alok and Agba communities. In Etinan and Nabrokpa communities, the stones are located in an area of uncultivated forest outside the villages. The majority of the stones are carved in hard, medium-textured basaltic rock, a few are carved in sandstone and shelly limestone. The common features of the monoliths are that they are hewn into the form of a phallus ranging from about three feet in height to about five and half feet and are decorated with carvings of geometric and stylized human features, notably two eyes, an open mouth, a head crowned with rings, a stylized pointed beard, an elaborately marked navel, two decorative hands with five fingers, a nose, various shape of facial marks.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The stone monoliths of Alok Ikom bear a form of writing and a complex system of codified information. Although they seem to share the same general features, each stone, like the human finger print, is unique from every other stone in its design and execution.

The geometric images on the monoliths suggest that their makers possessed more than a basic knowledge of mathematics, not only because they are geometric, but also because of the obvious implication that there were computations and numbers on the layout of the stones.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Ikom monoliths with their geometric inscriptions could be compared to the rock Arts of Tanzania. The meanings of the codified symbol are known to only the artists. These are also associated with their origin, which is like most rock art works in Africa. Ikom monoliths could be West Africa's answer to United Kingdom's Stonehenge.

They are similar in arrangement and ordering to the Stone circuits in the Gambia, but unique in their complexity of design and interpretation.