Figurines provide clues to lost African civilisation





The round clay outline of a human body decorated with necklace, belt and bracelets has provided archaeologists with the first glimpse in possibly 1,400 years of a lost West African civilisation.


The discovery of 80 clay figurines from burial mounds in a remote area of northern Ghana is being hailed as evidence of the existence of a hitherto unknown but sophisticated society. It is hoped that the find will provide information about the region's pre-Islamic history.

A combined research team from the universities of Ghana and Manchester believe that the hundreds of mounds in the 20 square mile area of the dig were ancient shrines.

"These finds will help to fill a significant gap in our scant knowledge of this period before the Islamic empires developed in West Africa," said Professor Tim Insoll of Manchester University. "They were a sophisticated and technically advanced society: for example, some of the figurines were built in sections."



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