Cross River Monoliths

A Nigerian project aimed at documenting, conserving and raising awareness about the legacy represented by monoliths found near the Cross River, in which they were shaped and subsequently carved by men.

Project year: 2020

Factum Arte has mastered the art of reproducing paintings, objects, structures and monuments with its state-of-the-art 3D laser technology. Its founder, Adam Lowe, shared with us his deep knowledge of history, art and culture. He presented several projects to the Foundation Board, among which we selected a Nigerian project from Cross River State on the monoliths of the Bakor area. The project, which is being monitored by the Factum Arte Foundation, aims to document, conserve and educate the public about the heritage of these monoliths, which were carved out of the nearby riverbeds and then sculpted by man.


These works of art are among the most important sculptural works in sub-Saharan Africa. During and after the Biafran civil war, many of these works of art were stolen and sold to European dealers. They now reside in museums and private collections around the world. The Factum Foundation has recorded five monoliths removed from Nigeria since 1969: one from the Metropolitan Museum (New York), one from the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris) and two from a private dealer in Belgium. The fifth was registered at the Israel Museum (Jerusalem) in the summer of 2019.


Along with the other monoliths registered in Cross River State, an exhibition will open at the University of Calabar and tour other venues in the region, which are not able to display the original objects. Before repatriating the original works, it is essential to carry out an inventory of the monoliths in the Bakor region and to raise public awareness so that this legacy of the past is respected and preserved, thus making an important contribution to Africa’s cultural heritage.


A grant from the Carène Foundation has enabled the British Museum’s monolith exhibition in 2023 to thereafter tour the sites in Nigeria and subsequently be permanently installed in Alok.

The ancient rock art of Nigeria – Opening of the Alok Visitor Centre: Read article



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