Amazing Terra Cotta Sculpture From Iron Age

One of the earliest examples of sophisticated sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa came from the Nok culture, an Iron Age civilization. The culture appeared around 1000 B.C. and mysteriously vanished around 500 AD in the region of West Africa.

In 1928 Lt-Colonel John Dent-Young was leading mining operations in the Nigerian village of Nok. Close to the village and the Jos Plateau region one of his miners found a small piece of terra cotta sculpture. Later, terra cottas scattered at various depths throughout the Sahel grasslands were unearthed. The sculptures range in size from small pendants to life-size figures. Today several items of them can be seen at the Barakat Family Museum. One of them is worth of our special attention, a 31x 16 cm sculpture of a sitting couple.

Memorialized in clay, this couple represents a pair of conjoined, or Siamese, twins who makes the artifact unmatched and breath-taking.

Conjoined twins is one of the rarest forms of twinning and would certainly be interpreted as a most ominous event at any time and in any community. This sculpture captures the spectacle of this natural wonder. However, there is something else too. It is well known that conjoined twins is always monozygotic, therefore, either males or females. Nevertheless, the artist represented one twin as female (with breasts) and the other as male (appears to be taller than the female co-twin).

The seated couple share one leg and are connected at the torso. Although they wear two necklaces in the front, the necklace appears as one in the back. This gorgeous sculpture must have honored a most spectacular and sacred pair of beings in the ancient times. Moreover M. L. Marínez Frías considers the amazing Nok artifact as a representation the very first known case of conjoined twins with different sexes in human history.

Why did the artist represent one twin female and the other male? It cannot be conjoined, monozygotic twins with different sexes! A mysterious ancient culture - the only rational answer might come to our mind - produced a mystical figurine for religious purposes without any intention of having it been connected to the reality.

But can really not be monozygotic twins with different sexes?

The first and only reported case of conjoined twins presenting morphologically different sexes was presented in 2007 by Kim and co-workers. They published what appears to be the first and only reported case of conjoined twins, presenting external and internal genitalia of morphologically different sexes. In spite of the distinct different sexual appearances microscopic examination showed that internal genitalia had oocytes in both twins and chromosomal studies documented that both were females (XX).

Article Source: Tibor Rozsahegyi

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