Ikom Monoliths of Cross River State
2008 World Monuments Watch
The Ikom Monoliths are more than 300 upright, carved stones in the Ikom area of Cross River State, Nigeria. Varying in height from one to two meters, many of the monoliths are grouped in circles facing each other. While the images and texts carved on the monoliths remain undeciphered, researchers and linguists believe that inscriptions may represent a prehistoric form of writing and visual communication. Oral histories of the region attribute the monoliths to the earliest residents of the area. An environmental study of the site has identified the most immediate threats to the stones: erosion, exposure to heavy rainfall and extreme heat and sun, biological attack caused by high humidity, damage from falling trees, theft, and vandalism. In addition to the environmental threats to the monoliths, local agricultural practices such as brush burning also threaten the stones. While many members of the local, regional, and federal governments recognize the importance of conserving the monoliths, efforts to preserve them have been thwarted by limited resources.