Before the colonial period, the area which comprises modern Nigeria had an eventful history. More than2,000 years ago , the Nok culture in the present plateau state workd iron an produced sophisticated terra cotta sculpture . In the northern cities of Kano and Katsinarecorded history dates back to 1000 AD. In the centuries that followed , these Hausa Kingdomsa nd the Bornu impire near lake chad prospered as important terminals of north south trade between North African Berbersan forest people who exchaged slaves , ivory, and kola nuts for salt,glass beads, coral, weapons, brass rods, and cowrie shells used as currency.
In the southwest, the Yoruba Kingdom of Oyo was founded about 1400,and at its height from the 17th. to 19th centuriesattained ahigh level of political organisation and extended as far as modern Togo,. In the south cenral part of present day Nigeria , as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, the kingdom of Benin had developed an efficient army, an elaborate ceremonial court, and artisans whose works in ivory,wood, bronze,and brass are prized throughout the world today. In the 17th through 19th centuries , European traders established coastal ports for the increasing traffic in slaves destined for the Americans commodity trade , espciallyin palm oil and timber, replaced slave trade in the 19th century, partcularly under anti-slavery actions by the British navy. In the early 19th century the Fulani leader, Usman dan Fodio, promulgated islam and that brought most areas in the north under the loose control of an empire centered in Sokoto.