Bura archaeological site

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The archeological site of Bura is located in the Tillabéry Region, of the Tera Department, in southwest Niger. The Bura archeological site has given its name to the area's first-millennium Bura culture.

Site description[edit]

The Bura site consists of many individual necropoleis with coffins crested by unusually-distinctive terra cotta statuettes. The main necropolis itself has a diameter of about one kilometer. Burial mounds, religious altars, and ancient dwellings occur here over a large area. In 1983 a site 25 meters by 20 meters was excavated.

Artifacts and looting[edit]

Following the 1975 discovery and 1983 excavation of the Bura archeological site, and after a Bura-Asinda exhibition toured France in the 1990s, the ancient Bura earthenware statuettes became highly valued by collectors.[1]

The clay and stone anthropomorphic heads of the ancient and medieval Bura culture have been sought for their unusual abstraction and simplicity.[2]

Unfortunately, widespread looting and smuggling has followed this commercial demand, and so many of the Bura culture sites have been negatively impacted.[3] Le Monde concludes that "90 percent of Niger's Bura sites have been damaged" by looters and vandals since 1994.[4]

Other Bura artifacts have been large terracotta burial jars (both tubular and ovoid) and varied funerary pottery. Of the 834 Bura-related sites in the Niger River valley, UNESCO reports that the original Bura archeological site has produced the oldest equestrian clay statues.[5]

More recently, many Bura "rat-tail" iron-age spear-points have also entered the Euro-American collectors market.[6]

World Heritage status[edit]

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on May 26, 2006 in the Cultural category.[7]


  1. ^ Watson & Todeschini (2007) p344
  2. ^ Note the exhibits at the Hamill Gallery at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  and the Barakat Gallery at [1]
  3. ^ Watson, Peter; Cecilia Todeschini (2007). The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities, from Italy. PublicAffairs. p. 30. ISBN 1-58648-438-9. 
  4. ^ LeMonde in English
  5. ^ The Bura Archeological Site, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, translated into English
  6. ^ October 2009 e-mail correspondence with John M. Parker Sr., Riverside Company, in Dandridge, Tennessee, [2]
  7. ^ Site archéologique de Bura - UNESCO World Heritage Centre