An Ethnoarchaeological Analysis of Human Functional Dynamics in the Volta Basin in Ghana

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This study examines the functional adaptation of traditional societies to changing economic, social and spatial transformations in the Volta Basin of Ghana, in particular the changes caused by the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the early 1960’s and its effect on two Volta Basin communities displaced by the flood waters. It introduces the history of some of the core West African ethnic groups who laid the foundation for the development of cultural traditions in the area. A special feature of the book is that it identifies natural and cultural environments on an equal basis. It also identifies individual and group response to the transformations that created new and challenging conditions. Methodologically, the book employs an objective application of the principles of ethnoarchaeology to identify progressive societal adaptive strategies, which include settlement patterns, building technology, oral traditions, religion and ritual, marriage and death customs. The book is a result of over twenty years of research in the Volta Basin, living among and sharing knowledge with the people. With many illustrations.


“He examines the physical nature of the two settlements by recreating both their pre-dam existence and describing their level o success in adapting to a major traumatic event. This allows him to place those communities within a larger context and to make some very salutary statements about dam creation, population displacement and lost opportunities that have relevance far outside the boundaries of Ghana.” – Dr. Merrick Posnansky, FSA, University of California, Los Angeles, Emeritus

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
Foreword; Preface
1. Background to the Volta Basin (earliest times and interpretations; early & late Stone Age; metal-working; emerging issues; chronology; approach; identifying populations)
2. Before the Flood (the Basin and its environment; geology and drainage; soil and crops; climate and vegetation; animal life; aquatic resources; ethnic groups; the Krachi; the Nchumuru; the Gonja; the Nawuri)
3. Kasore K’time and K’kpaata: Nchumuru Land Use, Occupation and Foodways (farming, hunting; fishing; fish-smoking; traditional handicrafts and industries)
4. The Dynamics of Social and Spatial Response and House Construction (household, construction, materials, durability)
5. Formation and Transformation of Compound Plans and House Architecture (evolution of forms; physical and social contexts; rooms and courtyard; kitchen; backyard; locational decision making among the Nchumuru)
6. Location and Distribution of Architectural and Structural Features (storage barns, locations, durability, drying platforms; shrines; Kabuno shrines; Dente Shrine; Twin (Ntaa) shrine; personal shrines; firewood piles; ovens; cattle kraal, rubbish dumps; latrines; burial)
7. Ethnoarchaeological Approach to the Study of Past Human Spatial Behavior
8. Archaeological Considerations in Early Settlements (Akwankwakwae; Breniase-On-Kaben; Ketakponda; Kononketakpong; Termite factor at Kononaye; Kumpo; Labeng Kitakpang; Ntrapose Krayiro; Old Kajaji; Old Mokraye; Oseiaye 1; Old Wiae; Takragya; ecological variables; termites and location of settlements; mound building; cultural and historical variables)
9. Archaeological Considerations – Excavations and Results (Old Wiae; pre-excavation assumptions; predictions; house forms; excavation; Kabuno areas of the Old Wiae site; stratigraphy; Breniase quarter; Dapoeta quarter; Ntrapo quarter; Kpenwiae quarter; Tarieso quarter; Oseiaye 1; Kononaye excavation; stone circles; house construction and decay patterns among the Krachi; archaeological implications of site formation process; shirt from circular to rectangular buildings)
10. Human Social Dynamics and Patterns of Spatial Behavior (spatial patterning in settlements; regional pattern development; individual settlement patterning)
Appendices; Bibliography index

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