Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 163–196 | Cite as

Culture contact, continuity, and change on the Gold Coast, AD 1400–1900

  • Christopher R. Decorse
Article

Abstract

This article briefly examines the consequences of the European presence on the Gold Coast, focusing on archaeological, ethnographic, and historical data from the African settlement of Elmina, Ghana. Documentary sources indicate that there was extensive change in sociopolitical institutions, economic relations, and other aspects of Gold Coast society in the centuries following the advent of European trade in the late fifteenth century. Archaeological survey and excavation of some 30 structures at Elmina similarly indicates a great deal of change in construction technology and material culture during the post-European contact period. However, examination of artefact patterning and associations indicates that in certain respects there was little change in terms of people's shared world view and belief systems. This picture can be contrasted with data from sites in other areas which may have experienced a great deal of culture change during the post-European contact period.

Keywords

Economic Relation Construction Technology Fifteenth Century Gold Coast Archaeological Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

Cet article examine brièvement les conséquences de la présence européenne sur la Côte de l'Or, se penchant plus particulièrement sur les données archéologiques, ethnographiques et historiques du site d'Elmina au Ghana. Les sources documentaries indiquent qu'un changement de grande envergure affectant les institutions socio-politiques, les relations économiques et d'autres aspects de la société de la Côte de l'Or pris place durant les siècles suivant l'arrivée du commerce européen à la fin du quinzième siècle. Un survey archéologique et les fouilles d'environ 30 structures à Elmina, indiquent aussi qu'un changement étendu des techniques de construction et de la culture matérielle s'effectue après la période de contact européen. Toutefois, l'étude de la distribution et des associations des objets, indique que le système de croyance et l'idée du monde partagée par cette société furent peu affectés.

Cette image peut être comparée avec les données obtenues sur d'autres sites ayant fait l'expérience d'un changement culturel important pendant la période postérieure aux contacts européens.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agorsah, E. K. 1983a. Social behavior and spatial context.African Study Monographs 3:119–28.Google Scholar
  2. Agorsah, E. K. 1983b.An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Settlement and Behavior Patterns of a West African Traditional Society: the Nchumuru of Banda-Wiae in Ghana. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  3. Agorsah, E. K. 1986. House forms in northern Volta Basin, Ghana: evolution, internal spatial organization and the social relationships depicted.W.A.J.A. 16:25–51.Google Scholar
  4. Alexander, J. C. and Seidman, S. 1990.Culture and Society: contemporary debates. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Arhin, K. 1966. Diffuse authority among the coastal Fanti.Ghana Notes and Queries 9:66–70.Google Scholar
  6. Baesjou, R. 1979.An Asante Embassy on the Gold Coast (African Social Research Documents 11). Cambridge: African Studies Centre.Google Scholar
  7. Ballong-Wen-Mewuda, J. B. 1984.São Jorge da Mina (Elmina) et son contexte socio-historique pendant l'occupation portugaise (1482–1637). Thèse de Doctorat, Université de Paris.Google Scholar
  8. Barbot, J. 1732.A Description of the Coasts of North and South Guinea. London.Google Scholar
  9. Barnett, H. G.et al. 1954. Acculturation: an exploratory formulation.American Anthropologist 56:973–1002.Google Scholar
  10. Bascom, W. R. and Herskovits, M. J. (eds.) 1962.Continuity and Change in African Cultures. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Beals, A. R. 1967.Culture in Process. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  12. Bean, R. 1974. A note on the relative importance of slaves and gold in West African exports.J.A.H. 15:351–6.Google Scholar
  13. Beaudry, M. C. (ed.) 1988.Documentary Archaeology in the New World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Beck, N. and Hyland, A. D. C. 1978.Elmina: a conservation study (Occasional Report 17). Kumasi, Ghana: Faculty of Architecture, University of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
  15. Bee, R. L. 1974.Patterns and Process. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Bellis, J. O. 1972.Archaeology and the Culture History of the Akan of Ghana. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  17. Bellis, J. O. 1987. A late archaeological horizon in Ghana: proto-Akan or pre-Akan?Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 65(1):36–50.Google Scholar
  18. Bennett, N. R. and Brooks, G. E. 1965.New England Merchants in Africa (African Studies 7). Boston: Boston University.Google Scholar
  19. Berns, M. 1990. Pots as people: Yungur ancestral portraits.African Arts 23(3):50–60.Google Scholar
  20. Blake, J. W. 1967.Europeans in West Africa, 1450–1560. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint.Google Scholar
  21. Blake, J. W. 1977.West Africa: quest for God and Gold 1454–1578. London: Curzon Press.Google Scholar
  22. Bosman, W. 1705.A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea. London. (Page references to 1967 edition with an introduction by J. R. Willis. London: Frank Cass.)Google Scholar
  23. Boxer, C. R. 1972.Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 1415–1825. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Braun, G. and Hogenberg, F. 1574.Civitates Orbis Terrarum: beschreibung und contrafactur der vornembster stat der welt, Vol. 1.Google Scholar
  25. Brukum, N. J. K. 1985.Afro-European Relations on the Gold Coast, 1791–1844. M.A. thesis, University of Ghana, Legon.Google Scholar
  26. Brun, S. 1624. Samuel Brun's voyages of 1611–20. Basle. (Page references to 1983 edition, translated and annotated by A. Jones, inGerman Sources for West African History (Studien zur Kulturkunde 64), pp. 44–96. Wiesbaden: F. Steiner.)Google Scholar
  27. Calvocoressi, D. 1977. Excavations at Bantama, near Elmina, Ghana.W.A.J.A. 7:117–41.Google Scholar
  28. Christensen, J. B. 1954.Double Descent Among the Fanti. New Haven: Human Relation Area Files.Google Scholar
  29. Chukwukere, I. 1980. Perspectives on theasafo institution in southern Ghana.Journal of African Studies 7(1):39–47.Google Scholar
  30. Cole, H. M. and Ross, D. H. 1977.The Arts of Ghana. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California.Google Scholar
  31. Cortesão, A. and Teixeira da Mota, A. 1960.Portugaliae Monumenta Cartographica. Lisbon: Comemoraçoes do V Centenario da Morte do Infante d. Henrique.Google Scholar
  32. Crosby, A. W. 1986.Ecological Imperialism: the biological expansion of Europe 900–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Curtin, P. D. 1986.Cross-Cultural Trade in World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Daaku, K. Y. 1970.Trade and Politics on the Gold Coast 1600–1720. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Daaku, K. Y. and Van Dantzig, A. 1966. Map of the regions of the Gold Coast in Guinea.Ghana Notes and Queries 9:14–15.Google Scholar
  36. Dalby, D. and Hair, P. E. H. 1968. A further note on the Mina vocabulary of 1479–80.Journal of West African Languages 5(2):129–31.Google Scholar
  37. Datta, A. K. and Porter, R. 1971. Theasafo system in historical perspective.J.A.H. 29:279–97.Google Scholar
  38. David, N., Sterner, J. and Gavua, K. 1988. Why pots are decorated.C.A. 29:365–89.Google Scholar
  39. Davies, O. 1955.A Corpus of Eighteenth-Century Ashanti Pottery. Legion, Ghana: Department of Archaeology (Manuscript).Google Scholar
  40. Davies, O. 1956.Excavations at Sekondi, Ghana in 1954 and 1956. Legon, Ghana: Department of Archaeology (Manuscript).Google Scholar
  41. Davies, O. 1961. Native culture in the Gold Coast at the time of the Portuguese discoveries.Congresso International de Historia dos Descobrimentos 3:97–109.Google Scholar
  42. Davies, O. 1976. Field Notes: Ghana part 4, Southern Ghana. Legon: Department of Archaeology (Mimeograph).Google Scholar
  43. De Bry, J. T. and Israel, J. 1603.Warhafftige Historische Beschreibung Dess Gewaltigen Goltreichen Konigreichs Guinea. Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar
  44. De Bry, J. T. and Israel, J. 1604.Indiae Orientalis Pars VI. Veram et Historicam Descriptionem Auriferi Regni Guineae ... Continens. Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar
  45. DeCorse, C. R. 1987. Historical archaeological research in Ghana, 1986–1987.N.A. 29:27–32.Google Scholar
  46. DeCorse, C. R. 1989. Material aspects of Limba, Yalunka and Kuranko ethnicity: archaeological research in northeastern Sierra Leone.In Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity (ed. S. J. Shennan): pp. 125–40.Google Scholar
  47. DeCorse, C. R. 1991. West African archaeology and the Atlantic slave trade.Slavery and Abolition 12(2):92–6.Google Scholar
  48. Deetz, J. 1977.In Small Things Forgotten: the archaeology of early American life. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  49. de Marees, P. 1602.Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea. Amsterdam. (Page references to 1987 edition, translated and annotated by A. Jones and A. Van Dantzig. Oxford: Oxford University Press.)Google Scholar
  50. de Marree, J. A. 1817.Reizen Op En Beschrijving Van de Goudkust Van Guinea. The Hague.Google Scholar
  51. de Oliveira Marques, A. H. 1972.History of Portugal, volume I: from Lusitania to empire. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Dike, K. O. 1966.Trade and Politics on the Niger Delta, 1830–1885. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Dolphyne, F. A. and Kropp Dakubu, M. E. 1988. The Volta-Comoe languages. InThe Languages of Ghana (ed. M. E. Kropp Dakubu): pp. 51–90. London: Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  54. Evers, M. 1989.The Recognition of Groups in the Iron Age of Southern Africa. Ph.D. thesis, University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  55. Feinberg, H. M. 1969.Elmina, Ghana: a history of its development and relationship with the Dutch in the eighteenth century. Ph.D. thesis, Boston University.Google Scholar
  56. Feinberg, H. M. 1970a. An incident in Elmina-Dutch relations, the Gold Coast (Ghana), 1739–1740.A.H.S. 3:359–72.Google Scholar
  57. Feinberg, H. M. 1970b. Who are the Elmina.Ghana Notes and Queries 11:20–6.Google Scholar
  58. Feinberg, H. M. 1974. New data on European mortality in West Africa: the Dutch on the Gold Coast, 1719–1760.J.A.H. 15:357–71.Google Scholar
  59. Feinberg, H. M. 1989. Africans and Europeans in West Africa: Elminans and Dutchmen on the Gold Coast during the eighteenth century.Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 79(7).Google Scholar
  60. Fitzhugh, W. W. (ed.) 1985.Cultures in Contact: the European impact on native cultural institutions in eastern North America, A.D. 1000–1800. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  61. Fletcher, R. 1975. House form and function.Family Research Papers (Institute of African Studies, Legon) 1:305–25.Google Scholar
  62. Foster, G. M. 1962.Traditional Cultures: and the impact of technological change. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  63. Fynn, J. 1974.Edina (Elmina). Oral Traditions of the Fante States (Institute of African Studies, Legon) 4.Google Scholar
  64. Geertz, C. 1963.Peddlers and Princes: social development and economic change in two Indonesian towns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  65. Graham, C. K. 1976.The History of Education in Ghana. Accra: Ghana Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  66. Gramberg, J. S. G. 1861.Schetsen van Afrika's Westkust. Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  67. Hair, P. E. H. 1966. A note on De La Fosse's ‘Mina’ vocabulary of 1479–80.Journal of West African Languages 3:55–7.Google Scholar
  68. Hair, P. E. H. 1967. Ethnolinguistic continuity on the Guinea Coast.J.A.H. 8:247–68.Google Scholar
  69. Harris, M. 1979.Cultural Materialism: the struggle for a science of culture. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  70. Headrick, D. R. 1981.The Tools of Empire: technology and imperialism in the nineteenth century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Hemmersam, M. 1663. Description of the Gold Coast, 1639–45. Nuremberg. (Page references to 1983 edition, translated and edited by A. Jones, inGerman Sources for West African History (Studien zur Kulturkunde 64), pp. 97–133. Wiesbaden: F. Steiner.)Google Scholar
  72. Henige, D. P. 1974. Kingship in Elmina before 1869: a study in ‘feedback’ and the traditional idealization of the past.Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines 14:499–520.Google Scholar
  73. Herskovits, M. J. 1962.The Human Factor in Changing Africa. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  74. Hodder, I. 1986.Reading the Past: current approaches to interpretation in archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Huffman, T. 1984. Expressive space in the Zimbabwe culture.Man 19:593–612.Google Scholar
  76. Huffman, T. 1986. Cognitive studies of the Iron Age in southern Africa.W.A. 18:84–95.Google Scholar
  77. Hutton, W. 1821.A Voyage to Africa. London.Google Scholar
  78. Hyland, A. D. C. 1970.Documentation and Conservation. Kumasi, Ghana: Faculty of Architecture, University of Science and Technology, Occasional Report 13.Google Scholar
  79. Kea, R. A. 1982.Settlements, Trade and Polities in the Seventeenth Century Gold Coast. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Kerkdijk, L. 1978.Reisjournal Van Lodewijk Kerdijk: West Africa 1857–1858. Schiedam, Netherlands: Interbook International.Google Scholar
  81. Kiyaga-Mulindwa, D. 1982. Social and demographic changes in the Birim Valley, southern Ghana,c. 1450 toc. 1800.J.A.H. 23:63–82.Google Scholar
  82. Lawrence, A. W. 1963.Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  83. Mauny, R. 1954. Notes historiques sur les plantes cultivées d'Afrique occidentale.B.I.F.A.N. 15(2):684–730.Google Scholar
  84. Mead, M. (ed.) 1963.Cultural Patterns and Ethnicity. New York: New American Library of World Literature.Google Scholar
  85. Meredith, H. 1812.An Account of the Gold Coast of Africa with a Brief History of the Africa Company. London.Google Scholar
  86. Meyerowitz, E. L. R. 1952a. Review ofSão Jorge da Mina by S. Wartemberg.Africa 22:179–80.Google Scholar
  87. Meyerowitz, E. L. R. 1952b.Akan Traditions of Origin. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  88. Meyerowitz, E. L. R. 1974.The Early History of the Akan States of Ghand. London: Red Candle Press.Google Scholar
  89. Miracle, M. P. 1965. The introduction and spread of maize in Africa.J.A.H. 6: 39–55.Google Scholar
  90. Miracle, M. P. 1972. The elasticity of food supply in tropical Africa during the precolonial period.Ghana Social Science Journal 2(2):1–9.Google Scholar
  91. Müller, W. J. 1673. Description of the Fetu country, 1662–9. Hamburg. (Page references to 1983 edition, translated and annotated by A. Jones, inGerman Sources for West African History (Studien zur Kulturkunde 64), pp. 134–259. Wiesbaden: F. Steiner.)Google Scholar
  92. Murdock, G. P. 1959.Africa, Its People and Their Culture History. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  93. Murphy, R. F. 1964. Social change and acculturation.Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences (Series 2) 26:845–54.Google Scholar
  94. Nathan, M. 1904. The Gold Coast at the end of the seventeenth century under the Danes and Dutch.Journal of the Africa Society 13(4):1–32.Google Scholar
  95. Nunoo, R. B. 1957. Excavations at Asebu in the Gold Coast.Journal of the West African Science Association (3(1):12–44.Google Scholar
  96. Ozanne, P. 1962. Notes on the early historic archaeology of Accra.Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 6:51–70.Google Scholar
  97. Ozanne, P. 1963. Indigenes or Invaders?Antiquity 37:229–31.Google Scholar
  98. Ozanne, P. 1964. Notes on the later prehistory of Accra.Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3(1):3–23.Google Scholar
  99. Pereira, D. P. 1967.Esmerado de Situ Orbis (ca 1505). Translated by G. H. T. Kimble. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprints.Google Scholar
  100. Polanyi, K. 1966.Dahomey and the Slave Trade. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  101. Posnansky, M. and DeCorse, C. R. 1986. Historical archaeology in sub-Saharan Africa: a review.Historical Archaeology 20(1):1–14.Google Scholar
  102. Priestley, M. A. 1969.West African Trade and Coast Society. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  103. Reynolds, E. 1974.Trade and Economic Change on the Gold Coast, 1804–1874. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  104. Robertson, G. A. 1819.Notes on Africa. London.Google Scholar
  105. Rodney, W. 1969. Gold and slaves on the Gold Coast.Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 10:13–28.Google Scholar
  106. Rodney, W. 1970.A History of the Upper Guinea Coast. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  107. Rogers, J. D. 1990.Objects of Change: the archaeology and history of Arikara contact with Europeans. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  108. Roseberry, W. 1988. Political economy.A.R.A. 17:161–85.Google Scholar
  109. Roseberry, W. 1989.Anthropologies and Histories. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  110. Ross, D. H. 1983. Four unusualforowa from the Museum of Cultural History. InAkan Transformations (eds. D. H. Ross and T. F. Garrard): pp. 54–9. Los Angeles: University of California, Museum of Cultural History.Google Scholar
  111. Sahlins, M. 1985.Islands of History. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  112. Schiffer, M. B. 1987.Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  113. Schuyler, R. 1980.Archaeological Perspectives on Ethnicity in America. New York: Baywood Publishing.Google Scholar
  114. Shaw, T. 1961.Excavation at Dawu. New York: Nelson.Google Scholar
  115. Silverman, R. A. 1983. Akankuduo: form and function. InAkan Transformations (eds. D. H. Ross and T. F. Garrard): pp. 10–29. Los Angeles: University of California, Museum of Cultural History.Google Scholar
  116. Skocpol, T. 1979.States and Social Revolutions: a comparative analysis of France, Russia, and China. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  117. Smith, W. 1744.A New Voyage to Guinea. London.Google Scholar
  118. South, S. 1977.Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  119. Spicer, E. H. 1968. Acculturation. InInternational Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (ed. D. L. Sills): pp. 21–7. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  120. Super, J. C. 1988.Food, Conquest, and Colonization in Sixteenth Century Spanish America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  121. Sutton, I. B. 1981. The Volta River salt trade: the survival of an indigenous industry.J.A.H. 22:43–61.Google Scholar
  122. Teixeira da Mota, A. and Hair, P. E. H. 1988. East of Mina: Afro-European relations on the Gold Coast in the 1550s and 1560s (Studies in African Sources 3). Madison: University of Wisconsin, African Studies Program.Google Scholar
  123. Thompson, T. 1758.An Account of Two Missionary Voyages. London. (Page references to 1937 facsimile edition. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.)Google Scholar
  124. Van Dantzig, A. 1975. English Bosman and Dutch Bosman: a comparison of texts, I.History in Africa 2:185–215.Google Scholar
  125. Van Dantzig, A. 1975. English Bosman and Dutch Bosman: a comparison of texts, II.History in Africa 3:92–126.Google Scholar
  126. Van Dantzig, A. 1978.The Dutch and the Guinea Coast 1674–1742: a collection of documents from the General State Archives, The Hague. Accra: Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.Google Scholar
  127. Van Dantzig, A. 1980.Forts and Castles of Ghana. Accra: Sedco.Google Scholar
  128. Van Dantzig, A. 1982. Effects of the Atlantic slave trade on some West African societies. InForced Migration (ed. J. E. Inikori): pp. 187–201. New York: Africana.Google Scholar
  129. Vayda, A. P. (ed.) 1969.Environment and Cultural Behavior. Garden City, N.Y.: Natural History Press.Google Scholar
  130. Vogt, J. 1973. The early São Tome-Príncipe slave trade with Mina, 1500–1540.I.J.A.H.S. 6:453–67.Google Scholar
  131. Vogt, J. 1974. Private trade and slave sales at São Jorge da Mina: a fifteenth century document.Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 15(1):103–10.Google Scholar
  132. Vogt, J. 1979.Portuguese Rule on the Gold Coast 1469–1682. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  133. Wallace, A. F. C. 1970.Culture and Personality. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  134. Wallace, A. F. C. 1980. Review ofCultural Materialism by M. Harris.American Anthropologist 83(2):423–6.Google Scholar
  135. Wallerstein, I. 1980.The Modern World System. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  136. Wallterstein, I. 1986.Africa and the Modern World. Trenton: Africa World Press.Google Scholar
  137. Wartemberg, J. S. 1951.São Jorge d' El Mina, Premier West African European Settlement: its traditions and customs. Ilfracombe: Stockwell.Google Scholar
  138. Whitley, D. S. 1989. Prehistory and post-positivist science: a proglogomenon to cognitive archaeology. Manuscript.Google Scholar
  139. Wilks, I. 1962. A medieval trade-route from the Niger to the Gulf of Guinea.J.A.H. 3:337–41.Google Scholar
  140. Wolf, E. R. 1982.Europe and the People without History. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  141. Yarak, L. 1986. Elmina and greater Asante in the ninteenth century.Africa 56:33–52.Google Scholar
  142. Yarak, L. 1989. West African coastal slavery in the nineteenth century: the case of the Afro-European slaveowners of Elmina.Ethnohistory 36(1):44–60.Google Scholar
  143. Yarak, L. 1990.Asante and the Dutch, 1744–1873. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  144. Yentsch, A. and Beaudry, M. C. 1992.The Art and Mystery of Historical Archaeology: essays in honor of James Deetz. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher R. Decorse

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations