African Archaeological Review

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 21–55 | Cite as

Akyekyema Bour and Apreku Rock Shelters: Lithics, Pottery and Society at the Forest’s Edge During the Second Millennium cal. ad, Kwahu Plateau, Ghana

  • Derek J. Watson
Original Article


Re-excavation of Akyekyema Bour and Apreku rock shelters on the Kwahu Plateau, Ghana, has revealed the existence of distinctive lithic assemblages comprising both microliths and macroliths, with associated radiocarbon dates spanning the early to late second millennium ad. The typo-technological attributes of the stone tools produced at these sites remain relatively constant until the disappearance of this technology during the seventeenth century ad, or later. Lithic technology also persists at widely distributed open-air sites and rock shelters across West Africa that date within the last two millennia. The Kwahu macrolithic assemblages are unique on the plateau and in the wider region, as sites with comparable lithic technology supposedly date no later than the mid-first millennium ad. From the later first millennium ad, profound socioeconomic and technological changes began to reshape the societies of the forested and coastal region of Ghana and beyond, with, for example, the emergence of complex agrarian societies and development of long-distance trade networks, e.g., the Atlantic trade. Yet, the localised variability and continuity evident in the lithic and pottery assemblage(s) at the study sites, and Bosumpra Cave, demonstrate that aspects of tradition, belief and identity also persisted, thus enabling insight into aspects of society, economy, technology, and the history of the Akan-speaking people within the forested zone during the second millennium ad.


Pottery Lithics Akan Atetefo Forest Ghana 


La re-excavation des abris rocheux d’Akyekyema Bour et d’Apreku sur le plateau de Kwahu, Ghana a révélé l’existence distinctive des assemblages lithiques comprenant les deux microlite et macrolite, avec l’association de la datation radiocarbone du debut à la fin du seconde millénaire ère commune. L’attribution typo-technologie des outils en pierre produites sur ces sites demeurent relativement constante, jusqu’à la disparition de cette technologie pendant le dix-septième siècle l’ère commune ou après. La technologie lithique persiste sur des sites largement distribué en plein air et des abris rocheux à travers l’Afrique de l’Ouest qui date durant les deux derniers millénaires. Les assemblages microlithiques de Kwahu sont uniques sur le plateau et dans les plus grandes régions, comme des sites avec des technologies lithiques comparables supposément datant pas plus tard qu’au milieu du premier millénaire l’ère commune. Plus tard pendant le premier millénaire l’ère commune, des profonds changements socio-économiques et technologiques ont commencé a transformer la société forestière et côtière regional du Ghana et au-delà avec par example l’émergence complexe des sociétés agraires et le développement des réseaux du commerce a longue distance, e.g., le commerce atlantique. Cependant, la variabilité et continuité évidente localisé dans l’assemblage du lithique et poterie sur les sites d’étude et Cave Bosumpra, démontre que l’aspect de tradition, de croyance et d’identité ont aussi insisté, en permettant la perspicacité dans l’aspect de société, d’économie, de la technologie et l’histoire des gens parlant Akan dans la zone forestière durant le second millénaire l’ère commune.



I would like to thank the students of the Dept. of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana, who participated in the fieldwork. Thanks to Valerie Khaloo for providing the French version of the abstract. Research permission was granted by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB/0136/vol 12/146).

Funding Information

Funding for the Forest Occupations of Ghana Project was provided by the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Danida) with the assistance of the late Prof. Klavs Ransborg and Dr. Inga Merkyte of the SAXO-Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no potential conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GlasgowUK

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