Wp/gpe/Archaeology of Banda District (Ghana)

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Banda District wey dey for Ghana insyd, dey play important role insyd de understanding for trade networks den de way dey shaped de lives of manners wey dey live insyd Western Africa. Banda District dey for de West Central for Ghana, just de south of de Black Volta River insyd de savanna woodland environment.[1] Dis region gey plenty connections to trans-Saharan trade, as edey Atlantic trade den British colonial den economic interests.[2] De effects of dese interactions you fi see de archaeologically through demma presence of exotic goods den export of local materials, production of pottery den metals, as well as changes for demma lifestyle den subsistence patterns. Pioneering archaeological research insyd dis area bi conduct by Ann Stahl.

Archaeology of Banda District
CountryGhana Edit
Located in the administrative territorial entityBono Region Edit

Trans-Saharan trade period

De period of trans-Saharan trade insyd wat now bi Banda District dem start am around C.E. 1300 den e last into de 17th century. Many of demma early villages insyd dis area bi heavily influence by de trade networks wey edey connect de Sahara. De Banda in particular gey a relationship plus de Naija trade network, where wooded savanna resources such as gold, kola nut, den ivory dem trade am for northern goods lyk copper alloys, salt, den textiles. Dere gey some question as to whether mannes insyd Banda District receive dese goods directly, or if dem dey obtain am through de larger settlements insyd de area.[3]

European interest

European interest insyd de Western African resources really took off during dis period wey e start around C.E. 1400 through C.E. 1650. Demma major contributing factor to dis bi sudden interest sake of de tales of Mansa Musa, na he bi a leader for Mali, den he travel go Mecca covered in gold.[1] De Portuguese gey a particularly large presence along de Gold Coast at dis point, wey he set up a fort for Elmina den rapidly explore de surrounding area.[1]

Craft production


Dem form dema decoration of pottery for dese sites wey ebi very similar to dat of Begho, den dem san make am homogeneous nature wey edey mean say dat bi a good deal of specialization as edey occur. Before de Ngre den Kuulo Phases of ceramics insyd de Banda District, dem gey similar for Volta Phase, wey ein pottery bi characterized by red painted geometric motifs, plus no real evidence for northern relationships. Neutron activation analysis for shards excavated from demma site Kuulo Kataa wey eshow say de different clay types wey dem take use bi fairly homogeneous as well, wey edey support de idea for local production. Much of demma clay dem dey use come from east from de Banda hills, den craftsmen take use am for de same clay regardless of ein form or treatment for de vessels wey dem take am dey make.

Dem group Jars into two main categories, dose wey ein rims bi flare out from de constriction point, den dose wey egey more globular for ein shape. Much of ein decoration dey for de rims of de vessels, den dem dey ein surface as dem treat am with cord wrapped roulette or mat impressions wey ebi den offset by groove lines den motifs. Various tempering agents dem take use am as well, plus some vessels wey egey even evidence of metal slag dem take use am as a temper.

Metal working

Dis area for Africa bi known for ein large deposits of metal, particularly iron ore den gold. Dem gey much evidence for metalworking activities for de site insyd Banda wey material goods such as vessels, tools, weapons, den ornaments, as well as demma iron slag wey dem left behind as a result of demma metalworking processes. Dem san gey presence of burned basin-shaped features den anvils wey edey varying levels, as edey indicate say multiple episodes for demma likely seasonal use of metalworking sites. De high volume of slag wey dey for de sites such as Kuulo Kataa dey mean say dat much more dem dey produce dan as ebi necessary just for de people living for dare, den surpluses wey dem gey ein chaw for trade den other activities. Among demma metalworking artifacts recovered, dem gey several ornamental rings wey dem take iron dey do, tools such as tanged curved knives den blades, as well as demma serpentine projectile.


Although de production for textiles bi common for de sites wey dey close to de Banda District such as Begho, wey dem no gey no real evidence go talk say dat textile production dem dey for insyd Banda. In one excavation, only a single fragmented spindle whorl wey dem find, though de absence of something no dey necessarily mean na eno dey happen for dare.

Ritual activity

Some metalworking sites, such as de one for Ngre Kataa, gey evidence say some ritual behavior dey happen for dare. At excavations of demma mounds, three distinct levels wey dem identify. Lower levels for metalworking mounds often dey contain evidence for de foundational ritual practices den human interments for de top of metalworking show say edey take place before. Demma interments dey include a variety of age groups from infant through demma adulthood, as well as demma differences insyd where dem place dem. On demma middle levels for de mounds, dem gey evidence for shrine clusters dat dem fi use am for demma divination activities. De shrines dem bi visible for demma working area, as echeck lyk dem connect am to demma efficiency, protection, den help for solving demma problems. One example of a shrine dey include an iron bangle, de earliest found insyd de Banda area, a quartz pebble, two iron blades, a bone fragment, den a cast brass twinned figurine. De figurine bi interesting sake of egey a form wey dem see say ebi connected to divination den esan gey magical properties. Insyd another area, an earthenware jar wey dem discover say edey contain cowrie shells from de coast of de Seychelles. Eno bi only dat one wey dem discover wey edey mean say edey demonstrate de trade connections for dat tym, buh esan dey supports dey idea dat divination dem utilize am due to demma mystic association for cowrie shells.

Subsistence den lifestyle

During de period of trans-Saharan trade, both evidence for wild den domestic subsistence bi present. De presence of maize phytoliths dey mean say experimentation plus New World crops, as well as pearl millet den sorghum wey make successful insyd dat wey bi extremely drought resistant. Dem dey believe say dem maize spread to de interior of West Africa by de Bono, wey dem dey use am as demma war staple food. So far, New World crops bi de earliest known products for de Atlantic trade wey reach Banda District. During dis phase, greater importance dem put for de crop ein top dat edey reduce risks of food shortage, den community support practices bi wey dem use am go ensure say all go gey access to food even insyd de tym of drought. Dese practices dey go result in high food security for Banda District manners for many years. Bollar numbers of animal bones, particularly dose mammals, dey show a greater reliance still for hunting den trapping methods for getting food den skins. Chaw faunal remains dey come from difficult to hunt species, as edey require considerable degree of skill den knowledge for dese animals den demma environments. For example, de remains for bollar den dangerous animals such as lions, hippos, den warthogs dem see dem for dare. Although people dey rely greatly on animal resources, dem gey little evidence for reliance for domestic animals. Also at dese sites, dem gey evidence for some fish den other water resources, most of which can be trace insyd de Volta River over 20 kilometers away. Ebi sake of dis distance wey de Banda District bi thought say ego acquired ein water resources through local den regional trade networks. Small amounts of marine shells dey indicate some small degree of demma trade plus de coastal areas as well. Some animal domesticates such as sheep/goat, cattle, horse, den donkey bi present, plus perhaps demma most prevalent being domesticated dog. As dem dey butcher dogs wey dem spread am for ein remains, dem talk say egey ritual or spiritual connotation. Presence of animal domesticates san dey affect de fragmentation den preservation of demma faunal remains.

Villages wey dem set up so say ego house all dem arrange am into large connected compounds, plus areas for high density in pottery den metal slag. Rebuilding den fixing of structures, along plus bollar middens, dey mean large degree of residential stability.


Ngre Kataa

For dis site of Ngre Kataa, evidence dey for de village occupation wey you go find from de 14th through to de 17th centuries. At dis tym de village bi about two to three hectares for ein size, den egey evidence for various craft activities, iron production, den farming of foods such as pearl millet den sorghum. Although dem gey evidence for dese crops, hunting den gathering as well as livestock still dey remain as demma important aspects for demma diet

Kuulo Kataa

Dis bi a multi-component site wey dey de north of Makala Kataa, ebi another site wey dey insyd Banda. Kuulo Kataa bi approximately 2.8 hectares in size wid mounds wey dey dare for various ages den sizes. Here, excavations dey yield quite high densities of animal bones, pottery den iron slag, plus de average pottery density wey bi 5,400 sherds per cubic meter. Dis dey imply say greater intensity of occupation wey dey as you dey compare am to de later sites insyd dis area.

At de site of Kuulo Kataa, dem gey evidence for both inter-regional den trans-Saharan trade of materials such as gold, marine shells, glass beads, den copper alloys. Dis bi area wey ebi important as dem dey link trade between demma forest areas to de south den demma drier areas for de north. Here bi wey esan bi where de compound arrangement for houses dem found am, as well as high densities of pottery den iron slag as edey rep demma craft production. Insyd Kuulo Kataa, ceramic styling bi ein wey edey rep as dem find for demma site from de same tym known am as Begho, edey show de connections wey dey among local groups insyd de area.


Begho bi another major stop wey dey insyd dese trade routes wey dey connect de Sahara den forest edges, den edey just north de of Banda. Dem dey still dey use am as trade center until de Atlantic trade networks wey take over insyd West Africa. A team of archaeologists go excavate over 1500 mounds for dis site, den use am as de radiocarbon wey dey date dey place am as demma peak occupancy between de 15th den 18th centuries. Begho bi de home give various artifacts such as copper alloys, beads, glass den porcelain. Esan gey evidence say de craft dey specialize as edey show by de presence of a brass foundry den furnaces.

Dis site dem once divide am into quarters dat dey correspond give various ethnic groups for dat tym. Although Begho dem divide am physically, de stylistic aspects for de craft such as pottery design remaine consistent dey throughout de entire site

Atlantic trade period

Atlantic trade routes bi more heavily use as at de end of de 18th century, den lead am to ein decline in de use of trans-Saharan routes. During dis demma tym, a stronger focus wey dey place for de gold den minerals, den eventually slaves through de Atlantic slave trade. Dis tym dem san dey associate am plus de periods of warfare den conflict wid a group wey dem known am as de Asante, who gey large influence on day to day stability den productiveness for dose living insyd de Banda District.

Early Makala

De Early Makala Phase bi characterize by much ein intermittent warfare, den de increase for slave trade activity insyd de area. De Asante, ebi forest state for de south, wey gey significant impact for de Banda District during dis tym. De Asante come together insyd de 17th century den slowly begin dey take control of areas for de north throughout de 18th century wid plans say dem go control de Niger River trade. Dis dey included de Banda District, where plenty sites such as Makala Kataa dem abandone am during den tyms of conflict plus de Asante den dem resettle once as de trouble mellow. Demma military campaigns result insyd de capture of de site Bono Maso wey dem san call am Begho. Plenty tyms de Asante go require de Banda people wey dey de areas dey come conquer as dem fight insyd wars as dem dey fight plenty plus other groups. By de early 19th century, de Asante come take control for much of de northern trade insyd de Sahara. Dis come result insyd decrease amount of long distance trade goods as dem find insyd Banda, buh esan dey flourish insyd de local den regional markets. Not only dem bi stronger focus for de regional trade, buh dem san gey greater narrowing of demma crafts wey dem dey indicate some loss for de wealth insyd Banda to de Asante.

Craft production

Unlike in demma olden days, for de on site metalworking no sheda bi prominent for de Early Makala insyd. Very little slag wey dem fi recover from demma sites, wey edey mean say dat either demma production bi off site somewhere, or demma people dey rely more heavily on metal goods wey dem dey receive via trade wid other areas.

Dem san dey lack evidence for demma on-site pottery production during dis tym. Much decoration wey dem dey see during de Kuulo phase all gey lost, plus people wey dey seem say edey favor surface-treated pottery plus maize cob roulette den shallow grooving for demma patterns. Typically, vessels gey evert rims, den come for variety of shapes den sizes. One difference in particular from de Kuulo phase bi de clay sourcing. Eno bi only greater diversity of clay sources, buh specific clay sources wey dem dey use for specific types of vessels. For example, clay dem use go make jars come from de west of de hills, while clay wey dem dey use for bowls likely dey come from de east. Dis dey suggest say a strong regional trade wey dey between Banda den groups to de east den west during de Early Makala. Pipes san become much more common, reflecting de increase for tobacco usage den smoking insyd de region.

During dis tym, an increase for de presence of spindle whorls dey dare for de archaeological record. Dis dey reflect a shift to household textile production rather than large-scale production den specialization.

Subsistence den lifestyle

Early Makala settlements typically dey feature de rectangular structures wey dey make up for de adjoining rooms. Walls wey dey form using coursed earth techniques, plus some areas wey gey up to three levels of floors in order to seal older floor layers den support collapse walls. One excavation go lead to de discovery of a kitchen wey gey two hearths, edey mean say na accommodation for de wet den dry seasons dey characterized dah area.

Subsistence at dis tym dey remain as de mixture of hunting, collecting, den domestication. Dem gey shift away from de hunting of dangerous species lyk hippos den lions, den greater dependence on lizards, snakes den rodents instead. Animal domesticates dey include chicken, guinea fowl, dog, sheep/goat, den cattle. As for plants, sites dey show evidence for carbonized sorghum den maize phytoliths, wey grow together for dis area for the quite some time. Dese crops dem think ebi ideal supplements for demma diet during tyms wen other crops lyk yams bi short in supply.

Late Makala

De Late Makala Period bi wen British soldiers come start dey make demma presence insyd de Banda District, specifically from 1890 to de 1920s. Dem san gey evidence for a move from compound housing to de free standing structures easy to disassemble den move, wey dem see am as a reflection for de British presence insyd de area. During dis time, dem shift to more local hunting den gathering as well as dem increase de European goods den trade networks. Although manners dey begin to resettle villages dey lef during conflicts plus de Asante, demma houses bi much less sturdy, de pottery bi more simple den uniform in style, den de trade connections bi contracted. At dat tym regional trade dey on smaller scale, den de local trade relationships wey dey remain intact focus to de east of de Banda hills as dem oppose to de east den west lyk e happen insyd de Early Makala period. Dis bi demma thought say ego reflect de local warfare for dat tym. To de west of de Banda District bi Bondoukou, de capital for Gyaman led by Samori wey dem lead ein army to conquer much land across West Africa, so de people for Banda dey focus to de east in demma attempt to lessen interactions. At dis point, dere san bi evidence for increase in tensions between European den African interests. For example, de British den Asante fight along de coast for control of land den other resources, eventually leading to de British capture for de Asante capital Kumasi. Insyd 1894, de Banda sign a treaty plus a British traveler, marking de end for de control of de Asante over de Banda region

Craft production

Insyd de Late Makala, dem shift from locally made goods towards more manufacture ones as dem result of British presence insyd de area. Dis shift to manufacture goods bi an attempt by de British insyd de area go expand trade into more European markets. One of ein first crafts dey go bi pipe making, plus metalworking den pottery following behind. Although production dey slow down drastically for trade purposes, locally made ceramics dem dey still use for demma household. Neutron analysis for de clay dey put de clay source to de east of de hills for over half of demma samples, den de same clay source bi dem use for both bowls den jars, which dey contrasts demma earlier period. Stylistically, de decoration for de pottery bi san much more closely dey relate to dat wey dem see for dis area today. During dis tym dem no gey evidence for extensive on site metalworking either. All demma samples dem find bi likely dem dey acquire through trade den dem dey modify am for demma own purposes. Demma only craft wey dey remain plus dem from de Early Makala bi de textile production. De system for household production of textiles dey still remain intact despite increase demand for manufactured goods for trade networks.

Subsistence and lifestyle

De Banda during dis tym dey continue to rely for wild animals, particularly mammals, as ebi evidence by demma faunal remains as dem dey recover am from de site, den de diversity for faunal remains bi more consistent plus dat of de Kuulo Phase. Crops lyk yams, corn, groundnuts den cassava go continue to show up plus increasing intensity, as well as tobacco. Dem even gey evidence dat tobacco wey dem grow am insyd de Banda District wey dem dey sell for de nearby Kintampo Complex.

Residential units insyd de Late Makala bi very minimal, wey edey mean say dem bi quite simple den made out of two rooms. Dese bi typically pole den daga structures wey dem go put up very quickly den efficiently. Dem san gey only one floor level den lack any kind of compound formation.


As ecatch de height of de slave trade, de Banda District come serve as demma source of slaves, as well as a place for de containment, holding den purchasing for de war captives. De Bono wey dem known am as dem send Banda war captives from demma military campaigns insyd de north into de Atlantic trade as demma slaves. During de 19th century, dem gey considerable increase for slave demands as dem dey satisfy not only de Atlantic slave trade, buh de internal slave trade as well. Much of de internal slave demand dem generate am by demma use as payments den laborers insyd de crops harvesting den other resources such as gold. As dem gey influence from de British, changes insyd economic structure wey dem see am. Groups here dey move from practices wey dey community based den resistant go risk, to go practice dat bi more focus on de individual den favore de production of specialized commodities.


Makala Kataa

Dis site dey shows evidence for two occupations, one larger bi one during de late 18th den early 19th centuries, den much shorter one from de late 19th century wey until de 1920s. De early settlement gey ein site size for around 18 hectares, den remain as ebi fairly long-lived settlement until its abrupt ein abandonment. De later occupation gey only yield shallow cultural deposits for import goods such as a coin, glass bottles, den pipes.

British influence

British involvement insyd de Banda District dey start for de late 19th century. De British bi enmesh for plenty struggles for de land den other resources for de area, plus both de Asante den other groups. One such group bi lead by man wey dem call am Imam Samori. Samori lead ein army for horses, den conquer land for all de way from Guinea go Côte d'Ivoire. De British wey come prevent Samori from taking Banda, sake of fears wey dat come disrupt trade for de region.

Although dem dey impose a colonial administration insyd Banda, de British for de first dey remain fairly dey separate from ein people for everyday life. Ein interest insyd Banda dey revolve mostly around economic goods den materials, as dem dey oppose as dem dey gey active presence for dey ruling de area. Later, Banda production dem shift am go suit de trends den desires for European markets, den resources such as cocoa den slaves as ebecome quickly for major exports. De British san institute am uniform currency, wey taxes den other fees wey all dey require go pay am using dis system sake of de cowrie shell system previously as dem dey utilize by de Banda people.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Stahl, Ann (2015). "Metalworking and ritualization: negotiating change through improvisational practice in Banda, Ghana". Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association
  2. Stahl, Ann (2004). "Making history in Banda: reflections on the construction of Africa's past". Historical Archaeology.
  3. Stahl, Ann (1999). "The Archaeology of Global Encounters Viewed from Banda, Ghana". African Archaeological Review. 16: 5–81. doi:10.1023/a:1021614902839.