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Current Anthropology

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House construction -- Ghana, Nchumburung (African people) -- Social life and customs, Earth houses -- Ghana -- Archaeological aspects


Ethnographic data from the Nchumuru settlement of Wiae, Kete-Krachi District, northern Volta Region, Ghana, are used to examine the manner in which earth-walled houses in Nchumuru traditional settlements are transferred from the systemic to the archeological record. Archeological survey and excavation of two early Nchumuru sites were conducted to establish the extent to which the observed cultural and natural processes of house and settlement development could help identify the location and distribution of prehistoric structural features. The result was the almost complete reconstruction of the location and distribution of structural features at one of these sites. Knowledge of the mechanisms of construction and maintenance of earth-walled structures and of their deterioration and collapse proved basic to the identification of the spatial characteristics of the archeological sites. Further, the link between the archeological evidence and the processes of house construction and decay observed in modern Wiae underlines the cultural continuity of Nchumuru with the large Guangspeaking society of Ghana and adjoining territories. Finally, the study indicates that material identification and characterisation in archeology should include the processes of formation and decay of structural features


Note: E. Kofi Agorsah was affiliated with the University of Ghana at the time of writing.



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University of Chicago Press