The Kintampo Archaeological Research Project (KARP): Academic Collaboration and Field Research in Ghana. (Special Section)

By Watson, Derek; Woodhouse, James | Antiquity, December 2001 | Go to article overview

The Kintampo Archaeological Research Project (KARP): Academic Collaboration and Field Research in Ghana. (Special Section)


Watson, Derek, Woodhouse, James, Antiquity


The Kintampo Archaeological Research Project is the first venture conducted under the auspices of the academic collaboration established between the Department of Archaeology, University of Ghana (UG) and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL). KARP is a field-based project designed around two separate areas of research, encompassing the Late Stone Age (LSA) Punpun (hunter-gatherers) and Kintampo Cultures (agro-pastoralists) and development and change within iron metallurgical technology in the region. These studies aim to elucidate the social, economic and technological dynamics of prehistoric Ghana and to generate material that will be made available to researchers from both Universities. The direct responsibility for supervision of the project on the British side is Dr Kevin MacDonald (UCL), Dr Yaw Bredwa-Mensah (UG) supervises and co-ordinates the research collaboration, and overall responsibility for the project lies with Professor Peter Ucko (UCL). To date the project has undertaken three field seasons: an initial survey of the study area, followed by the excavation of several suitable sites during the second season and this year. An additional season will be conducted during summer 2002, completing the first phase of KARP. However, continuing joint collaborations are envisaged.

The initial seasons of KARP have laid the foundation for future work, both in the sense of working relationships and re-equipping the Department of Archaeology (UG). The first stage of this has been to provide a project LandRover, for field campaigns undertaken by both departments. Survey equipment and books have already been donated to the Department (UG). The KARP field project has been used as a joint training exercise for students from both departments and aims to develop into a `field-school' in future seasons. It is hoped that academic exchanges and visits from both Ghanaian staff and students will form part of the `Agreement of Academic Collaboration, and that this will lead to further joint research. A key aim of the agreement is jointly to edit and publish the Oliver Davies Archive (consisting of 25 years of unpublished survey data). Copies of the archive will be lodged with the Department of Archaeology (UG) and the Institute of Archaeology (UCL). This will provide a valuable reference for all researchers in Ghana.

The KARP field-project is based around the modern town of Kintampo, in the Brong Ahafo region of central-west Ghana. Past investigations in the area (Davies 1980; Flight 1976; Rahtz & Flight 1974; Stahl 1985) provided a resource that has been utilized as the foundation for an intensive diachronic study of the local archaeology. Previous area-based studies in Ghana (e.g. Casey 1993; Pole 1975) have provided a framework for the investigation of more specific questions concerning the development of socio-economic and technological complexity.

The earliest evidence for food production and increasing social complexity in sub-Sahelian West Africa is associated with the Kintampo culture, in the mid 2nd millennium BC. It is characterized by sedentism and a mixed subsistence economy featuring wild and domestic resources. One theme of KARP (DW) is to test existing theories concerning the origin(s) of the Kintampo Culture and its potential connection to the 'preceding' hunter-gatherers, known in the area as the Punpun Culture. The aims of the project will be achieved using survey and the excavation of a series of new sites and existing data (e.g. Stahl 1985). Excavations will focus on illuminating the stratigraphic relations of both Cultures and their socio-economic basis, v/a the recovery of organic (flora and fauna) remains. A comparative analysis of the relevant archaeological collections held in the National Museum of Ghana and the Department of Archaeology (UG) and an in-depth examination of the literature will enable comparison with other Kintampo and LSA hunter-gatherer sites in Ghana. …

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