CHAPTER II
POPULATION AND PRE-HISTORY

VERY little is known about the pre-history of the Gold Coast. Prehistoric remains, though fairly numerous, are not such as to give us much knowledge of the prehistoric inhabitants.

The commonest relics are stone celts of neolithic type, which are found in many parts of the Colony and Ashanti. They are made of local stone, and are usually very short, only two to four centimetres long. Long celts of twenty centimetres or more in length are also found, though rarely. These celts are called in Ashanti Nyame akuma or God's axes; it is believed that they are thunderbolts, and are found where the lightning flash has struck the earth. They are believed to have magical powers. Here and there, however, a tradition is preserved that they are of human origin and were used as hoes. Rattray makes the very probable suggestion that the stone age in the Gold Coast overlapped the introduction of iron, and that the owner of a serviceable stone hoe would not be likely to throw it away to replace it by an expensive iron one until it was worn out; he thinks, therefore, that the short celts are the worn- down stubs of long ones, and that the long celts are so rare because they are the tools that were lost in forest or stream before being worn out.1 The celts are of several types; Mr. C. T. Shaw2 suggests a classification into eight types, based on the cross-section.

In addition to these celts, Gold Coast sites have yielded scrapers and hand-hammers, and large quantities of micro-lithic tools. There are also quantities of curious stone implements, rounded and flattish, usually about two inches in diameter and half an inch thick, with a bi-conically pierced hole. These stones are found sometimes singly, sometimes in hoards of as many as a thousand. Mr. Shaw remarks that "the purpose of these stones, together with the question of their age, is one of the most teasing problems of Gold Coast archaeology. Possible uses include fire-making, personal

____________________
1
Rattray's theory, however, will not easily account for all instances.
2
Report on cave excavations; Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society for 1944 ( New Series, Vol. X, p. 1-67). I have made considerable use of Mr. Shaw's paper in these few paragraphs.

-32-

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