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History of Archaeology in Ghana  

Wazi Apoh and Samuel Amartey

The conduct of archaeological research and scholarship in Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) dates back to the 1920s. However, before the 20th century, some antiquarian practices were pursued by European scientists, missionaries, merchants, and enslavers. Expatriate archaeologists dominated archaeological research in Ghana until the 1980s when the number of local scholars started increasing. The University of Ghana remains the only institution of higher learning in Ghana where academic and scientific archaeology is practiced through the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies (DAHS), which was established in 1951. Until the 1980s, prehistoric Stone Age archaeology dominated the thematic research landscape. However, from the 1980s onward, indigenous and expatriate archaeologists steered attention to sites dating to periods after 1000 ce. This was in response to the need to build new histories for the postcolonial nation-state of Ghana. By the close of the 20th century, local researchers had taken over the scholarly landscape of archaeology in the country. The Department of Archaeology was rebranded as the DAHS to make the discipline more meaningful and economically viable for national development. Since 2010, the department has dramatically diversified its thematic and temporal foci. Aside from Iron Age studies, prehistory, historical archaeology, state formation, and Atlantic–global encounters, themes such as public archaeology, developmental archaeology, restitution, bioarchaeology, archaeobotany, museology, slavery studies, and environmental humanities are emerging as practical ways of diversifying the field of archaeology in Ghana. These emerging and innovative themes are attractive and underscore the growing number of students pursuing archaeology at the University of Ghana.