Indigenous cosmology, art forms and past medicinal practices: towards an interpretation of ancient Koma Land sites in northern Ghana
Anthropology and Medicine
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Open access article
The ancient cultural tradition in the middle belt region of northern Ghana, with its stone circle and house mounds, contains varied material culture. The unique contextual arrangements of the material culture within the stone circle mounds and the diverse ceramic art forms, as well as their ethnographic analogues in West Africa, indicate the mounds' association with past shrines that have multiple functions, including curative purposes. The archaeology of the mounds and ethnographic associations related to past indigenous medical practices is reviewed and discussed. This paper will also consider how some of the figurines through which the Koma tradition has achieved 'fame' possibly functioned as physical representations of disease, perhaps underpinned by intentions of transference from afflicted to image. The notions of protection and healing are also examined with reference to the resorted and disarticulated human remains sometimes recovered from the sites.
The authors acknowledge with profound gratitude the support from the GDARCH project funded by DANIDA, the School of Research and Graduate Studies and the Faculty of Social Studies of the University of Ghana, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, and the Cultural Initiatives Support Project (CISP) funded by a European Union Grant for the fieldwork at Yikpabongo. We are also grateful to the chiefs and people of Koma Land for their continued support and hospitality that have contributed to the success of the research so far in a difficult terrain. The Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), the state agency with responsibility for Ghanaian archaeological heritage provided the legal permission for the archaeological survey and excavation of the sites in Koma Land. In addition, the National Commission on Culture, for Ghana convened series of meetings that led to the renewed archaeological research in Koma Land from 2006 to 2011. The authors are grateful to the two agencies with the acknowledgements provided. In addition, an official of the GMMB was present at every season of work to ensure the authors complied with the National Museum Act 1967 (previously NLCD 387).
This is the final version of the article. Available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 18 (2), pp. 205 - 216
Place of publication