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Akan Culture

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Definition:

The Akan is a the main ethnic group located in Ghana and the linguistic name of their language. Akan speakers refer to the language as Fante, Twi or Brong. Akan belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages, and related languages are today spread between the Ivory Coast to the Volta River in eastern Ghana.

Akan has been associated ethnohistorically to West African Iron Age archaeological sites and their occupants as early as the 5th century AD. By the 11th century, the political construction of Akan communities was probably chiefdom level polities based at large interior settlements. The Akan were extensively involved in the trade network that by the 16th century stretched across Africa.

The Akan are perhaps best known in the art history world for highly symbolic artifacts of terracotta, wood and metal. The descendants of the Akan still live in west Africa, and have a strong oral history tradition of their past.

Archaeological sites associated with Akan ethnic groups include Elmina, Brenu Akyinim, Efutu, Eguafo, and Cape Coast (Cabo Cors).

Sources

DeCorse, Christopher R. 2001. An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900. Smithsonian Insitution Press, Washington DC.

Kropp Dakubu, M. E.2006 Akan. In Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. Keith Brown, ed. Pp. 137-140. London: Elsevier.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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