Christopher R. DeCorse

Document Type





Ghana, Slave trade, Archaeology, West Africa




Archaeological Anthropology


Recent archaeological research in the New World has focused on slave dwellings and post-emacipation communities, providing a great deal of insight into slave life and the emergence of African-American culture. In contrast, the material record in West Africa has supplied little new information on the slave trade. Numerous European forts and barracoons serve as pervasive reminders of its existence. However, excavation of these sites is only likely to attest to the meagre possessions of the slaves and their treatment prior to the middle passage, offering little insight into their cultural and ethnic origins. European forts were collection points; the slaves often being brought from diverse areas and comprising ethnically heterogeneous groups. Furthermore, identification of these slave populations within African communities is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, within an archaeological context. This was illustrated by recent excavations at the site of the African settlement of Elmina, Ghana, a major trading centre between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries.

Additional Information

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Slavery and Abolition, 12(2), 92-96. Copyright 1991 for final version is Taylor & Francis, available online at:

Author retains rights to this version, CCBY 4.0

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
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