Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Christopher R. DeCorse


Elmina, Maritime, Shipwreck

Subject Categories



This dissertation focuses on the first maritime archaeology research project conducted in Ghana, specifically off the town of Elmina in the Central Region. Survey and diver investigations resulted in the discovery of a mid-seventeenth century shipwreck, which archaeological and archival research suggests may be the Dutch West India Company vessel Groeningen that sank after arriving to Elmina on a trading voyage in 1647. The site lies approximately 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) southeast of Elmina and is characterized by a mass of trade goods, including brass and pewter basins, brass manillas, lead rolls, trade beads, pins, cowrie shells, as well as large iron cannons.

I utilize a multi-scalar approach in this research, which allows me to take the shipwreck as the basic unit of analysis (an event or événement as Braudel would place it in his three scales of history), and situate it within the broader sphere of the Atlantic World. This geographical and chronological construction, encompassing Africa, Europe and the Americas and spanning the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, can be considered an example of the longue dureé as defined by the Annales school, a level of analysis involved with long term structures and world views. In utilizing these multi-scalar constructs, the Elmina Wreck serves as an example of the maritime element within the interconnections of the Atlantic World. Artifacts from the wreck site provide insights into the commodities involved in exchange between Africans and Europeans on the coast, and speak to the culture contact and flow of commodities across different cultural contexts.


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