Home Region:  West Africa (Africa)

Ashanti Empire

EQ 2020  gh_ashanti_emp / GhAshnL

The gold-producing region between the Comoé and Volta rivers has been inhabited by Akan-speaking people since the 13th century CE. This region has seen the emergence of various autonomous states, including Bono, Djomo, Akwamu, Fante, and Asante. Later in its history, the founders of the Ga and Ewe states arrived from what is now Nigeria. [1] In 1471, Portuguese sailors reached this stretch of coast and quickly established trade with the coastal Akan states, exchanging European goods for gold. [1] Trade routes soon connected the coast to the Niger bend region, along which descendants of the former Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms founded the Akyerekyere and Akumu-Akoto kingdoms respectively. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes’, which is the source of the name Akan. [2]
In 1701, the Asante rebelled against the dominant Denkyira state and formed a confederacy of Akan states who accepted Asante rule. This confederacy began to conquer the surrounding polities, and by 1764 the Greater Asante controlled an area nearly the size of present-day Ghana. [2]
Europeans continued to be drawn to the Ghanaian coast in search of gold and, by the 19th century, the British were the strongest European power in the region. In 1827, British-led troops defeated an Asante army at Katammanso. [2] In 1831, the British and Asante signed a peace treaty that allowed trade in all ports, and by 1844 the British gained control over criminal matters in the areas around trade forts. By 1872, the British had complete control of the coast, and when they did not recognize Asante sovereignty, the Asante attacked. The British were victorious, and after another war in 1895, the Asante king and chiefs were exiled. The entire region was declared a British territory in 1901. [2]
Population and political organization
During the pre-Asante period, each Akan state consisted of a single kingdom ruled by an omanhene, which literally translates to ’state-chief’. [2] This king came from a royal clan, and was elected by various officials, most notably the ohemmaa (’queen-mother’), who was a senior woman of the clan. The king was a sacred person who could not be observed eating or drinking; nor could he be heard to speak or be spoken to. [2]
After 1701, political organization within the region became far more bureaucratic and specialized. Kumasi became the capital of the union of Asante states and the seat of the empire. Appointed officials began to replace those wielding hereditary authority, and a treasury partly operated by literate Muslims was created. [3] However, while bureaucrats ran many of the day-to-day operations of the empire, the authority of the king was still absolute. [4]
Population estimates are not available for the pre-Asante period. The population of the entire Asante union in 1874 is estimated at three million people. [5]

[1]: (Fage et al. 2017) Fage, John D., Ernest Amano Boateng, Donna J. Maier, and Oliver Davies. 2017. "Ghana." Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/XFKDKSW3.

[2]: (Gilbert, Lagacé and Skoggard 2000) Gilbert, Michelle, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard. 2000. "Culture Summary: Akan." eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=fe12-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/ZJ844XUN.

[3]: (McLeod 1981) McLeod, M. D. 1981. The Asante. London: British Museum Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/RS692TAZ.

[4]: (Arhin 1986, 165-66) Arhin, Kwame. 1986. "The Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology of Patrimonialism." Paideuma, no. 32: 163-97. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/87N692IT.

[5]: (Obeng 1996, 20) Obeng, J. Pashington. 1996. Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction among the Akan of Ghana. Leiden: E. J. Brill. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/P8MFGRGQ.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
30 N  
Original Name:
Ashanti Empire  
Capital:
Kumasi  
Kumase  
Alternative Name:
Ashante  
Asante  
Asanteman  
Asantemanso  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,800 CE ➜ 1,824 CE]  
Duration:
[1,701 CE ➜ 1,895 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none  
Supracultural Entity:
West Africa  
Succeeding Entity:
British Empire Gold Coast Colony  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
5,112,903 km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity  
Preceding Entity:
Akan - Pre-Ashanti  
Degree of Centralization:
confederated state  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Niger-Congo  
Kwa  
Language:
Akan  
Twi  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
13,500 people  
22,500 people  
Polity Territory:
259,000 km2 1874 CE
Polity Population:
3,000,000 people 1874 CE
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
4  
Religious Level:
4  
Military Level:
6  
Administrative Level:
6  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
present  
Professional Military Officer:
present  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown  
Merit Promotion:
unknown  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent  
Formal Legal Code:
inferred absent  
Court:
present  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
inferred present  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
present  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
present  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present  
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Mnemonic Device:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
present  
Religious Literature:
present  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
present  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
present  
Information / Money
Token:
present  
Precious Metal:
present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
absent  
Article:
inferred present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
present  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
absent 1701 CE 1820 CE
present 1821 CE 1874 CE
absent 1875 CE 1897 CE
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
unknown  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
inferred absent  
  Fortified Camp:
absent 1701 CE 1820 CE
present 1821 CE 1874 CE
absent 1875 CE 1897 CE
  Earth Rampart:
inferred absent  
  Ditch:
inferred absent  
  Complex Fortification:
unknown  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
present  
  Bronze:
inferred absent  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
unknown  
  Self Bow:
inferred present  
  Javelin:
inferred present  
  Handheld Firearm:
present  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
inferred absent  
  Crossbow:
inferred present  
  Composite Bow:
unknown  
  Atlatl:
inferred absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
absent  
  Sword:
absent  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
absent  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
absent  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
absent  
  Dog:
absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
absent  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
unknown  
  Leather Cloth:
inferred present  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
inferred present  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
absent  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
inferred absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
inferred absent  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
inferred absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Ashanti Empire (gh_ashanti_emp) was in:
 (1702 CE 1895 CE)   Ghanaian Coast
Home NGA: Ghanaian Coast

General Variables
Identity and Location


Capital:
Kumasi

’Kumase. Now officially spelled Coomassie. The derivation is from kum, to kill, and ase, under, beneath, i.e. ‘under the kill (tree)’, from a large tree under which executions used to take place, when the town was the head-quarters of the Ashanti paramount chief.’ [1] ’Kumasi was the political, administrative, religious, and cultural capital of the Asante Union and of Greater Asante. In the 19th century, the culture of Kumasi, with its heterogeneous population including peoples drawn from all over the territories under the Asantehene, Muslims from as far afield as the Maghreb and Mecca, and European visitors from the coast, took a shape distinct from that of the surrounding villages (Bowdich 1819, Freeman 1967 [1898]). Kumasi dwellers believed themselves, and were believed to be, more refined than villagers, and the term kuraseni became one of insult, meaning a “rude” person. The word Kumasisem, meaning “the Kumasi way of life,” was in turn applied to the new settler in Kumasi who outdid the old-timers in exhibiting the Kumasi life-style.’ [2]

[1]: Rattray, R. S. (Robert Sutherland) 1916. “Ashanti Proverbs: (The Primitive Ethics Of A Savage People)”, 92

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 475

Capital:
Kumase

’Kumase. Now officially spelled Coomassie. The derivation is from kum, to kill, and ase, under, beneath, i.e. ‘under the kill (tree)’, from a large tree under which executions used to take place, when the town was the head-quarters of the Ashanti paramount chief.’ [1] ’Kumasi was the political, administrative, religious, and cultural capital of the Asante Union and of Greater Asante. In the 19th century, the culture of Kumasi, with its heterogeneous population including peoples drawn from all over the territories under the Asantehene, Muslims from as far afield as the Maghreb and Mecca, and European visitors from the coast, took a shape distinct from that of the surrounding villages (Bowdich 1819, Freeman 1967 [1898]). Kumasi dwellers believed themselves, and were believed to be, more refined than villagers, and the term kuraseni became one of insult, meaning a “rude” person. The word Kumasisem, meaning “the Kumasi way of life,” was in turn applied to the new settler in Kumasi who outdid the old-timers in exhibiting the Kumasi life-style.’ [2]

[1]: Rattray, R. S. (Robert Sutherland) 1916. “Ashanti Proverbs: (The Primitive Ethics Of A Savage People)”, 92

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 475



Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,800 CE ➜ 1,824 CE]

’Between Osei Tutu and Osei Bonsu (1800-1824) the Asante conquered or otherwise brought into subjection to the Asantehene (King of Asante), nearly all the peoples now inhabiting all the regions of modern Ghana and also east-central and south-western Ivory Coast (Rattray, 1923: 287-293; Priestley and Wilks, 1960; Fynn, 1971: 105, 155; Meredith, 1812; Wilks, 1975; 43-79).’ [1] ’Looking back they recall how, until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, they controlled an ever-increasing area which at its peak stretched over 550 km into the interior and encompassed many distinctive groups and regions. Asante armies were powerful and well-organised, equipped with imported firearms scarcely available to poorer and more isolated northern groups.’ [2] Within this general trend of military conquest and domination, the peak period was likely the early 19th century, characterized by military successes against the British: ’One major reason for this increase in British influence came as a result of Asante expansion toward the coast. For the Asante this was vitally necessary to ensure a ready supply of European firearms to maintain their hold over their outlying provinces. [...] In 1806 the Asante, under their dynamic leader, Asantehene Osei Bonsu, defeated the Fante and besieged the British fort at Anomabu. In 1811, 1814, and 1816 the Asante again invaded the Fante area and finally established domination over the coast. [...] A dispute over jurisdiction eventually led to war, but Macarthy’s forces proved no match for the Asantes. In 1824, at the battle of Nsamankow, they were ambushed and the governor and seven of his officers were killed. At this point the Asante empire was at the height of its power.’ [3]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 165

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 10

[3]: Gocking, Roger S. 2005. “The History of Ghana”, 30p


Duration:
[1,701 CE ➜ 1,895 CE]

This period begins in 1701 CE when ’the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira’ [1] . This period ends in 1895 CE, ’the last year in which the Union was intact before defeat by the British, exile of the King, and conquest.’ [2]

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[2]: White 2009 ’Pinpointing Sheets for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Complete Edition’ World Cultures


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none

’Although ethnically and culturally closely related, the Akan have never had a common polity, and they may be roughly divided into the Brong, Akyem, Akuapim, Kwawu, Assen-Twifo, Wasa, Fante-Agona, Nzima-Evalue, Ahanta and Ashanti, each group speaking a distinct dialect.’ [1] ’Greater Asante’ was a conglomerate made up of sub-polities paying allegiance to Kumasi and tributary states: ’First, there was the Kumasi state, administered like any other Asante state by the Asantehene and his council members. Second, Kumasi, together with the neighbouring Asante-Twi-speaking states, formed the Asante Union, with a council consisting of the Asantehene, some members of the Kumasi state council, and the heads of the other Asante states. Third, there were the “provinces,” consisting of the other Twi-speaking peoples north and south of Asante. Fourth, there were the non-Twi-speaking protectorate and tributary states southeast and north of the Twi-speaking peoples.’ [2] This structure did not depend on alliances with external forces. SCCS variable 84 ’Higher Political Organization’ is coded ’Absent’, not ’Peace group’, ’Alliances’, ’Confederation’, or ’International organization’.

[1]: Sarpong, Peter 1977. “Girls’ Nubility Rites In Ashanti”, 1

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 474


Supracultural Entity:
West Africa

’The Asante, however, are only the most successful of a number of people in southern Ghana, with offshoots in the Ivory Coast, who are closely related and probably have a single origin. To the south are groups like the Fante, Akwamu and Akyem, speaking virtually identical tonal languages (sometimes called Twi, or Akan) of the Kwa family and with whom the Asante share many elements of culture. Among these groups, for example, there are traces of the great matrilineal clans [...] formerly recognised in Asante, the practice of naming children according to the day of birth (for example, Kofi, a Friday-born male; Abena, a Tuesday-born girl), and many closely similar religious ideas and rituals. Some of these groups also retain traditions of a move to the south from the open areas north of the forest.’ [1] Sarbah agrees with this view: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been developed in a greater degree.’ [2] Hayford comments on cultural and linguistic similiarities between the Ashanti and Fante peoples: ’They speak the same language with only a difference of accent, such difference being a refinement upon whichever form of speech was the original type. It is probable the Ashanti type is the original, since it is reasonable to suppose that the coast tribes were detached from the Ashantis, and not vice versa. There is no tradition showing that the Fantis were ever a distinct and separate people from the Ashantis. On the other hand, there is historical evidence that, at the dawn of European intercourse with the Gold Coast, the Ashanti Union fully recognised the existence and independence of the Fanti Union; and the current of immigration southwards from the north of tribes now dwelling between Ashanti proper and Fanti proper, all of whom have in common the same language with the Ashantis and Fantis, lends weight to this striking fact.’ [3] The scale of supracultural interaction was amplified with the intensification of colonial penetration: ’But in the mid-nineteenth century, and for the economic and political reasons outlined above, Asante society became much less confined, and much more permeable and accessible. I think that it would be missing the point to see this matter in the short term, and to interpret it from the viewpoint of - for example - formal conversion to Christianity or numbers of political or economic refugees. What, I think, is of paramount importance is that it was in this period that Asante became massively exposed to novel options, to different (and even contradictory) ways of looking at the world. These influences would take a long time to germinate and to bear fruit, but in retrospect we can see that this period represented a watershed in the understanding of values and beliefs. In cognitive terms - and we can see this prosopographically - the ‘generation’ of 1880 was further removed from that of 1830 than that ‘generation’ had been from any of its predecessors throughout Asante history (Wilks and McCaskie, 1973-79).’ [4] The Columbian Exchange and contact with European traders, missionaries, and colonizers had lasting effects on culture change in Southern Ghana and were probably more important than Asanteman’s interactions with fellow Akan peoples. But given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [5] . Given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [5] . Wikipedia gives the size of West Africa as 5,112,903 km2 [6] .

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 14

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa”, 2

[3]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 24

[4]: McCaskie, T. C. 1983. “Accumulation, Wealth And Belief In Asante History: I. To The Close Of The Ninteenth Century”, 36

[5]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=0

[6]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa


Succeeding Entity:
British Empire Gold Coast Colony

’By 1872 the British had complete control of the coast after taking over the Dutch and Danish forts. When they did not recognize Ashanti sovereignty in the area, the Ashanti invaded. In 1874, British forces launched a counteroffensive and sacked Kumasi. In 1883 a general uprising led to the overthrow of the Ashanti chi ef Mensu Bonsu and four years of civil war (1884-1888). A faction representing mercantile interests prevailed, although an Imperial faction regained power in the following decade. This led to another war with the British, who again attacked Kumasi in 1895 and captured the Ashanti king and chiefs. The king and chiefs were exiled and in 1901 the whole region was declared a British possession.’ [1]

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard


Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
5,112,903 km2

km squared. ’The Asante, however, are only the most successful of a number of people in southern Ghana, with offshoots in the Ivory Coast, who are closely related and probably have a single origin. To the south are groups like the Fante, Akwamu and Akyem, speaking virtually identical tonal languages (sometimes called Twi, or Akan) of the Kwa family and with whom the Asante share many elements of culture. Among these groups, for example, there are traces of the great matrilineal clans [...] formerly recognised in Asante, the practice of naming children according to the day of birth (for example, Kofi, a Friday-born male; Abena, a Tuesday-born girl), and many closely similar religious ideas and rituals. Some of these groups also retain traditions of a move to the south from the open areas north of the forest.’ [1] Sarbah agrees with this view: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been developed in a greater degree.’ [2] Hayford comments on cultural and linguistic similiarities between the Ashanti and Fante peoples: ’They speak the same language with only a difference of accent, such difference being a refinement upon whichever form of speech was the original type. It is probable the Ashanti type is the original, since it is reasonable to suppose that the coast tribes were detached from the Ashantis, and not vice versa. There is no tradition showing that the Fantis were ever a distinct and separate people from the Ashantis. On the other hand, there is historical evidence that, at the dawn of European intercourse with the Gold Coast, the Ashanti Union fully recognised the existence and independence of the Fanti Union; and the current of immigration southwards from the north of tribes now dwelling between Ashanti proper and Fanti proper, all of whom have in common the same language with the Ashantis and Fantis, lends weight to this striking fact.’ [3] The scale of supracultural interaction was amplified with the intensification of colonial penetration: ’But in the mid-nineteenth century, and for the economic and political reasons outlined above, Asante society became much less confined, and much more permeable and accessible. I think that it would be missing the point to see this matter in the short term, and to interpret it from the viewpoint of - for example - formal conversion to Christianity or numbers of political or economic refugees. What, I think, is of paramount importance is that it was in this period that Asante became massively exposed to novel options, to different (and even contradictory) ways of looking at the world. These influences would take a long time to germinate and to bear fruit, but in retrospect we can see that this period represented a watershed in the understanding of values and beliefs. In cognitive terms - and we can see this prosopographically - the ‘generation’ of 1880 was further removed from that of 1830 than that ‘generation’ had been from any of its predecessors throughout Asante history (Wilks and McCaskie, 1973-79).’ [4] The Columbian Exchange and contact with European traders, missionaries, and colonizers had lasting effects on culture change in Southern Ghana and were probably more important than Asanteman’s interactions with fellow Akan peoples. But given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [5] . Given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [5] . Wikipedia gives the size of West Africa as 5,112,903 km2 [6] .

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 14

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa”, 2

[3]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 24

[4]: McCaskie, T. C. 1983. “Accumulation, Wealth And Belief In Asante History: I. To The Close Of The Ninteenth Century”, 36

[5]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=0

[6]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity

’The Asante wars had their origin in the seventeenth century in the course of attempts by Oti Akenten and Obiri Yeboah to establish the power of their segment of the Oyoko clan, based in Kokofu in Amansee, in the area now covered by Kumasi City. Obiri Yeboah died in war with the Dorma people, then located within four miles of Kumasi, and was succeeded by Osei Tutu (died 1717). Osei Tutu defeated the Dorma (Reindorf, 1895: 50; Fuller, 1968: 2) and led the Asante to conquer Denkyira (Bosman, 1705), their south-western neighbour and erstwhile overlords, in 1699-1708 [...] Between Osei Tutu and Osei Bonsu (1800-1824) the Asante conquered or otherwise brought into subjection to the Asantehene (King of Asante), nearly all the peoples now inhabiting all the regions of modern Ghana and also east-central and south-western Ivory Coast (Rattray, 1923: 287-293; Priestley and Wilks, 1960; Fynn, 1971: 105, 155; Meredith, 1812; Wilks, 1975; 43-79).’ [1]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 165


Preceding Entity:
Akan - Pre-Ashanti

Asantemanso Kingdom ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [1] ’He became the overall King (or Asantehene) of a group of allied towns or states centred around Kumase. According to Asante traditions he followed earlier rulers, the almost mythical twins Twum and Antwi, then Oti Akenten and Obiri Yeboa, his predecessor, slain in war. Traditions indicate that the kingdom’s founders spread out from an early settlement in Adanse to settle at Kumase, near the earlier trading town of Tafo. They conquered groups already settled in the area and were joined by other bands of immigrants from earlier states to the south, attracted by the opportunities the new area offered. The new kingdom included the towns of Bekwae, Kokofu, Mampon, Nsuta, Dwaben and Edweso and was apparently organised on principles evolved in earlier, more southerly kingdoms like Denkyira and Akwamu. The founding [...] states each had its ‘paramount chief’ or Omanhene.’ [2]

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 12


Degree of Centralization:
confederated state

The Union founded after Osei Tutu’s military victory against the Denkyira incorporated a set of allied sub-polities under the overall authority of the Asantehene based at Kumasi: ’In the aftermath of the Denkyira war the military coalition of states was transformed into a political union.’ [1] For Hayford, this union was essentially a confederation of several ’imperia in imperio’ under the paramount authority of the Asantehene: ’The Native State, in its highest development, is to be found where a number of considerably important communities combine and own allegiance to one central paramount Authority. Such Authority is the King, properly so called. Thus in Ashanti, before the breaking up of the Court at Kumasi, there were the Manpons, the Juabins, the Kokofus, the Beckwas, the Adansis, and several other large and important communities, owning allegiance to the stool of Kumasi as the paramount stool of all Ashanti. Each of these important communities, when regarded with respect to the entire State, was a sort of imperium in imperio-in fact, several distinct native states federated together under the same laws, the same customs, the same faith and worship, the people speaking the same language, and all owning allegiance to a paramount king or president, who represented the sovereignty of the entire Union.’ [2] For Arhin, the ’official’, confederated character of the Ashanti Union was being increasingly eroded during the time period in question, with the Asantehene seeking to concentrate power in Kumasi: ’Formally the Asante lived within a system of decentralized ‘patrimonialism’: that is to say, under the authority of hereditary rulers selected by the heads of the constituent units of the oman, the localized matrilineages, the villages and the districts who were, in the main, a gerontocratic body. The members of the various units also enjoyed rights of use in land. But the political history of Asante, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the eve of colonial rule, was the history of the erosion of these political and economic rights. It was a history of the increasing personalization of power at the expense of the holders of hereditary authority and also of commoners.’ [3] British colonial incursions subsequently upset the indigenous power structure and weakened Kumasi by imposing their own administration on the native system, including a court of ’appeals in the hands of a British administrative officer’ [4] , and by backing indigenous resistance against the King. Wilks describes a dynamic struggle between competing interests: ’The Kumaseman sought to build up its power to ensure not only its de jure but also its de facto preeminence within the Asanteman. It moved slowly but surely towards a form of absolutism. The aman resisted the engrossment of power by Kumase and strove to maintain a “parcellization” of sovereignty of the sort also characteristic of feudalism.’ [5] This supports the characterization of Asanteman as a confederated state despite of this process of centralization: ’It is arguable that the union, the Asanteman, has survived precisely because different (and even conflicting) concepts of its nature have always been possible. Did member states, for example, have a right to secede, or was the union indissoluble? In the early nineteenth century the Dwabenhene clearly believed that he did have the right, the Asantehene that he did not.’ [1]

[1]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 112

[2]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 19

[3]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 169

[4]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 478

[5]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 118


Language

’The Ashanti and related Akyem, Anyi, Attie, Baule, Brong, Fanti and Guang speak languages of the Akan subdivision, Twi branch, of the Kwa subfamily of Niger-Congo linguistic stock.’ [1] ’The Akan are Twi-speaking people living between the Volta river and the Atlantic coast in southern and central Ghana and in southeastern Cote d’Ivoire. They include the Akwamu, the Akwampim (Akuapem), the Akyem (Akim), the Asen-Twifo, the Ashanti (Asante), the Fanti (Fante), the Kwahu, and the Wasa.’ [2]

[1]: White 2009 ’Pinpointing Sheets for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Complete Edition’ World Cultures

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

’The Ashanti and related Akyem, Anyi, Attie, Baule, Brong, Fanti and Guang speak languages of the Akan subdivision, Twi branch, of the Kwa subfamily of Niger-Congo linguistic stock.’ [1] ’The Akan are Twi-speaking people living between the Volta river and the Atlantic coast in southern and central Ghana and in southeastern Cote d’Ivoire. They include the Akwamu, the Akwampim (Akuapem), the Akyem (Akim), the Asen-Twifo, the Ashanti (Asante), the Fanti (Fante), the Kwahu, and the Wasa.’ [2]

[1]: White 2009 ’Pinpointing Sheets for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Complete Edition’ World Cultures

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
13,500 people

Inhabitants. {12,000-15,000; 20,000-25,000} ’The population of Kumasi, variously estimated at 12,000-15,000, 20,000-25,000, and 70,000-100,000 (Bowdich 1819: 324; Bascom 1959), included the Asantehene’s relations, courtiers, and members of palace associations; the heads and peoples of the Kumasi wards; visiting rulers and their attendants from the Asante central, provincial, and tributary states (Wilks 1975: chap. 2); traders from the coastal areas (Freeman 1844); resident Muslim foreigners (Wilks 1975: 263, 345; Schildkrout 1978: 68); visitors from the Sudan and northern Africa; and representatives of the European coastal traders and Christian missions (Huydecoper 1817, Bowdich 1819, Dupuis 1824, Freeman 1844, Ramseyer and Kühne 1874). These formed a substantial clientele for the subsistence markets and sources of external cultural influences that, in addition to courtly traditions, patterned Kumasi culture differently from that of the rural areas.’ [1] The 70,000-100,000 slot is a highly unlikely estimate for the time period covered here, given that numbers around 10,000 or 20,000 appear more frequently in the literature. We have therefore chosen to go with the above.

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 473

Population of the Largest Settlement:
22,500 people

Inhabitants. {12,000-15,000; 20,000-25,000} ’The population of Kumasi, variously estimated at 12,000-15,000, 20,000-25,000, and 70,000-100,000 (Bowdich 1819: 324; Bascom 1959), included the Asantehene’s relations, courtiers, and members of palace associations; the heads and peoples of the Kumasi wards; visiting rulers and their attendants from the Asante central, provincial, and tributary states (Wilks 1975: chap. 2); traders from the coastal areas (Freeman 1844); resident Muslim foreigners (Wilks 1975: 263, 345; Schildkrout 1978: 68); visitors from the Sudan and northern Africa; and representatives of the European coastal traders and Christian missions (Huydecoper 1817, Bowdich 1819, Dupuis 1824, Freeman 1844, Ramseyer and Kühne 1874). These formed a substantial clientele for the subsistence markets and sources of external cultural influences that, in addition to courtly traditions, patterned Kumasi culture differently from that of the rural areas.’ [1] The 70,000-100,000 slot is a highly unlikely estimate for the time period covered here, given that numbers around 10,000 or 20,000 appear more frequently in the literature. We have therefore chosen to go with the above.

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 473


Polity Territory:
259,000 km2
1874 CE

in squared kilometers Obeng claims this for the whole of the Ashanti Union at the time [1] , which covered most of present-day Ghana and some neighbouring regions: ’At the height of its power the Asanteman, the Asante nation, dominated an area much the size of present-day Ghana, and the frontiers of the old kingdom approximated those of the modern republic. This is the area that, following Kwame Arhin, we have come to know as “Greater Asante” rather than “the Asante Empire.” [...] The Asante lacked cartographic skills, and Greater Asante had, therefore, to be “mentally mapped.” In 1817, T. E. Bowdich was the first to make a serious attempt to represent the extent of Greater Asante on paper and to locate what he called the “boundary of Ashantee authority.” In doing so, he drew heavily upon Asante perceptions of space.’ [2] Wilks’ informants measured distance in travel time rather than geographical figures: ’Kumase, the capital, was the central point from which the great roads of Asante, the nkwantεmpon, radiated out. The day’s journey, the kwansin, was the basic unit in terms of which distance from the capital was measured.’ [3] But McLeod provides an approximation: ’Looking back they recall how, until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, they controlled an ever-increasing area which at its peak stretched over 550 km into the interior and encompassed many distinctive groups and regions. Asante armies were powerful and well-organised, equipped with imported firearms scarcely available to poorer and more isolated northern groups.’ [4] The Republic of Ghana today covers an area of almost 240,000 squared kilometers, the coastline being around 540km long. We can therefore accept Obeng’s claim as a reasonable approximation.

[1]: Obeng, J. Pashington 1996. "Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction Among the Akan of Ghana", 20

[2]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 189

[3]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 200

[4]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 10


Polity Population:
3,000,000 people
1874 CE

People. This number refers to the whole of the Ashanti Union and is also taken from Obeng’s work [1] .

[1]: Obeng, J. Pashington 1996. "Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction Among the Akan of Ghana", 20


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
4

levels. According to Ethnographic Atlas variable 31 ’Mean Size of Local Communities’, the Ashanti possess ’Towns of 5,000-50,000 (one or more)’, meaning that they are likely to have a settlement hierarchy as follows: (1) Town (administrative buildings, storehouse)) (2) Village (shrine) (3) Hamlet (residential only). This remains to be confirmed. SCCS variable 157 ’Scale 9-Political Integration’ is coded as ’3 levels above community’
(1) the Capital with its central administrative and political functions;(2) regional Towns housing the leaders of divisions of the Ashanti Union;(3) Villages integrated into the recognized regional power hierarchies, comprising multiple family farms;(4) residential Hamlets and other non-permanent micro-settlements
A reviewer of Arhin’s work comments on some general features of the territorial hierarchy: ’the Asante people formed a typical African kingdom, headed by a paramount ruler called “king” who, from his central village or town, administered the community in groups of villages with their own administrative and political organizations that owed absolute allegiance to the king, sometimes miles away. In every such African kingdom there was a princely city, special in every sense-the home of the paramount ruler of the state, the centre of government, and the residence of members of the royal family, religious leaders, courtiers, members of the extended-family system, servants, and slaves. Its economic, political, and cultural characteristics flowed down to the villages that made up the state [...] Every village consisted of free-born citizens, servants, and slaves. Individuals were like the fingers of a hand, all working together for the betterment of the village and, through the council of elders and the king’s representative or chief, paying tribute to and serving their lord and master’ [1] Arhin’s own work confirms this: ’An Asante state consisted of divisions ( amansin), which in turn consisted of villages ( nkuro) and hamlets ( nkuraa). The hamlet was of no political significance, since, like the hunting lodge ( nnanso), it was a temporary settlement. The village, inhabited by members of localised matrilineages of three or more of the dispersed Akan matriclans ( mmusua) (Rattray 1929: 67), was headed by an individual called the owner of the village ( odekro).’ [2] Villages can accordingly be differentiated from Hamlets by virtue of their integration into regional lineage structures: ’A village proper is distinguished from less permanent settlements as much by social complexity as by sheer size. Nearly all established villages are occupied by a number of distinct matrilineal groups, perhaps as many as five or six. [...] The establishment of a core of women in a village, who have children there, and whose daughters there give birth to other daughters who will continue the matrilineage, marks that settlement’s existence as an independent and viable unit. Marriage, birth and death, as much as sheer numbers, mark the distinction between a well-established village and a settlement of less certain status.’ [3] Hamlets could develop into more complex villages: ’an akuraa might, in favourable circumstances, develop into a village proper ( okrom), with its own name and chief or odekuro and a clearly defined position in the kingdom’s political and military framework. This change in status usually occurred gradually and only after the place became the primary residence of many of those using it.’ [3]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 478

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 473

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 25


Religious Level:
4

levels.
(1) head-priests involved in the organized ceremonial of the state and its ruler;(2) priests serving major deities and chiefs;(3) priests serving minor deities and chiefs;(4) priests and healers associated with the commoner population and village shrines
From the information gathered so far, we infer that organized religion shared some basic structural principles with the territorial and military organization. Some particularly powerful priests worked with the Asantehene himself, in organized ceremonial and military campaigns: ’Before a war senior servants of the Asantehene visited the shrines of major gods with gifts, to ask for guidance and support, and to promise rewards for success. They may also, of course, have received knowledge obtained by the webs of communication centred on the shrine. After successful campaigns, gods were rewarded with land and captives, large umbrellas and asipim chairs, and their priests given gold or silver crescent-shaped pendants to wear. Some priests and gods accompanied the armies, or missions, as in the case of the three priests in the retinue of General Akyeampon when he returned to the capital after negotiating in the south in the early 1870s.’ [1] The practice was projected back to the times of Osei Tutu, but this may have had ideological reasons [2] . Major gods and their shrines produced offshoots in the form of minor deities and temples, both with their respective religious specialists: ’The god Tano has long enjoyed a particularly high place in the Asante pantheon. Thus in 1817 Bowdich remarked that “the present favourite fetish of Ashantee is that of the river Tando.” Such a god was divisible. Water and sediment might be transferred from the river to other locations and, provided this was done with all due ritual and honors, access to the god might be gained at them. Such local offshoots, the atano, were regarded as “children” of Tano and given a second name to distinguish each from the other, thus Taa (or Tano) Odomankoma, Taa Kora, Taa Bobodwo, Taa Kwadwo, Taa Yawo, Taa Mensa, and Taa Dwemo, to name but a few. An atano resided in a shrine, commonly a brass pan, which was housed in an abosomfie or temple protected and maintained by a custodian or bosomwura. Depending upon its prestige and wealth, the atano was served by a greater or lesser number of priests and priestesses - akomfo - who had been possessed by the god, and by such other attendants - atanokwaa - as cooks, musicians, umbrella carriers, and the like. Indeed, the temple of a powerful atano might, in terms of its personnel, closely resemble the court of a chief.’ [3] Priests also participated in the organized ceremonial relevant to chiefs: ’Eto (mashed yams) are cooked once a year by the priests, and upon the day appointed (a Saturday) the chief will place a spoonful in the pan upon top of the forked branch, with the words: ‘Me Nyankopon me sere wo nkwa, na me sere wo ahooden’ (My God, I pray you for life and I pray you for strength). A sheep is also killed and the blood allowed to fall upon the ground [...].’ [4] The smallest shrines were associated with the village-level: ’Temples of gods ( bosom’dan, bosom’fie) were also often situated towards the edges of the village, although some were built well away from human habitation, usually on the banks of rivers or streams (from which gods were thought to come). In their simplest form the temples were small rectangular buildings, entered by steps, the outer surfaces decorated with low reliefs and covered with red and white clay. More usually they consisted of a number of units around a court. Here male priests would periodically carry the god’s shrine on their heads, becoming possessed and showing their powers to see, say and do things beyond the abilities of ordinary mortals.’ [5] Those priests ’combine with their office the cure of disease. Some of them are very good doctors and pull through cases where European skill has failed. They are skilled in the use of herbal remedies, and it might repay European medical men to study native therapeutics in its application to the treatment of diseases peculiar to the Gold Coast.’ [6]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 64

[2]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 111

[3]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 338

[4]: Rattray, R. S. (Robert Sutherland) 1923. “Ashanti”, 143

[5]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 38

[6]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 106


Military Level:
6

levels.
(1) King (Asantehene), chief executive and primary commander-in-chief of the Ashanti Union;(2) Captain-General (Tufu Hin) of the forces, or secondary commander-in-chief (Adontenhene);(3) generals, or commanders of particular armies and campaigns;(4) the standing body of armed men, or Department of War;(5) Chiefs acting as captains of companies;(6) farmers and other commoners fulfilling the role of infantry
’The King is the Chief Military Officer of his forces. In time of war, he directs the operations; and if he is a man of capacity, he has the leading place in the councils of war. There is generally a Tufu Hin, or Captain-General, of the forces; but his authority is subordinate to that of the King, and he is, in every essential, an officer of the King.’ [1] According to Mensa-Bonsu, and in the early period at least, the Bantamahene filled this role, as described in the story of his oath: ’This account begins with the Ntam of the Bantamahene who is the Adontenhene (Commander-in-Chief) of Asante. The Ntam dates from the time of Osei Tutu. When Osei Tutu returned from his travels to succeed to the stool, his uncle Obiri Yeboa had just died. He felt he had to offer a sacrifice to his dead uncle to show his affection. He therefore chose his trusted friend Baafour Amankwatia, Chief of Bantama. Amankwatia had already been besmeared with redclay ready to be executed. Okomfo Anokye would not allow him to be killed and ordered his release. This occasion on which he nearly lost his life became a very serious event for the Bantamahene. It thus became his Ntam. Amankwatia lived to become one of Osei Tutu’s greatest generals and won many wars for Asante.’ [2] The head executives were assisted by a cadre of commanders and generals, who carried ceremonial swords as a sign of their special status and commanded particular armies and campaigns: ’A second class of sword, domfena, was carried by generals: ‘… a general is appointed to the command of an army, by receiving a gold-handled sword of the King’s from his hand [...] The captains used these to swear before the King’ [3] There was a nucleus of armed professionals based in the capital: ’The local government of Kumasi was in the hands of the Kwaintsirs, a body of men who were the keepers of the golden stool. They formed the Department of War, and the great General Amankwatsia was formerly their Chief. The fact that the Department of War held in its keeping the royal stool illustrates vividly the origin of the kingly office in the Native State, which will be explained later on.’ [4] Most of the time, political and military hierarchies coincided, with leaders fulfilling a dual role: ’It has already been noted that among the Akan the military organisation was given in the political organisation. Political status determined military status. The commanders of the Asante army and its subdivisions were first elected as heads of territorial divisions or appointed as heads of palace associations and then assumed corresponding military positions: European visitors to the Akan states in the nineteenth century referred to the heads of the subdivisions as ‘captains’.’ [5] Finally, major and minor chiefs commanded their communities of citizen-soldiers in battle:’A chief is generally a captain of a company. In fact, every male member of the community is liable to military service in time of war, and during peace he has to drill every year with his company. A fortiori, a chief is the natural leader of the men of his company. There are cases known, however, where civil chiefs hold no military command in their companies.’ [6]

[1]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 42p

[2]: Mensa-Bonsu, Henrietta J. 1989. “The Place Of ‘Oaths’ In The Constitutional Set-Up Of Asante”, 267

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 90

[4]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 26p

[5]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 96

[6]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 64


Administrative Level:
6

levels. According to the Ethnographic Atlas’ variable 33 ’Jurisdictional Hierarchy Beyond Local Community’ there are ’Two levels (e.g., larger chiefdoms) (.2)’ of administrative control-Chiefs and Elders. SCCS variable 76 ’Community Leadership’ is coded as ’Single local leader and council’ SCCS variable 237 ’Jurisdictional Hierarchy Beyond Local Community’ is coded as ’Two levels (e.g., larger chiefdoms)’
Central authority rests with the King, but the role of sub-chiefs who complement the hierarchy have developed over time. [1]
(1) King (Asantehene), the chief executive of the polity and occupant of the Golden Stool;(2) Queen Mother (Asantehema), a mother’s sister, grandmother, cousin or sister of the King and occupant of the Silver Stool, a Council of Elders from major lineages, and major officials of the capital, all of whom the Asantehene consulted with;(3) chief executives of core provinces of the Ashanti Union (Omanhene);(4) a corresponding structure of Ohema and a Council of Elders;(5) Chiefs of lineages;(6) councils of village leaders (mpanyinfo, odekro, obaapanyin)
Arhin describes the power hierarchy from the village upwards: ’Female stools complemented the hierarchy of male stools. In the village the elders, mpanyinfo, heads of the matrilineages, who constituted with the odekro the village council, had their aberewa or obaapanyin, who looked after the women’s affairs. The odekro had an obaapanyin who was responsible for the affairs of the women of the village and was a member of the village council; the ohene, head of a division, and the omanhene, head of the autonomous political community, had their female counterparts known as ohemma, female ruler, who sat on their councils. The ohene and the ohemma were all of the same mogya, blood, or clan. The Asantehemma, the occupant of the female stool of the Kumasi state, and therefore of united Asante, since her male counterpart was ex officio the Asantehene, king of Asante, was a member of the Kotoko council, the executive committee or cabinet of the Asanteman Nhyiamu, general assembly of Asante rulers.’ [2] Major and minor chiefs were also summoned to council: ’Where the paramount King of a state summons the Head-Chiefs of provinces and chiefs of minor communities to attend a State Council, it is the privilege of the Councillors of the several communities composing the State, according to their rank and importance, to accompany their several Heads to the capital and to join in the “palaver,” or discussion, that will take place, the King in person presiding over the deliberations, supported by his own Councillors and principal Linguists. This is the full Parliament of the people, who are thus fully and duly represented in every way from the highest to the lowest. The commands which go forth from this assembly are binding upon every individual family of the entire State, from the most important province to the most insignificant hamlet, and the sanction operates equally upon all.’ [3] The paramount executive authority was the Asantehene: ’The King is the Chief Executive Officer of the State, but not the Executive Council of the State. Such a council exists, and any acts done by the King without its concurrence are liable to be set aside.’ [4] The attribution of concrete entities to a particular executive level is not always clear, though, especially in the early period: ’The state of the union that emerged after the War of Independence was obviously a very fluid one. The Asanteman is referred to as the Asante Aman Nnum, the Five Asante States, but there is no clear consensus about which states comprised the original union. [...] The fact of the matter seems to have been that the coalition against the Denkyira included what were no more than “estates” on the one hand, like Bekwae, and what were established states on the other, like Mampon, Dwaben, and Kumase itself. Some were to decline and some were to prosper; some were to become powerful components of the Asanteman and some were to become little more than their clients.’ [5] On the executive level it therefore seems best to go with the stool system: ’Every Asante village was a microcosm of the Asante economic, social, and political universe. Its population included both rulers and ruled, both “owners” of the land with the right of succession to the local, divisional, and state stools and free men grouped in other lineages with corporate interests in other political offices.’ [6] Only a few leaders in executive positions achieved the additional special status of Abrempon or ’big man’: ’However many sikafo aspired to the award of the elephant tail, relatively few seem to have achieved it. Three successful nineteenth century claimants are well documented, namely, Gyaasewahene Opoku Frefre (died 1826), Ankobeahene Kwaku Tawia (died ca. 1850), and Manwerehene Kwasi Brantuo (died 1865). [...] I know of no female recipient of the honor. I do not think that women were disbarred by reason of their sex, rather that few if any achieved the necessary level of accumulation. [...] Those chiefs who were allowed to use elephant tails were called Abrempons. A chief who lives on his own land with his own subjects is known by the King as Abrempon.’ [7] The initiation required involved presentations of wealth as well as ritualized ceremonial. The Abrempon are excluded from the list above on the grounds of their precise position in the power hierarchy not being spelled out by the relevant sources.

[1]: (89)Abdebayo, A. et al. 2014. Indigenous Conflict Management Strategies: Global Perspectives. Lexington Books.

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 93

[3]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 66

[4]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 41

[5]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 114

[6]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 475

[7]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 141


Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent

Full-time specialists The Ashanti infantry mostly consisted of citizen-soldiers who were not specialists in their own right. There was also a nucleus of armed professionals not disbanded during times of peace, such as the standing body of the Ashanti Adontenhene: ’Bantama was, I am informed, chosen as the site of the royal mausoleum, and also of ‘the royal treasure-house of the ghosts’, because this place was the head-quarters of the Ashanti general and a standing body of about one thousand fighting-men. These served as a bodyguard of the skeletons and the treasure.’ [1] Given the general outlook of the Ashanti military, these should be classified as officers (above) rather than soldiers. According to Mensa-Bonsu, there were no professional soldiers: ’The army had four ‘wings’ - the Van, Rear, Left and Right wings ( Adonten, Kyidom, Benkum and Nifa respectively). Every chief in Asante was a member of one of these ‘wings’. The ‘wing’ was under its own head who was in charge of maintaining discipline. The army had a commander-in-chief ( Krontihene). To date, when the chiefs sit in council, each chief joins the ‘wing’ to which he traditionally belonged. The fact of frequent wars notwithstanding, there were no professional fighters. Each man had his own occupation but could be called upon to fight any day.’ [2]

[1]: Rattray, R. S. (Robert Sutherland) 1927. “Religion And Art In Ashanti”, 120

[2]: Mensa-Bonsu, Henrietta J. 1989. “The Place Of ‘Oaths’ In The Constitutional Set-Up Of Asante”, 260


Professional Priesthood:
present

Full-time specialists Priests occasionally left their homes and travelled to visit patients in other places, and formed a guild: ’When a priest is called in from a distance to attend a case, he will generally tell the friends of the patient much about the family history, and indicate that a deceased relative is troubling the patient for some act of disobedience. The deceased relative must accordingly be propitiated. How does he come to know the history of the family to which he is a stranger? There is a Guild of Priests in the country to which all Priests belong, whose members are absolutely faithful to one another.’ [1] They received specialist training: ’A Priest’s training begins early in his life. He is generally sent away to another district to a seminary, where he serves out his apprenticeship, which may cover a period of three years. During that time he learns the use of herbs and their application to the cure of disease, at which he becomes very proficient in the course of after practice.’ [2] The period of initiation was concluded by a possession ritual and examination of sorts: ’After training, [he] was tested at a ritual attended by his teacher and all local priests. At this he was expected to become possessed, with the god’s help to answer riddles or questions set by the other priests, and to divine successfully’ [3] The long duration of apprenticeship, the existence of professional bodies and the involvement of priests in organized ceremonial indicate a degree of specialization. While the full-time status of lower-ranking local priests may be questionable, the head-priests employed in the centres of executive power should be defined as such.

[1]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 106

[2]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 107

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 60


Professional Military Officer:
present

Full-time specialists While the Ashanti infantry mostly consisted of citizen-soldiers who were not specialists in their own right, there was also a nucleus of armed professionals not disbanded during times of peace: ’The local government of Kumasi was in the hands of the Kwaintsirs, a body of men who were the keepers of the golden stool. They formed the Department of War, and the great General Amankwatsia was formerly their Chief. The fact that the Department of War held in its keeping the royal stool illustrates vividly the origin of the kingly office in the Native State, which will be explained later on.’ [1] The King was assisted in his military duties by secondary commanders and generals:’The King is the Chief Military Officer of his forces. In time of war, he directs the operations; and if he is a man of capacity, he has the leading place in the councils of war. There is generally a Tufu Hin, or Captain-General, of the forces; but his authority is subordinate to that of the King, and he is, in every essential, an officer of the King.’ [2] During annual military drills, armed commoners gathered in the capital, where they paraded through the streets with specialists: ’Meanwhile the different regiments, under their several Head-Captains, and all commanded by the Captain-General, are preparing to go through their manoeuvres. To avoid disputes, the several regiments parade through the town one after the other, pouring forth thunderous volleys from their long flint Dane guns. After the parade each regiment presents to the King its flags and emblems, new and old, as an act of homage, which the King returns with suitable words. The several Head-Chiefs next renew their allegiance to the King; and, after more dancing and popular rejoicing, thè King retires to his “compound,” where his vassals subsequently take leave of him, each vassal receiving a suitable present.’ [3]

[1]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 26p

[2]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 42p

[3]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 89p


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown

Most government activities at Kumasi were associated with the ruler’s palace and other royal structures. [1] The above-mentioned treasury was located there as well. [2] . Specialised buildings for administration of the state that are within the grounds of a palace do count as government buildings. A room within the main palace residence would not.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 43

[2]: (Wilks 1975, 376-78) Wilks, Ivor. 1975. Asante in the Nineteenth Century: The Structure and Evolution of a Political Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/STV5JW6V.


Merit Promotion:
unknown

’The vast area brought under Asante control by force or threat of arms could not be governed unless new methods of controlling it were developed. From the 1760s, beginning under Asantehene Osei Kwadwo, various steps were taken to bring the control of outlying areas directly under Kumase [...] Senior officeholders in Kumase were placed in charge of particular areas of the administration, controlling considerable numbers of lesser officials. Some supervised the trade in ivory and kola, while others oversaw the gold-producing regions which now fell within the borders of Asante. A form of treasury partly staffed by literate Muslims was created. Groups within the capital began to build up expertise in particular areas of administration and to concentrate on this as a way to power and wealth. Careers began to open for those with intelligence, negotiating skill and a steady nerve.’ [1] ’Significant changes in Asante administrative practice, in the direction of increasing specialization of role, were attributed to Asantehene Osei Kwadwo (1764-1777). The class of administrators was a growing one, but I do not think we should yet speak of an administrative class emerging, one reproducing itself as a class.’ [2] This indicates that professional merit and expertise were important factors in the emerging bureucracy, but the sources make no mention of standardized procedures for promotion based on performance. The personal opinions of the Asantehene and other superior officials about the expertise of their inferiors seems paramount.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 17

[2]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 294


Full Time Bureaucrat:
present

Full-time specialists The time period in question was characterized by a trend towards greater bureaucratization and functional specialization: ’State organisation became extremely complex in the Kumasi state because at the close of the 17th century it became the capital of the union of Asante states and, in the course of the following century, the seat of an empire which was roughly coterminous with the boundaries of modern Ghana and southeastern Ivory Coast (Wilks 1975: 374-86). The expansion of the state made necessary administrative reforms within Kumasi itself and for the maintenance of effective relations between the Asantehene, the head of the Asante Union and, by consent, also the head of the Kumasi state, and the heads of the conquered territories. The palace administration ( gyase) was expanded with appointive headships of innumerable functional units or palace associations ( afekuo, sing. fekuo) (Rattray 1929: 81-92; Wilks 1967: 214-28; Hagan 1971). The memberships of the palace associations, each of which had either military or nonmilitary functions, cut across the divisions, so that they formed checks on, and counterpoises to, the traditional power units. The heads of the most important of the palace associations, including the units assigned to the offspring of former and reigning Asantehene (Busia 1951: 95), were included in the state council. Since appointments to the headships of the palace associations were in the gift of the Asantehene, the administrative reform represented an intrusion of patrimonialism (Weber 1947: 347) into the traditional political organisation.’ [1] The purpose of this new administrative structure was to ’enforce subordination of the conquered rulers to the Asantehene. For this purpose the Asante kings used an administrative staff recruited from their gyase, household organization, consisting of units of functionaries with appointive headships [...] These palace associations, called afekuo (Reondorf, 1895: 119; Rattray, 1929: 91), were recruited from free attendants, warcaptives, purchased slaves (nnonkofo), and other bondsmen; in other words, persons connected by “ties of personal loyalty” (Weber, 1947: 342) to the various Asante Kings.’ [2] Senior public functionaries had a stool system of their own: ’In Kumasi proper there were seventy-seven stools, representing seventy-seven public functionaries, as, for example, the Bantuma Chief, or the Chief of the Royal Burial Grove, the Ateni Chief, or the Chief of the Lamplighters.’ [3] Some foreigners were employed in highly specialized roles: ’A form of treasury partly staffed by literate Muslims was created. Groups within the capital began to build up expertise in particular areas of administration and to concentrate on this as a way to power and wealth. Careers began to open for those with intelligence, negotiating skill and a steady nerve.’ [4]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 474

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 165

[3]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 26

[4]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 17


Examination System:
absent

The sources on the administrative structure of Kumasi and Greater Ashante are silent on formal examinations. Some foreigners were employed in highly specialized roles: ’A form of treasury partly staffed by literate Muslims was created. Groups within the capital began to build up expertise in particular areas of administration and to concentrate on this as a way to power and wealth. Careers began to open for those with intelligence, negotiating skill and a steady nerve.’ [1] Given that their most important qualification seems to have been the command of foreign writing systems, they were probably not examined in a standardized manner by Ashanti superiors. Arhin’s more conservative view of the emerging Ashanti administration (as compared to Wilks’) seems to confirm this: ’But the household ( gyase) organization was bureaucratic only in the sense that the component units were assigned definite tasks around the King’s person and at court. It was not a bureaucratic organization of the type associated with modern states, but patrimonialistic, an instrument of the extension of the King’s personal authority.’ (Yarak, 1983, 1984).’ [2]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 17

[2]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 165


Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

Professional lawyers of native and British origin were only employed at the courts of the British colonial settlements: ’The result of these changes was to increase the importance of English common law in the colony English rules of evidence and methods of procedure were followed, and the chief justice was empowered to admit barristers and solicitors to appear in court. The "country advocates," members of the Western-educated elite who lacked formal legal training but had represented clients in court cases and had existed in an uneasy relationship with judges prior to 1876, had their status regularized. How-ever, they were soon to be replaced by lawyers who had been trained in Great Britain. In theory the Supreme Court Ordinance gave preference to customary law unless it was specifically excluded by a contract. Never-theless, it seemed initially as if the changes privileged English common law since many of the British judges knew little about customary law, but over time there did develop a body of "case law based on native law."’ [1]

[1]: Gocking, Roger S. 2005. “The History of Ghana”, 38


The Executive, not a full-time professional judge, functions in judicial proceedings. SCCS variable 89 ’Judiciary’ is coded as ’Executive’. ’The initial processes applicable to civil, oath, accused or criminal summonses have already been described. In order to meet the clerical service required for these forms, there is attached to the important Tribunals a Registrar’s office where summonses and all the other processes are taken. The Registrar has charge of the cause list and the Record Books. In Akim Abuakwa the tribunal sits for five days in the week, Wednesday being excluded by the “Awukudae” custom, and Sunday by the British connexion and other Christian influences. Sittings of Tribunal last for about 6 to 10 working hours each day, and the Omanhene, as responsible judge, is always expected to be present throughout the day’s sitting. We have already described the constitution of the Tribunal as consisting of the Omanhene, his Linguists, his four principal Executive Chiefs, the Queen-Mother, the non-Stool owning Elders and Councillors (including in the latter term the Christian Elders and Presbyters). The Tribunal is summoned by the “Kantamanto” or “woni-mini” drum ( q.v.) and on the Omanhene taking his seat at the third beating of the drum, the Registrar proceeds to deal with his cause list.’ [1]

[1]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye), 1928: 97; Literacy Database


Formal Legal Code:
absent

’The initial processes applicable to civil, oath, accused or criminal summonses have already been described. In order to meet the clerical service required for these forms, there is attached to the important Tribunals a Registrar’s office where summonses and all the other processes are taken. The Registrar has charge of the cause list and the Record Books. In Akim Abuakwa the tribunal sits for five days in the week, Wednesday being excluded by the “Awukudae” custom, and Sunday by the British connexion and other Christian influences. Sittings of Tribunal last for about 6 to 10 working hours each day, and the Omanhene, as responsible judge, is always expected to be present throughout the day’s sitting. We have already described the constitution of the Tribunal as consisting of the Omanhene, his Linguists, his four principal Executive Chiefs, the Queen-Mother, the non-Stool owning Elders and Councillors (including in the latter term the Christian Elders and Presbyters). The Tribunal is summoned by the “Kantamanto” or “woni-mini” drum ( q.v.) and on the Omanhene taking his seat at the third beating of the drum, the Registrar proceeds to deal with his cause list.’ [1] .Possibly only customary law: ’In theory the Supreme Court Ordinance gave preference to customary law unless it was specifically excluded by a contract. Nevertheless, it seemed initially as if the changes privileged English common law since many of the British judges knew little about customary law, but over time there did develop a body of "case law based on native law."’ [2]

[1]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye), 1928: 97; Literacy Database

[2]: Gocking, Roger S. 2005. “The History of Ghana”, 30p


The following seems to indicate the presence of courts: ’The initial processes applicable to civil, oath, accused or criminal summonses have already been described. In order to meet the clerical service required for these forms, there is attached to the important Tribunals a Registrar’s office where summonses and all the other processes are taken. The Registrar has charge of the cause list and the Record Books. In Akim Abuakwa the tribunal sits for five days in the week, Wednesday being excluded by the “Awukudae” custom, and Sunday by the British connexion and other Christian influences. Sittings of Tribunal last for about 6 to 10 working hours each day, and the Omanhene, as responsible judge, is always expected to be present throughout the day’s sitting. We have already described the constitution of the Tribunal as consisting of the Omanhene, his Linguists, his four principal Executive Chiefs, the Queen-Mother, the non-Stool owning Elders and Councillors (including in the latter term the Christian Elders and Presbyters). The Tribunal is summoned by the “Kantamanto” or “woni-mini” drum ( q.v.) and on the Omanhene taking his seat at the third beating of the drum, the Registrar proceeds to deal with his cause list.’ [1] This remains in need of confirmation.

[1]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye), 1928: 97; Literacy Database


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present

’The Kumasi markets deserve detailed analysis as an index of the degree of the monetization of the Asante economy. That they were held daily is evidence that a large proportion of the Kumasi population depended on them for subsistence and that Kumasi had urban status in the early decades of the 19th century (Bowdich 1819: 321-24; Bascom 1959: 39-41; Wilks 1975: 374-86).’ [1]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 473


Irrigation System:
absent

The sources reviewed so far do not describe any publicly managed irrigation systems.


Food Storage Site:
present

According to SCCS variable 20 ’Food Storage’ ’Individual households’, not ’Communal facilities’, ’Political agent controlled repositories’, or ’Economic agent controlled repositories’ were present. Writing about the pre-Ashanti period, Sarbah mentions urban storage facilities: ’On the 21st of February he sent one of his men with attendants to King Abaan, whose town was about four leagues up-country, where was stored a large quantity of corn and millet. This town is described to be as large as the London of that period. It was guarded every night, and to warn the watchmen, cords were stretched across the roads and paths leading to it. Attached to the cords were bells, which give the alarm. In addition to these cords, nets were hung over the few entrances, and were so contrived as to fall on any person endeavouring to steal into the town. Four hours after their arrival in the morning, these men were sent for by the king at nine o’clock, “for there may no man come to him before he be sent for,” nor was it customary in that country to offer their presents to the ruler until they had visited him thrice. On the last visit, after the king had accepted their presents, he drank palm-wine with them. The king, we are informed, used a cup of gold, and when he drank, the people cried all with one voice, “Abaan, Abaan,” with certain other words. “The king drinks; and when he had drunk, then they gave drink to every one, and that done, the king licensed them to depart; and every one that departeth from him boweth three times towards him, and waveth with both hands together, as they bow and do depart. The king hath commonly sitting by him eight or ten ancient men with grey beards.”’ [1] Sarbah also speaks of quasi-feudal arragements in some Akan polities prior to Ashanti rule: ’In the Fanti system allegiance is personal, but in the Asanti it is personal and territorial combined. ‡ The head ruler is not necessarily the owner of any land in his jurisdiction; e.g., Ohene Tchibu, of Asin Yankumasi, owns no land, and is a tenant of Abesibro, his captain; so also is Ohene Aka Ayima, of Beyin in Appolonia, by the [Page 25] judgment of Mr. Justice Nicoll, declared to own no land in his district-at least he did not lead evidence to show the land in question was his. In the case of Ohene Tchibu, the explanation is, that his ancestors fled to Fantiland for protection from the north side of the Pra in the kingdom of Asanti. The greater part of the Asinfu settled on lands within the jurisdiction of the head ruler of Abura, who became their feudal superior. * Many of the Asinfu continued to work on their lands across the river Pra, and held them. Among such is Akessi of Fumsu, until, by an order of the Executive Council of Gold Coast, an arbitrary boundary was fixed, and the possessions of the Asinfu, Denkerafu, and others, trans-Pra and trans-Ofin, were declared Asanti territory in the district of Adansi, and this in spite of the fact that Yamsu village, the stool of which was the subject of the case, Ghambra v. Ewea, † is situate on the Adansi side of the Ofin.’ [2] We have assumed this to be true of the Ashanti period as well, given the cultivation of plantations around towns housing rulers and other elites.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 69

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 24p



Transport Infrastructure

According to SCCS variable 14 ’Routes of Land Transport’ only ’unimproved trails’ were used for land transport, not roads. ’A full history of the great-roads ( nkwantεmpon) of Asante has yet to be written. Rather more is known about the southern routes than the northern, since European merchants on the Gold Coast were keenly interested in the matter and made many relevant entries in their journals. Yarak has suggested that the roads from Kumase to Axim via Denkyera, Wasa and Aowin, and from Kumase to Elmina via Denkyera and Twifo, were already in use in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Security was a constant problem on both. L. F. Rømer, a Danish factor on the eastern Gold Coast in the 1730s and 1740s, commented on the matter. In the mid-1740s he thought it likely that, because of marauding, the Asante ‘will create another road to the western forts on the seacoast’. He was later to report that this happened. ‘They have got a road open,’ he wrote, ‘from their country to Elmine [Elmina], Cap Cors [Cape Coast], and the forts which lie west of Elmine.’ It may be that this was the great-road via Asen and the Fante country to Anomabo, whence it was a short journey along the beach to the headquarters of the British at Cape Coast and of the Dutch at Elmina. If so, the Dutch could have regarded it as no more than a temporary solution to their problem of communications with Kumase. In the 1750s the Asante and Dutch authorities were involved in intensive negotiations to improve security on the old westerly routes.’ [1]

[1]: Wilks, Ivor 1992. “On Mentally Mapping Greater Asante: A Study Of Time And Motion”, 176


Due to the open coastal area and shallow waters, there are very few natural ports on the Ghanaian coast. The sources reviewed only mention colonial ports built by European traders and colonizers, such as Fort Elmina, which was controlled first by Portuguese, then Dutch, and then British forces.




Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present

’Commoners, as well as chiefs, appear to have used slaves in producing kola nuts and in gold mining. They also used pawns for the same purposes. Indeed, referring admittedly to the last quarter of the century, Arhin’s informants in Kintampo described the acquisition of pawns as the quickest way to accumulate labour in order to expand one’s harvest of kola, which was in turn reinvested in slaves further to reinforce the labour force. In 1898 the importance of slaves in the kola industry was such that Richard Austin Freeman predicted that ‘On the abolition of domestic slavery the kola industry in Ashanti will tend to die out’. Regarding gold mining, Dumett has noted, for the Akan states generally, that the family labour unit included some slaves. Indeed, we may assume that any commoner wishing to increase output beyond the capacity of the conjugal family workforce needed to use slaves or pawns. As Garrard has demonstrated, the average returns on gold digging and panning were low, almost certainly too low to make it profitable to use wage labour.’ [1]

[1]: Austin, Gareth 1996. “‘No Elders Present’: Commoners And Private Ownership In Asante, 1807-96”, 18


Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present

SCCS variable 149 ’Writing and Records’ lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or ’True writing, no writing’ Akan languages were committed to writing due to the efforts of missionaries and native elites: ’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1] Early native intellectuals were accordingly mostly mission-educated. While elites increasingly used couriers for the transmission of written communication (see below), the majority of the population remained illiterate during the period in question. ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [2] ’Throughout the nineteenth century Asante remained an essentially preliterate society, memorializing its past in the spoken rather than the written word.’ [3]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88

[3]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 331


Script:
present

’Twi is a tonal language and, since missionary work during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has been written in Roman script’ [1] ’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [2] Early native intellectuals were accordingly mostly mission-educated. While elites increasingly used couriers for the transmission of written communication (see below), the majority of the population remained illiterate during the period in question. ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [3]

[1]: (Gilbert, Michelle, 1994:11; Literacy Database)

[2]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1] Early native intellectuals were accordingly mostly mission-educated. While elites increasingly used couriers for the transmission of written communication (see below), the majority of the population remained illiterate during the period in question. ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [2]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


Nonwritten Record:
present

SCCS variable 149 ’Writing and Records’ lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or ’True writing, no writing’ The Akan had ’officialized’ oral traditions about lineage ancestors and past royal exploits: ’Every Akan state has official custodians of its history. These include the heralds, the drummers and the executioners, said to have been created by Odomankoma, the creator, before the ruler himself (Rattray, 1923: 263), and the minstrels. The herald is present at all state occasions and has thereby become a storehouse of knowledge about public affairs; the drummer ‘drums’ the history of the state on public occasions; and the executioner is a policeman, a protocol officer and a bard (Wilks, 1967: 231).’ [1]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 166


Mnemonic Device:
present

SCCS variable 149 ’Writing and Records’ lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or ’True writing, no writing’ ’Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan, that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra are used extensively in fabrics, pottery, logos and advertising. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural features. Fabric adinkra are often made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing. Adinkra symbols appear on some traditional akan gold weights. The symbols are also carved on stools for domestic and ritual use. [...] Akan oral tradition dates the arrival of adinkra among the Akan to the end of the 1818 Asante-Gyaman War. However, the Englishman Thomas Edward Bowdich collected a piece of adinkra cloth in 1817, which demonstrates that adinkra art existed before the traditional starting date.[2] Bowdich obtained this cotton cloth in Kumasi, a city in south-central Ghana. The patterns were printed using carved calabash stamps and a vegetable-based dye. The cloth features fifteen stamped symbols, including nsroma (stars), dono ntoasuo (double Dono drums), and diamonds. It is now in the British Museum.’ [1] Other kinds of mnemonic devices were also in use: ’Oral creators also attached their texts to material objects. A particular tree or rock could serve as the starting point for a narrative that was associated with this landmark. In the Asante kingdom in Ghana, an elaborate material culture was developed which filled the social space with verbal texts: the finials on chiefs’ ceremonia lumbrellas embodied proverbs; gold-weights -small brass figurines used to weigh gold dust in the extensive trading networks centered on the Asanta kingdom- were often designed to represent sayings or epithets relating to the owner; adinkra symbols, also evoking proverbs and other verbal formulations, were carved into wooden prestige objects and metal jewellery, and stamped on cloth. Across West Africa, cloth carried woven, dyed or appliquéd symbols that alluded to oral texts. [...] Thus the Asante gold-weight showing two leopards might call to mind different proverbs [...] And most proverbs can be interpreted in more than one way.’ [2]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adinkra_symbols

[2]: Barber, Karin and Newell, Stephanie 2015. "Dissent and Creativity", 122p


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Sacred Text:
present

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Religious Literature:
present

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1] While elites increasingly used couriers for the transmission of written communication (see below), the majority of the population remained illiterate during the period in question. Early native intellectuals were accordingly mostly mission-educated: ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [2]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


Practical Literature:
absent

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Philosophy:
absent

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Lists Tables and Classification:
present

’In order to meet the clerical service required for these forms, there is attached to the important Tribunals a Registrar’s office where summonses and all other processes are taken. The Registerar has charge of the cause list and the Records Books.’ [1]

[1]: Danquah, J.B. 1928: 97; Literacy Database


History:
absent

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Fiction:
absent

’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [1]

[1]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database


Calendar:
present

’Even though the Akan share a number of cultural traits with other ethnic groups in Ghana and Africa in general, they seem to possess certain unique cultural traits and institutions not found in other ethnic groups in Ghana. [...] Besides language, Boahen lists a common 40-day calendar [....].’ [1]

[1]: Yankah, Kwesi, 1989: 21; Literacy Database’


Information / Money

‘Tramma means literally cowries, the small shells from the Indian Ocean which, by the route from the north, found their way all over West Africa, and to this day may be seen used for small change in the native markets. The word came to be applied to a sale of movable or immovable property in the following manner. No contract of sale was valid in olden times unless a payment called tramma had been made. Tramma was the name derived from that sum, additional to the selling price, which was set aside and given to the witnesses of the transaction. It was a fixed proportional amount, and, at least for certain specified articles, seemed uniform, e.g. the tramma on the purchase of a cat-the old Ashanti bought cats as repositories of their okra or breath-was always a pesewa, about 1 d.; for a female slave, ntaku-anan, about 2 s.; for a male slave, ntakumiensa, [Page 235] 1 s. 6 d. In the case of such purchases no part of the tramma could be used by vendor or purchaser, and it was said that if a purchaser used any of it to buy food with it for his purchase, the slave or cat would die. This tramma may perhaps be called ‘earnest money’, but it was not originally paid to the vendor. If the transaction was afterwards repudiated, the receivers of the tramma were the witnesses to vouch for the transaction. The word therefore came to be used to designate a sale outright as opposed to awowa, ‘pledge’, or in case of land, ‘mortgage’.’ [1] According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’.

[1]: Rattray, R. S. 1923: 234; Literacy Database


Precious Metal:
present

According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’. ’At least from the beginning of the 18th century on, the Asante economy was growing, as is shown in the adoption of units of gold dust as currency in the territories of the Asante Union in the reign of Osei Tutu, 1712 (Reindorf 1895:17). In the absence of the kinds of descriptions of the Asante area that were made by European and other travellers to Kumasi in the 19th century, it is impossible to detail this growth. One can only suggest that what visitors reported in the first half of the 19th century represented its culmination.’ [1]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1983. “Peasants In 19Th-Century Asante”, 471


Paper Currency:
absent

According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’.


Indigenous Coin:
absent

According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’.


Foreign Coin:
absent

According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’.


Article:
present

According to SCCS variable 17 ’Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit’ ’Tokens of conventional value as media of exchange’ were used, not ’No media of exchange or money’ or ’Domestically used articles as media of exchange’ or ’Foreign coinage or paper coinage’, or ’Indigenous coinage or paper currency’. It seems unlikely that barter would have disappeared completely during the colonial period, despite of the economic importance of precious metals. We have therefore assumed that barter continued into the colonial period, at least on the local level.


Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent

While colonial settlers and mission-educated natives printed and distributed newspapers, this does not seem to be true of the general population. ’One of the first newspapers of the country to attract attention was the West African Herald, which was edited by the gifted and lamented Charles Bannerman, of Accra, lawyer, wit, and publicist. It appears this remarkable man had no press, and he took the extraordinary pains of first composing his articles, and then making out several copies of a given issue in his own handwriting. There are some copies of the West African Herald in the editor’s handwriting extant. Other able writers, hailing from the Eastern Province, of the period and after, were Edmund Bannerman, younger brother of Charles, and the late Robert Hansen, known among his friends in his day as the “Hermit.” I had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman in 1893 when I was sub-editing the Gold Coast Chronicle at Accra’ [1]

[1]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 175


General Postal Service:
absent

While colonial settlers and mission-educated natives printed and distributed newspapers, this does not seem to be true of the general population. ’One of the first newspapers of the country to attract attention was the West African Herald, which was edited by the gifted and lamented Charles Bannerman, of Accra, lawyer, wit, and publicist. It appears this remarkable man had no press, and he took the extraordinary pains of first composing his articles, and then making out several copies of a given issue in his own handwriting. There are some copies of the West African Herald in the editor’s handwriting extant. Other able writers, hailing from the Eastern Province, of the period and after, were Edmund Bannerman, younger brother of Charles, and the late Robert Hansen, known among his friends in his day as the “Hermit.” I had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman in 1893 when I was sub-editing the Gold Coast Chronicle at Accra’ [1] Native elites employed couriers rather than a general postal service (see above).

[1]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 175


Courier:
present

’Couriers carried both verbal messages, which they were trained to memorize, and written communications. They also served as guides to missions and embassies travelling to or from the capital. In each and every capacity, however, they were required to have a knowledge of the roads and of the distances from one place to another. This was their nkontaabuo.’ [1] ’[The afenasoafo] were expected to adhere to firm travelling schedules. Couriers to Elmina in 1816, for example, were sworn on oath to arrive there within nine or ten days. In 1817 it took almost two hours to brief couriers bound for Cape Coast. ‘Nine days’, reported Bowdich, who was present on the occasion, ‘are allowed for the journey to Cape Coast, and nine for the return.’ Half a century later little had changed. When a mission was despatched to Cape Coast in 1872, it was reported that the Asantehene ‘fixed the ambassadors 20 days to and fro’. It was, then, the regulated movement of couriers along the roads, rather than that of soldiers or traders, which provided the Asante with a notion of a standard speed. The business of a soldier was fighting, and of a trader, trading, but the business of a courier was, in a very real sense, travelling.’ [2]

[1]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 195

[2]: Wilks, Ivor 1992. “On Mentally Mapping Greater Asante: A Study Of Time And Motion”, 179


Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
absent

The sources reviewed so far make no mention of palisades.


Stone Walls Non Mortared:
absent

During campaigns rapidly built shelters were the norm: ’In the past these rapidly built shelters for farming and hunting were also used by the Asante army. British forces came across ‘little huts with low sloping roofs, thatched with green broad leaves of the plantain. Each hut or lean-to had a couple of bamboo bedsteads on posts… They had also taken the pains to make comfortable settees with backs’. Indeed. Sir Garnet Wolseley was so impressed with the camp-beds that he urged his troops to copy them.’ [1] These were camps/barracks rather than fortifications built for defensive purposes.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 23


Stone Walls Mortared:
absent
1701 CE 1820 CE

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort apparently relied on mortared walls, and was constructed in imitation of colonial forts.

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php

Stone Walls Mortared:
present
1821 CE 1874 CE

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort apparently relied on mortared walls, and was constructed in imitation of colonial forts.

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php

Stone Walls Mortared:
absent
1875 CE 1897 CE *Bad Years, polity duration: [1701, 1895]

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort apparently relied on mortared walls, and was constructed in imitation of colonial forts.

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php


Settlements in a Defensive Position:
unknown

The sources reviewed so far are silent on the military relevance of human settlements.



The sources reviewed so far make no mention of ditches or moats around Ashanti settlements or forts.


Fortified Camp:
absent
1701 CE 1820 CE

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort was constructed in imitation of colonial forts. Although the Asantehene claimed formal jurisdiction over colonial coastal forts such as Elmina, these were de facto controlled by the British during most of the time period in question. During campaigns rapidly built shelters were the norm, though: ’In the past these rapidly built shelters for farming and hunting were also used by the Asante army. British forces came across ‘little huts with low sloping roofs, thatched with green broad leaves of the plantain. Each hut or lean-to had a couple of bamboo bedsteads on posts… They had also taken the pains to make comfortable settees with backs’. Indeed. Sir Garnet Wolseley was so impressed with the camp-beds that he urged his troops to copy them.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 23

Fortified Camp:
present
1821 CE 1874 CE

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort was constructed in imitation of colonial forts. Although the Asantehene claimed formal jurisdiction over colonial coastal forts such as Elmina, these were de facto controlled by the British during most of the time period in question. During campaigns rapidly built shelters were the norm, though: ’In the past these rapidly built shelters for farming and hunting were also used by the Asante army. British forces came across ‘little huts with low sloping roofs, thatched with green broad leaves of the plantain. Each hut or lean-to had a couple of bamboo bedsteads on posts… They had also taken the pains to make comfortable settees with backs’. Indeed. Sir Garnet Wolseley was so impressed with the camp-beds that he urged his troops to copy them.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 23

Fortified Camp:
absent
1875 CE 1897 CE *Bad Years, polity duration: [1701, 1895]

’The Kumasi Fort was built in 1820 by the Asantehene (the King of the Asante Kingdom), Osei Tutu Kwamina, to resemble the coastal forts which were built by European merchants. Kumasi Fort had to be rebuilt in 1897, after it was destroyed by British forces in 1874. The fort was built from granite and brown soil that was brought from Cape Coast to Kumasi by porters.’ [1] Kumasi Fort was constructed in imitation of colonial forts. Although the Asantehene claimed formal jurisdiction over colonial coastal forts such as Elmina, these were de facto controlled by the British during most of the time period in question. During campaigns rapidly built shelters were the norm, though: ’In the past these rapidly built shelters for farming and hunting were also used by the Asante army. British forces came across ‘little huts with low sloping roofs, thatched with green broad leaves of the plantain. Each hut or lean-to had a couple of bamboo bedsteads on posts… They had also taken the pains to make comfortable settees with backs’. Indeed. Sir Garnet Wolseley was so impressed with the camp-beds that he urged his troops to copy them.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.ghanamuseums.org/kumasi-fort-millitary-museum.php

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 23


Earth Rampart:
absent

The sources reviewed so far make no mention of ramparts.


The sources reviewed so far make no mention of ditches or moats around Ashanti settlements or forts.




Military use of Metals

’But the basis of Asante expansion seems to have lain in cultivation, and from about the sixteenth century it is probable that cultivation became more productive than before. Several factors were responsible: iron now became available in quantity by sea from Europe. (Possibly local production had been increasing steadily.) [...] Thirdly, imported firearms may have made hunting more productive, at least for an initial period, and perhaps also helped keep down animals which preyed on new crops.’ [1] ’Shields clearly became used less often in battle as spears and bows and arrows were increasingly replaced by imported firearms.’ [2]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 15

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 103p


Copper:
present

’Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102


Bronze:
absent

The sources mention brass goods, but make no mention of bronze alloys in connection to military exploits. Gilbert et al include bronze in general Akan metallurgy, but do not indicate any military use: ’Traditionally, Ashanti metal smiths worked in iron, brass, bronze, silver, and gold.’ [1]

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard


Projectiles



Self Bow:
present

It is unclear from this description whether self bows or composite bows were used: "Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men ... His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows". [1] General reference for West Africa: "The self or simple bow consists essentially of a bent stave of pliant wood and a bowstring of a sufficient elasticity. Most West African types may be characterized as shortbows, being from about two and a half to five feet in height ... however, Wilhelm Muller describes the war-bows which he saw in the Fetu country (near Elmina) in the mid-seventeenth century as being ... nearly six feet." [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57

[2]: (Smith 1989, 72) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.


Javelin:
present

Javelins present in preceding period. “The Asante threw spears with great accuracy” before adopting the musket as their primary weapon after the turn of the 20th century. [1] Asante soldiers were javelin units who became musketeers; use of the matchlock and later flintlock or “Guinea gun” strengthened the armies of Asante and eventually replaced the archer and javelin, like the Akwamu and Denkira. [2]

[1]: (261) Edgerton, R. 2010. The Fall of the Asante Empire: The Hundred-year War for Africa’s Gold Coast. Simon and Schuster.

[2]: Hanserd, R. 2019. Identity, Spirit and Freedom in the Atlantic World: The Cold Coast and the African Diaspora. Routledge Press.


Handheld Firearm:
present

’Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder. The addition of golden ‘cockle’ shells was less obviously functional. The way such shells came to adorn guns and ammunition belts again indicates how the exotic was assimilated into Akan culture.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

While the sources make no mention of artillery used in military campaigns, McLeod describes cannons depicted on ceremonial weaposn and courtly regalia: ’Several swords bear images which relate to the military powers and prowess of the chief or his predecessors. Some bear military items: shields, sometimes with a sword resting on them, cannon, or a bird with cannon mounted on its wings, a powder barrel and gun, or the head of a slain enemy, usually called a Worosa head after the King of Banda who was slain by the Asante some time after the middle of the eighteenth century.’ [1] On the other hand, military historians characterise the Ashanti military as an infantry army mainly equipped with handheld weapons (see below), although this does not rule out the occasional captured cannon.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 93p


Crossbow:
present

Present but rarely used? This polity is more ‘forest people’ and less ’savannah’: “was apparently in use among only a few of the forest peoples and seems to have been unknown in the savannah. No descriptions of this weapon have been found in the accounts of West African armament given by the early European and North African travellers, but a missionary report of a military review at Ijaye in 1861 refers to the carrying of ’great crossbows’ by some of the troops". [1]

[1]: (Smith 1989, 74) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.


Composite Bow:
unknown

The sources indicate the use of bows and arrows prior and parallel to the use of firearms but do not indicate whether self bows or composite bows were used.


Atlatl:
absent

Weapon of the Americas.


Handheld weapons

During the time period in question swords acquired a largely symbolic and non-functional status: ’The first reports of swords in Akan society are inevitably from the coast. Local swords may derive from Islamic weapons passed down the trans-Sanaran trade routes. Early visitors were quick to associate the swords they saw with Turkish or other Islamic weapons.’ [1] ’The growing complexity of the Asante government, its members’ need to communicate internally and externally, to show their differences in standing, and to reward allies or placate potential enemies are reflected in the way many slems, such as swords ( afena), were elaborated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What began as a functional weapon ended as an object whose significance was indicated by its size, shape and a variety of attachments, often in gold. The sword gained an increasing richness of meaning over the years until colonial rule removed many of its uses, ending its development but stimulating the growth of other forms of court art.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


’Shields clearly became used less often in battle as spears and bows and arrows were increasingly replaced by imported firearms. They were, however, used in Asante until Prempe 1 was forcibly exiled.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 103p



Dagger:
present

’The firearms and weaponry so essential to Asante military expansion were treated in a similar fashion. The two most important items were the guns themselves, initially flintlocks but later cap-guns, and the belts ( ntoa) containing small wooden containers for powder, knives (for removing the heads of slain enemies) and pouches containing shot and gun flints. These were worn diagonally across the upper part of the body or around the waist.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 101


Battle Axe:
absent

The sources describe only the use of ceremonial axes: ’In 1881 a crisis occurred in relations between the British and Asante, and the Golden Axe was brought out again. A refugee from Kumase fled to Cape Coast and claimed British protection. A day later a senior delegation arrived, bearing the Golden Axe, and demanded he be returned to Kumase. The British saw the axe as a symbol of aggression and a threat, taking a literal view of its meaning. [...] the real meaning of the axe was more subtle: it showed the Asante determination to cut through all blockages on the path to a settlement.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 106


Animals used in warfare

According to McLeod, horses were not used in the core area of the polity: ’Cavalry was of no real use in the forest where horses were killed by insect-carried diseases, but a few horses were kept at Kumase for prestige and in the northern savannah country they were of greater military use.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 127


Elephant:
absent

The sources establish no connection between domesticated animals and warfare logistics.


The sources establish no connection between domesticated animals and warfare logistics.


The sources establish no connection between domesticated animals and warfare logistics.


The sources establish no connection between domesticated animals and warfare logistics.


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
absent

Barkcloth was considered a simple dress with hunting and ceremonial functions, but the sources establish no connection between bark and military clothing: ’Barkcloth was cheap, ‘the garb of the poorest slave in the realm’, and as recently as the 1920s it was used by hunters who wear old, cheap clothes as they are quickly soiled and torn by the thorny creepers and branches in the forest, the damp earth and the constant dripping from leaves. Barkcloth was also worn by the Asantehene during part of the Odwira festival. Here it was worn to contrast with the elaborate cloth robes worn in the rest of the ceremony, to give this part an archaic character and to show the King’s position in relation to the crucial yam crop.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 149


Shield:
present

’Shields clearly became used less often in battle as spears and bows and arrows were increasingly replaced by imported firearms. They were, however, used in Asante until Prempe 1 was forcibly exiled.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 103p


Scaled Armor:
absent

’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147


Plate Armor:
absent

’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147


Limb Protection:
unknown

’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147


Leather Cloth:
present

War garments made of cloth fulfilled a primarily talismanic function and do not constitute armor in the conventional sense of the term: ’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1] This was apparently true of many head-coverings as well. Military head-coverings used by leaders offered mystical protection and should not be characterized as helmets in the conventional sense of the term: ’These smocks were usually worn with a talisman-covered cap, and sometimes with additional protective asuma[unknown] hung around the neck.’ [2] Elaborate talismanic garments were worn by military leaders but not commoners. But Sarbah reports leather helmets: "Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [3] Although his material refers to an earlier time period, we have assumed that the practice was not abandoned during the Ashanti period.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 148

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57


Laminar Armor:
absent

’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147


Helmet:
present

Military head-coverings used by leaders offered mystical protection and should not be characterized as helmets in the conventional sense of the term: ’These smocks were usually worn with a talisman-covered cap, and sometimes with additional protective asuma[unknown] hung around the neck.’ [1] But Sarbah reports leather helmets: "Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [2] Although his material refers to an earlier time period, we have assumed that the practice was not abandoned during the Ashanti period.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 148

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57


Chainmail:
absent

’The custom of wearing talismanic war garments was well established by the nineteenth century, and some were worn with other northern appurtenances. ‘Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives; long leopards tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trowsers [ sic], with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 147


Breastplate:
absent

The sources refer to smocks decorated with sheet gold and silver worn by military commanders, but their characterisation as armor is questionable and of a ’mystical’ nature: ’The most elaborate of these smocks, the Batakari [...], were possessed only by the Asantehene and major chiefs. The number of talismans on them showed the great sums expended upon them, and some were encased in sheet gold or silver with repoussé decoration by court goldsmiths. These smocks were usually worn with a talisman-covered cap, and sometimes with additional protective asuma[unknown] hung around the neck. These costumes were worn during wars, and at least one in the British Museum’s collection was obtained on the battlefield. [...] Possibly such heavy costumes offered some protection against arrows or slugs cut from bars of lead and fired from poorly maintained muzzle loaders.’ [1] Commoner infantrymen seem to have worn no specialized gear apart from shields and weaponry.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 148


Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

The sources available make no mention of naval warfare or technology.


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent

The sources available make no mention of naval warfare or technology.


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

The sources available make no mention of naval warfare or technology.



Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.