VOLTA BASIN ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH PROJECT (VBARP)
The construction of one of the world's largest wholly man-made lakes generated the most ambitious archaeological survey and reconnaissance ever known in the basin of the Volta River. The result was the location of hundreds of sites related to many different pre-historic and historic periods. Owing to its rescue nature the Volta Basin Research Project (V.B.R.P.), undertook only limited excavations (Davies 1967, York, Mathewson, Calvocoressi and Flight 1967) relative to the time and facilities available at the time. After the VBRP ended it operations in the mid sixties the basin has saw little or no archaeological activity until 1981, when the Volta Basin Archaeological Project (VBRAB) was established.
The VBARP aimed at reconstructing the settlement history of the traditional societies in the northern portion of the Volta basin. That revived archaeological activity (Agorsah 1983), 1985) which resulted in my doctoral dissertation at the University of California in Los Angeles (Agorsah 1983) which attempted to examine the dynamics of the formation and transformation of Nchumuru settlement and behavior patterns in the basin. Owing to very encouraging results the project received further sponsorship from the National Geographic Society, University of Ghana and the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board. The objective was expanded to include the examination of the geographic location, distribution and patterning of early traditional settlements in the northern section of the Volta basin. Secondly, the project attempted to identify the effect of the environment and social networks of the societies in the area, on geographical locations. An attempt was also made to establish evidence that could be adduced to identify the individual group features in the archaeological record through excavation of some selected sites. Some questions that served as guidelines were: What were the main environmental characteristics and features of the settlements and how were they related to their geographical locations? To what extent have the locations been influenced by social group organization of the traditional societies in the area? How could the various social groups be identified by the geographical locations as well as the cultural material culture from the sites?
The Volta Basin was recognized to have witnessed a considerable amount of cultural dynamics, which were very complex in nature, in the last half century. The formation and transformation in settlements, house types and forms, spatial distributions and association of structural features within settlements and houses, as well as well as the recurring modes of activities and behavior, were the main issues addressed. Results of the project demonstrates that because human spatial behavior among some traditional societies is strongly dependent on an individual community's cognition of its environment and experiences over time, and also because these elements are influenced by the society's social relationships, they can be used to explain the dynamics of cultural responses to changing conditions.
Movements of societies in the interior of Ghana appear to have been affected by activities resulting from European arrival at the coast but only indirectly and only at the regional level rather than settlement and individual structure or house levels. It is demonstrated that, by identifying how the social and the spatial interact, the dynamics of the changes or transformations occurring can be more meaningfully explained and understood. These transformations demonstrate the significance of the consequences of traditional social values on human spatial behavior, as a response to changing political, economic and cultural conditions associated with population movements. Observed changes in patterning at the regional, individual settlement and house levels in the northern Volta basin, clearly indicate that for the societies in the Volta basin, spatial adjustment or adaptation meant that "to deny the social was to deny the solution." click here