The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Akan Brass Casting

by Raymond Silverman
University of Michigan

14th century Egyptian brass container, Nsoko, Ghana. Photo by Raymond Silverman.


The current archaeological and historical evidence suggests that objects made from copper and its alloys and the lost-wax casting process, (a technology associated with the working of cuprous and auriferous metals) were introduced to the Akan area in the 14th century. It was at this time that Muslim merchants became aware of the rich gold deposits of the Akan forest and established a number of trading communities on the northern edge of the forest. The introduction of these goods and technologies may therefore be associated with international commerce that ultimately brought the Akan into contact with the cultures of the Western Sudan and northern Africa. Our earliest evidence of these contacts are a number of Arabic-inscribed brass vessels that today are maintained in several communities near the edge of the Akan forest.