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Research

Digital Kormantin –

A Multidisciplinary Research and Education Site

Kormantin was England’s first fortification in West Africa and a major gold and slave trading site and consequently has enormous historical and cultural significance. The fort’s initial construction and massive rebuilding by the Dutch (Fort Amsterdam) after its 1665 capture introduced new building materials and construction methods into West Africa and reflect a distinct shift in early modern European military architecture. The English and Dutch forts reshaped the community and hinterland regionally, making Abandze an important, populous commercial and coastal shipping center. Kormantin is also an important Black Atlantic and African Diaspora site as the embarkation point for tens of thousands of enslaved Africans bound to mostly Caribbean destinations who formed a “Coromantee” ethnym identity in the Americas. As such, Abandze has become a modern-day pilgrimage site for African Americans whose ancestors passed through here.

Studying and understanding Kormantin’s rich complex history is best achieved through multidisciplinary collaboration. Archaeologists, structural engineers, linguists, anthropologists, art historians, architects, Black Studies scholars, and historians in a host of subfields can all contribute to unearthing and reconstructing Kormantin’s past and making connections with scholars, visitors, and residents today. A more holistic understanding springs from finding and using the widest range of evidence – documents and maps, stories and sketches, photos and remembrances, artifacts and excavations. – and then bringing it all together in dynamic new ways in a digital platform. .

The Digital Kormantin Research Project

Funded by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Rochester, and Syracuse University, DK is an international multidisciplinary research collaboration launched in 2017. Faculty, staff, and students from UR, SU, the University of Ghana, and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) have joined together in archival, architectural, and engineering study of Fort Amsterdam and the historical landscape surrounding it using state-of-the-art technologies and research methods. Using laser scanning, drone and ground-based photogrammetry, digital solid modeling, and traditional field recording and archaeological excavation techniques, we have created highly detailed digital models of the site for virtual modern and historical visualization and material conservation purposes. NEH-funded, Syracuse University-led archaeological fieldwork is also revealing aspects of English Cormantine Castle, buried beneath Fort Amsterdam. Concurrent ethnographic fieldwork is also documenting relationships between the historic site, local people, visitors to the castle, and threats to Abandze Village’s traditional artisanal fishing activities, which date back to the English arrival in the 1630s.

Fort Amsterdam, Abandze, Ghana, 2018 by Michael.Jarvis on Sketchfab

Created with 3,000 photographs using Agisoft Metashape, the low resolution model below enables you to explore Fort Amsterdam as captured in 2018. This model is an early prototype for the DK Virtual Tour Portal we have since created and made available through this website. The DK tour places you within the site and lets you explore it in interactive ways at at embodied human scale. We are also working on building an even more fully interactive VR digital experience.

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Tue ‒ Thu: 09am ‒ 07pm
Fri ‒ Mon: 09am ‒ 05pm

Adults: $25
Children & Students free

673 12 Constitution Lane Massillon
781-562-9355, 781-727-6090