Tusugu Cliff Dwellings: Unraveling the enigma of Ghana's ancient settlement of Gambaga

Tusugu Cliff Dwellings

Stories and facts

Nestled within the rugged terrain of the Gambaga Escarpment lies a remarkable archaeological wonder - the Tusugu Cliff Dwellings.

Discovered in 1961 by a British surveyor tasked with demarcating the Ghana-Togo border, these mysterious remnants of an ancient settlement have intrigued scholars and adventurers alike for decades.

The initial encounter with this enigmatic site occurred when the surveyor stumbled upon a brass pot while traversing the Gambaga Escarpment. Recognizing the potential significance of his discovery, he promptly alerted renowned archaeologists P.L. and P.L. Carter.

Subsequent investigations by the Carters revealed a complex of well-preserved structures dating back centuries, concealed within the cliff's formidable embrace.

The structures, predominantly constructed from terre pisée (rammed earth), have defied the erosive forces of time, standing as silent witnesses to the ancient inhabitants' ingenuity and resilience.

Ranging from small granaries to imposing edifices towering over four meters in height, these architectural marvels offer glimpses into a bygone era. Inside the cavernous rooms, traces of soot bear testimony to long-forgotten hearths, hinting at the daily rituals and activities that once animated this secluded enclave.

Further exploration along the cliff face reveals a cluster of additional structures, clustered around a perennial stream that meanders through the sandstone layers. This thriving water source served as a lifeline for the community, sustaining their livelihood amidst the unforgiving terrain.

Yet, perhaps the most captivating aspect of the Tusugu Cliff Dwellings lies in its rock art. Adorning the cliff walls are intricate paintings, depicting scenes of ancient life and symbols shrouded in mystery.

First documented by archaeologists in 1963, these rock paintings marked a watershed moment in Ghanaian archaeology, shedding light on the region's rich cultural heritage.

For intrepid adventurers seeking to unravel the secrets of the Tusugu Cliff Dwellings, the journey begins in the town of Nakpanduri. From there, a winding path leads southeast along the Bunkpurugu Road, eventually veering northeast towards the village of Tusugu. Navigating the rugged terrain requires the guidance of a knowledgeable local, as the site remains elusive to untrained eyes.

Upon reaching Tusugu, visitors must seek the blessing of the village chief before embarking on the final leg of the journey. A trek of 4.5 kilometers, tracing the Ghana-Togo border, culminates in the awe-inspiring sight of the cliff dwellings, nestled amidst the rugged splendor of the Gambaga Escarpment.

As the sun sets over the ancient settlement, casting long shadows upon its weathered facade, one cannot help but marvel at the resilience of the human spirit, etched into the very fabric of these ancient ruins. In the quietude of dusk, the Tusugu Cliff Dwellings stand as a testament to the enduring legacy of Ghana's rich cultural tapestry, beckoning travelers to embark on a journey through time and memory.



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