Visiting Lucy! (at Addis Ababa)

The first vestiges related to our origins can be found back to 5.3 – 4 Millions of years ago. The Paleontologist discoveries grow in number during the Middle Pliocene, 4-3 Millions of years ago. From this period the most famous discovery is Lucy, a fossilized hominid found in Awash Valley in 1974.

I was very curious to visit Lucy so the the National Museum in Addis Ababa, where she rests, was on my wish list. This museum has an excellent Paleontologist Section with items from 5.3 -4 Millions of years (teeth, cranes and other bones) until Lucy who, like a star, has her own room, the “Lucy Room”. I don’t understand a lot about Palaeontology but the ensemble was so well displayed, with interesting explanations and useful chronological schemes, that everything appeared very clear to me.

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What did I learn about Lucy? She belongs to the Australopithecus Afarensis species and has both human and simian characteristics. She was biped -even if she still lived in the trees in a wooded environment- and her crane was already human. Until nowadays Lucy, our hairy ancestor, is the oldest and most completed hominid ever found. That’s why Ethiopia claims to be “the Cradle of Humanity”. She was named after Beatles’ song “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds” which was being played loudly and repeatedly on a tape recorder in the camp. Ethiopians prefer to call her  “dinknesh,” which means “the wondrous one”.

Apart from the Paleontology Section, the National Museum has interesting objects related to all the Ethiopian history, from the pre-Aksumite period until our days. Sadly these exhibits are poorly (or no) labelled so most of the times you see nice items without no explanation. It is a pity because most of the items were delocalised to belong to a most important and global collection but the final result is not good. However only for the Paleontologist Section it is worth the visit.

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