Salambo discovering Ethiopia
After a few weeks of trying to establish a new daily routine, I took time to visit the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis, where the remains of Lucy, the famous Australopithecus afarensis, are kept. Only a plaster replica is on display to the public. The discovery of Lucy in 1974 in the Afar region in Eastern Ethiopia, was significant because it gave evidence that humans were already walking upright 3.2 million years ago, when it is believed Lucy lived. She was actually named after the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which was being played in the paleontologists’ camp the evening of her discovery. I knew the basic facts about her, the she was about 25 years old, very short: she measured about 1.1 metres (the height of a three year old child on average today) and weighted an estimated 28 kilos, or twice as much as an average three year old child. Knowing that, I was still impressed by her short size when seeing the reconstruction.
Apart from Lucy, who obviously dominates the anthropological section of the museum, other human and animal remains found in the Ethiopian rift valley are on display. This section provides the most comprehensive explanations in a museum in need of modernisation otherwise. One floor is dedicated to Ethiopian painters, classical and contemporary, another one to archeological pieces such as sculptures and pottery. A couple of the votive seated statues, reminiscent of early Egyptian art are particularly interesting. Meanwhile, on the top floor are shown a few traditional Ethiopian dresses, jewelry and textiles as well as antique agricultural tools. Also on show in a different section are a number of objects, which belonged to Emperor Menelik II or Emperor Haile Selassié, such as a throne, an armchair, an ornate horse saddle and ceremony costumes among others. Most of them had been looted during the Italian occupation, but were returned to the country in the 1970s. However, on the whole the museum is small and limited compared to Ethiopia’s immensely rich heritage. I am looking forward to start travelling around the country!