Pre-Historic Ethiopia

The history of Ethiopia begins with Lucy. Lucy was a female hominoid that lived in what is now called the Awash Valley in Hadar some 3.2 million years ago. When her skeletons were discovered in 1974, Ethiopia then claimed that it was the first dwelling of mankind. But recent finds in Kenya, such as the discovery of Kenyanthropus platyops in 1998, have come to challenge Lucy as to who really is the direct ancestor of humankind. But what this discovery does more than anything is add to the confusion about the human evolutionary tree. This recent discovery in Kenya is among a series of fossil finds over the past two decades that have doubled the number of recognized human-like species.

Lucy's scientific name is Australopithecus afarensis. The first word means "Southern Ape" and the second word signifies she was discovered in the Afar region. Ethiopians refer to her as "Dinqnesh." She is also classified in Hadar as AL 288-1. When she was discovered, only a little over half of her skeletons were found. She probably did not live more than 20 years and weighed around 60 pounds and stood three and a half feet. Lucy is kept fully preserved at the national Museum in Addis Abeba; an exact plaster replica is also displayed next to her. (Pankhurst 1-2)

But why was she called Lucy? Donald Johanson, the anthropologist from Chicago University who discovered her, tells us why: "Surely such a noble little fossil lady deserved a name. As we [his expedition crew] sat around one evening listening to Beatles' songs, someone said, ‘Why don't we call her Lucy? You know, after "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. "' So she became Lucy."

Pankurst, Richard. The Ethiopians. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.