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Friday, 29 July 2016 00:00

Archeological Attraction

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A Land of Discovery

Ethiopia is the earliest-known home of humankind. A skeleton of an older human ancestor, Australopithecus Afarensis, was discovered in 1974 in Haddar, along the Awash river, in the Afar region in the east of the country. Anthropologists have established that the skeleton of 40% of the human body had belonged to a 20-year-old female that lived 3.2 million years ago.

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Registered by the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site, Hadar, where the skeleton was found, is situated 160 kilometers northeast of Addis Ababa.

The skeleton is popularly known as "Lucy" or "Dinkinesh". The discovery completed the missing link between apes and men — paving the way for the search to human origins. In addition, the earliest-known hominid, 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus Ramidus (or "Ardi") was discovered in the Middle Awash in 1992. The recent discoveries include Australopithecus Garhi, a 2.5-million-year-old hominid. Garhi means 'surprise' in the Afar language — a language spoken in the internationally acclaimed archeological site. Discovered by an international team led by Ethiopian Anthropologist Berhane Asfaw and co-led by Paleontologist Tim White of the University of California at Berkeley in the Middle Awash, Garhi is said to be a surprising hominid shaking the family tree. He is descended from Australopithecus Afarensis and is a candidate ancestor for early Homo.

Bones from antelopes and horses were found 278 meters from the site of the Garhi skull fragments at the same layer of sediment. The bones show unmistakable gashes left by stone tools: the animals were butchered, the meat cut away, and the bones hammered open to extract marrow. This is by far the earliest proof of tool-based butchery and may well provide the evolutionary driver that led to big-brained humans.

Melka Konture is also an important archeological site where 1.5 million years old stone tools were found. Several cave paintings and stone monuments were found in different parts of the country like Dilla, southern Ethiopia, and Dire Dawa, eastern Ethiopia.

Fragments of a frontal bone and a femur were recovered in the Pliocene Formations of Maka. In the Middle Pliocene Formation of Bodo d'Ar, dated to 300,000–150,000 years, a frontal piece and other remains of a human skull were discovered in 1976. This fossil probably belongs to an archaic Homo Sapiens skeleton.

The fossil skulls known as Omo I and II come from the Kibish Formation (200,000–100,000 years ago) in the Omo Valley. Although they possess some archaic features, such as thick cranial walls, Omo I and Omo II are similar to Homo Sapiens Sapiens with their modern anatomical features of elevated frontal pieces and boney chins.

Upon request, Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours can arrange a tour program to discover these archeological sites, with a combination of other attractions, if desired.

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