In a bid to promote Ethiopian heritage and offer a glimpse into human history, a replica of one of mankind’s oldest fossils is on display in Qatar this week.
The original 3.2 million-year-old artifact, named “Lucy” after the popular Beatles song Lucy in the sky with diamonds, is tucked away in a sealed vault at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
But a master cast of the fossil is being exhibited at the Qatar Fine Arts Society at Katara Cultural Village through March 5.
The bones are part of a new exhibition celebrating Ethiopian culture and tradition that was inaugurated over the weekend by Ethiopian Ambassador Mesganu Arga Moach, and is being held in conjunction with the Ethiopian Embassy and the Ministry of Culture.
Speaking to Doha News, Teshome Regassa, an education officer at the National Museum of Ethiopia, and a member of the 40-person traveling delegation from Ethiopia, said:
“It’s the first time that we’ve held something like this. It’s a project to celebrate Ethiopian culture here, and to bring a little bit of home to the Ethiopian community here as part of the first ever Ethiopian Cultural Day.”
Regassa added that the specimen on display at Katara was one of two high-quality gypsum “master” casts created after the fossil’s discovery in 1974 for use at exhibitions around the world.
“The original Lucy is in a secure temperature-and-humidity-controlled vault at the National Museum. We don’t take her out as the skeleton is vulnerable to damage upon moving,” he said.
Lucy, called “Dinkinesh” in Ethiopia, a name that means “you are marvelous” in Amharic, was discovered four decades ago at an archaeological site near the village Hadar by renowned American paleontologist Donald Johanson.
About 40 percent of Lucy’s skeleton has been found, and provides insight into the physical characteristics of the ancient early human species hominin.
Dubbed the “cradle of civilization,” Ethiopia is home to 12 of some 14 of the earliest human fossils.
The exhibition, which runs daily through Thursday, also features several art works by prominent Ethiopian artists including renowned Ethiopian female artist Desta Hagos, Birhane Mehari, and Agegnehu Engida, and pictures of other fossils and the country’s numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites.