|giant tortoises at the museum|
|National Museum interior|
We are on a pilgrimage to Ethiopia in search of the Ark of the Covenant - and we spend our first day on arrival in Addis Ababa exploring that city before we set off North to Tigrai and the first of the rock- hewn churches on our itinerary.
If you are in
Ababa the National Museum of Ethiopia is a must to
visit. It is set in pleasant gardens with giant tortoises crawling among beautiful
hibiscus bushes and flowering cannas, and with plenty of inspiring statues and sculptures, (including a statue of the great
Russian poet Pushkin) Once inside it is organised over four floors.
Ethiopia hosts the
most complete and richest source of human ancestry evidence - the Rift Valley
has been a giant fossil trap for the last ten million years - and here is to be
found the earliest record of stone tool making. This is admirably displayed in
the paleoanthropology and prehistoric artefacts exhibition in the basement, where there is an excellently informative display of the famous Lucy, our earliest known human ancestor. This 3.5 million year old discovery has made us totally rethink the evolution of mankind. Basically our ancestors were walking 2.5 million years earlier than we had previously supposed. Lucy is so called because "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was played in the archaeologists' camp when the discovery was made. She is known as Dinquinesh to Ethiopians - meaning "thou art wonderful".
Moving up from the basement to the ground floor we find a pre-Axumite to 20th century archaeological
and historical heritage exhibit, including 2600 year old pre-Aksumite fertility statues; there is a traditional and modern display of Ethiopian
works of art on the first floor, which I thoroughly enjoyed; and on the top
floor we found a fascinating ethnographic collection, suffering sadly from a
lack of decent labelling but interesting none-the-less. Don't expect the usual
razzmatazz of Western museums - café, shop and decent toilets - but be
fascinated by artefacts of a totally different culture, one which we shall have the
pleasure of exploring further over the next ten days.
|but it came back to Addis!|
|Ethnographic collection in need of labelling|