Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia

The news wires have been aflame for the past couple of months with reports of the amazing new fossil called Ida, which has been hailed as the fabled “missing link” just as Lucy was when it was excavated in Ethiopia in 1974. Journalistic hyperbole aside, they’re remarkable finds, and now you can see both of them in Times Square, New York.

A traveling exhibition called Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia highlights these two relatives of ours (Creationists please do some research before commenting) and carries on to cover Ethiopia’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

While this exhibition has been on for a month, seeing the Ida fossil for yourself is even more interesting now because of an important article in the latest issue of Scientific American casting doubt on Ida’s close links to humanity. The poor little critter may be a country cousin at best.

While the main draw is these two paleontological superstars, the rest of the exhibition is equally important in that it covers the deep culture of one of the world’s oldest nations. Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian nation in the world (after Armenia) and the only African nation to successfully resist colonization. Only for a few years was Fascist Italy able to occupy the country, but they faced constant resistance and never really controlled the country.

Over the centuries Ethiopia has produced a vast corpus of literature, ornate painting and metalwork, and architectural wonders such as the sunken churches of Lalibela pictured here, hewn out of solid bedrock 800 years ago.

Oh, and it was the Ethiopians who discovered coffee. We must all give thanks.