Ethiopia-Lower Valley Awash

  • Topic: Older than 250,000 BP
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

The lower valley of Awash derives its name from one of the biggest rivers in Ethiopia, the Awash River. The river flows down stream west of Addis Ababa falling eastwards into the Rift valley and continuing north through a semi-arid region.  The Awash River flows into the chain of a lake in the French territory of Afar And Issa and is divided into three main regions and covers more than 70 000 km2, an estimated six percent of the total area of Ethiopia. The Awash valley regions include the upper, middle and lower valleys characterized by different fauna and flora as well as climatic conditions. The middle valley is arguably the most significant region and is most renowned for its attributes of palaeo-anthropological studies in the region of Hadar and beyond for the study of hominids. These include Homo habilis and the famous Australopithecus aferensis, Lucy. The well preserved and almost complete 52 fragments skeletal remains of Australopithecine afarensis Lucy were discovered in the Lower Valley Awash. The valley marks a significant palaeontological period of humankind for the continent of Africa. However there is a 10-5 million discontinuity that exist in the paleontological record of the valley that eludes zoo archaeologists. The layer where the remains were found dated back to 3. 2 m.y and marks a possible era of bipedalism, a significant attribute in the development and evolution of humans. Lucy at her height stood at about 1m tall and weighed between 27-30 kg and the skeletal features and tooth eruption indicate that Lucy was a young mature individual at death. Both the upper and lower valleys are acclaimed for agricultural practices and pastoralism due to their rainfall gradient and amount of precipitation.

Bondestam, L. 1974. People and Capitalism in the North-Eastern Lowlands of Ethiopia. The journal of modern African studies, vol. 12. No. 3, pp 423-439.

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