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Lower Valley of the Awash

EthiopiaWestern Highlands & Great Rift ValleyAfar


Lower Valley of the Awash 

This paleo-anthropological site is located in the west of the Afar Depression, 300 kilometers northeast of Addis Ababa. It is around 150 km2 in size.

One of the most important groups of paleontological sites on the African continent is found in the Awash Valley. The oldest remains discovered on the property date back over 4 million years, providing evidence of human evolution that has altered our understanding of human history. The most stunning find occurred in 1974, when 52 parts of a skeleton were used to recreate the legendary Lucy.

Excavations by a multinational team of palaeontologists and pre-historians began in 1973 and lasted until 1976, when they were stopped. They discovered a vast number of fossilised hominid and animal bones in an exceptional condition of preservation throughout that time, the oldest of which was at least four million years old.

The valley produced the most complete set of remains of a 3.2 million-year-old hominid skeleton, Australopithecus afarensis, nicknamed "Lucy," in 1974. Since then, Afarensis has been proven to be the ancestor of both Australopithecus and Homo-sapiens.

The 4.4 million-year-old female skeleton known as ‘Ardi' is 1.2 million years older than the Australopithecus afarensis ‘Lucy' skeleton.

There are a plethora of paleo-anthropological and prehistoric tools still waiting to be discovered and studied by scientists, and these are regarded as an extremely valuable cultural heritage resource.

The Lower Valley of the Awash was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

(Source UNESCO)


  • EthiopiaWestern Highlands & Great Rift ValleyAfar

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