Ethiopia, one of the countries of the Horn of Africa, has a regional state known as Afar. Through here travels the Awash River and lies part of the Afar Depression. Ethiopia, and this particular area, are well-known for archeologists and in particular for being one of the places on earth that has given us the most details about the human evolution, to the extent that the National Geographic calls it “The Evolutionary Road”.
The Middle Awash, is an area covering around 5 000 km, that has been known since the 1960’s for some amazing archeological discoveries. There can be found fossils dating back to approximately 6 million years ago (the Miocene period) to approximately 200 thousand years ago (the Middle Pleistocene period). It is thought that it was one of the places of separation in the hominid group (group that includes all modern and extinct Great Apes, e.g. chimpanzees, humans, gorillas etc.), and where the hominin (group that gathers all species of humans, from our latest ancestors, e.g. Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Ardipithecus) lived in continuity for the longest period of time. Indeed, there have been found approximately 260 fossils of hominids, including of Ardipithecus, some of the latest ancestors of modern humans, but also Australopithecus, Homo erectus and even of our species, Homo sapiens. The fossils of “Ardi” or “Lucy” were found there.
It is also an important area because paleontologists are able to observe the changes that occurred in the paleoenvironment, showing that the area progressively turned into a desert. Observing these changes could help explain why hominins evolved the way they did.
Ultimately, the Middle Awash presents an enormous interest because as the National Geographic puts it “The Middle Awash area of Ethiopia is the most persistently occupied place on Earth. Members of our lineage have lived, died, and been buried there for almost six million years.”. Therefore, there is no better place to understand where we came from. Read more about it here.