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The 3.2 million years fossil, ‘Lucy’, returned to Ethiopia on Wednesday after a five-year long tour in the U.S.
Under the project, “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasurers of Ethiopia”, Lucy and 148 other artifacts, including ancient manuscripts, was sent to the U.S through an agreement made between the Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism and the Houston Museum of Natural Science back in 2007.
Speaking at a press conference held on Wednesday at the National Museum, Amin Abdulkadir, Minister of Culture and Tourism stated that over the last five years around 300,000 people have been able to visit Lucy in the various states of the U.S, and has brought in around USD 1.5 million through admission ticket sales of the different exhibitions that were organized, among other things.
“More than the money, the fact that we were able to introduce Ethiopia in a positive way was the most significant thing. The money was not the most important thing,” stated Amin.
In 2007, when the deal was made to send Lucy abroad, there was a cloud of controversy over the fossils safety when it traveled and the motive, which was generally thought to be financial at the time, behind the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s decision to approve the tour.
“If you ask me if it was all worth it, if sending this very important heritage abroad risking safety, in my opinion I would say no. Five years ago, when the idea of sending Lucy abroad was proposed, we professionals were very much against it,” stated Berhane Asfaw, a researcher on Human Evolution at the National Museum, in answer to questions posed by Capital.
Lucy traveled to New York, California, Texas and Seattle during the tour. Berhane also stated that the number of visitors Lucy had throughout the tour wasn’t as much as he expected. “I wish more people had seen her; it was stated that only 300,000 people visited her. Compared to the safety issues when moving the fossil around the different states, I would say it was completely not worth it; and that is my personal opinion,” he told Capital.
The fossil underwent full inspection on Thursday to see if there was any damage, but apparently the fossil was none-the-worse for wear and was officially returned to the National Museum. “We are very happy that the fossil has arrived safely,” Berhane concluded.
It was stated at the press conference that Lucy will be put on display for the public at the National Museum starting from Tuesday, and that the fossil will be displayed in an exhibition which is being organized for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the African Union (AU).