The Day Lucy Was Discovered

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The famous fossil hominin Lucy, AL 288-1, was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia on 30 November 1974.  Late 1974 marked a particularly turbulent time Ethiopia's history -- the monarchy was overthrown which, in turn, led to the establishment of the Derg, to say nothing of the famine in the Wallo region. 

The Ethiopian Herald -- the local paper for Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa -- reported the discovery of Lucy on 21 December 1974, immediately after the fossil's first press conference.  But the newspaper's headlines and content in the weeks surrounding the fossil's discovery serve as a reminder that scientific discoveries -- especially famous fossil discoveries -- are products of their cultural and political contexts.  Part of what makes Lucy, well, Lucy are all of these parts of her original contexts.

The sweeping politics and the everyday-minutiae help paint a poignant picture of the day she was discovered.

Front page of Ethiopian Herald, 30 November 1974.

Front page of Ethiopian Herald, 30 November 1974.

Second page, Ethiopian Herald. 30 November 1974

Second page, Ethiopian Herald. 30 November 1974

Raising awareness for famine; ad in Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Raising awareness for famine; ad in Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Ad for movie theater; Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Ad for movie theater; Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Airline ad; posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Airline ad; posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974