National Museum of Ethiopia

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Things to do


Date of travel

January, 2016

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The National Museum in Addis Ababa had a map of Ethiopia at the entrance and our guide, Eskedar, traced out the route we’d be travelling on the rest of our tour. There was a small entrance fee which he took care of.

The museum had four floors (no lift) and five sections.

The ground floor was the least interesting with what was described as ‘Pre-Axumite 20th century archeological exhibits’ or in my words, lots of broken pots. Eskedar let us wander around at our own pace as the artifacts were well labelled in English and Amharic.

Next followed royal clothing through the ages and a range of royal crowns as unlike, the British system, they’re not handed down.

The first floor had an exhibition of traditional and modern Ethiopian art – we loved the colourful banqueting scenes where raw meat and honey wine were being dispensed to the numerous diners.

The second floor contained an ethnographic collection but the main attraction of the entire museum was in the basement: a replica of the 3.5 million year old skeletal remains of Lucy. This discovery in 1974 proved our ancestors walked 2.5 million years earlier than originally thought. The name Lucy was said to be given as the archeologist was listening to the Beatle’s song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ when he discovered the remains.

The museum had an excellent restaurant in its grounds called the Lucy Lounge and Restaurant. Here bags went through an airport style scanner and we had body searches. It was a huge place with both open air and enclosed areas and was obviously popular with tour groups and locals. We chose a shaded area at the back.
Although there was an a la carte menu with salads, Italian dishes and main meals, we were tempted by the injera another diner was eating.

When it arrived, the injera (a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture made from tef flour) covered the plate. It was topped with eleven different sauces/stews all vegetarian. Eskedar explained we should tear pieces of injera from the edges and use it to gather up the various sauces which he described – lentils both crushed and whole, sweetcorn, cabbage, spinach, chick pea and rather unusually what were either cold chips or soggy chip sticks. It was truly excellent and we didn’t make a bad job of finishing most of it (I doubt anyone ever eats all the injera as it’s so huge). Ironically, Eskedar had a pizza!

Helen Jackson

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