Hadar, Ethiopia

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Afar Region, Ethiopia

Hadar (also spelled Adda Da'ar; Afar "treaty [ahdi] stream [d'ar]")[1] is a village in Ethiopia on the southern edge of the Afar Triangle (part of East Africa's Great Rift Valley). The village is known for the nearby archaeological digs which have yielded some of the most well-known hominin fossils, including "Lucy."

According to Jon Kalb, early maps show caravan routes passing within 10 or 15 kilometers of Hadar, though not through it. The British explorer L.M. Nesbitt passed 15 kilometers west of Hadar in 1928.[1]

Topography and Climate[edit]


The Afar Regional State (Hadar's surrounding area) is located in the local rift valley. While the area can vary greatly in altitude (between 116m below sea level and 1600m above sea level), most of the rift valley is flat land. The location with the lowest known altitude in the area also saw one of the highest temperatures (50° C) ever recorded. The highest peak in the region (Mount Mussa-Alle) rises to only 2063m above sea level.[2]


The climate in the Afar Region is hot and dry throughout the year. The lowest recorded temperatures were around 25°C during the rainy season from September to March, but can regularly reach as high as 48°C during the drier seasons.[3]As this region is mostly lowlands, it is often affected by drought, heat, and low air circulation. The Awash River, which runs through the area, creates a small belt of drought-resistant vegetation. However, it is made up of mostly salt deposits and desert. Native regional wildlife includes the zebra, wildcat, ostrich, wild fox, and African wild ass.

Regional Background[edit]

Hadar is located in Mille woreda, which is part of Administrative Zone 1 of the Afar Region. The Central Statistical Agency has not published an estimate for its 2018 population data, but according to its 2007 census, (the most recently available data) Administrative Zone 1 (Afar) had a total population of 410,790 people, with a female population of 186,134 and a male population of 224,656. Its urban population was estimated to be 82,886, while its rural population was estimated to be 327,904.[4]

As of 1995 (when the current constitution was adopted), Ethiopia is defined as a "Federal Democratic Republic," and employs a parliamentary legislative system. Hadar is a locality within the Afar Regional State (one of the nine member states forming Ethiopia's federal compact). Hadar, Ethiopia falls under the authority of the Afar Regional State government (which is subject to the centralized authority of the federal/national government). The Afar Regional State government consists of legislative, executive, and judicial branches (modeled after the structure of the central government). The highest state authority is the state council.[5]

Archaeological findings and sightings[edit]

"Lucy," one of the most famous hominin fossils, is a 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis fossil discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia by Donald Johanson in 1974.

The first paleo-geological explorations of the Hadar area were conducted by Maurice Taieb. He found Hadar in December 1970 by following the Ledi River, which originates in the highlands north of Bati to empty into the Awash River. Taieb recovered a number of fossils in the area, and led a party back to Hadar in May 1972. In October 1973, 16 individuals with the International Afar Research Expedition (IARE) arrived at Hadar and camped there for two months, during which time the first hominin fossil was found. (Taieb claims in his 1985 book Sur la terre des premiers hommes[6] to have discovered the Hadar fields in 1968, but Kalb argues that this claim of an earlier find is incorrect.) The IARE party examined a series of sedimentary layers called the Hadar Formation, which was dated to the late Pliocene to early Pleistocene epochs (3.5 to 2.3 million years ago).[7]

Archaeologist Donald Johanson, a member of the 1973 expedition to Hadar, returned the next year and discovered the fossil hominin "Lucy" in late fall of 1974.[8] He spotted a right proximal ulna in a gully, followed by an occipital bone, a femur, some ribs, a pelvis, and a lower jaw. Within two weeks, nearly 40% of the hominoid skeleton was identified and cataloged.[9] Lucy is the most famous fossil to have been found at Hadar. Lucy is among the oldest hominin fossils ever discovered[8] and was later given the taxonomic classification Australopithecus afarensis. (The name 'Lucy' was inspired by the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", by The Beatles, which happened to be playing on the radio at base camp.)

In 1975, Johanson made another discovery at a nearby site in Hadar: 216 specimens from approximately 17 individuals, most likely related and varying in age, called AL 333 (colloquially referred to as the "First Family").

About thirty years later in nearby Dikika, another Australopithecus afarensis fossil skeleton was found in a separate outcrop of the Hadar Formation across the Awash River from Hadar. The skeleton is of a three-year-old girl later named "Selam," which means peace in several Ethiopian languages.


  1. ^ a b Jon Kalb Adventures in the Bone Trade (New York: Copernicus Books, 2001), p. 83
  2. ^ "Afar Regional State - Ethiopia". www.ethiopia.gov.et. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  3. ^ "Afar Regional State - Ethiopia". www.ethiopia.gov.et. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  4. ^ "Census 2007". www.csa.gov.et. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  5. ^ "Afar Regional State - Ethiopia". www.ethiopia.gov.et. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  6. ^ B., Halstead, L. (1984). A la recherche du passé : la vie sur Terre, des origines aux premiers hommes. Hachette. ISBN 2010096029. OCLC 25125386.
  7. ^ Feibel, Craig S.; Christopher J. Campisano (2004). "Sedimentary Patterns in the Pliocene Hadar Formation, Afar Rift, Ethiopia".
  8. ^ a b Hogenboom, Melissa. "The 'Lucy' fossil rewrote the story of humanity". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  9. ^ "Lucy's Story | Institute of Human Origins". iho.asu.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-25.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 11°10′N 40°38′E / 11.167°N 40.633°E / 11.167; 40.633