August 17, 2016 1:07 am
Updated: August 17, 2016 9:55 am

SFU Archeologist hopes to help Ethiopia’s future by uncovering its past

A new project spearheaded by an SFU professor is also helping to build a brighter future. Linda Aylesworth talks to one archaeologist who is turning ancient artifacts into new revenue to people who need it.


Archaeology is all about unlocking the secrets of the past, but a project spearheaded by an SFU professor is aimed to build a brighter the future.

Archeologist Cathy D’Andrea is turning ancient artifacts into new revenue for people who desperately need it.

She has been returning to northern Ethiopia to uncover the regions rich history.

Through the years D’Andrea and her team have unearthed over 70,000 artifacts but all with the help of local people.

She says it is mostly farmers eking out a living from the land.

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“We train them. They are a lot stronger than we are and they are very good excavators,” D’Andrea said.

The relationship between archaeologists and farmers is mutually beneficial, the farmers receive a wage for their work and the scientist receive insight into the past – like the role of ancient grind stones.

READ MORE: UVic archeological team makes world-first tool discovery

“A lot of farmers still rely on this technology so we can interview them on the production, the use, the social implications.”

There was a time when artifacts were routinely taken away to big city museums, but times have changed; everything unearthed here has remained in the region.

“Archaeologist have responsibility to return the materials but also the knowledge that we gain back to the community so that it becomes part of that living tradition,” SFU Museum of Archeology Director Barbara Winter said.

This is why SFU is helping to build a museum in the city of Adigrat.

The artifacts will be put on display to the public and out of town an open air museum will protect the dig site.

“Things are changing  and we’re recording information about their traditional life which they want to preserve as well,” D’Andrea said.

Even when the museums are completed the work will continue, which D’Andrea said will help tourism in the area and it will provide the next generation of Ethiopians a window into their rich history.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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