Thor Heyerdahl

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Heyerdahl, Thor

(hā`ərdäl', hī`–), 1914–2002, Norwegian explorer and anthropologist, b. Larvik. He carried out research in the Marquesas Islands in 1937–38 and studied the indigenous peoples of British Columbia in 1939–40. To support his thesis that the first settlers of Polynesia were of South American origin, in 1947 he and five companions made the crossing from Peru to the Tuamotu Archipelago on a primitive log raft. This voyage is described in the international best seller Kon Tiki (tr. 1950). In 1970, Heyerdahl sailed, in a papyrus boat, from Morocco to Barbados, in an attempt to prove that ancient Mediterranean civilizations could have sailed in reed boats to America. This adventure is described in The Ra Expeditions (tr. 1971). In 1977, he sailed from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, following a route he believed was once used by the Sumerians; this trip is detailed in The Tigris Expedition (1979). Heyerdahl was an exponent of the diffusionist school of cultural anthropology, now largely discounted, and today most academics regard his theories as speculative and unproven. His other writings include American Indians in the Pacific (1952), Aku-Aku (tr. 1958), Sea Routes to Polynesia (1968), and Easter Island: The Mystery Solved (1989).


See biography by A. Jacoby (1967).

Heyerdahl, Thor


Born Oct. 6, 1914, in Larvik. Norwegian scholar, traveler, and writer.

Heyerdahl studied zoology and geography at the University of Oslo from 1933 to 1938. During World War II he took part in the Norwegian resistance movement. He has studied the diffusion of culture and the possibility of transoceanic migration of peoples between the Old and the New World.

In 1947, with five companions, Heyerdahl sailed the raft Kon-Tiki across the Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Tuamotu Archipelago to prove the possibility that Polynesia was settled by American Indians. In 1953 he discovered the remains of pre-Inca settlements in the Galápagos Islands. His archaeological research on Easter Island, Rapa, and the Marquesas in 1955 and 1956 determined that the islands were first settled in the fourth century A.D. In 1969 and 1970, Heyerdahl organized expeditions on the sailboats Ra and Ra II from the western coast of Morocco to America, and in 1977 and 1978, on the reed boat Tigris from Al Qurnah in Iraq to the estuary of the Indus to Djibouti. His popular books combine scholarly research with entertaining narration.


In Russian translation:
Vpoiskakh raia. Moscow, 1964.
Puteshestviena “Kon-Tiki.” Moscow, 1956.
Aku-Aku: Taina ostrova Paskhi. Moscow, 1959.
Ekspeditsiia “Kon-Tiki”—“Ra.” Moscow, 1972.
Prikliucheniia odnoi teorii. Leningrad, 1969.


Anokhin, G. I. “Tur Kheierdal.” In Skandinavskii sbornik, vol. 8. Tallinn, 1964.
Jacoli, A. Sen’or Kon-Tiki. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Norwegian.)


References in periodicals archive ?
La isla de Pascua es magnifica, cuando Thor Heyerdahl la visito en 1955 el paisaje era de color marron, sin vegetacion practicamente, ni arboles.
La primera oportunidad, en la cual resulto ganador en la categoria Documental en 1951, fue nada menos que con la cinta del propio Thor Heyerdahl sobre su viaje.
I promised Thor Heyerdahl before he died that we would make the film, and we've done it," said the producer.
En outre, les Norvegiens de differents musees d'Oslo et de Larvik, en collaboration avec l'association [beaucoup moins que]Les amis de Thor Heyrdahl [beaucoup plus grand que] offrent suffisamment d'elements pour garnir un pavillon Ra et Thor Heyerdahl.
Our hearts are light, the sun bakes and the air is clean we follow in the wakes of Captain Cook, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, Thor Heyerdahl and Gauguin to the Marquesas.
In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl designed and built a ship of balsa wood, the Kon-tiki, to see if such craft could have sailed from South America to Polynesia.
A sampling of entries includes: Syd Barrett, Alistair Cooke, Lady Diana, Gerald Ford, Thor Heyerdahl, Norman Mailer, Rosa Parks, and Doctor Spock.
What was the name of the raft used by Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean?
2002 Explorer Thor Heyerdahl, famous for his Kon Tiki expedition, died aged 87.
This approach mirrors the artist's knowledge of archaeological finds mainly from Egypt and Latin America, all of which have surrounded her since childhood, being as she is the daughter of the great Norwegian archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl.
Thus Thor Heyerdahl with his riveting 1950s Kon Tiki adventure book and film, as well as follow-up archeological/anthropological studies, recounted in Aku Aku, makes the case, makes the case for multiple cultural sources for the Rapa Nuians.
I want to begin my paper on the search for Tagaloa with a quote from Thor Heyerdahl (1998):