Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today in History: Thor Heyerdahl

Today is a sad day that marks the 7th anniversary of the passing of Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer. Heyerdahl was most famous for his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition that took him from across the Pacific Ocean to prove that it was possible for Pre-Columbian South Americans to have traveled to, and settled, Polynesia (it should be noted that Hyerdahl's thesis was recently given added support from chickens). A true adventurer; he once commented, "Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people."

Besides the Kon-Tiki expedition, Heyerdahl was also the driving force behind the Fatu Hiva and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) expeditions as well as the construction of the Ra, Ra II a Tigris reed-boats. All of which were done to prove the possibility of pan-oceanic migration and cross-cultural exchange in the Pre-Columbian world.

In the end, after all his expeditions and adventures, Thor Heyerdahl passed away quietly from a brain tumor at the age of 87. His impact on Norway and the entire world was such that the Norwegian government granted Heyerdahl the honor of a state funeral at the Oslo Cathedral.

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