Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl

Larvik, Larvik kommune, Vestfold fylke, Norway
Death 18 Apr 2002 (aged 87)
Andora, Provincia di Savona, Liguria, Italy
Burial Colla Micheri, Provincia di Savona, Liguria, Italy
Memorial ID 6380670 · View Source
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Explorer, Archaeologist. His 1947 expedition proved his theory possible that early South Americans could have settled the Pacific Ocean area. This expedition, on a balsa raft named Kon-Tiki, allowed him to cross the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia, a distance of 4,300 miles in just 101 days. Later expeditions from Egypt towards North America in the reed rafts Ra, and Ra II, gave his theory that early Egyptians may have visited Mexico some credible argument. After each of these explorations, Heyerdahl wrote books about the adventures, and was in the public eye. Cause of death: brain cancer. Born in Larvik, Norway, and trained as a zoologist, in 1937, he and his wife, Liv, moved to Tahiti, living on the isolated island of Fatuhiva in the Marquesas Group, doing research on the origins of the animal life on the island. Struggling with easterly winds while fishing, he lost faith in the then accepted belief that Polynesia had been settled by unidentified voyagers from Southeast Asia, and soon became convinced that the islands were settled by visitors from South America and Easter Island instead. He also developed a theory that ocean travelers from British Columbia settled Hawaii. His research interrupted by World War II, he served in a Norwegian Parachute Unit. After the war, he continued his research, only to meet a wall of resistance from contemporary scholars. To prove his theories possible, in 1947, he and five companions constructed a raft in the Inca style, and sailed it from Peru to Polynesia in just 101 days, a distance of 4,300 miles. His theory proven, Heyerdahl organized and led an expedition to the Galapagos Islands in 1952, investigating pre-Columbian habitation sites, and discovering many ceramic pieces of pre-Incan pottery. He followed up in 1955-56 with an expedition to Easter Island, to investigate its ancestry. There he discovered that Easter Island was once wooded, until the inhabitants deforested it, and that they had planted numerous species of South American plants there. Subsequent carbon dating indicates that Easter Island was occupied about 380 AD, about 1,000 years earlier than scientists had thought. In 1969-70, Heyerdahl thought that reed boats of Egyptian origin could have made a crossing of the Atlantic to North America, and he attempted the same voyage, making 2,700 miles in just 56 days in the reed boat Ra, until a major storm wrecked the boat just one week short of Barbados. He made a return voyage in Ra II, just ten months later, to prove his theory possible. In the following years, he has sent expeditions to the Tigris River Valley and the Maldives Islands. He has received numerous archeological awards and his theories have had profound influence on the fields of archaeology and anthropology. He has resided in Oslo, Norway, until his death from brain cancer.
Updated info: The urn will later be moved to the family home at Colla Micheri,
near the town of Alassio on the Italian Riviera, according to
Thor Heyerdahls last wish.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
  • Added: 29 Apr 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6380670
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thor Heyerdahl (6 Oct 1914–18 Apr 2002), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6380670, citing Heyerdahl Family Estate, Colla Micheri, Provincia di Savona, Liguria, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .