Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Kon-Tiki tour draws to a close (Thor Heyerdahl just about dead)
Sydney Morning Herald ^ | April 18 2002

Posted on 04/17/2002 9:32:14 AM PDT by dead

One of the greatest adventure stories of all time is about to end with the death of a controversial Norwegian explorer.

Thor Heyerdahl, skipper of the famous raft Kon-Tiki.

Thor Heyerdahl, 87, who won worldwide acclaim in 1947 for his daring Kon-Tiki expedition, is greeting his demise with all the eccentricity with which he lived his life. Heyerdahl lapsed into a coma on Tuesday, a week after he started refusing food, water and medical treatment.

The scientist and adventurer had been taken to the Santa Conora hospital on the Italian Riviera over Easter after becoming ill during a family gathering at Colla Michari, an ancient Italian village he bought and restored in the 1950s.

He was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer and returned to his Italian home to spend his last hours with his family. "Last week, doctors said it was a question of days or hours," Thor Heyerdahl jnr said. "[But] he is so strong that he warned us that it could take a long time."

He said his father was not sorry to die. "He is very satisfied with his life. He is happy and leaves a happy family behind."

Heyerdahl snr has risked his life several times to show that conventional theories might be wrong.

It was in April 1947 when Kon-Tiki and its crew of six left the Peruvian port of Callao, acting on Heyerdahl's radical idea that ancient Peruvians could have made the same trip 1400 years earlier, settling Polynesia 600 years before the Hawaiians conquered the region.

The idea was ridiculed by mainstream scientists who said the logs would waterlog and the raft would sink. But the postwar public, anxious for peacetime heroes, thrilled at the audacity of the young men, risking their lives for science. The voyage was the moon landing of its time.

They braved raging storms and ocean calms, with a shortwave radio their only contact with the outside world and their breakfast often flying fish found on deck.

Giant whales played games with the raft and circling sharks were constant companions. At the end of the 4300-nautical-mile voyage, wind and currents forced them aground on uninhabited Raroia atoll in the Marquesas Islands.

A black-and-white documentary film of the journey won an Oscar in 1951, while Heyerdahl's book on the voyage, published in 67 languages, has become a classic. By one account it has sold 20 million copies.

Heyerdahl's foreword to the book's 35th edition said: "The Kon-Tiki expedition opened my eyes to what the ocean really is. It is a conveyor and not an isolator. The ocean has been man's highway from the days he built the first buoyant ships, long before he tamed the horse, invented wheels and cut roads through the virgin jungles."

After capturing the world's imagination with the Kon-Tiki voyage, Heyerdahl made expeditions aboard the reed rafts Ra, Ra II and Tigris.

In 1970, he crossed the Atlantic from Africa on the Ra II to show that ancient Egyptians might have beaten Columbus and the Vikings to America. His wide-ranging archaeological studies were often controversial and challenged accepted views.

In one of his last interviews Heyerdahl expressed his views that the earliest known civilisations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and the Mediterranean sailed in reed ships, as depicted in their ancient art.

"That's how civilisation grew. By sea, you got contact, new raw materials and inspiration," he said.

"I believe that these first navigating people were sun worshippers and that their form of temple was a step pyramid, sometimes built over the tombs of some important royalty and always astronomically oriented with ceremonial stairways or ramps to the summit where ceremonies were performed to the rising sun."

He added that "these navigators ... also made links with Mexico and Peru possible and from Peru again all the way [across the Pacific] to Western Samoa".

He scoffed at the idea that Leif Ericsson or Columbus was the first to sail to America.

"We Europeans are so one-track minded when it comes to our own history that we say to the world that Europe discovered the whole world," he said. "I say that no European has discovered anything but Europe."

Heyerdahl maintained a high pace of research, lectures and travel until his sudden illness. Earlier this year, he travelled to Samoa in the Pacific, where he took part in archaeological studies of a discovery that could be an ancient pyramid.

AP


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs; heyerdahl

1 posted on 04/17/2002 9:32:14 AM PDT by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: dead
He is very satisfied with his life

Rightly so. He did what he wanted to do, and made us change our ways of thinking.

2 posted on 04/17/2002 9:38:39 AM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead
The film was amazing. I read his book in the mid-50s. While I think his scientific work was off the wall and a way of subsidizing a hobby, the book was fascinating adventure.
3 posted on 04/17/2002 9:44:22 AM PDT by RLK
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RLK
It was a great book. I enjoyed it back when I was a kid. Heinlien's books too.
4 posted on 04/17/2002 9:54:17 AM PDT by isthisnickcool
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: isthisnickcool
"Heinlien's books too"

I just finished Starship Troopers....WOW! I hope his other books are this good...'Stranger in a Strange Land' is next...

5 posted on 04/17/2002 11:00:48 AM PDT by Frances_Marion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Frances_Marion
If you like Heinlein, try, "Time Enough to Love", and he had plenty of time. Don't forget to keep your beer in a cool, dark place. ):
6 posted on 04/17/2002 11:10:24 AM PDT by Ender@Game.now
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Frances_Marion
I just finished Starship Troopers....WOW! I hope his other books are this good...'Stranger in a Strange Land' is next...

I've read all his books several times. Stranger in a Strange Land is something else. Grok it well:)

See here for a list of his books.

7 posted on 04/17/2002 11:55:51 AM PDT by isthisnickcool
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: dead
When I was 15 I wanted to build a boat and sail to the Marquesas Islands. I saw a perfect cruising sailboat in a magazine. I wrote to the designer, Olin Stevens, not knowing Stevens was the dean of naval archicture in the entire world. Stevens has to know it was a kid writing him. He wrote me back a gentlemanly letter explain that the architects fees were 7% of the cost of the vessel if built in the U. S. and 12% if built out of the country. I've lost the letter over the years.

Years later I became well known in aspects of marine engineering and materials. I often thought of Stevens at his Vermont farm. He, and John Gardner were among the best of gentlemen.

8 posted on 04/17/2002 1:22:46 PM PDT by RLK
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Frances_Marion
I'm an environmental engineer in part from reading Farmer in the Sky. And I started out as a mechanical engineer in part from reading The Door into Summer.

But Kon Tiki was fascinating, too. I went to the Kon Tiki museum, which actually has the original raft. If y'all ever happen to be in Oslo, Norway, check it out:

Kon Tiki museum

P.S. The whaling museum in Oslo is also cool.

9 posted on 04/17/2002 3:00:51 PM PDT by Mark Bahner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: dead
I didn't realize Heyerdahl was so young when he wrote "Kon-Tiki."
10 posted on 04/17/2002 3:07:46 PM PDT by aristeides
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Frances_Marion
Let's grok !
11 posted on 04/17/2002 8:57:28 PM PDT by UCANSEE2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2
To all! :) I was born and raised in Scotland, and I remember making a "to-scale" model of the Kon-Tiki raft out of Balsa wood (the same wood he made it out of) at school.

Well, I hated school and I have very few pleasant childhood memories, - but that was certainly one of them!

He was a maverick, and he will be missed. JMHO, - Jesse.

12 posted on 04/18/2002 2:20:54 AM PDT by Jessebelle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: dead
I remember reading his book, "Kon-Tiki" in second or third grade. It captured my imagination as a child. What an adventure! I wonder if any second or third graders today could spell "Heyerdahl" or "Kon-Tiki" for that matter?

Thor served as an exciting inspiration to young minds. His "legend" will not be forgotten.

13 posted on 04/18/2002 2:56:25 AM PDT by Caipirabob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead
I was very young when "Tor" visited my parent's home on Saint Simons many years ago, Sorry to hear this- he was quite a man in his day.
14 posted on 04/18/2002 3:31:55 AM PDT by backhoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Frances_Marion
I recommend also "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Time enough for love" -- Heinlein was brilliant also read Asimov - "I Robot" Clark - "Rendeavous with Rama"
15 posted on 04/18/2002 4:19:06 AM PDT by hford02
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: backhoe;yakboy; rightwhale; dead
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian adventurer who crossed the Pacific on a balsa log raft and chronicled his harrowing 101-day voyage in the book "Kon-Tiki," died Thursday. He was 87.

Heyerdahl stopped taking food, water or medication in early April after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

Experts scoffed at Heyerdahl when he set off to cross the Pacific aboard a balsa raft in 1947, saying it would get water logged and sink within days.

After 4,900 miles, he proved them wrong by reaching Polynesia from Peru in a bid to prove his theories of human migration.

His later expeditions included voyages aboard the reed rafts Ra, Ra II and Tigris. His wide-ranging archaeological studies were often controversial and challenged accepted views.

After Heyerdahl's 1947 voyage, conventional anthropologists dismissed the college dropout's theories, saying they were only the work of a gifted amateur. But he gained worldwide fame. His book sold tens of millions of copies and his 1951 movie about the voyage won an Academy Award for best documentary.

His later studies focused on ancient step pyramids - including those in Peru and on the island of Tenerife off Africa - which he believed could be evidence of maritime links between ancient civilizations.

Before Heyerdahl made his voyage on the Kon-Tiki, he was deathly afraid of water. He had nearly drowned twice as a child in Larvik, Norway, and overcame his fear only at age 22, when he fell into a raging river in Tahiti and swam to safety.

16 posted on 04/18/2002 4:00:15 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: anniegetyourgun
RIP
17 posted on 04/18/2002 4:06:35 PM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: dead;blam
Since this was posted Heyerdahl has died.

I think he did more than other single individual to shake up the stupidities and academic hubris surrounding the peopling of the Americas. I have long agreed with him about the following:

"The more I do and the more I see, the more I realize the shocking extent of ignorance that exists among the scholarly circles that call themselves authorities and pretend to have a monopoly of all knowledge," he wrote.

Rest in peace and continue your explorations to the end of time, old Mentor.

18 posted on 04/18/2002 4:31:31 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Bernard Marx
""The more I do and the more I see, the more I realize the shocking extent of ignorance that exists among the scholarly circles that call themselves authorities and pretend to have a monopoly of all knowledge," he wrote."

Ditto. RIP old friend.

19 posted on 04/18/2002 5:09:27 PM PDT by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: dead
Explorer Thor Heyerdahl, 87, Dies
20 posted on 04/19/2002 3:23:18 AM PDT by Vigilant1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

21 posted on 05/02/2006 7:57:14 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead

My wife and watched Kon-Tiki recently and loved it. We thought those guys were absolutely insane.


22 posted on 05/02/2006 7:59:13 AM PDT by Little Ray (I'm a reactionary, hirsute, gun-owning, knuckle dragging, Christian Neanderthal and proud of it!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]



Adventurer Thor Heyerdahl Dies
Ananova | 4-18-2002
Posted on 04/18/2002 3:31:21 PM EDT by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/668513/posts

Explorer Thor Heyerdahl, 87, Dies
AP, via Newsday.com | 19 April 2002 | DOUG MELLGREN
Posted on 04/19/2002 6:19:18 AM EDT by Vigilant1
Edited on 09/03/2002 7:50:20 AM EDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/668936/posts

In the Footsteps of Heyerdahl
RichardPoe.com | August 16, 2002 | Richard Poe
Posted on 08/16/2002 4:32:09 PM EDT by Richard Poe
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/734495/posts


23 posted on 05/02/2006 8:03:00 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Little Ray

Sorry, should have pointed out that this is a three year old topic.


24 posted on 05/02/2006 8:05:53 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson