THOR HEYERDAHL Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914 Larvik, Norway - April 18, 2002 Colla Micheri,       
Italy) was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a scientific background     
in zoology and geography. Heyerdahl became famous for his Kon-Tiki expedition,       
in which he sailed 4,300 miles (7,000 km) by raft from South America to the         
Tuamotu Islands.                                                                     
As a young child, Thor Heyerdahl established a strong interest in zoology. He       
created a small museum in his childhood home, with a Vipera berus as the main       
attraction. He studied Zoology and Geography at Oslo University. At the same         
time he studied privately Polynesian culture and history, consulting the then       
world's largest private collection of books and papers on Polynesia, owned by       
Bjarne Kroepelin, a wealthy wine merchant in Oslo. This collection was later         
purchased by the Oslo University Library from Kroepelin's heirs and was attached     
to the Kon-Tiki Museum research department. After seven terms and consultations     
with experts in Berlin, a project was developed and sponsored by his zoology         
professors, Kristine Bonnevie and Hjalmar Broch. He was to visit some isolated       
Pacific island group and study how the local animals had found their way there.     
Right before sailing together to the Marquesas Islands he married his first wife,   
Liv, whom he had met shortly before enrolling at the university, and who had         
studied economics there.                                                             
Heyerdahl's expeditions were spectacular, and his heroic journeys in flimsy         
boats caught the public imagination. Although much of his work remains               
controversial within the scientific community, Heyerdahl undoubtedly increased       
public interest in ancient history and in the achievements of various cultures       
and peoples around the world — he also showed that long distance ocean voyages     
were technically possible even with ancient designs. As such, he was a major         
practitioner of experimental archaeology. Heyerdahl's books served to inspire       
several generations of readers. He introduced readers of all ages to the fields     
of archaeology and ethnology by making them attractive through his colorful         
adventures. This Norwegian adventurer often broke the bounds of conventional         
thinking and was unapologetic for doing so. "Boundaries?", he is quoted as           
asking, "I have never seen one but I hear that they exist in the minds of most       
Thor Heyerdahl's grandson, Olav Heyerdahl, retraced his grandfather's Kon-Tiki       
voyage in 2006, as part of a six-member crew. The voyage, called the Tangaroa       
Expedition, was intended as a tribute to Thor Heyerdahl, as well as a means to       
monitor the Pacific Ocean's environment. A film about the voyage is in