In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl, a Norweigian adventurer and ethnologist, and 5 of his fellow adventurers went to Peru and built a raft out of balsa wood and other native woods, and sailed for 101 days, 4300 miles to the outer reef of the Tuamotu Islands on the Kon Tiki Expedition.
The raft, named the Kon Tiki, was based on drawings and legends of Inca rafts. According to legend, the light skinned people around Lake Titicaca were ruled by a sun god named Con-Tiki. During a race war, many of these people were wiped out, but the survivors escaped to the coast built rafts and sailed to safety.) Heyerdahl proposed that the Polynesian Islands were populated from South America using large versions of such rafts. That is… the settlement of the Islands Groups of Samoa, Hawaii, Easter Island were setteled west to east. Most anthropologists believed that that the Islands were settled East to West, starting from Asia.
(Take a moment here to imagine the conferences they must have had…. Anthropologists on opposite sides of the room taking sides… total breakdown of civility… people shouting “what about the sweet potato? It’s clearly from the Americas!” “what about the Austronesian language, it’s clearly from Taiwan!”)
Heyerdahl and his band of merry adventurers found the sailing fairly easy, thanks to the prevailing winds and currents. They had food, and enough water (fishies stayed close to the bottom of their raft, making it easier to catch them…
Because there was a Ham Radio on board the ship, Heyerdahl was able to send daily reports of sharks and water. Newspapers around the world published tales of the journey, and the post war public was wrapped up in the adventure of it all.
The book “The Kon-Tiki Expedition- By Raft Across the South Seas”, that Thor Heyerdahl wrote became a world-wide best seller… and the documentary film Kon Tiki made about the voyage won an Academy Award in 1951.
The by shining a light on the South Pacific, the film and the book Kon-Tiki added to the Tiki Mythology.
Kon Tiki Expedition- The Original Reality Show
The Kon Tiki expedition lit up the imaginations of so many people…. it was the ultimate South Seas Adventure. Sharks, Waves, Men in Bathing Suits acting quite Manly. It’s no wonder that it attracted the attention of so many.