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Heyerdahl, Thor (1914–2002)



Thor Heyerdahl
Norwegian ethnologist famous for his expeditions to prove the feasibility of his theories of cultural diffusion, and for his books. In the Kon-Tiki, a primitive balsa wood raft, he and his crew sailed from the west coast of South America to Polynesia, demonstrating the possibility that the Polynesians originated in South America (1947). In Ra, a facsimile of an ancient Egyptian papyrus reed boat, he and his cosmopolitan crew succeeded at the second attempt at sailing from Morocco to Barbados, showing the possibility that the pre-Columbian cultures of South America were influenced by Egyptian civilization (Ra I, 1969; Ra II, 1970).