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Adventurer who was Thor Heyerdahl's 'last crewmate' dies aged 89

There were whole families that had pale skin, hair varying in color from reddish to blonde. In contrast, most of the Polynesians had golden-brown skin, raven-black hair, and rather flat noses. Heyerdahl claimed that when Jacob Roggeveen discovered Easter Island in , he supposedly noticed that many of the natives were white-skinned. Heyerdahl claimed that these people could count their ancestors who were "white-skinned" right back to the time of Tiki and Hotu Matua , when they first came sailing across the sea "from a mountainous land in the east which was scorched by the sun".

Heyerdahl proposed that Tiki's neolithic people colonized the then uninhabited Polynesian islands as far north as Hawaii , as far south as New Zealand , as far east as Easter Island, and as far west as Samoa and Tonga around AD. They supposedly sailed from Peru to the Polynesian islands on pae-paes —large rafts built from balsa logs, complete with sails and each with a small cottage.

Death Raft on the Tigris

They built enormous stone statues carved in the image of human beings on Pitcairn , the Marquesas , and Easter Island that resembled those in Peru. They also built huge pyramids on Tahiti and Samoa with steps like those in Peru. But all over Polynesia, Heyerdahl found indications that Tiki's peaceable race had not been able to hold the islands alone for long. He found evidence that suggested that seagoing war canoes as large as Viking ships and lashed together two and two had brought Stone Age Northwest American Indians to Polynesia around AD , and they mingled with Tiki's people.

The oral history of the people of Easter Island, at least as it was documented by Heyerdahl, is completely consistent with this theory, as is the archaeological record he examined Heyerdahl In particular, Heyerdahl obtained a radiocarbon date of AD for a charcoal fire located in the pit that was held by the people of Easter Island to have been used as an "oven" by the "Long Ears", which Heyerdahl's Rapa Nui sources, reciting oral tradition, identified as a white race that had ruled the island in the past Heyerdahl Heyerdahl further argued in his book American Indians in the Pacific that the current inhabitants of Polynesia migrated from an Asian source, but via an alternate route.

He proposes that Polynesians travelled with the wind along the North Pacific current. These migrants then arrived in British Columbia. Heyerdahl called contemporary tribes of British Columbia, such as the Tlingit and Haida , descendants of these migrants.

Heyerdahl claimed that cultural and physical similarities existed between these British Columbian tribes, Polynesians, and the Old World source. Heyerdahl's theory of Polynesian origins has not gained acceptance among anthropologists. In the late s, genetic testing found that the mitochondrial DNA of the Polynesians is more similar to people from Southeast Asia than to people from South America, showing that their ancestors most likely came from Asia.


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Davis says that Heyerdahl "ignored the overwhelming body of linguistic, ethnographic, and ethnobotanical evidence, augmented today by genetic and archaeological data, indicating that he was patently wrong. A study by Norwegian researcher Erik Thorsby [28] suggested that there was some merit to Heyerdahl's ideas and that, while Polynesia was colonized from Asia, some contact with South America also existed. However, more recent work [ when?

Analysis showed that: "although the European lineage could be explained by contact with white Europeans after the island was "discovered" in by Dutch sailors, the South American component was much older, dating to between about and , soon after the island was first colonised by Polynesians in around Heyerdahl and the professional archaeologists who travelled with him spent several months on Easter Island investigating several important archaeological sites. Highlights of the project include experiments in the carving, transport and erection of the notable moai , as well as excavations at such prominent sites as Orongo and Poike.

Heyerdahl's popular book on the subject, Aku-Aku was another international best-seller. Based on native testimony and archaeological research, he claimed the island was originally colonized by Hanau eepe "Long Ears" , from South America, and that Polynesian Hanau momoko "Short Ears" arrived only in the midth century; they may have come independently or perhaps were imported as workers.

According to Heyerdahl, something happened between Admiral Roggeveen's discovery of the island in and James Cook's visit in ; while Roggeveen encountered white, Indian, and Polynesian people living in relative harmony and prosperity, Cook encountered a much smaller population consisting mainly of Polynesians and living in privation. Heyerdahl notes the oral tradition of an uprising of "Short Ears" against the ruling "Long Ears". The "Long Ears" dug a defensive moat on the eastern end of the island and filled it with kindling. During the uprising, Heyerdahl claimed, the "Long Ears" ignited their moat and retreated behind it, but the "Short Ears" found a way around it, came up from behind, and pushed all but two of the "Long Ears" into the fire.

This moat was found by the Norwegian expedition and it was partly cut down into the rock. Layers of fire were revealed but no fragments of bodies. As for the origin of the people of Easter Island, DNA tests have shown a connection to South America, [34] critics conjecture that this was a result of recent events, but whether this is inherited from a person coming in later times is hard to know. If the story that almost all Long Ears were killed in a civil war is true, as the islanders story goes, it would be expected that the statue-building South American bloodline would have been nearly utterly destroyed, leaving for the most part the invading Polynesian bloodline.

In and , Heyerdahl built two boats from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco in Africa. Based on drawings and models from ancient Egypt , the first boat, named Ra after the Egyptian Sun god , was constructed by boat builders from Lake Chad using papyrus reed obtained from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and launched into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Morocco.

Only Heyerdahl and Baker had sailing and navigation experience. After a number of weeks, Ra took on water.

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The crew discovered that a key element of the Egyptian boatbuilding method had been neglected, a tether that acted like a spring to keep the stern high in the water while allowing for flexibility. The boat became lost and was the subject of a United Nations search and rescue mission. The search included international assistance including people as far afield as Loo-Chi Hu of New Zealand. The boat reached Barbados , thus demonstrating that mariners could have dealt with trans-Atlantic voyages by sailing with the Canary Current.

The book The Ra Expeditions and the film documentary Ra were made about the voyages. Apart from the primary aspects of the expedition, Heyerdahl deliberately selected a crew representing a great diversity in race , nationality , religion and political viewpoint in order to demonstrate that at least on their own little floating island, people could cooperate and live peacefully. Additionally, the expedition took samples of marine pollution and presented their report to the United Nations. Heyerdahl built yet another reed boat , Tigris , which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now Pakistan and western India.

Tigris was built in Iraq and sailed with its international crew through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and made its way into the Red Sea. After about five months at sea and still remaining seaworthy, the Tigris was deliberately burnt in Djibouti , on April 3, , as a protest against the wars raging on every side in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa. Today we burn our proud ship Now we are forced to stop at the entrance to the Red Sea. Surrounded by military airplanes and warships from the world's most civilized and developed nations, we have been denied permission by friendly governments, for reasons of security, to land anywhere, but in the tiny, and still neutral, Republic of Djibouti.

Elsewhere around us, brothers and neighbors are engaged in homicide with means made available to them by those who lead humanity on our joint road into the third millennium. To the innocent masses in all industrialized countries, we direct our appeal. We must wake up to the insane reality of our time We are all irresponsible, unless we demand from the responsible decision makers that modern armaments must no longer be made available to people whose former battle axes and swords our ancestors condemned.

Our planet is bigger than the reed bundles that have carried us across the seas, and yet small enough to run the same risks unless those of us still alive open our eyes and minds to the desperate need of intelligent collaboration to save ourselves and our common civilization from what we are about to convert into a sinking ship. In the years that followed, Heyerdahl was often outspoken on issues of international peace and the environment.

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Heyerdahl made four visits to Azerbaijan in , [39] , and He was convinced that their artistic style closely resembled the carvings found in his native Norway. The ship designs, in particular, were regarded by Heyerdahl as similar and drawn with a simple sickle-shaped line, representing the base of the boat, with vertical lines on deck, illustrating crew or, perhaps, raised oars. Based on this and other published documentation, Heyerdahl proposed that Azerbaijan was the site of an ancient advanced civilization. He believed that natives migrated north through waterways to present-day Scandinavia using ingeniously constructed vessels made of skins that could be folded like cloth.

When voyagers travelled upstream, they conveniently folded their skin boats and transported them on pack animals. On Heyerdahl's visit to Baku in , he lectured at the Academy of Sciences about the history of ancient Nordic Kings. He spoke of a notation made by Snorri Sturluson , a 13th-century historian-mythographer in Ynglinga Saga , which relates that " Odin a Scandinavian god who was one of the kings came to the North with his people from a country called Aser.

Heyerdahl accepted Snorri's story as literal truth, and believed that a chieftain led his people in a migration from the east, westward and northward through Saxony , to Fyn in Denmark , and eventually settling in Sweden. Azerbaijanis should be proud of their ancient culture. It is just as rich and ancient as that of China and Mesopotamia. In September , Heyerdahl returned to Baku for the fourth time and visited the archaeological dig in the area of the Church of Kish.

This project generated harsh criticism and accusations of pseudoscience from historians, archaeologists and linguists in Norway, who accused Heyerdahl of selective use of sources, and a basic lack of scientific methodology in his work.

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His central claims were based on similarities of names in Norse mythology and geographic names in the Black Sea region, e. The controversy surrounding the Search for Odin project was in many ways typical of the relationship between Heyerdahl and the academic community. Not registered? Forgotten password Please enter your email address below and we'll send you a link to reset your password. Not you? Forgotten password? Forgotten password Use the form below to recover your username and password. New details will be emailed to you. Simply reserve online and pay at the counter when you collect.

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He would never have wanted to die in any diminished way, and as deeply sad as we are, my dad died doing something he truly loved.

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