On This Day

Thor Heyerdahl

Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer Thor Heyerdahl

Profession: Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer


Why Famous: Heyerdahl caught the public's attention with his daring and spectacular expeditions increasing public interest in archaeology and ancient history.

On his 1947 expedition on the Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl and five fellow adventurers demonstrated that long-distance ocean voyages in ancient boat designs were possible. In the Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Island in a hand built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia.

The success of expedition demonstrated how ancient people could have sailed large distances in 'simple' water craft to colonize the remote and widely dispersed Pacific islands.

Born: October 6, 1914
Birthplace: Larvik, Norway
Star Sign: Libra

Died: April 18, 2002 (aged 87)
Cause of Death: Brain tumor

Events in the Life of Thor Heyerdahl

  • 1947-04-28 Thor Heyerdahl & "Kon-Tiki" sail from Peru to Polynesia
  • 1947-08-07 Thor Heyerdahl and his crew of the Kon-Tiki crash into a reef in the Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia after 101 days crossing the Pacific Ocean
  • 1970-07-12 Thor Heyerdahl crosses Atlantic on raft Ra II, arrives in Barbados from Morocco in 57 days