7 Aug: The Aryan Polynesian Hypothesis

The Kon-Tiki expedition, led by Norwegian explorer and ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl, reached Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelag near Tahiti, on 7th August, 1947. The 45-foot-long balsa wood raft, with a five-man crew, had completed a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru. 

Heyerdahl wanted to prove his (now discredited) theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents. The Kon-Tiki was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians, although the expedition carried some modern equipment, such as a radio, watches, charts, sextant, and metal knives. While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why Heyerdahl’s hypothesis of a South American origin of the Polynesian peoples is rejected today; marvel at his bold use of eye-catching graphic design; and expose how the crew’s food rations weren’t all that they seemed…

Further Reading:

• ‘New proof for Kon-Tiki theory’ (The Guardian, 1953): https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/may/18/new-kon-tiki-proof-expedition-archive-1953

• ‘How the Voyage of the Kon-Tiki Misled the World About Navigating the Pacific’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2014): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-voyage-kon-tiki-misled-world-about-navigating-pacific-180952478/

• ‘KonTiki (short)’ (The Kon-Tiki Museum, 1951): 

#40s #Strange #Explorer #Norway #Peru #Racism