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Thor Heyerdahl

Explorer / Anthropologist

Born: 6 October 1914
Died: 18 April 2002 (cancer)
Birthplace: Larvik, Norway
Best known as: Leader of the Kon-Tiki and Ra Expeditions
In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew members sailed the Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft, from South America to Polynesia, to prove his theory that pre-Columbian intercultural global contact was possible. During 1969-70 he sailed two papyrus rafts, Ra I and Ra II, across the Atlantic, to show that ancient Egyptians could have had contact with South America. Although his theories often earned him the scorn of academics, Heyerdahl had a profound influence on anthropology and archaeology.
Extra credit: The film of his Kon-Tiki expedition earned an Oscar in 1951 for Best Documentary Feature.

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