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The Kon-Tiki Expedition

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About the documentary The Kon-Tiki Expedition

Presenter Thor Heyerdahl Category History Year 1951 Watch time 00:58:19

The Kon-tiki expedition was a journey led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl with the aim to prove that the ancient people of South America could have colonised the Islands of Polynesia more than 1500 years ago.  Thor Heyerdahl put more than ten years of research into the theory and actually lived in Polynesia for a while, however nobody took his hypothesis seriously as it was widely believed to be impossible to travel the 4,300 mile journey with the primitive technology they had at the time. Rather than accept that his theory could not proved, Heyerdahl decided to form a team who would authentically re-create the journey by building a raft using exactly the same building methods and materials available.

 

Initially the project was privately funded but upon hearing about the mission the United States army also helped by providing additional equipment, in return Thor and his team would field test it and provide feedback. The raft used materials which were only available back which meant it was put together using primitive ropes which held logs together. 

 

The Kon-Tiki crew all of whom were Norwegian except for Bengt Danielsson, a Swede, left the shores of Peru on Aril 28th 1947 and sailed for 101 days across the Pacific ocean before successfully hitting a reef on the Tuamoti Islands on August 7th 1947. All onboard returned safely. It proved that South American people could have settled in Polynesia. This Kon-Tiki documentary was made using footage from a film camera that they took on board with them which won an Academy Award. A 2012 film (Kon-Tiki) directed Joachim Rønning dramatised the expedition which was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy award, the only Norwegian film to be put forward for both to this date.

 

An excellent collection of images from the journey can be found here.

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