• On April 28, 1947, Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and five crewmembers set sail from Callao, Peru, on their primitive raft, the Kon-Tiki. Their destination was Polynesia, nearly 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) away. Heyerdahl was interested in how small islands were populated, where the people originated, and how aspects of culture could be traced. 
    Heyerdahl thought the original settlers of Polynesia could have originated in South America. To test his theory, he used pre-Columbian technology to create the Kon-Tiki out of balsa wood and hemp ropes. The name Kon-Tiki came from a legendary Incan god of the sun. Traveling through the Humbolt Current, the raft was met with many types of fish, squid, dolphins, sharks, and whales. The fish provided food for the crew, as it proved that ancient migrants could have survived such a journey. 
    The completion of this trip in 101 days proved that the journey was possible, although Heyerdahl’s theories are still not widely accepted. The Kon-Tiki expedition was made into an Academy Award-winning documentary, using footage shot on the journey. The Kon-Tiki is preserved in a museum in Oslo, Norway. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    documentary Noun

    non-fiction film.

    expedition Noun

    journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

    Incan Empire Noun

    (1438-1533) empire stretching along the coastal highlands and Andes mountains of South America.

    migrant noun, adjective

    person who regularly moves from place to place, usually in search of work.

    originate Verb

    to begin or start.

    Polynesia Noun

    island group in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island.

    pre-Columbian Adjective

    having to do with the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

    primitive Adjective

    simple or crude.

    settler Noun

    person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.