• Agents of Change

    • With tenacity and scientific rigor, Heyerdahl proved that the seas were not frontiers for the Earth’s early inhabitants, but means that allowed them to communicate with each other on a global scale.

    Thor Heyerdahl, the last solar voyager / 

    A civilized nation can have no enemies, and one cannot draw a line across a map, a line that doesn't even exist in nature and say that the ugly enemy lives on the one side, and good friends live on the other.

    Thor Heyerdahl

    Theories concerning human migrations reveal a search that is always renewed because we find ourselves in the past, we go back a little further into the river of our origins, sailing against the current, confronting the historical truths that some rebels are able to tear down, or simply prove that a map is not the land itself but its representation.

    Anthropologists had already agreed that the people of Polynesia had sailed across the islands of the Asian continent bound more and more towards the East, through the South Pacific. But the technological development of navigation, as well as its fascinating history proved how, in ancient times, human migrations and commercial routes across the greatest oceans were not only possible, but, as Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer, says, ancient sailors did not see the ocean as a frontier but as a road, it was not a barrier but their path.

    Polynesia (from the Philippines to Easter Islands) was the last region on Earth to become inhabited, which is confirmed by the scarcity of archeological ruins (Chinese porcelain, fabrics, metals or any type of writing, and the likes, which would show the Asian origins of the Polynesians). Heyerdahl, who lived in Polynesia for ten years and who worked as a biologist and an amateur anthropologist, in addition to his service as a pilot during the Second World War, he financed an expedition on a raft, which sailed from Peru and arrived in a Polynesian island, perhaps reaching Jakarta even, using the technology of pre-Columbian cultures and local materials.

    On April 28th 1947, a tugboat pulled the “Kon Tiki” raft (named after Tiki, the solar god, who leaves the West and goes towards the East every morning) out to sea, with half a dozen of untrained crew members and military radio operators, several soup loads, and shark repellent, to prove, that South American migrations towards Polynesia were a plausible explanation.

    For 101 days, the Kon-Tiki followed the Humboldt Current and the southern equatorial, as is these were submarine mega-freeways, crossing Raroia Island’s dangerous coral reefs in the Tuamotu Archipelago (4,300 nautical miles), proving that ancient Peruvians could have reached Polynesia.

    Heyerdahl wrote the story of his expedition, which was translated into many languages, and he participated in the documentary of the journey, which, incidentally won an Oscar. However, Heyerdahl’s adventures did not end in the South Pacific. The Norwegian repeated this same methodology in two more projects: one, to traverse the Atlantic on a papyrus raft leaving from Africa and arriving in Barbados (with the Ra I vessel, which lost its way one week before they reached land, without any harm to the crew, and Ra II, named after the Egyptian sun god, that was able to circumnavigate the Atlantic in 57 days) and his last, crossing Mesopotamia (which is now Iraq) via Pakistani territory,  to prove that the cultures of the Indo valley could have communicated by sea with the Hindu subcontinent.

    But Heyerdahl’s greatest contribution was also of a political nature: the crew members of his different voyages were always comprised of people from different nationalities and religious backgrounds, since life on land is not all that different from the crew of a great ship. There are no dragons at the end of the map; there are only cartographers that trace the frontiers dictated by kings.

    As a result of this stand, Heyerdahl set the Tigris boat on fire (which he used to cross the Indian Ocean) in the Djibouti port, as a way of protesting the violent wars that developed on both sides of the Red Sea and Africa. 

    Tagged: Thor Heyerdahl, sea, explorers, Agents of Change