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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Thor Heyerdahl: Your tributes
The renowned Norwegian explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl has died of cancer at the age of 87.
He passed away in his family home at Colla Micheri, northern Italy, after a long illness.
Heyerdahl is best remembered as the Kon-Tiki man. In 1947 he skippered the tiny balsawood raft on a 6,000 kilometre journey from Peru to Polynesia.
It proved, he said, that ancient cultures could have sailed to, and populated, the South Pacific.
Send us your tributes to the late explorer Thor Heyerdahl.
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Thank you Thor - for everything!
You achieved more than the rest of us can ever dream of. You gave us dreams and adventures. Your view of mankind sets a good example for all of us. You had enormous courage and stood firm by your theories in spite of criticism. You made me proud of being Norwegian.
I am rather sad to know him gone. Now we will never know whether he could have carried his latest exploit to fruition, namely the archaeological discovery of Valhalla.
The bravery and belief of Thor were an inspiration to us all. He was not afraid to challenge the beliefs of the 'learned minds', and he achieved so much. Thank you Thor...you will be sorely missed. Good luck on your final sail.
If every policymaker and consultant of the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organization, were to truly draw inspiration from the life and work of Thor Heyerdahl, they would seriously reconsider what they are actually doing to the existence of the overwhelming mass of humanity.
Thor Heyerdahl has always made me proud of being a Norwegian. His memory will help us steer through the rough waters of ethnic and environmental conflicts.
Thank you Thor for connecting us all through our common heritage. You were a remarkable explorer and adventurer and a role model and inspiration to many of us.
My family's heritage is of
that of Pacific Islanders.
I remember reading Kon-Tiki
as a ten year old. I couldn't
put it down. I also developed
a curiosity and liking for
dried pineapple because of
As a European, Heyerdahl
had much respect for the
abilities of ancient and
primitive mariners and
and humane he was
in his view of all peoples.
He remains a personal
hero of mine.
Sandi Waters, Florida/USA
To Mark, UK; It matters not whether he was right or wrong, what matters is that he asked questions and provoked debate. There is no greater legacy for a true scientist.
Isn't it strange how the minute somebody dies, the truth goes out of the window?
Thor Heyerdahl was a great adventurer -- indeed on of the greatest of the late 20th century. Why can't people just settle for that and stop pretending he was a brilliant archaeologist and anthropologist as well?
Most of Mr Heyerdahl's theories have been concussively proven to have been not just wrong, but wrong-headed - starting with the Kon-Tiki voyage. Ample archaeological evidence has made it clear that Mr Heyerdahl made his voyage in the wrong direction.
Furthermore, the underlying thinking in his work is that if prove something is possible, you prove that it actually happened. Others might argue this shows his scant knowledge of and scant regard for the scientific method and scholarly work.
Thank you Mr Heyerdahl for what you did for humans, history and for the environment. May God be with you. Rest In Peace.
As a child, I read the Thor Heyerdahl's account of his Kon-Tiki expedition and was awed and inspired by his vision and his daring. I am now saddened to learn of his long illness and recent death, and wish him peaceful waters for the journey ahead.
Beda Berry, Hawaii, USA
Thor Heyerdayl was an original and lateral thinker, prepared at all times to challenge academic dogma and always ready to back-up his own theories with dynamic and visionary field research. Through his expeditions and books he reached out to touch countless millions of people across the world, imbuing them with a profound sense of awareness and respect for the sea, peoples, history and ecology. In doing so he probably generated more good for the Earth than any number of faceless academics and myopic political leaders. Thor will be remembered by those who cherished his adventurous soul as a truly good man. Like many great explorers before him, he will wear the turning earth as his final epitaph while he makes his last great voyage of discovery towards eternal sleep.
My dad used to tell me the story of the Kon-Tiki when I was a little boy and that was the starting point of my interest in History. I'll sorely miss him
May his adventure-seeking,
peace-loving character be an
inspiration to us all.
Good luck on your new shores, Thor.
Recently I visited Tenerife, Canary Island where he left a good memory too. He found and created museum of ancient Step Pyramids. He left great heritage as for kids as for adults. His books always will be with us.
Thor Heyerdahl was one of a kind. Fortunately he shared his adventures with us all. Thank you Thor.
One of the Greatest Explorers ever.
Eric Sundt, USA
I read "The Ra Expedition" when I was a teenager and have never forgotten it, 40 years later...Thor Heyerdahl's book was exciting for a girl who'd never been more than a couple of hundred miles away from home, and when I reread it every few years, I am once again swept away and totally impressed by the author's marvellous perceptions and wonderful adventures!
Thor Heyerdahl is somebody who made a difference in this world. Somebody who was not afraid to stand up for his own beliefs and point out some of the many problems we have in our world today. If more people would be adventurous as he was, and build rafts and sail around the world instead of running after money and material possessions, our world would be a happier place. Thor, I will miss your spirit and will have a drink in your honour in Rapa-Nui on Sunday. So rest well while you can, as the greatest adventure of them all is just beginning for you.
I read "The Kon-Tiki Expedition" as a child. Over the years, I've re-read it a number of times - it's one of those rare books where you keep getting something new every time.
Thor Heyerdahl was a genius at thinking out-of-the-box, and brilliant at communicating it to his readers. I wish there were more like him.
Leonie Engelbrecht, UK/SA/Zim
20 years ago while visiting the national maritime museum in Oslo, I was looking at the small boat that he used to cross the Pacific ocean. A "guide" started to tell me about the boat and the ocean passage. Thor Heyerdahl was just visiting Oslo and turned out to be "The guide" I found out a great deal both about the boat, the ocean passage and the wonderful guide.
I was born in Lima shortly after Thor Heyerdahl set sail. My parents, who had moved to Peru from England that year went to see him set sail from Callao, Lima's port. They were terribly excited and full of admiration at his daring and awestruck at the sight of the rather primitive, ramshackle raft. His expedition was the source of many family discussions over the years as I grew up. I credit Thor Heyerdahl for helping to develop my sense of adventure.
Thor Heyerdahl's books enchanted me as a young teenager. They inspired in me an enduring fascination with the sea, and stimulated my interest in mankind's inter-relationship with his environment. He was unsentimental in his appreciation of this relationship, and imbued a practicality that is frequently absent from debate about the environment. Thor's contribution to the development of understanding of these relationships will endure irrespective of the accuracy or otherwise of his archaeological theories. Thank you, Thor.
He was not an eccentric or a pseudo-scientist - two labels so often hurled at him by his critics. Heyerdahl was a scholar devoted to the mystery and majesty of human potential.
He was a great human being who refused to accept any limitation to what is possible. By doing so, he set our own visions and imaginations free.
So much fuss was made about the Queen Mother recently, but what did she actually do for society? This is a man a truly revered, who used his time on earth to improve human relations, to expose pseudo-science as the xenophobia it truly was. There are few people that we can truly respect in this world for furthering our human quest, Thor was one of them.
In our English class in grade 7, I believe, we read about Thor Heyerdahl¿s journey from the Tigris to east Africa. Even though I am very young and I never met him personally, I liked the guy for his dedication and his spirit. I pray to God that his soul will rest in peace.
Glenn Barker, Canada
I first read his books in the 70's and have marvelled at how he was able to prove his hypotheses by crossing oceans and seas. He was a great adventurer and often a pacifist with a global perspective. May he truly rest in peace.
I remember making a model of Kon Tiki as a child out of balsa wood. I even got a prize for it! Thor Heyerdahl made a very early impression on me as an explorer. I hope that his spirit lives on.
Mr Heyerdahl has joined Mr. Cousteau and so many others as a world citizen. His challenges of "conventional wisdom" rank with Sir Isaac Newton
David, Ontario, Canada
Mr Heyerdahl was one of the first in a long line of anthropologists and archaeologists to correct historical misconceptions about ethnic groups. Since his experiment the social sciences have opened their doors to correcting other misconceptions concerning indigenous people. In short, I thank him for helping to open the doors to cultural understanding.
The greatest hero of them all. Thank you Thor Heyerdahl for all you have done!
We have lost a great inspiration and pioneer. May your longboat sail smoothly.
Thor Heyerdahl is the person who got me interested in balsa wood, with which I had hours of fun as a child. A legend who will be sadly missed.
If it is possible to generalise about races, Heyerdahl was very much in the spirit of Amundsen, and a superb example of the Norwegian character. Today's so-called celebrity heroes pale into insignificance compared to a man of his stature.
Strange, how only upon his death I, a very ordinary person, realise the influence he had on my life and now, surprisingly, feel such a great loss.
I happened to read the Kon-Tiki recently and it was one of the most open and moving accounts I have read about a sailing expedition. Thor really believed in his idea and carried it through. I hope it inspires others to do the same
Sajid Rahim, Canada
I will always remember Thor Heyerdahl as the person who sparked my interest in marine archaeology. May his soul rest in peace.
The world will miss adventurers of Heyerdahl's calibre. His books and achievements have influenced many people, myself included, encouraging us to try and find out more about this world we live in, and ultimately try and make it better. Thank you Mr Heyerdahl for all the work you did.
Thank you Thor Heyerdahl for your vision, intelligence, and contributions to humanity. Hopefully we can carry on your good works in generations to come.
One of the best explorers in the world, always a hero for new and old fans.
For me, as a young man, he has been, and always will be a personification of wisdom, courage and humanity. If everyone could be just half the great man he was, the world would be a much better place.
Thor Heyerdahl has always been an inspiration to me. By not specialising, he could always give us a broader picture. I will miss him and his work.
We had the pleasure and privilege of knowing him personally, and he will never ever be forgotten.
Thor Heyerdahl was my inspiration and probably the reason why I did so well in University. God rest his soul.
Chris B, England
If only humanity would embark more often on trips of his magnitude instead of wasting precious time and resources on futile things such as war. Mr Heyerdahl was one of a small circle of men who was able to overcome these petty thoughts and who brought us a little closer to who we really are; human beings on the same small planet, afloat on the great ocean of space.
A man who had the ability to live his life as he wished. His books were always an inspiration to me as a youngster.
He has just set sail on life's greatest adventure - goodbye Thor and I hope you encounter fair winds on your travels.
He will always be a hero in my heart.
As a young man I read his books. I now realise that they formed an important part in my own views on conservation. The world needs more men like Thor Heyerdahl.
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