Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 6

October 6 is the birthdate of Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, who gained fame in 1947 for his expedition in Kon-Tiki, a raft he built and sailed on an 8,000-mile journey in the Pacific from South America to the Tuamotu Islands (French Polynesia). His journey was part of an effort to reinforce the concept of “cultural diffusion” whereby elements of culture (e.g., ideas, styles, religions, technologies, languages) are spread within a single culture or from one culture to another. Heyerdahl proposed that similarities between the culture of Polynesia and pre-Columbian civilizations in the Andes resulted from diffusion from the latter to the former. This theory has been disputed and currently has few supporters among professional anthropologists.

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