To struggle to survive. . .
– THE KON-TIKI VOYAGE, 1947 –
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest mainland, lie the islands of Polynesia. On some of the islands, there are ancient roads and buildings. These show that there have been ancient civilizations on the island. The most mysterious of the Polynesian Islands is Easter Island, where there are giant heads made of stone.
Some of them are as tall as a four-storey building. These are very old.
Obviously men have been living on these islands for a long, long time. But how did the islanders first get to the islands so long ago, and how did they do it when there weren’t any big ships?
These are some of the questions which are difficult to answer. Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian explorer, thought he had the answer to the mystery. He believed the people from Ancient Peru sailed more than 6000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean on their small rafts to start a new life on the islands of Polynesia.
Nobody believed Heyerdahl because they knew that the people of ancient Peru only had wooden rafts to sail on.
How did the people sail from Peru to the islands?
Heyerdahl wanted to show everybody that his theory was right. Together with four friends, he started to build a raft like those of the ancient Peruvians. When it was finished they called it Kon-Tiki, the name of an ancient god. They spent a long time planning their journey and deciding what to take with them.
The natural movement of the water (a current called the Peru Current), carried them west.
Although they had lots of problems during their journey with the weather and sharks, the boat was fine – it didn’t sink. After 102 hard days at sea, the explorers arrived on one of the Polynesian Islands. Heyerdahl proved it was possible.