‘Kon-Tiki’s Wake’ comes to PLU

Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 voyage on the Kon-Tiki has inspired everything from books to films to recreations of the voyage — which was itself a recreation.

The Norwegian ethonographer set out on his balsa wood raft to prove his idea that ancient Polynesians could have traveled vast distances in the South Pacific.

On Thursday (Oct. 15), the first Thor Heyerdahl Lecture will take place at Pacific Lutheran University.

The speaker, Peter Capelotti, will be talking about the many expeditions and adventures inspired by Heyerdahl's work in the lecture titled, “In Kon-Tiki’s Wake.”

The Penn State University professor has written several books on sea explorers, including Heyerdahl.

The 7 p.m. lecture at PLU's Scandinavian Cultural Center was organized by Heyerdahl’s former research assistant and now current professor of archaeology at PLU, Donald Ryan.

“Some built balsa rafts after reading ‘Kon-Tiki’ and there were reed boat expeditions after Ra I, II and the Tigris,” Ryan said, referring to Heyerdahl’s book and later expeditions.

In addition to his work with Heyerdahl, Ryan is an accomplished Egyptologist. In 2010 he published “Beneath the Sands of Egypt,” a memoir of his adventures there.

And those Heyerdahl recreators? They’re still sailing the seas.

Two Kon-Tiki-like rafts will be leaving South America in November to travel to Easter Island and return, Ryan said.


WHAT: Thor Heyerdahl Lecture.

WHO: Peter Capelotti, professor of anthropology, Penn State

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 15).

WHERE: Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University.