The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas
London. George Allen & Unwin. 1950.
First English edition; 8vo original cloth boards and dust jacket. Translated by F.K. Lyon. Signed by the author on the front free end paper. In 1947, Heyerdahl and five companions sailed from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia in a raft constructed from balsa wood.. The Kon-Tiki expedition was inspired by reports made by the Spanish Conquistadors of Inca rafts, and by native legends and archaeological evidence suggesting contact between South America and Polynesia. Kon-Tiki reached the Tuamotu Islands, on August 7, 1947, after a 101-day, 4,300-nautical-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean. Kon-Tiki demonstrated that it was possible for a primitive raft to sail the Pacific with relative ease and safety, especially to the west (with the trade winds). The raft proved to be highly manoeuvrable, and fish congregated between the nine balsa logs in such numbers that aancient sailors could have possibly relied on fish for hydration in the absence of other sources of fresh water. Other rafts have repeated the voyage, inspired by Kon-Tiki. However anthropologists continue to believe that Polynesia was settled from west to east, based on linguistic, physical, and genetic evidence, migration having begun from the Asian mainland. There are indications, though, of some sort of South American/Polynesian contact, most notably in the fact that the South American sweet potato is served as a dietary staple throughout much of Polynesia. Blood samples from Easter Islanders without external descent were analysed in a 2011 study, which concluded that the evidence supported some aspects of Heyerdahl's hypothesis. Heyerdahl attempted to counter the linguistic argument with the analogy that he would prefer to believe that African-Americans came from Africa, judging from their skin colour, and not from England, judging from their speech. A near fine copy with a little foxing to endpapers and a little wear to the extremities. The dust jacket is very good with a little wear to the extremities, a few short tears, slight loss to head and foot of spine and some foxing to the verso. Scarce signed.