Solution for: The later life of Thor Heyerdahl

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The later life of Thor Heyerdahl

Right, well, for our presentation shall I start with the early life of Thor Heyerdahl?

Sure. Why don’t you begin with describing the type of boy he was, especially  his passion for collecting things. 

That’s right, he had his own little museum. And I think it’s unusual for children to develop their own values and not join in their parents’ hobbies;

I’m thinking of how Heyerdahl wouldn’t go hunting with his dad, for example.

Yeah, he preferred to learn about nature by listening to his mother read to him. And quite early on he knew he wanted to become an explorer when he grew up. That came from his camping trips he went on in Norway I think...

No,  it was climbing that he spent his time on as a young man. 

Oh, right... After university he married a classmate and together,   they decided to experience living on a small island, to find out how harsh weather conditions shaped people’s lifestyles. 

As part of their preparation before they left home, they learnt basic survival skills like building a shelter. I guess they needed that knowledge in order to live wild in a remote location with few inhabitants, cut off by the sea, which is whatthey were aiming to do.

An important part of your talk should be the radical theory Heyerdahl formed from examining mysterious ancient carvings that he happened to find on the island. I think you should finish with that.


All right, Victor, so after your part I’ll talk about Thor Heyerdahl’s adult life, continuing from the theory he had about Polynesian migration. Up until that time of course, academics had believed that humans first migrated to the islands in Polynesia from Asia, in the west.

Yes,they thought that travel from the east was impossible, because of the huge, empty stretch of ocean that lies between the islands and the nearest inhabited land. 

Yes, but Heyerdahl spent ages studying the cloud movements, ocean currents and wind patterns to find if it was actually possible. And another communities lying to the east of Polynesia. But Heyerdahl knew they made lots of coastal voyages in locally built canoes.

Yes, or sailing on rafts, as was shown by the long voyage that Heyerdahl

did next. It was an incredibly risky journey to undertake - sometimes I wonder if he did that trip for private reasons, you know? To show others that he could have spectacular adventures. What do you think, Olivia?

Well, I think it was more a matter of simply trying out his idea, to see if migration from the east was possible. 

Yes, that's probably it. And the poor guy suffered a bit at that time because the war forced him to stop his work for some years ...

Yes. When he got started again and planned his epic voyage, do you think it was important to him that he achieve it-before anyone else did?

Urn, I haven’t read anywhere that that was his motivation. The most important factor seems to have been that he use only ancient techniques and local materials to build his raft. 

Yes. I wonder how fast it went.

Well, it took them 97 days from South America to the Pacific Islands.

Mm. And after that, Heyerdahl went to Easter Island, didn't he? We should mention the purpose of that trip. I think he sailed there in a boat made out of reeds.

No, that was later on in Egypt, Olivia.

Oh, yes, that’s right.

But what he wanted to do was talk to the local people about their old stone carvings and then make one himself to learn more about the process. 

I see. Well, what a great life. Even though many of his theories have

been disproven, he certainly left a lasting impression on many disciplines, didn’t he? To my mind, he was the first person to establish what modern academics call practical archaeology. I mean, that they try to recreate something from the past today, like he did with his raft trip. It’s unfortunate that his ideas about where Polynesians originated from have been completely discredited. 

Yes. Right, well, I'll prepare a PowerPoint slide at the end that acknowledges our sources. I mainly used The Life and Work of Thor Heyerdahl by William Oliver. I thought the research methods he used were very sound, although I must say I found the overall tone somewhat old-fashioned. I think they need to do a new, revised edition. 

Yeah, I agree. What about the subject matter - I found it really challenging!

Well, it's a complex issue ...

I thought the book had lots of good points. What did you think of...


Questions 1-2

Choose TWO letters, A-E.

Which TWO hobbies was Thor Heyerdahl very interested in as a youth?

A camping

B climbing

C collecting

D hunting

E reading
1. Answer: B, C IN EITHER ORDER    Locate  Listen from here
2. Answer: B, C IN EITHER ORDER    Locate  Listen from here

Questions 3-4

Choose TWO letters, A-E.

Which do the speakers say are the TWO reasons why Heyerdahl went to live on an island?

A to examine ancient carvings

B to experience an isolated place

C to formulate a new theory

D to learn survival skills

E to study the impact of an extreme environment

3. Answer: B, E IN EITHER ORDER    Locate  Listen from here
4. Answer: B, E IN EITHER ORDER    Locate  Listen from here


Questions 5-10

Choose the correct letter A, B or C.

The later life of Thor Heyerdahl

5.   According to Victor and Olivia, academics thought that Polynesian migration from the east was impossible due to

A  the fact that Eastern countries were far away.

B the lack of materials for boat building.

C the direction of the winds and currents.
Answer: A    Locate  Listen from here

6.   Which do the speakers agree was the main reason for Heyerdahl’s raft journey?

A to overcome a research setback

B to demonstrate a personal quality

C to test a new theory
Answer: C    Locate  Listen from here

7.   What was most important to Heyerdahl about his raft journey?

A the fact that he was the first person to do it

B the speed of crossing the Pacific

C the use of authentic construction methods
Answer: C    Locate  Listen from here

8.   Why did Heyerdahl go to Easter Island?

A to build a stone statue

B to sail a reed boat

C to learn the local language
Answer: A    Locate  Listen from here

9.   In Olivia’s opinion, Heyerdahl’s greatest influence was on

A theories about Polynesian origins.

B the development of archaeological methodology.

C establishing archaeology as an academic subject.
Answer: B    Locate  Listen from here

10. Which criticism do the speakers make of William Oliver’s textbook?

A Its style is out of date.

B Its content is over-simplified.

C Its methodology is flawed.
Answer: A    Locate  Listen from here

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