• Galápagos
  • (1953)
  • The Kon-Tiki expedition was concluded in August 1947, and shortly thereafter Thor Heyerdahl began writing his scholarly work American Indians in the Pacific (1952).

    In September 1952, Heyerdahl met his most ardent critic, the ethnologist Alfred Metraux. Metraux showed Thor a photograph of a stone sculpture on the Galápagos Islands. It resembled stone sculptures in South America and on Easter Island.

    Heyerdahl contacted the Norwegian archeologists Arne Skjølsvold and Erik Reed, and in January 1953 they travelled to the Galápagos Islands to examine the sculpture.

    Once they arrived, the expedition team contacted German Heinz Wittmer and his family. Wittmer would be able to show them the way to the stone sculpture.

    The archeologists quickly assessed that the sculpture was of a much more recent date, and Wittmer confessed that he was in fact the one who had made it, for his son. Had Alfred Metraux tried to fool Thor Heyerdahl?

    Wittmer then told the team that material of archeological value could be found on his chicken farm. The expedition team started to excavate there.

    An Incan flute and many ceramic shards from ancient Ecuador were discovered. This led Heyerdahl, Reed and Skjølsvold to surmise the following: peoples native to South America had vessels capable of open-sea voyages long before the Spanish Conquistadors discovered the continent.

    Poster by Leif Henstad for Galapagos (1955).

    Thor Heyerdahl and Per Høst directed a feature documentary film in 1955 about the Galapagos expedition. The movie came with an original score by Sune Waldimir Engström.

    Heyerdahl’s Expeditions