Thor Heyerdahl Mini Exhibition Center

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Mini Exhibition Center devoted to the honorary professor of Western University, Thor Heyerdahl.

The centre has officially opened during the Thor Heyerdahl Film Festival week, May 12-20, 2014. It is dedicated to the commemoration of his 100th birthday.

The exhibition centre, which is permanently located on the second floor of the main building of Western University, contains archival materials related to his work such as documentary films, articles for journals and magazines, books about his expeditions, memoirs - some of which were written by Heyerdahl himself, handwritten postcards and images from his great journeys in addition to photographs from his visits to Azerbaijan.



The following books about Tur Heyerdal have been translated into the Azerbaijani language by Western University:

1) The Kon-Tiki Expedition

2) The Ra Expeditions

3) Exploration series I-IX

An honorary professor of Western University, Thor Heyerdahl was a world-renowned explorer, archaeologist and ethnographer, who dared to challenge scientific thinking by sailing on primitive rafts and boats across immense oceans to justify his views on human migration. Heyerdahl said his life was dominated by three challenges: to live in harmony with nature and protect it; to make his mark on the scientific community; and to build on his conception of the basic unity of mankind.

Western University expresses the most sincere gratitude to Betty Blair, editor of Azerbaijan International Magazine, for her great contribution in arranging the Mini Exhibition Center.

Gifted to Western University from The Kon-Tiki Museum via Betty Blair

Replica models:

On the left: The balsa wood raft from the Kon-Tiki Expedition (1947)

On the right: The reed boat, RA II, from the Ra Expeditions (1969-1970)

In the center front are sample souvenir pieces from the original vessels and behind, a card from the Kon-Tiki Museum confirming the authenticity of the pieces.

1.Balsa wood from the Kon-Tiki raft. (on top)

2.Papyrus from the reed boat RA II. (underneath)


The Reader’s Digest

Published on November 1947 after Heyerdahls "Kon-Tiki” expedition, the magazine contains an article written by the explorer himself describing his four months on an Ocean Raft.

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Commemorative Stamps

Special post stamps featuring Gobustan sponsored by Statoil on the occasion of the opening of Statoil’s new office in Azerbaijan in May 1999 with Thor Heyerdahl as an honorary guest.

The folder has a photo of Heyerdahl at Gobustan (from 1994) and the text summarizes his Odin theory suggesting that Scandinavia was populated (at least in part) by emigrants from the Caucasus region.

It was given as a souvenir to invited guests and contained stamps with Gobustan motifs, including a First Day Envelope from 1997. The stamps were produced to honour the Gobustan site. In 2007, Gobustan was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

First Day Cover with Tahiti stamps dated August 26, 1947.

This envelope has a unique history. It was one of about 2,000 envelopes that was printed in Norway and was stashed away in a water-proof box for the entire duration of the Kon-Tiki voyage - 101 days, nearly 5,000 miles. The art work was drawn by Eric Hesselberg and as the story goes, the crew thought of this idea late in preparations and hardly had any money left for the preparations of the voyage. So they were only able to print 2,000 copies. This specific envelope was sent by Eric Hesselberg (crew member of the Kon-Tiki Expedition) to himself using the Polynesian name Tane Materau that he had been given. Most of the envelopes were put back on the Kon-Tiki raft when it was shipped back to Oslo, Norway. In 1971 when the Kon-Tiki museum was built, the crew members who were still alive (5 of them) gathered. The envelopes had been found and they were divided up among the remaining crew members. The envelope is a special gift from Eric Hesselberg's daughter, Anne-Karin Hesselberg, via Betty Blair to Western University for the Heyerdahl Mini Collection.

Other commemorative paraphernalia

Post card of Heyerdahl on Easter Island. On the backside is a hand-written quote by Thor Heyerdahl written in 1995: "What you build on truth nobody can overthrow”.

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An old postcard of the Main square in Callao, Peru, port city near Lima from which the Kon-Tiki raft was launched. (28 April,1947)

There is a Kon-Tiki raft toy kit made from balsa wood for kids dating back to the 1950s or 1960s. It has not been assembled. This item shows how popular Thor Heyerdahl was in the imagination of the public as wooden balsa boats were manufactured as kits for children to assemble.

The kit was made by Ottar Lilleengen Nygard of Norway.

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Thor Heyerdahl’s interest in the Caucasus was first inspired by his visit to Azerbaijan in August 1981. Below are photographs from that initial visit.

It was Hasan Aliyev who invited Heyerdahl to Azerbaijan, on a trip funded by the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. It was also him who suggested to Heyerdahl that the links between Azerbaijan and Scandinavia might be truly ancient.

Thor Heyerdahl’s Search for Odin

Ancient Links between Azerbaijan and Scandinavia?

In developing the Odin theory, Thor Heyerdahl was inspired by petroglyphs, place-names and a Roman inscription in Azerbaijan, and he found confirmation in the medieval Icelandic "Sagas of Norwegian Kings” by Snorri Sturluson.

The Odin theory is basically a theory of migration.

photo of the Xerox copy of "The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson tales from the norse mythology

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page 43: This is the passage that caused Thor Heyerdahl to start thinking about the links between Azerbaijan and Scandinavia.

The Snorri text was found at the university of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1995

Betty Blair Editor, Azerbaijan International Magazine.

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The Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel is an educational animated series that ran in the early 1970s. Produced by Shamus Culhane for Krantz Films, the program combined film clips, animation, and commentary to teach the viewers about historic and cultural events.

16mm film stock: educational film cartoon animation by Prof. Kitzel about Thor Heyerdahl. 1972. Again, this is an example of how popular Heyerdahl was. From Betty Blair.