Thor Heyerdahl - Sea Routes To Polynesia

Balsa Raft in Aboriginal Navigation of Peru & Ecuador

Page 3/6

Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl
Aboriginal navigation in Peru and adjoining sections of north-western South America is a subject that is little known and still less understood by modern boat builders and anthropologist. The apparent reason is that the Peruvian Indian boat building was based on principles entirely different from those of our ancestry. To the European mind the only seaworthy vessel is one made buoyant by a watertight, air-filled hull, so big and high that it cannot be filled by the waves.

To the ancient Peruvians the only seaworthy craft was one which could never be filled by water because it's open construction formed no receptacle to retain the invading seas, which washed through. They achieved this by building exceedingly buoyant rafts of Balsa wood.

This type of Peruvian Balsa raft could travel as far as the islands of Polynesia, 4000 miles away. The first record of a Peruvian Balsa raft antedates the actual discovery of the Inca Empire. When Francisco Pizarro left the Panama Isthmus in 1526 on his second voyage of discovery down the Pacific coast of South America; his expedition found Peruvian merchants sailors at sea long before he discovered their country.

His Pilot was sailing ahead to explore the coast southwards near the equator, when off northern Ecuador his ship suddenly met another sailing vessel of almost equal size, coming in the opposite direction.

Thor Heyerdahl Native Balsa Raft
Native Balsa Raft
Sketch by F.E. Paris (1841) showing construction of a native balsa raft from the north-west coast of South America. The maximum length of raft is 80-90 feet, maximum width of a raft is 25-30 feet with a freight capacity of 20-25 tons.
The raft was manned by 20 Indian men and women, 11 of whom were thrown overboard, four were left with the raft, and two men and three women were retained by the Spanish to be trained as interpreters for later voyages. The Spaniards estimated the raft capacity at 36 tons, only a fraction less than their own vessel.

Their report stated that it carried masts and yards of very fine wood, and cotton sails in the same shape and manner as on their own ships. It had very good rigging of hemp, stronger than their own rope, and mooring stones for anchors. Many similar accounts described rafts made of long and light logs, always of odd number, 5,7,9 or 11, tied together with cross beams and covered by a deck. The larger ones had the ability to carry up to 50 men and three horses, and had a special cooking place on board in a thatched hut. The cargoes often included salt, another proof of their seaworthiness.

These rafts are navigated simply by raising and lowering centreboards inserted in the cracks between the logs. By raising and lowering these boards in different parts of the Balsa raft, the natives could perform on their raft all the manoeuvres of a regularly built and well rigged European vessel, and obtain speeds of 4 to 5 knots. Tiny models of the rafts have been found in graves, along with carved centreboards, near Arica in northern Chile. The sail was probably know on the Peruvian coast earlier than pottery and weaving.
The Statues of Easter Island
Coconuts on Cocos Island
Balsa Raft in Aboriginal Navigation of Peru & Ecuador
Feasible Ocean Routes in Pre-Columbian Times
The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki Film
Scandinavian Rock Art Index
Easter Island Section
Bradshaw Foundation
Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter to receive news & updates:
Support our work & become a
Friend of the Foundation
Bradshaw Foundation Twitter @BrashawFND
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Bibliographic Database Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Privacy Policy Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Sri Lanka Archive Index Rock Paintings & Engravings Sri Lanka Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery A Cultural Memory Izzy Wisher Biography Deer-tooth necklace Cave Art Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation