His legacy carries on

Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (left) was honored by Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., in 1996. During that event, he was introduced during the ceremony by colleague Dr. Donald Ryan of PLU. This year Dr. Ryan will give a presentation about Heyerdahl on Feb. 11 as part of the Nordic Spirit Symposium at California Lutheran University. Photo: Richard Londgren

Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (left) was honored by Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., in 1996. During that event, he was introduced during the ceremony by colleague Dr. Donald Ryan of PLU. This year Dr. Ryan will give a presentation about Heyerdahl on Feb. 11 as part of the Nordic Spirit Symposium at California Lutheran University. Photo: Richard Londgren

Thor Heyerdahl’s explorations will be featured in a presentation by colleague Donald Ryan to open annual Nordic Spirit Symposium at California Lutheran University

By Richard Londgren

Director of the Scandinavian Center

California Lutheran University

When the Nordic Spirit Symposium starts Feb. 11 at California Lutheran University, Dr. Donald Ryan of Pacific Lutheran University will open the 12th annual event with a presentation about the late Thor Heyerdahl of Norway.

During his presentation that evening, Ryan will share highlights of his seven years of close association with Heyerdahl. He explained that their collaboration began when they accidentally met in the library of the Royal Geographic Society in London. For Ryan, that became the fulfillment of a dream that began when he was an 8-year-old intrigued with Heyerdahl’s journey across the Pacific on the raft Kon-Tiki.

At the time of the meeting in London, archaeologist Ryan had already gained significant recognition based on his excavations in Egypt, but his interest expanded as he learned more about the wide-ranging explorations of Heyerdahl.

In Ryan’s recently published book, “Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist,” he brings both worlds of exploration together as he includes information about his association with Heyerdahl as well as his own focus on Egypt. For instance, he reports that as a member of the Explorers Club, he was privileged to borrow the Club’s flag from the Kon-Tiki to take on an expedition to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

During his presentation, Ryan will note Heyerdahl’s success with publishing and movies in stating the possibility of primitive sailing across the Atlantic and the Persian Gulf as well as the Pacific. And he will share insights about the continuing controversy between Heyerdahl and the anthropological establishment.

The Nordic Spirit Symposium will continue the next day, Saturday, Feb. 12, with a variety of other presenters and entertainers. With a theme of “The Nordic Explorers: Voyages, Expeditions and Discoveries,” it is a project of the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation (SACHF) of Thousand Oaks, Calif. For more information about the schedule, participants, registration, costs and directions, log on www.ScandinavianCenter.org.

This article was originally published in the Feb. 4, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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