The Head-hunters of the North and the Polynesian Shadow: Thor Heyerdahl’s skull-collecting act on Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands, 1937

  • Victor Melander ANU
Keywords: Thor Heyerdahl, human remains collecting, craniology, Marquesas Islands

Abstract

This paper addresses Thor Heyerdahl’s skull-collecting act on Fatu Hiva in 1937 by approaching it from its historical context. Particular attention is paid to craniology as a scientific method, its purpose and the strong belief in its reliability during this period. It is also argued that the use of unauthorised collecting of human remains in contemporary travelogues, as elements of literary suspense and vehicles for the protagonist’s bravery, shows that the practice was largely socially accepted. Skull-collecting was viewed by the collector, from the perspective of a conservative world view, as a heroic act of protection and preservation.
Published
2017-03-02
How to Cite
Melander, V. (2017) “The Head-hunters of the North and the Polynesian Shadow: Thor Heyerdahl’s skull-collecting act on Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands, 1937”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 8(1), pp. 77-87. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/215 (Accessed: 15November2018).
Section
Articles