Roggen, Vibeke (ed.): Thor Heyerdahl's Search for Odin

Roggen, Vibeke (ed.): Thor Heyerdahl's Search for Odin

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Ancient Links between Azerbaijan and Scandinavia?

Thor Heyerdahl (1914–2002) became world-­famous with his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition across the Pacific on a balsa raft. He followed with other expeditions – the Ra and Ra II and the Tigris – and also organized numerous archaeological digs in unexpected places. His books have sold millions of copies...

Less known is Heyerdahl’s interest in the Caucasus, which was first triggered by a visit to Azerbaijan where he saw the boat petroglyphs in Gobustan. As a result, Heyerdahl was convinced there had been migrations ­between this region and his homeland in Scandinavia. He found confirmation in Snorri Sturluson’s medieval saga about Odin’s journey from the Caucasus.
Thor Heyerdahl’s Search for Odin deals with issues related to Heyerdahl’s insistence on early man’s relationship between the two regions, which was discussed at the Thor Heyerdahl Conference (Baku 2011) by experts in fields such as archaeology, history, music and philology. The forum was a cooperative effort between universities in Azerbaijan and Norway and served as a catalyst in the creation of this book, which ­documents much of the research to date related to Heyerdahl’s theory – both supportive, as well as critical, of it.


Table of Contents

To the Reader, I

Forewords, VII

• Espen Barth Eide, VII

• Husein Baghirov, IX

• Samad Seyidov, XI

• Thor Heyerdahl Jr, XIV


Vibeke Roggen: Academic cooperation between different cultures, 1


Part I. Thor Heyerdahl and Azerbaijan, 14

Rasim Garaja: A role model, 17

Christer D. Daatland: Heyerdahl the man, 20

Maja Bauge: Thor Heyerdahl’s work: A survey, 29

Thor Heyerdahl Jr: My Father Thor Heyerdahl, 37

Tore Seierstad: Thor Heyerdahl and Jacqueline Beer’s visit to Azerbaijan in September 2000, 46

Robert Mobili: Thor Heyerdahl and the Udi people, 53

Vusala Elshad qizi Afandiyeva: Thor Heyerdahl’s role in the development of relations between Norway and Azerbaijan, 60

Vibeke Roggen and Line Kristin Haug: Heyerdahl-related events, 70

.... • Thor Heyerdahl’s visits to Azerbaijan: 1981, 1994, 1999, 2000, 73

.... • President Heydar Aliyev visits Norway in 1996, 78

.... • Prime Minister Artur Rasizade visits Norway in 2001, 79

.... • Heyerdahl bust unveiled in 2008, 81

.... • First ever Heyerdahl conference held in Baku, 2011, 82

.... • President Ilham Aliyev meets with Heyerdahl’s relatives in 2011, 85

.... • Honorary professorship presented in 2011, 86

.... • Presentation in Baku History Club, 88

.... • Heyerdahl books published in Azerbaijani in later years, 88

.... • Exhibition in Baku: “Thor Heyerdahl – the Kon-Tiki Man”, 2012, 90

.... • Bikers on the track of Odin and Heyerdahl, 2013, 92

.... • DNA-testing in Azerbaijan, 2013, 93


Part II. Thor Heyerdahl and literature, 98

Dilgam Ahmad: Kon-Tiki – a poem, 100

Bente Christensen: Thor Heyerdahl – Literary Writer, 103

Betty Blair: Book presentations, 115

.... • Kon-Tiki and I by Erik Hesselberg (1914–1972), 115

.... • In the Footsteps of Adam, A Memoir by Thor Heyerdahl, 118

.... • Thor Heyerdahl: Beyond Borders, Beyond Seas – Links to Azerbaijan, 123

Yuri Mamedov: Thor Heyerdahl – a poem, 128


Part III. Heyerdahl’s theory about migration from the Caucasus to Scandinavia, 130

Vibeke Roggen: Azerbaijan and Thor Heyerdahl, 133

Christer D. Daatland: Heyerdahl’s “Odin theory”: The book behind the controversy, 145

Jon Ramberg: Thor’s ‘right to make claims’, 153

Jon Gunnar Jørgensen: Snorri and the origin of the Odin theory, 156

Vibeke Roggen: Between Snorri and Heyerdahl: The Odin theory around 1700, 165

Archaeologists in Gobustan, 182

Goshgar Goshgarli: Thor Heyerdahl and Azerbaijani Archaeology, 185

Malahat Farajova: Boats in Rock Art of Gobustan, 191

Knut Helskog: Petroglyphs of boats as evidence of contact between the Caspian Sea and Scandinavia, 202


Archaeologists in Azov, 220

Sergey Lukyashko: Thor Heyerdahl’s archaeological expedition to Azov and prospects for the development of archaeology in south-eastern Europe, 223

J. Bjørnar Storfjell: Scandinavians in Scythia: Thor Heyerdahl’s interpretation of Snorri tested by the archaeologist’s trowel, 235

Comparisons – similarities – connections –?, 250

Hallvard T. Bjørgum: The Quest for Linkages between Caucasian and Norwegian Folklore and Folk Music, 253

Farda Asadov: What do Arab sources say about Scandinavians in the Caspian before mid-9th century CE?, 271

Gorkhmaz Mustafayev: Thor Heyerdahl on the trail of the Vikings, 280

Siv Kristoffersen: The long run. Migrating (?) animal motifs, 294

Farah Jalil: Eschatology of Mythical Figures in Turkic and Scandinavian Epics (based on a comparison of Kechal and Loki), 307

Isa Habibbeyli and Nazim Bababeyli: Petroglyphs in Alta (Norway) and Gemigaya (Azerbaijan): Are there analogous motifs?, 317

Vibeke Roggen: Heyerdahl’s linguistic arguments, 325

DNA-testing of Medieval material in Norway, 335


Appendices and surveys, 338

Appendix I. On languages in this book, 341

Appendix II. Conference programme, 353

Presentation of contributors, 358

Select bibliography, 361

List of illustrations and their origins, 370

Index, 374

Map of Viking expansion and Scandinavian settlement from the 8th to the 11th centuries, back endpaper


ISBN 978-82-7099-738-1, 399 pp., hardcover
Format: 17x24 cm, weight 1 kg, year of publication 2014, language: English

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