Sarah Parcak crowdsources archaeology

The wish

GlobalXplorer

The winner

Sarah Parcak

The year

2016

I wish for us to discover the millions of unknown archaeological sites across the globe. By building an online citizen science platform and training a 21st century army of global explorers, we'll find and protect the world's hidden heritage, which contains clues to humankind's collective resilience and creativity.

The plan

What would happen if Indiana Jones and Google Earth had a love child? It would look something like GlobalXplorer, the citizen science platform that Sarah Parcak will launch in early 2017. This unique platform will enlist a global community, and enable anyone with an internet connection to discover the next hidden tomb or potential looting pit using satellite technology. The platform will use satellite imagery provided by DigitalGlobe, and highlight content from National Geographic. The platform will also be a hub for conversations on new sites found, past sites protected and the future of technology in archaeology.


Get involved

  1. Support the movement to crowdsource archaeology by making a small donation through GlobalXplorer.org
  2. Invest in GlobalXplorer, and help give lift-off to exciting supplementary projects. Email tedprize@ted.com about opportunities.
  3. Sign up for email updates to get early access to GlobalXplorer, plus occasional updates from Sarah Parcak and the TED Prize team.


About Sarah

Sarah Parcak is a satellite archeologist. She takes images collected from 450 miles above the Earth’s surfaces, and uses complex algorithms to see subtle changes to the vegetation below that signal manmade objects, hidden from view. Her methods have helped locate 17 potential pyramids in Egypt, in addition to 3,100 forgotten settlements and 1,000 lost tombs. A TED Senior Fellow and National Geographic Explorer, she has also made major discoveries throughout the Viking world and Roman Empire. Still, hundreds of thousands — even millions — of undiscovered ancient sites remain buried all over the world. Her goal: to help locate and protect them.

The winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Sarah revealed her wish to build a citizen science platform for archaeology at the annual TED Conference. It's a big idea to take her work to the next level, and to allow curious minds everywhere to help preserve our global heritage. Learn more about Sarah


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Sites from space

In 2010, no looting was visible at the archaeological site of Dashur and the pyramid of Amenemhet III. But in this image captured in 2013, major looting has taken place.

Sarah processes satellite data to find manmade materials underground. This bright pink area is the ancient city of Mendes in Egypt, long lost in the sands of time.