2016 TED Prize winner

The wish

Global Xplorer

The winner

Sarah Parcak

The year

TED2016

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 Global Xplorer, the citizen science-based game that Sarah Parcak will launch later this year. This unique platform will enlist a global community, and enable anyone to discover the next hidden tomb or potential looting pit using satellite technology. A responsive website will house this game, and will double as a forum for conversation on new discoveries found, past sites saved, and the future of technology in archaeology.


Get involved

Sign up for email updates. Be the first to know when the Global Xplorer platform is available in beta, when you can share it with friends and family, and when new discoveries are made using it. Plus, news from Sarah and occasional updates from the TED Prize team.

Fund the project. The $1 million TED Prize will support the building of the basic Global Xplorer platform, but it's your support that will help us add important functionality and get lift-off on exciting supplementary projects. For information on funding opportunities, please email tedprize@ted.com.


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. She's also made major discoveries throughout the Roman Empire. Still, hundreds of thousands — even millions — of undiscovered ancient sites remain buried around the world. Her goal: to help locate and protect them.

The winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Sarah revealed her wish to build the citizen science platform, Global Xplorer, at the annual TED Conference on February 16. It's a big idea to take her work to the next level and allow curious minds everywhere to help preserve our global heritage. Learn more about Sarah


News from Sarah

The destructive way terrorists make money

Terrorists make headlines by destroying ancient sites like Palmyra, in Syria. But there’s an even more sinister endgame, as archaeologist and TED Prize winner Sarah Parcak expla...

The many wonders of space archaeology

Strange as it may seem, archaeologists often look to the sky to discover sites buried deep beneath the earth. Space archaeology, as it’s called, refers to the use of high-resol...
News from Sarah Parcak

Watch Sarah's TED Talk


Learn more


Recent press


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.