Sarah Parcak: Hunting for Peru's lost civilizations -- with satellites
Sarah Parcak - Satellite archaeologist + TED Prize winner
Like a modern-day Indiana Jones, Sarah Parcak uses satellite images to locate lost ancient sites. The winner of the 2016 TED Prize, her wish will help protect the world’s cultural heritage. Full bio
set out from his rainforest camp
the dense rainforest foliage
maze of structures
by National Geographic,
of its magazine in 1912.
on an incredible journey with me,
than use state-of-the-art technology
more open, inclusive,
not previously possible.
the 2016 TED Prize platform
Hiram Bingham's impossible dream
of human figures.
with some incredible organizations,
the world's largest provider
commercial satellite imagery.
platform they have.
and search for the airplane.
with the satellite imagery.
with education and of course exploration.
with rich content for the platform,
like you saw at the beginning of this talk
to build and plan the platform,
at some of the satellite imagery.
is 0.3-meter data.
in northern Peru.
but let's zoom in.
that you all will get to see.
to find previously unknown sites.
is that as part of the platform,
thousands of previously unknown sites,
to uncover large-scale looting at sites,
is that all of this data
with archaeologists on the front lines
meeting with their Minister of Culture
in both English and Spanish,
Latin America can participate.
is the gentleman you see here,
and former vice-minister,
and share the data with archaeologists
these sites on the ground.
drone mapping program,
you can see behind me here and here.
into the platform,
some of the new sites you help find.
with education, outreach,
most well-known archaeological sites.
and business training.
to create beautiful handicrafts
to treasure their cultural heritage
with 24 of these women
called Pachacamac, just outside Lima.
will help us transform communities
that you help to discover.
this platform to the world,
thousands of emails
professors, educators, students,
who are so excited to help participate.
amazing places for us to help discover,
to be looking for Atlantis,
to launch this platform.
by the end of the year.
in the past few weeks are any indication,
is just going to be beyond imagination.
About the speaker:Sarah Parcak - Satellite archaeologist + TED Prize winner
Like a modern-day Indiana Jones, Sarah Parcak uses satellite images to locate lost ancient sites. The winner of the 2016 TED Prize, her wish will help protect the world’s cultural heritage.
Why you should listen
There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe. Sarah Parcak wants to locate them. As a space archaeologist, she analyzes infrared imagery collected from far above the Earth’s surface and identifies subtle changes that signal a manmade presence hidden from view. A TED Senior Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer, she founded the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her goal: to make the world's invisible history visible once again.
Parcak was inspired by her grandfather, an early pioneer of aerial photography. While studying Egyptology in college, she took a class on remote sensing and went on to develop a technique for processing satellite data to see sites of archaeological significance. She wrote the first textbook on satellite archaeology, which allows for the discovery of new sites in a rapid and cost-effective way. In Egypt, her techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 forgotten settlements and 1,000 lost tombs. She's also made major discoveries in the Viking world and Roman Empire, and appeared in the BBC documentary Rome’s Lost Empire and the PBS Nova special, Vikings Unearthed.
Parcak's method also provides a way to see how ancient sites are being affected by looting and urban encroachment. By satellite-mapping Egypt and comparing sites over time, she’s noted a 1,000 percent increase in looting since 2009 at major sites. It’s likely that millions of dollars worth of artifacts are stolen each year. Parcak hopes that, through mapping, unknown sites can be protected to preserve our rich, vibrant history.
As the winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Sarah is building a citizen science platform, called GlobalXplorer, which will enable anyone with an internet connection to discover the next unknown tomb or potential looting pit. GlobalXplorer will launch in early 2017. Sign up for email updates and get early access »
Sarah Parcak | Speaker | TED.com