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Sarah Parcak plans to make you a space archaeologist too as the winner of the TED Prize intends to use her 1 million dollar prize for an online platform.
The online platform should become a hub for amateur archaeologists willing to make a difference in the world. Specialists in the field and amateurs alike are welcome to lend a helping hand to the University of Alabama at Birmingham professor in finding ancient sites hidden in the dust of time.
Most of all, Sarah Parcak has made it her personal mission to fight crimes committed against these ancient sites. Looting and the purchase of precious artifacts on the black market go against the professor’s believes. Particularly when the funds obtained from the illegal selling of artifacts are funneled into terrorism-related activities, drug trafficking or other illegal mechanisms further employed to harm societies as a whole.
Sarah Parcak calls herself a space archaeologist. If you followed her TED talks, you know what this means. As a quick reminder, she makes use of satellite imagery to locate ancient sites and looters in the process. However, as most superheroes come to realize, she needs trusted sidekicks.
As such, Sarah Parcak plans to make you a space archaeologist too. According to the space archaeologist, the 1 million dollars TED Prize will be used to create an online platform. The interactive platform should be a hub for citizen science, acting as an alarm system at the global level.
Sarah believes that it’s high time for archaeology to become more democratic. A short history of archaeology brings forth some interesting facts. From a field reserved to the aristocracy it became the scientific field reserved to men, and then to scientists. Now it’s time to engage the world and give everyone ownership of the global cultural heritage.
In her TED talk delivered in Vancouver, Sarah Parcak declared that:
“By creating 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”.
Sarah makes use of infrared imagery collected via satellites and unveils the most exciting ancient sites. Perhaps the space archaeologist is best known for her anti-looting campaign in Egypt. It was here that ongoing looting has almost depleted some known sites and destroyed valuable artifacts.
Parcak’s team collected evidence indicating 267 sites were looting occurred. Moreover, 200,000 looting pits were uncovered in the process. Following 2009, the situation worsened. The political crisis in Egypt and the revolution brought about a spike in looting pits numbers. ISIS is intimately related with the looting and selling of valuable artifacts on the black market. The entwining of economic and political circumstances puts the country’s material cultural heritage in peril.
As such, the space archaeologist is fighting tooth and nail to protect ancient sites and the cultural heritage they bear. Uncovering ancient sites is part and parcel of her job. Using modern technology to do so opens up more pathways.
For instance, in 2011 the space archaeologist and her team identified the sites for another 17 potential pyramids in Egypt. In addition, 3,000 ancient settlements buried under the sands of time and 1,000 forgotten tombs were revealed thanks to infrared imagery.
Sarah Parcak’s plan is to offer anyone with an internet connection and the will to help the opportunity to do so. The online platform should become a powerful tool against looters and for protecting the world’s cultural heritage while employing citizen science.
The citizen science platform is due to launch this summer under the name Global Xplorer. Sarah Parcak plans to make you a space archaeologist too. All you have to do is accept the offer and join Global Xplorer.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia