UAB space archaeologist Sarah Parcak on a mission to unearth Peru’s lost civilizations

Sarah Parcak

World-renowned “space archaeologist” and UAB professor Sarah Parcak is mission-focused: to find hundreds of thousands of lost, ancient sites buried beneath the earth before looters do.

No easy feat, Parcak, the 2016 TED Prize winner — a highly-coveted $1 million grant that is awarded annually to one exceptional individual whose creative, bold vision sparks global change — will use her winnings to create an online tool that will train and enlist an army of volunteers across the globe to aid in her quest.

Parcak announced the platform, Global Xplorer, at the recent TED Summit in Canada.

There, she explained the  platform will partner with DigitalGlobe and National Geographic, also working closely with UNESCO, and will allow anyone to help discover unknown archaeological sites. Archaeologist, together with citizen scientists, will help discover previously unknown sites and track looting of known sites.

Across the globe, the UAB archaeologist is already helping countries preserve history by using satellites identifying ancient sites lost in time. In Egypt alone, Parcak helped locate 17 potential pyramids, plus an additional 1,000 forgotten tombs and 3,100 unknown settlements. She’s discovered even more throughout the Roman Empire.

Sarah “uses 21st century technology to make the world’s invisible history visible again,” the TED blog explained.

In the first exploration with Global Xplorer, Parcak said she and her team will look to map an entire country, Peru — the home of Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines and other archaeological wonders waiting to be discovered.

We will do nothing less than use state-of-the-art technology to map an entire country,” said Parcak at the TED Summit. “This is a dream started by Hiram Bingham, but we are expanding it to the world, making archaeological exploration more open, inclusive, and at a scale simply not previously possible.”

Slated to launch January 2017, the platform will be available in both Spanish and English, it will be accessible to people in Peru and across Latin America with plans to include more and more languages over time.

Those interested, may join the project by clicking here.

You can watch Parcak’s latest TED Ted about the Global Xplorer project, from the recent TED Summit here:

Noteworthy updates include:

  • Global Xplorer will launch in Peru and use state-of-the art satellite technology to map the entire country – an archaeological feat more open, inclusive and advanced than anything before