Sarah Parcak: Help discover ancient ruins -- before it's too late
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
what my favorite discovery is.
unexpected, wonderful things.
in front of our favorite pair statue
Rahotep and Nofret,
to spend the rest of this life with me,
in front of two people
to be together for eternity.
because when we look at them,
is as powerful as love,
seductive mistress imaginable.
have devoted their lives
I worked at a site
called Mendes, dating to 4,200 years ago,
by emerald green rice paddies,
left by whoever made the vessel.
we are in the midst of the great past.
in front of the Pyramids of Giza,
person in the world.
and everything that is possible.
their brilliance as human --
is get up close and personal,
by the tools that built them.
was built one stone at a time
that stand the test of time;
jokes from Mesopotamia
cursing each other
from 3,300 years ago in Luxor:
who cut class to go drinking.
a selfie in stone --
rocked serious bling.
and the thousands of cultures
and a leap of faith
incredible discoveries, including:
ever discovered --
of medical implements found
used to treat syphilis.
incredibly important discoveries
important thing we do as archaeologists
what the world would be like today
human beings in this way?
is a WorldView-3 satellite image,
from 400 miles in space
and process them using algorithms,
in the light spectrum
under the ground
just south of Cairo.
using algorithms --
to see it in thousands of years.
scratched the surface
than one-1000th of one percent
the thousands of other sites
pales in comparison
all around the world
of undiscovered archaeological sites
of our existence.
to archaeological sites,
at sites so rampant,
modern human lives,
to destroy cultural identity as well.
have done the same throughout history.
from the looting of sites,
purchased on the market today
90 percent of it pieces
of looting going on:
by those that are desperate for money.
to feed our families;
the unethical traffickers
or even completely nonexistent laws.
on a global scale and it's increasing,
any tools to stop it.
looking at looting in Egypt.
of looting across Egypt
and site destruction at 267 sites,
from 2009, 2011, 2012 --
contrary to popular opinion,
in Egypt in 2011 after the Arab Spring,
an economic issue.
by looting by 2040.
and all the technologies
can surprise you with its resilience.
with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities
of Egypt between 2,000 and 1,750 BC.
Egypt's Renaissance period.
and environmental challenges,
of art, architecture and literature.
to study in Egypt,
about how we can survive and thrive
countless looting pits.
of people buried there
at the court of Pharaoh.
you see dozens of looting pits.
of many high-ranking officials
for you what was taken.
full of coffins, jewelry
approached me and said,
but I didn't think we'd find anything.
had stolen everything.
were the most incredible reliefs.
it's just stunning.
"Overseer of the Army,"
their name last for eternity
here, in hieroglyphs.
from 3,900 years ago.
with my Egyptian colleagues,
of shared discovery.
was right and true.
false door, mostly intact.
and his inscriptions.
I had assumed about looted sites
together with 70 Egyptians
hatred and ignorance
a protest for peace.
that don't look like you,
of archaeological discovery
isn't about what you find.
you end up finding long-lost family --
just North of Luxor, called Guft.
tradition in Egyptology.
and work crew organization.
when I was a young graduate student
who couldn't speak much English,
but forever connected
not everything can be explained.
I will always love you.
Professor William Kelley Simpson,
for someone else."
is partial payback, plus interest --
generosity and kindness.
of unknown archaeological sites
of global explorers,
the world's hidden heritage,
to humankind's collective resilience
with the TED Prize money
citizen science platform
to engage with discovering
space archaeologists around the world.
and protect them.
create a username --
is already taken.
and you'll start work.
GPS data or mapping data for sites.
like human patient data,
20 x 20 meters or 30 x 30 meters,
site damage or site looting?
going to be rich examples
to help guide you.
will be shared with vetted authorities,
a new global alarm system
we share your discoveries
as they begin to excavate them,
and social media.
archaeology was for the rich.
of archaeological discovery,
the tomb of King Tut.
occupied by the billions of people
the big questions about who we are
do not lie in pyramids or palaces,
of those that came before us.
is worth saving
to be able to write it
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