We have so many thousands of sites to find across the globe and new techniques to test. The field keeps evolving with the technology, which makes things exciting.
I hope my work contributes to understanding long-term patterns of human behavior and how we survive, thrive, or fail during times of environmental, social, and economic crisis.
What satellites help to show us is we've actually only found a fraction of a percent of ancient settlements and sites all over the world... It's the most exciting time in history to be an archaeologist.
That's what I want to do, ultimately: figure out a way to get the world engaged with discovery and protecting these ancient sites.
I played varsity soccer at Yale and continued playing at Cambridge.
Satellite imagery is the only way we can map the looting patterns effectively.
I predict that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe. The only way to map them and locate them quickly is from satellites.
With population pressures, urbanization, and modernization encroaching, we're in a race against time. Why not use the most advanced tools we have to map, quantify, and protect our past?
I dig in the sand, and I play with pretty pictures, so I never really left kindergarten.
We've found that patterns of site looting have increased between 500 and 1000 percent since the start of the Arab Spring. Now this is a problem as old as human beings. People were looting tombs 5,000 years ago in Egypt as soon as people were buried, but the problem is only getting worse and worse.
Once archaeologists have shown possible 'new' ancient features, they can import the data into their iPads and take it to the field to do survey or excavation work. Technology doesn't mean we aren't digging in the dirt anymore - it's just that we know better where to dig.
We want to excite the world about what's out there. But we don't want them to say, 'Oh, there are lots of sites in Egypt - let's loot.'
You can theorize as much as you want about what you think you're seeing, but until you get out there and dig, you can't tell exactly what it is.
Satellites record data in different parts of the light spectrum that we can't see. And it's that information that allows satellites to be so powerful in terms of looking at things like vegetation health, finding different kinds of geology that may indicate an oil deposit or some kind of mineralogical deposit that can be mined.
I can't tell you the number of times I've been walking over an archaeological site. And you can't see anything on the ground, and pull back hundreds of miles in space, and all of a sudden you can see streets and roads and houses and even pyramids.
In Egypt, I do survey work on the ground. That's really the most important part of using satellite images. You know, it helps us to find potential locations for sites, and then we get to go there on the ground and confirm what we've seen.
The majority of the research I do is archaeological research, but to me, as a professor, the most important thing is to encourage and mentor students.
If you look at the Nile on a map of Egypt, you don't think it has moved very much, but the river is very violent and has moved over time.
Looting and site destruction are global problems. We have a tough road ahead, and one key will be developing more collaborations and using new technologies like satellite imagery.
My dream is to map every archaeological site in the world because, if we can do that, then we have this massive global data base that all sorts of global heritage organizations and heritage organizations within countries can use, and they can use that information to protect what's there.
I already find pyramids from space. Is there anything cooler than that?
We can tell from the imagery a tomb was looted from a particular period of time, and we can alert INTERPOL to watch out for antiquities from that time that may be offered for sale.
Choosing an unconventional career path - I am not a traditional Egyptologist by any means. I found what I love, and I have stuck with it.
Eventually, when I started studying Egyptology, I realized that seeing with my naked eyes alone wasn't enough. Because all of the sudden, in Egypt, my beach had grown from a tiny beach in Maine to one eight hundred miles long, next to the Nile.
I am part of a network of people monitoring what's happening at ancient sites in Iraq and Syria - from space. We can see clearly the destruction.
A picture is worth a thousand words. A satellite image is worth a million dollars.
I'm looking at looting photos from space, and there are people putting their lives on the line every day protecting their heritage. I call these people the real culture heroes.
If you find a series of linear shapes in the same alignment as known archaeological features, and they match excavated examples, you still need to excavate to confirm, but you can be fairly sure that the imagery is accurate.
All over the world, we're finding out that, you know, whether it's Egypt or Syria or Central America, what satellites are showing is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of previously unknown settlements all over the world, and what archaeology does, it helps us to understand this common humanity that we have.
You think looting is bad in Egypt, look at Peru, India, China. I've been told in China there are over a quarter-million archaeological sites, and most have been looted. This is a global problem of massive proportions, and we don't know the scale.
When you think about archaeology, archaeology is the only field that allows us to tell the story of 99 percent of our history prior to 3,000 B.C. and writing.
When you think about the scale of human populations all over the world and the fact that there's so much here, really, the only way to be able to visualize that is to pull back in space... It allows us to see hidden temples and tombs and pyramids and even entire settlements.
Looting speaks to a lack of economic opportunities - frankly, we all would loot, too, if our families' continued survival depended on it.
Getting permission to use a drone in Egypt was problematical.
I give my grandfather, Dr Harold Young, a forestry Professor at the University of Maine, full credit for my career path. He pioneered the use of aerial photography in forestry in the 1950s, and we think he worked as a spy for the CIA during the Cold War, mapping Russian installations.
It's both Indiana Jones and 'National Geographic' that inspired me to be an Egyptologist.
Archaeologists gave the military the idea to use aerial photographs for spying and field survey. We are fortunate that the spatial and spectral resolutions of the imagery available to us are so broadly useful for archaeology.
WorldView-3 goes into the mid-infrared wavelength, allowing you to see very subtle geological differences on the sites at a 0.4-metre resolution.
We're literally just beginning to learn how to use satellites to find sites. More and more people are realizing there's this incredible tool.
You just pull back for hundreds of miles using the satellite imagery, and all of a sudden this invisible world become visible. You're actually able to see settlements and tombs - and even things like buried pyramids - that you might not otherwise be able to see.
I've found numerous things - settlements, temples, possible pyramids, forts, roads - the list goes on and on. I'm not as interested in the discoveries as the types of questions they help us formulate.
I am honored to receive the TED Prize, but it's not about me; it's about our field - and the thousands of men and women around the world, particularly in the Middle East, who are defending and protecting sites.
What if Hiram Bingham had the technology to find hundreds of other archaeological sites at the same time and create entire 3-D maps of the ancient landscape accurate to within a few inches?
I think archaeologists are stuck, and we are losing our past at a very rapid rate. Tens of thousands of sites will be lost, and we've only unveiled a tiny percent of the past.
We've got to map all of our ancient history before it's gone because, let's face it, if we don't have a common heritage to share, something to get excited about, then what are we living for?
Seeing sites and features in places where we never looked or never thought things might exist is causing archaeologists across the world to think deeper about their sites or entire cultures.
Archaeology holds all the keys to understanding who we are and where we come from.
What is amazing to me as an archaeologist is that the more and more I study, I realize we are resilient, we are creative, we are brilliant, and this is what makes us human, and that hasn't changed since we've been human.
Archaeologists have used aerial photographs to map archaeological sites since the 1920s, while the use of infrared photography started in the 1960s, and satellite imagery was first used in the 1970s.