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.

Sarah Parcak

Sarah Parcak

Profession: Archaeologist
Nationality: American

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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.

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.

When I was a child growing up in Maine, one of my favorite things to do was to look for sand dollars on the seashores of Maine, because my parents told me it would bring me luck. But you know, these shells, they're hard to find. They're covered in sand. They're difficult to see.

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.

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.

A lot of people are surprised when I talk so much about the present, but politics is just a crucial part of archaeology.

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?

The most exciting part of what I do is understanding the scale of what we don't know. There are just countless archaeological sites all over the world, and one of the most important and best ways of finding them is using digital technology.

I dig in the sand, and I play with pretty pictures, so I never really left kindergarten.

Scorpions like holes. We had to put our arms in the holes to dig out the smelting residues. We always performed critter checks before an excavation, but one morning, I put an arm in and felt a sharp pierce. When I brought my hand out, it was red and already swelling.

We have so many issues with overpopulation and urbanization and site looting. And this isn't just Egypt. This is everywhere in the world, even in America. So we only have a limited amount of time left before many archaeological sites all over the world are destroyed.

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.

When people initially think of the term 'space archaeologist,' they think, 'Oh, it's someone who uses satellites to look for alien settlements on Mars or in outer space,' but the opposite is true - we're actually looking for evidence of past human life on planet earth.

'Satellite archaeology' refers to the use of NASA and commercial high resolution satellite datasets to map and discover past structures, cities, and geological features.