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?

Sarah Parcak

Sarah Parcak

Profession: Archaeologist
Nationality: American

Some suggestions for you :

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.

Indiana Jones is old school; we've moved on from Indy. Sorry, Harrison Ford.

The looters are using Google Earth, too. They're coming in with metal detectors and geophysical equipment. Some ask me to confirm sites.

Less than 1 percent of ancient Egypt has been discovered and excavated. 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?

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.

Archaeologists use datasets from NASA and commercial satellites, processing the information using various off-the-shelf computer programs. These datasets allow us to see beyond the visible part of the light spectrum into the near, middle, and far infrared.

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

Discoveries aren't made by one person exploring by themselves. And discoveries aren't made overnight. People don't see the thousands of hours that go into it.

We emphasise the features on satellite maps by adding colours to farmland, urban structures, archaeological sites, vegetation and water.

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.

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.

To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist.

Looting speaks to a lack of economic opportunities - frankly, we all would loot, too, if our families' continued survival depended on it.

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