Artist's impression of professional archaeologist doing science.

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of professional archaeologist doing science.

Today we present the third and final installment of my interview with Sarah Parcak, a prominent founding figure in the emerging field of astroarchaeology. Please check out parts one and two if you missed them. Otherwise, press play on the embedded player or pull up the transcript—both of which are below.

We open today’s installment talking about the presentation Sarah made while accepting the TED prize—which came with a million-dollar check to advance her work. Sarah presented in full Indiana Jones regalia, and Harrison Ford turned out to be in the audience, and a rather fun story emerges from that. On a (slightly) related note, Sarah and I also discuss an amazing VR rig the people from The VOID set up at TED that year (fittingly, with a Temple of Doom theme).

Most of today’s installment concerns a crowd-enabled detection project Sarah created with proceeds from the TED Prize. It’s called GlobalXplorer. Partly inspired by Galaxy Zoo, it let armies of “citizen scientists” scan twelve million quadrants of Peruvian satellite imagery for hints of archaeological remains. Tens of thousands of promising features were discovered. This will help the Peruvian archaeology community set its agenda over the coming decade. Sarah’s longer-term goal is to rally enough volunteers to scan the entire globe over the coming decade.

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