Ever dreamed of being an archaeologist, but you’re not too keen on leaving the house? Not a problem, because we live in an era where you can still make great archaeological discoveries, but without leaving the comfort of your house.
In anthropology, there is or rather there was a trend called desk anthropology. The term referred to describing a population’s way of living and beliefs by using travel journals, maps, treatises written by explorers who made contact with that population.
The new science entitled space archaeology shares many features with desk anthropology, meaning that a scientist can discover the remnants of an ancient city, village or burial ground, without having to do a lot of field work.
Space archaeology is relatively new term, coined by Dr. Sarah Parcak, a T.E.D winner. Using enhanced satellite images, a space archaeologist can search for sites around the world which may have archaeological potential. To determine their eligibility, the scientists use various computer algorithms which can show the probability of the area housing historical objects.
The new space archaeology platform is called GlobalXplorer, and according to Dr. Parcak, it’s a unique blend between Indiana Jones-style archaeology and Google Earth. And now, after perfecting the space archaeology program, Dr. Parcak invites users to partake in this new and amazing scientific enterprise.
In other words, the good doctor and her team want to turn you into a bonified archaeologist. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? It gets even better. According to Dr. Parcak, anyone interested in archaeology can join the program and help the team discover new dig sites.
How does this work? First of all, you must enroll in the program for some basic training in how to use the algorithm. After passing all the tests, you will receive a series of pictures from various areas around the world. Take your time to look at them and to apply the things you’ve learned during your online classes.
If you have reasons to believe that a certain satellite photo has archaeological potential, flag the area. If more than six users flag the same area, the photo will be automatically brought to Dr. Parcak’s attention for further study.
Now, for security reasons (tomb raiding has become a problem in the last decade), the user will not be able to pan the picture to see the whole area. Moreover, the photos don’t have any coordinates. Dr. Parcak said that one picture taken by the satellite would be further broken down into millions of smaller pictures and then sent to the public for analysis.
So, what happens if you discover something promising? According to the team, users will be rewarded with interesting information about their country (GlobalXplorer is currently limited to Peru, but Parcak is working on making the platform available worldwide), behind-the-scene shots from the dig, and even the chance of being invited to participate in the expedition.
Image source: Wikipedia