This is archaeology in the digital (and, er, real, and very amateur) age. A new project invites armchair Indianas everywhere to survey isolated tiles of satellite imagery, marking them as potential sites of interest or, in my case today, crime scenes.
GlobalXplorer is the idea of Sarah Parcak, an American “space archaeologist” and leader in the booming field of remote sensing. She has used such images, and various techniques to examine them, to find thousands of ancient tombs, pyramids and settlements. In 2011, she uncovered an entire city plan at Tanis, the Egyptian site that was the fictional resting place of the ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Now she wants help, and has invested the $1m TED prize for “world-changing projects” she won last year. The first phase includes more than 200,000 sq km of imagery of Peru for popular inspection. Potential sites that gather more than six markers are flagged for further investigation by the pros. “We are empowering a 21st-century army of global explorers to discover and protect our shared history,” she explained at its launch.