New citizen science project launched to prevent archaeological looting

New citizen science project launched to prevent archaeological looting

A newly launched citizen science project allows anyone to remotely analyze images of ancient archaeological sites captured from space, and discover their hidden secrets as well as protect them from looting and damage.

The new platform, dubbed GlobalXplorer, provides users with satellite pictures of Earth’s surface. Sarah Parcak, a space archaeologist from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said his project would enable anyone with Internet connection to analyze and keep an eye on archeological sites.

Explaining the project, Parcak said, “Looting is one of the most common ways archaeological sites around the world are destroyed … By marking satellites where you think you see looting, you’re helping to protect sites and save our common cultural heritage.”

Those who will log on to the site will see square satellite pictures of the planet’s surface. The current area the project is crowdsourcing is in Peru.

Looters first determine an area of interest and then dig several huge holes or even bulldoze the whole area. While trying to loot and plunder valuable artifacts, they often destroy the context which enables archaeologists to understand past cultures.

Parcak specializes in what satellite images of Earth’s surface can tell us about archeological sites or past civilizations. She funded the GlobalXplorer project with the $1 million TED Prize that she won last year.

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