There are still 50 million unexplored archaeological sites and GlobalXplorer wants to protect them

There are still 50 million unexplored archaeological sites and GlobalXplorer wants to protect them

In the world, even today, there are some fifty million unexplored archaeological sites, according to Egyptologist Sarah Parcak .

The problem is that 50% of all of them could end up being destroyed by looting, climate change and uncontrolled building in cities. GlobalXplorer wants to avoid that .

Crowdsourcing platform

Crowdsourcing is defined as the fact of outsourcing tasks that are normally carried out by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call.

It was under this philosophy that GlobalXplorer was founded in order to prevent the destruction of half of the unexplored archaeological sites: something that will happen, if we do nothing, before the year 2030 .

GlobalXplorer has been founded by Egyptologist Sarah Parcak and aims for citizens, like Indiana Jones, to study maps made from satellites or identify possible sites. By having more eyes, Wikipedia-style, you can go further.

After a short tutorial (in English or Spanish), budding archaeologists can search through ‘mosaics’ or snapshots of the Earth’s surface, looking for signs of looting, construction or other invasions, as well as signs of ruins that modern archaeologists have yet to find . Advanced users will have access to images that reveal differences in the health of vegetation, a clue to what is hidden in the ground, such as buried ruins.

High resolution satellite images are divided into tens of millions of tiny tiles and displayed to users in a random order without the ability to navigate or scroll. The tiles do not contain any location reference or coordinate information.


Most images won’t reveal anything out of the ordinary, but even that is useful, allowing archaeologists to rule out those areas and focus on the ones that need attention.

Parcak cautions that the project is still a ‘grand experiment’, but remote imaging has already led to big discoveries. In Egypt, Parcak and his colleagues used satellite imagery to find a long-buried city that was touted in ancient hieroglyphs .

Not long ago, for example, a consortium of archaeologists in Cambodia used airborne lasers to uncover the jungle-covered remains of what was possibly the largest pre-industrial city on Earth. And a recent series of photos taken by DigitalGlobe , which provides satellite images of Peru for the GlobalXplorer project, showed an enormous strength of thousands of years in the steppe of Kazakhstan . If Indiana Jones lifted his head …