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← Armchair archaeologist

Sarah Parcak hoped the power of the crowd could help accelerate archaeological discovery. See how 90-year-old Doris Mae Jones heard her call -- and jumped in to search more than 50,000 tiles in Expedition Peru. With cat assistants.

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Showing Revision 8 created 04/02/2018 by Brian Greene.

  1. Sarah Parcak: A hundred years ago,
    archaeology was for the rich,
  2. fifty years ago it was for men.
  3. But we are expanding it to the world.
  4. I wish for us to discover
  5. the millions of unknown
    archaeological sites around the world.
  6. By creating a 21st-century army
    of global explorers,
  7. we'll find and protect
    the world's hidden heritage.
  8. So how are we going to do this?
  9. [Great Big Story
    in partnership with TED]

  10. Narrator: They had a big idea
    to change the world.

  11. But they couldn't do it alone.
  12. (Voices overlapping)
    So, my wish ... My wish ... I wish ...

  13. And now, here's my wish ...
  14. [Torchbearers]

  15. [Ideas in action]

  16. SP: I am an archaeologist,

  17. and I specialize in using satellite
    imagery to map ancient landscapes.
  18. The really fun title is space archaeology.
  19. You of course want to record
    maybe how thick something is,
  20. which you can't measure from space,
    whether that's soil or snow.
  21. When I won the prize, I had to present
    this completely crazy wish.
  22. I had to present the case
    for archaeology to the world.
  23. Why does it matter, so what?
  24. The reality is, there aren't
    enough of us scientists,
  25. we've got to give more people
    opportunities to become explorers.
  26. GlobalXplorer is an online
    crowdsourcing platform

  27. that allows anyone in the world
    to help map ancient sites
  28. by looking at satellite imagery.
  29. And it's this idea
    that everyone in the world
  30. can make a contribution to science.
  31. It can be anyone.
  32. (Music)

  33. Doris Jones: I'm Doris Jones,
    I'm 90 years old, I live alone

  34. except for my two kitties.
  35. And I need something to do.
  36. I play games, I like sudoku.
  37. And I play mahjong with friends on Friday.
  38. (Music)

  39. And I'm an armchair archaeologist.
  40. Why don't you want to work? Down.
  41. Down, let's work.
  42. SP: Doris is one of our top contributors;

  43. she's a space archaeologist.
  44. She's looked at many,
    many thousands of tiles.
  45. People like her are just
    a gift to GlobalXplorer.
  46. DJ: Right now,
    I'm looking at a tile, but ...

  47. Well, it has a wall, probably for animals.
  48. But it has a number
    of what look more like trails and roads.
  49. I'll go to the next one.
  50. SP: All you have to do
    is look at an image and look carefully,

  51. and you see that there
    could potentially be a new site there.
  52. Doris just has this passion and energy,
  53. an excitement for exploration.
  54. She's able to give back
    and really contribute in a meaningful way.
  55. (Skype dial tone)

  56. SP: Doris!

  57. DJ: Hi.

  58. SP: I'm actually crying right now,
    because I'm overwhelmed with emotion.

  59. DJ: Well, thank you.

  60. SP: I just had to see your face
    and say, "Thank you."

  61. DJ: I really admire what you're doing.

  62. And I really enjoy the program.
  63. SP: When did your love for archaeology
    and paleontology and science start?

  64. DJ: Well, in the middle 50s
    my husband and I were in the backyard

  65. digging a garden.
  66. It was late fall, and we were getting
    ready for next spring.
  67. And I saw a strange-looking
    white rock on the ground.
  68. I picked it up and he said,
    "Let me see that."
  69. I showed it to him
    and he said, "You know what this is?"
  70. I told him I didn't.
  71. He said, "This is a fossil."
  72. And we took out to the creek
    and started looking for fossils.
  73. From then on, there was no turning back.
  74. SP: That's wonderful.

  75. DJ: So then I collected for years.

  76. And after all those years,
    of course I've got all those memories.
  77. But that's a type of thing ...
  78. It's not just hunting the fossils
    but the experiences.
  79. And you just learn
    and really live and enjoy.
  80. And I think the fun is in the hunt.
  81. You know, it's like ...
  82. Well, like the rainbow --
  83. at the end of the rainbow
    is a pot of gold.
  84. So GlobalXplorer was kind of my rainbow.
  85. And even at my age
  86. I can continue to hunt
    for lost civilizations.
  87. SP: I want to tell you
    about some of the incredible things

  88. that happened as a result
    of your discoveries.
  89. We're now beginning
    to take thousands of features
  90. that people like you have found
  91. and we're sharing them
    with archaeologists who work in Peru.
  92. They're beginning to confirm
    the things the crowd has found.
  93. So, in other words, the platform works.
  94. Ultimately, this technology
    is helping us to rewrite our history.
  95. DJ: We need to know our history.

  96. We're all one peoples.
  97. It's all our history, we're all here
    on this little ball of dirt.
  98. SP: I believe we have barely
    scratched the surface

  99. in terms of what's left to discover.
  100. And the greatest story ever told
  101. is the story of our shared human journey.
  102. But the only way that
    we're going to be able to write it
  103. is if we do it together.
  104. [Become a GlobalXplorer]