Hunting for Peru’s lost civilizations — with satellites | Sarah Parcak

Hunting for Peru’s lost civilizations — with satellites | Sarah Parcak


In July of 1911, a 35-year-old Yale graduate and professor
set out from his rainforest camp with his team. After climbing a steep hill and wiping the sweat from his brow, he described what he saw beneath him. He saw rising from
the dense rainforest foliage this incredible interlocking
maze of structures built of granite, beautifully put together. What’s amazing about this project is that it was the first funded
by National Geographic, and it graced the front cover
of its magazine in 1912. This professor used state-of-the-art
photography equipment to record the site, forever changing the face of exploration. The site was Machu Picchu, discovered and explored by Hiram Bingham. When he saw the site, he asked, “This is an impossible dream. What could it be?” So today, 100 years later, I invite you all
on an incredible journey with me, a 37-year-old Yale graduate and professor. (Cheers) We will do nothing less
than use state-of-the-art technology to map an entire country. This is a dream started by Hiram Bingham, but we are expanding it to the world, making archaeological exploration
more open, inclusive, and at a scale simply
not previously possible. This is why I am so excited to share with you all today that we will begin
the 2016 TED Prize platform in Latin America, more specifically Peru. (Applause) Thank you. We will be taking
Hiram Bingham’s impossible dream and turning it into an amazing future that we can all share in together. So Peru doesn’t just have Machu Picchu. It has absolutely stunning jewelry, like what you can see here. It has amazing Moche pottery
of human figures. It has the Nazca Lines and amazing textiles. So as part of the TED Prize platform, we are going to partnering
with some incredible organizations, first of all with DigitalGlobe,
the world’s largest provider of high-resolution
commercial satellite imagery. They’re going to be helping us build out this amazing crowdsourcing
platform they have. Maybe some of you used it with the MH370 crash
and search for the airplane. Of course, they’ll also be providing us
with the satellite imagery. National Geographic will be helping us
with education and of course exploration. As well, they’ll be providing us
with rich content for the platform, including some of the archival imagery
like you saw at the beginning of this talk and some of their documentary footage. We’ve already begun
to build and plan the platform, and I’m just so excited. So here’s the cool part. My team, headed up by Chase Childs, is already beginning to look
at some of the satellite imagery. Of course, what you can see here
is 0.3-meter data. This is site called Chan Chan
in northern Peru. It dates to 850 AD. It’s a really amazing city,
but let’s zoom in. This is the type and quality of data
that you all will get to see. You can see individual structures,
individual buildings. And we’ve already begun
to find previously unknown sites. What we can say already
is that as part of the platform, you will all help discover
thousands of previously unknown sites, like this one here, and this potentially large one here. Unfortunately, we’ve also begun
to uncover large-scale looting at sites, like what you see here. So many sites in Peru are threatened, but the great part
is that all of this data is going to be shared
with archaeologists on the front lines of protecting these sites. So I was just in Peru,
meeting with their Minister of Culture as well as UNESCO. We’ll be collaborating closely with them. Just so you all know, the site is going to be
in both English and Spanish, which is absolutely essential to make sure that people in Peru and across
Latin America can participate. Our main project coprincipal investigator
is the gentleman you see here, Dr. Luis Jaime Castillo, professor at Catholic University. As a respected Peruvian archaeologist
and former vice-minister, Dr. Castillo will be helping us coordinate
and share the data with archaeologists so they can explore
these sites on the ground. He also runs this amazing
drone mapping program, some of the images of which
you can see behind me here and here. And this data will be incorporated
into the platform, and also he’ll be helping to image
some of the new sites you help find. Our on-the-ground partner who will be helping us
with education, outreach, as well as site preservation components, is the Sustainable
Preservation Initiative, led by Dr. Larry Coben. Some of you may not be aware that some of the world’s
poorest communities coexist with some of the world’s
most well-known archaeological sites. What SPI does is it helps to empower these communities, in particular women, with new economic approaches
and business training. So it helps to teach them
to create beautiful handicrafts which are then sold on to tourists. This empowers the women
to treasure their cultural heritage and take ownership of it. I had the opportunity to spend some time
with 24 of these women at a well-known archaeological site
called Pachacamac, just outside Lima. These women were unbelievably inspiring, and what’s great is that SPI
will help us transform communities near some of the sites
that you help to discover. Peru is just the beginning. We’re going to be expanding
this platform to the world, but already I’ve gotten
thousands of emails from people all across the world —
professors, educators, students, and other archaeologists —
who are so excited to help participate. In fact, they’re already suggesting
amazing places for us to help discover, including Atlantis. I don’t know if we’re going
to be looking for Atlantis, but you never know. So I’m just so excited
to launch this platform. It’s going to be launched formally
by the end of the year. And I have to say, if what my team has already discovered
in the past few weeks are any indication, what the world discovers
is just going to be beyond imagination. Make sure to hold on to your alpacas. Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

89 thoughts on “Hunting for Peru’s lost civilizations — with satellites | Sarah Parcak

  1. Leave them allone! Stop helping the Bankster finding the last free human on earth only to make them sick Money-Slaves like us (and to steal their knowledge about nature).

  2. So you are launching the greatest ever lost- civilizations hunting with some high-tech methods.BTW don't forget to include Mr. Hubble in your team:)But I think if you hunt inside the sea you will get more evident about the lost civilization as we all know most of the civilizations were extinct due to earthquake and flood like natural calamities.BTW, best of luck for your program:)

  3. Great talk and great use of technology. But what is the deal with these pants ? i am not a person of good taste in fashion but damn those are hideous

  4. It sounds like a cool project, but I constantly got the feeling that this was more of an advertisement rather than a Ted Talks…

  5. such bullshit that she has to name her stupid boss that owns everything and funds her and we get to see his stupid face in a car…wtf

  6. Bingham didn't find anything.. the local Quecha people already knew it was there.. he just brought it to the attention of western science.

  7. She doesnt add that in 1912 Hiram B, was led to the site by a local boy. Wow great "discovery"! But what do the locals know.

  8. Strikes me as to how convinced she is that helping the poorest communities around the world would be by giving them economical education, while those communities often have proven to be the ones closest to nature. Wouldn't it make more sense to give back more nature to those communities to survive?

    There's a reason why looting exists, and I can't imagine it's due to developments in these communities…

  9. Bingham lo unico que queria era buscar oro…solo hizo propaganda de machu picchu. Ya era conocido en Cusco la ciudadela asi que el no tiene ningun credito.

  10. I'd like to know what ethical measures will be used in this experiment to ensure that not only will you be protecting the sites, but also the cultural values people hold in these sites? Some of these have got to be important to native people living in Peru.

  11. So you're teaching these people how to fall in love with money? How to make souvenirs for tourists… A lot of these people are better off if we just leave them alone… Our idea of help isn't always what's best for them… Remember that.

  12. Finally, I have a house out of the city of Lima in the mountains and there is like ruins on the bottom of the valley and every time I see them, there are less ruins because stupid people are fucking destroying it. It makes really mad.

  13. Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Pichu NOT , the residents of that area Cusco and Machu Pichu and they knew each taught bingham the ruins of Machu Pichu, STOP MIENTIR

  14. I really don't want to hear who are you working with for 10 minutes and who will fund you! Show us the results ! say something interested about ancient history in Peru !
    Don't tell us that you will start end of this year ! Why is TED keep supporting this fundraising advertisements? Because those organisations pay the 10 thousands of dollars?

  15. Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines? You are not "discovering" those places, they have been there since forever and everyone knows them, just because people in USA don't, doesn't mean they've been hidden from civilization ._.

  16. Seems to have a whiff of "finders, keepers" about it.
    We'll come find them: but we dig them, manage them & control them.

  17. ¡Ama ruwaychu ripuykuy! We call it the "Sacred Valley" for a reason! You weren't suppose to find us, all you brought was disease and made my people sick. Leave our clan/tribes alone! ¿Hapinkichu? from a Quechua-Peruvian.

  18. just because the technology is being used doesn't make it right to steal, and continue to steal, not explore,.. exploring is a BS word for stealing,… where is the agreed profit being passed on to the traditional peoples who own this copy righting informations,.. so please quit stealing ,.. it's so exciting is not right, you thief,… Please quit, it,..

  19. Spending millions of dollars mapping sites but not a cent on figuring out how they were built makes as much sense as wearing black leather pants under hot stage lights… There are thousands of megalithic sites around the globe where the method of construction defies explanation, Machu Picchu is perhaps one of the best examples yet she doesn't even mention that. You would think solving this great mystery would be a prime objective for every archaeologists yet you never hear them discuss it. Why? Because archaeologists have painted themselves into a corner by presenting the evolution of human technology as one straight line of steady growth when in fact the evidence shows just the opposite in many cases. By ignoring this they destine humanity to making the same mistakes it made in the past.

  20. I'm buying real estate in Peru for dirt cheap.(no pun intended). their economy, infrastructure and agriculture have increased dramatically with the past 20 years.

  21. Just watched the Nova show where this technology was used to find Viking settlements in North America. Good stuff.

  22. I thought I was improper to notice those pants. Damn that was inappropriate. She mispronounced the name. I am a Hiram as was Bingham. It is pronounced Hy ram!
    Not Hee rum. Picky I know, but educated types should know better.

  23. really bad you look stupid in them cloths and talking crap about what everyone knows and very little on what the title says = back to school you fool !

  24. Dear God I get tired of politically correct, or social justice warrior ‘code words’ like in empowering or inclusion making their way into hard sciences.
    Yeah and Hiram Bingham gets credit for the discovery, because the few locals that knew, weren’t telling.
    And the black leather pants, probably inappropriate for a Ted talk, were kind of hot.

  25. well i'm from peru and there's a lot of sites here that must be identified i've been in the north and also the are many pyramids without digging. personally i think the culture minsiter need to aprobe a project to recognize all the archaeological sites here,studied and non-studied even if it is a little one because it is an indication of a bigger one under the earth. you can use google earth to search some, its fun but u can't zoom it because the picture isnot in HD.

  26. English and Spanish? you are neglecting the most important language, Quechua, which is the major language of the native population, owner of all those places.

  27. Great, quick talk (and true rockstar pants to boot!) collaborating multiple partners and funding for pioneering the way archaeological sites are discovered via technological tools as well as empowering the local community to produce modern traditional items where techniques have been passed down through the generations for profit instead and deterring corruption of their own heritage selling looted items to tourists who visit the area is such a wonderful endeavor! Highly looted areas unfortunately do point to local knowledge of significant sites to excavate so this technology and outreach to the public just as impassioned is such a great appraoch!

  28. Whats with the skin tight leather pants. Her legs are crying with that light on em, must have been a puddle of sweat where she was standing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *