Parcak added that she doesn't yet know how successful the initiative will be, because it's never been done before. Peru was chosen as the first country because of its archaeological richness (most famous among them being Macchu Picchu) and also because the government is open to alternative ways of studying the sites, such as through the use of drones. A second country may be added later this year.
If all goes well, users will identify sites of interest for archaeologists to pursue, in consultation with UNESCO and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. To prevent more looting, GPS and other identifying information has been stripped from each satellite image. The site is also available in Spanish to encourage young people in Peru to take part in archaeology - and hopefully, to discourage them from looting the sites themselves.
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Archaeologists searching out GlobalXplorer user-identified sites will keep participants informed in real time, Parcak pledged, using tools such as Periscope, YouTube videos, or more traditional blog posts. For her own team, Parcak said she hopes the project will save hours of time, because looking at satellite imagery is a time-consuming endeavor.
Parcak added that archaeology is potentially a way to combat the "despair and fear that so many people have" in light of changing immigration policies in the United States these past few days.
"We have had throughout history problems with climate change, economic crises, wars, disease, these things happening all at once," she said. "The thing that you see again and again with different ancient societies and culture, oftentimes after periods of crisis, you get resilience and renaissance and re-emergence... Human beings have great resilience and ability to survive challenges. It can give us a lot of hope for the future."
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