Archaeologists have studied the ancient city of Petra for more than 200 years. So I didn’t feel wildly hopeful about finding anything unknown when I did a satellite survey of the site in 2012. But then, there it was: a massive monumental platform. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of unknown archaeological sites around the world, and new technology is helping us locate them. (See archaeologist Damian Evans’ recent LIDAR scan of Cambodia, which revealed multiple medieval cities in the jungle, each between 900 and 1,400 years old.)
I’m thrilled that Global Xplorer, the citizen science platform my team is developing with the 2016 TED Prize, will launch later this year. We’ll use the power of the crowd to locate unknown sites. But where to begin? There’s an entire world out there! I knew I wanted to start somewhere with a rich history. Somewhere where we could partner with key archaeologists to help explore what we find on the ground. Somewhere with breathtaking landscapes.