SPACE ARCHAEOLOGY by Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator


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Adventure Science Center Blog

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SPACE ARCHAEOLOGY by Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator

Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator and ArchaeologistWhen I was a young girl, I fell in love with an adventurer who swung from vines and “recovered” lost treasures. When I watched my first Indiana Jones movie, I knew I was going to be an archaeologist. After years of hard work, dedication and a whole lot of digging, I achieved my goal! Equipped with my archaelology degree and my trusty Indy hat, I can now explore the amazing history of our world. One thing I love about the field of archaeology is that there are so many avenues one can take. My specialty is the British Iron Age which focuses on the ancient people of the British Isles (the Celts and the Druids), but you can study any number of subjects within this broad field! I am the kind of person who likes to get my hands dirty, but you can also take a more 21st-century approach. Instead of looking to the ground to discover pieces of our human story, you can look to the stars!

Space archaeology is a new and growing approach to traditional archaeology. I know what you're thinking, "Space archaeology? That can't be real!" Not only is it a very real science you can study, it has also produced some fantastic finds that help give a glimpse into the history of our world and beyond. Here are a few facts about this impressive field and ways that you too can become Indiana Jones and join the hunt!

What is space archaeology?

Space archaeology is just like traditional archaeology only, instead of picks and shovels, you use satellites in space to look even deeper into the Earth's surface. These amazing salellites can even access areas of the globe that scientists, adventures and others can't explore for themselves. They also help archaeologists on the surface narrow down the area where they need to dig, saving them precious time and money in the process. For example, these satellites can scan and photograph specific regions, like Peru, to find ancient cities buried in previously unexplored regions of the world. Archaeologists can then study those scans and photographs and dive even deeper if there are anomolies in the land that would indicate a buried piece of history.

Is there a space archaeologist I can follow?

Dr. Sarah Parcak, Space ArchaeologistYes, and she is a personal hero of mine! Her name is Sarah Parcak, and she is the creator of a cool, new software called GlobalXplorer (more on that later). Dr. Parcak is a pioneer in space archaeology for using this software to help find unknown ancient sites all over Egypt and beyond. In addition to this amazing project, she is also a National Geographic Fellow which gives her access to grants that help fund the her software and other projects that help make space archaeology a possibility. Her work has won her many awards, including the 2016 TED prize, and has helped (literally) uncover evidence of our history that would have otherwise been lost to time. According to, “Dr. Parcak’s techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 potential forgotten settlements and 1,000 potential lost tombs in Egypt — and she's also made significant discoveries in the Viking world and Roman Empire.” 

How do I get involved?

If you have a computer and access to the internet, you too can become a space archaeologist! All you have to do is launch Dr. Parcak's software, GlobalXplorer, to help in the hunt for human history. “Before someone can begin looking for sites, they'll watch tutorials on spotting landscape features commonly associated with looting pits, encroachments, and underground archaeological sites. You learn, for example, that looting pits come in clusters; they often take on a contrasting color to the rest of the satellite image.” ( If several people note variances in the landscape that may be evidence of a discovery, Dr. Parcak’s team takes a look and sends a field archaelologist to explore it further.


- Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator

Posted by Anna Leigh Goolsby at 3:21 PM
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