Human Journey

Help Wanted: Satellite Archaeologist

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National Geographic Emerging Explorer Albert Lin, Fellow Fredrik Hiebert, Young Explorer Ben Horton, and several colleagues have traveled to Mongolia, where they’re documenting archaeological sites in one of central Asia’s most remote and least explored valleys with guidance from an essential team member: You.

Field Expedition: Mongolia uses high-resolution satellite imagery from GeoEye and the power of the global network to lighten exploration’s footprint and crowdsource discovery.

Register on the site and you’ll get trained to identify roads, rivers, and modern structures on the ground, along with possible ancient structures and locations that bear further investigation. After you’ve developed an eye for image interpretation, you can view new patches of the landscape and search for clues to ancient habitations, pathways, cairns, and burial sites. As you analyze images, you’ll also see what others found and whether their interpretation agrees with yours.

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Once several viewers have flagged a location, the team in the field gets an alert and can examine that patch of imagery and determine whether and how to follow up—in consultation with Mongolian scholars. The technique keeps the exact location of important sites confidential, buying conservationists time to protect Mongolia’s unexcavated archaeological heritage.

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The team blogs about their discoveries, including finds such as the Bronze Age burial mounds they located with the help of digital explorers just like you. Step up and sign on now!

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Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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