Renowned archaeologist speaks at Yakima's Capitol Theatre - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Renowned archaeologist speaks at Yakima's Capitol Theatre

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YAKIMA, WA - In front of a sold out crowd at the Capitol Theatre on Wednesday morning, Dr. Sarah Parcak mesmerized the audience by showing how she uses satellite imagery to discover ancient burial sites that haven't been seen in thousands of years.

Dr. Parcak was in Yakima as the latest guest for 2017-18 Yakima Town Hall Speaker Series.

"When archaeologists dig, when they look for new evidence of the past, it can show us nothing less than who we are as human beings," Dr. Parcak said. "It can show us the diversity of the cultures that came before us. It can show us that while so many things have changed over the millennia, our common humanity hasn't. In these times when there's so many clearly divisive issues going on throughout the world, if we can learn that we have far more in common with the people that are in our neighborhoods, in our states, in our country, and around the world, then I think that can be a force for good."

Known as the real "Indiana Jones," Dr. Parcak is so much cooler than Harrison Ford's character because she's actually a space archaeologist. No, she doesn't go to space to study sites, but she does use different kinds of satellite images from space to find ancient undiscovered archaeological sites here on Earth that we have no idea exist because they can't be seen by the naked eye.

She says to think of it like a space-based x-ray. During today's talk she told the audience that she's actually more interested in the story behind a discovery, not the find itself.

Before her speech, Dr. Parcak was asked what she thinks archaeologists in the future will be able to tell when they study us thousands of years from now.

"I think the general consensus about our time period will be that the level at which we consumed things, that's very 21st Century, how we're acting in non-sustainable ways," she said. "But also how this time was a period of time when things started to change. People are really waking up and realizing how these activities are not sustainable long term."

Using satellite technology, Dr. Parcak has been able to find 17 lost pyramids, nearly 3,000 settlements, 1,000 tombs... and that's just the beginning.

In 2016, Dr. Parcak won the $1 million TED prize. The winner is chosen based on an idea that TED believes has the potential to spark change around the world. Parcak's wish is that everyone can become a space archaeologist and discover millions of sites that have yet to be found. The idea sparked after her and her team discovered nearly 500,000 looting pits at sites across Egypt and the Middle East. Her idea to create a collective of space archaeologists is to "protect the world's hidden heritage."

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