Sarah Parcak

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Sarah Parcak

Sarah Helen Parcak (born 1979 in Bangor, Maine) is an assistant professor of anthropology at UAB, renowned as a "space archaeologist" for her pioneering use of satellite-based sensing technology to identify ancient sites and detect the activities of looters.

Parcak completed a bachelor's degree in near Eastern languages and civilizations at Yale University in 2001 and a master's and PhD in Egyptian archaeology from Trinity College at Cambridge, where she also played on the varsity football (soccer) team.

Parcak taught Egyptian art and history at the University of Wales in Swansea before coming to Birmingham. She and her husband, Greg Mumford, have directed survey and excavation projects in Fayoum, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Nile's East Delta. Infra-red imagery from commercial and NASA satellites assisted in locating water sources and potential sites. The UAB team claimed discovery of seventeen pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 settlements in the vicinity of Sa el-Hagar. The Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities has not yet verified those claims.

The UK's BBC network funded some of that research, which was publicized in the 2011 documentary Egypt: What Lies Beneath. Her techniques were also featured in a 2012 documentary Rome's Lost Empire, which revealed the discovery of several sites in Romania, Nabetaea, Tunisia and Italy, including an arena at Portus and a lighthouse and canal paralleling the Tiber river.

In 2007 Parcak founded the Laboratory for Global Observation at UAB. In 2015 Parcak collaborated on the identification of a possible Norse settlement on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. That same year, she was awarded the $1 million TED Prize from the New York-based Sapling Foundation. She planned to use the funds to promote citizen science initiatives. She was involved in the development of UAB's "COVID-19 Tracker" which allowed members of the public to report the development of symptoms during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, assisting in the university's public health and research missions.

In 2020 Parcak was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to underwrite the completion of her third book, Surviving Collapse: A Global History of Human Resilience.


  • Parcak, Sarah (2009) Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology. London: Routledge ISBN 0415448786
  • Parcak, Sarah (2019) Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past. New York: Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 9781250198280


  • Blumenthal, Ralph and Tom Mashburg (November 8, 2015) "TED Prize Goes to Archaeologist Who Combats Looting With Satellite Technology." The New York Times
  • "Sarah Parcak" (November 5, 2015) Wikipedia - accessed November 9, 2015
  • Blumenthal, Ralph (March 31, 2016) "View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America." The New York Times
  • Patchen, Tyler (April 15, 2020) "UAB professor receives prestigious Guggenheim fellowship." Birmingham Business Journal

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