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Arts and Culture

Bangor Woman Wins $1 Million for Archaeology Work

James Duncan Davidson
Flickr/Creative Commons
Sarah Parcak presents at TED2012.

A Bangor native has been awarded a $1 million dollar prize to pursue her work in the field of archaeology.

Sarah Parcak, a 1997 graduate of Bangor High School, will accept the TED Foundation's Prize at a conference in February. The prize is granted to an individual with a wish to change the world.

Parcak's pioneering work using satellite images to uncover archaeological sites is now also being used to protect them from looters and vandals, particularly in the Middle East.

In her TED Talk filmed in 2012, Parcak explained that her interest in finding things can be traced back to her childhood in Maine, where she searched for sand dollars on the beaches of Acadia National Park and discovered patterns that helped to her know where to dig.

"And eventually, when I started studying Egyptology, I realized that seeing with my naked eyes alone wasn't enough," she says in the talk. "Because all of a sudden, in Egypt, my beach had grown from a tiny beach in Maine to one 800 miles long next to the Nile and my sand dollars had grown to the size of cities."

Cities that have been buried in the sand for thousands of years, and nearly impossible to find but for the satellite technology that she says allows her to see very subtle changes in the landscape.

Archaeologist Sarah Parcak, a native of Bangor, will receive the 2016 TED Prize, and $1 million, in February in Vancouver, British Columbia.