Armchair Archaeologist

From National Geographic's "Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan"

Do you have Indiana Jones aspirations?

I recently stumbled upon a UC San Diego Research project, called Valley of the Khans, that  involves thousands of armchair archaeologists around the world. The research team uses non-invasive tools, like satellite mapping, unmanned aerial vehicles and remote sensing, in its efforts to find the tomb of Genghis Khan. These techniques minimize digging and respect local culture and traditions. Because there is so much satellite imagery to analyze, the team, led by Dr. Albert Lin, has asked average citizens to log onto the site and tag satellite data.

I’m still getting my feet wet as a “level 1 novice.” Using the video on the site, I’ve learned to tag roads, rivers, ancient and modern structures, which the team will explore. In this early phase, I am honing my technique as I get feedback on each map I tag.

While the subject of Genghis Khan is far too violent for early elementary students — he was a pretty nasty fellow, after all — I can certainly see upper elementary, middle school and high school students finding this to be a fascinating effort. The rich Web site contains history of Genghis Khan as well as the science behind the exploration. In November, National Geographic aired “The Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan,” and video clips are available on the program Web site.

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