Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist. She looks at infrared aerial photography for evidence of human activities that have been covered up by the march of time. Last year, Parcak located a site in Newfoundland that showed “possible man-made shapes” and may be the site of a Viking settlement from 1000 years ago.
The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.
Since then, archaeologists, following up clues in the histories known as the sagas, have been hunting for the holy grail of other Viking, or Norse, landmarks in the Americas that would have existed 500 years before Columbus, to no avail.
The History Blog has more info. Parcak won the million TED Prize last year for her space detective work. A PBS documentary, Vikings Unearthed, features Parcak’s work; it debuts online today and on TV on Wednesday.