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Gary Feinman

  • Ph.D.
  • MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology
  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • 27h-indexImpact measure calculated using publication and citation counts. Updated daily.
  • 1864CitationsNumber of citations received by Gary's publications. Updated daily.


I presently co-direct two international archaeological field projects. My principal research area is Mesoamerica, where I currently am conducting excavations at Lambityeco. This is the fourth Classic period settlement where Linda Nicholas and I have led domestic excavations (following Ejutla, El Palmillo, and the Mitla Fortress). At the most overarching level, this research is designed to examine the Classic period economy in the Valley of Oaxaca, the functioning and eventual collapse of the Classic period polity centered at Monte Albán, and the reorganization of the region in the subsequent Postclassic period. Specifically, we are interested in how people made a living and were organized at nucleated settlements, such as Lambityeco, the Mitla Fortress, and El Palmillo, all situated in semi-desert environments. This household archaeology research fits into a career-long effort to contribute to our understanding of the prehispanic Mesoamerican economic and political organization through a multiscalar focus on highland Oaxaca. At Lambityeco, we also are investigating civic-ceremonial contexts. For the last 20 years, I also have been involved in a systematic, full-coverage settlement pattern survey of two coastal basins in coastal Shandong Province, China. Here, Linda Nicholas and I, for much of the project, collaborated with Dr. Anne Underhill, and scholars from Shandong University and the Rizhao Museum. But we are now teaming principally with colleagues from Shandong University (mainly Dr. Fang Hui and his students) and the Jiaonan Museum and Qingdao Institute of Archaeology. This study is focused on the rise of hierarchical polities in the region, the eventual incorporation of this area into empires centered to the west of Shandong, and the documentation of settlement and demographic change in this coastal setting over millennia. We also aim to illustrate through our findings the key role that a systematic regional perspective can have for our understanding of the past, and how this approach can be useful for documenting China’s significant history.

Research interests

Recent publications

  • Reply to tosh et al.: Quantitative analyses of cultural evolution require engagement with historical and archaeological research

    • Currie T
    • Turchin P
    • Whitehouse H
    • et al.
    Get full text
  • Reframing ancient economies: New models, new questions

    • Feinman G
    Get full text

Professional experience

MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology

Field Museum of Natural History

August 1999 - Present

Co-authors (287)

Other IDs