Gary M. Feinman

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Gary M. Feinman
Born August 16, 1951
Residence  United States
Citizenship American
Fields archaeology
Institutions Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL USA
Alma mater CUNY Graduate Center (PhD 1980)
Academic advisors Richard Blanton
Known for Mesoamerican early state formation
archaeological survey and excavation in the Valley of Oaxaca
Notable awards Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Gary M. Feinman (born 1951) is an American archaeologist, and Curator of Mesoamerican and Central American Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He was a part of the Valley of Oaxaca Settlement Pattern Project which focused on the evolution of the Monte Albán state and shifts in settlement in the region over three millennia.[1] He has conducted research in the Valley of Oaxaca for over 30 years, most recently in the lands of the communities Mitla, Matatlán, and Ejutla. These studies focused on household excavations at three sites (Ejutla, El Palmillo, and the Mitla Fortress). Since 1995 he has also been conducting archaeological survey in coastal Shandong Province, China in conjunction with Shandong University.[2] The coastal Shandong settlement pattern research, spearheaded by Feinman, Linda Nicholas (Field Museum), and Professor Fang Hui (Shandong University) has had a seminal role in introducing this field methodology to Chinese archaeology.

Feinman is the author of numerous articles, books, and book chapters.[3] He is the co-editor of the Journal of Archaeological Research,[4] past editor of Latin American Antiquity,[5] and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[6]

Contributions to Archaeology[edit]

Feinman helped to develop full coverage survey methods, which he and colleagues applied to the Valley of Oaxaca to help understand the evolution of the Monte Alban state [7] The particular method developed by Feinman and colleagues Richard Blanton and Stephen Kowalewski influenced a generation of archaeologists and are still widely used today.[8] Feinman continues to employ and refine this method in his ongoing work in the Valley of Oaxaca and Shandong Province, China.

Feinman was an early proponent of world-systems theory, and actively applied it to the evolution of Mesoamerican and Southwestern US polities.[9] Although this work was criticized at the time,[10] it was further developed and employed by many scholars.[11]

Feinman also helped to develop dual processual theory,[12] which has had a broad impact in American archaeology.[13]

Recent studies, underpinned by a career of regional survey and residential excavation, has offered new perspectives on prehispanic Mesoamerican economies, in which most production for exchange was undertaken in domestic contexts and marketplace exchanges had a central importance. This model is markedly different than prior perspectives that presumed centralized/administered production and exchange.


  1. ^ Blanton, Richard; Feinman, Gary M.; Kowalewski, Stephen A.; Nicholas, Linda M. (1999). Ancient Oaxaca. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521577878. 
  2. ^ "Gary Feinman". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  3. ^ SSCI average of 18 citations per year (
  4. ^ "Journal of Archaeological Research". Springer. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  5. ^ "SAA Bulletin 15(1)". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  6. ^ Edward W. Lempinen, ed. (28 October 2005). "AAAS News & Notes". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  7. ^ Kowaleski, Stephen, ed. (1982). Monte Alban’s Hinterland, Part II. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum. ISBN 978-0915703180. 
  8. ^ Fish, Suzanne (2009). The Archaeology of Regions: The Case for Full Coverage Survey. New York: Percheron Press. ISBN 978-0979773105. 
  9. ^ Blanton, Richard; Feinman, Gary M. (1984). "The Mesoamerican World-System". American Anthropologist (86 ed.): 673–682. 
  10. ^ Kohl, Philip L. (1987). "The Use and Abuse of World-Systems Theory". Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory (11): 1–35. 
  11. ^ Peregrine, Peter N.; Feinman, Gary, eds. (1996). Pre-Columbian World-Systems. Madison: Prehistory Press. ISBN 978-1881094166. 
  12. ^ Blanton, Richard, ed. (1996). "A Dual-Processual Theory for the Evolution of Mesoamerican Civilization". Current Anthropology (37(1)): 1–14. 
  13. ^ Mills, Barbara J., ed. (2000). Alternative Leadership Strategies in the Prehispanic Southwest. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0816520282. 

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