Our Staff

Gary Feinman's picture
Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology
Year Started: 
1999
Introduction: 

Gary Feinman is the Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology.  Feinman presently co-directs two international archaeological field projects.  His long-time study region is Mesoamerica, where he currently is conducting domestic excavations at the Mitla Fortress, 2-3 kilometers from the famous Archaeological Zone of Mitla.  This is the third Classic-period (A.D. 250-900) settlement where Feinman and Linda Nicholas have led residential excavations (following Ejutla and El Palmillo).  To follow Feinman when in Oaxaca, please check: http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/expeditions/gary9_expeditions/about.html  and  http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/expeditions/gary8B_expeditions/about.html  Earlier Feinman was had leadership roles in the Valley of Oaxaca and Ejutla Valley Archaeological Settlement Pattern Projects.  

Feinman's settlement pattern experience enabled him to be part of the Coastal Shandong Archaeological Settlement Pattern Project, which has now surveyed in eastern Shandong Province for 17 field seasons.  In 2012, the Sino-American team was able to follow the remnants of China's first great wall, which once cut across the study region. To see field reports from China, please check: http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/expeditions/china6_expedition/about.html

In this long-term study, Feinman and Nicholas originally collaborated with Dr. Anne Underhill (Yale University) and colleagues from Shandong University and the Rizhao Museum.  Recently, the Field Museum archaeologists are co-directing the project with Professor Fang Hui of Shandong University, the Jiaonan Museum, and the Qingdao Institute of Archaeology.  This study is focused on the rise of cities and states in the region, the eventual incorporation of this area into empires centered to the West, and population change in this coastal region over millennia.

Feinman's research also focuses on Field Museum collections.  In conjunction with Professor Dean Arnold (Wheaton College) and museum colleagues, one project is examining the production of the famous and unusual pigment, Maya Blue. Please see <http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/multimedia/science-fmnh-ep-42-–-production-maya-blue> Another project with colleagues from the museum and the University of Illinois-Chicago has sourced obsidian from J. Eric Thompson's excavations at San José, Belize, as a basis for defining shifts in long-distance exchange routes with implications for the oft-discussed political transitions in the Maya region at the end of the Classic period (ca. A.D. 900). These findings were published (with colleagues) in the journal, Antiquity. Obsidian sourcing is currently underway for archaeological collections from the Valley of Oaxaca.

In conjunction with Curator Jonathan Haas, Feinman is the Co-Curator of the Field Museum's permanent Ancient Americas exhibition, which highlights the history of the Western Hemisphere before the 15th century A.D.  Feinman also was the Curator of the museum's small temporary exhibition, Traditions Retold, which featured artisanal nativity scenes from different regions of Mexico.  In addition, Feinman co-curates the museum's successful exhibition on Choclate, which opened at the Field, traveled around the United States to 22 venues, and has re-opened at the In conjunction with Curator Jonathan Haas, Feinman is the Co-Curator of the Field Museum's permanent Ancient Americas exhibition, which highlights the history of the Western Hemisphere before the 15th century A.D.  Feinman also was the Curator of the museum's small temporary exhibition, Traditions Retold, which featured artisanal nativity scenes from different regions of Mexico.  In addition, Feinman co-curates the museum's successful exhibition on Choclate, which opened at the Field, traveled around the United States to 22 venues, and then re-opened at the museum (for a short run) as Chocolate Around the World, a temporary exhibition, in Fall 2011. The Chocolate exhibition is now on a global tour.