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K. Kris Hirst

The Art of Regional Survey in Archaeology

By March 13, 2013

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There is more to archaeological fieldwork than the "big dig". Intensive excavation at a single site—whether that site is a tomb, temple, house or farmstead—can really only tell you about that specific tomb, temple, house or farmstead.

Gary Feinman on top of a large Han tomb at Liangchengzhen
Archaeologist Gary Feinman on top of a large Han tomb at Liangchengzhen, Shandong Province, China. Photo (c) Linda Nicholas

Archaeologists, though, are interested in the bigger picture: how did a particular tomb's occupants fit into the society, where were the farmer's fields, how did the people get to market, trade with their neighbors, obtain water and the raw material to make tools? One way to get that information is by regional survey: archaeological inspection of huge tracts of land.

In a photo essay called Regional Survey in China, archaeologist Gary Feinman answers a few questions about his decades of research practicing the art and science of regional survey first in Mexico and most recently in China, how he and his colleagues collect and analyze the data, and what they have learned there.


September 13, 2010 at 11:42 am
(1) Chris says:

I read your article about Los Millares in Almeria (Spain). We have visited this site for your and I would like to invite you to take a virtual tour. Enjoy!


September 13, 2010 at 5:55 pm
(2) Mark says:

Thanks for the coverage of regional survey. I especially like the diversity of continents and the photos of China. I appreciate that your coverage does not over-emphasize the juicy aspects of archaeology. Keep up the great work.

September 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm
(3) Max Phillips says:

Thanks so much for this website. It’s my favorite. Absolutely excellent work informing the public about real archaeological science. And you’re right, regional archaeology is undersold in the science-journalism community. Your efforts are well appreciated. Thanks again.

December 25, 2010 at 8:45 am
(4) shaikh says:

i have also go through your aritcle .it is so marvellous and good…i like that

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