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.
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.