Expeditions @ The Field, a pioneer program from Chicago's Field Museum begun in 2000, creates easy public access to the Museum's research scientists, using the Internet and other electronic technology.
In the winter of 2000-2001, archaeologists at The Field Museum began their participation in Expeditions @ The Field, with an online electronic project documenting a regional archaeological survey in Shandong, China. This year's survey is led by Associate Curator Anne P. Underhill and Chair and Curator of Mesoamerican Archaeology and Ethnology Gary Feinman, with Chinese colleagues Cai Fengshu, Yu Haiguang, Luan Fengshi, and Fang Hui of Shandong University. American scholars on the project include Adjunct Curator Linda Nicholas.
Through Expeditions @ The Field: Shandong, China, anthropology enthusiasts can receive field updates from Underhill and colleagues about the team's methods, fieldwork, and discoveries. This year the project will be held between October 22 through December 2, 2005.
2005 is the eleventh year of The Field's work in China. Feinman began his participation in regional surveys over 23 years ago in Oaxaca, Mexico. Systematic regional survey as a method in archaeological investigation is roughly fifty years old; it has been most extensively used in the Oaxaca Valley of highland Mexico. This tremendously useful field procedure allows archaeologists to examine not just one archaeological site, but rather whole regions, to understand the way communities fit into the larger landscape and how settlement patterns change over time.
The Field Museum-Shandong University's work in China has covered approximately 650 square kilometers to date, representing the largest fully covered, contiguous area in eastern Asia. The team has discovered and mapped hundreds of sites between the Longshan through Han periods. The researchers would like to trace the growth of the urban civilizations of this eastern Shandong region, how boundaries shifted, and what factors contributed to the rise (and later shifting sizes) of towns in this region. These are the kinds of questions that can be illuminated by focusing on a regional perspective that includes the recording of information on the distribution of sites across the study area through time.