Micronesian Diary
Felicia R. Beardsley
IV. Mapping

Yap State, FSM - April 1999

April 1, 1999

Dr. Margie Falanruw --- I got home from the office about the same time as the guys got home, only I was just passing through to put my stuff down so I could go talk with Margie at the Forest Service office across the street. Margie is a botanist and has been in Yap for about 30 years --- she married a local man, she has grown children, she is a grandmother, and she has a Ph.D., which she got at the University of the South Pacific after an undergraduate at Yale. She is interested in mapping the vegetation communities around historical sites and trying to understand the change of vegetation over time. She also wants to try to do some statistical tests of significance on the association of vegetation communities and historical places, and here is where she wants my help --- to do the statistical work. She said when she was getting her Ph.D., she missed the statistical revolution, her advisor telling her that this business of hypothesis testing was just a fad. We had a good laugh over that.

Her position with the Forest Service is primarily research. She does a lot of other things as well, like administer the grants in Palau, and now apparently, throughout Micronesia. So, how are you planning to do all this, I asked, because I only see one of you. Well, we talked a lot --- about the savannas (cultural or natural); about changes in vegetation communities over time and how you might track that; about the age of historical sites and length of occupation; about settlement patterns and Yap as a totally managed landscape. We talked for nearly two hours.

April 3, 1999

The guys --- Teresa, Sal, and Eva --- went to Bechiyal Village yesterday, to see a traditional village as well as to play on the beach (it has a nice sandy beach). Well, they decided to spend the night. Their accommodation was a traditional house, complete with mats for sleeping, a mosquito net, mosquito coils, and a toilet that consists of a couple of boards perched over a small inlet along the coastline. They had dinner there, breakfast, and in-between times, Teresa led them on a tour of the platforms and buildings. Naturally, the Teresa loved it. She told me she didn't want to leave.

Eva said that she got stuck between Teresa and Sal at bedtime, so had little sleep at all, what with both apparently bed imperialists. She has never before slept in a mosquito net, and found the whole experience too primitive for her tastes. I told her she had luxury accommodations compared to most of the traditional villages I have been. So I think we have found her limits.

Eva reminded us this morning it is Easter. Those two are off to the airport now, to catch the plane to Palau. I gave them a list of restaurants to go to; they got a hotel (from a list they had me go over and check which ones are good, which ones are not). So, they are off on another adventure.

April 4, 1999

I have made my decision for the day's work plan --- it is the last day of Easter vacation for Teresa, and Yvette is busy with grandparents and funeral preparations, so I am going to work at home. I have to go open up the office and pick up a few things. And as soon as someone comes in, we will skidaddle --- I am going to work on the site-coding plan here. I need a regular word-processing program, and the office doesn't have one. I also have to be able to make a table of sorts, or rather a form, so... We start back in the field tomorrow. Andrew is planning on taking notes, but his own now. I continue with the notes; he will also take his own and then compare what I have and what he has. He came up with that idea himself, and it is a good one --- and one I will take with me wherever I go.

Maps: We now have most of the significant features mapped, including a map of the village as a whole. This is about all we can do in the time allotted here in Yap. Much more needs to be done, of course. This is only a first, rather tentative step to determine the extent and character of this interesting site.

Dinay site sketch
Dinay site sketch showing layout and extent of site

Well and other features
Well and other features, Dinay Village

Taro patches
Taro Patches, Dinay Village

Daf 1
Daf 1, Dinay Village

Daf 2
Daf 2, Dinay Village

Daf 3
Daf 3, Dinay Village

Dafs 4 and 5
Dafs 4 and 5, Dinay Village

Daf 6
Daf 6, Dinay Village

Dinay Village Cemetery

Daf 5 corner
Daf 5 corner --- wall construction

Grave 3
Grave 3 --- square, double tiered, and that tree has fallen and lays across it

April 5, 1999

Andrew and I did some more clearing for mapping today, and boy, my shoulders and neck are sore. Teresa briefly rubbed them, saying, tomorrow morning in the blink of your eye you will feel lots more better. That's part of her magic talk.

April 6, 1999

I got a Site Coding form completed --- just modified the Field Catalog form E.B. made. It took a little while, but I did it. Then, my printer was cutting off part of the right margin --- I guess it needs a certain amount of space for that end of the paper, or something. But I finally figured it out.

April 7, 1999

What unbelievable weather. Our weather here is strange, too. It is suspposed to be the dry season, yet it is raining a lot every day. Not good for our mapping or anything else. The sky was the most incredibly bright red orange this morning. With really heavy cloud cover. It does not look like a good start to the day.

April 8, 1999

We found another stone path today. Amazing! Just when you think you have the site covered, or nearly so, something else pops up. Andrew was off cutting a line of sight for our mapping work, while I had stayed behind to sketch this one platform complex. I started looking at the drainage next to it, however, because it didn't look like an ordinary drainage. It looked like something else. I followed it a short ways through the brush --- I didn't have my machete with me, it was back with my pack --- until I realized that I was on a path, and one we had not seen before. I practically ran back to my pack and didn't even bother rummaging around for my gloves. I just started chopping away the vegetation --- it was a bit exciting, only because we thought we had just about everything identified. I got my hands whacked a bit by some of the bamboo stubs, and when Andrew returned, I rather excitedly told him about the path. Well, how could he miss it? I was standing in the middle of it, in this tunnel cut through the vegetation. He looks at it, shakes his head; this was obviously not something he was looking forward to doing --- cutting more brush. He was a good sport about it, started teasing me about quitting because I was making him work hard.

"So, there's your road," he kept saying. Well it was, and it was in pretty good shape. The paving was gone, as you would expect, and there was only a short segment remaining; the Japanese gardening activity had pretty much erased the remainder of it, chopping one end to pieces by digging it out and demolishing the other end by incorporating it into those sweet potato furrows that we have become accustomed to seeing. But, the small stones you see in fill and for use in leveling out the pavement were still there, as was the traditional drainage pattern --- a drainage or gutter along the path and a break in the path for additional drainage across it. There was also an occassional stone lining the drainages, and a couple still in place for the retaining wall of the path itself.

Even though it was Friday, we ended up working pretty hard. Both of us looked like a couple of wet noodles by the time we climbed out of the site at the end of the day.

This is the food offering place on Daf 7. It is on the wunbey directly off the daf foundation. It is lined with vertical slabs of schist.

In situ pot

In situ pot, Daf 7. This was found in the midden below the kitchen foundation.

Kitchen foundation

Kitchen foundation. We found a single-course stone alignment to mark off a very slightly raised, rectangular foundation. Between the time we cleared it and then mapped it, a large tree had fallen across the area during a heavy storm.

Daf 8, opposite end. This is the south end of the daf, with a point at the base of the large tree. The corner of the foundation is visible.

Daf 8 Path
Daf 8, path

Daf 9. We called this "the old man's house" because of the presence of the mortar, made from a schist slap. Mortars like these were used for grinding food. This was the only mortar we found on the site.

Corner, Daf 9. The south end of the daf, looking at its corner. To the left is the south point, to the right is the side wall. You can get a good view of the wall construction here, with cobbles and schist slabs stacked to form the walls. The corners of these foundations are usually reinforced, and as such, tend to remain longer than the walls.

Mortar. I tried to take a good, unblurry shot of this feature.

April 9, 1999

We are heading to Fais just for tomorrow. Leaving in the morning, returning in early afternoon.

Teresa ended up with A+ in every subject. Her teachers love her, and have a special surprise for her on Wednesday morning. They asked me today if she would come Wednesday morning --- originally she was going to go to school Monday and Tuesday only, and then when the teacher asked if she could come Wednesday morning, well, who could say no?! She was so excited and couldn't wait to give the T her surprise --- I don't know what it is, but it must be something special. They don't like the idea that Teresa will be going home next week. Well, I'm not thrilled either, but I know that she needs to see her papa and get settled for school in the fall at home.

What occurred to me is that she and her classmates are doing good work in school under circumstances that are less than ideal --- there are not enough schoolbooks to go around the classroom, so kids do not have their own books. They have to copy out of a book assigned to a group of kids, or copy things off the blackboard. Plus the class is taught in three languages so all the kids can understand.

But what I am most proud of is that she got an A+ in Culture. I think that is terrific, and that would have been the hardest of all for her because it was taught in Yapese or Outer Island, not English.

April 10, 1999

We are back from Fais. It was pretty neat, and a very beautiful island --- a raised limestone platform with a reef around it. It is not an atoll, however. A more thorough report to follow.

April 11, 1999

We went snorkling; actually we got back about an hour ago, but we have been showering and getting cleaned up.

We had a great time. Sal didn't go because he was feeling out of sorts. We saw some marvelous fish, including a puffer fish and several varieties of reef fish of the most unbelievable colors --- reds, yellows, blues, greens, whites. Angel fish have got to be the most beautiful of all, however. And, of course, we saw eels, sharks, and a spectacular manta ray. There were abundant giant sea slugs and sea cucumbers too, all of which goes to make this seem truly an alien world.

Our boat guys were great. When they heard I was the national archaeologist, they suggested we go to O'Keefe's island. And we did --- for a short land tour. I got pictures with Sal and Eva's underwater camera, as I forgot to take my own cameras this time out. It was very interesting seeing the foundations of his house, the copra plant, the docks and other foundations for I don't know what. The problem is there are a lot of mosquitos there, and even in the rain they were eating us up. Today it is used as a picnic island. Ownership is and was at the time of nomination for the U.S. National Historic Register under dispute, only the Trust Territory Archaeologist never bothered to get local input when he submitted the nomination. Well, it should be on a national register, but so should a lot of other places too. This brings up so many problems with the whole HPO system out in Micronesia. But this is probably not the place to discuss them.

April 12, 1999

Andrew and I cleaned off another platform complex today, and started on yet another one. I left the office today just before two so that I could get the Teresa and start packing and whatnot. Well, sort of. I don't go back to work until Thursday, although John just realized that Teresa is leaving with Sal and Eva. At any rate, he suggested a tour of historical sites tomorrow for them, and me of course because I have not seen many of these sites either.

Next: Fais