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UCR Researcher Mixes Ancient Cities With New Technology

UCR Researcher Mixes Ancient Cities With New Technology

(June 24, 1999)

Dr. Felicia Beardsley, an assistant research anthropologist from the University of California, Riverside, is hacking through the underbrush in the island nation of Micronesia.

Her sharpened machete, while important, is not her most valuable tool. That honor belongs to her digital camera.

Dr. Beardsley's journal and photographs are posted on the World Wide Web at She writes of her nine months documenting traditional ceremonies and uncovering the 12th century stone complexes of Nan Madol and Lelu as a consultant to the National Historic Preservation Office of the Federated States of Micronesia.

"It's quite hot and humid, infections are rampant," said Felicia's husband, Edward Beardsley, a former UCR faculty member and founding director of the UCR/California Museum of Photography. He now runs a non-profit Web magazine called Intangible, which carries his wife's "Micronesian Diary."

"She's hacking her way through jungles and traveling through swamps. She was attacked by a dog three days ago, nothing serious but it was puncture wounds," Ed Beardsley said from his home in the mountain community of Wrightwood. "I'm the supply line. I have to stay here at the computer and juggle things that go back and forth out in the Pacific."

Felicia Beardsley, who has been doing field research for a good part of the past 15 years, took her 7-year-old daughter, Teresa, with her to Micronesia. With funding from the U.S. National Park Service, Felicia and Teresa visited the major islands of Pohnpei, Yap and Kosrae, as well as smaller outlying islands, documenting oral history, traditional architecture and significant ceremonies.

Felicia Beardsley's reports include a description of a traditional menstruation house, where women are pampered and men are banned. She also keeps detailed records as her team uncovers the remnants of a stone city, the place where fire and pottery were first introduced to the people of Yap, according to oral historians.

Teresa, who dubbed herself the apprentice anthropologist, kept her own diary, and took pictures of each step in the creation of a ceremonial narcotic drink, imbibed only by the adults. She is home now, teaching her father the Yapese songs she learned while she was away. ŎIt is a really remarkable experience for a child," Ed Beardsley said.

By the end of August, Felicia will be home as well. But she leaves behind in cyberspace detailed descriptions of her machete-wielding, grass-skirt-wearing, stone-clearing, gecko-watching days in a humid and rainy place called Micronesia.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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