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Human bones found at construction site could be 1,000 years old

TAMPA — The human bones found off U.S. 301 on Tuesday are probably more than 1,000 years old, archaeologists estimate.

Hearing this, the Hillsborough sheriff's homicide detectives handed the bones over to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office and state archaeologists Wednesday, then moved on to more pressing matters.

The medical examiner and archaeologists hope to determine the age, sex and ethnicity of the bones.

The remains were found when a construction crew digging a septic tank at 7808 U.S. 301, just north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, uncovered them about 6 feet below the surface. A medical examiner later confirmed the bones were human.

For now, the findings are vague. The bones are at least 100 years old and could be up to 12,000 years old, University of South Florida archaeologist Richard Estabrook said. But based on the process of mineralization — when bones turn into rock — he guesses they are probably at least 1,000 years old.

The body might have been found in a burial ground, he said, but archaeologists most likely won't search for more remains nearby.

"That's up to the owner," he said.

The bones were found on property owned by Florida Utility Trailers Inc.

Employees there declined to comment Wednesday.

Though a jaw bone and teeth were among the bones recovered, they haven't identified a pelvic bone, which is a key to determining the person's sex, Estabrook said. They also don't know the person's ethnicity because there weren't any artifacts found nearby.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Human bones found at construction site could be 1,000 years old 03/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2008 1:29pm]
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