Human remains found near Miami construction site 4-22-07

MIAMI (AP) - Ancient human remains from an extinct American Indian tribe have been unearthed near a downtown condominium construction site, officials said.

Fragmented bones belonging to five or six members of the extinct Tequesta tribe or its ancestors were found in recent weeks at the Brickell Avenue site, said archaeologist Robert Carr, executive director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy.

“This is not nearly at the scale of what we've seen in other downtown areas, but it was definitely a cemetery,” said Carr. “The question is the extent of it.”

The age of the bones hasn't been determined, but the fragments were surrounded by pottery shards, animal bones and an arrowhead, most of which appear to be 2,000 to 3,500 years old, said Carr, whose firm is assessing the site.

The Tequesta tribe, who met explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 when he claimed the land for Spain, were hunters and gatherers and lived in South Florida for 2,500 years before succumbing in the 18th century to Europeans and the diseases they brought with them.

The bones will be reburied on the site about 150 feet from the place of discovery, a 50-square-foot-wide natural depression, officials said.

State law requires a full archaeological assessment of any site where human remains are found, and the reburial of those remains at their original location or as close to it as possible. Construction at such sites may continue once that process is finished.