Unearthed remains at least 1,700 years old 4-6-07

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Human bones uncovered by a worker excavating a basement in eastern Idaho are at least 1,700 years old, according to carbon dating results released this week.

The bones were unearthed by a backhoe operator in September on former farmland in the Hibbard area that had been subdivided.

Susanne Miller, a paleontologist hired by the Idaho State Historical Society, said the bones are those of a 40-year-old American Indian male. She said she will contact area tribes so they can decide what to do with the remains.

Only part of the skeleton was found, and it was damaged by the backhoe.

The skull was broken and it took several hours to put it back together, Miller said. Once that was done, she was able to determine the race by its shape and teeth, a conclusion she said others agreed with.

A lab in Coral Gables, Fla., called Beta Analytic Inc. did the carbon dating tests on the bones.

Miller said it's unusual to find bones of that age in the Hibbard area.

``There was nothing on the landscape to say this was special,'' she told the Post Register.

The remains of another American Indian were found in Teton County several years ago, Miller said, at a site that was a rendezvous area for traders. Those bones dated to the early 1800s.

``They can be in the ground for a long time and then they just sort of come to light,'' she said.

She said new development sometimes turns up such finds.

``It's almost always accidental,'' she said.