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28 May 2004
Ancient Native American burial uncovered

A family trying to add a room to their home in southern Indiana (USA) discovered ancient bones and Native American artifacts. Contractors started digging to build the home addition in Spencer County, and a few days later bones, stone artifacts and a piece of a skull had been found.
     The remains are likely 2,000 to 4,000 years old, a state archaeologist said. Jim Mohow, senior archaeologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the site was significant because fire pits or hearths also were found along with the burials. "This is certainly an above average site. It holds significantly more information about Indiana's prehistoric past than the average site." Mohow added: "Preliminary evaluation certainly identified at least two human burials, also evidence of prehistoric fire pits, and some prehistoric stone artifacts.
     Archaeologists have not yet analyzed the bones, but Mohow said the condition of the teeth indicated the remains likely were at least 2,000 years old. That is because the Woodland culture at that time had not yet acquired corn from western Indians. "While the teeth were heavily ground down and worn, they had no cavities. The condition of teeth in late Woodland populations just goes down the drain instantly," Mohow said. "Corn has a tremendous sugar content. Their teeth had never encountered anything like that before. It was a contributor to a great many more cavities than they had experienced before."
     The agency did not release the exact location of the site to protect it from looting. After a physical anthropologist studies the remains, officials will determine whether they should be kept for further examination or reburied. It could take several months for all the forensic testing to be completed, and anyone caught tampering with the secured site could face felony charges.

Sources: Associated Press, Kentucky.com (25 May 2004), Indystar.com (26 May 2004)

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