MIAMI (AP) _ Archaeologists say they have found human remains up to 2,500 years old in a downtown city park near a mysterious stone circle believed to have been used as a trading post by Tequesta Indians.
Test holes dug in the 2.4-acre Brickell Park have exposed the bones of at least 12 people, archaeologist Bob Carr told The Miami Herald. Carr said the remains span from about 500 B.C. to the year 500.
``It's an astonishing development,'' Carr said. ``This appears to be the selected mortuary for the Tequesta town on the south side of the Miami River. These were the people who were using the Miami Circle.''
The fact that scientists dug only 41 small holes but found so many remains means there could be between 50 and 100 bodies buried at the location, Carr said.
The discovery immediately ended plans for a high-rise on the site. Gotham Partners of New York, a development firm that conditionally agreed last month to buy the site for $18 million, has bowed out because of Carr's findings.
``I take this personally as a loss,'' said Stuart C. ``Neil'' Fisher, a West Palm Beach consultant for Gotham Partners. ``I knew it was a tough deal.''
Opponents of the development plan cheered the decision.
``These remains should be left alone. In peace,'' said Patricia Wickman, historic preservation officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
State law protects unmarked human burial grounds. Builders are required to avoid bodies or remove them under state supervision.
The park where the remains were found is located one block south of the Miami Circle, which was discovered in late 1998. It consists of 26 basins and other holes cut into a 38-foot-diameter circle.
Most archaeologists believe the circle is about 2,000 years old and was used as a ceremonial site by the now-extinct Tequesta tribe.
Brickell Park has been protected since 1924 by an agreement between the Brickell family and the city, surviving even as downtown Miami rose around it.
``This is a very significant site, one of the few where human remains are extensively preserved,'' Carr said. ``Scientifically, it's important. As a sacred site, it is particularly important.''