The skeletal remains of the two bodies found buried in a badger hole near north Mountain Home on April 15 are from between 1436 and 1632, the Elmore County Sheriff Mike Hollinshead said Tuesday morning. Though Hollinshead said a significant amount of corn was found to have been in their diets, it was inconclusive as to whether the remains were those of Native Americans.
“This is a historical moment for Elmore County ... and the surrounding area,” Hollinshead said.
On April 17, authorities said partially uncovered remains had been found protruding from a badger’s den off Hot Creek Road. The sheriff’s office updated the body count to two the following week. The initial discovery was made by Idaho Fish and Game officers, and the deaths were first treated as a possible homicide, Hollinshead said.
Investigators used carbon dating to pinpoint the years of the remains. The bodies were initially thought to be children, with one between the ages of 3 to 5 and the other between the ages 4 to 9. The bodies were also thought to have been buried 15 to 20 years ago.
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The first carbon dating tests through Miami’s Beta Analytic Incorporated in May dated one body between 1436-1624 and the other from 1445-1632. Hollinshead said he opted for a second opinion and had the remains tested at the University of Arizona in June. Their testing determined the remains of one body to have been from 1436-1522 and the other from 1445-1524. The sexes of the remains were undetermined.
Though inconclusive, testing estimated one body was of a 20-year-old while the other remains were estimated to be of a 10- to 15-year-old. Homicide was ruled out.
“It was a total surprise,” Hollinshead said. “That’s why I requested a second (opinion).”
The remains have been turned over to the Bureau of Land Management. Lara Douglas, the manager for the Boise district of the Bureau of Land Management, said there are no plans for further digging. Douglas also said various Native American tribes have reached out.
“A number of tribes have already reached out claiming the remains,” Douglas said. “These finds are consistent with possible Native American remains.”