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Keywords:

  • RADIOCARBON;
  • ULTRAFILTRATION;
  • PRE-TREATMENT;
  • %N PRE-SCREENING;
  • EL SIDRÓN;
  • NEANDERTHAL

Torres et al. (2010) published a series of radiocarbon, AAR, ESR and OSL dates from the site of El Sidrón, northern Spain, which is notable for the discovery of the partial remains of 12 Neanderthals. Whilst the non-radiocarbon methods suggested an age beyond 32 600–46 300 years, direct radiocarbon dates on the human fossils were inconsistent, ranging between 10 000 and 50 000 bp. This study uses the ultrafiltration pre-treatment protocol to obtain a date of 48 400 ± 3200 bp (OxA-21 776) on a bone fragment and confirm the antiquity of the Neanderthal assemblage. Moreover, it demonstrates the comparability of the ultrafiltration and ninhydrin bone radiocarbon pre-treatment protocols, and highlights the need for appropriate screening methods where valuable collections with poor biomolecular preservation are sampled for collagen extraction.