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Collective work To obtain this dating and overcome the different challenges which arose over the study duration of almost three years, collaboration was needed from specialists in different scientific disciplines such as geochronologists, geologists, archaeologists and paleoanthropologists, among whom are included several researchers from the CENIEH such as Josep María Parés and José María Bermúdez de Castro, coordinators of the program, as well as Laura Martín-Francés and Isidoro Campaña.

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Gran Dolina: a dating undergoing constant evolution With the constant improvement over time of the analytical techniques and dating methods, it has been possible to progressively refine the chronology of the archaeological site of Gran Dolina since its initial study, published in 1995.

The present work joins other recent studies centering on the lower levels.

Uranium-235 has a half-life of over 700 million years, while uranium-238 has a half-life of about 4.5 billion years, similar to the age of the Earth itself.

These properties mean that the radioactive decay of uranium to lead has previously been used to measure the age of rocks, including those of some of the oldest on Earth, but its use in direct dating of fossils is new. During fossilisation – typically within 1000 years after death – bone becomes enriched in elements including uranium, which decays spontaneously to lead over time.

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