This method is applied to two important sites in Russia and allows us to report the earliest direct ages for the presence of anatomically modern humans on the Russian Plain.
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Radiocarbon dating of bone collagen routinely focuses on the extraction of bulk proteins that are then purified before radiocarbon measurement.
However, the extracted bulk gelatin can be heterogeneous and include, or be cross-linked to, potential contaminants from the depositional environment, such as humic and fulvic acids, rootlets, cellulose, sediments, and other plant and animal remains including amino acids from bacteria and microorganisms (1, 2).
These inaccuracies in turn frustrate the development of archaeological chronologies and, in the Paleolithic, blur the dating of such key events as the dispersal of anatomically modern humans.
Here we describe a method to date hydroxyproline found in collagen (∼10% of collagen carbon) as a bone-specific biomarker that removes impurities, thereby improving dating accuracy and confidence.
One factor that makes them difficult to evaluate is that the amount of carbon derived from the laboratory protocols themselves was not reported. We have developed a protocol on the basis of preparative HPLC separation of amino acids hydrolyzed from bone collagen.