The Sima de los Huesos site of the Atapuerca complex near Burgos, Spain contains the skeletal remains of at least 28 individuals in a mud breccia underlying an accumulation of the Middle Pleistocene cave bear (U. deningeri). Earlier dating estimates of 200 to 320 kyr were based on U-series and ESR methods applied to bones, made inaccurate by unquantifiable uranium cycling. We report here on a new discovery within the Sima de los Huesos of human bones stratigraphically underlying an in situ speleothem. U-series analyses of the speleothem shows the lower part to be at isotopic U/Th equilibrium, translating to a firm lower limit of 350 kyr for the SH hominids. Finite dates on the upper part suggest a speleothem growth rate of c. 1 cm/32 kyr. This rate, along with paleontological constraints, place the likely age of the hominids in the interval of 400 to 600 kyr. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.