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In the new study using samples taken from Xingkai Lake near the Sino-Russian border in Heilongjiang province, the scientists used both radiocarbon dating and another method known as optically stimulated luminescence.Using light to measure the amount of free electrons trapped in quartz, the team was able to tell how long the samples had been kept away from sunlight, and therefore estimate when it was that they first fell in the lake.Prior to that, they had to depend on more rudimentary and imprecise methods, such as counting the number of rings on a cross-section of tree trunk.This all changed in the 1940s when US chemist Willard Libby discovered that carbon-14, a radioactive isotope, could be used to date organic compounds.1700 BCE — and contradict a presumed biblical linkage to the site.

Their recent analysis of sediment from the largest freshwater lake in northeast China showed that its carbon clock stopped ticking as early as 30,000 years ago, or nearly half as long as was hitherto thought.

Their work was detailed in a paper in the latest issue of the journal .

For over 50 years, scientists and researchers have relied on carbon dating to find the exact age of organic matter.

His theory was that all living creatures have a constant proportion of radioactive and non-radioactive carbons in their body because they keep absorbing these elements from the environment.

But as soon as the creature dies it stops absorbing these and sheds any trace of carbon-14 at a decay rate of 50 per cent every 5,700 years.

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