The Shroud of Turin: Proof of the Resurrection

Various Articles and Sources




The Messenger of At. Anthony Feb 1998


Cover feature

The Man of the Shroud has a name!

The imprint on the piece of cloth universally known as the Shroud of Turin is truly the face of Jesus of Nazareth! This is the conclusion of Maria Grazia Siliato, a Swiss archaeologist and expert on the Shroud, who granted us an exclusive interview

By The Editorial Board

cop3.jpg (33496 byte) 








The Deposition from the Cross,
by Gerard Davis (end 15th century),
National Gallery, London

After its miraculous ‘escape’ from a fire in Turin Cathedral last April, the Shroud, venerated as a relic of Jesus, has started to reveal its mysteries – and they don’t fail to astonish. Are you convinced that the image is only a forgery? Do you doubt the identity of the man portrayed? Do you think that the carbon-dating tests conducted in 1988 proved conclusively that the Shroud was an elaborate forgery dating from the 14th century?

Then sit comfortably in your armchair, take a deep breath, and read carefully what Dr. Maria Grazia Siliato, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Shroud, had to tell us. There are many things which will astound you, and much evidence which you have never heard mentioned which may make you want to think again.

As a scientific researcher specialising in early Christian archaeology, Dr. Siliato recently published a book, Shroud, which makes a thorough examination of all the archaeological, historical and scientific research which has to date been conducted into the world’s most famous burial cloth. "I believe," she says, "that this extraordinary archaeological document can be understood and accepted by believers and non-believers alike. But it needs to be studied with the necessary impartiality, as if one were studying the toga worn by Julius Caesar on the day of his assassination." Playing the part of the ‘Devil’s advocate’, we confronted Dr. Siliato with the most common objections against the authenticity of the Shroud.

Messenger: How can we be sure that the photograph which shows a negative image of Christ’s face isn’t just a fake?

Dr. Siliato: This is absolutely out of the question. No self-respecting scientist would even call the authenticity of this photograph into question any longer. The first photo was taken exactly a hundred years ago, in 1898, by the lawyer, Secondo Pia. On the negative could be seen the image of a man, with shoulder-length hair and a beard. He was in a prone position, with his hands crossed over his chest. Although covered with wounds and bruises, his expression in death is that of one who is spiritually calm and composed.

At the time, some people insinuated that Pia’s photographs had been ‘doctored’, suggestions which caused this man a great deal of suffering. Scientific recognition of the photographs’ authenticity only arrived in 1931, when another photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, was authorised to take a second series of photographs. This time, the photo session was official, and all the necessary checks made. On Enrie’s negatives, which were developed and printed on the same night they were taken, there appears the same image of the ‘Man of the Shroud’, thus conferring poor Mr. Pia with the recognition he deserved.

The Shroud was subsequently photographed many times, right up to the first colour shots taken by Judica-Cordiglia and the three-dimensional images obtained with the Interpretation System VP8 Image Analyser. We are now completely sure of the image’s authenticity.

How can we be sure that this image hadn’t been drawn onto the Shroud?

In 1978, some American scientists from the S.T.U.R.P. (Shroud of Turin Research Project) examined the Shroud in Turin with all the most modern and sophisticated equipment available, but they found no evidence whatsoever that the image had been drawn on. The very faint outline of the face and body could not possibly have been drawn – there are no traces of any kind of colouring. The imprint was left there through physical contact. Furthermore, traces of human blood were found on the Shroud...

In the past, some people have even suggested that the Shroud was the work of Leonardo da Vinci. This is completely ludicrous. It is well documented that the Shroud was brought to Turin by the House of Savoy in 1453, whereas Leonardo was born only a year earlier... In truth, no medieval painter would have understood the concept of a photographic negative. As I have already stated, the Shroud only revealed its secret in 1898, with Secondo Pia’s negative.

Could the traces of blood on the Shroud which you mentioned not have come from an animal?

No. The tests carried out by the scientists John Heller and Alan Adler have shown that it is blood from a human body in its death throes, which was already coagulating on the skin. This is how it came to leave traces on the Shroud. Only the wound on the thorax, which is 4 centimetres long and seems to have been caused by a spear-thrust, could have come from an already-dead body, since the blood is not coagulated. If the blood’s serum and red corpuscles separate, then the blood is that of a person who is already dead. It left a stain which seems like blood and water, as Saint John the Evangelist himself reported: "One of the soldiers thrust a lance into His side, and immediately blood and water flowed out," (John, 19:34).

How can you explain the existence of other revered shrouds aside from the one in Turin?

They are, basically, self-confessed copies of the true Shroud. The House of Savoy used to send them as gifts to churches and monasteries, in the same way as we send postcards or photographs today. Often, they even wrote on these copies extractum ab originali, that is, ‘taken from the original’. They are all hand-painted, and very rough copies, showing how difficult it is to paint something which really looks like the Shroud.

Don’t you think the blood on the Shroud seems too red to be so old?

When a person is cruelly tortured, the blood undergoes a terrible haemolysis, when the haemaglobin literally ‘breaks up’. In thirty seconds, the reaction reaches the liver, which doesn’t have time to deal with it, and discharges a volume of bilirubin into the veins. Alan Adler has discovered a very high quantity of this substance in the blood on the Shroud. It is this substance that, when mixed with methemoglobin of a certain type, produces that vivid red colour. The colour of the blood belonging to the ‘Man of the Shroud’ is chemical proof that, before dying, he suffered terrible torture.


p164.jpg (10187 byte)

The words ‘Jesus’,
under the chin,and
‘Nazarene’,to one
side,have been
highlighted in red

But on the imprints of the heels, one knee and the nose, traces of iron-ore oxide have been found. Is this not proof that at least the imprints of the wounds have been retouched with colouring?

p162.jpg (27108 byte)


No. Testing under the microscope has shown that this is soil mixed with blood. We should not forget that the ‘Man of the Shroud’ had to walk barefoot over rocky ground, hence the blood and soil around the feet. The other areas of soil mixed with blood show that he fell to his knees, hitting his face on the ground.
In 1988, three different, highly prestigious laboratories, in Tucson, Oxford and Zurich, dated the Shroud from the late Medieval period using the C14 radio-carbon dating method, which allows one to date an archaeological find by measuring how much radioactivity it loses each year. How can you refute such a precise test?

It was disproved by science itself, specifically by a Russian scientist, Dimitri Kuznetsov, a Lenin prize-winner. He had no idea what the Shroud represented, but he is one of the world’s foremost experts in the dating of cloth. His starting-point was the precept that, at just 300° Centigrade, there is isotopic exchange between materials in close proximity. And in 1532, the Shroud was only just saved from a fire in the chapel in Chambéry, in the Savoy region. There was some damage; the triangular burns which can be seen clearly on the Shroud, caused by the silver casket which contained it. But during the fire, the molecules of the cloth were affected by isotopic discharges from the silver, wood, silk and other materials of the casket. This increased the quantity of radiocarbon in the cloth, thereby ‘rejuvenating’ it.

To reinforce his theory, Kuznetsov took a piece of Jewish cloth, carbon dated to two thousand years ago, and subjected it to the same ‘heat treatment’: in subsequent C14 tests, it appeared to have come from a much more recent period.

So the scientists from the three laboratories mentioned made a mistake in their dating. But the margin of error was even greater because the piece of the Shroud which they examined was from the top left-hand corner, a portion which has been much-mended and heavily worn by the elements over the centuries. The average weight of the Shroud is 25 milligrams per square centimetre, but that of the sample examined was 43 milligrams. Basically, they examined a piece of cloth which had been mended many times. But in any case, even if they had chosen a better sample, the quantity of radiocarbon in the cloth had already been increased because of the fire, and so it would have been impossible to date the cloth correctly using this method. Who knows how much younger the Shroud will appear now, as a result of the third fire last year in Turin Cathedral?

A third fire? We know of only two, the one last year and the one in Chambéry in 1532.

If you look carefully at the Shroud, you can see four small holes distributed in an ‘L’ shape, caused by a fire which occurred prior to the one in Chambéry and which in themselves are enough to destroy the hypothesis proposed by radio-carbon dating. This is a discovery of Jerome Lejeune, the scientist who discovered the Down’s Syndrome gene. He was an enthusiastic student of ancient codes and in Budapest, he discovered a code dating from the end of the 12th century (the Pray Code), at which time, tradition retains that the Shroud was located in Constantinople. The emperor there had shown it to a group of Hungarian dignitaries, and one of them made a sketch of it in which the four holes in the shape of an ‘L’ can clearly be seen.p161.jpg (24111 byte)

Some scientists have shown that an imprint similar to that on the Shroud can be produced by placing a linen cloth on a red-hot statue. Do you think this is possible?

These scientists have not taken into consideration that the Shroud has a number of burns due to the fires it has experienced. All these burn marks appear fluorescent if subjected to ‘Wood’s light’ also known as ‘black light’, whereas the imprint of the ‘Man of the Shroud’ does not, and therefore cannot be the result of thermic effect. It is a natural imprint caused by a chemical effect similar to that involved in flower-pressing. Jewish law prohibited that the bodies of those who died a violent death be washed and perfumed. The scents aloe and myrrh, mixed with sodium bicarbonate, were therefore sprinkled on and under the cloth which wrapped Jesus. The linen thus acted as a kind of blotting-paper. The image would not have been immediately imprinted, it only appeared a few decades later when the cloth was being preserved as a relic by the first Christians in their flight from the Roman Legions, across the Dead Sea.

The first studies into this phenomenon were carried out by one Professor Volkringer, whose cloth herbals produced in the 1940s are only now beginning to develop the imprints made in those years.

How is it that the Shroud only first appeared in France in the 1300s, and that prior to that period, nothing was known about it?

The last few years have produced much evidence about the history of the Shroud before the 1300s.

For example:

In a letter which Theodore di Comneno wrote to the pope asking the Crusaders to return the Shroud which had been stolen from Constantinople in 1204 and taken to France;

How can you prove that the Shroud comes from Palestine?

In 1970, Max Frei Sulder found on the Shroud various types of pollen from plants that are typical to those regions through which the traditional story tells us that the Shroud passed: the Dead Sea, Edessa, Constantinople, Central Europe... These studies have recently been confirmed by Avinoam Denim, the director of the Botanical Institute in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

How can we be sure that the ‘Man of the Shroud’ is Jesus?

The latest and most dramatic discoveries concern a piece of writing on the Shroud itself. For years, people had been asking why below and to the sides of the chin there are three clear and regular lines where no imprint is present. The Paris-based organisation CIERT (Centre International d’Etudes sur le Linceul de Turin, The international centre of studies on the Shroud of Turin), which I represent in Italy, has conducted studies in the most advanced institute in Europe for image analysis via computer, the Institut Optique d’Orsay, whose director is Professor André Marion. All official photographs of the Shroud were divided into tens of thousands of squares which were then given a corresponding optical density and transferred onto a visualisation programme. By means of an extremely advanced programme, some letters gradually began to emerge, in Latin and in Greek: under the chin, we find written ‘Jesus’ and on one side, ‘Nazarene’. What is the explanation for this? The ‘exactor mortis’ the centurion charged with ensuring the execution of the condemned, had drawn strips of ‘glue’ onto the cloth on which he would write the name of the deceased with a red liquid. Where these strips were drawn, the cloth was impermeable and would not, therefore, be subject to the chemical process which subsequently formed the imprint.

This is a sensational discovery!

Absolutely! I can add something else which I am sure will amaze you. The wound on the wrist appears on the Shroud as a simple blood-stain. But if you pass an optical fibre between the cloth and the protective lining which was stitched to the Shroud in Chambéry in 1532, and photograph it from behind, the wound appears to be square. Due to dehydration, Jesus’ blood was very dense. Only in the place where the nail was removed was the blood sufficiently liquid to leave a trace, on the back of the cloth. There is a church in Rome, the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, where some objects of the Passion were donated by Saint Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine. She had found them at Golgotha, where her son had conducted the first archaeological dig in history, thereby discovering Jesus’ tomb, over which the emperor Hadrian had built a huge pagan temple. Only centuries later was doubt first cast upon these relics which, up to then, had always been considered authentic. One of these relics was a nail said to have held Jesus to the cross.

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I was overcome with emotion on discovering that the wound inflicted upon the ‘Man of the Shroud’ by the nail planted in his wrist, exactly one centimetre square, corresponds to the size of the nail found by Saint Helen. What is more, one of the other relics kept in the Church of the Holy Cross is a length of wood said to have been placed over the Cross with the name of the condemned man. On it, in Hebrew (written from right to left), Greek and Latin, is ‘Jesus the Nazarene’. I sent a photograph of these inscriptions to André Marion in Paris, and he has already discovered many similarities with the style of the writing only recently discovered on the Shroud.

The length of wood said to have been placed over the Cross







Father Francis Filas, SJ, mathematician, physicist and theologian, professor of Loyola University, Chicago, recalled to God on the 15th February 1985, aged 69 years.

Our historical investigation finds striking confirmation through palaeography, which dates the image to within two years. Our late lamented friend, Father Filas, sent us the complete file of this discovery, which, to his credit, he brought to completion though not having initiated it himself. This fact needs to be recalled, for it all began with a consensus of American scientists, vouched for by the preliminary work of the STURP team at Albuquerque in 1977 and by Jumper’s communication to the Congress of Turin in 1978. But it all ended in such a persecution of Father Filas starting from the meeting at Los Alamos in 1979, that to this day his file is as good as banned worldwide.

Why? For one reason only, which is totally alien to science: because we have here a dating of the image, and not just of the cloth, dating it to almost the actual year of the Event itself. It is the stamp or seal of Pontius Pilate, giving a date to which no scientist can raise any objection. Unless he maintains, as does Laurentin, who wrote to me saying that he can see nothing! Might as well deny the light of day in broad daylight. Judge for yourselves.


It is the three-dimensional analysis (figure 27) which gave birth to this hypothesis, but even a look at an ordinary photograph will clearly reveal a kind of disc placed over each eyelid, dark on the positive and light on the negative.

Figure 27: Close-up of the Face and facial and dorsal images as the appear on the video terminal of the VP8 image analyser.

Figure 28: The enlargement of the eyelid shows an imprint of the same size (15mm) and the same cut as this coin (to its left) stamped with the astrologer's staff, the emblem of Pontius Pilate.

Figure 29: The imprint of the astrologer's staff bordered on its curved side with four Greek letters: Y CAI.

An enlargement of this imprint, on the right eyelid (figure 28), enabled Father Filas to recognise the imprint of a coin struck under Pontius Pilate: the same size, same cut, the same effigy, the astrologer’s staff (figure 29), the same inscription recognisable, from four quite legible letters, as a certain coin duly catalogued for the years 16, 17 and 18 of Tiberius Caesar, which would be the years 29, 30 and 31 of our era (figure 28).

Figure 30: Three types of coins corresponding to the cut, to the motif and to the inscription of that which closed the eyes of Jesus. On the obverse side, all three bear the staff in the centre with the inscription TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC round the border.

a).On the reverse side of the first coin, there is a crown of laurels surrounding the inscription LIS which signifies the year 16 of the reign of Tiberius, the year 29 of our era.

b). On the reverse side of the second coin, LIZ indicates the year 17 of the reign of Tiberius, the year 30 of our era.

b). On the reverse side of the third coin, LIH indicates the year 18 of the reign of Tiberius, the year 31 of our era.


Confirmed by three-dimensional analysis (figure 31), the discovery was found to be definitively corroborated by its very fruitfulness, for it led to some unexpected progress in numismatic science. Four Greek letters, Y CAI, are in fact all that are needed to reconstruct the inscription TIBEPIO [Y KAI] CAPOC, "of Tiberius Caesar". But there is an anomaly: on the Holy Shroud a Latin C replaces the initial Greek K of KAICAPOC, which figures on all the coin collections known up to 1980 (see figure 32).

Figure 31: Confirmation of the three-dimensional analysis. The letters Y CAI are clearly visible at the top left, as well as the staff and even the outline of the coin.

Figure 32: above, a coin of Pontius Pilate with the staff surmounted by the letters CAICAPOC, with a Latin 'C' instead of the Greek 'K'.

Below: the imprint superimposed on a coin of Pontius Pilate shows that the letters Y CAI form the visible part on the Holy Shroud of the Greek inscription:


"of Tiberius Caesar", with the same anomaly: 'C' instead of 'K'.

Thereafter, to those who accused Father Filas of letting his imagination run away with him or of taking his desires for reality, he answered that, not being a numismatist, he had so little desire to see a coin of Pilate’s that "before I accidentally stumbled on this, he wrote to me, I would not have known a Pilate coin from a hole in the wall". He was obliged, therefore, to consult the numismatic specialists, and it was then that his discovery proved to be so little the work of his imagination that it was responsible for a positive progress in the study of numismatics itself. It revealed that the anomaly observed on the Holy Shroud and already recognised as being of common usage in inscriptions but hitherto unknown in numismatics, existed identically on other collection coins struck under Pontius Pilate, which no one had noticed before.

We have here a document dated within a year or two by the express Will of Him Who caused this Image to be imprinted on the cloth. For one would have expected to see shards of broken pottery used for covering the eyes, as was the Jewish custom, but it would not have been possible to read a date from them. Whereas the little coin proclaims: it is "under Pontius Pilate" that this Man suffered.




Fifteen years ago, we published a supplement on the Holy Shroud, under the above heading (CRC no 169, French edition, September 1981), devoted to a discovery by Piero Ugolotti and Father Aldo Marastoni. Numerical treatment of the images seems to confirm this discovery today (cf. André Marion and Anne-Laure Courage, Nouvelles découvertes sur le Suaire de Turin, Albin Michel, p. 172-230), although not decisively, in my opinion. Extreme prudence is still necessary until such time as we can have access to the Relic, in order to verify the real presence of these traces of writing on the Object itself.

So, I remain reticent as before, and find nothing to alter in the report you are about to re-read. I shall simply add an explanation suggested by the Abbé Georges de Nantes, all the more convincing in that it coincides precisely with the hypothesis proposed by Grégoire Kaplan, without any consultation between the two authors. We read in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew that the high priests and the Pharisees set seals on Christ’s tomb (Mt 27.65). IN NECEM and NAZARENOS may have been written on the seals by the official responsible for placing them, giving the name and state of the deceased: the "Nazarene", condemned "to death". Kaplan stresses the "legal character" of these inscriptions. If confirmed, they are more like insulting graffiti hastily scrawled by the murderers, in a cavalier manner expressing their total contempt for the "Nazarene" whom they have just put "to death".

Figure 33: The three (or four?) Hebrew letters are recognisable: Taw, Waw (which, because of the uncertain descending line, could be interpreted as a Yod), Tsadé and perhaps Lamed (photo Ugolotti).

On the occasion of the tests performed on the Relic by the scientists of the American team, in October 1978, Ray Rogers and Ronald London had pointed out that there are many strange little marks on the Shroud, which can probably be attributed to the molten silver of the Chambéry fire in 1532. "Shavings" and metallic products were observed in the radiographic analysis.

At the same time, in Italy, Piero Ugolotti was researching into the chemical composition of the imprint and made the same observation. Thinking that he was dealing with traces of writing, he consulted Fr. Aldo Marastoni, Professor of Ancient Literature at the Catholic University of Milan. The report of this detailed expertise appeared in Sindon (no 29, December 1980) written by Fr. Marastoni. I went to Milan to meet both of them, and I brought back ample palaeographic photographic documentation, some of which I have published here with their kind permission.

Figure 34: The sentence delivered by Pilate could immediately be enforced with no need for the imperial assent. But sentence was passed in the name of the Emperor, whose representative was the Procurator. This would explain the presence of the name TIBERIUS CÆSAR in the titulus damnationis. To the lower right, it is possible to distinguish the final E of IN NECE (see figure 35 – photo Ugolotti).

Above the right eyebrow, three Hebrew letters can be seen followed by a sign which Fr.Marastoni interprets as a punctuation mark, "indicating that the phrase ended with this word", since these two languages are read from right to left (figure 33). The Abbé Georges de Nantes, however, tends to see this fourth sign as a lamed. Whatever the case, these three (or four) letters form a word, or fragment of a word, Aramaic or Hebrew.

In the centre of the forehead, there are two fragments of words in lapidary Latin characters, perhaps "a double printing of the same signs" IB and IBER – "with the final R, but very uncertain, out of line and leaning towards the right", which it is very "tempting" to interpret as a remnant of TIBERIUS (figure 34).

Figure 35: The two Ns of IN NECE are traced without interval and they share a common bar: INNECE (photo Ugolotti).

On the left of the face, from the bottom upwards, it is possible to read "traced in 1st century AD uncial characters that are admirably clear, the words IN NECE". That is IN NECEM, for the final M was usually omitted in the common language. It signifies "TO DEATH" (figure 35).

The same expression, in an identical handwriting, can be read on a horizontal line below the chin, but reversed, and again, on the right of the face, from top to bottom. These words inescapably recall, not so much the frenzied shouts of the crowds thronging around Pontius Pilate’s tribunal, as the magistrate’s sentence itself. "The words ‘He delivered him up to be crucified’ (Mk 15.15)", writes Blinzler, "must be interpreted as a paraphrase of the death sentence. Had the Evangelists been interested in the legal side of the action, they would have written: ‘He condemned him to die on the cross’ or else, in direct style: He proclaimed: IBIS IN CRUCEM." (Le Procès de Jésus, p. 384)

Finally, the three-dimensional photo of the face shows up, on the left, some Latin capital letters, juxtaposed to IN NECE, but of a different writing. They are (figure 36), from top to bottom : "An S at the end of a word, an empty space, an N, a space in which it is possible to make out the traces of an E, which we have not transcribed, given the uncertainty of the reading. There follow an A, a Z traced by an inexpert hand – the oblique line of the Z unfortunately goes from left to right –, then the letters ARE. These are unquestionably the remains of the word: NAZARENUS."

Figure 36: Saint John is the only one of the four Evangelists to write that the titulus fixed to the Cross bore the name "Nazarene" as applied to Jesus.: "And Pilate also wrote a title and put it upon the cross; it read: Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews." (Jn 19.19). But this disciple was the only one who was an eyewitness to the scene of the crucifixion. He, therefore, adds precision to the account of the synoptics (photo Ugolotti).

All this calls for further examination: confirmation of the reading through new photographs; microscopic and microchemical research into the pigmentation of these letters. But even now, with all due reservation, it seems to me that, with Father Marastoni, we can "exclude [the hypothesis] that these are graphic signs due to a fortuitous convergence of other factors".

As for the source of these inscriptions, the Professor remains perplexed: "For practical reasons, I would exclude the possibility of their being traced directly on the forehead of the condemned man. I am thinking of a ‘mitre’ of shame, made of some absorbent material (papyrus or cloth), a makeshift improvisation, displaying on its front the polyglot formula constituting the titulus damnationis. The transfer of some of these letters on to the forehead would result from the sweat. The double impression of IB - IBER is explained by the slight movements of the ‘mitre’ during the execution."

Figure 37: Framing the contours of the face, two longitudinal lines (dark here) separate the hair from the cheeks. A third line, a transversal line, separates the Face from the thorax. The three branches of the U have given rise to different hypotheses, none of them particularly satisfactory. Today, it seems that they bear the inscription IN NECE repeated three times. In examining the best photos, one can make out the characters discovered by Piero Ugolotti and Father Aldo Marastoni.

For INNECEM, one can imagine "that a ‘fork’ (furca) would have been placed around the face of the condemned man, and that its extremities would have been fixed to the cross beam of the patibulum". But then, that would "suppose... that the shroud was also in contact with the patibulum or, at least, in one of its parts? When? How?" Ugolotti has constructed a complete system of explanation which thoroughly upsets the traditional representation of the Crucifixion scene. I am not sure that I fully understood it when reading the report he addressed to the International Centre of Sindonology, a copy of which he kindly offered me. The future will tell, in the light of further research, how much can be retained of his construction [which, today, in 1997, seems to me to be more than doubtful].

It is sufficient for his glory to have been the first to have discovered these venerable traces of writing and to have affirmed their existence. This needs saying despite all opposition. The photographic documents exist, and they are authentic. The research continues. Other traces of writing, minuscule fragments of letters, perhaps Greek, can also be seen, but Father Marastoni cuts short all investigation on this point: "The photographic material I have does not allow me to make a worthwhile reading." But one cannot fail to make the arousing connection – yet another one! – with the testimony of Saint John, according to which "Pilate wrote a title (...) and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin." (Jn 19.19-20).

At least, we can conclude, with Father Marastoni, that "the inscription NAZARENUS may constitute proof of an historical order, hitherto lacking, of the identity of the one who is called ‘the man of the Shroud’, and who would be Jesus of Nazareth, whilst the words TIBERIUS CÆSAR would corroborate this identification". That is a conclusion which, in its very prudence, is absolutely amazing because it corroborates and extends the conclusion of Father Filas.





Spring 1996 Mission

Science & the shroud

Microbiology meets archaeology in a renewed quest for answers

·          High magnification close-up of a shroud fiber (108k)

By Jim Barrett

Hoax or holy grail? The argument about the Shroud of Turin spans centuries. No one has proven it is the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, but its haunting image of a man's wounded body is proof enough for true believers.




Researchers from the Health Science Center now appear to have the clue to resolve a scientific contradiction: If the shroud is authentic, why does radiocarbon dating indicate that the cloth is no more than about 700 years old?

The shroud is unquestionably old. Its history is known from the year 1357, when it surfaced in the tiny village of Lirey, France. Until recent reports from San Antonio, most of the scientific world accepted the findings of carbon dating carried out in 1988. The results said the shroud dated back to 1260-1390, and thus is much too new to be Jesus' burial linen.

Now the date and other shroud controversies are under intense scrutiny because of discoveries by a team led by Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes, MD, adjunct professor of microbiology, and Stephen J. Mattingly, PhD, professor of microbiology. Dr. Garza is a pediatrician from San Antonio, and an archaeologist noted for expertise in pre-Columbian artifacts. Dr. Mattingly, president of the Texas branch of the American Society for Microbiology, is widely respected for his research on group B streptococci and neonatal disease.

After months examining microscopic samples, the team concluded in January that the Shroud of Turin is centuries older than its carbon date. Dr. Garza said the shroud's fibers are coated with bacteria and fungi that have grown for centuries. Carbon dating, he said, had sampled the contaminants as well as the fibers' cellulose.

Such startling findings ordinarily would be published in a scientific journal, but the team has waited. The shroud's ultimate custodian, the Catholic Church, has declined to designate the San Antonio fibers as an official sample. Dr. Garza received them in Turin, Italy, in 1993 from Giovanni Riggi di Numana, who took the official shroud samples for the carbon dating in the '80s.

Dr. Garza's hypothesis, however, transcends the shroud, and it is being taken seriously by archaeologists, microbiologists, and even those most

closely associated with carbon dating.

"This is not a crazy idea," said Harry E. Gove, PhD, co-inventor of the use of accelerator mass spectrometry for carbon dating. Dr. Gove is professor emeritus of physics at the University of Rochester in New York.

"A swing of 1,000 years would be a big change, but it's not wildly out of the question, and the issue needs to be resolved," he said.

Toward that end, the University of Arizona in Tucson is preparing carbon dating procedures to test the hypothesis on an ibis bird mummy that stylistically would date back to about 330-30 BC. Physicists will sample collagen from bone, which is relatively unaffected by bacteria and fungi, and compare its date to wrappings from the mummy. Textiles contain large quantities of bacteria and fungi because they have much more surface area by volume than a smooth object of similar size, therefore the mummy wrappings are important for comparison.




Two samples of mummy wrapping will be tested; one that is cleansed of contaminants with conventional methods, and another sample cleansed with a method developed by Drs. Garza and Mattingly. Dr. Garza has said the conventional method fails to remove the bacteria and fungi.

"I'm a bit skeptical, but I don't want to dismiss the theory. It is possible that contaminants could throw off the dates somewhat, but by how much?" said Douglas J. Donahue, PhD, physics professor at the University of Arizona and principal investigator at the National Science Foundation/Arizona's Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratories, where the tests are planned in the coming months. The site performed parts of the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud.

The unfolding events have engrossed museum curators, antiquities dealers, and scholars.

"This could be a great breakthrough in understanding the ancient world," said A. Rosalie David, PhD, keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum in England.

"If the theory is correct, and there seems to be a lot of evidence it is, this would be a spot check to tell if artifacts in museums or for sale on the market are genuine or fakes," Dr. David said. She has joined the project, and supplied samples from a museum mummy to the Arizona laboratories.




The San Antonio discovery goes back to the '80s when Dr. Garza discovered "biogenic varnishes" on an ancient Mayan carved jade called the Itzamna Tun. The artifact had been labeled a fake by two art connoisseurs in New York, he said. Carbon dating failed to come close to the carved stone's true age, and Dr. Garza identified masses of varnish that prevented accurate dating, thus upholding the jade's authenticity. The varnishes, he learned, are a plastic-like coating that is a byproduct of bacteria and fungi. In the Itzamna Tun's case, this bioplastic coating threw off the carbon date of ancient blood on the artifact by about 600 years.

Could this be true of the Shroud of Turin?

In May 1993, Dr. Garza traveled to Turin, and examined a shroud sample with the approval of Catholic authorities. "As soon as I looked at a segment in the microscope, I knew it was heavily contaminated," Dr. Garza said. "I knew that what had been radiocarbon dated was a mixture of linen and the bacteria and fungi and bioplastic coating that had grown on the fibers for centuries. We had not dated the linen itself."

Dr. Garza returned to San Antonio with a few threads from the lower right corner of the shroud. He enlisted Dr. Mattingly. Together they applied the principles of microbiology to the evaluation of several archaeological specimens. "Archaeomicrobiology," as they describe their discipline, had never been used before on the shroud or almost any other artifact.

At the Health Science Center and elsewhere, they examined samples using optical and electron microscopes and sophisticated viewing techniques, and photographed them under high magnification using special dyes and lighting. The researchers delicately sliced fibers to expose cross-sections of the bioplastic coating, and are working with an enzyme process to cleanse contaminated samples.

Because Egyptian mummies appear to have the same contamination on their wrappings, Egyptologists such as Dr. David are eager to learn whether the mummies are correctly dated. The Manchester Museum, for example, has supplied samples from its mysterious mummy No. 1770 for carbon testing using the Garza-Mattingly cleansing technique. British experts cannot fully explain why carbon dating of No. 1770's wrappings indicate they are 1,000 years younger than the bones.

Until now, archeologists attributed the discrepancy to the ancient Egyptians themselves. "The suggestion was that the body was found in a very damaged condition perhaps 500 years after it was first wrapped. The thinking is that the embalmers were uncertain who this was, but the spot where the mummy was found indicated it might be somebody of importance so they re-wrapped it to give it another chance at eternity. And that is where it was left until this discovery by Dr. Garza," she said.




In his discoveries about Mayan artifacts, Dr. Garza challenged orthodox thinking and relentlessly pursued his theory, which yielded significant results, said a longtime associate, George E. Harlow, PhD, curator of minerals and gems at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. "Many of us in science wander down a low-energy trough, studying the things we want to study, but Dr. Garza doesn't know or regard conventional wisdom very highly so it is stimulating to find out what he is doing. He deserves much credit for his willingness to challenge authority, pursue investigations and try to be objective."

Practicing science with the Shroud of Turin puts Drs. Garza and Mattingly in a charged atmosphere. Moving the shroud's origin back several centuries would place it closer to the time of Jesus' death, and certainly energize debate about whether the cloth is a hoax or holy grail.

Adding to the atmosphere, a third member of their team has identified a part of the shroud's markings as that of blood from a human male. No one has conclusively determined how the markings got on the linen, but they appear in bas relief in a perfect negative image. Experts have entertained theories that the markings came from paint, scorching, or accelerated aging. Victor V. Tryon, PhD, assistant professor in microbiology and director of the university's Center for Advanced DNA Technologies, examined the DNA of one so-called "blood glob" from two separate microscopic shroud samples. He reported isolating signals from three different human genes by employing polymerase chain reaction, which can detect pieces of double-stranded DNA.

Amid the debate, Drs. Garza and Mattingly cannot escape the fundamental question of whether they have real shroud fibers. A transfer of papal authority in Turin and a turn of events three years ago there further cloud the issue.

Turin's Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini has publicly questioned the authenticity of the sample. On Italian television in January, he was quoted as saying: "There is no certainty that the material belongs to the shroud so that the Holy See and the custodian declare that they cannot recognize the results of the claimed experiments."

Cardinal Saldarini rejected Dr. Garza's request in April 1993 to perform tests on shroud fibers. But his refusal came days after Dr. Garza had arrived in Turin, and obtained a sample that remained from the 1988 cutting for radiocarbon dating. He received the sample from Riggi, a scientist appointed by Saldarini's predecessor, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, to do the cutting. Ballestrero retired in 1990.

Where the new testing and other events will lead is uncertain, but few people deny the work of the Health Science Center team has expanded the scope of microbiology. In the process, the researchers have developed methods that promise to enhance the accuracy of radiocarbon dating. They also have given archaeologists a new tool to evaluate antiquities. And perhaps they have even opened a path that leads to an explanation of the enduring mysteries of the Shroud of Turin.





The Origin of the Shroud of Turin as evidenced by plant Images and by Pollen grains

The Shroud of Turin, the traditional burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, has been kept in the city of Turin (Torino), Italy, since 1578. It is made of fine linen, 4.35 m long by 1.1 m wide, bearing the full-length front and back images of a crucified man, along with many other less conspicuous images. Re-examination of pollen grains collected in 1973 and 1978 from the shroud, and investigations of plant images observed on several sets of photographs and on the shroud itself, enabled Prof. Avinoam Danin (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Uri Baruch (Israel Antiquities Authority) to discover a few indicator plants. The identification of these plants has prompted the researchers to state the following:


polln007.jpg (15701 bytes)

Scanning Electron Micrograph of a pollen grain of Gundelia tournefortii (x1400). This species accounts for 36.4 % of the 250 pollen grains derived from the Shroud of Turin and studied by us.


nature3a.jpg (18123 bytes)

Marked images of leaves, petioles, and a flower of Zygophyllum dumosum observed on photos and negatives of the Shroud of Turin from 1899, 1931, 1978, and on the linen of the Shroud itself. (The illustration on the right is


More links about the Pollens:

Floristic Indicators for the Origin of the Shroud of Turin
Avinoam Danin and Uri Baruch

Floral Images and Pollen Grains on the Shroud of Turin: An Interview with Dr. Alan Whanger and Dr. Avinoam Danin
John C. Iannone
The Origin of the Shroud of Turin From the Near East as Evidenced by Plant Images And By Pollen Grains
Dr. Avinoam Danin
Pressed Flowers: Where Did the Shroud of Turin Originate? A Botanical Quest
Avinoam Danin
Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin (CSST)



Science gives hope to shroud believers

AM - Monday, July  5, 1999  8:22

HAMISH ROBERTSON: New evidence has come to light in Israel, suggesting that the shroud of Turin really might have been Christ's burial cloth after all.

MEGAN GOLDIN: For millions, the shroud of Turin is Jesus' burial cloth. Kept in a medieval cathedral in the Italian city of Turin for centuries, monks and nuns have carefully preserved the linen cloth that's imprinted with the image of a crucified man with a remarkable resemblance to artistic depictions of Jesus throughout the ages. But in 1988, carbon-dating tests denounced the shroud as a 14th century fraud.

Israeli botanist Professor Avignon Danin disputes this. He is an expert on Israel's plant life, and has discovered 25 new species of flora. But now he is in the centre of a brewing storm that's put the shroud of Turin back in the spotlight. Years of studying pollen particles taken from the shroud, and an examination of the cloth itself, has convinced Professor Danin that the shroud of Turin originated in Jerusalem, and was used as a burial cloth some time during the months of March or April. For believers, that provides a direct link both to the city where Jesus was crucified, and the time of the year when the crucifixion took place.

But Professor Danin's first view of the shroud was anything but a religious experience.

PROFESSOR DANIN: All that was interesting to me apart from seeing the image of a person that I knew is there and I was surprised to see, yes, one can see, but I was searching for the plant images, so a couple lent me their binocular and I looked at the shroud and saw (inaudible) leaf. This was the moment when my heart was beating twice or three times the normal speed I had before.

MEGAN GOLDIN: And as a botanist, Professor Danin has identified the pollen particles and imprints of three plants that are all found only in Jerusalem. One of them, gondelia turnaforte, was present in extraordinary numbers. It's the same plant that scholars believe may have been used as the crown of thorns worn on Jesus' head.

PROFESSOR DANIN: As we saw image of this plant, gondelia turnaforte, on the shroud, it is evident that people brought the plant, the thorny plant and put it together with the person.

MEGAN GOLDIN: Professor Danin and another Israeli colleague, Uri Baruch, a pollen expert, say pollen grains found on another Christian relic, the sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be the cloth that covered Jesus' face, proves the shroud of Turin dates back further than the fourteenth century, the date concluded by the highly controversial carbon-dating tests. Professor Danin says his findings can't prove the image on the shroud, of a man about six foot tall with long hair, a beard and bloodstains from his hands and feet, was in fact that of Jesus.

PROFESSOR DANIN: It's not a matter of belief. What I am saying is that there are flowers and plants that come from the area of Jerusalem. It's not my expertise believing. My expertise is botany, and this is what I am telling you.

MEGAN GOLDIN: Flower imprints and pollens may never prove the cloth was Jesus' death shroud. But they could help bring back to repute, a religious belief once dismissed by science as a fake. And for those who believe the shroud of Turin is authentic, that may just be enough.


Jerusalem post

Local plant evidence supports authenticity of Shroud of Turin


JERUSALEM (April 14) - Powerful evidence supporting the view that the Shroud of Turin - the garment in which Jesus is said to have been wrapped after his crucifixion - originated in the Land of Israel has been provided by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Duke University in North Carolina.

The scientists have succeeded in identifying 28 species of plants that grow in the Land of Israel among the images of flowers that appear on the shroud. All of them grow in the area between Jerusalem and Jericho, and most are spring flowers that apparently were picked during the period of the crucifixion and placed on the 4.1 meter by 1.1 meter piece of linen.

On the shroud appears the negative image of a man with long hair and a moustache who had been cruelly whipped, and a number of blood spots were spattered on it. The human image is similar to drawings of Jesus that have been seen since the fourth century CE. There are also hundreds of images of flowers and other plants and objects on the shroud.

HU Prof. Avinoam Danin, an expert on the plant life of the Land of Israel, was asked in 1995 by Dr. Alan Whanger - a Duke University medical lecturer - and his wife Mary to study images of flowers on the shroud. They used a special process of photography, along with negatives and ultraviolet light scanning, to increase the contrast and make visible images that are not easily seen by the naked eye.

The Whangers, who are believing Christians, found hundreds of images of plants, particularly in the area of the human figure's head. They then matched these images to drawings in the authoritative botanical work, Flora Palaestina, and in this way identified 28 types of plants.

Danin verified their conclusions and was even able to determine that additional images on the shroud could be associated with plants from the Land of Israel.

"I can't say for certain that it was Jesus's shroud," said Danin, who disclosed his findings in a lecture to biology students last week and is still "very excited" about them. "But this evidence backs up the possibility that it is genuine, and there is no doubt that it comes from the Land of Israel."

The researchers plan to study rock rose pollen grains removed from the shroud in the 1970s and compare them with pollen from the same plants collected in Israel. They will also study the images of other ossified objects found on the burial cloth, including a nail, hammer, broom, rope, a ring of thorns, and a sponge.

Shroud of Turin came from Jerusalem


By TRACI ANGEL -- The Associated Press

The Shroud of Turin is shown in this 1979 file photo. A new analysis of pollen grains and plant images on the Shroud of Turin places its origin to Jerusalem before the 8th Century. (AP Photo: Barrie M. Schwortz)

 ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Shroud of Turin is much older than some scientists believe, according to researchers who used pollen and plant images to conclude it dates from Jerusalem before the eighth century.

 The study gives a boost to those who believe the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus and contradicts a 1988 examination by scientists who said the shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.

 In June, the researchers said the cloth originated in the Jerusalem area, also contradicting the 1988 study which concluded it came from Europe.

 The shroud's age is implied by pollen grains found on it that match those on another cloth associated with Jesus Christ, botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said Monday during the International Botanical Congress here.

 The other cloth has been kept in the same location since the eighth century, and its known history is even longer, traceable to the first century.

 The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth about 13 feet long and 3 feet wide that has been kept in the city of Turin, Italy, since 1578. It bears the image of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Jesus.

 The shroud also contains pollen grains and faint images of plants.

 "We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem," Danin said Monday, reiterating the findings released in June. "The sayings that the shroud is from European origin can't hold."

 Analysis of the floral images and a separate analysis of the pollen grains by botanist Uri Baruch identified a combination of plant species that could be found only in March and April in the region of Jerusalem, Danin said.

 Danin identified a high density of pollen of the tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii. The analysis also found the bean caper. The two species coexist in a limited area, Danin said.

 "This combination of flowers can be found in only one region of the world," he said. "The evidence clearly points to a floral grouping from the area surrounding Jerusalem."

 An image of the Gundelia tournefortii can be seen near the image of the man's shoulder. Some experts have suggested that the plant was used for the "crown of thorns."

 Two pollen grains of the species were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus.

 Danin, who has done extensive study on plants in Jerusalem, said the pollen grains are native to the Gaza Strip.

 Since the Sudarium of Oviedo has resided in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the eighth century, Danin said that the matching pollen grains push the shroud's date to a similar age. Both cloths also carry type AB blood stains in similar patterns, Danin said.

 "The pollen association and the similarities in the blood stains in the two cloths provide clear evidence that the shroud originated before the eighth century," Danin said.

 The location of the Sudarium of Oviedo has been documented since the first century. If it is found that the two cloths are linked, then the shroud could be even older, Danin said.

 The 1988 study used carbon dating tests. Danin noted that the earlier study looked at only a single sample, while he used the entire piece of fabric.


World: Europe

New 'evidence' in Turin Shroud mystery

Scientists have long argued over whether this is the face of Christ

The argument over the authenticity of the Turin Shroud has taken a new twist after researchers say they may have found fresh evidence that the cloth bears the face of Christ.

A team carrying out work in some of Rome's ancient catacombs have discovered a ceiling fresco which they believe shows the same man as the image on the holy relic.

They believe that the portrait dates from as early as 60AD, indicating it may have been painted by someone who had actually seen Christ while he lived.

Rex Morgan, an author on books on the Shroud, said he believed there was sufficient evidence to date the portrait to the first century.

"This painting looked to me to be very much the same features of the man on the Shroud of Turin," said Mr Morgan.

"All the earliest portraits are all Romanesque figures, beardless and youthful, whereas this one is very clearly a ... Jew with long black hair and a beard and other features you would associate with the traditional likeness of Christ."

"If we are right and it was painted in, let's say, about 60AD, it could very well or would almost certainly have been painted by an eye-witness, someone who had actually seen the man."

Mr Morgan suggested that St Mark may have commissioned the portrait but he added that it could not conclusively prove the image on the shroud is that of Christ.

"What it does, is adds another link into the very many pieces of evidence which suggests that the Shroud of Turin is a 2,000 year old item.

"You are never going to prove it's the shroud of Christ, but it's another link in this extraordinarily mysterious chain of evidence."

Debate rages on authenticity

Scientific tests have cast doubt on the age of the Turin Shroud, indicating it might date from the Middle Ages.

But other evidence suggests it is not a painting and the image could have been left by a corpse.

More intriguing still, computer analysis indicates the shroud has unusual three-dimensional properties and scientists have also found traces of pollens from the Middle East.

The shroud recently went back on view at Turin Cathedral and thousands made a pilgrimage to the city to see the relic.

Speaking during his visit, Pope John Paul II called on scientists to keep an open mind about the shroud.

Shroud Questions from

Q: Could you give some insight as to the length of the hair the men wore during the time of Christ? This question came up in light of the scripture reference found in I Corinthians 11: 14, 15, where it indicates that nature itself teaches us that it is a shame for a man to have long hair. The image on the Shroud appears to have shoulder length or longer hair.. Therefore, it does not seem feasible that Jesus would do something that he did not want his followers to do and give them instruction on how to appear in regards to the grooming of their hair if he wore his hair in direct opposition of the instructions he gave to them.

Once again I asked Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, a biblical scholar, theologian and Shroud historian to draft the response to this question. Here is his reply:

A: Recently I had a very similar question posed by a young man from Indiana. My response was as follows:

I'm afraid that your "Jewish authority" is mistaken with regard to the length of hair for Jewish males in the first century C.E. (i.e. Common Era).

According to R.C. Dentan in an article written for The Interpreter's Bible Dictionary:

"HAIR. The hair's capacity for constant growth has always made it seem an important seat of life and, therefore, religiously significant. The most notable example of this in the Bible is in the case of the NAZIRITE VOW (Num. 6:12 1; Judg. 13:5; 16:17; 1 Sam. 1: I 1), one aspect of which was to allow the hair to grow long so that it might be presented to God as an offering (Num. 6: 18; Acts 18:18; 21:23-24). Samson's hair, in the final form of the story (Judg. 13:5), appears to have been left long in fulfillment of such a vow, although originally it had a more primitive significance as the repository of his strength Judg. 16:19, 22). The shaving of the head in mourning (Job 1:20; Isa. 15:2; Jer. 41:5; 47:5; 48:37; Ezek. 7:18) and the offering of the hair to the dead were part of ancient religious practice, but forbidden to the Hebrews (Deut. 14: 1). Indeed, the complete shaving of the head was forbidden to them for any purpose (Lev. 19:27; cf. Jer. 9:26; Ezek. 44:20). In the OT, long hair on men was greatly admired (II Sam. 14:25-26; cf. Song of S. 5:2, 1 1), but in the NT it is frowned upon as contrary to nature (I Cor. II: 14). Although women wore their hair long (I Cor. 11:15), the biblical writers deplore the excessive ornamentation of it (Isa. 3:24; 1 Pet. 3:3). The hair is a symbol of the fine (Judg. 20:16), the small (Luke 21:18),and the numerous (Matt. 10:30)."

When it comes to the passage from I Cor. 11:14-15, one must remember that it was written at least 20 years after the death of Jesus. Closer study will reveal that it is simply Paul's personal opinion and certainly not a regulation which would have applied to Jesus during his lifetime. Once again a quote from The Interpreter's Bible volume devoted to I Corinthians may prove useful in this case:

"[Today it would be] considered folly to argue, as Paul implies, that men are likely to be less spiritually sensitive or alert because their hair is worn long, or that a woman loses spiritual and social standing because her hair is short, or because she appears in public with her head uncovered. The argument would have been unconvincing, in some respects at least, even in Paul's day; for Greek heroes often wore long hair, and many ancient philosophers, as well as their modern counterparts, followed the same practice. Paul is entitled to his opinion and to his adherence to social custom. He is not entitled to make his personal opinion, or the prevalent social customs of his time, the basis of a moral law or of a categorical imperative of the Kantian order. What is permanent in all this discussion is that the conduct of church affairs, and public worship in particular, should be marked by reverence and order, by dignity and decency. Nothing should be permitted that attracts undue attention to itself." [Emphasis added.]

A careful study of the Shroud of Turin will reveal that not only did this man have shoulder length hair and a beard, but if you study the dorsal or back side you can also detect an unplaited ponytail - a hairstyle favored by young men at that time. Logic alone would seem to indicate that one wouldn't have enough hair for a ponytail unless at least that hair on the back of the head was long.

Though Jesus was not a Nazarite, this group is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church as:

A body of Israelites specially consecrated to the service of God who were under vows to abstain from drinking the produce of the vine, to let their hair grow and to avoid defilement by contact with the dead (Num. 6).

Once again we have evidence that at least some Jewish males wore long hair.

If you study art from the Byzantine to Western European, Jesus is traditionally portrayed with long (i.e. shoulder length) hair. The objection to this style is relatively modern and is probably based on a bias to its making the wearer appear too feminine.

The Rev. Albert R. Dreisbach, Jr


Q: In the Bible (John 19:38-42), it says that Jesus was wrapped in linen cloths (plural). There was also another cloth that was wrapped around his head. The Shroud is only one piece of cloth. I was wondering if there was any explanation.

I asked Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, a biblical scholar, theologian and Shroud historian to draft the response to this question. Here is his reply:

A: The Shroud and Other "Cloths" Used in Jesus' Burial

Students new to the study to the Shroud are sometimes confused by apparent inconsistencies in the description of Jesus' burial cloth or cloths. In truth, the Bible - when read in Greek - uses a variety of terms to describe them.

The Synoptic Gospels use the word sindon in the singular to designate the Shroud (Matt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46 (twice); Lk. 23:53). Sindon appears only six times in all of the New Testament. In an anecdote unique to Mark, it is used twice in 14: 51-52 to describe the linen cloth left by an unnamed young man when he fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane.

In Jn. 19:40, the Fourth Gospeller uses the word othonia [Gk.] (plural) to describe the linen cloths used in the Burial. Othonia, a word of uncertain meaning, but probably best translated as a generic plural for grave clothes. The same word is used by Luke or his scribe in Lk.24:12 what had previously been described as the sindon in Lk. 23:53. Note: vs. l2 (But Peter rose and ran to the tomb, stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths (plural) by themselves; and he went home wondering what happened.) does not appear in the most ancient manuscripts, but is added by later ancient authorities.

Next we discover (keirias) [Gk.] translated by the RSV as bandages in Jn. 11:44's description of the raising of Lazarus. In actuality, linen strips used to bind the wrists and ankles and probably also used on the outside at the neck, waist and ankles to secure the Shroud to the body.

Finally we come to the word sudarion [Gk.] which is found in the canonical texts solely in John (11:44. 20:7) and Luke (l9:20; Acts l9:12). It is translated by the RSV as "the napkin which had been on his head" (Jn. 20:7) and earlier in 11:44 as the cloth with which Lazarus' face was wrapped. Scholars like the late Dr. John A.T Robinson ( "The Shroud of Turin and the Grave Cloths of the Gospels") and J.N. Sanders regard it as a chin band going around the face/head for the purpose of keeping the corpse's jaws closed. Certainly this appears to be the intent of the artist who drew the manuscript illustration for the Hungarian Pray mss, Fol. 27v, Budapest of 1192-95 which clearly illustrates that the Shroud's full length image(s) were known in the 12th century. (See Ian Wilson, 1986, The Mysterious Shroud, Garden City, NY; Doubleday & Company, p.115. See also Bercovits, I. 1969, Dublin: Irish University Press. Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, pl. III.) .

Rev. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach

Editor's Note: For more information on a related subject, see the Centro Espanol de Sindonologia's (CES) Website page on the Sudarium of Oviedo, a Spanish cloth said to be related to the Shroud and suspected by some to be the missing facecloth. The CES Website provides both English and Spanish language pages and can be accessed directly from the "Links To More Information" page of this website.


Breaking News

A January 20, 2005 article in the scholarly, peer-reviewed scientific journal Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425, pages 189-194, by Raymond N. Rogers, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California) makes it perfectly clear: the carbon 14 dating sample cut from the Shroud in 1988 was not valid. In fact, the Shroud is much older than the carbon 14 tests suggested.  

No matter what any one of us may believe about the Shroud’s authenticity, we can no longer say that carbon 14 dating proves medieval origins; for the tests in 1988 were botched. For those who after 1988 continued to believe that the Shroud was the genuine burial cloth of Jesus, a winter of ridicule and doubts has ended. For all who use carbon 14 dating to study all manner of ancient objects, a period of careful reassessment is just beginning.

There are, in understanding what went wrong, important lessons that will ripple through archeology, anthropology, forensics and science lecture halls whenever and wherever carbon 14 dating is discussed. Students will ask why a single sample from a suspect corner was used. They will wonder why protestations from experts in the Shroud's chemistry were ignored. The will ask why documented data was not considered. They will talk about the clues of material intrusion that were simply ignored.

Material intrusion is well known in the application of carbon 14 dating. A classic example is to be found in the dating of peat bogs. Very old bogs often contain miniscule roots from newer plants that grew in the peat. The roots of these plants, sometimes having decomposed, are nearly indistinguishable from the older peat. What ends up being tested is a mixture of old and new material which produces an average, meaningless carbon 14 age.  No one seemed to consider, in 1988, that material intrusion might be a serious problem with the Shroud of Turin carbon 14 dating even though clues were there.

The 1988 carbon 14 dating failure will not be ignored; for how does one ignore such a famous example. It should not be ignored because of the lessons to be learned. It cannot be ignored so long  students raise hands and Google-check lecture notes. It should not be ignored when journalists and authors write about carbon 14 dating. There are textbooks, encyclopedias and many websites to be updated.

This is not a condemnation of carbon 14 dating. It is an extraordinary technology that with uncanny precision can count the approximately one in a trillion carbon 14 isotopes that exist compared to the more common carbon 12 and carbon 13 isotopes; isotopes that exist in all living material and material that once was living. In the case of the Shroud it was the fibers of flax plants from which linen thread is made. When a plant or animal dies it no longer absorbs carbon.  And so begins a process that can be measured. Because carbon 14 is radioactive, it decays.  And because scientists know the rate of decay, measured in half-lifes, they can calculate how old something is. The current state of the technology is useful for dating things younger than 50,000 years. For material that is only a few thousand years old, carbon 14 dating is very accurate and very reliable.

Because of the carbon 14 dating, the Shroud of Turin, a religious object important to Christians of many traditions (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant and Evangelical;  conservative and liberal alike) has been cast into the spotlight of secular science. It is not because the Shroud is famous, although it is. It is because the 1988 carbon 14 dating was made famous. And because it was made famous, and because it will now be discussed, the related science of the Shroud will also get attention:


Average Storage Temperature Equating to Constant in Celsius Average Storage Temperature Equating to Constant in Fahrenheit Age Indicated by a conservative 95% loss of Vanillin
25 °C 77 °F 1319 Years
23 °C 73 °F 1845 Years
20 °C 68 °F 3095 Years
From the article in Thermochimica Acta: "A linen produced in A.D. 1260 would have retained about 37% of its vanillin in 1978. The Raes threads, the Holland cloth [shroud's backing cloth], and all other medieval linens gave the test for vanillin wherever lignin could be observed on growth nodes. The disappearance of all traces of vanillin from the lignin in the shroud indicates a much older age than the radiocarbon laboratories reported."


Famous Carbon 14 Dating

The carbon 14 dating of the Shroud is famous because those who had difficulty accepting the results were ridiculed and called fanatics by tough-minded skeptics. On public television, a prominent Oxford scientist, Edward (Teddy) P. Hall, who played a significant role in exposing the Piltdown man hoax and who participated in the carbon 14 dating of the Shroud, expressed his views openly: “We have shown the Shroud to be a fake. Anyone who disagrees with us ought to belong to the Flat Earth Society.” 

The carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin is famous because it spawned so many conspiracy theories posing as history. John Dominic Crossan, the famed Jesus Seminar scholar, proposed that someone in medieval times was crucified by a crafter of fake relics in order to produce the Shroud. Others proposed that Leonardo da Vinci created it even though the Shroud was well known in Europe a century before Leonardo was born. Walter McCrone, a renowned microscopist who examined some borrowed fibers from the Shroud, claimed that the images were painted, just as a medieval bishop, Pierre d’Arcis, had claimed in 1389. The painting claims are preposterous because other unimpeachable chemical studies prove otherwise.

The carbon 14 dating of the Shroud is famous because Nature, the prestigious international weekly journal of science, published an article about the tests. It was coauthored by no less than twenty-one scientists from the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, the Institut für Mittelenergiephysik in Zurich, Columbia University, and the British Museum. The conclusion in Nature was clear: 

The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260 - 1390 (rounded down/up to nearest 10 yr). These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.

The carbon 14 dating of the Shroud is famous because so many people doubted the results, doubted such prestigious scholarly, scientific authority? Partly, it was because the Shroud of Turin is a religious object; millions believe it is the real thing, the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. Partly, it was because there was a lot of other evidence that argued that the Shroud was plausibly real. And partly, it was because there were persistent clues that the tests were invalid. The faithful believers, the scientists and the historians who were weighing other evidence were arguing that something seemed wrong. They would, in the years following 1988, try to figure out what that was.


Why Might the Carbon 14 Dating Be Wrong

Various theories bubbled up, were exposed to scrutiny, and burst. Some suggested that the snippet cut from the shroud for testing was from a section of the shroud that had been damaged and rewoven. Others suggested that the sample was contaminated with residue from a damaging fire in 1532. But the scientists who conducted the carbon 14 tests refuted these suggestions. They denied that the sample was taken from a damaged area and they argued that any residue from the fire would have been removed during the sophisticated cleaning process that precedes actual testing. 

Leoncio Garza-Valdes, a Texas pediatrician and amateur archeologist, and Stephen Mattingly of the University of Texas offered another suggestion. They claimed that they found an organic bioplastic contamination on the Shroud that would not have been removed with the cleaning process that the labs had used.

The bioplastic idea gained traction among many Shroud researchers when Harry E. Gove, a nuclear physicist at the University of Rochester who designed the carbon-dating methods used on the Shroud, gave tentative support to Garza-Valdes and Mattingly. Jeffery L. Sheler, writing in the July 24, 2000, issue of U.S. News & World Report, quotes Gove:  

"There is a bioplastic coating on some threads, maybe most."  Gove goes on to say that if there is a sufficient quantity of bioplastic it "would make the fabric sample seem younger than it should be" in the carbon 14 dating. 

But the bioplastic idea came up short. Garza-Valdes had said: "With a scanning electron microscope, I found the fibers were completely covered by the bioplastic coating (polyhydroxyalkanoate) and by many colonies of fungi which usually thrive on this polymer..."  But other scientists find this statement flawed and this probably explains why the bioplastic idea was not be published in a peer reviewed journal. For one thing, there is no way to determine the definitive composition of an organic material by scanning electron microscope.  Garza-Valdes'  provided photomicrograph showing a "filamentous
cell" that turned out to be an ultimate cell from the flax structure. 
Furthermore, it is well known that such polymers obtain their carbon material from the host (fibers in this case) and not from the atmosphere, hence they would not significantly alter the carbon 14 dating. Even if they could alter the date, the amount of material needed  would to be significant. On this point, Gove took exception with the bioplastic theory by explaining that the quantity of biological material would be very significant.

Ray Rogers explains: 

Even assuming that the coating formed all at once in the 20th Century during a high­fallout time, when bomb-produced 14C was high, an observable error in the age determination would require the addition of a significant amount of material to the surface of the Shroud. 

Because significant material could be easily detected, fibers from the Shroud were examined at the National Science Foundation Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry examination failed to detect any form of bioplastic polymer on fibers from either non-image or image areas of the Shroud. Additionally, laser-microprobe Raman analysis at Instruments SA, Inc. in Metachin, NJ, also failed to detect any bioplastic polymer.  

As it turns out, those who suggested that the carbon 14 samples were from a rewoven area were right. This is what was reported in Thermochimica Acta on January 20, 2005.

Thermochimica Acta is not the sort of journal you will find in the reading room of public libraries. It’s a journal about thermoanalytical and calorimetric science. It is mainly for chemists. It is a peer reviewed journal which means that articles are carefully examined by other scientists to ensure that the science is true, methods are sound, and all explanations and conclusions are completely free of logical fallacies. Peer review, an exacting process of challenge and correction, is the normal way that scientists announce their findings. Rogers’ findings were that the samples were invalid and indeed the Shroud is significantly older than the carbon 14 dating suggested.  


Carbon 14 Dating Scientists Fooled

When the Piltdown man hoax was uncovered in 1953, sophisticated chemical analysis techniques, developed in part by Teddy Hall, showed that skull fragments and other bone pieces had been expertly dyed to look older and match each other. This was done to fool people into thinking the bones were very old. People were fooled and many thought that the Piltdown man might be the missing link.  

In the case of the Shroud of Turin, it was threads were dyed to look older and to match other threads.  But it wasn’t the threads of the Shroud itself that were dyed. It was a small area in one corner of the Shroud where some mending threads had been dyed to look like the rest of the age-yellowed Shroud. Chemical analysis proves this. There is absolutely no doubt about that.  

In the case of the Shroud it was the carbon 14 testers that were fooled. And they should not have been fooled. There were clues that warranted investigation: 

  • In 1973, Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology was given permission to remove a small sample from a corner of the Shroud. In the sample he found cotton fibers.  It might have been that the cotton was leftover fibers from a loom that was used for weaving both cotton and linen cloth. It might have been that the Shroud was exposed to cotton much later, even from the gloves used by scientists. However, when later he examined some of the carbon 14 samples, he noticed that cotton fibers, where found, were contained inside threads, twisted in as part of the thread. It is important to note that cotton fiber is not found anywhere else on the Shroud. 
  • P.H South, while examining threads from the sample on behalf of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory found similar indication of cotton. To him it seemed like material intrusion. In an article entitled "Rogue Fibers Found in Shroud," published in Textile Horizons in 1988, South write of his discovery of "a fine dark yellow strand [of cotton] possibly of Egyptian origin, and quite old . . . it may have been used for repairs at some time in the past, or simply bound in when the linen fabric was woven." 
  • Teddy Hall, of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, also noticed fibers that looked out of place. 
  • Giovanni Riggi, the person who actually cut the carbon 14 sample from the Shroud stated: "I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric …"  (italics mine)
  • Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, wrote:  “…1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.”  (italics mine)
  • Al Adler of Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample area, up to 2%, by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. The question should have been asked: why aluminum?  It is not found elsewhere on the Shroud.

In the years following the carbon 14 dating, in the years when careful reexamination seemed warranted, other compelling reasons to be suspicious emerged:

·        Chemical analysis of the lignin of the flax fibers did not test positive for vanillin. If the Shroud was medieval, it should have. Vanillin disappears slowly from the lignin in flax fibers and all of it has disappeared except in the immediate vicinity of the carbon 14 sample. This indicated that the cloth was much older than the carbon 14 dating suggested and that the carbon 14 sample area was certainly chemically different. 

Average Storage Temperature Equating to Constant in Celsius Average Storage Temperature Equating to Constant in Fahrenheit Age Indicated by a conservative 95% loss of Vanillin
25 °C 77 °F 1319 Years
23 °C 73 °F 1845 Years
20 °C 68 °F 3095 Years
From the article in Thermochimica Acta: "A linen produced in A.D. 1260 would have retained about 37% of its vanillin in 1978. The Raes threads, the Holland cloth [shroud's backing cloth], and all other medieval linens gave the test for vanillin wherever lignin could be observed on growth nodes. The disappearance of all traces of vanillin from the lignin in the shroud indicates a much older age than the radiocarbon laboratories reported."


·        In 1973, Gilbert Raes, of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology, had cut a small piece from a corner of the Shroud. One part of it contained cotton fibers among the flax fibers while another part of it did not. Rogers, following up on Raes’ examination of the 1973 sample, also found cotton. Moreover, Rogers found dyestuff and spliced threads that were not found elsewhere on the Shroud.  It is significant to note that the carbon 14 sample was taken from a spot adjacent to the Raes sample.

·        In 2000, M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino, working with a number of textile experts, examined documenting photographs of the carbon 14 sample and found evidence of expert reweaving that joined disparate materials almost at the middle of the sample. The consensus was that there was about 60% new material and 40% original material in the sample. If that is the case, and if the repair was made in the early 1500s as history suggests, then according to Ron Hatfield of Beta Analytic, a first century date for the cloth is reasonable.

·        In 1997, Remi Van Haelst, a Belgium chemist, conducted a series of statistical analyses that strongly challenged the veracity of the conclusions of the carbon 14 dating. Significantly, he found serious disparities in measurements between the three laboratories and between the sub-samples (various tests and observations performed by the labs). Bryan Walsh, a statistician and physicist, examined Van Haelst’s work and further studied the measurements. The essential conclusions were that the samples, and indeed the divided samples used in multiple tests, contained different levels of the carbon 14 isotope. The differences were sufficient to concluce that the sample were non-homogeneous and thus of questionable validity. Walsh found a significant relationship between various sub-samples and their distance from the edge of the cloth. If indeed a patch was rewoven into the cloth and if the joining of old and new material ran at an angle through the sample cuttings (as it appears to do so) then all this makes sense.


Carbon 14 Dating Samples Studied

In December 2003, Rogers was able to obtain material from the actual carbon 14 sample cutting used for testing in 1988. This material had been saved from the center of the carbon 14 samples before they were distributed to the carbon 14 laboratories. What Rogers found proved that the sample was bad. He found threads encrusted with a plant gum containing alizarin dye; a dye that is extracted from Madder root. Some of the dye was complexed with a common mordant, alum (hydrous aluminum oxide). He found cotton fibers. And he found spliced threads. The dyestuffs, the cotton fibers and spliced threads are not found elsewhere on the Shroud.

In Thermochimica Acta, Rogers wrote: 

The combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms proves that the material from the radiocarbon area of the shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth. The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud. 

Rogers doesn’t simply prove that the sample was invalid. Rogers provides alternative ways to understand that the Shroud was certainly older than the 1988 carbon 14 dating debacle implied.


Here is an article from John Jackson, co-founder of the 1978 STURP team and founder of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, and discusses his new hypothesis regarding the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, based on possible c14 enrichment of linen due to the CO (carbon monoxide) in the atmosphere. According to Jackson, a 2% contamination could skew the resulting date by as much as 1400 years. Rather than attempt to describe Jackson's theory myself, I asked John to write a short article to describe it in his own words. You can find it at this link: A New Radiocarbon Hypothesis by John Jackson.


Physical Examination of the Shroud by Jack Kilmon

FACT: The shroud is a linen cloth measuring 4.6 x 1.1 meters corresponding to a standard measurement of 8 x 2 Philetaric cubits in use in Palestine during the first century. (see Whiston, W., Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, Winston. Chicago, p. 1008-1009)

FACT: The shroud is a herringbone twill with a 3:1 weave, of probably 1st century Syrian design. The flax fibrils contain entwisted cotton fibrils from a previous work of the loom. The cotton is Gossypium herbaceum, a Middle Eastern species not found in Europe. (Raes, G.: La Sindone, 1976; Tyrer, J. Textile Horizons, Dec, 1981)

FACT: The shroud contains pollen grains from 58 species of plants, 17 indigenous to Europe where the artifact has been for 7 centuries and the majority being plants indigenous, some exclusively, to the area of the Dead Sea and Turkey. These include Nyoscyamus aureus, Artemisia herba-alba and Onosma syriacum. (Frei, M., La Sindone, Scienza e Fide, Bologna, 1983; Frei, M., Shroud Spectrum International 3, 1982)

Conclusion: The linen of the shroud was manufactured and woven in the Middle East, most probably Syria, and is a design used in the 1st century, albeit uncommon and expensive.

Image on the Shroud

The shadowy image on the shroud is, of course, its most unique and enigmatic feature. It displays the complete dorsal and frontal image of a severely abused and crucified individual of Semitic characteristics who was laid on the proximal portion of the cloth with the distal portion folded over the head and extended over the body thus creating, through some as yet unexplained chemical or physical process, two "head to head" images of the back and front. The ghostly, sepia colored image is nearly imperceptable close-up but discernable at a distance. It was not until the first photographs were taken of the shroud in 1898 by Turin Councillor Secondo Pia that the negative plates revealed the startling "positive" of the clear picture of the "man in the shroud." The image is of a male, almost 6’ tall, bearded, severely abused and scourged with the distinctive "dumbell" markings of a Roman flagrum. Bloodstains are evident from wounds in the wrists, feet, about the head and brow, and the left thoracic area with pooling under the small of the back and under the feet. The image of the "man in the shroud" also displays signs of beating about the face, swelling under the eye and shocks of his beard having been ripped from his face (a common form of abuse to Jews by Romans). The debate on the authenticity of the shroud focuses on whether this image was transferred to the linen by some means from a real corpse or whether it was artificed by a clever forger.

Chief among the proponents of the image as a "painting" was W. C. McCrone, one of the most respected names in particle analysis. McCrone reliably detected iron-oxide particles throughout the shroud using only optical technique and attributed it to the base of artist’s paint. (McCrone, W. C., The Microscope, 29, 1981, p. 19-38; McCrone, W. C., Skirius, C., The Microscope, 28, 1980, pp 1-13.) Particular attention in this regard was given to the purported "bloodstains" of the image.

FACT: The shroud linen contains particles of iron-oxide.

The debate on the authenticity of the shroud became centered on whether the reliable presence of iron oxide was relevent to the shroud image and the "bloodstains" on the cloth and the precise nature and origin of the iron oxide. A part of the answer to this was provided by x-ray fluorescent analysis performed by STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) scientists R. A Morris, L. A. Schwalbe and J. R. London which determined there was no relevence between concentrations of iron oxide particles and the varying densities of the image. (Morris, R. A., Schwalbe, L. A., London, R. J., X-Ray Spectrometry, Vol 9, no. 2, 1980, pp 40-47; Schwalbe, L. A., Rogers, R. N., Analytica Chimica Acta 135, 1982, pp 3-19)

FACT: Iron Oxide is not responsible for the image on the cloth.

These findings stimulated additional attention to the bloodstains on the cloth. Were these genuine bloodstains or were they "painted" with some form of iron-oxide containing red pigment? This issue was addressed by experts in blood analysis, Dr. John Heller of the New England Institute and Dr. Alam Adler of Western Connecticut State University. Drs. Heller and Adler went far beyond the mere optical examination of McCrone. Applying pleochroism, birefringence and chemical analysis, they determined that, unlike artist’s pigment which contains iron oxide contaminated with manganese, nickel and cobalt, the iron oxide on the shroud was relatively pure. They discovered, through research into the procedures of flax preparation and linen manufacture, that pure iron oxide is normal to the process of fermenting (retting) the flax in large outdoor vats of water.

FACT: The iron oxide, abundant on the linen of the shroud is not the remnant of artist’s pigment.

Dr. Adler then proceeded to apply microspectrophotometric analysis of a "blood particle" from one of the fibrils of the shroud and unmistakeably identified hemoglobin in the acid methemoglobin form due to great age and denaturation. Further tests by Heller and Adler established, within scientific certainty, the presence of porphyrin, bilirubin, albumin and protein. In fact, when proteases were applied to the fibril containing the "blood," the blood dissolved from the fibril leaving an imageless fibril. (Heller, J. H., Adler, A. D., Applied Optics, 19, 1980, pp 2742-4; Heller, J. H., and Adler, A. D., Canadian Forensic Society Sci, Journal 14, 1981, pp 81-103)

FACT: The bloodstains on the cloth are not artist’s pigment but are real blood.

FACT: The bloodstains were applied to the cloth prior to the formation of the image.

Working independantly with a larger sample of blood containing fibrils, pathologist Pier Baima Bollone, using immunochemistry, confirms Heller and Adler’s findings and identifies the blood of the AB blood group. (Baima Bollone, P., La Sindone-Scienza e Fide 1981, 169-179; Baime Bollone, P., Jorio, M., Massaro, A. L., Sindon 23, 5, 1981; Baima Bollone, Jorio, M., Massaro, A. L., Sindon 24, 31, 1982, pp 5-9; Baima Bollone, P., Gaglio, A. Sindon 26, 33, 1984, pp 9-13; Baima Bollone, P., Massaro, A. L. Shroud Spectrum 6, 1983, pp 3-6.)

It is significant that analysis of the blood of the cloth demonstrated high levels of bilirubin consistent with the severe concussive beating suggested by the image of the "man of the shroud.


Shroud of Turin's age miscalculated?
Questions raised over 'faulty' carbon-dating tests

Posted: May 20, 2008
9:20 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

The mystery of the Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot-long cloth that many thought may have been the burial cloth of Jesus until scientists reported radiocarbon dating established it as no older than Medieval times, is being resurrected.

John Jackson, a physics lecturer at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has convinced scientists who performed the age tests on the cloth housed in Turin, Italy, since the 1500s to consider his suggestion that those tests may have been faulty, according to a report in the Denver Post.

The cloth long has posed mysteries because of its age and its negative image of a bloodstained and battered man who had been crucified. Believers claim it to be the miraculous image of Jesus, formed as he rose from the dead.

That theory, however, took a serious blow in the late 1980s when scientists including those at an Oxford University laboratory performed the age-dating process on a fragment of the material and came up with the results that it was no older than the 13th or 14th century, more than a millennium after New Testament times.

(Story continues below)


But now Jackson, who runs the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, a research organization, reports he has convinced Prof. Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, to test Jackson's hypothesis that carbon monoxide contamination could have skewed the test results by more than 1,000 years, the Post said.

The new tests will not involve actual portions of the shroud, but similar samples of linen, and are to determine whether the various conditions to which the shroud has been exposed, including outdoor exhibitions and the extreme heat of a 1532 fire that left the material scorched, would have changed the results, the Post report said.

Jackson told the newspaper that even nominal contamination from environmental carbon monoxide could have affected the dating results.

"Science still has much to tell us about the shroud," Jackson told the newspaper. "If we are dealing with the burial cloth of Christ, it is the witness to the birth of Christianity. But my faith doesn't depend on that outcome."

Ramsey said there simply are questions that need to be answered about the cloth.

David Rolfe, the director of a new documentary called "Shroud of Turin" told the newspaper that it either is authentic or a centuries-old hoax that today's state-of-the art science cannot decipher.

The cloth is in the custody of the Vatican, which stores it in a protective chamber of inert gases in Turin's Cathedral of St. John. History reveals it was exhibited in France about 1360 by Georrfrey de Charney, a French knight who owned it then. It last was shown in 2000.

Jackson led a research team in 1978 given access to the shroud and tests showed it was not painted, dyed or stained. The source of the faint brown discolorations that make up the negative image of a man never yet has been identified, he told the Post.

It wasn't until the invention of photography centuries after the early exhibitions that a clearer positive image was revealed.

The original carbon dating at Oxford was duplicated at the same time in Zurich and at the University of Arizona in Tucson, officials said. Yet the newspaper reported Jackson has assembled evidence contradicting an age of only 800 years or so.

Among the findings he cites:

  • Bloodstains on the shroud are real, and the blood has not been degraded by heat.

  • Historians say the stains are consistent with crucifixion, including puncture wounds from thorns and scourge marks from a Roman whip.

  • A puncture wound in the man's side is consistent with a Roman spear. And the wound marks showing nail holes through the wrists and heels are consistent with Roman crucifixion.

  • A textile restorer, Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, in 2002 announced the stitching found in the material had been seen in material from only one other source: the ruins of Masada, a Jewish settlement destroyed in A.D. 74. And the herringbone weave was common in the First Century but rare in Middle Ages.

Further, the newspaper reported, historians note the shroud's onetime owner, de Charney, was married to a direct descendant of a crusader from France who participated in the sacking of Constantinople.

On Jackson's website, he also notes that tests have revealed pollens on the shroud from plants that grow only in the Middle East. He also addresses the carbon-dating issue.

"We presently think that the most fruitful avenue of research is that inspired by some scientists in Russia who have reported seeing major shifts in the radiocarbon date of linen samples that have been incubated at modest temperatures… This research is interesting because we know that the shroud endured a significant thermal event during a fire in 1532 while in Chambrey, France. The entire cloth has yellowed and in some places scorched and burnt."

The research site continued, "Thus, based on the Russian studies, it is logical to suspect that the 1532 fire altered, perhaps significantly, the radiocarbon date of the shroud."

WND reported in 2000 that evidence already was appearing calling into question the process of carbon dating on certain materials – textiles in particular

Amazing Article on the Authenticity of the Shroud here with video

Turin Shroud made by ‘flash of light’

London - The image on the Turin Shroud could not be the work of medieval forgers but was instead caused by a supernatural “flash of light”, according to scientists.

Italian scientists have found evidence that casts doubt on claims that the relic - said to be the burial cloth of Jesus - is a fake and they suggest that it could, after all, be authentic.

Sceptics have long argued that the shroud, a rectangular sheet measuring about 14ft by 3ft, is a forgery dating to medieval times.

Researchers from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development spent years trying to replicate the shroud’s markings.

They have concluded only something akin to ultraviolet lasers - far beyond the capability of medieval forgers - could have created them.

This has led to fresh suggestions that the imprint was indeed created by a huge burst of energy accompanying the Resurrection of Christ.

“The results show a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” the scientists said.

The image of the bearded man on the shroud must therefore have been created by “some form electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)”, their report concludes. But it stops short of offering a non-scientific explanation. Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the study, said: “When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles.

“But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate.”

For centuries, people have argued about the authenticity of the shroud, which is kept in a climate-controlled case in Turin cathedral. One of the most controversial relics in the Christian world, it bears the faint image of a man whose body appears to have nail wounds to the wrists and feet.

Shroud, a documentary raises the opposition to the tests C14

The authors have made the investigation to examine chemical and statistical raw data. Among them, the professor of statistics Pierluigi Conti, University La Sapienza

Marco Tosatti

 “It’s the greatest scientific cheat of all times”. So Franco Faia, the man who with Luigi Gonella and Giovanni Riggi di Numana was one of the workers, and witness of the operation of the dating of the Holy Shroud, describes what happened then. Faia gives his opinion in “La notte della Sindone”, a documentary movie by Francesca Saracino, produced by Paolo Monaci Freguglia for Polifemo, a co-production with Rai, distributed in Italy by Medusa Home Entertainment.

The movie offers a very accurate reconstruction, with documents and witnesses both new, of a real patchwork of secrets, manoeuvres and mysteries: the controversial exam with the C14, a thriller not yet clear at this moment, with many questions unanswered.

Vatican Insider has had in preview the entire DVD, and specially the “special contents”, never revealed up to now, of the puzzle. It seems particularly interesting a fresh document, which sheds a clear light on the C14 question, and on the statement according to which the Holy Shroud would be a medieval object.

Let’s remind briefly the story. The laboratories (Tucson, Zurich and Oxford) received some tiny fragments of the Holy Shroud to date using the C14. The result of the exams, made in a continuous and persistent violation of the fixed procedures, (a circumstance which cast a dark shadow on the seriousness of the coordinating agency, the British Museum) said: from 1290 to 1360. But the “raw data”, the basic numbers used to prepare the report were never made known.

 Francesca Saracino e Paolo Monaci happen to own a copy of the raw data of the Arizona laboratory, and of the partial raw data of the other two laboratories. Turin Archdiocese in the past asked repeatedly the raw data, to be able to verify the correctness of the procedures, without success.

The authors of the movie submitted their data to several University scholars, both in Statistic and Chemistry. Between them the prof. Pierluigi Conti, from the Stae-owned roman university “la Sapienza”.

Conti says that in the Nature magazine report, coherent with the raw data he examined, “there is an arithmetic mistake”. We leave apart any comment on the possibility and the existence of an arithmetic mistake in a report written by scientists, with the supervision of the British Museum and published by Nature. But maybe it’s not just a mistake. “It’s a very simple mistake, and I was not the first to notice it. A little arithmetic mistake, but a crucial one; because leads to think that the material examined by the three laoboratories is homogeneous”.

When you correct this mistake, says Conti, “you arrive the contrary conclusion: that means that the age of the Holy Shroud fragments dated by Arizona laboratory is different – 50, 60, 70 years – from the fragments of the other two laboratories”. Conti says categorically: “This invalidates completely the statistic results in the article published by Nature”. Prof. Riani, from Parma State university, using different calculation systems from Conti, arrived to the same conclusion.

This is very important, because if you find in such a tiny fragment (few centimetres of tissue) such a strong not-homogeneity, when you come to consider the whole Holy Shroud – four meters of linen – “we might have variations of hundreds and even thousands of years”. Prof. Conti gives his verdict, that form a strictly scientific point of observation “there is not enough evidence in favour of the hypothesis that the Holy Shroud is medieval exhibit”.

If this is true, why the laboratories, the British Museum and other  protagonists more or less famous backed “the greatest scientific cheat of all times”? The “Notte della Sindone” offers many cues and hints, and everybody may come to his own answer; that’s why we will not give any solution. It’s important, anyway, to underline which is the scientists’ opinion, backed by the numbers.

Turin Shroud 'is not a medieval forgery'

The Telegraph

By Nick Squires

The Turin Shroud is not a medieval forgery, as has long been claimed, but could in fact date from the time of Christ's death, a new book claims.

Experiments conducted by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy have dated the shroud to ancient times, a few centuries before and after the life of Christ.
Many Catholics believe that the 14ft-long linen cloth, which bears the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man, was used to bury Christ's body when he was lifted down from the cross after being crucified 2,000 years ago.
The analysis is published in a new book, "Il Mistero della Sindone" or The Mystery of the Shroud, by Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, and Saverio Gaeta, a journalist.
The tests will revive the debate about the true origins of one of Christianity's most prized but mysterious relics and are likely to be hotly contested by sceptics.
Scientists, including Prof Fanti, used infra-red light and spectroscopy – the measurement of radiation intensity through wavelengths – to analyse fibres from the shroud, which is kept in a special climate-controlled case in Turin.
The tests dated the age of the shroud to between 300 BC and 400AD.
The experiments were carried out on fibres taken from the Shroud during a previous study, in 1988, when they were subjected to carbon-14 dating.
Those tests, conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, appeared to back up the theory that the shroud was a clever medieval fake, suggesting that it dated from 1260 to 1390.

But those results were in turn disputed on the basis that they may have been skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

Mr Fanti, a Catholic, said his results were the fruit of 15 years of research.

He said the carbon-14 dating tests carried out in 1988 were “false” because of laboratory contamination.

The mystery of the shroud has baffled people for centuries and has spawned not only religious devotion but also books, documentaries and conspiracy theories.

The linen cloth appears to show the imprint of a man with long hair and a beard whose body bears wounds consistent with having been crucified.

Each year it lures hundreds of thousands of faithful to Turin Cathedral, where it is kept in a specially designed, climate-controlled case.

Scientists have never been able to explain how the image of a man's body, complete with nail wounds to his wrists and feet, pinpricks from thorns around his forehead and a spear wound to his chest, could have formed on the cloth. Mr Fanti said the imprint was caused by a blast of “exceptional radiation”, although he stopped short of describing it as a miracle.

He said his tests backed up earlier results which claimed to have found on the shroud traces of dust and pollen which could only have come from the Holy Land.

Mr Gaeta is also a committed Catholic - he worked for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, and now works for Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic weekly.

The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said that the enigmatic image imprinted on the cloth "reminds us always" of Christ's suffering.

His newly-elected successor, Pope Francis, will provide an introduction when images of the shroud appear on television on Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection.

The Pope has recorded a voice-over introduction for the broadcast on RAI, the state television channel.

"It will be a message of intense spiritual scope, charged with positivity, which will help (people) never to lose hope," said Cesare Nosiglia, the Archbishop of Turin, who also has the title "pontifical custodian of the shroud".

"The display of the shroud on a day as special as Holy Saturday means that it represents a very important testimony to the Passion and the resurrection of the Lord," he said.

For the first time, an app has been created to enable people to explore the holy relic in detail on their smart phones and tablets.

The app, sanctioned by the Catholic Church and called "Shroud 2.0", features high definition photographs of the cloth and enables users to see details that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.

"For the first time in history the most detailed image of the shroud ever achieved becomes available to the whole world, thanks to a streaming system which allows a close-up view of the cloth. Each detail of the cloth can be magnified and visualised in a way which would otherwise not be possible," Haltadefinizione, the makers of the app, said.


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