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
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
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
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
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
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.
The words ‘Jesus’, under the chin,and ‘Nazarene’,to one side,have been highlightedin 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
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
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.
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.
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;
the remains of
Blachernae Church, in Constantinople, where the Shroud was said to have been
on display until 1204;
Pray Code, preserved in Budapest, in which an anonymous but very alert
observer from around 1150 reproduced those famous four holes caused by the
Shroud’s first fire;
the writings of Gregory
the Referendary who tells of the Shroud’s arrival in Constantinople in 944.
The writings of some Arab historians mention a huge price paid by the
Byzantine emperor to obtain it;
a previously unknown
fresco found in a mountainside church in the Cappadocia region of Turkey which
depicts both the imprint made by the face of the ‘Man of the Shroud’ and the
Basilica built in Edessa, Turkey, in the 6th century in order to house the
the ‘Laurentian Code’,
today in Florence, Italy, which reproduces the ‘Crux Mensuralis’ modelled by
the emperor Justinian in 550 AD and whose dimensions coincide with those of
the ‘Man of the Shroud’;
the fact that many of
the early pilgrims to the Orient said they had actually seen the Shroud.
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.
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
THE DATING OF THE IMAGE
BY MEANS OF PALAEOGRAPHY
THE IMAGE DATED TO WITHIN TWO YEARS
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
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
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
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
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.
AN ANOMALY THAT DOES NOT DECEIVE
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.
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:
TIBEPIO [Y CAI] CAPOC,
"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
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
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
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 35: The two Ns of IN NECE
are traced without interval and they share a common bar: INNECE (photo
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"
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."
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.
Science & the shroud
Microbiology meets archaeology
in a renewed quest for answers
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'
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.
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
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
"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.
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
"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.
unfolding events have engrossed museum curators, antiquities dealers, and
"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
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.
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
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.
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.
A SPECIAL EVENING LECTURE:
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:
The Shroud of Turin Existed before the 8th century
It originated from the vicinity of Jerusalem
The assemblage of plants became part of the Shroud in the spring months of
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.
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
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
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
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.
Local plant evidence supports authenticity of Shroud of Turin
by JUDY SIEGEL
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
"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 Shroud.com
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
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
"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
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
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.
ANALYSIS OF THE CARBON 14 DATING: WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG
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:
the peculiar nano-scale carbohydrate film that
coats some of the fibers, a coating that holds within its chemical
makeup the conjugated complex carbon bonds of the images;
the forensics of the blood that, because it is
ancient, should be black but is red for good chemical reasons;
the ancillary age-related data about the
depletion of vanillin from the lignin of the flax (cellulose)
fibers, the depletion that indicates that the Shroud is much older
than the carbon 14 assigned date range of 1260 to 1390.
Temperature Equating to Constant in Celsius
Temperature Equating to Constant in Fahrenheit
Age Indicated by a
conservative 95% loss of Vanillin
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
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
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.
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,
"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
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
cell" that turned out to be an ultimate cell from the flax
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.
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
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
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
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:
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.
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
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)
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)
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.
Temperature Equating to Constant in Celsius
Temperature Equating to Constant in Fahrenheit
Age Indicated by a
conservative 95% loss of Vanillin
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
·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
In Thermochimica Acta, Rogers wrote:
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Turin Shroud made by ‘flash of
2011 at 09:08am
By DAVID WILKES
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
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
This has led to fresh
suggestions that the imprint was indeed created by a
huge burst of energy accompanying the Resurrection
“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
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 Rome
“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
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'
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
The mystery of the shroud has baffled people for
centuries and has spawned not only religious
devotion but also books, documentaries and
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
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
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
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
"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.