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Just read Harry E. Gove’s RELIC, ICON OR HOAX? Carbon Dating The Turin Shroud.

In it he states repeatedly that he was blocked by THE SHROUD OF TURIN RESEARCH PROJECT (S.T.U.R.P.) whose members, with one lone agnostic, were all true believers.

When I first announced I have a full sized authorized replica of The Shroud Of Turin I wrote that all members of S.T.U.R.P. believed the man on the shroud to be Jesus.

Barrie Schwortz, from whom I had acquired the replica, quickly corrected me. He wrote that not all members of S.T.U.R.P. accept that the man on the Shroud is the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Barrie may have been the one lone agnostic Gove was referring to.

Barrie was raised as an Orthodox Jew. He became an agnostic after his Bar Mitzvah.

From Barrie I learned that the S.T.U.R.P. team was composed of Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Atheists and Agnostics. John Heller, a member of that team, stated that only three members of the team were true believers.

Barrie Schwortz took eighteen years to decide the man on the Shroud is Jesus. That decision has not led him to become a Christian. Barrie is of the old wine. That old wine (Judaism) is as valid as the new wine (Christianity).

Harry E. Gove is the father of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS). He spends much of his book attacking S.T.U.R.P. as well as defending the accuracy of the carbon dating of the Shroud to a medieval origin (as many still affirm).

At the end of his book, however,  Gove after denouncing (I believe rightly) several of the attacks on the accuracy of the carbon dating, writes,“There is, however, one other development that should be taken seriously. All the reasons, mentioned above, that have been advanced for the age of the shroud being younger than 1325 years range from the highly improbable to the ludicrous. This one alone, at least so far, merits detailed investigation.”

That one development was the discovery by Dr. Leoncio A Garza-Valdes of “bio-plastic coatings produced by bacteria and fungi and found on the surface of ancient artifacts, desert rocks (where it is referred to as desert varnish) and around the fibres of some ancient textiles including the Turin Shroud…causing the AMS date to be too young.”

What does this mean?

It means that Gove states clearly that the Carbon dating of the Shroud Of Turin to a medieval origin is questionable and more than likely wrong.

Considering everything I have read about the man and his book it was a startling admission as well as a welcome one.

Dr. Leoncio A Garza-Valdes is the author of THE DNA OF GOD ( ) At that site I read:

“In 1988, radiocarbon dating showed that the Shroud of Turin–long regarded as the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth–could not be from the time of Jesus but was of a more recent origin. What scientists did not know at that time, but what author Dr. Leoncio Garza-Valdes came to discover, is that bacteria produce an organic coating (what he calls a “bioplastic coating”) over time on ancient textiles, textiles including the Shroud itself. This coating, which the author first discovered on Mayan artifacts, so distorts the carbon dating process that objects on which it is found (such as the Shroud) are actually significantly older than the data show. The scientific community has hailed Dr. Garza-Valdes’s findings since this new knowledge is of significance for archaeologists around the world. For those interested in the mysterious history of the Shroud, it is again possible to regard this artifact as originating in the first century–and consequently as being the burial cloth of Jesus.

“But Dr. Garza-Valdes’s amazing discoveries did not end with this breakthrough. His examination of pieces of the Shroud under a microscope has revealed incredible clues consistent with the Scriptural accounts of the death of Jesus. Bacteria that produce acetic acid (vinegar) were isolated from the Shroud. Do they belong to the vinegar offered to Jesus before his death on the cross? Could human blood remnants that contain a man’s DNA be traces of the blood of Jesus? Does it contain the DNA of God?

“The DNA of God? is the fascinating story of this microbiologist’s journey of discovery and of the earthshaking secrets he has revealed about the Shroud of Turin.”

I have ordered a copy of THE DNA OF GOD.

The more I learn about The Shroud Of Turin the more I want to learn.
From the web:

Several years before the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, Leoncio Garza-Valdes, a medical doctor and an amateur archaeologist from San Antonio, Texas, was examining a Mayan jade artifact that was assumed to be modern forgery. He was curious about a lacquer-like coating on the object and speculated might have been produced by bacteria.

Garza-Valdes took the artifact to the radiocarbon dating lab at the University of Arizona. Radiocarbon dating technicians at the lab were able to scrape off enough of the coating, as well as some bloodstains on the object, to do a carbon dating and determined that the object was from about A.D. 400. The carving style, however, suggested that the age should have been about 200 B.C. If a bioplastic-polymer, for that is what it seemed to be, had been forming over many centuries, it would result in a mixture of older and newer material. So perhaps, he reasoned, the object really was 600 years older.

Later, after the carbon dating of the shroud in 1988, it occurred to Garza-Valdes that perhaps the fibers of the shroud were also coated with a bioplastic coating. If that was so, perhaps this also affected the carbon dating of mummy 1770. If ancient linen was subject to such a coating, then all bets were off on the carbon dating of the shroud until the problem was examined.

The Manchester Museum located at the University of Manchester, according to the museum’s website is

home to one of the largest and most important collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the United Kingdom. The collection includes objects from prehistoric Egypt (c. 10,000 BC) to the Byzantine era, up to around AD 600 . . .

It is also known to many as the museum of mummy controversy.

One controversy pertains to Mummy 1770. The museum is unsure how or from whom it received the mummy, only that it did so in 1896. It wasn’t naked. It had not been unwrapped by Lord Longsberry or at any champagne and canapés event. See: Naked mummies of the Manchester Museum

X-rays suggested that the mummy was the body of a girl Allahabout 13 years old and that her legs had been amputated. It was thought by Egyptologists to have been from the Hawara excavation site in central Egypt. It was thought to be from the Hellenistic or Roman era.

In 1975, the museum decided to unwrap the mummy. What they found was quite unusual. There was a pair of decorated gold nipple covers, the sort used for females. There was an artificial phallus of the sort used when wrapping deceased males. Did the embalmers not know the sex of the mummy, and if not, why not?  When researchers at the museum carbon dated bone pieces and pieces of the linen wrappings they found extraordinarily different dates. The bones seemed to be from about 1000 B.C. while the linen wrappings appeared to be from about A.D. 300, a difference of about 1300 years.

It seemed that bioplastic hypothesis might be an explanation for the medieval date given to the shroud by carbon dating. If you were looking for a way to dispute that carbon dating of the shroud, you had it. It didn’t play out that way.

Though it was premature of draw conclusions about the true age of the shroud you could argue. seemingly with validity, that the sheen was off the carbon dating of the shroud. Unless Gove, Garza-Valdes, Davis, et. al., were proven wrong, there was reason for reasonable doubt. Jeffery L. Sheler, writing in the July 24, 2000, issue of U.S. News & World Report, quotes Gove as saying,

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.

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…

Many scientists found this last statement flawed because:

  1. There is no way to determine the definitive composition of an organic material by scanning electron microscope.
  2. Garza-Valdes provided photomicrograph showing a “filamentous cell” that turned out to be an ultimate cell from the flax structure.
  3. It is well known that such polymers (they do exist on some ancient objects) obtain their carbon material from the host (fibers in this case) and not from the atmosphere, hence they do not significantly change the C14 dating.
  4. The amount of material needed would need to be significant. On this point, Gove finally took exception with the bioplastic theory and agreed.

Because a bioplastic 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 failed to detect any form of bioplastic polymer on fibers. Just to make sure, laser-microprobe Raman analysis at Instruments SA, Inc. in Metachin, NJ, was used to examine the fibers. This method also failed to detect any bioplastic polymer.

Linen sheet: Turin Shroud Encyclopedia

Turin Shroud Encyclopedia
© Stephen E. Jones

Linen sheet

[Index] [Previous: Shroud of Turin] [Next: Problems of the forgery theory]

Introduction. The Shroud of Turin is a rectangular linen sheet, ~4.4 metres long by ~1.1 metres wide (~14.3 x ~3.6 feet), and about a third of a millimetre (~0.34 mm) thick. The colour of the cloth was originally white (as found by cross-sectioning fibrils). But it

[Right: Top left hand corner of the Shroud showing the sidestrip (left side with piece missing), one set of two large burn holes, and one set of small L-shaped `poker holes’ (see “previous“): Shroud University]

has darkened with age and today its colour is variously described as “honey,” “straw yellow,” “yellowish,” “cream,” “off white” and “ivory,” (see right).

Linen. The cloth is fine linen, which in the first century ranked in value with gold, silver and silk. The use of a fine linen cloth as a burial shroud for a crucifixion victim therefore indicates a high degree of wealth, which is consistent with the Gospels that “a rich man,” Joseph of Arimathea, bought and wrapped Jesus’ body in “fine linen” (Mt 27:57-60; Mk 15:42-46; Lk 23:50-53; Jn 19:38-42 HCSB).

Flax. The linen had been hand-spun and hand-woven from the common domesticated flax plant, Linum usitatissimum, which is native to a region from the eastern Mediterranean to India. The flax yarn had been hand-spun with a “Z” twist. Flax has a natural “S” twist, which was more common in Egypt. However, flax yarn with a “Z” twist was more frequent in the linen of the Roman Empire. Linen with a “Z” twist has been discovered in Syria and Judea, which points to a Syro-Palestinian origin of the Shroud.

Selvedge. Around the edges of the Shroud is a selvedge, or weaver-finished edge. The purpose of a selvedge is to prevent the woven cloth from fraying or unravelling.

[Left: Bottom right hand corner of the Shroud showing part of the selvedge: Shroud Scope.]

Sidestrip. The sidestrip is the 8 to 9 (7.8 to 8.4) centimeter (~3½ inch) strip that runs the full length of the left hand side of the cloth, except for two pieces missing at each end (see above). The missing pieces were 14 and 36 cms long at the bottom and top left hand corners respectively. The sidestrip is also made of linen and the thread of the seam (see “Seam” below) joining it to the main body of the Shroud is also linen. Both the sidestrip and the main Shroud have the same herringbone three to one twill weave (see “Weave” below). Indeed, radiographs reveal that alternating high- and low-density banding structures continue from the main body of the Shroud, through the seam into the sidestrip (see below). This means that the side strip and the main body of the Shroud were part of the same larger linen sheet. But since it would make no sense to cut lengthwise an ~8.5 cm (~3½ in.) strip off a ~1.1 metre cloth and then sew the strip back on again, the most likely explanation is that of ancient textiles expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg that the bolt of linen which the Shroud was

[Above (click to enlarge): Illustration of Dr. Flury-Lemberg’s explanation of how the cloth from which the Shroud came was originally woven much wider than the Shroud. Then the cloth was cut lengthwise and the two pieces bordered by the selvedge (shaded) were joined together by a seam (see “Seam” below) to form the Shroud cloth[1].]

cut from, was up to three times the Shroud’s width (~3.3 m) and the cloth was then cut twice lengthwise, and the two sections with a side selvedge were joined by a seam to form the cloth which became the Shroud, with the central section without side selvedges being used for other purposes. Ancient Egyptian linen looms were even wider, up to 3.5 m (~11.5 m) but no medieval European looms were that wide. Even medieval European tapestries were woven on looms that were only between 3 and 6 feet (~0.9-1.8 metre) wide.

Seam. The sidestrip is joined to the main body of the Shroud by a professionally crafted, hand-stitched seam about 0.5 cms wide.

[Right (click to enlarge): Magnified radiograph of an area containing the Shroud’s seam[2], showing that weft (widthwise) threads continue from the sidestrip (left) through the seam and into the Shroud’s main body (right), proving that the sidestrip and main body were part of the same wider cloth and exactly joined.]

The stitching of the seam is unusual, being nearly invisible on the image side of the Shroud, and on the obverse (non-image) side, closely resembling the stitching of Jewish textiles found only at Masada, the Jewish fortress which was overthrown by the Romans in AD 73 and never reoccupied. Moreover, other Jewish textiles found at Masada had the same unusual selvedge as the Shroud’s. This alone is powerful evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud and against its 1988 radiocarbon dating as “mediaeval … AD 1260-1390″[3]!

Weave. The weave of the Shroud is a three-to-one herringbone twill pattern, where the weft, or horizontal, thread passes alternately over three and under one of

[Left: The Shroud’s weave, showing the twill (diagonal parallel ribs) combined with regular reversals, creating a herringbone ( zigzag) effect: Shroud Scope.]

the warp, or vertical, threads. This complex weave pattern givess strength and flexibility, but it would have been an expensive cloth in the first century, which again is consistent with the Gospels’ account that Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, bought the Shroud to bury Jesus (see above). While there is no herringbone twill weave in linen yet known from the first century or earlier, there are examples of such weaves in silk and wool from third century Syria (Palmyra ~AD 276) and Roman Britain (Holborough, Kent ~AD 250). And fragments of herringbone twill weave in wool, similar to the Shroud’s weave, have been found at the early second century (AD 100-120) Roman fort of Krokodilo, in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. So there is no reason why 3:1 herringbone twill linen weaves could not have been produced in Syria and Egypt, countries bordering Palestine, or in Palestine itself, by the first century. Moreover, there is only one known example of a herringbone twill linen weave from the medieval period (see next).

Problems of the forgery theory. In 1963, writer John E. Walsh pointed out the central dilemma of the Shroud, that it is either authentic, or it is a forgery, there being “no middle ground” (my emphasis here and below):

“Only this much is certain: The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence-showing us in its dark simplicity how He appeared to men-or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground”[4].

Leading Shroud anti-authenticists accept this dilemma. In 1903, Fr. Herbert Thurston (1856–1939), admitted, “If this is not the impression of the Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression“:

“As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head, can still be clearly distinguished … If this is not the impression of the Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other person since the world began could these details be verified”[5].

Leading modern day Shroud sceptics, Steven D. Schafersman (1948-) and Joe Nickell (1944-) also accept this dilemma, “Either the shroud is authentic … or it is a product of human artifice” (i.e. a forgery):

“As the (red ochre) dust settles briefly over Sindondom, it becomes clear there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic (naturally or supernaturally produced by the body of Jesus) or it is a product of human artifice. Asks Steven Schafersman: `Is there a possible third hypothesis? No, and here’s why. Both Wilson[6] and Stevenson and Habermas[7] go to great lengths to demonstrate that the man imaged on the shroud must be Jesus Christ and not someone else. After all, the man on this shroud was flogged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, did not have his legs broken, was nailed to the cross, had his side pierced, and so on. Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ (and they consider this a very conservative estimate)[8]. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus.'”[9].

Therefore problems of the forgery theory are evidence for the Shroud’s authenticity. I will begin recording, in my next Encyclopedia entry, “Problems of the forgery theory,” each problem of the forgery theory that I encounter in the course of writing this Encyclopedia, and assigning each different problem with a sequential number (e.g. §1, §2, §3 …).

§1. Forger had to acquire a first century (or earlier) Jewish fine linen ~4.4 x ~1.1 metre cloth. That the very unusual stitching of the Shroud’s seam and its selvedge is the same as that of Jewish textiles no later than AD 73 found at Masada (as we saw above), is problem §1 (in number order, not necessarily the greatest) of the forgery theory. Because the unknown 14th century, or earlier, forger would have had to acquire a first century (or earlier) Jewish fine linen ~4.4 x ~1.1 metre cloth (the alternative is even more unlikely) and imprint on it by some unknown means, the front and back image of a naked, crucified Jesus. But (as mentioned above) medieval herringbone twill linen cloths are exceedingly rare, and in fact there is only one known example of a medieval herringbone twill linen weave: a fourteenth century, block-painted linen fragment with a 3:1 chevron (herringbone) twill weave, in the Victoria and Albert Museum,

[Above: The only known example of a herringbone twill weave from the mediaeval period. The grey part is a reconstruction. Victoria and Albert Museum ref. no. 8615-1863[10].]

London. The texture of this lone example is very much coarser than the Shroud’s. Further evidence of the extreme rarity of medieval linen cloths with a Shroud-like herringbone twill weave, was the fact that the British Museum’s Dr. Michael Tite was unable to find any medieval linen with a weave that resembled the Shroud, to use as blind control samples for the 1988 radiocarbon dating. So how could a medieval forger have obtained the ~4.4 x ~1.1 metre 3:1 herringbone twill weave Shroud cloth?

Conclusion. The Shroud’s cloth is consistent with it being the “fine linen” cloth that the “rich man,” Joseph of Arimathea, bought and wrapped Jesus’ body in, according to the Gospels. The “Z” twist of its flax yarn is also consistent with the cloth having a Syrian or Palestinian origin. A previously puzzling feature of the Shroud, its lengthwise seam, has together with its selvedge, turned out to be evidence for the cloth’s first century origin. The Shroud’s selvedge, together with the stitching of the seam visible only on its non-image side, being the same as first century Jewish textiles found at Masada and nowhere else, is evidence that the Shroud is first century Syrian or Palestinian. And therefore, it adds to the evidence that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as 1260-1390 was wrong.

This also poses a problem for the medieval (or earlier) forgery theory, because the unknown, hypothetical forger would have had to somehow acquire a first century Syrian or Jewish ~4.4 x 1.1 metre fine linen cloth with a 3:1 herringbone twill weave (despite there being only one known example of a much smaller medieval cloth). The even less plausible alternative is that the forger would have had to obtain a medieval ~14.3 ft (~4.4 m) long by ~6 ft (1.8 m.) wide fine linen sheet (the maximum width of known medieval looms), and then, to simulate a first century Syrian-Egyptian extra wide cloth (that he somehow knew about), the forger cut the sheet lengthwise and then rejoined it with stitching to match first century Jewish stitching like that at Masada (Masada itself was only discovered in 1838-42)[11]). And then, whichever implausible way the forger obtained the cloth which is the Shroud, the forger would have had to, after first applying real human blood (see “Shroud: Bloodstains“), somehow, by some unknown means, imprint the now bloodstained cloth with a front and back image of the naked, crucified Jesus. And as we shall see, this is just the start of the problems of the forgery theory!

1. Wilson, I., 2010, “The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved,” Bantam Press: London, p.72. [return]
2. Adler, A,D., Whanger, A. & Whanger, M., 1997, “Concerning the Side Strip on the Shroud of Turin,” [return]
3. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, “Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin,” Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
4. Walsh, J.E., 1963, “The Shroud,” Random House: New York NY, pp.x-xii. [return]
5. Thurston, H., 1903, “The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History,” The Month, CI, p.19 in Wilson, I., 1979, “The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?,” [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.52. [return]
6. Wilson, 1979, pp.51-53. [return]
7. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, “Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, pp.121-129. [return]
8. Stevenson. & Habermas, 1981, p.128. [return]
9. Schafersman, S.D., “Science, the public, and the Shroud of Turin,” The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 6, No. 3, Spring 1982, pp.37-56, p.42 in Nickell, J., 1987, “Inquest on the Shroud of Turin,” [1983], Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, Reprinted, 2000, p.141. [return]
10. Extract from, “Weaving, block printing: Techniques: Facets: V&A Spelunker by Good, Form & Spectacle.” [return]
11. “Masada: Archaeology,” Wikipedia, 7 January 2015. [return]

• Adams, F.O., 1982, “Sindon: A Layman’s Guide to the Shroud of Turin,” Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.5.
• Antonacci, M., 2000, “Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence,” M. Evans & Co: New York NY, pp.36, 72, 115, 120, 212.
• Baima-Bollone, P. & Zaca, S., 1998, “The Shroud Under the Microscope: Forensic Examination,” Neame, A., transl., St Pauls: London, p.6.
• Bennett, J., 2001, “Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo: New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin,” Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, pp.67, 146.
• Cassanelli, A., 2002, “The Holy Shroud,” Williams, B., transl., Gracewing: Leominster UK, p.15.
• Danin, A., Whanger, A.D., Baruch, U. & Whanger, M., 1999, “Flora of the Shroud of Turin,” Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis MO, pp.3,5.
• de Wesselow, T., 2012, “The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection,” Viking: London, pp.108-109.
• Dickinson, I., 1990, “The Shroud and the cubit measure,” British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 24, January, pp.8-11, pp.10-11.
• Drews, R., 1984, “In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins,” Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, p.11.
• Guerrera, V., 2001, “The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity,” TAN: Rockford IL, p.1.
• Heller, J.H., 1983, “Report on the Shroud of Turin,” Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, pp.138.
• Humber, T., 1978, “The Sacred Shroud,” [1974], Pocket Books: New York NY, p.34.
• Iannone, J.C., 1998, “The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence,” St Pauls: Staten Island NY, pp.1-2, 13.
• Meacham, W., 1983, “The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology,” Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 3, June.
• Oxley, M., 2010, “The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin,” AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.169.
• Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, “The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science,” Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, pp.161-162, 197.
• Ruffin, C.B., 1999, “The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church’s Controversial Relic,” Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.11.
• Schwalbe, L.A. & Rogers, R.N., 1982, “Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin: Summary of the 1978 Investigation,” Reprinted from Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 135, No. 1, pp.3-49, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co: Amsterdam, pp.40-41.
• Sox, H.D., 1981, “The Image on the Shroud: Is the Turin Shroud a Forgery?,” Unwin: London, p.77.
• Tribbe, F.C., 2006, “Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin,” [1983], Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, pp.4, 110.
• Tyrer, J., 1983, “Looking at the Turin Shroud as a Textile,” Shroud Spectrum International, No. 6, March, pp.35-46, pp.38,40.
• Vial, G., 1991, “The Shroud of Turin: A Technical Study,” Shroud Spectrum International, No. 38/39, March/June, pp.7-20, p.9.
• Wilson, I. & Miller, V., 1986, “The Evidence of the Shroud,” Guild Publishing: London, p.36.
• Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, “The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence,” Michael O’Mara Books: London, p.41.
• Wilson, I., 1979, “The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?,” [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.69.
• Wilson, I., 1979, “The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?,” [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.31.
• Wilson, I., 1986, “The Evidence of the Shroud,” Guild Publishing: London, p.2.
• Wilson, I., 1990, “Recent Publications,” British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 26, September/October, pp.14-16.
• Wilson, I., 1998, “The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World’s Most Sacred Relic is Real,” Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.67-73.
• Wilson, I., 2000, “`The Turin Shroud – past, present and future’, Turin, 2-5 March, 2000 – probably the best-ever Shroud Symposium,” British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 51, June.
• Wilson, I., 2010, “The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved,” Bantam Press: London, pp.71-76, 315.

Created: 22 January 2015. Updated: 8 December 2015.

Chemical properties of the sample site

Another argument against the results of the radiocarbon tests was made in a study by Anna Arnoldi of the University of Milan and Raymond Rogers, retired Fellow of the University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory. By ultraviolet photography and spectral analysis they determined that the area of the shroud chosen for the test samples differs chemically from the rest of the cloth. They cite the presence of Madder root dye and aluminum oxide mordant (a dye-fixing agent) specifically in that corner of the shroud and conclude that this part of the cloth was mended at some point in its history. Plainly, repairs would have utilized materials produced at or slightly before the time of repair, carrying a higher concentration of carbon than the original artifact.

A 2000 study by Joseph Marino and Sue Benford, based on x-ray analysis of the sample sites, shows a probable seam from a repair attempt running diagonally through the area from which the sample was taken. These researchers conclude that the samples tested by the three labs were more or less contaminated by this repair attempt. They further note that the results of the three labs show an angular skewing corresponding to the diagonal seam: the first sample in Arizona dated to 1238, the second to 1430, with the Oxford and Swiss results falling in between. They add that the variance of the C-14 results of the three labs falls outside the bounds of the Pearson’s chi-square test, so that some additional explanation should be sought for the discrepancy.

Microchemical tests also find traces of vanillin in the same area, unlike the rest of the cloth. Vanillin is produced by the thermal decomposition of lignin, a complex polymer and constituent of flax. This chemical is routinely found in medieval materials but not in older cloths, as it diminishes with time. The wrappings of the Dead Sea scrolls, for instance, do not test positive for vanillin.

Raymond Rogers’ 2005 paper provided apparent chemical proof that the sample cut from the Shroud in 1988 was not valid.[15] Also in the paper, his determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.

This aspect of the controversy can likely only be settled by more radiocarbon tests, which, as noted, the Holy See does not presently allow, citing sacrilegious damage to the relic. In his 2005 paper, Rogers suggests that elemental carbon in pieces of charred material removed during the restoration in 2002 could be used to date the shroud if cleansed using concentrated nitric acid.

Material historical analysis

According to master textile restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg of Hamburg, a seam in the cloth corresponds to a fabric found only at the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, which dated to the first century. The weaving pattern, a 3:1 twill, is consistent with first-century Syrian design, according to the appraisal of Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology in Belgium. Flury-Lemberg stated, “The linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin does not display any weaving or sewing techniques which would speak against its origin as a high-quality product of the textile workers of the first century.”

Biological and medical forensics

Details of crucifixion technique

The piercing of the wrists rather than the palms goes against traditional Christian iconography, especially in the Middle Ages, but many modern scholars suggest that crucifixion victims were generally nailed through the wrists, and a skeleton discovered in the Holy Land shows that at least some were nailed between the radius and ulna; this was not common knowledge in the Middle Ages. Proponents of the shroud’s authenticity contend that a medieval forger would have been unlikely to know this operational detail of an execution method almost completely discontinued centuries earlier.

Blood stains

There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood. Chemist Walter McCrone (see above) identified these as simple pigment materials and reported that no forensic tests of the samples he used indicated the presence of blood. Other researchers, including Alan Adler, a chemist specializing in analysis of porphyrins, identified the reddish stains as type AB blood.

The particular shade of red of the supposed blood stains is also problematic. Normally, whole blood stains discolor relatively rapidly, turning to a black-brown color, while these stains in fact range from a true red to the more normal brown color. However, the stains could have been not from bleeding wounds, but from the liquid exuded by blood clots. In the case of severe trauma, as evidenced by the Man of the Shroud, this liquid would include a mixture of bilirubin and oxidized hemoglobin, which could remain red indefinitely. Adler and John Heller detected bilirubin and the protein albumin in the stains.[16] However, it is uncertain whether the blood stains were produced at the same time as the image, which Adler and Heller attributed to premature aging of the linen.

Pollen grains

Researchers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported the presence of pollen grains in the cloth samples, showing species appropriate to the spring in Israel. However, these researchers, Avinoam Danin and Uri Baruch were working with samples provided by Max Frei, a Swiss police criminologist who had previously been censured for faking evidence. Independent review of the strands showed that one strand out of the 26 provided contained significantly more pollen than the others, perhaps pointing to deliberate contamination.

Another item of note is that the olive trees surrounding Jerusalem would have been in full bloom at the time, meaning that there should have been a significant amount of olive tree pollen on the Shroud. However, there does not seem to be any at all.

The Israeli researchers also detected the outlines of various flowering plants on the cloth, which they say would point to March or April and the environs of Jerusalem, based on the species identified. In the forehead area, corresponding to the crown of thorns if the image is genuine, they found traces of “Tumble Thistle” Gundelia tournefortii, which is limited to this period of the year in the Jerusalem area. This analysis depends on interpretation of various patterns on the shroud as representing particular plants. However, skeptics point out that the available patterns[17] cannot be seen as unequivocal support of any particular plant species due to the amount of indistinctness. Again, these pollen grains could have been lost when the Shroud was ‘restored’ in June/July 2002, following an exhibition in 2000.

Another problem is that the Catholic veneration of the Shroud (as of other alleged relics) by the faithful probably involved touching it with flowers and other objects for transferring the purported mystical properties of the Shroud to them, so the public display of the Shroud in the past may have contributed to its contamination.

Sudarium of Oviedo

In the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, there is a small bloodstained piece of linen that is also revered as one of the burial cloths of Jesus mentioned in John 20:7 as being found in the ’empty’ tomb. John refers to a “sudarium” (σουδαριον) that covered the head and the “linen cloth” or “bandages” (οθονιον — othonion) that covered the body. The sudarium of Oviedo is traditionally held to be this cloth that covered the head of Jesus.

The sudarium’s existence and presence in Oviedo is well attested since the eighth century and in Spain since the seventh century. Before these dates the location of the sudarium is less certain, but some scholars trace it to Jerusalem in the first century.

Forensic analysis of the bloodstains on the shroud and the sudarium suggest that both cloths may have covered the same head at nearly the same time. Based on the bloodstain patterns, the Sudarium would have been placed on the man’s head while he was in a vertical position, presumably while still hanging on the cross. This cloth was then presumably removed before the shroud was applied.

A 1999 study by Mark Guscin, member of the multidisciplinary investigation team of the Spanish Center for Sindonology, investigated the relationship between the two cloths.[18] Based on history, forensic pathology, blood chemistry (the Sudarium also is reported to have type AB blood stains), and stain patterns, he concluded that the two cloths covered the same head at two distinct, but close moments of time. Avinoam Danin (see above) concurred with this analysis, adding that the pollen grains in the sudarium match those of the shroud.

Skeptics say that this argument is spurious. Since they deny the blood stains on the shroud, the blood stains on this cloth are irrelevant. Further, the argument about the pollen types is greatly weakened by the debunking of Danin’s work on the shroud due to the possibly tampered-with sample he worked from. Pollen from Jerusalem could have followed any number of paths to find its way to the sudarium, and only indicates location, not the dating of the cloth.[19]

Digital image processing

Using techniques of digital image processing, several additional details have been reported by scholars.

NASA researchers Jackson, Jumper and Stephenson report detecting the impressions of coins placed on both eyes after a digital study in 1978. The coin on the right eye was claimed to correspond to a Roman copper coin produced in the year 29 C.E. and 30 C.E. in Jerusalem, while that on the left eye was claimed to resemble a lituus coin from the reign of Tiberius (November 16, 42 B.C.E. – March 16, 37 C.E.).

Piero Ugolotti reported (1979) Greek and Latin letters written near the face. These were further studied by André Marion, professor at the École supérieure d’optique, and his student Anne Laure Courage, engineer of the École supérieure d’optique, in the Institut d’optique théorique et appliquée in Orsay (1997). On the right side they cite the letters ΨΣ ΚΙΑ. They interpret this as ΟΨ — ops “face” + ΣΚΙΑ — skia “shadow”, though the initial letter is missing. This interpretation has the problem that it is grammatically incorrect in Greek, as “face” would have to appear in the genitive case. On the left side they report the Latin letters IN NECE, which they suggest is the beginning of IN NECEM IBIS, “you will go to death”, and ΝΝΑΖΑΡΕΝΝΟΣ — NNAZARENNOS (a grossly misspelled “the Nazarene” in Greek). Several other “inscriptions” were detected by the scientists, but Mark Guscin (himself a shroud proponent) reports that only one is at all probable in Greek or Latin: ΗΣΟΥ This is the genitive of “Jesus”, but missing the first letter.[20]

These claims are rejected by skeptics, because there is no recorded Jewish tradition of placing coins over the eyes of the dead, and because of the spelling errors in the reported text.[21]

Textual criticism

This image of the deposition from the cross, by miniaturist Giulio Clovio (1498 – January 5, 1578), shows Jesus wrapped in a shroud like the Shroud of Turin.

The Gospel of John is sometimes cited as evidence that the shroud is a hoax since English translations typically use the plural word “cloths” or “clothes” for the covering of the body: “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes [othonia] lie, and the napkin [sudarium], that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (Jn 20:6-7, KJV). Shroud proponents hold that the “linen clothes” refers to the Shroud of Turin, while the “napkin” refers to the Sudarium of Oviedo.

The Gospel of John also states, “Nicodemus … brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury” (Jn 19:39-40, KJV). No traces of spices have been found on the cloth. Frederick Zugibe, a medical examiner, reports that the body of the man wrapped in the shroud appears to have been washed before the wrapping.[22] It would be odd for this to occur after the anointing, so some proponents have suggested that the shroud was a preliminary cloth that was then replaced before the anointing, because there was not enough time for the anointing due to the Sabbath,, which begins on Friday at sunset. However, there is no empirical evidence to support these theories. Some supporters suggest that the plant bloom images detected by Danin may be from herbs that were simply strewn over the body due to the lack of preparation time mentioned in the New Testament, with the visit of the women on Sunday thus presumed to be for the purpose of completing the anointing of the body.

For myself the one piece of evidence that more than anything else says to me the man on the Shroud is Jesus is the face. This is not the face of Jesus as artists have imagined it. I am not the only person that face has spoken to.
St. Paul wrote that if we have faith we have faith because God has chosen we should have faith. He adds that if we lack faith it is because God, for his purpose, has chosen that we should lack faith. I agree with Paul. I have faith. If you lack faith and disagree with that, well, that is what I expect you to do.
People argue over things that really do not matter such as the trinity, faith, etc.. When the arguments get really heated people start killing each other.
That does matter.–Reg Hartt 2017–07–16.

The shroud of Turin, Italy. Negative-Positive image of the shroud showing the face of a man. The shroud contains the image of a crucified man, believed by many to be Jesus Christ.

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