Archive for the ‘History’ Category

How many more purported pieces are out there?

January 10, 2014 20 comments

imageWhile looking for some other documents I came across the following for sale advertisement:


A unique piece from the private collection of a Roman Monsignor: A wonderful filigree silver reliquary, a masterpiece of the Roman silversmiths of this golden age of Baroque art, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall, with fine detailing and silver flowers, sealed with the red wax seal of Cardinal Frederico Caccia (1635 – 1699).

Inside the theca, the precious relic is surrounded by filigree gold paperoles and silver thread decoration. In the center is the most precious relic, one of the rarest of which we know, a fragment of the Holy Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, venerated in Turin, and inscribed S.[anta] Sindone D.N.J.C. [the Holy Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ].

The tiny part of the Shroud was most likely detached in 1694 when repairs were made to it by Sebastian Valfrè, and presented between 1695 and 1699 by Duke Victor Amadeus II (1666 – 1732) whose family, the Savoy, was the owner of the Shroud at the time. The Savoy have erected a magnifiscient Chapel of the Holy Shroud, and the reliquaries containing small pieces of the Shorud itself were most likely bestowed to commemorate the Chapel’s competion in 1694 after 27 years in construction.

It is well known, that Savoys were trying to leverage the phenomenal success of the veneration of the Shroud to achieve dominance in Piedmont, to transform Turin into the new absolutist capital, and to gain international recognition as a ruling house of royal rank. Therefore, it is likely, that a number of reliquaries containing small pieces of the Shroud were gifted by the Duke Victor Amadeus II to achieve the dynastic aspirations of the Savoy.

There is more to read HERE.

Categories: History, News & Views

Yannick Clément on the Letters Between Jesus and King Abgar

January 6, 2014 101 comments

imageYannick Clément never fails to surprise and amaze us. Here is an email I received from him. I suggest reading the email, watching the beginning of an introductory video that I suggest, then watching some of the video he recommends to us, rereading his email and then commenting. You might want to glance at these resources as well.

Yannick writes:

I’m currently watching with great interest a series of history courses given at Yale University in 2009 (I think) concerning the New Testament that are available on Youtube and I came across one very interesting part in which the professor (a very good one) talk about the so-called exchange of letters between King Abgar and Jesus. This can be found at the very beginning of this video: 17. New Testament Yale – Colossians and Ephesians*

* Note: the professor is Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University (first watch 1. New Testament Yale- Introduction)

I would like you to watch this and note how evident it is for this expert in history (as well as it is for all the other experts if we believe what the teacher says about that) that those letters are not authentic at all. In fact, after the long research I have done personally on the subject, I’m very confident to state that those letters were probably produced by a forger in Edessa between the late 2nd and the 3rd Century in order to back-up the “orthodoxy” of the main Christian Church in this city (by making believe that the Church was founded right after the Ascension of Christ, by someone (Addai or Thaddeus) who was a direct disciple of Jesus), at a time when there were many “heretical” doctrines proposed by various groups of Christians (some of which were already present in the region of Edessa around that time).

Taking this HISTORICAL FACT into account (look like this is something Ian Wilson haven’t done), I ask you this: Since the whole Abgar legend is mainly resting on those (false) letters supposedly written by Abgar and Jesus, how in the world can the Mandylion (which is a much later addition to the legend) can have any chance to be authentic?

I ask you this good question on a personal level, but feel free to share my email (and my question) with all the bloggers out there…  It’s up to you!

I have never believed the letters were real but thought it was reasonable that the shroud made its way to Edessa. That something was in Edessa that sounds like the shroud still seems like a real possibility.

Categories: History, Video

Paper Chase: Z Twist Again

January 1, 2014 18 comments

Happy New Year 2014

imageIn November (last year), there was some mention of the use of z-twist in Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud, in which Charles Freeman is quoted

We next go on to the reference to figs. 111-113 on pages 201-11 of the Masada report. Yes these figs. do exist and on these pages. They all refer to the same fragment of wool. It is picked out and illustrated as it is wool, 2:2, Z twist spin, balanced diamond twill. So except for the Z spin being similar to that of the Shroud , I can’t see why this is relevant- it is not herringbone, linen or 3:1. In the discussion on the origins of the textiles found at Masada (p. 239), this cloth is placed in their group iv. The excavators’ conclusion is that these textiles probably came from northern Europe as this kind of twist (Z) and this kind of pattern is known from examples there. They suggest it may have come in with Roman soldiers who were involved in the crushing of the Masada revolt. I simply cannot see why Wilson provides a reference to a piece of cloth that has absolutely nothing in common with the Shroud except that its thread is Z spun (and thus as the excavators suggest probably spun in northern Europe).

and in Of Similarities: The Tunic of Argenteuil and the Shroud of Turin, in which Grzegorz Gorny is quoted from the book Witnesses to Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s Relics referring to the ‘Tunic of Argenteuil’ (hat tip to Joe Marino for the quotation):

Could that man have been Jesus of Nazareth?  It was confirmed that the tunic was produced using horizontal looms, whose width matched the proportions of those looms used in Christ’s time.  The weave, made using a so-called Z twist, indicates that the robe was probably made in the Near or Middle East.  The fabric’s dye was made of dyer’s madder (Rubia tinctorum), which was in widespread use in ancient times around the Mediterranean Basin.  The dyeing took place before the fabric was woven, and alum was used alongside the dye to dress the cloth.  Both of these practices were common in the first century.

Now, thanks to by Paolo Di Lazzaro, I learn of a report in Hadashot Arkheologiyot: Excavations and Surveys in Israel (vol. 124, Year 2012)

During September 2011, a one-day salvage excavation was conducted at the Sheikh Munis site in Ramat Aviv (Permit No. A-6273; map ref. 181587–667/668248–320; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of student dormitories. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Tel Aviv University . . .

And although z-twist remnants were found in two tombs, the tombs seem to be late Ottoman. How much significance can be drawn from this? But it does raise questions, again, about how much z-twist linen existed in earlier Palestine.

From the report:

Tomb 7–8. The tomb contained hamra fill.One individual, identified as a female 20–30 years of age, was discovered. A bundle of linen threads (diam. c. 1 cm; Fig. 6) was discovered in the tomb. The threads were not dyed and of cream color.They were Z-spun, which is not characteristic of the weaving technique in the country during this period. There are green dots of metallic corrosion on the bundle of threads, whichprobably belonged to a textile bead. A similar item was discovered in an excavation at Kefar Sava (‘Atiqot 61:91, Fig. 9).

[ . . . ]

Tomb 37. The tomb contained hamra fill. One burial was discovered, but was not inspected. The tomb was covered with stone slabs (thickness 0.3–0.4 m; Fig. 8).Two copper rings were discovered on one of the fingers of the deceased and two fragments of a ring were lying alongside the hand (Figs. 9, 10). The rings are round hoops and remains of a metal sheet are visible in the center of two of them.Thin hoop rings are characteristic of the Late Ottoman period. A small piece of textile (0.5×1.0 cm; Fig. 11) attached to a bronze ring was discovered in the tomb; the textile was preserved thanks to the corrosion of the metal. The textile is made of undyed linen (it is brown today), is Z-spun, c. 12 threads per sq cm and of medium spinning. The traditional spinning in Israel was S-spun and therefore it is assumed that the textile was imported. The weaving is a plain weave, which is fairly common. The textile probably belonged to a shroud.

Israel Antiquities Authority logo

Categories: History, Science

It Continues: James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus

December 28, 2013 13 comments

imageLiz Klimas writes in The Blaze:

Inscribed on a stone box are the words at the center of more than a decade of religious and scholarly controversy: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

These words etched into a burial box spurred a 10-year investigation that would ultimately end in a man cleared of forgery accusations. But discussion as to whether this is the earliest reference to Jesus Christ and the validity of the last three words — “brother of Jesus” — continues.

Categories: History, Off Topic

The Sciatica Effect

December 28, 2013 14 comments

imageI’m lying on my back on a table that the physical therapist calls the rack; it resembles a torture device described by Tacitus in the middle of the first century and used after that throughout medieval Europe. Now it was being used on me.

But there was no pain, only relief from pain. My left ankle had been in agony.  It felt like it was broken, only worse. But there was absolutely nothing wrong with my ankle. It was, as the orthopedist explained, a false signal to the brain. The sciatica nerve was being pinched in the lumbar region of my back and I was fooled into thinking the problem was my ankle. With traction, the therapist was trying to relieve compression of the nerve caused by a herniated disk. It was working. Wow, what relief.

And as I lay there I started thinking. When we observe something on the shroud or we discover something about its history, how often to we assume the most obvious explanation without considering other causes: its not the ankle but the lower back.

For instance, we observe that there is no image beneath a bloodstain and we immediately say that is because the blood inhibited image formation. What other reason? (Colin Berry, we miss you).

imageWhen it comes to history, we see a double line on the shroud at the neckline and see a double-line used as an apparent garment neckline on a coin and we think the coin must be modeled on the shroud. Or is there a completely different logical explanation? How about coins that do not depict Jesus, are there double-line necklines on them?

Do we often enough look for alternate explanations, something I might call the sciatica effect?

Or am I on too much pain killer meds? The benefits from traction lasted only about an hour

Categories: History, Science

Did Jesus Talk Funny and When Was He Born?

December 25, 2013 20 comments

imageSince we recently wondered What Did Jesus Look Like Throughout History? we might wonder too what he talked like. Mike Connell (pictured) in The Times Herald asks, So did Jesus talk funny, y’all?  Actually, it is about many things about Jesus and the Shroud of Turin is briefly mentioned:

Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he knew many of the original apostles, making it impossible to imagine him writing this passage if Jesus had worn his hair long. Indeed, those who doubt the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin often cite Paul’s admonishment and point to the length of the dead man’s hair.

Oh, no. Not that hair thing again. The rest of the article is better. And it is appropriate for Christmas Day.

Whether Jesus was 5-foot-2 with eyes of blue or 6-foot-4 with hair galore, matters not a whit. Even if he spoke with a hillbilly twang and could lift a donkey with one hand, and I’m not saying either is true, these are not among the reasons why he is remembered as vividly as ever after two millennia.

Perhaps he was born in March or September rather than December. So what? Perhaps he was known as “yeah-shew-ah” rather than “gee-zuhs” or “hey-zooce.” Fine.

Christians aren’t celebrating a birth date this week; they’re celebrating a birth. They’re not remembering a man; they’re honoring their Savior.

Merry Christmas

Categories: History

Did the Apostles Notice an Image on the Cloth?

December 23, 2013 30 comments

that was one take-away from the email to contemplate
. . . and more

imageA reader writes:

I believe there is a good argument "from extensive investigation by modern science" (including some pretty bad science) that the SOT is not an artwork by any established method, regardless of the doubtful C14 dating (doubtful on statistical as well as sampling grounds).

There is no way to prove that it is miraculous.

The SOT seems to be one of a kind. There is nothing quite like it, approximating its total complexity in resembling a crucified man.

On logical grounds, it seems certain that if the original apostles had noticed an image on the cloth, they would have tried to secure and preserve the cloth forever. In fact, they very probably would have done the same even whether or not they saw an image. So it is not really surprising that we end up with Jesus’ burial shroud (assuming it existed). [There may be an obscure reference in Paul to it, besides the Gospel accounts.]

it is not improbable that we might have this relic; and that it was hidden away most of the time to protect it from opponents.

I don’t know if anyone has addressed the issue of the large amount of ointment which Nicodemus procured along the tomb, presumably along with the cloth itself, which is somewhat fancy as a burial cloth. What would be the physical effect of this ointment in some imaging or preservative processes? What is the evidence for this in the SOT?

The probabilities are for alternatives:

- this is the shroud of Jesus, and this his image we see, and it was produced by so-far unknown processes
- this is an ancient cloth, cut like a shroud, and someone has artificially produced a complex two sided image to imitate in detail information in the Gospels. This person would have to have been the greatest artistic genius of all time (da Vinci never produced anything remotely this complex in representing a human being; it is easy to draw anatomy and perspective by comparison; the shroud looks like a layered noisy computer-generated image containing superficial 3-D shading on a thin 3D cloth, something impossible 60 years ago). It probably could be copied today by a lot of effort, using a computer-controlled laser together with pattern for blood spatter and body image, an ancient cloth if you could find one, and a blood spatter 3-D printer.

But not 60 years ago.

What about the myrrh ointment? Has someone reported on this?

Categories: History, Image Theory

What Did Jesus Look Like Throughout History?

December 19, 2013 20 comments

imageDiscovery Communications’ Talal Al-Khatib has put together a slide show called What Did Jesus Look Like? His take on it: “Artistic portrayals of Jesus have seemingly come to a consensus, though his image has changed over the centuries.”

The slides:

  • Jesus Depictions Through the Ages
  • Earliest Glimpse of Jesus
  • Jesus Grows a Beard
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Apostles Appear
  • Baby Jesus
  • On the Cross
  • Shroud of Turin
  • Image Enhancement
  • Jesus Goes Global
  • Face to Face

The slide dealing with the Shroud of Turin reads:

For many Christians around the world, the Shroud of Turin depicts not a representation of Jesus, but the very image of his face, imprinted on the cloth in which he was buried following his crucifixion.

A radiocarbon test conducted in 1988 showed the Shroud to be manufactured during the Middle Ages, when it first resurfaced in recorded history. Skeptics, however, have cast doubt on the shroud’s dating, suggesting the small patch tested in 1988 was from a more contemporary repair rather than an original part of the material.

It is worth looking at What Did Jesus Look Like?

Hat tips to both Joe Marino and Fr. Duncan (+Dunk)

Categories: Art, History, News & Views

Paper Chase: John Iannone’s The Veil of Veronica: Fact or Fiction?

December 18, 2013 7 comments

imageA reader writes to recommend The Veil of Veronica: Fact or Fiction? by John Iannone. Indeed, I read it a couple of years ago and was delighted to read it again. It is a good supplement to the discussions we have been having.

Second cup of coffee mark:

The case against the Veil’s presence in Rome after 1608 stems from some information that Pfeiffer and others have noted:

1. The Veronica that was kept in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome no longer shows any image. Lorenzo Bianchi notes that:

“The few scholars of the past who were able to see it close up, such as DeWaal and Wilpert …saw only a few brown stains. The people who have been able to observe it recently (including Pope John Paul II) found no trace of the image.”

2. Pope Paul V (1617) ordered that no reproductions of the Veronica in the 1600′s (after the cloth was allegedly stolen in 1608) were to be made unless by a "Canon of St. Peter’s." Pfeiffer believes the Pope made this statement because the Veil was stolen. They had no reason to give this order if they were in possession of the Veil in Rome.

3. The eyes on the reproductions of the cloth BEFORE the theft were OPEN. AFTER the theft, the eyes on reproductions of the Veronica are CLOSED. The original Veil showed the eyes open since Jesus was alive at the time Veronica wiped His face.

4. Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) not only prohibited reproductions of Veronica’s veil but also ordered all existing copies to be destroyed. Pfeiffer believes that these orders by Pontiffs of no duplication and destruction of reproductions indicates that the Vatican no longer possessed the original.

5. As noted by Lorenzo Bianchi in his article “The Veil of Manoppello”:

“The cloth currently in Rome is not transparent, while the 1350 reliquary that contained the Veronica in Rome, kept in the treasury of the Vatican Basilica, consisting of two panes of rock crystal, was evidently intended for an object that could be viewed from both sides. This reliquary, square in shape and of a size compatible with the veil of Manoppello than which it is slightly larger (but we have seen that the veil was trimmed) was replaced by another in the mid 16th century (now lost), itself replaced by the current one. A document testifies to the solemn installation of the new relic, that is, as one assumes, by a forgery – on 21 March 1606, in a niche cut into the pillar of the dome called ‘of the Veronica.’”

The Vatican cloth in Rome is only on view one time per year – the Sunday before Palm Sunday – for a very brief time from a balcony high up in St. Peter’s. People do not see an image. Renowned artist Isabel Piczek once relayed to me that she had the honor of viewing the (purported) veil in Rome as a young girl and claimed she saw no image, only some stains. Other scholars noted above confirmed this same thing.

Further, the Vatican will allow no study of its possession. Vatican custodians have steadfastly refused all requests for any photographs to be taken.

Categories: History

Guest Posting by O.K. – A very short proof that Manoppello Cloth =Veil of Veronica.

December 17, 2013 23 comments

The identification of Manoppello Cloth with the Veil of Veronica, allegedly stolen from St. Peters Basilica in 16th-17th century, is a very controversial matter, and there are both proponents1 and opponents2 of this idea. Here I want to show an evidence, that should settle the debate once and for all. If this is not proof, than what is it? 

One of the most characteristic features of the Manoppello cloth is its transparency. See the following pictures. On the left the Manoppello cloth3, on the right the Portrait of St. Veronica, attributed to Robert Campin (1375-1444)4




1 For example: Paul Badde, Boskie Oblicze, Całun z Manoppello (the polish edition of The
Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus), Polwen, Radom 2006, Saverio Gaeta, Drugi Całun: Prawdziwa historia Oblicza Jezusa, Polwen, Radom 2007, Andreas Resch Oblicze Chrystusa: od Całunu Turyńskiego do Chusty z Manoppello, Polwen, Radom 2006 

2 Ian Wilson, Święte Oblicza (the polish edition of Holy Faces, Secret Places), Wydawnictwo da Capo 1994, Michael Hesemann, Milczący Świadkowie Golgoty (the polish edition of Die stummen zeugen von Golgatha), Wydawnictwo Salwator, Kraków 2006, 

3 Taken from  

4 Taken from

Categories: Guest Posting, History

Bleaching and Banding: My guess is that Rogers is right

December 16, 2013 2 comments

imageThe following is from pages 15 and 16 of Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin: A Review by Raymond N. Rogers and Anna Arnoldi published at

(D) Lignin amounts vary among Shroud locations. X-ray-transmission[4,22], contrast-enhanced, ultraviolet[23], and transmitted-light photographs of the Shroud all show specific, discrete bands of yarn with different x-ray densities and corresponding color densities (figure 3). Both warp and weft yarns show this property. Some areas show darker warp yarns and some show darker weft yarns. In some places bands of darker color cross. In other places bands of lighter color cross. The effect is somewhat like a plaid. Many photographs of the Shroud can be viewed on the Shroud web site:

Linen is bleached to remove the lignin in an attempt to render it pure white. The more quantitative the bleaching process the whiter the product. The bands of different color on the Shroud are the result of different amounts of lignin left from the bleaching process. The tape samples reflect this variation as observed differences among quantitative measurements of lignin on the fibers.16

A conservator at Turin’s Museum of Egyptology, Anna Maria Donadoni[24], pointed out locations where batches of yarn ended in the weave and new yarn had been inserted in order to continue weaving. The yarn ends were laid side by side, and the weave was compressed with the comb. The ends are often visible, and the overlaps appear to correspond to zones of different color in the weave.

I believe that the observations of bands of different colors agree with Pliny the Elder’s description of ancient linen-production technology[8]. Ancient linen yarn was spun by hand on a spindle whorl. When the spindle was full, the spinner prepared a hank of yarn for bleaching by the fuller. Each hank of yarn was bleached separately, and each was a little different; indeed, different parts of the same hank show slightly different colors, a little like variegated yarn. The warp yarn was protected with starch during the weaving process, making the cloth stiff. The final cloth was washed with "struthium," Saponaria officinalis, to  make it more supple.

Medieval linen was bleached as the whole cloth. Most commercial bleaching took place in "bleach fields" in the Low Countries, the genesis of the name "Holland cloth" for the Medieval backing on the Shroud. Considerable material was lost during the bleaching process, and the newer linens are less dense than ancient linens, as can be seen by comparing the Holland cloth and patches with the main part of the Shroud. The newer linens are also homogeneous. They do not show bands of different-colored yarn in the weave.

A phloroglucinol-hydrochloric-acid reagent detects vanillin (4-hydroxy-2-methoxybenzaldehyde) with great sensitivity. Fresh lignin evolves vanillin in the reagent. You can often smell the vanillin that is evolved from the lignin of warm pine-tree bark. The lignin loses vanillin with time and temperature. The lignin on older samples of linen gives progressively weaker tests for vanillin as age increases. The lignin on Shroud samples does not give the test. That fact could indicate either significant age for the Shroud or accelerated aging of the lignin as a result of heating during the fire of AD 1532. Differences between amounts of lignin on linen fibers in the Raes samples and on Shroud fibers are significant. There is probably a similar difference between the radiocarbon samples and the main part of the Shroud.

A little over a year ago a reader of this blog wrote to me saying:

I hate to inform you but Ray Rogers was wrong. Pliny the Elder never said that Saponaria officinalis was used in the bleaching of linen. What he said is, “There is another kind of wild poppy (a spurge rather, Euphorbia esula of Linnaeus), known as "heraclion" by some persons, and as "aphron" by others. The leaves of it, when seen from a distance, have all the appearance of sparrows; the root lies on the surface of the ground, and the seed has exactly the colour of foam. This plant is used for the purpose of bleaching linen cloths in summer.” — Pliny the Elder, The Natural Histories, Book 20, Chap.79

The heraclion plant is not Struthium (soapwort, Saponaria officinalis).

I wrote back at the time:

It was Theophrastus who said that struthium was used for bleaching linen. Pliny, according to some sources, misunderstood Theophrastus to mean heraclion.

Was Saponaria officinalis used for bleaching linen 2000 years ago? Yes. Do we need to correct about a million web pages at this point? Probably.

It is a bit curious where Rogers got his information.

Now as for the truth about banding. My guess is that Rogers is right; Medieval linen, particularly in Europe, was field bleached because the technology and the linen production industry had advanced by that time. How do we prove it?

Disappearing Shaded Bands

December 15, 2013 15 comments

imageJohn Klotz writes:

In reviewing the presentation of Benford-Marino at the 2008 Ohio Shroud conference, I came across something I had not taken note of before:

"’Another distinctive characteristic of the cloth also points to a pre-medieval origin of the Shroud. Although debated in the past, image-analyses tools and techniques have clearly identified the existence of horizontal and vertical bands throughout the Shroud. According to the Cambridge Textile Book,"Tapestry-woven coverlets and hangings were characterized in Hellenistic and early Roman times by ‘shaded bands’, which incorporated subtle colours of graded yarns. Combined later with figured designs, shaded bands had vanished by the fourth century’ (22). Thus, the Shroud, with its shaded bands could not likely have been created after the fourth century."

Footnote 22 reads:

"22. D. Jenkins, (ed.). The Cambridge History of Western Textiles (vol.1). Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press: 113 (2003)."

I have to now make an admission. part of the Shroud was indeed forged – the "invisible patch" was a forgery, although a legitimate authorized forgery. The "invisible French weaving" was carefully designed to resemble the main body of the Shroud. Thus the presence of dye that Rogers found. Some have argued the the banding present on the Shroud appeared to pass through the mended area. There are two explanations for that: (1) either the carbon dating was really askew or (2) the invisible weavers when dying their patch to match the Shroud, took care ti dye it  so that the bands were matched.  There really were masters of weaving back in those days.



Categories: Carbon 14 Dating, History

Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area and other papers

December 9, 2013 Leave a comment

imageThere has been some off-the-blog chatter about papers dealing with the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud. One in particular is mentioned frequently and it is one of my favorites.  It is a paper by M. Sue Benford and Joe G, Marino published in  Chemistry Today. I had mentioned this paper called Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud and provided links to it in 2008. Those those links have expired. However, a copy may be found HERE at Will ever cease being extraordinarily useful?

I highly recommend it the Benford/Marini work.

DaveB, in an email today writes of the paper:

My recollection of the paper is that it surmised that the "invisible repairs" may have been carried out after the death of Margaret of Austria in the 16th century.  This may have been too early to skew the C14 dates to ~1250, assuming the TS dates to the first century.  An alternative suggesion, first suggested on Dan’s web-site by I think Max Patrick Hamon was that it may have been carried out by Princess Clotilde of Savoy after the 1868 showing. This was the last showing where it was manually held by five bishops. Clotilde replaced Valfre’s black silk lining with a red one.  If the cloth showed signs of wear at this time, she may also have been the one to effect the repairs. It is significant, I think, that all future showings were done with the TS held in a frame. It would also better account for the skewing of the C14 dates.

He then goes on to write:

Other papers which I suggest you check out are:

"Chronological History of the Evidence for the Anomalous Nature of the C-14 Sample Area of the Shroud of Turin Introduction", By Joseph G. Marino and Edwin J. Prior, 2008;

New Historical Evidence Explaining the "Invisible Patch" in the 1988 C-14 Sample Area of the Turin Shroud;  By M. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, ©2005 All Rights Reserved.

[Possibly this is the paper you refer to below]

Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of turin
Raymond N. Rogers 2004

The setting for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, by Emanuela Marinelli
Valencia, April 28-30, 2012

[Describes the preliminaries for the carbon dating, involving the various people involved.]

There are several others, including a batch of papers by Pam Moon, discussing the effects of contamination, together with some excellent illustrations.

Regarding Pam’s papers I had posted the following in June of this year.

clip_image001You may recall that in February, I linked to a scientific paper by Pam Moon, Coloured Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) contamination, mould damage, biocides and the carbon-14 dating of the Shroud of Turin.

Pam now has two new historical papers that explore a medieval manuscript, which is a version of John Skylitzes chronicle of the Byzantine Empire from 811 to1057. The first paper is about the so-called poker holes and the second paper about the transfer of the shroud from Edessa to Constantinople.

I think that only the first of the papers deals directly with the carbon dating. The others deal with history, which contradicts the carbon dating.

Categories: Carbon 14 Dating, History

The Big 3 Issue or “Jesus simply misspoke”

December 4, 2013 6 comments

imageIn a comment, elsewhere in this blog, Jos Verhulst points out

The 3-shaped bloodmark on the forehead is interpreted as a literal reference to the number three (9:40). However, Hindu numerals did not yet exist at the first century.

No, “9:40” is not a biblical chapter and verse number.  I say that after a few frustrating minutes. It is a red line, time line for the YouTube video, Solid Proof Turin Shroud is 1st Century! in which the voiceover tells us:

The number 3 has significance. On the forehead of Jesus of Nazareth,  on the Shroud of Turin, you see 3 written in blood . . .

  • that represents the Holy Trinity
  • Jesus died at 3 pm
  • Jesus was in the tomb for three days
  • Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days

There is an issue. As Jos points makes it clear. Hindu numerals (and Arabic numerals derived from them) did not exist at the time of Jesus’ burial. In fact, if this big three interpretation is solid proof of anything then it is solid proof that the shroud is medieval, at least from the 7th or 8th century on.


Kind of looks like the 3 in the Devanagari strain.

And while we are talking about 3 days, let’s ask ourselves the question that Daniel Burke asked for Religion News Service during Lent this year. He does a great job of covering all the bases:

But if Jesus died at 3 p.m. Friday and vacated his tomb by dawn Sunday morning — about 40 hours later — how does that make three days? And do Hebrew Scriptures prophesy that timetable?

Even Pope Benedict XVI wrestles with the latter question in his new book, Jesus: Holy Week, about Christ’s last days. “There is no direct scriptural testimony pointing to the ‘third day,”‘ the pope concludes.

The chronology conundrum is “a bit of a puzzle,” said Marcus Borg, a progressive biblical scholar and co-author of The Last Week, a book about Holy Week.

But Borg and other experts say the puzzle can be solved if you know how first-century Jews counted time, and grant the four evangelists a little poetic license.

For Jews of Jesus’ time, days began at sunset, a schedule that still guides Jewish holy days such as Shabbat. So, Saturday night was Sunday for them.

Ancient Jews also used what scholars call “inclusive reckoning,” meaning any part of a day is counted as a whole day, said Clinton Wahlen of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute in Silver Spring, Md.

Using these counting methods, a backward calculation from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon makes three days.

Besides, the four evangelists were likely not counting time literally, according to some scholars.

“Expressions like ‘three days’ and ’40 days’ are imprecise in the Bible,” Borg said. For the evangelists, “three days” means “a short period of time.”

Ben Witherington, an evangelical scholar of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., agreed.

The phrase “three days,” is a colloquialism comparable to “directly” in Southern-speak, meaning “after a little while,” he said. It’s anachronistic to expect the evangelists to monitor time like modern-day men, Witherington said.

“The Gospel writers didn’t walk around with sundials on their wrists the way modern scholars walk around with wristwatches,” he said. “They were not dealing with the precision that we do.”

But precision, especially when it comes to the Bible, has been a hallmark of faith for many Christians — especially those who equate truth with historical facts.

Most troubling for these believers is Jesus’ own prophecy, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, that he will rise from the dead after “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Trying to reconcile that prophecy with the Holy Week calendar, ancient Christian theologians such as Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Jerusalem counted the eclipse of the sun after Jesus’ death as a night, said the Very Rev. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y.

Didascalia Apostolorum, a third-century Christian treatise, took a more radical approach. It proposes that Jesus and his apostles followed a different calendar than other Jews and celebrated the Last Supper on a Tuesday, meaning the crucifixion happened on a Wednesday. Some fringe Christian denominations still promote that theory.

Others dismiss historical revisions and say Jesus simply misspoke.

“To be technical, Jesus made a false prophecy, and that’s not something most Christians would want to put that way,” said Robert Miller, a professor of religion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

But the point of Jesus’ prophecy is to draw a comparison to Jonah, who was willing to die to save his shipmates (and spent three days in the belly of a big fish), not to set a timetable for the Resurrection, said Witherington.

Martin Connell, a scholar at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., calls the chronology conundrum a “never-ending question.”

So unsettled is the evidence, and so elastic, that the debate will likely always continue,” Connell said.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the third-day Resurrection accords with the Hebrew Scriptures.
Some scholars, such as Wahlen, think Paul is pointing to a passage in the Book of Hosea, which says God will “heal” and “restore” Israel after three days.

Benedict says that theory “cannot be sustained.”

There may be a very practical reason for the Resurrection to have happened in three days after Jesus’ death, scholars say.

First-century tradition held that only after three days could you be sure someone was dead; after four days the spirit was presumed to leave the body.

Need we say more?  Probably! Maybe Jesus didn’t misspeak. Maybe someone wrote it down wrong.

And was it a whale or a fish?

Categories: Blood Studies, History

Translation: When you come, bring the Shroud of Turin

December 3, 2013 14 comments

Paul to Timothy: When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas,
also the books, and above all the parchments.

–  2 Timothy 4:13 (NRSV)


About a week ago, Simon Brown uploaded a video, Solid Proof Turin Shroud is 1st Century! which was produced by his friend David Roberts. It runs about ten minutes. It is interesting.

Shroud of Turin Video

Is it a bit of a stretch?

Categories: History, Video

Picture of the Day: Unraveling Unusual Stitches (Continued)

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

click here or on picture for a larger version

Most interesting pages from Flury-Lemberg’s " The Linen cloth of the Turin Shroud: some observations of its technical aspects". Helpful for the posting,  Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud.

Hat tip to Thibault Heimburger

click here or on picture for a larger version

Categories: Books, History, News & Views

Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud

November 28, 2013 18 comments

it would seem that the stitch on the Shroud is the basic standard one
which one would use then and now to join two pieces of cloth.

imageCharles Freeman, by way of a (44th) comment to The Shroud is 8 x 2 Assyrian Whatchamacallits, writes:

Selvedges and stitches. I am now quite used to following up a source quoted in Wilson and finding something very different from what he suggests (the classic remains the discrepancy between Wilson’s depiction of della Rovere’s actual portrayal of Christ in the Shroud and his own version, p. 28 of my 2010 edition of Wilson’s The Shroud in which Wilson even reverses the position of the arms!).

So while I was having a research day in the Cambridge University Library, I called in the Masada Report to check out the source references given above. In my edition of Wilson the discussion is on p. 109-110.

P. 169, fig. sixteen does exist. It does show a selvedge on a goat hair cloth. The excavators appear to have illustrated it because it is woven on a tubular or two beamed loom. No other example of the use of this kind of loom or selvedge has been found this early in the Mediterranean . However, earlier examples are known in northern Europe from earlier so the suggestion is that either the cloth originated in northern Europe –more likely – see further below- – or is evidence for the first use of this kind of selvedge in the Mediterranean. Wilson then gives a reference to Gabriel Vial’s 1989 report on the Shroud in which Vial talks of the construction of the Shroud’s selvedge as ’tout a fait inhabituelle’. He does not give the page number in my edition of The Shroud, but it is p. 15 with an illustration on p.16 of the Shroud’s selvedge. (The article is in the CIETA Bulletin for 1989, Dave B quotes a reference for pages 27-9 from his edition of Wilson but this is a completely different article!) The problem is that the selvedge on the Shroud does not appear the same as the selvedge shown in the Masada report. So all we can do is agree with Vial –the article is his own report of his examination of the Shroud while they were choosing the sample for radiocarbon dating on 21st April, 1988, so is interesting and perhaps even important in its own right- that the selvedge on the Shroud is ‘very unusual’.

We next go on to the reference to figs. 111-113 on pages 201-11 of the Masada report. Yes these figs. do exist and on these pages. They all refer to the same fragment of wool. It is picked out and illustrated as it is wool, 2:2, Z twist spin, balanced diamond twill. So except for the Z spin being similar to that of the Shroud , I can’t see why this is relevant- it is not herringbone, linen or 3:1. In the discussion on the origins of the textiles found at Masada (p. 239), this cloth is placed in their group iv. The excavators’ conclusion is that these textiles probably came from northern Europe as this kind of twist (Z) and this kind of pattern is known from examples there. They suggest it may have come in with Roman soldiers who were involved in the crushing of the Masada revolt. I simply cannot see why Wilson provides a reference to a piece of cloth that has absolutely nothing in common with the Shroud except that its thread is Z spun (and thus as the excavators suggest probably spun in northern Europe).

So far nothing about stitching at all so I had to find my own reference to the stitching in the Masada report and it is found on pp 170-1 where they discuss the 45 textiles that have stitching on them. They illustrate six of these stitches on figs. 20-25 but they do not describe any of them as exceptional. So I was surprised to find that Wilson reproduces Masada fig. 23 (as his fig. 8)- which is a counter-hemming stitch- as one which the excavators ‘adjudged to be a very unusual seam’. I can’t find any reference to such a judgement but as Wilson has provided no references it may have been somewhere outside the accompanying text in this section.

Luckily I had access to a higher authority- my wife who designed and sewed theatre costumes for her degree and then went on to work in the textiles department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. She took one look at Wilson’s ‘unusual seam’ and said in fact that this was the standard stitch for joining two pieces of cloth together when one wanted to make sure the ends did not fray. Nothing unusual about it at all!

Wilson does mention that Mechthild Flury-Lemberg is on record as saying that this stitch is similar to the one on the Shroud but he gives no reference for her opinion. In fact, it would seem that the stitch on the Shroud is the basic standard one which one would use then and now to join two pieces of cloth.

And so how much more time does one waste with Wilson? I have certainly better things to do but at least I can warn Shroud researchers to take anything that Wilson says with a large pinch of salt. I had only to read into the next page to find other issues that I could have dealt with in the same way as here but life is too short and I have far more interesting and accurate historians to work with. Hugh seems the man for the job of taking a critique of Wilson further – sorry Hugh but so long as people are going on quoting Wilson in their support it needs to be done.

Categories: Books, History, News & Views

The Shroud is 8 x 2 Assyrian Whatchamacallits

November 18, 2013 49 comments

“It is popular to pick whichever shroud dimensions seem appropriate,
divide them by 8 and 4 as required, and then find a cubit that fits,
pronouncing the shroud as “exactly” this or that.”

imageBernard Ruffin in his book, The Shroud of Turin, wrote:

. . . according to the measurement in use in the Middle East in the first century, eight cubits by two.

Mark Antonacci wrote in his book, The Resurrection of the Shroud:

Research indicated that the international standard unit of measurement at the time of Jesus was the Assyrian cubit (21.4 inches). When measured in Assyrian cubits, the Shroud is 8 cubits by 2 cubits, a strong indication that this standard unit was used to measure the linen cloth.

Book after book, website after website, have declared that the shroud was 8 x 2 cubits. But was it?

Hugh Farey, by way of an insightful comment this morning, writes:

The shroud was measured by Flury-Lemburg as 437cm x 111cm in 1998, and later by Barberis and Zaccone (2000), with its corners stretched slightly, as 437.7cm and 441.5cm (long sides); 112.5cm and 113cm (short sides). It is also quoted as varying in length by 2cm depending on humidity. (All information from Dr Zugibe’s ‘The Crucifixion of Jesus’).

Various cubit measurements have been found, all different lengths. The nearest I can find to the 1st century is the Roman cubit of about 44.4cm, which may be based on contemporary Egyptian cubits. Some excellent work on funerary slabs in various museums suggests that the Assyrians, whose empire dissolved some hundreds of years before Christ was born, may have had three cubits, of between 51cm and 57cm. Actual measuring bars, mostly from Egyptian tombs, are about 52cm long.

It is popular to pick whichever shroud dimensions seem appropriate, divide them by 8 and 4 as required, and then find a cubit that fits, pronouncing the shroud as “exactly” this or that. Whether there is any evidence that any 1st century cloth was woven (or buildings constructed) to any particular width, let alone an Assyrian cubit, I rather doubt. Does anybody know of any?

Categories: History

An interview with Dr. Barbara Frale

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment


In a new posting, this morning, on the Holy Shroud Guild’s Facebook page, Giorgio Bracaglia points us to an article on the guild’s site: Was there a link between the Knights Templar and the Turin Shroud? : An interview with Dr. Barbara Frale by,
Louis C. de Figueiredo.

Categories: History

The Image of Camuliana

October 25, 2013 3 comments


Sister Jeanne asks:

Is it possible that the belief in acheiropoieta of Christ began with the discovery of an image on our Lord’s burial shroud? I had learned that the idea began with the legend of the Camuliana icon. I also wonder if there are examples from other world cultures that could have led to early Christian belief in such things.

For starters there is an entry in Wikipedia (which offers several references not included here):

The image of Christ that appears in Camuliana is mentioned in the early 6th century by Zacharias Rhetor, his account surviving in a fragmentary Syriac version, and is probably the earliest image to be said to be a miraculous imprint on cloth in the style of the Veil of Veronica (a much later legend) or Shroud of Turin. In the version recorded in Zacharias’s chronicle, a pagan lady called Hypatia was undergoing Christian instruction, and asking her instructor "How can I worship him, when He is not visible, and I cannot see Him?". She later found in her garden a painted image of Christ floating on water. When placed inside her head-dress for safekeeping it then created a second image onto the cloth, and then a third was painted. Hypatia duly converted and founded a church for the version of the image that remained in Camuliana. In the reign of Justinian I (527-565) the image is said to have been processed around cities in the region to protect them from barbarian attacks.[3] This account differs from others but would be the earliest if it has not suffered from iconodule additions, as may be the case.[4]

One of the images (if there was more than one) probably arrived in Constantinople in 574,[5] and is assumed to be the image of Christ used as a palladium in subsequent decades, being paraded before the troops before battles by Philippikos, Priscus andHeraclius, and in the Avar Siege of Constantinople in 626, and praised as the cause of victory in poetry by George Pisida, again very early mentions of this use of icons.[6] It was probably destroyed during the Byzantine Iconoclasm,[7] after which mentions of an existing image cease (however Heinrich Pfeiffer identifies it with the Veil of Veronicaand Manoppello Image [8]), and in later centuries its place was taken by the Image of Edessa, which apparently arrived in Constantinople in 944, and icons of the Theotokossuch as the Hodegetria. The Image of Edessa was very probably later, but had what apparently seemed to the Byzantines an even more impressive provenance, as it was thought to have been an authentic non-miraculous portrait painted from the life during the lifetime of Jesus.

I have not seen any mention of non-Christian acheiropoieta. That is an interesting and important question.

Categories: History

Paper Chase: Thomas & The Hymn of the Pearl

October 24, 2013 30 comments

From  the abstract of Thomas & The Hymn of the Pearl by The Rev. Albert R. Dreisbach:

The Acts of Thomas, which contains the Hymn of the Soul/Pearl and may well be an
adaptation of an older work redesigned to provide “spy clues” pointing to the Shroud and its image(s). The Hymn of the Pearl is one of the earliest documents we have on Edessan Christianity Possibly dating from as early as the first century A.D., this hymn is described by Ewa Kuryluk as a work which:

…assimilates into an ancient tradition the new theology of Jesus’ incarnation, resurrection and transfiguration by transforming Christ into a soul. His dual nature rendered by his splitting into a humanlike anima – a son clothed in skin – and into a divine soul, an iconic dress of paradise. In the Syrian poem the essence of divinity resides in God’s clothing – a heavenly double of the mortal human skin [Emphases added.]

Gregory Riley offers a variant interpretation:

The Acts of Thomas, while containing many “orthodox” interpolations and 
revisions, nevertheless presents a like picture, and closes with a scene similar to 
that in the Gospel Easter stories; yet in the scene of the Acts, the body of the twin 
brother of Jesus remains in the grave, while his soul ascends to heaven. This is 
supported, among other passages, by one of the most famous poems in Gnostic Christian literature, the Hi’inn of the Pearl, which describes the archetypical journey of the soul for the Thomas disciple: the soul descends into a body, and abandons it upon return to the heavenly realms. (Riley, 178-79.)

The first half of this monograph which is devoted to the significance of Thomas and the school bearing his name and their respective influence on the thought modes and writings from Edessa. Although a case can be made to support the traditional view that Thaddaeus/Addai was the original apostle who evangelized Edessa, this paper will consider the hypothesis that it was really Thomas who did so. Later, certain Docetic elements in the literature from the school associated with his name his name may have caused Thomas’ initial role to be remanded to the more obscure Jude Thaddaeus/Addai.

The second half of this paper will explore the interrelationship of the biblical Thomas, that disciple’s connection with the Shroud and the city of Edessa, the school in that region bearing his name, and a suggested interpretation of key passages in the Hymn of the Soul/Pearl which reveal both their potential dependence upon the Shroud and the latter’s significance at an early date.

Categories: History

Meanwhile, Part 2: “Works for Me”

October 24, 2013 31 comments

imageMeanwhile, while the cotton wars were going on in this blog, Keith Witherup, over at, was also calling our attention to some ancient words to ponder. I often ponder these words, Are they symbolically, in a literary fashion, being spoken by the risen Christ, Is the author using Christ’s voice, in a sense, to describe his own burial shroud? The words are from the Robe of Glory (Hymn of the Pearl) in the Acts of Thomas. The hymn, with a peculiar two-image segment (below), is thought by some scholars to be older than the Acts of Thomas and is sometimes attributed to Bardesane of Edessa, a Gnostic poet, writing as early as A.D. 216. The words are found in different places in different Greek and Syriac versions of the Acts.

Suddenly, I saw my image on my garment like in a mirror
Myself and myself through myself [or myself facing outward and inward]
As though divided, yet one likeness
Two images: but one likeness of the King [of kings in some translations]

Witherup writes:

If you look at a photograph of the shroud you see two full size images of a man, one in which the image is facing outward and one inward. In more modern terms we describe these as front-side and back-side images, or ventral and dorsal images. They are, indeed, as in a mirror as they are full size and seemingly perpendicular to the surface. Those words, “as though divided, yet one likeness,” resonate with the two separate images that meet at the top of the head.

Works for me.

Works for me, too. Note these alternate translations:

And we might wonder about one of the illationes used in a late 7th century rite used in Spain, the Mozarabic Rite:

Peter ran with John to the tomb and saw the recent imprints of the dead and risen man on the linens.

Or about these words by Pope Stephen II, who reigned from 752 to 757:

[Christ] spread out his entire body on a linen cloth that was white as snow. On this cloth, marvelous as it is to see . . . the glorious image of the Lord’s face, and the length of his entire and most noble body, has been divinely transferred.

Should we ponder these words? Do they mean what I think they mean?


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