Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Colin Berry: The Scourge Marks are Frankly Not Credible

May 17, 2015 103 comments

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds,
with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints

imageIs that so?  Has this idea been investigated?

Colin had written a comment:

The crucial point surely is that there is no imaging of “wounds” or “injuries” as such on the sepia body image of the TS – absolutely none. The evidence for “wounds” and “injuries” rests entirely on the position of bloodstains at various locations. Even the “scourge marks” showing the dumb-bell shapes etc of skin-lacerating or indenting metal or bone tips are (we’re told) solely blood imprints – there’s no corroborating evidence in the body image.

The reliance on bloodstains alone to support the biblical narrative (scourging, crown of thorns, nails wounds, lance wound) with no supporting evidence whatsoever in the body image is entirely consistent with medieval forgery. Indeed, it’s hard to think of an alternative explanation – unless one’s view of the TS is “authentic until proven otherwise” (an authenticity-endorsing or promoting ‘sindonological’ position, as distinct from one that is strictly neutral, dispassionately scientific).

Thibault Heimburger replied:

I never understood what you mean by “imaging of wounds …”  What do you expect to see on a linen on contact with a bloody wound? I would expect to see exactly what we see on the TS.

Can you explain?

Colin then writes:

Maybe nothing. But I’m not the one who constantly refers to “wounds” or “injuries” for which there’s no independent and corroborating evidence in the body image, merely blood that is in locations that fit the biblical narrative. It’s to do with the burden of proof.

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds, with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints correspondingly exactly with the shape of the metal or bone pellets, as if all they did was to produce contusions with just the right amount of weeping blood to “imprint” an image, with no surplus to obscure and thus ‘spoil’ the image. The scourge marks are frankly not credible, except as the work of a forger intent on creating over-simplified neat and geometric patterns that lack both realism and credibility.

Yannick Clément on Colin Berry’s Latest Hypothesis

May 10, 2015 13 comments

imageHe writes in an email:

If we take the question of the image formation without also taking into account the rest of the important data coming from the Shroud, I would say that even if Colin Berry could really produced an image on linen that would show ALL the chemical and physical properties of the Shroud image (I’m 99% certain that he can’t because, among other thing, there is absolutely no color penetration anywhere on the Shroud, which is something no medieval forger using the kind of chemical process he proposed could have rationally achieve), his result would never prove that this is how the Shroud image was formed.  This would only show that the kind of "artificial" process he proposed can produce an image on linen like the Shroud, which is very different than claiming this MUST be the way it was done.

And more importantly, the evidence coming from the bloodstains (which I have summarized in this paper:ément-The-evidence-of-the-bloodstains.pdf) would still be there to contradict the idea of a false relic that could have been "artificially" created by a forger.  As I showed in my paper, the blood evidence coming from the Shroud is enough to prove that this cloth is a real burial cloth that has enveloped only for a short period of time a real scourged and crucified man that has been executed with the known historical method that was used by the Roman Empire before the reign of the Emperor Constantine.  In such a context, the ONLY rational hypothesis that could involve a forgery is the one I summarized in the point #1 you can find in page 6, which goes like this: "It is a real burial shroud of someone other than Jesus of Nazareth who suffered the same tortures as he with a forged image done by someone without using any art technique. In this case, a forger “naturally” produced the image while using a real human corpse. Because of the great resemblance between what happen to Jesus in the Gospels, we must assume that this forger did it in order to produce a false relic of the Passion of the Christ. Also, because of the presence of many differences between any known artistic depictions of the Passion of the Christ prior to the first known public exhibition of the Shroud in the 14th century and the bloodstains and the body image that are on the Shroud (for example, the nailing in the wrist instead of in the palms, the wearing of a cap of thorns instead of a crown and the very distinct dumbbell shaped marks of scourging coming from a Roman flagrum), we must assume that if he tortured and crucified himself (with the help of some collaborators), this forger was well aware of the Roman procedures concerning scourging and crucifixion. In fact, it is even more rational to think that this forger used the body of a real crucified victim who was put to death by the Romans, before the crucifixion was banished by the emperor Constantine, in the last years of his reign that ended in 337. We also have to assume that this forger took the dead body out of the shroud before it started to corrupt in such a way that this extraction did not disturb the bloodstains, never broke the linen fibrils under them and did not disturb the body image. In sum, this scenario can be described like a “natural” forgery using a real tortured and crucified body. And whether or not the forger knew that he would obtain a body image on the cloth, along with the bloodstains, is not completely clear. In fact, the formation of an image like that could have well been just an accident."

If Berry (or anyone else) still wants to defend the idea of a forgery while remaining rational, I urge him to think seriously of what I just said and to try to find a way to produce a Shroud-like image with the use of biological products that could have been released inside the Shroud shortly after death by a highly-traumatized human corpse that had been scourged and crucified. In my mind, that would certainly be much more interesting than seeing him constantly trying to produce at all cost a Shroud-like image with the use of a man-made technique, while completely leaving aside (or at the very least, not considering seriously) the crucial evidence coming from the bloodstains…

Colin Berry Has It All Figured Out, Sort Of, Maybe

May 9, 2015 71 comments

You’ve got to love the experimentation and impressive results so far

imageColin Berry gives this lengthy title to a blog postings over at his Science Buzz blog: The chemical principles behind the iconic Turin Shroud can now be explained. All that remains is to produce a look-alike copy. Then he goes on to say:

It’s taken over 3 years of almost non-stop experimentation, but this blogger/retired science bod is now able to explain how the faint negative image of the Turin Shroud was obtained (as a feat of medieval technology, aided by alchemists).

The task: produce a contact image that could be claimed to be that left by the crucified Jesus on Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen’.

It’s incredibly simple in principle (why didn’t I think of it sooner?):

1. Paint an adult human male (alive or dead) with an organic paste …

2. Press linen against the subject (or subject against linen) …

3. Develop the image chemically….


So I maintain that the plausible science is established – at least in principle-  so far as producing a negative  sepia 2D image from imprinting off a 3D subjectis concerned.  Whether it matches all the additional or peculiar characteristics of the TS image (extreme superficiality, lack of reverse side image, lack of uv fluorescence, microscopic characteristics etc.) remains to be seen. However,let’s insert a note of caution: not all those listed characteristics were necessarily there immediately after image formation, regardless of age – centuries or millennia. Some of those characteristics may be a result of ageing. At present it seems sensible to adopt a broad-brush approach, attempting to accommodate  only those ‘headline’ characteristics of the TS that have led to its being described as iconic or enigmatic. Where the latter are concerned, the prize for the most ‘iconic’ must surely go to the pioneering 1898 photography by Secondo Pia, which converted the Shroud negative back into a positive (by innocently treating the TS as a positive and convereting to a negative!).

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs Tags:

New Book by Stephen Mattingly Proposes Image Mechanism

May 8, 2015 6 comments

imageA newly published book by long-time shroud researcher Stephen J. Mattingly was released yesterday, May 7, 2015. It is available at  The paperback book, How Skin Bacteria Created the Image on the Shroud of Turin is available for $15.00. No other formats such as Kindle have been announced.

The description of the book on Amazon reads:

The hypothesis is that bacteria from the skin of Jesus grew at unusually high levels during his crucifixion and left their excess on the linen surface after the Shroud was removed from the body. Everything that occurred during the crucifixion was essential to producing his image on the Shroud. All the pieces had to fall in place at just the right time. Science and Scripture agree beautifully with the crucifixion of Jesus. They seamlessly weave their combined data points into the linen fabric that we know as the Shroud of Turin.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 7, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1511663588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1511663588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces

image  Hat tip to Joe Marino

Categories: Books, Image Theory Tags:

Comment by Hugh Farey on Aging

April 30, 2015 9 comments

imageHugh writes in Might tactile chemography prove to be the super-model?:

Some people think that the “effects of aging” are that an originally bright clear image has faded/flaked to what it is now; and others that an originally completely invisible image became visible by darkening – those who habitually place their experiments in an oven for “aging.” We need to be clear about what “aging” really does.

What happens to non-modern linen bleached by different methods, over time under many different conditions: light, temperature both normal and extreme, moisture, natural radiation, all manner of pollutants in the air or in reliquaries and so forth.

There are the questions: do some or all of these things act differently on “imaged” fibers and non-imaged fibers?  How does age act on banding, whatever that is, because it has a visual affect on the image. In fact, is banding a symptom of aging? Why?

Categories: Image Theory, Science

Colin Berry: Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail

April 30, 2015 220 comments

Inés San Martín, a Vatican correspondent for Crux has written an interesting article: Is the Shroud of Turin real? Some say it doesn’t matter

Therein we find Joe Nickell saying:

Proponents lack any viable hypothesis for the image formation, and have dismissed re-creations that others have found convincing.

and Barrie Schwortz saying:

Despite being the most studied artifact in history …  modern science is still unable to explain the image or how it was made.

and also saying:

… no one in the past 40 years has been able to duplicate it or create any image with the same chemical and physical properties.

Well, yeah, duh, to what Nickell is saying. In every case there have been problems with the re-creations. It is all about details. That’s why they have been dismissed. 

But then isn’t Barrie’s argument stale. That’s not a criticism of Barrie, it is the situation. Just as we say that no one has figured out how the image was formed – which every student of logic knows is a big fat fallacy – we haven’t figured out anything better to say about the image except what it is not and to keep bringing up those chemical and physical details.


The Rev. Andrew Dalton, a Legionaries of Christ priest who’s a shroud expert, told Crux that although the Church respects the autonomy of the scientific community, there are details that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.

Details like what?

Isn’t Colin Berry trying to figure out how the image was maybe formed by a forger with Thibault Heimburger reminding him about those pesky little details that “that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.” Inés San Martín should be interviewing them. Here, right out of this blog, let’s look at two comments.

Thibault Heimburger (April 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm):


“These aspects of the TS that the new model is supposed to match” are very important.

Your new model, at the end, must match (or at least be compatible with) the fundamental surface distribution properties of the TS: superficiality (at fabric, thread and fiber level), uniformity of the image (no “hot point”, no spot, no “hole”), half tone and fuzzy contours, and bundles of fibers adjacent to uncolored fibers…

Now, if you think that these facts are not proved, despite the many photos you have, I can’t add anything.

If you think that those properties are not important at all, please explain…

The ” ‘scattered colored spots” (also seen in Garlaschelli’s shroud) is only my description of your hand imprint.

I’ll be in Turin until Sunday.

Colin Berry (April 29, 2015 at 10:25 pm):

Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail of the TS, as it existed when first produced. My new project will attempt to simulate in the kitchen the effect of centuries of subtle degradation on an image of unknown provenance, whether 700 or 2000 years old.

Seriously, TH, one has to recognize the limitations of any attempts at model building. That’s what we scientists, as distinct from physicians, engineers, technologists etc do – we build models. Recognizing the limitations of models, we are concerned primarily with the principles, especially when there are so many who claim for example that a 200nm thick image in unexplainable by conventional science (wrong, it is).

I am not trying to produce a facsimile copy of the TS (forgery Mark 2?) merely to show that its defining characteristics are consistent with medieval forgery. That’s as a counter to those pseudoscientific agenda-pushers who say they are not. (That’s my agenda – anti-pseudoscience). “Defining characteristic” must not turned into a trail (trial?) with no ending.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for sending the Crux article along.

Might tactile chemography prove to be the super-model?

April 26, 2015 63 comments

These are early days, but I’m (how shall we say?) quietly confident.

— Colin Berry

imageNo wine before its time.  And don’t read Colin Berry’s posts in his blog before they have aged for a few days to match his unorthodox posting style.  Now is the time. Fine wine indeed if you like something acidic. Give it time to breath. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you or I will like it. It is time to read Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

Colin writes in his blog:

Here it is folks: the best I can offer after more than 3 years  of almost non-stop experimentation : Model 9  ("the nitric acid model").

Alternative name (afterthought, added 25th April): this new technique produces what might be called a "tactile chemograph".  Maybe there was only one ever produced (the image that we now call the Turin Shroud).  The tactile chemograph may be thought of as a forerunner of the photograph. (In both instances, one produces a latent image from a real person without harming them in any way, one that can then be developed in a bath (or vapour chamber) with the appropriate developing chemicals.

There was the moment that Thibault Heimburger asked Colin to “explain in detail the advantages of your new hypothesis with regard to your ‘old’ scorch hypothesis.”  Colin provided ten points. You should read them all. Here are two to temp you:

6. The technique allows for blood (or blood substitute) to be applied at the same time as body-imprinting medium, provided the blood or substitute stays red in nitric acid fumes (real blood does not – it quickly turns a brown colour). Blood would have been applied after. i.e. directly on top of the gooey imprinting medium to account for there being no body image under Shroud “blood”.


8. When applied to new linen, the technique has a side-effect that would be seen as a bonus – artificial ageing of the linen. Centuries later, pro-authenticity chemists and others would be delighted to find there was less potential vanillin and more mechanical weakness than would be expected of medieval linen a mere 700 years old.

Jumping to the conclusion (maybe, for there is no predicting with Colin):

The Turin Shroud. was this the world’s first and only tactile chemograph (think of it as a primitive ‘photographic’ negative, except for one tiny detail. Neither light not any other kind of elect6romagnetic radiation played any part in its production. It relied on the human touch (well, gentle massage actually).

What finally persuaded this blogger to abandon thermal scorching, and move to liquid (or semi-liquid) imprinting? It was that paper that Joe Accetta PhD presented at the St.Louis gathering, 2014, in which he propsoed that the TS image had been produced by woodblock imprinting. Up till that time I’d always been sceptical re the use of any kind of liquid imprinting medium, considering that would risk a reverse-side image. But I concocted my own equivalent of Joe’s "oak gall" imprinting ink, in which the iron salts probably have a mordant action, as well as creating the ink by reaction with plant tannins. Here’s an image produced, substituting tannin-rich pomegranate rind extract for oak galls, supplemented with iron (II)sulphate.

That ‘wet’ image was as good, if not better than anything produced by scorching. Yes. there was some reverse-side penetration, but might that not be minimized by suitable modification of technique, or simply by using thicker linen (and the TS linen IS thick, as Hugh Farey has observed).

Once liquid imprinting was permitted as an option, then a host of new experimental options were opened up. Thanks Joe Accetta. You weaned me of those thermal scorches (but they were useful in other ways, showing that ANY negative imprint can model certain key features of the TS, notably negative image and 3D-enhancibility). Models in science do not need to tick all boxes simultaneously. One can run different models in parallel, each earning its keep in one or other respect, while patiently waiting for the day when the super-model suggests itself, one  that combines the best features of its precursors, not only mine, but those of Garlaschelli and Accetta in particular. Hugh Farey and Adrie van der Hoeven added some useful and thought-provoking grist to the mill too, though whether they and the previous two would approve of the end-result is another matter.

Might tactile chemography prove to be the super-model? We shall see. These are early days, but I’m (how shall we say?) quietly confident.

Oh oh! You can’t put the cork back in, can you?

Do go read Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

Categories: Image Theory Tags:

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