Archive for the ‘Blood Studies’ Category

Why Doesn’t the Blood Create an Image?

July 13, 2014 80 comments

dry or wet, why not? Why not if teeth or tissue or hair does?

imageColin Berry asks an interesting question:

. . . The  reason for there being blood trickles down the hair is allegedly because the blood was imaged directly by a blotting paper effect prior to body imaging, so  ends up out of stereoregister with body image*. As I say, smart…

If that’s the case, then why isn’t there a double blood image, one set on the cheek,  as a subset of "body image" say, matching exactly the blood trails on the adjacent hair?

I repeat: if  dead protein like keratin, whether fibrous or not, and even mineralized tooth enamel can leave an image, then why not the distinctive cell debris and proteins of blood?  The  latter should remain in stereoregister with the fabric of the Shroud, right through the imaging process, regardless of where the "real blood" relocated due to relative shifting of corpse within Shroud.

It is a good question to ask of those who think the image was formed by a dematerializing body, perhaps even those who speak of any manner of radiation or energy creating the image: Why don’t we see a double-blood signature, one as real blood, one as ‘body image’, at least when out of stereoregister?

I like the question. It sort of supports my idea that the image, which I believe is somehow related to the Resurrection – an event I believe in – was not formed by a natural chemical reaction or by any form of energy that was the byproduct of a supernatural event. I know that sounds like I’m calling the image impossible. I know. But the Resurrection is impossible. The incarnation is impossible. Creatio ex nihilo is impossible. Right?

Scientists love unsolved mysteries. But they hate whacky people like me who suggest that the answers may be mysteries “all the way down,” at least before my morning coffee.

Stephen Hawking put it this way:

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You’re very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it’s tortoises all the way down!"

But then in The Grand Design, Hawking writes:

Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.

A spontaneous image? I like that. But what about the bloodstains? Is Colin on point with this; is it a valid objection to Jackson, et. al.? I like the question, so far. Now for coffee.

Everyone’s Own Facts

June 20, 2014 18 comments

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
– Daniel Patrick Moynihan

imageThe exception to that bit of wisdom from Senator Moynihan may be Shroud of Turin studies. It is not my intent to pick on Yannick Clément, in particular, but he just provided a useful illustration. Fact selection is a rampant problem when it comes to the shroud. We are almost compelled to ask, which facts are you using and why.  Yannick in a comment illustrates this:

Good enough for me means simply that I agree to consider something as a fact when two experts gets to the same conclusion while working independently of each other. One confirms the other in sum and that’s when we can take something for granted in science. Not before. In the case of the bloodstains on the Shroud, we can.

Just read the books published by Adler and Baima Bollone and you’ll see that the results of their analyses of the blood and serum stains (which was done with different tests, but which gave very similar results) was strong enough for both of them to claim that these stains are not made of something else than human blood and serum and even more, that these stains comes from a highly traumatized person, which is in total sync with the body image.

If that’s not good enough for some people, that’s good enough for me.

(bolded emphasis above is mine)

Is it good enough that John Jackson and his “team of research associates” and, separately, Alan Whanger found x-ray-like imaging on the shroud? Robert Siefker and Daniel Spicer have confirmed that:

There are images of teeth and bone structures associated with the face, as well indications of finger bones all the way to the wrist. . . . John Jackson and his team of research associates have observed these features and they are mutually confirmed by Whanger and other researchers.

The implication in the use of the word mutually is clear. They mean exclusively. Two experts have concluded the same thing. So, by Yannick’s definition, is this a fact?

Was it good enough that a consensus of experts at Valencia concluded that:

The body image is created by molecular change of linen fibres. There are also bloodstains. There is no body image beneath the bloodstains.

(bolded emphasis above is mine)

It took some squawking by other experts to get the above paragraph amended, something called by some the Valencia Compromise Parenthetical. It now reads on David Rolfe’s site:

The body image is created by molecular change of linen fibres. There are also bloodstains. There is no body image beneath the bloodstains. (For the avoidance of doubt, this characteristic does not exclude the possibility that the molecular change may have taken place in an impurity layer at the linen surface).

When is a fact a fact? Two people working independently and finding the same thing?  Really?

If we apply Yannick’s words, “that’s when we can take something for granted in science”  to other areas of science we can get ourselves in all sorts of trouble. Certainly, for a long time, experts working independently concluded that we lived in a static universe. James Jeans, Fred Hoyle and Albert Einstein, though they held different working views, arrived at similar steady-state conclusions. It would take others to dismantle the fact of a static universe. It would take Einstein admitting he was wrong.

Certainly in the field of evolution we can find independent experts concluding for irreducible complexity as evidence of a designer god. Can we say that working independently and concluding essentially the same thing, Michael Behe, Stuart Burgess, William A. Dembski, Phillip E. Johnson, and Stephen C. Meyer make Intelligent Design a fact? 

Note: We can even find two experts who will tell you James R. Schlesinger said what is attributed to Moynihan. And we can find two others that will tell you the opposite is true.

I don’t know what makes anything a fact when it comes to the Shroud of Turin.

Paper Chase: A Natural Stochastic Process May Explain the Coexistence of Bloodstains and an Image on the Shroud of Turin

June 14, 2014 15 comments

clip_image001The paper, THE MYSTERIOUS COEXISTENCE OF BLOODSTAINS AND BODY IMAGE ON THE SHROUD OF TURIN EXPLAINED BY A STOCHASTIC PROCESS by Giovanni Fazio, Yannick Clement and Giuseppe Mandaglio and published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry is now available online:

The presence of bloodstains certifies that a wounded human body has been enveloped in the Shroud of Turin and that most parts of this corpse came in direct contact with the cloth during the burial procedure. On the contrary, the ventral body image, by correlation between image intensity and cloth-body distance, shows codified information regarding the distance from which the cloth was versus the body at the time of the image formation. At first sight, this last statement seems to be impossible for a human corpse. Therefore, the coexistence of the bloodstains and the body imprints on both sides of the Shroud could be seen as unnatural, especially when we consider that a deterministic process as the UV radiation or the action of an electrostatic field (corona discharge), as well as manmade chemical and thermal treatment. These processes do not explain all the known characteristics of the body images (ventral and dorsal) because they do not distinguish the fibrils that must be yellowed from the ones that must retain the background colour. In this paper we prove that a natural stochastic process can offer a rational and scientific explanation that can account for all the known properties of these bloodstains and body images. However, another possible explanation that must be taken into account is a natural process involving the production of oxygen that yields a latent image.

Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry is an open access journal published by the University of the Aegean.

Garlaschelli and Borrini Study Flawed

April 7, 2014 47 comments

imagePaulette commented:

The study is flawed. Ever worked as an EMS? On sweaty, grimy, warm skin someone’s blood will run every which way, even in nearly horizontally rivulets. It flows. It gushes. It spurts. It mixes with sweat. I’ve been sprayed with blood from flailing limbs. Put a few drops of blood on your arm and jerk it hard to mimic a spasm. You can never reproduce violent outdoor traumatic blood flow on a body in pain with plastic tubing, air conditioning, calm and shower fresh skin.

Mike “Like”’d. So do I.

IEEE Shroud Conference Call for Papers Reminder

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Authors should submit abstracts or draft manuscripts by May 9, 2014 in accordance with:


(and remember the call-for-papers deadline for the St. Louis Conference in April 15)

Concerning the absence of an image of the top of the head on the Shroud of Turin and the possible presence of blood in this area

March 5, 2014 276 comments

A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément

First, I would like to address the question of the possible presence of blood in the area located between the 2 head images on the Shroud. This has recently been asked by a blogger and it’s an interesting question. On that subject, here’s what can we find about that in the important study of the UV fluorescent photographs of the Shroud done by Miller and Pellicori of STURP:

“At C-D by 11-12 a SMUDGE RESEMBLING BLOOD is visible between the head images.” Note: This code comes from a graph they drew over the Shroud and this particular location is found between the 2 head images. I have looked at the Shroud Scope of Mario Latendresse to find this possible smudge of blood but I’m not sure at all where it is located. Some spots look a bit like bloodstains but, by experience, I know that those can well be weak scorches instead (those two items on the Shroud are showing a coloration under normal light that is nearly the same)… It would be nice to check the original UV fluorescent photos of Miller and Pellicori to locate this stain!

This is the ONLY possible bloodstain they detected (they don’t mention any other possible bloodstains in this particular area) and, when we read correctly their report, these researchers were not even sure that this stain was really composed of blood. In such a context, it is evident that it would need a chemical investigation by a blood expert through a sampling of this particular area to know if some blood is present there or not. I think the most prudent conclusion to draw from this is to assume that there is no confirmed bloodstain between the head images, at least for the moment.

On the other hand, if it could be confirm that this stain is composed of blood, this would probably be the only blood smudge that exist on the Shroud and I think it is truly possible that this could have happened at the time the body was placed inside the Shroud (probably in a central place inside the tomb) or during the transfer of the enshrouded body from a central place of the tomb to his final resting place (probably a stone bench carved inside a wall of the tomb). This would highly suggest that at least some blood clots were still partially humid at the time the body reached the tomb or were able to get re-humidified before the body reached the tomb…

Personally, I think Mario Latendresse’s hypothesis to explain the absence of a body image of the back of the head is still the most likely because it is the most simple and rational we can find, which is to assume that, at the moment of the image formation, the Shroud was loosely draped over the body (most probably without the use of linen strips to bind it around the body) and consequently, for this particular area of the top of the head, the cloth was not in direct-contact with the body at a distance that was far enough to prevent the formation of an image.

Such a hypothesis is consistent with Mr. Latendresse’s own conclusion versus the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the Shroud man’s body (link: and it is also consistent with a possible total absence of bloodstain in the area between the head images. And even if the potential smudge of blood detected by Miller and Pellicori would be confirmed one day as really being made of blood, the fact that such a stain could have well been caused by the enshrouding of the Shroud man or by the short transfer of his enshrouded body to a final resting place would not allow us to discard the hypothesis proposed by Mr. Latendresse.

And since Jackson et al. from STURP have conclude that no image was able to form at more than 3.7 cm from the body, then it is logical to assume that the cloth was probably located at 4 cm or more away from the top of the head. But here, we must be prudent since we still don’t know the exact mechanism that lead to the image formation and it is still possible that such a process was not able to work laterally (or if it was, it is possible that it was only working if there would have been a direct-contact between the cloth and the lateral parts of the body, including the top of the head).

Nevertheless, there is still one thing that bugs me a bit with this explanation and it is the probable position of the head, which seemed to have been bent toward the chest (which is the probable position it had at the time of the Shroud man’s death on the cross). Because of this, I think it’s a bit harder to believe the cloth would have been located away from the top of the head at the time of the image formation in the context of a shroud loosely draped over the body. To learn more about this, I think Mario Latendresse or someone else should try some cloth’s configuration experiments that would consider the most probable position of the Shroud man’s head, which appears to have been bent toward the chest, and see if some loose configuration of the cloth over such a head bent toward the chest can force it to be located at some distance from the top of the head (which is not necessarily 4 cm or more if the image formation process was mainly working in a radial way (mainly straight up and down from the body)). Note: In my opinion, I don’t think if that was the case, this would necessarily discard any natural process for image formation, especially if the energy transfer was not 100% radial.

To me, in the context of a bend head toward the chest, the only way Mario or someone else could obtain a configuration that would force the cloth to be located at some distance from the top of the head (not necessarily at 4 or more cm but at least not in direct-contact with it) is to assume the Shroud was somewhat stiff at the time of the burial of the Shroud man.

Note: Of course, this stiffness of the cloth would have been lost over the years, since it is pretty evident that the actual Shroud is not stiff at all. Such a lost could have been caused by the Shroud being kept in a damp place for some time at an unknown moment during its long history.

And you know what? This hypothesis of a stiff cloth at the time of the burial is truly possible! In fact, this had been proposed by German from STURP and was accepted as a true possibility by Rogers and Schwalbe in their STURP paper. Here what they wrote about that: “German proposed a model to account for this (note: the density gradation of the image) by postulating the Shroud as originally somewhat stiff either from pressing or possibly starching.”

Important note: If that was really the case and the original Shroud was fairly stiff because of starching (note: In Antiquity, starch was often put on the warp threads to protect them during the weaving of the cloth), this would have represented a very good context for the presence of a layer of starch (among other impurities) as proposed by Rogers later on to explain the chromophore of the image and the ultra-superficiality of the image. In fact, Rogers assumed that most of the thin layer of impurities was composed of starch that was left on the top surface of the cloth after his washing in saponaria and drying in open air, which was an operation done in Antiquity to remove most of the starch in order to render the cloth more supple. In the case of the Shroud, it is possible to assume that this washing operation would not have removed all the stiffness of the cloth after the weaving.

Of course, all I said here is hypothetical and theoretical. More researches need to be done in order to find what is the most probable answer for the lack of an image of the top of the head on the Shroud. Nevertheless, I hope that what I have exposed here can become the start of a new reflection for some people, especially those involved in Shroud research like Mario Latendresse.

In sum, the two important factors I would like those researchers to keep in mind (which are two things that are rarely consider, so it seem) when it’s time to evaluate what was the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the dead body are 1- The possibility that the original cloth was somewhat stiff. And 2- The most probable fact that the Shroud man’s head was bend toward the chest at the time of the image formation.

For me, those 2 important factors could well have played a huge role in the kind of image that have been formed in the two head regions (front and back), as well as possibly playing a huge role also to prevent the formation of an image of the top of the head. Of course, other potentially good solutions other than the one proposed by Mr. Latendresse the other day exists to explain this absence of an image there (like the idea of a second smaller cloth that could have been placed on top of the head of the Shroud man and inside the main Shroud during the burial procedure), but I still prefer the hypothesis of Mr. Latendresse, at least for the moment. Maybe some more researches on the most probable Shroud configuration at the time of the image formation could change my mind… Who knows? One thing’s for sure (and I’m sure Mr. Latendresse will agree with me because he already planed to do so): More research need to be done in that particular field of sindonology.

Last comment concerning those future researches: It would be nice to see, for the very first time, a researcher trying to determine what could have been the most likely configuration of the Shroud in the half portion of the cloth where we see the dorsal image. SUCH AN INVESTIGATION HAS NEVER BEEN DONE, NOT EVEN BY JACKSON AND HIS TEAM DURING THE STURP DAYS!

To my knowledge, the only researchers who have studied this question (but only in theory) are the Italian nuclear physicists Fazio and Mandaglio, who came to the conclusion in their paper entitled “Does an Iz correlation exists for the back-part of the Shroud body image?” (link: that “the attenuation effects are different in the formation of the back and front images.” In other words, for those 2 scientists, in the back region, the image formation was not able to colored fibers that were located as far as it was probably the case for the front side of the body (which have been estimated at 3.7 cm by Jackson and his team) and the reason why it is so is the possible presence of burial ointments in greater quantity, which would have created a sort of wall that would have prevent the image formation process (natural in their mind) to color fibers located at 3 or 4 cm from the body as it was probably the case on the front side of the body (if Jackson’s conclusion is correct). Personally, I disagree with such a conclusion (even if I really respect the work of those 2 scientists) because of the investigation done by Ray Rogers who conclude that there was probably no burial ointment present on the Shroud at the time of the image formation. I’ve done some personal exchange with Fazio about Rogers’ conclusion and he defend his conclusion by saying that it is possible that all the burial ointments that were present on the Shroud have been lost over time (note that this is the same hypothesis that was proposed by Pellicori back in the STURP days). Personally, I have a very hard time to buy such a hypothesis and prefer to think, like Rogers, that if no burial ointments have been found on the Shroud, it is most probably because none have been used during the burial of the Shroud man! If we use Occam’s razor principle with honesty, this is by far the most simple explanation.

And contrary to the conclusion of Fazio and Mandaglio, I think the most rational answer that exist to explain the difference in the maximal distance in which the image formation was able to color a fiber between the front and the back side is the probable fact that there was a smaller amount of energy (still undetermined) that have been transferred from the backside of the corpse to the back region of the cloth than what have been the case from the front side of the body to the front region of the Shroud. And if my idea could be scientifically confirmed one day, this would certainly represent a data that would push strongly in favor of an image formation that was natural and very mild (even milder under the body than what was the case over the body), especially if it involved a release by the corpse of post-mortem gases (Rogers) and/or of free radicals (Mills) and/or of lactic acid molecules (DeSalvo)… But of course, we’re not there yet.

Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada

Paper Chase: DNA Analysis and the Shroud of Turin: Development of a Shroud CODIS

January 21, 2014 3 comments

imageSTERA has just published another paper by Kelly Kearse, DNA Analysis and the Shroud of Turin: Development of a Shroud CODIS. This is Kelly’s fourth paper at This paper will certainly shape discussions about future research on the shroud.

Barrie Schwortz, in introducing the paper this morning on, writes:

once again, he has taken a very technical subject and made it interesting and understandable for everyone,”

Based so far on an early morning first read (the coffee is still brewing), I agree. More importantly, what do you think?


Since its development in the mid 1980s, DNA analysis has become a standard procedure utilized by law enforcement and legal systems in the forensic examination of human remains, and to help establish or exclude a connection to a crime scene. The recent progression of gene amplification and enrichment strategies, together with next generation sequencing techniques, have made the analysis of ancient and degraded DNA samples much more feasible than previously imagined. Human DNA has been isolated from the Shroud of Turin, although the results remain rather limited and controversial. Indeed, it is unknown if such DNA truly originates from blood cells present on the cloth or is the result of contamination from exogenous sources. Here, the potential and limitations of modern molecular biology techniques in the analysis of the Shroud of Turin are reviewed, including the evaluation of both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.

A Special Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse and Thibault Heimburger

December 17, 2013 47 comments

PDF Version

The Shroud Blood Science of Dr. Pierluigi Baima Bollone:
Another look at potassium, among other things



Kelly Kearse and Thibault Heimburger



Although probably best known for his blood typing studies on the Shroud, it is worth noting that Dr. Pierluigi Baima Bollone conducted a series of chemical and immunological studies in the characterization of Shroud bloodstains, similar to those performed by Heller and Adler. [Translated from the book jacket shown above:] “Dr. Pierluigi Baima Bollone, 76, a surgeon, for over 40 years, teacher of Forensic Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine and Law at the University of Turin-and now professor emeritus, continues to contract in his courses. He is the author of a successful Handbook of Forensic Medicine adopted in various Universities, now in its fifth edition, and 161 scientific publications. He has also written 24 books.”

Below, several specifics regarding Baima Bollone’s findings relative to those of Heller and Adler are discussed. Much of the quoted material is taken from his presentation entitled “The Forensic Characteristics of the Blood Marks” from The Turin Shroud-past, present, and future, an International Scientific Symposium held in Turin March 2-5, 2000. Direct quotes from Dr. Baima Bollone are bolded.

The first endeavor to scientifically evaluate the nature of the bloodstains on the Shroud began in 1973 by members of the “commission of experts”, which included G. Frache, E.M. Rizaati, and M. Mari. Their results were negative, although the scientists would conclude that “the negative answer to the investigations conducted does not permit an absolute judgment of the hematic nature of the material under examination.” In a 1981 paper by Baima Bollone, entitled “Indagini Identificative Su Fili Della Sindone”, he describes his own initial studies testing for the presence of hemochromagen, which were also negative, corresponding to the work of Frache, et al. In subsequent studies he would use different methods; discussing this at the 2000 conference, he states, “The initiative to conduct new tests developed a few years later, during the laboratory examination of threads extracted from the Shroud and adhesive tape samples. Under the fluorescence microscope and using the Dotzauer and Keding method on the same samples I demonstrated the presence of heme/porphyrins. On the same material I obtained Teichmann crystals or hematine chlorohydrate with the usual procedures.” In follow up studies, Baima Bollone would extend his chemical results using a series of immunological experiments, which tested positive for the presence of blood component markers. Immunological studies by Heller and Adler (albumin, immunoglobulin), and Garza-Valdes (hemoglobin, typing) would corroborate Bollone’s findings.

Regarding the methods of sampling used in Shroud blood studies, Baima Bollone would comment in 2000, “I would like to point out immediately that the traces suspected of being “blood” are made up of effective deposits of material. This has meant that it has been possible to remove some of the traces using adhesive tapes or to study them directly on threads where they are deposited.” This is a distinction between the two sets of studies: Heller and Adler primarily evaluated tape-lift samples, whereas Baima Bollone physically removed certain threads using forceps. He would further discuss that, “I have been astonished that in their search for traces of blood on the Shroud the STURP team preferred to use physics investigations, or at most surface sample-taking using adhesive tapes, rather than requesting to takes the traces in their materiality.

“After preliminary studies on bandages taken from an Egyptian mummy in order to optimize methods, in 1981 I centered research on the threads of the weft and warp taken in correspondence with the C9d area of the reference map (the so-called “belt of blood”), B12c (the sole of the left foot) and(the sole of the right foot) of the feet of the Shroud. After optical and scanning electron microscope investigations, I managed by means of the energy extinction microspectrometer to ascertain the presence of Mg, Al, Si, S, Cl, K, Ca and Fe.”


Here there appears to be a difference between the findings of Baima Bollone relative to those reported by the STURP scientists. In the article, “The origin and nature of blood on the Turin Shroud”, Adler states that the blood is “very low in potassium”, referencing the x-ray fluorescence studies of Morris and colleagues (“X-ray Fluorescence Investigation of the Shroud of Turin”). These specific tests were done at various places on the Shroud, including bloodstains, to help define if the elemental signature was more like paint or pigment? Or blood? Or other?

In the Morris studies the Shroud was sampled while mounted on a specially constructed frame. Bloodstains on the dorsal-foot and the side wound were analyzed. A spectrum of the side wound is presented in the Morris paper (which is also reproduced in Walter McCrone’s book, together with a standard reference blood spectrum). Morris et al. state that, “Although no potassium was observed in any of the Shroud data, poor signal-to-noise ratios may preclude definite conclusions on this point” (see below).

In contrast to these findings, Baima Bollone and coworkers report in the evaluation of threads taken from the Shroud that the elemental profile, including K (potassium), is similar to that of normal blood. This work is described in the articles “La Dimonstrazione Della Presenza Di Tracce Di Sangue Umano Sulla Sindone” and “Indagini Identificative Su Fili Della Sindone”. The “important blood peaks” labeled in McCrone’s elemental analysis of a real blood profile (S, Cl, K, and Fe) are present in Baima Bollone’s analysis. This is a very important point.

In the studies by Morris et al., X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) was used, while Bollone used Electron Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). The difference between EDS and XRF is the type of radiation hitting the sample. EDS uses an electron beam and XRF uses an x-ray beam, thus the results cannot be directly compared as such. However, both methods give the elemental composition of a sample and have their own limits, but, in fact, they are complementary.

Morris and coworkers were only allowed to perform their work on the Shroud itself; it is noteworthy that they could obtain valuable results. Among the normal major chemical species found in blood (see below), Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus and Sulfur could not be detected because their atomic number is lower or equal to 16. However Chlorine, Potassium, Calcium and Iron should, in theory, have been detected in blood areas. Given the very high amount of calcium thorough the entire Shroud, a small excess of calcium in blood areas could probably not be detected. They found an excess of iron in blood areas, consistent with the amount of iron in blood. There is no mention of Chlorine in Morris’paper.

Morris et al.were unable to detect the characteristic peak of potassium in their spectra of bloodstains. They added: “In these measurements [laboratory experiment with whole blood on a Whatman paper using the same XRF system than in Turin], we also observed potassium in addition to iron. The K [potassium] K alpha peak intensity was typically at least an order of magnitude smaller than the Fe K alpha.”

Given that and the very low signal to noise ratio of the TS spectra, it would be very unwise to conclude (like McCrone): “no potassium, no blood”.

Baima Bollone used EDS on TS blood threads.

As an example, he got the following EDS spectrum:


From Dr Baima Bollone: comparison of EDS spectrum of TS blood (B12 C: sole of the left foot) and EDS spectrum of actual blood. There is a good match between actual whole blood and TS blood and potassium is there (arrows added to the original figure).

Dixon et al. studied the elemental composition of dried blood on cloth (Dixon et al., “A Scanning Electron Microscope Study of Dried Blood, 1976) using SEM-EDX. In this paper the elemental composition (the species and their relative amount) are given.


Mimimum and maximum values of elemental species (in %) in dried blood on cloth. From the SEM-EDX data in Dixon et al.

SEM-EDX gives the relative elemental composition. When one compares these results with those obtained by Baima Bollone, there is a very good match with “actual blood”. This is also true for the TS blood, except for calcium and iron. Bollone’s “TS blood” does contain much more calcium and iron than expected for actual blood. Since SEM-EDX analyses a volume of several micrometers, it is possible that the calcium (and iron) excess found in the “TS blood” spectrum is due to the high amount of calcium and iron bounded to the underlying fibers as shown by Heller and Adler.

In any case (except for calcium), there is no doubt that the EDS spectra of blood material coming from blood areas of the Turin Shroud show the same elemental composition than that of actual blood. Not only are all of the expected elements present, but also their relative amounts are consistent with that of blood. In addition, no peak corresponding to species not pertaining to blood was found (for example Hg peak of cinnabar).

It is also important to note that Heller and Adler studied “globs” (blood aggregates) and fibrils from blood image using an EDS spectrometer (“A Chemical Investigation of the Shroud of Turin”, 1981). They wrote: “The fibrils all show strong Ca and Fe signals. The globs all show Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, K [potassium], Ca and Fe … Similar results were obtained by J. Jackson and W.Ercoline in their SEM studies”. Although no spectrum is shown, it is important to note that all of the elemental species of real blood were also found by Heller and Adler on “globs” (and perhaps red fibrils, although this is unclear), including potassium.

To summarize, the assumption that no potassium has been found in the blood stains is simply false. This assumption was only based on the Morris et al. paper and we have seen the strong limits of their in situ observations. On the other side, Bollone, Heller and Adler using another method found potassium in red material and blood threads. Bollone has provided evidence that the elemental composition of the TS blood effectively compares to that of actual blood.

McCrone thought that the blood was made of a mixture of red/yellow ochre with cinnabar in a collagen medium.


Typical SEM-EDX spectrum of pure yellow ochre (from McCrone particle atlas).

Iron, silicon and aluminum are the major species. Chlorine (a major element of blood) is only found as trace element. Even if one adds vermilion (artificial Hgs) or natural cinnabar (HgS and contaminants like quartz and calcite), it would be extremely surprising that the spectrum of such a mixture could match that of actual blood as does the TS blood spectrum.

Another important issue relates to the reflectance spectra of blood. In “Physics and chemistry of the Shroud of Turin- A Summary of the 1978 Investigation” (Analytica Chimica Acta, 135 (1982) 3-49), Rogers et al. commented that “Heller and Adler have noted that there is no specific spectrum for blood per se: the spectral characteristics depend on the chemical state of the hemoglobin and also on its state of aggregation. They pointed out the strong resemblance of the Gilberts’ “blood” data to those for perturbed acid methemoglobin, which is a chemical state of blood in which the iron in the hemoglobin has been oxidized. Cameron and George have published absorption spectra for acid methemoglobin in the range 480- 640 nm. These data strongly resemble the Gilberts’ curves and even include the small absorption structure at about 630 nm”.


Apparent relative spectral absorbance of the mean of four bloodstained areas on the Shroud (Gilbert and Gilbert)

Here is the spectrum from Cameron et al., cited by Rogers:


Spectrum of human acidic ferrihemoglobin (Cameron et al.)

The claim that “there is no specific spectrum for blood per se” can be seen in the following figure:


In “Spectroscopy of burn wounds” by Afromowitz M.A (Ph D) and Callis J.D (Ph D), University of Washington, 1992.

Among the different spectra of hemoglobin, the spectrum of acid methemoglobin is unique. The spectrum of the bloodstains on the Shroud is consistent with that of acid methemoglobin found in the literature.

Bollone stated in 2000. “The forensic identification of the blood was obtained in 1981 by J.H. Heller and A. Adler. In 1980 they had already ascertained the presence of porphyrin, a pigment that enters among other things in the haemoglobin synthesis, in their samples.” He continues, “The presence of human blood was subsequently confirmed by Canale in 1995 before conducting DNA research on some by threads I gave him, and by Leoncio Garza-Valdes, both on material of asserted but not proved origin from the Shroud, and on fragments of Shroud tapes from 1978 obtained from Adler.

No singular type of test in the evaluation of bloodstains is above error. Each test can result in a false positive. Each test can result in a false negative. It is the sum of the collective evidence of chemical and immunological data that convinced Dr. Baima Bollone (and Heller and Adler) that the “bloodstains” were composed of real blood. Although modern tests are typically more sensitive than many previous methods, the basic one-two approach for the detection of blood is still in use today: chemical testing for the identification of heme/hemoglobin, followed by immunological testing to identify the species from which the blood originates, and if desirable, the blood group and subgroup. (Reviewed in “Analysis of body fluids for forensic purposes: From laboratory testing to non-destructive rapid confirmatory identification at a crime scene”, by Virkler and Lednev, 2009; and “Review: Biological evidence collection and forensic blood identification”, by Castro et al., 2011).

Baima Bollone contributes a unique perspective in the study of the bloodstains of the Shroud, being trained in forensic science, and having evaluated the cloth at a very close range. He also discusses at some length the separation of cellular and fluid components in bloodstains relative to deposition, time of death, and clotting in his studies. As with all of the above-mentioned results, the interested reader is encouraged to consult the original sources of his articles and books for further information.

Baima Bollone would summarize in 2000 that, “In effect everyday haematological diagnostic investigations have allowed us to ascertain the incontrovertible presence of human blood, with all its characteristics, on the Shroud. All this proves and confirms that on the Shroud there are effectively real and complete bloodstains, conserved in their various components”

Categories: Blood Studies, Science

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

A Guest Posting by O.K. : Blood on the face of TSM?

November 24, 2013 8 comments

imageThe question of the blood-covered face of the TSM is, in my opinion, a matter of great interest and importance. In the recent comment1, Hugh Farey raised a very important matter of the possible existence (or non-existence) of image under bloodstains. Based on Adler’s observation of cleansed blood fibers, it is generally assumed that there is no image under blood stains.2 But Hugh argues that:

All the Mark Evans photos showing bloodstains clearly show that most of the red particles have been rubbed off the upper surfaces of the threads, and are mostly confined to the cracks and crevices where one thread crosses another. The surfaces from which the blood has been rubbed off are as yellow as the rest of the image fibres, and do not carry the distinctive silky white appearance of the non-image threads.

So, in Hugh’s opinion, there is apparent conflict between Adler’s conclusions (it is however necessary to note that Pierluigi Baima-Bollone, who performed independent analysis of blood-covered threads agrees that there is no image under bloodstains3, earlier in 1973 other bloodied threads were analyzed by G. Frache and G. Filogamo) and Mark Evans photos. But another option comes to my mind, is it possible that some of the so called body image was actually created by blood?

What prompted me to this solution, is an analyzis of the various photographs of the Shroud, as well as Tamburelli & Ballosino’s eidomatic 3D reconstructions of the TSM face. Processing Enrie’s photos (STURP did not give them their images), they cleared the face from apparent blood flows and obtained these results:4


Another image shows eliminated blood traces:


That’s what interests us. Are those traces a real blood?

Evidences For Testing Hypotheses About The Body Image Formation Of The Turin Shroud by Fanti et al have following remark:

A44) The luminance level of the head image in the positive photograph of Durante (2000) is 10% and more lower (darker) than that of the whole body image (Moran 2002).

This was used by one sceptic to “prove” that the image of the face and rest of the body are separate images created by the forger. I refuted this statement by saying that this actually makes no sense, without clarification, what do we mean by luminance level (average, maximum) and what photography do we use. Because their sensitivity in different wavelengths can be different. That’s crucial here. Let’s analyze two photographs, one by Enrie, and one by Schwortz:


The differences are obvious. On the Schwortz photo, the blood marks are much more intense in comparison with the body image, than on Enrie one. It is due to the fact that Enrie’s plates were much more sensitive in the yellow part of the visual spectrum, while Schwortz’ were more sensitive in red. The most important observation is, however, that the face on the Schwortz’ is much more intense than on Enrie, almost as intense as the blood marks –thus suggesting that it is actually created by the blood marks! The most intense are beard, mustache, hair and eyebrows (which easily absorb blood) as well as nostrils, from which the blood spilled.

What’s connection of this to Hugh’s reservations? Hugh claims that the surfaces from which the blood has been rubbed off are as yellow as the rest of the image fibres, and do not carry the distinctive silky white appearance of the non-image threads. I want to ask, whether those darker fibers from the regions were blood has been rubbed off by erosion are actually not the image fibers (which would suggest that there is an image below blood stains, contrary to Adler and others) but blood residuals creating image. Thus there would be no conflict between Adler’s and Hugh’s observation. The slight differences in color, are, in my opinion, not enough to distinguish whether dark layer on the fiber is actually the image, or blood residuals.

Just my suggestion for further considerations. I would like to add also that one must remember that we don’t know precisely where blood flecks originally ended –the image areas on even individual fibers can be right next to the blood areas. Thus only direct examination of fibers can give us answer whether there is, or isn’t the image below blood.

1 See

2 See for example Evidences for testing hypotheses about the body image formation of the Turin Shroud , The Third Dallas International Conference On the Shroud of Turin: Dallas, Texas, September 8-11, 2005, Raymond N. Rogers, Frequently Asked Questions

3 Pierluigi Baima Bollone, Całun Turyński 101 pytań i odpowiedzi, Wydawnictwo Wam, Kraków 2002, pg. 143)

4 The images are taken from

Hugh Farey on the possibility of image color under bloodstains

November 23, 2013 21 comments

imageOnly Adler [pictured to the right] carried out any such study, and this is what he said: “Interestingly, fibrils freed of their coatings using this technique [protease to dissolve away any protein] closely resemble the non-image fibrils of the Shroud.” I cannot take this as a general truth. All the Mark Evans photos showing bloodstains clearly show that most of the red particles have been rubbed off the upper surfaces of the threads, and are mostly confined to the cracks and crevices where one thread crosses another. The surfaces from which the blood has been rubbed off are as yellow as the rest of the image fibres, and do not carry the distinctive silky white appearance of the non-image threads.

Holding the Shroud to an impossible standard?

October 16, 2013 53 comments

imageA reader writes:

This is in response to an online article by you on the Shroud of Turin that ended with the following: "We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion."

I have been reading about the Shroud since I was 13.  I’m now on Social Security.  In that time I have never, with the signal exception of what we know to be a botched carbon 14 dating, encountered any credible evidence that the Shroud is NOT authentic, and an ever increasing mountain of evidence that it is–evidence of all sorts from many disciplines.

So far as I can tell the Shroud has long since passed the test of reliable information.  I mean unless you require repetition of the experiment, in this case the death, burial, and perhaps Resurrection of Jesus Christ, an historical artifact, especially an ancient one, can hardly deliver up more or better evidence than I have encountered in this case.

I am to say the least very confused when people such as yourself or Gary Habermas, obviously otherwise sympathetic to it, hold the Shroud to an impossible standard.  Certainly investigations can be refined and there is always the possibility of gathering more data but even without anything further the Shroud is about as genuine an artifact as any commonly accepted.

Therefore, I would be quite interested to know what keeps you from a positive judgment.

You speak of “an ever increasing mountain of evidence” supporting authenticity. Yes, that is so. But how good is some of that evidence and how significant is some of it. You suggest that I hold the Shroud to an impossible standard. Really? Consider:

  • We hear that there is no image beneath the bloodstains. We really don’t know this. Who has observed it? How extensively? How well is it documented? Is it confirmed?
  • We hear that the bloodstains are not smeared and are undisturbed. Has this been rigorously tested? I doubt that we can even know this after several centuries of folding and unfolding the cloth.
  • The pollen evidence is unconfirmed. After important questions were raised about reliability, Ray Rogers asked to examine the Frei ta[es. Alan Whanger, who owns the samples refused to allow it. Today, the tapes are secreted away in North Carolina. See A STURP Sequel?
  • We often hear that there are images of coins, plants, lettering, teeth, etc. on the shroud. We have exhaustively explored this subject on this blog. I remain quite convinced that there are no such images on the cloth.
  • It is often said that the images are 3D encoded. What does that mean? No, I understand that you can plot reasonable three-dimensional (height-field) shapes from the images, but why? It is often said that the 3D data represents spatial information (distance between the body and the cloth – somehow). There is no way to know that without presuming something about how the image was formed.
  • The historical data, while plausible, is highly tentative.
  • I could go on and on.

There is the question of how the images are formed. I think I can say (I too am on social security and have studied the shroud for many years) . . .

  • I don’t believe the images are manmade, at least not by any method so far hypothesized.
  • I don’t think the images were formed by any natural method so far proposed
  • I don’t believe the images were formed by any energetic byproducts (radiation, particles, heat, light, sameo-sameo and etc.)
  • What’s left?
    You asked if I (perhaps) “require repetition of the experiment, in this case the death, burial, and perhaps Resurrection . . .”
    No. But why do we think the image is linked to any kind of process, repetitive or otherwise, natural or miraculous? Why do we even think the Resurrection of Jesus might be a process?  Imagine a movie. On one frame of film you have a completely quiet scene, All you see is a shrouded body. Then in the very next frame, as though some Hollywood editor had cut out all the good stuff in between,  you have a completely quiet scene, All you see is an empty shroud. Why not? No motion, no dematerializing, no UV radiation or loosed particles flying about. Imagine that there was not so much as the movement of a single quark between the two frames of the Resurrection because there was no in between, Why not?

You guys are brutal

October 8, 2013 44 comments

imageA reader writes:

You guys are brutal. Keep it up. I hope the shroud is real. Whatever the facts favoring that, they must be solid. I always assumed that it was a solid fact that there was no image beneath the bloodstains because I read it in books and in papers published by shroud scientists. Thanks to this blog I now wonder if it is true. It is better to admit, that as a fact, it is not very well substantiated. In fact, no pun intended, it should not be called a fact. 

Thanks to this blog I wonder if is possible to know if the bloodstains are undisturbed. I wonder if the pollen evidence is valid. I wonder if the dirt from the foot area of the image is really Jerusalem dirt? I wonder if I was mistaken always thinking there were coin and flower images? It seems I was.

As for the gentleman who thinks the church is weak and dishonest for not taking a stance, it is the other way around. It would be reckless and speculative to say the shroud is real.

I learn so much from your blog. Keep those postings coming.

Thank you for your email. Actually, it is not the postings that merit praise.  It is in the comments from readers, some 19,230 of them, where the good, brutal work happens. I mainly just report what I read.  I, too, learn so much from the blog.

Google, McCrone and my Dog

August 22, 2013 98 comments

imageForget the NSA; Google, I’m told, tracks every web search I make. And it probably reads my emails, too. And it obviously sells something about me to advertisers. Just this morning I logged into my veterinarian’s pet medication site to check on a prescription for my dog. There was a link to an article about what to do if a dog is bitten by a snake. Living in South Carolina, where we see Copperheads a couple of times a week, I was interested and clicked on the article. Right there, near the top of the page, was an advertisement from Amazon informing me that Walter McCrone’s “Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin” was now available on Kindle. You think that was a targeted ad? For dog lovers or for people who searches for material about the shroud? You think anyone else sees that ad in a veterinary medicine portal?

Did I want to see a sample? Yes! The following, appearing in the book, is from a proposal letter that McCrone sent to Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi in 1977. Amazing:

For centuries the Turin Shroud has been a holy relic of the Catholic Church but owned by the Italian House of Savoy. The Shroud rests in a silver chest in the Cathedral of St. John in Turin, Italy. The provenance for the Shroud is known dependably for more than 600 years with considerable evidence extending this date back to the time of Christ.

It would be a tremendous accomplishment if the Shroud could be dated, and a date near the time of Christ would certainly lend considerable weight to the evidence that it is indeed the Shroud of Christ Himself. It is also important to determine the nature of the image on the linen. If the image and the stains that form a part of that image are shown to have been caused by body fluids, this would be further authentication. Finally, success in these two areas (the date and presence of body fluids) would then make it be very difficult not to conclude that the Shroud is indeed that of Christ.

We believe there is an excellent chance that the Shroud can be dated, using very new techniques, and that the chemical nature of the stains can be established. We further believe that this can be done without removing easily detectable samples from the Shroud. We will discuss each of these analytical problems in turn, beginning with the problem of dating very small samples of organic materials such as linen.

So I ordered the book for my dog.

Guest Posting: Challenging Frederick Zugibe on Washing of the Body

July 28, 2013 218 comments

Guest posting by Yannick Clément

Hi folks!

In a recent post, I brought in a new and, I believe, very strong argument that goes against the hypothesis developed by Doctor Frederick Zugibe who claim that a partial washing of the body prior to the deposit of the body inside the Shroud was responsible for the presence of all the scourge marks on the cloth. You can read this post of mine here:

First, I want you to watch closely this screenshot I’ve taken from the Shroud Scope, which show a portion of the lower back region of the Shroud man that we can see in the dorsal image on the Shroud : 

(Note: You may click on the picture to enlarge it).

Shroud_Portion of the dorsal view in positive with measurements

(Note: You may click on the picture to enlarge it).

On this picture, you can see two very precise imprints of scourge marks (the quality of these bloody imprints is very good) that are located at about 13.3 mm and 17.6 mm from the border of an evident post-mortem blood flow in the lower back region.

First, I want to categorically stated this: Pellicori and Miller made a very good study of the UV fluorescence photos of the Shroud that were taken in Turin by STURP in 1978 and they were clear about the fact that almost every single scourge mark on the cloth was showing an halo of clear serum around them. Among other things, this observation can be seen as a very solid indicator that all the scourge marks on the cloth were caused by the same blood transfer process. Because almost all the scourge marks are showing the same precise dumbbell-like shape, the same presence of halos of serum around them, the same color, etc., there is no good reason to think that these scourge marks on the Shroud were caused by more than one single blood transfer process. Also, it is important to understand that the blood flows that we see below the side wound and the numerous blood flows that we see in the lower back region in the dorsal part of the Shroud have been caused by the post-mortem blood (probably mixed with a clear liquid) that came out after the lance blow to the chest and before any possible washing of the body. Finally, it’s important to understand that these post-mortem blood flows eventually came down on the rib cage and across the lower back region and that such a post-mortem bleeding was considered to be unclean by the Jewish Law and therefore, could not be washed away during the burial procedure. These facts are very important to consider for my challenge.

Barbet, Adler, Lavoie and others medical experts concluded that these scourge marks were caused by a transfer of exudates of still moistened (Adler and Lavoie) or re-moistened (Barbet) blood clots on the cloth by a direct contact between the corpse and the Shroud during the burial procedure, while others, like Zugibe that we just see, believed these particular stains were caused by a partial washing of the Shroud man’s body (especially in all the areas where we see some scourge marks on the cloth, i.e. the chest, the back, the buttocks and the legs).

In sum, Zugibe claimed that a rapid washing of the body would have been enough to remove the dried blood clots that would have been present over all the scourge wounds, with the result of producing an oozing of post-mortem blood from the re-opened wounds. It is this oozing of post-mortem bloody material that would have caused, by direct contacts, all the precise imprints in the form of a dumbbell that we see in many places on the cloth, once the partially washed body would have been placed inside the Shroud. For more information about that, see: Here’s a short summary, written by Zugibe himself, which you can find in this paper: “The act of washing would then cause an oozing from each of the wounds thereby accounting for the imprints at their locations consistent with those on the Shroud.”

So, if Zugibe was right, that would mean that the rapid washing of a portion of the body would have included the area immediately adjacent to the numerous post-mortem blood flows in the lower back region of the Shroud man that we can see on the picture below, because in this zone, there are a number of evident scourge marks, including the ones I pointed out with a black arrow, which are located at about 13.3 mm and 17.6 mm from the border of one of these post-mortem blood flows (note again that these blood flows were considered unclean and cannot have been washed during the burial procedure).

After this introduction, here’s my argument again (which is also my challenge to all the defenders of Zugibe’s hypothesis): How in the world does the person who did this rapid washing (remember that it if the Shroud man is Jesus, this would have been an hasty burial) could have dared to wash the immediate region surrounding the post-mortem blood flow (including the area located at less than 2 cm where we see a very evident scourge mark on the picture below), while we know for a fact that it was strictly forbidden for a Jew to remove or even disturb the post-mortem blood that would have stuck to the skin of the dead person? Can you imagine the risks of disturbing this particular post-mortem blood flow? Remember that such a washing would have been done with a sponge or something like this in a very rapid manner… As I said in my previous post, in such a context, we should expect the person who did the washing to have take care of not disturbing all the post-mortem blood flows by not washing the areas surrounding these stains, which would have caused a sort of “buffer zone” around each of these blood flows that would have been free of any washing, with the expected result of leaving undisturbed all the possible dried scourge wounds present there, thus preventing any imprint of these dried wounds on the cloth. But on the contrary, that’s not at all what we see on the Shroud, especially in the lower back region where there are many scourge marks that are immediately adjacent to some post-mortem blood flows…

Again, if Zugibe’s hypothesis was right, that mean the rapid washing would have included the immediate region surrounding the post-mortem blood flows on the lower back, because we can see many scourge marks in this area that are very close to these blood flows. Seriously, does that sound credible and rational to you in the context of a Jewish burial that would have been done in a way to prevent any disturbance of the post-mortem blood that was still present on the corpse because it was considered impure by the Jewish Law? One thing’s for sure: Not for me! This idea of a very precise (almost surgical) washing in this zone is quite simply ludicrous to me.

I prefer by far my own hypothesis, which is mainly based on Doctor Pierre Barbet’s own ideas on the subject. For a summary of my hypothesis, see: Note that, unlike Zugibe’s hypothesis, mine is totally consistent with the presence of these scourge marks in the immediate region surrounding the post-mortem blood flows on the back and can explain them very easily in a totally rational and credible manner…

And if you think otherwise, then you will have to rationally explain to me how a rapid and partial washing done in haste could have been performed so precisely that it was able to remove the supposed dried blood clots that were covering all the scourge wounds, including those that are located at about 13.3 mm and 17.6 mm from the border of a post-mortem blood flow (see picture below) without touching and disturbing this particular post-mortem blood flow? Also, you will have to rationally explain to me why someone performing such a rapid and partial washing would have dare to wash the immediate surrounding area where there were some important post-mortem blood flows that had, legally, to stay on the skin of the Shroud man (up to just 1 or 2 cm away from one of those post-mortem blood flows)? Why taking such a risk of breaking the Law for a washing of the body that would have been only partially done anyway?

Additional argument: I would like to add another very strong argument that goes against Zugibe’s hypothesis, which is the fact that evident traces of dirt have been found by STURP in the knee area on the Shroud, which is a region where we can find some scourge marks. So, if a washing would have been done there, while eventually causing the imprints of those scourge marks, it’s pretty evident that no traces of dirt like this would have been found in this area. The fact that such traces of dirt have only been found there (along with some more traces in the ankle area) is a solid indicator that these areas had been stained during the walk the Shroud man did between the place where he was scourged and the place of crucifixion (most probably caused by one or many fall(s) to the ground during the time he was carrying the horizontal beam of the cross). Note that if such a dirt staining had occurred after the washing and before the deposit of the body inside the Shroud, there would certainly have been many others areas of the body that would have been stained in the same way and therefore, others traces of dirt would had been found elsewhere on the Shroud. That’s why I consider this particular dirt stain in the knee area as another very good argument that goes against Zugibe’s partial washing hypothesis. In fact, this particular argument just reinforce the first one concerning the presence of some scourge marks very close to a post-mortem blood flow… Also, it is important to note that the presence of a such a dirt stain in the knee area can be explain very well and rationally by my own hypothesis. Effectively, the presence of some dirt stains near some scourge wounds was surely not enough to prevent the transfer of these scourge wounds if the blood clots over them were still humid or if they had become re-moistened at the time the body was placed in the Shroud (or shortly thereafter)…

In the end, when we use the Occam’s razor principle while considering the presence of these scourge marks in the immediate vicinity of some post-mortem blood flows, along with the finding of evident traces of dirt in the region of the knees where there are some scourge marks, I think it’s fair to say that my own hypothesis can offer an explanation that is far more credible, rational and easy to believe than the one proposed by Zugibe. Note that I don’t say this because I think I’m better than anyone else. No. In fact, I only say this because I truly and honestly believe my hypothesis is much more rational, especially when we take into accounts the important facts I just gave you.

Final note: If you don’t agree with me and want to give me a rational explanation for the presence of some scourge marks in the vicinity of a post-mortem blood flow in the lower back region and the presence of some scourge marks in the knee area where there was traces of dirt, in the context of a partial and rapid washing of the body during the burial procedure, fine! I want to hear your thoughts. But I just hope you won’t use wild speculations to do so! Remember that Occam’s razor hate wild speculations!

Erase the fact from the list. It is not a fact. It never will be.

July 10, 2013 27 comments

imageIn April of 1982, Jerome Goldblatt, wrote in the National Review:

The mystery, if the body was removed by human agency, is that none of the precise imprints on the Shroud show any sign of being smeared or marred as one might reasonably expect if a bloodied body were removed from a cloth shroud.

I don’t know if anyone said this before Goldblatt but it has been said in countless ways since. Phillip H. Wiebe, a professor of Philosophy at Trinity Western University in British Columbia put it this way at the Sindone conference in Orvieto in August of 2000:

However, the act of removing the body, some parts of which would be stuck to the cloth by the dried blood, would tear the blood impregnated fibrils. The absence of torn fibrils suggests that the body was not taken out of the Shroud. It might be objected here that the body might have been taken out of the Shroud before the blood in contact with the cloth had a chance to dry. But then it is difficult to understand how the detailed Image of the Man on the Shroud could have been formed, for, according to this suggestion, the Man would have been in the Shroud only for only long as it takes blood to dry, probably an hour at most. This response is admittedly speculative, for no mechanism by which the Image might have been formed is presently accepted by those most closely associated with research into the Shroud, but it is difficult to conceive of an Image forming so quickly that the blood did not have time to dry (7)
[ . . . A] possibility is that the body somehow “disappeared,” perhaps by weak dematerialization

We like the idea of non-smeared, unbroken, intact, undisturbed bloodstains (collected blood, not really just stains) because to common sense plain thinking by anyone who has ever had a piece of medical gauze stuck to them by dried blood, we can rule out the idea that Jesus’ body was stolen or removed by others: No, no; it dematerialized, vanished into thin air or at least into the greater reality beyond time and space or something like that. Where did that idea come from, anyway?

Just a couple of days ago, a reader of this blog (along with his wife) wrote:

[A]fter 2000 years of rolling and folding the cloth, touching it, maybe brushing it, and holding it aloft outside and in windy cathedrals all of the outermost dried blood would have crumbled, flaked and worn away. There would be no evidence of the original removal of the cloth.

And what would that evidence be. Is there any basis for these claims? Has there been a valid scientific study in which these observations were made? If so, where is it published? Was the question about the wearing away of possible smears and once-evident broken blood marks ever addressed?

A document found, in the Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy, 4-6 May 2010, properly called the "List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud" by Giulio Fanti, Jose A. Botella, Fabio Crosilla, Francesco L.attarulo4, Niels Svensson, Raymond Schneider, Alan Whanger might shed some light. It is a revision of a similar document, known commonly as ‘The List’, that was presented (extra venue) in Dallas in 2005. This item is found in the document:

A78) No smears and no broken crusts are evident in the
blood traces [34].

then in following the citation by number we find: 

34. Bucklin R., Legal Medicine Annual, W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania, USA, July, 33-39 (1982).

I have accessed a version of this article and in reading Bucklin’s paper have not been able to find justification for the claim. I hope I missed something or that there is a different source. (I have assumed that a shorter version of the article that appeared in the cited journal, itself, did not include additional information not found in the fuller version).

Does anyone know of any source for this claim that is earlier than Goldblatt?

Regardless, the claim seems to be a case of “I think I don’t see” something that may or may not have been there and that if it had been then it might or might not have been worn away over the centuries. “I think I don’t see” is also not a scientific statement.

Back in February, Hugh Farey brought this up here in the blog . . . 

I’m frustrated by not knowing what is meant by the blood was ‘not disturbed.’ I can see that it is not smudged or smeared, but once it’s dry, even if it is adhering to something, such as a wound, pulling the cloth off would not smudge or smear the bloodstains anyway. What might happen is that a lump or lumps of dried blood might flake off. And, well, I notice that most of the thickest clots, such as those at the back of the head, do indeed look as if their middles have been flaked off, and many of the trickles have sudden very pale sections, as if there has been more flaking there than at other places. Even in the bloodiest places it is clear that most of the surface of the blood has flaked or crumbled away as the pale colour of the cloth is clearly visible through it, and none of Mark Evans’s micrographs show continuous patches. None of the bloodstains looks as it did when first laid down; most of the blood has eroded away. Can someone explain what is meant by ‘not disturbed’?

. . . and the thread of discussion took a different turn. But it needs to be discussed.

Strike the fact from the list. It is not a fact. It never was. It never will be. And I hope I’m wrong.

Reader: Has Jackson come to realize this?

July 6, 2013 4 comments

imageA reader writes:

Picking up on another discussion elsewhere on the internet, my wife and I are thinking, it seems to us that if Jesus’ body had been unwrapped by a person or himself we would not be able to detect this easily on the shroud some 2000 years later. We have often heard that the blood soaked fibers aren’t broken as they would be if someone unwrapped and removed the body. We say this because we think that after 2000 years of rolling and folding the cloth, touching it, maybe brushing it, and holding it aloft outside and in windy cathedrals all of the outermost dried blood would have crumbled, flaked and worn away. There would be no evidence of the original removal of the cloth.

In the past, didn’t Jackson make a big deal about this? I notice that the subject isn’t even mentioned in the latest version of the Siefker and Spicer viewpoint. Has Jackson come to realize this?

That would be (I think), The Shroud: A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses. Version 1.3 (apparently updated online June 4, 2013)

The reader continues:

Understand this does not rule out a miraculous resurrection. It just eliminates a supposedly powerful argument for a dematerializing body. Really, how good was or is this evidence? By whom? STRURP? (sic)

Categories: Blood Studies, Other Blogs

A Guest Posting: Ten Questions for Alan Adler by Kelly Kearse

June 3, 2013 177 comments

10+ Questions that I would ask Alan Adler


In the light of several recent discussions involving various Shroud investigators, I decided to jot down several specific questions that I would ask Dr. Alan Adler if given the opportunity to have a face to face discussion with him.  I tried to limit my questions to 10 main points of interest. Of course, Adler "is not here to defend himself", but he doesn’t have to-at least not to me.  The intent of this posting is not to represent a type of cross-examination, far from it-this posting merely models a focused discussion with specific questions from someone who is seeking to increase their understanding. These are the questions I would have. Yours, of course, may be different.  And the answer to one question may naturally spawn three more.  But that’s how discussions move forward.  If you’re old enough to remember the lines, "I asked Bobby Dylan.  I asked the Beatles…"; well, in this discussion exercise, I am asking Alan Adler-or at least pretending to. Of course, others may eavesdrop on this imaginary conversation and contribute as they choose-that of course, is the point.  

First, allow me to say that it is truly an honor & privilege to have this opportunity. I have followed your work with great interest-my background is in immunology & cell biology, the blood typing studies are what first seriously caught my attention about the Shroud. I am not a blood ‘specialist’; my questions may appear somewhat detailed at times, and at others, rather naïve. I hope that is okay. I appreciate this opportunity and thank you again for your time.

1. In your article “The Origin and Nature of Blood on the Turin Shroud”, published in 1986, you wrote: “The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry on the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least not given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. This is one of the problems in trying to look in the literature for references to compare the results to.” It is somewhat surprising that the literature is rather limited relative to the spectra studies of blood that is not in solution. Besides the oxidation of hemoglobin to methemoglobin in dried (aged) blood, what are the other major differences in the spectra of blood in solution versus dried blood? Also, what are the major differences in the spectra of freshly dried blood (2-3 days old) versus blood that is years, even several decades (or more) old?

2. In the same article, you mention that “In a film of hemoglobin there is a conformational change; it no longer remains in the “met” form but goes to the para-hemic form. Can you distinguish for me, exactly what the difference is between the structure of the para-hemic form and the met form? Is the para-hemic form an opened ring form of hemoglobin that has begun the breakdown process, or does this refer to the position of an attached group shifting its location on the ring (ortho, meta, para like we learned in organic chemistry years ago)? Or is the term “para” in reference to paramagnetic, a species that contains unpaired electrons? Forgive me if this question is very basic, but when I search the terms on the internet, most of the references that come up are the sentences from your article. I’ve also thumbed through various physiology and physical chemistry texts but so far, have struck out. Can you draw me a diagram or give me a reference that has a picture of the two structures? Also, what drives this conformational change-does this result from the dehydration of the blood as it dries into a film?

3. In the same article, it is said that “It is known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go to the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and the liver to process the blood fast enough”. This sounds like a relatively recent observation. The word that confuses me the most here is “spontaneously”, is this a type of isomerization that is occurring here? Is there a specific enzyme that catalyzes the change? Is this independent of the oxidation state of hemoglobin?

4. Also in the 1986 article, it states “We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds-the so-called high-spin, high-iron porphyrins. What we were seeing is the breakdown products of hemoglobin-bilirubin and biliverdin. There is an extraordinary high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin” Just to clarify, this is methemoglobin (deoxygenated hemoglobin), all or most of which exists in the para-hemic form, not the typical met-form? Also, what is the relative proportion of bilirubin and biliverdin that is observed?

5. What exactly is meant by “high-iron” porphryins? High spin refers to the electron configuration, that this conformation has the maximum number of unpaired electrons available, but what does the term “high-iron” denote? Is this in reference to Fe-containing porphyrins to distinguish them from other porphyrins (which contain a ligand other than Fe being bound), or is there another significance?

6. In the 1986 article, you state “You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color. In fact, we have been able to simulate this spectrum in the laboratory.” Relatedly, in the 1998 Shroud Symposium held in Dallas, TX, in the article “Further Spectroscopic Investigations of Samples of the Shroud of Turin” it says “A simulation of such a traumatic blood exudate prepared from laboratory chemicals as a control matches the appearance and properties of this class of test objects. A traumatic clot exudate simulacrum was approximated by mixing 3 drops of blood (finger stick) with three drops of a bilirubin/human albumin diagnostic standard (Sigma Chemical Co.). Dried whole blood, bilirubin, and human hemoglobin samples were employed as controls.” Exactly how much exogenous bilirubin was added relative to the hemoglobin present in the finger stick? How does this compare to what would be considered normal levels? In this article (and others) there is no mention of specific amounts-[I have looked through the current Sigma catalog, but was unable to find this particular product-may have been discontinued]. Also, was the majority of hemoglobin used in these experiments (finger stick) in the deoxygenated form? Finally, did you ever spot such samples onto cloth (linen) and evaluate if the red color persisted over time?

7. In whole blood, the relative amount of bilirubin present is normalized per blood unit volume, making it straightforward to compare levels between individuals. In dried bloodstains, how does one accurately quantitate or even approximate the relative level of bilirubin present as volume cannot be used for normalization? Several spectroscopy and forensic “experts” I have e-mailed or talked to on the phone have acknowledged that spectroscopy of dried samples is semi-quantitative at best. I have run across a few presentations suggesting that the samples may be weighed and then normalized relative to Fe content, but such techniques involve larger volumes of blood than would be present in tape lift samples or individuals threads, and appear to be in the early stages of development. It is unclear even today if such methods would be sensitive enough to apply to the relative small amounts of blood in your analysis. No specific values or approximate ranges for the relative amount of bilirubin present were ever given in your articles-can accurate values be obtained from the techniques that were in use during these studies? If so, what are the estimated values?

8. In the 1980 article “Blood on the Shroud of Turin”, you state that in reference to the spectra of the Shroud fibrils that “the high degree of scattering from these solid samples makes the visible band shape features less distinct and does produce peak shifts from the solutions spectra. Therefore this identification is much less positive than desired.”

In the 1998 Shroud meeting in Dallas, TX you note that “Hemoglobin exists in lots of states and it’s a real problem on the Shroud to know what some of these states are.” In communicating with several specialists in heme spectroscopy about the spectral profiles (without indicating they were of the Shroud and cropping all identifiable labels on the Figures), the opinion was voiced that “it is impossible to really say what species are present there-the background is too high and the peaks are poorly resolved.” Different scientists have different opinions & viewpoints-I am certainly confident in your ability to identify the sample as blood and in the characterization of blood components, but it sounds as though there are still some large unknowns as to exactly what species might exist. Is it possible for us to look at the spectra of a Shroud sample together (and also a blood simulacra sample) and for you to take me through this, from left to right, peak by peak, and point out the probable identity of everything that is represented there? Is the resolution of biliverdin, bilirubin or other breakdown products more straightforward than various oxidized species of hemoglobin that may be present?

9. In your 1993 article, “Conservation on the Shroud of Turin” you emphasize that “bilirubin can be readily and quickly photodecomposed under a variety of conditions”. Given the relative instability of bilirubin, how do you account for its preservation on the Shroud over a relatively long period of time? Could this be due to aggregation of (high concentrations of) bilirubin in dried bloodstains as opposed to bilirubin in solution? Or some type of chemical bonding/association between bilirubin and the cloth? Thoughts?

10. Growing up, what first stimulated your interest in science? Were you always interested in pursuing a scientific career?

Categories: Blood Studies, Science

The Orphaned Manuscript and the Color of Blood

June 1, 2013 64 comments

imageYannick sends this along for consideration:

Here’s two very relevant quotes from Adler’s book “The Orphaned Manuscript” about the color of the blood, which I would like jesterof, Mr. Kearse and other “specialists” to comment, especially when it comes to what Adler said about the bilirubin level found in the blood samples he analyzed…

The first quote come from the article “The Origin and Nature of Blood on the Turin Shroud”, which Adler wrote in 1986: “The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry on the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation change; it no longer remains in the “met” form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go to the para-hemic form if there is not enough turn-over in the spleen and the liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds – the so-called high-spin, high-iron prophyrins. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all this. There is an extraordinary high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methomoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis. In less than 30 seconds, the hemolyzed hemoglobin will run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, the exudate forms, and all the intact cells with hemoglobin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin. So what one ends up with on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin index with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin. You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.

In fact, we have been able to simulate this spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed, when we first started doing the analysis, that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right colour and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence.”

And here’s the second quotes, which come from the article “Chemical and Physical Characteristics of the Blood Stains”, which Adler wrote much later, in 2000 (just before his death): “In traumatic shock, as would be experienced under flogging and crucifixion, red blood cells lyse and the released hemoglobin is both bound up in haptoglobin-hemoglobin aggegates (a brownish denatured methoemoglobin color) and also degraded by enzymatic action in the liver to bilirubin which is also bound up in protein complexes, mainly with albumin (a yellow orange color). When such blood is shed and then clots, the exudate will contain these protein bound complexes and aggregates with an expected range in non-uniform color from red to orange, while most intact cells will remain in the clot. A simulation of such a traumatic blood exudate prepared from laboratory chemicals as a control matches the appearance and properties of this class of test objects. However, a simulated artistic paint pigment mixture of iron oxide and mercuric sulfide in a gelatin binder does not make such a match. Thus the chemical testing not only supports the forensic conclusion that the blood marks are derived from contact of the cloth with clotted wound exudates (note: this was first described by Pierre Barbet, in the 1930s I think), but that the shed blood was from someone who suffered a traumatic death as depicted in the images.”

Comment from me: After reading these quotes of Adler, the first conclusion that came to my head is the real possibility that the formation of both the body image and the bloodstains on the Shroud can well be due, at least partially, to the highly traumatic state of the Shroud man’s body when it was placed inside the Shroud… I have a sense that this very particular state of the Shroud man’s body could have had huge impact, not only on the formation of the body image, but also on the resulting coloration of the blood, by causing a dramatic increase of the bilirubin level in it. After reading everything Adler and Rogers wrote about the Shroud, I came to this conclusion and, honestly, I really think this idea that we cannot understand the real nature of the blood, as well as the real nature of the body image, if we forget the fact that the corpse who was placed in the Shroud was a highly traumatized corpse, as some very good chances to be true.

I also think these two quotes from Adler’s paper gave us, among other things, an interesting clue concerning the question asked by jesterof the other day about why the bilirubin has been able to be preserved in the blood for so long. Effectively, Adler told us that the very particular blood transfer that occurred on the cloth came from exudates of humid blood clots instead of coming from whole blood in liquid form (a nuance by the way that Zugibe never seemed to have fully understood or else he would never have proposed his “theory” about the washing of the corpse) and that such a form of blood transfer have caused the formation of bloodstains which have AN ENHANCED BILIRUBIN INDEX. I think this particular part of Adler’s paper can give us at least part of the solution concerning jesterof interrogation… One thing’s for sure: If we believe Adler’s conclusion, the very particular kind of blood transfer that occurred on the Shroud really HAD A HUGE IMPACT on the bilirubin that was trapped inside the bloodstains (on its particular nature and also, I think, on its high level). I really think that this particular blood transfer mechanism can well be the major cause of the reddish coloration of these stains that we still can observed today, particularly when they are placed in sunlight or under another source of UV light. I think this kind of transfer could have helped to “stabilise” the bilirubin (which is normally an unstable compound) inside the bloodstains.

I really think also that a blood expert should analyse this hypothesis in deep under proper lab conditions, because it seem that a major part of the solution concerning the very probable preservation of the bilirubin inside the bloodstains until this day could lie right there, along with the very probable historical fact that the Shroud was almost constantly kept and preserved inside different kinds of containers, which greatly helped the bilirubin inside the bloodstains to avoid to get exposed to open-air, sunlight and any other source of UV light.

Now, I’ll wait for jesterof, Mr. Kearse and any other blood specialist to tell us what they think of these particular quotes from Adler’s book, especially when it comes to the presence of a very high bilirubin content in the blood that he claimed to have been able to scientifically demonstrate? I would also like to hear you about my hypothesis concerning the particular blood transfer from exudates of blood clot, which could be one of the major causes of the good preservation of the bilirubin inside the bloodstains until this day (which is, in my mind, probably the main cause of the brightness of the color of the blood when it is exposed to sunlight or to another form of UV light)…

Cover photo from publisher Cantalupa (Torino) : Effatà Editrice, 2002 via Google Books

Categories: Blood Studies

A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément: Two Quotes About the Blood

May 29, 2013 225 comments

imageFollowing an interesting exchange on the blog concerning the question of the color of the blood on the Shroud, I would like to share with everyone two very important and relevant quotes concerning the question of the authenticity of the blood that is on the Shroud.

The first one come from Al Adler’s book “The Orphanes Manuscript” and was written by Dorothy Crispino: “On the 10th of June (1997), Adler saw the Shroud for the first time. It was, for him, an awesome experience. It was a recognition, by sight, that, as he had been demonstrating in tireless experiments, the Shroud could not be a painting. (Adler said:) “When they unrolled the Shroud… Just look at it! It takes two seconds… This is no painting! That blood is blood!”

And the second quote come from Pierre Barbet’s book “A Doctor at Calvary” (personal translation): “(On the 15th of October 1933), I saw the Shroud in full daylight, without any glass interposition, at a distance of less than 1 meter, and I suddenly felt one of the most intense emotion of my life. Because I saw, at my surprise, that all the images of wounds had a color clearly different than the whole body (image) and this color was that of a dried blood that had soaked the cloth. It wasn’t, like it is for the rest (of the image), brownish stains on the Shroud reproducing the relief of a corpse. The blood itself had stained the cloth by direct contact and this is why the images of wounds are positives while the rest is negative. The exact tint was difficult to define… but the general aspect was that of red (carmin mauve, said Mr. Vignon, following the thought of Antoine Legrand), more or less faded depending of the wound: more accentuated for the side (wound), at the head, at the hands and at the feet; paler, but very perceptible, on the numerous scourge wounds… But the surgeon understood, without any doubt, that this was blood that had soaked the cloth…”

So, in the end, I think these two quotes coming from true blood experts that have seen the Shroud in person in Turin (Barbet even saw it in sunlight) are well enough to understand that the question of the supposedly unusual color of the blood on the Shroud is really secondary… The fact that these two experts have immediately recognized, with some surprise and even with some shock in both cases, that these stains cannot have been made of anything else than blood is what really matter when it comes to the blood issue! And what is really important to note is the fact that, in both cases, these two blood experts didn’t made any mention of a problem concerning the color of the blood when they saw the Shroud with their own eyes of expert and recognized immediately that the blood on the cloth is really blood! Their first reaction in front of the Shroud is very telling because, in both cases, the color of the blood was not an issue that could have made them doubt if these stains were really made of blood or not! Truly, what they saw was evident for them: it was real blood… In other words, if the color of the blood they saw was as unusual as some think, they would never have made this kind of instant conclusion that the stains are really made of blood!

So, when you add the fact that Adler and, indepedently in Italy, Baima Bollone, have both scientifically proved that these stains are made of real blood, surely primate and probably human, then there are no question about the fact that what appears to be blood on the Shroud is really blood, no matter his color! Again, that’s what really matters in the end.

On that subject, it is very interesting to read this other quote from Barbet’s book (published in 1950): “Of course a rigorous scientific proof that these stains are blood would need physical or chemical tests… but since it is proven that the other images (note: he refers to the body image) are not manmade, that this Shroud contained a corpse, can these traces of wounds, so riches in details as real as unexpected, could be colored by something else than blood?”

Since it has been scientifically proven since that time that the blood is real blood, I think Barbet, following his previous comment, would have easily conclude that such a blood, in the context of a real burial cloth that really contained the corpse of a crucified man, cannot be anything else than real human blood… I think we can easily forget about the possibility that it can be baboon’s blood!

I think it’s fair to conclude that the question of the authenticity of the blood on the Shroud has been answered since a long time! All the rest (like the question of the color of the blood) are details that cannot be taken (even by honest skeptics) as being potentially able to prove the contrary of what has already been proved, i.e. that the blood could be anything else than real human blood.

Final note: It is important to also keep in mind that most of this blood is not made of whole blood but is made of exudates of blood clots that were humid enough to stained the cloth. This had a huge impact on the shape and texture of the bloodstains on the cloth and who knows if this could not also had some impact on the resulting color of these bloodstains on the cloth? Anyway, no matter if this had an impact on the color or if the color is really redder than normal, the most important thing to understand, once and for all, is that what has stained the Shroud cannot be anything else than real human blood and this scientific fact represent a huge problem for anyone who wants to demonstrate that this relic is in fact a human creation, probably made during Medieval time! That’s what matters the most concerning the blood that is present on the Shroud…

Blood Clotting and the Strange Case of Brother Hirudo

April 4, 2013 263 comments

- A special posting by Kelly Kearse -


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The idea has been proposed that the bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin are the result of application of the blood meals of the medicinal leech, Hirudo Medicinalis, using a felt-tipped pouch. The identity of this illusory forger remains unknown, but has been suggested to be an overzealous medieval monk. For the purpose of discussion, we’ll call him Brother Hirudo. While many may view this idea so preposterous that it warrants no further consideration, this suggestion will be examined below with the focus on maintaining an objective evaluation of the specifics of this proposal. When a hypothesis is put forth, it is predictable that others will raise questions regarding the scientific merit of such ideas. This is standard operating procedure for scientific inquiry. Inflammatory rhetoric and insinuations regarding personal character should not be a part of the equation; it is destructive and takes the focus off of the science. A brief discussion of the procedure of blood clotting is introduced, followed by several specific, key questions regarding the basis of this hypothesis.

Blood clotting

There are four major components important in the clotting of blood: i) platelets, ii) red and white blood cells, and iii) a group of molecules collectively termed clotting factors, which include iv) fibrin, a molecule that forms a meshwork or web, joining all of the above together into a blood plug. When a tear in a blood vessel occurs, platelets first become activated and begin to adhere to the walls of the opening. Unless the tear is very small, platelets by themselves are not sufficient to stop blood flow. Various clotting factors are stimulated to reinforce the platelets, the main one being fibrinogen, which is converted to fibrin, creating a fibrous web that functions as a type of glue. Other cells, such as red and white blood cells may become trapped within the web and help fortify the clot.

The medicinal leech (Hirudo Medicinalis) begins feeding on human blood by

attaching itself to the skin and piercing the outer layer with a set of three blades, arranged at an angle to each other. Leeches contain a natural anticoagulant, or blood thinner, termed hirudin that interferes with the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin (discussed above) that precludes the clotting of ingested blood. As the leech feeds, the watery portion of blood, the serum, is excluded to maximize the intake of red blood cells. Digestion of blood meals is extremely slow. Leeches may take up to several months to digest imbibed blood. Morphological preservation of erythrocytes ingested by leeches has been observed for up to 18 months.

1. Could the anatomical precision of bloodstains be accurately portrayed using leech-ingested blood applied with a felt stylus?

On average, the human body contains approximately 5 liters or 5000 ml of blood. A person may lose up to 10-15% of total blood volume (500-750 mls) without experiencing any major symptoms. (For those who may not regularly use the metric system, 16 oz. is equivalent to approximately 470 mls or 1 pint). A single leech may consume as much as 15 mls of blood in a feeding. Thus, Brother Hirudo would not have needed to expend tremendous effort to collect a sufficient volume of blood for the task. Moreover, there is no reason to assume that blood collection had to be restricted to a single event.

It has been suggested that the image on the Shroud of Turin shows no obvious, unequivocal evidence of wounds, which would be consistent with the requirement for application of bloodstains. However, various medical specialists would disagree (Barbet, 1963; Bucklin, 1997; Zugibe, 2005; Svensson, 2012; Svensson and Heimburger, 2012), asserting the presence of a major post-mortem wound on the right side of the body and puncture wounds located in the left wrist and middle of the right foot. The forensic accuracy of the bloodstained patterns on the Shroud has also been noted by numerous medical doctors and specialists spanning multiple decades, many of which are listed in the introduction of Y. Clement’s 2012 article “Concerning the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin: please don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains!!!” For instance, Barbet noted that the blood flow follows a furrow between two extensor muscles of the forearm; others have discussed the gravitational flow of blood from the elbow and off the foot.

Is it reasonable to assume that someone like Brother Hirudo would have the knowledge to include such precise detail when creating the bloodstains on the Shroud? Relatedly, is it feasible that such clearly marked edges of the bloodstains could be achieved by delivering leech-sourced blood through a felt applicator, together with the use of a set of templates? Even the most open-minded scientific reviewer might struggle here.

The bordering area surrounding many of the bloodstains exhibits a halo of sorts, which is only visible under ultraviolet light (Miller and Pellicori, 1981; Jumper, et al., 1984). The medical doctor G. Lavoie, a specialist in internal and occupational medicine, has noted that such halos demonstrate the blood marks of the Shroud had exuded serum (Lavoie, 1998). Moreover, these data are consistent with the previous detection of blood serum proteins on Shroud bloodstained fibers by both chemical and immunological methods. It is unclear how application of leech-ingested blood might be considered here, as a paucity of blood serum would be expected in such mixtures since exclusion of serum occurs in the initial phase of leech feeding (see above). Considering that Brother Hirudo may have been visionary, foreseeing the use of uv analysis in the future, he might have set aside sufficient serum to decorate such wounds, using an additional set of specialized templates.

2. Is the presence of hydroxyproline in blood samples sufficient evidence of leech involvement?

Mass spectrometry is among the most powerful methods that exist for the identification and characterization of small amounts of substances present within a sample. To this end, pyrolysis (heating) coupled with mass spectrometry was performed on samples from the Shroud, having the primary goal of the sensitive detection of impurities (e.g. painting materials and sebum), (R. Rogers, 2008). A blood-spotted ( “Zina”) sample taken from the heel area was shown to emit hydroxyproline following treatment with low-temperature. These results helped to define an upper limit on the highest temperature the blood on the cloth was exposed to, as related to suggestions the Shroud was at one time boiled in oil (Rogers, 2008); also towards Rogers’ refutation of photons of particular wavelength playing a role in image formation (Rogers, 2008).

A tenet of the leech hypothesis is that hydroxyproline is not a regular constituent in human blood, that there is scarcely any worth speaking of. Moreover, as hydroxyproline is known to be present in connective tissue (collagen) of animals, including leeches, this can account for the hydroxyproline signal at m/e 131.

While true that hydroxyproline does not represent a principle component of human blood, its scarcity may be overhyped here. Hydroxyproline can be detected in normal human blood serum using simple immunological techniques that do not approach the sensitivity of mass spectrometry (ELISA kits, see and for examples). Using HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) methods, serum levels of hydroxyproline may be evaluated in patients as a measure of liver and renal function (E. Kucharz, Rom J Intern Med Oct-Dec; 32: 271, 1994; Inoue, et al. Analyst Apr. 120: 1141, 1995; Inoue, et al., Biol. Pharm. Bull. Feb 19: 153, 1996). The clinical significance of a hydroxyproline-containing protein in human plasma was reported by Carwile LeRoy and Sjorerdsma as early as 1965 (J. Clin. Investigation 44: 914, 1965). It is not a given that the presence of hydroxyproline is indicative of contamination by animal protein, i.e. leeches. Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but has it also been considered that the sample taken from the heel area could contain trace components (hydroxyproline) of abraded skin? Or that the sample might have been contaminated by exposed skin during its collection and handling? Analysis of multiple blood areas would help determine if this finding were unique to this particular area of the cloth, and further validate the detection of hydroxyproline in Shroud bloodstains.

3. What are the colorometric and chemical properties of leech-ingested human blood?

One of the main issues that is raised regarding the involvement of someone such as Brother Hirudo, is what is known regarding the properties of leech-ingested blood?

Other than trying to imagine how someone might have gotten around the problem of using normal blood subject to clotting, what empirical evidence is there that the appearance of the bloodstains is telling of leeches? This raises some interesting points as to what may be known regarding the properties of leech-ingested blood that is put to further use. For example, when expelled, does such blood eventually clot upon drying? If so, what are the kinetics and what is the appearance of such bloodstains? Have any spectrophotometric studies ever been performed to compare normal vs. leech-ingested blood to evaluate the oxidation state of hemoglobin that is present? Such information could help establish a preliminary basis for further consideration of this novel idea.

Concluding Remarks

I do not have a satisfactory explanation for why the blood on the Shroud of Turin has a red appearance. I would like to know. I am not convinced that bilirubin is the answer. I am not sure I completely understand the proposed effect(s) Saponaria treatment might have. I am willing to consider the involvement of other possibilities that involve some type of conversion of chemical bonds, by natural or even supernatural means. Leeches? It’s a creative idea, I’ll admit, but I need a lot more to go there. When I was a teenager, we used to wade out to up above our waist to use a pitchfork to remove lily pads that had overgrown on our neighborhood lake in the summer. The average leech count on each laborer was easily in the mid-thirties, upper torso to bottom toe, dorsal and ventral. I guess that’s why our dads sent us out to perform the task while they “held down the fort.” Of course, Brother Hirudo would have anticipated as much.

Whatever the pathway, the coloration of the bloodstains on the Shroud must have a definable, molecular basis. Further characterization of the chemical nature of the blood is central in any effort to define the basis for the resultant color. It is reasonable that more could be learned by careful examination of older (unrelated) blood samples. Others may argue that because this situation is totally unique, such comparisons will eventually become futile; even so, perhaps important knowledge could be gained before eventually is reached. Finally, any evaluation of blood coloration should be considered in the context of adhering to/binding the fibers of the cloth; this is an important variable, which should be part of the matrix. It is also one of the most challenging. The coloration of the bloodstains is an interesting scientific question, regardless of where one stands on possible mechanisms involved in image formation, or even on the proposed age of the cloth.

Other essays and postings by Kelly Kearse:


Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Distinguishing human blood from that of other species

Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Whose DNA is it, anyway?

Positive for AB is not the same as AB positive

MUST READ: Cloning the man on the Shroud of Turin

Just how old is the AB blood type?

MUST READ: A lot of old blood types as AB: Not Exactly

John Klotz: If not HIM, who?

March 6, 2013 7 comments

imageMUST READ: For John Klotz, in his must read posting, Evidence and the Shroud of Turin in his blog Living Free, the conclusion that Rudy Dichtl should arrive at, based on the article in the Denver Post is a matter of probabilities.

[A]s scientist, it can’t be said that it has been proven to be the burial cloth of Christ. Rudy Dichtl has made great contributions but there is a point where we have to make decisions on the evidence available. Based upon all the evidence available, the Shroud is a burial cloth of Jesus Christ. It is a matter of probabilities. How many Jews were crucified in 30-33 CE who claimed to be the Messiah?

[. . . ]

The accumulation of facts is overwhelming. The question that nobody has ever answered, given the circumstances is: If not HIM, who?

The Denver Post article was already mentioned in another post in this blog.


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