Archive for the ‘Carbon 14 Dating’ Category

Do the Blue Quad Mosaics tell a different story than we think?

March 22, 2015 76 comments

A reader writes:

imageDid Hugh Farey not just drop a bunker buster on the Quad Mosaics when he wrote [in a comment], “These studies are in fact largely ignored by authenticists, in that they are assumed correct and quoted as gospel without any reference to what they actually say. Non-authenticists, on the other hand, have studied them in considerable detail, such that we can say with authority that any contamination of the radiocarbon corner of the shroud made it appear older, not younger, than it really is […].”

If Rogers misread the Quad Mosaics, now what?

I think Hugh may be paradoxically right!

(link and ellipsis above added by me)

Hugh has since added the following in a  clarifying comment:

Claim: “We can say with authority than any contamination of the radiocarbon corner of the shroud made it appear older, not younger, than it really is.” This is based on John M. Morgan III’s paper ‘Digital image processing techniques demonstrating the anomalous nature of the radiocarbon dating sample area of the Shroud of Turin’ at, where he shows that the radiocarbon samples are increasingly contaminated the closer they are to the corner, and on Ray Schneider’s St Louis paper, ‘Dating The Shroud Of Turin: Weighing All The Evidence’ at, where he shows a 99.93% correlation between the radiocarbon dates and the UV-fluorescence.

I don’t know what paradoxically right means. However, Hugh is non-paradoxically right, at least as it applies to this blogger: I did assume that what I was being told about the Blue Quad Mosaics was correct. I didn’t think about it at all. Now I’m not going to make the same mistake and assume Hugh is right. I’m a layman. I’ve read the Morgan paper and I listened to Ray in St. Louis. Now I need to have it explained to me. I’m totally confused. No paradox there.

I recommend a paper by Barrie Schwortz: SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE STURP QUAD MOSAIC IMAGES

I also recommend reading both comments in their entirety ( first comment and the clarifying comment.

And I also recommend an earlier posting in this blog:  Comment Promoted: Are the Quad Mosaics Meaningless?

Tabor: A Distinctive 1st Century Weave

March 21, 2015 20 comments

imageThere is no new news in James D. Tabor’s posting in the Huffington Post blog two days ago.  CNN provided the cover for repetition:

CNN focused on the question of the authenticity of the controversial "Shroud of Turin," in the first episode of its new pre-Easter series "Finding Jesus." Those challenging the authenticity of this ancient relic point to carbon dating tests done at three independent labs in 1988 that dated samples of its cloth to AD 1260-1390, which coincides with the first appearance of the shroud in France in the 1350s. Believers in the shroud’s authenticity have questioned the authenticity of the tests.

What many do not know is that we do in fact have an unquestionably authentic burial shroud from a tomb in Jerusalem that has been carbon dated to the 1st century. Any consideration of the "Shroud of Turin" should begin with a comparison of what we know rather than what we might want to believe.

The tomb of which he speaks is the tomb that Tabor and Shimon Gibson found in June of 2000.

…Textile analysis was done on the cloth–it turned out to be a mixture of linen and wool, not woven together but layered with a separate head piece. It had a distinctive 1st century weave–in contrast to the Shroud of Turin….

And then . . .

The Tomb of the Shroud continues to offer more surprises. We recently noticed that the mitDNA tests of two of the individuals in this tomb match the polymorphisms of two individuals in the Jesus family tomb–namely skeletal materials taken from both the Yeshua and the Mariamene ossuaries. What the implications of this might be, and whether there is any possible relationship between these two families, remains to be explored.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for spotting the posting.

John Klotz Delivers the Knockout

March 20, 2015 35 comments

imageOne may find argument with historical evidence of the shroud’s existence before Lirey. But to say there is no evidence is to be …, well, in my opinion, like the nut jobs  who go about saying there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed.

John Klotz, in a MUST READ essay, CNN’s Finding Jesus loses Him, makes it abundantly clear. By page 7 John is writing:

There is more: an eyewitness account of exhibitions of a linen shroud that is more than arguably the Shroud of Turin. The witness was a French knight who participated in a siege of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade which ended with the "Christian" knights looting Constantinople and stripping it of all its cherished relics that could be carried away. Among them was the linen cloth that was the Shroud of Turin.

This is how Gibson and McKinley described it their book Finding Jesus:

"In 1203, a Flemish knight named Robert de Clari, fighting with the Fourth Crusade then camped in Constantinople, noted that a church within the city’s Blachernae Palace put on a very special exhibition every Friday. On display wasn’t just the holy image of the face of Jesus, but the actual cloth in which Christ had been buried. In 1205 de Clari composed a more detailed account: ‘There was a Church which was call[ed] My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where there was the shroud (syndoines) in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday, raised itself upright so that one could see the form (figure) of Our Lord on it, and no one either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this shroud (syndoines) when the city was taken [by the Crusaders].’" 10

What happened to the Shroud after Constantinople was looted by the French? Wilson has favored the idea that it came into possession of the Order of the Knights Templar in France. The Order was suppressed in 1307 by French King Philip the Fair. On March 19, 1314, its Grandmaster, Jacques deMolay along with the Order’s Master of Normandy Geoffrey de Charny were burned at the stake.11 That Geoffrey may have been related to the Geoffrey de Charny who was the documented owner of the Shroud in 1355.

However, Gibson and McKinley echo another view that has achieved some currency. One of the French knights who participated in the sack of Constantinople was Orthon de la Roche who performed outstanding service and was named the Lord of Athens. He later returned to France. Jeanne de Vergy was a descendant of Orthon. She became the second wife of the 1355 "owner" of the Shroud Geoffrey de Charny. Gibson and McKinley hypothesize that the Shroud was a part of her dowry when she married Geoffrey12

This is not a complete recitation of the reported history of the Shroud prior to 1532. When Professor Goodacre baldy states that there is NO evidence of the Shroud’s history before Lirey, he is simply wrong.

The KO is in the next paragraph:

In my opinion that is not his most egregious error. Perhaps it’s excusable as only his opinion. However, his statement that the critics of the carbon dating were engaged in special pleading is not just wrong but, in my opinion, reprehensible.

Some of us who are not, like John, skilled lawyers, need to remind ourselves what a special pleading is – to pull out that old definition from behind mind’s cobwebs. According to Wikipedia (I’m not a scholar, either) it is “a form of fallacious argument that involves an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.”

I share your opinion, John. It is reprehensible.

Note:  The photograph, by an unknown photographer, is of Ingemar Johansson knocking out Floyd Patterson and becoming the boxing heavyweight world champion in 1959 is a press photograph taken before 1969 and is therefore in the public domain (Wikimedia Commons)

A Rebuttal of Jackson’s Refutation of Reweaving?

March 8, 2015 101 comments
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Mark Goodacre Answers Carbon Dating Questions on CNN Website

March 5, 2015 151 comments

… and several other questions, too.

To keep up with all the Tweets to Mark click on @goodacre

To follow the continuing dialog on Facebook, visit

imageMark, a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University, is a featured expert in the CNN series, Finding Jesus.

Here are his answers to two carbon dating questions:

Vance Lipsey: Is there a better way to check the shroud than carbon dating? I’ve been told carbon dating is very inaccurate.

Goodacre: Actually, carbon dating is an excellent way to ascertain the date of an artifact. Many are disappointed, not surprisingly, that the shroud dated to between AD 1260 and 1390. I recall my own disappointment (but not surprise) on hearing the results back in 1988. But the scientists doing the carbon dating were not amateurs, and the samples were tested in three separate labs. Moreover, the carbon date cohered with other evidence that the shroud was a medieval forgery, like the fact that there is no evidence of its existence until the 14th century.

Cynthia Restivo: So I know the carbon dating was off, but wasn’t it later shown that the piece of cloth used for the testing was a section that had been repaired after some fire damage or something? Which would explain why it dated different?

Goodacre: No, that’s not been established. Those who defend the authenticity of the shroud often say the sample might have been taken from a part of the shroud that was repaired after it was damaged by fire in the 16th century. But this is special pleading. The scientists who took the sample knew what they were doing. Professor Christopher Ramsey noted that the unusual weave on the sample matched the weave on the rest of the shroud perfectly.

And Being Nuclear Physicists They Did Not Know?

February 3, 2015 Leave a comment

if a hacker wanted to break down the minority pro-authenticity resistance,
and reinforce the majority anti-authenticity prejudice .  . .

Stephen Jones has restarted his conspiracy theory machinations to convince everyone who might read his blog that the results of the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin were manipulated by a computer hacker in Arizona who hacked the computers in Arizona, Oxford, and Zurich. And possibly with help from the KGB.

imageHow you say?   Well . . .

A hacker with access to the AMS control console computer (as Timothy W. Linick did), could run a program which would intercept the output of the AMS radiocarbon dating program, en route to the computer’s screen and replace the Shroud’s first (or early due to contamination) century date with a date which, when calibrated, would be "1350 AD," for this very first run of carbon dating of the Shroud. Thereafter for Arizona and the other two laboratories the hacker’s program could replace the Shroud’s date with random dates within limits which, after calibration, displayed dates clustered around 1325 ±65. Finally the hacker’s program could automatically order its own deletion when the dating of the Shroud would have been completed (e.g. after 3 months), leaving no trace of its former existence[5].

Stephen at first thought the computers were networked.  Then realizing they were not he supposed other methods like Linick sending out a code update before the tests.  Now, wouldn’t it be an amazing discovery if someone could show that that happened?  It was 1988, after all; things like computer security were more casual then. Even so, it seems implausible.  Has Stephen chased this possibility down? If so, there is no mention of it. Instead, in another posting, he wrote:

Following Dr. Jull and Prof. Ramsey’s clarification that the AMS system computer was never online at the their two laboratories (and therefore presumably also not at Zurich), the hacker, or hackers, would have had to insert a program,  or modify the existing program, manually and locally in each of the three laboratories. . . .That makes it more likely that the KGB was involved.

That is conspiracy theory 101.

Here is a taste of some convoluted logic that he just posted:

And because they were all nuclear physicists[17] they did not realise how absurdly unlikely that date of 1350 was. Because since the Shroud is known to have existed from at least 1355[18], the flax would have had to have been harvested in 1350, retted under water for several months[20], spun into linen fibre, woven into a linen cloth, and then the image imprinted on the cloth, all within 5 years! Not to mention stitching and edging the cloth to match that which was found only at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada (see "Linen sheet"].

Moreover it would mean that the Arizona laboratory’s pretreatment of their Shroud sample would have had to have been perfect, removing all non-original carbon. But that is highly unlikely because:

"In 1532 the Shroud was being kept inside a silver casket stored in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambéry, when a fire nearly destroyed the building. The intense heat melted a corner of the casket, scorching the folded linen within, and producing the now familiar scorch marks on the Shroud. Since silver melts only at 960 degrees centigrade, the heat inside the casket must have been intense. In these circumstances moisture in the Shroud would turn to steam, probably at superheat, trapped in the folds and layers of the Shroud. Any contaminants on the cloth would be dissolved by the steam and forced not only into the weave and yarn, but also into the flax fibres’ very lumen and molecular structure. … contaminants would have become part of the chemistry of the flax fibres themselves and would be impossible to remove satisfactorily by surface actants and ultrasonic cleaning. More drastic treatments to destroy the contaminants would inevitably damage the flax fibres themselves"[21].

And being all nuclear physicists, they would probably have been unaware that in 1350 the Shroud was was owned by the most honourable knight in France, Geoffrey I de Charny (c. 1300-1356), "who "wore on his epaulettes the motto `honour conquers all’ … wrote deeply religious poetry … was chosen by France’s king to carry into battle his country’s most sacred banner, the Oriflamme of St Denis, an honour accorded only to the very worthiest of individuals … died a hero, defending his king with his own body in the … battle of Poitiers" and "fourteen years after his death he was duly accorded a hero’s tomb, at royal expense …"[22]. So "It is extremely difficult to understand how such a man would have lent his name … to … fraud"[23].

So the 1350 date must be wrong. But if a hacker wanted to break down the minority pro-authenticity resistance, and reinforce the majority anti-authenticity prejudice, and create a climate of expectation that subsequent datings would confirm that the Shroud was medieval, then 1350 was the date he would have used for that very first dating !

So the 1350 date must be wrong? 

If you want to get caught up on this, read Stephen’s part #1, part #2,part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, part #7, part #8, part #9, #10(1), #10(2) and #10(3).

Picture is of Timothy W. Linick from a University of Arizona obituary.

BSTS Article by Hugh Farey

January 21, 2015 16 comments

a genuine chronological gradient?

imageHugh Farey has written an interesting article for the current, December, 2014, issue of the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter entitled Radiocarbon Recalibration. 

Although the spread of measurements is relatively small, it is sufficient to cast doubt on the homogeneity of the three laboratories’ samples, and justifies Riani and Atkinson’s claim of the probability of a genuine chronological gradient across the samples (although their conclusions were based on an analysis of all twelve results, not just the three averages above.(Regression Analysis with Partially Labelled Regressors: Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin, Riani et al., Statistics and Computing, 2012)

To my way of thinking this plays into the mended shroud explanations for errors in the carbon dating and some image-caused-by-radiation theories current in some circles.

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