Archive for the ‘Carbon 14 Dating’ Category

The Carbon Dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo Plus the Caves of the Sudarium

April 24, 2014 5 comments

the 2007 carbon dating
and a bit of fascinating history

imageO.K. writes:

I would like you to post some of the following issues on the blog:

1. The 2007 carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo. Mark Guscin has written in the article ‘The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo’

Just weeks before the congress took place, new samples from the Sudarium were subject to carbon dating. Five samples were dated from five different cloths –three of them came up with the expected date, while the cloth from an Egyptian mummy returned a date of any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. The laboratory immediately concluded that the cloth (and the mummy) were fakes. The sample from the Sudarium was dated to around 700 AD. Scientist César Barta spoke about the carbon dating process, emphasising the fact that if carbon dating is always absolutely accurate, then we could just as well finish the congress there and then. However, there were several points to bear in mind– in specialist carbon dating magazines, about half the samples dated come up with the expected date, around 30% with an “acceptable” date, and the other 20% is not what one would expect from archaeology. The laboratory used (via the National Museum in Madrid) said they were surprised by the result and asked if the cloth was contaminated with any oil based product, as oil is not cleaned by the laboratory processes used before carbon dating and if oil is present on a sample, the date produced by carbon dating is in fact the date of contamination. Finally, the history of the Sudarium is very well established and there are definite references to its presence in Jerusalem in AD 570 and at the beginning of the fifth century.

Micheal Hesemann in a recent book (“Chusta Chrystusa, Naukowcy na tropie zmartwychwstania” pg. 230-232, that is polish edition of “Das Bluttuch Christi”) gives some more details. The dating was performed by Beta Analytic Inc. from Miami, and the result was 660-890 AD.

It is curious, because so far we know, the Sudarium had been carbon-dated in the 80s, by two laboratories: Tuscon and Toronto, based on samples taken from it by Max Frei and Pierluigi Baima-Bollone. Various accounts about the results exist. So far I have met: 653-786 AD Toronto, and 642-769 AD (in other version 642-869 AD) Tuscon. Micheal Hesemann, on the other hand, reprots 540-869 AD. Also "between 1st and 9th century" claim was made at one point.

Does anyone has any more details about 2007 dating? So far I know, on the Barrie’s site, on the Valencia conference page, there is listed a paper called ‘Dating the Cloths by the C14 Method – The Oviedo Sudarium’  by Felipe Montero Ortego, but it seems to be inaccessible either via Barrie’s site, or the Google.

2. The second issue is that I have found interesting site of Micheal Hesemann. Mainly German, but there are a few articles in English.

The second referenced item, Discovered: The Cave Monastery which housed the Sudarium of Christ  concludes fascinatingly:

Many question remain unanswered: Did St. Gerasimus discover a hiding place of the early Christians, did he find the long-forgotten “Sudario Domini” in these very caves, maybe preserved in a wooden chest or a large jar, like the Dead Sea scrolls? Or was the precious relic entrusted to him by his teacher, St. Euthymius, the “founder and patron of the Judaean wilderness”, who established several laurae of hermits in the Judaean desert? We can only speculate about the details. But we can say for sure that Antoninus gave an accurate description of the cave monastery which existed in the cliffs of the Wadi en-Nukheil, at least since the 5thcentury. And that in this cliff laura, according to the pilgrim’s report, the Sudario was once venerated, before it was brought first to Africa, then to Spain.

New Paper: The Missing Corners and the Radiocarbon Date

April 23, 2014 7 comments


Preferred New PDF Link  The Missing Corners of the Shroud of Turin and the Radiocarbon Date

Pam Moon has a new paper out, The Missing Corners and the Radiocarbon date of the Shroud of Turin at The Shroud of Turin Exhibition website.

Note: the paper is 11 slow-as-molasses pages stored as PNG graphics files wrapped in HTML. I’m travelling this week and must read papers through a hotel WiFi signal. It took 6 minutes to load on Windows 8.1 It is still trying to load on an iPad. Printing fails each and every time with various pages being dropped. (Others have encountered printing problems, I’m told). My only option was to save each page file manually, then print each one in Photoshop. You can only copy text with OCR software, which is how I copied the following paragraph.

This paper argues that the corners were removed because of water damage from douse water used to put out the fire that partially burned the Shroud in 1532. The contaminated douse water led to the formation of mould and bacteria on the cloth. The corners were too damaged and stained to be saved so they were cut away by the curators of the Shroud. Then the area around the cut was unravelled and cleaned with a disinfectant applied with a cotton or linen cloth. Additional fibres were added to the Shroud material by the cleaning process. Finally the unravelled fibres were rewoven and a patch applied to the corner.

It is an interesting paper. Take the time to read it.

Pam, if you see this and you want your paper to get the attention it deserves, please put it into a PDF file.


Categories: Carbon 14 Dating

Okay, we will need to wait several weeks

April 16, 2014 11 comments

imageStephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything. It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

. . .  I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right? By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named? Evidence, this time?

Thinking the 1988 Carbon Dating Outweighs the Other Evidence Is Absurd

April 16, 2014 2 comments

“Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or
some improvement upon it, isn’t enough.”

imageJason Engwer has delivered a significant and thought-provoking analysis in Triablogue, Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating

Meacham to Farey upon a whirlwind:

[William] Meacham wrote nearly a decade ago. There have been some significant developments since then. In his book, Meacham discussed Ray Rogers’ 2005 article that undermines the 1988 carbon dating results. Further research since then has corroborated Rogers’ findings. For some examples, see here. A study published in 2010 by Marco Riani, et al., for instance, found significant heterogeneity in the section of the Shroud tested in 1988. In 2013,Giulio Fanti and some other researchers published the results of some dating tests they ran on alleged fragments of the Shroud. All of their dating methods showed a pre-medieval date.

On the other hand, Timothy Jull, a member of the University of Arizona lab that tested the Shroud in 1988,published an article in 2010 that cast doubt on Rogers’ findings. In 2013, Hugh Farey wrote an article that discusses problems with the reweave hypothesis (the view that the section of the Shroud tested in 1988 contains some more recent threads woven into the original cloth during a repair, so that the more recent threads would distort the carbon dating).

Mark Oxley has written an article criticizing Jull’s piece. For some initial reactions to Farey’s article, see the thread here. In that thread, Thibault Heimburger says that he’s noticed some problems with Farey’s article and suggests that he’ll be writing a response to it.

I think Jull and Farey make some good points that significantly weaken the reweave hypothesis. The reweave hypothesis still seems to be the best explanation of the evidence, but now by a smaller margin. We have to leave the door wide open to other possibilities.

Wringing answers from the unknown:

How would the artist or forger know how to portray a Roman crucifixion victim so accurately? Why would he repeatedly and accurately depart from how Jesus was portrayed in the large majority of medieval depictions (a nail wound closer to the wrist than the palm; wounds from a thick cap of thorns rather than a thin wreath of thorns; etc.)? Why are so many characteristics of the Shroud inconsistent with the interests of an artist or forger? Why would an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce such a masterpiece go about introducing his work to the world in such an ineffective manner? Geoffrey de Charny was a relatively low-level figure in the society of his day. The modest status of the Shroud around the medieval timeframe suggested by the 1988 carbon dating is incongruous with what an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce the Shroud would be likely to do with it. And why would an artist or forger include a close-up depiction of Jesus completely nude and uncovered on his back side, something that the vast majority of people seem to find objectionable even in the more sexually libertine cultures of our day (how much more so in a medieval context)? Why and how would an artist or forger include so many details that can’t be seen by the naked eye (in an age without microscopes and other such devices)? Why would an artist or forger display his genius in the Shroud, but nowhere else? Why don’t we see comparable displays of genius from the same source around the same time? Why is the Shroud such an isolated object that stands out so starkly from the medieval context?

The notion that the 1988 carbon dating alone equals or outweighs all of the evidence cited above for an earlier date is absurd. The 1988 dating of one small piece of the cloth, from such a poor area for that sort of testing, can’t bear the weight that’s so often placed upon it. I would argue that even if further carbon dating would produce the same or similar results, the evidence for an earlier date would still weigh more. Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or some improvement upon it, isn’t enough. There has to be more. That’s how good the evidence is for an earlier date.

Do read the entire posting Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating at Triablogue.

* Whirlwind? In this sense, yes, borrowing some words from the conflicted Anne Rice:

Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.

Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

April 11, 2014 14 comments

imageMy favorite Episcopal priests turned Catholic priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, pictured here with his wife and four children, weighs in on the GJW (The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife):

However, clever folks on both sides could piece together any sort of saying of Jesus from the scrap we have here. The headline grabbing text seems to read, “Jesus said to them, “My wife…” Is Jesus referring to his wife? Theoretically it could be, but in the absence of any other evidence that Jesus was married, and going against the early text and 2000 years of tradition that he was not married this is unlikely. What might the rest of the text say? Perhaps Jesus was quoting another text about marriage thus, “My wife is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones said Adam…” or “My wife is also my sister and my mother in the Lord.” Who knows?

While it is interesting to follow the scholarship and the debate about this ancient manuscript, what also interests me is the way the secular press have handled it. First of all they have called it “the Jesus Wife Manuscript”. No doubt the headlines will blaze about how Jesus was married and we now have ancient proof for it. This will then become the popular scream. “Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!” Another detail was in the Boston Globe story. The papyrus was carbon tested by one laboratory at 700 BC. So carbon testing can come up with a result that is clearly about a thousand years off? Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin suddenly the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

“Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!”

Actually, I think so but not because of the GJW

Fr. Longenecker wants your help:

imageMy blog is part of my ministry and I have a wife and kids to support as well as run a busy parish. If you would like to help out financially you can make a donation through PayPal by hitting the "Donate" button below.

I knew there would be a way to work in a picture of the $2.2 million mansion that is the residence of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. (Fr. Longenecker is not part of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.)


More on the Carbon Dating of the GJW, ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ Fragment

April 11, 2014 2 comments

Christian Askeland has posted a very good analysis, Jesus’s Wife Resurrected from Dead, in the blog Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Radiocarbon Dating:

Using two labs, the GJW fragment and a Sahidic John fragment associated with the same papyri lot were carbon dated. The rounded 2-sigma ranges for the manuscripts are as follows:





640–800 CE

650–870 CE


680–880 CE

410–200 BCE




Only the Harvard report indicates the date of the test (14 March 2014); one might surmise that the second test was ordered after the extremely early date arrived from Arizona. Whatever the case, if one of the two GJW 14C dates were to be accurate, it would probably be the Harvard range (650–870 CE), which is corroborated by the related GJohn manuscript (chart above). Having said this, the result remains somewhat inconclusive. (δ13C levels were also higher than expected, suggesting contamination in all samples.)

So does this confirm the authenticity of the GJW? Such a late dating bulldozes King’s first appraisal of the manuscript as a fourth century witness. The GJW fragment under question is broken on all sides except the top, where apparently the modern forger cut the empty section off of a larger fragment which was in fact ancient. Carbon dating has no value for authenticating such a manuscript, although if the Ptolemaic date (410–200 BCE) offered by the Arizona AMS lab were accurate (of which I am not convinced), fraud would be certain.


If a husband were to genetically test his children to determine whether his wife had been faithful, and the tests returned indicating that that the children could not conclusively be proven to not be his, would this assure him of his wife’s fidelity? Could he then, based upon these tests, be confident that he had indeed fathered the children? Karen King has produced no new evidence to authenticate this fragment.  On the contrary, her prior contentions that the GJW fragment was (1) part of a literary codex and (2) was fourth century are now indefensible.  Her method of argumentation was not self-critical or objective, but will doubtlessly be sufficient for those who already want to believe.

Useful links:

Ray Schneider: Why is the carbon dating wrong? I don’t know. That it is wrong I am quite certain . . .

April 10, 2014 17 comments

Ray is up with a recommendation on his blog, Political Brambles:

Ray writes:

With Easter soon to come it’s appropriate to think about the Shroud of Turin and this video is hard to beat since it touches upon so many of the issues. . . .

. . . This video demonstrates the correspondence between the sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud which, in my mind at least, proves that the 1988 carbon date is wrong.  Why is it wrong?  I don’t know.  That it is wrong I am quite certain for the shroud duplicates blood stains that are on the sudarium of Oviedo which is much older than the shroud and so both cloths were in contact with the same body.

It is a good video, produced and directed by Reuben Aaronson for The Learning Channel. It runs for about 52 minutes.

Carbon Dating Problems with the “Jesus’ Wife” Fragment

April 10, 2014 24 comments

imageSTART HERE with a Boston Globe article,  No evidence of modern forgery in ancient text mentioning ‘Jesus’s wife’  along with a video to get up to speed (if you’re not).

A reader writes:

Note that there is a new "Jesus’ Wife" publication. [See “Jesus’ Wife” Articles in HTR: Initial Thoughts in Larry Hurtado’s Blog.]  The observation which may interest you is the huge discrepancy in C14 dating by experts with the possibility of contamination effects.

These cannot be statistically consistent. (And recent statistical analysis of the SOT results indicate that they also were inconsistent among samples.)

(I believe there was also a problem with a control sample.)

People make a big deal of C14 testing, when it probably is not very reliable for certain materials. It might be noted that just because someone is a specialist in some field of science does _not_ at all mean they are statistical or even methodological experts. 95% aren’t.

The carbon dating discussion in Larry’s blog runs less than a paragraph and reads:

. . . The two radio-carbon tests, however, are both a bit puzzling and interesting.  The proposed dates of the two tests are out from each other by several hundred years.  The one report (by Hodgins) notes the curious date-result (405-350 BCE and/or 307-209 BCE), about a thousand years earlier than the date from the other carbon-dating test (659-969 CE), and Hodgins suggests some kind of contamination of the sample.  But I’d assume that a contamination would come from something later than the ancient setting, and so skew the date later, not earlier.  I’ll need some help with this!

Stephen Jones’ Revised Hacking Theory Part I is Available

March 29, 2014 24 comments

Darn. Stephen left out two of my favorite historical items:
1) The Hymn of the Pearl and 2) The Mozarabic Rite. 

clip_image001Stephen Jones is up with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #1.

. . . this is part #1 of my revised proposal that the three radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval … AD 1206-1390," may have been duped by a computer hacker.

Well, there is nothing so far to justify the speculation of a computer hacker. It will be interesting to see where he goes with it, now being forced to revise his thinking after seeing emails to Hugh Farey from two of the three lab directors.

Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers that could have been hacked to conceal real carbon dating results from the scientists. We’ll see.

Anyways, Stephen has provided us with some historic information to consider.

Nice new picture of Stephen.

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)

So, was the small Arizona piece in Doug Donahue’s custody ever made available to Barrie Schwortz?

March 16, 2014 25 comments

clip_image001Bill McClellan, a columnist writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is reminiscing about his friends, Dee and Doug Donahue (pictured):

Occasionally, other events brought us to Tucson. In 1988, Doug’s lab at the university was one of three labs to carbon date the Shroud of Turin. The two other labs were at Oxford and Zurich. The labs had agreed not to release the results individually. Doug had invited Harry Gove, a physicist from the University of Rochester, to observe. Gove had had a poor relationship with the scientific adviser to the bishop of Turin, and his lab had been excluded from the testing.

I was waiting for them at the house on Fourth Street when they returned from the lab. Neither of them mentioned the results, but as we had a drink on the porch, I sensed — correctly — from Gove that the results were not what Turin would have wanted.

[ . . . ]

Not long ago, Dee fell. She was not hurt badly, but it was clear that living on the second floor, climbing up and down steps, was not a good idea. For that matter, the house required too much maintenance. Doug and Dee moved into an apartment for senior citizens. . . . the house on Fourth Street . . . will go on the market next month.

And thus I’m reminded as a result of something Helmut Felzmann wrote for the Shroud Science Group that I republished last November with his kind permission in a  blog entry: The Mysterious Arizona Piece. Helmut  had written:

Barrie [Schwortz] went to Tuscon in August 2012 with invitation from Jull (I persuaded Jull) to take photos from all the blind samples, the rest of the large sample and the small sample. When he arrived in Tuscon, Jull told Barrie that the small piece is not available as it is in custody of Mr. Donahue, the retired head of the laboratory in 1988. But Donahue was not available due to his personal situation. It was promised to Barrie, that he will have access to the piece later.

Barrie had also written in Report on the STERA, Inc. – University of Arizona Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory Macro Photography – 30 August 2012:

The day I was to make the photographs, Dr. Jull informed me that one (or more?) remaining samples would not be available for the photography session. These were currently in the possession of Dr. D.J. Donahue, the retired former Director of the laboratory, who was away due to a family emergency. I am hopeful they can be made available at some future date so they can be photographed using the same techniques and equipment and added to the collection.

So, was the small Arizona piece in Doug Donahue’s custody ever made available to Barrie? Was it at the time of Barrie’s visit at home on Fourth Street or locked up in the lab such that Timothy Jull, then the director of the lab, could not get access? Where is it now?

The Computer Hacker Hypothesis is Short on Factual Material

March 14, 2014 22 comments

imageHad the responses from Timothy Jull and Christopher Ramsey put the computer hacker hypothesis to bed? No. Stephen Jones tells us:

I am now going to post a revised version of my proposal, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" based on the information contained in Dr. Jull’s and Prof. Ramsey’s emails.

Is Stephen ready to? He should consider this letter from a Chicago reader, as well. Stephen should answer these questions:

How did the allegedly hacked software in the AMS control computers distinguish between  calibration runs and production runs? How did the software know to change the results only if the sample being tested was from the Turin Shroud and not from control material or from material being tested for other clients?

Were the control computers special purpose machines,? Could all three of them be reprogrammed? Even the VP8 was called a computer by some people. But it couldn’t be networked and you couldn’t hack it without parts and a soldering iron.

Without answers to these questions, Jones has nothing. It is only after doing some REAL basic research that he can start looking for motive, means and opportunity. He is doing everything backswords.

Note: Stephen’s fifth article in what is now a long series, Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey should be read carefully. Therein he writes:

On Dan Porter’s blog he recently posted, under "Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis" an email that the Shroud anti-authenticist and Editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud’s Newsletter, Hugh Farey received from Dr. Timothy Jull, Director of the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon dating laboratory and a signatory to the the 1988 Nature paper, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," which claimed that the linen on the Shroud was "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390. Porter, who himself believes:

"The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless."

nevertheless is against my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories may have been duped by a computer hacker, and promoted Farey’s copy of Jull’s email with the comment: "Does this put an end to it, once and for all?" evidently hoping that it did

Against? No! I say unimpressed, unconvinced certainly, but not against. I’m not taking sides. This one sentence is astounding:

My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the `too good to be true’ 1325 ± 65 years date.

Okay, maybe astonished, dumbfounded, aghast, but not against.

Moreover: ARPANET was restricted to U.S. establishments in 1988. So what WAN or LAN communications capabilities did Oxford or Zurich have? Were the AMS machines connected? What sort of computers did they have? These are basic questions that need to be explored. Maybe communicating computers should be discounted completely. Facts would be helpful.

Personally, I doubt the AMS “computers” were networked, at all. It doesn’t matter if ARPANET was installed at the University of Arizona. The claim that computers at laboratories were connected to ARPANET doesn’t mean that a special purpose measurement and control system unit was on the network. Did the unit have the hardware interface and was it even capable of running telecommunications software?  Maybe so? Maybe it was a PDP 11, a System 7 or a Series/1. The point is do we know.

Maybe software changes had to be loaded from a floppy disk or by swapping EPROMs and circuit cards?

Supposedly, if you think Stephen is right, three separate “computers” were hacked. What are the real facts surrounding this hypothesis that even makes that possible?

Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis

March 9, 2014 31 comments

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

imageHugh Farey comments on the posting, Stephen Jones Persists with the Hacker Theory.

I have recently received an email from Timothy Jull, regarding the hacking hypothesis. Its text, in its entirety, runs:

“This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.

Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.

Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t.”

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

Picture is of A. J. Timothy Jull, director of the University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory. (Wikipedia Link Provided)

Categories: Carbon 14 Dating

As long as these results are not refuted . . . [they] have scientific validity?

March 3, 2014 20 comments

imageJason Engwer has an interesting piece in the Triablogue about Fanti’s recent interview with Vatican Insider. It got me thinking. But first …

Jason provided a link to something he wrote a year ago. (Heck, it’s short; let me quote from it directly – all of it):

Jason: The Shroud of Turin has been in the news a lot lately, due to a new book that’s come out claiming further scientific testing that dates the Shroud around the time of Jesus. See the March 28 entry here for an overview from Barrie Schwortz, including a discussion of some of the problems with Giulio Fanti’s claims at this point. We’ll have to wait to see how things develop. Dan Porter has been covering the story on his blog as well. There’s already good reason to reject the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud, such as Ray Rogers’ work published in 2005. We’ll see how much Fanti’s research adds to that. From what I’ve read so far, I agree with the general thrust of Schwortz’s comments. Fanti’s work looks somewhat promising, but there are problems with it.

In his latest post, Jason quotes Fanti from the Vatican Insider interview. It’s a computerized translation, but it is readable:

Fanti: Today, we have thus five different dating methods: the radiocarbon method, my three and those of Rogers. Also, we could have been wrong. But four different independent methods, reach the same result, but then speak a clear language. As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity. So that has first Century after Christ the greatest probability as emergence period for the Turin grave cloth. This dating corresponds exactly to the time Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine. We now await the reactions from the rest of the science world. So far we received only affirmative and affirmative responses, but no refutation.

Jason wraps it up (and I agree with him):

Jason: Notice Fanti’s reference to the work of Ray Rogers, which I’ve discussed before. Even if we were to reject Fanti’s research, we’d have other grounds for dismissing the 1988 carbon dating results. There are many indications, some of which I’ve discussed before, that the Shroud is older than the medieval era. The preponderance of evidence favors authenticity.

And that is when I got to thinking. Fanti said, “As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity.”

Maybe we should be revisiting Revisiting Giulio Fanti’s Dating Methods.

Beyond the blogosphere, is anyone paying attention to Fanti’s methods? Is anyone giving thought to refuting his methods or refuting the result he achieved?

As to the first part of that question, methods, at least one method has been explored in a scientific journal:  Vibrational Spectroscopy, an Elsevier journal. The paper: Non-destructive dating of ancient flax textiles by means of vibrational spectroscopy.

As for the second part of the question,  results, Fanti’s science is being published by Edizioni Segno, a Christian publishing house of books and magazines “unique in their genre for the variety and completeness of the information on prophecies and private revelations and apparitions and messages, everything about the world of the supernatural.” (Bing Translation for quoted portion). Not likely to draw a lot of scientific attention, is it.

It is hard to say, as Fanti does, “As long as these results are not refuted . . . [they] have scientific validity,” if nobody is paying attention.

Or am I missing something? Do we need a better translation?

Giulio Fanti’s Book Launched

February 26, 2014 154 comments

imageYesterday, publisher Edizioni Segno launched LA SINDONE: primo secolo dopo Cristo! (Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.!) by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi. 

Paper Chase: Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert

February 24, 2014 3 comments

imageSurprise! This paper seems to be open access. Click here to have a go at it.

Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert by  A.J. Timothy Jull, Douglas Donahue, Magen Broshi and Emanuel Tov; Radiocarbon, Vol 37, No 1, 1995, pp 11-19.


We report on new 14C measurements of samples of 18 texts (scrolls) and 2 linen fragments from Qumran Caves 1, 2, and 4 and from Nahal Hever, both in the Dead Sea region. The radiocarbon results are in good agreement with estimates of age based on paleography.


Various parchment and papyrus manuscripts found in caves in the area of Qumran and at other sites in the Judean Desert are known generally as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Qumran scrolls are generally considered to have been hidden by the Qumran Community, identified by most scholars as the Ess- enes. The documents are usually regarded to have been copied between the mid-third century BC and AD 68, when the Qumran settlement was destroyed by the Romans.

Bonani et al. (1991, 1992) dated 14 texts, 8 of which came from Qumran. We present here new radiocarbon dates of 18 texts, including 3 date-bearing texts (3 from Qumran Cave 1,12 from Cave 4, and 3 from other sites in the Judean Desert). We consider the importance of the 14C dates in relation to other age estimates and we also report on 14C examinations of linen fragments from the Judean Desert.

Part 3 is up: Did Stephen Jones make the case?

February 22, 2014 11 comments

imageRead Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3). Did Stephen Jones make the case?

He didn’t intend to:

So it would not be surprising if the atheistic Soviet regime of the 1980s would see it as a legitimate target to discredit the Shroud, and through that Christianity, by one its agents hacking into each of the three radiocarbon dating laboratories’ computers, and replacing the actual radiocarbon dates of the Shroud that the laboratories’ accelerated mass spectrometers were determining, with bogus dates which when calibrated would cluster around 1325 +/- 65 years.

I have presented this proposal as a question, "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" because in the nature of the case, barring a belated confession, my proposal is unlikely ever to be confirmed as correct, even if it is correct. The hacker would be unlikely to admit it because he would be prosecuted and gaoled for breaking into government computers, as Hess was. And the laboratories would be unlikely to admit they had been duped by a hacker, even if they realised they had been. Whatever evidence there was in the laboratories’ computers, the hacker would almost certainly have deleted it, and even if he didn’t, it is most unlikely that it would still exist in the laboratories’ 1988 computers.

Anyway, in the final analysis it is the Shroud anti-authenticists’ problem to find a explanation for what went wrong with their carbon dating of the first-century Shroud to the 13th-14th centuries. As Thomas de Wesselow pointed out, we Shroud pro-authenticists don’t need to find an explanation of what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. We can just dismiss it out of hand as a "’rogue’ radiocarbon date" as archaeologists routinely do when a radiocarbon date is contradicted by the majority of the other evidence:

I’ll try to keep an open mind for now.

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

imageStephen Jones is inching forward with the second part of Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?  (Here is part 1).

After stoking the fires of his incredulity a bit more, Stephen tells us  that Denis Dutton, a shroud skeptic, publicly predicted that if the Shroud was radiocarbon dated it would date to "A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years"

“So,” Stephen tells us, “a fraudster would know what date to aim for!” Then . . .

Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, who believes the Shroud is authentic but Jesus did not rise from the dead, on the basis of the art history evidence considers that the fourteenth-century radiocarbon date of the Shroud to be the equivalent of claiming that "the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens":

"Given credence, the carbon-dating result effectively raises the Shroud to the status of a miracle, an object that defies, if not a law of nature, a law of culture. All artefacts are linked to the art and technology of the society in which they originate. Something that cannot be explained in terms of its (presumed) cultural context invites a supernatural explanation. As far as I am aware, no one has yet argued that the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliensThere is no better explanation, though, for a fourteenth-century Shroud." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," pp.167-168. My emphasis).

Therefore de Wesselow considers fraud to be a real possibility for the Shroud’s "1325 ± 65 years" radiocarbon date, and indeedbecause of it:

"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy’ accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware. … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’ is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, 2012, p.170. My emphasis).

To be continued (and hopefully concluded) in. "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3)".

In fairness to Stephen, check out Timeline of computer security hacker history on Wikipedia. Scroll down to 1988 and thereabouts.

I’ll try to keep an open mind for now. I believe Stephen will address the hacking at some point soon; for unless Stephen is right – he could be –  I’d hate to see this speculation become another well established rumor, e. g., Shroudies believe that the labs were hacked.


Unrelated tidbit: in 1989, the year the carbon dating was announced, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, created the world’s public first web page and the World Wide Web was born.

Jerry Coyne Pounces on the Earthquake Hypothesis

February 21, 2014 6 comments

does anyone buy the earthquake thing?

imageJerry Coyne has jumped into the earthquake fray with an article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience, which he posted on his blog named for his best selling book, Why Evolution is True (A New York Times Best Seller).

The book was one of the best I read on the subject of evolution. The article on why religion is a pseudoscience, well, interesting, anyway. Too much attitude. There is this:

But as real science arose in the 15th and 16th centuries, and began eroding religion’s claims, religion began turning into a pseudoscience. That is, it still made empirical claims, but immunized itself against refutation of those claims using a variety of devices—the same devices used by other forms of pseudoscience like ESP, UFOlogy, homeopathy, and astrology. These include arguing that the propositions themselves are untestable, using poor standards of evidence (including reliance on “revelation” as a “way of knowing”), reliance on a priori personal biases that are not to be tested but merely confirmed, refusing to consider alternative hypotheses, and engaging in special pleading when religious tenets are disconfirmed.

We can see all of these—but especially in the last—in a paper by A. Carpinteri et al. on the Shroud of Turin, a paper that’s gotten a lot of publicity. It’s an attempt to defend scientific radio-carbon dating of the Shroud, which showed it to be a medieval forgery, by special pleading invoking earthquakes.

imageCoyne puts forth four argument against the earthquake hypothesis, arguments that I think are perfectly valid:

1. The evidence for an earthquake is thin. . . .

2. There is no evidence that neutron emission during an earthquake could alter the C-14 content of a shroud. . . .

3. The alteration of the amount of C14 in the shroud would have to be sufficient to make it look sufficiently pre-modern, but not too young. . . .

4. There is no known way that an earthquake could, by neutron emission, produce an image of a body on a shroud. . . .

The Carpinteri paper is thus a confection of unlikely and untested hypotheses, all assembled to try to save the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the true burial cloth of Jesus. It is not a piece of science, but a piece of apologetics.

Coyne points out:

Indeed, even Wikipedia does a better job than the popular press, and points out something that Ms. Knapton should have known: Carpinteri is the editor of the journal that published this flawed paper. What does thatsay about the review process? As Wikipedia notes:

A team of researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, led by Professor Alberto Carpinteri (and published in the journal Meccanica, where same Alberto Carpinteri is currently the acting Editor-in-Chief, believe that if a magnitude 8.2 earthquake occurred in Jerusalem in 33 AD, it may have released sufficient radiation to have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes in the shroud, which could skew carbon dating results, making the shroud appear younger.This hypothesis has been questioned by other scientists, including a radiocarbon-dating expert. The underlying science is widely disputed, and funding for the underlying research has been withdrawn by the Italian government after protests and pressure from more than 1000 Italian and international scientists. Dr REM Hedges, of the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit of the University of Oxford, states that “the likelihood that [neutron irradiation] influenced the date in the way proposed is in my view so exceedingly remote that it beggars scientific credulity.” Raymond N. Rogers conducted various tests on linen fibers, and concluded that “the current evidence suggests that all radiation-based hypotheses for image formation will ultimately be rejected.”

But he mistakenly assumes that he understands “the faithful.” It suggests to me that he has not taken the time to understand the shroud and the people who study it before writing about it.

Of course none of this counterevidence will shake the faithful, who will still see the Shroud as authentic, and will come in droves to pay homage when the Shroud has one of its rare showings. Like believers in homeopathy or ESP (or, now, Adam and Eve), they continue to hold their faith despite all scientific counterevidence.

That and the first paragraph show how little he understands religion. But do read the full article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience and see if you agree.

From Fraud to Computer Hacking in Carbon Dating the Shroud of Turin

February 19, 2014 12 comments

imageA little over a month ago, Stephen Jones, created a posting with a title that read, The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud #1: Introduction. To make the introduction, Stephen lead off by quoting Thomas de Wesselow:

I had for a long time been thinking of posting on this topic, and was prompted to do so by reading recently what the agnostic Shroud pro-authenticist, art historian Thomas de Wesselow, wrote:

"The third possibility [why "the 1988 result ... conflicts with all the evidence that points to the Shroud having been in existence long before 1260"] is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. … However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’[3] is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve" (my emphasis)[4].

“I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation,” he tells us:

.  .  I cannot prove that there was scientific fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, although I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation. All that I can do is to set out the evidence for: 1) what went wrong in that dating; 2) the anti-Christian bias and/or dishonesty of some of those involved in the dating; and 3) suggest various ways that scientific fraud could have occurred in that dating. And then leave it to the `men and women of the jury’, my readers, to make up their own minds, based on that evidence.

Six postings were to follow:

. . . #2: "Difficulties of radiocarbon dating"; #3: "Conflicts of the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud with other evidence"; #4: "What went wrong in the dating of the Shroud"; #5. "Bias and/or dishonesty of some involved in that dating"; #6: "Possible fraud scenarios in the dating of the Shroud"; and #7: "Conclusion"

Stephen is incredulous when it comes to the carbon dating. So am I. But I have not joined the ranks of those who might think it is fraud. I don’t see sufficient evidence for that. What there is is circumstantial at best. And I can’t see that fraud can be the “only viable explanation.” I did want to see what Stephen would say, however. I waited. A month of silence followed. Then on February 5, Stephen inserted the following note into his posting:

Note. I have now realised that this topic is going to require a lot of research, which will distract me further from my series " The Shroud of Turin." So I am putting it on the backburner . . . .

Damn! Other topics ensued.  Sooner or later, I knew, Stephen would tell us why, in his opinion, fraud was the only viable explanation. Thus I was surprised when Stephen posted: Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (1)

Another viable explanation?

This latest posting is only part one. And it says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the subject. I read it. I reread it. I searched on the word hacker. Nothing! I searched on comuter? Nothing! There is a picture of a book; Clifford Stoll’s 1989, "The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage." What was this about? What did Stephen uncover?

Fearing another long wait for a part two I bought the book. No, I have not read it yet. But I did search for some key words (isn’t Kindle great?): I searched for Shroud? Nada! I looked for Turin? Not Found! Arizona? Nope! Oxford? Nope! Linen? Only a reference to someone in white linen pants. Carbon dating, radiocarbon, C14? No! No! No!

I can hardly wait for part two.

Piezonuclear What?

February 15, 2014 21 comments

imageAnd speaking of full disclosure since Alberto Carpinteri’s ‘Earthquate’ theories are now part and parcel of science lore of the shroud . . . thanks to the media.

There is this for starters: Italian Government Slams Brakes on ‘Piezonuclear’ Fission from Science Insider (June 11, 2012)(published by Science):

Italy’s research and education minister Francesco Profumo has heeded the call from more than 1000 Italian scientists not to fund research into a controversial and disputed form of nuclear fission. The scientists had signed an online petition urging Profumo to block research on "piezonuclear" reactions at the National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM). The petitioners say they are concerned that the institute’s president, Alberto Carpinteri, was prioritizing research on the subject and that Profumo was about to place a second proponent of the research on the institute’s scientific council. But Profumo has told ScienceInsider that he changed his mind about the council nomination and that he has "no intention" of funding piezonuclear research without the backing of the scientific community.

Carpinteri, a civil engineer at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy, has worked on the controversial research with a handful of other Italian scientists since 2008. His collaborators include Fabio Cardone, a physicist at the National Research Council in Rome. The researchers claim that when they crush various kinds of rock, they observe very high emissions of neutrons: 10 times the background level in the case of granite, and 100 times in the case of basalt. They interpret the emissions as being due to the splitting, or fission, of iron atoms in the rock into lighter atoms such as those of aluminum. Unlike the materials used in conventional fission reactions, the crushed rock does not emit ionizing gamma rays or leave behind radioactive waste, the researchers say.

Speaking to ScienceInsider, Carpinteri acknowledged that the group’s conclusion is controversial, as established nuclear physics shows that the compression could not supply the enormous amounts of energy needed to split nuclei. But he argues that several other lines of evidence—including chemical analyses he and his colleagues have carried out on the rock samples before and after compression—indicate that nonstandard fission is indeed taking place. "The classical theory of fission still has a few holes in it," Carpinteri says.

Other researchers, however, remain far from convinced. Three different groups, from Canada, Sweden, and Italy, published papers in 2010 criticizing the rock-compression experiments and similar work by Cardone. And in a paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server on 29 May, nine researchers from INRIM took aim at the chemical analysis carried out on the rock samples. They show that many identical numbers reported in the analysis, which are quoted to two decimal places, are more closely correlated than would be expected from independent measurements—although the paper says nothing about how the correlation might have occurred.

The online petition, started 24 May, urges Profumo not to spend public research money on what it calls projects "without, at least for the moment, any scientific foundation." The petitioners argue that INRIM’s work on piezonuclear reactions would "bring discredit to the whole research system."

[ . . . ]

Aftershock of the Maybe-An-Earthquake-Did-It Earthquake

February 14, 2014 14 comments

I’m with Barrie on this: you should read The Shroud of Turin: Radiation Effects,
Aging  & Image Formation
by Ray Rogers. Then decide.

imageFor whatever reason, the recent Maybe-An-Earthquake-Did-It proposal to explain the making of the image and a possible error in the carbon 14 dating of the shroud, awakened an otherwise sleepy news media.  Megan Gannon’s syndicated story in LiveScience, Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus? captured prominent headline placement at Yahoo News. The Telegraph, USA Today, Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Christian Post, for whatever reason, gave the story plenty of ink. Some of the earliest coverage, such as that appearing in The Telegraph, was amateurish yet effective (see Breaking News: Another Day, Another Solution to the Image and the Carbon Dating in this blog two days ago).

However, do notice, most top shelf news outlets are ignoring the story. Dip into the archives and you will discover that the earthquake idea and the radiation idea is old news. Read the paper, Is the Shroud of Turin In Relation to the Old Jerusalem Historical Earthquake? in Meccanica and you’ll find little that is new or anything, really, that rises above the level of speculation.

Nonetheless, traffic on this blog exploded yesterday. My inbox filled up quickly. Barrie Schwortz at STERA, in part due to mail volumes, was prompted to post a special update to  Frankly, from what I have seen so far, I think the story has gotten attention out of all proportions to its real significance. I doubt it has much traction. But we will see.

Here is what Barrie wrote on

Once again, the Shroud of Turin is in the news, this time because of a new paper titled, Is the Shroud of Turin In Relation to the Old Jerusalem Historical Earthquake? just published in the journal Meccanica. Authored by A. Carpinteri, G. Lacidogna and O. Borla, the paper asserts that neutron radiation generated by a major earthquake could have been responsible for the Shroud’s image and could have also modified the cloth in a manner that might have skewed the results of the radiocarbon dating. It has long been our policy not to comment on news releases until the claims they make can be properly evaluated by qualified experts in the related disciplines. However, due to the volume of mail we have been receiving and the fact that the entire paper is readily available online, we decided to make a brief comment on the paper until a more in-depth review can be written by an expert in the field and published in our next regular update.

We should first point out that the idea of radiation creating the image on the Shroud or skewing the radiocarbon dating is not a new one. Over the past few decades it has been proposed by a number of Shroud scholars, including Dr. Jean-Baptiste Rinaudo and Mark Antonacci. After reading the article carefully (and reminding you that this is far from my area of expertise), the only apparent new information it includes is the possibility that the proposed neutron radiation was produced as a by-product of a major earthquake. The authors also provide references to credible evidence that such events can and do occur. However, the issue of radiation and the Shroud was addressed in an article titled, The Shroud of Turin: Radiation Effects, Aging & Image Formation, written by Ray Rogers just before his death and published on posthumously in 2005. Rogers was a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the head of STURP’s chemistry group and an expert in the effects of radiation on a wide variety of materials. He based his conclusions on examining and comparing a number of irradiated flax samples, including actual fibers of the Shroud. Once again, you will have to read the materials and decide how significant they are for yourself. We hope to have more information on this in our next update.


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