CARBON 14 DATING
1) WE OFTEN READ: Carbon dating in 1988 showed that the shroud was medieval.
- Half of the story, misleading. Newer scientific findings, rigorously peer-reviewed, demonstrate that the single sample shared by three laboratories was not representative of the shroud’s cloth. The theory (scientific definition), well supported by evidence, is that the sample was from a medieval “French Weaving” repair to the cloth.
- Journal: Chemistry Today (Vol 26, Num 4, Jul/Aug 2008), “Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud”, Benford M.S., Marino J.G.
- Peer-reviewed conference paper (Aug 2008), “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” Robert Villarreal (Paper and video presentation awaiting publication, see Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference Press Release)
- Journal: Thermochimica Acta (Vol 425, Jan 2005) “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Rogers, R.N.
[T]he age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.
- –Robert Villarreal, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist who headed a team of nine scientists at LANL which examined material from the carbon 14 sampling region. (Aug 2008)
2) WE OFTEN READ: All three radiocarbon dating laboratories obtained similar/same/identical results.
- Misleading. One sample was cut from the cloth. Each of the three labs received pieces from the same sample. While, it is true that they concurred on the range of dates, 1260 to 1390 CE, the results failed to meet basic statistical criterion (chi squared) for similarity. The sample is not homogeneous, which is consistent with the repair theory.
3) WE OFTEN READ: Colorado Springs professor/physicist, John Jackson, challenges carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin.
- Questionable Science. No known published findings or even preliminary results. The stated hypothesis is that carbon monoxide contaminated the carbon 14 content of the cloth making it seem newer than it really is. The following quote is sometimes included as though it pertains specifically to Jackson’s work:
There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.
- –Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit which participated in the 1988 Carbon 14 Dating of the Shroud. (Mar 2008)
However, in full and proper context (see Oxford University site) we see that it pertains to all evidence that challenges the carbon dating. More to the point, it is preceded by these words that apply specifically to the Jackson contamination hypothesis:
However there are also a number of reasons to think that carbon monoxide contamination is not likely to have had a significant effect. . . So far the linen samples have been subjected to normal conditions (but with very high concentrations of carbon monoxide). These initial tests show no significant reaction – even though the sensitivity of the measurements is sufficient to detect contamination that would offset the age by less than a single year. This is to be expected and essentially confirms why this sort of contamination has not been considered a serious issue before.
- –Op. cit. (Ramsey)
4) WE OFTEN READ: Scientists found paint on the Shroud of Turin.
- Misleading, Dubious Claim: The correct statement should be that Walter McCrone visually identified, through microscopy, paint particles on some fibers removed from the surface of the shroud. Moreover, the use of the plural “scientists” is incorrect. McCrone was the only scientist, among many, to examine the shroud and/or fibers taken from the shroud to claim finding paint.
Mark Anderson, who worked for McCrone, examined the fibers using laser microprobe Raman spectrometry and found that what McCrone thought was (inorganic) paint was in fact an organic substance.
Previously, the shroud (and not just fibers) had been observed with visible light spectrometry, ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and thermography. No paint was found.
Later, pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry tests conducted at the Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska, on individual image-bearing fibers, were unable to detect any paint particles or painting medium.
5) WE OFTEN READ: Scientists have failed to identify blood on the Shroud of Turin.
- Not True. Immunological, fluorescence and spectrographic tests, as well as Rh and ABO typing of blood antigens, reveal that the stains are human blood. Many of the bloodstains have the distinctive forensic signature of clotting with red corpuscles about the edge of a clot with a clear yellowish halo of serum. The heme was converted into its parent porphyrin, and the spectra examined. This too, revealed the fact that bloodstains are blood. Microchemical tests for proteins were positive in blood areas. Much of this work is published in peer reviewed scientific journals including Archeological Chemistry: Organic, Inorganic, and Biochemical Analysis (American Chemical Society), Applied Optics and the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal.
6) WE OFTEN READ: There is no record of the Shroud of Turin before 1349/1355/1356.
- Misleading. The correct statement is that there is no known record of the shroud in western Europe before 1349. Keep in mind that many artifacts from antiquity lack records that go back to their original provenance. Moreover, as is often the case with ancient written records, there are gaps.
It is a common task for historians and archeologists to find other evidence that bridge gaps in documentation. In the case of the shroud, much is emerging. There is, for instance, a drawing of a shroud from 1192 (nearly a century earlier than the earliest carbon 14 date) that is clearly identifiable from particular features as the current Shroud of Turin.
It is well established that a cloth with a purported image of Jesus existed in Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey) prior to 5th century CE. This was documented by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius (and this part of the record should be treated as legend for it has many such qualities) the cloth was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the biblical 70).
What is reliable history is that in 544, a cloth with an image thought to be of Jesus was found concealed above a gate in the city walls of Edessa. That cloth was transferred to Constantinople on August 14, 944. At that time, it was described by Gregory Referendarius as a full-length burial cloth with an image of Jesus (purportedly) and bloodstains in the vicinity of a side wound.
Following the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, that cloth became the property of Othon de la Roche, the French Lord of Athens and Thebes (Athens was in French hands). He sent it to his castle home in the town of Besançon, France, likely in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from castle and displayed in the Besançon Cathedral. We don’t know when that practice started but it ended when the cathedral was destroyed by fire in March of 1349.
Any records that might have existed may have been burned in that fire as all church records were destroyed. In that same year, Geoffroy de Charny, a French knight married Jeanne de Vergy, a grand-niece of Othon de la Roche, and delivered the shroud (or a shroud) to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe.
7) WE OFTEN READ: Shroud enthusiasts/believers/proponents of authenticity believe the image was caused by the resurrection of Jesus.
- Misleading, unsubstantiated. Some indeed do. But there is no working scientific hypothesis in support of this idea. Others believe that the image may have been formed naturally. In fact, a survey of the published papers suggests that a majority of shroud researches who have opined on this do not believe that the image was caused by the resurrection or anything supernatural.
(A work in progress – comments are welcome)