Weighing evidence on the Shroud of Turin (Journalist Accuracy)

The News & Observer (Raleigh/Durham NC) has a short piece that they credit in measure to the LA Times. 

Some of the findings of efforts to authenticate or debunk the Shroud of Turin, which allegedly covered the body of Jesus after his crucifixion:

Supporting evidence

A 1978 research team found that the shroud was not painted, stained or dyed and concluded that the bloodstains were real.

. . .

Discrediting evidence

Radiocarbon dating by three separate labs placed the creation of the Shroud between 1260 and 1390.

. . .

No mention, at all, of the fact that these radiocarbon tests are at most discredited and at the very least meet the criteria of reasonable doubt.

Check out Journalist Accuracy 

newsobserver.com | Weighing evidence

Dead Sea Scrolls to appear on the Internet

In the New York Times, Ethan Bronner reports:

scrolls JERUSALEM — In a crowded laboratory painted in gray and cooled like a cave, half a dozen specialists embarked this week on a historic undertaking: digitally photographing every one of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the aim of making the entire file — among the most sought-after and examined documents on earth — available to all on the Internet.

Equipped with high-powered cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and with lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays, the scientists and technicians are uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, discoveries that could have significant scholarly impact.

cp: One Episcopalian on Faith – Full article at Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet – NYTimes.com

Quote from Chemistry Today (August 2008) on the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin

In 1988, Carbon-14 findings from three Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) Labs independently dated a sample removed from the Turin Shroud, a linen cloth believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth and unarguably the most widely-studied linen cloth in history. The dates reported ranged between 1260 – 1390 A.D.; thus, leading to the conclusion that the cloth originated in the Middle Ages (1). Since the dating, many hypotheses have been proffered attempting to explain the C-14 results (2), which appear contradictory to a plethora of data pointing to a more ancient origin (3-6). An acceptable hypothesis of why the Shroud dated between AD 1260-1390 must satisfactorily explain the precise, statistically-determined angular skewing of the dates corresponding with the individual laboratories, with reference to the location of the sub samples received. The hypotheses of generalized ionizing radiation, thermal effects, environmental carbon monoxide enrichment and bio plastic coating are incapable of meeting this latter requirement, as is the premise that the cloth itself, is, in toto, medieval (2). In 2005, the late Raymond N. Rogers authored a paper in Thermochimica Acta that reported the results of experimental tests evaluating the hypothesis that the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud was invalid due to the intrusion of newer material in the sampling area (8). Based on data obtained from his analyses of samples from the area, Rogers concluded that the combined evidence from chemical kinetics, analytical chemistry, cotton content, and pyrolysis/ms proved that the material from the radiocarbon area of the Shroud is significantly different from that of the main cloth.

Third Tetherd Cow Ahead Exchange on the Shroud of Turin

2_tied2treea I received a very comprehensive comment from anaglyph over at Tetherd Cow Ahead. It warrants a comprehensive response.

anaglyph wrote: You’ve kind of missed my point, either willfully or accidentally. I don’t really care if the Turin Shroud is ‘the burial cloth of late-Second Temple era crucifixion victim’ or a forgery or a tea-towel. What I’m saying is that the concept of the Turin Shroud being the burial cloth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is hooey. As I’m sure you are aware, the evidence that has been offered up over the years in favour of this idea has been voluminous and contradictory. The discovery of pollen grains that were testament to the shroud’s pedigree was quickly thrown into question.

I respond: Thrown into question is not a bad thing. Indeed, much work needs to be done with the Frei tapes and other samples taken by STURP as well was some pollen aspirated from the cloth in 1973 and 1978 and collected by the ill-advised vacuuming of the cloth during the so-called restoration in 2002. For now, it is advisable to be cautious with the majority of pollen samples with regards to provenance. More work needs to be done.

anaglyph wrote: Impressions of ‘flowers’ on the shroud are plainly nothing more than paradolia.

I respond: I suspect the same thing, as do the majority of shroud researchers. At the Ohio Conference (August 2008), the subject was presented. I doubt that among 85 researchers in attendance that more than two or three people found the identifications plausible. I would say, to be more precise, that paradolia is the most likely explanation.

anaglyph wrote: A plausible method for the formation of the human figure (other than painting with pigments) has never been advanced.

I respond: Given that the image is composed of dehydrated and oxidized organic material (either flax fiber, which is unlikely or a polysaccharide similar to a Maillard product which seems certain), no one had arrived at a reasonable hypothesis. Given that 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 and given the fact the shroud was tested with  visible and ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and thermography all showing negative results for paint or pigment and given that pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry tests at the Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska were also negative for paint or pigment we can rule out such applied colorants. It is perplexing.

But we must be careful here, as some have not, to avoid God-of-the-gaps types of thinking (as is so prevalent among Intelligent Design proponents). Because we so far lack an explanation, we cannot jump to conclusions — like miraculous or fraudulent. World view is not a valid input in science.

anaglyph wrote: The carbon-dating, which was sought for decades as the ultimate decider, was rejected by Shroudies when it didn’t return the desired result: there was something wrong with the dating (the data set was wrong/the sample was tainted by atmospheric carbon/the piece of cloth was taken from an anachronistic repair).

I respond: That is human nature, and indeed it is also a necessary ingredient in scientific endeavor. Strange ideas often lead to hypotheses and ultimately theories (in the scientific sense of those words). Conversely, a regrettable, strange ideas also produce conspiracy theories and lunatic fringe thinking. What happened is expected. However at this point there is sufficient reason to a have, at best, reasonable doubt about the carbon dating. The journal, Chemistry Today (August 2008) in a 12 page article summarizes it nicely:

Since the dating, many hypotheses have been proffered attempting to explain the C-14 results (2), which appear contradictory to a plethora of data pointing to a more ancient origin (3-6). An acceptable hypothesis of why the Shroud dated between AD 1260-1390 must satisfactorily explain the precise, statistically-determined angular skewing of the dates corresponding with the individual laboratories, with reference to the location of the sub samples received (7) (Figure 1). The hypotheses of generalized ionizing radiation, thermal effects, environmental carbon monoxide enrichment and bio plastic coating are incapable of meeting this latter requirement, as is the premise that the cloth itself, is, in toto, medieval (2).

The Chemistry Today article nicely makes the case for material intrusion into the samples from medieval treads. Indeed, that explanation is accepted by nearly every serious shroud researcher. This is what the Los Alamos study shows, what chemist Raymond Rogers found and published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) found and what Georgia Tech’s materials forensic chemist John L. Brown confirmed.

anaglyph wrote: As I pointed out, even the Bible itself contradicts the science that has come from the shroud – the amount of aloes and spice that was brought to the tomb by Nicodemus and used on the body was ‘a hundred pounds in weight’. That’s an awful lot of spices for absolutely no trace to survive in the cloth, especially if pollen allegedly did.

I respond: Actually, not all biblical exegetes agree that the spices were used. Remember, the funeral preparations were not finished and that the intent seems to be that Jesus’ followers would return following the Jewish Sabbath to complete funeral preparations. Regardless, biblical narratives, like world view, is not valid input into scientific observation. 

The strongest biblical objections to the shroud comes from Joe Nickell (which is strange given that he holds it to be mostly inaccurate) and from literalist fundamentalists, many who find the idea of the shroud abhorrent.

anaglyph wrote: This pattern of ‘moving the goalposts’ and cherry-picking the data is well known to any observer of pseudo-scientific belief: If the results don’t fit the preconception, then there is something wrong with the method, not the conclusion.

I respond: That charge is fair. But it goes both ways. We see it, not just in the arena of shroud research but in many areas (and by the way not just in the realm of pseudo-scientific belief as you characterize it but in science itself). We certainly see it in the debates between evolutionists and the proponents of so-called creation science and ID. Creationists are quite guilty of it. But so is Richard Dawkins, one of the greatest evolutionary biologists in history, which is too bad. Joe Nickell is quite guilty of it and many proponents of the shroud are too. It is too bad, but it is meaningless as an argument except to seek creditability through argumentum ad hominem.

anaglyph quotes me:

Let’s first address the question about seeking proof that Jesus Christ was resurrected… But it isn’t so. I seldom hear it from any shroud researcher.

and anaglyph wrote: What? Of of course it’s about acquiring proof, and of course no-one’s going to admit that’s what it’s about (especially to themselves) for the reason I gave: seeking evidence indicates lack of faith. And not just lack of faith in the resurrection, but lack of faith that Jesus even existed as the character he is concocted to be. (Quite obviously, establishing proof that the shroud is Jesus’ burial cloth implies proof of the story of the resurrection – if it didn’t, and it was just about Jesus being a normal mortal man, then the whole ideology of the Christian church surely collapses like a deck of cards). If it’s not about all that, then what is it about? Some abstract historical pursuit of a quasi-religious artifact? There are many of those and none of them attract the kind of zealots that swarm around the Shroud of Turin.

I respond: No, not at all. It is more like human nature. There is no doubt that people’s faith may bring them to interest in the shroud. And indeed some people would like more evidence. It really is no different than the work of biblical exegetes, archeologists, historians and even those who climb Mount Everest. It is there and there is a challenge or a mystery to be solved.

anaglyph quotes me:

Quite the opposite, people who did talk about their faith (and that wasn’t a big topic) expressed the view that the shroud has nothing to do with their faith.

and anaglyph wrote: I really can’t believe that you are quite that naive.

Perhaps. Naivety, like insanity, is difficult to self diagnose. So, too, are the opposites. I’m many things, some that I know about and some that I don’t.

anaglyph wrote: So, um, these people are just history students who happen to be obsessed to the point of fanaticism with this one religious relic? Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m sure that if the shroud turned out to be a fake (or some other mis-identified personage) the discovery wouldn’t alter anyone’s faith, but I bet you’re all kinda hoping that it is Jesus. Because, deep down, that would sort of ‘help the faith along’, wouldn’t it? Your guess that there was ‘one atheist’ in a crowd of believers at the Ohio conference is telling – I don’t think any other truly scientific enterprise would throw that statistic.

I respond: I’m not throwing it as a statistic, just an observation. I would like to see more skeptics at such conferences. There might be one in 2010, so keep following this blog.

anaglyph quotes me:

But the evidence does not support the argument that it is fake.

and anaglyph wrote: Perhaps not, but there is a truckload of evidence to suggest to the sensible observer that the shroud is not the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. That it is a fake is plenty more plausible than that particular piece of wishful thinking. We know for certain that religious fakery has been rife through the ages, and when it comes to the Christian ouevre, particularly around the time that carbon dating and the historical records of the Catholic church place this particular piece of cloth.

I respond: When I first encountered the shroud, I felt the same way. Indeed, I thought of it, as you do, hooey. It took me a couple of years to change my mind. One of the things that slowed me down was some of what I consider the ridiculous evidence such as the flower images, coin images, etc. Sifting the evidence was problematic. And I found the historical records very compelling until I understood them better. (By the way, this is one area where Joe Nickell is flagrantly selective with evidence. Many artifacts from antiquity lack records that go back to their original provenance. Moreover, as is often the case with written records, there are gaps in the records. However, it is part of the work of historians and archeologists to find other evidence and bridge gaps in documentation. There is 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 known that a cloth with a purported image of Jesus existed in Edessa as documented by Eusebius of Caesarea in the early 4th century. According to Eusebius (and this must be considered legend) the cloth was brought to Edessa by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thadeus (of the 70). 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. It was, at that time, described as a full-length burial cloth with an image of Jesus and bloodstains. Following the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, it became the property of Othon de la Roche, French Duke of Athens and Thebes. He sent it to his castle home in the town of Besançon, France in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from castle and displayed in the Besançon Cathedral until 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 to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe. 

anaglyph wrote: Let me make you a prediction Dan: when the carbon dating data is re-examined, the evidence will still be unequivocal. In fact, if the Jacksons, or anyone else, manage to get a different segment of the cloth tested, I predict that the data will, once more, indicate something contradictory to the idea that the Turin Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, and when that happens, a whole new reason will be advanced as to why the method is faulty.

I respond: I caught what you meant; equivocal not unequivocal. We’ll see. But don’t hold your breath. I don’t expect to see new tests in the foreseeable future. And yes, I agree with your corrective comment. I don’t we will ever get really unequivocal carbon dating results on the shroud.  

anaglyph wrote: Please feel free to revisit Tetherd Cow at that time and tell me if my conjecture is wrong.

I respond: And thanks for your comprehensive comments.

Dan

The word about the Shroud of Turin being shown in 2010 is spreading

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday the Shroud of Turin will be on public display in 2010. As someone who has casually followed the debate concerning the Shroud’s authenticity, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope Mrs. Wigderson and I are in a position to take advantage.

There is a website dedicated to the Shroud [and several such as Shroud Story] if you’re looking for more information.

See Wigderson Library & Pub: Turin in 2010

More Tetherd Cow Ahead on the Shroud of Turin

The Tetherd Cow Ahead sent in this comment. It should be addressed as its own posting:

Oh whatever. The details are trivial – a medieval repair/C02 contamination/incorrect calibration – I’m sure Shroudies could come up with a million reasons why the actual facts don’t fit with your theories. It doesn’t matter if someone dumped a truck full of scientific evidence at your door, you’d still cling to the irrational idea that the Turin Shroud is something other than the most likely explanation suggests, that is, a medieval forgery. I note you didn’t even attempt to address my question about why Christians seem desperate to get scientific proof that Jesus Christ was resurrected. Aren’t you just supposed to have Faith?

Let’s first address the question about seeking proof that Jesus Christ was resurrected. I see this stated frequently, and indeed it is part of the Joe Nickell polemic. But it isn’t so. I seldom hear it from any shroud researcher. To my knowledge only John Jackson and a couple of his associates ever state it. I was at the conference in Ohio and I never heard anyone talk about proof of resurrection. Quite the opposite, people who did talk about their faith (and that wasn’t a big topic) expressed the view that the shroud has nothing to do with their faith. And that is my view. I believe in the resurrection. I don’t know if it happened. It is a matter of faith.

At the Ohio conference there were Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Evangelical Christians, a Jew and many who will not express their beliefs. I think there was one atheist. There may have been one or two more, I don’t know. I only identified one person who I would call a biblical literalist-fundamentalist. I know that theological interpretations of the resurrection included physical and spiritual interpretations.

In fact, I doubt that we can or ever will be able to prove that the shroud is the real thing. I think the closest we will get is to show that it is probably the burial cloth of late-Second Temple era crucifixion victim. Anything beyond that must be inference.

As for the comment that details are trivial, that is profoundly ridiculous. If 27 woven-in fibers from the carbon 14 corner of the cloth are cotton and there is no cotton elsewhere on the shroud it is significant evidence that the carbon 14 sample is suspiciously NOT representative of the cloth. If the carbon 14 area contains vanillin and the rest of the cloth does not, that too is an important detail. And by the way, the lack of vanillin in the cloth is a powerful argument that the cloth cannot be medieval and is at least twice as old as the C14 date.

Frankly, I still say, and most serious shroudies will agree, the shroud could still be demonstrated to be a fake. If so, I would like to know that. But the evidence does not support the argument that it is fake.

There was only one skeptical paper at the Ohio Shroud Conference. That is too bad. The best way to arrive at conclusions is open dialog. There is no truck load of evidence. And Joe Nickell with his ludicrous arguments does not advance knowledge.

Tetherd Cow Ahead has facts on Shroud of Turin all wrong

When a site can’t get the facts right, you have to wonder about their conclusions, don’t you. 

Enter John and Rebecca Jackson who have somehow convinced Oxford University to re-examine the carbon-dating data from the 1988 test. Among other things they assert that the major portion of the cloth scrutinized at that time was not from the ‘original’ shroud, but from Medieval repairs made in the 14th century. Of course.

Actually, John and Rebecca Jackson don’t assert that the major portion of the cloth scrutinized at the time was not from the original cloth. That is asserted by Benford, Marino, Rogers, Brown and now a team of nine scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In fact, that finding is mutually exclusive with the Jackson’s hypothesis. So if Welease Woger! » Tetherd Cow Ahead can’t get this simple set of facts straight, we have to question just about everything e writes.

It seems he is another Joe Nickell fan. See previous post.

Secular Sanity (the moral high ground of Atheism) is bent out of shape over the Shroud of Turin

Sadly, as the author admits, he gets his facts from Joe Nickell:

There is just no end of religious-proselytizing-as-news in the paper. Aug. 23 the Strib had a near-half-page article making it out that the Shroud of Turin might be authentic. This is a letter sent by Marie Alena Castle in response. Will it get printed? Doubtful!

Joe Nickell?  This is great!

Joe is not your “average Joe”, by nature of former occupations of: undercover detective, teacher, draft dodger, river boat manager, carnival promoter, magician, investigator and spokesperson. 

Joe impressed on me the difference between being a scientist and an investigator.  Joe seems to have no significant credentials just as his mentor: James Randi.  In both cases, the lack of single significant credentials is much more than offset by a more important broad area of knowledge.  Joe remarks that a scientist tends to approach an investigation from the narrow view of his own specialty – where as a “jack of all trades” would come up with more avenues of investigation.

Anyways, Secular Sanity » Shroud of Turin easily debunked has a lot of facts wrong. The Atheist, the skeptic, the rationalist must accept the scientific facts just as any Christian should. To deny that the shroud is authentic requires a leap of faith. So does affirmation. But the evidence suggests that it is a late-Second Temple era burial shroud of a crucifixion victim. From that, much can be inferred.

Does science make belief in God obsolete – Atheist Tribe

At nogod.tribe.net we can encounter a statement like this in a post entitled Does science make belief in God obsoleter:

I do find amusement with the “Shroud of Turin”, as it has been shown to be from a different time, and even if it were not…there were plenty of crucifixions done back then, in the same way, but…that silly sheet just has to be the “son of god’s”, even though the image is of a much older man, lol.
Pure absurdity.

The problem is how unscientific the statement is. First of all it has not been shown to be from another time. Here are Two Science Quotes on the Shroud of Turin

One:

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. 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. ( May 2008 )

Two:

[T]he [1988 carbon 14] 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 who at LANL examined material from the carbon 14 sampling region. ( August 2008 )

As for the comment that the shroud image is of a much older man, since when is a personal impression science. And as for it has to be “son of god,” you win no point with the lower case – even grammatically I capitalize Atheist just as I would Christian), that is not so. We don’t that, we can’t know that, but there is room for inference. For more information on the carbon dating and history see: Shroud of Turin Fact Check

Who is right on the Shroud of Turin?

This is a pretty accurate statement of the situation (from the San Francisco Sentinel) except that I would pretty much disagree with the implication that serious shroud researchers ignore any of the data and that in general skeptics do:

Many believe that Jesus imprinted his image on his burial cloth during his resurrection, and others think that the shroud is the authentic burial cloth but that the image was formed by natural processes. Skeptics maintain that the shroud is a forgery created by a medieval artist seeking to display it to relic-hungry pilgrims. The debate often is bitter; each side accuses the other of twisting facts and ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit its view.

I am quite convinced that there is no remaining, valid evidence that it is a fake. That doesn’t make it real. You need to look at all of the evidence and draw your own conclusion. I think it is real. I am in the camp that thinks the image is naturally produced.

San Francisco Sentinel » Blog Archives » SHROUD OF TURIN BACK TO DRAWING BOARD

Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage: Durham Cathedral Bookshop Petition

Off topic, yes. But do please sign the petition online.

Signatures | Total: 121

Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage: Durham Cathedral Bookshop Petition : [ powered by iPetitions.com ]

It has to be a pun: SHROUD OF TURIN BACK TO DRAWING BOARD

Professor Hex titled his post thus.

Growing In God’s Word Blog on the Shroud of Turin

The blogger writes:

Whatever happened to the grave clothes? Is the Shroud of Turin for real?

i. No one can say for certain. But, “The evidence thus far indicates the probable conclusions that the shroud is ancient (perhaps from the first century), that it does not contradict the NT accounts, and that the image is not a fake. It may well be the actual burial garment of Jesus.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

ii. The image on the shroud is of a crucified male, bearded, 5’11″ in height, weighing about 175 pounds. His physique was muscular and well built, and he is an estimated age of 30-35 years. His long hair is tied into a pigtail and there is no evidence on decomposition on the cloth.

iii. Results of the Shroud of Turin Research Project in October 1978 determined that the Shroud is not a painting or a forgery. They determined that its blood is real blood and the image seems to be some type of scorch, though they cannot account for how it was made.

iv. It may be genuine but there may also be good reason why God did not preserve Jesus’ grave clothes – not wanting to leave behind a relic that inevitably would be worshipped.

John 20:1-10 | Growing In God’s Word

Abstract of Los Alamos Investigation of the Shroud of Turin

Title: Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth

Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth by Robert Villarreal with Barrie Schwortz and M. Sue Benford. Saturday, August 16, 10:15 a.m.–10:45 a.m. 

I became involved with the analytical aspect of the Shroud when Ray Rogers asked me for help in conducting certain Shroud image formation studies.  He needed an alpha-particle source to complete investigation of possible image formation processes and some radiochemical calculations on the depth of penetration of an emitted alpha-particle into flax fibers.  I provided him with both and he asked further for X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) measurements on a special sample he termed a “spliced thread” or R1 sample.  The XPS measurements were made and he was quite excited at the results because they indicated the two ends of the thread were not the same and he additionally asked if there were other specialized non-destructive equipment that might be available.   I compiled a list of analytical equipment that seemed appropriate that included: 

  1. 1. High Resolution Photo-Microscopy; (Warren Steckle) 

  2. 2. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) with Reflectance Mode Capability;  (Kevin Hubbard) 

  3. 3. X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS); (Roland Schulze) 

  4. 4. Radioisotope and Tube Excited Micro-spot Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry; (George Havrilla and Brian Patterson) 

  5. 5. *Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS); (Doug Farr) 

  6. 6. Auger Spectrometry System; (Doug Farr), and 

  7. 7. *Confocal Raman Spectroscopy (Jon Schoonover and Steve Doorn)          

*Can be minimally destructive

Before I was able to give him the above compilation, Ray passed away.  Ray repeatedly asserted to me that he was not concerned whether the Shroud was or was not the burial shroud of Jesus, but if a determination was to be made, it must be scientifically correct. 

Based on evidence he had accumulated, Ray was convinced that the material from the Raes (1973) and C-14 (1988) sampling corner (lower left corner of frontal image area) was significantly different from the original Shroud cloth.  After his death, I asked Joan, Ray’s wife, what I should do with the thread sample he had given me for analyses and she said to hold on to it.  About 18 months later, I received a call from Barrie Schwortz inquiring if I had the “spliced thread.”  I asked him if I should proceed to arrange to conduct analyses on the thread with the above instruments and he encouraged me to continue.  After conducting analysis at high vacuum with the ToF-SIMS, the “spliced thread” broke into three distinct pieces; a fuzzy end (Region 1), a tight woven end (Region 2), and a micro-sized circular cocoon-shaped brown crust that seemed to be connecting the two end pieces.  The ToF-SIMS results were the first to show that the spectra from the two ends were similar to cotton rather than linen (flax) and the Spectroscopist recommended that the next analysis should be with the FTIR instrument.  After several scans of individual fibers or strands, the FTIR data showed that the two ends (Region 1 and 2) were definitely cotton and not linen (flax).  The crust appeared to be an organic-based resin, perhaps a terpene species, with cotton as a main sub-component.  After showing  the FTIR data to Barrie Schwortz and Sue Benford, they were quite surprised at the results and decided to send me two other pieces of thread (No. 7 and 14) that were from the same sampling area and that had been in John Brown’s Lab in Marrietta, Georgia.   

The results of the FTIR analysis on all three threads taken from the Raes sampling area (adjacent to the C-14 sampling corner) led to identification of the fibers as cotton and definitely not linen (flax).  Note, that all age dating analyses were conducted on samples taken from this same area.  Apparently, the 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. What was true for the part was most certainly not true for the whole.  This finding is supported by the spectroscopic data provided in this presentation. 

The recommendations that stem from the above analytical study is that a new age dating should be conducted but assuring that the sample analyzed represents the original main shroud image area, i.e. the fibers must be linen (flax) and not cotton or some other material.  It is only then that the age dating will be scientifically correct.

Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth

Shroud of Turin: Science Group International Conference

From the Papers Page on the conference site:

Abstracts: Thirty-one abstracts are now available.

Publication: No later than December 31, 2008, papers will be published online on this conference website. Papers received before that date will be published as they become available.

Subject Matter: Subject matter included anything related to the scientific, historical or theological aspects of the Shroud of Turin. Preference was given to papers with new material, i.e., that has not been presented at a conference or published previously elsewhere.

Length: Papers were be 30 minutes maximum, except those designated as “Special Presentations,” which may have been 1-hour long.

Shroud Science Group International Conference

Two Science Quotes on the Shroud of Turin

 One:

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. 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. ( May 2008 )

Two:

[T]he [1988 carbon 14] 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 who at LANL examined material from the carbon 14 sampling region. ( August 2008 )

For more information see: Shroud of Turin Fact Check

Mysterytopia: Shroud of Turin stirs new controversy

We keep seeing this misleading phrase. I’ve seen it dozens of times, in various forms in the last hour, repeated in mainstream media

Radiocarbon dating by three separate laboratories showed that the shroud originated in the Middle Ages.

Facts: One sample was cut and apportioned to the three labs. They all performed the same tests and, as expected, they got the same results. Three labs does not add to the validity. So, if three labs tested a sample that was cut from a medieval patch, three labs got the same erroneous result.

Robert Villarreal, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, pointed out that

the [1988] 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.

Mysterytopia: Shroud of Turin stirs new controversy

Journal of a Missionary: Evidence for the Resurrection or pigment of someone’s imagination?

Excellent Posting by John Fraser. I highly recommend it. 

To date, nobody has been able to produce an image that has all of the properties of the image on the Shroud. This is even with the assistance of modern technology. The image was not painted, as peer-reviewed studies have shown that there are no dyes or pigments on the Shroud. The image itself is only on the surface of the Shroud and doesn’t penetrate the cloth. In fact, the image itself has been measured to between 200 and 800 nanometers in thickness. That’s about 1/100th of the thickness of a human hair and thinner than most bacteria.

Read the entire posting: Journal of a Missionary: Evidence for the Resurrection or pigment of someone’s imagination?

Still No Consensus on Shroud of Turin’s Age: Science & Religion Today

Stephan Mapes has a good posting at Science and Religion Today:

I was at the Ohio conference. There is little question about the fact that the samples tested by the Los Alamos team, 27 fibers in all, taken from the carbon dating sample region, are not part of the shroud. The formal paper will be published later this year.

As for the Jackson carbon monoxide contamination theory, none of the chemists or physicists at the conference took it very seriously. Of course, none of us have seen any details from Jackson. It would be nice if he would release something with technical substance.

The next big player will be Christopher Ramsey of Oxford. Yes, he will examine Jackson’s work. But he will also be examining the Los Alamos work, Rogers’ work and the sampling problems seriously.

Continue reading “Still No Consensus on Shroud of Turin’s Age: Science & Religion Today”

Amusing Mistake in a Shroud of Turin Story Headline

LANL: The Rest of the Story blog alerts us to the fact that Society and Religion had to change the headline of their posting of the press release that came out of the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference

  • from: Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist brands Shroud of Turin as medieval fake
  • to: New findings reveal that the sample used to carbon-date the Shroud of Turin was not the original linen

Do you wonder if they read the press release before inventing a headline? To their credit they acknowledge the error.

Here is the first comment they received:

Your headline is 180 degrees from the truth — absolutely wrong! The Los Alamos scientist, Robert Villarreal, did not say the Turin Shroud is a medieval fake. On the contrary, he said the sample of cloth used in the l988 radiocarbon testing was cotton and could not have come from the Shroud, which is pure linen. Therefore, he said, the 1988 C-14 testing, which ostensibly showed the Shroud as of medieval origin, was in error and based on a fake sample. Please correct your headline.

Hat tip to LANL: The Rest of the Story

L.A. Marzulli’s Blog New Evidence on the Shroud of Turin

Well written posting. Up to date on the latest Los Alamos findings:

I have gone on the record defending the authenticity of the Shroud and will do so again with this post.

See New Evidence on the Shroud of Turin! « L.A. Marzulli’s Blog

The Shroud of Turin and those strips of linen in the Bible

Bill Cork, an associate pastor of the Houston International Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston, Texas has a different take in his blog Oak Leaves:

History and science … say it’s a painting, a forgery created in the 14th century, when conniving clergy conspired to wrest coins from the hands of credulous commoners. Now, some “true believers” still try to tell us it’s a miracle.

Even apart from science and history, the purported shroud is not what Scripture describes: strips of linen and a separate face cloth.

Needless to say, I disagree with Bill’s take. Indeed history argues and science suggests that it may be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus. See the Fact Check tab at the top of this page. As for biblical interpretation, if the history and the science conforms, then great. If it does not, as is the case for evolution (which I believe in completely) then we need to see how it fits into our apologia. The strips argument and the second face cloth is not justified. Indeed, if our understanding of Jewish burial of the late-Second Temple period is correct, there is a shroud, a face cloth that is removed from the face before burial, and some linen strips used for binding wrists and jaw.

For more information on the science and history of the shroud see Shroud of Turin Story

Bill’s posting is at The Shroud of Turin « Oak Leaves