Shroud of Turin Carbon Dating – Get Real

We read in the papers, over and over, that the shroud was carbon dated (aka carbon 14, radiocarbon) and it showed that it was medieval. Sometimes a reporter will add that some people question the results. But what we should be reading is that the carbon dating is invalid or at the very least there is reasonable doubt about the results.

Yes, I guess we can imagine that Robert Villarreal and his team of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were wrong in showing that the sample area of the cloth is not representative the whole cloth. In other words it is almost certain that the shroud itself was not carbon dated. We can imagine that the comprehensive twelve page article in the scientific journal Chemistry Today (Jul/Aug 2008) is simply wrong, as well. Or maybe Raymond Rogers was wrong when he found significant chemical difference between the carbon dating sample material and the rest of the shroud. Moreover, he provided extraordinary evidence of mending that explains why the differences and shows that the carbon dating can’t be right.

Should we add to our list of people who are maybe wrong the likes of Georgia Tech’s materials experts John Brown who also found clear evidence of mending. There are other who we might imagine are wrong, those who found, by statistics that the samples used in the carbon dating were not homogeneous. That is a show stopper for believing test results. And what about the written comments of textile experts who found suspicious material — that might be from mending — in the material taken from the shroud for testing. What about the “blue mosaic” photographic evidence that shows clearly that the carbon dating sample is suspiciously not like the rest of the shroud. 

It is important to note what Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit which participated in the 1988 Carbon 14 Dating of the Shroud wrote in March of 2008:

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.

If there is reasonable doubt about the validity of the sample or, to be more precise, overwhelming evidence that the sample was meaningless, we should be reading that these tests are no longer considered valid. The Shroud of Turin was not really carbon dated.

Who from any of the labs involved in the testing are defending the old tests. No one. What scientists, if any, still defend the tests. For more information see Facts Plus Facts.

Interesting Shroud of Turin Discussion in Christians Forums

It starts with this:

So… since it didn’t pop up until the 1300’s… whatcha think of this “cloth that was the burial shroud of christ”?  Do you think it’s real? Sham? Somewhere in between?

It gets interesting when somebody calling himself OrthodoxyUSA chimes in. He is well informed. See Shroud of Turin – Christian Forums

Ridiculous ‘Shroud is fake’ article at

An absolutely ridiculous article appears at The title is “The Shroud of Turin Debunked: A Forged Christian Relic.” There are two clues: 1) It cites a piece from a 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer which accused Public Broadcasting System (PBS) of burying the truth about the shroud and 2) it deals only with selective evidence.

Resting in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy is a fourteen-foot-long linen cloth whose long history has been rife with controversy. Though believers in the shroud’s authenticity are undeterred by skeptics’ arguments, the bulk of the evidence indicates that the shroud is certainly a medieval forgery.

Well, let’s look at that evidence:

Biblical and Historical Evidence

Joe Nickell, in an article from the July/August 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer entitled “PBS ‘Secrets of the Dead’ Buries the Truth About Turin Shroud,” points out several facts that call the shroud’s authenticity into doubt. First of all, the Bible itself, specifically the Gospel of John, explicitly states that the crucified body of Jesus was wrapped in several cloths, including a separate cloth covering the face.

That is true, but totally irrelevant. Because there were several cloths, according to the Gospel of John, does not in any way rule out that one of those cloths might have been saved. There is no logic to such a statement. Moreover, this is selective use of gospel narrative by someone who also, elsewhere, debunks biblical narratives.

Second, the figure of Jesus on the shroud conforms to artistic representations of him from the fourteenth century; the body is elongated, as was common in Gothic art, and bears a striking resemblance to other depictions of Christ from that period.

Actually, that is a real stretch. The visual arts (paintings and sketches) of that period were very primitive and lacked anatomical precision found in the shroud. Moreover, at the time no artists would have painted the hand wounds in the wrists (they were always in the palms) or painted the body naked.

Third, and most damningly, there is no mention of the shroud in historical records at all until 1389. In that year, in a report to Pope Clement IV, a bishop openly admits the shroud was “cunningly painted” to perpetrate a “fraud” involving “pretended miracles.”

By the way, not 1389 but 1349.

Good grief! Most artifacts from antiquity lack written records that go back to their provenance. And as historians and archeologists well know, there are always gaps in records. In fact, there is a drawing of a shroud from 1192 in the Pray Codex found in the Budapest Museum (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 an image believed to be 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. 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.

In 1204, following the sacking of Constantinople, it became the property of Othon de la Roche, the French Duke of Athens and Thebes. He sent it to his home in the town of Besançon, France in 1207. At Eastertide, it was removed from his 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 (not an uncommon problem for historians). In that same year, Geoffroy de Charny, a French knight married Jeanne de Vergy, a grand-niece of Othon de la Roche, and delivered a/the shroud to the canons of Lirey, thereby creating the earliest extant record in Western Europe.

As for the memorandum of Pierre d’Arcis, the Bishop of Troyes, the letter is a draft piece and is believed by historians to refer to a painting that was made of the shroud and not the shroud, itself.

General Physical Evidence

The figure of Jesus has other unusual properties. For one thing, the image is not distorted, as it would be if it were the impression of a three-dimensional body wrapped in cloth; one has only to smear a napkin with mustard and press it against one’s face to see that the resulting two-dimensional image looks nothing like the figure on the shroud.

Actually, that presumes that the image is a contact image. Given that no one knows how the image was formed, the statement is not helpful. In fact, no one believes that the image is a contact image.

Christ’s hair hangs downward, like that of a standing person, and the suspiciously bright red “blood” on the shroud appears to be painted on top of the hair rather than saturated within it.

Image analysis shows that the hair does not hang down. There are two dark bands on each side of the face (that are not part of the face but run upward and downward beyond the face) and these create something of an optical illusion of hair hanging down. Nickell knows this but chooses to ignore it.

In addition, the cloth itself is a 3:1 herringbone twill, of which no examples have been found from the first century, when the shroud was supposed to have originated.

No have any sample of 3 over 1 herringbone twill been found in the medieval era.

Scientific Tests

Pieces of the shroud were carbon-dated in 1987 by three separate laboratories. All three — at Oxford, Zurich, and the University of Arizona — produced a date of origin circa 1260–1390, which is consistent with the time the shroud turned up in the historical record.

Actually the correct date is 1988, not 1987. All three labs ran the same tests on pieces of a single sample. No, all three labs did not arrive at the same date range. That is a statistical combination of the results from the three labs.

However, tests recently conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory by a team of nine scientists under the direction of Robert Villarreal confirm what chemist Raymond Rogers found and published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005): The tested sample was not representative of the shroud’s cloth. Rogers’ findings had also been confirmed by Georgia Tech’s materials forensic chemist John L. Brown.

This is part of the problem in basing an article mostly on a single 2004 article. Research would have reveal this.

Tests of the “blood” were carried out by microanalyst Walter McCrone over a period of years, and the findings were consistent with the image being created with tempera paint.

Actually that statement is completely false. Walter McCrone did conclude that the bloodstains, and indeed the images, were painted, but it was not over a period of years. He wrote his conclusion in the same year that he carried out his microscopic inspection of fibers taken from the shroud.

However, 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 and 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 fibers examined by McCrone, were unable to detect any paint particles or painting medium.

Moreover, 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. The 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.

Now, here we get slightly more current.

There has been enormous controversy over the scientific testing, with some authenticity advocates like the late Ray Rogers (writing in the May/June 2005 issue of Skeptical Inquirer) insisting that the carbon dating samples were contaminated. However, in light of the mountain of evidence pointing to forgery, and considering the fact that at least one modern artist has produced a comparable fake, it seems clear that the shroud, while a splendid artistic object, is nonetheless not the burial shroud of a savior that its believers wish it to be.

Actually, it is much more than Rogers. It is Brown and Villarreal and his team and Benford and Marino, etc. A good set of references for a current, carefully researched article would include material published in 2008.

  • Peer reviewed scientific 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)
  • Peer reviewed scientific journal: Thermochimica Acta (Vol 425, Jan 2005) “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Rogers, R.N.

You don’t need to believe it is real or that it is fake. But you have to do the research and use real facts in writing an article such as this.

Source: The Shroud of Turin Debunked: A Forged Christian Relic

Facsimile of the Shroud of Turin Displayed at Anglican Church

The  East Anglia Seminarians report:

On Saturday we went to see one of four life-size facsimiles of the Shroud of Turin, which is on display in an Anglican church in Little Aston. It was bought for the vicar’s wife by a friend off Ebay, of all places! I went along, fairly indifferently I must admit, as I had already seen the Shroud in Turin some years ago and was never incredibly struck by subsequent pictures I had seen of it.

But the afternoon was a very wothwhile experience, largely because of the way the presentation was laid out. On first walking in we were confronted with the negative of the Shroud, which shows up much more clearly the scars and blood stains than the actual shroud does, and accompanied with this was scientific evidence of the shroud’s credibility, as well as quotes from the Scriptures that set the scene and turned the display into a meditation on the Passion. All the seminarians that came were visibly awed by what they saw and read. At the end of the display was the facsimile itself. I thought particularly poignant a piece of artwork which depicted the Cross, composed of the words of Psalm 22 (‘All who see me mock at me,/ They make mouths at me, they wag their heads’).

East Anglia Seminarians: Facsimile of the Shroud

Dating the shroud – A scientist responds to the story in the News and Observer

T. V. Oommen writes in a letter published by the paper:

I am responding to the Aug. 29 article “Scientists debate shroud’s date.” As a scientist involved in the shroud’s study and research, and as a participant in the recent Ohio Shroud Conference where I made a presentation on “Shroud coins dating by image extraction,” I can emphatically say that there is plenty of evidence for the antiquity of the shroud as of first century origin.

There were several presentations on the erroneous dating of the shroud by the 1988 radiocarbon(C-14) dating. The area where the samples were taken was from a medieval patch with cotton, which appeared to blend perfectly with the linen shroud. If this is true, the main body of the shroud should show an ancient date. The theory that the entire shroud could show a more recent date because of the newer carbon generated during fiery events remains to be proven.

Some other scientists also propose similar views; for example, that powerful radiations from the resurrection event must have generated C-14. So another carbon dating of the shroud may not resolve the issue.

The coin identification I presented showed Pontius Pilate coins issued AD 30/31 placed on the eye area, which implies the shroud’s age is very close to that. Read more about it at

T.V. Oommen

Raleigh | Dating the shroud

Breaking News: Turin shroud ‘older than thought’

Yes, the masthead of the blog says, “Breaking News.” The link given is to a BBC article dated January 31, 2005.

The Shroud of Turin is much older than suggested by radiocarbon dating carried out in the 1980s, according to a new study in a peer-reviewed journal.A research paper published in Thermochimica Acta suggests the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. BBC Article…

BUT, THE BREAKING NEWS IS that in his presentation on August 15, 2008, at  Ohio State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist, Robert Villarreal, disclosed startling new findings proving that the sample of material used in 1988 to Carbon-14 (C-14) date the Shroud of Turin, which categorized the cloth as a medieval fake, could not have been from the original linen cloth because it was cotton. His work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) and reported in the OLD BBC Article…

Nonetheless, it is good to be reminded. See VARDIOUS – ASPECTS :: World News Briefing: Turin shroud ‘older than thought’. It includes links to supporting information.

Opinion: On the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference

Long time shroud researcher Kevin E Moran has written a useful commentary on the Shroud of Turin Conference at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. I completely agree with his assessment and it was good to see the VP8 demonstrated and to learn more about it.

This conference was far superior to the 2005 Dallas meeting organized by a Machiavellian lawyer collecting signatures for sale! This was a true international meeting held to accomplish cooperation, exchange meaningful information and work with old colleagues and new friends. It was as the organizer Joe Marino named it “multifaceted” It was truly open to the public. There were people from Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, and other countries as well as a video greeting from Bill Meachem in Hong Kong. Rex Morgan, from Australia, gave an excellent over view of Shroud research history and projected the need for future work. There were 6 from the original 1978 investigators who spent 5 days and nights working on the Shroud in Turin, some gave papers and all participated in a panel session with questions from the audience. There was a new report on work on sample fibers from the late Ray Rogers by Los Alamos Scientific Lab. Avinoam Danin, botanist from Israel, presented the science behind the flowers found on the Shroud. Dr. Petrus Soons from South America showed his computer generated hologram of the face on the Shroud and explained how it was made.

Barrie Schwortz presented a DVD “Tribute to the STURP team 1978 – 2008”. It was a great “music video” using pictures he took at the testing and some never before published. As usual Barrie helped presenters, took documenting photos, ran the over head projector and just was a great assistant to all. His enthusiasm and professionalism was wonderful.

VP-8 Demonstration of Old Serial Number 56

Thanks to the help of Rich Orareo, from Boston and Pete Schumacher, from Alamogordo, New Mexico, we were able to assemble a complete VP-8 system for demonstration for old and new Shroud people. Rex Morgan said he had not seen a working system in 30 years. Guilio Fanti was able to test the face cloth of Manopella. Even though he had a good picture, it was nothing like the Shroud. It proved to be the work of an artist.

Richard Orareo purchased the VP-8 used on eBay for his “Boston Shroud Collection” museum. It required work to get it back to life by Pete Schumacher. More was spent shipping it around the country for repairs then it cost to buy on eBay! I was able to combine Serial #56 with other equipment that we acquired for the Atlanta museum of the late Fr. Kim Dreisbach. As some may know, the Museum in the Omni Center was taken over by Ted Turner for his video studio. The main exhibits were put in storage for years, but the VP-8, Serial #51, was kept out in my shop for testing photos from all over the world. I can add that I have never been sent a photo that comes even close to the Shroud in the 3D presentation mode. And the Manopella cloth was no exception.

Kevin E Moran
Belmont, NC

h/t: Ohio Shroud of Turin Conference Blog: Comments on the Ohio State University Shroud of Turin Conference by Kevin E Moran