Russ Breault writes:
There have been numerous attempts to replicate the Shroud. Another one was announced recently by an Italian scientist presenting at a paranormal conference. It appears to be just the latest version of many such attempts and was funded by the Italian Association of Atheists and Agnostics.
As of this writing all the details of their image are not yet available. According to press reports, they took a volunteer, covered him in red ochre pigment along with a mild acid solution. The body was wrapped. After leaving an imprint from the ochre it was heated to simulate aging and then washed to remove the pigment. The result is an image that looks Shroud-like. The claim is that by using materials available during the Middle Ages, it proves the Shroud is a medieval fake. Is that the case?
One of the things proven by numerous tests is that pigment is not responsible for the image. We won’t know what they have really achieved until they make samples available to be analyzed under a microscope. The problem with all such attempts that use reverse engineering to re-create a Shroud-like image is that it is not a credible argument. We can make an artificial diamond that looks real, but it is still not an authentic diamond. Making something that looks like the Shroud does not prove it is a medieval fraud.
The qualifying criteria are very specific. The image must be so superficial that it penetrates only the top two microfibers, about the depth of a single bacterium. There can be no coloration beyond the crowns of the fibers and no image on the side of the fibers or under the fibers. For this we need a microscope to validate. The image must demonstrate to be an accurate negative image and also possess accurate distance information where parts of the body still reveal an image even though not in direct contact with the cloth of distances up to 4 cm. However this is only half the problem. There are two sets of images: body image and blood image.
Interestingly, there is no image under the blood meaning that the order of events is blood first followed by image. This is the correct sequence if authentic but nearly impossible for an artist. As such, according to the article, they added blood after the image was already created. That fact alone invalidates their claim.
Another interesting fact is that the blood on the Shroud is not painted blood. They didn’t just go out and kill a goat and paint the blood on the cloth. The blood chemistry is very specific. It is blood from actual wounds. We do not see whole blood, we see blood clot exudates, blood that oozed out of the wound. There are very few red blood cells because they appear to be on the body forming the clot. We see blood components such as bile, bilirubin, heme, serum but not whole blood. Some blood flowed before death but most after death. The side wound and the blood that puddled across the small of the back are post-mortem blood flows…blood that flowed after death and show a clear separation of blood and serum. Even the scourge marks on the back reveal a distinctive halo effect under UV light, where the blood contracted leaving a ring of clear blood serum. There is also evidence of gravity, that these wounds were inflicted while the body was upright. The blood also has a high bilirubin content which would have been released into the blood under conditions of severe stress. Bilirubin has a bright red color which also explains why much of the blood on the Shroud still has a reddish tint instead of turning black which generally occurs with old blood.
There is more evidence on the part of forensic specialists and coroners that indicate a body was in the Shroud and the body died from the wounds that stain the cloth. How the image got there is anyone’s guess but one thing is for sure, the blood was on the cloth before the image. This one fact alone negates this recent claim of successfully faking the Shroud image.
Russ Breault is a lecturer and researcher on the Shroud of Turin. He has participated in numerous international conferences and is President of the Shroud of Turin Education Project, inc. He conducts multi-media presentations at colleges, univeristies and churches across the country including Auburn, West Point and Duke. He has addressed the American Chemical Society and has appeared in numerous national documentaries.