More on McCrone’s Role in Shroud of Turin Studies

Joe Marino sends along an article by Walter McCrone.  McCrone had sent it to Marino in 1998, asking him to reproduce it in his Shroud of Turin newsletter, which he did:

The Painting Hypothesis
Walter C. McCrone
McCrone Research Institute
Chicago, IL

1n 1980, I published the first of three papers covering work I had done on 32 sticky tape samples kindly taken for me by Ray Rogers of Los Alamos and STURP from the Shroud in October 1978. I reported: the image consists of yellow fibers and a pigment intentionally added. Later that same year, I reported our work now supports the two Bishops and it seems reasonable that the image now visible was painted on the cloth just before the first exhibition, about 1356. The third paper in 1981 confirmed the earlier results using scanning electron microscopy with its elemental analysis capability, an electron microprobe with its elemental analysis feature, the transmission electron microscope with its electron diffraction ability to identify crystalline compounds followed by X-ray diffraction, confirmation of the presence of hematite (a component of red ochre) and vermilion, another red pigment found only in the blood image areas. This paper totally confirmed the polarized light microscopy and my conclusion of the medieval painting hypothesis.

Since then, the 1988 carbon-dating by three top laboratories confirmed my, by then, 1355 date with their average 1325 date. My reasoning from the beginning had been the image is visible, it is therefore a chemical entity, perhaps biochemical. I should be able to identify that substance and draw a conclusion as to its source.

My approach was different from anyone else involved in Shroud research. I am a chemical microscopist trained at Cornell University over a 10-year period (B. Chem, Ph.D. in Chemical Microscopy and a 2-year post-Doc) applying those techniques to World War II problems. I then joined the Armour Research Foundation (now IITRI, the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute) where I built up a 25-scientist group doing microanalyses. After 12 years there, I decided to start my own company doing the same things. This company is still going strong solving chemical problems by microscopical techniques. I also started a school, the McCrone Research Institute, to teach chemical microscopy courses. Today, we teach about 1,000 students a year in nearly 100 intensive one-week courses. The subjects cover all areas of forensic problems, paintings authentication, asbestos identification, and other general small particle identification problems.

I have written 400 technical papers, chapters, articles for encyclopedias, and 15 books including Judgement Day for the Turin Shroud. I am an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society and the American Institute for the Conservation of Art Objects. I was Criminalist of the Year of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists in 1985, and have received 8-10 other awards. Were it not for the true believers working to discredit me, I could have expected to be elected to the American Academy of Sciences and received a few more awards and recognition. I have no trouble, however, understanding how almost anyone unfamiliar with my work would assume that at least a dozen authors of what reads (to non-scientists) like sound authenticity research would more likely be right than one lone microscopist in Chicago claiming the Shroud to be a painting. I have worked on more than 200 paintings during a 35-year period to identify the pigments and media, and to establish a date they were painted. I teach courses regularly at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, as well as Chemical Microscopy courses at Cornell University, University of Illinois, and Illinois Institute of Technology. In the past also, the Smithsonian Institution, Getty Institute, Courtauld Institute (London), etc. etc.

I justify this uncontrolled bragging to justify my position in Shroud research. The Shroud research fit perfectly my training and experience. I was chosen by Father Rinaldi in 1974 to study the Shroud. I proposed the sticky tape sampling of the Shroud, an established forensic technique I have used for nearly 60 years. The resulting samples were excellent. Each one of the 32 tapes held about 1,000 linen fibers from the Shroud. Eighteen of those tapes showed thousands of red pigment particles adhering to the fibers; all 18 were from image areas. Of these 18, at least 7 are definitely from blood-image areas and show vermilion. The remaining 14 tapes were all from non-image areas and showed no paint.

Elemental mapping proved conclusively that the Shroud blood-image areas were painted twice. The entire image was first painted with the red ochre paint and the appropriate spots were then enhanced with blood-red vermilion. All image areas showed the presence of gelatin, a popular paint medium in the Middle Ages. It was produced then from parchment scraps or directly from animal skins. No pigments or gelatin medium were found in the non-image areas.

I conclude with absolute confidence that:

1. The Shroud image is 100% paint. There is no other colored matter in the image areas

2. There is no paint in non-image areas

3. There is NO blood on the Shroud, and

4. Any arguments to the contrary are totally wrong and specious.

Most of these specious arguments are ridiculous. Just a few of them:

1. Dozens of flowers (and all from Palestine!) on the Shroud

2. Biological materials (mold, bacteria, etc.) changed the carbon-date from 1st to 14th century! That would require an amount of material that would have tripled the weight of the Shroud. The actual contamination of the Shroud is miniscule and especially after the heroic cleaning efforts before carbon-dating would have had no effect on the 1325 date.

3. Pollen on the Shroud from Palestine. I saw, on all 32 of my tapes, not more than 2-3 grains per tape. Max Frei, finding 54 different species of Near-East pollen, was guilty of wishful thinking and indulgence in fantasy. He and others felt justified in finding on the Shroud whatever should be there if it was authentic.

4. Others in 3 include those who profess to find blood on the Shroud. There is NO blood on the Shroud even though positive tests were obtained for known blood components and several scientists have typed the paint; its type AB.

5. The heat of the Chambery fire in 1532 changed the carbon-date 13 centuries to 1325 yet the carbon-dating procedure has always involved complete burning of the thoroughly cleaned sample to the gas, carbon dioxide.

I could continue with other similarly ridiculous authenticity arguments like the resurrection modified the date of the cloth or the image is due to the Kirlian effect. Frankly, I’m sick of reading books and hearing TV and radio programs ridiculing my work and extolling the conclusions of a group of non-scientific religious fanatics. I feel fortunate at times that they ignore my work (as unworthy of attention). A few such published comments follow:

1. McCrone’s claims have been convincingly refuted in several STURP technical reports.

2. William Meacham in Usenet Newsgroup: alt. Turin-Shroud (1/14/98) says: Someone remarked to me that he didn’t have time to argue about religion or debate with people who still think Joe Nickel (sic) or McCrone solved the mystery of the Shroud and he then added “Neither do I.”

3. Its prominence, the painting source, as the main forgery theory is such that virtually all commentators expend great effort in disproving it. The notion has indeed been disproved so thoroughly and absolutely that it should be permanently buried.

4. Clearly, however, the cumulative effect is to place the painting hypothesis somewhat lower in credibility than notions of the Marlow authorship of Shakespeares’ plays or of Egyptian influence on the Mayas.

5. Attempts to interpret it as a painting (McCrone) are untenable…and need not be discussed further.

In one respect I should be in a very good position with respect to the authenticity argument. I do not have to argue against any of the preposterous arguments from the pro-authenticity crowd. If they say how could a medieval artist produce such an image, a negative, a perfect anatomical and scriptures-perfect rendition that is too faint to see in order to paint it? I can ignore all such pronouncements because I have proved that an artist did, in fact, produce the Shroud image–period. As much as I would liked have to find the Shroud to be authentic, it is not and the science supporting its medieval origin is too important for me not to defend it to the limit of my ability.

The proof is what he thinks he saw? And we must believe him rather than the findings of so many other scientists because?

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