MUST READ: A lot of old blood types as AB: Not Exactly

Kelly P. Kearse, a card-carrying immunologist writes:

I appreciate the opportunity to address the issue that “All old blood types as AB”, particularly in reference to the study of the Shroud. The idea that “aged blood is degraded to (or reverts to) type AB” is rather misleading.

Blood typing is typically performed using two distinct methods that measure two very different things. First, there is forward typing, which measures the presence of specific molecules on the surfaces of red blood cells (RBC): the ABO molecules. Second, there is reverse typing, which measures the presence of antibodies in the serum (essentially the fluid component of blood), specifically the presence of antibodies to ABO blood group molecules. Both forward and reverse typing methods have been utilized in the study of the Shroud.


ABO molecules and serum antibodies

The presence of ABO molecules on red blood cells and antibodies directed against these molecules in the serum are complementary within an individual. That is, a person with a particular blood type (A, B, AB, or O) doesn’t contain antibodies in his or her serum against the A or B molecules they themselves express, but will contain antibodies specific for the A or B molecules they lack.


ABO molecules are a branched chain of carbohydrates (sugars) that share the same core structure, but are uniquely modified by a different terminal sugar to create A and B molecules. The O molecule doesn’t receive a terminal sugar, but exists as the (unmodified) core structure.

When the statement “all old blood is degraded to AB” is evaluated in the context of ABO structure, it doesn’t make much sense, as degradation would result in aged blood being converted to type O. This statement inadvertently refers to reverse typing, which is somewhat less informative and more difficult to interpret on its own (see below).

Forward typing methods: What the data show

In forward typing of fresh blood, samples are mixed with freshly added antibodies and evaluated for their ability to clump, or agglutinate. This is the type of test typically performed at local blood drives. For fresh blood, typing tests are fast, inexpensive, and relatively foolproof. When aged blood is involved, these techniques are slightly modified since red blood cells become dehydrated and eventually rupture. Remarkably, red blood cells have been detected microscopically in ancient samples, including mummies, prehistoric rock tools, and also the Shroud. What is most likely being visualized in such samples are aged red blood cell membranes that have resealed during the preparation procedure, representing reconstituted cells, not intact red blood cells that have survived over large periods of time.

In 1983, Bollone and colleagues reported that bloodstained fibers were positive for both A and B molecules, assigning a blood type of AB. A few years later, these findings were extended using more sensitive methods, involving antibodies tagged with specific dyes, that bypass the need for adding fresh red blood cells in the final step. These data demonstrated that bloodstained fibers were positive for both A and B antigens, but not O antigens. Evaluation by electron microscopy showed equal intensities of anti-A and anti-B binding. Unstained fibers failed to react with anti-A, anti-B, or anti-O specific antibodies. Most significantly, even colorless fibers taken from the bed of the stain were negative. Collectively, these findings are in agreement with the supposition that the blood on the Shroud is type AB. In 1998, Garza-Valdes performed similar studies and reported bloodstained TS fibers were positive for B, but not O antigens; anti-A reactivity was not evaluated.

One criticism that has been raised regarding forward typing of aged samples is that because ABO molecules are carbohydrates, which are shared by multiple organisms (including bacteria, fungi, and insects), contamination may preclude accurate typing results, a concern noted by the original investigators. Thus, one might expect that “all old blood types as AB”. While true that studies have been published in which ancient materials serologically type with a relatively high incidence as AB, this is certainly not always the case. Often, reported errors in serotyping of ancient specimens result from the failure to determine any blood type, not an error in specific blood type determination. Thus, while tempting to dismiss serological typing methods of ancient materials in one broad stroke, the preservation of red blood cell antigens and the extent of contamination in aged material must be evaluated specifically for each case study.

Throughout its history, the Shroud has been handled by untold numbers of people and stored under less than pristine conditions. The extent of the bacterial and fungal biofilm present on the Shroud is unknown, but it is reasonable to assume that the surface is less than aseptic. False positives from antigens present on contaminating bacteria, fungi, or insects is the main objection to the validity of blood typing studies done on the Shroud; a logical deduction given the wavering reliability of serological studies on ancient artifacts. An underlying assumption that must accompany this criticism, however, is that contamination is stringently restricted to bloodstained areas of the cloth. Indeed, colorless fibers of the Shroud taken from the bed of the bloodstain gave no response with anti-A or anti-B antibody, indicating that any contaminating false positive antigens that may exist cannot be widespread. It might be countered that bacterial or fungal antigens would be expected to be concentrated in areas that are relatively enhanced with body fluids and cellular debris. Rationally, one would expect that such contamination would also extend to areas immediately adjacent to (e.g. at bed of) bloodstains and (at least slightly) beyond, making it somewhat difficult to reconcile these findings with the simple explanation that contamination is responsible for the results. Thus, taken at face value, it appears that the typing results are specific and cannot be attributed to (nonspecific) contamination. Isolation of ABO molecules specifically associated with human red blood cell proteins (for example, Band 3) would help distinguish these results. In studies unrelated to the Shroud, Kimura and colleagues have used this approach in accurate typing of bloodstains on fibers only 1-1.5 cm in length.

Reverse typing methods: what the data show

In reverse typing of fresh blood, blood serum is mixed with freshly added red blood cells and evaluated for their ability to clump, or agglutinate. This type of test is typically done in the blood lab to corroborate forward typing results. A similar, slightly modified procedure is used when aged samples are under study.

Consistent with their forward typing results, Bollone and colleagues reported that no naturally occurring anti-A or anti-B antibodies were present in bloodstained fibers on the Shroud. Reverse typing studies on aged samples are somewhat difficult to interpret, however, because they cannot distinguish between the possibilities that (i) no anti-A or anti-B antibodies were ever present (truly type AB); or (ii) anti-A or anti-B antibodies were once present in bloodstains, but over time were denatured and degraded (type A, B, or O). While proper controls were included to demonstrate that the reverse typing method was operational and specific, these can only be applied to control fiber samples experimentally daubed with (fresh) human blood of known type. Given that the expected result for AB blood type is that no naturally occurring anti-A or anti-B should be present (even in freshly obtained samples), this issue becomes somewhat circular. To quote the late Ray Rogers, “Nothing is ever simple with the Shroud”.

Why does it matter what the blood type is?

While some may view the scientific details of blood components as somewhat irrelevant, for example blood typing, such knowledge contributes to our overall understanding of the physical characteristics of the Shroud. Scientific data from blood studies provide an important component in this investigation.

In 1985, Baima Bollone and colleagues performed similar typing experiments on samples taken from the Oviedo cloth, concluding that blood group AB molecules were present in the bloodstains. The findings were confirmed by Goldini et al., in 1993, who also reported a series of standard chemical tests, similar to those used by Heller and Adler, to verify that blood is present, including the demonstration of hematoporphyrin.

Comparative blood typing is an exclusion test, the most solid conclusions can be made when blood types are not shared between samples, ruling out that such cloths wrapped the same person. When blood types are shared, the results are consistent, but still circumstantial. Mitochondrial DNA analysis would greatly extend the investigation into the relationship of these two cloths.

Is the blood on the Shroud type AB? Probably

Ideally, forward and reverse serological typing methods cross-check and complement each other, but as is the case with certain aged samples, such as the Shroud, the validity is somewhat in question, particularly the reverse typing results. Thus, it is best concluded that the results suggest that the Shroud bloodstains are type AB as shown by forward typing methods. To dilute the significance of these results by adding that “ however, all old blood types as AB” or “all old blood is degraded to AB” unfairly oversimplifies the issue. Number one, it totally depends on which typing method is involved, and number two, this is simply not always the case. As correctly noted in a response to the earlier post, serological typing has been successfully used in the study of mummies by Robert Connelly, including King Tutankhamun with blood type A. Clearly, serological evidence is most useful when corroborated by additional experimentation, for example molecular (DNA) analysis of blood group genes. The DNA on the Shroud is badly fragmented, although the extent to which specific chromosome regions survive remains to be determined. Expression of human ABO blood groups is controlled by a single locus in exons (coding segments) 6 and 7 of chromosome 9. If molecular analysis of this region were feasible, such studies would help address previous concerns raised with serological techniques regarding the blood type.

AB negative or AB positive: which is it?

Finally, in addition to ABO, the designation “positive” or “negative” is often given following a person’s blood group (for example, A positive or O negative). The “+” or “-” refers to expression of the Rh molecule, which is distinct and separate from ABO molecules. Individuals either express Rh molecules (Rh+) or they don’t (Rh-). Although widely reported on the internet that the blood on the Shroud is AB positive (AB+) or AB negative (AB-), there is no scientific basis for these claims. In previous tests, the condition of the blood was such that analysis of the Rh factor was not feasible (personal communication with Baima Bollone through Emanuela Marinelli). Therefore, the expression of Rh antigens on bloodstained fibers of the Shroud remains to be determined. It is unknown if the blood type is AB positive or AB negative.

64 thoughts on “MUST READ: A lot of old blood types as AB: Not Exactly”

  1. Splendid account Kelly – a model of precision and clarity. If I understand you correctly, reversion to AB in the context of reverse typing could mean simply “reversion” to decay endproducts, like CO2, ammonia etc since all this required to complement an AB finding for the sugars is detecting NO corresponding antibody in serum, i.e. nothing.

    In passing, maybe someone explain something for me: if there was enough blood for doing all these tests (ABO, bilirubin etc) then how come there wasn’t enough for carbon-dating? Even if contaminated by microorganisms, as indeed can the fabric per se, the latter would mainly have been contemporaneous bugs of the same era one would have thought – so should not have influenced the result too severely.

  2. WOW, is all I can say! This is going to take me a while to digest (with much study I must admit). Who would have thought we would get such an informative post so quickly on this matter?

    My sincere thanks and appreciation Kelly.


  3. This has to be one of the most informative and professional posts that I’ve so far seen on this site. And it’s AB! At 5% AB worldwide and only 3% AB in France where Shroud first emerged in West, together with the match for Oviedo, it has to be significantly persuasive for authenticity. Also no degradation of blood groupings!

  4. Thanks Kelly, that was very informative. Whilst we have someone as knowledgeable as your self in our midst, do you mind me asking you whether you can corroborate the story about the Shroud’s blood being able to retain its red color (rather than turn black or brown), due to a reaction with bilirubin released during extreme stress? I’ve heard this or something similar being mentioned but no authorative report on this. Thanks

  5. ArtScience,

    Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I would agree that increased bilirubin content due to extreme trauma & stress would account for the Shroud’s blood being so red-makes sense.

    1. Hello again Kelly

      At the risk of boring you and others, could I start by saying that I spent two years at the start of my research career in Philadelphia putting congenitally jaundiced Gunn rats under fluorescent lamps to find what they did with their bilirubin (as a model for the phototherapy of neonatal jaundice).

      Berry CS, Zarembo JE, Ostrow JD. Evidence for conversion of bilirubin to dihydroxyl derivatives in the Gunn rat. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1972 Dec 4;49(5):1366–1375

      I have to say that this idea that one could get enough bilirubin into blood to alter its colour makes no sense to me whatsoever. It’s orange for a start, not red, and what colour it gives to jaundiced blood would surely be masked by red cells and their haemoglobin. And while I have heard of the mild haemolysis that accompanies foot strike injury in distance runners, and an isolated anecdotal report about concentration camp victims who had been hideously abused with elevated bilirubin as a result, I can’t say as I have ever heard of trauma producing hugely elevated levels of bilirubin, certainly not enough to produce visible jaundice (skin, sclera etc) as distinct from a modest rise in serum diazo-reactivity.

      Maybe my knowledge in these matters is outdated. It was, after all, some 40 years ago. If so, please enlighten. I’m all ears…

      1. Colin, …Ever think, reason being you have never had or read of a specimen that was severly beaten, scourged to near death, pearced multiple times about the head, and then nailed to a cross for hours??? …Maybe if you can find a rat big enough you can attempt to follow the above scenarios upon it and then check out it’s bilirubin levels, but make sure you let it know your going to do these things to it first, so to raise it’s psychological stress levels also. ;-)


  6. Thank you Kelly for your patience in replying so speedily.

    Would this necessarily rule out the idea of blood being painted on during a hypothetical forging of a Shroud? I presume first of all that they have already determined it is human, rather than say animal blood. How easy would it be to get bilirubin infused human blood and keep it liquid whilst painstakingly creating all the blood marks before clotting sets in?

    Also does the Oviedo cloth display the same level of red for the blood ie is it bilirubin rich as well?

  7. Colin,

    My understanding is that the red color of the blood on the Shroud results from a combination of both bilirubin (yellow/orange) and a conformationally distinct form of methemoglobin (orange/brown). Together, those produce the observed color. Alan Adler, an expert blood chemist, held the opinion that the blood chemistry and color were the signature of a person undergoing severe trauma. I believe that others have shared his viewpoints. My background is more in immunology & cell biology, but for myself, who has always held Adler’s work in high esteem, the explanation of overlapping colors & spectral data makes sense. Sorry, I can’t be of more direct help on this one.


    1. It’s amazing what people can bring themselves to imagine, or believe, Kelly, especially when if fits preconceptions. I prefer to keep the jaundice confined to my own ocular sclerae…

      1. PS: Here’s an example of some of the great man’s science.

        “Later, Adler (ref) wrote that the spectra of the non-birefringent red-coated blood fibrils from the
        Shroud did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin in blood solution as it is given in the
        literature. However, he found “a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of
        compounds – the so-called high-spin, high-iron porphyrins” which are found in a special form
        of methemoglobin: methemoglobin in its para-hemic form. Now, this kind of para-hemic
        species formed spontaneously in living persons when high quantities of hemoglobin are
        released in the serum from broken red cells, i.e. under hemolysis conditions.”

        There is name for this kind of “science” Kelly. it is called building castles in the air…

  8. ArtScience,

    I would say that this doesn’t absolutely exclude the possibility that a forger could have painted the blood on, but I think it would be slim to none that someone would have the foresight or technique to put everything in place. In my opinion, it’s not just a matter of blood being on the Shroud, but it is forensically accurate with characteristics of correct gravity flow, clotting with properties of serum halos at the edges, only visible under uv light. Also, from an artistic standpoint alone, I think it would be difficult to first create the bloodstains, then construct the image around them.

    The issue of human versus animal blood is a very interesting one. This would probably best be addressed in a separate post as there are several important points here. The blood does appear to be human, although certain of the original studies stretched the interpretation, in my opinion. Adler & colleagues were always (appropriately) cautious in concluding that their immunological tests only demonstrated that the blood was of primate origin. The problem is that although a test reagent may be labeled as anti-human (meaning it was made against human albumin or human immunoglobulin, for example), it doesn’t mean that it reacts exclusively with human blood products. Proteins in other species that are similar will also react. Chimp albumin differs from human albumin by only 6 out of 580 amino acids. Unless the antibody is specific for a region involving those 6, it will most likely react react with chimp (and likely other similar species). In fact, certain antibody subclasses were discovered in chimpanzees using anti-human reagents.

    The AB blood typing results help somewhat here, chimps don’t express the B molecule, gorillas show poor reactivity with most ABO reagents, especially the A molecule. Orangutans & gibbons express ABO similar to humans.

    ABO is just one of about 30 different classes of blood group molecules expressed on red blood cells. Bollone & colleagues examined the MNS group in 1985, primarily I believe for ethnicity correlations of blood type. These molecules were also examined in the serological studies of King Tut. Anyway, all primates express M,N molecules, but S expression is restricted to humans. No S counterpart is present in other species. The blood on the Shroud is positive for MNS. In my opinion, the blood typing (AB & MNS characterization) is really the most definite evidence that the blood is of human origin. Together, the data lead to the conclusion that the blood is human blood. Potential cross-reactivity is too much of an issue in much of the earlier work to conclusively make the claim that the blood is human, although these are the experiments that are typically believed to support this claim.

    Certain bloodstains on the Oviedo look similarly red to me, although much of the stains around the face appear to be mixed/diluted with pulmonary fluid, issued from the nose & mouth. I don’t believe that the bloodstains on the Oviedo cloth have been as extensively characterized chemically as those on the Shroud, but everything that has been reported seems to be consistent.

    Thanks very much for your questions-very interesting thoughts.


  9. Bravo Dr Kelly Kearse

    My husband who is a medical doctor and a Shroud researcher commented that at last someone from the medical field shed some light on the AB controversy of the blood on the Shroud.
    Thus this is a very important independent statement on red stains on the Shroud concluding on the basis of Dr John Heller,Dr Alan Adler and Professor Pierluigi Baima Bollone’s studies that red stains are indeed blood and Dr. McCrone’s theory of red ochre and vermillion is to be dismissed once more.
    I congratulate with all previous comments, this blog is really awesome!
    Shroudies gotta praise Dr. Kelly Kearse’s amazing work, my husband said it’s excellent and crystal clear there is nothing more to add on this matter and this is one of the best posts ever published on this blog
    Maria da Glória
    Centro Português de Sindonologia

  10. Thank you again, Kelly for your balanced and clear answers. You mentioned the fact that the blood appears to be on the cloth before the image, hence ruling out (or at least making it highly difficult to get proper registration between blood marks and body). Just to drill down a bit into this bit of information:

    1)how do we know for sure that the blood was there before the body image – I saw mention of blood being scraped off in one place to reveal no image underneath. Do you know if this was done in a number of places or just the one?

    2)and how do we know that the blood didnt dissolve the image material underneath it? To answer my own last question, I think I saw Ray Rodgers tried various solvents unsuccessfully on this outer coating material, but did he try blood as a solvent?

    3)do you know if the whip marks are a combination of welt marks (eg dumbell shapes etc) and blood marks. If whip marks are such a combination, they make a good study to whether it was likely that blood was painted onto the cloth separate to the body image.

    There was a method (certainly known during the Renaissance if not earlier) called pouncing by means of which a flat drawing could be transferred to another surface (by pricking holes along the outline and important contour lines on the original drawing, placing the drawing on top of final surface and pouncing with charcoal dust in a bag through the holes), so it is theoretically possible that a forger could know where a flat 2d body image would eventually lay, and hence put blood at the appropriate places before the image is transferred. This however would only work accurately for a flat image transfer, whereas a 3d or bas-relief would pull linen away from those originally sketched positions….Not to mention that it would be a very awkward way for any artist to work.

    Sorry if I appear to have a sceptical mind, but its more to determine how much wiggle room there is for doubt. Thanks

    1. I’m sure I read recently. Art, that the various blood stains on the two framing sides of the hair, left and right, were really on the face initially, were then transferred to the linen when the body was wrapped, and then somehow got out of synch or register in the course of some unspecified means of (photographic?) image-capture onto a plane or enveloping surface, i,e. the Shroud. There’s an alternative explanation, needless to say, which is that a forger trickled freshly drawn blood onto the linen where he thought it would appear, but got his calculations wrong.

      On the other hand, the correspondence between blood on the image of the two arms and the linen is near perfect. Amazing, when you consider that it must have been long-congealed if that from a crucified man, and discount all the flights of fancy about “proteolysis” dissolving external blood clots (which in my experience tends to dry and harden on). No doubt there will be an ingenious explanation – I’ve never been let down yet…

  11. Yes, Colin, I am also puzzled by the ability of the blood to still wet a Shroud hours after the event. Perhaps Kelly might have some ideas here as well.

    Just an idea, does blood fully clot in the rain? or perhaps in washing down a body in preparation for burial it allowed a fresh leakage of blood. From my own minor and brief experience in trying to get a hit and run victim to hospital (in a country with no ambulances!), I was surprised to find in the back seat where he had rested a quivering mass of very soft jellylike blood at least an hour later.

    1. ArtScience, don’t know if you find this helpful. It’s from that Joe Jackson paper Stephen Jones put online:

      “There are, in addition, other aspects of the Shroud which indicate that the cloth enveloped a real body. This is demonstrated by the numerous bloodstains, labeled B-F in Figure la, which correspond to distinctly [328] different flow directions, consistent with a vertical crucifixion first, followed by a horizontal burial of a real corpse. Several examples that illustrate flows in the vertical position are the wound in the side (Feature B), trickles along the forearms (Feature D), puncture wounds on the head (Feature E) and the wrist wound (Feature C). Conversely, the bloodstain across the small of the back (Feature F) and the trickle at the dorsal foot (Feature G-1) correspond to a body oriented in the horizontal position. The latter set of bloodstains depict liquid and, therefore, presumably late time post-mortem flows. In contrast, the vertical bloodstain set corresponds to clot transfers and, hence, earlier flows that had dried to some extent. Thus, the bloodstains are consistent with crucifixion followed by burial.”

  12. ArtScience,

    I already wrote on this blog, in the hypothesis the Shroud is Rabbi Yeshua’s, most likely his corpse was subjected to a halakhic ritual. In this light, it means Yeshua’s shed innocent nearly dried blood would have been ritually remoistened & dried up to be both purified and buried with his body. This could pretty well account for a resulting fresh-looking blood staining the lengthy linen cloth. Hence your feeling “puzzled by the ability of the blood to still wet a Shroud hours after the event”.

  13. ArtScience,

    Thanks again for your comments

    I don’t think science can ever know for sure that the blood was there before the body image-this idea is consistent with the protease digestion experiments done by Heller & Adler (see below). In my opinion, science can never prove the Shroud’s authenticity, it can only disauthenticate it. In kind, I believe that the totality of the evidence is what must be considered when in forming an opinion about the Shroud. Science is driven by an innate desire to know and objectivity is the name of the game. I believe that skepticism is healthy and the amount of wiggle room that’s there will vary individually. Whether one believes the Shroud is the real deal or a grand fake, anyone interested wants to know/understand how the image got there.

    In the Heller & Adler experiments, the blood was digested off by proteolytic enzymes, revealing colorless fibers underneath. I’m not sure exactly how many different samples bloodstained areas were tested. Treatment of image fibers with proteases had no effect on color. I don’t know if Rogers ever directly examined the effect of blood on the image. If a negative result were obtained, it could always be argued that in the case of the Shroud, the incubation time was much longer (weeks? months? etc?).

    Regarding the whip marks, some of the ultraviolet light studies reveal additional skin abrasions/markings that aren’t as apparent in normal, visible light. There’s literally more there than meets the eye. Worth a look if you haven’t seen them. Other questions that have been raised regarding transfer of dried, clotted blood to cloth would be better addressed by those familiar with the forensic nature of wounds, etc.

    1. Science knows ABSOLUTELY for sure that the blood was spilled on the cloth prior to the image appearing. There is NO WAY an artist could have spilled blood on the Shroud perfectly both Anatomically and Forensically speaking, AND THEN created an image around it. NO WAY. The image is only 2 MICROMETERS deep on the MICROFIBERS of the shroud. THERE IS NOTHING that science is aware of that could of done this. Please read up. Skepticism is perfectly normal, however you must realize what the Shroud IS NOT. Please people, if you want to know the FACTS research anything that BARRIE SCHWORTZ has written and visit Scientific Fact. These findings on this site are legit and have stood before scientific peer review. These findings are not to persuade people. It is what it is, SCIENTIFIC FACT. Opinions only matter when you have armed yourself with the correct and factual information. Barrie was on the original STURP team that studied the shroud in 1978 and has committed his life, non-profit, to the findings and research of the Turin Shroud. He is the leading spokesperson on the subject, period. If you go to you can listen to an excellent non-biased interview with him on Coast to Coast radio. An EXCELLENT interview that will answer many questions and remove many of the “what if’s”. Thank you, this wasn’t intended as an insult to anyone.

  14. Thanks Deuce and Kelly, for your replies. I could imagine some bloodstains are due to semi-dried blood and some due to fresh leaking when laid flat….I suppose if one could distinguish between the two, say by correlating those that penetrated through to the other side of the cloth with what one reckons should be the fresh leakage, whereas the semi-dried ones wouldnt be expected to penetrate as deeply into the cloth, this could help build a bit a substance to the theory of the two types of blood flow (pre and post mortem).

    Yes Kelly I have seen the uv light images of skin abrasions that arent normally visible (in fact these were what I was thinking of when I thought it might be interesting to match these up with visible bloody whip marks). I find these hidden artifacts (along with the hidden blood serum halos) some of the most articulate bits of evidence against a forgery.

    1. As for the blood being dry or not, and the postmortem bleeding etc; If no one has already read so: I would suggest reading Dr.Fred Zugibe’s paper; “The Man of the Shroud was Washed” at ….I think it is quite reasonable in it’s claims and could explain alot.


      1. Ron, I read that and it was impressive but I am not sure what to think in the end. Part of me says Jesus would have a LOT of blood on him after the scourging and crucifixion but there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding amount of blood on the shroud as I would theorize there would be. In this sense I can agree with Zugibe but I am not a forensic expert in this regard and therefore don’t really know. But then there seems to be some blood left over from the crucifixion like the blood on the face, head and the arms. Part of me wonders if there was a quick wash with a wet cloth over most of the body along with a hasty wrapping in the shroud with the intent to finish the job on Sunday. The Gospels are not clear about when the spices were to be applied despite Max’s assertions. I tend to think what generally happened was Jesus had a hasty burial that was to be completed after the Sabbath on Sunday. I also wonder if that strip down the side of the shroud was used like John Jackson supposes which is to say it tied up the whole body or if in the case of a hasty burial where the ritual spices were to be used later it was used just to tie the arms in place to hold them down. It could then be easily untied and the burial ritual could be continued and completed fairly easy.

        One thing I’m coming away from this discussion is that it’s definitely real blood on the shroud regardless of the color of it. It’s really just a matter of determining what mechanisms make for the color.

        Truthfully, I was never really swayed about the bright red color objection from skeptics because anecdotally I’ve had plenty of bandaids come off my own body and the blood has remained bright red even after days. Don’t know how valid that is but it struck me as more probable that the blood in the shroud is authentic even with the color of the blood being so bright.

  15. Well like I said Chris; the hypothesis is quite reasonable in it’s claims and ‘COULD’ explain alot of things…but still just an hypothesis!!…I tend to gravitate, looking at all the blood evidence (and I am no forensic expert also but just from life experiences, common sense and what the evidence shows); to that the body must have been ‘atleast’ partially and quickly cleansed with water, inlight of Sabbath. Hense the reason not much dirt has been found on the body! Dirt has only been found on the sole of the feet, tip of the nose and I think the chin and one knee. It also could explain the re-dampening of already dried blood from the more prominent flows like the hands, forearms, scourges etc;. Plus possibly the release of blood from open wounds, which has been very well illustrated in the paper. I also surmise, same as you they didn’t have the time to fully prepare the body and hense scriptures telling us the woman would return after the sabbath to complete the burial rituals and the reason no ‘trace’ of spices or herbs have been found on the Shroud; (that I know of). I agree with you on the side strip usage as proposed by Dr. Jackson, it just makes sense! They had to use something to hold the body in place, right? They had to improvise inlight of the lack of time…I can’t think of anyother reason for a side-strip being removed from the Shroud and then resewn that makes any real sense other then Jackson’s proposal.


    1. Shall I repeat here, till the end of the 1990’s, John Jackson thought the Shroud was naturally draped over the Shroud man’s body covered with blood. He borrowed “his” side strip hypothesis from a memo I wrote in 1996-1997 and entitled “La Solution Archéologique de l’Egnime ?” (A memo I left for free to most congressmen during the IIIrd International Shroud Symposium held in Nice in 1997.

      1. Ron, actually, there is a couple of archaeologically coherent hypothese for the resewn side strip.

    2. Good observations! Yeah, I’m starting to think we’re closer to the truth than not. One thing I thought was a really interesting detail that Jackson pointed out in his video was the bloodstain off the right elbow and how it corresponded with the shroud being tucked under the arm during wrapping. Not a detail that speaks to forgery is it? But it certainly is indicative that the shroud was wrapped in some way instead of just loosely laid over the body.

      Also, there not being any traces of spices seems to negate Max’s assumptions though I respect that it was probably the intended burial ritual. I don’t think they had time to execute it and it seems very involved. I would also think that there would be more capillary evidence on the shroud with the blood spanning out had it been soaked. The blood on the hair doesn’t really bother me as I think Jackson is right when he supposes that it was not really on the hair but on the sides of the face and the cloth came away before the image was made. If the strip was used only to tie the arms to keep them from spanning out during rigor mortis then someone may have smoothed the shroud over the head and it eventually moved away or collapsed due to not being tensioned or tied. Pure conjecture on my part, but it crossed my mind.

  16. Thanks Max on your comment about the halakhic ritual of washing down remoistening wound areas and it seems consistent with Rons’ reference to Zugibe’s paper. That would help explain some of the body blood stains, though the hair bloodstains still seem problematic. I notice in the description of halakhic ritual that the hair is combed, so perhaps if the body had been washed, the damp hair whilst being brushed would have picked up blood oozing from disturbed thorn wounds, giving rise to the streaky, ringlet nature of some of the bloodstains in the hair.

  17. Chris wrote: “The Gospels are not clear about when the spices were to be applied despite Max’s assertions.”

    Totally wrong. It is quite clear the “spices” the women brought on the 3rd day of Yeshua’s death were something different and for a different purpose from the mixture of aloes and myrrh Nicodemus brought on Yeshua’s entombment. Both shall be put in the right perspective.

    In the light of the Judean ethnic miileu of the Second Temple period, the inference is Yeshua’s buriers used a mixture of pulverized aloes wood and myrrh (i.e. a blend of one perfume and one spice) to fumigate his corpse (purifying & drying-up ritual) and perfumed his “tomb-bed”. On the 3rd day of Yeshua’s death, the aromatic/spicy ointment the women brought was intended to ONLY anoint Yeshua’s burial linen cloths/sheets as women would not have been entitled to anoint a male naked body! Only a small quantity of ointment was required which any of the women could easily carry in alabaster vases.
    The post-entombment ointement was meant to prevent bad odours as the Judean custom of the time was to pay visits to the deceased’s cave tomb the week that follows his death.

  18. Chris you wrote: “there not being any traces of spices seems to negate Max’s assumptions though I respect that it was probably the intended burial ritual”.
    There are myrrhic-aloetic particles in the threads not on the surface (Baima-Bollone) of the Shroud and on the surface of the Sudariumf of Oviedo!
    According to Danim, they are also plan & floral images e.g. Crown Daisy fresh heads which are medical flowers to wit in Greek “aromaton”, spices.

  19. Correction: “According to Danin, there also are plant & floral images such as those of crown daisy fresh heads which, as medical flowers (and fly repellent) can be rendered by the Greek word “aromaton”, spices.

  20. In two previous post I wrote:
    1/ “Rabbi Yeshua was laid on the stone bench of the tomb’s unique (Heb. aHad) funerary niche (Heb. kokh, maqôm). It was full of mixed and pulverized or granulized myrrh and aloes (of which micro traces can still be detected on the pre-burial napkin (Aram. soudâra) known as the Sudarium of Oviedo). His corpse was fastened, with FRESH medical plants and flower heads (Gr. aromaton), in linen cloths/sheets. These plants and flower heads shall not be mistaken for the blend of spice (aloes) and perfume (myrrh) used to fumigate his corpse (drying up) and make an aromatic bed of the tomb stone bench.”
    2/ “In my burial reconstruction, the Turin Shroud is the lengthy INTERIOR shroud e.i. the least likely linen sheet/cloth to be in DIRECT physical contact with the myrrh-and-aloes-covered tomb stone bench.”BaimaBollone’s detection of myrrhic-aloetic particles in the threads of the Shroud has still to be confirmed by independent analyses.

  21. Lots of worthwhile & informative comments there! Excellent reading. Thanks to Ron, Chris & especially Max. Dr Kelly sure hit the jackpot!

  22. Max Patrick Hamon :Ron, actually, there is a couple of archaeologically coherent hypothese for the resewn side strip.

    I know there are! but they do not make as much sense as compared to this hypothesis. They are really reaching with evidense on the Shroud that can prove them wrong. This is if you are talking about the same hypotheses I have read of.


  23. The presence/absence of aloe & myrrh is interesting-different techniques used to evaluate the issue: immunofluorescence vs. pyrolysis-mass spec, (also microscopy). Pyrolysis-MS is a sensitive technique that should detect the chemical signature. The presence of aloe & myrrh is somewhat unique this involves substances that were applied to the body or the Shroud, not an inherent part of the cloth itself; (I believe the suggestion has also been made that the Shroud might have been dipped in a spice solution). It would seem that if applied to the cloth, pyrolysis-MS should be sensitive enough to pick it up on sticky tape samples? The immunofl. studies were done using removed threads.

    If applied to the body/around it, then taking samples from different areas might yield different results, similar to testing bloodstained fibers to adjacent unstained fibers? Does anyone know if the [exact] same site(s) areas were sampled in these (different) studies?

    A sort of “reverse C-14 sampling” approach could be useful for issues like this: Take one site/sample, divide it into several parts and evaluate the same question using different methods. Differing levels of sensitivity of various methods could be inadvertently compounded by not looking within the same grid (fibers).

    Finally, anyone have any details regarding the application of burial spices according to custom-were they applied around the body? directly to the body/cloth? In solid or solution form? Both? Because of the hastening Sabbath, would a body be quickly annointed, with the intent to more thoroughly apply the spices later?

  24. Here’s another interesting paper that summarizes a lot of the interesting features of the Shroud as of 2000, including the blood and why we know it’s blood:

    In particular, from page 7:

    “Adler and others answer Vignon’s question and McCrone’s objection in the following manner. For one thing, not all the ‘blood’ material is red, for its color ranges from yellow to orange to red to brown. Also, the ‘blood’ is not whole blood, but exudate from a blood clot (when a blood clot dries, it contracts, exuding liquid blood material). The ‘blood’ moreover is blood clot exudate from a beaten, traumatized individual.A traumatic beating would destroy red blood cells, and the red cell debris would go to the liver, which in turn would take the debris’s hemoglobin and convert it to the bile pigment bilirubin.

    Bilirubin levels in the blood would rapidly rise, meaning that should a cut form, the resulting blood clot’s exudate will contain serum albumin (a protein found in blood serum), and that albumin will bring with it bilirubin. The clot exudate’s hemoglobin oxidizes to become “methemoglobin,” which is reddish-brown/ brown; this reddish-brown/ brown + the yellow-orange bilirubin = red.”

    In other words, many of the various puzzles regarding the blood are actually further evidence of authenticity. In this case, we have evidence that it’s not just any human blood, but blood from a heavily traumatized individual, and furthermore that it’s partial blood exuded from already drying blood clots, rather than whole liquid blood painted on.

  25. It is but one step from healthy scepticism to downright cycnicism!

    “I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything.” T H Huxley

    “cynic: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.” Ambrose Bierce: ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’

    “Cynicism is intellectual dandyism without the coxcomb’s feathers” Gerge Meredith: ‘The Egoist’

    1. Alan D Adler (RIP) was a bombastic blowhard, someone who couldn’t admit when he was wrong, a surly curmudgeon, a right b*stard (not to put too fine a point on it) a large man who bullied, ranted, and argued about everything, He was, above all, LOUD, but a loveable maniac all the same ;-).

  26. Ron in reply to my comment #26, you wrote: “I know there are [a couple of archaeologically coherent hypotheses for the re-sewn side strip] but they do not make as much sense as compared to this hypothesis. They are really reaching with evidence on the Shroud that can prove them wrong. This is if you are talking about the same hypotheses I have read of.”

    In 1994, I first emitted the “side strip hypothesis” on my very first attempt at reconstructing the Shroud man’s burial. Then, in the 2000’s, after I read Flury-Lemberg “primeval fold hypothesis”, Cesar Barta’s and Yves Saillard’s comments on it, I reached the conclusion there might well be NOT no much ONE as TWO side strips that would have been cut away from the main linen sheet and on the same side: one about 9cm x 440cm, the other about 4-4.5cm x 440cm; the first one to fasten the stiff rigid corpse from shoulders to pelvis (along with a prayer shawl?) and the second to fasten the said corpse from toes to thighs; a small part of the second side strip might well have been used (as an abutting band to help fasten the head along with a “jaw-box” and veil to make up for a faulty head-dress?).

    1. Are you talking about the two small (pieces-strips) missing from the ends of the whole side-strip or are you saying there was another larger strip cut off before, aswell as the known side-strip?


      1. I am not talking about the two missing corner pieces at all. Since you don’t seem to clearly get my point, allow me to remind you of Flury-Lemberg’s “off-centred primeval fold hypothesis” (which is still to be confirmed by independent analyses). In Sindone 2002 (Preservation, p.43), she wrote: “Only a few centimetres away on the left from the centre fold line a second, much more delicate, firmly impressed V-shaped groove can be distinguished which also runs along the whole length of the cloth. I would like to call this the “primeval fold” as it belongs to the very first folding after the Shroud had been finished. Those folds are due to the production process of the fabric, they are not the result of using the fabric.” Now if we rely on Flury-Lemberg’s observation and since the primeval fold is 6.2cm±0.5cm off-centred, one can easily deduce the Shroud originally was 6.2cm±0.5cm wider than it is to-day. The re-sewn side-strip being 9cm wide (7cm wide as it appears at first sight), then it would mean a second side-strip 4-2cm±0.5cm might well have been cut off for burial purpose. Archaeologically speaking, it could then be an ALTERNATIVE to the “side-strip hypothesis. The side-strip with its rim would have been re-sewn for the Shroud to be both handier to fully stretch out and the left side not to fray.

      2. Additional correction: “The side-strip with its hemline would have been re-sewn for the Shroud to be both handier to hold fully stretched out and the left side not to fray.”

  27. Correction: “a small part of the secod side strip might well have been spared to be used as an abutting banding to help fasten the head with a “jaw-box and veil” (to make up for a faulty head-dress?)”

  28. These two-three side strips might well account for the use, by John, of the Greek word “othonia” (in the diminutive plural form, Heb. takhrikhim) instead of “sindon” (Heb. sadin, interior burial garment/shroud or sovev/winding burial sheet).

  29. It might help the discussion to say that medieval relics of Christ’s blood were very common. There is an excellent book on all the blood cults: Caroline Walker Bynum’s Wonderful Blood that concentrates on blood relics in northern Germany. I don’t know if any of these have been analysed for blood types. Some are said to have been gathered off Christ while still on the Cross. They were very controversial as one theological view was that if Christ was truly resurrected ,then all elements of his body would have gone up to heaven with him and there would have been nothing physical left of him on earth. So by this view, and it is only a theological one, there could have been no physical remains on the Shroud.

  30. Confusing: I attended two seminars given by Dr. Adler, the Porphrin Chemist (now deceased), who performed the initial blood work on the Shroud of Turin. These seminars were given at Seton Hall University, in New Jersey and a restaurant in downtown Manhattan, after the release of Ian Wilson’s book, “The Shroud of Turin.” The year may have been either 1978 or 1979.

    Dr. Adler stated, at that time. the blood on the Shroud was real blood and the blood type was AB negative. I specifically remember the AB negative blood type, because my mother’s blood type was AB positive.

    What year was it decided the blood type on the Shroud was not AB negative?

  31. Angel,

    Sounds like this might have been relatively early in the investigation, close to the time of the STURP data collection-Adler’s publications in the following years focused more on the characterization side of things than the typing, i.e. that it was real blood. Perhaps this was preliminary evidence or initial results from others-Baima Bollone published the typing data (AB) a few years later. In a communication last year with BB (through Emanuela Marinelli), he reported that the Rh factor wasn’t tested (too degraded to examine). If truly negative for the Rh factor (genetically) or if the Rh protein was once there, but degraded, the readout would look the same. Going at this with a molecular approach to see if the gene is present or not (unless DNA degradation precludes it) might help sort this out. Additionally, antibodies have come a long way since the late 70s (development of monoclonals), additional probes might be available that would recognize a region of the protein (that may have survived).

    1. Kelly Kearse: Yes, you are correct! The Dr. Adler seminars were given very early on, either late 1978 or early 1979. I remember attending both seminars not too long after the release of Ian Wilson’s book, “The Shroud of Turin,”

      Adler did say it was real blood at his seminars, as well. He went on to state that he was so good in his field (Porphrin Chemistry) that had the shroud not been exposed to a flood, he could have told us whether Jesus was circumcized or not. The flood damage must have covered that private area of the image

      I also seem to recall reading sometime later on the web, but do not know if this is correct, that if the blood sample was taken from one side of the cloth, the blood type was AB negative, but if the sample was taken from the reverse side of the cloth, the blood type was AB positive. Obviously, this cannot be true.

      Yet, I’m elated to receive your detailed information. Thank you.

  32. Actually, I calculated back and Ian Wilson’s book was released in 1978 or 1979 and the conferences I attended given by Dr. Alan Adler were about 1985 and he was associated with STURP.

  33. Collinsberry could you please stop the annoying sarcastic sophomoric comments- they dont add any useful info otherwise I’m thoroughly enjoying this discussion!

  34. Dennis Goller :
    Science knows ABSOLUTELY for sure that the blood was spilled on the cloth prior to the image appearing. There is NO WAY an artist could have spilled blood on the Shroud perfectly both Anatomically and Forensically speaking, AND THEN created an image around it. NO WAY. The image is only 2 MICROMETERS deep on the MICROFIBERS of the shroud. THERE IS NOTHING that science is aware of that could of done this. Please read up. Skepticism is perfectly normal, however you must realize what the Shroud IS NOT. Please people, if you want to know the FACTS research anything that BARRIE SCHWORTZ has written and visit Scientific Fact. These findings on this site are legit and have stood before scientific peer review. These findings are not to persuade people. It is what it is, SCIENTIFIC FACT. Opinions only matter when you have armed yourself with the correct and factual information. Barrie was on the original STURP team that studied the shroud in 1978 and has committed his life, non-profit, to the findings and research of the Turin Shroud. He is the leading spokesperson on the subject, period. If you go to you can listen to an excellent non-biased interview with him on Coast to Coast radio. An EXCELLENT interview that will answer many questions and remove many of the “what if’s”. Thank you, this wasn’t intended as an insult to anyone.

    Science knows ABSOLUTELY for sure…
    Exactly which experiment/set of experiments is this?
    Just asking.

    Hypothetically speaking, could an artist have placed a bloodied body in the canvas as a starting point?
    Just asking.

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