Of the crowns of fibers and the Shroud of Turin image

Daveb of Wellington writes by way of a comment:

Colin’s observation that coloration is concentrated on the crowns of the topmost fibres must I think be significant, and has to be the signature of some kind of contact process, if indeed it was a process.  I suspect he might well be correct in saying that it couldn’t be radiation, as radiation would give a more pervasive result extending to other fibres, and beyond the crowns.

There may be another possibility that explains imaging at the crowns of the fibers.

imageRogers was confident that residues of starch and saccharides were there on the cloths in what he called an impurity layer that he believed was only 200 to 600 nm thick. It is thought, perhaps, that after hand spinning the fibers of the flax plant into yarn, individual hanks of yarn were bleached and dried. When it was time to weave the yarn (thread) into cloth, warp threads were strung vertically on a loom so that weft threads could be passed over and under them. On the loom, the warp threads were lubricated with crude starch to make weaving easier. This reduced friction and lessened the chance of fraying. When a length of linen cloth was finished it was removed from the loom and washed in the suds of the Soapwort plant (Saponaria officinalis). After washing out most of the starch, the linen was laid out across bushes or hung to dry.

Washing, even with repeated rinsing, is not perfect. Soapy residues and small amounts of starch remain in a water soaked cloth. As the cloth dries, moisture wicks its way to the surface to evaporate into the air. As the water makes its way to the surface it carries with it dissolved starch fractions and saccharides: glucose, fucose, galactose, arabinose, xylose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid. As the water evaporates into the air these chemicals are deposited as a super-thin coating on the crown of the fibers, the very outermost fibers of the thread. Chemists say this superficial residue of reactive saccharides is at the evaporation surface of the cloth.

Thus linen cloth made in this ancient way, with the yarn bleached before weaving, lubricated with crude starch and washed in Saponaria officinalis is ready for image formation. All that is needed are the right reactive chemicals and a mechanism to get the right quantity of the chemicals to the cloth’s surface in the right places at the right time. The amines that come from a dead body before it decomposes, cadaverine and putrescine, are just what is needed, according to Rogers.

Many things would affect how the images would form as the amines met the saccharides: ambient temperatures and humidity in the tomb; the body chemistry of the corpse influenced by diet, disease and possible trauma; the application of different burial spices; and the quantity of residue and evenness of its coating on the cloth. Even the tightness of the weave that affects porosity is a factor. Nonetheless some imaging would take place. The process would continue until the reactants were exhausted or until fluidic bodily decomposition products formed and ravaged the images and the cloth. Soon the cloth would rot away along with the body. However, if at the right moment, the cloth and the body it enshrouded become separated, and if the tomb had been opened so that cloth might be preserved, we might very well have something of a picture of the once enshrouded body on the shroud.

Rogers did some experimenting. He produced the color and some very course images that showed some fuzzy resolution. As he noted: “You can argue all you want about resolution. The Maillard colors are somewhere on that cloth. Where do you think?”

It is important to note that linen cloth, as typically produced after the twelfth century and into our era, will not produce amine/saccharides images. In the first century each hank of yarn or thread for the cloth was bleached before weaving. Such bleaching did not result in uniformly white yarn and because many hanks of yarn were required to make linen cloth, the cloth was not uniformly white. We see this, for instance, in the Turin Shroud. It has a broad variegated appearance where yarn from one hank was joined with yarn from another batch during weaving. The yarn ends were laid side by side pressed together. The overlapping ends are often visible to the unaided eye and correspond to streaks of different off-white color in the weave.

Bleaching after weaving, as was done in the medieval bleaching fields of Europe and as it is done in modern mills, prevents a reactive coating. Bleaching after weaving makes for better quality linen but it does not allow an image to form.

It is also especially important to note that there will be two such chemical coatings on the cloth. The side of the cloth that faced the sun and dried the fastest will have a dominant coating of starch fractions and saccharides from the soap. The other side will have a lesser coating. Both sides will react to the amines since some of the vapors will diffuse through the cloth. Indeed, we should have a more distinct image on one side of the cloth and a less distinct image on the other side. That is the significance of the discovery of a second facial image on the Shroud as recently reported in the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Optics of the Institute of Physics in London (April 14, 2004).

From spectral analysis, microscopy and image analysis, we see that this is how the cloth of the Shroud of Turin was manufactured. From this, and from a modern knowledge of pathology and chemistry, we can hypothesize that this was how the images were formed on it. Are there many open questions? Of course.


18 thoughts on “Of the crowns of fibers and the Shroud of Turin image”

  1. Thanks for this, Dan, it clears up a lot of questions that have been in my mind. I know Colin in some recent postings has cast doubts on some other aspects of Roger’s work relating to blood residues, I think it was. I recall that some much earlier postings had referred to the Maillard reaction, but I had the impression that there was quite some lack of unanimity about it.
    A reasonably equipped lab ought to be able to set up a program of small scale experiments to test Rogers’ theory. Clearly a few batches of linen cloth would be required, manufactured to the ancient specification. It might even be necessary to try out different key variables in producing the linen. I’m thinking small animal experiments again.
    The absence of a lateral image has to be significant, Despite Max’s views on the matter, it looks to me that if Rogers was correct, then the burial work couldn’t have been fully completed according to the prescribed ritual, and the cloth would have to be left loose at the sides without tying. Perhaps they intended to finish the job on Sunday morning, but by then it was too late.
    If some of the 100 lb mixture that Nicodemus brought was laid over the top of the partly wrapped body, I wonder if that small pressure might just provide the right sort of close mixing of the body chemicals with the starch/saccharides.
    Clearly there’s also some chemistry that might need exploring a bit more as well.
    I marvel that it hasn’t been taken a lot further before now. Meantime I’ll check out the references. Know any good chemists who’d understand amino-carbonyl reactions?

  2. Dan, this is a good summary of Roger’s theory. I believe that a maillard reaction may account for something. I remember early discussions of this when it was first proposed and many still wonder whether such reaction can account for the photo-like quality of the face. It is very possible that more than one thing is responsible for the totality of the image. What still bothers me is the dorsal image. Gases tend to rise. One would think there would be a difference of image intensity between the dorsal and frontal images, yet that is not the case. I am in the maillard plus camp…maillard plus something else. Not sure what, but I can certainly speculate!

      1. I considered it a mature way of saying, sotto voce, that the proposed sequence of events was sheer fantasy from start to finish, or what I’m minded to call Mickey Mouse science, but I stand to be corrected…

  3. Most decidedly, Dave’s received ideas die hard: Dave, SERIOULY, if the words “Archaeology” and “Exegesis” have a real meaning to you, how on earth can you still infer from the Gospels that Rabbi Yeshua’s body could have been « partly wrapped » and « the cloth (…) left loose at the sides without tying »? Shall I repeat again and again, if we SERIOUSLY read the Gospels in the light of the Turin Shroud, it implies the lengthy linen cloth (Heb. sadin), was first tautly wrapped (Gr. enetulixen, Matthew 27,59) lengthwise around the stiff rigid blood stained body and the latter thus wrapped to be then compressed (Gr. eneilesen, Mark 15,46) and fastened (Gr. edesan, John 19,40) width wise with spices (Gr. aromaton). In other word, in the hypothesis the Turin Shroud is Yeshua’s, his body was FIRST tightly wrapped up THEN, and only THEN, the tautly wrapped interior lengthy shroud might well have concomitantly been subjected to a gradual pressure release from the outer linens and a gradual pressure increase (from the arms in rigor mortis in particular) and get taut again.

  4. Max, I think you’re being far too dogmatic about details that we can’t possibly know as applyinig to a particular event You’re reading far more into Jn 19:40 than the text allows – biblical literalism! There’s no lateral image on the Shroud! My answer to this is, “Test all the variables in the laboratory!” including tightly wrapped and loosely wrapped.
    Colin thinks Roger’s hypothesis is fantasia, but with all his remarkable chemistry abilities, I’m not aware that he’s run any laboratory tests himself exploring Maillard; No doubt he’ll correct me if I’m wrong. As for fantasia, the Maillard theory seems to have far more credibility, than some imagined bas relief that incorporates all the forensic evidence that the Shroud displays.
    Russ’s comments on “maillard plus” has some appeal Mouraviev’s paper may be relevant: “The Image Formation Mechanism on the Shroud of Turin: :A Solar Reflex Radiation Model (the Optical Aspect)” check URL: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/mouraviev.pdf
    Gases expand; Whether they rise or fall depends on their molecular weight, E.g. released gases from LPG fall, and even find their way into drains.
    We’re whistling in the dark, until there’s some concerted effort to explore Maillard ++ in a full program of laboratory tests, probably involving laboratory mice and variables in the processing of ancient linens.

    1. “Gases expand; Whether they rise or fall depends on their molecular weight, E.g. released gases from LPG fall, and even find their way into drains.”

      Only true on a relatively short time scale, DaveB – minutes, hours at the most. Gaseous diffusion may be slow but is no respecter of molecular weight.

      I did a post on the subject 2 years ago:

      why don’t we suffocate in our (heavy) CO2?

  5. Yeah, sure, Colin. My comment was directed at Russ’s remark that gases tend to rise. I’ve had some experience with transport of hazardous goods including LPG, and was aware that the stuff gets into drains and other low-lying areas which demands the correct precautions being taken in clean-up work. Also it depends on the “relative molecular weight” in air. As you say, after this initial tendency they then diffuse, which disposes of any argument that cadaver’s gases wrapped in linen would tend to be concentrated at the high points.
    But I’ve yet to check out the physical properties of cadaverine and putrescine.

  6. “But I’ve yet to check out the physical properties of cadaverine and putrescine.”

    I would not waste my time if I were you with “made to order” chemistry. There’s too much of it in the world of Shroud science – mining the textbooks for something, anything, that might offer a pat answer that fits with preconceptions…

  7. Dave you wrote: “Max, I think you’re being far too dogmatic about details that we can’t possibly know as applyinig to a particular event You’re reading far more into Jn 19:40 than the text allows – biblical literalism!”.
    “DETAILS THAT WE CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW AS APPLYING TO A PARTICULAR EVENT”. Dave I wish you could be aware of how dogmatic you are as you are making use here of a NEGATIVE EXEGETICAL DOGMA I would called NIHILISTC ILLITERALSIM. You should have told me firsthand you were a Gospel nihilistic illeteralist, I would not have wasted my time with you!

    1. Actually, on reading the Gospels in the light of the Turin Shroud, WE CAN POSSIBLY KNOW DETAILS AS APPLYING TO A PARTICULAR EVENT such as Rabbi Yeshua’s Passion or Burial. Dave, you are TOTALLY wrong!

  8. PS How I can at one and the same time be a “biblical literalist” and “read far more into Jn 19:40”? Just ask a Gospel nihilistic illeteralist, he will tell you…

  9. Today New Zealand observed a national memorial service on the first anniversary of the devastating 6.3 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch at 12:51 pm on February 22, 2011, with the loss of 185 lives, many of them from overseas, and the destruction of many buildings and thousands of homes. About 30,000 people attended the service and it was televised nationwide. We appreciate the condolences expressed by Hilary Clinton US Secretary of State and by His Royal Highness, Charles Prince of Wales. Children released 185 monarch butterflies, a beautiful sight, in memory of those who were lost. The service had a strong religious component, the final blessing being given by the American lady bishop of Christchurch. It is remarkable how in a nominally secular country, how religion comes to the fore in observing moments of national grief.
    As for me, I’m off for a few days to check out some of our wonderful wine country in the Wairarapa plains. See you all next week. Cheers, Daveb.

  10. Dave, enjoy your Wairarapa plain woderful wine and just forget about exegesis! Thank you for your opposing view.

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