Why not carbon date the blood on the Shroud of Turin?

Colin Berry, in a posting entitled, “Blood-grouping the Shroud of Turin – like trying to sort apples from oranges in the dark wearing boxing gloves," writes:

You can do it one two ways, masterfully described recently by Kelly P. Kearse  (a self-styled “card-holding immunologist) with a gift for exposition on the Other Site. . . .

[ . . . ]

My own position at present (which could change in the light of new evidence) can be simply expressed. Any real blood on the Shroud of Turin that still responds to tests for “blood”, e.g. porphyrins, albumins, physiological electrolytes (Na, K, Ca, Mg,P etc) is unlikely to be medieval blood, far less 1st century. That’s not to say that real blood was not deposited on the Shroud at the time of its genesis by whatever mechanism, or whether that blood preceded the body image or not. Anything that tests as  intact non-degraded albumin, or still immunologically-competent “blood group AB”, assuming those tests are not ‘false positives’ (which they may well be) is probably of relatively recent addition.

The only thing that would convince me that blood stains, if real, support authenticity is radiocarbon dating.

Given there is still alleged blood on the Shroud that can, we are told, be detached as scrapings without damaging the linen, then why not test- date some blood immediately? Why were blood flakes not included in the original C-dating protocol anyway?

11 thoughts on “Why not carbon date the blood on the Shroud of Turin?”

  1. Si Colin consigue reproducir manchas de sangre, alguna con halo de suero, de manera similar a las que aparecen en la Sábana Santa, habrá realizado el MEJOR TRABAJO realizada hasta ahora sobre la Sábana.

    ¡Inténtelo, Colin!. Vale cualquier método.

    Otros estudiosos lo han intentado durante muchos años.

  2. For the custodians of the Shroud, cutting from even a far corner may be considered too invasive. It’s hard to imagine that removing a portion from a bloodstained region would even be considered. Is the sensitivity of radiocarbon dating sufficient to evaluate a scraping or several blood flakes, particularly when divided up among several laboratories? Not my area, but it seems to be pushing the limit of detection.

    Colin, regarding study of AB antigens in aged bloodstains (as discussed on your website), I’m not certain that intactness or correct sidedness of any resealed red blood cells is really an issue in immunochemical evaluation of ABO antigens. True, reconstituted, resealed cells may be detected microscopically in ancient samples under certain conditions prepared for fixed staining, but it is unclear to what percentage of the total this may represent. Moreover, for immunochemical evaluation of ABO molecules, such experiments are typically performed in buffer systems that would (purposely) lyse and solubilize cell membranes, maximizing exposure and detection of any antigens present.

    Finally, a comment on the suggestion that [“ There could have been blood residues initially at the time of Shroud’s genesis, that have been ‘touched up’ by surreptitious additions of real blood, possibly blood of a carefully chosen group that best fits with ‘authenticity’-and what better group than AB, an overzealous custodian might have imagined…]

    The existence of ABO blood groups was unknown until approximately 100 years ago (Landsteiner reported their existence in 1900). Accordingly, any such “surreptitious addition” would had to have taken place relatively recently in the Shroud’s history, by a 20th century custodian…”might have imagined” is a good phrase to use.

  3. Colin, I thought you might also appreciate this:

    As a avid fan of the sweet science [pugilism], I would point out that even in the dark it is really not that difficult to grasp a round piece of fruit while wearing gloves. Once located, with a little practice you can clench it in between the thumb and the inside end of the mitt [I’ve done this personally with a water bottle many times, though with a least one eye open, I must admit]. You can always use two hands to trap it in between. Then just lift it close to your nose and smell-or, take a bite…it’s not that easy to sort them out under such conditions, but certainly doable…

  4. Now Colin is an expert in blood…unbelievable! Question is why Dan keeps rehashing this Sciencebod.


  5. Oh almost forgot to ask; How possibly did this artist happen to know to use a specific type of blood; (AB), which also jives with the Sudarium and with traces of bilirubin to boot? and how possibly did he manage to place this blood on the Shroud before the image (or even after the image), without any trace of application type or form, and also manage to mimic exactly, forensically perfect blood markings? …Get real.


  6. In the next few days or weeks, I will publish a new article about the evidence of the blood regarding the question of the authenticity of the Shroud. In my mind, it is a very complete summary of the situation (the article have a total of 10 pages) and I really hope Collin will take some time to read it when it will be online. Of course, one of the first person to get it will be Dan and I am very confident that he will publish it right here on this blog. As I said the other day, I have taken my open letter published here some months ago about that question and reworked it a lot in order to make it a much more complete article.

    So, stay tune folks (especially Collins) !!!!

  7. Ron :
    Now Colin is an expert in blood…unbelievable! Question is why Dan keeps rehashing this Sciencebod.

    Ron, what I find interesting in Colin’s approach to many of these matters is his stance that many of the scientists were working out of their specialization (heretical is the term I think was mentioned) but he has no problem approaching matters out of his own specialization.

    Personally, I find nothing wrong with most scientists working out of their specialization so long as they’re wide open to have others scrutinize their work (especially scientists who are specialized in the field of study). This is how we all learn.

    It’s not a entirely valid argument in itself to criticize someone outside of a specialization unless one can conclusively show that such ignorance on it’s face is the cause of faulty findings. The work on the shroud is no different than work in other areas, you will have good hypotheses and bad hypotheses. It is up to the participants and the audience to sort them out together.

    It is clear to me that the shroud keeps Colin up at night, as I have stated before. I also think it also drives him to espouse some of his more biased arguments. In general though it is good for even folks from his point of view to look at and opine on these matters as it gives a different perspective which may be very valuable. It’s just that, as with all perspectives and approaches, the audience has to separate the faith and pure speculation from fact.

    1. I think that deep in his heart, Collins have a sense that the Shroud MIGHT BE REAL and that perspective really bothers him… It’s sad to note that this perspective don’t seem to bother many atheists, agnostics or indifferent people these days ! In that regard, Collins is one of a kind (or at least, one of the few) !!! We have to, at least, give him some credit for that ! ;-)

      1. Yannick, I think it bothers a whole lot of folks that is might be real. This life is temporary in all cases. I think a lot of folks want this life to be the only one though because they love it and that is at direct odds with Jesus’ instruction: “He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.” It’s all the trouble of letting go. The best we can do is to pray that they allow His Grace in to do it’s job and impart the Peace that the world cannot give.

  8. Whether it is the original burial cloth of Jesus or it is a medieval fake, in both cases, blood and linen should show a difference in age of as a maximum, one or two years. All the difficulties, widely pointed out in this blog, regarding the use of C14 to datate the Shroud using a linen sample are the same difficulties that could be expected if instead of using one type of organic matter(linen) we used another type of organic matter (blood). I do not want to repeat myself in my comments here but I think it is high time to move to other techniques to elucidate the origin of the Sjroud.

    1. One needs to ask, is it actually possible to radiocarbon date blood? Does the human blood acquire C14 isotopes while it is ‘alive’ and flowing/ regenerating? This I would like to have answered by an expert in the field…

      Furthermore, I think Gabriel makes a good point as C14 dating blood would probably have more issues then C14 dating linen, which all experts agree is problematic on its own, due to unseen or untraceable contamination. There are many examples of erroneous readings from linen in archaeological studies…it’s nothing new. Another reason I find it unbelievable that so many accepted a single testing of the Shroud sample, NOT suggestive of the whole Shroud…Colin again, is grasping at straw.


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