I think I see another, different nail on the Shroud of Turin

imageIn a blog called the New American Mind, we learn that Les Fredette has discovered, or at least seen a pattern that he believes is a crucifixion nail, one that is consistent with a nail reportedly found in the tomb of Caiaphas. (See TIME Magazine for a story about the nails ). In the blog posting Crucifixion Nail Image Found on Shroud of Turin – Consistent with Nail Found in Caiaphas’ Tomb we read:

The discovery of an image of a crucifixion nail on the Shroud of Turin is, in itself, a major discovery, but its connection to a physical artifact of antiquity is also extremely significant. While all previous evidence that has been gathered regarding the Shroud has been based on the Shroud itself (e.g., blood samples and pollen samples), historical pictures (e.g., Prey Manuscript) and historical writings/accounts, Mr. Fredette’s discovery brings evidence supporting the Shroud’s authenticity to an entirely new level, one which could, according the Mr. Fredette, "put a significant nail in the coffin of speculation."

Cute pun!

Now, we read:

Mr. Fredette’s discovery is actually two fold in scope. First, there is an image of a crucifixion nail on the Shroud, and, second, the nail image may actually be of one of the nails found in Caiaphas’s tomb in 1990.

Isn’t that pure speculation? And how do we reconcile this with the different nails reportedly found by Wehrkamp-Richter? Or the one found by Alan and Mary Whanger along with . . .

a Roman spear, a sponge on a stick, a crown of thorns, two scourges, a large hammer, a pair of pliers, and two desecrated Jewish phylacteries or prayer boxes. All are consistent with 1st Century objects, with Roman crucifixions of Jews, with Jewish burial practices, and/or with Biblical accounts of the Crucifixion of Jesus.

I am a long way from being convinced that there are any images of nails, coins, flowers, lettering, etc. I recommend reading Sight and brain: an introduction to the visually misleading images by Daniele Murra and Paolo Di Lazzaro:

image. . . We should consider this “subjectivity risk" when using computer tools to elaborate images, because we may generally have the propensity to make visible something that we want to see but that is not embedded in the original image.

Concerning the scientific approach to the acheiropoietos images, only reproducible experiments are scientifically acceptable.

Interpretations of shapes, coins, faces, flowers or letters “seen” on acheiropoietos images by means of image processing tools should be considered a track useful to address further studies, but they cannot be considered as self-consistent proofs.

It is a short paper, wonderfully informative and easy to read and understand.

25 thoughts on “I think I see another, different nail on the Shroud of Turin”

  1. I have already commented on this, but applying state-of-the-art algorithms from the field of machine learning to high resolution images, could quite easily help assess at a given confidence level, if those coins, flowers, letters and so on are really present or not.
    At this moment, the paper by Marion -widely dismissed in this blog- is the only one that has gone through peer-review, positively evaluated and eventually published in a JCR journal.

  2. Actually the “subjectivity risk” works both ways:

    To see what is not really there AND not to see what is really there but needs a truly initiated eye to be seen (an aspect of the sight-and-brain problem Murra and Di Lazzaro most curiously totally ignore in their paper!).

    What is most needed is not only repeatable eidomatic experiences and strict & relevant methodology but also a proper and convincing presentation of the results for anyone (even a business executive, a technical photographer or a Yannick Clément) to REALLY be able to share the findings.

    Marion failed NOT because there were no ghost writings at all on and around the Sindon Face but just because he was ignorant of Greek palaeography and made several gross mistakes in his letter transcriptions (three months before the 1997 Nice 3rd International Symposiumearly, I wrote him a detailed letter about his mistranscriptions that is well before Guscin in 1999, Schwortz in 2009, Murra and Di lazzaro in 2010 even shamelessly tried to discredit his scientific work after his untimely death in 2009).

    The fact is and remains there are ghost letter decals almost invisble to the naked eye still waiting to be PROPERLY revealed on the Turin Sindon.

    1. All,
      First, as a literacy instruction is one of my forte’s, it drives me nuts to see people use words such as ‘speculation’ and ‘theory’ as having negative connotations. Whenever the Theory of Evolution is attacked, it’s attacked for “just being a theory”. Those that understand science also understand that a theory is one of the strongest arguments that can be posed in science. A theory is not a conjecture, rather a theory is “a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena.” In the same vain, speculation is a “process of consideration”. There is no such thing as “pure” speculation.

      In any event, Yes, I am speculating, in the true sense of the word, that the nail on the Shroud may very well be one of the nails found in the Caiaphas tomb. My speculation, however, is supported by the evidence I have expounded in my paper. I believe that the conclusion that the imaged object is a crucifixion nail is substantially stronger than any previous non-body image identified on the Shroud, all of which are so faint as to be unnoticeable by the naked eye. My speculation that the nail may be one of the nails found in the Caiaphas tomb is may not be 100% provable, but the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to consider.

      Thanks, Les F.

      1. Les Fredette :
        I am speculating, in the true sense of the word, that the nail on the Shroud may very well be one of the nails found in the Caiaphas tomb.

        I meant there is no nail image on the Shroud.

    2. Anoxie,
      Would you care to speculate what the object over the hand might be? Or do you think the “object” is a complete anomaly (i.e., an artifact of image processing)?
      Les F.

      1. Yes, I think it is an artifact. It is hard to discriminate the image from the background noise. And it is not perfectly known how and where the shroud took the image.

        Read last Dan’s post, it is informative on this issue.

  3. Murra & Di Lazzaro wrote:

    “Interpretations of shapes, coins, faces, flowers or letters “seen” on acheiropoietos images by means of image processing tools should be considered a track useful to address further studies, but they cannot be considered as self-consistent proofs.”

    The use of Enhancement Imaging Technology can reveal characteristic features such as numismatics “finger prints” that can really be seen as self-consistent proofs to dating the Sindon Image. Most obviously Murra & Di Lazzaro are no forensics. Had they been one of them, they would have known that even tiny details can be crucial to prove your case

  4. Les Fredette’s eidomatic study is far from convincing all the more so as he failed

    1/ to really extract and identify any true nail characteristic feature.
    2/ to reconstruct a well recognisable frontal 3D image of the claimed nail.
    3/ to revisit and make comparative studies with the different nail images reportedly found by Wehrkamp-Richter and Alan and Mary Whanger

    1. Max,
      I have added an update to my blog entry with regards to point #3. Thanks for the input.
      I’ll post it here (without a picture) as well.
      Les F.

      In 2010, Mr. Wehrkamp-Richter reported what he believed a “geometric form in the centre of surrounding blood traces” on the foot image portion of the Shroud. Mr. Wehrkamp-Richter, however, does not indicate that he specifically identified the image of a nail on the Shroud, rather a shape that is consistent with a three-sided nail being used to inflict the wound on the foot (see below). So, the suggestion that images of nails are being found all over the Shroud, thereby making my discovery just one of many such claims, is a false ascertain.

      [Source: http://www.sudariumchristi.com/img/thoughts/jean_carmignac_en.pdf%5D

      I believe that Mr. Wehrkamp-Richter work only serves to support my findings in at least one respect: that roman crucifixion nails have unique, identifiable qualities that make them distinct from other common nails used in the 1st century.

      With regards to Alan and Mary Whanger’s purported identification of a nail image on the Shroud, I have not found any photographic information regarding this discovery. On their Duke University website link (http://www.duke.edu/~adw2/shroud/whanger.htm), the following reference to the nail image is provided:

      “On closer examination, the Whangers have found that there are images of many objects in addition to those of the body, and that these images show evidence of electron coronal discharge radiation. These additional objects include a crucifixion nail, a Roman spear, a sponge on a stick, a crown of thorns, two scourges, a large hammer, a pair of pliers, and two desecrated Jewish phylacteries or prayer boxes. All are consistent with 1st Century objects, with Roman crucifixions of Jews, with Jewish burial practices, and/or with Biblical accounts of the Crucifixion of Jesus.”

      Given a lack of information, I can’t determine whether or not the images that the Whagners have found are genuinely present on the Shroud. What I can say after studying the Shroud of many years is that if these images exist they are at all readily apparent, either in 2D or in 3D Shroud imaging. This stands in stark contrast to the nail image that I have identified on the Shroud, which is clearly visible in both 2D and, more strikingly, in 3D. What my discovery has done is rationally identify a fully discernable object on the Shroud, one that has been seen and noted by other Shroud researchers, and connect it with a real and tangible 1st century crucifixion nail found in the tomb of Caiaphas in 1990.

      Based on my review of the two other nail “discoveries”, they do not impact the significance or the validity of my discovery because a) Mr. Wehrkamp-Richter did not discovery a nail image on the Shroud, and b) given the lack of specific information or photographic evidence, the Whangers’ nail image is unsubstantiated. And even if the Whangers’ have found what they believe is an image of nail on the Shroud, along with the plethora of other items, the clarity of these items on the Shroud are so faint as to render any conclusion about them to be debatable.

      1. I have finally found at least one picture identifying the plethora of objects that the Whangers discovered on the Shroud (http://santafaz.info/ing-t33.html). Based on this imagery, I stand by my assertion that the evidence supporting the object over the hands is a crucifixion nail is sustainability more supportable than the Whagners’ evidence supporting their identification of nails. I believe this mainly because a) one can actually see the nail in 3D over the hands and perform very specific measurements of its dimensions an shape, and b) the nail image over the hands has may points of congruence with the Caiaphas tomb nails.

      2. Les,
        The link you gave us is not on the Turin Shroud nail image purportedly found by the Whangers but on that purportedly found on the Sudarium of Ovied by one Moreilia from Mexico.

      3. For the purported nail image, see the Whangers’ book The Shroud Of Turin: An Adventure Of Discovery

    2. To demonstratte it is a visual fact and not an optical illusion, the same nail image shall be seen not only on BOTH negative AND positive images but also in different photographic procedures (orthochomatic, traditional silver and extensive digital) + a couple of different eidomatic enhancements (e.g. a detailed digital 3D image and squeeze).

      1. Les, In case it is a blood decal, red solarisation is most needed in addition to a 3D image and digital squeeze of the area uner study. Photographs in reflected, raked and transmitted light can aslo be most helpful to back your demonstration.

  5. There is a clear distinction between writing a novel and reasonably objective reporting of facts, but I guess even news reporters have to make their stories sufficiently interesting if they’re to make a living at it. In this case it is Les Fredette making the claim of associating his “sighting” of the Shroud nail image with the nail said to be found in the Caiaphas tomb, so I guess that is a genuine report of sorts.
    As with many archaeological sites discovered during urban development work in and around Jerusalem, investigations into the Caiaphas site were badly done. It cannot even be confirmed that the said nails were actually found in the Caiaphas ossuary, and like many such discovered artifacts they turned up in the hands of a private collector.
    Despite crucifixion being a surprisingly common form of punishment (A Syrian governor crucified 3000 rioters in Jerusalem around 4 BC following the death of Herod the Great), very few crucifixion nails have been discovered. They were highly prized by the Roman soldiery as curative talismans, are rare, and so are collectible items.
    As crucifixion was a common form of punishment, I guess there plenty of such nails available in those times, So the Caiaphas nails could have come from any crucifixion at all.
    If one of the nails was buried with Jesus, there would have been some hard bargaining with the executioners to acquire it, and maybe they retained the others, although various other relics are claimed to be nails from Christ’s execution, If the nail was bloodied, that may have provided a reason for internment of the nail with the burial cloth – it would not normally be retained by a Jewish family as it was obviously unclean.
    The Time report mentions apocryphal writings that claim that Caiaphas eventually became a late convert to Christianity, but this too is very likely fanciful.
    I have seen lions and crocodiles in summer clouds, but they weren’t there either!

    1. Dave,

      Your post is interesting, but I think some clarification is needed. While crucifixions were common, from my understanding it was not common practice to use nails during crucifixions. If nails were used in the tens of thousands of crucifixions that took place in the first century, it is likely that more than just a handful would have been found. In addition, if they were so common then they would not have been so “highly prized by the Roman soldiery” as you noted.It is more likely the case that the rarity and value of crucifixion nails as talismans was due to their infrequent use, which would explain why few have survived to this day.

      With regards to your comment that the Caiaphas nails could have come from any crucifixion, this is true. But assuming that crucifixion nails were rarely used and Caiaphas was known in history for only one major event – having Jesus arrested, my conclusion is not without reasoning (not to mention of startling congruence between the purported Caiaphas nails and the nail image on the Shroud).

      Les F.

    2. Dave,
      One other note with regards to “lions and crocodiles”. Are you suggesting that there is NO object laying over the hands? If so, then I am confused as to why others have noted this object with an attempt to identify it. I believe the object is clearly there and is three-dimensional in nature. The only question is … what is it! I did not discovery this object; what I believe I have done is identify what it is – a crucifixion nail.

    3. Les,
      Thank you for your gracious response to my comments.
      With regard to lions and crocodiles, it was intended to be aimed at the more fanciful speculations that frequently occur on this site from time to time. If the nail image on the Shroud is adequately demonstrable, I have no problems with that.

      With regard to relative frequencies of nailing versus binding, the sources seem to have differning opinions on the matter. I did go exploring to see if I could find some authoritative comment. Quite a good report with several sources cited seems to be: “Crucifixion in Antiquity, the Anthropological Evidence”, by Joe Zias which can be found at:
      http://www.joezias.com/CrucifixionAntiquity.html .
      It includes the following comment:

      “Scholars have in fact argued that crucifixion was a bloodless form of death in that the victims were tied to the cross (Brandenburger 1969, Jeremias 1966). Martin Hengel, however who wrote what is perhaps the definitive scholarly report of the subject of Crucifixion in antiquity, takes along with Hewitt (1932) an opposing view and argues that nailing the victim by both hands and feet was the rule and tying the victim to the cross was the exception. During the first revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66-73 CE Josephus mentions that in the fall of Jerusalem (70 CE) “the soldiers out of rage and hatred amused themselves by nailing their prisoners in different postures (JW 5.11 and 451).”

      There is much more informative comment in the Zias paper. He claims for instance that even Jews carried crucifixion nails along with other amulets, and were indeed permitted to carry them even on the sabbath. This suggests that they were not all that uncommon. One aspect is that it seems that the nails were bent over making them difficult to remove from the wood, without damaging the bones and flesh of the condemned victim. So the record seems to lead to conflicting results as to their prevalence.

      I suggest that the nails were prized as amulets not so much for their rarity as for the superstitious appeal they may have had with their macabre association with a horrible form of execution.

  6. I would like to show what in my view would be the steps of a mathematical algorithm to detect letters, coins, or flowers in an objective way and assess confidence levels to the results. This could be easily be written in C++ or R and could represent a step forward in addressing the “I think I see” issue.

    1. In the first place, using Image J import a high resolution image of the Shroud, of course with a traceable origin.
    2. Save it as black and white and as text. Doing that you turn your image into a matrix, being its values the intensity of the image’s pixels ranging from 0 (black) to 255 (white). Any value in between is some kind of grey.
    3. Open a for/do type loop and sweep in that matrix rectangles of varying size.
    4. For each rectangle, identify a reference background color (value between 0 and 255). This could be done as an average or median of the rectangle of using wider meaningful areas on the Shroud.
    5. In each reactangle, using a classical if then , convert values below the reference of point 4 into 0 and values above into 255. This will increase contrast.
    6. Each rectangle will look like a chess table, with black and white small squares, corresponding to the pixels in that rectangle.
    7. In paralell, a database should have been created with letters and numbers and coins, flowers etc…depicted for each rectangle size as a combination of black and white squares (This could take some time)
    8. Each rectangle and number of black and white squares will be compared to this database using for example, Self-Organizing Maps, random forests or cluster analysis.
    9. If a positive match is found, it will be compared with the possibility of finding it by pure chance.

    Let’s put an example: imagine we are at this current step of the major loops analyzing a 3 pixels x 2 pixels rectangle and we have 2 black squares and 4 white, after the conversion of point 5. If a L needs 4 white pixels to be there and we have found a positive match, the probability the white pixels have arranged by chance as a L is 1/(6x5x4x3).

    Of course, this only represents an initial approach and many points could be improved. This would take some hours or perhaps days of CPU but any result that might emerge would have associated an objective probability.

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