Fascinating Account of a 2800 Year-old Cloth

imageAlex Knapp writes in Forbes, Ancient Burial Cloth Provides Clues To Bronze Age Trade:

Previous archaeological research has established that there was a thriving trade in metal objects throughout Europe. Indeed, the urn that the remains were found in was also from Central Europe. Until now, however, there wasn’t any evidence of textile trade.

The origin of the goods is determined by measuring the levels of strontium isotopes in the material. Different geographic regions have different levels of strontium, so by examining those isotopes, archaeologists are able to figure out where materials originated.The age of the cloth was determined by Carbon-14 dating.

What’s particularly interesting about this cloth is that its weaved from nettle, rather than the flax and hemp that were more commonly produced. This suggests that that the cloth was a luxury item – the Bronze Age equivalent of silk. What’s unclear, though, is how the textiles got to Denmark. It may be that there was a trade in nettle cloth – something that further research might be able to determine if more samples of the textile are found in other sites. Alternatively, it’s possible that the person who died did so in Austria, and his remains were then returned to Denmark.

Six Months Ago Today: The Dawkins Challenge

imageHas there been any news? Here is the challenge letter dated March 29, 2012:

An open letter to Richard Dawkins

29th March 2012

Dear Richard Dawkins

It is really not sufficient to dismiss the Shroud, as you do, on the basis of a C14 test from a single and badly selected sample area. Are you really saying that C14 has never made a mistake? Archaeologists frequently go back to retest something when other data conflicts. That has been impossible with the Shroud.

In your Shroud blog you argue, rightly in my view, that it is not enough for Christian apologists to weigh faith heavier than facts. After all, Christianity is based on a historical figure. The Shroud of Turin is a much-studied tangible object and it is a very significant fact that its unique image – so far – remains unfathomable. But that could be about to change if you, with the weight of your formidable foundation behind you, choose to accept this challenge.

When Professor Hall, Head of the Oxford Radio Carbon Unit announced the C14 result he was asked for his explanation for the Shroud. He said: “Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it”. This sounded a bit glib at the time and now, over twenty years on, it is beginning to sound a little hollow. No one has yet been able to show how it might have been “faked up”.

Accepting this challenge would appear to be consistent with your foundation’s mission. Does it not represent a wonderful educational opportunity to investigate what some have suggested could only have been the work of a Leonardo Da Vinci? To make the decision easier for you we will donate the £20,000 to your foundation if you simply accept the challenge and follow it through to some kind of conclusion. The public can make up their own minds about the result.*

The challenge then, if you choose to accept it, is to explain how the Shroud and its image might have come into existence. You will find a list of the most significant image characteristics here. If you cannot pin it down then, in all conscience, you should, at least, give it the appropriate respect as an enigma. If you can explain it then this site’s title becomes a misnomer and you will have solved a great mystery. Everyone would like to see this matter resolved. Could you be the one to do it?

With all good wishes

David Rolfe

* This £20,000 donation is not made possible because championing the possible authenticity of the Shroud is well funded or lucrative operation – far from it – but because your acceptance would trigger a commission for a documentary along the lines of our 2008 BBC2 film with Rageh Omaar. If you wish, you could nominate an executive producer.

Blogger: Please don’t get upset if you are Catholic

clip_image001Iceangel71 writes in her blog:

In 2000, fragments of a burial shroud from the 1st century were discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem, believed to have belonged to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy. The shroud was composed of a simple two-way weave, unlike the complex herringbone twill of the Turin Shroud. Based on this discovery, the researchers stated that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem. Now with that being said why are catholic so eager to visit this encased piece of cloth? . . . [I]t’s like somebody finding a pair of shoes or sandal that date back as far as 1260AD and 1390AD and taking long trips to see these sacred shoes and praying over them ! I have nothing but respect for all religions but this cloth thing is way too much!@

Ohhh and finding JESUS’s face imprinted on this shroud now that’s crazy ! If you have all of that then you have DNA a blood or hair sample intertwined in it , skin cells or something why go that far ? please don’t get upset if your catholic im just venting!

imageHi Ice Angel. I don’t think we Catholics (I’m Episcopalian, but that’s close) or any of the many Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Greek Orthodox, Non-Denominational Evangelical and Jewish people I know who think the shroud is real are upset. Really we’re not.

For a non-Catholic point of view you might want to read Gary Habermas’, "The Shroud of Turin and its Significance for Biblical Studies." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 24:1 (1981): 47-54. Gary teaches at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell, who was the famous Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church). You can find the paper on Gary’s own website. He writes: “There is little question that the shroud of Turin has occasioned much recent interest in evangelical and non-evangelical circles alike.”

Oh, and all pieces of cloth from the first century were not the same just as all sandals were not. Many experts think the shroud is real and for many good reasons.

Please stop venting.

A Touch of Miracle Plus A Maillard Reaction

A reader writes:

imageI noted with interest that David Rolfe commented in your blog yesterday saying, “I hope someone will be forthcoming with a critique, additions, suggestions…indeed anything that will aid Denis Mannix in formulating a methodology to test the Maillard theory in principle. With respect to Yannick, it cannot be necessary to have a crucified body to do this. To enable skeptics like myself to give the idea some credibility all I ask is for an image with a small degree of resolution no bigger than a little finger.”

In one experiment with a heated paper mache hand, Ray Rogers noted in his book that “Convection decreased resolution … however, the thumb and one finger are clearly resolved.” Is that sufficient resolution no bigger than a little finger? Rogers shows us just such an image in his book.

Rogers, on the same page, suggested some important variables, namely, body temperature, rate of amine release, a cool and still test bed and a sufficient concentration of saccharides. I suspect there are many more variables including body chemistry, time and other ambient factors such as humidity.  These are good starting points for Denis Mannix. However, I think something else is involved. Perhaps it is a condition or a phenomenon none of us has thought of including a touch of miracle.

Here is the text the reader mentions from Rogers’ book, A Chemist’s Perspective On The Shroud of Turin:

The amine/saccharide experiments showed that the following variables are important 1) When the body" temperature is too high, convection cells are too active, diffusing amines too widely for good resolution. Resolution improves at lower temperatures. A body that had cooled for several hours but has not yet produced high concentrations or amines would give better resolution than a hot body. 2) The amines must be released slowly. Too much amine badly reduced resolution. A decaying body would give much better resolution than any object that had been painted with pure amines. Too much amine would color the entire cloth, obliterating the image. A successful image that involved a real body would require removal of the cloth before extensive decomposition. 3) The experimental assembly must be kept in a space that is cool and still. 4) An increase in the concentration of reducing saccharides (impurities) on the cloth improves resolution. 5) Modern linen that does not contain suitable impurities will not produce an image.

The picture shown is the one from Rogers’ book. It was obtained from previews in Google Books. A larger version with better resolution is available in the book.

Templecombe: It is almost too exciting to think about.

imageFrom This is Somerset yesterday:

In August we had a talk, which lived up to the promise of its title, The Knights Templar.

The speaker, Juliet Faith, began with a brief history of those armed monks, founded in 1118 on the continent, to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. They became so powerful and rich that they were hounded out or executed in 1307. All their treasures disappeared overnight and many of the knights fled to England where their lives were spared and where they continued as before, setting up preceptories everywhere. Because of their strong links with the Holy Land, they were guardians of a huge number of sacred relics. During the Second World War, a panel painting was discovered, well hidden in the roof of a cottage in Templecombe, the most important preceptory in the South West. The panel bears an uncanny resemblance to the head on the Shroud of Turin, carbon dated to 1280. The Templars had been tried for worshipping an idol in the form of a head, so could the panel have been the lid of a box containing the shroud? It is almost too exciting to think about.

Too exciting?

Update on the St. John’s Lutheran Transfiguration Frescoes

imageDerrick Knutson is reporting in the East Minnesota Post Review:

The nearly finished frescoes that stand outside St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stacy are a sight to behold.

An image of the Transfiguration of Christ is portrayed across three towering arches that overlook a scenic section of Carlos Avery State Wildlife Refuge.

Jesus stands in the middle with the prophets Elijah and Moses at his side.

The outdoor frescoes – the first completed by anyone in over 700 years – are the works of world-renowned artist Mark Balma, who has family in the Stacy area.

The frescoes will be officially revealed to the public Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m.

And of particular interest to readers of this blog:

Balma’s rendering of Christ is unlike any image ever painted or sculpted of him, due to the process Balma went through to create what he seems to be the most accurate representation of Jesus ever made.

Balma worked with computer graphics artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth to design the image of Christ.

Those familiar with the Shroud of Turin might know of Downing.
In March of 2010, the History Channel released a two-hour documentary about the shroud, a 14-foot length of cloth believed to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus.
A face, believed to be that of Jesus, is imprinted on the shroud. Using the fabric and the aid of computer imaging, Downing produced a three-dimensional image that Balma used to create the “most historically accurate” rendering of Christ ever produced, Welty said.

Welty added most people associate Moses with Charlton Heston’s portrayal of the prophet in The Ten Commandments, so Balma’s work is similar to that image, but Elijah is “an open book.”

Welty said Balma actually modeled Elijah after a man he met in a restaurant.

Well, not the parts about Moses and Elijah. But that is interesting.

L’Osservatore Romano Weighs In on the Coptic Papyrus

The Huffington Post is reporting:

imageVATICAN CITY — The Vatican newspaper has added to the doubts surrounding Harvard University’s claim that a 4th century Coptic papyrus fragment showed that some early Christians believed that Jesus was married, declaring it a "fake."

The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article Thursday by leading Coptic scholar Alberto Camplani and an accompanying editorial by the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, an expert in early Christianity. They both cited concerns expressed by other scholars about the fragment’s authenticity and the fact that it was purchased on the market without a known archaeological provenance.