Who is right (if you can see through the bickering)?

imageColin Berry lets us know about this comments back-and-forth that appeared in Stephen Jones’ Shroud of Turin blog:

Weaving fan: ‘A further highly unusual [sic] feature of the Shroud’s linen is the weave itself. … an altogether more complex three-to-one herringbone twill …’

Jones: I regard your putting a “[sic]” in Wilson’s words quoted by me (and therefore my words) as substandard and personally offensive. The only valid excuse would be if Wilson or I made a spelling or grammatical mistake, which we didn’t.

Weaving fan: Ian Wilson, not so far as is known an expert on textiles.

Jones: This is FALLACIOUS. Wilson has spent a LIFETIME studying the Shroud and has met, seen and heard at Shroud conferences, and corresponded with, many “an expert on textiles”. To dismiss what Wilson says about the Shroud’s weave because he is not “an expert on textiles” is also substandard.

Weaving fan: Compare: Gilbert Raes, renowned expert on ancient textiles: … The type of weave [the herringbone pattern of the Turin Shroud] is not particularly distinctive and does not enable us to determine the period in which it was produced” .

Jones: This is also substandard. As I previously pointed out, Raes was talking about not being able to pinpoint the weave of the Shroud TO THE TIME OF CHRIST. He was not saying that 3:1 herringbone twill weave linen was produced in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Weaving fan: There is nothing particularly special about 3/1 weave which is why it is so widespread, even way back in ancient Egypt and still used by weavers today.

Jones: This is merely an ASSERTION by you. It is also FALLACIOUS. That 3:1 herringbone twill weave is “widespread” TODAY and was known “in ancient Egypt” does not thereby mean it was produced in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Weaving fan: Wilson is misleading here. Remember also that Tite had to find a piece of linen that the owners would allow to be cut up to be used as a CONTROL.

Jones: This is FALSE. The amount of linen needed as a control in the 1988 AMS radiocarbon dating was only the size of a POSTAGE STAMP. So it would NOT mean it would have to be “cut up”. The Shroud is of FAR GREATER value than any individual medieval linen and so the Vatican would never have allowed the Shroud to be C14 dated if that meant it would be “cut up.”

The fact is that Tite of the British Museum could NOT FIND a medieval piece of linen AT ALL which was 3:1 herringbone twill and therefore visually identical to the Shroud, so that the C14 dating labs could not tell which was the Shroud. But if medieval European 3:1 herringbone twill linen was so common as you claim it was, it would have been NO PROBLEM for Tite to obtain a POSTAGE STAMP sized sample of at least ONE of them.

Weaving fan: Wilson seems to imply that there were no similar herringbone cloths around in the Middle Ages. This is not true- it is simply that most are in museums (e.g the Victorian and Albert Museum in London) and can not be cut up to provide a control sample.

Jones: This is FALSE. See above.

As I pointed out above, several aspects of your comment I found to be substandard and even offensive, and so according to my policies it should not have appeared (see below). I only allowed it to appear so that I could further refute your argument.

I used to have a policy for those who like to argue and waste my time by reiterating the same false and substandard arguments:

“Each individual will usually be allowed only one comment under each post. Since I no longer debate, any response by me will usually be only once to each individual under each post.”

This policy was not permanently abolished, but only temporarily relaxed, and is held in reserve by me to invoke whenever I deem it necessary, as I now do.

Therefore you have had your last comment under this post. You are free to comment under other posts on this blog, but if they are similarly substandard they won’t appear.

I don’t like Jones’ way of moderating comments. Colin Berry doesn’t either. But did Colin, who squeals like a wounded something-or-other every time someone criticizes him, need to serve up this?

Berry: You, Mr. Uptight Stephen E.Jones, are not just a martinet, but A BOIL ON THE BUM OF THE BLOGOSPHERE! (emphasis his)

How to win friends and influence people!

But back to the question in the title: Who is right, Weaver fan or Jones?

8 thoughts on “Who is right (if you can see through the bickering)?”

  1. In his replies to ‘Weaving fan’, Jones missed out using the argument that cotton contamination in the Raes sample shows that the cloth cannot be of European manufacture, but had to be from the MIddle East. He also missed using Rogers’ observation that no vanillin can be found in the Shroud fibres compared to European medieval cloth, a persuasive argument that the cloth is older than medieval.

    Jones also falls into the trap of responding to bloggers directly, instead of leaving them to debate issues themselves. I much prefer Dan’s poiicy of posting interesting and controversial items he discovers, and then allowing bloggers, both sceptics and authenticists alike, to get on with it. It is what makes this site such an attractive one to blog.

    Colin’s snide comment is predictable, but every ad hom comment he ever makes applies equally to himself, but he just doesn’t see it.

    One of the most fascinating papers I’ve found on examples of early textiles is that by Professor Diana Fulbright: “Akeldama repudiation of Turin Shroud omits evidence from the Judean desert” Diana Fulbright, Frascati Conference May 2010:
    http://www.acheiropoietos.info/proceedings/FulbrightAkeldamaWeb.pdf .

  2. This thing about “similar herringbone cloths” is not new and just to make sure that the truth was being told by those in the anti-authenticity camp I queried V&A around four years ago. Initially they wanted to know what the inquiry was about, then kept silent when asked about the object.

  3. “In his replies to ‘Weaving fan’, Jones missed out using the argument that cotton contamination in the Raes sample shows that the cloth cannot be of European manufacture”;

    Sorry, this is not true. This is a misunderstanding of what Rogers found and wrote.

    Raes found “traces” of cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) in one part of his sample.

    Rogers found the same cotton species in his Raes threads but almost no cotton in his sticky-tape samples coming from the main part of the Shroud. He also found many cotton fibers in the 2 small samples coming from the C14 area (“full of cotton”). He found that some Raes threads as well as the C14 pieces of threads he had were “full of cotton fibers” while the main part of the Shroud was (almost) “pure linen”.

    I found in Raes thread # 7 about 10-20% of cotton fibers mixed with flax fibers (see my paper in shroud.com). The main part of the Shroud seems to have no more than 2% of cotton fibers. Raes # 7 was likely a mixture of cotton/flax fibers.

    Cotton (G. herbaceum), although coming from the Midde-East was used in Europa in the Middle-Ages.

    The question is not the origin of the cotton but the fact that the Raes/c14 corner is full of cotton while the main part of the Shroud is almost pure linen.

    This is very important if you want to understand why Rogers thought that the Raes/C14 corner was not representative of the Shroud (the vanillin question being the other argument).

    1. Thank you Thiebault. But nevertheless, I would have surmised that any traces of cotton at all even if only confined to the Raes and C14 samples would necessarily imply a Middle East provenance. I would be surprised to learn that any cotton thread was used at all in Europe whether on looms or on mending linen before say the 17th century after there was active trade in raw cotton from the American cotton fields. I would concede that there may have been a prior trade in finished cotton goods from the Middle East. I would be happy to be corrected on any of these points.

    2. Thiebault: These were both excellent references, particularly your own very comprehensive paper in three parts. It seems quite clear that the C14 and Raes samples were not truly representative of the Shroud, and that this was even missed by Flury-Lemburg, who had maintained that there was no variation in the cloth. (It highlights the need to adhere to strict scientific protocols for any kind of truly representative sampling, notwithstanding cursory appearances, or even as in this case “expert” examination.)
      From your first reference, it seems that cotton was not well-known in Europe until well after the First Crusade in the 11th century – and it was even common to mistake it for some kind of “tree-wool”.
      The question now in my mind is when was this repair carried out? I am wondering if the dye found suggests that it was a medieval repair, rather than an ancient repair, as also might be suggested by the C14 tests. In that case it takes us back to the absence of vanillin as possibly the only remaining argument that the main cloth is of ancient provenance, but that it does not locate the origin as either Europe or the Middle East. Some other argument must seem to be sought if a Middle East provenance is to be asserted.

  4. Oh, gosh.

    I’m not sure the “my-expert-is-bigger-than-your-expert” argument is very helpful, and it maybe that both experts (as opposed to both bloggers) would agree with each other. It is surely true that perhaps 90% of all weaving is simple over and under 1-1 weave. This requires only a single heddle, which either raises or depresses alternate warp threads. 3-1 twill requires four heddles, alternately raising every fourth warp thread, and is indisputably more complicated. Whether it has a herringbone pattern or not is a feature of how the threads are set up on the heddles and, once set up, is no more complicated to make than ‘ordinary’ twill. The exact proportion of twill to 1-1 is not particularly relevant – there is a lot of cloth made, and even 1% would not, I think be considered terribly rare, although it would certainly be less than common. It may be that it was more expensive than ordinary cloth and has been disproportionately preserved.

    I’m afraid that I find the idea that there is no 3-1 herringbone twill from the 13th century anywhere in Europe difficult to credit. However it may be very rare, and I can well understand nobody wanting to lose any of it, even a (large) postage stamp size, just to act as a control. After all, the shroud would only be the most valuable cloth in creation if it was the genuine article, and there would be no guarantee of that before the control was destroyed. Another reason may be that by 13th century samples of fabric are complete articles rather than fragmentary, and chopping any sample off would damage them beyond tolerance.

    I note the complaint that Wilson’s word “unusual” is graced with a [sic] by Weaving Fan. However it is an odd word. What, I wonder, is ‘usual’ about the shroud? How many similar shrouds are there to compare it to before anything about it can be considered either usual or unusual? I think I would need half a dozen or so before I could class one of them as “unusual.”

    Having said that, Weaving Fan is being slightly disingenuous in his quote from Raes: “The type of weave is not particularly distinctive…” The paragraph from which it is taken begins: “At the beginning of our age both cotton and linen were known in the Middle East.” It is clear that here Raes is speaking of antiquity rather than the Middle Ages.

    Finally, and on a slightly different tack, and I don’t even know if it’s important, but on one side of a twill the warp threads dominate the visible area, and on the other side the weft. Does anyone know which side holds the (main) image on the shroud?

    1. “Does anyone know which side holds the (main) image on the shroud?”

      The so-called “warp side” (because about 75% of the “image side” surface is made up of warp threads).

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