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Giulio Fanti Responds to Gian Marco Rinaldi’s Book Review

Giulio Fanti writes:

. . . In the meantime you can read the attached answer to the comments of Gian Marco Rinaldi that you have already translated and put in your blog (please inform me if you can’t read the attachment).

And be patient because, as I wrote, within few weeks it will appear a paper of mine on a respected scientific journal regarding FT-IR and Raman dating of ancient textiles.

Here is the attachment. It was provided to me by Giulio as an automatic translation of comments he had already written pertaining to the book review written by Gian Marco Rinaldi. I have included it below, having copied the text from an attached Microsoft Word document (docx) and pasting it into the blog. Because of its length, you may need to click on the “Read more” link to see the entire text. (UPDATE: Or you may click on AUTOMATIC TRANSLATION replica rivista Fanti -spedita- QUE for a PDF file that includes the Italian version).

UPDATE 2: Giulio sent along a revised version of the translation after noting some criticism. I have replaced the old one below. I have left the PDF version unchanged.


Padua, April 11, 2013

Comments to the article by Gian Marco Rinaldi:

<Shroud: the "alternative dating" by Giulio Fanti>

Author: Giulio Fanti

Tags: alternative dating, Shroud, Gian Marco Rinaldi, systematic effects


I first thank the editors of Query for giving me the opportunity to clarify a few points below touched by the perhaps too brief article (hereinafter called Article) entitled <Shroud: the "alternative dating" by Giulio Fanti> written by Gian Marco Rinaldi.

I also thank the author for the gratuitous insult "bad science", highlighted in the "Tags". Insult not only directed the work done by Giulio Fanti and his collaborators from other reputable universities, but also at the Ateneo Patavino which funded the research, and indirectly to the prestigious journal that has accepted and will shortly publish an article on chemical dating of ancient fabrics based on Raman spectroscopy and FT-IR.

However, I can forgive the gratuitous insult because probably due to unsuitable interpretations of a text not read in the details and too simplified in the discussion of the scientific issues, since it is addressed to the general public.

It would have been better if the Article was written only after a more careful reading of the data that will be contained in future scientific articles in journals that are not typical of popular books such as "The mystery of the Shroud: The amazing scientific discoveries on the enigma of cloth of Jesus "(Rizzoli, 235 p., € 18) wrote with Saverio Gaeta (hereinafter called the Book). But now I feel compelled to clarify immediately a few points raised by Article, postponing any more detailed discussions after the reading of scientific papers mentioned above.

Systematic effects

The Article contains the following statement "It is announced the forthcoming publication of an article in the scientific journal, but just from now we can doubt the results." This attitude seems to show some prevention against the presented results perhaps because they are not consistent with the thesis that you would like to demonstrate. Of course if you make studies that are goal-oriented towards the target you want to achieve, these studies become subjective and thus of no scientific value. A serious scientist should first objectively analyze the data in his possession and then to venture to make a few comments only after obtaining the corresponding objective results.

The reason given for having to "doubt the results" seems thus explained: "The concerns are inherent in the very nature of the method used.", But is not considered the fact that much of the work done to develop the reliability of alternative dating has focused its exploration of possible systematic effects (later criticized by Article) that could alter the results of mechanical and chemical dating.

In fact, the research at the University of Padua did not concern only these alternative methods of dating but it has also considered other, such as the corresponding systematic effects due to environmental factors. Only these three methods, FT-IR, Raman and Multi-Parametric Mechanical were considered valid to run dating of textile samples that, after suitable measurements based on parallel analyses also of microscopic type, these data resulted reliable, because characterized by uncertainty sufficiently small. The other methods studied were therefore eliminated.

It is also to note that the analysis of environmental effects on textile samples imposes that some of them are not suitable for these methods of dating. Preliminary studies of various details also using visual inspection with an optical microscope can in fact impose to discard a priori various archaeological samples contaminated by environmental factors.

The Article shows rightly that "changes may proceed at different speeds depending on several factors." and it was just the object of this analysis that allowed the preventive identification of these dating methods discarding other methods because too much affected by alterations. It is obvious that any alteration of the properties of the samples may still cause some small deviation of the result, but these changes were considered in the statistical analysis that led to the final uncertainty of the order of the century. These uncertainties can be reduced in the future if we adopt a more appropriate procedure for the selection and cleaning of the samples.

The Article also states that " the degradation of cellulose is not a clock that proceeds at the same velocity (like it is the decay of radiocarbon)." This is true within the limits just discussed, but also I have to add that the radiocarbon method presents various uncertainties and that it is not always reliable especially if it is used with fabrics which may have suffered environmental contamination such as to generate supply of carbon 14.

It is just the case of the Shroud whose double body image imprinted there is still scientifically not explainable nor reproducible. Many hypotheses of image formation is based on intense radiation (radiation in the broad sense as a phenomenon acting at a distance) and I do not think that we can a priori rule out the hypothesis of a possible enrichment of carbon-14 caused by a radiation still not well defined and of natural origin. For example, it is just of a few decades, the discovery of X-rays and gamma collimated associated with the birth of supernovae and ipernovae that penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and that could have caused both the body image formation and the enrichment of carbon-14 .

In this respect it should be remembered that in flax there is roughly one carbon 14 atom of one million of carbon 12 atoms and that the addition of one carbon 14 atom in the same amount of carbon 12 atoms, maybe coming by a nitrogen atom of the flax hit by a neutron, would change the radiocarbon date of the order of a thousand years. It is therefore advisable to repeat a radiocarbon dating of the Shroud only after finding out clearly what phenomenon could have produced the double image on the Shroud. Here is also explained the importance of developing alternative dating methods that may indicate a more reliable age of the Shroud.


To obtain the results described in the book we have had to first determine the calibration curves linking the various chemical and mechanical properties analyzed to the historical date of the samples, along with the measurement of the corresponding uncertainties. In the Article it is written that "Fanti has procured some antique fabrics from different eras approximately known." It should be noted that the ages are determined on the basis of their assigned uncertainty.

For example, the 11 textiles on the table on p. 98 of the Book, report time intervals more or less extensive depending on the method used for the determination of the corresponding historical epoch. Sample no. 9 (Coptic tissue from the mummy of Fayum, Egypt) was dated in the range between 544 AD and 650 A.D. (Confidence level of 95%) following a radiodating carbon; instead the sample n. 3 (the end of the Old Kingdom Egyptian fabric) has been dated from the Egyptian Museum of Turin in the range from 2700 BC and 2100 BC on the basis of historical and stratigraphic information.

The Article observes, "that the results cover a very wide range, from 300 BC 400 AD," but 700 years of range are really comparable with the 600 years interval assigned to the Egyptian Museum of Turin sample no. 3. So, even now, without the improvements that can be made, the dating methods proposed may be of interest to museums who want to verify the antiquity of textile samples not clearly located in a certain historical period.

In reference to the comment: "Considering the extremes of the confidence intervals, it would range from 700 BC to 800 AD ", the range is now extensive and can be reduced by making improvements to the method proposed, but this range is already a step forward compared to traditional dating performed in museums that rarely consider statistical confidence intervals as it was done in this case.

Precisely for this reason connected to the relatively wide confidence interval, the age of the Shroud was determined by performing an arithmetic average of the results obtained from the three independent alternatives dating. Future technical improvements of the methods, based on the cleanliness of the sample and the method of extraction of flax fibers will reduce the uncertainty assigned to the date of the samples.

In reference to the dating of the Shroud is to observe a surprising result: all three methods, of course, independent of each other, Raman (200 BC ± 500), FT-IR (300 BC ± 400) and Multi-Parametric Mechanical (400 AD ± 400) provide results that are compatible with one another in reference to the level of confidence of 95%. What is curious it is that just the first century AD, which includes the date of the death of Jesus of Nazareth, is the only century common to the three dating.

It then reads: "The dispersion would be even greater for the first series using the original result, it was 752 BC ± 400. "This statement is not completely correct because we cannot speak of dispersion in statistical data (i.e. related to the repeatability and reproducibility) in reference to known systematic effects that are not treatable with the same statistical methods with which have determined the confidence intervals. In fact, the quantity defined systematic effect is used to change the historical date of finding measured.

The Article continues: "This correction is somewhat arbitrary." This statement may be acceptable if we discuss why it was made a correction of 452 years instead of 437 years. Given that the uncertainties involved are of the order of the century, we can add that we have tried to round up the data. The assertion of the Article is not acceptable if we discuss in terms of a wider range of years for systematic effects that were not invented but that are calculated on the basis of experimental data that will be made available to the scientific community.

It is then formulated the following criticism that seems very appropriate: "it is not known at what temperature and for how long the cloth of the Shroud has been heated as a result of the fire." Although it is clear that there are no scientific data on thermal measurements of Chambéry’s fire, you can set some limits. For this reason, as is reported in Paper on p. 99, Stefano Dall’Acqua of the University of Padua has performed several experimental tests in the oven on linen-like Shroud to determine which pairs of time-temperature can cause yellowing greater, equal or less than that detectable on the Shroud. At this point it was not difficult to establish the upper limit of time-temperature which may have undergone the Shroud during the Chambéry fire: 200 ° C for two hours.

The following observation: "It should be noted that, if he made a correction to the first method, Fanti had to make a correction for the third method which with similar heating tests found that they produced an apparent age" of a few centuries " perhaps due to a hasty reading of the Book, deserves further comment. At p. 100 it is explained that the systematic corrections caused by the effect of fire are negligible compared to the uncertainty inherent mechanical method, evaluated over a period of time ranging from more or less 400 years. It is also highlighted in the Book the fact that the effect of the fire was further reduced by the particular position from which they were collected fibers Shroud under analysis.

Instead on p. 90, in the case of FT-IR analysis, with reference to the deviations produced by systematic effects in the case of linens exposed to fire, one speaks of several centuries. These have therefore necessitated a correction of the measured data.

Better not to comment on the accusation, veiled by a "maybe" Article: "Maybe Fanti has decided to rejuvenate the result of the first series, he was too old than the time of Christ, but he chose not to further rejuvenate the result of the third series, 400 AD, because it was already too young. "This statement wrongly suggests that" perhaps " the data have been tampered in order to achieve a certain goal-result. If you wanted to get such a result at the expense of professional ethics, it would not have been required years of hard work aimed at finding the Truth!

The reliability of the methods

The three methods proposed, Manual Multi-parametric, Raman and FT-IR are new and therefore amenable to improvements, especially as regards the cleaning and extraction of the samples, which may reduce the uncertainty in the assessment of the age of the historical samples.

It seems that the Article directly a priori attacks these alternative dating methods labeling them as unreliable, probably forgetting that from a few years there are method based on similar techniques. One example is the dating method of the cellulose of the wood used by the Museum of Art and Science in Milan and described by Gottfried Matthaes that is based on techniques FT-IR ( . htm and

They may seem tendentious in the Article the following statements: "… I believe that the results are not reliable, not for any doubts about the origin of the material, but because of the inadequacy of the methods used." "… You can imagine some differences in storage conditions such as a strong bleaching process, and the Shroud had stories more lively. " "We have also a more concrete reason to think that the fibers of the Shroud used by Fanti were in poor condition." "These uncertainties mean that the methods used by Fanti are inherently unreliable."

Indeed, as has already been said, much of the research on alternative methods of dating has not only focused attention on the search for possible correlations between certain chemical and mechanical properties with the corresponding date of the historical sample considered, but also it centered attention on the possible effects of various environmental contamination such as temperature, humidity, the mechanical and chemical action that suffered the sample during the centuries and the presence of impurities of various kinds both organic and inorganic. It is therefore not true to say in the Article: "Fanti says that he has conducted tests to assess the" systematic effects "of various factors, but in practice he has only made the correction that we saw for the first series.". These are the corrections that have been explicitly mentioned in the informative text, but the literature that will followed it, will best describe these systematic effects.


The international scientific community, accepting the first work on the subject of alternative dating of plant tissues, seems to enjoy a lot of these new methods proposed, but the Article seems in the opposite direction and has to be over with statements that do not seem very scientific, "So with these methods if you get a date in contrast with other knowledge, must doubt the result. "

In this case, the only result seems to be in reference on the radiocarbon dating of 1988 (Nature, that finally declared a medieval date the Shroud; incidentally "conclusive evidence" reported in the conclusions of the article by Nature does not seem suitable to the scientific statement because it does not seem to leave room for possible future research.

The result in 1988 was challenged by different perspectives also of methodological type recently published an article by robust statistics on magazine (Statistics and Computing 2Fs11222-012-9329 -5 # page-1) that has cast severe doubts on medieval dating of the Shroud because statistically unreliable.

Based on dubious and lacking justifications it seems the Article reference to the statement: " We have two reasons to think that the fabric of the Shroud was made around 1300 they are the radiocarbon dating and the historical fact of his first appearance. On the other hand, we have no reason to suggest that the Shroud is the first century. "

Since the Article with this statement comes from the strict experimental science I feel entitled to embrace other fields of knowledge in commenting on this statement that perhaps deliberately ignores the results of several studies also published in the book.

Apart from the dating results Raman, FT-IR and mechanical multi-parametric the Article defines as "unreliable … the inadequacy of the methods used" and the historical references from the early centuries AD, also mentioned in the Book. There are several indications that the Shroud is prior to 1300.

For example, we must not forget the texture of the Shroud extremely valuable to "herringbone", but performed on a hand loom with obvious defects and jump stop and wires of varying thickness even more than the 50% obtained manually because in ancient times. In agreement with the biblical book of Exodus, the Shroud’s threads have a twist "Z" instead of the more common twisting "S" because addressed to high-ranking religious person.

We must not forget the full compatibility between what is observed on the Shroud and what we read in the Gospels that was not easy to be played by a Medieval artist; for example lacerated and contused wounds caused by the scourge marks are not easy to explain to this day. That’s why famous scientists such as Eberhard Lindner did not hesitate to appoint "scientific Gospel" the Shroud.

From the early centuries A.D. the iconography of Christ takes typical features of the Shroud face that would not explain except in reference to artists who have not had the opportunity to observe the Shroud. The book adds some interesting detail: for example, we recently found a gold Byzantine (Solidus of Justinian II, the period) of the seventh century AD, depicting the face of Jesus Christ, with interesting additional details (-a: crooked nose because the cartilage fractured as a result of a stick;-b: long hair asymmetrical like"payot", i.e. the side curls Orthodox Jews) that reflect the particular characteristics of the Shroud face.

It seems rather absurd to think of a hypothetical medieval artist who was able to play a double body image that up now cannot be explained, especially in the microscopic details, and he was also aware of many details of Christ’s face unknown in the Middle Ages, but showed in coins and icons of the early centuries AD, only came to light in modern times.

At this point even applying Occam’s Razor, from numerous knowledge about the Shroud, the most likely hypothesis is that the most important relic of Christianity has really wrapped the body of Jesus Christ, bringing impressed his unique "photography ".

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