Paper Chase: Computerized Anthropometric Analysis of the Image

imageIn light of Stephen Jones’ most recent update (see this blog and his blog), I am reminded of the paper, Computerized anthropometric analysis of the Man of the Turin Shroud by Giulio Fanti, Emanuela Marinelli and Alessandro Cagnazzo:

Particularly, the tibio-femoral index of the Man of the Shroud turned out to be 83.8%. If the data is compared with the indices typical of different races, it is evident that the value is very lose to that of the Semitic race, characterised by an index of 83.66%.

This analysis cannot show that the Man of the Shroud was certainly Jewish because of the uncertainty of the data obtained (in the order of some percentage point) and because the data obtained by bibliographic research is not completely exhaustive, but it is certainly significant that an anthropometric analysis carried out with the greatest possible objectivity could have led to such an extraordinary result.

How valid is this?

49 thoughts on “Paper Chase: Computerized Anthropometric Analysis of the Image”

  1. Good to see these old papers revived from time to time. It gives us a chance to revisit old ideas, and maybe introduce new ones to those who haven’t seen them before.
    My first thought is: Was it really as recently as 1999 that the word ‘computerised’ could be used to give some sort of authority to what is really not much more than a collection of guesses? How we’ve grown up since then!

    To more significant matters. Everything hinges on two questions: Did the man in the shroud have his legs bent?” and “Was the shroud over the top of the body horizontal or draped?” Without clear answers to both these questions, all the measurements and superimpositions are more or less meaningless. There are other related questions, but these are the important ones.

    Question 1. The dorsal image shows clear impressions of the calves and thighs. As the simplest experiment will demonstrate, the slightest bending of the knees lifts the calves well clear of the floor. Prima facie, the man did not have his legs bent. Other possibilities – even under the body, the shroud followed its contours, perhaps by being laid on some sort of mattress, or, the image of the calves is not a contact image, but a collimated projection of both image and bloodstains downwards from the body.

    Question 2. If the shroud on the top of the body followed its contours, while the shroud on the floor remained flat, the top image would be longer than the bottom image. The more bent the knees, the more pronounced would be the discrepancy. Although there is room for manoeuvre here, if the two images are superimposed crown-of-head to crown-of-head, the rest of the features match up very well without any adjustment of the upper image length. Prima facie, the two images are the same length. Other possibilities – the two images also match up reasonably well if the lower image is stretched by 10cm or so, so it’s all a bit subjective.

    To answer Ron’s question: “How valid is this?” Not at all.

  2. Hugh, I think it is pretty clear when viewing the Shroud image, that the legs are bent. I noticed this first time I viewed the image + notice the feet placement- I would think it pretty difficult to have the feet flat on the image if the legs were not bent. It is also apparent that the back is also slightly bent. The fact that the calves and thighs could be imprinted points to the Shroud being wrapped and bound tightly to the body, therefore the Shroud would follow the contours of the body pretty close….This I believe is the consensus among most Shroud scholars.

    1. Thanks Ron. Well, yes and no. Lying flat on the surface, with toes pointing up in the air, the bottom edge of the shroud could have been brought up and over the toes, giving the “flat foot” impression that we see. The trouble with the ‘wrapped and bound’ hypothesis is those invisible sides, and the lack of any gross “Agamemnon mask” distortion of the face. I myself would very much doubt if the consensus among shroud scholars was ‘wrapped and bound’ but I could be wrong; it’s so difficult to know, isn’t it? Perhaps we could ask Dan to put together a ‘consensus questionnaire’ on various things for shroud scholars to put there opinions to!

    2. Read de wesselow’s book. He argues against bent legs. The imprint of the feet was created by the linen being wrapped up against and over the vertical feet position

  3. Useful data is available on the TSC of Colorado website, where it is easy to gather facts about non-contact areas like the nose, cheeks as well as other areas, ruling out the possibility that the body was tightly wrapped. This is consistent with the Gospel accounts of a temporary burial, where the need to wrap the body tightly did not arise.

  4. Louis most misleadingly you wrote: “This (the TSC of Colorado alleged ‘demonstration’ of Shroud’s burial configuration ruling out of the possibility that the body was tightly wrapped) is consistent with the Gospel accounts of a temporary burial, where the need to wrap the body tightly did not arise.

    The true fact is a loosely draped body actually is totally inconsistent with the Greek verbs used in the Gospel to describe Yeshua’s body wrapping in shrouds: entulisso, “to wrap, encircle”; eneileo, “to compress, tightly wrap up” and deo, “to fasten, bind”.

    As wrapping in shrouds was/is one of the Judean/Jewish burial core procedures, in order to counteract arms forced in rigor mortis from adduction to abduction, a crucifixion victim’s bloody body fastening/binding + compressing/tightly wrapping up were most needed.

    The true fact is the TS bloodstain cartography implies a tightly wrapped up cloth-to-body front and back configuration. During the bloody body image formation process (as the cloth got somewhat taut again via shrinking and resulted in a new configuration), the arm counteracted rigor mortis was recorded in terms of image distortion (right hand with elongated ‘bony’ fingers + unequal abducted arm length).

    1. Do all the gospels use the word ‘entulisso’? My reading of the gospels is that Mark and Luke imply a temporary (possibly loose) wrapping, as the following day people come to anoint him (and then presumably tightly wrap)

      1. Matthias,
        don’t you mistake a 2h-2h30’s speedy burial for a 30 minutes’ hasty one, PLEASE! According to Hebrew time-markers and the Gospel, Yeshua’s burial could have been performed in 2h-2h30, which means the (4-5 buriers) had enough time to perform the core procedures in terms of 1/speedy burial – 2/wrapping in shroudS (with an ‘S’) – 3/purifying and 4/drying (to the sole exception of 5/anointing as grinding solid or granulized spices to make perfumed oil was forbidden on Shabbath). just to anoint his linen wrappings. Hence, to the sole exception of the anointment ritual, Rabbi Yeshua’s “primary” burial rite according to the Judean funerary custom of the Second Temple period might well have been duly completed within a minimum of a two-hours-and-a-half time-frame.

        Reminder: once tightly wrapped up, a corpse can be anointed (if need be = to pay visit to the decease in the week immediately following ) without even the need to unwrap it.

      2. Correction:

        don’t you mistake a 2h-2h30′s speedy burial for a 30 minutes’ hasty one, PLEASE!
        According to Hebrew time-markers and the Gospel, Yeshua’s burial could have been performed in 2h-2h30, which means the (4-5 buriers) had enough time to perform the core procedures in terms of 1/speedy burial – 2/wrapping in shroudS (with an ‘S’) – 3/purifying and 4/drying.
        Hence, to the sole exception of anointing (as grinding solid or granulized spices to make spicy perfumed oil was forbidden on Shabbath), Rabbi Yeshua’s “primary” burial rite according to the Judean funerary custom of the Second Temple period could have been duly completed.

        Reminder: once tightly wrapped up in linen, a corpse can be anointed (if need be = to pay visit to the decease in the week immediately following the deceased’s death) without even the need
        to unwrap it.

      3. PS: Purifying the bloody corpse via (myrrhic-)aloetic fumigation could have (temporarily) made up for the anointing procedure.

  5. Hullo Max, it is not hard to understand your point of view as a qualified scholar and former university professor and it is precisely this fact that made me the first person to request you (on this blog) to make your papers available and posted in pdf format. I would hesitate to be guided solely by (theoretical) burial procedures in Jerusalem in the first century AD and as you may know the NT has been used as a reliable source by the topmost Israeli archaeologists, Dan Bahat, Amos Kloner, both former Jerusalem District Archaeologists, to name just two, to complement the information they have. It is obvious that TSC of Colorado has spent a lot of time and energy working on the Shroud image and many of the points they have raised merit consideration, so if you want to contest what has been said get your paper (with illustrations) ready the fastest possible.

    1. Louis, you wrote: “I would hesitate to be guided solely by (theoretical) burial procedures in Jerusalem in the first century AD.” The true fact is you let Jackson guide you and ‘believe’ in his reconstruction that is BOTH archaeologically and exegetically flawed (see my previous comments on his ‘alleged’ reconstruction ‘according to’ the Gospel)!

      1. Reminder: Jackson (in spite of my deep respect for his remarkable pioneering work), is a physicist NOT an experimental archaeologist that I know of.

      2. Reminder:
        On December 22, 2012 at 6:50 am (#3 Reply), I wrote:

        Re the theory about the side-strip being used as a tying band
        “As early as 1994 (my paper to Daniel Raffard de Brienne) and 1997 (my memo in Nice), I first mentioned the side strip might well have been cut off from the main cloth for tight wrapping purpose and then

        On December 22, 2012 at 9:38 am (#5 Reply), I also wrote:

        “Most curiously, my first theoritical/experimental reconstruction (described in my 1994 paper & 1997 memo) of the TS man’s wrapping of the side-strip is exactly the same as the one by Jackson in the video. The TRUE fact is alleged ‘Jackson’s’ side-strip theory is POSTERIOR Legrand’s and …mine!

        On March 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm ( #23 reply), I already wrote:

        “Jackson changed his mind in the late 1990s i.e. after he read either French Shroud scholar Legrand OR the memo I wrote in which I FIRST emitted the side strip theory. Though jackson included Legrand & Hamon side strip theory afterward, the Shroud still appear loosely wrapped around the body. He first thought the Shroud was JUST LOOSELY draped and only slightly changed his mind.”
        (I also commented on Mechthild Flury-Lemberg’s & César Barta’s primeval fold theory…)

  6. I’m aware of at least two attempts to represent the 3-D posture following studies to this end, both from Dan’s postings over the last 12 months or so.

    French 3D imaging by Thierry Castex, May 2012: ttp://
    It is useful to have a competent reading in French to follow the text. I cannot be sure how reliable it may be, as one of the graphics showing the legs bent at the knees, also seems to indicate that dorsal part of the cloth is lying flat at some distance from the calves; but I could be mistaken.

    The other is a bronze statue by Luigi Mattei: Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre, Jerusalem: Bronze statue by Luigi Mattei: Exhibition of the Shroud of Turin.
    “The most outstanding elements of our exposition are the digitalized and life-sized copy of the Holy Shroud, two holograms showing the three-dimensional image of the Man of the Shroud, and a bronze life-sized statue of the Man of the Shroud, created by the Italian sculptor Luigi Mattei, who based his work on extensive studies of the Shroud.”

    Both show the knees well-bent. A question in my mind is, that there always seems to be an underlying assumption that the corpse was laid on its back. If the body was distorted and set in rigor mortis, who is to say that the body may not have been placed lying on its side? This might have been the more stable position for it under the circumstances. Who knows?

    1. daveb; “A question in my mind is, that there always seems to be an underlying assumption that the corpse was laid on its back”…Of course! If we assume this is the actual burial Shroud of Jesus who suffered the death of crucifixion, then we must postulate his body would have gone into rigor immediately upon death on the cross- (this has been presumed by several forensic scientists), therefore, the body would sustain the position one would assume in that particular circumstance; Knees bent, body leaning slightly forward, head down, arms up and slightly back etc.; …This position in rigor would have obviously been troubling to the buriers, BUT, it was customary to bury the bodies supine and I believe would have shown extreme disrespect if not done in the customary fashion. Furthermore, I question whether, even if in rigor, placing the body on it’s side would not have some effects on the body and on the image which would be noticeable, i.e.; one arm pushed up toward the abdomen more then the other, for example?

      If anyone questions the customary position, it has been found in many instances including several dozen burials in Qumran, which one can easily find through very little research.


      1. Forgot to add, once the rigor had been broken at the shoulder points to allow the arms to come down, this would also allow the arms to move freely (unrestricted), which is another point against a side positioning, I would think.


  7. Most likely, the body was in extra height and lying on its side during the image formation process. In other words, it occurred during the purifying and drying rituals once the body was wrapped in shroud’S’.

  8. Max, presume you have read what I have published, from which you can gather that it is an independent line and only what merits consideration is mentioned. TSC has members who were on the STURP team, who were able to make a hands-on examination, and therefore gain more credibility although not everything was explained due to time limits.

    Now we see comments saying that the body may have been lying on its side. I have read that it may have been upright and at this rate we may shortly see someone claiming that the body was with its head down, as though in a yoga position. OK, now please explain the image-formation process with the body lying on its side, not forgetting to say why there are no side images.

    1. I agree, the only time I would think the body would have been placed on it’s side would have been when actually wrapping the body or possibly during the cleansing, (if cleansed), as speculated by some. One needs to ask; How long did this image formation take? How long was the body laid on it’s side? I believe It most certainly was not left on it’s side. Time constraints IS an issue here, especially since no one can, at this time, seriously answer the question of the time required for image formation.


  9. Unfortunately the (around) 1845 microphotographs taken in Turin are not available and we have to rely on computer-generated images which are not totally reliable because the process by which they were obtained are not described. We are therefore left with no choice but to speculate, make claims, write papers, give talks, publish articles based on theory and, of these, of course, only those that merit consideration can be taken into account. We now have to wait and see the rationale behind the claims that the body was laid on it side…

  10. To Ron and Louis: On June 4, 2013 at 9:48 am (#31 Reply), I wrote:

    Once the body was all wrapped-up in clean shrouds, purified and dried out, the buriers either took down the body from the two waist-high raised stones and laid it out onto the unction slab or (more likely) placed it in supine position inside tomb chamber sole funerary vaulted niche (kokh in Hebrew, kokhah in Aramaic) on the side-wall to the right on entering and on a bed of granulized myrrh to keep it from putrefying .

  11. OK Max, the supine position is easy to accept, but have you changed your mind regarding what you wrote in #20?

    1. Louis, not at all. The body lying on its side during the image formation process can account e.g.:

      – for the off-elbow-tipped bloodstain. Forensically speaking, the latter can be described as a passive pattern or, to be more accurate, an altered gravity trail drop pattern left by free falling drop produced from stationary source (body resting in extra height (on two raised stones?) and laid on its right side).
      – for the dorsal images being encoded with the same amount of intensity with no trace of flattening (body apparent ‘lack of gravity’) etc.

      1. Max the off-elbow blood-stain can also be accounted for ‘simply’ by the Shroud being wrapped around or tucked under the elbow/arms whilst the body lay supine, no elaborate positioning is needed. Blood remnants could have trickled out of the hand/wrist wounds after the arms were brought down from their rigor mortis state. Plus we can not see both elbows clearly due to fire damage, so it could be possible there were two blood stains off the elbows for all we know. You also don’t need much height to allow for the flow. The slightly vertical angle of the forearms could have been sufficient to cause a trickle off the elbow.
        No trace of flattening is also not precisely apparent the body did not lie supine as it has been speculated the buttocks, in rigor, would not flatten and the shoulder blade area where some have speculated shows signs of rubbing from possibly the cross may be due to flattening actually….just putting this out there.

        Max you have obviously put a lot of time into your theory and I’m not shooting it down, just raising some issues that I have with it, you could be very close for all I know to what actually occurred but I still see issues, one being the time needed to actually purify and dry out the sheets. They did not have hours to accomplish what needed to be done.


      2. I have previously theorised that the blood trickles acorss the small of the back may have been created by post mortem blood flows, originating from the hand/wrist nail wounds, flowing down the underside of the forearms, through the hip area near where the elbows would be, and around the lower back. This would be quite possible with thicker, more coagulated blood (thin blood would “fall off” the body at the hip region prior to running around the lower back area)

  12. Re my title as university professor: the true fact is MR Colin Berry (and his wife) DO seem to be TOTALLY ignorant of the way the French Academic system worked prior to 1984!

    Shall I endlessly repeat I was OFFICIALLY appointed university professor by the French ministry of Foreign Affairs AND the Saudi ministry of Education and served as such for two years on a most specific cultural mission + two years in Algeria? Therefore I am entitled to describe myself as university professor WHETHER MR Colin Berry LIKE IT OR NOT!

    Reminder: In France, prior to 1984, you had to pass ‘un concours’ to be a university professor and be hired as such by the French ministry of Foreign Affairs to teach abroad as such. The true fact is many a candidate with PhD JUST flunked the ‘concours’ to be a university professor!

    1. BTW I very seldom recur to this owned title or with ignorarrogant people such as MR Colin Berry ONLY.

      1. “Professor” is not a valid title to be used on this site, as (when challenged) you gave a link to a poster presentation at that Polish Shroudie congress that described you as “Professor, Dr. Max Patrick Hamon”. What’s more you pointedly reminded someone just a few days ago, DaveB as I recall, that you were a “professor”. You can’t claim it was an error on the organizers’ part to include “Dr” while citing that back to DaveB and others without qualification.

        Reminder: only a University has the power to bestow that title of “professor” in front of a name, not Government ministries in France, Saudi Arabia or wherever. In any case, how could a young man, back in the 70s, ever hope to acquire a University professorship without a single published paper to his name, or even an academic thesis? Do you even have a University first degree? If so, from where, and in what subject?

        So let’s stop playing silly games shall we Max? If “professeur” ever appeared on your paperwork, it was in the sense of “teacher”, and that was probably because it was a standard title given to anyone employed , as you were, even in a minor admin’ role at a teacher training college, in your case attached to the then University of Riyadh.

        Kindly stop insulting our intelligence, Max. Oh, and and stop playing that “we do/did things different in France” card – or I’ll set my wife on you…

      2. MR Colin Berry, shall I understand, the title of IGNORAMUS is the sole valid title for you?

        Professor Max Patrick Hamon

      3. France has and will have HER way whether CB Le Rosbif (Roast Beef) like it or not!

      4. BTW in Torun, Poland, I did not present a poster session. I presented an oral paper.

    2. Re stopping insulting one’s intelligence, MR Colin Berry, could you tell us what is your expertise in Templar Archaeology (on which you base your whole scorch-and-leech-used-as-felt-tipped-pen theory)? What is your expertise in meta-analysis as genuine RESEARCH work? What are your qualifications as statistician and radiocarbon physicist? STILL WAITING for your reply?

      1. Kindly stop insulting one’s intelligence, COCOlin. Oh and stop playing that ‘all-around science-and-archaeology PhD card… when your are just a professional foodie on pension.

  13. Thanks Max, re. #26, I got your point for the time being, but as commented previously the faster your paper is ready the better so that one can read your contention in one stretch.

  14. Now that Max has explained the origins of his title Professeur, I do believe that Colin Berry is entitled to the honorific ‘Doctor’ as he has frequently laid claim to a Ph.D. in Chemistry. I’ve always thought it curious that in Anglophone countries anyway, those who had a first degree in medecine claimed the title ‘Doctor’, and are usually referred to as ‘doctors’, whereas those of them who had qualified in surgery were given the apparently more prestigious title of ‘Mister’. With any amount of luck, we might have no further ‘ad homs’ in this posting thread anyway.

    The apparent absence of flattening of the buttocks on the TS image, might be explained by the image being formed while on its side. Max evidently has a theory about it being corroborated by an ‘off-elbow-tipped bloodstain’. We might then expect that gravity might displace the hand position from off-centre but that’s not what is seen. The lack of hand displacement could be explained by body being set in rigor mortis. But that also might conceivably explain why there is no buttocks flattening. Or there would be no such flattening if the image were formed with the body suspended in mid-air conceivably during the Resurrection, or else supported at the extremities by two stones. Hypotheses, speculations, theories, but sadly we lack any kind of real knowledge about the image formation process.

    Back to the “anthropometric analysis” by Fanti, Marinelli, Cagnazzo at the head of this posting: I would call it a brave effort, but I personally do not find it too convincing, as demonstrating that the tibia/femur ratio, for example, demonstrates that the TSM was Jewish, possibly consistent with, perhaps – but not persuasive. The reported error margins are too broad, and the tolerance ratios in the ethnic tables are not shown, nor is the source for them even cited. One reservation I have is that an error in measurement can result from a limb’s angular displacement at right angles to the cloth. It only requires an angle of 18deg, for an apparent shortening of 5%, which would skew the results. Essentially there are too many underlying assumptions that have to be made in any such analysis, to attain conclusive results. And I did it all without any kind of engineering drawings ot metaphysics! Hope you didn’t find it too tedious!

    1. Re MR Colin Berry being entitled to the honorific ‘Doctor’ as he has frequently laid claim to a Ph.D. in Chemistry, I do think that the title that suits him best is ‘Doctor Arrognoramus’ indeed!

    2. Actually, Dave, it is the title “Dr.” as applied to those with the MB, BS degree in Medicine that is the courtesy title, whereas Dr. is by contrast NOT a courtesy title, at least where academe is concerned. But it is complicated by the fact that the general public and most of the print media, at least in the UK (the Continent is a different matter) reserves the title Dr. for those who are medically qualified, and in many cases will refuse to address a PhD scientist as “Dr.”. which is their prerogative to do so. Back to academe, medical academe that is, the title Dr. would strictly speaking not be given to the first degree MB, BS, being reserved for those with a higher medical research degree, i.e MD not to be confused with the American MD, which is equivalent to the MB, BS in Britain. But in practice it is used in medical schools, though I have heard of one or two that don’t (I’ve forgotten which). All very confusing what… What makes it more confusing still is when a non-scientific PhD gets a role in Government, and all of a sudden the print media begins to describe him or her as “Dr” as if “Dr” were a “higher” courtesy title that only the press can bestow.

      For my part, I only ever insist on the title Dr. if or when I take up an appointment at research institutes, schools,colleges etc where PhDs are already addressed as such. But I strongly discourage folk from addressing me as Dr. in everyday life, the few who know I have a PhD, that is, like the postman or those getting my mail through their letter box, for fear they start to unburden themselves of their intimate medical details at parties, or worse still, bang on my door in the middle of the night because little Johnny has developed sudden ear ache.

      Where the internet is concerned, I sometimes mention my doctorate if the topic is getting heavily scientific, and when I consider others are getting out of their depth, while I am not. No sense in watching folk make a fool of themselves. Yes, that may sound a little arrogant, and that is the default position of many on the internet – that anyone who wants it to be known that they have a solid research-based grounding in science must be “arrogant” and needs putting in their place. But that is part and parcel of the general anti-science, anti-scientist culture that has long prevailed, at least in the UK, encouraged by the media who are for the most part either non-graduate in any subject, or liberal arts graduates if they are.

      1. You say I “lay claim” to a PhD in Chemistry. Actually I don’t have to “lay claim” as you put it, since this can be quickly verified online if you know where to look (see link below). In fact my PhD from Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, which later awarded me an Honorary Lectureship, was in biochemistry, mainly enzymology in an area with clinical relevance.

  15. … ‘Doctor Mummy-Baker’, ‘Doctor Leech’ and ‘Doctor Mickeymist’ are just OK too.

  16. Reminder: Many a PhD candidate flunked the ‘concours’ I passed to be a university profressor. In attestation letters from the French Embassy in Jeddah and the University of Riyadh, I am referred to as “Professeur à l’Université de Riad” and “الرياض‎ أستاذ جامعي‎”. Can you and your wife read French and Arabic, MR Colin Berry? Most obviously you just cannot.

    1. The need to read Arabic on this blog is a rarity, but with the Islamic invasion of Europe I shouldn’t be too surprised to see it eventually become the norm!

  17. Matthias :
    I have previously theorised that the blood trickles acorss the small of the back may have been created by post mortem blood flows, originating from the hand/wrist nail wounds, flowing down the underside of the forearms, through the hip area near where the elbows would be, and around the lower back. This would be quite possible with thicker, more coagulated blood (thin blood would “fall off” the body at the hip region prior to running around the lower back area)

    Matthias, that may very well be, but I see an issue with it. The amount of blood found at the small of the back is quite a large amount. One must ask; How much blood could have come from the arms after being left in the upright position for up to an hour after death. I think, not enough to create that stain we see.


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