There was this from Hugh Farey (as a comment):

. . .  “Villarreal revealed that, during testing at the lab, one of the threads came apart in the middle forming two separate pieces.Surprisingly, the two ends of the thread had different chemical compositions, lending credence to the theory that the threads were spliced together during a repair.” I don’t know where this idea came from. The 2008 Ohio paper by VillarreaI I have in front of me says that after Rogers had found what he thought was a splice of two different materials, Villarreal found that in fact both ends were cotton. Disappointed by this result, Benford and Schwotz sent him two more threads, and they were both cotton too.

Thibault Heimburger responded with a link to a paper he wrote. It is in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Hugh continued to dialog:

A brilliant paper, Thibault, as I might have expected. However

The picture of the “broken splice,” is not a splice. Not in any way I interpret the term splice anyway. The ‘broken’ end is far too tight to be part of a thread that has been joined together by some sort of interweaving of unravelled fibres. It looks more as if the two ends were simply butted together and glued with that “crust” which, surprisingly, is wholly invisible on the picture of the intact thread, and which, in spite of being a completely different colour, Rogers missed. Whichever it is, however, there is no known method of invisible repair which uses such a splice/join as a way of adding its repair material, and it is difficult to envision any reason why anybody should want to.

I understand your point about the discrepancy between the FTIR findings (cotton), and your observations (linen mixed with cotton), but am not convinced that all or even most of the Raes and/or C14 sample was made of these interpolated fibres, of whatever material. And that, I guess, is the heart of the matter. I feel certain that the extent of any interpolated material would be visible in the area immediately surrounding the C14 sample on a sufficiently high-resolution photo.

Then there is this that just arrived from John Klotz:


16 thoughts on “Cotton”

  1. The item I forwarded to Dan with highlighting I added is from the September-October 1990 BSTS Journal. It cites an article from Decemmebr 13, 1988 Textile Horizons, a copy of which was sent to me by David Rolfe a few minutes ago.

    I think the inmportance of this is how it ties into the work of Sue Benford Joe Marino and, of course, Ray Rogers a decade later. There was cotton in the samples cut for carbon dating testing that did not exist on other parts of the Shroud. The atypical nature of the sample area was indicated by the blue Quad Mosaic which could not identify the reason for it’s being atypical but just announce it.

    You can argue with some of Ray Roger’s conclusions but I do not believe you can argue with the fact that the carbon sample was atypical of the shroud and an apparent reason for it being atypical was presence of cotton in a form not found on the rest of the Shroud. That is confirmed by Rogers who had the most complete set of fibers drawn from the Shroud and includes Jumper who also investigated the complete Shroud. There was not cotteon found in the form it was found on the sample area anywhere else on the Shroud.

    How it got there and why may be an open question for some, but that the Shroud sample was atypical is a fact.

  2. So, the high-powered STURP, a group of largely self-selected US scientists, many past their prime, and many disposed towards authenticity, for one reason or another, decides to investigate the most iconic piece of fabric on the planet, supposedly made entirely of 1st century Middle East linen, and, wait for it, decides to wear cotton gloves.

    Yes, that made a lot of sense, didn’t it? One would not wish to contaminate the Shroud with foreign or modern plant fibre, would one, certainly not linen. So cotton it is – what an inspired decision! Where would one be without those supremely-gifted scientists, anticipating all the likely or foreseeable objections before rushing in…

    A reprise of the triumphant ’69 lunar landing (“One small step …” etc) ? Or of the 1970 Apollo 13 near-disaster (but without the happy ending, the stuff of Hollywood movies)?

    So, the radiocarbon dating is invalid (contamination issues). Anomalous cotton content for a start. Now there’s a surprise!

    1. And not only that, cotton gloves made from Egyptian cotton! If only you had been there Colin with your trusty latex gloves and raincoat, and this whole mystery would have been put to bed, for good, in 1988. Tsk tsk.

  3. The truth about carbon contamination circa 1988.

    As usual, Colin Berry has launched an invective filled attack on STURP in response to a relatively straight forward item from a source THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH STURP (Excuse me for yelling, but this man’s lack of civility and pure bile bothers me. Without the bile it would be simply baloney, although equally indigestible.)

    This item from a trade textile journal Textile Horizons that did not emanate from any source remotely connected with STURP or even the BSTS. The lab was in fact was contracted for the examination by Oxford (which incidentally was late in reporting its carbon dating results).

    The only mention of cotton appearing in the samples simply appears at the end of the Nature article, buried amidst numerous acknowledgements:

    “We thank Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero for allowing us access to the shroud, Professor L. Gonella for his help and support throughout the project and Professor A. Bray for commenting on our statistical assessment of the data. We also thank Miss E. Crowfoot, T. G. H. James, Dr J. Evin, M. Prevost-Macillacy, G. Vial, the Mayor of Saint-Maximin and the Egypt Exploration Society for assistance in obtaining the three knownage control samples. Oxford thank [sic] P. H. South (Precision Process (Textiles) Ltd, Derby) for examining and identifying the cotton found on the shroud sample; . . .” (emphasis my own)

    Note that only Oxford “thank”[sic] and that there is no discussion of the nature of the Precision Process report. Also note that P.H. South is cited by name. Further note that in the Textile Horizon’s article, Mr. South excludes the possibility of what they observed being a casual contamination but hypothesizes that it indicates a repair of the Shroud or a combining of the cotton with linen at the time the linen was spun. And the cotton was yellow,

    And the reaction of the Dr. Berry: invective attacking the STURP scientists who had nothing to do with the carbon dating and apparently alleging that with maniacal cleverness they wore cotton gloves so that the Shroud would be contaminated.

    I deeply regret the time I have spent drafting this reply. But history teaches that idiocy and histrionics can not be ignored for as Mark Twain once wrote: A lie travels halfway around the world while truth is putting on its shoes.” The truth as known in 1988, I submit, is there was cotton in the samples, it was not casual contamination, and a least one of carbon dating laboratories noted that fact but was rushing to complete the testing because they were late.

    That may not decide the issue. That was to await the work of Sue Benford, Joe Marino and Ray Rogers, 12 years later.

    John C. Klotz

      1. To say nothing of STURP so-called heavyweights instigating at least two wild goose chases: Rogers, with his starch coatings and smelly putrefaction amines (blind spot for the thermolabile PCW, you see), and Adler with his attempts to explain away blood anomalies with layer upon layer of weird and wonderful speculation (while insisting it was still entirely authentic human blood on the Shroud). You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could, if your name was Rogers or Adler, and you were protected by the STURP imprimatur.

        So whose idea was it to make STURP an all-American job? Was the ROTW not be trusted?

        “Say, might not we guys together keep this a homeland operation – even if it means a quick in-and-out raid on Turin cathedral? Now then, where’s the sticky tape?”

        Sound of hollow laughter…

  4. Let’s bypass the bile which is of little interest and contributes nothing to intelligent discussion, merely one person’s expression of downright cynicism. Apparently “sloppy science” is not to include dogmatic conclusions from non-representative samples satisfying no formal protocol when it comes to C-14 dating.

    Wiki has some interesting observations on cotton. Although used in Mexico from the 5th millemium BCE, in the Old World its origin is in India. It was unknown to the Greeks and Arabs before Alexander’s excursions took him to the Indus. Subsequently it was used in Iran, but there is little contemporary info on its cultivation there. Even in 1350 AD, it was little understood in northern Europe, and there were preposterous stories even then about lambs growing on trees in India whose branches bent down so they could feed. There was an active cotton trade which seems confined to the Middle East up until roughly the end of the first millenium CE. All this tends to constrain the time and place of cotton contamination on the TS. If the TS were of European medieval origin then the cotton would have had to been added some time well after 1350, as it seems that cotton was virtually unknown there beforehand. This would make it a subsequent contamination. One old suggestion mentioned by Wilson in 1978 is that the linen cloth may have been woven on Middle Eastern looms previously used to weave cotton. However others have claimed that the only cotton present is in the Raes sampling area. All this points to the likelihood that the cotton is a relatively late addition, probably deliberate, in order to effect a repair. It would seem that this repair is what the C-14 laboratories accurately dated to the 14th century. But of course it may have been skewed by the much older linen cloth, lacking vanillin, and the repair could have been much later than the 14th century.

    1. DaveB: a river, should be able to clean itself. Rivers do it using dissolved oxygen, which converts the pollutants to detoxified end-products, Science does it by using the ‘oxygen’ of critical enquiry and constant re-evaluation.

      But science is no longer working in the case of the TS. The main reason it is not working is down to the malign influence of STURP, that introduced pollutants into the river of science.

      Two of them need close scrutiny. The first was Roger’s starch- coating obsession, based on his slipped-in, shameful a priori assumption that the Shroud was Pliny-era linen. For that, he had scarcely a shred of evidence.

      Second , as, if not more shameless, was Adler’s equally fanciful “bilirubin”-enriched , red cell–depleted blood theory, again with scarcely any evidence. That you will recall was the one that assumed that the Shroud had most definitely enveloped a crucified subject. (Again, we have the spectacle of an allegedly top-notch scientist , operating outside his area of competence – porphyrin chemistry – making an a priori assumption about the very thing he was supposed to be evaluating.

      Both those men, previously competent in their respective fields, but grossly ‘over-promoted’ if you ask me by STURP recruiting agents, becoming hugely lax and self-indulgent, abandoning their role of objective scrutineers, using STURP to float their pet ideas, departing from the fact-based scientific method.

      As a result, Shroudology has become a stagnant silted-up pond of pseudoscience.

      Thank goodness then that cavalier, liberty-taking STURP was excluded from the radiocarbon dating, although that did not prevent Rogers attempting to debunk its findings with still more dodgy science, performed on dodgy material, obtained by dodgy underhand means.

      This is not about character attacks, DaveB. This is about dodgy science – pseudoscience, in fact, that continues to damage the reputation of science to this day, thanks to the wrong people being singled out as culprits, thanks to sites such as this that give the agenda-driven debunkers a platform for doing so.

      This retired science bod refuses to remain silent, and will NOT be shut up by yours or anyone else’s ill-informed put-downs..

    2. Cotton was used in Europe in 14th century and even earlier. The ships of Venice, then of Genoa, went to the Eastern Mediterranean and came back full of raw cotton that was spinned in Europe. There was also a type of textile, “fustian” that was made of mixed threads of linen and cotton. It is quite possible that a linen thread was spinned in a room where also cotton was present and some cotton fibers were interwoven with linen in the thread.
      As to the “ancient” cotton, up to Columbus all the cotton used in the Old World was of the same type (or of two similar species). Only after Columbus the American varieties of cotton, that can be distinguished under the microscope, were introduced in the rest of the world.

      1. That’s true.
        But how do you explain that there are so many cotton fibers interwoven with linen in the thread in the Raes/C14 corner while there is only so little cotton in the other parts of the TS ?

        We do not know with certainty if the cotton fibers found here and there on the TS are from modern species (cotton gloves from STURP etc..). But, gathering all the data (Rogers, Brown, LANL, etc..), it is clear that there is much more cotton in the C14/Raes corner than in the main part of the Shroud.
        Is it a coincidence ? Maybe.
        But if you add the dye, the vanillin and the splice ….

      2. Thibault, I do not know about any accurate comparison for the presence of cotton fibers in the Raes corner versus the cloth in general. We have to speak of cotton fibers which are internal to the threads and interwoven with the linen fibers. An external, superficial presence of cotton may have any origin (and not only the gloves of STURP). As it happens, for the Raes/C14 corner some segments of thread were available and on occasion have been unraveled and examined fiber by fiber under the microscope. I do not remember that a similar examination has been done on segments of thread from other areas of the cloth. Thank you if you can provide references. One has also to consider that the amount of cotton incorporated in a thread during spinning might vary irregularly from thread to thread. Perhaps one thread was spun in a room where also cotton was spun or was anyhow present, while another thread was spun in a room where cotton was absent. Even for spinning within the same room, according to circumstances, two threads (or two segments of the same thread) might contain different amounts of cotton. Therefore it is not sufficient to compare one or a few spots. It is necessary to statistically compare a sufficiently high number of spots. The examination of each segment of thread should be done thoroughly and accurately, possibly in a “blind” condition.

    3. You need to read Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui’s The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, Cambridge UP ,1981. Far from cotton being virtually unknown before 1350,the growing of cotton took off in the Po Valley in the twelfth century and by the end of the thirteenth the Italian cities were EXPORTING their cotton throughout much of Europe. This may have no relevance to research on the Shroud but native Italian cotton could have been added at any time from c.1100- Mazzaoui suggests (p.29) that the import of cotton plants in Italy may have been related to the Crusades and once imported there seems to have been a ‘phenomenal growth rate’, her words, in the early thirteenth century.

      1. Freeman speaks of “the growing of cotton” in the Po Valley. One might understand that the plant of cotton was cultivated there. Cotton was not grown in Northern Italy (at most in Sicily and of course in Spain). In Northern Italy cotton was spun and woven but the raw fibers came by ship from the ports of Eastern Mediterranean.

  5. In 1998 (in Turin) I indicated the idea to obtain an evaluation about the cellulosic DP
    (= degree of polym.) through the use of the SPM techniques = AFM, CFM and SNOM.
    The aim of that idea (= the advanced control) was to detect the true age of the
    ancient linen fibrils. Previously Marinelli and Diana indicated the same argument,
    but the applied viscosimetry (see also the study [1996] by Scicolone, Seves, Testa
    and others :: ) is not useful in the case
    of the material coming from the Holy Shroud (… or from the repairs … !).
    So …
    There is the possibility to check also the cotton fibril in order to understand
    what is the epoch of that cotton.
    Now, after 15 years (!), I presume …. this is not only science fiction…
    Am I wrong ? … or … too fanciful ?
    Where are the skilled scientists ?
    In my idea the nanotechnology research in the textile area
    (see also f. e. : the AFM three-point bending test, etc.) can solve
    the problem for both textile fibrils (linen and cotton).
    — — —
    In my opinion also the presumed starch (= wheat starch, following Rogers
    and McCrone … See also the different behavior of the hanks) can
    be detected in a good manner using the new advanced tools.
    Do you know the linen sized with starch, to protect the yarn from
    abrasion and keep hairyness to a minimum ?
    — —
    The use of starch as a stiffener and adhesive on textiles has been
    known from time immemorial.
    B.T.W. : (in my idea) there is another problem to solve :
    What is the right way to detect the epoch for the starch that (perhaps)
    will be detected on linen fibrils ?
    — — —
    Why “science is no longer working in the case of the TS” ?
    This is the unsolved Enigma to turn in a feasible solution using the
    proper investigations …
    After the lunar landing, the textile landing (with the proper gloves) !

  6. Colin, I couldn’t find the thread where we touched on the topic of existentialism briefly, but let me tell you that it was in connection with Jesus and the TS. Since this is a TS blog I prefer not to stray very far from discussing the relic. Anyway, when I commented on existentialism it was meant to include everything, not just humans or ants, but even plants and inanimate matter and it looks like that was what you were also referring to. Naturally, it is important —- to a certain extent —- to learn and be guided by what science can tell us as long as we don’t drift into scientism, that is one of the reasons why I have always had a high regard for Gould. I think that it is religion and not science that is naturally cognitive and even Hawking appears to have recognised that in some way or the other, also becoming a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science.

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