The Shroud is 8 x 2 Assyrian Whatchamacallits

“It is popular to pick whichever shroud dimensions seem appropriate,
divide them by 8 and 4 as required, and then find a cubit that fits,
pronouncing the shroud as “exactly” this or that.”

imageBernard Ruffin in his book, The Shroud of Turin, wrote:

. . . according to the measurement in use in the Middle East in the first century, eight cubits by two.

Mark Antonacci wrote in his book, The Resurrection of the Shroud:

Research indicated that the international standard unit of measurement at the time of Jesus was the Assyrian cubit (21.4 inches). When measured in Assyrian cubits, the Shroud is 8 cubits by 2 cubits, a strong indication that this standard unit was used to measure the linen cloth.

Book after book, website after website, have declared that the shroud was 8 x 2 cubits. But was it?

Hugh Farey, by way of an insightful comment this morning, writes:

The shroud was measured by Flury-Lemburg as 437cm x 111cm in 1998, and later by Barberis and Zaccone (2000), with its corners stretched slightly, as 437.7cm and 441.5cm (long sides); 112.5cm and 113cm (short sides). It is also quoted as varying in length by 2cm depending on humidity. (All information from Dr Zugibe’s ‘The Crucifixion of Jesus’).

Various cubit measurements have been found, all different lengths. The nearest I can find to the 1st century is the Roman cubit of about 44.4cm, which may be based on contemporary Egyptian cubits. Some excellent work on funerary slabs in various museums suggests that the Assyrians, whose empire dissolved some hundreds of years before Christ was born, may have had three cubits, of between 51cm and 57cm. Actual measuring bars, mostly from Egyptian tombs, are about 52cm long.

It is popular to pick whichever shroud dimensions seem appropriate, divide them by 8 and 4 as required, and then find a cubit that fits, pronouncing the shroud as “exactly” this or that. Whether there is any evidence that any 1st century cloth was woven (or buildings constructed) to any particular width, let alone an Assyrian cubit, I rather doubt. Does anybody know of any?

49 thoughts on “The Shroud is 8 x 2 Assyrian Whatchamacallits”

    1. I think this just number juggling – as Hugh says the Assyrians had been dead and gone for several centuries. So what would these measurements have to do with the first century Roman empire in any case? I suppose that it is possible that Assyrian cubits went on as a unit of measurement but we would need some documentary or archaeological evidence for this. So perhaps we can hear from one of the enthusiasts for these cubits what they are trying to tell us. Then we have the problems of finding weavers who worked in Assyrian cubits who also used Z twist thread. Meanwhile the Shroud is the Shroud even if we can measure it in Mexican bean lengths.

      1. Cubit measures include the Roman cubit of 444 mm, The Egyptian short cubit of 450 mm, the Greek cubit of 463 mm the Assyrian cubit of 494 mm, the Sumerian cubit of 500 mm, The Egyptian royal cubit of 524 mm, the Talmudist cubit of 555 mm and the Palestinian cubit of 641 mm (from AE Berriman “Historical Metrology” London, 1953.) Now if you can’t make ONE of these fit the Shroud …….. it could ,of course, be x units of Palestinian cubits long and y units or Roman cubits wide to reflect the nature of Roman rule over Palestine or if that doesn’t work why not the Greek cubit because there is some evidence that the Greeks used Z twist yarn as is found in the Shroud and did trade with Jerusalem. Or may be they just wanted to make a shroud and so long as it covered the body it did not have to be an exact number of cubits of any of the different traditions. . . ..

  1. Don’t you just love Mark’s “the international standard unit of measurement”? Excluding the ridiculous (Gungnae Fortress, Korea, anyone? or the Sanchi Stupa in India?), was the Colosseum built to Assyrian cubits? Or even the Roman military forts in Africa, Europe or.. Assyria?
    More seriously, does anyone know of any archaeologically derived dimensions of any Herodian buildings (Massada, say?) which might more sensibly be thought of as using a “national standard unit of measurement”?

  2. Ian Dickinson, The Shroud And The Cubit Measure, British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter No 24 http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/n24part6.pdf

    The lower limit of Assyrian cubit: 54.3 cm
    The average of Assyrian cubit: 54.6 cm
    The higher limit of Assyrian cubit: 54.9 cm

    Dimensions of the Shroud 437×111 cm

    The lower limit of Assyrian cubit: 8.05×2.04
    The average of Assyrian cubit: 8.00×2.03
    The higher limit of Assyrian cubit: 7.96×2.02

    There is some minor problem here, according to César Barta, What the Shroud is and it is not (point : it IS NOT a single piece), I Congreso Internacional de la Sábana Santa, Valencia 2012-01-28 http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/bartaveng.pdf

    the investigations of the distance between the primitive fold and the selvage corresponds to one half of the original width of the fabric: 58.6 cm. And if this was the half of the shroud at the end of weaving, the total width would be double: 117.2 cm more or less. But in that case, the Shroud was 6.2 cm wider when leaving the loom than currently.

    If we take this into account, than:

    The lower limit of Assyrian cubit: 8.05×2.16
    The average of Assyrian cubit: 8.00×2.15
    The higher limit of Assyrian cubit: 7.96×2.13.

    Curiously, it is today that the Shroud is 8×2 Assyrian cubits, with margin of error no greater than 3 %. It is possible (though I am not in favor of this) that side strip was deliberately cut and sewn again to obtain a perfect Assyrian 8×2 cubit measure

    The compromise is average of the two: 56.6 cm. Then the Shroud is 7.72×2.07 cubits.

    1. I wish someone would explain why the Assyrian cubits are important here. Even if the Shroud, wherever it was woven, was deliberately measured in terms of Assyrian cubits, this does not help date it as the Assyrian cubit had been in use over hundreds of years, perhaps even as far back as the second millennium BC. And if the Assyrian cubit was used by traders in cloth,then the Shroud could have been woven anywhere so again that provides no evidence of an original link to Palestine.
      So if the Assyrian cubit was really the measure, which I doubt, it simply says that the Shroud might have been made somewhere along the trading routes of the Middle East at some point within a margin of several hundred years. That does not help us very much.
      I think this Assyrian cubit route leads nowhere.

  3. Dickinson. ‘So there were cubits for Temple use, and various other applications, but it is a particular cubit of the market place that is connected with the Shroud, the cubit that is known as the Assyrian cubit: the widely used, indeed, international standard of that time for merchants of the Near East, and had been so for centuries. This cubit of commerce was carried with the lingua communis, the language of trade and diplomacy that stretched from the Euphrates to theMediterranean, the tongue that had become the common language of the Jew. Aramaic: the same language which Jesus spoke. Aramaic had been the communication medium of the Assyrian Empire and Israel had been a subject of Assyria.’

    But O.K. this article, that I HAD read, just says what I said : that the cubit had been ‘an international standard of that time for merchants of the Near East, and had been so for centuries.’ ‘This cubit of commerce was carried with the lingua communis, the language of trade and diplomacy that stretched from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean’. Greek (koine),the language of Paul was actually the main trading language by this period, four hundred years after Alexander had spread Greek influence over the Near and Middle East.

    So if a piece of cloth is found to have been woven in Assyrian cubits -it could have been woven anywhere in these centuries and along these far flung routes. Just because the Temple authorities may have used Assyrian cubits ( this is not proven by anything in the article- I don’t know which of the many alternative cubits the priests used but probably one can find out) does not mean that the Shroud was made there because Jerusalem was only one of thousands of possible trading centres in the bustling first century Mediterranean.

    Again, the fact that the Shroud may or may not have been deliberately woven in Assyrian cubits does not take us anywhere. Can you provide anything from the Assyrian cubit measurement that provides a link to Jerusalem rather than any of these other trading centres or specifically to the first century?
    In fact, this is probably the most unhelpful cubit there is to be woven in. If it measured in Roman cubits it would be datable to a much narrower range.
    So what one ought to be saying is: ‘Unfortunately the Shroud is woven in Assyrian cubits and as these were used for so many centuries and across such a wide region, this gives us no help at all in placing the Shroud in either date or place of manufacture.’

    1. So if a piece of cloth is found to have been woven in Assyrian cubits -it could have been woven anywhere in these centuries and along these far flung routes. Just because the Temple authorities may have used Assyrian cubits ( this is not proven by anything in the article- I don’t know which of the many alternative cubits the priests used but probably one can find out) does not mean that the Shroud was made there because Jerusalem was only one of thousands of possible trading centres in the bustling first century Mediterranean.

      Playing with straw man doesn’t help here. No one is claiming here that the Shroud must have been woven in Jerusalem, and not in Syria or Mesopotamia, or elsewhere. The point is the medieval cubits were usually longer -60 cm or so, and the Shroud dimensions are within a margin of 3-4 % (if we assume width of 117.2 cm than the error is larger: 8 %) corresponding to that particular Assyrian cubit measuring 54.6 cm, which was determined by archeologists in 19th century, according to Dickinson. But this is not the final evidence, just another of multitudes of clues which are inconvenient for the sceptics.

      1. The ell was a highly variable medieval unit of distance specifically for cloth. The is no question at all that the shroud corresponds exactly to 8 x 2 ells somewhere in Europe at some time.

      2. Medieval English cloth was measured in ells. 1.14 metres so if the Turin Shroud is just one ell wide that looks good. Now let’s work it on the length. 4 ells is 4.56 metres, just too long. But we nearly got to one by four!
        However, the length of the ell did differ from country to country so perhaps a bit of juggling around and I will get it right.
        But ultimately so what? – it proves nothing at all other than I can search around a number of cloth measurements, ancient or medieval, until I find one that fits the Shroud which may never have been made to a standard measurement in any case.
        P/S. Archaeological work in Jerusalem has defined a Hebrew cubit at around 44 cms so it would appear that if the conservative Temple authorities were supervising the measurement of cloth it would not be in Assyrian cubits anyway.
        Don’t you think that by keeping the Assyrian cubits in without any caveats is being rather misleading? One gets the feeling that people are expected to believe that this in some way ties the Shroud to first century Jerusalem when it does not.

  4. Hugh Farey :
    The ell was a highly variable medieval unit of distance specifically for cloth. The is no question at all that the shroud corresponds exactly to 8 x 2 ells somewhere in Europe at some time.

    Where, Hugh, where?

    1. Length of ells. Hugh is right that originally the ell was similar to a cubit but gradually the length seems to have doubled so Hugh’s 8 times 2 is my nearly four by one.
      The width of cloth was determined by the treadle loom that comes in about 1000 AD and is so much more efficient (you can use your feet as well as your hands)that it spread fast. The problem was that one could seldom weave more widely than 1.20 or 1.30m with one weaver, unlike the broader cloths of antiquity -often over two metres wide because two weavers worked the shuttles. So I assume that the longer ell developed as a typical measurement of the width of cloth from a treadle loom. Length was not such a problem because roller bars allowed finished cloth to be accumulated and cloth lengths of up to 25 or 30 metres are known. One just cut off what what wanted as one still can from the rolls of cloth in a traditional haberdashery ( or at least in our fabric shop down the road we can!).

  5. Well, if we knew that, we’d know where the shroud was made, wouldn’t we!

    According to Charles: no.

    Medieval English cloth was measured in ells. 1.14 metres so if the Turin Shroud is just one ell wide that looks good. Now let’s work it on the length. 4 ells is 4.56 metres, just too long. But we nearly got to one by four!
    However, the length of the ell did differ from country to country so perhaps a bit of juggling around and I will get it right.
    But ultimately so what? – it proves nothing at all other than I can search around a number of cloth measurements, ancient or medieval, until I find one that fits the Shroud which may never have been made to a standard measurement in any case.

    The best measure for 437×111 cm and 8×2 is 55.0625 cm (average of 54.625
    cm length, 55.5 cm width) , for 441×113 cm is 55.8125 cm (average of 55.125
    cm length, 56.5 cm width), for 437×117.2 cm is 56.6125 cm (average of 54.625
    cm length, 58.6 cm width), with about 3-4 % deviation from average in each case. 1×4 ells is good I admit, ( 111.625 cm average, 110.25 cm length, 113 cm width) but…

    is it an accident that the Shroud corresponds with 3-4 % margin to the ancient units of measure?

    So the forger also thought about that…

    1. O.K. You are still stuck on this approach, for which there is absolutely no evidence, that the Shroud was made to a standard measurement. `Cloths were usually made to fit the purpose for which they were intended although the width and length were often constrained by the type of loom used!
      I am just joking around with some figures to show you can prove anything from measurements. The classic case is the measurements of the pyramids which have proved all kinds of things- even the standard measure of grain used in Britain and, thanks to a kink in the passage way of the Great Pyramid, the outbreak of the First World War. Once you have seen this thing done before, you don’t take it very seriously.My favourite case is the fourth century statue base at Delphi in Greece where the marks left by the looted statues were said to be identical to those of the feet of the Horses of St. Mark’s. Problem solved- the horses were fourth century BC until they were actually proved to be five hundred years later.
      Measurement can be important , for practical purposes such as building a pyramid where it is vital, but for burial shrouds that have to cover a variety of different shapes of human bodies it can hardly be important.
      Oxford English Dictionary ‘Ell: A measure of length varying in different countries. The English ell 45 ins, the Scotch 37-2, the Flemish 27in.’ I shall start on my calculations. . .

      1. Measurement can be important , for practical purposes such as building a pyramid where it is vital, but for burial shrouds that have to cover a variety of different shapes of human bodies it can hardly be important.

        Yes, Joseph of Arimathea comes to the trading post in Jerusalem:

        “I would like to buy a burial cloth”

        “What measure?”

        “It is unimportant, just cut whatever you have. I am not interested in measure. Let it be whatever.”

        “This piece 8 cubits long, 2 wide may be?”

        “Yes, but why so regular? Why must it be 8 for 2? Cannot it be square root of three wide and one divided by cubic root of five minus one? Because in nearly 2000 years some guys will be calculating what was the measure of cubit in our area in our times”.

        “I have only 8 cubits vs 2 cubits. Sir, do you take it or want to cut just a part of it?”

        “No, part will be too small. If you don’t have anything else, than I have to take it”.

        Oxford English Dictionary ‘Ell: A measure of length varying in different countries. The English ell 45 ins, the Scotch 37-2, the Flemish 27in.’ I shall start on my calculations. . .

        Do it. We’ll see if any of them will be close to 55 cm, or 110 cm (55 double).

  6. The only 39 inch ells I can find are in Scotland. Coupled to the fact (!!!) that herringbone weaving was more common in northern Europe than southern, or the middle east, that clearly shows the Shroud was made in Scotland….

  7. Linen cloth was a valuable tradeable commodity. The exact 4:1 aspect ratio of the TS, is suggestive of it being cut with its resewn selvedge to exact dimensions. Cubit measures varied widely between civilizations, one civilization may have used two or even three different cubits for different purposes, and there is also some confusion in the literature. Unless granite master standards are available (as in Egypt), the local cubit must be determined from measurements of buildings and monuments. Original Egyptian cubit was 457mm; Royal Egyptian cubit was 524mm; Some civilzations used a cubit of up to 560mm.

    Cubit of the Assyrians derives from their conquest of Babylon 1350 – 612 BCE. Flinders Petrie & Jules Oppert, 19th c. pioneer archaeologists made numerous measurements of Babylonian buildings; Petrie wrote extensively on the several cubits in use (even including Stonehenge). The Petrie-Oppert Assyrian cubit is 546mm (+/- 5mm). Eleanor Guralnick 1996 measured several Sargonid slabs & monuments 721-705 BCE; Guralnick – standard late cubit 515mm, religious-royal cubit 566mm, King Sargon slab 550mm.

    Measurement of TS is commonly taken as 4.34m x 1.09m, and is therefore consistent with the Petrie-Oppert Assyrian cubit.

    Nearly all Egyptian thread is ‘S’ twist, and so TS is unlikely to be of Egyptian provenance. ‘Z’ twist does occur elsewhere in Middle East, despite comments by CF. Various cloth fragments of the sealed tomb of diseased family at Akeldama included both ‘S’ & ‘Z’; At Murraba’at, Grace & Elizabeth Crowfoot recorded seven twill-weave fabrics including herringbone twills with ‘Z’ spun warp and mixed ‘S’ & ‘Z’ spun weft, possibly imported. ‘Z’ spin seems to have predominated in northern Europe.

    Methchild Flury-Lemburg on examining the stitching of the TS resewn edge commented that she had only ever previously seen that stitch used at Masada and nowhere else.

    It is also perhaps significant that only in the Raes corner (resewn?)is there any evidence of cotton, therefore TS is hardly likely to be medieval.

    None of the above provides irrevocable proof that the TS is of ancient Assyrian provenance. However it is fatuous to assert in the face of the above that there is any conclusive proof that it is not. The evidence is at least not inconsistent with the TS being of Middle East provenance, even of about the 1st century. Another thorn in the side of the archaeo-skeptics!

  8. “Here we have a linen cloth of exactly 8 x 2 Assyrian cubits.” All I meant was that here we have a cloth, four times as long as it is wide, of the sort of width cloth often was from about 2000BC to 1500AD. I wouldn’t dream of saying there was any conclusive proof of anything more definite to be derived from its dimensions. Would you?

  9. Hugh Farey :
    “Here we have a linen cloth of exactly 8 x 2 Assyrian cubits.” All I meant was that here we have a cloth, four times as long as it is wide, of the sort of width cloth often was from about 2000BC to 1500AD. I wouldn’t dream of saying there was any conclusive proof of anything more definite to be derived from its dimensions. Would you?

    Yes, it is not conclusive yet. But think about those buildings in ancient Babylon build with according to the cubit measure of 54.6 cm. About King Sargon whose empire spread over the whole Middle East, and whose cubit of 55.0 cm was introduced as trade standard.

    So why the Shroud dimensions divided by 8 and 2 respectively comes close to the 54-56 cm? Why the Shroud cubit, or ell, cannot be, say (with a little help of Wiki) the Scottish ell (≈37 inches or 94 centimetres), the Flemish ell [el] (≈27 in or 68.6 cm), the French ell [aune] (≈54 in or 137.2 cm), the Polish ell (≈31 in or 78.7 cm), the Danish ell (≈25 in or 63.5 cm) or even the German ell [elle] (Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig: 57,9 cm)?

    1. None of the Flemish, French, Poles, Danes nor Germans apparently ever used the same stitch for resewing selvedges as was commonly used at Masada, and has since become evident on the TS. One therefore looks for a unit of measurement in common use in the Middle East rather than abroad in Scotland! It is remotely possible that with its ‘Z’ twist, and herring-bone twill that Julius Caesar may have imported it from Gaul, but the selvedge stitch would tend to argue against this likelihood!

      1. Yes Dave, but the sceptics are asking us, what clues can be obtained from cubit measure alone. So for the purpose of this thread, let’s give them a favor, and forget for a moment about Masada stitches (they will be finding similar in medieval Europe next time), Z twists, herring-bones, and anything else. Let’s consider only cubits. And the sceptics still didn’t suggest any unit of measure that would fit so well, as Assyrian cubit, measuring 54-57 cm. The Egyptian is a litlle bit too short, 51-52 cm, medieval are too long, the shortest German with 57,9 cm (a Pole must have written this, as we use coma instead of dot) is still a little bit too long.

    2. One might also mention that halophyte pollens unique to the Dead Sea(salt-loving flora) are hardly ever encountered in Scotland or Gaul!

  10. the shortest German with 57,9 cm (a Pole must have written this, as we use coma instead of dot) is still a little bit too long., just as English ell, which was best proposed so far, 114 cm, is 2×57 cm

  11. ‘The same stitch for resewing selvedges as was commonly used at Masada, and has since become evident on the TS.’ We need the source for this as the excavation report on the textiles at Masada show that most were in wool and that the sewn ones were repairs of worn clothes. No examples of the actual stitches used are provided. I had assumed that Flury-Lemberg had made her own study of these textiles and presumably has produced somewhere comparative diagrams but no one seems to know where. I have always thought that the ‘quite similar’ she is often quoted as saying is rather too vague when we have so little ancient stitching left.

  12. Masada stitch: The ref I have is Ian Wilson’s 2010 “The Shroud”, Bantam Press edition, pp72-74; (note other editions, page numbering is different). Wilson refers to excavations by Israeli commander Yigael Yadin in the 1950s; he states that in 1994 Yadin’s successors published the technical report on the clothing scraps found; the report apparently includes a technical drawing of the unusual seam, one that Flury-Lemburg opined was essentially identical to the seam on the TS. Wilson cites a ref, ‘Sheffer & Granger-Taylor, 1994, pp 210-211, figs 111-113; p.169, fig 16; ‘Textiles in “Masada IV’, The Yigael-Yadin Excavations 1963-65,, Final Reports, Jerusalem, 1994. Wilson comments further: “Also found at Masada were examples of exactly the same two double thread selvedge as seen on the Shroud, a mode of construction which Gabriel Vial back in the 1980s had described as ‘tout a faite inhabituelle’ – most unusual.” [Gabriel Vial, Bulletin du CIETA, 67, Lyon, 1989, pp 27-29.]

    O.K. comment: I disagree that isolated pieces of evidence should be taken only on their own merits. That is not how any legal argument can be mustered. One looks for “weight of evidence”, “coroboration”, I prefer to think in terms of Venn diagrams, where the weight of evidence converges to a singular answer. Twills and ‘Z’ twist were common in northern Europe, and doubtless we can find ells to match, but there are no Dead Sea halophytes there, and they didn’t use Masada type stitching. I consider the question of wools vs linen a smoke-screen! Anyone can multi-task or adapt given a mind to it!

    REF

    1. Selvedges and stitches. I am now quite used to following up a source quoted in Wilson and finding something very different from what he suggests (the classic remains the discrepancy between Wilson’s depiction of della Rovere’s actual portrayal of Christ in the Shroud and his own version, p. 28 of my 2010 edition of Wilson’s The Shroud in which Wilson even reverses the position of the arms!).

      So while I was having a research day in the Cambridge University Library, I called in the Masada Report to check out the source references given above. In my edition of Wilson the discussion is on p. 109-110.

      P. 169, fig. sixteen does exist. It does show a selvedge on a goathair cloth. The excavators appear to have illustrated it because it is woven on a tubular or two beamed loom. No other example of the use of this kind of loom or selvedge has been found this early in the Mediterranean . However, earlier examples are known in northern Europe from earlier so the suggestion is that either the cloth originated in northern Europe –more likely – see further below- – or is evidence for the first use of this kind of selvedge in the Mediterranean. Wilson then gives a reference to Gabriel Vial’s 1989 report on the Shroud in which Vial talks of the construction of the Shroud’s selvedge as ’tout a fait inhabituelle’. He does not give the page number in my edition of The Shroud, but it is p. 15 with an illustration on p.16 of the Shroud’s selvedge. (The article is in the CIETA Bulletin for 1989, Dave B quotes a reference for pages 27-9 from his edition of Wilson but this is a completely different article!) The problem is that the selvedge on the Shroud does not appear the same as the selvedge shown in the Masada report. So all we can do is agree with Vial –the article is his own report of his examination of the Shroud while they were choosing the sample for radiocarbon dating on 21st April, 1988, so is interesting and perhaps even important in its own right- that the selvedge on the Shroud is ‘very unusual’.

      We next go on to the reference to figs. 111-113 on pages 201-11 of the Masada report. Yes these figs. do exist and on these pages. They all refer to the same fragment of wool. It is picked out and illustrated as it is wool, 2:2, Z twist spin, balanced diamond twill. So except for the Z spin being similar to that of the Shroud , I can’t see why this is relevant- it is not herringbone, linen or 3:1. In the discussion on the origins of the textiles found at Masada (p. 239), this cloth is placed in their group iv. The excavators’ conclusion is that these textiles probably came from northern Europe as this kind of twist (Z) and this kind of pattern is known from examples there. They suggest it may have come in with Roman soldiers who were involved in the crushing of the Masada revolt. I simply cannot see why Wilson provides a reference to a piece of cloth that has absolutely nothing in common with the Shroud except that its thread is Z spun (and thus as the excavators suggest probably spun in northern Europe).

      So far nothing about stitching at all so I had to find my own reference to the stitching in the Masada report and it is found on pp 170-1 where they discuss the 45 textiles that have stitching on them. They illustrate six of these stitches on figs. 20-25 but they do not describe any of them as exceptional. So I was surprised to find that Wilson reproduces Masada fig. 23 (as his fig. 8)- which is a counter-hemming stitch- as one which the excavators ‘adjudged to be a very unusual seam’. I can’t find any reference to such a judgement but as Wilson has provided no references it may have been somewhere outside the accompanying text in this section.
      Luckily I had access to a higher authority- my wife who designed and sewed theatre costumes for her degree and then went on to work in the textiles department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. She took one look at Wilson’s ‘unusual seam’ and said in fact that this was the standard stitch for joining two pieces of cloth together when one wanted to make sure the ends did not fray. Nothing unusual about it at all!
      Wilson does mention that Mechthild Flury-Lemberg is on record as saying that this stitch is similar to the one on the Shroud but he gives no reference for her opinion. In fact, it would seem that the stitch on the Shroud is the basic standard one which one would use then and now to join two pieces of cloth.

      And so how much more time does one waste with Wilson? I have certainly better things to do but at least I can warn Shroud researchers to take anything that Wilson says with a large pinch of salt. I had only to read into the next page to find other issues that I could have dealt with in the same way as here but life is too short and I have far more interesting and accurate historians to work with. Hugh seems the man for the job of taking a critique of Wilson further – sorry Hugh but so long as people are going on quoting Wilson in their support it needs to be done.

      1. Hi Charles,
        it is very interesting for me that your wife is working at the Victoria and Albert Museum, because:

        “A strange fact is reported by J.M. McDonell in Shroud News No. 84, 1994, page
        9). I quote: “Meanwhile Dr. Tite acquired from the Victoria and Albert Museum a
        strip of cloth of 10 x 70 mm from a 14th century cloth, which he had cut in three
        equal pieces…” Such a sample is not noted in Nature”
        Source: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/vanhels6.pdf

        So perhaps your wife could look around in the museum whether there is such a cloth from the 14th century with heribone weave in the museum, and if in the end such a stripe is missing interesting questions could be asked to Prof. Tite…

      2. Louis/Helmut -try Victoria and Albert textile collection numbers – 7027-1860 and 8615-1863. You will have to ask the Museum for details of them as I don’t know where they are catalogued outside the Museum. My wife no longer has any contacts within the Museum -her colleagues have long since retired.

  13. I do love this site; you get to discover so many things. Such as this, from http://www.eifiles.cn/ic-en.htm, “Onsite cubit measures of Temple foundation stones have been discovered at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; the incised notches show the precise locations and orientations of the First and Second Temples on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and reveal the exact lengths of the cubit measures. Israel’s three cubits are called
    ‘medium cubits’ in historic reference. The three ‘medium cubits’ are different
    by an approximate half digit.

    The shortest cubit is the first or former cubit from Moses’ time. This was the
    cubit of the First Temple (2 Chron. 3:3). As this is the cubit given by Moses, the
    Tabernacle was based on this cubit. The obtained measures are 42.857142 cm.

    When the Jews returned from Babylon they brought with them two measures:
    the small and large cubits. The second temple was built using the small cubit.
    The large cubit was used daily and became the standard cubit of Roman times.

    The obtained measures of the small cubit average 43.7 cm.

    The obtained measures for the large cubit average 44.5 cm.”

    I cannot find from where Dickinson derives his claim that there was an international standard unit at all, nor why he should think it was an ancient Assyrian one. Cubits had generally declined in length from the Royal Assyrian cubit of 700BC. It appears that if the shroud really is 8 cubits long, it was either made before 700BC or after 700AD… I’m still going for Scotland, myself… a Viking chieftain, maybe… did the Vikings use leeches?

    1. Not too many halophytes in the Firth of Forth, nor in the Skaggerak! I don’t know about your Dickinson, but the proper authority on the whole business of ancient measuring standards seems to be Sir Flinders Petrie, who is suppsed to have founded the whole science of it. Do you know if any Vikings took their long-ships into the Dead Sea and became familiar with Masada type sewing? Maybe some halophyte pollens landed on their sails or shields? Try to keep it real!

  14. I didn’t followed the discussions on this topic but I would like to urge you to read the excellent paper presented at the Valencia conference by Ada Grossi, an Italian researcher (link: http://www.academia.edu/2427474/Jewish_Shrouds_and_Funerary_Customs_a_Comparison_with_the_Shroud_of_Turin_in_1st_International_Congress_on_the_Holy_Shroud_in_Spain_-_Valencia_April_28-30_2012_ed._Centro_Espanol_de_Sindonologia_CES_)

    In this paper, the author talk specifically about the supposed 2 X 8 cubits evidence and conclude that we must be extremelly careful before taking such a supposition for granted because in ancient time, the cubit measurement unit was not standard everywhere and all the time. The author state: “The debate about ancient cubits is no easy matter: the length of common cubits varies between 44.5 and 45.7 cm and that of royal cubits between 50.3 and 52.4 cm; as for the “Syrian cubit”, more correctly called “Assyrian cubit”, its measure is uncertain as much, and it’s seem therefore UNWISE TO IDENTIFY IT AT ALL COST WITH A SUBMULTIPLE OF THE SHROUD’S DIMENSION.”

    Folks, I AGREE 100% with such a prudent conclusion. And I would add another important possibility to back-up this conclusion: nobody can be certain if the actual dimensions of the Shroud were the same originally. On this subject, the simple presence of the side strip (which presence has never been fully explained beyond any doubts by textile experts) is enough to at the very least make us very cautious concerning the question of the Shroud’s original dimensions.

    1. By the way, this author also indicates that it was NOT part of a normal Jewish burial to bind the enshrouded corpse with linen strips. The most common burial procedure was simply to make a loose stitching at the edges of the cloth to make sure the body would not fall off the cloth (note: this procedure is still in use during orthodox Jewish burial as it was described by Barrie Schwortz himself in a recent interview while talking about his father’s burial).

      This particular conclusion is another good clue to support the hypothesis of a loose configuration of the Shroud around the dead body of the Shroud at the time of the image. On this subject, we can say that historical evidence support the conclusions of Jackson et al. and Latendresse studies, which found out that a linen cloth drapped pretty loose over a dead body really seeem to be the most probable configuration of the Shroud in regard of the very slight distortions of the frontal image.

      1. Here, some people could say: this seem to contradict the Gospel accounts that seems to talk about many cloths. Not necessarily. It is possible that other linen cloths (smaller for sure) could have been used during the burial procedure of Jesus as “bags” that could have contained the aloes and myrrh described by John (probably in powder) and such “bags” could have been placed all around the enshrouded body (outside or more probably inside the Shroud) in order, as Barbet said in his book, to retard a bit the putrefaction process and more importantly, to prevent bad smellings in the context of an incomplete burial, which needed a return to the tomb some 36 hours later. It’s also possible that the Sudarium of Oviedo could also have been part of the “other cloths” inside the tomb, along with the main Shroud…

      2. The variety of cubit measures has already been dealt with above, e.g. my #20. In my view the proper course of action is to consider ALL the points of evidence, find corroboration, identify contradictory evidence, seek explanations. Trying to focus on only one aspect of evidence is to play into the hands of the “experts”, setting up ‘aunt sallies’ which can easily be knocked over one at a time. The WEIGHT of evidence is what matters!

      3. I agree with you Dave and I think that, concerning the Shroud, the weight of evidence in favor of authenticity is huge.

      4. As I always say: concerning the Shroud, we must always look at the whole picture given by all the most solid data coming from the cloth and not just focussing our attention on one single point, while forgetting all the others (or some of them).

  15. Anomymous :
    I didn’t followed the discussions on this topic but I would like to urge you to read the excellent paper presented at the Valencia conference by Ada Grossi, an Italian researcher (link: http://www.academia.edu/2427474/Jewish_Shrouds_and_Funerary_Customs_a_Comparison_with_the_Shroud_of_Turin_in_1st_International_Congress_on_the_Holy_Shroud_in_Spain_-_Valencia_April_28-30_2012_ed._Centro_Espanol_de_Sindonologia_CES_)
    In this paper, the author talk specifically about the supposed 2 X 8 cubits evidence and conclude that we must be extremelly careful before taking such a supposition for granted because in ancient time, the cubit measurement unit was not standard everywhere and all the time. The author state: “The debate about ancient cubits is no easy matter: the length of common cubits varies between 44.5 and 45.7 cm and that of royal cubits between 50.3 and 52.4 cm; as for the “Syrian cubit”, more correctly called “Assyrian cubit”, its measure is uncertain as much, and it’s seem therefore UNWISE TO IDENTIFY IT AT ALL COST WITH A SUBMULTIPLE OF THE SHROUD’S DIMENSION.”
    Folks, I AGREE 100% with such a prudent conclusion. And I would add another important possibility to back-up this conclusion: nobody can be certain if the actual dimensions of the Shroud were the same originally. On this subject, the simple presence of the side strip (which presence has never been fully explained beyond any doubts by textile experts) is enough to at the very least make us very cautious concerning the question of the Shroud’s original dimensions.

    Yes, there are some uncertainities, but regularity of Shroud dimenisons expressed in integers is striking! It suggests that the original TS dimensions hasn’t changed much through centuries. The units that were used to measure the size of the TS were either cubits circa 55 cm long, or ell measuring 110 cm, that is 2×55 cm. Or, according to Ada Grosii:

    Thus, the Shroud’s length would be 56 tefachim (436.8 cm) and its width 14 tefachim
    (13+1, that is 109.2 cm = 101.4 + 7.8 cm); on the other hand, always keeping in mind that
    these measurements are approximate, we could also evaluate the Shroud’s dimensions by
    the tefach sochek (9.33 cm), and we would obtain even more interesting numbers: 47
    tefachim (438,52 cm) by 12 tefachim (11+1, i.e. 111.96 cm = 102.63 + 9.33 cm).

    7 tefachim = 6 sochek =1 ammah (cubit).

    7 *7.8 cm=54.6 cm =1 Assyrian cubit!
    6*9.33 cm =55.98 cm.

    Thus the opinion of Grossi:

    This line of reasoning certainly suggests great caution: playing with numbers, any result
    can be achieved

    is unjustified, if we only keep some rules, only the results that Shroud dimensions allow can be obtained.

    One more quotation from Grossi:

    As far as the Hebrew cubit is concerned, it measures about 45.7 cm and corresponds to the ammah, the Biblical cubit; in addition, Jewish sources often mention the biblical and talmudic gomed, which, according to some, is actually shorter than the ammah;
    furthermore, in the Mishnah we can find two other cubits (M Kelim 17:9). Thus, we can
    say that Rabbinical knowledge basically deals with two cubits, the Mosaic cubit, 45.7 cm
    long, and a longer one, which varies between 56.018658 and 58.352 cm

    The information derived from TS dimensions, “accidently corresponding to the units of measure used in the ancient Middle East is not a final proof of its authenticity, but neither it is meaningless, as the sceptics try to convince us, and can be used as an argument for pro-authenticity.

    1. Quote: “The information derived from TS dimensions, “accidently corresponding to the units of measure used in the ancient Middle East is not a final proof of its authenticity, but neither it is meaningless, as the sceptics try to convince us, and can be used as an argument for pro-authenticity.”

      I agree with you to some extent. but it’s surely not the most important data coming from the Shroud that point in favor of authenticity, for the simple reason that there are too many unknowns related to it (what was the original dimensions of the Shroud?, what was the real dimensions of the cubit unit that was potentially used by the persons who have manufactured the Shroud, etc.).

      Let’s say that this 2 X 4 cubits dimensions is one circumstantial evidence that must be backed-up by other more solid évidences in order to really mean something versus the question of authenticity.

      1. There are too many unknowns related to it (what was the original dimensions of the Shroud?, what was the real dimensions of the cubit unit that was potentially used by the persons who have manufactured the Shroud, etc.).

        The funny thing is that actually reasoning is going in opposite way- it is the Shroud , with almost ideal 4:1 proportions of length towidth, that teaches us what were real dimensions of the cubit used in the Middle East trade of textile, and, what is more important, that it was not shortened, by cutting portions of it for relics, as it was suggested in some older literature. Thus such analysis are truly remarkable, and give us a lot of important info, contrary to what some say.

      2. Is there other ancient cloths of the same dimensions as the Shroud that have been found or that have been preserved?

  16. Anonymous :
    Is there other ancient cloths of the same dimensions as the Shroud that have been found or that have been preserved?

    I don’t know any… except the alleged Shroud of Compiegne (about 237-245 cm long and circa 120 cm wide, destoyed either in 1792 during Revolution or 1840 during washing) and so-called SINDON MUNDA of Kornelimunster , which Charlemagne obtained either from Jerusalem or Constantinople (or according to Max Patrick Hamon from Edessa) around 800 AD. According to Remi Van Haelst, “The Sindon Munda Of Kornelimunster, Compiegne And Cahors”, 1998 Turin Symposium (probably) see http://resurrectionnowinc.blogspot.com/2011/01/shroud-images-throughout-world.html they were two halves of the same cloth. If that’s right than 245 cm +180 cm =425 cm x 105-120 cm -very similar to the TS. According to Max, this was brandea or contact copy of the TS.

    And now Yannick, something interesting for you. According to some manuscrpits, the Arculfus Shroud was not 8 feet, but 8 cubits long, just like TS. I am planning to write some paper about the old hypothesis connecting TS with Arculfus Shroud , which can be treated as an alternative to the usually accepted Mandylion hypothesis, as suggested by Wilson (howeve I still prefer the latter).

      1. ‘A certain trustworthy believing Jew, immediately after the Resurrection of the Lord, stole from His Sepulchre the sacred linen cloth and hid it in his house for many days; but, by the favour of the Lord Himself, it was found after the lapse of many years, and was brought to the notice of the whole people about three years(32) before [this statement was made to Arculf].’
        O.K. Thanks for bringing this up -as it challenges Wilson’s story that this ‘linen cloth’ was the Image of Edessa that was temporarily transferred to Jerusalem. By tradition, and you are more trusting of this than I am, it had always been in Jerusalem , which at least gives it a more plausible heritage than anything Wilson can put together.

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