Revisiting Giulio Fanti’s Dating Methods

Charles Freeman asked and it has been awhile:
“Anyone heard more about Fanti’s dating- who accep&ts it as authoritative?”

imageCharles Freeman asked, and it has been some time since we discussed this:

Anyone heard more about Fanti’s dating- who accepts it as authoritative?

Any thoughts? It gets tossed around quite a bit in other blogs and news accounts.

43 thoughts on “Revisiting Giulio Fanti’s Dating Methods”

    1. The first author of the second ref. is of course Giulio Fanti, and not Giovanni Fazio ! Sorry !

  1. It cannot be taken as authoritative. However it is excellent anecdotal evidence supporting the premise that the 1988 tests were flawed. For that reason, Fanti’s contribution is significant. In view of the fact that it has been 25 years and no additional carbon date has been authorized, what are researchers supposed to do—sit on their hands? I applaud Fanti for pursuing a different tact.

  2. Fanti’s book and the brou-ha-ha that came with it involved various more or less dubious means of dating old flax, including the highly controversial mechanical testing. After a while he published a paper in Vibrational Spectroscopy, in which all mention of the shroud and all his dating methods were omitted, except for FTIR spectroscopy. He subjected 12 samples of known age from 3000BC to the present, and observed a noticeable progressive change in the spectra recorded. Flax, it appears can be shown to degrade with age. In ideal situations (permanent storage in a single place of constant environmental conditions) his findings suggest an ascertainable age band of 400 years, which might be narrowed if further ressearch was carried out. Although this method is unlikely ever to be better than C14 dating, it has the merit of being wholly non-destructive. In more variable conditions however (and the Shroud springs inevitble to mind) this does not seem a promising line of research.

  3. And well done, Tristan, for pointing out two newer papers which were unknown to me, one dealing with a machine for testing the mechanical parameters of single fibres of flax, and another hoping to establish that these too are dateably age related. Again, however, the method relies on constant known environmental conditions, and this method doesn’t even have the merit of being non-destructive.

  4. Let’s reverse the problem: who in the Shroud research currently accepts the 1988 carbon-dating as authoritative?

    Now let’s see where is the difference with the Fanti’s research.

    We have two dubious datings: one extremely dubious 1988 C-14 dating to the Medieval, and the one performed by Fanti, using new, not battle-proven yet methods, dating the Shroud to the times of Christ.

    In short, about the datings: we are in the middle of nowhere so far.

  5. No matter if we talk about Fanti’s method or a new C14 dating that could be performed under better conditions, in my mind, if such a method produce a bullseye result about the Shroud’s age like the result published by Fanti did, I have to be highly skeptical about that. On this subject, this is exactly what is thinking an expert in C14 dating like William Meacham, who wrote in his book The Rape of the Turin Shroud that, in 1988, he was expecting a result around the 4th or 5th century, even though he was convinced of the authenticity of the Shroud. Why? Because there are too much possibilities of contamination with a relic like the Shroud who was held by numerous hands (many of which we don’t know anything about) in numerous conditions (again, many of which we don’t know anything about) and I think this is ever truer in the particular case of Fanti’s highly suspicious samples (taken with a vaccuum from the space between the Holland cloth and the backside of the Shroud, which could well have traped a lot of alien material that have nothing to do with the original cloth over the centuries). So, in such a context, it is almost scientifically impossible to expect the dating result will give a pretty 30 AD result!

    And in the particular case of Fanti’s dating, here’s a very good question that I don’t think was ever asked: Why in the world he did not ALSO dated his samples with the well-accepted C14 method in order to compare the results and see if his new method could have some chance to yield accurate results in the case of ancient textiles?

    1. Why in the world he did not ALSO dated his samples with the well-accepted C14 method in order to compare the results and see if his new method could have some chance to yield accurate results in the case of ancient textiles?

      Which samples? From the Shroud? Or from other callibration textiles, used to develop a new method? The latter were in some cases radiocabondated.

      There is a pretty much material for some new radiocarbondating in the hands outside Turin (Jull sample for example) but no one feels ready to go with carbon-dating it, perhaps because the method is destructive, and an intact sample is always a bargaining chip.

      1. Of course, I was talking about the same material (or a reserved portion of it) he first dated with his new method. I know C14 destroy the material but I think that would have been the only way to learn if his new method can produce any reliable result.

      2. Dating Jull’s samples at Arizona won’t solve anything because the issue is the anomalous nature of the samples which skewed the results. Obviously Jull’s samples would have the same discredited characteristics.

        Any new testing would have to be of representative material and probably from more than one site.

  6. John Klotz :
    Dating Jull’s samples at Arizona won’t solve anything because the issue is the anomalous nature of the samples which skewed the results. Obviously Jull’s samples would have the same discredited characteristics.
    Any new testing would have to be of representative material and probably from more than one site.

    No, John. That’s why Jull showed this sample. HERE’S THE CATCH. This sample seems to be a part of the original Shroud, but remember -IT HAS NOT BEEN DATED! The 1260-1390 AD DOES NOT APPLY HERE!

    1. We really don’t know that Jull sample was a part of the original Shroud, do we? I think any C14 dating now has got to be as far away from that corner as practical. The process was corrupted and if C14 is done again, it has to be a new, clean process.

      And the SEM examination should precede the sampling.

  7. There are two problems here:

    Giulio Fanti did not have any samples, just threads, and these were not authorised by Turin, so any C-14 dating would carry no weight.

    Jull seems to have part of the Arizona sample with him, with discredited characterstics. If it is part of the “original Shroud’ where did he get it from?

    1. Jull has the half of A. Donahue has A1, but refuses to show it (https://shroudstory.com/2013/11/10/the-mysterious-arizona-piece/)

      Rogers had threads from the middle of the sample, between R and A1.

      The patch could have gone, and abruptly ended everywhere. That’s why there is a trend and great statistical inconsistency among the results.

      1 cm up or down, left or right, may mean the difference between 1st and 13th-16th century.

  8. So Father Heinrich Pfeiffer was absolutely correct when I interviewed him and he told me that samples were “flying around.” It only goes to show that what Timothy Jull, Douglas Donahue and Ray Rogers worked with was unsuitable for carbon dating. So was some mischief making going on, with the laboratories communicating with each other to make the results seem as clear cut as described in the paper published in “Nature”?

    Who said carbon dating is infallible? There are many problems involved in dating a relic like the Shroud.

  9. John Klotz :
    Dating Jull’s samples at Arizona won’t solve anything because the issue is the anomalous nature of the samples which skewed the results. Obviously Jull’s samples would have the same discredited characteristics.
    Any new testing would have to be of representative material and probably from more than one site.

    On the contrary, dating the Arizona sample(s) could resolve the question, whether there exists a spatial gradient in the apparent age (as measured by the C14 method) of the Shroud textile. The existence of such a gradient is suggested by the 1988 results.

  10. Anomymous :
    What I was talking about was dating Fanti’s sample with C14, not Julls’ samples.

    Fanti’s samples seem to be far too small for C14 dating.

    1. So Fanti can get a good result from a smaller sample than can be done with C-14? I thnk that might tell me something about the value of Fanti’s method vis-a-vis C14!

      1. What do you mean by ‘good ‘ result? As I understand it Fanti got three very different results. Only one at most of these can be ‘good’ but which one ? (Unless, of course, the Shroud has been worked on continuously from the middle of the first millennium BC onwards and these varied results reflect this.)

  11. Charles Freeman :
    What do you mean by ‘good ‘ result? As I understand it Fanti got three very different results. Only one at most of these can be ‘good’ but which one ? (Unless, of course, the Shroud has been worked on continuously from the middle of the first millennium BC onwards and these varied results reflect this.)

    Charles see: https://shroudstory.com/2013/04/16/giulio-fanti-responds-to-gian-marco-rinaldis-book-review/

    One interesting quote:

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

  12. I didn’t altogether follow one of Fanti’s responses to Rinaldi’s criticism of his book at the time, and re-reading it, I don’t follow it now. To be fair to Fanti, I do not think he continues to press his new dating systems as relevant to the Shroud any more, although they may have value in other circumstances.
    The reponse I’m wondering about concerns an ‘adjustment’ made to the FTIR date, to ‘compensate’ for the 1532 fire. The original date of the FTIR analysis (p.90 of Il Mistero della Sindone) was 752 BC +/- 400 yrs. This was adjusted by adding about 450 years to arrive at 300 BC +/- 400 yrs, according to some experiments carried out by heating moden cloth. The original date of the Raman Spectroscopy analysis was 200 BC +/- 400 yrs. However, it was not felt necessary to correct this date: neither Fanti nor Rinalsi comment on it further. The third set of results, the mechanical deformation set, gave a range of five dates from about 750 BC to 900 AD, which were averaged to 400 AD +/- 400 yrs. Rinaldi thought that the 1532 fire was likely to have affected the mechanical strength of the cloth to an extent that this result should be adjusted accordingly, but Fanti said that experiments had shown that the effect of the fire was negligible in this case and also that “the effect of the fire was further reduced by the particular position from which [the fibres he studied] were collected.” I find both those statements strange indeed, considering he was using fibres hoovered up from between the shroud and the backing cloth.

    1. ‘ Hugh. ‘To be fair to Fanti, I do not think he continues to press his new dating systems as relevant to the Shroud any more, although they may have value in other circumstances.’. Yes, that is certainly my impression which is why I asked the question in the first place. Until there is an accepted external standard of measurement against which his very varied dates can be judged, I can’t see why we need to take them seriously. Just because with a bit of ‘effects of the fire’ juggling we can get an overlap in the first century don’t get us very far and I suspect that this is why I can’t find any evidence that anyone in the scientific world has given his findings the time of day.

  13. Fanti has compared, on one side, Shroud fibres from the debris collected by aspiration by Riggi in 1978, and, on the other side, control fibres freshly extracted from integer threads. I stressed this point in my critical note that Dan posted here on 4 April in the English translation provided by Hugh:
    https://shroudstory.com/2013/04/04/a-critical-review-of-giulio-fantis-new-book-unreliable-results-because-of-inadequacy-of-methods/
    I quote from that translation:
    “We can assume that any fibers of the Shroud collected from the vacuum extractor had deteriorated more than the fibers still enclosed in the threads. Fibers have, in the course of time, detached from the back of the Shroud and become trapped inside the cavity between the cloths, but those that have would be either weaker or more damaged than those which remained in the threads. For example they could be fibers that originally came from areas of stitching or burning or soaking in water or any other places that had suffered damage for some reason.
    “In addition to the fibers that had already become detached in the past, Riggi’s vacuum cleaner could have detached others while it was working, and those fibres, too, would be weaker or more damaged than those which remained. Fanti’s material is thus shown to be unrepresentative in being particularly deteriorated, so it is no wonder that the age he calculated is more apparent than real.”
    Fanti did not address this point in his reply to me.
    The situation is not better if one reads the recent article by Fanti and Malfi:

    Click to access 001200008502.pdf


    In section 4.2 they write:
    “Eight different TS fibers have been recognized as such by the first author among others using a petrographic microscope and a particular technique based on cross-polarization. TS fibers in fact present a greater number of transversal defects (kink bands) than other more recent flax fibers and it is therefore relatively easy to detect them.”
    These “kink bands”, if I understand well, are twists or bends that denote a weak or deteriorated fibre. One is led to suppose that Fanti for his test has selected the most deteriorated fibres from the Riggi debris!

  14. Ronaldi says: “One is led to suppose that Fanti for his test has selected the most deteriorated fibres from the Riggi debris!”

    And therefore the Fanti’s work is suspect. Habermas, Jones and others would be well advised to speak of the need to reject these tests. SSG is too much a world of Lone Rangers and glory seekers. We need a new STURP.

  15. “We can assume that any fibers of the Shroud collected from the vacuum extractor had deteriorated more than the fibers still enclosed in the threads. Fibers have, in the course of time, detached from the back of the Shroud and become trapped inside the cavity between the cloths, but those that have would be either weaker or more damaged than those which remained in the threads.”

    “In addition to the fibers that had already become detached in the past, Riggi’s vacuum cleaner could have detached others while it was working, and those fibres, too, would be weaker or more damaged than those which remained. Fanti’s material is thus shown to be unrepresentative in being particularly deteriorated, so it is no wonder that the age he calculated is more apparent than real.”

    “One is led to suppose that Fanti for his test has selected the most deteriorated fibres from the Riggi debris!”

    I see no reason why should we assume so (except of course Gian Marco’s desire to undermine Fanti results). The fibers may be detached from various reasons, perhaps force (coming from vacuum cleaner or tensions while the cloth was rolled up and down) that pulled them out of the thread was stronger in particular places -not necessarily that those particular fibers are weaker.

    1. For O.K. Fibers that have detached are more weak, on the average, than fibers that have not detached.
      And please do not worry about my “desire” as long as I do not worry about yours…

      1. Is it significant effect? We don’t know.

        As to your desire, it is very clear -you are trying to suggest that the fibers tested by Fanti are much younger than he claims. Mine is of course to counter those suggestions.

  16. Sorry, Gian Marco, I see I typoed Rinalsi, and Paulette, above, Ronaldi! Our apologies, no doubt. Since you’re following this thread, can you say why Fanti did not think it necessary to correct the Raman Spectroscopy date considering the fire – you didn’t comment on it at the time (neither did he) but went straight on to the mechanical one?

    1. If I can voice my guess, it isperhaps because the depolymerization of cellulose due to the heat is much faster process, than change of the fibers mechanical parameters.

    2. Hugh, it seems that Fanti did not find a relevant effect of heating on Raman analysis. Also in the paper in English he (and co-authors) published in April, one reads:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924203113000490
      “…. experiments now under analysis on flax textiles exposed to heat sources seem to show the presence of systematic aging effects of some centuries in the FT-IR spectra, effects that are not so evident in the Raman spectra.”

  17. I think all of Russ Breault’s comment way back at #5 is the most relevant in this thread:
    “It cannot be taken as authoritative. However it is excellent anecdotal evidence supporting the premise that the 1988 tests were flawed. For that reason, Fanti’s contribution is significant. In view of the fact that it has been 25 years and no additional carbon date has been authorized, what are researchers supposed to do—sit on their hands? I applaud Fanti for pursuing a different tact.”
    Despite the dispersion of his results, Fanti’s would seem a lot closer to the mark than the 1988 tests. The mere fact that fibres closest to the surface are more likely to be displaced may have as much a bearing than any inherent weakness in them as asserted by Rinaldi.

  18. Dear friends,
    I believe that Giulio Fanti can improve the system using the NEMS …
    The nanoelectromechanical way !
    What is yourt opinion ?
    Do you know the NEMS, the NanoElectroMechanical Systems ?
    — —
    Here the World’s Smallest FM Radio Transmitter …

    link :
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118091502.htm

    > … … Graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon, is the strongest material known to man, and also has electrical properties superior to the silicon used to make the chips found in modern electronics. The combination of these properties makes graphene an ideal material for nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), which are scaled-down versions of the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) used widely for sensing of vibration and acceleration. … …
    >Graphene NEMS can address both problems: they are very compact and easily integrated with other types of electronics, and their frequency can be tuned over a wide range because of graphene’s tremendous mechanical strength. … …
    >For this study, the team worked with research groups from the School’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Physics. This work is supported by Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship 2012 and the U.S. Air Force, using facilities at the Cornell Nano-Scale Facility and the Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research (CEPSR) Clean Room at Columbia University.
    — —
    Question :
    How to work in order to discover the truth about the linen fibrils ?
    Answer :
    We have to solve the inherent enigma ! …
    — —
    link :
    http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2013/12/06/smallest-fm-radio-will-revolutionize-cell-phones-97671/

    >… Hone and Shepard’s team harnessed these properties to build a specific graphene NEMS known as a voltage controlled oscillator. This system was able to generate a FM signal with a frequency of about 100 hertz, which is in the middle of the FM radio band. They observed that the signal from the graphene could change the frequency of low frequency musical signals, which could then be detected by an FM radio receiver as ordinary as a car radio or a walkie talkie. …
    — —
    So …
    There is a lot of work to do …
    Then : we have to know the Applied Statistics !
    — —
    Cheers …

    1. I prefer the non-destructive way.
      I indicated the use of the AFM, CFM and SNOM in 1998 …
      — —
      In any case the depolymerization of cellulose due to the heat
      is an interesting problem and then we have to see what are the differences.
      I am curious to read your opinions …
      and … not “yourt opinion” (Sorry. I beg your pardon !)

      >… Like any other new technology, the system still has its bugs. Hone and Shepard are currently working to reduce unwanted signals produced by the graphene NEMS and integrate the system into silicon integrated circuits and microchips. This would make the device even smaller.

    1. Vanillin test (= Wiesner test) in itself is not the true solution … The new nondestructive dating technique (that I indicated in 1998) is based on SPMs (= Scanning Probe Microscopies = AFM, CFM and SNOM ) …
      — — —
      So … If we want to improve the controls we can use both SPM and NEMS …
      or/and SPM and nano-Raman controls …
      In any case : it’s difficult to be completely nondestructive when we work with the samples…

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