clip_image001When O.K. wrote his comment to This may be the Shroud of Turin Story of the Year, I thought that this needed to be its own thread, fast. But it was New Years’ Eve. It can wait to morning. Okay the ball has dropped and I’m still awake. Here goes.

(No. Rebecca Hamilton is not the story of 2013. Fanti’s methods, rightly or wrongly were. Maybe we can get to the bottom of the Caltech story in 2014. That would be a great story of the year. Or do I hear a big groan?)

Okay, so, O.K. wrote:

You mention the weird, unverified, undocumented [claim] that a secret test was made of an unauthorised, unverified thread by a scientist improperly making use of an AMS machine out-of-hours, mysteriously coming up with two dates, 800 years apart, with an average of 600AD. I wish I knew more about it, but it says nothing about the regular process of C14 dating as a procedure, and still less about the conduct of the three official laboratories. If it suggests anything, it does not suggest a splice, but a 7th century Byzantine fake.

If you haven’t heard about this already, check this: (see “Caltech Responds To Benford/Marino Claims”).

Actually the story is repeated by several sources, for example Mark Antonacci’s Ressurrection of the Shroud as well as 1993 Zenon Ziółkowski book Spór o Całun Turyński. There were witnesses for that claim, and although Caltech and Rossman deny this took place, I hardly believe it. We can be certain one thing, FOR SURE SOMEONE IS LYING HERE!

Here for your “fair use” convenience is the bit from Barrie’s site, ca 2002.

Caltech Responds To Benford/Marino Claims

In my August 16, 2002 update (see below), I included several new Shroud papers by Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, as well as reprinting an article that had originally appeared in Il Messaggero, a major Rome newspaper. The Benford/Marino paper claimed that an unauthorized age dating of the Shroud of Turin took place in 1982, and stated that the work was done by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Il Messaggero article quoted Benford and Marino on this matter.

On October 1, 2002, I received an e-mail letter from Mr. Adam Cochran, the Intellectual Property Counsel of Caltech, which I am reprinting here in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Schwortz

I am writing to bring to your attention a number of misstatements that appear on your web site, regarding the involvement of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Caltech Professor George R. Rossman in unauthorized age-dating studies on threads from the Shroud of Turin. These statements are not true.

Specifically, under the heading "Late Breaking News," there is a report from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero in which the following text appears:

"In 1982 a thread of the Raes sample had already been dated with a radiocarbon method at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech (sic))."

Elsewhere on your site, there is a PDF file entitled:

"Textile Evidence Supports Skewed Radiocarbon Date of Shroud of Turin (by) M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino" which states:

"Unauthorized dating of Raes thread
Heller delivered the thread to the California Institute of Technology (CalTech (sic)) for dating by world-renowned mineralogist Dr. George R. Rossman . . . . Rossman cut the thread in half and, using what Adler described as Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTMS), dated each end of the thread separately. . . . Rossman found that the non-contaminated end of the thread dated to 200 AD while the starched end dated to 1200 AD. . . . . In a personal conversation with one of the authors (Benford), Rossman confirmed that he was, indeed, the person who carried out the 1982 C-14 testing on the Raes thread provided by Adler."

The truth is that Dr. Rossman has never worked on the Shroud of Turin (or threads from it), nor have members of his research group. He has never been involved in age-dating studies and has no expertise in the area. Furthermore, the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences has never had FTMS instruments. In fact, to my knowledge no one at Caltech has ever done 14-C age-dating work at the Institute. The interview alleged to have occurred between Dr. Rossman and the author of one of the articles, in fact, never happened.

We ask that you annotate the above mentioned Late Breaking News and Benford/Marino articles to indicate Caltech’s position by linking to this letter, which is posted on your site. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Adam Cochran
The Intellectual Property Counsel
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California 91125

After agreeing to publish the Caltech letter, I contacted Sue Benford and Joseph Marino and asked them to provide additional clarification of the claims that they made in their paper. This is their response:

On Sept. 12, 2002, p. 15, Il Messegaro (Rome, Italy) reported correspondence they had received from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) regarding a 1982 unauthorized dating of a thread from the Shroud of Turin. In the article, Caltech representatives argued that "Neither Prof. Rossman nor any other group of research on behalf of the Caltech have ever carried out a study on the Shroud or on a sample of thread taken from it." It is our understanding that Caltech has submitted a similar statement for posting on the website. As the discoverers of the details related to this testing, we would like to take this opportunity to respond to this statement with some facts.

The original source of our information about the California Institute of Technology’s test, was from former Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) chemist Dr. Alan Adler in an audiotaped interview between him and Mark Antonacci on 28 December 1988. This source is cited in our paper ( Not only does the tape reveal the institution performing the test, but also refers to Dr. Rossman as the person who did the testing. On the tape, Adler further describes Rossman as a leading expert in the niche area of "moon rocks." A review of Rossman’s publications on the Caltech website indicates several publications in this subject area; thus, confirming his identity (see below for a partial listing).

In order to obtain more information about the 1982 testing procedure and to verify Adler’s statements, we contacted Rossman by telephone on June 30, 2002. He acknowledged having done the 1982 age-dating test but quickly ended the conversation stating he wanted no further communication about the Shroud.

In addition to the audiotape of Adler’s interview, we also have the phone records documenting our two brief phone calls to Rossman’s home on the date specified. Further, immediately following these two calls, we talked to Barrie Schwortz and relayed the specifics of the Rossman communication. In addition, the portion of the audiotape describing the 1982 testing was played for Dr. William Meacham, who asked for verification of the details in our paper.

It is important to note that Caltech has refuted our claims without first attempting to contact us seeking verification of our evidence. Should any of the Caltech representatives, including Dr. Rossman, wish to hear the audiotape in question, we would be happy to play it for them. We hope this helps to clarify the facts in this situation.

M. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino

Partial listing of Rossman’s lunar ("moon rock") publications:

Bell PM, Mao HK, Rossman GR (1975) Absorption spectroscopy of ionic and molecular units in crystals and glasses. In Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy of Lunar and Terrestrial Minerals, C. Karr, Jr., ed., Academic Press, New York, 1-38.

Rossman GR (1977) Optical absorption spectra of major minerals in Luna 24 sample 24170 (abstract). Lunar Science Institute, Conference on Luna 24, Houston, Texas. December. Abs.: Conference on Luna 24, Lunar Science Institute, 156-159.

Taylor LA, Rossman GR, Qu Q (1995) Where has all the lunar water gone? (abstract). Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. March, 1995.

Posted October 15, 2002