A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément
First, I would like to address the question of the possible presence of blood in the area located between the 2 head images on the Shroud. This has recently been asked by a blogger and it’s an interesting question. On that subject, here’s what can we find about that in the important study of the UV fluorescent photographs of the Shroud done by Miller and Pellicori of STURP:
“At C-D by 11-12 a SMUDGE RESEMBLING BLOOD is visible between the head images.” Note: This code comes from a graph they drew over the Shroud and this particular location is found between the 2 head images. I have looked at the Shroud Scope of Mario Latendresse to find this possible smudge of blood but I’m not sure at all where it is located. Some spots look a bit like bloodstains but, by experience, I know that those can well be weak scorches instead (those two items on the Shroud are showing a coloration under normal light that is nearly the same)… It would be nice to check the original UV fluorescent photos of Miller and Pellicori to locate this stain!
This is the ONLY possible bloodstain they detected (they don’t mention any other possible bloodstains in this particular area) and, when we read correctly their report, these researchers were not even sure that this stain was really composed of blood. In such a context, it is evident that it would need a chemical investigation by a blood expert through a sampling of this particular area to know if some blood is present there or not. I think the most prudent conclusion to draw from this is to assume that there is no confirmed bloodstain between the head images, at least for the moment.
On the other hand, if it could be confirm that this stain is composed of blood, this would probably be the only blood smudge that exist on the Shroud and I think it is truly possible that this could have happened at the time the body was placed inside the Shroud (probably in a central place inside the tomb) or during the transfer of the enshrouded body from a central place of the tomb to his final resting place (probably a stone bench carved inside a wall of the tomb). This would highly suggest that at least some blood clots were still partially humid at the time the body reached the tomb or were able to get re-humidified before the body reached the tomb…
Personally, I think Mario Latendresse’s hypothesis to explain the absence of a body image of the back of the head is still the most likely because it is the most simple and rational we can find, which is to assume that, at the moment of the image formation, the Shroud was loosely draped over the body (most probably without the use of linen strips to bind it around the body) and consequently, for this particular area of the top of the head, the cloth was not in direct-contact with the body at a distance that was far enough to prevent the formation of an image.
Such a hypothesis is consistent with Mr. Latendresse’s own conclusion versus the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the Shroud man’s body (link: http://sindonology.org/papers/latendresse2005a.pdf) and it is also consistent with a possible total absence of bloodstain in the area between the head images. And even if the potential smudge of blood detected by Miller and Pellicori would be confirmed one day as really being made of blood, the fact that such a stain could have well been caused by the enshrouding of the Shroud man or by the short transfer of his enshrouded body to a final resting place would not allow us to discard the hypothesis proposed by Mr. Latendresse.
And since Jackson et al. from STURP have conclude that no image was able to form at more than 3.7 cm from the body, then it is logical to assume that the cloth was probably located at 4 cm or more away from the top of the head. But here, we must be prudent since we still don’t know the exact mechanism that lead to the image formation and it is still possible that such a process was not able to work laterally (or if it was, it is possible that it was only working if there would have been a direct-contact between the cloth and the lateral parts of the body, including the top of the head).
Nevertheless, there is still one thing that bugs me a bit with this explanation and it is the probable position of the head, which seemed to have been bent toward the chest (which is the probable position it had at the time of the Shroud man’s death on the cross). Because of this, I think it’s a bit harder to believe the cloth would have been located away from the top of the head at the time of the image formation in the context of a shroud loosely draped over the body. To learn more about this, I think Mario Latendresse or someone else should try some cloth’s configuration experiments that would consider the most probable position of the Shroud man’s head, which appears to have been bent toward the chest, and see if some loose configuration of the cloth over such a head bent toward the chest can force it to be located at some distance from the top of the head (which is not necessarily 4 cm or more if the image formation process was mainly working in a radial way (mainly straight up and down from the body)). Note: In my opinion, I don’t think if that was the case, this would necessarily discard any natural process for image formation, especially if the energy transfer was not 100% radial.
To me, in the context of a bend head toward the chest, the only way Mario or someone else could obtain a configuration that would force the cloth to be located at some distance from the top of the head (not necessarily at 4 or more cm but at least not in direct-contact with it) is to assume the Shroud was somewhat stiff at the time of the burial of the Shroud man.
Note: Of course, this stiffness of the cloth would have been lost over the years, since it is pretty evident that the actual Shroud is not stiff at all. Such a lost could have been caused by the Shroud being kept in a damp place for some time at an unknown moment during its long history.
And you know what? This hypothesis of a stiff cloth at the time of the burial is truly possible! In fact, this had been proposed by German from STURP and was accepted as a true possibility by Rogers and Schwalbe in their STURP paper. Here what they wrote about that: “German proposed a model to account for this (note: the density gradation of the image) by postulating the Shroud as originally somewhat stiff either from pressing or possibly starching.”
Important note: If that was really the case and the original Shroud was fairly stiff because of starching (note: In Antiquity, starch was often put on the warp threads to protect them during the weaving of the cloth), this would have represented a very good context for the presence of a layer of starch (among other impurities) as proposed by Rogers later on to explain the chromophore of the image and the ultra-superficiality of the image. In fact, Rogers assumed that most of the thin layer of impurities was composed of starch that was left on the top surface of the cloth after his washing in saponaria and drying in open air, which was an operation done in Antiquity to remove most of the starch in order to render the cloth more supple. In the case of the Shroud, it is possible to assume that this washing operation would not have removed all the stiffness of the cloth after the weaving.
Of course, all I said here is hypothetical and theoretical. More researches need to be done in order to find what is the most probable answer for the lack of an image of the top of the head on the Shroud. Nevertheless, I hope that what I have exposed here can become the start of a new reflection for some people, especially those involved in Shroud research like Mario Latendresse.
In sum, the two important factors I would like those researchers to keep in mind (which are two things that are rarely consider, so it seem) when it’s time to evaluate what was the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the dead body are 1- The possibility that the original cloth was somewhat stiff. And 2- The most probable fact that the Shroud man’s head was bend toward the chest at the time of the image formation.
For me, those 2 important factors could well have played a huge role in the kind of image that have been formed in the two head regions (front and back), as well as possibly playing a huge role also to prevent the formation of an image of the top of the head. Of course, other potentially good solutions other than the one proposed by Mr. Latendresse the other day exists to explain this absence of an image there (like the idea of a second smaller cloth that could have been placed on top of the head of the Shroud man and inside the main Shroud during the burial procedure), but I still prefer the hypothesis of Mr. Latendresse, at least for the moment. Maybe some more researches on the most probable Shroud configuration at the time of the image formation could change my mind… Who knows? One thing’s for sure (and I’m sure Mr. Latendresse will agree with me because he already planed to do so): More research need to be done in that particular field of sindonology.
Last comment concerning those future researches: It would be nice to see, for the very first time, a researcher trying to determine what could have been the most likely configuration of the Shroud in the half portion of the cloth where we see the dorsal image. SUCH AN INVESTIGATION HAS NEVER BEEN DONE, NOT EVEN BY JACKSON AND HIS TEAM DURING THE STURP DAYS!
To my knowledge, the only researchers who have studied this question (but only in theory) are the Italian nuclear physicists Fazio and Mandaglio, who came to the conclusion in their paper entitled “Does an Iz correlation exists for the back-part of the Shroud body image?” (link: http://cab.unime.it/journals/index.php/AAPP/article/view/C1A0802005) that “the attenuation effects are different in the formation of the back and front images.” In other words, for those 2 scientists, in the back region, the image formation was not able to colored fibers that were located as far as it was probably the case for the front side of the body (which have been estimated at 3.7 cm by Jackson and his team) and the reason why it is so is the possible presence of burial ointments in greater quantity, which would have created a sort of wall that would have prevent the image formation process (natural in their mind) to color fibers located at 3 or 4 cm from the body as it was probably the case on the front side of the body (if Jackson’s conclusion is correct). Personally, I disagree with such a conclusion (even if I really respect the work of those 2 scientists) because of the investigation done by Ray Rogers who conclude that there was probably no burial ointment present on the Shroud at the time of the image formation. I’ve done some personal exchange with Fazio about Rogers’ conclusion and he defend his conclusion by saying that it is possible that all the burial ointments that were present on the Shroud have been lost over time (note that this is the same hypothesis that was proposed by Pellicori back in the STURP days). Personally, I have a very hard time to buy such a hypothesis and prefer to think, like Rogers, that if no burial ointments have been found on the Shroud, it is most probably because none have been used during the burial of the Shroud man! If we use Occam’s razor principle with honesty, this is by far the most simple explanation.
And contrary to the conclusion of Fazio and Mandaglio, I think the most rational answer that exist to explain the difference in the maximal distance in which the image formation was able to color a fiber between the front and the back side is the probable fact that there was a smaller amount of energy (still undetermined) that have been transferred from the backside of the corpse to the back region of the cloth than what have been the case from the front side of the body to the front region of the Shroud. And if my idea could be scientifically confirmed one day, this would certainly represent a data that would push strongly in favor of an image formation that was natural and very mild (even milder under the body than what was the case over the body), especially if it involved a release by the corpse of post-mortem gases (Rogers) and/or of free radicals (Mills) and/or of lactic acid molecules (DeSalvo)… But of course, we’re not there yet.
Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada