the 2007 carbon dating
and a bit of fascinating history
I would like you to post some of the following issues on the blog:
1. The 2007 carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo. Mark Guscin has written in the article ‘The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo’
Just weeks before the congress took place, new samples from the Sudarium were subject to carbon dating. Five samples were dated from five different cloths –three of them came up with the expected date, while the cloth from an Egyptian mummy returned a date of any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. The laboratory immediately concluded that the cloth (and the mummy) were fakes. The sample from the Sudarium was dated to around 700 AD. Scientist César Barta spoke about the carbon dating process, emphasising the fact that if carbon dating is always absolutely accurate, then we could just as well finish the congress there and then. However, there were several points to bear in mind– in specialist carbon dating magazines, about half the samples dated come up with the expected date, around 30% with an “acceptable” date, and the other 20% is not what one would expect from archaeology. The laboratory used (via the National Museum in Madrid) said they were surprised by the result and asked if the cloth was contaminated with any oil based product, as oil is not cleaned by the laboratory processes used before carbon dating and if oil is present on a sample, the date produced by carbon dating is in fact the date of contamination. Finally, the history of the Sudarium is very well established and there are definite references to its presence in Jerusalem in AD 570 and at the beginning of the fifth century.
Micheal Hesemann in a recent book (“Chusta Chrystusa, Naukowcy na tropie zmartwychwstania” pg. 230-232, that is polish edition of “Das Bluttuch Christi”) gives some more details. The dating was performed by Beta Analytic Inc. from Miami, and the result was 660-890 AD.
It is curious, because so far we know, the Sudarium had been carbon-dated in the 80s, by two laboratories: Tuscon and Toronto, based on samples taken from it by Max Frei and Pierluigi Baima-Bollone. Various accounts about the results exist. So far I have met: 653-786 AD Toronto, and 642-769 AD (in other version 642-869 AD) Tuscon. Micheal Hesemann, on the other hand, reprots 540-869 AD. Also "between 1st and 9th century" claim was made at one point.
Does anyone has any more details about 2007 dating? So far I know, on the Barrie’s site, on the Valencia conference page, there is listed a paper called ‘Dating the Cloths by the C14 Method – The Oviedo Sudarium’ by Felipe Montero Ortego, but it seems to be inaccessible either via Barrie’s site, or the Google.
2. The second issue is that I have found interesting site of Micheal Hesemann. Mainly German, but there are a few articles in English.
The second referenced item, Discovered: The Cave Monastery which housed the Sudarium of Christ concludes fascinatingly:
Many question remain unanswered: Did St. Gerasimus discover a hiding place of the early Christians, did he find the long-forgotten “Sudario Domini” in these very caves, maybe preserved in a wooden chest or a large jar, like the Dead Sea scrolls? Or was the precious relic entrusted to him by his teacher, St. Euthymius, the “founder and patron of the Judaean wilderness”, who established several laurae of hermits in the Judaean desert? We can only speculate about the details. But we can say for sure that Antoninus gave an accurate description of the cave monastery which existed in the cliffs of the Wadi en-Nukheil, at least since the 5thcentury. And that in this cliff laura, according to the pilgrim’s report, the Sudario was once venerated, before it was brought first to Africa, then to Spain.