Those Dark Specks in the Mark Evan’s Photographs

that unforgivable hoovering

Colin Berry, with his non-stop observant and inquisitive mind:

Am I not correct in thinking that there are dark specks associated with the tan-coloured areas, which are unlikely to be artefactual (chance deposits of dust etc) given they are absent for all intents and purposes in the less-strongly coloured non-image areas?
Flour particles, toasted?

(click on picture to see enlarged version)

A working hypothesis:

Working hypothesis. There are (or were, before the 2002 conservation measures, including that unforgivable hoovering) a scattering of dark-coloured particles on the TS concentrated mainly in the image-bearing regions, with far fewer in non-image regions.

An analysis of those particles would show them to be a substance that has been rendered yellow or brown by thermal energy ("heat" in common parlance). A possible candidate might be white flour particles  – an intentional additive – one that  acquired colour via a Maillard reaction, thus contributing to the image-forming process and  hence its heterogeneity and complexity.

Do they match what we see in the Mark Evans pictures?

As ever, more and more work beckons. First, one will need to do microscopy on the flour-coated  imprinted linen to see what happens to the appearance of individual flour particles, and whether or not they match the specks one sees in the above Mark Evans pictures, at least in terms of size.

And what did McCrone see?

Then comes the difficult part: to track down such papers are available online from the Walter McCrone Microscopy Institute on the studies he did on sticky-tape samples supplied by Ray Rogers. I definitely recall seeing one summary that had a long long list of the different types of particle he had identified.

One wonders what he would have made of those dark specks we see above if indeed they were flour or some other ‘food’ type particle that had undergone a Maillard reaction. One imagines it would take some fairly sophisticated kind of spectrographic microscopy  to make a positive identification, but that is not my area, so there’s a steep learning curve that will need to be climbed to make headway.

How Knowledge is Created: The Shroud of Turin

In part, we can enjoy the human spectacle of varying views and hot reactions.

From the OSC IB Blogs for Students and Teachers (Oxford Study Courses International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) we get some opinion on examining the Shroud of Turin in TOK classes (Theory of Knowledge). Eileen Dombrowski has written a long, interesting blog posting, The Shroud of Turin: perspectives, faith, and evidence:

. . . Earlier this month (Oct 9-12), a conference in St. Louis, Missouri brought together international presenters and participants on the topic “Shroud of Turin: The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science”. However, it is an article by historian Charles Freeman that may at last give some definitive answers. In an article published this week in History Today, he argues that the cloth is neither a miraculous burial shroud nor a deliberate hoax, but a 14th century cloth used in church Easter rituals with significance attributed later. His research is riveting for those of us interested in how knowledge is created.

As a starter for Theory of Knowledge teachers potentially interested in using the Turin Shroud in class, I’ll offer some ideas on whether and how to use it in class. . . .

It’s important to realize:

Certainly, the overall controversy over the Turin Shroud raises knowledge questions about the role of faith in interpretation of evidence – or more broadly about the role of perspectives in what is even considered to be “evidence”.Indeed, the basic beliefs or assumptions of perspectives are a good starting point for questions:

  • if people do not accept the possibility of divine miracles and/or the divinity of Jesus Christ, they are likely to reject knowledge claims that the Turin cloth is His burial shroud;
  • if they do accept this possibility, or if they are uncertain, they may or may not be persuaded by “evidence” the first group is likely to discount.

Relevant here are a coherence check for truth (Does this knowledge claim fit with what I already know?) and confirmation bias.

From a short list of potential course resources (do read Eileen Dombrowski’s posting):

  • Some videos A short video linked from the website of the recent conference in Missouri provides a lively introduction to the controversy. It refers to investigations done by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) and stresses the “fabulous mystery”: “Shroud Encounter: Experience the Mystery”.  The conclusions reached by Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) are available.
  • [ . . . ]
  • The article by Charles Freeman is essential as one of the sources for a TOK critical treatment of the topic, and for a demonstration of the methods of the historian: “The Origins of the Shroud of Turin”, History Today. His article summarizes evidence such as carbon dating previously done and adds new research findings.
  • It would be sad not to introduce students to a sense of the continuing controversy – not just its content but its tone. Refer students to the blog by Stephen Jones  in which he rages at Charles Freeman – for his credentials as an historian (which, I must interject, are excellent!), the religious beliefs Jones infers that he must have, and his treatment of evidence. Stephen Jones’s own assertions are in turn dismissed with cutting brevity by another blogger, who accepts that the shroud may be authentic but ridicules Jones’ treatment.  If you want to demonstrate how controversial knowledge claims can lead to emotional ranting and silliness, try clicking into some of the reader comments added to articles on the shroud.

Emotional ranting and silliness?  At least . . .  oh, well.

imageTheory of Knowledge and the Shroud:

Discussion of the Shroud can lead to appreciation of how very much people really care about particular knowledge claims and what justifications they accept and pass on. In part, we can enjoy the human spectacle of varying views and hot reactions. Most important, though, we can hone our own critical thinking skills by seeing knowledge claims in context and evaluating the justifications offered.

BTW Book Mention:  IB Theory of Knowledge Course Book: Oxford IB Diploma Program Course Book (Oxford IB Diploma Programme) – May 19, 2013  by Eileen Dombrowski (Author), Lena Rotenberg (Author), Mimi Bick (Author)

Shroud Expo to Open in San Antonio

imageThe home page of the Shroud Expo website now reads:

‘Thank you Royal Oak, Michigan. San Antonio, Texas is our new stop” Buy ANYTIME Tickets online for the incoming Exposition in San Antonio, Texas. ANYTIME Tickets will be for sale until 5 days prior to inauguration. Take advantage of this offer before it is too late. ANYTIME Ticket for sale at $ 12.00.

Taking a look at the ticket sale page, it looks like the exposition will run from November 13 to January 31, 2015. It is open every day, even Christmas Day, from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. The guided tour takes 55 minutes.

Do check out the website:

The Exposition

Believers and non-believers, men and women will see this Exposition that touches the soul, awakens the heart and challenges the intelligence

The story never told

imageThe Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth.

It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history, and we know more about it today than we ever have before. And yet, the controversy still rages.

The visitor walks through 12 chambers through the history of the object most studied: The Shroud of Turin. From the finding of the Shroud and its hidden negative, the visitor will see and discover the history, science, controversy, and facts surrounding the Shroud of Turin.

The scientific response to the possible resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ.

More than 50 original pieces

Original pieces that allow the visitor to understand for themselves the history behind the Shroud.

Art, History and Science

Historical objects from the First to the Nineteenth Century such a codex, coins and several other pieces collected over a long study are in display, taking the visitor though an interaction of history and modern science, …… a journey about the man in the Shroud.

The Shroud

The exposition allows the visitor to be part of a unique experience showcasing a relic from the Eighteenth Century with a piece of the Shroud, sealed by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758).

Audio Guide

All visitors receive an Audio Guide to tour the Exposition. Visitors may choose among several languages: English, Spanish, French, Russian, Albanian, Arabic, Assyrian Aramaic, Polish, Portuguese, and Rumanian. The audio guide has a duration of about 55 minute duration.


The exposition offer visitors a high quality printed catalogue. This book allows visitors to relieve the magic of the twelve chambers of the exposition. For those not able to see the exposition, is a perfect introduction to history, science and the man in the Shroud.

Catalogue is available in English and Spanish.

Shroud Exhibit in Small Town, Rural Canada

I like to think that all we do in studying the shroud and talking and writing
about it finds its most important expression in voices like this one.

imageOn Tuesday this week, Tim Lasiuta wrote about the shroud in the local Innisfail Province newspaper. Innisfail is a small agricultural town, midpoint between Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta. The population is just shy of 8,000 people:

The Shroud of Turin is a true mystery of the ages.

Whether or not you believe it is or is not the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, whether you dismiss it as medieval fake or a roughly 2,000-year-old piece of linen from the Jerusalem area, its existence makes you take a stand.

Last week, my wife and I went to St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church in Red Deer to see the venerated Shroud of Turin, or at least the ninth copy in North America, and the experience was amazing.

[ . . . ]

Having seen the copy first-hand, I can say there are some things you need to experience in life.

You just never know how you will respond.

Ninth copy refers to one of nine copies of the shroud Pope Benedict XVI approved and individually blessed for display in tours around the world.

Barrie Schwortz Dismisses Freeman’s Claims: It was the Science

It took nearly 17 years after our direct examination of the cloth before the
scientific evidence actually convinced me of the shroud’s authenticity.

— Barrie Schwortz

imageAs David V. Barrett reports today in the Catholic Herald, an Expert dismisses historian’s claim that Turin Shroud was made for medieval ritual:

. . . Schwortz, an expert in imaging and the official documenting photographer of STURP, dismisses Mr Freeman’s claims.

He told the Catholic Herald: “I have seen copies of the shroud (commissioned by the Savoy and other royal families) made by artists allowed to view the actual cloth that look very little like the shroud. It is not an easy image to reproduce. I have examined, studied and lectured on the shroud for nearly 38 years yet would have great difficulty in describing the image on the cloth in writing. So variations in early written descriptions or artistic copies doesn’t seem like very convincing evidence against authenticity. And there are many early coins and artworks that appear to have directly and faithfully copied the image on the shroud. Perhaps that is more a testament to the quality of the artists involved and the difficulties one encounters when attempting to duplicate the shroud’s image.”

Mr Schwortz referred to the scientific evidence that is “the basis for my opinion that the shroud cannot be an artwork. STURP’s data provided empirical evidence to that effect, although the sceptics of the world continue to deny it”.

He continued: “Remember that I am Jewish (not Messianic), and it took nearly 17 years after our direct examination of the cloth before the scientific evidence actually convinced me of the shroud’s authenticity. It was the science that did it.”

An Apology to Colin Berry. And Some Comments.

imageColin Berry writes on his site:

No Dan Porter, I am not a small boy playing with flour, and your continued attempts to infantilize do you no credit whatsoever. Nor does your attempt to block free speech. Nor does your tolerance of trolls on that site of yours who specialize in making character attacks.

Go boil your head, Dan Porter. I’m heartily sick of you and your tedious popgun attacks, 

Since I offended you Colin, I apologize. I have removed the picture from the blog posting. It was not my intention to insult you with the picture. No one, as I imagined it, would think you are like a small boy playing with flour. In fact, I’ve been intrigued by your experiments and have said so. I was merely injecting a bit of humor into the posting, or so I thought.

Sometimes I use a picture to make a point.  I did so long ago with a picture of Don Quixote attacking a windmill because that is how I saw what you were doing at the time. You have repeatedly expressed your displeasure about that picture. In that case I said nothing. The picture was an editorial stance no different than my use of an ostrich with his head in the sand to characterize Stephen Jones’ comment that he doesn’t know about some of the shroud news because he will not look at my blog and has not done so since May. 

You say I am trying to block free speech. No, I’m not. You have made 1,461 comments in this blog (18 after you switched to another ISP).  I have discarded 2 comments by you and edited the contents of another 6. All but one were because of insults.  One that I discarded had the single word ‘bye’ in it and was redundant. I will put that one back.  I have periodically pre-moderated your comments when you started dishing out excessively insulting remarks and then opened up comments again usually in a day or two.

People have left this blog because of insults. They have mentioned you.  I have tried to stick to some principles. Anyone should be able to comment. Right now, I have a list of 4 people who are blacklisted because they have trolled the site, been excessively insulting to others or used excessively anti-Catholic rhetoric.  You are not on that list.

This blog is not a public blog. Even so, I try to be fair, balanced and accommodating to everyone.  But, like a newspaper, I don’t have to publish every letter to the editor. Is that blocking free speech?  No, it is not. Not good enough? Well . . . you do have that corner in Hyde Park and you have your blogs.

There are no trolls on this site “who specialize in making character attacks.”  And this is a picture of me boiling my head.

Bigger Fish to Fry Than Freeman

Oh what a tangled website we weave,
When first we start with what we believe!*

* With apologies to Sir Walter Scott

imageWhen asked if he would be publishing more about Charles Freeman’s recent article, Stephen Jones in a comment replied, “Sorry, but I have bigger fish to fry than Freeman.”

He needs, he explained, to finish his series, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker" and complete:

. . . "The Servant of the Priest," which is unexpectedly very important) (e.g the Shroud (sindon) was not in the empty tomb but the risen Jesus took it with Him and gave it to "the servant of the priest," as recorded in the early 2nd century "Gospel of the Hebrews, who was either: a) Malchus (Jn 18:10); b) Peter (confused by a copyist error); or more likely c) John (who tradition records was a priest and is supported by the New Testament but too complex to give in this comment), and is supported by John knowing the name of the High Priest’s servant Malchus (see above), and being known to the High Priest, the High Priest’s servant girl and having easy and authoritative entry into the High Priest’s house (Jn 18:15-16); and therefore John may have even been a servant in the High Priest’s household, and his code name (in that early era of persecution was "the servant of the priest).

(emphasis mine)

Too complex?  I’ll wait.

Back to the subject of Charles’ article; I would like to see Jones rewrite and publish his criticism of Freeman’s article without the poisoning of the well and the defense of the hacker theory. Both of those things damage the posting’s credibility as an otherwise fairly good analysis.  

Marco Bella: Shroud of Turin–Between History and Pseudoscience

the Shroud is a fascinating conundrum.

imageThere is an interesting posting from / BLOG / di Marco Bella, which, by the way, Google Translate chooses to tell us is a posting by Mark Beautiful and Bing Translate tells us is by Marco Nice.

Other than that, Google seems to translate most of the page fairly well beginning with the title. Sindone di Torino: tra storia e pseudoscienza becomes Shroud of Turin: history and pseudo-science. Take your pick.

(Bing Translator may do a better job. (It only works for me if I click on Bing Translator and then paste in the URL  Bing give the title as Shroud of Turin: between history and pseudoscience.

With technical details out of the way, we note that:

Ours [that is Mark Beautiful’s or Marco Nice’s or Marco Bella’s] is a country that faced with irrefutable evidence (such as the carbon 14 dating) doesn’t want to resign. . . .

[ . . . ]

And also of the shroud we continue to discuss. In preparation for the exposition of 2015 Thursday, October 30, from 8:30, at the Department of chemistry of the University "Sapienza" of Rome, will be held on seminar (free) "The mystery of the shroud"where we discuss this and more and will be discussed between science and history on the sheet of Turin. The speakers will be Luigi Campanella (organizer of the meeting, Wisdom), Luigi Gadre (University of Pavia), Paul Lazar (Enea-Frascati), Philip Burgarella, (Università della Calabria), Andrea Nicolotti (University of Turin). An event definitely inspiring, given the prestige of the speakers, and which will be the last public appearance in the guise of Rector Prof.Luigi Frati, who will get jobs, with the Vice Rector for research, Giancarlo Ruocco.

Now we know what cannot be the shroud (the testimony of a man who lived in the time of Jesus Christ), but understanding how the negative image you both politically and possibly reproduce the procedure could be very historical and scientific interest, and in this sense the title of the meeting represents well the problem: the Shroud is a fascinating conundrum.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for spotting the article last night.

Posting Correction

imageThe previous posting has been corrected. This posting is just to notify you.

Yesterday, Dan wrote to me about an earlier Charles Freeman’s article. In something perhaps of a senior moment, I confused it with another criticism of the latest article,The Origins of the Shroud of Turin.  The mistake was completely mine.

Dan Scavone Responds to an Earlier Charles Freeman’s Article

Yesterday, Dan wrote to me about an earlier Charles Freeman’s article. In something perhaps of a senior moment, I confused it with another criticism of the latest article, The Origins of the Shroud of Turin.  The mistake was completely mine.

He sent me a copy of the article with his thoughts ‘penned’ in here and there.  While an annotated article makes for easy study, I unfortunately should not reproduce so much of the article without permission from Charles. Besides, it would make for too long a posting. What I have done is limit myself to a number of fair use quotations. Where the gaps exist in the article, I used bracketed ellipses. Charles’ text is indented with a quotation mark.  Dan’s comments are not indented and prefixed with his first name. In a couple of instances I have edited the Dan’s comments, mostly for formatting purposes or to remove extra comments directed to me. 

I apologize for the mistake.

Charles writes in his earlier article:

When I was researching my book on medieval relics, Holy Bones, Holy Dust, How Relics Shaped the History of the Medieval World, Yale University Press, 2011, I decided to leave out the Shroud of Turin. Relic cults come and go and the Turin Shroud is very much a cult of the past fifty years, not a medieval one. The debates over its authenticity have been acrimonious and inconclusive. However, having been sent a copy of Thomas de Wesselow’s The Sign, the Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection, Viking, 2012, I had strong reservations about much of the historical evidence presented to provide an narrative history of the Shroud before 1350. Despite many years of research de Wesselow uncritically accepts much of the work of the veteran Shroud researcher Ian Wilson whose latest volume, The Shroud, Fresh Light on the 2000-year-old Mystery, Bantam Books, 2011, is used here. So much has been written about the Shroud that I am unlikely to provide much new material but I hope to clarify some issues by placing the Shroud within the wider context of medieval relics.

Now let us consider how many relics of the true cross there are in the world. An account of those merely with which I am acquainted would fill a whole volume, for there is not a church, from a cathedral to the most miserable abbey or parish church that does not contain a piece. Large splinters of it are preserved in various places, as for instance in the Holy Chapel at Paris, whilst at Rome they show a crucifix of considerable size made entirely, they say, from this wood. In short, if we were to collect all these pieces of the true cross exhibited in various parts, they would form a whole ship’s cargo.

A third part of the crown [of Thorns] is preserved at the Holy Chapel at Paris, three thorns at the Church of the Holy Cross, and a number of them at St Eustache in the same city; there are a good many of the thorns at Sienna, one at Yicenza, four at Bourges, three at Besangon, three at Port Royal, and I do not know how many at Salvatierra in Spain, two at St James of Compostella, three at Albi, and one at least in the following places: — Toulouse, Macon, Charroux in Poitiers; at Cleri, St Flour, St Maximira in Provence, in the abbey of La Salle at St Martin of Noyon, etc.’ (John Calvin, 1543)

Dan: This is precisely the WRONG approach to the Shroud. It is NOT a run-of-the-mill medieval relic. If Freeman wishes take this approach, he must first show us the numerous other shrouds claimed throughout ancient or medieval Christian history. He must then compare their realism to the Shroud. The Shroud is NOT one of a million claimed Jesus-shrouds. It stands alone and never was another made like it, whether in the middle ages or even today at the apex of technical science and artistic media.

[ . . . ]

Those trying to assess the authenticity of the Sudarium of Oviedo have to contend with a radiocarbon-14 dating apparently of c. 700 AD. The blood on it has been analysed and is of the rare AB group. This is the newest blood-group in evolutionary terms and results from the mingling of Caucasian blood-group A and Mongoloid blood-group B. At first such a mutation would have been very rare and is virtually unknown before AD 900.

Dan: Virtually??? . . . I hesitate to speak definitively or to claim perfect accuracy on matters of science, but I can recall something about AB blood-type given out by University Hematologist (and Jewish) Al Adler, He has stated EITHER that AB is most common among Jews OR that all or most denatured ancient blood alters to AB over time. Perhaps somebody can confirm Adler’s learned assertions about the blood on the Shroud.

[ . . . ]

Let us start with Edessa, the modern Sanliurfa in south-eastern Turkey, where a image of Christ was first reported by the historian Evragius Scholasticus in the 590s.

Dan: Try 2nd-4th c. Doctrine of Addai, attested by its author as derived from Edessa’s ancient, unfortunately lost, archives..

Edessa may have been Christian as early as the beginning of the third century but its legends took Christianity back further. (This was quite common. In the fourth and fifth centuries many cities ‘discovered’ a first century founding bishop, usually one who had been consecrated as such by one of the apostles.)

Dan: Many? Name 2 or 3. Can he document these last remarks? 

The Edessa legend told the story of King Abgar who had received a letter from Christ that was preserved within the city. As late as the 540s this was recorded as giving protection to Edessa but by the end of the century a new relic, an image of Christ, took its place as the ‘top’ protector relic of the city.

Dan: Try 2nd-4th c. Doctrine of Addai.

[ . . . ]

For reasons that completely escape me, Wilson claims that the Image of Edessa is none other than the Shroud of Turin.

Dan: He has simply ignored Ian’s great arguments.

[. . . ]

. . . There was a taboo in the Byzantine world about showing Christ, no less than God, of course, dead.

Dan: ???? I’ve never heard of this.

[ . . . ]

An even more bizarre explanation comes when Wilson tackles Byzantine art. Seventy years ago a Frenchman, Paul Vignon, noted that the bearded face on the Turin Shroud has some of the characteristics of Byzantine art. All kinds of measuring was done and some enthusiasts found as many as sixty resemblances. This is all interesting but Wilson goes on to make the absurd suggestion that this was because Byzantine art was born from the Image of Edessa, also known to Wilson as the Turin Shroud! Wilson makes some vague points about a new period in art at this time and finds a reference to two wandering Georgian monks with contacts with Edessa in the 530s who may have painted images. His key argument is the appearance in iconography of Christ with a beard happens just at this time. Yet, even if Wilson claims, against Belting who prefers a date fifty years later, that the Image of Edessa was known from the 540s, Byzantine art was well under way by then. So we have the earliest bearded Christ in the catacomb of Commodilla in Rome in about 390 and then a fine central image of a bearded Christ in the church of San Pudenziana of c. 405 (below). Even a brief glance at a standard history of early Christian art would have shown Wilson the emergence of these fully fronted bearded portraits in the fifth century.

Dan:  I have no comments about Freeman’s last paragraphs.  They are so "not applicable" to the information that we really have about the Shroud. 

A particularly impressive example comes from the Church of San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna which is securely dated to 500 (illustrated below). So Byzantine images of a fully frontal bearded Christ are known from long before the date Wilson gives for his copying of the image of the Turin Shroud. So if the face on the Turin Shroud does have so many resemblances to Byzantine art then, it seems to me, that it may well be an excellent example of . . . Byzantine art!

Dan: He has confused which was the original (the Shroud) and which was the copy (Byzantine art)!!!  Also he has not paid attention to the "tetradiplon" reference to the image in the Acts of Thaddaeus. And [seems to be uninformed] of Ian’s "claims."

[ . . . ]

It is not known what happened to the Blachernae Shroud. The Chapel was very vulnerable as it was exposed on the shoreline. The Hodegetria was saved from the rapacious crusaders but the shroud seems to have disappeared. There is a hint in one source . . .

Dan: Much more than a hint.

. . . that it may have gone to Athens and some argue . . .

Dan: NO!!! I have proved with documents

. . . that it was the shroud found at Besancon which is first recorded in 1205, a year after the Crusade.

Dan: Yes!!! And it is firmly documented as coming from Constantinople to Besancon to Geoffroy de Charny. From there on the TS is documented through it possession by Geoffroy de Charny.

Most accounts suggest that this was then lost in a fire in 1350.

Dan: NOT True. In the first place, Freeman’s “most accounts” needs some names. And “suggest” (???) is so “escapist” as a wannabe “fact” that it may be discarded without further comment.

[ . . . ]

If Wilson’s thesis that this linen cloth was the Mandylion was not already in enough trouble, he still has a major issue to tackle, the history of the Shroud from AD 30 to the second half of the sixth century when the Edessa Image aka to Wilson the Turin Shroud is first recorded in Edessa. It is a long period, much more challenging than filling in a mere 150 years. 560 years from today would take us back to the Middle Ages! Of course, Wilson is up to the challenge. He has dug up a document called The Doctrine of Addai. This may date from the early fifth century

Dan: Freeman [seems to be] inventing dates hoping that uninformed readers will go along

[ . . . ]

When Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw that Jesus spake thus to him, by virtue of being the king’s painter, he took and painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, and brought with him to Abgar the king, his master. And when Abgar the king saw the likeness, he received it with great joy, and placed it with great honour in one of his palatial houses.’

Dan: And he was healed. Unless this is a lie, it was not a human “painting done with “choice paints” that healed him but the strange–looking, misunderstood, faint face on the Shroud of Jesus.

[ . . . ]

So where did the Mandylion end up? I would suggest that it lies, folded tetradiplon, in the casket below.

Dan: “Suggest” ??? He has not proved anything that might empower Freeman to“suggest” some opinion or other – of his own.

More on Charles Freeman’s Article

imageStephen Jones reacts to Charles Freeman’s article The Origins of the Shroud of Turin in History Today. He unfortunately begins with an inappropriate barrage of ad hominem.

He subtly questions Freeman’s credentials as a historian. “Freeman has never held a actual historian position in any university,” he writes. He elaborates (see Jones’ blog posting) and then states, “This should be borne in mind when assessing the headline ‘…historian says.’”

He implies motive:

Freeman is evidently an atheist/agnostic having published papers critical of Christianity in the New Humanist online magazine, the subtitle of which is "Ideas for godless people", and is "produced by the Rationalist Association … dedicated to reason, science, secularism and humanism."


. . . so presumably Freeman was once a Catholic but is now a non- (or even anti-) Christian. If so, then according to Freeman’s presumed personal atheist/agnostic philosophy, there is no supernatural, so Christianity must be false, and the Shroud of Turin must be a fake.

“I hasten to add that I am a Protestant evangelical Christian . . . ,” Jones writes. Well, so am I. I’m a Christian anyway, Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, and I feel compelled by my belief to respect Freeman’s worldview and not try to use it as a weapon against him.  I don’t agree with much of anything he said in the article but it was not because of his worldview.

The intelligent reader can only see that this is what Jones is doing. I am so reminded of the words of another atheist/secular humanist, Christopher Hitchens, speaking out about such attacks . . .

whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method . . . is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.”

Okay, it sounds like I’m doing the same thing. Maybe. But I’m not calling Jones a moron. No, I’m not. I’m thinking about his methods. Maybe he will think about them, as well.

Jones moves on. He spends time arguing against the 1988 carbon dating results with his amazing conspiracy theory (does anyone else on the planet buy into this?):

But [the carbon dating] is explicable if the Shroud sample dates were computer-generated. E.g. by a computer hacker, whom I have provided evidence in my soon to be completed series, "My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker," was Arizona Radiocarbon Laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), aided by self-confessed KGB hacker Karl Koch (1965–89), who both died of suspected `suicide’ within days of each other, presumably executed by the KGB to ensure their silence.]

Jones does spend time, appropriately as I see it, challenging other aspects of Freeman’s article. However, in a response to Freeman pointing out that the church officially regards the shroud with an open mind he falls into a trap of speculating to explain speculation (pretty much the way Freeman does in his article):

As I have stated before, the Vatican is dishonest in this. From its actions in spending the equivalent of millions of dollars preserving the Shroud and holding exhibitions for millions of people to see it, clearly the Vatican regards the Shroud as authentic. So presumably the reason it refuses to confirm or deny that the Shroud is authentic is that the Vatican would then have to say which of its other relics were authentic or fakes, and most of them would be the latter. It might be good church politics to suppress the truth in this matter but it is not Christian (Rom 1:18; . . . ).

The Vatican is dishonest, the church is suppressing the truth . . . is not Christian? And Jones, points to Romans 1:18, not as a citation but as a threat. It reads: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

All quoting by me is in accordance with doctrines of Fair Use defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 106. This grants me the right to limited copying for commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.

Colin Berry: Maybe It’s A Maillard Reaction After All

Oh, and go boil your head.

From the blog postings of Colin Berry:

It has clear advantages over Mode 1, [discussed above]. in that ANYTHING with 3D properties can in principle be imprinted, not having to be heated. That might be bas relief templates and/or fully 3D statues.  It may even conceivably have been a person, living or dead.  All that was needed was a coating of white flour (or a comparable dry powdered substance providing reducing sugar and amino groups), probably with a binder material to ensure even coating (the vegetable oil in the present modelling, but other options exist).

But I don’t see how with 3D statues, bodies and whatnot, we are not facing the well-understood contact-wrap-around problem. What am I missing?

But there’s a tricky step in the procedure – namely the final roasting of the flour-imprinted linen that has to convert the coating to tan-coloured melanoidins (Maillard reaction products) without too much dicoloration of the linen. It can be done in  principle, on a small scale laboratory basis, given the exceptional chemical and thermal stability of cellulose, by far and away the major component of linen fibres, relative to the starch, proteins lipids etc of wheat flour.

There’s a great deal to think about right now. Best to stop here and post the experimental results. Maybe others can see things I have missed that might offer a way forward through this thicket of new possibilities, each with its own unique difficulties.

To those who claim I select and/or manipulate experimental data I say this. Go boil your heads (old English expression of endearment).

Publishing Shroud of Turin Papers on

According to Wikipedia, “ is a social networking website for
academics. It was launched in September 2008 and the site now  has over
11 million registered users as of 2014. The platform can be used  to share papers,
monitor their impact, and follow the research in a particular field.

imageShroud of Turin papers are being published everywhere: peer-reviewed journals, open-access journals, pay-to-play journals and on all manner of websites.  Many conferences papers have been published on special conference websites as was the case for the Ohio State University conference in 2008 and the Frascati conference in 2010. In the past, many conference papers were published in and now we learn that papers from the St. Louis conference will be published there as well; that’s wonderful!

Other shroud-related papers, prepared for any number of reasons get published on all manner of websites.

  • ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development hosts papers such as The Conservation of the Shroud of Turin: Optical Studies by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra, Antonino Santoni and Enrico Nichelatti.
  • Dozens upon dozens of papers (in English) are published at such sites as and
  • John and Rebecca Jackson’s Shroud Center of Colorado has a few papers. 
  • David Rolfe’s Shroud Enigma site has some as well.
  • So, too, does Pam Moon’s Shroud of Turin Exhibition site.
  • This blog has a number.

And these are just the papers in English.

One site, in particular, is becoming a goto site for publishing shroud-related papers. It is increasingly popular with authors of papers because they can self-publish (upload) and make their papers instantly available. Authors can track readership. They can revise papers, even make instant corrections, all without having to wait for update schedules. has “Follow” facilities that allow anyone to follow the works of specific authors as well as papers on particular topics. For instance, because I follow the shroud, when Louis C. de Figueiredo published a paper, Professor Giulio Fanti discusses the controversies in the realm of Shroud studies, I knew about it within minutes. It was perhaps connectivity overkill, but my iPhone beeped to let me know about it. Helpfully, Louis also posted a notice on this blog.

Authors who publish on may, if they wish to do so, provide an email address or choose to rely on’s private messaging facilities – or neither. is free. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s powerful. But do read the article by Menachem Wecker in Vitae: Should You Share Your Research on

[High readership numbers] are enough to convince many scholars looking to develop an audience. Heidi Campbell, associate professor of communication at Texas A&M University, is among them. Don’t jump on to expecting to find vibrant discussions or active networkers, she says. Think of it instead as a “great way to share my work and let others know about my scholarship.”

“While it has not been that useful for me as a social-networking tool or for building collaborations,” she says, “it offers some great features that have spread the word about my work to a broader audience beyond my subfield. I think it has helped raise my public profile as a scholar online.”’s related topic indexing helps, too. Sooner or later, if you are reading about Byzantine coins, for instance, you will encounter a list of topics that suggests you might also be interested in the Shroud of Turin – sort of like the way Amazon recommends books based on what you are reading.

It should increase readership.

Every page in the Academia site has a search box. Moreover, Google and other search engines view this site as a major site (Alexa ranks it as 1 of the top 1000 websites in the world).

The header for each report contains buttons for viewing the author profile, displaying the abstract of the paper, tweeting a message about the paper, bookmarking the paper and downloading the paper to your computer. There is also a counter to show how many times the paper has been viewed, as can be seen in this example for a paper by Emanuela Marinelli from the 2012 Valencia Conference.




I say put your paper on and then put it someplace else like  The only exception may be if you are planning to publish your paper formally in a journal. In that case, check first.

Did we mention that on Academia you can follow an author?


What’s next?

SkyDrive from Microsoft and Google Drive are making  it even easier to publish papers. Just save papers as PDF files and decide if they will be public, private or available to a select group. Everyone can have their own storage.  Just sign up and each of these Internet giants will give you a recurring fifteen gigabytes of storage for free. That is enough for 1,000 typical shroud papers in PDF format. Want more space, it’s $1.99 per month for a hundred gigabytes, enough for 6,000 typical papers. And what about bandwidth. It is free.  Really! Bandwidth is bundled into the price.

Social media. Academic papers are moving there. Set up your own blog and store as many papers as you want. File space is cheap and bandwidth is free and unlimited.

The go-to choice for finding information these days is Google. Everybody Googles. And Google doesn’t care if a paper is on,, or somewhere in the clouds. There was a time when it took Google days to index a paper and they would only examine the first few pages. Now they will index a book length paper. And they get around to doing so in minutes

A St. Louis Paper Already Online: The Roman Flagrum . . .

This morning we learned that St. Louis conference papers will be published at, something I am especially pleased to learn. Later, Paulette wondered if some authors might also upload their papers at This, wonderfully, is already happening.  As the authors of one paper tell us:

The contents of this paper have been presented on the occasion of the international St. Louis Shroud Conference (The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science), held in St. Louis on October 9th-12th, 2014. The paper has been anticipated here, waiting for the official Proceedings.

imageThe paper is The hypotheses about the Roman flagrum that was used to scourge the Man of the Shroud. Some clarifications by Flavia Manservigi and Enrico Morin.

The authors tells us, as part of this fascinating paper:

In the Roman world many different instruments were used to inflict chastisements through flesh beating. The use of the different tools was determined by the gravity of the crime, but also by the social class of the prisoner and by its nationality.

The lowest level of this punishment was carried out in schools, against undisciplined children: in this case was used an instrument called ferula, which was a thin stick or a flat leather strip (Martial, Epigrammata, X, 62; 14, 79; Juvenal, Saturae, I, 15).

Another instrument which could be used for the domestic punishment was the so called virga (Juvenal, Saturae, VII, 210); in the case of serious crimes, it could become an instrument of death. It was a small rod made of elm or birch, which could be used singularly or joined together; in this form, virgae were also carried by the lictors as symbols of the juridical and administrative authority of the magistrates, because they were used to flog criminals (Cicero, In Verrem, 2, 5, 140; Livy, Ab Urbe conditam, II, 5; XXVI, 15-16; XXVIII, 29; XXIX, 9; Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, XVI, 30, 75; Acts of Apostles, 22, 24-29).

. . . and it goes on from there. Fascinating. Do read it.


Scientific truth is a pathway to God

As the Huffington Post describes him:

imageBr. Guy Consolmagno SJ is an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he has two degrees in planetary sciences from MIT and a doctorate from the University of Arizona. He is a past president of the IAU Commission 16 (Moons and Planets) and past chair of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS/DPS). Along with more than 200 scientific works, he is the author of six popular astronomy books (most notably Turn Left at Orion, with Dan Davis, and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? with Paul Mueller) and the winner of the 2014 Carl Sagan Medal for Public Outreach from the AAS/DPS.

He has put together an interesting posting for the HuffPo blog: Science, Religion and the Assumptions We Make.  He concludes (but do read it from the top)

I believe that the physical universe we study was was made deliberately by God who found it good — and who makes Himself known in the things He created (to quote St. Paul). Thus scientific truth is a pathway to God. Even a scientist who denies the existence of any creator God must nonetheless worship at the altar of Truth, or else that science is worthless.

And why, at the end of the day, do I choose one religion over another? I can accept that all religions ultimately are looking for the same God. But I suspect that some religions do a better job of it than others… just as Newton’s physics was an improvement over the medieval view, and quantum physics picks up where Newton’s version fails. The religions of The Book — Judaism, Christianity, Islam — all recognize a God outside of nature who created this universe and found it good. Of these, I adopt the Catholic view because to me it is the most complete, most coherent vision of God and God’s interaction with our universe.

I find that my religion’s understanding of the universe is consistent with everything that I observe about life: not only in science, but in my experience of beauty, love and all the other transcendentals that science does not treat… including those experiences that I interpret as prayer, my direct experience of God.

It’s not a proof. But it is a consistency argument. Your mileage may vary.

And one of those things may be the shroud.

St. Louis Papers to be Archived at

imageBarrie Schwortz reports on the STERA Facebook page:

Great News! The organizers of the recent St. Louis Shroud Conference have decided that, rather than creating and maintaining a separate website, they will have all the papers and presentations permanently archived on We are asking all participants to submit their final papers to us by December 15th so we can include them on a new St. Louis Conference page as part of our 19th Anniversary update on January 21, 2015. Watch for our last major update of the year in early December.

Great news, indeed.  Individual conference archives are always at risk. Over the years, the conference organization drifts away and no one is left to maintain the conference website and pay for storage space and bandwidth (although storage space is now cheap and bandwidth costs have all but disappeared except for large-scale video files). The issue is loving care, time consuming maintenance.

Barrie is simply the best.

The Guardian Notes the History Today Article by Charles Freeman

imageThe Headline:  Turin shroud was made for medieval Easter ritual, historian says

The Lede: Charles Freeman believes relic venerated as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth dates from 14th century and was used as a prop

Charlotte Higgins writes:

The original purpose of the shroud, argues Freeman, is likely to have been as a prop in a kind of medieval, theatrical ceremony that took place at Easter – the Quem quaeritis? or “whom do you seek?”

“On Easter morning the gospel accounts of the resurrection would be re-enacted with ‘disciples’ acting out a presentation in which they would enter a makeshift tomb and bring out the grave clothes to show that Christ had indeed risen,” he said.

This will probably get syndicated. Many Guardian articles about the shroud do.

Accusations of Intellectual Dishonesty

imageDiscussions can be come highly charged at times and it is easy for some of us to accuse someone of intellectual dishonesty.  If I say someone misunderstands the data (and I mean it), that’s okay.  If I say someone is misrepresenting the data, it’s a close call; it goes to intent but it is probably a good idea to avoid such language.  If I say someone is manipulating the data that is an accusation, plain and simple.  If I’m going to accuase someone, I have to be able to prove it.

I discarded such a comment this morning. Please don’t say that someone is “trying to manipulate the data.”

There have been some recent comments that I perhaps should have edited or discarded. I don’t like to do so, however. So I’m asking everyone to think carefully about how comments are worded to avoid inappropriate accusations.

430 Wikipedia Articles Mention the Shroud of Turin

(only the English Edition was searched)

imageDo you recall when Wikipedia had a small article on the Shroud of Turin. That article now, if you print it out, is 22 pages long followed by 13 pages of references.  But that is not enough. In addition to the main article, Shroud of Turin, there are other articles that include “Shroud of Turin” in the title:

There are articles about many shroud researchers. Here are some of them in no particular order:

And there are articles with significant discussion of the shroud

Altogether, 430 Wikipedia English edition articles mention the Shroud of Turin according to Google. 

High Definition

Colin writes:

Well, would you credit it?  There we were, assuming that HD Shroud 2.0 was only available on iPads, at a price, when all the time it was there at the click of a laptop key on good ol’ Auntie BBC, going way back to 2010.

Well, not exactly. The image from the BBC is not the HD image available on iPads. It is a low grade, non-HD, 786 by 2973 pixel, 96 dpi JPEG copy of what is available on the iPad. The real, HD image is bigger than life. You can see all the threads. So when Colin says . . .

Maybe resolution is critical to spotting the two-tone effect. Maybe that’s why it’s been missed previously, by myself and others.

. . . I’m confused.  Does Colin mean low resolution? I’ve been looking and looking at the iPad image, even cranking up the contrast. I don’t see the two-tone effect Colin sees. I, do, however, see some pink in the epsilon-shaped bloodstain on the forehead. See:


Shroud of Turin on the Internet

imageDid you know that you can follow the 2015 Exhibition news on twitter. It’s @Sindone2015.

You can also follow this blog on twitter at @shroudstory

According to Alexa, this blog is the most popular Shroud of Turin website in the world. No, really, as of today our global rank is 993,584.  Notice that I say”our.”  It’s the comments that make it so. Look, you can’t really compare websites. This is a daily blog. It is valuable because it reaches so many people.  Everyone helps.

Homogeneous or Not? That’s the Question


Hi Colin.

I see you are up with a new posting, Who says the Shroud of Turin image is homogeneous? Think again, fellow shroudies…

Did I read that right? Fellow shroudie? 

Anyway, you write:

Here are two images of the TS image, frontal v dorsal,  that I can confidently state that no one apart from myself has ever seen before. In fact, I too had not seen them until a hour or so ago. (One needs to scrutinize them closely).

In a picture caption you ask, “Can you guess the provenance?” 

No Colin, I can’t.  I don’t know what you mean by provenance, in this case.  “The shroud”?  The photograph? The film?  The digital file name after conversion from one to the other?  The raw bitmap file?  The JPEG or GIF on a particular website? The original with original size, dots per inch, contrast, brightness, color saturation, etc.? The website where you glommed onto the image?

Every step – object to film, film to digital, file type to file type conversion, resizing and so forth — introduces artifacts including different color approximations in different density areas of the image; or so I’m told. I’m not a graphics expert so correct me, Colin, if I’m wrong.

Anyway, that may or may not be the case here. It would be nice to know what image you are using. For what you are proposing, it would be nice to get a full color image that has had the least possible manipulation in the past.

You write:

It’s been said the TS image is "homogeneous" . . .

These two images show in  my humble estimation  that the TS image, whether imprint or painting (I still prefer imprint) is most definitely NOT homogeneous. Under the carefully adjusted contrast, brightness and mid-tone settings,  but emphatically with NO fiddling with colour,  they show some "grey" areas and some "orange-brown" areas, admittedly an approximate description.

Do you know, Colin, what your software does when you fiddle?

And if anyone says it’s "just" blood, I have another image, ready and waiting, to kick that suggestion into the long grass. (Sorry about the idiomatic English – I only use it when animated,  and I have to say that fellow shroudies sometimes get me animated, not to say pissed-off,  with the dismissive put-down tone of their comments).

[. . . ]

For now, let’s just content ourselves with the two new images, and hang loose for a while, if only to tease my readers (to say nothing of play for time).

Here’s a challenge to fellow shroudies: whose images were these originally, and where did they first appear, before I began to tinker with them in MS Office Picture Manager (legitimately I maintain). ?  (bolding emphasis mine)

You may have a point, Colin; an important point, perhaps. But you also have an attitude. That may be why we are so dismissive. The stink bomb you threw on what was intended as a thank you posting for the organizers of the St. Louis conference will be remembered for a long time. It is why your comments are being moderated for the time being.

Homogeneous or Not? That’s the Question. It is worth exploring.

Note: Image shown here is a screen grab from Colin Berry’s site. Its original provenance is unknown.