Colin Berry Wants Feedback

It’s getting on for 9 months since I first floated the idea that the TS
was fabricated as a simulated sweat imprint, a whole-body front-and-back
version of the then celebrated Veil of Veronica.

imageHe writes by way of a new comment:

The TS is NOT to be seen as a painting, given its negative character. It’s to be seen as an IMPRINT, almost certainly a CONTACT IMPRINT. In a non-authenticity model that does not necessarily mean it was produced as a contact imprint, e.g. off some kind of applied bas-relief template (though it may well have been, given its 3D properties. It’s just conceivable that it was painted freehand in a manner as to make the image SEEM like an imprint. But there again, the artisans would not have considered themselves restricted to classical artists’ pigments, if as seems probable the aim was to produce an image that would not be instantly regarded (and just as quickly dismissed) as merely a flight-of-fancy painting on linen.

So whichever way you look at it, there’s no justification whatsoever for making any assumption, either a priori or from Charles’s post hoc review of what he terms “interlocking” evidence, that the image was painted.

In any case, it’s grossly unscientific to assume (without independent evidence) the present image is what’s left when the paint has ENTIRELY flaked off. Why the survival of 3D properties if that had been the case? Why the STURP evidence based on diimide-bleaching, reflectance spectroscopy etc that the body image comprises dehydrated linen carbohydrates? Why should a coating of gesso and paint have produced chemical changes that in the laboratory require elevated temperature or dehydrating acids such as H2SO4. Why all the focus on blood, which may well have been partly or totally paint when the real challenge, not to be ducked, is the subtle BODY IMAGE aka IMPRINT that caused consternation when first displayed at Lirey?

This entire paint thing is an attempt to bury well over a century of image analysis, starting with Secondo Pia’s amazing photographic ‘negatives’ that restored the TS ‘positive’. Classical paintings do not do that, not even faded or flaked-off ones, correction least of all leaving scarcely-visible (when viewed up close) low-contrast remains.

It’s getting on for 9 months since I first floated the idea that the TS was fabricated as a simulated sweat imprint, a whole-body front-and-back version of the then celebrated Veil of Veronica. I don’t recall hearing any significant objections to that proposal, not from Charles Freeman nor anyone else for that matter. I hesitate to say this, but what’s the point of posting one’s ideas to a specialist web forum if one gets absolutely no detailed feedback, either positive or negative?

65 thoughts on “Colin Berry Wants Feedback”

  1. Posted on another thread:

    It’s now twenty years I have been screaming in the desert the TS image does look like a light scorch or pre-scorch yet it is not a scorch per se. Most likely It is a natural mordanting of remoistened dried off urea residues and remoistened freshly dried or half dried blood (via use of an alkali solution to soak in the linen fabric and followed by fumigation of the tightly wrapped up corpse placed in extra height first on its left and then right side).

  2. Colin,

    You have a theory but is there any historical precedent or examples of your theory?

    Even if someone could create a fake Shroud using your theory, that would not prove that the Shroud is a fake.

    There is a rather famous case in American jurisprudence about a high State Department official Alger Hiss who passed on documents to the Soviets in the 1930’s. His wife retyped them on a Woodstock typewriter. There was expert witness that the documents which were retyped on a specific Woodstock typewriter owned by Hiss because of certain anomalies in the type faces.

    After Hiss was convicted, during the defense hired a typewriter expert, Martin Tytell to duplicate the typewriter with the same tell tale anomalies. It took two years but he finally did it. Except the evidence was rejected. The fact that the government could have created a fake Woodstock didn’t mean the government did create a fake Woodstock.

    Assume you are right, that someone could have used the method you suggest. That doesn’t mean that someone did use it. And you still have not solved the whole issue of the blood stains.

    You may believe that the authenticity of the Shroud has not been proven, but to prove it was inauthentic requires something more than proof it might have been faked.

    Of course that’s where the carbon dating comes in. If you accept that, then it’s clear that the Shroud is a fake. But, I believe that the carbon dating has been impeached and assigned to the “dust bin of history.” Hiss partisans will know where that quote comes from. I am not, and never have been, a Hiss partisan. Known a few though, including the late Martin Tytell.

    1. Historical precedent (for starters)? You betcha.

      Take this passage from the wiki entry on that “Veil of Veronica”. I consider it tells one essentially not only HOW the TS may have been made (as a simulated sweat imprint) but WHY it was made ( as a ONE-OFF) to represent a bigger-and-better version of the Veronica, which in the 14th century was allegedly the “central icon” of the “Roman Church” according to Neil MacGregor (celebrated art historian/Director of the BM)..

      My bolding:

      “The final form of the Western legend recounts that Saint Veronica from Jerusalem encountered Jesus along the Via Dolorosa on the way to Calvary. When she paused to wipe the blood and sweat (Latin sudor) off his face with her veil, his image was imprinted on the cloth.

      The event is commemorated by the Sixth Station of the Stations of the Cross. According to some versions, Veronica later traveled to Rome to present the cloth to the Roman Emperor Tiberius and the veil possesses miraculous properties, being able to quench thirst, cure blindness, and sometimes even raise the dead.

      The story is not recorded in its present form until the Middle Ages and for this reason, is unlikely to be historical.Rather, its origins are more likely to be found in the story of the image of Jesus associated with the Eastern Church known as the Mandylion or Image of Edessa, coupled with the desire of the faithful be able to see the face of their Redeemer.

      During the fourteenth century it became a central icon in the Western Church – in the words of art historian Neil Macgregor – “From [the 14th Century] on, wherever the Roman Church went, the Veronica would go with it.”

      I’m frankly amazed that Charles makes no reference to the Veronica in his ‘History Today’ article. Context is everything where the TS , notably where its sudden dramatic appearance in the mid 14th century is concerned, marked by the minting of the Lirey Pilgrim’s Medallion no less. How can a historian so lightly dismiss the TS’s instant celebrity, and the details that appear on that badge (like the inset image of what clearly is the Veronica above the word SUAIRE (sweat-imprinted face-cloth) – arguably an attempt to forge a common lineage between the Shroud and the Veronica – BOTH sweat imprints. We have an immediate explanation for why there HAD to be bloodstains on the Shroud. There could have been no sweat imprint if the body had been washed free of blood before wrapping in linen.

  3. Hello Colin
    As the one who encouraged the discussion between Charles and you, both professionals in the respective fields, it is is nice to see that this discussion is gaining momentum.
    You have raised very good objections about why the image is not a painting and one can add that someone during the medieval period would have to hoover the Shroud to not leave
    traces of paint after the flakes were no longer there.
    Unfortunately there are many gaps to be filled in order to discover what happened between 1204 and 1353 — assuming that the Image of Edessa and the Shroud are one and the same object — and sources are not easy to find. I am on the way to closing at least one gap, depending on images that will have to be analysed very carefully, and hopefully should have some news soon.
    I do think the Knights Templar had a role to play, unlike the late Daniel Raffard de Brienne, French lawyer who was the president of CIELT, and the author of five books on the Shroud.
    He was one of those invited by Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin to the round table in Turin, together with Dr. Michael Tite and other authorities. In the following interview he granted me you will see that even the history can be highly controversial:

    1. Surely this is the wrong site for this discussion,Colin, as one would need to pass your theory through conventional scientific channels and then, once you have support from fellow scientists, repost it here so as to add to the discussion. You give e impression, perhaps wrongly, that you are a one-man band on this. How many of us on this site are able to make any kind of evaluation of your hypothesis ( I still cannot understand why a medieval artisan would ever want to conccot an image this way – I simply cannot imagine the scenario in which he says: ‘I won’t do it the normal way but I shall strike out on my own’ using techniques that no one has ever found anywhere else.quite mystifying.)
      Virtually everything I post has been through some sort of expert opinion even if it is merely to say that there is no reason why my hypothesis should not be correct e.g, I have checked through the medieval treadle loom scenario with an expert weaver who recreates ancient weaves and knows about ancient looms, but has only come across three-in-one in silk damasks of the third century AD that must have been created in very sophisticated looms. The treadle speeds up the process three fold but also allows the treadles to be manipulated so as to create the three-in-one without much hassle. Therefore overwhelmingly. The Most likely loom for the Shroud. So I feel I have specialist backing- why don’t you get the same from fellow scientists who about these things?

      1. Well, I’ve had a scientific debate of sorts with Thibault Heimburger MD,who has a track record in responding to anti-authenticity papers, notably Luigi Garlaschelli’s. The trouble is that TH writes his pdfs that get prominently displayed in this site’s side bar, two of them addressed to the scorch hypothesis. I then write detailed counter-critiques on my own site that then get totally ignored. A case in point is TH’s claim that one cannot scorch a linen thread without colouring all the fibres. It simply not true, I’ve ‘unspun’ scorched threads and photographed them to show it’s not true, but as I say, find I’m ‘shadow-boxing’. I do not care for one-way megaphone diplomacy.

        TH is a member of the Shroud Science Group (SSG) on whose behalf Dan Porter once asked me to provide a detailed critique of Adler’s bilirubin claim. I did so, but never heard back, despite presenting informed opinion accrued through having spent 2 years in Philadelphia researching the photochemistry of bilirubin. Yet just the other day I saw Adler referred to as a “bilirubin expert” and a “haematology expert”. He was neither, He was a synthetic organic chemist specializing in porphyrins. If there’s a bilirubin expert on this site, it’s me, and I have the publications to prove it.

        I’m more than happy to discuss the science with fellow scientists. But who in particular? I would need to be convinced that they did not have a prior interest in defending or promoting TS authenticity as so many do, especially on religious grounds, notably in that SSG.

        1. Very amazing.

          What to do want exactly Colin?
          Or what are you expecting from me?

        2. Charles, Wilson did mention that the specimen was silk, not linen.
          One wonders whether those in the medieval period who believed that the Shroud did indeed wrap the body of Jesus were so foolish as to not bother to check where the cloth may have come from.

      2. Charles wrote,

        “Surely this is the wrong site for this discussion,Colin, as one would need to pass your theory through conventional scientific channels and then, once you have support from fellow scientists, repost it here so as to add to the discussion.”

        Isn’t that true of your theory too? You have yet to tell me how flaking off paint would leave a detailed image rather than just an outline, if that.

        If the shroud is a fake than I like you theory more than the linen draped of some hot metal figure, but that has big problem just as your theory does.

        I believe it had a natural cause, maybe some type of sweat imprint.

        If you’re claiming that it’s not from the 1st century, what is your evidence for that?

        1. “If the shroud is a fake than I like you theory more than the linen draped of some hot metal figure, but that has big problem just as your theory does.

          I believe it had a natural cause, maybe some type of sweat imprint.”

          But the hot template model is just a model, and models in science are to be used, not believed (I thank a Dutch economist for having come up with that handy truism).

          What that model did was to scotch any idea that 3D properties were unique to the TS image, as some have claimed and/or still imply. It also showed that one could get quasi- (pseudo?) bas relief imprints off fully 3D templates, simply by imprinting off the highest relief only, avoiding the wrap-around distortions that some say is inevitable (it’s not, as I showed with a brass crucifix).

          As I say, hot metal is just a model system, and if as I now believe, the aim was to SIMULATE a sweat imprint,accepting that sweat itself is probably impractical, despite the legend associated with the Veronica, then there there were numerous options open to a medieval artisan.

          Pure thermal energy (scorching of linen fibres) was just one. The scorching could have been assisted by pre-coating with thermosensitizing agents (the “invisible ink” effect obtainable with milk, lemon juice etc) or maybe there was a combination of fine powder and accompanying acidic impurity, as suggested in Luigi Garlaschelli ‘s frottage model as the possible mechanism.

          But tlt’s not get too bogged down in the technical detail, none of which is likely to provide a proof (merely showing how an image might have been obtained with conventional physics and chemistry. The thesis being proposed is not only simple, namely that any representation of the purported “genuine” burial shroud that lwas a faint barely-discernible NEGATIVE imprint, that could not easily dismissed as a mere painting, was bound to attract intense interest. One has to forget paint – it’s a total irrelevance that ignores decades of image research, and which fails to address the ICONIC nature of the TS image (a reasonable description I’d have said for both pro-and anti-authenticity schools of thought).

          I do not understand why Charles Freeman is having such difficulty with that proposition. The Veronica was regarded as a sweat imprint, So why can’t he accept that a faint negative imprint of the front and rear of a naked man, with additions of blood, maybe accrued over time, in all the biblically-correct places, would have found immediate and probably uncritical acceptance by the majority of easily-suggestible religious pilgrims (the more worldly-wise Church authorities being another matter)? There’s nothing esoteric about the basic proposition. Others are free to disagree, but that won’t shift me from what I see as a position rooted in common sense.

        2. I have written about the Veil of Veronica in my Holy Bones. It was a mega cult from the beginning of the thirteenth century – so great the crowds coming to see it that often some were crushed to death. It was in the heart of things ,in St..Peter’s and promoted by the popes especially during Holy Years. Yes, it’s supposed to be sweat but that does not mean it was. As it is no longer extant ( well, some say a faded cloth with just a few marks on it is it – others say it was destroyed in the sack of Rome in 1527) we do not know how the surface was created but the many copies, very common after 1350, suggest that in its heyday it was very vivid indeed – cf the descriptions of the Shroud.
          Contrast this with the cult of the Shroud initiated it seems by a wife of a knight in small chapel in an out of the way village in Northern France. Like many cults in the traumatic years just after the Black Death, it catches on for a brief period in the 1350s but by the 1390s thevShroud has been transformed by Clement VII into an object deserving of sufficient veneration to earn an indulgence but clearly proclaimed not to be authentic. There is absolutely no evidence that it was a major cult before the Savoys took it on. It was for this reason it did not qualify for discussion in my Holy Bones.
          The shroud is promoted as a burial cloth, not a veil. The predominant impact recorded is blood not sweat- dead bodies don’ sweat- well, I suppose they don’t bleed either but perhaps there was never any real blood or sweat either….

        3. I agree the Veronica did not have to be a real sweat imprint, Charles, anymore than the TS. All that matters is that it was claimed to be one, and folk could relate to that, so much so that more and more Veronica images appeared (wiki) that looked increasingly like bog-standards paintings. Presumably they were explained away by the “sweat” having miraculous properties that allowed it to change into a fully-pigmented portrait.

          Yes, the shroud was promoted as a burial cloth, not a veil. But one has to explain the NEGATIVE image. That implies a contact imprint. But from what, given it’s faint? The Machy mould for a Lirey badge variant with its Veronica image over SUAIRE must surely provide a strong clue to the image as having been created to SIMULATE sweat, regardless of how that was achieved, but no ordinary artist’s pigment could ever have been passed off as sweat. Thus the need to think like a medieval artisan as to how an ancient sweat stain could be simulated. I for one have barely scratched the surface where possible options are concerned.

          No, dead bodies don’t sweat. But that’s hardly the point. All the pilgrim was asked to believe was that a blood and sweat-coated body was removed from a cross, and placed in a linen shroud without washing. Evaporation and time did the rest to leave a faint and allegedly 1300 year old image on linen on first public display at Lirey.

          The essence of this argument is that the first cohorts of viewers in the 1300s were not put off by the faintness of the body image, that being compensated to a large extent by what you describe as ‘over-flagellation’. I see no grounds for accepting your claim that the image was highly prominent initially before your putative paint pigment fell off. There was no paint pigment. Quite what produced the faint yellow coloration is anyone’s guess. Degraded linen (STURP) seems as good an explanation as any. But it generally takes elevated temperature and/or harsh chemicals to permanently colour linen, without being subsequently bleached by exposure to light, oxygen etc. Some kind of Maillard reaction is a possibility. I’m doing experiments right now to compare different types of scorch (simple pyrolysis v Maillard) to bleaching by active oxygen.

        4. John Green. I have a problem in finding any sort of evidence scientific or otherwise to date the Shroud to before AD 33.
          Colin – what is the problem in creating as negative image? The artisT of the Shroud as well as the Besancon shroud, was commissioned to imagine an image that a dead body might have left. The conventional iconography of tHe side wound is on the right side of the body, so he produced it on tHe left. Not difficult.
          For a more sophisticated negative image look at the mirror on the famous Arnolfini portrait by Van Eyck in the National Galley, London ( 1434). There are other cases of mirror images but this is the best.

        5. “Colin – what is the problem in creating as negative image? The artisT of the Shroud as well as the Besancon shroud, was commissioned to imagine an image that a dead body might have left. The conventional iconography of the side wound is on the right side of the body, so he produced it on the left. Not difficult.”

          Can we forget about the blood for now please Charles, which I have repeatedly said is not the prime reason for the Shroud’s “iconic” nature, that being due to the unique collection of characteristics that describe the body image? The blood could well be paint, or some kind of blood substitute. I refer specifically to the double body image, its faintness, the largely uniform colour (Halta Definizione image excluded) the lack of directionality, the superficiality, the negative character (and more importantly the stunning effect of reversing the image Secondo Pia style , despite its faintness,) the 3D-enhancibility, again in spite of its faintness etc. You have picked just one item out of that list – the negative image – and basically said “so what?”.. That’s despite that list not including the pecullarities at the image at the microscopic level – the extreme superficiality, the half-tone effect, striation patterns, “second face” etc etc.

          So what? Some of us have spent years now in trying to explain and understand how a faint image, one that we’re told is virtually indistinguishable from background when viewed at close quarters, can come to have all those weird and wonderful properties. You may be able to find other negative images in art galleries, but are they on linen as a portrayal of the recently dead Jesus in an up-and-over burial Shroud, and done so expertly as to cause major consternation when first put on display?

          The TS should not be regarded as a standard image produced purely by application of paint when there are no traces of any recognizable paint, and when there are so many disparate features that simply cannot be explained as the image having once been paint. To ascribe all those multiple anomalies to flaked-off paint is not just a cop-out. It’s frankly an insult to the intelligence of your readers. (So there).

          But I for one have moved on from firing broadsides at your thesis, necessary though they are. What I seek is informed criticism (or support) for my hypothesis that the TS image was designed as a SIMULATED sweat imprint, with no particular technology in mind just yet.

          Is there a fallacy in my reasoning that can be more constructively expressed than I simply don’t understand medieval art history? I say the TS (excluding blood stains) is a one-off image that cannot be accommodated into Western art history – any more than Stonehenge can be accommodated into the history of Western architecture. I say the TS body image is more to do with technology than with art, executed expertly and covertly with a canny perception of what would appeal enormously to the curiosity of the 14th century mindset.

        6. Colin, I.Wilson has written about a herringbone weave from the Roman era, more precisely one specimen found in Palmyra, Syria dateable from its context to AD 276.
          Dr. Alan Adler was the only American on the Commission for the preservation of the Shroud appointed by Turin. He was able to examine the relic first hand on one occasion and was emphatic that the the body images were not made with any pigment.
          Together with Dr. John Heller he identified true blood components on the Shroud and found serum rings around the bloodstains. Both of them published their findings in peer-reviewed journals, “Applied Optics” and “Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal”.

        7. Colin, I.Wilson has written about a herringbone weave from the Roman era, more precisely one specimen found in Palmyra, Syria dateable from its context to AD 276.
          Dr. Alan Adler was the only American on the Commission for the preservation of the Shroud appointed by Turin. He was able to examine the relic first hand on one occasion and was emphatic that the the body images were not made with any pigment.
          Together with Dr. John Heller he identified true blood components on the Shroud and found serum rings around the bloodstains. Both of them published their findings in peer-reviewed journals, “Applied Optics” and “Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal”.

          Hello again Louis.

          I’m unclear as to your mention of the herringbone weave, having proffered no opinions on that aspect re authenticity. There’s also the fact that my position on “sweat imprints” is less to do with pro-versus anti-authenticity, and more to do with the motivation of medieval artisans and their sponsors in producing the TS.

          Dr. Alan Adler. Again, his well-known views re blood, bilirubin etc have been something I’ve addressed at length in the past, but are not terribly germane to the “sweat imprint” hypothesis, where the focus is primarily on the body image, at least initially. However, I’d make a couple of observations in passing. First, Adler and Heller did not see the Shroud with their own eyes before the STURP summary appeared in 1980 of thereabouts. He did finally get to see the TS much later when appointed to advise on conservation. But are you aware that his later comment son bilirubin were totally at odds with what he claimed earlier? Initially he had said that bililrubin was responsible for “permanent bright red colour of the Shroud blood” and that it helped explain the anomalous porphrin spectrum (with no direct evidence I might add). Yet In his conservation advice he changed his tune, stating then (correctly) that bilirubin was unstable to light and might indeed act to catalyse autoxidation and image degradation. Maybe by then he had picked up on the fact that bilirubin can generate the highly reactive and destructive singlet oxygen on irradiation with visible light (the blue component especially). But he failed to retract what he’s said earlier about “extraordinary” amounts of bilirubin being in Shroud blood, which frankly is a non-starter, given centuries of exposure to light an oxygen. Yet one major figure in Shroudology continues to proselytize authenticity on the grounds that Adler’s entirely wrong-headed bilirubin story was for him the clincher. I repeat: Adler was a porphyrin specialist. he was operating ‘out-of-area’ when attempting to implicate bilirubin in his pro-authenticity narrative, and doing so with no hard analytical data, relying instead on uv/visible spectra – notoriously unreliable with undefined biological specimens.

          I do not dispute your comment re Adler’s view on the body image not being based on applied pigment. It was Adler and Heller after all who provided some suggestive evidence that the image was degraded linen carbohydrates, based on reflectance spectra and bleaching with diimide.

          As for the final paragraph, I’d say simply this. The task of deciding whether something that is centuries old is real blood ornot, given the multiple changes it will have undergone, right down to iron oxide, and given the failure to apply the techniques that Ray Rogers had at his disposal, but were never applied to blood,notably pyrolysis mass spectrometry, is far harder than most folk imagine. It’s also a little odd don’t you think that a porphyrin specialist who finds an anomalous porphyrin spectrum should have adduced an interference from bilirubin when neither the porphyrin nor the bilirubin were isolated chromatographically and identified. I could have shown them how to do it, the methodology having been developed in collaboration with two colleagues (Don Ostrow and John Zarembo) in my very first published paper (1972).

          Time now to pick up on some earlier points made by Charles. I’m not sure he appreciates that light/dark reversed images are a lot more demanding on a medieval artist than mirror (left-right reversed) images, especially as the TS image is famous for its non-directional character, making it highly unlikely it would have been painted by an artist whose eye is trained to pick up directional light and the light/shade effects it creates. We shall see.

          I suspect I’m still shadow boxing, even now. Is that fair comment?

        8. Well, if the Shroud was created to appeal enormously to the medieval mindset ,then it failed to do so. We have virtually no evidence that. It attracted any body much after a brief flurry in the 1350s. There is the description of the early fifteenth century which refers to it as no more than a representation and if the Savoys had not picked it up, then it would have vanished like most of the other so-called burial shrouds.
          I still cannot see why you think the Shroud is outside the ordinary as a physical object other than that it was kept rather than being thrown away as we know most linens were after their colours had faded.
          Still please go on with your researches. You are certainly not into Occam Razor country!
          Obviously many medieval and sixteenth century observers did believe that the blood was iconic – de Beatis and the Clare nuns for a start!
          I am going to end the debate and let you get on with your researches. I think that you have been misled by STURP into thinking that this is an object that is in some way outside the normal physical world of medieval artefacts. One of my main aims in my other postings on other sites is to argue that there is absolutely no reason to believe that the Shroud is any more mysterious as an object that any other from this period. It has things we don’t understand about it, but we also don’t understand how medieval craftsmen created the Sutton Hoo purse with its tiny garnets and there are lots of other medieval skills we are not able to replicate. This does not make any of these objects ‘mysterious’.
          Good luck with the experiments!

        9. If one is asking whether the TS was painted free hand with classical pigment, or whether a mysterious technology was used instead, then I frankly fail to see what’s the relevance of your point re “brief flurry” Charles.

          That brief flurry was because the image was from the very outset so convincing as a bodily IMPRINT, not a mere painting. It was that brief flurry that led to the minting of a medallion, which would not have come cheap and which no doubt helped to set the local bishop on the warpath, especially if the Machy mould Mk2 version was ever produced with the addition of that Veronica image implying a common pedigree.

          If the image had intended to be seen as a mere painting, intended as a accessory feature in an Easter ritual, do you really think it would have caused what you term a brief flurry in 1355 Charles? Repeat: the TS was seen from the word go as an audacious new entry into Europe’s archive of ‘genuine’ relics.

          “I think that you have been misled by STURP into thinking that this is an object that is in some way outside the normal physical world of medieval artefacts.”

          I suspect that comment will raise a grin on some faces here, at least from those better acquainted than you appear to be Charles re my position on a whole range of STURP conclusions, some solidly based, others less so.

        10. Louis’ point about the herringbone weave. Not just herringbone weave but three in one herringbone weave! My weaving expert gave me all the references to these and the Palmyra one is perhaps the finest, although much decayed, of about twelve whose fragments exist. Did Wilson stress that these were up market silk damasks, not linen weaves?
          Clearly with none of them dated to before AD 250 not really relevant and far too grand to compare with the Shroud anyway.

        11. Hello Colin
          I think your comments are fair and further studies on the bloodstains have been suggested by more than one “Shroudie”. On my part, I do believe it is blood and like others will have to wait for a more detailed examination, now that we have DNA tests, that were not available to Drs. Adler and Heller.

        12. Colin. Imagine a situation,horribly close to us with the Ebola outbreak, where through an enormous area half the population has died. The survivors are deeply traumatised ,their lives disrupted. This was Europe in the 1350s and all kinds of relic cults sprung up, flourished briefly and then faded. The Shroud was just one of these and there was nothing particularly different about it so far as we know.

          What was believed by some, and we really have no idea exactly who, as the actual burial cloth of Christ one of many on offer, of course, in the traumatIsed 1350s had settled by the 1390s into something very different , a cult of an object of veneration given Church approval,alongside many thousands of similar objects. But this time it was firmly declared not to be the real thing..

          There is really very little evidence that the Shroud was considered important in the next fifty years by anyone other than Margaret de Charny – she trIed to display it but it was declared inauthentic, e.g. In 1449 when she tried to exhibit it. It is the canny Savoys who start making something of it and, as I believe, the images were still striking, they were able to display it in enormous arenas such as the Piazza Castello in Turin.from 1578. Of course ,with crowds of 40,000 packed into the Piazza, no one would have been able to see it close up but if the images were as strong as I think they were they were this hardly mattered,

          All this is indicative of a relic cult that appeared like so many others in the traumatised 1350s, was transformed into something else in 1390, looked like vanishing from view by the 1450s and then struck lucky when a royal family, not the Church, promoted it in support of their own dynasty.
          There is absolutely nothing here to suggest that there was anything strange physically about the Shroud’s images – or certainly no evidence that they attracted special attention EXCEPT the blood stains that are remarked on again and again.
          I really don’t see where you are coming from, Colin, and where you get this idea from that the images in their original state were In some way different from any of the other thousands of images from this period and furthermore were unlike otHer images in being immune to chemical change.
          However, I shall leave you to get on with the lab work but I think we all have the right to see that you have peers in your support -publication in a respected journal perhaps?

        13. “I really don’t see where you are coming from, Colin, and where you get this idea from that the images in their original state were In some way different from any of the other thousands of images from this period and furthermore were unlike otHer images in being immune to chemical change.”

          Please name one other Shroud-like image Charles. Let’s make it easier for you – it doesn’t have to be a double head-to-head image. But it does have to be a light/dark reversed image with NO directionality, has to be exquisitely sensitive to 3D software, highly superficial (200-600nm thick), no signs of external pigment, apparently a modification of the linen per se.

          Just one other example is all I need Charles. As I say, I’m trying to make your task easier..

          PS: do you publish in academic peer-reviewed journals, Charles, as I did over a 25 year spell in biomedical research? Or is your written output mainly or entirely in the form of books?

        14. No, I publish long books for university presses that have to go through rigorous academic checking before being accepted as a proposal and then are subject to anonymous reviewing before the press will accept them. Been through that with two of the world’ s top presses, Yale and Oxford and if you go to the Yale US website and look up my Holy Bones you will see the reviews of my relics book.
          Cennino Cennini , a fifteenth century craftsman, wrote a manual on how to paint. The section on linen says you apply a gesso with a knife on the outer fibrils of the cloth only. He recommended calcium sulphate as the binder with , usually, rabbit skin glue. North of the Alps analysis shows that they used calcium carbonate. So no brush marks because a brush would not have been able to wipe off excess. The aim, and it must have been a very skilful process, one which like many other medieval processes no one would probably have the patience to master today, was to create things like painted flags that would flutter in the breeze.
          There is a wide range of original sources on medieval paintings and pigments ,etc, and surely you should master those for details of all these techniques before you set out to create one of your own. Then there are all the modern works on medieval painting. It is a large area. Even though it comes a lot into my professional life, I still have to ask for help on many issues.
          So when STURP found that the images was only on the surface of the fibrils and then large quantities of calcium carbonate, this is what one might have expected. When I submitted all the Heller and Adler articles to a professor of physiology, he suggested that while he was totally unconvinced that there was human blood on the Shroud, Heller and Adler may have been finding the remnants of the animal glue. I don’ think he thought the quality of the papers was really up to much anyway, let alone proof of blood.
          So where are you on this , Colin? Were STURP right or wrong? I believe that tied to the other evidence this comes together to suggest a fairly standard painted linen.
          With sources from 1449, 1474,1503, 1517 and 1534 all remarking on the predominance of the bloodstains, that is enough for me to accept that they were there!
          I am working within the mainstream, not Shroudies mainstream, but academic mainstream in setting out my hypotheses. No one who has read my articles thinks I am saying anything more than placing the Shroud within an acceptable medieval context. You are the one who seems to be setting out on y our own and so are in far more need to peers accepting your work than I am. Good luck- if you find a technique that generations of art historians have never been aware of the possibility of fame in the art history world is within your grasp!

        15. Thank you Charles. That is all most interesting, and dare I say revealing. Forgive me if I postpone comment for now. i think it important that everyone on this site take the time to read where Charles Freeman is “coming from” first, uncoloured by my own old-fashioned views on the difference between academic scholarship and writing controversial and provocative books and articles.(Anonymous peer review being different from editorial scrutiny and script-refinement needless to say).

          I’m busy composing a new post right now for my science buzz site on England’s weather, prompted by a headline in today’s Mail on Sunday:

          “Batten down the hatches! Britain braced for ‘conveyor belt’ of Atlantic storm fronts next week – after 10 days’ worth of rain falls in just six hours”

          The title will be: “Shock horror. England’s rain comes in mini-monsoons, not metered daily amounts.”

          The rainfall data I’ve dug out will prove my (modest) claims. Some of us try to keep our claims modest, Charles, not wishing to court publicity until absolutely certain of our ground. That’s why I’m pleased Dan has opened this posting – it gives me a chance to test out my ideas before inflicting them on ordinary folk who are required to take so much on trust and who, rightly in my view, have developed a deep distrust for we specialists and ‘experts’ who claim to know all the answers.

        16. But why choose to test your ideas out here, Colin? Why not test them out on scientists and art historians?
          Thins is a website whose predominant orientation is towards authenticity. In so far as Dan takes the imitative to write postings on my articles I will try and respond but I would not for a moment ‘try out’ my ideas here because ,with all respect, there are few specialists here in the specific areas I am interested in. Who is the expert on ancient and medieval weaving here?

          If you are nice to academics, they will usually be prepared to help you, so it is a question of searching out the expert in the field you are exploring and testing out your ideas on them. O

          It took me a long time with many going and froings of ideas with all kinds of specialists, from physiologists to weaving experts, before I went public with my article so I am with you there but from the e- mails and responses I have received, it does seem to have paid off.

      1. Charles you speak a lot about this expert and that but frankly it means little unless we know who they are and that they are cited.

  4. Hi John
    Thanks for the remarks and I do hope that you will find something useful for your own scholarly research in the interview.
    You know what? We need people like you and Daveb to spur Shroud research through cooperation, which is lacking in the realm of Shroud studies. Benedict XVI noticed the infighting years ago and yesterday’s news has Pope Francis advising on how things need to move in general:
    I am glad to see that Charles has now narrowed the range when it comes to weaving, moving from 15th-century 3 x 1 looms to AD 3rd century 3×1 looms.

    1. There is no such thing as a three x One loom, there are only looms that.are capable of weaving a three to one, among many other weaves, of course. According to an expert weaver who recreates ancient textiles, the only example of three to one she knows from the ancient world are som extra high quality silk damasks dating from the third century, an age when opulence among the Roman aristocracy was at its height. We have a reference in 301 to a loom that appears to have been of great sophistication that may be related to this weaving.
      With a treadle loom, known in Europe since c 1000, things are very different. Because the weaver works with hands and feet simultaneously, it weaves at three times the speed leading to these looms taking over quickly. However, it only has one weaver and the width of his arms limited the width of the weave to less than 130 cms. However,he has the advantage of length as this loom allows the finished weave to be wound around rods. The next advantage, says my expert, is that the treadles can be manipulated to create more difficult patterns more quickly and so she has confirmed that a three-in- one could be produced on a standard treadle loom, thus by,- passing the highly sophisticated loom needed in the third century.
      So this is what the expert opinion on the subject seems to be. As my article noted the only surviving three-in-one linen herringbone known is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and dated through the printed images on it to the fourteenth century.

  5. Charles, let me know if you are willing to discuss the possible Knights Templar – Shroud connection.

    1. No, I am not, well certainly not if the Ian Wilson scenario is the one. He simply says we don’t know where the Shroud went to, so we must look for somewhere secretive, so, hey, bring on the Knights Templar, the solution to all mysteries, Then there is the Barbara Frale fIasco.
      T here is absolutely no evidence to link the doUble image of the Shroud with the Templars and I can’t see the point of discussing evidence that does not exist. If you can provide clear evidence of the Shroud, with supporting evidence that this is THE Shroud and not just another cloth with an image ( of which inventories show there were many thousands), then I might look at it but I want a serious level of evidence firstI have wasted too much time following up leads that lead nowhere.

  6. Charles, slow down. I do think Wilson has made some important points in his Templar hypothesis and am working on it to take it further.
    What do you think the Templar “head” was?

    1. I have no,idea but there is no reason at all in an age when there were thousands of linens and other textiles with painted images on them to think it was the Shroud.

  7. Colin
    As you know, I am not a fan at all of Freeman’s painting theory. I’m not going to debate that matter any further. For me, it’s in the dust bin.

    As you also know, I am an authenticist – on the balance of historical and scientific evidence.

    However I acknowledge that the matter is not clear cut either way! And to that extent, I think
    you are definitely barking up the right tree in terms of a medieval creation theory, far more than any other present researcher.

    However, I still have a number of problems, including but not limited to:

    – If the Veil of Veronica was the defining influence, why create a whole body front and back image? I’m struggling with this one. The artisan could have just done a bas relief scorch of the face. The legend is unequivocal in terms of the image being one of the face rather than whole body
    – I know you are deferring from coming up with precise technological explanations for the image, but this is still a hole for me!!!
    – I know you and some others don’t have a problem with the nudity, I still do!!!! If the image was created for the express purpose of public display / worship, then it defies the norms of the time for no loin cloth! I realise there is the odd image here or there (maybe less than 5% of total images?) that shows a nude Christ, however as far as I am aware they were discrete, small images used in a private worship or ecclesiastical context, not images for wide public display or use!!! And never buttocks on full display (Even the nude images manage to subtly hide genitalia and / or buttocks). I stand to be corrected.

    Was the artisan and his supporters so sophisticated to promote the Shroud along the lines of:

    ‘We all know the loin cloth is a nonsense, and that Christ was wrapped in a shroud without also wearing a loin cloth!!”

    Assuming the apparent skill of the artisan in creating a bas relief or statue, then surely it would have not been difficult to craft a sculptural loin cloth?

    Fundamentally though, I don’t object to a contact imprint theory. Indeed, it has parallels with the “authenticity” position!

    1. Why create a double image? That’s an easy one to answer Thomas. There was no point in producing yet another Veronica, just to have it dismissed as derivative. No, the idea was to leapfrog the Veronica with a whole body image. The double image was needed make clear to all but the dimmest that it was not just a painting of a man on linen. It was the IMPRINT left by a man on an up-and-over burial shroud. It was to be seen as the actual imprint, not just an artistic representation. Thus the gore too.

      Nudity? That’s an interesting one. I would suggest that once the decision was made to simulate a sweat imprint then that strategy imposes its own discipline.You can’t have a loin cloth since that would require some kind of discontinuity with the sweat imprint (weakened or reinforced?) and even if you tried to explain away some contrived anomaly in the midriff image as due to an otherwise invisible loin cloth, folk would have asked what kind of prudishness requires that a dead man be interred with a loin cloth still present. Oh, and let’s not forget the position of the hands, or the proliferation of scourge marks across the buttocks and elsewhere that arguably mask, disguise and reduce the impact of nudity.

      Thanks for the supportive comment btw. Do you mind me asking where you hail from?

  8. “I hesitate to say this, but what’s the point of posting one’s ideas to a specialist web forum if one gets absolutely no detailed feedback, either positive or negative?”

    Could you give a link to one of these posts?

    1. The key point I’m stressing right now is no longer “scorch hypothesis” which I regard purely as a handy working model (albeit one that has helped explore superficiality, 3D enhancement etc).

      This posting, a reaction if the truth be told (as it must) to Charles’s narrative, flags up my growing conviction that the TS image was fabricated to represent a notional sweat imprint, as per Veil of Veronica.

      That view has developed organically so to speak, over some 6-7 months, so it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular posting. So I took a short cut and entered (shroud turin sweat imprint) into Google and clicked on my own postings. Here’s one from my science buzz site in July, but there are others going back to early spring on my specialist TS site.

      1. Do we have any evidence that Jeanne de Charny/Vergy in a remote village in Northern France would have had any idea about the Veil far away in Rome at a time of devastation in Europe? The shroud was a blood relic not a sweat relic.
        Once Colin can find some wider support, we can assess whether there is any mileage at all in his theory.

        1. The key to having a successful shrine was to be on a major pilgrim route. Lirey was not. If Chevalier had not done his research, we would not have heard of the cult at all. So I cannot understand why Jeanne would ever have tried something so unusual and unlikely to catch on- as it did not when we see how quickly and successfully the Church re orientated the Shroud away from any claim of authenticity.

        2. “Do we have any evidence that Jeanne de Charny/Vergy in a remote village in Northern France would have had any idea about the Veil far away in Rome at a time of devastation in Europe? The shroud was a blood relic not a sweat relic.”

          Well, I’ve no ambitions to become an archaeo-psychologist Charles, but we do have evidence from material artefacts, and it was one of those in particular that first caused me to think “sweat imprint”. I refer to the Machy mould, an admirable description of which, nay two, appeared in the BSTS Newsletters by HWMNBN (initials IW actually).

          As I’ve said earlier in this thread, there’s an addition to the engraving of the mould for Lirey badge Mk2 (or was it Mark 0 – see IW?) in the form of a Christ-like face above the word SUAIRE. I take that to be a representation of the Veronica, and an attempt to establish a kinship between the Shroud and an earlier artefact that was perceived as a sweat imprint (whether it was or not is an entirely different issue).

          You refer to a “remote village” in Northern France, yet the de Vergy/de Charny home base considered it important enough to have at least one medal struck, possibly two, and to add BOTH their coats of arms, which heraldic specialists say is unusual. But why am I telling you all this? You’re the historian Charles who analyses the written record (pity there’s such a paucity, but then it does leave the field wide open for speculation, eh what). As I say, I prefer to focus on the material artefacts, and have to say I’ve been amazed at the lack of interest shown in Shroudology, this site included, to the Lirey badge with its several curious features and the equally if not more fascinating Machy mould with that Veronica icon. Google either of those Lirey artefacts and you’ll find my postings are the first to be listed.

          Did you never consider engaging with Ian Wilson on his splendid Lirey articles? His reconstructions of what a medal off the mould would have looked like shows true workmanlike and diligent scholarship.

        3. Colin, your fairness is something to be appreciated. You do know how to identify diligent scholarship.

        4. When we have many descriptions of the Quem Queritis ceremony in which two priests hold up a grave cloth in extenso before an empty tomb, then the Lirey badge is spot on. We don’t know where and how long the Shroud had been used in this capacity before the 1350s but with no record of the iconography of an overall flagellation before 1300, it cannot have been that long.
          We also have no clear idea why Jeanne de Vergy/ Charny decided to have a go at transforming a ceremonial cloth into a relic. We know she failed and it needed a duke with a large arena to show it off to get a following for the Shroud. Of course, the Church was always suspicious of the Savoy coup which is why the Church has been careful never to declare authenticity.
          Here they have shown good sense. After all the Turin authorities have never repudiated the 1988 radio-carbon dating that they initiated and supervised. I am with the Church on this one which makes me rather surprised when I read that I am considered anti-Catholic!!
          Still no news on anyone able to date the Shroud to before AD 33 so no problem here in continuing to believe that it is medieval.

  9. “It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular posting” whereas we’ve been continuously directed to your posts on this blog, for months?

    And we should read yet another post on your blog? I don’t play hide-and-seek with postings.

  10. This has been an interesting thread, but maybe its time to reach for the Occam razor.

    Amid all the tumult an debate, I think that applying Occam’s razor, the simplest solution, requiring the fewest assumptions is that the Shroud is what it purports to be, the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

    The ONLY contrary fact is the carbon dating to middle ages and that process has been thoroughly debunked.

    All the attempts to come-up with another explanation are theories floating in mad-air without substantial facts to the support them. That includes McCrone.

    The image is its own best proof of its authenticity. Now we have not painted but “smudged.”

    Can anyone point me to a Charles Freeman explanation of the serum halos around the blood that were not visualized until STURP in 1978?

  11. “The ONLY contrary fact is the carbon dating to middle ages and that process has been thoroughly debunked.”

    Who debunked it ?

  12. The shroud does not purport to be the burial shroud of Christ unless it is a living entity and can talk. There are some people who believe that it is authentic but so far we have not a single piece of evidence to date. It to before AD 33. In my article I have put the accumulated evidence that it is fourteenth century. And I rest my case on that.
    Again I have not seen the evidence debunking the radio- carbon dating but I doN’t make much of the radio carbon dating as the iconography is much more convincing. Even if it is debunked no alternative date is suggested.

      Where’s the evidence it was painted and the paint fell off?
      Where’s the evidence it was created in the fourteenth century?
      Where’s the evidence paint falling off a painting can leave a detailed image(third time asking this).
      I can go on and on, again what evidence.
      I think you’re confusing opinion with evidence. All I see is at best, conjecture.

      Even I, an agonistic can’t buy this.

        1. There are two separate issues 1) Providing any form of proof that the Shroud dates before 33AD.
          2) if none is forthcoming, and I have not yet seen any, deciding what other century it was woven and then the images added which may have been at the same time as the weaving or later. The iconography suggests fourteenth century as we have no examples of all- over flagellation marks before then. This ties in well with the other evidence that is provided in the article.

        2. Charles wrote
          “Just read my article in full and report back. No need to repeat wh at I have spelt out there.”

          It appears to you that because there are faded painting that means that paint could fall off and leave a detailed image. Why don’t you show us a painting from those times where the paint fell off(not just faded) and left a detailed image of the painting.

          Charles wrote;
          “Providing any form of proof that the Shroud dates before 33AD.”

          There is no proof that it came from the 1st century, that’s just my opinion and as I’ve have written before somedays I believe it’s the real deal, somedays I don’t.

          I agree with you that the hair is a problem so on all the rest we will just have to deagree.

        3. The hair is not such a problem. Christ rose from the dead, stood up, took a selfie using his own radiant glory as a flash camera, and said “Dad, I’m coming”!

        4. John – I note two linens where the paints have faded in my article. Most faded linens would have been destroyed. A post I made a few minutes ago may not have gone through but the references are in the footnotes I originally submitted with my articles but were not used as History Today does not provide footnotes.
          They are available on

        5. If the Image of Edessa (folded,face only) and the TS are one and the same object it explains why the flagellation marks only appeared in the fifteenth century.

        6. “The hair is not such a problem. Christ rose from the dead, stood up, took a selfie using his own radiant glory as a flash camera, and said “Dad, I’m coming”!”

          Is this supposed to be ironic ?

  13. Charles Freeman asserts that there is no evidence that the TS originates in the first century AD. That is not exactly correct. The Fanti-Malfi designed Cyclic Loads machine provides persuasive evidence that the TS dates to within 400 years of the first century.
    The dating is necessarily coarse, as age is not the only variable determining the physical properties measured. Other effective variables include environmental, such as humidity and temperature, as well as subsequent history such as folding, storage and exposure, as well as extreme events such as fire. Some of these variables can be partially but not completely obviated by careful examination and preselection of samples to ensure that they are indeed representative, and by normalisation of the measurements to standard conditions.

    Calibration was achieved in 350 loading-unloading stress cycles of 85 different flax fibres from 12 different modern and ancient fabrics of known provenance dating back to more than 5000 years ago. Of the five parameters tested, none fell below a Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.90, satisfying the test for significance. Some 8 fibres from the TS obtained in 1978 were selected for testing as being suitable candidates for testing and as not being affected by extremes of damage.

    The testing placed the age of the TS as 400 AD, +/- 400 years. A first century date would therefore be admissible by this method. Clearly a 14th century or other medieval date would not be admissible.

    By way of contrast, the 1988 C-14 radiocarbon testing was only carried out on a single sample of highly doubtful representative value in respect of the whole fabric.

    The pollen sampling carried out by various investigators, Frei, Danin and others has been subject to much critical evaluation, notably by Hugh Farey in his recent BSTS article. However even in the case of the Farey article it was apparent that there remained pollen residuals of exclusively Jerusalem origin. The flight distance Tel Aviv to Paris is some 2022 miles (3254 km) across the Anatolian mountains and Swiss Alps, which is a little too far for wind-blown pollen to reach the village of Lirey in eastern France.

    The only paint flakes found by the STURP team were attributed to contamination by painted copies brought into contact with the TS in various kinds of “contagious sanctification” rituals, or from flakes falling on it from old frescoes in the rooms where it had been stored. No residuals of paint were found between the fibres as original material indicating that it had ever been painted. The calcium cabonate made much of in the Charles Freeman gesso hypothesis, is easily attributed to the retting process acquired during linen extraction along with the iron and strontium contamination.

    Such scientific evidence as there is, makes a better case for a 1st century Jerusalem provenance than it can for a 14th century Franco-German provenance, for which latter no significant scientific evidence has been proffered at all, or is at least easily disposed of.

    1. Daveb, you come through as a very patient man. You took all that effort to respond so eloquently even though no one is listening on the other end.

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