Home > Carbon 14 Dating > Paper Chase: The Shroud of Turin and its Radiodating

Paper Chase: The Shroud of Turin and its Radiodating

November 23, 2014

The proportion of the "youngest" threads is 32.23 % – almost a third of the total
– on the whole SAMPLE. In the case of the "cleaned", radio dated sample,
it increases to 41.65% – approaching the half.

imageIt was one of those things I had put in a stack of things to get around to. Don’t believe me if I say I didn’t have the time. I did. Maybe the best excuse I can invent is this: Those stacks, these days, are virtual, electronic reminders that buzz and beep at all the wrong times. I have developed many ways of ignoring electronic reminders. It was easier when papers piled up in stacks so high you could use them for footrests.

So I appreciated hearing from Joe Marino:

Barrie’s October 5 update had a paper from the 1993 Rome symposium by the late archaeologist Maria Grazia Siliato titled "The Shroud of Turin and its radiodating".

I think you mentioned Barrie’s update at the time but no special mention was made of this paper.  I just reread it again this morning and although I’m biased, I think it’s an excellent article that didn’t get the notice it deserved at the time and still doesn’t, but in light of all the other evidence that has come out about the reweave theory since then, I think it is a most significant paper.  Give it another read and see if you don’t agree.

I agree. The Shroud of Turin and its radiodating by Maria Grazia Siliato, translated by Dr. Augusto Monacelli, demands the attention of everyone interested in the 1988 carbon dating. Here is a sample (pun intended):

We have come to the core of the problem.

At that time, product analyses carried out by experts Timossi and Raes calculated, with good accuracy, the MEDIUM WEIGHT PER SQUARE CENTIMETER OF THE SHROUD’S CLOTH.

It was also calculated with radiographs by Morris, London and Mottern in 1978, and the result was consistent with the previous ones. The lowest average weight was the one proposed on another occasion by the operator in charge of the sample to be radio dated.

Considering the irregularities of an ancient, handcrafted cloth, and in order to move within safer margins, we have applied a prudential, surplus tolerance to the measures indicated.

Let us therefore assume an average weight of 25.00 MILLIGRAMS PER SQUARE CENTIMETER of the SHROUD’S CLOTH.

Now, the following is what happened upon TAKING THE SAMPLE FOR RADIO DATING:

1) According to the official operator in charge of taking the sample, the sample measures cm 8.1 x 1.6, namely, cm² 12.96

2) In the video showing the taking of the sample, the weight measured on the scales is mg 478.1

3) Dividing the sample’s weight by its surface (mg 478.1: cm² 12.96), we obtain a WEIGHT of approx. mg 36.89 per cm².

Therefore, the sample weighs mg 11.89 per cm² MORE than the original cloth should – at most.

4) However, the operator in charge of taking the sample says that he removed some irregularities and some "free" threads from the sample. (Let us skip the singular procedure of "rethreading" and squaring such a precious, ancient sample, wasting further irreplaceable material). The operator reduced the sample’s measures to cm 7.00 x 1.00, namely cm² 7.00)



SHROUD → AVERAGE WEIGHT → 1 cm² (pict. of scales) mg 25.00 cm² 12%

WEIGHT mg 478.1

SAMPLE TAKEN → AVERAGE WEIGHT → 1 cm² (pict. of scales) mg 36.89 cm² 7.00

WEIGHT mg 300

RADIODATED PART OF SAMPLE → AVERAGE WEIGHT → 1 cm² (pict. of scales) mg 42.85

The sample bears recent restoration works of mg 17.85 per cm² – accounting for 41.65 % of the total


5) Then the operator reports the WEIGHT of the sample, "cleaned" and distributed to laboratories: mg 300

6) Dividing the weight of the "cleaned" sample by its surface of mg 300: cm² 7.00, we obtain a WEIGHT of mg 42.85 per cm².

The sample weighs mg 17.85 per cm² MORE than the original cloth should, at most.

This element is even more surprising and irregular than that of the "non cleaned" sample.

A few millimeters away, we find differences of nearly 6 milligrams per square centimeter. (Difference between 36.89 and 42.85 = 5.96).


8) The proportion of the "youngest" threads is 32.23 % – almost a third of the total – on the whole SAMPLE. In the case of the "cleaned", radio dated sample, it increases to 41.65% – approaching the half.

  1. anoxie
    November 23, 2014 at 5:04 am

    These kind of limits should have appeared in the discussion of the Nature’s paper.

    But how do you make beautiful graphs and charts with five significant digits?!?

    You ASSUME sampling is flawless.

  2. Sampath Fernando
    November 23, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Thank you Dan for giving us this valuable information. Definitely those scientists used a contaminated sample (as well as Grab sample) and misled many.

  3. November 23, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Hello everyone.

    I know this argumentation from Maria Grazia Siliato’s book, Całun Turyński: Tajemnica Odbicia Postaci sprzed 2000 lat (original title ‘Sindone Mistero Dell’Impronta Di Duemila Anni Fa’), Wydawnictwo M , Kraków 1999 pg. 36-38.

    Yet the problem is much more complex, as we don’t know precise weights and sizes of the radiocarbon samples.

    Silliato adopts that the entire sample cut by Riggi was 8.1cm x1.6 cm, weighting 478.1 mg (thus surface area of 12.96 cm^2 and average density of ~37 mg/cm^2). Then that it was trimmed to rectangle 7cm x1cm , wieght 300 mg (7 cm^2 surface area, 42.85 mg average density).

    Yet those numbers are not precise, and different values are also quotred. This has great impact on average density.

    For example G. Fanti, F. Crosilla, M. Riani, A.C. Atkinson, A robust statistical analysis of the 1988 Turin Shroud radiocarbon analysis, Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy 4-6 May 2010 http://www.acheiropoietos.info/proceedings/RianiWeb.pdf quoting Walsh suggest different size of the sample that is 8.1 cm x2.1 cm =17.01 cm^ 2 for the whole 478.1 mg sample (thus giving density of ~28 mg/cm^2 ), and 8.1×1.6 for reduced 300 mg sample -which corresponds to the 23.14 mg/cm^2 density. But on the other hands the trimmed part circa 8.1 cm x0.5 cm (which is also more trianglethan rectangle like) would have ~ 44 mg/cm^2 density, if calculated as rectangle, and the absurd 88 mg/cm^2 if calculated as triangle.

    The fragment retained in Arizona (Rachel Freer-Waters, Timothy Jull , Investigating A Dated Piece Of The Shroud Of Turin, RADIOCARBON, Vol 52, Nr 4, 2010, p 1521–1527 http://digitalcommons.library.arizona.edu/objectviewer?o=http%3A%2F%2Fradiocarbon.library.arizona.edu%2FVolume52%2FNumber4%2F33737617-d6e4-4797-ba23-fb8e0f303abe ,see also Report on the STERA, Inc.-University of Arizona Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory Macro Photography-30 August 2012 http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/arizona.pdf ) has a size of approx. 0.5 cm x 1cm and the weight of 12.39 mg, thus the density is 24.78 mg.

    Basing on Shroud Scope I suppose that the size of the whole radiocarbon sample was closer to 8.1 cm x2.1 cm than 8.1 cm x1.6 cm. I think the average density of what was dated can estimated as ~ 30 mg/cm^2 that is maybe a little bit heavier than average for the whole cloth, but not much. I once thought that those density calculations had great significance for re-evaluation of 1988 carbon-dating, but now I don’t think so -that their importance is only marginal. There are other, much stronger arguments that 1988 dating was flawed.

    And one final note -the 41.65% of new material is not enough. To skew the carbon dating from 1st to 13th-14th century one needs that 65-75 % of the sample to be interpolated material (depending on date of interpolation).

    This leaves invisible reweaving as practically the only viable option.

  4. John Klotz
    November 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

    It’s amazing that this paper presented in 1993 did not get more attention. Actually, in 1976 Enzo Delorenzi who had participated in examinations of the Shroud in 1969 and 1973 noted: ““more pairs of hands have carried out the darning than is suggested in the historical records.”
    (As cited in Chronology, p, 2, Entry #1, http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/chronology.pdf)

    The amazing thing is that although there were scientists such as Meacham (the week the carbon report was issued in 1988), Adler, Barberis and others that noted the possibility of skewing because of repairs in the area carbon dating area, it wasn’t until Sue Benford and Joe Marino attracted first the ire and then the support of Ray Rogers that the autonomous nature of the mending area was seriously investigated.

    The fact this paper is now available on Shroud.com and that it was the publication of the Benford-Marino paper on shroud.com caught the attention of Ray Roger is a testament to the unique status of shroud.com as a premier source for anyone interested in serious research on the Shroud.

    The synergy is amazing.

  5. Louis
    November 23, 2014 at 8:10 am

    It was an extremely pleasant experience to have exchanged views with the late Daniel Raffard de Brienne, president of CIELT. A descendant of John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem (1170-1237) as well as of Walter VI de Brienne, Duke of Athens. He was always very polite and straightforward in his approach. My only difference with him was when he dismissed any link between the Knights Templar and the Shroud. Unfortunately, he was unjustly accused of being biased in his approach, being a descendant of a Duke of Athens, however his hypothesis included also Otho de la Roche, so there was no far-fetched claim at all.

    He was one of the few Shroud scholars invited by Cardinal Severino Poletto to the Round Table in Turin and took part in the debates. What he said about the handling of the 1988 samples — sizes and weights — left me a bit perplexed. Now it makes a lot more sense with Dan’s post:

  6. November 23, 2014 at 9:31 am


  7. November 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I think it is important to note that the Shroud has never been weighed, but only had its possible weight calculated from some fairly abstruse measurements, so any comparisons between the weights of fragments and that of the Shroud must be fairly vague. Secondly, both the Raes fragment and the radiocarbon sample as it was cut contained a chunk of rolled seam, which added to its weight but not its apparent area giving a misleadingly large areal density reading. All the individual samples had densities of 22-25mg/cm2, which are entirely consistent with the estimates of the overall Shroud.

  8. Louis
    November 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I am wondering what Hugh means by “fairly abstruse measurements” and what exactly he is referring to. An entry in Stephen Jones’ blog says
    “The thickness of the cloth is about one third of a millimetre[12] (0.345 mm [13]), slightly thicker than shirt cloth[14], and its weight is approximately 2.45 kgs (about 5½ lbs)[15].”
    and he refers to a book by J C. Iannone.
    Dr.Michael Tite was also present at the Round Table in Turin referred to in my previous comment above and, from what I know, a lot of things,including the weights and sizes of the samples, were also discussed. By then, it was known that an examination of the chemical composition of the Shroud samples was not made and the Belgian scientist Remi van Haelst had already published his paper.
    Daniel Raffard de Brienne was amused when he heard a request for a rerun coming from the non-“Shroudie”, anti-authenticity camp.

    • November 24, 2014 at 9:16 am

      The best example of an abstruse measurement is that of Morris, Schwalbe and London, in X-Ray Fluorescence Investigation of the Shroud of Turin, where the areal density was calculated from Compton scatter and some calibrations involving filter paper. Others rely on published data relating to linen cloth in general, or the density of cellulose. Actually placing the Shroud, with or without backing, on a set of scales, has never been done.

  9. November 23, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    This paper should not be taken too seriously. The sample area of the 1988 radiocarbon dating is NOT a rectangle. Therefore, the very simple calculation of 8.1 cm x 1.6 cm for the area of the sample cannot be correct, whatever the width and length used. This error completely changes all the other calculations and the main conclusion.

  10. Max patrick Hamon
    November 24, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Reminder: on January 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm, I wrote:

    “It is most likely the repair have occurred in the XIXth century (in 1863/1868) whatever the two respective estimates of contamination rates are (Jackson, 66%-33% vs Evin 50%-50%).
    If we rely on Jackson’s estimate (66,66%), the C14 sample (weight 158.5 mg ± 0,3mg) would only need 106mg (that is 0.106g) of the 1st c. CE linen to be replaced in 1863/1868 for the date to appear 1260-1390. And if we rely on Evin’s estimate (50%), it would only need 79mg (that is 0.079g) to reach the same biased medieval dating.

    Actually when put in perspective, no matter how huge the proportion (66,66% or 50%), this 1858-1988 CE carbon replacement amounts to a very tiny quantity (0.106g or 0.079g) in terms of very circumscribed microreconstructions (in one or two very small areas) for a 1st c CE old linen to appear to be 13th-14th century CE by contamination.”

    In my 2007-2008 research paper entitled:


    and subtitled: (Contre-enquête sur un fiasco scientifique)

    I wrote:

    “[..]toute la valeur réelle de la datation C14 de 1988, ne repose que sur trois sous-échantillons ne s’avérant, en moyenne, pas plus grands qu’un timbre-poste de 1,69 x 1,32 cm et pesant chacun, toujours en moyenne, 52,83 mg. Le poids unitaire du Linceul étant estimé à 0,023 g/cm2 ± 10%, au sein de l’échantillon parent C14 pesant 158,5 mg ± 0,3mg, il suffirait au pire d’un remplacement soit d’à peine 106 millièmes de gramme ± 10% de fibres textiles originelles du Ier siècle par une quantité égale de fibres beaucoup plus récentes issues de réparations invisibles effectuées entre 1858 et 1988 (estimation haute selon Jackson), soit de seulement 79 millièmes de gramme ± 10% (estimation basse selon Évin) pour que la relique présumée de « 1260-1390 » soit définitivement enlevée au Moyen Age et se retrouve placée à l’époque coloniale romaine. Autant dire qu’à l’échelle de la réalité matérielle de l’objet archéologique analysé, il suffirait de presque rien[..]“.

  11. Max patrick Hamon
    November 24, 2014 at 5:41 am

    NB: the proportions of contamination in terms of one or to invisible microreconstructions can be even be lowered if you take into account the possible use of the Red Heifer ashes to soak in Yeshua’s burial cloth (as Judean rite of purification and atonement since the Sanhedrin members who condemned him were literally murderers, having shed his innocent blood).

  12. Joe Marino
    November 24, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Mario wrote “This paper should not be taken too seriously. The sample area of the 1988 radiocarbon dating is NOT a rectangle. Therefore, the very simple calculation of 8.1 cm x 1.6 cm for the area of the sample cannot be correct, whatever the width and length used. This error completely changes all the other calculations and the main conclusion.” Important, though, is the assertion, that the Shroud has undergone various types of repairs, including “invisible mending.” One would have liked to see better documentation, though.

    • November 24, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Remember that this paper is 20 years old.

  13. Thibault HEIMBURGER
    November 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Unfortunately, Mrs. Siliato was wrong.

    But she had some excuse.
    There have been so many muddles until the 1989 CIELT Symposium…

    In the Nature report, we read:
    “The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its bottom left-hand edge and a strip (~10 mm x 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination”.

    This was a big mistake.
    In a letter from Tite to Gonella (dated 18 April 1990) from the Gonella collection, I read:
    «I am writing regarding the current discussion about the size of the sample taken from the Shroud for radiocarbon dating. I find the very obvious discrepancy between the actual size of the sample taken (16 x 81 mm) and the sample size quoted in the Nature paper (10 x 70 mm) somewhat embarrassing. I myself kept no record of the size of sample removed from the Shroud. Therefore, when I came to write the first draft of the Nature paper, I used the sample size that we had plan to remove rather than the size actually removed….”

    In the Gonella’s collection, I have also found a drawing from Gonella with the actual sizes and weights of the samples as well as a letter from Testore to Siliano.

    – The entire first sample cut by Riggi was 8.4 cm in length and 2.2 cm in width on one side, 1.35 cm in width on the other side. The difference came from the previous Raes cut.
    The weight of this sample was 479 mg (Riggi) or 478.1 mg (Testore).
    It is impossible to calculate the actual density because this sample was not a perfect rectangle.
    Obviously, its density was much higher than that of the Shroud but it’s not a surprise given that this sample contained a part of the hem.
    – Then, Riggi eliminated the borders (including the hem) and obtained a strip: 7.9x 1.7 (still 1.35 cm in width on the “Raes side”). Weight=300 mg. Again it was not a perfect rectangle. This is not different from the dimensions of the “actual size” quoted in the Tite’s letter above (8.1×1.6). Of course, these data included the Reserve. If we do not take into account the very small missing part of this sample (Raes), the density can be calculated: Weight=300 mg, surface= 13.43 cm2, density= weight/surface= 22.33 mg/cm2.
    Adding 5-10% for the small Raes missing part, we have a density of about 24-25 mg/cm2, which is consistent with the known density of the shroud.
    Therefore there is no difference between the density of the main shroud and that of the radiocarbon samples( Reserve + dated samples)

    The error of Mrs. Siliato comes from the fact that she considered that the dimension of the radiodated sample was 7.00 x 1.00 cm (Weight= 300 mg, density: 42.85 mg/cm2), while it actually was 8.1x 1.6 cm (density: 23.15mg/cm2) or 7.9×1.7 (density: 22.33 mg/cm2).

    • November 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Which excludes any external contamination as significant factor (remember we need ~66-75 % of new material to skew the date from 1st to 13-14th century). The only viable possibility is that the majority of the sample consists of interpolated threads =reweaving hypothesis.

      • November 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

        Steady on, OK. Since your “only viable possibility” is almost certainly wrong, that means, oh dear!, that the radiocarbon date is almost certainly correct!

        • November 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

          Yes Hugh, I have been fully aware of that even before our first discussion on the topic. But I would say not that is “almost certainly wrong”, but almost certainly correct, and confirmed. I am glad however that by narrowing options we are coming to the final solution of the 1988 carbon dating puzzle.

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