Home > Carbon 14 Dating > A Guest Posting by Joe Marino: If another C-14 test is ever done . . .

A Guest Posting by Joe Marino: If another C-14 test is ever done . . .

November 29, 2014

At the recent St. Louis conference, there was an open discussion regarding future testing of the Shroud, with participation by Prof. Bruno Barberis.  Naturally, one of the topics discussed was another possible C-14 dating.

After hearing comments there and after rereading some material, especially Ian Wilson’s chapter "Carbon Dating:  Right or Wrong" in his 1998 book The Blood and the Shroud, I’m becoming more and more convinced that another C-14 test would be unwise and moreover, that the Shroud is simply not, and never has been, a suitable item to carbon date.

Wilson points out in his book (pp. 190-191) that in the 1960s, 2 Harwell lab scientists warned Vera Barclay, a British proponent of having the Shroud carbon dated, of pitfalls.

Dr. J.P. Clarke told Barclay,

There appears to be some doubt as to whether the carbon content of the material has remained constant over the years.  It would be an assumption of any dating that the addition of something at a date later than that of the fabrication of the Shroud.

P.J. Anderson told her: 

The history of the Shroud does not encourage one to put a great deal of reliance upon the validity of any C14 dating.  The whole principle of the method depends upon the specimen not undergoing any exchange of carbon between its molecules and atmospheric dioxide, etc.  The cellulose of the linen itself would be good from this point of view, but the effect of the fires and subsequent drenching with water . . . and the possibility of contamination during early times, would, I think, make the results doubtful.  Any microbiological action upon the Shroud (fungi, moulds, etc., which might arise from damp conditions) might have important effects upon the C14 content.  This possibility could not be ruled out

Wilson himself goes on to say: 

That such concerns have been far from eliminated by more modern methods is quite evident from a recent booklet by Dr Sheridan Bowman, Michael Tite’s successor as Keeper of the British Museum’s Research Laboratory, in which she lists the sorts of conservation and packing materials that archaeologists should avoid using when sending their samples for processing by a radiocarbon-dating laboratory: ‘Many materials used for preserving or conserving samples may be impossible to remove subsequently:  do not use glues, biocides . . . [etc.]  Many ordinary packing materials such as paper, cardboard, cotton, wool and string contain carbon and are potential contaminants.  Cigarette ash is also taboo.’  It is worth reminding ourselves here of the variety of already listed carbon-containing materials with which the Shroud maintains daily contact, e.g., a sixteenth-century holland cloth, a nineteenth-century silk cover – quite aside from the innumerable candles that have been burnt before it, the water that was thrown over it at the time of the 1532 fire, and so on.  And those are merely the events we know about.

One other excerpt worth noting here (pg 193):

Archaeologists, who routinely call upon radiocarbon-dating laboratories’ services, tend to shy from openly criticising the results they receive, even if they do not necessarily agree with some of them, but one who certainly has no qualms is Greece’s Spyros Iakovidis, speaking at an international conference in 1989:  ‘In relation to the reliability of radiocarbon dating I would like to mention something which happened to me during my excavation at Gla [in Boeotia, Greece].  I sent to two different laboratories in two different parts of the world a certain amount of the same burnt grain.  I got two readings differing by 2000 years, the archaeological dates being right in the middle. I feel that this method is not exactly to be trusted.’ [Italics in original]

Because of such opinions–and keep in mind the above ones are by people who actually used the C-14 technique, it was all the more unfortunate and detrimental that the C-14 test wasn’t at least done as one of many other tests at the same time.  Those other tests may have provided overwhelming evidence that the Shroud was from the 1st century, and since it’s not uncommon for C-14 dates to be disregarded in some instances***, there would not be as much ink being spilled on the Shroud C-14 results.

If another C-14 test is ever done, it will take a lot more background study, and hopefully it wouldn’t be done in isolation from other multi-disciplinary testing.

***Rogue dates are common in archaeology and geology . . . Such has been my experience as an archaeologist who has excavated, submitted and interpreted more than one hundred carbon 14 samples from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Historical sites.  Of these dates obtained, 78 were considered credible, 26 were rejected as unreliable and 11 were problematic.  I mention this merely to inform the non-specialist . . . —William Meacham, archaeologist, Centre of Asian Studies,University of Hong Kong, 2000

* * *

Joe

  1. November 29, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Sorry , but I disagree on this issue.

    I am fairly conviced that if the C-14 test is repeated and samples taken from a few different “secure” areas (not for example those unfortunate corners), the results would be 1st century or close.

    Aside from everything that went wrong in 1988, the reason for anomalous 14th century dating was not the breaking of the protocols, lack of precise information on weights and sizes of the subsamples, not lack of additional research, not even conspiracy of some dark forces but extremely unlucky choice of the sample.

    Had other area been chosen, the result would be probably entirely different -most likely proving 1st century provenance.

    We simply had terrible bad luck that rewoven fragment was sampled. Such things unfortuantely happen. As Murphy law states: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. As Shroud has went multiple examinations, it was obvious that sooner or later something would go wrong- not due to the fault of the Shroud, but erronous examination -and the results of those erronous test would be used by sceptics as a “proof” that Shroud is a fake.They desired that, so to their satisfaction they saw it happen.

  2. Louis
    November 29, 2014 at 8:41 am

    One wonders whether carbon dating is worthwhile after considering the possibility that the Shroud may not be an object suitable for this kind of test. In the interview he gave me Prof. G.Fanti says that just one thread a few millimetres long is sufficient. But what happens if something goes wrong again? Then there will be request for centimetres and if something goes wrong again, they will ask for a foot.

    Chapter 7 entitled “What’s in a date?” in Ian Wilson’s book “The Shroud. Fresh light on the 2000-year-old mystery” gives the reasons why carbon dating is not advisable and he does mention the views of the late John Tyrer, textile expert who worked in Manchester, about the problem of contamination. It is just one example, there are many other ones, so it is worth reading this particular chapter because of the context of the discussion.

    It seems that even Professor Christopher Ramsey has foreseen more problems that can arise with fresh carbon dating. See the last Q/A in:
    https://www.academia.edu/8841978/Professor_Giulio_Fanti_discusses_the_controversies_in_the_realm_of_Shroud_studies

  3. PHPL
    November 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

    OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY BLACKWELL HOTEL

    August 14 through August 17, 2008 Abstracts of Papers

    Invisible Mending and the Turin Shroud: Historical and Scientific Evidence by Joseph G. Marino (JMarino240@aol. com) and M. Sue Benford (MSBenford@aol.com). Saturday, August 16, 9:15 a.m.–9:45 a.m.

    One prominent theory regarding the results of the 1988 Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of the Shroud is that the sample Text Box: area had been repaired with a patch or “invisible reweave,” thus producing a dating resulting from a combination of 16th century and first century cloth. This paper recounts the initial doubts about the validity of the C-14 results; the history behind the patch theory; the abundant historical and scientific information support of the theory, especially from the findings of the late Ray Rogers in his paper published in 2005 after his direct examination of the C-14 samples compared with other samples from the main cloth; independent confirmations of Rogers’ findings; criticisms of Rogers’ findings; and refutations of these criticisms. The authors conclude that the invisible reweave is the most reasonable explanation for the dating of the Shroud.

    No comment.

  4. November 29, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I hate the optics on this debate. The non-authentic camp’s strongest piece of evidence is the C-14 dating. Even though all the criticisms of the C-14 result are valid, it so often comes from authentists that it appears to be a desperate attempt to pull the rug out from the non-authentic argument. Until a Colin Berry or Hugh Farey starts dismissing/doubing that C-14 result that perception will remain.

    • PHPL
      November 29, 2014 at 9:15 am

      “Even though all the criticisms of the C-14 result are valid,”

      That can’t be true as the criticisms sometimes contradict each other.

      • November 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        Something can be valid and not be correct.

  5. Louis
    November 29, 2014 at 9:06 am

    What about the desperate attempts to demonstrate that the relic is a fake?

  6. Joe Marino
    November 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Although I believe the evidence is very strong that there was reweaving in the C-14 area, that doesn’t preclude having my opinion that because of the unique nature of the Shroud and the problematic nature of C-14, that the test probably shouldn’t have been done. Assuming there is a reason that the C-14 is wrong, that reason is probably going to be challenged precisely because of the Shroud’s nature and various C-14 problems. There are plenty of other data points besides C-14 dating, which is obvious considering the Shroud is probably the most intensely studied artifact of all time. It’s ridiculous that one questionable test is given so much weight.

  7. November 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Fair enough. I, on the other hand, would stake several dollars that any new radiocarbon test would confirm a medieval date. I have examined all the evidence for reweaving as closely as I can, and I do not think it is sufficiently strong for me to think it likely. At this point, some commenters will be revving up their keyboards to spit out phrases like “completely ignore” and “reminder for Hugh” and “totally blind,” probably with lots of capital letters and exclamation marks, but there’s really no need. I would bet several dollars – as, no doubt, would OK (if he is a betting man) – but how much? Enough to buy a house? Certainly not. A car? Not even that. A good meal? No, I think I’m more confident than that. Maybe a weekend in Turin? It’s an interesting exercise, if currently somewhat academic. What would other readers stake on authenticity?

    The argument that C14 dates are often wrong and that therefore radiocarbon dating cannot be relied on is ilogical and untrue. If a radiocarbon date is unexpected (and sure, they sometimes are), there is a reason for that which ought to be investigated. Spyros Iakovidis’s story is interesting, but, on the face of it, simply glib. Did it not occur to him to investigate further? The story is from 25 years ago. I wonder if he ever re-assessed his “archaeological dating”. Sadly he died last year, but I wonder what he would have thought of the complete reassessment of late Bronze Age Greek chronology by Wardle, Higham and Cromer, based entirely on radiocarbon dates?

    • PHPL
      November 29, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Since you talk about betting Hugh …

      Some years ago I was having a chat with an accountant and he told me this.

      I was in my late twenties and had just passed my final exams. I was pretentious at that time. I decided one day to go to a casino and have some fun. So, I went there with one thousand dollars in my pocket. I at first observed the players and the casino staff and decided to start gambling. As soon as I started to gamble , I also started to win. It was incredible, after a while I had gained more than three thousand dollars. A guy that I met some time before at a business meeting began to chat with me. I told him that I came here with one thousand dollars and had now tripled this amount. He smiled at me, congratulated me , and asked me to lend him five hundred dollars. I was a little bit annoyed by his demand, but accepted. I continued to play and by midnight I had won more than six thousand dollars. I couldn’t believe it. The same guy again started to talk with me, and once more asked me to lend him five hundred dollars. I hesitated, but he was a charming fellow and I accepted to lend him this amount. Luck sometimes visits a fool, but it never sits down with him and by the end of the day I had lost everything. As the casino was closing the guy came to talk to me for a third time and I told him what had happened. He looked at me and said “I knew by experience how this was going to end , that’s why I asked you to lend me this money . Here’s your one thousand dollars … and never, never again enter a casino.”

      Patrick

      P.S – Wagering on the shroud’s authenticity is very risky, but betting on people’s credulity and exploiting it to make money is a sure bet.

      • November 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

        “Wagering on the shroud’s authenticity is very risky, but betting on people’s credulity and exploiting it to make money is a sure bet.”

        Sure, that’s human nature. So too is a preference to travel hopefully – and after a fashion scientifically – on the road to non-authenticity than to arrive. Why should religion be allowed to corner the market in mystery and imagination …

        • PHPL
          November 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

          I respect you Mr Berry.

      • November 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

        Lovely story, Patrick; I’m glad you survived. I have never visited a casino and never bet on anything (I’m too mean even to buy lottery tickets!), but I frequently use the concept as a mathematical exercise in “gut” probability. It is easy to think one is certain of something, but when a possibility of losing money on it arises, one is rarely as certain as one thought!

        • PHPL
          November 29, 2014 at 11:07 am

          Need I say that I also respect Mr Farey ? I am also grateful to Dan Porter for allowing everyone to write what they wish. Thumbs up for this beautiful act Dan ! In fact I like most people on this website, including pro-authenticists like Louis, O.K, Daveb of Wellington, etc. I sometimes exchange arguments with them but I like them . People that I dislike are these cunning foxes who never believed in the shroud’s authenticity in the first place (or if they ever did believe, it was a long time ago), but who pose as guides so as to ruthlessly achieve financial gains.

        • November 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

          I wish I knew where the money was in being an anti- authenticist.. My last lecture was for free with the proceeds from tickets going to the restoration fund for a local medieval church. As I believe the Shroud is medieval, the lecture was perfect for the occasion and appreciated as such by an audience most of who were interested in such things, but there was no money to be had for it. So far I have earned £200 for signing over the copyright of my History today article and that’s it. So perhaps PHLP can tell me who will pay anyone who believes the Shroud is not authentic. ( Actually I don’t like the word ‘ authentic’ as it implies that there is something. Inauthentic about a grave cloth created , as I believe, for one of the most important liturgies of the year,that on Easter morning.)

        • PHPL
          November 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm

          I’m afraid that the final part of my post was ambiguous.

          When I talk about those “who pose as guides so as to ruthlessly achieve financial gains” I’m talking about people who don’t believe in the shroud’s authenticity, but pretend to be fully convinced that it is real in order to obtain financial gains.
          Your work is fully appreciated by many, including me Charles.

    • aljones909
      November 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Hugh said “I, on the other hand, would stake several dollars that any new radiocarbon test would confirm a medieval date.”. I’d go much further – I’d stake my house on it. My wife would probably object but I think I could convince her that £10,000 would be a good investment. An even money bet on the shroud being medieval would be the bargain of this century.

    • Thomas
      December 1, 2014 at 2:10 am

      Interesting thought experiment Hugh. But it’s a hard one to answer. One would need to assume that the potential exists for a categorical answer, which is questionable*. Let’s assume it did.
      I’d be like you in reverse. I’d bet a trip to Turin on authenticity, that’s for sure, I feel more confident than a very nice meal out. But I’m not confident enough to bet my car or house on it!

      *What would define “categorical”? It would certainly be harder to support the authenticist position if a further c-14 test (with exemplary methodology and execution) came up with a date circa 1300-1400AD. But would that be categorical? Possibly, although not necessarily. If that occurred, I’d probably come to the view that on the balance of probability the Shroud is a medieval creation.

  8. November 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Louis:

    Chapter 7 entitled “What’s in a date?” in Ian Wilson’s book “The Shroud. Fresh light on the 2000-year-old mystery” gives the reasons why carbon dating is not advisable and he does mention the views of the late John Tyrer, textile expert who worked in Manchester, about the problem of contamination.

    Sorry, but this chapter is actually a trash, really. Unfortunately 20 years after dating Wilson still didn’t understand basics of carbon dating, nor specifics of that particular 1988 dating of the Shroud, nor the idea of reweave hypothesis by Benford, Marino, Rogers and others, and stuck to the old and long-refuted concepts.

    Joe:

    Although I believe the evidence is very strong that there was reweaving in the C-14 area, that doesn’t preclude having my opinion that because of the unique nature of the Shroud and the problematic nature of C-14, that the test probably shouldn’t have been done.

    What’s so unique in the Shroud with regards to the carbon-dating? We tried it once, unfortunately we came across interpolated sample, the results were not satisfactory, we had bad luck, it happens, sorry. Why not try once again? But this time with wiser, transparent approach, no blind tests. Remember , to skew a date from 1st to 14th century we need 66-75 % non-original material (a simple calculation). That’s really big amount! If we don’t hit unlucky area again (and if we take more than one sample from different areas, we shouldn’t) the results should be 1st century or close. The carbon dating is not so unreliable as they paint it, actually it is more foolproof than fool-vulnerable.

    It’s ridiculous that one questionable test is given so much weight.

    As I explained above, it is the only serious non-authenticity argument. And fanatical anti-authenticity desperately needs anything, even a failed scientific examination as the “proof” that the Shroud is a fake.

    That’s also why I would like the carbon dating repeated. Let it turns 1st century, then I would like to see their mugs.

    Hugh:

    The argument that C14 dates are often wrong and that therefore radiocarbon dating cannot be relied on is ilogical and untrue.

    Agree.

    I, on the other hand, would stake several dollars that any new radiocarbon test would confirm a medieval date.

    I would rather put it this way, there is a good bet that the results of another C14 test would be entirely different than those obtained in 1988. I do not claim that right on 1st century target, but different, and probably closer to the 1st century than 14th. Perhaps 1st, but also slight deviations (2nd -3rd century) may be possible.

  9. Joe Marino
    November 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    O.K. wrote “What’s so unique in the Shroud with regards to the carbon-dating? We tried it once, unfortunately we came across interpolated sample, the results were not satisfactory, we had bad luck, it happens, sorry. Why not try once again? But this time with wiser, transparent approach, no blind tests. Remember , to skew a date from 1st to 14th century we need 66-75 % non-original material (a simple calculation). That’s really big amount! If we don’t hit unlucky area again (and if we take more than one sample from different areas, we shouldn’t) the results should be 1st century or close. The carbon dating is not so unreliable as they paint it, actually it is more foolproof than fool-vulnerable” and ” Let it turns 1st century, then I would like to see their mugs. Let it turns 1st century, then I would like to see their mugs.”

    Archaeologists prefer to carbon date items that have been undisturbed in ideal archaeological settings and not exposed even to cigarette ash. The Shroud has been anything but undisturbed for over 500 years and has been in a fire. I think those 2 factors right there make the Shroud a less than suitable item. And if another test is done and it comes out 1st century, don’t you think the skeptics would constantly bring out facts that they think invalidated the results? As several people at the conference pointed out, if another C-14 test was done and didn’t come out 1st century for whatever reason, the case for the Shroud’s authenticity would effectively be over. Prof. Barberis has apparently been trying for 10 years to get an international commission formed to look at the problems of carbon dating the Shroud. I think that if a good commission was formed and an appropriate protocol was produced, it would be possible to do a legitimate C-14 test. But I can’t say I’m confident that it would ever happen. And if it did, I still think it should be done in the context of multi-disciplinary studies.

    • November 29, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      But Joe, you certainly know the amount needed to skew results from the 1st century to 14th.(and you know how to calculate it). That is 66-75 % of non-original and very modern (16th -20th century) carbon -overwhelming majority! It is not like the small contamination by cigarette ash will turn everything upside down! In 1988 we simply had extremely bad luck. Probably had the sample been chosen from area a few cm away, the results would be close to the 1st century! That’s why reweave hypothesis is the only reliable (and quite obvious)explanation of what happened then.

      The Shroud has been anything but undisturbed for over 500 years and has been in a fire.

      The Shroud, has been marvelously well preserved compared to other similar cloths -which are relaibly dated by C-14 method. You have read the reports about cleaning Shroud samples, the external contamination of the sample was minimal and shouldn’t have any significant effect on the results. Even 1532 fire shouldn’t have great effect, as it affected only a few areas and there is no evidence for some large interchange of carbon atoms with enviroment!

      As several people at the conference pointed out, if another C-14 test was done and didn’t come out 1st century for whatever reason, the case for the Shroud’s authenticity would effectively be over.

      And if otherwise, the Shroud’s authenticity would be hard to deny! Let the sceptics be flat-Earth believers! We know what went wrong in 1988. All we have to do is simply not to repeat those mistakes.

      There were many opportunities for the case of authenticity of the Shroud to be over. Had STURP in 1978 found significant traces of paint, the case would be over. Had there be image below blodstains -the case would be over. had there been brushstrokes, the case would be over. Had the bloodmarks proved to be pigment, the case would be over. And so on. Remmeber, the first blood tests in 1973 were negative (this is used by sceptical propaganda up to this day)! Only improved tests from 1978 showed them to be real blood.

      That’s why I opt for repeating carbon-dating. I don’t believe it will turn 14th century once again. Simply I know that 1988 went wrong, I know why it went wrong, and the odds that such unfortunate accident will repeat are in my opinion very small. Just sample a few different areas.

    • Mario Latendresse
      November 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Joe, glad to see that you openly give your opinion about a second radiocarbon dating. But I think the arguments that you gave, apparently coming from many other people at the St-Louis conference, are not valid.

      You wrote:

      JM: “And if another test is done and it comes out 1st century, don’t you think the skeptics would constantly bring out facts that they think invalidated the results?”

      ML: Any invalid arguments can be used by anybody. No research would be done if we were expecting everybody to agree. But correctly performed tests clarify open questions.

      JM: “As several people at the conference pointed out, if another C-14 test was done and didn’t come out 1st century for whatever reason, the case for the Shroud’s authenticity would effectively be over.”

      ML: First, not “come out 1st century”, may mean anything beside 1st century, which include spurious results such as 4th century, 8th century, in the future (yes, that is possible), and so on. A non-1st century in discordance with the 1988 result would point out that something is going wrong and some unforeseen factors are involved. Or, the samples that would be analyzed could point to new results. These are possible outcomes. This is a major new result that does not point to non-authenticity. On the contrary, it would invalidate the certainty of the 1988 radiocarbon dating.

      Second, being afraid of a result that would not point to authenticity is not at all what should be expected from researchers.

      JM: “Prof. Barberis has apparently been trying for 10 years to get an international commission formed to look at the problems of carbon dating the Shroud. I think that if a good commission was formed and an appropriate protocol was produced, it would be possible to do a legitimate C-14 test.”

      This is a good initiative by Prof. Barberis. A second radiocarbon dating is needed to move ahead. One aspect that is needed for this second dating is the involvement of various groups of people, some that are known to be against and other for the authenticity of the Shroud. It is unfortunately needed in the case of the Shroud.

      I really do not see any good arguments against a second radiocarbon dating.

      • jmarino240
        November 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm

        Mario, You have some excellent points.

        • Louis
          November 30, 2014 at 11:05 am

          O.K.
          Rome appears to be willing to conduct another C14 test, however the hesitation is because of the choice of laboratories. The other problem is that no commission to propose the inter-disciplinary approach has been formed. In short, everything is at a standstill. What we can do now is to concentrate on the image-formation process, to which you also have made useful contributions.
          Now, one word of caution: If the Shroud did indeed wrap the body of Jesus, then no amount of carbon dating will give correct results. I, for one, believe in mind over matter, that matter can be largely illusory, and also that God is not subject to the laws of nature as we are. One should also add that laws of nature are propositions.
          In one of the two courses I did in parapsycholgy I learnt that phenomena can be divided into:

          — paranormal — which is human
          — extranormal — which is also human
          — supranormal — which is a force from beyond our world, acting in our world.

          If Jesus was once wrapped in the Shroud, the Resurrection event would have affected the cloth permanently.

      • November 29, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        “I really do not see any good arguments against a second radiocarbon dating.”

        Riddle me this Batman: what other object from antiquity has possibly travelled the unique journey that this relic has? Where is the C-14 baseline for such an anomalous item? This is a relic without precedent or antecedent. We still haven’t discerned the means of image formation. So how do we know C-14 dating, regardless of what date it produces, is the definitive method for dating such an anomalous object?

        Of course if one assumes the cloth is medieval it’s trajectory through the last few hundred years can be accounted for better. C-14 seems an obvious method to use. But if one assumes it is 1st century, the question marks one encounters are exponentially multiplied.

        • November 29, 2014 at 10:28 pm

          David,

          “What other object from antiquity has possibly travelled the unique journey that this relic has?”

          By definition, no other object would have travelled THIS unique journey. So the answer is embedded in the question: it is none.

          “Where is the C-14 baseline for such an anomalous item?”

          Anomalous, or unique? Radiocarbon dating would be affected by uniqueness?

          “We still haven’t discerned the means of image formation.”

          We have not yet understood how the universe came to be, yet we have estimated its age and we are still refining it. Granted, this estimation can be repeated at will and by everybody, which is therefore more thrusted than the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud or any future radio carbon dating of the Shroud, which cannot be repeated at will and by everybody.

          “So how do we know C-14 dating, regardless of what date it produces, is the definitive method for dating such an anomalous object?”

          The C-14 dating would prove itself to be unreliable on the Shroud if it shows inconsistent dates. Otherwise it becomes more consistent. Consistency of radiocarbon dating on the Shroud is at the heart of many discussion in Shroud research. Let’s verify this level of consistency.

          “Of course if one assumes the cloth is medieval it’s trajectory through the last few hundred years can be accounted for better. C-14 seems an obvious method to use.”

          The medieval period is from the 5th to the 15th century. If a second radiocarbon dating gives the 5th century, it becomes inconsistent and unreliable.

          “But if one assumes it is 1st century, the question marks one encounters are exponentially multiplied.”

          Consistency is what is going to be verified.

          Fears of the result should not stop a second radiocarbon dating.

        • November 30, 2014 at 12:54 am

          “Fears of the result should not stop a second radiocarbon dating.”

          No, but they will, mark my words…

          In an ideal world, the 88 dating should have been regarded merely as a ranging shot exercise, more as a means of testing the consistency of the AMS method in the hands of three different laboratories for which a single sampling site was not just forgivable but in fact essential. Had that been been written into the protocol, then, having first demonstrated inter-laboratory consistency, as was the case, with minimal damage to the linen, it should have been followed up immediately with comparison of dates at different sampling sites, if only to deal with the statistical purists. (You know, the sort who reprimand their GP or hospital for relying on a single blood sample for cholesterol, blood sugar etc, and insist on being turned into a pin cushion until the mean and standard deviation give the right chi-square value.)

  10. ekmcmahon
    November 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I am rather fond of the pollen trail. There has been found pollen from every geographical location that the Shroud has spent any significant length of time at, including its point of origination.

    • John Green
      November 30, 2014 at 5:51 am

      What is on the shroud really tells us little. It could have been deposited at any time from people that have touched it or places it has been. One of the arguments against C-14 dating is that things may have been deposited at some later date and caused the reading to be off. Can’t have it both ways.

  11. ekmcmahon
    November 29, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    A good reason for my last comment – http://www.shroud.com/danin2.htm

  12. November 30, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Hi ekmcmahon. The reference you cite is highly controversial and not good evidence for the pollen trail or anything else. It begins by claiming that “hundreds of images of plant parts, such as flowers, flowering buds, fruits, stems, and leaves were found on high-grade photographs made from negatives by Enrie of 1931,” which is disputed by the a very large proportion of shroud scholars, and goes on to say that this observation “correlates significantly with the studies by forensic microscopist Dr. Max Frei” which is demonstrably untrue. There is some evidence for Middle Eastern pollen on the shroud which should not be casually discounted, but it is far from being conclusive.

    • Nabber
      November 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Hugh says: “which is disputed by the a very large proportion of shroud scholars”. Could you cease tossing out these general statements in a flippant attempt to discount legitimate studies? NUMBER ONE: What is the size of group, “the Shroud scholars”? 100? 200?. NUMBER TWO: What does the term “VERY LARGE proportion” mean, and how did you come up with that amount? 30% ? 60% ?. NUMBER THREE: What does “disputed” mean? “disagree with, but have performed no studies to the contrary” or “disagree with because they are anti-authenticists”?

      • November 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        Fair comment, Nabber.
        a) Certainly not.
        1) I’ve no idea.
        2) 70% – educated guess (see below).
        3) Looked carefully at the evidence and deny its validity.
        How’s that?

        Marginally more scientifically, ekmcmahon, try Googling “flowers” “Danin” and “site:shroudstory.com” to read the various comments, for and against the flowers (and other things) thought to be seen by some people on the Shroud. For what it’s worth, neither Dan Porter nor Barrie Schwortz are persuaded by Danin’s report, although both have surely studied the matter in considerable detail. Then compare them to the “coins on eyes” comments, for which there is more acceptance, athough even that is still a minority line of thinking.

        Sorry, Nabber; it is abundantly clear from the comments on this site that even committed authenticists find Danin’s hundreds of plants hard to swallow. Even if they were as readily identified as he claims, they are in huge conflict with the findings of Max Frei, as you can read in my recent article on the subject (https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/n79part8.pdf).

        • Nabber
          December 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

          Let’s see, so that would be 70% of “no idea”, which I’m pretty certain equals to ZERO.

          I respect Mr. Porter and Mr. Schwortz immensely (“both have surely studied the matter in considerable detail” — and you know this is true to what degree?) , I don’t know that they have performed direct counter-studies to Prof. Danin’s investigations, but I have heard a lot of tossing out of simple comments about “Pareidolia”. That’s not an effective counter.

          And, BTW, you have done it again, “even committed authenticists find…hard to swallow”, which is obviously an attempt to generalize. OF COURSE SOME authenticists find it hard to swallow. Far more, I believe, have signed on to it.

          Red Herring Alert: There is some conflict with Danin and Frei, and why wouldn’t there be some, but that cannot possibly affect whether there are images on the photos.

        • Louis
          December 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

          At least two images Professor Danin has identified on the Shroud are clear. The rest will depend on whether the Church (one parish) will throw its doors open for further research.
          Some of the material taken from the relic during the Restoration should help in identifying more pollen grains.

        • December 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

          No, no, Nabber, you mustn’t spoil your own arguments. If it’s not obvious, a quick check on the views expressed on this blog will help you gauge the popularity of the “hundreds of images of plants” hypothesis. Nor is the conflict between the plant identifications of Frei and Danin a red herring, as this was one of the two points I mentioned in my first comment above.

          Return to the point of the discussion. ekmcmahon says that an article by Danin is “a good reason” for his comment that “there has been found pollen from every geographical location that the Shroud has spent any significant length of time at, including its point of origination.” I maintain that the article is of dubious value for this purpose. Is there something wrong there? If so, I wonder if you would like to firm up on what. What proportion of shroud studiers do you think accept the “hundreds of flowers” hypothesis? And how good do you think is the correlation between Frei’s and Danin’s findings?

        • Nabber
          December 3, 2014 at 9:05 am

          Where’s your logic, Hugh. This blog represents hundreds of scholars? It probably represents anti-authenticists unfairly, if anything. Straw man much? “Hundreds of flowers” an easy target. How about “a lot of flowers”. And yes, the Farey Red Herring still lives despite denials. Danin’s views of flowers don’t depend on exact matching of locations with pollen, in fact just the existence of both in ANY location is significant enough. Where are the opposition studies? They are almost all Pareidolia type comments. Your article referenced above is so heavily tilted by what you DON’T ADMIT, as to be useless.

  13. Thibault HEIMBURGER
    November 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

    There have been a interesting discussion in Saint-Louis about this question.

    I agree with some of you that there is absolutely no scientific reason to turn down the radiocarbon dating method in order to date the Shroud.

    In the conclusion of my paper, I ask for a new radiocarbon dating of the Shroud.
    On one side, we have data strongly suggesting that the 1988 sample is not representative of the main shroud.
    On the other side, we have the evidence of the textile experts assuring that the dated sample is truly representative of the main shroud.

    The only mean to know the true age of the shroud is to perform a new radiocarbon dating.
    Today, small pieces of threads are sufficient.

    Taking into account all of the criticisms about the 1988 dating, the new radiocarbon dating must come from at least 3 or 4 samples/pieces of threads from different parts of the shroud.

    1) Each sample must contain warp and weft thread dated separately
    2) The samples must come from “clean” areas (no scorch, no waterstain, no blood,no image) that are at a different distance from the image. This will tell us if the image forming process has an influence on the C14 content.
    3) Each sample must be first analysed using microscopy, micro-chemistry and spectroscopy.
    4) A multidisciplinary approach (textile experts, radiocarbon experts, Shroud experts…) is necessary for the choice of the samples as well as for the whole procedure.
    5) The cleaning of the samples must be as “strong” as possible in order to date only the cellulose of the flax.
    6) The scientists and laboratories must be chosen carefully and it is preferable not to choose the laboratories involved in the 1988 dating, in order to avoid any kind of .
    conflict.

    The results?
    – All of the results are similar, giving the same age (1st century, 7th century, 14th century …): we must accept this result.
    – The radiocarbon results are very different and not compatible: for some (unknown) reason, the shroud can not be dated by the radiocarbon method
    – The radiocarbon results are really different but there is some kind of relationship between the dated samples and the image: the image forming process has an influence on the C14 content.

    • Thomas
      December 1, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Excellent Thibault, please call the Pope!

  14. November 30, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Louis:

    If the Shroud did indeed wrap the body of Jesus, then no amount of carbon dating will give correct results.

    Non sequitur. There is no proven relation between the body of Jeus being wrapped in the Shroud, and the C14 amount.

    If Jesus was once wrapped in the Shroud, the Resurrection event would have affected the cloth permanently.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Personally, I don’t believe the Resurrection affected C14 amount.

  15. Louis
    November 30, 2014 at 11:39 am

    O.K.
    “There is no proven relation between the body of Jeus being wrapped in the Shroud, and the C14 amount.”

    What exactly is proven? Whatever his worldview may have been it does seem that Rogers was a serious scientist and did find anomalies in the sample with which he worked. I stand by the mending hypothesis, along with a couple of others that have been proposed.

    “Personally, I don’t believe the Resurrection affected C14 amount.”
    Why not? How do you interpret the Resurrection?

    Note: You wrote sometime ago that your papers were posted on a website devoted to apologetics. If you read German, go through the book on your most famous countryman, Pope John Paul II, written by the German journalist Andreas Englisch. He leaves it to readers to judge from themselves, although he himself made a decision and regained his faith.
    Speaking of apologetics, I trust you know the criteria adopted by Rome in the beatification and canonisation processes. Would you say that there is no proven relation between the healing/curing and the saint to whom prayers were offered?

    I will make things easier for you;Remember, where there is Jesus, there is subtlety.
    And, before I forget, if the fresh C14 test you are eager to see gives a medieval date will you give up Shroud studies and say the relic is a fake?

    • November 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      No, Louis, you don’t understand what I mean. I simply think that the Resurrection didn’t change the amount of C14 in the Shroud. In my opinion there is no correspondence between miraculous Resurrection and C14 amount -and whether we are carbon-dating the 1st century Shroud of resurrected Jesus, or 1st cnetury shroud of any other individual, the results should be similar if only the procedure and samples are right.

      And, before I forget, if the fresh C14 test you are eager to see gives a medieval date will you give up Shroud studies and say the relic is a fake?

      IF. If grandma had a moustache… I don’t play this. When another C14 dating is made, and the results published then we will be thinking about it.

  16. November 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    For the record I don’t fear the C-14 tests. I just think that many here are putting way too much stock in the method when this relic may have been subject to elements that skew the C-14 readings. But I am not a scientist, so I’ll defer to your collective wisdom on the merits of C-14 dating (which would appear to be as rock solid as the law of gravity).

  17. Louis
    November 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    O.K.
    I understood what you said,that is why the supranormal phenomena was mentioned. A force from beyond acting in our world can leave permanent effects. You must have read at least one of the scientific papers with this proposal. A recent one was presented in Saint Louis but has not yet been published. As for the book on Pope John Paul II by a German journalist who was a Vatican correspondent for twenty years:

    http://andreasenglisch.de/paepste.php
    and:
    http://andreasenglisch.de/autor.php

    • Thomas
      December 1, 2014 at 2:00 am

      “I understood what you said,that is why the supranormal phenomena was mentioned. A force from beyond acting in our world can leave permanent effects. ”
      I agree. I’m far from 100% certain that the resurrection may have skewed the c-14, but I’m not convinced that it couldn’t have had a role.

      • Louis
        December 2, 2014 at 7:12 am

        Thomas, I think it is one of the possibilities. One could include in supranormal phenomena what at least the Catholic Church employs as criteria in the beatification/canonisation process. Not before all possibilities of natural phenomena are considered and the role played by the devil’s advocate.

  18. Joe Marino
    November 30, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Here is what archaeologist William Meacham wrote in a paper in 1986: “The fact that significant discrepancies have often resulted because of the contamination present in the best specimens from optimal archaeological conditions has the greatest implications in the Carbon 14 measurement of the Shroud. Firstly, any idea that a radiocarbon date of whatever entity could resolve forever the question of authenticity should be abandoned. Secondly, the choice of site for the cutting of the specimens from the relic must be controlled by considerations regarding the possibility of contamination and the desirability of measuring both typical and atypical specimens. Thirdly, an elaborate programme of pre-treatment and selection must be carried out before the measuring of the specimens. Finally, the result must be interpreted for the general public in the light of the contamination and of the other uncertainties that are inherent in the radiocarbon datring method.”

  19. jmarino240
    November 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Last sentence: “datring” should be “dating.”

  20. Dan
    December 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Reblogged this on Best of Shroud Story.

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