A Couple of Terrific Comments About Charles Freeman’s Article

Please note, first, that Charles Freeman has maintained a very civilized dialog with everyone in this blog. He has posted more than 80 comments in this blog since his article appeared in History Today. It continues to be a fruitful discussion.

If you are not familiar with the issues, these have the been the primary postings about Charles Freeman’s article:

Now, onto those terrific comments:

imageRuss Breault writes:

So someone depicts Christ with more scourge marks than the artistic norm at the time and that’s proof the Shroud is an Easter prop? All the paint just happened to flake off? I might add that none of these images show any anatomical realism–they just show the body scourged more than usual. How these images from the Holkham bible are used as a reference point seems a little obtuse.

Colin Berry writes:

Despite your historical analysis, the TS remains an unsolved scientific enigma – and that cannot be casually dismissed with scientifically-flaky explanations that depend on even flakier paint.

For full context, Colin’s expanded comment should be read:

Yes, I’ve been through your article several times now Charles, and find it thought provoking and (in places) provocative too. That’s why I was interested to hear your opinion re the chemical nature of the body image and bloodstains if, as you suggest, they were both applied freehand as artists’ pigments . (My own views on the nature of the body image and blood have been the subject of numerous postings, and are probably best kept to one side for now to avoid cluttering up the discourse).

Can be confine ourselves first to the body image (blood being hugely more problematical)?

The body image is bleached by a reducing agent (diimide), Susceptibility to one type of simple chemical invariably means it’s susceptible to others too, like oxygen in the air, maybe activated by light. (There are well known model chemical systems in which photooxidation results in bleaching of dyes and other organic chomophores occurs due to self-sensitized production of singlet oxygen).

So while the original image may have been a lot easy to see at a distance than today’s TS, one has to consider a whole range of physical and chemical options and scenarios, instead of assuming it was simply paint that had flaked off. The latter would not explain why the resistant faint ‘signature’ has the physical and chemical properties of chemically-dehydrated linen carbohydrates, i.e essentially “scorch-like” (even if that term was not used by STURP). Nor would it explain why a highly degraded image comes to have so spectacular a response to 3D-rendering software. Thousands of oil and water colour portraits must have flaked away over the centuries. How many have left a faint and intriguing quasi-photograph?

Once you take on board that the image we see today is the primary image, albeit now somewhat faded, and reject any paint-flaking hypothesis that is unsupported by chemical evidence of trace contamination, then one is back where we started. Despite your historical analysis, the TS remains an unsolved scientific enigma – and that cannot be casually dismissed with scientifically-flaky explanations that depend on even flakier paint.

More on Charles Freeman’s Article and Podcast from the OSC IB Blog

A podcast interview with historian Charles Freeman (25 minutes)

I previously noted in this blog in my posting How Knowledge is Created: The Shroud of Turin:

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

Eileen Dombrowski, now, seems to be getting really excited about Charles Freeman’s article:

This topic of the Shroud of Turin just keeps getting better and better for TOK. In my last post, I outlined TOK lessons based on it. But now – even better materials for launching a class! A podcast interview with historian Charles Freeman (25 minutes), linked from the website of History Today,  readily sets up a leaner lesson on the methods of research of an historian. The interviewer applauds Freeman’s research as “historical detective work” on an “unsolved mystery” and invites him to explain his methods of investigation.

In preparation for class discussions on methodology in history, I recommend giving this podcast to your students, along with guiding questions that help them focus their minds analytically as they listen. Below is a set of questions I worked out myself as I listened. You’re welcome to use them yourself if you find them helpful.  (You can download a pdf version of the questions here: Turin Shroud Freeman podcast questions)

Guiding questions?

  • “What does he say that the “shroudies” assume, and what are the consequences for their explanations?”
  • “Notice Freeman’s steps in reasoning: ‘So what clinches this further…’ ‘So we’re coming closer…’ ‘What actually clinched it…’”
  • “Why does Freeman rule out forgery and deliberate hoax?   Why does he think that his research and explanation will be favourably considered by the Catholic Church?”

Decrypted: Iconosteganalysist or Iconocryptanalyst

imageFive days ago, close reader and frequent commenter Max Patrick Hamon wrote:

You are totally entitled to deny my expertise as iconosteganalysist or iconocryptanalyst. This is fair enough since I haven’t had time to show you much so far and you do seem not to know the first thing what iconosteganalysis and iconocryptanalysis are all about.

Here are attached the first three pages of a study still in progress on the Hungarian Pray Ms-Turin Shroud connection; this just to give you an idea of what iconosteganalysis/iconocryptanalysis is all about.

New approaches to the Turin Shroud and existing iconographical, literary and archaeological documents are badly needed to go out of the authenticist-anti-authenticist dead end.

Hope it can help.

I don’t recall denying Max’s expertise. I can’t. I don’t know what those words mean. I checked a couple of dictionaries on my bookcase and also went online. Nothing! I called the library.

“Honey. . .” (all South Carolina lady librarians call everyone honey) “Are you maybe talking about someone who finds secret codes in icons?” the librarian asked, with a long drawn out “maybe” that sounded like “ma bay.”

Yes, yes, of course. I do see something of the meaning of one of those words. Which one, now? I intended to write back to Max wondering when the rest of the paper would arrive. Before I did I saw this comment yesterday:

BTW Dan, I emailed you on October 30, 2014 I emailed you the first three pages of a research paper still in progress entitled: The Hungarian Pray Ms-Turin Shroud connection: MORE THAN MEET THE NON-INITIATED EYE…Or An Iconosteganalysis

I had you to be fair play enough to publish them in your blog.You haven’t. WHY?

And Louis chimed in begging me to publish the first three pages while we await the rest of it. So HERE IT IS. (I had to convert it from a DOCX to a PDF. I hope in doing so that I didn’t mess up the iconocryptanalysis in any way.)

The Holkham Bible Recently Much Mentioned

It is interesting. But I wonder how significant this is as evidence. And specifically, of what?

Click to enlarge image to 2506 by 1246  

Another Bari Conference Paper Available

imageThe following paper by Andrea Di Genua, Emanuela Marinelli, Ivan Polverari and Domenico Repice, Judas, Thaddeus, Addai: possible connections with the vicissitudes of the Edessan and Constantinopolitan Mandylion and any research perspectives has been added to Academia.edu.  (There is also a version in Italian*: Giuda, Taddeo, Addai: possibili collegamenti con le vicende del Mandylion edesseno-costantinopolitano ed eventuali prospettive di ricerca)

The abstract reads:

The Mandylion or image of Edessa, first mentioned in the 6th century, was a depiction of Christ’s face, described by some texts as a painting and by others as a miraculous imprint on a cloth. It is reasonable to believe that this mysterious cloth was the Shroud which is today kept in Turin, folded in such a way as to show only the face.

The protagonist of the events related to the Edessan image is Thaddeus-Addai, who is at times defined as “apostle” and at other times simply as disciple. The identification of Thaddeus Addai with the apostle Judas Thaddeus or one of the 70 (or 72) disciples remains an issue which deserves further studies; however, considering the research already conducted, a possible relation between the numerous literary witnesses and the figure of Judas Thaddeus is not to be ruled out.

The analysis of the 10th icon of the Abgar legend is intriguing:

The upper part of the diptych, on the left, shows the depiction of a saint, identifiable as Thaddeus. However, it is likely that this saint is not one of the 72 disciples, but imageexactly the apostle Judas Thaddeus, as identified in Greek books. The Western and Eastern traditions diverge substantially on this point. In the upper right side, King Abgar is represented with the facial features of Emperor Constantine VII, who in 944 moved the relic to Constantinople [61].

imageThe images of St Judas Thaddeus are very late in the West, and the saint is always represented carrying a medal depicting Jesus’ face. In Early Christianity and in the Middle Ages, the apostle Judas is only represented in the apostolic college, with no reference to the Mandylion (mosaics in Monreale, el Bawit in Egypt, etc.).

The saint depicted on the left has a face similar to that of the character who, on the right, hands over the Mandylion to King Abgar. This similarity does not prove that they are the same person, since byzantine painters used to employ patterns to reproduce the human face and, as always, painters tend to make self-portraits; this, therefore, would explain the similarity of the two and also the similarities of the saints depicted in the lower part.


*  The English version is a translation from Italian by Augusto Monacelli

Another St. Louis Conference Paper Available

imageEmanuela Marinelli has just added The Shroud and the iconography of Christ to Academia.edu. (There is also a version in Italian: La Sindone e l’iconografia di Cristo)

The abstract reads:

The similarity between the Shroud face and most of the depictions of Christ known in art, both Eastern and Western, is clear and cannot be attributed to pure chance; it must be the result of a dependency, mediated or immediate, of an image from the other and of all from a common source. We can identify several elements on the Shroud that are not regular, hardly attributable to the imagination of the artists, that make us understand how the ancient representations of Christ’s face depend on the venerated relic. It is reasonable to think that in the early days of the Church, the Shroud has been kept hidden for various reasons. During this period, for the representation of Christ they only used symbols or they applied to the figure of Christ appearances derived from other religions. After the victory of Christianity, sanctioned by Constantine in 313 with the Edict of Milan, a new image of the face of Jesus began to spread, which is characterized by not too long beard, mustache, narrow, tall and stately face, with long hair, falling on His shoulders, and sometimes with a middle line that divides them. Numerous testimonials, both written and iconographic, confirm that in Edessa (Şanliurfa today, in south-eastern Turkey) there was an impression left by Jesus on a cloth with His sweat and His blood. This sacred cloth, hidden for centuries and rediscovered in the sixth century, became the inspirational model for the iconography of Christ. All the legends, the traditions, the references to the existence of such an image are important for reconstructing an itinerary of the Shroud in the dark ages prior to its appearance in Europe and to understand why there are so many references to the existence of an image of Christ on a cloth.

This caught my attention:

In the past years a vivid debate inflamed, among the scholars that do not accept the identification of the Edessa image with the Shroud, like the expert in Patrology Pier Angelo Gramaglia, the historian Antonio Lombatti and the historian Victor Saxer, and who, on the contrary, supports this identification, like the historian Karlheinz Dietz, the historian Daniel Scavone and the historian Gino Zaninotto.

The discussion is still going on nowadays, among who, like the historian Andrea Nicolotti, thinks that the Edessa image is «a little piece of cloth, the size of a towel» and who, like Mark Guscin, expert of Byzantine manuscripts, thinks that from the sources can be drawn different conclusions: «It should be stressed that there are no artistic representations of the Image of Edessa as a full-body image or with bloodstains and the majority of texts make no reference to either characteristic; but at the same time it is undeniable that at some point in the history of the Image of Edessa, some writers were convinced, for whatever reason, that it was indeed a full-body image on a large cloth that had been folded over (possibly in such a way that only the face was visible) and that it did contain bloodstains».

Paper Chase: A Significant Paper by Mario Latendresse

imageA few hours ago, Mario Latendresse added a paper to Academia.edu:  The Turin Shroud Was Not Flattened Before the Images Formed and no Major Image Distortions Necessarily Occur from a Real Body.

If memory serves me, it is his paper from the Dallas 2005 convention. Yep, it is. Here is a PDF of his slides. And here is the link from shroud.com, which reads,Evidence that the Shroud was not Completely Flat during the Image Formationwhich, now, nicely redirects to the copy at Academia.edu (nicely done).

IT’S A MUST READ. So if you have not done so or you need to refresh your memory, read it now.

The abstract reads:

We show that, when the images formed, the frontal part of the Shroud of Turin laid on a body in the same position as when the blood stains formed by contact. In other words, after the Shroud was laid on top of a body, no forceful flattening occurred before the images formed. Moreover, the argument that the top half of the Shroud could not have been draping a real body when the images formed – to avoid prominent image distortions – is shown to be incorrect. If a cloth is appropriately laid on the front part of a body, and a body image forms by a vertical projection on the cloth, no major image distortions occur. Small image distortions are to be expected, and indeed we can observe some on the Shroud. These two aspects – the Shroud was not forcefully flattened before the images formed and no major image distortions occur due to the way the Shroud was laid on the body – give the simplest scenario for the formation of the images. There is no need to claim a special event that would have flattened the Shroud before the images formed. Our analysis is based on precise length measurements on digital images, the blood stain locations, and geometry.

And why you must carefully read this paper; this is from the conclusion

. . . We have also conjectured that the mechanism of projection is probably neither normal to the skin, nor to the sheet, and not really perpendicular to gravity, but is probably following the shortest path to the sheet. Further research is necessary to conclude on this aspect.

An Exquisite Response as an Exquisite Response

The notion that the TS image was painted is frankly a non-starter,
on a whole number of grounds.

Please direct comments to History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On

Charles Freeman having written:

imageHaving read manuals such as the fifteenth century Cennino Cennini’s on preparing linen for painting and learning that you seal the cloth on the outer fibrils only with a knife, a highly skilled operation and then reading the STURP report that the images on the Shroud were on the outer fibrils only, I knew I had my evidence for painting. STURP did not have any expert on medieval painting on their team nor did they consult any so one can hardly take their report seriously. However, my main evidence for painting comes from the early descriptions an depictions of the Shroud- it may be that the endless handling and exposing of the Shroud ended up with all or almost all of the pigments falling off leaving only the faded images we have today.

The ignorance comes from those who have not studied how linen was painted on in the medieval period.

Colin Berry responds:

imageYou may recall, Charles, that some 2 years ago, nearer 3, I offered you my services as a co-writer, handling the scientific side, which you were probably wise to decline at the time.

Methinks in retrospect, with the wisdom of hindsight, you should maybe have taken up the offer.

The notion that the TS image was painted is frankly a non-starter, on a whole number of grounds.

Its exquisite response to 3D-enhancement is just one of them.

Please direct comments to History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On

New Paper: The Face of the Shroud in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment?

This past week, Jos Verhulst uploaded a paper to Academia.edu entitled, The Embedment of the Face on the Shroud of Turin in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment: A corroboration of the Dayvault hypothesis.

The paper is interesting. And I notice if I stand back a few feet, squint and fiddle with the angle of the screen on my laptop, then I almost think I almost see the face from the shroud portrayed in the fresco. I don’t mean to sound fatuous. I’m saying, maybe it’s me. This paper helps me grasp the idea.


Figure 1: The Dayvault hypothesis in a nutshell. The fresco has the shape of a rectangle surmounted by two lunettes. According to the hypothesis, these eyebrow-shaped lunettes correspond to the eyes of the Man of the Shroud. The pear-shaped central cluster encompassing Christ and his mother, with Saint Lawrence and Saint Bartholomew at their feet, corresponds to the nose. . . . (emphasis mine)

I just don’t have the artist’s eye. I would have never seen these lines:


Figure 10 : The encodement of the structure of the Shroud fabric in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement. The position of the centre fold is indicated by the skin held by Saint Bartholomew. Together with the yellow-dressed‘assistant saint’ behind him, Saint Bartholomew looks (blue line) at the index finger of the saint in green who points at the position of the related primeval fold (see figure 6). The symmetry axis of Saint Lawrence’s grid, together with the tilaka’s (purple points) of Saint John, Saint Lawrence’s ‘assistant saint’ in yellow, Saint Bartholomew and Saint Peter, form a V-shape corresponding to the herringbone-pattern of the Shroud fabric (orange lines). The median axis(green line) of this V-shape is indicated by the hands of Christ. Saint Lawrence holds his grid in a very peculiar way that reflects the weaving structure (figure11) of the Shroud: his arm overarches three cross bars of his gridiron, just as a warp thread overarches three weft threads in the fabric of the Shroud.

Something to think about.

New Publication on Manoppello Veil

OK writes:

clip_image001There is a new academic publication on the Manoppello Image, available in both polish and english version as Ikona z Manoppello prototypem wizerunków Chrystusa and The Manoppello Icon. The prototype of images of Christ. There is a table of contents ("spis treści") available for download. The authors are Karolina Aszyk, an art specialist, and Zbigniew Treppa, professional photographer as well as theologian and lecturer at the University of Gdańsk, which released this work. The price of it is 36.75 PLN, roughly 10 $ without a shipping fee.

Having familiarized with a polish version, I can say a few words about it. It is an interesting study of visual properties of the Veil when photographed during different lighting conditions,as well as of the influence of the Veil on Byzantine, medieval, and renaissance art. Yet I think that the arguments presented are not strong enough to convince declared sceptic, and further researches in those directions (including those I try to perform myself) is necessary.

Shroud Expo Fundraising Campaign for Catholic Charities

Check it out at IndieGoGo. You can get a cool T shirt like the one in the YouTube, above, for only $25.00.

What We Need & What You Get

The Shroud of Turin Expo is seeking to raise funds for the Catholic Charities of San Antonio, Texas. The goal is to raise awareness of all the good that the Charities do for the community and the much needed funds. The Expo will be in San Antonio starting November 2014 and willgive back to the local community by helping to raise these funds.

Donors will be able to help the local community and receive fantastic perks such as Anytime tickets to the Expo at bargain prices, Shroud of Turin images or many other unique pieces. A portion of the proceeds from all these perks will be donated to the Catholic Charities in San Antonio in November to help with their charity needs for the Christmas season.

History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On

Cris Campbell has up a posting, Shrouded History, in his Genealogy of Religion blog. Just a few selected sentences tell you everything you need to know. I’ve taken the liberty of bolding a few words:

. . . Those who wish to see in the shroud scientific evidence of “supernatural imprinting” have been indefatigable in their efforts, and spared no expense, to show it is miraculous . . .

. . . All this countering [of evidence] has led to buckets of ink being spilled, a process not dissimilar to the way in which pigments were applied to the shroud. The shroud, in other words, was painted: not just once, but several times. This is the conclusion reached by Charles Freeman in his 8,400 word essay over at History Today.

. . . What makes this essay particularly interesting, indeed remarkable, is that it appears to be the first in-depth historical inquiry into the shroud.

. . . science has such enormous cultural prestige that it sometimes causes us to ignore, or at least subordinate, companion disciplines like history. This may account for the rush to test the shroud before historicizing it. Had the order been reversed, the painting hypothesis — suggested by history — could have been specifically tested.

There is one comment, so far. It is by Charles Freeman:

. . .Take a woven linen cloth, gesso it on the outer fibrils as recommended in medieval manuals, add painted images, furl and unfurl over five hundred years and you will be there!

There is even a exclamation mark. There is even that Hallian finality-tonality: “Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it.”

I never thought of history as subordinate to science. But when I read this blog posting I wonder if I am right in my thinking; history up against science?

New Vibrant Newsy Look for Official Exposition Page

It looks great. It is now the default page for sindone.org

The following is a screenshot of a Google Translation into English. Click on the image to see the full size page in Italian (then translate if you choose).