not arguing in this paper that the Benford-Marino-Rogers theory is THE
sole answer to our question . . . it has an awful lot going for it. . . .
Foreword: I had requested that this paper not be published with the 2008 Ohio Conference papers because there were some questions about the nature and history of cotton I wanted to explore before doing so. However, in the interim, my attempts to investigate some issues did not produce results because I was unable to get in contact with the specialists who might have been able to provide the additional information I sought. Joe Marino recently requested permission to publish on-line my Ohio presentation and the appendices of materials I had gathered. I have granted him that permission late this year (December, 2014). The material is largely unchanged from my 2008 Ohio presentation. Bits of more recent information are set off from the body of the original text by my use of brackets [ ].
The title is What Went Wrong With the Shroud’s Radiocarbon Date? Setting it all in Context. It is by the archaeologist and long time shroud scholar Paul C. Maloney (pictured).
We are only two years away from a fresh exhibition of the Turin Shroud [occurring in 2010]–and with that will there be another round of testing? In this light it seems a valuable exercise to recap previous hypotheses regarding the C14 results offered in the years following the 1988 testing. (2). Professionally, I am an archaeologist–some of you might call me an “antique historian.“ This is a paper about history. What I shall attempt to do here is to gather together in one place observations and explanations that have been published elsewhere. There are many things about the Shroud we would all like to know but in this paper I shall deal largely with only one question: What went wrong with the Shroud‘s radiocarbon date? I will provide here a brief synopsis of proposed answers with focused examination of one of those proposals.
A Strange Story
But first I want to share with you a “strange story”. Many of you have already heard it. I first heard it many years ago as it was circulated by Bill Meacham. A single thread of the Shroud was sent surreptitiously to a West Coast Laboratory back in 1982. One end of that thread came up with a date of 200 A.D. while the other end resulted in a date of ca. 1000! How could this be? I thought about it long and hard and finally dismissed it as a complete fluke. Anyway, that was quite a “yarn”! Bill Meacham preserves this story in his most recent book published a few years ago. (3)
Radiocarbon test results and reactions to it
Here’s another story, also old, so much so, you are probably all tired of hearing it. Briefly, on April 21, 1988 a single sample was removed from the so-called “Raes’ Corner” on the Shroud by the late Giovanni Riggi di Numana. This was divided up between three labs, Oxford, Zurich, and Tucson, Arizona and the results analyzed by the British Museum. The analysis from that testing was released on Oct. 13, 1988: the cellulose taken from the Shroud was to be dated with 95% confidence to between 1260 to 1390 A.D. (4)
Most of us reacted first with a mixture of shock and consternation! How could this be? The late Fr. Albert R. Dreisbach liked to say that “the preponderance of evidence” argued for the antiquity as well as the authenticity of the cloth. After all, how could the Shroud have been rendered in artistry 60 some years before the first bracket of the 1260-1390 released radiocarbon date? As we all began to recover it was generally agreed that something was radically wrong. The question was “What?” There have been six major approaches to this question. Evaluative remarks and commentary have been confined to the endnotes due to time constraints.
A dozen pages in, as we approach the conclusion, we read:
When everything is properly understood, the entire picture of the Shroud should come together as a beautifully constructed puzzle. If something is out of place, the whole will not look right. We are currently still in that mode. Not everyone agrees with Ray Rogers findings. Especially in Europe there are those who believe his findings do not represent the real nature of the Shroud. Thus, this issue of “homogeneity” vs. “heterogeneity” needs to be resolved so that we can move forward. If a “re-weave” is not the explanation for the characteristics found at the Raes’ Corner then we badly need an explanation for why cotton is woven into that corner but is not demonstrated in threads in the main body of the cloth.
What does the opposite side of the ledger look like? Do the x-rays of the Shroud show any evidence of the re-weave? Bryan Walsh suggests they do not. (Personal communication). Walsh also notes that in discussions “…with textile conservators in the U. S., they said that while reweaving might be made difficult to perceive on one side of a cloth, it would be painfully obvious on the other side of the cloth because of the various threads and knots involved in stitching it.”
I’m not arguing in this paper that the Benford-Marino-Rogers theory is THE sole answer to our question “What Went Wrong?” Nevertheless, the factors I’ve marshalled here suggest that it has an awful lot going for it. . . .
There is, in Appendix III, a gem, a Dialogue between Ray Rogers and Bryan Walsh in February 2005. And elsewhere throughout the paper there are photographs that you may never have seen. This paper is a must read.
Photomicrograph note: The caption reads:
B. Second photomicrograph of W. C. McCrone’s rose madder. STURP tape 3-CB very near to STURP tape 3-AB but taken on the blood flow across the back. (Photomicrograph by W. C. McCrone. From the Paul C. Maloney collection of McCrone illustrative materials. No magnification listed by McCrone).
Publication Note: I received this paper a few days ago. Would I install it on the 2008 Ohio conference website since I had the keys and supposedly the skills to do so? Sure, I said. Well, if you go to the conference site and look you will see some evidence of my trying. I’m still trying to work out went wrong with hosting company. In the meantime I have temporarily installed this paper within this blog space so you can read it without further delay. Here you need the keys and no special skills. My apologies for taking so long.
So, open or download: What Went Wrong With the Shroud’s Radiocarbon Date? Setting it all in Context by Paul C. Maloney by clicking on the title.