Paper Chase: New observations on the Sudarium of Oviedo

. . . In the back of the Man of the Shroud the hair is apparently arranged in a “ponytail”
shape. . . .  A simpler and more probable explanation is provided by Barta: the “ponytail”
is the result of the use of the Sudarium of Oviedo which was placed and sewed
around the hair in this area. . . .

imageI’ve always found accounts of the coincidences between the Sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud fascinating. Never, however, have I crawled through the details as carefully as I should have.  This paper afforded me a chance to begin that process. This St. Louis conference paper is fascinating. It is worth your time to carefully read New Discoveries On The Sudarium Of Oviedo by César Barta, Rodrigo Álvarez, Almudena Ordóñez, Alfonso Sánchez and Jesús García

Piture: Location of measurement spots on the reverse side of the Sudarium of Oviedo.
The reference numbers are listed in Table III, in the "label" column

I cheat! I jump to conclusions first. But that’s okay as long as I then read the whole paper:

The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin are two relics attributed to Jesus Christ that show a series of amazing coincidences previously described. These similarities suggest that both cloths were used by the same personality.

In this contribution, we describe the X-ray fluorescence analysis performed on the Sudarium and we highlight a new fascinating coincidence with the Shroud and with the place of the Passion. Among the chemical elements detected, the concentration of Ca is the most reliable one. It is associated to soil dust and it shows a significantly higher presence in the areas with bloody stains. This fact allows us to conclude that the main part of the Ca located in the stained areas was fixed to the cloth when the physiological fluids were still fresh or soon after. As the stains have been correlated with the anatomical part of the deceased man, the amount of Ca can also be related with his anatomical features. The highest content of Ca is observed close to the tip of the nose, indicating unexpected soil dirt in this part of the anatomy. A particular presence of dust was also found in the same place in the Shroud providing a new and astonishing coincidence between both cloths.

The low concentration of Sr traces in the Sudarium, even lower in the stained areas, matches also well with the type of limestone characteristic from the Calvary in Jerusalem.

This new finding complements two other recently publicized: The ponytail shape of the Man of the Shroud hair, whose origin is justified by the use of the Sudarium of Oviedo and the alleged presence of a scourge mark in this cloth.

Such a gathering of evidences strengthens the tradition that both cloths have wrapped the same body, that of Jesus of Nazareth.

Paper Chase: The Second Face Defended

Realizing how easily I had accepted the second image of a face discovery
and eventually realizing the need for questioning such discoveries
was one of the reasons  I decided to actively blog.

imageThe paper in question from the St. Louis Conference is About the Second Image of Face Detected on the Turin Shroud  by Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo (Read by Joseph G. Marino).

    Maybe if Giulio had been there or maybe if there had been a PowerPoint it might have been more interesting. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the paper; there isn’t. It’s just that . . . let’s let an ellipses-for-adjectives abstract of the abstract explain why:

A second faint image of the face of the Turin Shroud has been discovered in 2004 . . .  but a recent paper has questioned . . . its presence. . .  . it explained those patterns with pareidolia and Gestalt effects of the human perception . . .  in a not proper way. This paper both discusses these results showing why the image processing used in that paper seems not proper to sustain its thesis and presents additional image processing for pattern recognition.

imageIn other words the 2004 discovery of a second face on the backside of the cloth had been shot down in a peer reviewed journal paper, Pattern recognition after image processing of low-contrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra and Barrie Schwortz. The paper is sadly behind a pay wall at Science Direct but we have the abstract and some highlights:


We discuss the potentially misleading effect of software techniques for elaborating low-contrast images. In particular, we present the example of the stains embedded into one of the most studied archeological objects in history, the Shroud of Turin. We show for the first time that image processing of both old and recent photographs of the Shroud may lead some researchers to perceive inscriptions and patterns that do not actually exist, confirming that there is a narrow boundary between image enhancement and manipulation.


► The limited static contrast of our eyes may render problematic the perception of low-contrast images.

► Brain’s ability to retrieve incomplete information interpret false image pixels after image processing.

► Image processing of Shroud photographs leads to perceive patterns that do not actually exist.

► There is a narrow line between enhancement and manipulation of low-contrast images.

Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo are fighting back or at least asking us to reserve judgment for awhile:

Before to reach a conclusion in agreement to Ref. [10] it will necessary a sure and objective demonstration that the second fainter face detected in Ref. [1] is really a trick of the human perception. Meanwhile, in agreement with various TS experts, see Refs. [23 – 26], we consider credible the presence of a second image of face on the back side of the TS. The analysis of the UV photo of face made by Turin Archdiocese in 2002 and not yet made available to the scientific community will help to confirm this fact.

Those references being:

-1. G. Fanti, R. Maggiolo: The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin Shroud, (J. of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, volume 6, issue 6, 2004, pages 491- 503, April 2004).

-10. P. Di Lazzaro, D. Murra, B. Schwortz , Pattern recognition after image processing of lowcontrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin, (Pattern Recognition J., available online 31 December 2012).

-23. J. P. Jackson, Does the Shroud of Turin show us the Resurrection?, (Biblia y Fé, 1998).

-24. G. Fanti, et al. (24 authors): Evidences for Testing Hypotheses about the Body Image Formation of The Turin Shroud, (III Int. Conf. on the Shroud of Turin: Dallas, Texas, 2005), accessed January 31, 2013.

-25. G. Fanti, J.A. Botella, F. Crosilla, F. Lattarulo, N. Svensson, R. Schneider, A.D. Whanger, List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud, (Int. Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy, (2010).

-26. O. Scheuermann, Turiner Tuschbold aufgestrahlt?, (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrucken Deutchland, 2007).

Revised St. Louis Conference Videos

imageClick on the button with the picture of The Arch
to access to the list of videos

Russ Breault writes:

The videos from the St. Louis Conference have all been re-edited for sound.  All the original YouTube videos with bad audio have been deleted.  All new links have been created.  You can watch them either from or from Barrie’s conference page at:

Also, all previous videos from the 2008 Ohio State University, 1993 Rome and 1991 St. Louis conferences have all been converted to Youtube as well.  So for anyone who had problems streaming these before, you should not have any problems now.  Go to to see all the conferences. 

The "News" tab on this site now links to Dan Porter’s blog.

Watch for more content in the weeks ahead.  I will announce when available.

The Shroud of Turin is not the Image of Edessa?

the sixth-century Image of Edessa “probably never actually looked like a cloth at all.”

If you weren’t in St. Louis on Sunday morning of the conference for Jack Markwardt’s special presentation, then Modern Scholarship and the History of the Shroud of Turin is a MUST READ:

clip_image002In 1997, Professor Robin Cormack, an art historian, concluded that Wilson’s identification of the Turin Shroud with the Mandylion was “an impossible guess”, pointing to a depiction of that icon in a St. Catherine Monastery panel painting that is datable to 945-959 (Figure 1).

In 2010, Wilson acknowledged that “a fringe runs along the bottom edge where we would expect the Shroud’s fold line to be,” but he then proceeded to argue that varying portrayals of the Mandylion cancelled out one another as reliable representations of that icon and made it improbable that Byzantine artists “had actually viewed at first hand the original Image they were copying”; however, this stance constituted a rather dramatic about-face from that which he had assumed in 1998 when, in support his folded-relic hypothesis, he had contended that copies of the Mandylion, such as the now-lost image of Spas Nereditsa (Figure 2), “convey other recurring possible clues to the original’s clip_image004appearance”, such as a lattice-type decoration possibly denoting the presence of an overlay grille and an image which had been set upon a landscape-aspect cloth. If, as Wilson presently asserts, Byzantine artists did not actually view the original Mandylion in producing copies of it, then depictions that feature lattice-type decorations and landscape-aspect cloths would not necessarily be evidential of that icon having been the hypothetically folded and framed Turin Shroud.

Other unfavorable academic commentary would quickly ensue. In 1998, Professor Cameron flatly pronounced that “the Edessan image has nothing to do with the Shroud of Turin.” In 2003, Andrew Palmer, a professor of Byzantine history, in dating the Acts of Thaddeus, which alludes to an image of Jesus on cloth, to the period of 609-726 CE,undermined Wilson’s claim that it had been written in the sixth century and coincidental with the alleged historical appearance of the Edessa icon. In 2004, Professor Sebastian Brock, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on Syriac texts, declared that the Mandylion’s history provided “a very unsatisfactory ancestry for those who would like to identify the famous Turin Shroud with the Edessan Mandylion.”

In 2007, Mark Guscin, a well-known authenticist, concluded that the Sermon of Gregorius Referendarius recites “that the sweat of agony (like drops of blood) adorned the Image (of Edessa), just like blood from its side adorned the body from which the sweat had dripped, i.e. two different events at two different times,” refuting Wilson’s assertion that it referenced blood flowing from Jesus’ side wound, thereby proving that the Edessa icon had borne a full-length image of his crucified body. In that same year, Professor Irma Karaulashvili, a Georgian scholar and specialist in Syriac texts, observed that the Image of Edessa “seems to have been painted, most plausibly on wood”, citing several Syriac sources which had variously described the early Edessa icon as a quadrangle wooden tablet, a dappa (tablet), and a piece of wood.In doing so, Karaulashvili concurred with Cameron that the sixth-century Image of Edessa “probably never actually looked like a cloth at all.”

But, read on:

clip_image003Not only does the cloth of the Image of Edessa, as so depicted, strongly resemble an imaged Byzantine labarum (see Figure 19), but also the image of Jesus presented on that cloth mirrors the facial image of the Turin Shroud, absent its wounds and bloodstains, particularly with regard to their respective mouths, beards, and uneven lengths of hair (see Figure 20),and if the tenth-century Image of Edessa was, in fact, a late sixth-century Byzantine labarum, an object which modern scholars “nearly universally believe” to have been modeled upon Constantinople’s Image of God Incarnate,then that archetypal acheiropoietos image of Jesus was almost certainly the Shroud of Turin.


You can tell the good guys. They are wearing white shirts.

The alleged primary hacker,Timothy W. Linick (1946-1989),
is the one in the black shirt standing most prominently in the foreground.

imageFor those of you who like drip-drip-drip water torture blogging, Stephen Jones has just rolled out a next installment of the conspiracy theory that the KGB hacked the computers in three radiocarbon dating labs in order to make the shroud appear to be medieval. No, really, the KGB. Stephen started this this past May:

Introduction. This is the second installment of part #10, Summary (1), of my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker. I will add new installments to this part #10(1) until it gets too long, when I will then start a part #10(2). Previous posts in this series were part #1, part #2, part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, part #7, part #8 and part #9, which this part #10 will summarise. To help prevent this summary becoming too long, I usually will not post full quotes supporting my points but will provide a reference and link back to the original post in this series where that particular quote appears.

Other than that we have a picture, shown above, with the following very interesting caption:

[Above: Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory staff and Rochester radiocarbon dating laboratory’s Prof. Harry Gove (second from right) around the AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) computer’s control console terminal[2], on 6 May 1988, after it had, or was about to, display the alleged hacker’s first bogus radiocarbon age of the Shroud, "640 years"[3], which was then calibrated to the `too good to be true’ and, as we shall see, effectively impossible "1350 AD" date that the Shroud’s flax was supposedly harvested[4]. The alleged primary hacker,Timothy W. Linick (1946-1989), is the one in the black shirt standing most prominently in the foreground[5].]

It looks like it going to be summaries for awhile. You can follow along if you wish (on your own) or you can wait with me until the end of this series to see if any evidence of hacking emerges.

Jerry Coyne: Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin

The shroud is covered with gesso, which was used as a ground for painting.
If it was the miraculous imprint of Jesus on a burial shroud,
there would be no reason for the gesso.

imageRenowned evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, is well known for his best selling book Why Evolution Is True and his famous New Republic book review of, Of Pandas and People. Every now and then, mostly in his blog, also called Why Evolution Is True, he jumps onto the skeptical Shroud of Turin bandwagon.  I’ve mentioned him at times:

Now he has climbed aboard with our friend Charles Freeman and posted Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin in his blog. Get this:

The image has degenerated substantially over the centuries. We know this because there are a fair number of paintings from centuries ago showing what it looked like. The degradation is due to its repeated unfurling and exhibition, which would crack and flake the paint, in addition to the fact (revealed in the article I’ll cite in a second) that in past times it was customary for supplicants to hurl their rosaries at the shroud and then recover them.

But we know the Shroud is a fake for several reasons. Carbon dating of the linen cloth (in three separate labs) has placed its manufacture between 1260 and 1390, which (if you know dating) is the time at which the flax plants furnishing the cloth would have been harvested, no longer absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Further, an Italian scientist managed to reproduce the Shroud by using materials that would have been available during the Middle Ages.

The other reasons for fakery (not fraudulence, as it apparently wasn’t designed to deceive people) are given in a very nice article by the historian Charles Freeman that just appeared in History Today, “The origins of the shroud of Turin.” (It’s free online.) I recommend that you read it, as it’s a fascinating summary of what we know about the shroud.

The other reasons for fakery are these:

  • The shroud is covered with gesso (calcium carbonate; ground-up chalk), which was used as a ground for painting. If it was the miraculous imprint of Jesus on a burial shroud, there would be no reason for the gesso.
  • [ . . . ]
  • Finally, the image changed over the year. In 1355 to at least 1559, Jesus was naked, with his hands covering his genitals. But in 1578, as Freeman notes, reproductions show it with a loincloth over Jesus’s groin and butt. Clearly there were some prudes, possibly the Bishop of Milan, who were distressed at the exposure of the Saviour’s bum.  The loincloth later disappeared, though there’s still a white patch on the Shroud showing where it was.
      Coyne summarizes the criticism of the carbon dating based on a single article,

 a recent news article by Inés San Martin on the Catholic Crux website


Other scientists, however, believe those results could be off by centuries, pointing to the possibility of bacterial contamination of the cloth. They note, for instance, that burial shrouds for Egyptian pharaohs sometimes test to centuries later than their known age for precisely that reason

Then Coyne lets loose:

In view of the multifarious evidence, the Church really should say that it was a medieval painting that could not have been Jesus’s burial shroud. But they won’t do that; it would turn off the supplicants who think it’s real . . . .

[ . . . ]

Now why would the Popes keep making pilgrimages to something that’s just a painting?

Catholics must have their miracles, even in the face of counterevidence. Just once I’d like to hear the Church declare unequivocally that the Shroud is simply a painting from the 14th century or so. And I’d also like to hear them say that Adam and Eve weren’t the historical ancestors of all humanity. (Genetic studies have disproven a two-person ancestry.) But it will be a cold day in July (in Chicago) when that happens!

I don’t have a problem with Coyne when it comes to evolutionary biology or his criticism of ID. Coyne and I don’t share the same beliefs about the existence of God, but that’s okay. He is one of the New Atheism crowd like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and I can accept that and disagree amicably. But, Coyle as a scientist – come on now, Jerry, are you sure that the shroud is a painting?  You know this how?

Gesso?  Are you sure?  Who said so?

Wikified: Word of the Day

To Colin Berry goes the honor of having coined the Word of the Day. “PS,” he writes to a previous comment:

. . . While the main title is “Descent from the Cross” there’s an alternative one given: “Deposition of Christ”. Deposition into what? Into Joseph’s linen, obviously as shown in most of the accompanying images, yet curiously the text fails to make a single reference to the linen. I confess to finding myself totally wikified

And Colin found this wonderful gallery of 30 pictures of the Descent from the Cross in Wikipedia. And no, the word linen or a suitable synonym is not to be found. I, too, am wikified.


Paper Chase: A critical (Re)evaluation of the Shroud of Turin blood data by Kelly Kearse

There are only 109 charts in the PowerPoint

Barrie Schwortz also wrote in A Personal Report on the 2014 St. Louis Conference:

imageOne of my favorite conference papers was the special presentation by Kelly Kearse see photo at right) titled, “A Critical (Re)evaluation of the Shroud of Turin Blood Data.” After the death of Al Adler in 2000, and for more than a decade, no credible credible blood or DNA experts remained actively actively involved in Shroud research. Then, in 2012, Kelly Kearse came on the scene and published the first of his blood blood papers that year (we have published four more since). Not only has he brought us his expertise in this critical area of Shroud research, but equally as important is the amazing ability he brings to make these complex issues understandable to everyone. Perhaps it is because he now uses his Ph.D. to teach high school science and has to make the materials interesting and understandable to younger folks. In the end, I guess I liked his paper because I actually understood it! I also overheard Mark Borkan tell Kelly at the end of his talk that he had “…learned more about the blood in that 30 minute presentation than in all the personal conversations he had had directly with Al Adler.” Now that is a compliment!

Read A critical (Re)evaluation of the Shroud of Turin blood data: strength of evidence in the characterization of the bloodstains (Paper) and the PowerPoint Presentation. I didn’t recall that there were 109 charts. It was just too interesting to notice. Maybe he skipped a couple charts.

And what a pleasure it was to meet Kelly.

The Neutron Conference

imageBarrie Schwortz writes in A Personal Report on the 2014 St. Louis Conference:

So was it a great conference or only a good one? We do have the 2008 Columbus Conference (the last one held in America) to compare to, and there were some problems with this conference that did not occur in 2008. Probably the single biggest complaint by the attendees was the extremely full schedule each day, with 20 papers delivered on Friday and 17 on Saturday. This left virtually no time between presentations for any discussions or questions from the other attendees. In Ohio in 2008, fewer papers were presented and consequently, a Q & A session was scheduled once or twice during each day of the conference. In St. Louis, only one such session was scheduled for the entire event, on Saturday evening, and it did not begin until about 9:00 p.m. Considering that the presentations started that morning at 8:00 a.m. and only one hour each was allocated for lunch and dinner, the audience had already spent about 10 hours in the room that day before the Discussion Session even began! In spite of all that, thanks to the true dedication of the attendees, it was still one of the highlights of the entire conference.

In all fairness, I was not on the organizing committee that reviewed and selected the papers and not party to their decisions, but I am sure they simply wanted to include as many of the papers submitted to them as possible. Unfortunately, that made for some frustrating moments and a rather tiring event, but one that was certainly well worth the effort. To help mitigate the lack of discussion issue and address some of the criticisms that came afterwards, the organizers promptly added an interactive Discussion Forum page to their website where questions or comments could be posted and discussed with conference authors. Under the circumstances, I believe that was an excellent solution.

Neutron conference? Yep!

I was trying to wake up during breakfast on Sunday morning after only five hours of sleep, when I overheard the following remark from a nearby table: “I am suffering from an overdose of neutron radiation!” I actually laughed out loud and immediately wrote it down so I could remember it and share it here with you! This was obviously a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the large number of radiation related papers that had been presented at the conference over the previous two days. I thought it was a brilliant remark (or at least it seemed brilliant at 7:30 a.m.)!

Neutron conference?  Yep, squared!

[There was] a presentation on another radiation theory of image formation from Robert Rucker, in this case, claiming neutron radiation released from Jesus’ body during the Resurrection created the image. Naturally, this was well received by some in the audience, but not by everyone.

It was a bit too neutrony for my taste. But do read Barrie’s Personal Report on the Conference. There was much more to the conference.

Paper Chase: New paper by Jos Verhulst on Rubens’ Descent from the Cross

imageThe paper, The esoteric content of The Descent from the Cross (P.P.Rubens 1612; Our Lady’s Cathedral, Antwerp) – Part I has just been uploaded to The 22 page paper is interesting and richly illustrated:

Rubens depicts the retrievement of Christ’s body from the cross upon a white shroud. A shroud is mentioned in the gospels, but only in connection with Christ’s tomb (John 19:40; 20:5-8). The scene of the descent of the cross is not described in the New Testament. Rubens was a devote christian. He knew his bible. The question arises why he so conspicuously placed a shroud at the core of his Descent from the Cross.

Contemplating the overall stage set on the painting, we notice that the outline of the shroud with the lifeless Christ seems to extend along the second diagonal of the painting (from top right to bottom left). The eight characters surrounding the shroud appear to be disposed along some oval or ellipse-like loop. The ellipse that seems to waver within the scene can indeed be drawn (figure 4) and it possesses some surprising properties.

Click on the above image to see an enlarged version.

This is interesting:

Horoscopes are embedded in many of Rubens’ religious paintings. He was acquainted with a rather elaborated Christian chronology that, apparently, was transmitted throughout the ages and that goes back to the gospels (especially the gospel of John). As infuriating as the idea might seem, a current of underground teaching did indeed exist in Christianity from its very beginning and it played a major role in the history of Christianity and in Christian art. Chronological data are encoded in the gospels, especially in John. According to esoteric tradition, Christ’s death and resurrection happened on Friday, April 3, 33 AD, and Sunday, April 5, 33 AD (Julian calendar), respectively.

FYI:  The Descent from the Cross (Rubens) in Wikipedia

Paper Chase: The origin of Rogers’ Raes and C14 samples by Thibault Heimburger

In view of the suggestion yesterday in a paper by Giorgio Bracaglia that The Raes samples that Rogers used had been switched it seems like a good time to examine the St. Louis presentation by Thibault Heimburger, The origin of Rogers’ Raes and C14 samples along with his PowerPoint Presentation.

Here is a chart that addresses that very point:


Here is the concluding PP chart from Thibault’s talk:


*The paper at HSG has been locked up with a password. Apparently and unfortunately, it was not supposed to have been released.

New December 2014 update to Many St. Louis papers

imageThis latest update to is a big one, particularly because of the the new St. Louis Conference page which already includes 36 papers and presentations.

Let’s do the ten-thousand view first. Later, we can pick and pull on some specifics and maybe examine each and every paper one at a time.

The easiest thing for you to do is to access the Late Breaking Website News: Updated December 1, 2014. Then from the top read down the page until you arrive at the a headline dated November 6.  That’s it; everything below that is old news.

I noticed some things, in particular:

1) First of all there is the new St. Louis Conference page. I imagine this will be the focus for most of us.

2) There is the wonderful news about SEAM’s new home. See Status Update on the New Mexico Shroud of Turin Museum in this blog.

3) I noticed Barrie mentioning “a growing trend by some Shroud researchers to post their papers and articles on, a website that provides a forum for researchers to publish their own work online.”

There was this warning from Barrie: “Just remember that many of these have not withstood the scrutiny of peer review so any claims they make or conclusions they draw have probably not been verified scientifically.”

Fair enough. That is true. But given the state of what sometimes passes for peer review these days with the many new and sometimes predatory open access and vanity journals, I’m not sure it is a big deal.  See:

It also raises a big question; is a conference paper a peer reviewed paper? I think many people think so. I don’t.