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Important Comment

February 16, 2015

A doddle, which stretches no-one’s credibility!

imageDaveb of Wellington, New Zealand, writes:

Whether 3:1 herringbone, Z spun is characteristic of 1st century Palestine or not is irrelevant, in view of trade caravans. The Persians were well-advanced in making large carpets of intricate design by the 5th c. BCE. The Pazyryk carpet is of intricate design, is 2.8m x 2.0m, and dates to 5th c. BCE. If Iranians could produce intricate designs of such size in 5th c. BCE presumably in wool, then anyone else can produce a 3:1 herring-bone weave, 4.0m x 2.0m, Z twist, 1st c. in linen. A doddle, which stretches no-one’s credibility!

Daveb was responding to David Mo who had written:

Linen, 3:1 herringbone and Z-spun is not characteristic of Palestine fabrics. But there is a similar fabric in Victoria and Albert Museum. Full stop.

My response to David Mo: Who knows!

Linen certainly was in use in Palestine. Over the years I have read or listened to all manner of arguments for authenticity and against authenticity because of the Z twist or the 3 over 1 herringbone pattern.

Daveb of Wellington put it well in saying that these characteristic are, “ irrelevant, in view of trade caravans.”

Note:  "The Camel Train" by Emile Rouergue -  1855.  It is a photograph of an out of copyright image.

  1. February 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Bravo, Dave.

  2. daveb of wellington nz
    February 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Dan. I had a slight senior moment in making the comment, the Shroud is of course 4.34m x 1.09m, not 4m x 2m, but I stand by the comment, the complexity of weaving and the dimensions of the Pazyryk in 5th c. BCE were a surprise to me.

    A quick reference with an illustration can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_carpet

    Article quote: “The exceptional Pazyryk carpet was discovered in 1949 in an archaeological excavation in the Pazyryk Valley, in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. The carpet was found in the grave of a Scythian prince. Radiocarbon testing indicated that the Pazyryk carpet was woven in the 5th century BC. This carpet is 283 by 200 cm (approximately 9.3 by 6.5 ft) and has 36 symmetrical knots per cm² (232 per inch²). The advanced technique used in the Pazyryk carpet indicates a long history of evolution and experience in weaving. It is considered the oldest known carpet in the world. Its central field is a deep red color and it has two wide borders, one depicting deer and the other horsemen.”

    Of particular significance is “… The advanced technique used in the Pazyryk carpet indicates a long history of evolution and experience in weaving”. The inference has to be that complex weaves of comparable dimensions in the Middle East were firmly established even well before the 5th c. BCE, and it would seem a small step from wool to linen.

  3. Thibault HEIMBURGER
    February 16, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    It is true that, up to now, no 3:1 herringbone (which is not technically similar to 2:1 or 4:1 according to Vial), Z spun, large linen fabric from the Roman period has been found in the Palestinian area.

    Nevertheless, several fabrics have been found in this area or neighboring countries which have one or two of these fundamental characteristics.
    – Long and large fabrics. Like the TS we have many examples of fabrics woven “by the kilometer”.
    – Z twist: it is true that it is not characteristic of the Palestinian area, nevertheless “although quite rarely, LINEN threads with a Z TWIST have been mentioned at Palmyra and in the Judean Desert” (G. Vial with references).
    – The 3:1 herringbone twill: Damask cloth, for example those of Palmyra, Treves, Conthey, Ribeauville, cologne, Holborough are ‘derivatives’ of 3:1 twill butt they are in silk.

    Diana Fulbright’s paper (thanks OK) is also interesting:
    http://www.acheiropoietos.info/proceedings/FulbrightAkeldamaWeb.pdf

    My Conclusion: although we have- to my knowledge- no example of a cloth (or a shroud) from the first century in the Middle-East with ALL of the characteristics of the TS, we can infer from the archaeological findings that there is no technical reason to rule out the TS as a first century fabric.
    Taking into account the technical characteristics, it was possible to make it in the first century CE, and
    taking into account the fact that Middle-east (including Jerusalem) was, during the Roman period, a crossroads of trade,
    I conclude that there is no technical nor historical reason to rule out the TS as an imported fine linen cloth (from Palmyra or Greece or Italy…).

    On the other side, there are, up to now (to my knowledge), only two documented 3:1 linen herringbone from the medieval period.
    The first one is cited by Vial: ” The only herringbone in linen so far analysed and published is that cited in note 10. It is very LATE SECOND-HALF OF THE 16TH century- and much simpler than that of Turin. The number of threads per centimeters in its main warp is practically half of the Turin count ..”
    It is a painting of the”last supper” (attributed to Martin de Vos) on linen with a 3:1 herringbone.

    And the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum cloth [ref. no. No. 7027-1860]. (1350-1400)
    http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O129528/printed-linen-unknown/

    Searching for “linen textile”, “herringbone” etc ..on the search engine of the V&A museum, I could not find any kind of European medieval linen fabric similar to that of the the TS (except that quoted above)

    Undoubtedly, from a technical point of view, a medieval forger could make a 3:1 linen fabric in order to use it as a ‘ground’ for painting etc.
    But the fact is that we have only one example and this example has nothing to do with the TS (block printed linen etc.).

    How is it that we have no example of a medieval painting on a 3:1 herringbone linen sheet?

    I would like to quote G. Vial:
    ” If one takes into account the three constitutive elements of a textile- the structure, the primary material, and the reductions of warp and weft- one must acknowledge that the Shroud of Turin is truly ‘incomparable’.”

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