Three Comments Promoted, Seven or So Reasons to Believe the Shroud is Authentic

imageLet’s start with the third comment, one by Hugh Farey:

I also agree with Daveb. He summarises the evidence that counters a medieval date for the shroud admirably, and uses, entirely reasonably, words like “ambiguous” and “unproven”, and explains that he is persuaded of authenticity. I, on the other hand, am not persuaded of authenticity. I think that’s fine. The Shroud will not become authentic, or medieval, on the basis of what Daveb or I am persuaded, and it is good that together we can work towards removing some of the ambiguity of the evidence, whichever way it leads.

The “also agree” is agreeing with John Klotz who packed it into six words:

As usual, Daveb says it all.


And what Daveb said:

Until proper representative sampling is carried out in accordance with a valid sampling protocol, the validity of the results from the single grab sample in 1988 must remain ambiguous and debated, whatever the cause might be of the mismatch from an earlier date, in view of other indications that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. These indications may include: 1) Fanti’s mechanical testing suggesting the possibility of a 1st century date; 2) Historic arguments that the Shroud was in Constantinople in 1204; 3) Indications from the Hungarian Pray manuscript that distinctive features of the Shroud were known in 1195, prior to the alleged C14 dating; 4) Forensic arguments that the image is that of a real crucified person who suffered the punishments reported in the gospels including a crown of thorns and percussio wound to the chest; 5) the otherwise inexplicable cause of the image; 6) the unsmeared blood stains; 7) Presence of Jerusalem limestone; Etc, etc!

The assertion of homogeneity of the cloth remains unproven, in light of reputable assertions of occasional mending, and in that case a single grab sample is insufficient, even though it might be a routine practice for testing of other cloths (e.g. mummy wrappings) for which there would be no cause to presume mending. Rogers, whatever shortcomings there might be in his chemistry knowledge, and also reputed to be an agnostic, was the chemist with the greatest familiarity with Shroud chemistry. His investigations persuaded him that there were anomalies indicative of highly skilled mending.

Should perchance representative sampling demonstrate that the single grab sample was in fact adequately representative of the whole, then some other explanation for this peculiar result might then have to be considered. The forensic arguments, together with the enigmatic cause of the image, seem to me to be particularly persuasive of authenticity.

I’m not sold on numbers 1 and 6, but I am sold overall.  And I think that the historic argument is much more than Constantinople in 1204. I find the Hymn of Pearl very persuasive, for instance.

That Rogers might have been agnostic doesn’t weigh on me. And if it did, it might impress on me a measure of objectivity. However, Joan Rogers, Ray’s wife, has publically stated in the past that they were both Protestants.

Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things

Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned
anywhere in the Critical Summary.

clip_image001Bob Rucker (pictured) posted what follows as a comment last evening. I have added a link to a previous comment by Bob and some links to more information.

It is my opinion that enough evidence has accumulated that we should now realize that there was no invisible repair/reweave in the C14 sample area, and that the solution to the C14 dating problem is what I presented at the St. Louis conference in 2014. I showed that MCNP nuclear analysis calculations indicate that if 3.0 x 10^18 neutrons are emitted uniformly in the body while it was in the shroud in the tomb, then three mysteries related to C14 dating are solved:

1) Neutron absorption in N14 in the shroud creates new C14 in the shroud that is identical to the original C14 in the shroud so that the C14 date is shifted from 30 AD to 1260 AD. The dating laboratories, not realizing that the shroud had been through a neutron absorption event, would have misinterpreted their result by assuming the wrong C14 decay curve.

2) The results reported by the three dating laboratories were not in good agreement with each other. Statistical analysis indicates only a 5% chance that their results were within their measurement uncertainty, so that the differences were probably (95% probability?) caused by something. Plotting their results as a function of the distance from the end of the shroud indicates that there is a slope or gradient of 42 to 57 years per cm across their data depending on the sampling done in Tucson. This slope in the C14 dates from the three laboratories agrees with the MCNP nuclear analysis calculations, which calculate that a uniform neutron emission in the body causes a neutron distribution in the tomb which produces just this range in the C14 dates across the sample region, so that the disagreement between the laboratory values is the result of the slope of the neutron distribution at the sample location resulting from homogeneous emission of neutrons in the body.

image3) These same MCNP calculations predict that a piece of cloth placed on the side bench about a foot in front of the back bench where the body in the shroud was located would date to about 700 AD. This location in the tomb is a natural location for the person working on the body in the tomb to lay the face/head cloth. According to tradition, the Sudarium of Oviedo is the face/head cloth of Jesus. It was C14 dated to 700 AD, in excellent agreement with the MCNP results.

We should realize the importance of not making the common a priori presupposition of naturalism, so that we not automatically rule out anything that is beyond the laws of science as we currently understand them, so that we can follow the scientific evidence where it leads. When this is done, I believe that the scientific evidence indicates that the solution to the enigma of the shroud is that a burst of radiation occurred within the body that did three things: 1) It caused the image, perhaps either by protons or ultraviolet based on experiments. 2) It thrust the blood off of the body, heated it turning it into a liquid, and thrust it against and into the fibers of the shroud, and 3) It caused the shift in the C14 date from 30 to 1260 AD and the slope in the C14 dates as discussed above. Bob Rucker

I’ve noticed that as you age, you learn that when the morning coffee isn’t yet ready, the mind wanders somewhere between wakefulness and wackiness. Hey, I thought in this state, what does the Critical Summary have to say about this. Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned anywhere in the Critical Summary. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was too early in the morning to find such stuff.  But then I did find this interesting paragraph on page 82:

Neutron Flux: In the same issue of Nature that reported the 1988 radiocarbon testing results there was an important letter to the editor. This letter rings out today with possibly more force than when It was first written. It causes one again to ponder and adopt a position of caution. The correspondence was with Thomas J. Phillips of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University. Phillips suggested that the Shroud might be a fundamentally altered fabric with respect to its C-14 content due its possible witness to some unexplained event, possibly in the tomb of Jesus. He hypothesized that such an unexplained event, which itself cannot be the subject of scientific inquiry, may have had an effect on the Shroud that can be studied scientifically. The unknown event may have generated a flux of neutrons that could have skewed the C-14 / C-12 ratio of the linen doth…..

I met Bob in St. Louis. Nice guy. Undeniably brilliant. Maybe he is on to something. But I’m just not there yet in being able to accept this or any other hypothesis, at least when it comes to how the image was formed. To restate with a bit of on-the-fly-rewrting of what I’ve said before, I say …

With regard to the image I’m stuck in the “it is inexplicable” camp.

You don’t like that? Well then you can consider Bob Rucker’s radiation, John Jackson’s cloth falling through a mechanically transparent body whatever that means, Tipler’s sphaleron quantum tunneling, Giulio Fanti’s corona discharge, Paolo Di Lazzaro’s ultraviolet (with or without the cloth falling through the body, Rogers’ Maillard reactions (quite natural if it could work but requiring every bit as much of a miraculous manipulation to produce such an image as any of the other byproduct of a miracle hypotheses would), Charles Freeman’s it’s-not-a-fraud painting (if STURP and Colin Berry are wrong) and Colin Berry’s fraud-by-Maillard if everyone else is wrong (which is not unreasonable to suppose).  Or think of something else.

As for the C14 question, I’m also stuck in the “so far inexplicable” camp.

Here are some resources for understanding and thinking about Bob’s ideas.

Another Comment by Bob Rucker: Reaction to Ray Rogers’ Paper on Radiation

Abstract for the Following Paper

MCNP Analysis of Neutrons Released from Jesus’ Body in the Resurrection (54 Slides)

Notes for the 54 Slides

Video of the Presentation in St. Louis (1 Hour)

Splish Splash

Thomas writes:

The Shroud is just so mysterious! So compelling!

Lying in the bath tonight with my 187m tall, 200 lb frame (similar to the Shroud Man) I jiggled around with different lying postures and thought this:

Surely a medieval artisan, if creating the Shroud image, would have shown Jesus with legs together and flat, if portraying the image of a dead and buried Christ …eg. like this:


The apparently bent legs – amongst other things – just make so little sense in the medieval artisan theory!


No Closer to the Truth Because of Simony

Despite whatever encouragement we got from Bruno Barberis in St. Louis …

Comment Promoted

imageDaveb tells by way of a comment to Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin that us that he perceives a different aspect of the story. There may be a lot of truth to what he thinks.

… I suspect that the good people of Turin may still be locked into a medieval mind-set concerning their relic. It generates tourist dollars for their hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, tour guides, and even perhaps the occasional Fiat. But only so long as the mystery or enigma remains. Bring in the scientists, let them study the micrographs, and the truth may then be revealed, and it’s no longer the mystery that it was. The fear is that the cloth may be proved to be not what it appears to be. Goodbye to the tourist dollars. Goodbye to the worshippers.

But what if indeed it is the burial cloth of the Christ? We can get no closer to the answer, because of this simony. Millions are deprived of knowing the truth, all because of the lame excuse that the scientists are too disputative, too skeptical, too arrogant or too whatever. So likely as not, so long as the fear remains, we will never know the truth.

Despite whatever encouraging words we might have heard from Bruno Barberis in St. Louis on the future of shroud research, I’m not seeing any reason to be encouraged. Dave may have why.

A year ago, almost to the day, I wrote in "Just the facts, ma’am.":

Therefore, it was refreshing to hear Bruno Barberis, in his paper, The Future Of Research On The Shroud, call for re-examination of factual information. Here are a few of items that I quickly jotted down:

  • Iron concentrations at different places on the shroud, image and non-image areas, bloodstains, etc.
  • Presence of proteins at different places on the shroud
  • Oxidation and dehydration origins and characteristics
  • Aragonite traces
  • Pollen identification
  • Confirm that there is no image under the bloodstains
  • New and expanded analysis of the bloodstains

My notes are inadequate, but you get the idea. Oh, by-the-way, Barberis pointed out that the STURP results should be the starting point. In other words . . .

And Professor Barberis didn’t hold out much hope that this would happen soon. “I’m not the pope,” he said. And he doubted that he would be the next pope.

Your thoughts?

Beg Your Pardon (Comment Promoted)

Solid scholarship never begs the question, and scrupulously avoids terminology that essentially begs the question.There are no legitimate grounds – scientific, historical or biblical – for describing the TS as a “burial” shroud. In fact it’s best not described as a shroud at all. It’s the Lirey/Turin body-imprinted envelope.

— Colin Berry in a comment to Barrie Schwortz,
Colin Berry and Some Good Reporting in Fort Wayne

imageBut “body-imprinted envelop” is okay?

Here is what Colin writes in full:

Let’s avoid a lot of futile talking at cross purposes. I maintain that the Shroud is the realization of a thought experiment, carried out in the 14th century, freely admitting that requires having to make some qualifying assumptions. That leaves you or anyone else free to question those qualifying assumptions if wishing to undermine and/or demolish my case. What you cannot do is come back with pro-authenticity thinking that makes its own qualifying assumptions and imagine they have any relevance to my medieval thought experiment scenario, with incomplete knowledge of actual historical events, and based instead on an imaginative reconstruction of those events, accurate or otherwise (probably the latter).

But there’s a further sting in the tail, as I have flagged up on the News Sentinel article. The description of the Shroud as a “burial” cloth goes beyond the biblical record. It is based on making a number of qualifying assumptions, all presupposing authenticity, and then uses that label “burial cloth” essentially to promote authenticity via the back door, so to speak. That back door is then left open so as to admit further fanciful speculation, requiring still more qualifying assumptions e.g. that the superficial body image could only have been formed by miraculous flash of radiation at the instant of resurrection (overlooking to mention that the image thickness corresponds roughly with that of the primary cell wall of the flax bast fibre).

The description of the TS as a “burial shroud” is an egregious example of “begging the question”. There is no greater academic sin one can commit, short of downright fraud, than to create and promote lines of argument that “beg the question”, ones that carelessly or shamelessly create a closed loop between preconceptions and conclusions.

I can see why sindonologists want the TS to be seen as a burial shroud, and do NOT want it to be seen as having any transport role from cross to tomb – that creating all kinds of problems re stereo-register or lack thereof between blood and body image. But I’m not buying into any of that. Solid scholarship never begs the question, and scrupulously avoids terminology that essentially begs the question. There are no legitimate grounds – scientific, historical or biblical – for describing the TS as a “burial” shroud. In fact it’s best not described as a shroud at all. It’s the Lirey/Turin body-imprinted envelope.

That back door is NOT then left open so as to admit further fanciful speculation. What a bunch of begging the question. I have never accepted the idea that the shroud image was formed by radiation.

Is the Shroud Really the Most Studied Whatever in History?

imageCharles Freeman, in a comment, reacts to the the first sentence in the description of the new book by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi which reads, “The Turin Shroud is the most important and studied relic in the world.”

… We often seem to read this but there has been actually a great deal more intensive research directly on the fabric and images ( writings,inks,etc,) of the Dead Sea Scrolls than of the Shroud and it has been undertaken by top- level specialists in the relative disciplines. As the recent report on the Scrolls in Minerva, the international journal of art and archaeology, noted’ no other set of documents has been subjected to so many analytical techniques’. The main difference ,of course, is that the Scrolls, after a poor start, have been open to direct specialist examination with increasingly sophisticated equipment.

I would certainly argue that we have learned more from the Scrolls than we have from the Shroud.

And, if I remember correctly, Bill Meacham once told me that he thought that Ötzi, the Hauslabjoch Iceman Mummy – was it that or something else – may be the most studied historical artifact.

Okay, point taken. But then again, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ötzi are not exactly relics if we insist on being precise. But then again we often hear that the shroud is the most studied artifact in history and maybe that isn’t so.

Charles Freeman on Tetradiplon and the Video on

imageHe wrote in a comment a few hours ago:

… Someone please tell Ian Wilson so that he can revise his text for any new edition of the Shroud. This should go along with his correction of the illustration of tetradiplon as you cannot translate it as ’doubled in four’ alongside an illustration showing it doubled to make eight ( alas a mistake repeated in the video that Barrie has just posted).

Better leave out the tetradiplon issue altogether as it only refers to the cloth BEFORE Christ wiped his face with it and there is no indication in the text that it was refolded as such afterwards. Having ploughed my way through 150 examples of Greek words where tetra was added, the most likely translation is doubled four times- which is exactly the way they folded the Parthenon cloth as seen in the Parthenon frieze in The British Museum. But that would cut through the face of the Man on the Shroud and so would destroy Wilson’s argument. Better just to edit all this out to save Wilson further loss of credibility among the Byzantine experts.

Click on the image or follow this link: to see the video. It’s pretty short.

Important Comment

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.

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

Samuel Johnson Meets His Match


imageIn a comment, Colin wrote:

It is unhelpful and unconstructive to judge the TS as a choice between authentic or non-authentic. It’s like deciding whether a stuffed swan one is about to see in a natural history museum is black or white – it could be either.

The rational and constructive way of viewing it is to ask whether the TS is a contact or non-contact scorch.

If it’s a contact scorch, then it’s fairly certain the image is man-made, using a heated template to imprint the image (which will of course be a negative, explaining what might otherwise seem peculiar at least from an artistic standpoint, being much more photogenic centuries later when Secondo Pia-era photography and light/dark reversal became practicable).

If it’s a non-contact scorch, then all options are open, pro-authenticity ones included, radiocarbon dating notwithstanding.

But while there are groups who promote their own preferred non-contact scenarios (laser beams, corona discharges, sugar-seeking putrefaction vapours, earthquake-releases of radioactive emissions etc) few if any of them are willing to generalize and say it’s a non-contact process that is being proposed, and that the image characteristics are consistent with, and can be modelled in the laboratory as a non-contact process with a qualitatively-different outcome from the simple, uncomplicated man-made contact one I favour.

In short, we see systematic evasion of the scientific essentials, the latter based on model-testing and evaluation. Not a pretty sight.

Some folk’s thinking might be described as pre-Renaissance. Indeed, there may well be a hankering for pre-Renaissance certainties, when everyone, the unwashed, uneducated classes especially, knew their place and did not dare to question their social and intellectual superiors.


So, is Colin redefining the word scorch to mean anything that “resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself* (or perhaps of an impurity coating on the microfibrils)?  Is that fair? Samuel Johnson did define the word as also meaning, “to be dried up.”

Are we to assume then, when Colin says all options are open for non-contact scorches, he means to allow, in addition to all-natural chemical processes, scorches produced from the imagined energetic or sub-atomic particle byproducts of miraculous events?  Is that fair?

Does ‘all options are open’ extend to the appearance of a scorch that might have miraculously appeared on the cloth without any chemical process taking place? By without process I mean something that was not at some time partly formed or forming as we might imagine water changing into wine in steps. By without process I mean without heat or chemical reaction. By without process I mean without the passage of time, as if a changed visual state could have been photographed by an unimaginably fast camera in only two frames, visually not there and then visually there.

If we are thus open to miraculous images that seem to be non-contact scorches and might not have involved a formation process, must we not also be open to miraculous images that seem to be contact scorches and might not have involved a formation process?

Frankly, if we allow for miracles, we are beyond the limits of science. I don’t see any difference between contact and non-contact in this context.

It would be fair to argue that I threw miracles into the mix and that was never Colin’s intent. Fair enough. But that doesn’t solve anything, does it? Are not the investigators of UV, for instance, contemplating miraculous causation in some way or other?  Is there a philosopher in the house? David Hume, where are you?

While I was writing this, Colin clarified his position of contact vs. non-contact. It is helpful, so here it is:

I use “contact scorch” to indicate there is no imaging except where template is in direct physical atom-to-atom contact with hot metal, ceramic, whatever. If there’s the slightest air gap, then there’s essentially no scorching, though a slight yellowing might just be possible from hot convected gases.

There are those who maintain that the TS image includes parts of the subject that could not have been in contact with linen. They have yet to convince this sceptic. All the important parts, i.e. raised relief, could or would be accessible, especially if linen were draped over template (whether bas relief or fully 3D) and then manually and forcibly impressed in and around important contours. The places most likely to get ‘missed’ are precisely those that appear as pale poorly or non-imaged areas on the TS (eye sockets, around the crossed hands, the gaps or even curvature between fingers etc.).

I use bas relief to imply something like the head on a coin with a little raised relief but much less in relative terms than the real live or dead subject, or a fully 3D representation of the latter (statue, bust etc). The wiki definition is OK seems OK for starters:

“Bas-relief is a type of sculpture that has less depth to the faces and figures than they actually have, when measured proportionately (to scale). This technique retains the natural contours of the figures, and allows the work to be viewed from many angles without distortion of the figures themselves.”

I believe the face (at least) of the TS image was imprinted from a bas relief (as incidentally did Prof Luigi Garlaschelli). The sharpish break in image continuity between cheek and hair on both sides is the give-away, suggesting there to have been a groove or trough in the template such that no imaging was possible in that gap. The idea that the break is just a banding effect in the linen, that the ‘missing’ image is retrievable with the right ‘enhancement’ with computer software etc, simply does not stand up to close critical scrutiny. That knob-twiddling-solves-all view is an example of what is known technically in boring old mainstream science as “pure tosh”.

* A Summary of STURP’s Conclusions

Comment Promoted: Thibault Heimburger on Rogers’ Discoveries

clip_image001Thibault writes in a comment to 50/50 : Colin Berry’s Most Outlandish Proposal. Comments follow by anoxie, Charles Freeman and Colin Berry. Join in there or here. This was just too important a comment to not be at the posting level:

. . . Actually, all of Rogers’ discoveries (the strongly anomalous cotton content, the dye and, last but not least, the vanillin tests) were performed on several threads coming from the Raes sample adjacent to the C14 samples. Those Raes threads were given to STURP (in fact Rogers) on the order of Card. Ballestrero himself. No secret here.

Since the Raes sample and the C14 samples necessarily shared at least some threads, Rogers thought that the entire Raes/C14 corner was not representative of the bulk of the TS. However, as a true scientist, he wanted to verify specifically this point.

Later, he could obtain 2 tiny pieces of threads coming from the center of the C14 dated sample. He could confirm the presence of dye as well as the very high amount of cotton in these 2 threads. To my knowledge, for some reasons (lack of time or smallness of the samples or..) he did not perform the test for the vanillin on these C14 pieces of thread.

Shortly, Rogers’s discoveries re the anomalous characteristics of the Raes/C14 corner came from the detailed study of an arguably representative genuine sample (Raes piece 1). He confirmed them on 2 small pieces from the center of the C14 sample. Those pieces were truly from the center of the C14 sample and there is a clear “chain of custody”, although unpublished for understandable reasons.
One can discuss endless each of his observations but taking them together they point to the only scientifically acceptable contestation of the C14 results.

I agree that it’s difficult to accept knowing the opposite conclusions of the textile experts (F.Testore, G. Vial and M. Flury-Lemberg).
But read carefully what follows:
My friend journalist Brice Perrier, after a detailed investigation wrote a book in 2011: “Qui a peur du Saint Suaire ?” (in French, Ed. Florent Massot, 2011). This is simply the best serious investigation that includes many interviews of most people (pro and cons) involved in the TS.

He wrote (p.126):
“I went to see one who was recommended to me by both archaeologists and Lyon textile museum experts as the best expert in ancient fabrics, Christophe Moulherat.”
Brice told me that, at the time, Moulherat did not know that the C14 samples came from a single location rather than from three different locations as he thought. He was shocked and added (p.242): “for this kind of fabric, I would have at least chosen to test separately warp and weft threads coming from at least two different locations”

Brice: “I asked him if there were actually invisible repairs.
[Moulherat’s answer]:
‘No, they can be seen if you have the means to see them. Just do a thorough analysis. But for that, you must have access to the fabric and do not look to the naked eye because there you’ll see nothing (..).You need microscopes.
If one has tampered threads with the desire to hide something, you have to think about that before and you have to be equipped to see that. Otherwise, if the repair is well done you can miss it. You really need a detailed analysis’.

G. Vial and F. Testore are/were beyond any doubt competent textile experts but the conditions of the C14 sampling were far from those necessary to detect a repair.

Comment Promoted: A Misalignment Between the Left and Right Shoulders

imageThomas, in a comment, wonders:

. . . I’ve noticed the past few days that there appears to be a misalignment between the left and right shoulders / neck region. In particular, one side is lower than the other as if there was a dislocation. This corresponds with the arm positions on the frontal image ie. the right shoulder is set lower, as is the right arm.

This would seem to be an argument in favour of the image being generated from a real human (dead) body.


Let the Experiments Begin

Hugh Farey writes as a comment:

image“Edgerton linen” was hand-produced by a Kate Edgerton, from plant to woven cloth, and then, much to Ray Rogers’s chagrin, ironed, which made it go yellow, so he soaked it in hydrogen peroxide to bleach it. He hoped, and was probably correct, that this had no effect on his subsequent experiments. Although the linen is descibed as prepared “following the methods used in the Near East in Roman times,” no details are given in “A Chemist’s Perspective on the Shroud of Turin.” I have acquired some quite stiff unbleached linen, however, and am prepared to give it a try, using leaves from soapwort mashed in water as a source of saponin, and commercial dextrin (a readily available water-soluble glue) as the starch. I also have ammonia and urea. The problem is “freshly dead” animals. The trouble here is to acquire enough for sufficient repeatable experimentation. However, after asking around, I find that people who keep snakes as pets feed them on frozen mice, which are available quite cheaply in bulk. This looks promising, so I’m preparing an appropriate protocol for just the experiments you suggest!

imageIncidentally, although my linen feels quite stiff and heavy, it has an areal density of only 16mg/cm2, which is considerably less than the Shroud, which therefore appears to be considerably thicker than I had previously imagined. As such, I think it will be much easier to produce discolouration on one side of the cloth only. Other investigators (Thibault? Colin?) might be able to comment further on this, and readers of this blog might like to weigh a bed-sheet themselves to confirm how flimsy it is compared to the Shroud.

Comment Promoted: Are the Quad Mosaics Meaningless?

“Yer gotta larf, han’t yer…,” writes Hugh

And because he may be right.
And because the worst thing any of us can do
is promote authenticity or inauthenticity, on questionable information.

On the other hand . . . well, let’s be sure, now and thanks for the opportunity.

clip_image001Hugh commented in Cat Among the Pigeons:

The six quad mosaic images are at, close to the bottom. Two of them are enlargements of others. Three of the remaining four show exactly the same colouration: namely a pale blue upper, bright yellow middle and orange base, with green lower left-hand corners. The fourth has a blue central smudge which does not extend as far as the other three.

In his article “Some Details about the STURP Quad Mosaic Images” ( Barrie Schwortz quotes Jean Lorre, as follows:

“There was a strong illumination brightness falloff from the centre. This was eliminated by dividing each image by a flat field.”

Well it wasn’t, was it? Each of the images is brighter in the centre than it is around the edges. The flat field process may have diminished the brightness falloff, but it didn’t eliminate it, and that’s important. What Lorre is clearly explaining is what was hoped, or expected, not what actually happened. Let’s go on.

“We wanted to enhance the colour to reveal subtle colours which might betray spatial variations in chemical composition. […] we greatly exaggerated the colour saturations while preserving the original hues and intensities.”

A noble idea, but it didn’t work. Lorre wishes so much that it had, that he loses all touch with his own images in his next sentence.

“These colour images should be interpreted as a chemical composition map.”

Shall we take him at his word? Shall we agree that the blue bands across the top of three of the quad images really represent different chemicals from the yellow and orange below them? What might these blue bands be? They may be found across the front of the thighs, the head, and the buttocks. Shall we?

Or shall we agree that the illumination of the areas of the shroud by the photographic lights are responsible, and the colours have nothing to do with the chemical composition of the shroud at all.

Oh, and the image described as “ultraviolet” by Rogers? It’s the shape of the patches which gives it away. It’s the one captioned Quad Mosaic Dorsal Legs, which shows the bloodstained feet at the top, and nearly reaches the buttocks at the bottom. The camera zooms meaningfully into the bottom left hand corner of this image, apparently under the impression that it is looking at the medieval patching of the radiocarbon corner.

Yer gotta larf, han’t yer…

or cry!

Comment Promoted: Clarifying Details on the Reweave Theory Development

imageA telephone caller (it happens every now and then) suggested bringing a recent comment by Joe Marino to the forefront. “This is important information,” he said. I agree.

Joe had commented in Cat Among the Pigeons:

Some clarifications about the order and circumstances of the invisible reweave theory.

We did not start out with the Quad Mosaic photos when we first presented our theory in 2000. We had shown some experts photos that included a very high-quality photo of the C-14 area that’s in the excellent book by Gino Moretto (of the Shroud Museum in Turin) called Shroud Guide. It was only brought out in 2008 in the Chemistry Today article from 2008 and the presentation made at the Ohio Shroud conference that year.

Regarding the experts we showed it to, one was Thomas Ferguson & Co. Ltd, world-renowned makers of Double Damask Linen, another was Louis Harner of Albany International Research Company, and the third was European-trained weaver David Pearson, owner of the French Tailors in Columbus, Ohio, who was very familiar with the French invisible reweave technique. I will leave it to others to decide if the fact that they aren’t academics is significant.

Going back to the Quad Mosaic, there’s a very fine article on Barrie’s site about it at, with some important comments by the late Jean Lorre, an imaging expert from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“For Sure Someone is Lying Here” — Talk About Chumming the Comment Pool

clip_image001When O.K. wrote his comment to This may be the Shroud of Turin Story of the Year, I thought that this needed to be its own thread, fast. But it was New Years’ Eve. It can wait to morning. Okay the ball has dropped and I’m still awake. Here goes.

(No. Rebecca Hamilton is not the story of 2013. Fanti’s methods, rightly or wrongly were. Maybe we can get to the bottom of the Caltech story in 2014. That would be a great story of the year. Or do I hear a big groan?)

Okay, so, O.K. wrote:

You mention the weird, unverified, undocumented [claim] that a secret test was made of an unauthorised, unverified thread by a scientist improperly making use of an AMS machine out-of-hours, mysteriously coming up with two dates, 800 years apart, with an average of 600AD. I wish I knew more about it, but it says nothing about the regular process of C14 dating as a procedure, and still less about the conduct of the three official laboratories. If it suggests anything, it does not suggest a splice, but a 7th century Byzantine fake.

If you haven’t heard about this already, check this: (see “Caltech Responds To Benford/Marino Claims”).

Actually the story is repeated by several sources, for example Mark Antonacci’s Ressurrection of the Shroud as well as 1993 Zenon Ziółkowski book Spór o Całun Turyński. There were witnesses for that claim, and although Caltech and Rossman deny this took place, I hardly believe it. We can be certain one thing, FOR SURE SOMEONE IS LYING HERE!

Here for your “fair use” convenience is the bit from Barrie’s site, ca 2002.

Caltech Responds To Benford/Marino Claims

In my August 16, 2002 update (see below), I included several new Shroud papers by Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, as well as reprinting an article that had originally appeared in Il Messaggero, a major Rome newspaper. The Benford/Marino paper claimed that an unauthorized age dating of the Shroud of Turin took place in 1982, and stated that the work was done by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Il Messaggero article quoted Benford and Marino on this matter.

On October 1, 2002, I received an e-mail letter from Mr. Adam Cochran, the Intellectual Property Counsel of Caltech, which I am reprinting here in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Schwortz

I am writing to bring to your attention a number of misstatements that appear on your web site, regarding the involvement of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Caltech Professor George R. Rossman in unauthorized age-dating studies on threads from the Shroud of Turin. These statements are not true.

Specifically, under the heading "Late Breaking News," there is a report from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero in which the following text appears:

"In 1982 a thread of the Raes sample had already been dated with a radiocarbon method at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech (sic))."

Elsewhere on your site, there is a PDF file entitled:

"Textile Evidence Supports Skewed Radiocarbon Date of Shroud of Turin (by) M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino" which states:

"Unauthorized dating of Raes thread
Heller delivered the thread to the California Institute of Technology (CalTech (sic)) for dating by world-renowned mineralogist Dr. George R. Rossman . . . . Rossman cut the thread in half and, using what Adler described as Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTMS), dated each end of the thread separately. . . . Rossman found that the non-contaminated end of the thread dated to 200 AD while the starched end dated to 1200 AD. . . . . In a personal conversation with one of the authors (Benford), Rossman confirmed that he was, indeed, the person who carried out the 1982 C-14 testing on the Raes thread provided by Adler."

The truth is that Dr. Rossman has never worked on the Shroud of Turin (or threads from it), nor have members of his research group. He has never been involved in age-dating studies and has no expertise in the area. Furthermore, the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences has never had FTMS instruments. In fact, to my knowledge no one at Caltech has ever done 14-C age-dating work at the Institute. The interview alleged to have occurred between Dr. Rossman and the author of one of the articles, in fact, never happened.

We ask that you annotate the above mentioned Late Breaking News and Benford/Marino articles to indicate Caltech’s position by linking to this letter, which is posted on your site. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Adam Cochran
The Intellectual Property Counsel
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California 91125

After agreeing to publish the Caltech letter, I contacted Sue Benford and Joseph Marino and asked them to provide additional clarification of the claims that they made in their paper. This is their response:

On Sept. 12, 2002, p. 15, Il Messegaro (Rome, Italy) reported correspondence they had received from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) regarding a 1982 unauthorized dating of a thread from the Shroud of Turin. In the article, Caltech representatives argued that "Neither Prof. Rossman nor any other group of research on behalf of the Caltech have ever carried out a study on the Shroud or on a sample of thread taken from it." It is our understanding that Caltech has submitted a similar statement for posting on the website. As the discoverers of the details related to this testing, we would like to take this opportunity to respond to this statement with some facts.

The original source of our information about the California Institute of Technology’s test, was from former Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) chemist Dr. Alan Adler in an audiotaped interview between him and Mark Antonacci on 28 December 1988. This source is cited in our paper ( Not only does the tape reveal the institution performing the test, but also refers to Dr. Rossman as the person who did the testing. On the tape, Adler further describes Rossman as a leading expert in the niche area of "moon rocks." A review of Rossman’s publications on the Caltech website indicates several publications in this subject area; thus, confirming his identity (see below for a partial listing).

In order to obtain more information about the 1982 testing procedure and to verify Adler’s statements, we contacted Rossman by telephone on June 30, 2002. He acknowledged having done the 1982 age-dating test but quickly ended the conversation stating he wanted no further communication about the Shroud.

In addition to the audiotape of Adler’s interview, we also have the phone records documenting our two brief phone calls to Rossman’s home on the date specified. Further, immediately following these two calls, we talked to Barrie Schwortz and relayed the specifics of the Rossman communication. In addition, the portion of the audiotape describing the 1982 testing was played for Dr. William Meacham, who asked for verification of the details in our paper.

It is important to note that Caltech has refuted our claims without first attempting to contact us seeking verification of our evidence. Should any of the Caltech representatives, including Dr. Rossman, wish to hear the audiotape in question, we would be happy to play it for them. We hope this helps to clarify the facts in this situation.

M. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino

Partial listing of Rossman’s lunar ("moon rock") publications:

Bell PM, Mao HK, Rossman GR (1975) Absorption spectroscopy of ionic and molecular units in crystals and glasses. In Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy of Lunar and Terrestrial Minerals, C. Karr, Jr., ed., Academic Press, New York, 1-38.

Rossman GR (1977) Optical absorption spectra of major minerals in Luna 24 sample 24170 (abstract). Lunar Science Institute, Conference on Luna 24, Houston, Texas. December. Abs.: Conference on Luna 24, Lunar Science Institute, 156-159.

Taylor LA, Rossman GR, Qu Q (1995) Where has all the lunar water gone? (abstract). Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. March, 1995.

Posted October 15, 2002

Building A House on .Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

imageWe do not order our lives by proof
beyond reasonable doubt.

— John Klotz

Earlier this morning, Fr. Duncan (+Dunk) responded to daveb who had made the point in a comment that nobody knows how the image was formed (see I agree. I agree. I agree. Mostly.). He wrote:

In one form or another it is the most used argument for the Holy Shroud’s authenticity: nobody knows how the image was formed therefore it is real.

Well, hmm! I would probably say, since we are talking about authenticity, nobody knows how the image was forged or faked or artistically created. And then yes, I would agree, the argument is used frequently. Philosophically, I don’t like it. We are voicing classic Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance). Nonetheless, I find myself using the argument with the shroud. It seems true.

In 1963, John Walsh wrote:

The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Christ in existence…or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever products of the human mind and hand on record…it is either one or the other, there is no middle ground.

And we weren’t clever enough to figure out how it might have been manmade so many of us found ourselves agreeing it was real. We still do. Can such logic be defended? Stephen Jones is one of the few people to tackle this question and he has done so very effectively. In a posting, Shroud of Turin News, October 2013. Stephen began by  quoting Jonathan Pitts of The Baltimore Sun saying:

To believers, the Shroud of Turin, as it’s known, is the cloth that cloaked the body of Jesus before his planned burial. To skeptics, it’s a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists.

And then responding:

The “skeptics” (who are themselves “believers” in the Shroud’s non-authenticity) have no evidence that the Shroud was “a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists”. They cannot cogently explain: Who conjured it up? How was it conjured up? When was it conjured up? Why can’t they conjured it up (i.e. make a convincing replicate copy of the whole Shroud)? The “skeptics” (so-called) cannot even agree on how the Shroud was “conjured up”. As Ian Wilson concluded after reviewing all the major sceptical theories of how the Shroud was forged:

“Yet ingenious as so many of these ideas are, the plain fact is that they are extremely varied and from not one of them has come sufficient of a groundswell of support to suggest that it truly convincingly might hold the key to how the Shroud was forged – if indeed it was forged.” (Wilson, I., “The Blood and the Shroud,” 1998, p.10-11).

Quoting Pitts again:

It has been studied by everyone from theologians to NASA historians, and still, no one knows. “The shroud is the most analyzed artifact in history, yet it’s still the world’s greatest unsolved mystery,”

Stephen follows through with:

This alone is effectively proof that the Shroud is authentic. It is an important qualification of the usual “argument from ignorance”, that if something should have been discovered by qualified investigators but hasn’t been, that “absence of proof of its occurrence” is “positive proof of its non-occurrence”:

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance)… A qualification should be made at this point. In some circumstances it can safely be assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence for it would have been discovered by qualified investigators. In such a case it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its nonoccurrence. Of course, the proof here is not based on ignorance but on our knowledge that if it had occurred it would be known. For example, if a serious security investigation fails to unearth any evidence that Mr. X is a foreign agent, it would be wrong to conclude that their research has left us ignorant. It has rather established that Mr. X is not one. Failure to draw such conclusions is the other side of the bad coin of innuendo, as when one says of a man that there is `no proof’ that he is a scoundrel. In some cases not to draw a conclusion is as much a breach of correct reasoning as it would be to draw a mistaken conclusion.” (Copi, I.M., “Introduction to Logic,” 1986, pp.94-95. Emphasis original).

Stephen then concludes:

Similarly, if the Shroud were a 14th century or earlier fake, the science of the 20th-21st century should have discovered that by now (see below on the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud to 1260-1390 is itself a fake!). So that absence of proof by modern science that the Shroud is a fake, after 35 plus years of intensive scientific study of the Shroud, is positive proof that the Shroud is not a fake!

Okay. That is unless we missed something. How do you evaluate that possibility?

That is all fine and good until argument from ignorance logic turns into a building foundation:

Myra Adams, in a recent article, Jesus `most significant person ever’ in new research study, (and see my posting, How the Shroud Becomes Part of the Conversation) stated:

. . . that is why [=Jesus’ significance] the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ’s physical resurrection – the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus’ divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties.

which resulted in a swift and direct reaction from Stephen:

The Shroud of Turin already has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, Christ’s physical resurrection and therefore that Christianity is true. But that does not mean that that proof cannot continue to be unreasonably denied, by those (including some Christians) who don’t like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.

So am I a denier? And, apparently, I don’t like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true? Has a weak argument from ignorance become the basis for saying that we have “scientific proof that Christianity is true?”

Fear the person who has no doubt. Witness George Armstrong Custer.

— John Klotz

It may not suit the scientific mind-set

Experts may carp and niggle over particular aspects
exclusive to their particular specialty.

clip_image001[4]By way of a comment, DaveB writes:

I would concede a point of interpretation from the Methchild Flury-Lemburg quotation at the heading of Ian Wilson’s Chapter 6 ‘The Cloth’s Own Tale’. Effectively that nothing in the weaving or sewing techniques speaks against a high-quality product of textile workers of the first century AD. It might equally be said that it is within the capability of 20th century textile workers, although the process of extracting the linen from the flax is clearly quite different. The important point she makes however is that the cloth cannot be rejected as not being of 1st century provenance simply on the grounds of the weaving or sewing techniques used.

However, elsewhere she rejects it as being of medieval provenance because of the width of the cloth. She refers for example to bed-sheets which commonly had a seam running down their middle, as medieval looms lacked the width of ancient types.

I think it a serious error of logic in focusing on only one property at a time and then making a judgment simply on that. It may not suit the scientific mind-set, but it is how evidence works in our law-courts. The TOTAL evidence must be weighed to arrive at a successful conclusion. I prefer to think in terms of Venn diagrams. Thus evidence might satisfy Propositions A, B, C and D but not satisfy Propositions E and F. It may be that E and F are so critical as to negate the conclusion, or it may be that they are can be considered as not so relevant. However if all propositions A through to F are in fact satisfied then there is clearly a strong case.

In the case of the TS, there are several points of evidence that point to its authenticity. Some of these are very strong, others less so. The question of weaving and sewing tends perhaps to be the type of evidence that allows the admissibility of authenticity without it being necessarily corroborative. The forensic evidence is particularly strong and tends to be coroborative. The question of halophyte pollens demonstrates that the TS was certainly at some time in Palestine, other pollens that it was there during the months of March or April. The arogonite limestone is persuasive but needs further independent confirmation.

It is important not to lose sight of the whole picture. Experts may carp and niggle over particular aspects exclusive to their particular specialty. But experts never get to sit on juries, their role is advisory only. The judge’s direction is always couched in terms of what the evidence leads a reasonable person to conclude.

%d bloggers like this: