Archive for the ‘Comments Promoted’ Category

Important Comment

February 16, 2015 3 comments

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

November 2, 2014 1 comment

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

September 22, 2014 16 comments


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

August 7, 2014 43 comments

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

July 18, 2014 18 comments

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

April 4, 2014 9 comments

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?

January 22, 2014 10 comments

“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!

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