Watertight Evidence

imageJust this morning Charles Freeman was writing in a comment:

… I shall not be the first nor the last to say that this was originally a painted linen. MacCrone, of course, and then we have the late and lamented expert on painted linens, Caroline Villers, who talks of the Shroud as ‘one of the best-known surviving medieval images on a textile support’….

And just this morning the Duluth News Tribune ran this letter from one of its readers, Kenneth L. Johnson, a retired chemist who was trained in microscopic analysis by Dr. Walter McCrone at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago.

On Nov. 1, the News Tribune published an article headlined, “Shroud of Turin mystery deepens.”

The mystery to me is how this subject continues to get press coverage. In the 1970s, Dr. Walter McCrone examined a portion of the shroud that was purported to contain dried blood. He found no blood, but he did find red ochre and vermillion paint particles. Dr. McCrone, who literally wrote the book on the analysis of microscopic particles (“The Particle Atlas,” published in six volumes from 1973 through 1979), was eminently qualified to conclude that the shroud was a 14th century painting. The “scientists” who refuted his work had no qualifications to perform the analyses on which they claimed to rely.

In fairness to Charles, he writes:

I have had several responses that say that my views are plausible or that i seem to be on the right lines so I can only sow seeds . One day I hope some expert will come up with the watertight evidence!

I, too, would like watertight evidence.  But I doubt it will be what Charles hopes for.  Colin Berry has certainly demonstrated how weak Charles’ argument is.  I also doubt, even with watertight evidence, that the belief it is a painting will ever fade – no pun intended, Charles.

Important New Paper on the Carbon Dating Samples

Pam Moon has just published a significant paper, The presence of dye in the 1988 radiocarbon date samples of the Shroud of Turin. Pam nicely footnotes the title with:

This paper came out of an online conversation with Joe Marino and Paul Maloney, with additional input from Bill Meacham, Professor Emanuela Marinelli and Barrie Schwortz. I am deeply indebted to them for sharing their knowledge, wisdom and advice.

That says a lot. So go read this paper carefully.

Great pictures and careful analysis:

imageThere is very little data about the samples tested by Oxford, Zurich and Arizona: no chemical analysis has been published and most of the photographic evidence is not sufficiently detailed. However, further evidence of encrustation is visible in the Oxford photographs.14 Below is a comparison of the 3 samples tested at higher magnification (the Shroud, Thebes and Nubia). There is a density of encrustation coating Shroud sample p2574_9 which is not present on the other two samples. The “frosty” 6 contaminant is also not present on the Mark Evans image of the Shroud.15 As ‘the "frosty" coating is almost certainly a plant gum in the Raes sample’ 6 it is likely to be a plant gum in the Oxford sample.



The Blood is Red Because

hitherto unnoticed details …  experiments … and more

An exciting paper by Adrie A. M. van der Hoeven, Cold Acid Postmortem Blood Most Probably Formed Pinkish-Red Heme-Madder Lake on Madder-Dyed Shroud of Turin has just been published in the Open Journal of Applied Sciences (published 30 November 2015).

The abstract reads:

imageThe Turin Shroud was extensively scientifically investigated in 1978. In its pinkish red bloodstains, normal features of human blood were found, but also seemingly anomalous ones. In the present study, hitherto unnoticed details of the data are presented, Shroud data and more modern reference data are compared, and the results of a few experiments with linen, madder dye and blood are shown. It turns out that the Shroud’s ‘anomalous’ data are strong consistent evidence that its bloodstains contain acid heme-madder lake, of which the heme derived from cold acid postmortem blood and the madder had been applied to the Shroud at manufacture. It implies that the bloodstains were formed on the Shroud before the still not reproduced body-image was. Several other ‘red-color’ hypotheses for the Shroud’s bloodstains are discussed and dismissed.

Taken from the conclusion:

The anomalous features of the Shroud’s bloodstains, instead of being evidence against their authenticity, turn out to be very strong evidence for their authenticity…

This, too:

A few experiments confirmed that much serum can drain from human blood on a cold surface and that human blood is able to form pinkish stains on starched and madder-dyed linen that remain pinkish while simultaneously formed bloodstains on pure linen turn brown. New scientific investigations on the Shroud of Turin with more modern methods and techniques may further corroborate these conclusions.


Note:  You can download the PDF from the above link.

Fr. Matthew Pittam on Relics

imageWhen have you ever read about the carbon dating of the shroud in which no mention was made about the results?

The University of Oxford is to become a world leading centre into the study of religious relics following the launch of a new department. This ground-breaking centre, based in Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre, is to be composed of computer and medical scientists as well as historians, classicists and theologians. Such an interdisciplinary approach builds upon work that has been undertaken by the university’s archaeological school since the 1980s.

Past achievements within the university have included the dating of the shroud of Turin, which involved study in three laboratories and the radiocarbon accelerator unit. This new unit is the first time that such a wide-ranging field of experts has been brought together in this way.

Not that there is anything wrong with that; this article is not about the shroud but … As a new centre to study relics opens in Oxford, Fr Matthew Pittam takes a look at some more unusual examples in the Catholic Herald:

  • The head of St Catherine of Siena – San Domenico Basilica Siena, Italy
  • The Holy Prepuce (Christ’s foreskin) – stolen in the 1980s
  • St Antonius’s body – Church of San Marco, Florence, Italy
  • Blessed John Henry Newman – The Oratory of St Philip Neri, Birmingham, UK
  • The hand of St Francis Xavier – Gesu, Rome

Well, I hope Oxford is not planning to test the foreskin.  It has gone missing, since 1983. 

Fr. Pittam concludes his article:

I remember a friend telling me how he had retrieved relics from a presbytery bin when the parish priest had disposed of them in the early 1980s. This just shows how relics have been regarded by many more recently.

Hopefully, the new Oxford Centre for the Study of Relics will help further advance and promote the use of relics in the Church and encourage us to think afresh about their importance. Whilst studies will undoubtedly identify some relics as counterfeit or misidentified, others may be confirmed as originating from the time and place where the holy person lived. It will certainly give the veneration of relics more credibility.

Three Questions About The Reweaving Hypothesis

imageA reader asks:

Is there any confirmation that Raymond Rogers actually analyzed the 1988 Sample when he determined it was interwoven with dyed Cotton? How exactly do we know he received this from Gonella?

Also, did Joe Marino and Sue Benford ever have access to the 1988 sample? How could they have confirmed it was a reweaved sample if they were kept at individual universities?

Has anyone ever responded to this supposed refutation of the reweave theory titled The Invisible Mending of the Shroud, the Theory and the Reality.

HERE are a few postings in this blog dealing with the subject. Just scroll down the page. If you want to see the comments, click on the title or the word comments.

(linking in email edited by me)

Nevertheless, the images are real enough!

imageOur resident Kiwi, daveb of wellington nz, of late, has been mentioning Giovanna de Liso, repeatedly, as we continue to struggle with an explanation for the images on the shroud  He has been talking about de Liso since at least April of 2013. Most recently — like a couple of hours ago — in a comment to Because I Don’t See It, he wrote:

I have yet to see a satisfactory explanation of how or why Giovanna de Liso obtained her Shroud-like images from her 12 years of seismic experiments. A protegee of Giulio Fanti, I cannot believe that she faked them. However, neither Fanti nor anyone else has come with what to me might be a satisfactory explanation. She claims that she only ever obtained images under very specific conditions, including the detection of radon! Nevertheless, the images are real enough! […]

And, Hugh Farey, our resident 60/40 skeptic, quickly responded:

Daveb is quite right about the possibilities of geological explanations; they just haven’t been explored or quantified sufficiently for anything much to be said about them. Yet. […]

That woke me up this morning. I realized it is time to read or re-read, as the case may be, Shroud-like experimental image formation during seismic activity by Giovanna de Liso. 

The abstract reads:

Seismic oxidative phenomena on vegetal structures and ferromagnetic rocks, occurring only along parallel surfaces to the ground, led me to verify experimentally if, naturally, in conjunction with earthquakes, it is possible to form images with a 3D character similar to Turin Shroud image, of objects placed between the two edges of linen cloths folded in two and soaked with different solutions. Some similarities with the Shroud image were obtained only on ferromagnetic rocks, during seismic radon emission, with electrostatic discharges and geomagnetic variations, in agreement with Lattarulo s theoretical hypothesis.

Why did I not pay more attention when the paper was included in the Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos Images in Frascati in 2010? Did it then seem too much off-the-wall?  And now, not?

Psychological Influences in Seeing Inscriptions on the Shroud of Turin

… the normal psychological processes underlying perception of writing, and the tendency of these processes to produce illusory perceptions, should be an essential consideration when addressing the existence of religious inscriptions on religious artifacts such as the Shroud of Turin.

In sum, the aim of this research has not been to question the authenticity of the Shroud or the presence of images of a human body and face. Instead, our focus has been the claims made concerning the existence of religious inscriptions which many believe cast crucial light on the provenance of this important artifact.

imageOn October 28, 2015, PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open access journal, published Seeing Inscriptions on the Shroud of Turin: The Role of Psychological Influences in the Perception of Writing by Timothy R. Jordan, Mercedes Sheen, Lily Abedipour, and Kevin B. Paterson. (You can also access this article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine
at the National Institutes of Health)

Do access the article and read it. It is well done. 


The Shroud of Turin (hereafter the Shroud) is one of the most widely known and widely studied artifacts in existence, with enormous historical and religious significance. For years, the Shroud has inspired worldwide interest in images on its fabric which appear to be of the body and face of a man executed in a manner consistent with crucifixion, and many believe that these images were formed in the Shroud’s fibers during the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. But, more recently, other reports have suggested that the Shroud also contains evidence of inscriptions, and these reports have been used to add crucial support to the view that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. Unfortunately, these reports of inscriptions are based on marks that are barely visible on the Shroud, even when images are enhanced, and the actual existence of writing on the Shroud is still a matter of considerable debate. Here we discuss previous evidence concerning the psychological processes involved generally in the perception of writing, and especially when letters and words are indistinct. We then report two experiments in which the influence of religious context on perception of inscriptions was addressed specifically, using an image of woven fabric (modern linen) containing no writing and with no religious provenance. This image was viewed in two different contexts: in the Religious Context, participants were informed that the image was of a linen artifact that was important to the Christian faith whereas, in the non-religious Neutral Context, participants were informed that the image was of a simple piece of linen. Both groups were told that the image may contain faint words and were asked to report any words they could see. All participants detected words on the image, and indicated that these words were visible and were able to trace on the image the words they detected. In each experiment, more religious words were detected in the Religious Context condition than in the Neutral Context condition whereas the two contexts showed no effect on the number of non-religious words detected, indicating that religious context had a specific effect on the perception of illusory writing. Indeed, in the Neutral Context condition, no religious words at all were reported in either experiment. These findings suggest that images of woven material, like linen, inspire illusory perceptions of writing and that the nature of these perceptions is influenced considerably by the religious expectations of observers. As a consequence, the normal psychological processes underlying perception of writing, and the tendency of these processes to produce illusory perceptions, should be an essential consideration when addressing the existence of religious inscriptions on religious artifacts such as the Shroud of Turin.

The Pollen Scam?

"I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication.” — Avinoam Danin*

clip_image001Recent discussions about pollen on the Shroud of Turin, reflected in three recent postings in this blog…

… compels me to want to dig deeper.  Joe Marino kindly sent me, in Google translation, The Shroud of Turin: The scam of pollen. The complete file (In Italian, La Sindone di Torino: La truffa dei pollini. Il dossier completo). It is a paper by Gaetano Ciccone published in June of 2011 at La Sindone di Torino (http://sindone.weebly.com/).

To the reader who asked why I permit so much negative information about the shroud to appear in this blog, permit me a quote by Thomas Aquinas:

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.

Of, course, I would substitute Christian for Catholic (even if I was Catholic).

Here is a Google translation of an early snippet from The Scam of pollen:

Therefore below will be made an examination of what has been written and published on the subject ‘pollen Shroud’, bearing in mind always that the opponents of the authenticity is denied access to the source documents: the Shroud of Turin and the same material derived therefrom. So here there is proposed at all to study the Shroud pollen, but to study ‘the study of pollen Shroud’. It is, essentially, a work of ‘history of science’ or, as it would be preferable to express themselves, ‘history of pseudoscience’. Ultimately, it is a historical research.

Have been four scholars who took samples of powder with pollen from the Shroud of Turin: Max Frei in 1973 and in 1978, John Riggi in 1978 and 1988, Raymond Rogers in 1978 and then Pier Luigi alien autopsy in 1978 and 2002. Of these researchers, only the first results announced sensational and decisive. Others have not reported anything on their studies, apart from a few hints disappointing.

In consideration of Sindonisti, Frei has by far the most important scholars of the Shroud palynology. John Riggi in 1982 defines it as "the great Frei" [Riggi 1982, p.105], "the illustrious man" [Riggi 1982, p.119], stating that "I was very honored to know this great little man" [ Riggi 1982, p.140].

Even today the figure of Frei and his work is hailed uncritically accepted by some Sindonisti such Emanuela Marinelli, Marco Tosatti, Barbara Frale, Bruno Barberis:

And a later snippet from somewhere about mid-point:

Aside from the quick examination of the tapes made ​​by McCrone in 1988 and the review carried out by Baruch in 1998, in 2001, Professor Thomas Litt, Institute of Paleontology, University of Bonn, has been able to observe the remains of Frei in his laboratory in Bonn, but we do not know the details. The minutes of that examination was dispatched from Litt to Danin and spouses Whanger. Whanger I have never announced anything on the subject, while Danin, following this report, changed his mind than his previous convictions, denying practically all the work done together with his assistant Baruch, and drew the conclusion that the study of Shroud pollen could not get any geographical indication: "I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication ‘[Danin 2008, p.54]. It seems that ever since Baruch no longer interested in pollen or Shroud [Wilson 2010, p.65]. Danin, as is known, continues to support the authenticity of the shroud on the basis of hundreds of fingerprints of plants or parts of plants, which he views on the cloth and on the photos of the towel. It appears that the material is more designed by Frei palynologists specialists. And we’re now at 28 years after the death of Frei.

* From a translation of a translation.

The Process of Resurrection

imageDuring the past several days, I have noticed several comments with the phrases “resurrection process” or the “process of resurrection.” Why do we think the resurrection was a process?

We are all familiar, at least in principle, with the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It is a process. We can make a time-lapsed movie of it and see each and every step. Some will say they see a miracle unfolding. Others will say it is nothing of the kind; it is a perfectly explainable biological process.

If you were to take the first frame and the last frame from the movie of the process, splice them together and pretend that nothing happened in between then you could pronounce and demonstrate with a very short, two-frame movie that a miracle transformation had taken place without a process.

The resurrection, if we are to believe in it, was a miracle. And if we are to take our knowledge from scripture alone, there was a before and after, a first frame so to speak and a last frame. There was nothing in between that we know about. So, why do we think there was a process? Why do we think, for instance, the body dematerialized such that a cloth might fall through it or that that the body might releases some form of energetic byproduct during the resurrection? Why do we think, as Mark Antonacci suggests that Jesus might have passed through a traversable Lorentzian wormhole in space-time or as Frank Tipler suggests that the process of resurrection might have been a form of electroweak quantum tunneling and the images on the Shroud the consequence of a Sphaleron field?

imageThomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica tried to explain that angels in going from one place to another did not pass through the place in between. Nor did they consume time doing so.

By this sort of local movement an angel may, at will, be present successively in several places and thus may be said to pass through the space between the first and the last place of the series. Or an angel may cease to apply its powers in the first place and begin to apply them in the last, not passing through the space between.

Since there is succession, that is, before-and-after, in the application of an angel’s powers, now here and now there, it must be said that an angel’s local movement occurs in time, and is not instantaneous. This time, however, is not measurable in our minutes or seconds; these units of time are applicable only to bodily movement.

For angels, at least in how they traveled, there is only a first frame and a last frame, so to speak.

Thomas was much into angels and was brilliant at logical speculation. We can leave it at that. We don’t need to agree with the saint. Nonetheless, this notion of his provides a useful metaphor for pondering supernatural action. There is in his imaginings a change of state and no measure of time.

Might the resurrection have been that way? What about other miracles? When Jesus healed the blind man was there a moment in time when the man’s eyesight was partially restored? When Jesus turned water into wine were there moments in time, no matter how brief, when the wine was still mostly water and when – perhaps fractions of nanoseconds later – the water was mostly wine?

Might the resurrection have been just a miracle with a before and after and no in between process?

The problem, for us in the shroud world, is we need something to get that image on the cloth.  Or do we?

Paper Chase: New Paper on SEM Analysis of Pollen

imageI missed this recent paper. I only discovered it while reading through Barrie Schwortz’ Late Breaking News for the most recent update to shroud.com. Here is what Barrie reports:

Exploration of the Face of the Turin Shroud. Pollens Studied by SEM Analysis by Gérard LucotteArcheological Discovery, Vol.3 No.4, October 2015. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

"We studied by SEM-EDX analysis the pollens on the Face of the Turin Shroud. A total of ten pollen grains were found; they were photographed, characterised and analysed. Three of them (pollens p6, p7 and p10) belong to Ceratonia siliqua, the carob tree; one of them (pollen p1) belongs to Balanites aegyptiaca (the palm tree of the desert), and another one (pollen p9) belongs to Cercis siliquastrum (the Judean tree). These three plants have their geographical distributions in the Near-East; that is indicative of a Palestinian origin of the Turin Shroud…"

FREE PDF:  The full paper (DOI: 10.4236/ad.2015.34014), richly illustrated with 23 photographs, is published in Scientific Research, an open access journal. The PDF file can be downloaded from the summary and abstract page.

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)

Comment Promoted: The Punch Card Chart

imageRobert W. Siefker comments about posting, Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

Dan, the “punch card chart” is not aimed at being “scientific” analysis. As clearly stated at the top of the chart with the word “judged”, this is TSC’s analysis. We have included only 17 image characteristics because we think that these seventeen, in and of themselves, can be used to evaluate image formation hypotheses that have gained at least some traction through the years. The chart itself does not stand alone. Appendix 1 gives our reasoning for each mark. Again it is judgment and if the image characteristics are indeed true, as we judge them to be, understandable to anyone. We also state that the The fall-through hypothesis cannot be tested or proven. In fact it is a very “unscientific” explanation as we acknowledge in its description and in the Conclusion. It just fits the data. Read it. Think about it in the context of the whole body of Shroud evidence.

Fair enough.  I stand corrected. I was probably unfair. We still need to crawl through the details, however.

News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

The Amazing Parts

People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity.

imageNews from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas (bold emphasis is mine):

“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”

That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.


Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.

“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.

He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.

“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.

Reasoned judgment is fine. It’s the way it should be. But there is a real problem with the most updated scientific evidence.  Much of it is controversial. It is often not updated. And frequently not really so scientific as we make it out to be.  How good is that botanical evidence?  Is bilirubin really why the blood is still red? Was that corner repaired? Are those three other dating methods even valid?

The most amazing parts of the Shroud is how much we don’t know. I can’t make a reasoned judgment on the scientific evidence.

That doesn’t make sense …

image… writes Andrew, who follows this blog while taking the train into work in the morning. Based on the shroud …

… does Jesus have blond or white hair?  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if he was Jewish. Although there are no descriptions of what Jesus looked like in the New Testament, I think this would have stood out so much it would have been mentioned.

Maybe. I don’t know. We can only speculate. What are the odds?  This is from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia under the subject of Hair (there may be something more current):

The true explanation of the existence of Jewish blonds has been the subject of lively discussions among anthropologists. Some believe that it is due to climate and environment (Pruner, Bey, Pritchard, Jacobs), while others attribute it to racial intermixture, particularly to the admission of Aryan blood into modern Jewry (Broca, Virchow, Schimmer, Ripley, and others). Elkind shows that the color of the hair is independent of the cranial index. Virchow’s investigations show that in the eastern or darkest provinces of Germany the proportion of blond types among Jews does not decrease; whereas in the Prussian provinces, which are predominantly blond, the Jews show the highestproportion of brunettes, and in Silesia, where the non-Jewish population is of very dark complexion, the Jews have a high percentage of blonds. The same has been shown by Schimmer to be the case in Austria. Andree ("Zur Volkskunde der Juden," pp. 34-40) points out that the fact that red and blond Jews are found in North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Persia, etc., is proof that intermarriage has had little to do with the production of the blond type in eastern Europe. He is of the opinion that there were blonds among the ancient Hebrews, and that the modern red and blond Jews are their descendants. Luschan agrees in this view. Jacobs attributes the erythrism of the Jews to defective nutrition, and shows that it is present not only among the European Jews, but also among those in Algiers, Tunis, Bosnia, Constantinople, Smyrna, and Bokhara, where the presence of Aryan blood could not be admitted.

Another thought:  Ray Rogers and Anna Arnoldi in, Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin: A Review, wrote:

imageHowever, it has long been recognized that the images of the hair, moustache, and beard are anomalous. Figure 26 (sic, should be 27, shown here) shows a slightly contrast-enhanced view of the area of the face and hair. The density of the image is greatest in those areas. That can easily be explained by the inhibition of vapor diffusion through a mat of hair. Ammonia is first evolved from the lungs; therefore, amine concentrations would have been highest in the vicinity of the nose and mouth (moustache and beard).

Of course, this is assuming a diffusion model or something similar – a natural phenomenon.

More Carbon Dating and Other Studies of Christian Relics

The unit concluded that shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.

clip_image001Ruth Gledhill reports in Christian Today, in an article titled, Results on investigations into fragments of the True Cross coming soon:

Oxford University has launched a centre to study ancient Christian relics such as bones claimed to be those of St John the Evangelist, John the Baptist and fragments purported to be from the true Cross.

The new centre will be based at Keble College’s Advanced Studies Centre.

Researchers will use radiocarbon dating, genetics and theology to draw together research and findings from around the world to try and establish the authenticity or otherwise of some of the world’s most famous relics.

Some archaeologists already believe they have found pieces of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified

The centre follows advances in science which now allow higher precision radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis that establishes common ancestries and likely geographic origin of individuals.

Oxford has led the field in this area. Researchers used the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit to date the Shroud of Turin, believed by some to be the burial cloth of Christ. The unit concluded that shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.

Professor Thomas Higham of Oxford also led a team dating six small bone fragments found on an island in Bulgaria named Sveti Ivan, translated as St John, which turned out to be the bones were of a man who lived in the Middle East at the same time as Jesus.

In 2014, the team also analysed remains of a small finger bone attributed to John the Baptist that was associated with the famous Guelph Treasure. The sample from the finger bone was dated to 660-770 AD, which meant it was too young for St John the Baptist.

More recent work has included analysis of remains thought to be of St Luke, St David, and the True Cross, on which Jesus was crucified. The results of these investigations have yet to be published.

And there is more to the article.

Was Jesus’ Body Washed?

imageStephen Jones has just completed a lengthy, ten-installment posting (appearing in chunks over a one month period) that is part of a response to a reader named Daryl, who asks, "Wasn’t Jesus’ body washed before putting it in the grave?"

It is certainly worth taking the time to read since it illustrates how complicated that question can be.  Stephen lists three possible answers that may be held by those who are what he calls “pro-authenticists.”

1) A full washing of Jesus’ body and a later oozing of blood This was the position of the lateFrederick Zugibe (1928-2013), the Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York:

"The body unquestionably would have been covered with blood because the heart pumps about 4,500 gallons of blood through the more than 60,000 miles of large and small blood vessels throughout the whole body each day. Instead of the very exact imprints of the wounds, the Shroud would bear large indistinct masses of blood over the entire image, including the face, arms, hands, feet, and trunk."[2]

But then Zugibe has a problem. If Jesus’ body was fully washed, how does he account for the fact that there is still blood on the Shroud? Zugibe’s unconvincing and inconsistent answer is that after Jesus’ body was washed, blood that was still in the wounds then oozed out onto the Shroud…


2) An incomplete washing due to shortness of time, leaving some blood on the Shroud This is a possible pro-authenticist position on the washing of Jesus’ body, although I don’t know of anyone who has held it. But as we saw above, since there was insufficient time for the full Jewish burial rites (see below), Joseph and Nicodemus would have postponed the washing of Jesus’ body (if there was to be one – see future) until after the Sabbath. And, as we saw, the bloodstains and dirt on Jesus’ face were not washed, which surely they would have been, even in an incomplete washing. So this second possible pro- authenticist position on the washing of Jesus’ body is also refuted by the evidence.

3) No washing due to shortness of time and Jewish law This is, as I understand it, the majority position held by Shroud pro-authenticists.

I guess I am in the minority or maybe even the group of none ( make that now one). I just don’t buy arguments like “surely they [=the wounds on Jesus’ face] would have been,”  given that we know so little about what really happened, and why so, some 2000 years ago. Moreover, I do find Zugibe quiet convincing for the most part.

Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin

Such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.

two papers have highlighted some concerns about [… the radiocarbon measurements] determination, and a Medieval age does not appear to be compatible with the production technology of the linen nor with the chemistry of fibers obtained directly from the main part of the cloth in 1978.

imageONLINE NOW:  An important new paper was published yesterday at Nature.com: Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri  & Antonio Torroni  

<< Published Online October 5, 2015, doi: 10.1038/srep14484 >>


The Turin Shroud is traditionally considered to be the burial cloth in which the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death approximately 2000 years ago. Here, we report the main findings from the analysis of genomic DNA extracted from dust particles vacuumed from parts of the body image and the lateral edge used for radiocarbon dating. Several plant taxa native to the Mediterranean area were identified as well as species with a primary center of origin in Asia, the Middle East or the Americas but introduced in a historical interval later than the Medieval period. Regarding human mitogenome lineages, our analyses detected sequences from multiple subjects of different ethnic origins, which clustered into a number of Western Eurasian haplogroups, including some known to be typical of Western Europe, the Near East, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian sub-continent. Such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.


Faint Images: The Case of the Shroud of Arquata

imageOver at Academia.edu, Paolo Di Lazzarro has posted an uncorrected proof of a paper, Non invasive analyses of low-contrast images on ancient textiles: the case of the shroud of Arquata by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Massimiliano Guarneri, Daniele Murra, Valeria Spizzichino, Alessandro Danielis, Arianna Mencattini, Veronica Piraccini and Mauro Missori. The paper is to be published late this year in in the Journal of Cultural Heritage

Here is the abstract:

We present the results of the first in-depth measurements of the linen cloth of the shroud of Arquata, a precious copy of the Shroud of Turin, which dates back to 1653. The measurements aimed at finding the nature of the faint and low-contrast body impressions on the linen cloth, which are not produced by drawings or paintings as in the other copies of the Shroud of Turin. In general, the optical analysis and the imaging of low-contrast stains on ancient textile is a complex task, due to the irregular surface and the influence of spectrum, position and uniformity of the illuminating source on colour accuracy and rendition, A correct evaluation requires a multidisciplinary approach. We used noninvasive technologies. including imaging topological radar, laser induced fluorescence, absolute diffused reflectance and absorption spectra, which were previously used to study frescoes, paintings, antique papers, but were never exploited on ancient textiles. The combined results of our measurements and data elaboration allowed identifying the origins of the body impressions. of the stains simulating blood and of the other marks embedded on the linen cloth. Our results can be used to plan the proper long-seem conservation of the linen cloth and of marks on it.

The Chemist Rogers and Plastic Bags

clip_image001Following the recent publication, There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending”  in Thermochimica Acta, co-author Marco Bella posted Sindone, il chimico, la fede e la scienza in the blog space of Il Fatto Quotidiano. It is in Italian. Fortunately, Marco has provided an English version as a PDF file.  It’s called, The Shroud of Turin, the chemist, the Faith and the Science.  It wraps up this way:

Therefore, it appears that Rogers was aware about the presence of a contaminant which would give a mass spectra quite similar (identical?) to the one actually observed for his mass spectra of Raes sample. Despite that, he did not mention these foreign peaks due to the contamination in his discussion of the spectra. There is no need to explain that plastic bags were not widely used around the Middle Age, and that if there are peaks coming from that material in a spectra these can only be due to modern contamination.

Mass spectrometry is widely used today in the identification of pharmaceuticals, drugs, food additives, toxins. Ironically, even the C14 analysis is based on mass spectrometry. What would happen if we started to interpret mass spectra in a completely wrong manner, e.g. in the similar way as in the Rogers paper? Here there are some examples: a drug dealer could not be condemned, food contaminated with high level of pesticides could be sold, an athlete putting his health at risk with doping could not be stopped, a lot of medicine with a toxic impurity could be given to patients.

There is no ‘innocuous pseudoscience”. Any pseudoscience is damaging, since it alters the perception of the real world and it is deeply non-educative. It might cause serious consequences, especially when health issue are involved. To believe in the pseudoscience of the Shroud has nothing to do with Faith, and especially believers should get offended versus people exploiting either their Faith or the human weakness of the chemist Rogers.

You will want to read this and think about it.

Doubting the Pollen Evidence

“… data concerning pollen grains should not be used in Shroud research.”
but on the other hand, “… we must not be too hasty to dismiss it altogether”

clip_image001We have discussed the pollen many times in this blog*.  The subject came up again recently in some comments to the posting, New YouTube Presentation: Is the Shroud a Medieval Forgery? In the discussion, Hugh Farey (pictured) makes reference to an article he wrote, Problems with Pollen, for the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newletter 79.

First to the blog comments. A paper from the Valencia conference, The question of pollen grains on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo, by Emanuela Marinelli, came up in the discussion. Hugh responded:

Professor Marinelli’s paper is an an excellent review of the evidence, but does not comment or evaluate it very thoroughly. She does have the advantage of Max Frei’s articles in Italian, which seem to have been more comprehensive than his account in Shroud Spectrum International, but I do not think they clarify the case.

To review a little of what Frei is quoted as having said:

“The tapes are put in contact with a light pressure, and, due to their stickiness, when they are detached, they remove all the microtraces without damaging or altering the support in any way.” — If Frei changed his tactics between 1973 and 1978, when he applied the tapes with such force the STuRP team were horrified, then there should be a big difference between the amount of debris on them. If a light pressure was all that was needed in 1973, why did he change his modus operandi in 1978?

“The advantage of this method, widely used in criminology, is that – once the tape is folded on itself – loss of material or secondary contamination are completely excluded.” — Fine, but he didn’t fold the tapes in on themselves; he stuck them to microscope slides, as in the photos at http://llanoestacado.org/freeinquiry//skeptic/shroud/as/schafersman.html.

“In subsequent analyses of dust samples it was possible to find and classify a large number of pollen grains which, properly treated, have allowed the precise determination of the family, genus and species of the plant itself.” — It is not true that pollen is classifiable at species level even today, and was even less so 40 years ago.

“Each identification result was checked on herbarium material and in botanical gardens worldwide renowned for their collections, as well as documented in photomicrographic surveys.” — I’m afraid that without proper documentation I simply don’t believe this. In the absence of adequate comparison material Frei went to places he thought were relevant and collected his own. Whether he made a micrographical survey is open to doubt.

And so on.

Antero de Frias Moreira had commented. So Hugh replied:

Antero’s last comment reads “… Professors Danin and Baruch who confirmed many of Frei’s taxonomical pollen classification at least at genus level.”

Really? Prof. Danin has changed his mind about the validity of any of Frei’s findings.. In 1998 he wrote (http://www.shroud.com/danin2.htm):

“Dr. Uri Baruch, palynologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority who made his M.SC. and Ph.D. dissertations on the flora of Israel, analyzed most of Frei’s 1973 sticky tape pollen specimens and ten of the twenty-five 1978 sticky tapes. He examined 165 pollen grains, of which 45 (27.3%) were Gundelia tournefortii.”

But in 2011, he wrote (http://flora.org.il/en/books/plant-stories-2/chapter-o/useful_plants_06/):

image“The sample we used in our previous publications is the grain presented on the left side of Fig. 15.2.2. [a single ‘Shroud’ pollen previously identified as Gundelia tournefortii]. At first sight one can say that it has “thorns” similar to those on the right side of Fig. 15.2.2. [a group of modern pollen identified as Gundelia tournefortii]. However, looking more thoroughly, one can see that the “thorns” of the right photograph are more pointed and denser compared to the “thorns” in the left photograph. The right photograph is of grains taken from a Gundelia tournefortii flowers. It is not the same as the grain on the left.”


“Prof. Litt concluded that none of the pollen grains he saw could be named at a species level. Hence, all the conclusions drawn from previous palynological investigations of Dr. Frei’s material should be suspended until a new collection of pollen grains can be carried out and the grains thus obtained can be studied with modern equipment and by an expert of pollen of this area.”

and finally

“Since writing [Prof. Litt’s] conclusions in 2001 no pollen grains have been collected and investigated as he suggested, so the data concerning pollen grains should not be used in Shroud research.”


Hugh’s article warrants your full attention. His conclusion is a good place to start as long as you go back to the top and read the entire report:

So, what are we to make of Max Frei’s pollen identification, and the conclusions he drew from it. I think the question must remain open. In spite of all the secrecy and confusion there remain a few grains of pollen from some exclusively wind-blown Middle Eastern trees that are difficult to explain except that they fell on the Shroud while it was in Israel. Perhaps, if Thomas Litt’s analysis is ever published, we will discover that the entire assemblage has been over-optimistically interpreted, but if not, we must not be too hasty to dismiss it altogether.

To see all the discussion of pollen in this blog, explore these searches:

Editorial in Thermochimica Acta by Bella, Garlaschelli and Samperi on Rogers’ 2005 Article

with thanks to Andrea Nicolotti and Gian Marco.

imageA new article, There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” by Marco Bella, Luigi Garlaschelli and Roberto Samperi has been accepted* for publication in Thermochimica Acta.

imageSome bullet points appear after the article, after the acknowledgments, even after the references. It’s as though having taken their best shot, the authors had to empty their gun before walking away:

  • This editorial regards a paper published on Thermochimica Acta ,425 (2005) 189.
  • The author [=Rogers] hypothesized a “medieval invisible mending” on the Shroud of Turin.
  • There is no evidence of such a “medieval invisible mending”.
  • The two mass spectra presented differ only by the presence of a contaminant.
  • When the peaks due to the contaminant are removed, the two mass spectra looks alike.

The article is behind a pay wall. If you do not have access to this journal, you can purchase a copy of the article through Science Direct for $39.95 US.

It begins:

This editorial regards a paper by the late Dr. Raymond Rogers published on Thermochimica Acta. The Shroud of Turin is a linen which has impressed a faint image of a man and some color spots (supposedly blood). A popular tradition born in the second half of the XIV century recognizes it as being the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. In 1988, three independent laboratories dated this object between 1260 and 1390 (95% confidence interval, 2 σ) by means of the C14 analysis. After the publication of these data, several theories have been proposed to explain a discrepancy with the “sought” date of the linen, which according to tradition should be around 33 AD. Among those, a popular one is the so called “invisible mending”, disclosed by S. Benford and J. Marino and based on the analysis of low resolution (JPEG format) pictures of the Shroud….

… and wraps up:

In conclusion, the unspecific qualitative chemical tests presented by Rogers are in no way confirmed by instrumental analysis (mass spectrometry). No diagnostic peak in the pyrolysis mass spectra indicates a significant difference in the two samples, besides hydrocarbon-derived contamination. Therefore, none of the presented data supports the conclusion by Rogers.

The work of the late Dr. Rogers has been exploited to support a pseudoscientific hypothesis which is in no way confirmed by the reported data. Regardless of the debate on the hypothetical authenticity of the Shroud, the scientific community and the general public can only be misled by this paper.

So it is a peer reviewed editorial, that is if I understand the “note to users” that appears on the Science Direct access page for this article:

* Note to users: Accepted manuscripts are Articles in Press that have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of this publication. They have not yet been copy edited and/or formatted in the publication house style, and may not yet have the full ScienceDirect functionality, e.g., supplementary files may still need to be added, links to references may not resolve yet etc. The text could still change before final publication.

Although accepted manuscripts do not have all bibliographic details available yet, they can already be cited using the year of online publication and the DOI, as follows: author(s), article title, Publication (year), DOI. Please consult the journal’s reference style for the exact appearance of these elements, abbreviation of journal names and use of punctuation.

When the final article is assigned to an volumes/issues of the Publication, the Article in Press version will be removed and the final version will appear in the associated published volumes/issues of the Publication. The date the article was first made available online will be carried over.

Is it really peer reviewed? Does that matter?  Those bullet points: maybe they will go away in the final editing of this editorial.