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.



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)

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)

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.

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.

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. 

Carbon Dating with the Potential to Become Controversial

AND:  The Get Religion blog gets down in the trenches with how journalist cover stories
like this. Be sure to read Jim Davis.


imagePaul Vale, in the UK edition of the Huffington Post, tells us that the Birmingham Koran Carbon Dating Reveals Book Is Likely Older Than Prophet Muhammad:

In what could prove something of a pot hole for current readings of Islamic history, a carbon test carried out on a Koranic manuscript recently discovered in England reveals the book is likely older than Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic faith.

The test used a piece of the ancient parchment, discovered in Birmingham University Library in July, with scientists dating the tome from between 568 and 645AD.

imageIslamic scholars believe Muhammad lived between 570 and 632AD and that he founded Islam after 610AD. The first Muslim community was founded in Medina in 622AD. This means the text was likely compiled either before the Prophet’s birth or during his childhood.

“It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged — and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions,” historian Tom Holland told The Times.


However, Keith Small, a researcher at the Bodleian in Oxford, urged caution as the carbon testing only used parchment rather than the ink from the book. He said: “If the dates apply to the parchment and the ink, and the dates across the entire range apply, then the Koran — or at least portions of it — predates Mohammed, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s.”

Small added: “This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition and the history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised, somehow accounting for another book of scripture coming into existence 50 to 100 years before, and then also explaining how this was co-opted into what became the entity of Islam by around AD700.”

For additional perspective, see Oldest pages of the Koran found in England may date to Mohammed’s lifetime by Mark Miller at Ancient Origins.

There are other manuscripts that may be as old as this one, the BBC says. Radiocarbon dating provides a range of years for an object being dated, and the years of this and other manuscripts overlap. But these two pages are among the oldest known surviving Koran manuscripts in existence.

Muhammad Isa Waley, a British Library expert on old manuscripts called the discovery exciting and Muslims would rejoice over it.

AND:  The GetReligion blog gets down in the trenches with how journalists cover stories like this. Be sure to read Jim Davis at

How soon will it be before journalists are somehow linking this to the carbon dating of the shroud?

Food for Thought: An Important Paper on Radiocarbon Dating

imageLouis had recommended an important paper on Radiocarbon dating, Does Radiocarbon Provide the Answer? by Uwe Zerbst and Peter van der Veen.

I found it to be very informative for understanding the Bayesian approach to interpreting radiocarbon data. But is there anything in it that might impact the accuracy of the shroud’s dating? That seems unlikely in any significant way, at least to this non-scientist.

The aim of the present paper is not a detailed discussion of the radiocarbon evidence of specific archaeological periods, or even individual sites and strata, but a more general view on whether the scientific methodology, as it presently stands, can really be used conclusively. Despite dissenting claims, the authors will demonstrate that there still is a conflict between the archaeological and radiocarbon based time scales, even if elaborate Bayesian statistics are used. The authors discuss possible reasons for this.

Nonetheless, I’m glad I worked my way through it. It was not an easy read for this non-scientist.

The Hacking of the Carbon Dating Over and Over and Over

clip_image001It is hard to figure out if Stephen Jones is starting over or finishing up with his latest The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking #1:

Introduction. This is the seventh and final installment of part #1 of my concluding summary of the evidence that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390"[2] was the result of a computer hacking, allegedly by Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89)[3], aided byKarl Koch (1965–89)[4], on behalf of the former Soviet Union, through its agency the KGB. I will list the main headings as bullet-points, linking them back to my previous "My theory …" posts on those topics. In future I will link back to this post whenever I state that "the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin as `mediaeval … AD 1260-1390′ was the result of a computer hacking."

He already has 52 postings on the subject. His is the second most read blog out there with 400,000-plus page views.  Is it only a matter of time before some journalists start characterizing shroud enthusiasts as believing the carbon dating was rigged to be medieval by a computer hacker on behalf of the KGB? Or is it so preposterous, so obviously a way-out conspiracy theory, that is gets ignored?

You are free to ignore this posting.

If They Had Only Waited Until 2020 Or So

Shucks. Why did they have to do it in 1988.  If they had only waited a few more years then we wouldn’t be having all these problem trying to prove the shroud is real.

imageFirst things first. What is the story here?  The Shroud of Turin?

This is how Sarah Kaplan writing in the prestigious Washington Post retold the story Fossil fuel emissions are making carbon dating more difficult. These are the very first four paragraphs accompanied by a photograph of the shroud:

Nearly three decades ago scientists were granted access to one of the world’s most mystifying and sacred objects: the Shroud of Turin. The ancient rectangle of linen, with its strange stains in the shape of a tortured body, had long been venerated as the burial garment of Christ. But the shroud’s origins were murky, and researchers had spent decades poring over the piece of fabric debating whether the story of its background could be true.

In 1988, thanks to a technique called radiocarbon dating, they had an answer: The shroud dated back to sometime between 1260 and 1390 — old, but not old enough to have been buried with Jesus.

“The Carbon-14 Bombshell,” National Geographic called the news, referring to the radioactive isotope that’s used for the dating process.

Carbon dating had never been, and likely never again will be, quite so glamorous — or so controversial. And, thanks to atmospheric changes caused by the burning of fossil fuels, it could become even more complicated.

Down some:

Graven expects that the change will start impacting the carbon dating process by 2020.


This shift won’t render carbon dating obsolete — it’s long been known that atmospheric carbon can fluctuate, and scientists are able to re-calibrate their estimates based on modern levels. But it does make the process more complex and less reliable for dating relatively young objects. If emissions continue at their current rates, Graven believes that carbon dating won’t be able to provide a definitive age for anything less than 2,000 years old

Shucks. Why did they have to do it in 1988.  If they had only waited a few more years then we wouldn’t be having all these problem trying to prove the shroud is real.

Interesting Article on Radiocarbon Dating

imageChemEurope just this morning posted an interesting article,  Fossil fuel emissions will complicate radiocarbon dating, warns scientist:

Fossil fuel emissions could soon make it impossible for radiocarbon dating to distinguish new materials from artefacts that are hundreds of years old. Carbon released by burning fossil fuels is diluting radioactive carbon-14 and artificially raising the radiocarbon ‘age’ of the atmosphere, according to a paper published in the PNAS.

Radiocarbon measurements have a range of uses, from analysing archaeological finds, to detecting fraudulent works of art, to identifying illegal ivory trading, to assessing the regeneration of brain cells in neurological patients. The new study suggests that some of these current uses will be affected over this century, depending on how much fossil fuel emissions increase or decrease.

The online Daily Times Gazette picked up the story and added this:

One of famous radiocarbon dating investigation is the Shroud of Turin, which allegedly has the image of Jesus Christ.

However, Scientists found that it was originated from 13th century, 1,200 years after the Death of Christ.

Of course.

Did Jesus Survive the Crucifixion?

The Sudarium provides strong, independent evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. If the Shroud is a fake, then the Sudarium must also be so. This makes the job of any potential forger close to impossible. The two cloths authenticate and validate each other and together they provide a strong case for being the original burial cloths of Jesus.

— Arif Khan

imageThe current issue of The Review of Religions, an international magazine published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, carries an article by Arif Khan, The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin. The Review is an international magazine published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. It has been in print since 1902. The current cover of the print edition is pictured.

Here is what the article says about the carbon dating of the shroud:

Section 3 – Dating the Shroud & the Sudarium

The fact that the Shroud and the Sudarium were together at one time not only authenticates the Sudarium but also crucially proves the authenticity of the Shroud itself.

Ever since the carbon dating results hit the world’s media on October 13, 1988, stating the Shroud dated from 1260 – 1390 CE, there has been a major debate concerning the Shroud’s age.

Several scholars have written about why the carbon dating result for the Shroud is incorrect, the most convincing being by Raymond Rogers.[18] He argues that it is possible that it dated from the 1st Century.

The link between the Sudarium and the Shroud however, casts major doubt over the accuracy of the carbon dating result. The Sudarium is known to have existed hundreds of years prior to the 1260 – 1390 dating result attributed to the Shroud. There is documented evidence, surviving to this day in the Capitular Archives of the cathedral in Oviedo, of the Sudarium being seen by King Alfonso VI and several others on March 14, 1075.[19] The ark containing the cloth was officially opened on this day, and the event recorded. Even in 1075, it is stated that the ark had been in the church for a long time.[20]

References to a Sudarium exist from as early as the Gospels themselves, but proving the Sudarium of Oviedo was the same Sudarium is difficult. The existence of the cloth in 1075, however, is something attested to and officially recorded.

Given the proof that the Sudarium and the Shroud covered the same body, and the proof that the Sudarium was definitely in existence in 1075, the carbon dating results of the Shroud of Turin have again been thrown in to doubt.

Despite this strong evidence, it is not possible to definitively prove that both the Sudarium and the Shroud of Turin dated from the 1st Century. However, it is possible to conclude that given the proven connection between the cloths, the carbon dating result for the Shroud of Turin is incorrect.

Once the carbon dating result for the Shroud is discarded, the case for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin outweighs claims that it is some form of fake. The strong similarities between the Sudarium and the Shroud, mean the Sudarium now has a high probability of also being authentic.

BUT, BUT, BUT:  Here is a part of the article many of this blog’s readership will find uncomfortable:

A key reason for this magazine taking an interest in the Shroud of Turin is that several scholars have argued it proves Jesusas survived the crucifixion, thus validating the belief and teaching of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. There are Shroud researchers who have reached this exact same conclusion based upon their study of the Shroud of Turin.[21] Those that have argued this viewpoint draw attention to the large amounts of blood on the Shroud, and highlight that it would take an active heart to produce this. Others have stated that for an even formation of the image, the body would need to have been at a constant temperature, again requiring a living body. However, the scholars that hold this view concerning the Shroud are in a minority, and this is un-surprising given that it is a Catholic relic and the vast majority of those who have taken an interest in researching it come from a Christian background. Does the Sudarium shed any light on the question of Jesusas surviving the crucifixion?

The endnote 21, above, is a link address to another article by Arif Khan published in 2010 in the same magazine. Therein we find him writing about Holger Kersten and Elmar Gruber’s, “The Jesus Conspiracy” and Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas’, “The Second Messiah.”

Just yesterday, while unaware of this article, I invited Helmut Felzmann from the Shroud Science Group to write a guest posting. Dr. Felzmann, whose religious perspective is very different, believes that the shroud demonstrates that Jesus survived the crucifixion. I warned him that this is a tough crowd.  (Did I say I think the idea is very difficult to accept?  Anyway, I want my friend Helmut to have a chance to make his case. Call me biased and balanced, I guess.)

So what do you think? Any chance that Jesus survived the cross?

Look at what happened between 1988 and 2015

imageA reader named Pike writes:

If new carbon 14 tests show similar results the Jacksons and Fantis of Sindone World will be doing a lot of telling us that radiation from the resurrection changed the date.  There will be new explanations.  Look at what happened between 1988 and 2015. The Turin Shroud is more real today than it was 25 years ago.

Carbon Date the Shroud Again?

imageJoe Marino writes:

I was checking out some of the videos and stories related to the opening of the exhibition.  In one video, Archbishop Nosiglia said the church is not against new testing.  One of the new articles quoted Pope John Paul II in 1998 saying continued research should be done.  I think researchers have done their part in continuing research but one can only do so much with the 1978 data.  I know the Pope has a lot of things on his plate but if Popes and Archbishops are giving lip service to research/new testing, he really needs to reevaluate the role of the Shroud in the church.  If new testing did not disprove the authenticity, it could bring a lot more people to Christianity.  There have been expositions in 1998, 2000, 2010 and the current one.  A tremendous amount of time, energy and money have been spent in each of those.  It would have been nice if some of that time, energy and money could have been put in another multi-disciplinary study.  We now have Barberis saying another C-14 test should be done.  As we saw at the St. Louis conference, there is a lot of debate among researchers whether it should be done.  If it is done, a lot would obviously depend on the background study and the various entities involved in the testing.  Heaven forbid if it would be anything like the 88 testing.

In referring to Barberis, Joe is, I think, referring to  SHROUD: TRACES OF BLOOD FROM THE "CARBON-14": WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY, a Google Translation of an article, SINDONE, DALLE TRACCE EMATICHE AL "CARBONIO-14": COSA DICE LA SCIENZA  in Famiglia Cristiana.

I favor retesting. Bill Meacham (The Rape of the Shroud) continues to advocate for it. Some people believe that the shroud cannot be tested accurately and oppose such testing. One reason: they think that a resurrection miracle changed the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12.  Maybe. But how do you test for that?

Do the Blue Quad Mosaics tell a different story than we think?

A reader writes:

imageDid Hugh Farey not just drop a bunker buster on the Quad Mosaics when he wrote [in a comment], “These studies are in fact largely ignored by authenticists, in that they are assumed correct and quoted as gospel without any reference to what they actually say. Non-authenticists, on the other hand, have studied them in considerable detail, such that we can say with authority that any contamination of the radiocarbon corner of the shroud made it appear older, not younger, than it really is […].”

If Rogers misread the Quad Mosaics, now what?

I think Hugh may be paradoxically right!

(link and ellipsis above added by me)

Hugh has since added the following in a  clarifying comment:

Claim: “We can say with authority than any contamination of the radiocarbon corner of the shroud made it appear older, not younger, than it really is.” This is based on John M. Morgan III’s paper ‘Digital image processing techniques demonstrating the anomalous nature of the radiocarbon dating sample area of the Shroud of Turin’ at, where he shows that the radiocarbon samples are increasingly contaminated the closer they are to the corner, and on Ray Schneider’s St Louis paper, ‘Dating The Shroud Of Turin: Weighing All The Evidence’ at, where he shows a 99.93% correlation between the radiocarbon dates and the UV-fluorescence.

I don’t know what paradoxically right means. However, Hugh is non-paradoxically right, at least as it applies to this blogger: I did assume that what I was being told about the Blue Quad Mosaics was correct. I didn’t think about it at all. Now I’m not going to make the same mistake and assume Hugh is right. I’m a layman. I’ve read the Morgan paper and I listened to Ray in St. Louis. Now I need to have it explained to me. I’m totally confused. No paradox there.

I recommend a paper by Barrie Schwortz: SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE STURP QUAD MOSAIC IMAGES

I also recommend reading both comments in their entirety ( first comment and the clarifying comment.

And I also recommend an earlier posting in this blog:  Comment Promoted: Are the Quad Mosaics Meaningless?

Tabor: A Distinctive 1st Century Weave

imageThere is no new news in James D. Tabor’s posting in the Huffington Post blog two days ago.  CNN provided the cover for repetition:

CNN focused on the question of the authenticity of the controversial "Shroud of Turin," in the first episode of its new pre-Easter series "Finding Jesus." Those challenging the authenticity of this ancient relic point to carbon dating tests done at three independent labs in 1988 that dated samples of its cloth to AD 1260-1390, which coincides with the first appearance of the shroud in France in the 1350s. Believers in the shroud’s authenticity have questioned the authenticity of the tests.

What many do not know is that we do in fact have an unquestionably authentic burial shroud from a tomb in Jerusalem that has been carbon dated to the 1st century. Any consideration of the "Shroud of Turin" should begin with a comparison of what we know rather than what we might want to believe.

The tomb of which he speaks is the tomb that Tabor and Shimon Gibson found in June of 2000.

…Textile analysis was done on the cloth–it turned out to be a mixture of linen and wool, not woven together but layered with a separate head piece. It had a distinctive 1st century weave–in contrast to the Shroud of Turin….

And then . . .

The Tomb of the Shroud continues to offer more surprises. We recently noticed that the mitDNA tests of two of the individuals in this tomb match the polymorphisms of two individuals in the Jesus family tomb–namely skeletal materials taken from both the Yeshua and the Mariamene ossuaries. What the implications of this might be, and whether there is any possible relationship between these two families, remains to be explored.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for spotting the posting.

John Klotz Delivers the Knockout

imageOne may find argument with historical evidence of the shroud’s existence before Lirey. But to say there is no evidence is to be …, well, in my opinion, like the nut jobs  who go about saying there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed.

John Klotz, in a MUST READ essay, CNN’s Finding Jesus loses Him, makes it abundantly clear. By page 7 John is writing:

There is more: an eyewitness account of exhibitions of a linen shroud that is more than arguably the Shroud of Turin. The witness was a French knight who participated in a siege of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade which ended with the "Christian" knights looting Constantinople and stripping it of all its cherished relics that could be carried away. Among them was the linen cloth that was the Shroud of Turin.

This is how Gibson and McKinley described it their book Finding Jesus:

"In 1203, a Flemish knight named Robert de Clari, fighting with the Fourth Crusade then camped in Constantinople, noted that a church within the city’s Blachernae Palace put on a very special exhibition every Friday. On display wasn’t just the holy image of the face of Jesus, but the actual cloth in which Christ had been buried. In 1205 de Clari composed a more detailed account: ‘There was a Church which was call[ed] My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where there was the shroud (syndoines) in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday, raised itself upright so that one could see the form (figure) of Our Lord on it, and no one either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this shroud (syndoines) when the city was taken [by the Crusaders].’" 10

What happened to the Shroud after Constantinople was looted by the French? Wilson has favored the idea that it came into possession of the Order of the Knights Templar in France. The Order was suppressed in 1307 by French King Philip the Fair. On March 19, 1314, its Grandmaster, Jacques deMolay along with the Order’s Master of Normandy Geoffrey de Charny were burned at the stake.11 That Geoffrey may have been related to the Geoffrey de Charny who was the documented owner of the Shroud in 1355.

However, Gibson and McKinley echo another view that has achieved some currency. One of the French knights who participated in the sack of Constantinople was Orthon de la Roche who performed outstanding service and was named the Lord of Athens. He later returned to France. Jeanne de Vergy was a descendant of Orthon. She became the second wife of the 1355 "owner" of the Shroud Geoffrey de Charny. Gibson and McKinley hypothesize that the Shroud was a part of her dowry when she married Geoffrey12

This is not a complete recitation of the reported history of the Shroud prior to 1532. When Professor Goodacre baldy states that there is NO evidence of the Shroud’s history before Lirey, he is simply wrong.

The KO is in the next paragraph:

In my opinion that is not his most egregious error. Perhaps it’s excusable as only his opinion. However, his statement that the critics of the carbon dating were engaged in special pleading is not just wrong but, in my opinion, reprehensible.

Some of us who are not, like John, skilled lawyers, need to remind ourselves what a special pleading is – to pull out that old definition from behind mind’s cobwebs. According to Wikipedia (I’m not a scholar, either) it is “a form of fallacious argument that involves an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.”

I share your opinion, John. It is reprehensible.

Note:  The photograph, by an unknown photographer, is of Ingemar Johansson knocking out Floyd Patterson and becoming the boxing heavyweight world champion in 1959 is a press photograph taken before 1969 and is therefore in the public domain (Wikimedia Commons)

A Rebuttal of Jackson’s Refutation of Reweaving?

imageA reader writes:

Has anyone offered a rebuttal of Dr. Jackson’s refutation of the reweaving theory?  Or do all the authenticists just ignore it, as Charles Freeman says.

What say you all?

Mark Goodacre Answers Carbon Dating Questions on CNN Website

… and several other questions, too.

To keep up with all the Tweets to Mark click on @goodacre

To follow the continuing dialog on Facebook, visit

imageMark, a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University, is a featured expert in the CNN series, Finding Jesus.

Here are his answers to two carbon dating questions:

Vance Lipsey: Is there a better way to check the shroud than carbon dating? I’ve been told carbon dating is very inaccurate.

Goodacre: Actually, carbon dating is an excellent way to ascertain the date of an artifact. Many are disappointed, not surprisingly, that the shroud dated to between AD 1260 and 1390. I recall my own disappointment (but not surprise) on hearing the results back in 1988. But the scientists doing the carbon dating were not amateurs, and the samples were tested in three separate labs. Moreover, the carbon date cohered with other evidence that the shroud was a medieval forgery, like the fact that there is no evidence of its existence until the 14th century.

Cynthia Restivo: So I know the carbon dating was off, but wasn’t it later shown that the piece of cloth used for the testing was a section that had been repaired after some fire damage or something? Which would explain why it dated different?

Goodacre: No, that’s not been established. Those who defend the authenticity of the shroud often say the sample might have been taken from a part of the shroud that was repaired after it was damaged by fire in the 16th century. But this is special pleading. The scientists who took the sample knew what they were doing. Professor Christopher Ramsey noted that the unusual weave on the sample matched the weave on the rest of the shroud perfectly.

And Being Nuclear Physicists They Did Not Know?

if a hacker wanted to break down the minority pro-authenticity resistance,
and reinforce the majority anti-authenticity prejudice .  . .

Stephen Jones has restarted his conspiracy theory machinations to convince everyone who might read his blog that the results of the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin were manipulated by a computer hacker in Arizona who hacked the computers in Arizona, Oxford, and Zurich. And possibly with help from the KGB.

imageHow you say?   Well . . .

A hacker with access to the AMS control console computer (as Timothy W. Linick did), could run a program which would intercept the output of the AMS radiocarbon dating program, en route to the computer’s screen and replace the Shroud’s first (or early due to contamination) century date with a date which, when calibrated, would be "1350 AD," for this very first run of carbon dating of the Shroud. Thereafter for Arizona and the other two laboratories the hacker’s program could replace the Shroud’s date with random dates within limits which, after calibration, displayed dates clustered around 1325 ±65. Finally the hacker’s program could automatically order its own deletion when the dating of the Shroud would have been completed (e.g. after 3 months), leaving no trace of its former existence[5].

Stephen at first thought the computers were networked.  Then realizing they were not he supposed other methods like Linick sending out a code update before the tests.  Now, wouldn’t it be an amazing discovery if someone could show that that happened?  It was 1988, after all; things like computer security were more casual then. Even so, it seems implausible.  Has Stephen chased this possibility down? If so, there is no mention of it. Instead, in another posting, he wrote:

Following Dr. Jull and Prof. Ramsey’s clarification that the AMS system computer was never online at the their two laboratories (and therefore presumably also not at Zurich), the hacker, or hackers, would have had to insert a program,  or modify the existing program, manually and locally in each of the three laboratories. . . .That makes it more likely that the KGB was involved.

That is conspiracy theory 101.

Here is a taste of some convoluted logic that he just posted:

And because they were all nuclear physicists[17] they did not realise how absurdly unlikely that date of 1350 was. Because since the Shroud is known to have existed from at least 1355[18], the flax would have had to have been harvested in 1350, retted under water for several months[20], spun into linen fibre, woven into a linen cloth, and then the image imprinted on the cloth, all within 5 years! Not to mention stitching and edging the cloth to match that which was found only at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada (see "Linen sheet"].

Moreover it would mean that the Arizona laboratory’s pretreatment of their Shroud sample would have had to have been perfect, removing all non-original carbon. But that is highly unlikely because:

"In 1532 the Shroud was being kept inside a silver casket stored in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambéry, when a fire nearly destroyed the building. The intense heat melted a corner of the casket, scorching the folded linen within, and producing the now familiar scorch marks on the Shroud. Since silver melts only at 960 degrees centigrade, the heat inside the casket must have been intense. In these circumstances moisture in the Shroud would turn to steam, probably at superheat, trapped in the folds and layers of the Shroud. Any contaminants on the cloth would be dissolved by the steam and forced not only into the weave and yarn, but also into the flax fibres’ very lumen and molecular structure. … contaminants would have become part of the chemistry of the flax fibres themselves and would be impossible to remove satisfactorily by surface actants and ultrasonic cleaning. More drastic treatments to destroy the contaminants would inevitably damage the flax fibres themselves"[21].

And being all nuclear physicists, they would probably have been unaware that in 1350 the Shroud was was owned by the most honourable knight in France, Geoffrey I de Charny (c. 1300-1356), "who "wore on his epaulettes the motto `honour conquers all’ … wrote deeply religious poetry … was chosen by France’s king to carry into battle his country’s most sacred banner, the Oriflamme of St Denis, an honour accorded only to the very worthiest of individuals … died a hero, defending his king with his own body in the … battle of Poitiers" and "fourteen years after his death he was duly accorded a hero’s tomb, at royal expense …"[22]. So "It is extremely difficult to understand how such a man would have lent his name … to … fraud"[23].

So the 1350 date must be wrong. But if a hacker wanted to break down the minority pro-authenticity resistance, and reinforce the majority anti-authenticity prejudice, and create a climate of expectation that subsequent datings would confirm that the Shroud was medieval, then 1350 was the date he would have used for that very first dating !

So the 1350 date must be wrong? 

If you want to get caught up on this, read Stephen’s part #1, part #2,part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, part #7, part #8, part #9, #10(1), #10(2) and #10(3).

Picture is of Timothy W. Linick from a University of Arizona obituary.

BSTS Article by Hugh Farey

a genuine chronological gradient?

imageHugh Farey has written an interesting article for the current, December, 2014, issue of the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter entitled Radiocarbon Recalibration. 

Although the spread of measurements is relatively small, it is sufficient to cast doubt on the homogeneity of the three laboratories’ samples, and justifies Riani and Atkinson’s claim of the probability of a genuine chronological gradient across the samples (although their conclusions were based on an analysis of all twelve results, not just the three averages above.(Regression Analysis with Partially Labelled Regressors: Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin, Riani et al., Statistics and Computing, 2012)

To my way of thinking this plays into the mended shroud explanations for errors in the carbon dating and some image-caused-by-radiation theories current in some circles.