More Tomfoolery: The carbon dating results are worthless

imageJoe Marino has expanded the passage he sent a couple of days ago from The Untold Story of the Holy Shroud by Carlos Evaristo (See Documented Pieces Removed from the Shroud). The additional material precedes the material Joe sent previously, which now begins with the sixth paragraph below that I marked with a yellow swath.

I’m reluctant to post this. The previous posting has over 130 comments (half of them by Max who has agreed to post in a way that is easier for the rest of us. These four sentences, for instance, were sent as four comments in nine minutes. I was ready to toss my iPhone away: “Not to mention weight pressure per cm2 at both edges.” “Rings with a faceted gem.” “ Accidents happen.” “The shroud could be held for an hour or even more.” Fortunately there were no typos. Note to Max, most typos don’t need to be corrected. And if it will help, I’ll buy your word-a-minute fingernail FACT – no reply needed.)

Back to the topic at hand. Hugh, let me address this to you. I’m not a scientist like you. But I am a smart fellow. I was a business executive. Had this been a business problem and had this information been known in 1988 it would have been reason enough to stop the carbon dating tests. “Hard stop,” I used to say. The information wasn’t known, unfortunately.

Hugh, you know well what I was thinking when I tongue in cheek quoted the words ‘another proof’ in the last posting. But I do think this is added weight to the “reweave idea” that you “currently reject.” Can I say ‘more reasonable doubt’  instead?That is what I think. Okay, it is no longer 1988 and we can only look back. There is enough reasonable evidence to be very suspicious about the results of the carbon dating like cotton fibers, gum, dye, splices, vanillin and statistics. Now there is all this quoted described tomfoolery. We can still declare a hard stop, in a sense. It is not proof as a scientist must perhaps see it. But it is enough to say that the carbon dating results are worthless. We don’t have a date for the cloth.

We will still have carbon dating fundamentalists on the left and by-miracle-by-golly isotope rejuvenators on the right. And we are about to be treated to a new theory that the KGB and one of the Arizona scientists (whose face, BTW, has 13 of the 15 Vignon markings) hacked the computer control panels of the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) systems in three countries.

Back to the topic at hand:

According to the testimony of King Umberto II of Savoy (later recalled by friends, the exiled Monarch entertained in the 1950s, at Villa Italia, in Cascais, Portugal), oral tradition in the Savoy Royal Family confirmed that the Custodians of the Holy Shroud, from the earliest medieval period, had sporadically made copies of the Shroud,but also removed fragments from all around the outermost edges of the Burial Cloth, even as far inward as 10 centimeters and distributed these to close relatives, devotees and allies.

That a mysterious seam or pronounced crease mark is visible all along one length of the Shroud is a fact that has baffled Scientists, some of whom have gone as far as to ridiculously (?) propose that a removed section was used to bind the Shroud to the Body at the chin, hands and feet and then sewn back onto the sheet, at a later date.

What could also be probable is that this thick, long strip of the original cloth was removed at one point [and] cut up into sections for distribution in reliquaries.

Another possible scenario is that this strip was used in a transfer boiling ritual or else separated, thread by thread, so as to have been incorporated into Ex Extractumcopies of the Holy Shroud.

Any one of these processes could have been carried out by the Canons guarding the Shroud at Lirey or Chambery without the consent or knowledge of whoever owned the Sacred Relic.  Once carried out or the abuse discovered, the section could have ordered or rewoven, back onto the original whole or else the section in question was substituted with another piece of similar cloth.”

According to King Umberto II, the pious practice of sharing Major Relics of the Holy Shroud was, according to tradition, continued by the first three Savoy Lords who possessed it, although they, unlike some of their predecessor Guardians, never purposely removed fragments from their areas with the image of the Corpus Sancti (Holy Body.)

Another fact confirmed by His Majesty was that it was traditionally affirmed, that at one point in the past, he edges of the Lenzuoli (Sheet) had become so tattered as to cause embarrassment or criticism of the Custodians, and those areas were repaired and rewoven using identical techniques, but obviously with similar, yet newer, materials containing dyes and other medieval manufacturing ingredients, in an attempt to better blend the new sections in, as best possible, with the original fabric.

In truth, the presence of medieval dyes was detected in these areas and this fact has been already pointed out by Scientists as additional proof of the inaccuracy of the 1988 Carbon 14 dating test results that placed the samples taken from these areas, as having been fabricated sometime in the middle ages.

In truth, any one of the aforementioned practices alone would also account, for not only the contamination of the fabric resulting in inaccurate Carbon 14 dating results, but also, the different types of linen, dyes, resins and fabric patches, discovered to have been present on the outermost edges of the sheet that usually held by Bishops during the exposition of the Sacred Relic to the public for veneration.

And while I was writing the above, this floated in. It is from later pages (pp. 265 & 267 (picture on pg. 266) of the Evaristo book.  Italics are in the original:

The removal of all patches and of the reinforcement Holland Cloth backing of the Holy Shroud, in the year 2002, confirmed what King Umberto had stated, namely that small sections of the repaired and rewoven edges, had continually been removed from the Sacred Relic and probably as late as the second half of the 17th century.  That thepractice of removing small fragments and even full length or width threads from the outer edges [of] the Holy Shroud, was a family tradition only finally suppressed by Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy, was another fact Umberto II of Savoy confirmed to Blue Army Founder and Shroud Devotee John Mathias Haffert, in the mid 1960’s.

It was the same Vittorio Amedeo II, who along with his wife, the Infanta Anna d’Orleans, personally assisted Blessed Sebastiano Valfre on June 6th, 1694, in repairing the Sacred Burial Cloth of the The Christ, shortly before transferring the Sacred Relic to the new Chapel of the Guarini.  Later, it became a tradition on June 6th of each year for the Savoy Royal Family to distribute relics of the backing cloth.

It was in 1694, that in accordance to the Savoy Family tradition, some of the removed sections of thread were then woven into full size replicas of the Sindone (Shroud) for private or public veneration in Convents and Cathedrals during popular Holy Week celebrations.  Unlike the meticulous repair work that had been carried out in previous centuries by religious expert weavers following the damage caused to the Shroud by fires and which left little trace of the removed sections, the intervention of the Savoy and the Blessed was aimed primarily at replacing the cloth backing of the Relic giving it added thickness and strength and also a better contrast to the image.

The last intervention by religious sisters had been considered poor by the various members of the House of Savoy since, rather than reweaving the areas nearest the outermost edges that were either missing or had frayed from manipulation and wear, they had camouflaged them with cloth coverings and patches.

The backing of black cloth added by Blessed Sebastiano Valfre was later removed by Princess Maria Clotilde di Savoia, (1843-1911) Consort of Prince Napoleon, who substituted it for a pink silk on April 28th, 1868, on account of the backing having also become deteriorated from manipulation and removal of pieces for relics.

Hard stop! The carbon dating results are worthless. We don’t have a date for the cloth.

Documented Pieces Removed from the Shroud

additional proof of the inaccuracy of the 1988 Carbon 14 dating due to mending?

Joe Marino sends along this passage from The Untold Story of the Holy Shroud by Carlos Evaristo (2011). The book contains information from the Savoy family archives that has otherwise never been publically disclosed:

clip_image001According to King Umberto II, the pious practice of sharing Major Relics of the Holy Shroud was, according to tradition, continued by the first three Savoy Lords who possessed it, although they, unlike some of their predecessor Guardians, never purposely removed fragments from their areas with the image of the Corpus Sancti (Holy Body.)

     Another fact confirmed by His Majesty was that it was traditionally affirmed, that at one point in the past, the edges of the Lenzuoli (Sheet) had become so tattered as to cause embarrassment or criticism of the Custodians, and those areas were repaired and rewoven using identical techniques, but obviously with similar, yet newer, materials containing dyes and other medieval manufacturing ingredients, in an attempt to better blend the new sections in, as best possible, with the original fabric.

     In truth, the presence of medieval dyes was detected in these areas and this fact has been already pointed out by Scientists as additional proof of the inaccuracy of the 1988 Carbon 14 dating test results that placed the samples taken from these areas, as having been fabricated sometime in the middle ages.

     In truth, any one of the aforementioned practices alone would also account, for not only the contamination of the fabric resulting in inaccurate Carbon 14 dating results, but also, the different types of linen, dyes, resins and fabric patches, discovered to have been present on the outermost edges of the sheet that usually held by Bishops during the exposition of the Sacred Relic to the public for veneration.

((italics in original)

Picture from Wikimedia Commons:  King Umberto in 1944 (Reign 9 May 1946 – 18 June 1946)

Comment Promoted: John Klotz on How Ray Rogers Gets Critiqued

imageJohn Klotz has made an important point, one I agree with:

Critics of Rogers’ view on image formation keep rolling it into a critique of his work on he shroud samples. Rogers analysis included threads from the material held back FROM THE CARBON AREA that were retained by Luigi Gonella. His science in that regard was completely peer reviewed. He asked other scientists to double check his work. They did and they concurred.

That’s one issue.

His ideas on image formation were incomplete as even he realized.

Rogers work on the carbon test area was completely transparent. The fact is that he had a hypothesis that even he realized was incomplete when it came to the image formation problem.

It is not logical to combine the critique of his incomplete image formation hypothesis with criticism of his documented and work on the threads from the carbon test area.

It’s really depressing that people who have an argument with his image hypothesis then feel it necessary to blow smoke about his work on the carbon test site threads.

imageIt’s apple and oranges. Logically it is self-defeating for one faction to try to discredit another faction on an issue. We should be open to multiple view points. There is no conflict between the proof that the carbon testing area was subject to repairs and that the image formation process implicates the resurrection directly. One, the carbon testing, is directly resolvable by scientific testing of the physical threads. Rogers did that. The other is still a bit over the horizon.


imageDanusha Goska, in  a comment posted on the Holy Shroud Guild Facebook page, weighs in on the possibility of sabotage or error in the 1988 carbon dating.

April 25 at 4:47pm

I have to ask … to what extent does anyone talk about falsification or simple error in the 1988 carbon dating? In other words, to what extent do people interested in the Shroud discuss whether or not it is possible that someone sabotaged that test, or that the labs tested the wrong cloth, accidentally or on purpose?

For myself, sabotage or error strike me as entirely plausible, but I wonder to what extent others mention it.

Ian Wilson treats this thought as if it were taboo, but Thomas de Wesselow acknowledges that it is possible.

Did a single thread get tested in 1982. Is it important to know? And why?

imageAs I was making a pot of coffee this morning, Jason Engwer was posting a fascinating and important article to Triablogue: The 1982 Carbon Dating Of The Shroud Of Turin.

Once I got to these two paragraphs I couldn’t stop to refill my cup:

There seems to be widespread agreement, among the accounts circulating, that this dating test on the Shroud took place in the early 1980s (my sense is that the large majority say 1982) in California, involving one thread from the Shroud near the area of the 1988 carbon dating, producing two dates differing by several centuries for each end of the thread, one date being close to the time of Jesus and one several centuries later. For example:

"[John] Heller took me back to the train station that evening [in 1984], and as we sat waiting for my train back to New York City, he told me in strictest confidence about a secret C-14 run that had already been made on a thread from the Shroud. He said . . .

Most people, in quoting others, use ellipsis to truncate a quote, feeling perhaps that what follows is not so significant to them. I mean something else. I’m advertising: go read the whole article. But, if you haven’t done so yet, this should inspire you to do so:

It seems to me that Adler’s behavior at the Turin workshop in 1986 supports his credibility on this issue. (The Turin workshop was a meeting, attended largely by scholars in relevant fields, that had the objective of formulating plans for the upcoming carbon dating of the Shroud.) During the course of the meeting, Adler argued for taking samples from multiple places on the cloth and advised that the cloth’s edges and water stain areas be avoided (Harry Gove, Relic, Icon Or Hoax? [Bristol and Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Publishing, 1996], 153; William Meacham, The Rape Of The Turin Shroud [Lulu, 2005], 74-5). Those recommendations would undermine the significance of the sample allegedly used in the 1982 test. Why would Adler lie about a test in 1982, yet try to persuade the Turin officials to conduct the later carbon dating in a way that would so much undermine the purpose of his lie?

Haven’t jumped over yet? “Here’s my tentative conclusion. . . “, writes Jerry. Not fair fast scrolling to the bottom. Read every word up to Jerry’s conclusion. Now read the conclusion..

So what do you think? Did it happen? Is it important?

The Carbon Dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo Plus the Caves of the Sudarium

the 2007 carbon dating
and a bit of fascinating history

imageO.K. writes:

I would like you to post some of the following issues on the blog:

1. The 2007 carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo. Mark Guscin has written in the article ‘The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Oviedo’

Just weeks before the congress took place, new samples from the Sudarium were subject to carbon dating. Five samples were dated from five different cloths –three of them came up with the expected date, while the cloth from an Egyptian mummy returned a date of any time in the 19th or 20th centuries. The laboratory immediately concluded that the cloth (and the mummy) were fakes. The sample from the Sudarium was dated to around 700 AD. Scientist César Barta spoke about the carbon dating process, emphasising the fact that if carbon dating is always absolutely accurate, then we could just as well finish the congress there and then. However, there were several points to bear in mind– in specialist carbon dating magazines, about half the samples dated come up with the expected date, around 30% with an “acceptable” date, and the other 20% is not what one would expect from archaeology. The laboratory used (via the National Museum in Madrid) said they were surprised by the result and asked if the cloth was contaminated with any oil based product, as oil is not cleaned by the laboratory processes used before carbon dating and if oil is present on a sample, the date produced by carbon dating is in fact the date of contamination. Finally, the history of the Sudarium is very well established and there are definite references to its presence in Jerusalem in AD 570 and at the beginning of the fifth century.

Micheal Hesemann in a recent book (“Chusta Chrystusa, Naukowcy na tropie zmartwychwstania” pg. 230-232, that is polish edition of “Das Bluttuch Christi”) gives some more details. The dating was performed by Beta Analytic Inc. from Miami, and the result was 660-890 AD.

It is curious, because so far we know, the Sudarium had been carbon-dated in the 80s, by two laboratories: Tuscon and Toronto, based on samples taken from it by Max Frei and Pierluigi Baima-Bollone. Various accounts about the results exist. So far I have met: 653-786 AD Toronto, and 642-769 AD (in other version 642-869 AD) Tuscon. Micheal Hesemann, on the other hand, reprots 540-869 AD. Also "between 1st and 9th century" claim was made at one point.

Does anyone has any more details about 2007 dating? So far I know, on the Barrie’s site, on the Valencia conference page, there is listed a paper called ‘Dating the Cloths by the C14 Method – The Oviedo Sudarium’  by Felipe Montero Ortego, but it seems to be inaccessible either via Barrie’s site, or the Google.

2. The second issue is that I have found interesting site of Micheal Hesemann. Mainly German, but there are a few articles in English.

The second referenced item, Discovered: The Cave Monastery which housed the Sudarium of Christ  concludes fascinatingly:

Many question remain unanswered: Did St. Gerasimus discover a hiding place of the early Christians, did he find the long-forgotten “Sudario Domini” in these very caves, maybe preserved in a wooden chest or a large jar, like the Dead Sea scrolls? Or was the precious relic entrusted to him by his teacher, St. Euthymius, the “founder and patron of the Judaean wilderness”, who established several laurae of hermits in the Judaean desert? We can only speculate about the details. But we can say for sure that Antoninus gave an accurate description of the cave monastery which existed in the cliffs of the Wadi en-Nukheil, at least since the 5thcentury. And that in this cliff laura, according to the pilgrim’s report, the Sudario was once venerated, before it was brought first to Africa, then to Spain.

New Paper: The Missing Corners and the Radiocarbon Date


Preferred New PDF Link  The Missing Corners of the Shroud of Turin and the Radiocarbon Date

Pam Moon has a new paper out, The Missing Corners and the Radiocarbon date of the Shroud of Turin at The Shroud of Turin Exhibition website.

Note: the paper is 11 slow-as-molasses pages stored as PNG graphics files wrapped in HTML. I’m travelling this week and must read papers through a hotel WiFi signal. It took 6 minutes to load on Windows 8.1 It is still trying to load on an iPad. Printing fails each and every time with various pages being dropped. (Others have encountered printing problems, I’m told). My only option was to save each page file manually, then print each one in Photoshop. You can only copy text with OCR software, which is how I copied the following paragraph.

This paper argues that the corners were removed because of water damage from douse water used to put out the fire that partially burned the Shroud in 1532. The contaminated douse water led to the formation of mould and bacteria on the cloth. The corners were too damaged and stained to be saved so they were cut away by the curators of the Shroud. Then the area around the cut was unravelled and cleaned with a disinfectant applied with a cotton or linen cloth. Additional fibres were added to the Shroud material by the cleaning process. Finally the unravelled fibres were rewoven and a patch applied to the corner.

It is an interesting paper. Take the time to read it.

Pam, if you see this and you want your paper to get the attention it deserves, please put it into a PDF file.


Okay, we will need to wait several weeks

imageStephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything. It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

. . .  I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right? By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named? Evidence, this time?

Thinking the 1988 Carbon Dating Outweighs the Other Evidence Is Absurd

“Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or
some improvement upon it, isn’t enough.”

imageJason Engwer has delivered a significant and thought-provoking analysis in Triablogue, Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating

Meacham to Farey upon a whirlwind:

[William] Meacham wrote nearly a decade ago. There have been some significant developments since then. In his book, Meacham discussed Ray Rogers’ 2005 article that undermines the 1988 carbon dating results. Further research since then has corroborated Rogers’ findings. For some examples, see here. A study published in 2010 by Marco Riani, et al., for instance, found significant heterogeneity in the section of the Shroud tested in 1988. In 2013,Giulio Fanti and some other researchers published the results of some dating tests they ran on alleged fragments of the Shroud. All of their dating methods showed a pre-medieval date.

On the other hand, Timothy Jull, a member of the University of Arizona lab that tested the Shroud in 1988,published an article in 2010 that cast doubt on Rogers’ findings. In 2013, Hugh Farey wrote an article that discusses problems with the reweave hypothesis (the view that the section of the Shroud tested in 1988 contains some more recent threads woven into the original cloth during a repair, so that the more recent threads would distort the carbon dating).

Mark Oxley has written an article criticizing Jull’s piece. For some initial reactions to Farey’s article, see the thread here. In that thread, Thibault Heimburger says that he’s noticed some problems with Farey’s article and suggests that he’ll be writing a response to it.

I think Jull and Farey make some good points that significantly weaken the reweave hypothesis. The reweave hypothesis still seems to be the best explanation of the evidence, but now by a smaller margin. We have to leave the door wide open to other possibilities.

Wringing answers from the unknown:

How would the artist or forger know how to portray a Roman crucifixion victim so accurately? Why would he repeatedly and accurately depart from how Jesus was portrayed in the large majority of medieval depictions (a nail wound closer to the wrist than the palm; wounds from a thick cap of thorns rather than a thin wreath of thorns; etc.)? Why are so many characteristics of the Shroud inconsistent with the interests of an artist or forger? Why would an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce such a masterpiece go about introducing his work to the world in such an ineffective manner? Geoffrey de Charny was a relatively low-level figure in the society of his day. The modest status of the Shroud around the medieval timeframe suggested by the 1988 carbon dating is incongruous with what an artist or forger brilliant enough to produce the Shroud would be likely to do with it. And why would an artist or forger include a close-up depiction of Jesus completely nude and uncovered on his back side, something that the vast majority of people seem to find objectionable even in the more sexually libertine cultures of our day (how much more so in a medieval context)? Why and how would an artist or forger include so many details that can’t be seen by the naked eye (in an age without microscopes and other such devices)? Why would an artist or forger display his genius in the Shroud, but nowhere else? Why don’t we see comparable displays of genius from the same source around the same time? Why is the Shroud such an isolated object that stands out so starkly from the medieval context?

The notion that the 1988 carbon dating alone equals or outweighs all of the evidence cited above for an earlier date is absurd. The 1988 dating of one small piece of the cloth, from such a poor area for that sort of testing, can’t bear the weight that’s so often placed upon it. I would argue that even if further carbon dating would produce the same or similar results, the evidence for an earlier date would still weigh more. Carbon dating alone, whether in its 1988 form or some improvement upon it, isn’t enough. There has to be more. That’s how good the evidence is for an earlier date.

Do read the entire posting Weighing The Shroud’s 1988 Carbon Dating at Triablogue.

* Whirlwind? In this sense, yes, borrowing some words from the conflicted Anne Rice:

Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.

Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

imageMy favorite Episcopal priests turned Catholic priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, pictured here with his wife and four children, weighs in on the GJW (The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife):

However, clever folks on both sides could piece together any sort of saying of Jesus from the scrap we have here. The headline grabbing text seems to read, “Jesus said to them, “My wife…” Is Jesus referring to his wife? Theoretically it could be, but in the absence of any other evidence that Jesus was married, and going against the early text and 2000 years of tradition that he was not married this is unlikely. What might the rest of the text say? Perhaps Jesus was quoting another text about marriage thus, “My wife is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones said Adam…” or “My wife is also my sister and my mother in the Lord.” Who knows?

While it is interesting to follow the scholarship and the debate about this ancient manuscript, what also interests me is the way the secular press have handled it. First of all they have called it “the Jesus Wife Manuscript”. No doubt the headlines will blaze about how Jesus was married and we now have ancient proof for it. This will then become the popular scream. “Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!” Another detail was in the Boston Globe story. The papyrus was carbon tested by one laboratory at 700 BC. So carbon testing can come up with a result that is clearly about a thousand years off? Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin suddenly the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

“Of course priests should marry. Jesus was married!!!”

Actually, I think so but not because of the GJW

Fr. Longenecker wants your help:

imageMy blog is part of my ministry and I have a wife and kids to support as well as run a busy parish. If you would like to help out financially you can make a donation through PayPal by hitting the "Donate" button below.

I knew there would be a way to work in a picture of the $2.2 million mansion that is the residence of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. (Fr. Longenecker is not part of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.)


More on the Carbon Dating of the GJW, ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ Fragment

Christian Askeland has posted a very good analysis, Jesus’s Wife Resurrected from Dead, in the blog Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Radiocarbon Dating:

Using two labs, the GJW fragment and a Sahidic John fragment associated with the same papyri lot were carbon dated. The rounded 2-sigma ranges for the manuscripts are as follows:





640–800 CE

650–870 CE


680–880 CE

410–200 BCE




Only the Harvard report indicates the date of the test (14 March 2014); one might surmise that the second test was ordered after the extremely early date arrived from Arizona. Whatever the case, if one of the two GJW 14C dates were to be accurate, it would probably be the Harvard range (650–870 CE), which is corroborated by the related GJohn manuscript (chart above). Having said this, the result remains somewhat inconclusive. (δ13C levels were also higher than expected, suggesting contamination in all samples.)

So does this confirm the authenticity of the GJW? Such a late dating bulldozes King’s first appraisal of the manuscript as a fourth century witness. The GJW fragment under question is broken on all sides except the top, where apparently the modern forger cut the empty section off of a larger fragment which was in fact ancient. Carbon dating has no value for authenticating such a manuscript, although if the Ptolemaic date (410–200 BCE) offered by the Arizona AMS lab were accurate (of which I am not convinced), fraud would be certain.


If a husband were to genetically test his children to determine whether his wife had been faithful, and the tests returned indicating that that the children could not conclusively be proven to not be his, would this assure him of his wife’s fidelity? Could he then, based upon these tests, be confident that he had indeed fathered the children? Karen King has produced no new evidence to authenticate this fragment.  On the contrary, her prior contentions that the GJW fragment was (1) part of a literary codex and (2) was fourth century are now indefensible.  Her method of argumentation was not self-critical or objective, but will doubtlessly be sufficient for those who already want to believe.

Useful links:

Ray Schneider: Why is the carbon dating wrong? I don’t know. That it is wrong I am quite certain . . .

Ray is up with a recommendation on his blog, Political Brambles:

Ray writes:

With Easter soon to come it’s appropriate to think about the Shroud of Turin and this video is hard to beat since it touches upon so many of the issues. . . .

. . . This video demonstrates the correspondence between the sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud which, in my mind at least, proves that the 1988 carbon date is wrong.  Why is it wrong?  I don’t know.  That it is wrong I am quite certain for the shroud duplicates blood stains that are on the sudarium of Oviedo which is much older than the shroud and so both cloths were in contact with the same body.

It is a good video, produced and directed by Reuben Aaronson for The Learning Channel. It runs for about 52 minutes.

Carbon Dating Problems with the “Jesus’ Wife” Fragment

imageSTART HERE with a Boston Globe article,  No evidence of modern forgery in ancient text mentioning ‘Jesus’s wife’  along with a video to get up to speed (if you’re not).

A reader writes:

Note that there is a new "Jesus’ Wife" publication. [See “Jesus’ Wife” Articles in HTR: Initial Thoughts in Larry Hurtado’s Blog.]  The observation which may interest you is the huge discrepancy in C14 dating by experts with the possibility of contamination effects.

These cannot be statistically consistent. (And recent statistical analysis of the SOT results indicate that they also were inconsistent among samples.)

(I believe there was also a problem with a control sample.)

People make a big deal of C14 testing, when it probably is not very reliable for certain materials. It might be noted that just because someone is a specialist in some field of science does _not_ at all mean they are statistical or even methodological experts. 95% aren’t.

The carbon dating discussion in Larry’s blog runs less than a paragraph and reads:

. . . The two radio-carbon tests, however, are both a bit puzzling and interesting.  The proposed dates of the two tests are out from each other by several hundred years.  The one report (by Hodgins) notes the curious date-result (405-350 BCE and/or 307-209 BCE), about a thousand years earlier than the date from the other carbon-dating test (659-969 CE), and Hodgins suggests some kind of contamination of the sample.  But I’d assume that a contamination would come from something later than the ancient setting, and so skew the date later, not earlier.  I’ll need some help with this!

Stephen Jones’ Revised Hacking Theory Part I is Available

Darn. Stephen left out two of my favorite historical items:
1) The Hymn of the Pearl and 2) The Mozarabic Rite. 

clip_image001Stephen Jones is up with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #1.

. . . this is part #1 of my revised proposal that the three radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval … AD 1206-1390," may have been duped by a computer hacker.

Well, there is nothing so far to justify the speculation of a computer hacker. It will be interesting to see where he goes with it, now being forced to revise his thinking after seeing emails to Hugh Farey from two of the three lab directors.

Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers that could have been hacked to conceal real carbon dating results from the scientists. We’ll see.

Anyways, Stephen has provided us with some historic information to consider.

Nice new picture of Stephen.

IEEE Shroud Conference Call for Papers Reminder

Authors should submit abstracts or draft manuscripts by May 9, 2014 in accordance with:


(and remember the call-for-papers deadline for the St. Louis Conference in April 15)

So, was the small Arizona piece in Doug Donahue’s custody ever made available to Barrie Schwortz?

clip_image001Bill McClellan, a columnist writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is reminiscing about his friends, Dee and Doug Donahue (pictured):

Occasionally, other events brought us to Tucson. In 1988, Doug’s lab at the university was one of three labs to carbon date the Shroud of Turin. The two other labs were at Oxford and Zurich. The labs had agreed not to release the results individually. Doug had invited Harry Gove, a physicist from the University of Rochester, to observe. Gove had had a poor relationship with the scientific adviser to the bishop of Turin, and his lab had been excluded from the testing.

I was waiting for them at the house on Fourth Street when they returned from the lab. Neither of them mentioned the results, but as we had a drink on the porch, I sensed — correctly — from Gove that the results were not what Turin would have wanted.

[ . . . ]

Not long ago, Dee fell. She was not hurt badly, but it was clear that living on the second floor, climbing up and down steps, was not a good idea. For that matter, the house required too much maintenance. Doug and Dee moved into an apartment for senior citizens. . . . the house on Fourth Street . . . will go on the market next month.

And thus I’m reminded as a result of something Helmut Felzmann wrote for the Shroud Science Group that I republished last November with his kind permission in a  blog entry: The Mysterious Arizona Piece. Helmut  had written:

Barrie [Schwortz] went to Tuscon in August 2012 with invitation from Jull (I persuaded Jull) to take photos from all the blind samples, the rest of the large sample and the small sample. When he arrived in Tuscon, Jull told Barrie that the small piece is not available as it is in custody of Mr. Donahue, the retired head of the laboratory in 1988. But Donahue was not available due to his personal situation. It was promised to Barrie, that he will have access to the piece later.

Barrie had also written in Report on the STERA, Inc. – University of Arizona Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory Macro Photography – 30 August 2012:

The day I was to make the photographs, Dr. Jull informed me that one (or more?) remaining samples would not be available for the photography session. These were currently in the possession of Dr. D.J. Donahue, the retired former Director of the laboratory, who was away due to a family emergency. I am hopeful they can be made available at some future date so they can be photographed using the same techniques and equipment and added to the collection.

So, was the small Arizona piece in Doug Donahue’s custody ever made available to Barrie? Was it at the time of Barrie’s visit at home on Fourth Street or locked up in the lab such that Timothy Jull, then the director of the lab, could not get access? Where is it now?

The Computer Hacker Hypothesis is Short on Factual Material

imageHad the responses from Timothy Jull and Christopher Ramsey put the computer hacker hypothesis to bed? No. Stephen Jones tells us:

I am now going to post a revised version of my proposal, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" based on the information contained in Dr. Jull’s and Prof. Ramsey’s emails.

Is Stephen ready to? He should consider this letter from a Chicago reader, as well. Stephen should answer these questions:

How did the allegedly hacked software in the AMS control computers distinguish between  calibration runs and production runs? How did the software know to change the results only if the sample being tested was from the Turin Shroud and not from control material or from material being tested for other clients?

Were the control computers special purpose machines,? Could all three of them be reprogrammed? Even the VP8 was called a computer by some people. But it couldn’t be networked and you couldn’t hack it without parts and a soldering iron.

Without answers to these questions, Jones has nothing. It is only after doing some REAL basic research that he can start looking for motive, means and opportunity. He is doing everything backswords.

Note: Stephen’s fifth article in what is now a long series, Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey should be read carefully. Therein he writes:

On Dan Porter’s blog he recently posted, under "Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis" an email that the Shroud anti-authenticist and Editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud’s Newsletter, Hugh Farey received from Dr. Timothy Jull, Director of the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon dating laboratory and a signatory to the the 1988 Nature paper, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," which claimed that the linen on the Shroud was "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390. Porter, who himself believes:

"The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless."

nevertheless is against my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories may have been duped by a computer hacker, and promoted Farey’s copy of Jull’s email with the comment: "Does this put an end to it, once and for all?" evidently hoping that it did

Against? No! I say unimpressed, unconvinced certainly, but not against. I’m not taking sides. This one sentence is astounding:

My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the `too good to be true’ 1325 ± 65 years date.

Okay, maybe astonished, dumbfounded, aghast, but not against.

Moreover: ARPANET was restricted to U.S. establishments in 1988. So what WAN or LAN communications capabilities did Oxford or Zurich have? Were the AMS machines connected? What sort of computers did they have? These are basic questions that need to be explored. Maybe communicating computers should be discounted completely. Facts would be helpful.

Personally, I doubt the AMS “computers” were networked, at all. It doesn’t matter if ARPANET was installed at the University of Arizona. The claim that computers at laboratories were connected to ARPANET doesn’t mean that a special purpose measurement and control system unit was on the network. Did the unit have the hardware interface and was it even capable of running telecommunications software?  Maybe so? Maybe it was a PDP 11, a System 7 or a Series/1. The point is do we know.

Maybe software changes had to be loaded from a floppy disk or by swapping EPROMs and circuit cards?

Supposedly, if you think Stephen is right, three separate “computers” were hacked. What are the real facts surrounding this hypothesis that even makes that possible?

Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

imageHugh Farey comments on the posting, Stephen Jones Persists with the Hacker Theory.

I have recently received an email from Timothy Jull, regarding the hacking hypothesis. Its text, in its entirety, runs:

“This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.

Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.

Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t.”

Does this put an end to it, once and for all?

Picture is of A. J. Timothy Jull, director of the University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory. (Wikipedia Link Provided)

As long as these results are not refuted . . . [they] have scientific validity?

imageJason Engwer has an interesting piece in the Triablogue about Fanti’s recent interview with Vatican Insider. It got me thinking. But first …

Jason provided a link to something he wrote a year ago. (Heck, it’s short; let me quote from it directly – all of it):

Jason: The Shroud of Turin has been in the news a lot lately, due to a new book that’s come out claiming further scientific testing that dates the Shroud around the time of Jesus. See the March 28 entry here for an overview from Barrie Schwortz, including a discussion of some of the problems with Giulio Fanti’s claims at this point. We’ll have to wait to see how things develop. Dan Porter has been covering the story on his blog as well. There’s already good reason to reject the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud, such as Ray Rogers’ work published in 2005. We’ll see how much Fanti’s research adds to that. From what I’ve read so far, I agree with the general thrust of Schwortz’s comments. Fanti’s work looks somewhat promising, but there are problems with it.

In his latest post, Jason quotes Fanti from the Vatican Insider interview. It’s a computerized translation, but it is readable:

Fanti: Today, we have thus five different dating methods: the radiocarbon method, my three and those of Rogers. Also, we could have been wrong. But four different independent methods, reach the same result, but then speak a clear language. As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity. So that has first Century after Christ the greatest probability as emergence period for the Turin grave cloth. This dating corresponds exactly to the time Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine. We now await the reactions from the rest of the science world. So far we received only affirmative and affirmative responses, but no refutation.

Jason wraps it up (and I agree with him):

Jason: Notice Fanti’s reference to the work of Ray Rogers, which I’ve discussed before. Even if we were to reject Fanti’s research, we’d have other grounds for dismissing the 1988 carbon dating results. There are many indications, some of which I’ve discussed before, that the Shroud is older than the medieval era. The preponderance of evidence favors authenticity.

And that is when I got to thinking. Fanti said, “As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity.”

Maybe we should be revisiting Revisiting Giulio Fanti’s Dating Methods.

Beyond the blogosphere, is anyone paying attention to Fanti’s methods? Is anyone giving thought to refuting his methods or refuting the result he achieved?

As to the first part of that question, methods, at least one method has been explored in a scientific journal:  Vibrational Spectroscopy, an Elsevier journal. The paper: Non-destructive dating of ancient flax textiles by means of vibrational spectroscopy.

As for the second part of the question,  results, Fanti’s science is being published by Edizioni Segno, a Christian publishing house of books and magazines “unique in their genre for the variety and completeness of the information on prophecies and private revelations and apparitions and messages, everything about the world of the supernatural.” (Bing Translation for quoted portion). Not likely to draw a lot of scientific attention, is it.

It is hard to say, as Fanti does, “As long as these results are not refuted . . . [they] have scientific validity,” if nobody is paying attention.

Or am I missing something? Do we need a better translation?

Giulio Fanti’s Book Launched

imageYesterday, publisher Edizioni Segno launched LA SINDONE: primo secolo dopo Cristo! (Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.!) by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi. 

Paper Chase: Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert

imageSurprise! This paper seems to be open access. Click here to have a go at it.

Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert by  A.J. Timothy Jull, Douglas Donahue, Magen Broshi and Emanuel Tov; Radiocarbon, Vol 37, No 1, 1995, pp 11-19.


We report on new 14C measurements of samples of 18 texts (scrolls) and 2 linen fragments from Qumran Caves 1, 2, and 4 and from Nahal Hever, both in the Dead Sea region. The radiocarbon results are in good agreement with estimates of age based on paleography.


Various parchment and papyrus manuscripts found in caves in the area of Qumran and at other sites in the Judean Desert are known generally as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Qumran scrolls are generally considered to have been hidden by the Qumran Community, identified by most scholars as the Ess- enes. The documents are usually regarded to have been copied between the mid-third century BC and AD 68, when the Qumran settlement was destroyed by the Romans.

Bonani et al. (1991, 1992) dated 14 texts, 8 of which came from Qumran. We present here new radiocarbon dates of 18 texts, including 3 date-bearing texts (3 from Qumran Cave 1,12 from Cave 4, and 3 from other sites in the Judean Desert). We consider the importance of the 14C dates in relation to other age estimates and we also report on 14C examinations of linen fragments from the Judean Desert.

Part 3 is up: Did Stephen Jones make the case?

imageRead Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3). Did Stephen Jones make the case?

He didn’t intend to:

So it would not be surprising if the atheistic Soviet regime of the 1980s would see it as a legitimate target to discredit the Shroud, and through that Christianity, by one its agents hacking into each of the three radiocarbon dating laboratories’ computers, and replacing the actual radiocarbon dates of the Shroud that the laboratories’ accelerated mass spectrometers were determining, with bogus dates which when calibrated would cluster around 1325 +/- 65 years.

I have presented this proposal as a question, "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" because in the nature of the case, barring a belated confession, my proposal is unlikely ever to be confirmed as correct, even if it is correct. The hacker would be unlikely to admit it because he would be prosecuted and gaoled for breaking into government computers, as Hess was. And the laboratories would be unlikely to admit they had been duped by a hacker, even if they realised they had been. Whatever evidence there was in the laboratories’ computers, the hacker would almost certainly have deleted it, and even if he didn’t, it is most unlikely that it would still exist in the laboratories’ 1988 computers.

Anyway, in the final analysis it is the Shroud anti-authenticists’ problem to find a explanation for what went wrong with their carbon dating of the first-century Shroud to the 13th-14th centuries. As Thomas de Wesselow pointed out, we Shroud pro-authenticists don’t need to find an explanation of what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. We can just dismiss it out of hand as a "’rogue’ radiocarbon date" as archaeologists routinely do when a radiocarbon date is contradicted by the majority of the other evidence: