Italian Fake Not 3D Encoded like the Shroud of Turin

It was widely reported in the media that the Italian Fake exhibited the same 3D aspects as the Shroud of Turin. You decide. Hint, the Italian fake is on the left. Find the nose. Parts of both cheeks protrude higher than the nose. It is hard to see that here but it has been confirmed with grayscale density measurement.

Of course, it could not have the subtle grayscale, given the method with which it was made. And if you are familiar with height-fields as used in computer graphics, you quickly realize it can not produce anything like the shroud image.


The press merely reported what Dr. Garlaschelli said without, it seems, taking a look.

These images are courtesy of Prof. Giulio Fanti at the University of Padua.

Why the Italian Fake Does Not Reproduce the Shroud of Turin

Petrus Soons, a very gifted shroud scholar, has commented on the the Italian Fake. It is thoughtfully presented and warrants full consideration. 

In the last few days, a story appeared in the mass media that an Italian professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia (Italy), reproduced the image on the Shroud of Turin using materials and methods that were available in the 14th century, concluding that the experiment proves the relic was man-made. Basically, he used a linen cloth in scale 1:1, that was baked at 215 degrees C for 3 hours and then put it in a washing machine with water only. Then they put a person dirtied with RED OCHRE (IRON OXIDE) on the linen and corrected by hand the colored image. A chalk bas relief was used for the face printing, liquid tempera simulated the blood and sulfuric acid at 1.2% in water added with Aluminium and Cobalt modified the linen surface. An artificial aging was the final treatment before the pigment was washed. The final goal was to show that it was possible to create a fake in the 14th century.

Now, there is nothing new to this. In 1979, Walter C. McCrone (1916-2002), an internationally recognized microscopist and the director of the famous McCrone Associates Research Laboratory in Chicago, reported that the Shroud image was due to the application of RED OCHRE, also known as Venetian red (an earth color) a red artist’s pigment, which is a red IRON OXIDE, so probably Prof Garlaschelli took over this idea from Walter C. McCrone.

This theory was already disproved by the scientific STURP team (and others in the years after that) that conducted the investigations in 1978 on the Shroud of Turin.

Their conclusions were:

  • 1) Adler reported that the " straw yellow color" of the body image fibers does not match the color of any of the known forms of ferric iron oxides.
  • 2) Moreover, Adler reports that there is no correspondence of the body-only images to the concentration of iron oxide since the spectral characteristics of the body-only image are different from those of iron oxide.
  • 3) The colors of the fibers, due to iron oxide, is also precluded by the fact that oxidation or reduction converts the yellow fibers of the body-only image to a white color.
  • 4) Only rare particles of iron oxide are noted on the body-only image fibrils.
  • 5) Large amounts of iron bound to the cellulose of the Shroud (not iron oxide) and Calcium were both present throughout the Shroud. This is believed to be due to the ability of linen to bind iron and water by ion association during the retting process (manufacturing process by which linen is immersed in water during fermentation). AN ESTIMATED 90 PERCENT of the iron and calcium exist in this form bound to the cellulose of the linen, AND ONLY A SMALL AMOUNT IS PRESENT AS IRON OXIDE.
  • 6) X-ray studies of the body-only image do not contain enough iron oxide to show up on the X-radiographs.
  • 7) All of the iron of the Shroud, whether from iron oxide particles or from blood, proved to be 99 percent chemically pure, with no discernable MANGANESE, NICKEL, or COBALT.

The earth pigment, RED OCHRE (Venetian red), from either medieval or older sources that were being used, was contaminated with manganese, nickel or cobalt GREATER THAN 1 PERCENT!!!

The STURP team employed microprobe Raman spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, optical and infrared spectroscopy, micro FTIR spectroscopy, pyrolysis mass spectroscopy, X-ray and a variety of microchemical tests on the fibrils, and came to the conclusion that there was NO ochre or other pigments, dyes or stains on the fibrils of the Shroud.

Prof Garlaschelli told Republica he didn’t think his research would convince those who have faith in the Shroud’s authenticity. " They won’t give up," he said. Those who believe in it will continue to believe."

Well, the reason why serious scientists do not believe Prof Garlaschelli’s work has been explained.

Prof Garlaschelli explains the absence of any traces of iron oxide on the original Shroud by stating that the pigment on the original Shroud faded away naturally over the centuries. This is not a statement that you would expect from a serious scientist. The spectroscopic investigations being done in 1978 would even show the slightest traces of iron oxide present on the Shroud and it is a little bit "unscientific" to state that they disappeared "naturally."

Another little detail is the fact that on the original Shroud there is no image under the bloodstains, proving the fact that there were two image formation processes. Direct contact for the blood proper and another image formation process for the image itself. Prof Garlaschelli added the "blood" (liquid tempera) later on top of the image that he had created. Under Ultra Violet fluorescence photography (not known of course in the 14th century), the blood on the Shroud shows a serum separation, visible as a lighter ring around a darker center, which is typical of post mortem wound exudate. This is not visible with the naked eye. The proposed artist from the 14th century could of course not have known this fact, so he could not create it either.

Petrus Soons M.D.

Arts and Crafts Is Not Science

This is from Barrie Schwortz’ Shroud of Turin Website:

Science by Press Release? An Editorial Response by Barrie Schwortz

I was away from my office and in Los Angeles yesterday when the story broke in the media that an Italian professor had "reproduced" the Shroud using techniques that were available in the 14th century. Although I didn’t have my computer with me, my mobile phone rang again and again with friends calling to read me the story, so I heard the news almost immediately.

Upon my return late last night, my mailbox was flooded with e-mail, my answering machine was nearly full of messages and more than 20,000 people had visited the website since Tuesday morning. I finally was able to read the story myself at around 1:00 am.

Normally, I don’t respond to this type of story, since the media rarely publishes the rebuttals anyway and the stories usually disappear by themselves after only a few days. In the end, giving it any attention at all usually only helps the author of the article and garners even more publicity for him because someone is publicly disagreeing with him. However, since so many viewers have written me, I decided to write this brief response in which I am expressing my own personal opinions on this topic. That is why I titled it an "Editorial" Response.

Frankly, knowing that the Shroud will go on public display again in around 6 months, I am not very surprised to see this type of story coming out, along with its resulting media coverage. This seems to happen every time the Shroud is about to go on public display. Yet whenever a serious scientific article about the Shroud is published in a peer reviewed journal, there is barely a ripple in the popular media. And now, once again, someone claims to have "reproduced" the Shroud, "proving" it is a medieval forgery. They made their claims via nothing more than a press release and got instant global media coverage. However, that is NOT the way science actually operates.

The author who made these claims states that he will make the details available "next week." In the real world of science, a researcher must perform his experiments, compile his data, draw his conclusions, write a formal paper and submit it to a scientific journal for peer review. The work is then examined by other experts, usually of the same discipline, before it is accepted for publication (or rejected). The data must provide a sound basis for the claims and be there from the beginning. Not "next week." And certainly not made public via a press release!

Sadly, in reviewing the article, it is apparent immediately that the author knows very little about the actual Shroud of Turin. He is not the first to suggest that the Shroud image was produced by red ochre pigment (iron oxide). In fact, he is at least the fourth to have proposed this theory in the last 30 years. Of course, this issue was anticipated by the STURP team in 1978 and a number of highly sensitive tests were performed that determined there was not enough iron oxide on the Shroud to be visible without a microscope. Iron oxide does not constitute the image on the Shroud. They also determined the image areas of the Shroud contain no more iron oxide than the non-image areas. It is more or less evenly distributed across the entire cloth.

Obviously, if the image were made in the manner detailed in the article, we would still find thousands of particles of iron oxide embedded into the image fibers of the linen and these would be clearly visible with just a good magnifying glass. Yet the microscopy done directly on the Shroud in 1978 revealed no such thing. These particles just don’t go away on their own. STURP’s instruments could detect parts per billion (a very small amount) of any substance on the Shroud and ALL known paints and pigments (including iron oxide) were excluded by the data. Interestingly, iron oxide is also a by-product of retting linen and the minute quantities found on the Shroud were pure and most likely the result of the retting process. The iron oxide used in red ochre pigment has many impurities and is rarely if ever found in its pure form.

I have stated on more than one occasion that making images on linen is relatively easy. However, making images on linen with the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud is another story. Considering the massive amount of scientific data that now exists about the Shroud of Turin, anyone making claims such as these must submit their work for careful scrutiny and comparative analysis before drawing such dramatic conclusions. That has not been done in this case. Anyone making such claims must create an image with ALL the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud, not just a few, if they wish to be taken seriously.

It has been demonstrated scientifically that the bloodstains on the Shroud came from direct contact with a body and are all forensically accurate. It has also been shown that the bloodstains were on the Shroud BEFORE the image was formed since the blood and serum acted to inhibit the image formation mechanism. There is NO image under the blood and serum stains on the Shroud.

However, to make this new "reproduction," the "blood" was added (using a different pigment) AFTER the image was created. Obviously, it is much easier to add the blood to the image than to first create the blood stains and then create the forensically accurate image around them, which is exactly what a medieval forger would have had to do to duplicate the actual physical properties of the Shroud!

Many of the bloodstains on the Shroud show a surrounding halo of serum stains that are ONLY visible with UV fluorescence photography. Also, the blood has been chemically analyzed and determined to include components of actual blood, NOT pigment.

A proper, detailed scientific response to this press release is now being drafted by the online Shroud Science Group and I hope to publish an in-depth article by true Shroud experts addressing these claims in the near future.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the press release also stated the researcher "received funding for his work by an Italian association of atheists and agnostics but said it had no effect on his results." This is an interesting statement from someone representing a segment of the skeptical community that has frequently charged the STURP scientists with religious bias, implying that their data was somehow flawed because some of them happened to be Christians! Until such time that the data is made available so it can be properly examined and compared to the known data about the Shroud, I will not take these claims very seriously. And neither should you.

Barrie Schwortz
7 October 2009

The Latest from Italy

We should not be surprised that someone again has shown how a similar-looking, shroud-like image might be made. Prof Garlaschelli of the Italian Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal. It is the buzz all over the Internet. Here is one version:

Holy find Shrouded in doubt
New York Post Tue, 06 Oct 2009 03:42 AM PDT
ROME — An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat he claims proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake. The shroud bears the image, eerily reversed like…

Whoa. It isn’t even close. Here is a story from the Catholic News Agency (CNA):

Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct 6, 2009 / 09:27 pm (CNA).- An Italian scientist is claiming to have re-created the burial cloth believed to have covered the crucified body of Jesus, called the Shroud of Turin.  However, CNA spoke with experts who maintain that there are still several major differences between the new shroud and the ancient one.

According to Reuters, Luigi Garlaschelli, an organic chemistry professor at the University of Pavia announced that he and his team “have shown it is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud.”  The scientist plans to present his findings at a conference on the paranormal this weekend in Italy.

The Shroud of Turin is considered by many to bear an image of the face of Jesus Christ. Made of herring bone linen, the shroud is nearly four feet by 14 feet and bears faint brown discolorations forming the negative image of a crucified man.

The shroud’s positive image, revealed by modern photography, shows the outline of a bearded man.  While skeptics contend that the shroud is a medieval forgery, scientists have been unable to explain how the image appeared on the cloth.

Garlaschelli and his team, who were funded by an Italian association of atheists and agnostics, created their image by placing the linen over a volunteer before rubbing it with a pigment called ochre with traces of acid.

The linen was then “aged” by heating it in an oven and washing it with water.  Reuters reports that the team then added blood stains, burn holes and water stains to finalize their product.

CNA spoke with Dr. John Jackson who runs the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado and is a physics lecturer at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  Jackson led a team of 30 researchers in 1978 who determined that the shroud was not painted, dyed or stained.  He explained to CNA that that based off the Reuters report as well as photos of Garlaschelli’s shroud on the internet, it appeared that it doesn’t exactly match the Shroud of Turin.

Dr. Jackson first questioned the technique used by Garlaschelli’s team, taking issue with the method of adding blood after aging the cloth.  Jackson explained that he has conducted “two independent observations that argue that the blood features on the shroud” show “that the blood was on it first, then the body image came second.”

Dr. Keith Propp, a physicist who is also a colleague of Jackson’s, told CNA that while Garlaschelli’s shroud “does create an image that could’ve been done in medieval times,” there are a many things that “are not consistent with what the actual shroud shows us.”

For example, he continued, we know that the blood contacted the shroud before the body “because there’s no image beneath the shroud.”  He added that this image pattern would be difficult to duplicate “because it would ruin the blood stains.”

Another area concern for the scientists is the three dimensionality of the shroud. 

Propp explained that while Garlaschelli’s cloth does have some aspects of light and dark to create a three-dimensional perspective, “it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as the shroud” and that “it misses out on the accuracy and subtleties that are in the actual image.”

Dr. Jackson from the Turin Shroud Center also touched on the same point, saying, “The shroud’s image intensity varies with” the distances in between the cloth and the body.  While he admitted that the images of Garlaschelli’s shroud on the internet look authentic, when taken from a 3-D perspective, “it’s really rather grotesque.”

“The hands are embedded into the body and the legs have unnatural looking lumps and bumps,” he explained.

Jackson noted that he or his colleagues would be open to testing the Garlaschelli shroud or any other “idea about the shroud relative to the scientific characteristics that have been documented in respect to the shroud,” however to do so they would need “more detailed information about what was specifically done.”

Garlachelli’s technique has also received criticism from other experts.  One scientist from the Shroud Science Group, a private forum of about 100 scientists, historians and researchers provided CNA with some of the critiques made in the forum.

One English-speaking expert explained that the blood used on the Shroud of Turin is not whole blood.  “They didn’t just go out and kill a goat and paint the blood on the cloth.  The blood chemistry is very specific,” he said explaining that the blood is from “actual wounds.”

He added that most of the blood on the shroud flowed after death. “The side wound and the blood that puddles across the small of the back are post-mortem blood flows,” he said, adding that blood flowing after death “shows a clear separation of blood and serum.”

Propp added, “In some ways, it comes out better than most others I’ve seen before.  Still there are too many things – the shroud is more than just the image.”

Jackson also pointed out that Garlaschelli’s findings have yet to be peer reviewed.  What scientists need “to do is present their work for publication before their peers.”  

He explained that any person can conduct his or her own research, but it doesn’t matter whether or not the author believes his or her hypothesis was proven. In the end, what the scientific community decides “upon seeing and reviewing the work” is what counts, he said.

Pope Benedict has announced that the Shroud will be open for public viewing in 2010 and that he is planning to visit the image at some point during its exposition.

The Catholic Church has not taken an official position on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.