Posts Tagged ‘carbon dating’

Carbon Date the Shroud Again?

April 20, 2015 108 comments

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?

New Paper by Pam Moon

December 18, 2014 20 comments

imagePam Moon has uploaded another paper she wrote to her Shroud of Turin Exhibition site: Bl Sebastian Valfrè: The Black Thread, Reweave, and Unravelling the Shroud. It begins:

It was an enormous privilege to attend the St Lewis Shroud conference and to meet so many of the world’s greatest Shroud experts. Can I give my congratulations to the organisers. The comments below are based on some of the conversations I had at the conference.

I am very grateful to Joe Marino for allowing me to present the Oxford photographs and Donna Campbell’s report, to Barrie Schwortz for finding the information online and to Russ Breault for recording the conference. Donna Campbell wrote: ‘there are signs in the Shroud sample that direct the notion of mending or reweaving of the actual woven fabric.’ One of the items mentioned in the presentation was the large black thread which is visible on the Oxford and Arizona samples. A comparison was made with the small black and large white threads also present.

I was delighted to discover from Emanuela Marinelli and Will Meacham that the large black thread was probably stitched in 1694 by Bl Sebastian Valfrè. The invisible reweave hypothesis of Joe Marino and Sue Benford supported by Donna Campbell may refer to two or three different episodes of stitch repair and Bl Sebastian’s repair was one episode. The best demonstration of invisible reweave (both French and in-weaving) I have seen is by the company Without a Trace and can be seen in the video: Please look at that before continuing! The black thread also points to the possibility that the corner strands were unravelled, rewoven back together and then stitched back into place with reweaving techniques. Below is the large black thread seen in th Oxford and Arizona photographs see: [|] Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin, Radiocarbon, 52, 2010.

A Guest Posting by Joe Marino: If another C-14 test is ever done . . .

November 29, 2014 49 comments

At the recent St. Louis conference, there was an open discussion regarding future testing of the Shroud, with participation by Prof. Bruno Barberis.  Naturally, one of the topics discussed was another possible C-14 dating.

After hearing comments there and after rereading some material, especially Ian Wilson’s chapter "Carbon Dating:  Right or Wrong" in his 1998 book The Blood and the Shroud, I’m becoming more and more convinced that another C-14 test would be unwise and moreover, that the Shroud is simply not, and never has been, a suitable item to carbon date.

Wilson points out in his book (pp. 190-191) that in the 1960s, 2 Harwell lab scientists warned Vera Barclay, a British proponent of having the Shroud carbon dated, of pitfalls.

Dr. J.P. Clarke told Barclay,

There appears to be some doubt as to whether the carbon content of the material has remained constant over the years.  It would be an assumption of any dating that the addition of something at a date later than that of the fabrication of the Shroud.

P.J. Anderson told her: 

The history of the Shroud does not encourage one to put a great deal of reliance upon the validity of any C14 dating.  The whole principle of the method depends upon the specimen not undergoing any exchange of carbon between its molecules and atmospheric dioxide, etc.  The cellulose of the linen itself would be good from this point of view, but the effect of the fires and subsequent drenching with water . . . and the possibility of contamination during early times, would, I think, make the results doubtful.  Any microbiological action upon the Shroud (fungi, moulds, etc., which might arise from damp conditions) might have important effects upon the C14 content.  This possibility could not be ruled out

Wilson himself goes on to say: 

That such concerns have been far from eliminated by more modern methods is quite evident from a recent booklet by Dr Sheridan Bowman, Michael Tite’s successor as Keeper of the British Museum’s Research Laboratory, in which she lists the sorts of conservation and packing materials that archaeologists should avoid using when sending their samples for processing by a radiocarbon-dating laboratory: ‘Many materials used for preserving or conserving samples may be impossible to remove subsequently:  do not use glues, biocides . . . [etc.]  Many ordinary packing materials such as paper, cardboard, cotton, wool and string contain carbon and are potential contaminants.  Cigarette ash is also taboo.’  It is worth reminding ourselves here of the variety of already listed carbon-containing materials with which the Shroud maintains daily contact, e.g., a sixteenth-century holland cloth, a nineteenth-century silk cover – quite aside from the innumerable candles that have been burnt before it, the water that was thrown over it at the time of the 1532 fire, and so on.  And those are merely the events we know about.

One other excerpt worth noting here (pg 193):

Archaeologists, who routinely call upon radiocarbon-dating laboratories’ services, tend to shy from openly criticising the results they receive, even if they do not necessarily agree with some of them, but one who certainly has no qualms is Greece’s Spyros Iakovidis, speaking at an international conference in 1989:  ‘In relation to the reliability of radiocarbon dating I would like to mention something which happened to me during my excavation at Gla [in Boeotia, Greece].  I sent to two different laboratories in two different parts of the world a certain amount of the same burnt grain.  I got two readings differing by 2000 years, the archaeological dates being right in the middle. I feel that this method is not exactly to be trusted.’ [Italics in original]

Because of such opinions–and keep in mind the above ones are by people who actually used the C-14 technique, it was all the more unfortunate and detrimental that the C-14 test wasn’t at least done as one of many other tests at the same time.  Those other tests may have provided overwhelming evidence that the Shroud was from the 1st century, and since it’s not uncommon for C-14 dates to be disregarded in some instances***, there would not be as much ink being spilled on the Shroud C-14 results.

If another C-14 test is ever done, it will take a lot more background study, and hopefully it wouldn’t be done in isolation from other multi-disciplinary testing.

***Rogue dates are common in archaeology and geology . . . Such has been my experience as an archaeologist who has excavated, submitted and interpreted more than one hundred carbon 14 samples from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Historical sites.  Of these dates obtained, 78 were considered credible, 26 were rejected as unreliable and 11 were problematic.  I mention this merely to inform the non-specialist . . . —William Meacham, archaeologist, Centre of Asian Studies,University of Hong Kong, 2000

* * *


Chart of Conference. Well, So Far, Anyways

October 11, 2014 18 comments

New Textile Report

September 18, 2014 5 comments

imagePam Moon sends along a link to a new report: Consideration to the Uniformity and Effects of the Fabric in the Shroud of Turin by © Donna Campbell MA, Technical Design, Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen. It begins:

This is an interim report requested by Pam Moon, a researcher on the Shroud of Turin.

Using photographic images found on the Oxford University website, this report examines the
uniformity and effects within a small sample taken from the Shroud of Turin.

Permission has been given by Professor Ramsey at Oxford University to use these images for this report.


This analysis of the Turin Shroud fabric sample has been approached independent of any outside influences or research. I have used the images of the fabric sample at the above website as a source of information to be considered and documented as I see it. With no preconceived ideas, my interpretation of the Shroud sample is drawn from my expertise in the design of linen fabric and the technical application of the woven architecture. The ideal analysis could only be done on the actual fabric sample.

[ . . . ]

In the conclusion, at about page 16, we read:


Yarns break during weaving. The success in identifying these breaks and fixing depends on the skill of the hand weaver. However, there are signs in the Shroud sample that direct the notion of mending or reweaving of the actual woven fabric. Many of the following considerations are not evident in the control samples.

  • The stitch like forms on the more bias direction of the fabric (Fig. 20). These forms are not apparent in the control samples.
  • Consideration to the black thread and its function (Fig. 22, 23 and 24). The suggestion that the thread could have been used to reinforce the fabric. No such thread is obvious in the control samples.
  • There is disruption in the weave pattern located at one side of a pick. This disruption sits along a contour of linear staining (Fig 20 indicated by the blue markers). It is unusual that the whole pick is not effected in the same way.
  • The difference in two sections of the sample that have a noticeable change in the size of spacing between the interlacement (Fig 16). This could suggest the use of different yarns.
  • At the location of a heavy stain and buckle, there is an extreme contrast in the tension and distortion of the weave noticeably on the warp face side (Fig 15). A contributing factor could be the manipulation of mending.
  • A patchwork of staining in the form of rectangular linear shapes (Fig 18) that does not
    conform to the staining on the control samples.

[ . . . ]

Another Case of Incorrect Journalism

August 24, 2014 3 comments

imageNicholas Boer gets it wrong in SFGate, the online edition of the the San Francisco Chronicle.  Or was it CAMS director Graham Bench who got it wrong?

My tour guide, CAMS director Graham Bench, related how radiocarbon dating has helped convict elephant poachers by showing that their booty was taken after the 1989 ivory ban. By testing bits of underground wood, CAMS has measured the frequency and intensity of past earthquakes. (Interpreting this data is how the U.S. Geological Survey is able to announce the likelihood that any particular fault will produce an x magnitude earthquake in x amount of time.)

CAMS pegged Kennewick Man at circa 7500 B.C., and the Shroud of Turin came in around A.D. 1300 — a wee bit after the time of Christ, causing a lot of unwanted controversy. “But for any scientist,” says Bench, “it’s case closed.” Any object less than 50,000 years old is within CAMS reach.

CAMS pegged it?  CAMS is the the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Everyone knows (well almost) that the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin took place in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich in 1988. Livermore’s CAMS didn’t open until 1989.

This isn’t correct, either:  “But for any scientist,” says Bench, “it’s case closed.”

It is an opinion, since many scientists disagree. The journalist should have made that clear so that Bench isn’t made to appear incorrect.

More About CAMS

Comment Promoted: Thibault Heimburger on Rogers’ Discoveries

August 7, 2014 43 comments

clip_image001Thibault writes in a comment to 50/50 : Colin Berry’s Most Outlandish Proposal. Comments follow by anoxie, Charles Freeman and Colin Berry. Join in there or here. This was just too important a comment to not be at the posting level:

. . . Actually, all of Rogers’ discoveries (the strongly anomalous cotton content, the dye and, last but not least, the vanillin tests) were performed on several threads coming from the Raes sample adjacent to the C14 samples. Those Raes threads were given to STURP (in fact Rogers) on the order of Card. Ballestrero himself. No secret here.

Since the Raes sample and the C14 samples necessarily shared at least some threads, Rogers thought that the entire Raes/C14 corner was not representative of the bulk of the TS. However, as a true scientist, he wanted to verify specifically this point.

Later, he could obtain 2 tiny pieces of threads coming from the center of the C14 dated sample. He could confirm the presence of dye as well as the very high amount of cotton in these 2 threads. To my knowledge, for some reasons (lack of time or smallness of the samples or..) he did not perform the test for the vanillin on these C14 pieces of thread.

Shortly, Rogers’s discoveries re the anomalous characteristics of the Raes/C14 corner came from the detailed study of an arguably representative genuine sample (Raes piece 1). He confirmed them on 2 small pieces from the center of the C14 sample. Those pieces were truly from the center of the C14 sample and there is a clear “chain of custody”, although unpublished for understandable reasons.
One can discuss endless each of his observations but taking them together they point to the only scientifically acceptable contestation of the C14 results.

I agree that it’s difficult to accept knowing the opposite conclusions of the textile experts (F.Testore, G. Vial and M. Flury-Lemberg).
But read carefully what follows:
My friend journalist Brice Perrier, after a detailed investigation wrote a book in 2011: “Qui a peur du Saint Suaire ?” (in French, Ed. Florent Massot, 2011). This is simply the best serious investigation that includes many interviews of most people (pro and cons) involved in the TS.

He wrote (p.126):
“I went to see one who was recommended to me by both archaeologists and Lyon textile museum experts as the best expert in ancient fabrics, Christophe Moulherat.”
Brice told me that, at the time, Moulherat did not know that the C14 samples came from a single location rather than from three different locations as he thought. He was shocked and added (p.242): “for this kind of fabric, I would have at least chosen to test separately warp and weft threads coming from at least two different locations”

Brice: “I asked him if there were actually invisible repairs.
[Moulherat’s answer]:
‘No, they can be seen if you have the means to see them. Just do a thorough analysis. But for that, you must have access to the fabric and do not look to the naked eye because there you’ll see nothing (..).You need microscopes.
If one has tampered threads with the desire to hide something, you have to think about that before and you have to be equipped to see that. Otherwise, if the repair is well done you can miss it. You really need a detailed analysis’.

G. Vial and F. Testore are/were beyond any doubt competent textile experts but the conditions of the C14 sampling were far from those necessary to detect a repair.

%d bloggers like this: