When is a Sindon Not a Sindon?

For anyone wanting more information, I highly recommend 
Diana Fulbright’s 20+ page  paper on the subject,
A Clean Cloth: What Greek Word Usage Tells Us about the Burial Wrappings of Jesus.

imageOn reading the following on Colin Berry’s blog, it occurred to me that a bit of clarification wouldn’t hurt any of us. Colin writes:

Why does this blogger [=Colin] now refer to the Turin “Shroud”? Why not just Turin Shroud? Answer: because the single sheet of linen in Turin was intended by a medieval entrepreneur, into the business of providing “relics”, to represent that used by Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve the body from the cross and transport it to the nearby tomb. That single sheet “sindon” must not be confused with the linen clothes (plural) aka winding cloths or bandages, Greek “othonion” that were used for final interment as described in the book of John. In other words, Joseph’s linen, imagined by our medieval entrepreneur to have captured a sweat/blood imprint, was replaced by those “bandages”, and indeed there is an illustration in the Humgarian Pray manuscript of that changeover in progress.

Is that what the Pray Manuscript shows?  Hmmm? And there is this:

Conclusion: referring to the imprinted linen as the Turin SHROUD was probably the biggest semantic goof in history, and it’s had enormous consequences as regards the speculation that has grown up around the mechanism that produced the double image.

clip_image001Kim Dreisbach, once upon a time over at shroud.com, clarified:

Students new to the study to the Shroud are sometimes confused by apparent inconsistencies in the description of Jesus’ burial cloth or cloths. In truth, the Bible – when read in Greek – uses a variety of terms to describe them.

The Synoptic Gospels use the word sindon in the singular to designate the Shroud (Matt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46 (twice); Lk. 23:53). Sindon appears only six times in all of the New Testament. In an anecdote unique to Mark, it is used twice in 14: 51-52 to describe the linen cloth left by an unnamed young man when he fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane.

In Jn. 19:40, the Fourth Gospeller uses the word othonia [Gk.] (plural) to describe the linen cloths used in the Burial. Othonia, a word of uncertain meaning, but probably best translated as a generic plural for grave clothes. The same word is used by Luke or his scribe in Lk.24:12 what had previously been described as the sindon in Lk. 23:53. Note: vs. l2 (But Peter rose and ran to the tomb, stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths (plural) by themselves; and he went home wondering what happened.) does not appear in the most ancient manuscripts, but is added by later ancient authorities.

Next we discover (keirias) [Gk.] translated by the RSV as bandages in Jn. 11:44’s description of the raising of Lazarus. In actuality, linen strips used to bind the wrists and ankles and probably also used on the outside at the neck, waist and ankles to secure the Shroud to the body.

Finally we come to the word sudarion [Gk.] which is found in the canonical texts solely in John (11:44. 20:7) and Luke (l9:20; Acts l9:12). It is translated by the RSV as "the napkin which had been on his head" (Jn. 20:7) and earlier in 11:44 as the cloth with which Lazarus’ face was wrapped. Scholars like the late Dr. John A.T Robinson ( "The Shroud of Turin and the Grave Cloths of the Gospels") and J.N. Sanders regard it as a chin band going around the face/head for the purpose of keeping the corpse’s jaws closed. Certainly this appears to be the intent of the artist who drew the manuscript illustration for the Hungarian Pray mss, Fol. 27v, Budapest of 1192-95 which clearly illustrates that the Shroud’s full length image(s) were known in the 12th century. (See Ian Wilson, 1986, The Mysterious Shroud, Garden City, NY; Doubleday & Company, p.115. See also Bercovits, I. 1969, Dublin: Irish University Press. Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, pl. III.) .

imageFor anyone wanting more information, I highly recommend  Diana Fulbright’s 20+ page paper on the subject, A Clean Cloth: What Greek Word Usage Tells Us about the Burial Wrappings of Jesus.

Diana  has researched  the Shroud since 1980.  She formerly taught the History of Christianity and related languages at the University of Iowa and Biblical Studies and Hebrew at the Benedictine Abbey in Richmond.

Comment Promoted: Colin Berry on Robert Bucklin

What you are going to want to do after you read this posting is …

  1. Click on Colin’s posting on his site: Here’s an updated version of my ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud” (probably a misnomer).
  2. Then scroll down until you see a paragraph that starts with, “Another hero-worshipped figure is “STURP member” Robert V. Bucklin.”

Colin’s posting on his blog is so long and cumbersome it is slowing down my browser and making my mouse jerky. So first, read the comment, below, the that Colin wrote in this blog and I mined from my own site. (BTW: When I gather information from Colin’s site he complains that I am mining his site for content. When I don’t, he mines it for us.) I had said it was a slow news day. He said:

Slow news day? Not on my site… Were you aware that STURP’s Robert Bucklin MD, consultant pathologist, was in fact doing his virtual biopsy a year before STURP’s trip to Turin (which Bucklin may or may not have joined, depending on whose account one believes), so was NOT done on the “Shroud” itself but on PHOTOGRAPHS. What’s more, the photographs used were long-in-the-tooth 1931 Enrie negatives, as this video still from David Rolfe’s “Silent Witness” shows, made in 1977 (released in 78) a year before STURP.

How many people reading Bucklin’s autopsy would realize it was NOT based on the “Shroud” itself, seen in natural colour with his own eyes, but a B/W negative on which he claims to see “wounds” etc and much else besides? One suspects that Bucklin’s “autopsy report for STURP was written well before the STURP descent on Turin, so could not have benefited from the new photography done by Barrie Schwortz, Mark Evans and other documenting photographers, far less the far superior imagery we now have from Durante (2002) on Shroud Scope.

Given the autopsy relied entirely on ancient photographs, why was ‘true-believer’ Bucklin(his own admission) selected as officlal STURP pathologist? Why weren’t the same photographs sent to other pathologists for their opinion? The more I learn about STURP and its largely self-selected personnel, the less I like.

Is Colin’s criticism justified? 

The Morphing of Rogers and Berry?

The most superficial part of the linen fibre is the PCW, and that comprises hemicellulose as a major constituent. Hemicellulose has a lot of pentose sugars, which are chemically reactive,  more so than the hexose sugars of starch and cellulose, and known to enter freely into Maillard reactions. Maybe the linen provided the sugar for the Maillard reaction.

image… on the shroud (or misnoma-shroud). Colin Berry teases it out a bit for us:

This blogger has already been accused of plagiarizing Rogers’ ideas (in seeing a role for Maillard reaction products, albeit between reducing sugars and proteins of white flour, and needing an exceedingly hot iron to get the colour). Well, I’m about to make things even worse for myself – by narrowing the gap between my medieval model and the pro-authenticity 1st century tomb scenario of Rogers. It involves volatile amines, those fishy smelling things with the general formula R-NH2 (primary amine)  where R is an alkyl group, e.g. CH3, C2H5, or, if a secondary amine, R-NH-R’, or a tertiary amine,  R-N(R’)-R”. What you may ask!  We know where the amines are implicated in the Rogers’ model (putrefaction of a corpse).  How can amines be implicated in a white-flour model?

Well, it’s a long shot, but here we go.  The yellow-brown image has been described here as a Maillard reaction product, formed between reducing sugars and proteins. But there’s a problem. The “Shroud” image was tested by Adler et al for protein – none were found.  But my image appears to have two components – an outer one that looks and feels thick, and can be reduced by washing, brushing etc, and a more resistant one that survives those treatments, and seems more like an intrinsic part of the linen fibres. What might have happened to produce the latter.  Well, there’s a little protein in linen fibres, and one might propose that had reacted with reducing sugar, and that the Maillard product formed had failed to react as protein. But one instinctively dislikes qualiofying assumptions. Might there be an alternative explanation? Yes, there is. The most superficial part of the linen fibre is the PCW, and that comprises hemicellulose as a major constituent. Hemicellulose has a lot of pentose sugars, which are chemically reactive,  more so than the hexose sugars of starch and cellulose, and known to enter freely into Maillard reactions. Maybe the linen provided the sugar for the Maillard reaction. But where did the amine come from? It might have been the protein of the flour or linen, especially the epsilon amino group of lysine (not involved in peptide bond formation). But there’s an intriguing alternative. Enter volatile amines. When one adds cold  limewater to white flour there’s an immediate strong fishly odour. So there’s an amine precursor there that is easily released by alkali. Maybe it’s released by heat also, even at lower pH closer to neutrality. Maybe it’s that amine that reacts with the pentose sugars of the linen PCW to produce the ‘resistant’ image that survives washing etc, and that does NOT test positive for protein.

What might be the source of the free amine? Am not sure. It might be glutamine, with terminal -CONH2. It might be polar secondary or tertiary amine groups of phospholipids (lecithin, phosphatidylethanolamine etc).  Much food for thought (maybe a few experiments can help reduce the search options).

In the Weeds: Vanillin and the Age of the Shroud

Is there any validity believing that a lack of vanillin says anything about the shroud’s age?

imageTopic drift is a fact of life in this blog and almost every blog I’ve encountered. It is not a problem; it’s a useful feature. We were talking about radiation models for the images on the shroud and the subject of vanillin came up; it’s not important why. This caused Colin Berry to respond in the weeds – that is over in his blog – with an unrelated update to a posting on a different subject. Anyway that is how we got to this yesterday:

Vanillin is not a separate component from lignin. In fact it’s not even a component of  flax or linen. It’s a degradation product of lignin, derived from oxidation, side-chain shortening (loss of 2 carbons)  and detachment starting with one particular  monomer in the complex resinous polyphenol that is lignin, ie. coniferaldehye. See my earlier posting on the subject, this site.

Ray Rogers no less described and discussed vanillin as though it were a preformed component of lignin that gradually reduced with age. Nope: as the lignin oxidizes, the vanillin is newly formed, and being a relatively small molecule, gradually evaporates away, being responsible for the distinctive aroma of old lignin (the ability to detect it by smell being a sure sign that molecules are escaping into the air).

Anyway, if you haven’t read [Colin’s] earlier posting on the subject, you should. Do we really understand if the vanillin claim is valid?

And if you want to know what in the weeds means, it is this: In golf, when a shot lands on the fairway, it’s in plain sight in easy-to-play short grass. When a shot lands to the side, it’s in unkempt grass, and the golfer wastes time trying to find the lost ball. He’s literally "in the weeds".  And Colin wants to know why Google and people don’t find what he writes about on his blog.  There is a practical limit to topic drift.  What does comments about vanillin have to do with Here’s an updated version of my ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud” (probably a misnomer)?

Anyway, NOW, the topic is vanillin and the question is this: Is there any validity believing that a lack of vanillin says anything about the shroud’s age?

“Tell me this,” Colin writes:

What is the use of a clock that is either running, or has stopped completely? That is the situation with the Shroud linen. We are asked to believe that it’s the absence of Wiesner-reactive lignin that is the reason, ie that it is incredibly aged.

Sorry, I don’t buy that. The “vanillin clock” is so poorly documented that I decline to believe that the absence of a positive test is necessarily to do with age. It could be due to any number of factors….

And Colin gives us an alternate possibility, the sort of thing lawyers like to do to make us have reasonable doubts about a defendant in a criminal trial:

… someone decided to fumigate the reliquary (see my earlier comment). They removed the TS, then inserted a lit sulphur candle. Later the candle was removed, and the TS replaced, with its long sides folded in towards the middle before folding or rolling. Residual SO2 made better contact with the central regions of the TS than with the edges. So the reactive aldehyde groups of lignin in the initially peripheral Raes threads were better protected from the SO2 than the more central threads.

I’m not suggesting this was the actual process that gave the difference between Raes v the rest, but it’s an indication of the uncertainties that attach to using a chemical as distinct from radioactive clock, where one is at the mercy of environmental conditions that one can only guess at, as I am guessing right now.

Those Gee Whizz Radiation Models

Intense sources, e.g from a laser, may simply target a trace component that wouldn’t normally  be sufficiently energized to produce  coloration.

imageHopscotching over to his other specialized blog, recently renamed “The Shroud of Turin: medieval two-stage imprint? The blog that separates the science from the pseudo-science” Colin Berry presents us with …an updated version of [his] ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud”.

It is "probably a misnomer," he adds.

BUT THE BEST PART is what he has to say "about those gee whizz ‘radiation’ models”:

The First Law of Photochemistry states that light must be absorbed for photochemistry to occur. This is a simple concept, but it is the basis for performing photochemical and photobiological experiments correctly. If light of a particular wavelength is not absorbed by a system, no photochemistry will occur, and no photobiological effects will be observed, no matter how long one irradiates with that wavelength of light.

Anyone proposing a radiation-based theory MUST  (a) state the wavelength of the radiation and (b) the chemical species (chromophore) that is capable of absorbing that particular wavelength.

Be wary of those who try to sidestep the First Law by telling you that their radiation source is hugely intense and monochromatic, or a type of radiation unknown to physics. There is no escaping the First Law. No absorption means no photochemical reaction, no localized heating, no coloration. That applies to ALL electromagnetic radiation, from long wavelength radio waves  though microwaves, infrared, visible, uv, x rays to  the highest frequency/energy short wavelength gamma radiation.

Intense sources, e.g from a laser, may simply target a trace component that wouldn’t normally  be sufficiently energized to produce  coloration. Trace components of linen that come to mind as normally overlooked  chromophores, but more readily energized molecule for molecule than cellulose, would be lignin and other phenolicss with aromatic ring structures, absorbing moderately in the blue end of the visible spectrum and the near uv.

Barrie Schwortz, Colin Berry and Some Good Reporting in Fort Wayne

"Now I can see this will be my legacy," Barrie Schwortz said. "And that’s a gift. I’ve been given a great blessing in doing this work."

And Colin Berry commenting on the newspaper’s website, said “It’s refreshing to see one of STURP’s old hands, so to speak, still expressing a degree of caution
re the authenticity of the Shroud.”

imageYesterday, Fort Wayne’s Pulitzer Prize-winning broadsheet daily, The News-Sentinel, carried an excellent article by Kevin Kilbane (pictured with a tie). One gets the sense, however, that there is more than just excellent reporting and writing going on here; Barrie Schwortz, the subject of the story (pictured with the hat) is a marvelous spokesman for the shroud. He is so for the most convinced among us and the most skeptical, as well.

When Pope Francis visited and prayed before the Shroud of Turin on June 21, many people who believe the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ thought the pope would declare it to be authentic.

Barrie M. Schwortz, whose official photos documented the first modern scientific examination of the Shroud in 1978, thought Pope Francis would be more restrained in his comments, and he was right.

clip_image001What if later research determines the shroud doesn’t contain the image of a crucified Christ, Schwortz explained during a stop Thursday night in Fort Wayne.


Schwortz, who is Jewish, has believed since the mid-1990s that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. Through his website and speaking appearances, he sees it as his role to share the Shroud’s story with all those who couldn’t be there with the 1978 research team.

"Now I can see this will be my legacy," he said. "And that’s a gift. I’ve been given a great blessing in doing this work."

imageIt was also good to see our friend and new hand shroud researcher Colin Berry (pictured with neither tie or hat) commenting on the newspaper’s website. Because comments on newspaper websites often drift away quickly, I am repeating it in its entirety, here:

It’s refreshing to see one of STURP’s old hands, so to speak, still expressing a degree of caution re the authenticity of the Shroud. Yes, there is still much to be learned. STURP barely scratched the surface as to what the image is (sticky tape samples being the less damaging alternative to ‘scratching’ the surface!) as distinct from telling us what is not (definitely NOT a painting, despite attempts by some, notably historian Charles Freeman, to resurrect that notion with arguments that simply fail to address or do justice to decades of scientific investigation).

However, this Shroud researcher (3.5 years of testing different models) must take issue with a term employed here and pretty well every where else in the media, namely the description of the linen as a BURIAL shroud. I invite writer Kevin Kilbane and readers to go back to the Gospels and read what is said about Joseph of Arimathea and his arrival at the CROSS, not tomb, with fine linen. There is no indication that the linen was intended for use as a burial shroud (Nicodemus providing the wherewithal). It was merely for discreet and dignified transport from cross to nearby tomb. Once that is appreciated, then it greatly reduces the number of models that need to be tested, especially those that see the Shroud as having captured by some mysterious ‘photographic’ process the instant of Resurrection. Instead, one can view the image as a contact imprint, left in blood and PERSPIRATION. One then asks whether the Shroud bears a 2000 year old contact imprint, the body image being highly aged yellowed sweat, or a medieval attempt to reproduce what a then 1300 year old sweat imprint (plus blood) might have looked like.

My own preference is for the second of those. The current preferred model is one where a human volunteer is ‘painted’ from head to toe in a paste of flour and water and then overlaid with linen, gently pressed around contours, to leave a contact imprint. The imprint is then developed chemically, maybe with nitric acid to turn the imprint from white to yellow, or even by simple pressing with a hot iron!

Being an imprint explains the negative image, and even those ‘mysterious’ 3D properties revealed by modern computer software.

Do read the whole article, Shroud of Turin study photographer believes new technology possibly could answer some questions

Is Colin Berry Onto Something?

a chemo-graphic (à la photo-graphic) explanation for the shroud image

imageA reader from Palo Alto writes:

You and your blog mates are being unfair to Dr. Colin Berry. As I see it he is the real successor to Raymond Rogers. With imagination and exploratory experimentation Berry is developing new hypotheses for how the image on the Shroud might have formed. That is what Rogers did. Berry thinks out loud and shows us his trials along the way. That is also what Rogers did.

At this stage of development Berry is suggesting the image may have formed from a wet or moist organic coating on a body or statue. When a cloth is applied and removed some coating comes away on the cloth forming a latent image. That latent image is then developed into a visible image by a browning reaction, possibly a Maillard reaction.

Berry may be onto something, a chemo-graphic (à la photo-graphic) explanation for the shroud image. His latest method may help to explain an intentional fake image or an accidental natural one. An accidental image may have been from the tomb of Christ or a later reenactment. Mankind is forever reenacting important events.

There are many questions that need to be answered. Will a suitable chemical and physical process be found by Berry or a successor? I’m thinking about soaps, oils and spices. Can Berry’s process produce an image with many of the Shroud’s image characteristics? Can unmet characteristics be explained by age or circumstance?  I’m thinking about a damp cloth which might blur or soften away an outline and produce more plausible 3D like characteristics? A damp cloth may also produce a more superficial image.

Berry is certainly right to suggest that the image evolved over time because of handling, temperature, humidity and exposure to light.

I part company with Dr. Berry on the radiocarbon dating. There is too much historical evidence to believe it is correct. If the Shroud’s image was faked it was faked many centuries earlier.

Yes, but, Rogers was always respectful to others. That is a big difference. And, no, we have not been unfair to Colin.  I’d like to hear more.  I’d like to see his work continue. Maybe he is onto something. But there is some bad chemistry in this blog and his blog that is making this difficult.

Click on the image to see a larger version of this ImageJ 3D rendering by Colin. CLICK HERE to read Colin’s latest posting about his work.

Dear Colin Berry

imageColin Berry tells us he is moving on.

Change of plan: I’m now terminating all posting on the Shroud of Turin, feeling as I do that I’ve given it my best shot, and that it’s now time to move on. However, I’m still available here to respond to questions, criticism etc as best I can  (see quick link to Comments top right).

Dear Colin:

In your latest blog posting you complain about my use of a picture of a child making hand imprints with finger paint. “Yet another attempt to infantilize,” you write. No it wasn’t that at all. I use pictures the way newspaper editorial pages use cartoons. Yes, to poke fun, but also to express ideas. These two pictures next to each other metaphorically captured his notion of what you refer to as a two-stage technology. Something is applied to the body and then its is applied to the cloth where it can be developed somehow.  You were working with white flour and using nitric acid and limewater as developing agents. Maybe you were onto something. Maybe it is not white flour.

I want to scream at you to lighten up. I was not suggesting that your work was infantile.  Compared to every other skeptic of the shroud, you have shown more erudite imagination than any, ever.  You researched more. You experimented more. You wrote more and you wrote well.

You say at times that I am pro-authenticist. I’m not. I can’t imagine trying to tell anyone that the shroud is real if I don’t believe it. I say the shroud is probably real. I say, on every page of my blog, “The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.”  Every page!

Probably! May be! Those words mean that I could be wrong. If I’m wrong I want to know it. So first of all I want to thank you as you move on to other things for trying out new avenues that may lead the truth about the shroud no matter what that truth may be. I sincerely mean that.  Thank you.

You have recently advanced the idea that the medieval person who created the image was not thinking of the piece of cloth as a burial cloth but something else all together, like a stretcher. That thought will not go away. Thanks for that.

You advanced many such ideas. Those will not go away. They will be pondered by me and others in years to come.  Thank you.

You have discovered many things. Those will hang it the air among everyone who properly studies the shroud.  Thank you.

You have taught me a lot.  That will stick with me. Thank you.

You have created an important list that skeptics, if they are to be as careful as you, must consider carefully.  With your permission, I’m going to remove the word stoopid and publish it on my blog, maybe with a link in the upper right corner, because it’s a good list. 

The past three of so years have been contentious at times.  There have been times when I would have liked to have reached through the screen and punched you.  I’m sure you felt the same way. But there are times when I would have liked to sit down and had a beer with you.  We could talk about Freeman, perhaps.  Here is a toast to you.

You know, Colin, you could change plans again. You could at least drop by and comment every now and then.  Godspeed. 

Colin Berry is not Seeing Red

Berry: Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller

imageYou may have noted a comment by Charles Freeman. 

Well, we just have to disagree on the reality of the human blood. I am an independent scholar, formerly a Senior Examiner of the International Baccalaureate;s critical thinking programme, Theory of Knowledge, and thus used to looking at evidence or asking those who know.

I had the Heller/Adler papers read by a professor emeritus of physiology who said that their claims that this was blood were totally unconvincing. I show the bloodstains to any forensic expert i can find and they all say they have never seen dried blood that red.

So I am not working on the understanding that this is blood.

Why can’t the STURP tests be replicated 37 years on? Have they lost the tapes???

Caption:  Robert Downey Jr. telling Charles Freeman that everything looks too red.

Will we ever learn the name of any of Charles’ many experts du jour. But that isn’t the point.  The point is that Charles is playing the blood-is-too-red card, perhaps too carelessly, something that Colin Berry in one of his overly long, topic-drift postings picked up on. In fact, Colin, is challenging the very notion that the blood is too red.

Let’s see some of what he has to say by clicking in and scrolling down until you spot Charles Freeman’s name for the fourth time:

Er, which photograph(s) of the TS show the blood as "too red"? How come after 3 years of looking at TS photographs, I have yet to see them?

It can’t be the 1931 Enrie photographs, since they are B/W. It can’t be the 2002 Durante pictures, at least those that appear on Mario Latendresse’s Shroud Scope, since the colour of the blood in those  pictures is scarcely distinguishable from the body image, the entire look being a dull plum.

Durante 2002 (from Shroud Scope): blood too red?

(The first thing I do with Shroud Scope pictures is put then into MS Office Picture Manager and adjust brightness/contrast/midtone from 0,0,0 to -7/100/15 in order to get the blood looking redder). So which photos are Charles Freeman showing to his buttonholed experts? Maybe those Halta pictures on the iPad app, recently described (aptly methinks) as mere toys?

Blood too red? …

Or maybe the BBC’s earlier release in 2008 of Halta pictures that do show a rosy hue in places where it’s not expected, but in prominent areas of body image, not blood especially.

Halta image from BBC site (2008). Some pink coloration – but it’s mainly in the beard and other body-image locations.

Finally, let’s not forget the Turin custodians’ own site with a selection of TS views, essentially the same it would appear as those on Shroud Scope.No, the bloodstains do not look too red. Indeed, they do not look red at all.

Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller, who said in writing the blood was too red, the porphyrin spectrum was atypical, and thus was born the "trauma bilirubin/acid methemoglobin" claim, …

Barrie M.Schwortz has been responsible over the years for proselytising the "blood abnormally red" description, and his admiration for Alan Adler’s pro-authenticity narrative-friendly bilirubin explanation. …

Misleading impression of ‘redness’ created by high magnification/strong illumination? RGB reference standards for comparison? Might the colours also have been digitally adjusted in a manner that accentuated redness?

That still leaves unanswered the question as to which photograph Charles Freeman showed to his forensic experts or emeritus professor of physiology. I shan’t bother asking him directly. I’ve wasted too much time already – putting innumerable points and questions to someone who persistently displays a blissful indifference to the hard facts – and getting back nothing useful in return.

Remember the fun days?  Anyone remember Let’s Talk Red Blood: Bilirubin, Saponaria officinalis and UV?  All those other people believing the blood is too red.  Colin wasn’t questioning it then, was he?

Colin Berry: The Scourge Marks are Frankly Not Credible

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds,
with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints

imageIs that so?  Has this idea been investigated?

Colin had written a comment:

The crucial point surely is that there is no imaging of “wounds” or “injuries” as such on the sepia body image of the TS – absolutely none. The evidence for “wounds” and “injuries” rests entirely on the position of bloodstains at various locations. Even the “scourge marks” showing the dumb-bell shapes etc of skin-lacerating or indenting metal or bone tips are (we’re told) solely blood imprints – there’s no corroborating evidence in the body image.

The reliance on bloodstains alone to support the biblical narrative (scourging, crown of thorns, nails wounds, lance wound) with no supporting evidence whatsoever in the body image is entirely consistent with medieval forgery. Indeed, it’s hard to think of an alternative explanation – unless one’s view of the TS is “authentic until proven otherwise” (an authenticity-endorsing or promoting ‘sindonological’ position, as distinct from one that is strictly neutral, dispassionately scientific).

Thibault Heimburger replied:

I never understood what you mean by “imaging of wounds …”  What do you expect to see on a linen on contact with a bloody wound? I would expect to see exactly what we see on the TS.

Can you explain?

Colin then writes:

Maybe nothing. But I’m not the one who constantly refers to “wounds” or “injuries” for which there’s no independent and corroborating evidence in the body image, merely blood that is in locations that fit the biblical narrative. It’s to do with the burden of proof.

When someone is flayed with a Roman flagrum, one expects to see the skin ripped to shreds, with blood flows to match. One does not expect to see neat imprints correspondingly exactly with the shape of the metal or bone pellets, as if all they did was to produce contusions with just the right amount of weeping blood to “imprint” an image, with no surplus to obscure and thus ‘spoil’ the image. The scourge marks are frankly not credible, except as the work of a forger intent on creating over-simplified neat and geometric patterns that lack both realism and credibility.

Colin Berry’s Method and 3D Information

it is presumptive to think the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance.
It is presumptive because you must have a method in mind

clip_image001A reader writes:

Colin Berry’s method may provide synthetic cloth to body information represented by varying color density for close together body features such as fingers beside each other. It cannot provide proper relative spatial information for disparate features related to each other at a distance such as the tip of the nose and the outer edge of each cheek.  Dr. Berry’s method cannot generate the sort of spatial information we see in Petrus Soon’s 3D renditions.

You are possibly right that Colin’s method cannot produce meaningful, relative 3D information for “disparate features related to each other at a distance.”  That seems obvious when looking at his method. But is that 3D information really contained in the shroud image in the sense you suggest? Does it represent reality?

1) I’m still not convinced that the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance. It works out, it seems to me, to somehow represent body shape but it is presumptive to think the 3D information represents cloth-to-body distance. It is presumptive because you must have a method in mind to even suggest it.

 2)  I certainly have serious reservations about the 3D work undertaken by Petrus Soons.  I suspect that the real 3D information on the shroud is more like what we see with ImageJ, the VP8 and John Jackson’s 3D corrugated cardboard plot exhibited at the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado.

Might Colin’s method produce that kind of 3D data? I don’t think so, “synthetic” or otherwise. But I don’t know that. I think we need to wait and see.

Colin Berry Has It All Figured Out, Sort Of, Maybe

You’ve got to love the experimentation and impressive results so far

imageColin Berry gives this lengthy title to a blog postings over at his Science Buzz blog: The chemical principles behind the iconic Turin Shroud can now be explained. All that remains is to produce a look-alike copy. Then he goes on to say:

It’s taken over 3 years of almost non-stop experimentation, but this blogger/retired science bod is now able to explain how the faint negative image of the Turin Shroud was obtained (as a feat of medieval technology, aided by alchemists).

The task: produce a contact image that could be claimed to be that left by the crucified Jesus on Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen’.

It’s incredibly simple in principle (why didn’t I think of it sooner?):

1. Paint an adult human male (alive or dead) with an organic paste …

2. Press linen against the subject (or subject against linen) …

3. Develop the image chemically….


So I maintain that the plausible science is established – at least in principle-  so far as producing a negative  sepia 2D image from imprinting off a 3D subjectis concerned.  Whether it matches all the additional or peculiar characteristics of the TS image (extreme superficiality, lack of reverse side image, lack of uv fluorescence, microscopic characteristics etc.) remains to be seen. However,let’s insert a note of caution: not all those listed characteristics were necessarily there immediately after image formation, regardless of age – centuries or millennia. Some of those characteristics may be a result of ageing. At present it seems sensible to adopt a broad-brush approach, attempting to accommodate  only those ‘headline’ characteristics of the TS that have led to its being described as iconic or enigmatic. Where the latter are concerned, the prize for the most ‘iconic’ must surely go to the pioneering 1898 photography by Secondo Pia, which converted the Shroud negative back into a positive (by innocently treating the TS as a positive and convereting to a negative!).

Colin Berry: Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail

Inés San Martín, a Vatican correspondent for Crux has written an interesting article: Is the Shroud of Turin real? Some say it doesn’t matter

Therein we find Joe Nickell saying:

Proponents lack any viable hypothesis for the image formation, and have dismissed re-creations that others have found convincing.

and Barrie Schwortz saying:

Despite being the most studied artifact in history …  modern science is still unable to explain the image or how it was made.

and also saying:

… no one in the past 40 years has been able to duplicate it or create any image with the same chemical and physical properties.

Well, yeah, duh, to what Nickell is saying. In every case there have been problems with the re-creations. It is all about details. That’s why they have been dismissed. 

But then isn’t Barrie’s argument stale. That’s not a criticism of Barrie, it is the situation. Just as we say that no one has figured out how the image was formed – which every student of logic knows is a big fat fallacy – we haven’t figured out anything better to say about the image except what it is not and to keep bringing up those chemical and physical details.


The Rev. Andrew Dalton, a Legionaries of Christ priest who’s a shroud expert, told Crux that although the Church respects the autonomy of the scientific community, there are details that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.

Details like what?

Isn’t Colin Berry trying to figure out how the image was maybe formed by a forger with Thibault Heimburger reminding him about those pesky little details that “that simply couldn’t have been forged centuries ago.” Inés San Martín should be interviewing them. Here, right out of this blog, let’s look at two comments.

Thibault Heimburger (April 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm):


“These aspects of the TS that the new model is supposed to match” are very important.

Your new model, at the end, must match (or at least be compatible with) the fundamental surface distribution properties of the TS: superficiality (at fabric, thread and fiber level), uniformity of the image (no “hot point”, no spot, no “hole”), half tone and fuzzy contours, and bundles of fibers adjacent to uncolored fibers…

Now, if you think that these facts are not proved, despite the many photos you have, I can’t add anything.

If you think that those properties are not important at all, please explain…

The ” ‘scattered colored spots” (also seen in Garlaschelli’s shroud) is only my description of your hand imprint.

I’ll be in Turin until Sunday.

Colin Berry (April 29, 2015 at 10:25 pm):

Yes, it’s vitally important to match every tiny detail of the TS, as it existed when first produced. My new project will attempt to simulate in the kitchen the effect of centuries of subtle degradation on an image of unknown provenance, whether 700 or 2000 years old.

Seriously, TH, one has to recognize the limitations of any attempts at model building. That’s what we scientists, as distinct from physicians, engineers, technologists etc do – we build models. Recognizing the limitations of models, we are concerned primarily with the principles, especially when there are so many who claim for example that a 200nm thick image in unexplainable by conventional science (wrong, it is).

I am not trying to produce a facsimile copy of the TS (forgery Mark 2?) merely to show that its defining characteristics are consistent with medieval forgery. That’s as a counter to those pseudoscientific agenda-pushers who say they are not. (That’s my agenda – anti-pseudoscience). “Defining characteristic” must not turned into a trail (trial?) with no ending.

Hat tip to Joe Marino for sending the Crux article along.

Might tactile chemography prove to be the super-model?

These are early days, but I’m (how shall we say?) quietly confident.

— Colin Berry

imageNo wine before its time.  And don’t read Colin Berry’s posts in his blog before they have aged for a few days to match his unorthodox posting style.  Now is the time. Fine wine indeed if you like something acidic. Give it time to breath. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you or I will like it. It is time to read Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

Colin writes in his blog:

Here it is folks: the best I can offer after more than 3 years  of almost non-stop experimentation : Model 9  ("the nitric acid model").

Alternative name (afterthought, added 25th April): this new technique produces what might be called a "tactile chemograph".  Maybe there was only one ever produced (the image that we now call the Turin Shroud).  The tactile chemograph may be thought of as a forerunner of the photograph. (In both instances, one produces a latent image from a real person without harming them in any way, one that can then be developed in a bath (or vapour chamber) with the appropriate developing chemicals.

There was the moment that Thibault Heimburger asked Colin to “explain in detail the advantages of your new hypothesis with regard to your ‘old’ scorch hypothesis.”  Colin provided ten points. You should read them all. Here are two to temp you:

6. The technique allows for blood (or blood substitute) to be applied at the same time as body-imprinting medium, provided the blood or substitute stays red in nitric acid fumes (real blood does not – it quickly turns a brown colour). Blood would have been applied after. i.e. directly on top of the gooey imprinting medium to account for there being no body image under Shroud “blood”.


8. When applied to new linen, the technique has a side-effect that would be seen as a bonus – artificial ageing of the linen. Centuries later, pro-authenticity chemists and others would be delighted to find there was less potential vanillin and more mechanical weakness than would be expected of medieval linen a mere 700 years old.

Jumping to the conclusion (maybe, for there is no predicting with Colin):

The Turin Shroud. was this the world’s first and only tactile chemograph (think of it as a primitive ‘photographic’ negative, except for one tiny detail. Neither light not any other kind of elect6romagnetic radiation played any part in its production. It relied on the human touch (well, gentle massage actually).

What finally persuaded this blogger to abandon thermal scorching, and move to liquid (or semi-liquid) imprinting? It was that paper that Joe Accetta PhD presented at the St.Louis gathering, 2014, in which he propsoed that the TS image had been produced by woodblock imprinting. Up till that time I’d always been sceptical re the use of any kind of liquid imprinting medium, considering that would risk a reverse-side image. But I concocted my own equivalent of Joe’s "oak gall" imprinting ink, in which the iron salts probably have a mordant action, as well as creating the ink by reaction with plant tannins. Here’s an image produced, substituting tannin-rich pomegranate rind extract for oak galls, supplemented with iron (II)sulphate.

That ‘wet’ image was as good, if not better than anything produced by scorching. Yes. there was some reverse-side penetration, but might that not be minimized by suitable modification of technique, or simply by using thicker linen (and the TS linen IS thick, as Hugh Farey has observed).

Once liquid imprinting was permitted as an option, then a host of new experimental options were opened up. Thanks Joe Accetta. You weaned me of those thermal scorches (but they were useful in other ways, showing that ANY negative imprint can model certain key features of the TS, notably negative image and 3D-enhancibility). Models in science do not need to tick all boxes simultaneously. One can run different models in parallel, each earning its keep in one or other respect, while patiently waiting for the day when the super-model suggests itself, one  that combines the best features of its precursors, not only mine, but those of Garlaschelli and Accetta in particular. Hugh Farey and Adrie van der Hoeven added some useful and thought-provoking grist to the mill too, though whether they and the previous two would approve of the end-result is another matter.

Might tactile chemography prove to be the super-model? We shall see. These are early days, but I’m (how shall we say?) quietly confident.

Oh oh! You can’t put the cork back in, can you?

Do go read Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

What’s to like over on Colin’s blog right now?

Making Joe Accetta’s idea work?

imageWhat is there to like in the experimentation being live-blogged in Can that weird and wonderful Turin Shroud be modelled? See my hands-on results with dye-imprinting, reported in real time?

Well, for one thing Colin is experimenting, not simply speculating. When Luigi Garlaschelli produced his manufactured images, he was immediately criticized for failing to match many if the shroud’s image characteristics. Luigi had failed. Colin is aware of that and he is taking the image characteristics into account. It is appropriate to note, however, that all of the image characteristics are not completely unchallenged; for instance, how certain are we that there is no image beneath bloodstains? Colin is aware of those issues, as well.

He begins this way:

For background, see the posting immediately preceding this one. It attempts to explain my switch in focus from the ‘scorch’ model to that proposed last year by Joseph Accetta – based on medieval dye imprinting technology. I’ve extended and embellished it a bit, but as the title indicates, this post is about getting ‘hands-on’ experience with dye impriinting off 3D templates, with a view to getting familiar with the pros and cons of the Accetta model, vis-vis the scorch model.

imageThe posting ends this way (at least for now, there is no way of knowing when a post ends with Colin):

Oh dear. This is the reverse side, photographed straight afterwards, and already one can see bleed-through, despite the presence of that thickening agent. Late addition: the gum arabic was then left to evaporate in air until a treacly consistency, that was then painted onto the crucifix. despite the higher viscosity than used with dye, there was immediate bleed-through to the reverse-side of the linen.

Gum arabic is, sad to say,  NOT the answer if one’s attempting to achieve contact-side imprinting only. Maybe there are alternatives that need testing, but they have to fulfil a number of criteria yet to be discussed in detail.

Maybe one needs to test a starch dispersion, or colagen glue from boiling animal bones etc? Suppose it imprinted well, with minimal bleed through. Suppose it was then prone to flaking off with ageing and/or handling, leaving that fainter ghost imagewhich is what we may be seeing today. There’s still work to be done. But first I must report the results of testing out a different scenario by which a ghost image could have formed, one that results in a modification of superficial linen carbohydrates, based on the premise that alum and/or iron sulphates used as mordants could have generated sulphuric acid that at sufficiently high local concentration to react chemically to produce changes not dissimilar to those obtained by thermal means (contact scorching). For that, the experiments moved from kitchen to garage, involving as they did a degree of hazard.

A Shift-Drift in Colin Berry’s Thinking?

To misparaphrase Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night
but rage, rage against the dyeing of the cloth (dying of the light).

imageI remember many postings to the Shroud Science Group to and by Ray Rogers. One didn’t need to agree with him to please him. He liked new thinking if it was based on real science. At the same time, however, he was tolerant of dolts like me who did not know science very well but were willing to listen.

He liked it when people were willing to hypothesize and experiment. Propose any method for image formation that was based on real science, and you had his complete attention. I think, from what I read over the span of many months, Ray would have truly enjoyed Colin Berry’s latest blog posting, Is the Shroud of Turin image really "enigmatic"? See this straightforward, no-nonsense modelling exercise:

Colin begins with a bit of prefatory stage setting. In reacting to people who call the image enigmatic. He writes:

…  it’s perhaps not surprising that some have read “enigmatic” to mean not just "mysterious" but “supernatural”.

Personally. this retired science bod is quite happy to entertain the possibility of certain phenomena being supernatural, but only if non-supernatural explanations have been carefully considered and rigorously excluded.. Thus I’m minded to think that the "Big Bang" was the work of a supernatural entity – though that has not prevented me proposing a non-supernatural explanation (see margin notes) that uses conventional physics.

Rigorous filtering out of non-supernatural explanations is sadly not the case where the Turin Shroud is concerned -  there being little real science and a surfeit of pseudo-science aka tosh.. One has only to peruse the headlines that have appeared from scientists ("scientists"?) in recent  years.  Try googling  turin shroud to find entries like this one which as it happens was what sparked my own (renewed) interest in the Shroud, after lying dormant since the 1988/9 radiocarbon dating.

Which sets us up for a fascinating shift or drift in thinking:

What if the image layer were a faint  scorch, or, better still me(currently)thinks Joseph Accetta’s DYE imprinting (now this blogger’s preferred hypothesis in place of a previous fixation with thermal imprinting aka scorching.) 

Actually, going beyond Accetta…

Addendum: as stated here and elsewhere, this blogger now aligns himself with Joseph Accetta in  thinking that the TS image was probably dyed onto the linen, rather than heat-scorched. (I would not have rated dyeing per se very highly, but for the fact that dyeing onto linen is difficult without use of a mordant, that the most common mordant – alum – is highly acidic, and that sulphuric acid from slow alum hydrolysis may explain the faint ghost image we see today (so I’ve gone beyond Dr. Accetta  somewhat). So how does printed fabric respond to the conversions outlined above?

The posting, on Colin’s blog, started March 8th, has been growing. There is this from additional material added just yesterday:

Note: either of the two hydroxides can easily rearrange to make the hydrated oxides, like, er. McCrone’s iron oxide, accommodated within a "painted image" scenario. (Did he ever consider dyeing, as distinct from painting?).

Speaking of which – dyeing that is -  the so-called "dye-rot" that degrades some ancient printed textiles has been attributed to iron-based mordants, especially those that use iron sulphates, as distinct from iron chlorides (sulphuric acid being non-volatile, unlike hydrochloric).

Heaven help us:

Note the current focus on dyeing,  with initially soluble pigments, as distinct from painting with insoluble ones. Hat tip again to Joseph Accetta, assuming the problem of reverse-side (aka obverse-side) action can be resolved. If it can’t, this blogger may need to revert to instant thermal scorching….

Or supernatural?

Note:The image shown above is accidental. It is of a drop cloth used below a plastic grid while dyeing other pieces of cloth as discussed in Lisa Kerpoe’s blog having nothing whatsoever to do with the shroud or the topic at hand.

Checking In On Colin Berry: A New Image Model ‘forming in my mind’

So one mixes up some alum and some thickening agent – a gum or starch etc

imageColin is is toying with a new image formation scheme. He is blogging about it though it is difficult to know this. Instead of posting new entries in his blog, Colin adds more text to old ones, so much so that even Google is gasping for air.

In what follows, we are looking at some new text added to a posting for February 20, Might the Shroud of Turin properly be described as a ‘proximity imprint’ in sweat and blood, real or simulated, to distinguish it from Freeman’s faded painting? If you want to follow along you can find the latest text (as of this morning) roughly 4/5 of the way down what is now a very long webpage:

… Am presently  researching, thoroughly I hope, a distinctively different angle on the manner in which the Shroud image may have been produced. It’s a difficult call to beat contact thermal imprinting, while still  producing a negative  non-directional image with 3D properties etc etc. But the new model that’s been forming in my mind, with some prompting from the writings of Luigi Garlaschelli and Joseph Accetta, might be more suited to the medieval mind (and technology) than the heated inanimate  templates (horse brasses, brass crucifixes)on the cooker hob in this blogger’s 21st century kitchen.

A few paragraphs later:

Here’s a few broadbrush ideas to be getting along with.

Firstly, there had to be template.One does not paint a negative image freehand, at least not one so photograph-like as the TS (when submitted to 19th/20th century technology). The template may have been totally inanimate (14th century provenance), e.g. a metal or ceramic bas relief, or it may been a real person (allowing for a 1st century provenance, if one is willing to junk the radiocarbon dating – count me out).

So one mixes up some alum and some thickening agent – a gum or starch etc – applies it to one’s subject of template, then presses down linen to get an imprint. What then?  Knowing what we now know about the properties of alum, one could suggest an immediate roasting at a temperature that leads to chemical sehydration of the linen carbohydrates in areas in immediate contact with the alum paste. Knoock off the surplus paste when doen and one has (maybe) a faint yellow negative image.

clip_image001And – to be expected:

Briefly, the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge provided a possible rationale for imprinting the image of a bearded man who was NOT Jesus, but a Knight Templar, indeed the most prominent, Jacques de Molay. Why? Because de Molay, Grand Master of the outlawed order was burned at the stake in Paris 1314. Alongisde him was a fellw Templar, Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffroi de Charney. That name is almost but not quite identical to that of the Lord of Lirey whose widow placed the Shroud on its first recorded public display in 1357, shortly after he husband’s death at the Battle of Poitiers. Her husband is said by celebrated genealogist Noel Currer-Briggs to have been the nephew of his quasi-namesake who died in 1314, some 43 or so years earlier.  Might the TS image have been intended to represent a Knight Templar and the manner of death, especially as the "burning at the stake" had in fact been performed sadistically by slow-roasting? Was it a tribute (initially) that had remained in the family, a closely guarded secret initailly for obvious reasons when Templars were still being dispossed and worse by an alliance of convenience between the then heretic-seeking Papacy and cash-strapped French monarchy? Was it ‘reinvented’ to represent the victim of crucifixion rather than "scorching".

Was there supporting evidence that might corroborate that interpretation?

More to come:

I can hardly wait.

Colin Berry: Stop Calling the Faint Image a Faint Image

And, as I see it . . . the word distance and the word body are both at issue.
Can we go on saying that no one has figured out how the image was formed
and at the same time objectively refer to cloth-to-body distance?

clip_image001I applaud Colin Berry’s attempt at helping to define the image:

Getting the right words to describe the Shroud image into the media and public domain has acquired a new urgency of late, given the recent claims that attempt to undo decades of research.  I refer to historian Charles Freeman’s claim that the TS is merely an age-degraded painting.  I’ve said quite a lot on that score already elsewhere, as indeed have others, and have little more to add, except to say that Mr. Freeman needs to get up to speed with Shroud science, and disabuse himself of the idea that it’s all about art history. The TS is arguably NOT about art. It’s an artefact, intended for purposes other than mere artistic expression. Works of art do not generally result in the issue of Pilgrims’ Badges (Lirey, France, circa 1357).

However, thanks to the robotic and mindless Google algorithm, Charles’s misguided notions will no doubt survive for a while, at least on the internet.  It’s no longer sufficient in this blogger’s view to continue describing the TS as a "faint image". That is too non-specific and makes it too easy for CF to peddle his antediluvian views (if STURP can be thought of as supplying a flood of new information).  "Faint image" or even faint NEGATIVE image simply does not do the business (CF having closed his eyes completely to the  implications of the tone-reversal implied by the descriptor "negative"). No, we need new updated terminology that makes it clear that the TS is not just any old "faint image", but one with very special, indeed unique properties that sets it apart from other pictorial representations of the human form. While that terminology cannot and must not attempt to impose a new orthodoxy regarding mechanism, actual or conjectural, it is entitled in my view to guide thinking in the right direction, while leaving key details unspecified.

So what is that terminology to be?

One has to be neither  pro- nor anti-authenticity to regard the TS image as an IMPRINT.

Definition of "imprint" (noun): Free Dictionary:



1. a mark or indentation impressed on something.

2. any impression or impressed effect.

And it is life-sized front and back, negative and contains seemingly 3D properties, Colin goes on to remind us.

Colin goes on to examine the definition issue from the point of view of a quote from a paper by Barrie Schwortz, Is the Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph?: A critical examination of the theory. That paragraph reads:

The STURP team concluded that there was a correlation between the density (or darkness) of the image on the Shroud and the distance the cloth was from the body at the time the image was formed. The researchers calculated that the image on the Shroud was formed at a cloth-to-body distance of up to approximately 4 centimeters, but beyond that, imaging did not occur. The closer the cloth was to the body, the darker the resulting image in that area, with the darkest parts of the image being formed where there was direct contact between the two. The image became proportionately lighter as the distance increased until it reached the maximum imaging distance. . . .

To which Colin responds:

Left to me I would have described the TS image as probably, indeed almost certainly a CONTACT imprint, such as can be modelled with hot templates. But the view exists, articulated above, and emanating in main from STURP physicist John Jackson PhD, that the TS image is not contact-only, but from modelling studies (at any rate)  appears to allow imaging across modest air gaps that do not exceed approx 4cm.  Personally, I think that latitude in allowing an air gap is a defect of the presumed imaging model, one that assumes a linen cloth spread loosely over a real corpse, and making only partial contact under gravity.  That’s a pro-authenticity scenario.

Forget that! The issue isn’t pro-authenticity. The issue is taking a leap too far making an observation into a theory. Consider what adding a short phrase does.

. . . there was a correlation between the density (or darkness) of the image on the Shroud and the [what might have been] distance the cloth was from the body at the time the image was formed. . . .

Colin’s take is just as correct:

Let’s not prejudge who is right, who is wrong.  Let’s assume that all that’s required is close proximity between a body and/or inanimate template that tolerates air gaps up to 4cm.

So the word distance and the word body are both at issue.  Can we go on saying that no one has figured out how the image was formed and at the same time objectively refer to cloth-to-body distance?

Colin’s caveat is fair:

Caveat: I’ve tried to be inclusive here, allowing for the possibility that  the image to have been produced by a burst of radiation (unspecified, see critique by the estimable Bernard Power ), and able to operate across air gaps. Without attempting to read  the minds of ‘resurrection radiationists’, whether it’s electromagnetic radiation or even wackier subatomic particles – notably neutrons-  that are proposed, might they consider the term "imprint", even modified with "proximity" as a potential poisoned chalice? Well, I’ve given a little thought to that, and followed up with some googling. What do I find?  Those ‘radiationist’ ideas have already filtered through to the mainstream media under the heading "imprints".

Of course, I’ve ignored Colin’s main point. We should stop calling the faint image on the shroud a faint image.  We make it to easy for the likes of Charles Freeman.

We should call it a proximity imprint, he tells us. 

No! Four syllables followed by two is a leap to far.  Remember, we are talking about the problems of a “robotic and mindless Google algorithm.”  

BTW:  I Googled “Faint Image.”  Not one picture of the shroud!  Most images were of people who had fainted.

Do read Colin’s entire posting.

On Deaf Ears Here?

As Colin Berry writes in his own Science Buzz blog: The Turin Shroud is clearly a medieval fake – albeit a very clever one. What more is there to say? 

Well, he does say:

Having wasted thousands of words pressing simple straightforward logic, and getting little back by way of  return except ridicule and insults (the few exceptions to that broad-brush description know who they are) I decided to bow out, and do so in a way that makes a point. I posted images instead of text. Any words of my own, the minimum needed, were incorporated into the images to create a series of cartoons, billboards etc. Images are more powerful than words.

Images imprint onto the visual cortex, a major part of the hind-brain with a minimum of pre-processing that is in any case not under conscious control.

Words on the other hand get consciously pre-processed in many subjective ways, so much so that where Porter’s site is concerned, 99% or more of one’s words either fall on deaf ears or get hopelessly scrambled and commuted within seconds of receipt.

Or, as Eminem rapped it in Taking My Ball (as you read these four lines you need to bounce the upper half of your body straight up and down – you see, you can rap):

imageIt feels so wrong, does it feel so right? But its alright, it’s okay with me.

I’ll do my steps all by myself, I don’t need nobody to play with me,

But if you just give me a chance, I can put you in a trance the way I dance .

But don’t nobody wanna play with me so I’m taking my ball and going home (home).

Here is the topmost image from Colin’s posting. No sense messing with words:


Picture of Eminem with deaf ears is a publicity picture from eminem.com.

The Poke in the Eye Award for This Sunday Morning

goes to Colin Berry for a comment to You cannot fold and unfold a painting (and more). Guess who has been poked.

Would someone care to make me an offer for the GENUINE Mona Lisa?

Yes, this is the real one, not that cheap and garish imitation that hangs in the Louvre.

There are three ways you can tell that mine is the original. Firstly, all, and I mean ALL the original paint pigment has fallen off, leaving just a ghost of Da Vinci’s original.

Second, you will note that what remains is a tone-reversed negative. Yes, when pigment detaches from a Da Vinci, one is left with a negative of the original. Not many people know that.

However, the real proof that mine’s the original comes from entering the image into a 3D rendering program:

Only a genius of the highest order – Leonardo Da Vinci – centuries, nay millennia ahead of his time – was able to paint an image that degrades to leave a photographic negative with encoded 3D properties.

Message to prospective purchasers: informal ostentations are held nightly at my home, 3, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam. Entrance is free, but viewers are expected to purchase the East Cheam Pilgrim’s Badge, cast in durable epoxy resin for a special reduced price (£35 plus VAT).

There is another reason Charles Freeman is wrong

imageA reader of this blog, Alan C., writes:

There is another reason Charles Freeman is wrong. The image on the Shroud of Turin is a negative. While I know you can’t prove a negative (that is a pun), I contend that no one has ever seen a painted negative other than maybe copies of the Shroud or of a photographic negative. In fact, it would be almost impossible if not completely impossible for anyone to paint a negative image. Just imagine someone could however. Why would he and how would he know it was correct?

If you are speaking of a grayscale negative, one that contains many shades of gray and possibly black and white, then I agree with you, Alan.

Last November, I wrote the following as a blog posting. I was convinced then that Charles did not understand the significance of fact that the image on the shroud is a negative image. Colin Berry had just then written, “. . . one has to explain the NEGATIVE image.”  (caps are Colin’s), which Charles never did.  I contend that if he can’t do so his entire argument goes down the drain.

Here is the previous posting:

Dear Charles Freeman, re the Famous Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck

November 9, 2014

The picture of the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck is in Wikipedia’s image library.
It is in the public domain. The smaller picture shows details that are visible in a small
convex mirror on the wall.

Hi Charles,

Colin Berry had repeatedly pointed out that the image on the shroud is a negative image. He was suggesting that it implied a contact imprint.

Well, maybe. Or maybe a a chemical reaction from a diffusion of gases like Ray Rogers proposed or a photograph like Nicholas Allen theorized or maybe, if your worldview allows it, some radiation that was a byproduct of a miraculous event. But we don’t need to go into all that. The point was and is, as Colin pointed out to you,  the image on the shroud is a negative and “. . . one has to explain the NEGATIVE image.”  (caps are Colin’s)

That is when you responded to Colin saying:

Colin – what is the problem in creating as negative image? The artisT of the Shroud as well as the Besancon shroud, was commissioned to imagine an image that a dead body might have left. The conventional iconography of tHe side wound is on the right side of the body, so he produced it on tHe left. Not difficult.

imageFor a more sophisticated negative image look at the mirror on the famous Arnolfini portrait by Van Eyck in the National Galley, London ( 1434). There are other cases of mirror images but this is the best.

Do you not know the difference between a negative image and a mirror image?

In your article, you mention the negative image three times. In the very first paragraph you write:

. . . Here we have negative images of Christ’s body as if they had been transferred from the body to the cloth. . . .

Okay, that’s fine. About a quarter of the way down you write:

. . . Note, too, the blood dripping from the lance that, in the negative image of the Shroud, appears to be reproduced outside the body image on its left side. . . .

Left side! Is this a clue? And then in an extraordinary paragraph at about three quarters of the way on, you tell us.

What can we say about the painting on the Shroud? The images are crude and limited in tone. They show none of the expertise of the great painters of the 14th century, who, even on linen, were capable of mixing a variety of pigments into rich colours. . . . Again, the hair of the body would have fallen back if the figure had been lying down but the blood is as if it is trickling down the hair of a standing figure. In short, it appears to be a painting made by an artist whose only concession to his subject is to imagine that this is a negative impression of the body (as shown by the wound on the chest being on the left of the image in contrast to the conventional right, as seen in the Holkham crucifixion scene) that had been transferred to the cloth. (red emphasis mine in all instances)

Do you not know about Secondo Pia’s famous photograph in 1898?  Do you not know what it means?

Charles, you write:

I am working within the mainstream, not Shroudies mainstream, but academic mainstream in setting out my hypotheses. No one who has read my articles thinks I am saying anything more than placing the Shroud within an acceptable medieval context.

imageAcceptable medieval context?  Show me one example of someone painting a negative image in the medieval or anytime in history. Find me an artist anywhere in the world who can do so. I’m sure it is possible. So, too, I imagine is patting your head, rubbing your stomach, jumping rope and singing the Halleluiah Chorus backwards all at the same time. Try it. No, I mean try painting a negative without a negative to copy. Try it.

There is something more going on in the picture on the right than a mere mirror image. It’s a negative of the picture on the left. And since the picture on the left is, itself, a negative and since two negatives make a positive, the negative on the right is a positive.

Charles, check out this negative thing with academic mainstream.  Without an example, you do not have any medieval context.

imageOne more question, in three parts, Charles:  If all the paint has flaked off, how do you know the images are limited in tone? How do you know it was not painted in rich colors? And, was this a color negative painting in which colors as well as gray scale values are reversed?

Without an example you do not have any medieval context.



An interesting paper on the subject is The Concept of Negativity Through the Ages vs The Negative Image on the Shroud by Isabel Piczek.

Is Fluorescence Still in Question?

Which compels us to revisit Charring, fluorescence and image-forming
mechanisms. Beware Shroudology’s junk science and flawed logic…
on Colin’s blog

imageJonathan in Houston writes:

Before moving to Houston I worked as a tech in a crime and accident lab for twelve and a half years and I can tell you we found scorches on cloth so light you could not see them. Even so they fluoresced. We also found very visible scorches that did not fluoresce at all. So what Dr. Berry wrote about light and heavy scorching makes a lot of sense to me.  I do not recall anything about linen specifically and I do not know about the effects of age.  I wonder, is there a definitive study about the scorching on the Shroud? Did anyone quantify and chart fluorescence at the edges of different burn marks and beyond the edges of the burn marks?  Did anyone experiment with a control sample of untreated linen cloth that was not modernized for brightness or wettability?  Did anyone examine other ancient linen cloths that have been burned in places?  BTW I am not a chemist.

I think this recent comment by Colin Berry is what Jonathan is referring to:

image. . .  Polymerization may well be the key to understanding the basis to the fluorescence of the 1532 burn marks, and why (in passing) it’s a mistake to imagine that the TS cannot be a scorch through lacking fluorescence.

The fact that the 1532 burn marks still fluoresce almost 5 centuries later suggests the molecules responsible for the fluorescence are of relatively high molecular weight, almost certainly solids, or they would have evaporated away by now. Candidate molecules, if one is looking for uv fluorescence and high molecular weight, say 300 or greater, would be the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, containing fused aromatic ring systems (5 or 6 carbon). Are there mechanisms by which they could be formed in linen exposed to very high temperatures? Yes there are. Here’s the reasoning. The ultimate product from deep scorching of linen is black charcoal, i.e. microcrystalline graphite. While the latter is almost pure carbon, its graphene sheets are polycyclic aromatic in structure, ie. fused benzene rings, and there is no way they could be formed from cellulose etc of linen except via a polymerization process from low molecular weight monomers. But forming those monomers, whether furfural or some other product of pyrolysis, requires high temperatures, considerably higher than those needed merely to leave a scorch mark on linen.

Without labouring the detail, or going over old ground, the structure of the flax fibre is probably the key to understanding the difference between light scorching (no fluorescence) and heavy deeper scorching (intense fluorescence). Light scorches probably pyrolyse selectively the carbohydrates of the primary cell wall, notably the chemically reactive hemicelluloses. Heavy deeper scorches affect the cellulose in the core of the fibre, requiring a considerably higher temperature, and generating the monomers that are needed for polymerization on the graphite pathway terminating in charcoal that are responsible for intermediate uv fluorescence.

Take away message: it’s false logic or bad science or both to imagine that the fluorescence of the 1532 burn marks precludes heat as a mechanism for TS body image formation. Barrie Schwortz, Russ Brault and other pro-authenticity proslelytizers please note: your playing the ‘fluorescence card’ may impress your audiences, but they don’t impress this retired researcher who has experience of tracking fluorescent compounds as part of his research career, and knows rather more than you do about the complexities of the fluorescence phenomenon, and why it can never be used to prove or disprove a case if you know NOTHING about the chemical identity of the fluorescent species.

Which compels us to go over old ground and revisit Charring, fluorescence and image-forming mechanisms. Beware Shroudology’s junk science and flawed logic… on Colin’s blog wherein we read:

The non-fluorescent body image on the Shroud is a pale sepia colour.  It may or may not have been the result of mild scorching (I happen to believe it is a light scorch). But the fluorescent, heavily charred regions on the Shroud are the result the 1532 fire etc. There is no inconsistency whatsoever between these two findings. All that remains to be done is to offer an explanation as to why one fluoresces and the other does not, ensuring that it is a TESTABLE  and potentially FALSIFIABLE explanation, i.e. a SCIENTIFIC explanation.