Only the Shadow knows

The apparent 3D in the picture to the right was created by the arc of the sun.
The green color was photoshopped in for illustration purposes only.

imageA reader points out:

[Colin Berry wrote], “Takeaway message: there is no encoded 3D information in a photograph of the TS. There is merely a 2D image that has patterns of light or dark that can be computer-processed to give APPARENT relief. But if the original image was not created by photography, but by some other imaging mechanism, there is always the possibility that one will be fooled into thinking that a darker-than-average feature on the image represents high relief. It ain’t necessarily so. Different imaging models create different interpretations.”

He is right. Colin has shown one way that apparent relief can be generated that has nothing to do with shape. Dan, do you remember Nathan Wilson and his Shadow Shroud?  He showed another way to create a 3D image that had nothing to do with it.

How could I not remember Nathan.  We debated briefly on an ABC Radio program.  He got the better of me that day and made me look foolish.  Nice guy, though. And yes, you are right, he did demonstrate another way to generate apparent relief. Apparent is the essential word, however.

imagePersonally, I don’t think what we see on the Turin Shroud is only apparent relief.  I think it is real relief. I think the grayscale values (my preferred term for brightness, darkness, intensity, luminosity, shade, density, etc.) represent that. Regrettably, the only evidence I see for this is that it seems so. “It seems so” is one step lower on the evidence quality ladder than “I think I see.”  Moreover, I have no reason to think that the grayscale values of the shroud images represent distance between the outer surface of the body and facial hair and a burial shroud above and below it. My gut says it is so. Occam’s razor is a great temptation. But in the end there is really no evidence for the scene we imagine.  Could it not just as easily be distance from a hypothetical plane that intersects the body from head to toe, so to speak?  Or relative distance to some point in space? Those notions are harder to imagine because we can’t imagine an action-at-a-distance scenario for them. We have imagined a scenario to go with body to shroud distance. Well, sort of, maybe.

Speaking of imagined scenarios:  “John Jackson’s ‘Fall-through’ hypothesis for image formation belong to the class of hypotheses that invokes the action of photon radiation” (newest Critical Summary 2.1 out of Colorado, page 73). Are we to measure brightness in terms of distance or measure it in terms of time that the cloth spends falling through a mechanically transparent body?  And then  there is Frank Tipler’s hypothesis of dematerialization by electroweak quantum tunneling, in which a “proton plus electron goes to neutrino plus antineutrino.”  Is this a measure of anything that we can comprehend? Tipler, in his book, The Physics of Christianity implies it is distance by telling us that at the time of dematerialization of the body, the cloth is perfectly flat.

And of course we can’t imagine inexplicable non-process miracles; the touch of a hand or finger, a few spoken words, or a seeming unrelated unusual activity all serve as examples. In the New Testament Jesus changes water into wine, a woman is healed when she touches Jesus’ garment, Jesus feeds a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish. Where is the process in these? What imagined actions are taking place.?  More recently, there is the apparition of Mary appearing to Juan Diego; Mary had arranged flowers in Juan Diego’s cloak and when later he opened his cloak in the presence of a bishop the flowers fell out leaving behind an image now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. Perhaps the image on the shroud is the result of an inexplicable non-process miracle like that.

Or let’s just suppose Colin is right and the image we see was formed by a hot template. Could the resulting variations in grayscale values  have been caused by varying temperatures in a large piece of metal?

In 2005, Nathan Wilson, experimented with a method he devised, a method for creating an image similar to the shroud.  This isn’t to suggest that this was how the image was formed. But it does show that so-called brightness (grayscale) maps can be generated by other methods that are not formed by action at a distance and that do not contain real distance information. Wilson writes:

The image on the Shroud is dark on a light background. Previous theories had all attempted to explain how linen could be darkened without the use of chemicals, stains, or paints. Wilson wondered if it would be possible to lighten the already dark linen, leaving only a dark image behind.The simplest means of lightening linen, available to all men throughout time, is to bleach it with sunlight. Wilson believed that if an image of a man were painted on glass with a light shade of paint, placed over darker linen, and left beneath the sun, a dark image would be left on a light background. More importantly, he believed a dark and light inversion would take place, creating a photonegative. Wherever light paint had been used, the linen would be shaded from the sun and left dark and unbleached. Wherever the darker shade of linen had been left exposed, the sun would bleach the cloth light. In addition, it was also believed that because the sun would be exposing the linen from approximately one hundred and eighty degrees, a crude three dimensional image would be created.

How 3D-ish are the images?  Colin’s, as well?  Those of the shroud?

Wilson’s Results

Oil paint on glass, produced by David Beauchamp in roughly forty-five minutes while watching stand-up comedy. This painting was the most successful and was used to produce three different images on linen.

The first linen image created by Beauchamp’s window, exposed for ten days generally parallel to the sun’s path. The linen bears a negative image, dark on light (left), which becomes positive, light on dark (right), in a true photonegative.

The second linen image created by Beauchamp’s window, exposed for fifteen days generally perpendicular to the sun’s path. The lines are much harder than those in the first image.

The third and final image created by Beauchamp’s window, exposed for approximately one hundred and forty hours beneath a sunlamp. The stationary light source created an image flat and scattered.

Beauchamp’s parallel shroud (right), and the Turin Shroud (left) both topographically rendered.

The Turin Shroud rendered three-dimensionally. Shabby chic.

The Beauchamp parallel shroud rendered three-dimensionally. Shabbier chic.

Should we be rethinking the VP8 and 3D images?

Todd, a reader of this blog, just yesterday posted the following quotation from Peter Schumacher. It’s from a 1999 paper by Pete entitled Photogrammetric Responses From The Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin induces a [3D] result through photographic imaging that is unique, compared to all other photographic results taken from other objects of the same acknowledged period as the Shroud, of prior periods, and to the present day. It is the “data” existing on the Shroud of Turin, which induces the unique photographic results. Therefore, the Shroud image, itself, is unlike any other object or image known to exist. (Bracketed “3D” added by me for clarity)

imageThis obvious absence of evidence as evidence fallacy – call it what you want: argumentum ad ignorantiam, the black swan problem – has stood, it seems, since sometime after 1976, when (quoting from A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses – Version 2.1 by Bob Siefker, et. al.):

[John] Jackson, with the help of Eric Jumper (both on active duty and teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy) used a VP-8 analog computer furnished by Pete Schumacher, an engineer with Interpretation Systems, Inc., to make a brightness map of the Shroud image.

Then they tried to do the same thing with photographs of people and objects. Pete tried. Others tried over the years. Everything else was distorted; no real 3D.  There was, among those who understood that a normal painting or photograph of a person or object contained brightness information that was representative of reflected light while the image on the shroud contained brightness information that was not that but rather seemingly spatial data, a sense that the argument was safe. It has been repeated and restated over and over by others.

“OK Hugh [Farey],” wrote Todd, “Maybe you can respond to this quote. I ask again that you provide published evidence to refute this claim.

As long as we continue to think of just regular paintings or photographs of people or normal objects – and we ignore the cries from the fallacy police – we are on pretty safe ground.  It cannot yet be refuted.

But Colin Berry didn’t do what others had done. He made a scorch of an object on cloth. And he found that that scorch behaved like (or pretty much behaved like) the image on the Shroud of Turin. Colin found a black swan and we couldn’t say any longer that all swans are white.

That is published evidence; it is published on Colin’s blog and reshown here. It is not a painting or a photograph of an object; it is a scorch.

If we continue to speak only of normal paintings and photographs we are still on safe ground. But we have to drop the idea that the shroud image is unique.  It isn’t.

Click on the images to see larger versions

While we are at it, maybe we can drop the other fallacy, namely that the 3D data represents body to cloth distance.  That has not been shown to be true.

The Makeshift Body Bag of Turin

New angle on that much over-hyped Hungarian Pray Codex . . .

image“Please be content for now with another new claim,” writes Colin Berry. . .

the so-called Turin Shroud was never intended to represent the final burial shroud. It was a makeshift body bag used to transport Jesus from the cross to his final resting place, the rock tomb. It was simply to provide a dignified transport of a blood and sweat-soaked victim pending the final washing and anointing prior to final burial, probably in WINDING sheets. It was the body bag that received the sweat and blood imprint, NOT the final burial shroud enclosing a washed, anointed, perfumed body.

(I used the same picture, above that Colin used because it effectively makes his point).

imageColin extensively examines scripture to support this contention. And then from left field:

New angle on that much over-hyped Hungarian Pray Codex: might that be Jesus on an opened-out body bag in the upper picture, with the replacement snake-like linen for winding in readiness?

But as Colin notes:

I never imagined for one moment that I was the first to propose the ‘body bag’ hypothesis, in view of the Gospel accounts making clear that ‘fine linen’ was used for immediate transport from cross to tomb. And here’s a comment from David Mo that includes a French quote (my italics) making precisely  the same point. My immediate response follows:

Here is what David Mo wrote (translation by Google):

More interesting: "The other Shroud which also bears an imprint of Jesus Christ is the one body called the Shroud of Besancon. The painting is not so strong or if the features that distinguish the Shroud of Turin. This is what has been told to those who gave the history of the one and the other, that of Turin had been used to wrap the body bloodied at the descent from the cross, and that of Besançon had been used to bury him after he was washed & embalmed. " It was a common belief que la mark Shroud of Turin Was Made with blood.

Colin tells us that:

Ian Wilson no less has expressed views that chime with mine (my bolding)

Wilson concurs with this as a possible explanation: "Although this may have been a me re chin band, it implies a more substantial piece of linen, and an alternative interpretation is that it could have been the Shroud we know today. The root meaning ofsudarion is sweat cloth, and the Shroud may have been intended as a temporary wrapping to soak up the sweat and blood from the body prior to a more definitive burial, which would have taken place after the Passover Sabbath." (emphasis is Colin’s)

Social Encyclopedia-ing, the Shroud of Turin and Channel 5

After all, we do find in Wikipedia “that Leonardo da Vinci had faked the Shroud.”

imageA reader from Spaniards Bay, Newfoundland, writes:

I discovered this morning that the “Shroud of Turin” entry in Wikipedia no longer contains attempts by Freeman and Berry to include their -hypotheses in this, their latest attempts at social encyclopedia-ing. In fact, their names cannot be found at all on the page. It was like awakening from a strange dream.

It was real. It wasn’t a dream. Moderator comments do state:

  • Deelted (sic) Colin Berrys removed as self promotion unsubstantiated in theory or peer reviewed in notable articles)
  • Removal of Charles Freeman theory article overloading on theories

Colin fired back on a discussion page that Wikipedia created for him:

I concluded my account with:

"Links to Berry’s ‘simulated sweat imprint’ hypothesis"

Note the term "hypothesis", meaning idea. So where’s the conflict of interest in expressing an idea? Where’s the self-promotion in expressing an idea? Why bandy around these silly terms in a way that totally misrepresents this researcher’s interest in the Shroud? Are you aware that I have published over 250 postings on my science buzz and specialist Shroud sites, many with original research findings you will not find elsewhere. As for deleting the earlier reference to my scorch findings that someone else, not I, chose to publicize, that is just small-mindedness.

My IDEA is any original one, as you can check for yourself by googling, that can be expressed in a few words,and which does not need "peer review" to which incidentally I am no stranger:

The faint yellow Shroud body image was almost certainly an attempt to simulate a sweat imprint on linen, as if from a recently crucified man. In reality it was probably a thermal imprint ("scorch mark") from a heated 3D or bas relief template.

Do you not consider that folk who consult wiki have a right to be informed of the latest thinking? Do you not understand the difference between hypotheses that invite further experimentation and tendentious claims?

Colinsberry (talk) 23:07, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

Colin Berry PhD

Does Colin have a point? He has done a lot of experimenting (not that I’m convinced by it). I don’t buy into the simulation of a sweat imprint idea but, then again, compare it to some other ideas that have been floated. After all we find this on the Wikipedia page:

Lynn Picknett has written a book proposing that Leonardo da Vinci had faked the Shroud. Picknett and Larissa Tracy appeared on a Channel 5 (UK) TV program that announced that the Shroud was the oldest known surviving photograph.

Colin, it seems that all you need to do is appear on Channel 5.

How to Become Famous

Shall this become the future of the Shroud of Turin entries in Wikipedia, where every
person with an idea posts his own theory out there? What about the guy in Australia
who has discovered that if he tilts his laptop screen at a certain angle he can make
Jesus’s eyes open, thus proving he is alive. Or Stephen Jones (is there something
about the equator or something) who concludes that the carbon dating was hacked
by the KGB. And  . . . oh, no, we don’t want to tip him off to the idea.

imageColin Barry tells us in his blog:

Yes, I’ve taken a leaf from Charles Freeman’s book, and submitted a brief synopsis of my ‘simulated sweat imprint’ idea to wikipedia. Charles sent his to the History of the Shroud page, but noting there was now a version of the same at the end of  the main Shroud of Turin entry under "Recent Developments" . . .

Colin tells us that it was erased but . . .

Tried re-submitting my screed, but this time logging into wiki, which had fortunately remembered me from a long time ago, attempting to edit something or other (non-TS related).

My piece  now appears like an old-fashioned ticker tape/ telegram at the end of the Recent Developments section, and I’m still none the wiser about how to format in wiki.

It remains on the page in a strange, so-called edit format. This is what it says after you clear it up a bit:

Shroud researcher Colin Berry (mentioned earlier) has recently made a significant modification to his belief that the body image was imprinted onto linen as a scorch from a heated template. He had originally speculated that the scorch technology had been chosen deliberately to represent either Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay or Geoffroi de Charney midway through being slowly-roasted to death at the stake in Paris, with a fanciful imprinting of hot tissue onto a burial shroud. In that view the de Molay image was later‘re-invented’ as that of the crucified Jesus by additions of blood at the appropriate wound locations described in the New Testament accounts.

The Templar link has now been abandoned. While Berry still considers the TS image to be a contact scorch, he proposes that it was intended to be seen by the very first cohorts of pilgrims at Lirey in 1357 as the genuine sweat (and blood) imprint left on linen by the recumbent crucified Jesus (228,229) . In other words, the scorch technology was designed to simulate the appearance of an ancient sweat imprint, yellowed with age. That interpretation may have found a resonance with mid-14th century pilgrims, given that the highly venerated Veil of Veronica had been attracting large numbers at the same time, notably in the ‘Holy Year’ 1350, just 7 years prior to the first known Lirey display. The ‘Veronica’ too, according to legend, was initially a body imprint, solely of the facial features of Jesus, captured onto a bystander’s veil as she stepped forward in a charitable gesture to wipe sweat and blood from the face of Jesus as the latter passed by, bearing his cross to the site of execution at Calvary. Might this idea of sweat/blood imprinting have served as the inspiration for a medieval ‘thought experiment’ combining art and technology, imagining how a similar whole body imprint, both frontal and dorsal sides, of the recently deceased and traumatized (bloodied/sweat-soaked) Jesus might look after 13 centuries of ageing and yellowing?

Links to Berry’s ‘simulated sweat imprint’ hypothesis

Ref 228

Ref 229

Edit contributed by Colin Berry, Nov 23, 2014

Second Annual Bertrand Russell Award in Sindonology

One year ago today, somewhat in jest, I nominated Colin Berry for the First Annual Bertrand Russell Award in Sindonology (see below). There were a lot of good comments including some by Colin. I wonder who it should be this year? 

First Annual Bertrand Russell Award in Sindonology

November 22, 2013

this strange hybrid method, through which a literary genre convinces itself it is a science

imageBenjamin Wallace-Wells, in the latest issue of New York magazine, writes about 50 years of conspiracy theory. He is focused on American politics but he could have just as well been considering the shroud – think of Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince for starters.

The seduction of conspiracy is the way it orders chaos. In the summer of 1964, the English philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell—past 90 years old then and possibly the most famously rational person on the planet—read the early accounts of the Warren Commission Report [=The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy] with mounting alarm. None of the important questions, he thought, were being answered. There was the matter of the parade route being changed without explanation at the last minute, so that the motorcade passed Lee Harvey Oswald’s workplace; the geometrically confounding arrangement of entry and exit wounds; the curious fact that an alibi witness who helped get an alternate suspect released from custody turned out to be a stripper at Jack Ruby’s club.

The logician went to work. Meticulously, Russell documented the discrepancies between each first-person account and the divergences between each report in the media. He gave his document a modest, scientific-sounding title (“16 Questions on the Assassination”) and a just-the-facts tone. This strange hybrid method, through which a literary genre convinces itself it is a science, has become not just a template for ornate conspiracies but a defining way in which American stories are told.

. . . or shroud scenarios are imagined. And thus I am inspired to nominate Colin Berry for the First Annual Bertrand Russell Award in Sindonology; remember that for awhile Colin was championing something to do with Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Now it is a remodeled crucifix:

. . . How many folks here are aware of the presence of the so-called sedillis marks on each of the buttocks (symmetrical sets of 3 marks each forming a triangle)?

Mario Latendresse interprets them as an additional torture device of Roman crucifixion, and Yannick Clement, mentioned at the end of the above link, thinks they may be burns marks, not blood.

I think they are where mounting bolts(sawn off to flush stubs) or maybe open bolt holes for a lifesize crucifix existed and which imaged onto the dorsal view as a scorch. They were subsequently disguised as blood marks.

I’m presently revisiting some older ideas I expressed many moons ago that the Shroud was made from a crucifixion bronze from which the arms were removed and re-positioned. There was probably a loin cloth to be disposed of too, but that could help resolve some oddities re the figure on the Lirey badge, especially that curious coiled belt, which Wilson interpreted as blood from the lance wound, gathered on the underside of the back, and which I previously thought could be a chain used to secure a victim.


I’m now returning to the idea that the image was imprinted from a life-size crucifixion bronze, and yes, it would have had a loin cloth, but the artistically-rumpled up parts that identify it immediately as a tied-off cloth could easily have been filed off. What;s interesting me at the moment, especially thinking about the Shroud’s peculiar hands and fingers is the possibility that arms may have been sawn off and re-positioned to create the horizontal entombment posture with crossed hands, My little brass crucifix, bought a year ago in France, is providing lots of clues as to what needed to be done to re-model a crucifixion statue as a post-crucifixion template for the tomb scene.

Congratulations. And may we also welcome our friend from across the pond to the ranks of American thinkers.

The Conspiracy of the Faux-Sweat Imprint

Colin Berry: I have set out a possible scenario that led to the TS being
fabricated as a rival attraction to the Veil of Veronica, indeed one that built
on the established credentials of the Veronica . . . as perceived by those at the time,
and which later . . . came to supplant the Veronica as the Church’s new “central icon”
(to borrow Neil McGregor’s words re the 14th century Veronica).

Colin’s old blog site, Shroud of Turin Without All The Hype (or something like that) has sprung back to life after several months, reincarnated as The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? The blog that separates the science from the pseudo-science…. The first posting since March is The Shroud of Turin: probably not miraculous, just a simulated sweat imprint – a triumph of medieval joined-up thinking.

(the 3D, negative scorch image, right, resides
on Colin’s blog, click on the image to see
a larger version)

There must have been at least some who, viewing, or even hearing of the Veil, [ca. 1350] must have asked themselves: how can plain old perspiration (“sweat” in common parlance) imprint an image on cloth? What would it look like initially? What would it look like a day later, a week later, a century or millennium later? And among those people, might there be just one individual who then asked themselves an audacious question: could or might the process be simulated, or to put it baldly, faked? Could one pass off an entirely and audaciously  man-made image as that of a divine sweat image? And if that were the case, what would be the most profitable way of doing that? Content oneself with producing a face imprint that was superior to that on the Veil, and claim that one had the “real” version, and that the one in Rome was the fake? Or avoid any such controversy and unpleasantness. Instead, marshall one’s technology to make an even more audacious claim, namely that one had not only an image that captured the face of Jesus, but that of his entire body! How could that be done? Was there a scenario from the New Testament gospels that might be adduced to back one’s claim?

Certainly there was, and it’s one that occurred just a day or two AFTER the crucifixion. It was the initial placement by Joseph of Arimathea of Jesus on  a costly sheet of linen, conveniently with no reference at this stage to the body being cleaned of blood and other bodily secretions, notably sweat.

Already a plan for developing that germ of an idea was taking shape. What were the criteria that could be adopted first to produce a whole body imprint of the crucified Jesus that would pass muster, yet importantly pose no threat to the status of the Veil?

Just a sampling here to give you an idea of what Colin is talking about and to encourage you to read . . . just a simulated sweat imprint . . . :

1. The image must NOT be mistaken for anything but a burial shroud. A single image of the frontal side might be mistaken for some kind of painted portrait. Solution: imprint BOTH sides of the body, align them head to head making it seems as though  . . .

[ . . . ]

5. Choose a weave that is receptive to one’s imprinting process. A twill weave  (e.g. herringbone 3/1 weave) has more flat areas than a simple 1/1 criss-cross one.

[ . . . ]

13. Feet are a problem. Does one terminate the dorsal imprint at the heel, as would be expected, thereby leaving an image lacking feet? Or does one image-imprint off a template as if the linen had been pulled up around the heels and pulled tight against the soles to capture those surfaces as well (creating an option for adding blood imprints too on soles of feet issuing from crucifixion nail holes)? Go for that latter option, since human intervention with enveloping a  shroud around the feet is not inconsistent with the the 1st century rock tomb scenario and indeed serves to enhance it.

14. The chin and neck are also problematical. Cloth laid loosely over the frontal surface would tend to bridge from chin to chest, creating a detached floating head with no neck. But cloth that imaged the neck, as if it had followed all the contours would risk imaging the underside of the chin too, making the neck look too long. Some compromise is needed, to get some neck and not too much underside of chin. Maybe simulate a crease at the chin to suggest there had been pressure applied to the linen, manual, or maybe from having a ‘neck tie’ of some kind that would not itself be imaged.

15. Loin cloth? . . .  Finer sensibilities must take a back seat. . . .

16. Frontal nudity? Use crossed hands to cover the genital area. Take liberties with human anatomy if necessary (slightly overlong arms and fingers).

Is it fair to call this a conspiracy theory?  No!  That is why I didn’t use the word theory in the title. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but it is clear that Colin intends to support his conjecture, indeed subsume the conjecture under science.

A scorch is a scorch, of course, of course,

imageColin Berry tells us, I’ve been misunderstood. I did not claim that the Turin Shroud image was an actual sweat imprint – only that is was made to SEEM like a sweat imprint.

Got it? I thought I had. And I thought most of us had. But:

As the comments on other Shroud sites, to say nothing of editorial content, become increasingly bizarre, it’s time to set out my own stall more carefully to avoid misunderstanding.

In my last posting I made what I consider to be a major new claim  regarding the faint body image on Turin Shroud – one for which I not unnaturally expect credit if it finds general support – and brickbats if not.

Nope, I don’t seek commercial gain, nor media celebrity but do expect academic kudos if as I hope my ideas prove to be the correct ones- and I have reason to believe that the "simulated sweat imprint" idea is not only original, except for one passing mention discovered yesterday in googling.  Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s a  PARADIGM SHIFT , one that will require a major rethink about the TS and how it was able to capture the imagination through engendering assumptions that never got properly questioned, even to this day.

It goes to the heart, not just of science and the scientific method vis-a-vis other methods of enquiry. It has a huge amount to say about the theory of knowledge in general – and the way in which our view of the natural and material world can be coloured by our preconceptions, faulty as often as not).

[ . . . ]

But just because it was intended to be seen that way does NOT mean that the medieval artisan set out to create an image with sweat, or even simulated sweat, or indeed any liquid concoction whatsoever. . . .

Okay, some people misunderstood, maybe.

. . . Why is the scorch hypothesis still in the frame? Answer: because it seems as good a way as any for SIMULATING a sweat imprint, given a contact scorch from a hot template can be as faint and superficial as one wishes – it being a fairly simple and straightforward matter to control image intensity. What’s more, while the medieval artisan would not have known it, the resulting image would centuries later respond to modern technology, starting with photography and light/dark reversed  images ("negatives") on silver-coated emulsions, giving the "haunting" photograph-like positive image revealed by Secondo Pia (1898), and later still the remarkable response to 3D-rendering software etc.

. . . The field is wide open to others to come up with alternative suggestions and test them

Was that a scorch imitating sweat or sweat imitating a scorch?

Weakened image fibers

imageA reader writes:

I was reading Colin Berry’s recent posting which makes an important claim, namely that it is impossible for the image to have been formed without heat. He reasons that the mechanical weakness of image fibers is evidence of this.

The posting, for those who would like to refer to it, is Checklist of reasons for thinking the Turin Shroud image represents a dried-on sweat imprint. Real 1st century or simulated 14th century?  The following paragraph is certainly what the reader is referring to:

It’s entirely impossible for the image to have been formed with no application of heat. I have a permanently-stained shirt from the time I helped clear an overgrown garden. There are plant saps that leave yellow stains that are absolutely permanent – which will not wash out, even with hot water and detergent. But my money’s on a thermal component. Why? Because of a little-remarked upon property of TS image fibres, namely their mechanical weakness. Why should that be, given the core of each linen fibre is predominantly tough old cellulose? That’s a possible lead I’m chasing up right at this moment.

The reader continues:

When I Googled <weakened image fibers on the Shroud of Turin> I discovered a paper by Robert Villarreal called THE ALPHA- PARTICLE IRRADIATION HYPOTHESIS: SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF THE SHROUD. He speaks of weakened fibers caused by alpha-particle irradiation. That causes heat.

I think the reader is referring to the program for the St. Louis Conference (to the best of my knowledge, the actual paper has not been published yet). Therein we read Bob Villarreal saying:

In a personal communication with Ray, he related to me that the fibers from the body image areas of the shroud seemed to be removed more easily than those from non-image areas. It was as if whatever process created the body image had in some way slightly weakened the shroud fibers at that point they became more friable. Ray was a physical and thermal chemist and not an analytical or radio chemist. If he had been the latter, he might have recognized that he had stumbled on to what caused the images on the Shroud. . . .

Okay! But I don’t think Colin Berry and Bob Villarreal are going down the same path with this. 

Weaving Fan a.k.a. Colin Berry?

While reading what follows, please be aware that Colin Berry denies
that he is Weaving Fan. I believe him. I trust him. We all should.

I knew this sounded really familiar. This month two years ago we were talking about the 3 over 1 herringbone cloth in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (see previous posting).

First we go to Stephen Jones’ blog where Stephen has written:

Weave. The cloth’s weave is known as "3 to 1 twill" because each transversal weft thread passes alternatively over three and under one of the longitudinal warp threads[16]. This gives the weave the appearance of diagonal lines which reverse direction at regular intervals to create a herringbone pattern[17]. Such complex herringbone three to one twill weaves are known from antiquity, for example, from Egypt and Syria, but they are not known from the Middle Ages.[18]

The footnote (18) points to Ian Wilson, ("The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, 2010, pp.74-75).

Someone calling himself Weaving Fan disputed Stephen in his blog:

S’uch complex three to one twill weaves are known from ‘antiquity, for example, from Egypt and Syria, but they are not known from the Middle Ages.’

This is surely not true- your source was certainly not someone who knew about textiles- 3/1 was used extensively especially in ecclesiastical vestments . As one commentator says `’Tablet-woven 3/1 was used to create some of the most elaborately patterned bands of the Middle Ages. Collingwood’s Techniques of Tablet Weaving (TTW) illustrates some amazing examples, including the maniple from Arlon, which is my favorite piece of tablet weaving."

The choice of twills is not difficult to make – 3/1 is fairly standard. Gilbert Raes said that the weave in itself could not be used to date the Shroud as examples go back to 800 Bc and certainly throughout the Roman period ( it was common for damask) and Middle Ages.

Stephen shot back. First he quotes Ian Wilson:

A further highly unusual feature of the Shroud’s linen is the weave itself. … an altogether more complex three-to-one herringbone twill … To make it, the weaver would have had to pass each weft (or transverse) thread alternately under three warp (or vertical) threads, then over on; creating diagonal lines. At regular intervals he or she would then have had to reverse direction to create the distinctive zigzags. …Even among textile experts, therefore, the search for parallels to the Shroud, whether from the Middle Ages or from further back in antiquity, has not been easy. This difficulty was made very evident when the British Museum’s Dr Michael Tite, the official invigilator for the 1988 carbon dating work, was looking for some historical samples of linen resembling the Shroud’s weave to use for controls. His plan was that the carbon dating laboratories should not know which of the samples had come from the actual Shroud. He even sought my help on this. But the plan failed. In order to provide controls that were at least all of linen he had to abandon the requirement that their weave should be herringbone. French specialist Gabriel Vial found much the same difficulty following his hands-on examination of the Shroud in 1988. There was literally no parallel that he could cite from the Middle Ages. … Vial found the era of antiquity itself – that is, around the time of Christ – significantly more productive …

But Stephen has more to say:

The fact is that Tite of the British Museum could NOT FIND a medieval piece of linen AT ALL which was 3:1 herringbone twill and therefore visually identical to the Shroud, so that the C14 dating labs could not tell which was the Shroud. But if medieval European 3:1 herringbone twill linen was so common as you claim it was, it would have been NO PROBLEM for Tite to obtain a POSTAGE STAMP sized sample of at least ONE of them.

Weaving Fan had said:

Wilson seems to imply that there were no similar herringbone cloths around in the Middle Ages. This is not true- it is simply that most are in museums (e.g the Victorian and Albert Museum in London) and can not be cut up to provide a control sample.

Stephen now has his hackles up:

This is FALSE. See above.

As I pointed out above, several aspects of your comment I found to be substandard and even offensive, and so according to my policies it should not have appeared (see below). I only allowed it to appear so that I could further refute your argument.

[ . . . ]

I suspected this "Weaving fan" above may have been Colin Berry, who has been permanently banned from commenting on this blog because of his continual substandard and offensive comments.

Now according to this post on Dan Porter’s blog it seems it was. Evidently Colin is not troubled by the ethics of posting comments to a blog where he has been banned, by the subterfuge of adopting a new pseudonym for the sole purpose of deceiving its Moderator.

But just as the leopard cannot change his spots, so it seems that Colin Berry cannot change his style, by not posting offensive and substandard comments! So whatever pseudonym Colin uses he won’t last long on my blog.

And now, of course, if we are not going bonkers by all this, we go to my blog. The link is two paragraphs up, but by now it is boring.

A sweat imprint that is a negative which is comparable to a brass rubbing

a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint,
and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous
flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered
with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot.
– Colin Berry


imageColin, is developing a response to Thibault Heimburger over in the comments section of his blog where is feels better insulated from the acerbic comments of anoxie. Anoxie is not a troll, as Colin says.  He is more like a camp follower who goes about heckling politicians by yelling out annoying questions and comments whenever the politician stops to speak. Politicians learn to insulate themselves, not by moving to venues with guarded doorways where they can, like Stephen Jones, carefully exclude annoying and perhaps dissenting comments but by ignoring them.

Too bad. But to be honest, this blog is not exempt. Four people are completely blocked from commenting. Three of them are beyond being reasonable or being able to comprehend why they should be blocked. You would agree with my decision. One other person has been completely blocked after several lengthy email attempts by me to get him to control his frequent bursts of anger resulting in unjustifiable insults. Unfortunately, this last person, was a significant contributor to this blog even though I seldom agreed with him.

Again, this is too bad. Colin’s comments are important. So if you want to see what Colin is writing in response to Thibault, and you should, you will need to go here. Here is a tempting tidbit:

imageWell,we seem to be agreed on one thing, namely that the first people to lay eyes on the Shroud would have known what it represented, given the double image, but would have wanted to known how it was formed. If as I believe the image was always faint, our early viewer would have seen it as an imprint left by the body that was once inside the shroud. The view that it was an imprint, not a painting, would have been immediately reinforced by noting that the image is a negative, comparable to a brass rubbing.

In the absence of any documentary evidence to the contrary, and noting the words of St.Francis de Sales that the TS was the repository of blood AND sweat then it seems plain common sense to me that the TS represented a sweat imprint – and that’s without having to make any connections with the Veil of Veronica. But the fact that the latter was the Roman Church’s "central icon" in the 14th century according to the BM’s present director (Neil MacGregor) makes it a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint, and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot. The two ideas of human mortality and miraculous radiation hardly sit well together, would you not agree?

Really, a negative comparable to a brass rubbing? Generally brass rubbings tend to be mostly, at least in concept, two-tone negatives of line drawings. When there is shading, as in these these examples, it is coarse hatching and/or as a result of applied rubbing pressure. Something to think about. But would the negative connection be noted?

The take away quote is this, however:

. . . a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint, and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot.

Quite possibly so!


Real 1st century or simulated 14th century sweat imprint?

The first question is sweat imprint? The second is like unto it: real or not?

Colin Berry has started a Checklist of reasons for thinking the Turin Shroud image represents a dried-on sweat imprint. Real 1st century or simulated 14th century?  As of this posting he has twenty items. Do have a look. 

Here is number 19, just as an example:

19. Many have  commented on the unnaturally-long fingers on the TS man and their ‘boniness’, with some even going so far as to posit some kind of X-ray emanations with radiographic imaging. (Yes, seriously!) While I cannot account for the length, simple modelling with hand imprinting, using a sticky spread, shows how fingers that are held together imprint as if separate, due to preferential imprinting of skin directly over bone. Any direct visual evidence such as this for contact imprinting can be legitimately brought forward as evidence for simulated ‘sweat imprinting’.

(the picture is on Colin’s blog, click on it  to  see a larger version of it)

Here is A Guest Posting by O.K. on the Allegedly Too-Long Fingers from November of last year.

Maybe we can look at some of the other items on the list in the days to come.

Quote for Today

imageThe previous posting brings to mind something Colin Berry said yesterday:

The TS is not a painting, faded or otherwise. It’s a negative imprint of some kind that has left its mark on the linen per se, maybe pre-treated in a way that made it more image-receptive, maybe not. It’s unhelpful, so late in the day, to be attempting to put the clock back to 1978 or earlier by regarding it as just another painting. Things have moved on.

Colin Berry Wants Feedback

It’s getting on for 9 months since I first floated the idea that the TS
was fabricated as a simulated sweat imprint, a whole-body front-and-back
version of the then celebrated Veil of Veronica.

imageHe writes by way of a new comment:

The TS is NOT to be seen as a painting, given its negative character. It’s to be seen as an IMPRINT, almost certainly a CONTACT IMPRINT. In a non-authenticity model that does not necessarily mean it was produced as a contact imprint, e.g. off some kind of applied bas-relief template (though it may well have been, given its 3D properties. It’s just conceivable that it was painted freehand in a manner as to make the image SEEM like an imprint. But there again, the artisans would not have considered themselves restricted to classical artists’ pigments, if as seems probable the aim was to produce an image that would not be instantly regarded (and just as quickly dismissed) as merely a flight-of-fancy painting on linen.

So whichever way you look at it, there’s no justification whatsoever for making any assumption, either a priori or from Charles’s post hoc review of what he terms “interlocking” evidence, that the image was painted.

In any case, it’s grossly unscientific to assume (without independent evidence) the present image is what’s left when the paint has ENTIRELY flaked off. Why the survival of 3D properties if that had been the case? Why the STURP evidence based on diimide-bleaching, reflectance spectroscopy etc that the body image comprises dehydrated linen carbohydrates? Why should a coating of gesso and paint have produced chemical changes that in the laboratory require elevated temperature or dehydrating acids such as H2SO4. Why all the focus on blood, which may well have been partly or totally paint when the real challenge, not to be ducked, is the subtle BODY IMAGE aka IMPRINT that caused consternation when first displayed at Lirey?

This entire paint thing is an attempt to bury well over a century of image analysis, starting with Secondo Pia’s amazing photographic ‘negatives’ that restored the TS ‘positive’. Classical paintings do not do that, not even faded or flaked-off ones, correction least of all leaving scarcely-visible (when viewed up close) low-contrast remains.

It’s getting on for 9 months since I first floated the idea that the TS was fabricated as a simulated sweat imprint, a whole-body front-and-back version of the then celebrated Veil of Veronica. I don’t recall hearing any significant objections to that proposal, not from Charles Freeman nor anyone else for that matter. I hesitate to say this, but what’s the point of posting one’s ideas to a specialist web forum if one gets absolutely no detailed feedback, either positive or negative?

Colin Berry Trumps the Daily Express Headline Writer

He headlined a blog posting,

. . . Pope Francis at pains to point out the inadequacies of the contact print hypothesis.

to which he added the following explanation for the picture that appeared in the website of the Daily Express:

Trying to capture all the topological relief of facial features onto a cloth mantle can be quite tricky, as the Pontiff demonstrates.



An Exquisite Response as an Exquisite Response

The notion that the TS image was painted is frankly a non-starter,
on a whole number of grounds.

Please direct comments to History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On

Charles Freeman having written:

imageHaving read manuals such as the fifteenth century Cennino Cennini’s on preparing linen for painting and learning that you seal the cloth on the outer fibrils only with a knife, a highly skilled operation and then reading the STURP report that the images on the Shroud were on the outer fibrils only, I knew I had my evidence for painting. STURP did not have any expert on medieval painting on their team nor did they consult any so one can hardly take their report seriously. However, my main evidence for painting comes from the early descriptions an depictions of the Shroud- it may be that the endless handling and exposing of the Shroud ended up with all or almost all of the pigments falling off leaving only the faded images we have today.

The ignorance comes from those who have not studied how linen was painted on in the medieval period.

Colin Berry responds:

imageYou may recall, Charles, that some 2 years ago, nearer 3, I offered you my services as a co-writer, handling the scientific side, which you were probably wise to decline at the time.

Methinks in retrospect, with the wisdom of hindsight, you should maybe have taken up the offer.

The notion that the TS image was painted is frankly a non-starter, on a whole number of grounds.

Its exquisite response to 3D-enhancement is just one of them.

Please direct comments to History vs. Science: The Freeman Beat Goes On

Those Dark Specks in the Mark Evan’s Photographs

that unforgivable hoovering

Colin Berry, with his non-stop observant and inquisitive mind:

Am I not correct in thinking that there are dark specks associated with the tan-coloured areas, which are unlikely to be artefactual (chance deposits of dust etc) given they are absent for all intents and purposes in the less-strongly coloured non-image areas?
Flour particles, toasted?

(click on picture to see enlarged version)

A working hypothesis:

Working hypothesis. There are (or were, before the 2002 conservation measures, including that unforgivable hoovering) a scattering of dark-coloured particles on the TS concentrated mainly in the image-bearing regions, with far fewer in non-image regions.

An analysis of those particles would show them to be a substance that has been rendered yellow or brown by thermal energy ("heat" in common parlance). A possible candidate might be white flour particles  – an intentional additive – one that  acquired colour via a Maillard reaction, thus contributing to the image-forming process and  hence its heterogeneity and complexity.

Do they match what we see in the Mark Evans pictures?

As ever, more and more work beckons. First, one will need to do microscopy on the flour-coated  imprinted linen to see what happens to the appearance of individual flour particles, and whether or not they match the specks one sees in the above Mark Evans pictures, at least in terms of size.

And what did McCrone see?

Then comes the difficult part: to track down such papers are available online from the Walter McCrone Microscopy Institute on the studies he did on sticky-tape samples supplied by Ray Rogers. I definitely recall seeing one summary that had a long long list of the different types of particle he had identified.

One wonders what he would have made of those dark specks we see above if indeed they were flour or some other ‘food’ type particle that had undergone a Maillard reaction. One imagines it would take some fairly sophisticated kind of spectrographic microscopy  to make a positive identification, but that is not my area, so there’s a steep learning curve that will need to be climbed to make headway.

Colin Berry: Maybe It’s A Maillard Reaction After All

Oh, and go boil your head.

From the blog postings of Colin Berry:

It has clear advantages over Mode 1, [discussed above]. in that ANYTHING with 3D properties can in principle be imprinted, not having to be heated. That might be bas relief templates and/or fully 3D statues.  It may even conceivably have been a person, living or dead.  All that was needed was a coating of white flour (or a comparable dry powdered substance providing reducing sugar and amino groups), probably with a binder material to ensure even coating (the vegetable oil in the present modelling, but other options exist).

But I don’t see how with 3D statues, bodies and whatnot, we are not facing the well-understood contact-wrap-around problem. What am I missing?

But there’s a tricky step in the procedure – namely the final roasting of the flour-imprinted linen that has to convert the coating to tan-coloured melanoidins (Maillard reaction products) without too much dicoloration of the linen. It can be done in  principle, on a small scale laboratory basis, given the exceptional chemical and thermal stability of cellulose, by far and away the major component of linen fibres, relative to the starch, proteins lipids etc of wheat flour.

There’s a great deal to think about right now. Best to stop here and post the experimental results. Maybe others can see things I have missed that might offer a way forward through this thicket of new possibilities, each with its own unique difficulties.

To those who claim I select and/or manipulate experimental data I say this. Go boil your heads (old English expression of endearment).

Homogeneous or Not? That’s the Question


Hi Colin.

I see you are up with a new posting, Who says the Shroud of Turin image is homogeneous? Think again, fellow shroudies…

Did I read that right? Fellow shroudie? 

Anyway, you write:

Here are two images of the TS image, frontal v dorsal,  that I can confidently state that no one apart from myself has ever seen before. In fact, I too had not seen them until a hour or so ago. (One needs to scrutinize them closely).

In a picture caption you ask, “Can you guess the provenance?” 

No Colin, I can’t.  I don’t know what you mean by provenance, in this case.  “The shroud”?  The photograph? The film?  The digital file name after conversion from one to the other?  The raw bitmap file?  The JPEG or GIF on a particular website? The original with original size, dots per inch, contrast, brightness, color saturation, etc.? The website where you glommed onto the image?

Every step – object to film, film to digital, file type to file type conversion, resizing and so forth — introduces artifacts including different color approximations in different density areas of the image; or so I’m told. I’m not a graphics expert so correct me, Colin, if I’m wrong.

Anyway, that may or may not be the case here. It would be nice to know what image you are using. For what you are proposing, it would be nice to get a full color image that has had the least possible manipulation in the past.

You write:

It’s been said the TS image is "homogeneous" . . .

These two images show in  my humble estimation  that the TS image, whether imprint or painting (I still prefer imprint) is most definitely NOT homogeneous. Under the carefully adjusted contrast, brightness and mid-tone settings,  but emphatically with NO fiddling with colour,  they show some "grey" areas and some "orange-brown" areas, admittedly an approximate description.

Do you know, Colin, what your software does when you fiddle?

And if anyone says it’s "just" blood, I have another image, ready and waiting, to kick that suggestion into the long grass. (Sorry about the idiomatic English – I only use it when animated,  and I have to say that fellow shroudies sometimes get me animated, not to say pissed-off,  with the dismissive put-down tone of their comments).

[. . . ]

For now, let’s just content ourselves with the two new images, and hang loose for a while, if only to tease my readers (to say nothing of play for time).

Here’s a challenge to fellow shroudies: whose images were these originally, and where did they first appear, before I began to tinker with them in MS Office Picture Manager (legitimately I maintain). ?  (bolding emphasis mine)

You may have a point, Colin; an important point, perhaps. But you also have an attitude. That may be why we are so dismissive. The stink bomb you threw on what was intended as a thank you posting for the organizers of the St. Louis conference will be remembered for a long time. It is why your comments are being moderated for the time being.

Homogeneous or Not? That’s the Question. It is worth exploring.

Note: Image shown here is a screen grab from Colin Berry’s site. Its original provenance is unknown.

Put that in your pipe, Luigi Garlaschelli, and smoke it

imageA reader from Tel Aviv writes:

. . .  I nominate Colin Berry as the best, most qualified, most creative scientist skeptic in the history of the shroud.

I agree. Put that in your pipe, Luigi Garlaschelli, and smoke it.  What was the name of that Chuck Berry song? “Roll Over McCrone”?  No, Joe Nickell only wears a white lab coat like all the other PhDs in English Lit.

And I’m thankful for Colin’s work. And I’m enjoying his new explorations in the area of Maillard Reactions using lemon juice and milk.

Now, I’m not saying he isn’t wrong about a lot of things. I think he is.

And he can be something of a junk yard dog at times.

And I still think the shroud is the burial shroud of Christ. Who knows, maybe Colin will prove me wrong some day. Maybe he’ll come around to my way of thinking.

No, that is not a picture of Colin. It is Luigi. For a picture of Colin visit Colin’s About Me page in Blogger

Moreover, I trust Colin. He doesn’t want me to quote the following paragraph from his very public blog. But it says a lot, so let him be pissed. It is one reason why I trust him:

. . . There is no such thing as an expert in the field of sindonology (or shroudology as I prefer to call it. We are all beginners. Some begin better than others. The TS is a test of our ability to separate the wishful thinking that comes with appealing imagery from that of cold hard reality. Sadly there is no part of the human mind that is devoted to detecting CHR. The human mind is programmed to respond on a more immediate like/dislike response to what it sees. It’s part and parcel of the human condition to instantly add layers of fancy to what cunningly or otherwise seduces, or attempts to seduce the eye.

Maybe he’ll come around to my way of thinking? Probably not, but I think he is honest. Thanks, reader, for writing.

The Devolution and Evolution of a Maillard Reaction Image Hypothesis

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
                                                                                   — Maya Angelou

imageColin Berry’s creative juices of lemon pouring forth from his Science Buzz blog:                

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that I’ve got the chemistry right, i.e. that the TS image was created by a binary mix of lemon juice (or some other source of active aldehyde) and protein (or some other source of amino acids), and that elevated temperature was required to produce a Maillard non-enzymatic browning reaction.

What about the technology? How might the chemistry have been achieved while at the same time imprinting the negative image of a man that is both exceedingly superficial and which responds well to modern 3D-rendering software (e.g. ImageJ)?

What follows is pure speculation, but one has to start somewhere.

[ . . . ]

. . . So what Rogers conjectured as a starch impurity coating was in my model a protein coating that provided the amino (-NH2) groups for the Maillard reaction.  Putrefaction amines were not needed in the protein/lemon juice model.

So, there you have it, in a few short paragraphs – the Invisible Ink model -  post-STURP Maillard reaction Mk2, one in which a corpse was non-obligatory – a marriage of science and medieval technology.

Interestingly, the model described allows for a ‘blood before image’ modus operandi  . . .

You should/must fill in the dots by reading Colin’s latest amendment to a posting. CLICK HERE and fast-scroll down to Friday October 3.

Has he got the chemistry right?

Inspired by Colin Berry’s Experiments with Lemons . . .

I decided to try some other fruits and vegetables. But seriously, I remember how pleased Ray Rogers would get when other scientists didn’t just speculate but did actual experiments which might eventually lead to an understanding of how the image was produced. Ray did so himself, as we know. I’m glad, once again, to see Colin doing likewise.

The following image is best seen at about five feet or more unless you want to see the fruits and vegetables up close. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).