Posts Tagged ‘Flagrum’

Colin Berry: The Scourge Marks are Frankly Not Credible

May 17, 2015 156 comments

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.

A St. Louis Paper Already Online: The Roman Flagrum . . .

October 25, 2014 2 comments

This morning we learned that St. Louis conference papers will be published at, something I am especially pleased to learn. Later, Paulette wondered if some authors might also upload their papers at This, wonderfully, is already happening.  As the authors of one paper tell us:

The contents of this paper have been presented on the occasion of the international St. Louis Shroud Conference (The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science), held in St. Louis on October 9th-12th, 2014. The paper has been anticipated here, waiting for the official Proceedings.

imageThe paper is The hypotheses about the Roman flagrum that was used to scourge the Man of the Shroud. Some clarifications by Flavia Manservigi and Enrico Morin.

The authors tells us, as part of this fascinating paper:

In the Roman world many different instruments were used to inflict chastisements through flesh beating. The use of the different tools was determined by the gravity of the crime, but also by the social class of the prisoner and by its nationality.

The lowest level of this punishment was carried out in schools, against undisciplined children: in this case was used an instrument called ferula, which was a thin stick or a flat leather strip (Martial, Epigrammata, X, 62; 14, 79; Juvenal, Saturae, I, 15).

Another instrument which could be used for the domestic punishment was the so called virga (Juvenal, Saturae, VII, 210); in the case of serious crimes, it could become an instrument of death. It was a small rod made of elm or birch, which could be used singularly or joined together; in this form, virgae were also carried by the lictors as symbols of the juridical and administrative authority of the magistrates, because they were used to flog criminals (Cicero, In Verrem, 2, 5, 140; Livy, Ab Urbe conditam, II, 5; XXVI, 15-16; XXVIII, 29; XXIX, 9; Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, XVI, 30, 75; Acts of Apostles, 22, 24-29).

. . . and it goes on from there. Fascinating. Do read it.


%d bloggers like this: