Just Published: What Went Wrong with the Radiocarbon Date?

not arguing in this paper that the Benford-Marino-Rogers theory is THE
sole answer to our question . . . it has an awful lot going for it. . . .

imageMUST READ:  It begins with this paragraph, even before we encounter the title and authors name:

Foreword: I had requested that this paper not be published with the 2008 Ohio Conference papers because there were some questions about the nature and history of cotton I wanted to explore before doing so. However, in the interim, my attempts to investigate some issues did not produce results because I was unable to get in contact with the specialists who might have been able to provide the additional information I sought. Joe Marino recently requested permission to publish on-line my Ohio presentation and the appendices of materials I had gathered. I have granted him that permission late this year (December, 2014). The material is largely unchanged from my 2008 Ohio presentation. Bits of more recent information are set off from the body of the original text by my use of brackets [ ].

The title is What Went Wrong With the Shroud’s Radiocarbon Date? Setting it all in Context. It is by the archaeologist and long time shroud scholar Paul C. Maloney (pictured).

imageHere are the first few paragraphs just to give you a good idea why this paper is so important.

We are only two years away from a fresh exhibition of the Turin Shroud [occurring in 2010]–and with that will there be another round of testing? In this light it seems a valuable exercise to recap previous hypotheses regarding the C14 results offered in the years following the 1988 testing. (2). Professionally, I am an archaeologist–some of you might call me an “antique historian.“ This is a paper about history. What I shall attempt to do here is to gather together in one place observations and explanations that have been published elsewhere. There are many things about the Shroud we would all like to know but in this paper I shall deal largely with only one question: What went wrong with the Shroud‘s radiocarbon date? I will provide here a brief synopsis of proposed answers with focused examination of one of those proposals.

A Strange Story

But first I want to share with you a “strange story”. Many of you have already heard it. I first heard it many years ago as it was circulated by Bill Meacham. A single thread of the Shroud was sent surreptitiously to a West Coast Laboratory back in 1982. One end of that thread came up with a date of 200 A.D. while the other end resulted in a date of ca. 1000! How could this be? I thought about it long and hard and finally dismissed it as a complete fluke. Anyway, that was quite a “yarn”! Bill Meacham preserves this story in his most recent book published a few years ago. (3)

Radiocarbon test results and reactions to it

Here’s another story, also old, so much so, you are probably all tired of hearing it. Briefly, on April 21, 1988 a single sample was removed from the so-called “Raes’ Corner” on the Shroud by the late Giovanni Riggi di Numana. This was divided up between three labs, Oxford, Zurich, and Tucson, Arizona and the results analyzed by the British Museum. The analysis from that testing was released on Oct. 13, 1988: the cellulose taken from the Shroud was to be dated with 95% confidence to between 1260 to 1390 A.D. (4)

Most of us reacted first with a mixture of shock and consternation! How could this be? The late Fr. Albert R. Dreisbach liked to say that “the preponderance of evidence” argued for the antiquity as well as the authenticity of the cloth. After all, how could the Shroud have been rendered in artistry 60 some years before the first bracket of the 1260-1390 released radiocarbon date? As we all began to recover it was generally agreed that something was radically wrong. The question was “What?” There have been six major approaches to this question. Evaluative remarks and commentary have been confined to the endnotes due to time constraints.

A dozen pages in, as we approach the conclusion, we read:

When everything is properly understood, the entire picture of the Shroud should come together as a beautifully constructed puzzle. If something is out of place, the whole will not look right. We are currently still in that mode. Not everyone agrees with Ray Rogers findings. Especially in Europe there are those who believe his findings do not represent the real nature of the Shroud. Thus, this issue of “homogeneity” vs. “heterogeneity” needs to be resolved so that we can move forward. If a “re-weave” is not the explanation for the characteristics found at the Raes’ Corner then we badly need an explanation for why cotton is woven into that corner but is not demonstrated in threads in the main body of the cloth.

What does the opposite side of the ledger look like? Do the x-rays of the Shroud show any evidence of the re-weave? Bryan Walsh suggests they do not. (Personal communication). Walsh also notes that in discussions “…with textile conservators in the U. S., they said that while reweaving might be made difficult to perceive on one side of a cloth, it would be painfully obvious on the other side of the cloth because of the various threads and knots involved in stitching it.”

I’m not arguing in this paper that the Benford-Marino-Rogers theory is THE sole answer to our question “What Went Wrong?” Nevertheless, the factors I’ve marshalled here suggest that it has an awful lot going for it. . . .

There is, in Appendix III, a gem, a Dialogue between Ray Rogers and Bryan Walsh in February 2005. And elsewhere throughout the paper there are photographs that you may never have seen. This paper is a must read.

Photomicrograph note:  The caption reads:

B. Second photomicrograph of W. C. McCrone’s rose madder. STURP tape 3-CB very near to STURP tape 3-AB but taken on the blood flow across the back. (Photomicrograph by W. C. McCrone. From the Paul C. Maloney collection of McCrone illustrative materials. No magnification listed by McCrone).


Publication Note:  I received this paper a few days ago. Would I install it on the 2008 Ohio conference website since I had the keys and supposedly the skills to do so? Sure, I said. Well, if you go to the conference site and look you will see some evidence of my trying. I’m still trying to work out went wrong with hosting company.  In the meantime I have temporarily installed this paper within this blog space so you can read it without further delay. Here you need the keys and no special skills. My apologies for taking so long.

So, open or download: What Went Wrong With the Shroud’s Radiocarbon Date? Setting it all in Context by Paul C. Maloney by clicking on the title.

Paul Maloney’s St. Louis Paper (The Shroud is not a painting)

This list, then, and the complexity it represents, itself becomes a powerful argument
against the position that the Shroud was a painting.
No artist ever painted such a complex depiction of the Crucified.

imageMUST READ:  You are not going to be able to read this in twenty minutes. You can’t even skim it that quickly. This 81-and=then-some page paper, Joseph M. Gambescia, M.D. and the Position of the Feet on the Shroud of Turin. The History of an Investigation  by Paul C. Maloney is too important and two informative to to not be read carefully including the endnotes. Here is a sampling:

Page 4:

It was a dreary, rainy afternoon, April 7, 1980. I should have had the light on in my study but I didn’t because I was in a melancholy mood. Then the phone rang. I recognized that baritone voice on the other end of the line and knew I was talking to Hershel Shanks, founder and editor of the world’s largest circulating biblical archaeology magazine, The Biblical Archaeology Review, calling from Washington, D.C.

Hershel wanted me to write an article on the Shroud for the magazine. “But, Hershel, I don’t know anything about the Shroud of Turin!”

Page 9:

It is important here to insert here that Dr. Gambescia was not rejecting the work of the French physician, Dr. Pierre Barbet; he was actually building upon Barbet’s work. Neither was Dr. Gambescia rejecting the special interpretation of the arms and their attendant blood flows proposed by the late Mons. Giulio Ricci. His proposal, however, does suggest an interpretation different from that proposed for the blood flows for the feet than that offered by Mons. Giulio Ricci. It is this new interpretation that we are introducing for further research by the medical profession to be discussed alongside the earlier discussions for the feet. . . .

Pages 80 and 81:

A List of the Shroud’s Anomalies: Problems with the Painting Hypothesis

Finally, if it is argued that an artist did paint the original Shroud—as this view has most forcefully been argued by the late Dr. Walter C. McCrone in so many of his publications—the Shroud now becomes most unique. We may therefore conclude this paper with a convenient list of anomalies, as they would become if a singular artist painted the original:

1. Artists down through the ages have presented the Crucified wearing a crown of thorns. The Shroud shows the Man of the Shroud with a “cap” of thorns.

2. Artists have always depicted the Man of the Shroud with no rope holding the torso against the stipes of the Cross. The Shroud appears to support the view that a rope pulled the torso back to hold it against the upright (stipes) of the cross.

3. Artists have traditionally rendered the Crucified with nails through the palms of the hands. The Shroud shows them to be through the wrists.

4. Artists have long painted the Crucified showing the arms in a “Y” type of stance. But Mons. Giulio Ricci, who studied this in detail, shows that the right arm was likely bent at a right angle, whereas the left was in the “Y” position.

5. Artists have followed several different paths in rendering the feet. Sometimes they show the feet (especially in crucifixes) with the right foot up against the stipes of the cross, and the left nailed atop the right—all with one nail. At other times they have depicted the left against the stipes with the right atop the left foot—again, all with one nail. And sometimes the two feet are nailed side-by-side on a slanted platform (suppedaneum). This latter view is common in Eastern Byzantine, Greek, and Russian Orthodox crucifixes. Gambescia’s view would require two nails, one going through front of the ankle of the right foot to anchor it directly to the stipes, with the left foot nailed atop the center of the right using a single nail leaving the left foot free to swivel.

This list, then, and the complexity it represents, itself becomes a powerful argument against the position that the Shroud was a painting. No artist ever painted such a complex depiction of the Crucified. Yet, students of the history of art—interested especially in cladistics—can now actually see the Shroud as the beginning of a “tree of descent” where one can study just how the many painted views of the Crucified diverged over the centuries, influenced by various translations of the New Testament in conjunction with markings on the Shroud itself and the heavy pressure of tradition in numerous different geographical locales. But that would be the subject of another paper.

Taking comfort in significant endnotes:

Nevertheless, my request to Dr. Adler was precisely because of my concern regarding pareidolia. In my case, I wanted to be absolutely certain that the features discussed in this paper could be seen easily by the human eye. This problem is well illustrated in Ray Rogers review of Mark Antonacci’s book, Resurrection of the Shroud wherein he states:

With regard to other images on the Shroud, few of us can see them. "I think I can see" is not a substitute for an observation, and observations must be confirmed. When Fr. Francis Filas (deceased) claimed he saw the coins, lituus and all, he was looking at specific photographic prints. He had many prints produced at increasing contrast. Finally, all that was left was strings of dots. It took a numismatist who was familiar with ancient Roman coins weeks to "see" the lituus in those photographs. Your mind tries to make sense out of any "patterns" your eye can see. Psychologists have a lot of effort invested in studying such phenomena… It is dangerous to build a scientific theory on such shaky foundations. Your mind tends to see what it expects and/or wants to see. (Rogers’ review, p. 15, available at: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/rogers.pdf).

The ever present danger of pareidolia and other related issues covered in this extensive endnote (including such problems associated with photo-lithography in the publication process; photo flipflopping [see 13.a below]; cropping, [see 13.a below] etc.) promoted my extreme caution when I asked of Dr. Adler this special favor to examine the Shroud in person in June 1997 to verify whether or not the markings that had been digitally enhanced were there and could be seen without digital enhancement. This footnote, then, not only covers pareidolia, but also other problems that are not technically defined as pareidolia.