Important New Pollen Discovery on the Sudarium of Oviedo?

imageThe English language pages of the Universidad Católica de Murcia (UCAM) are reporting that UCAM’s researchers have found scientific evidence that places the Shroud of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin in the same scenario::

The research group of the Catholic University of Murcia which is studying samples of the Shroud of Oviedo, has discovered a grain of pollen from one plant that, according to the Pollen Expert of EDICES, Marzia Boi, is compatible with the botanical species of Helicrysum Sp., also identified in the Holy Shroud (Shroud of Turin). Moreover, it has dropped the hypothesis of subsequent contamination, as the pollen is adhered to the blood; this means that the pollen arrived on the shroud at the same time as the blood, not randomly at some point along its history.  This fact is very important because it makes it possible to prove the authenticity of the Shroud of Oviedo, and deny that it is a forgery.

La Opinion de Murcia in a story four days ago adds this interesting piece of information (Translation by Google):

This research has been possible thanks to the innovative scanning electron microscope last generation that tells the UCAM. In this sense, the president of the UCAM, José Luis Mendoza, notes that [the university] acquired "the microscope to offer this service" to investigate in depth the aforementioned relic. This is a new finding that is not part of the research line that is centered study, since what is sought in the sample being processed is human biological material.

The Valencia newspaper, Las Provincias, in its coverage of the discovery, offers up this (Translation by Google):

The plant known as ‘Helicrysum’ has been used for thousands of years for cosmetic purposes in the Middle East; also was used in Jewish burials during the first century of the Christian era, so it is no wonder their presence on blood remnants of a canvas used to shroud a corpse.

Will this story get legs beyond regional papers and a university website?

Click on picture for larger view and here for and even larger image on the university’s site.

The Sudarium of Oviedo as Evidence?

and then there’s the shroud

imageIt is a well written posting,  The Forensics of the Sudarium of Oviedo – The Shroud of Turin. He, whoever he is, who calls his blog “He Rose for Grace,” nicely summarizes the documented history of the Sudarium. He explains the bloodstains and plant pollen found on the this 84 by 53 centimeter (33 by 21 inch) piece of cloth. Fine. But, then, really?

Though the stains were smeared, modern technology has been able to decipher facial features from when the cloth covered the face.  They show typical Jewish features including a prominent nose and cheekbones.

No. It is people who decipher facial features. They may use modern methods and tools. But, in the end, it is totally subjective. Can anyone really say the stains show typical Jewish features? I’m open to being convinced. So far, I’m not. And then, if I am convinced, so what?

And then there is this:

And Then There’s the Shroud:

Probably the most sentimental characteristics of the cloth is in its coincidental details that match the Shroud of Turin.  First off, the blood on both cloths belongs to the same group, AB.  The length of the nose from where the the pleural oedema fluid came onto the sudarium, measures 8 cm.  This is the exact same length as the nose on the Shroud.  There is an exact fit of the stains with the beard on the face. There is a small stain on the right hand side of the mouth.  This stain is barely visible on the Shroud, but Dr. John Jackson, used the VP-8 and photo enhancements to confirm that it is there.  Thorn wounds on the nape of the neck also coincide with the bloodstains on the Shroud. Dr. Alan Whanger used a Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study the sudarium, comparing it to the bloodstains on the Shroud.  The frontal stains on the sudarium have seventy points of coincidence with the Shroud, while the back side has fifty.  There is no doubt that the Oviedo sudarium covered the same face.

It would seem that in light of these recent scientific findings, the dating for the Shroud need no further investigation, the authenticity is confirmed with the holy relic of the Sudarium of Oviedo.

Scientific findings?

Just what is a point of congruence in this case?  Can I see some examples?  I know about the points of congruence with the claims for coin images. I’ve seen some of those and actually used a Polarized Image Overlay Technique. Some points looked impressive but I wondered if they meant anything. Other points seemed nebulous. Maybe it was me.

I was never really convinced that a point of congruence analysis was valid. Where is this method documented? I’ve read about using POC for fingerprint analysis and I understand it enough to know that this is very different.  POC for fingerprint matching uses well known, well understood, carefully defined patterns. Matching coins and matching bloodstains is something different altogether.

Moreover, I am convinced by other evidence that those coin images that supposedly match coins, do not exist on the shroud. That makes those points of congruence seem meaningless. So why are the bloodstains POC any different? 

Having said all that, I think it might really be that the Sudarium and the Shroud are linked by bloodstains. But can we say so scientifically?  I think that if we are going to convince people, we need to show them in a convincing way.

Photo  by Jorge Manuel Rodríguez as found at The Forensics of the Sudarium of Oviedo – The Shroud of Turin

Paper Chase: New observations on the Sudarium of Oviedo

. . . In the back of the Man of the Shroud the hair is apparently arranged in a “ponytail”
shape. . . .  A simpler and more probable explanation is provided by Barta: the “ponytail”
is the result of the use of the Sudarium of Oviedo which was placed and sewed
around the hair in this area. . . .

imageI’ve always found accounts of the coincidences between the Sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud fascinating. Never, however, have I crawled through the details as carefully as I should have.  This paper afforded me a chance to begin that process. This St. Louis conference paper is fascinating. It is worth your time to carefully read New Discoveries On The Sudarium Of Oviedo by César Barta, Rodrigo Álvarez, Almudena Ordóñez, Alfonso Sánchez and Jesús García

Piture: Location of measurement spots on the reverse side of the Sudarium of Oviedo.
The reference numbers are listed in Table III, in the "label" column

I cheat! I jump to conclusions first. But that’s okay as long as I then read the whole paper:

The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin are two relics attributed to Jesus Christ that show a series of amazing coincidences previously described. These similarities suggest that both cloths were used by the same personality.

In this contribution, we describe the X-ray fluorescence analysis performed on the Sudarium and we highlight a new fascinating coincidence with the Shroud and with the place of the Passion. Among the chemical elements detected, the concentration of Ca is the most reliable one. It is associated to soil dust and it shows a significantly higher presence in the areas with bloody stains. This fact allows us to conclude that the main part of the Ca located in the stained areas was fixed to the cloth when the physiological fluids were still fresh or soon after. As the stains have been correlated with the anatomical part of the deceased man, the amount of Ca can also be related with his anatomical features. The highest content of Ca is observed close to the tip of the nose, indicating unexpected soil dirt in this part of the anatomy. A particular presence of dust was also found in the same place in the Shroud providing a new and astonishing coincidence between both cloths.

The low concentration of Sr traces in the Sudarium, even lower in the stained areas, matches also well with the type of limestone characteristic from the Calvary in Jerusalem.

This new finding complements two other recently publicized: The ponytail shape of the Man of the Shroud hair, whose origin is justified by the use of the Sudarium of Oviedo and the alleged presence of a scourge mark in this cloth.

Such a gathering of evidences strengthens the tradition that both cloths have wrapped the same body, that of Jesus of Nazareth.