© Stephen E. Jones
Dimensions of the Shroud
This is entry #7, of my "Turin Shroud Encyclopedia," about the dimensions (i.e. measurements) of the Shroud cloth. See the Main Index "A-Z" for information about this series. As mentioned in my comment under my post, "Shroud of Turin: Turin Shroud Encyclopedia":
"I intend to grow my Encyclopedia organically, i.e. I will next add entries about key words in my latest post, e.g. "shroud," "Turin," "Lirey," "de Charny, Geoffroi," and " de Vergy, Jeanne" etc."So this post is an expansion on that entry #3's, "The Shroud of Turin ...is a 437 x 111 cms (~14.3 x 3.6 ft) rectangular linen sheet."
Dimensions determined. Prior to 1998, the most commonly cited dimensions of the Shroud were 14 feet 3 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide (434.3 x 109.2 cms). In that year ancient textiles specialist Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg determined that the true dimensions of
[Above: From left to right: Swiss textiles expert Mechthild Flury Lemberg, Sister Maria Clara Antonini of the Poor Clare nuns and Don Giuseppe Ghiberti, Turin diocesan official in charge of the 1998 exhibition, finish preparing the Turin Shroud April 16 for display to the public on Sunday April 19, 1998.]
the Shroud are 437 centimetres long by 111 centimetres wide (about 14 feet 4 inches by 3 feet 8 inches):
"Dr. Flury-Lemberg and New Textile Findings The first speaker was Dr. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, a former curator of the Abegg Foundation textile museum, Switzerland, whose theme was 'The Shroud fabric, its technical and archaeological characteristics'. It was Dr. Flury-Lemberg who, immediately prior to the 1998 exposition, had the task of preparing the Shroud for its display and housing in the new three ton Italgas container constructed for it, working side by side with Sister Maria Clara Antonini of the Poor Clares. Because the plate for the new container had been made slightly too small, Dr. Flury-Lemberg gained permission to remove the blue surround that had been sewed on in the 19th century. The intention behind this surround had been to save the Shroud from the repeated handling at the edges to which they had been subjected throughout the long centuries when it was the custom to hold it up before the populace. However, the surround had ever since prevented examination of the same edges, thereby hindering totally accurate calculation of its dimensions. Now the dimensions have been authoritatively determined by Dr. Flury-Lemberg as 437 cm long by 111 cm wide." 
Missing pieces. There are two pieces missing at each end of the 8 cms (3½ inch) sidestrip (see right). The first is 14 x 8 cms (5½ by 3½ inches) at the front left feet end and the second is 36 x 8 cm (14 by 3½ inches) at the back left feet end. However, as can be seen (right) the missing pieces do not change the length or width of the Shroud.
Cubits. In August 1989, an expert in early Syriac, Ian Dickinson, from Canterbury, England, reflected on the Shroud's then commonly accepted measurements of 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches. They seemed odd to him by modern standards but he wondered what they would be if the Shroud was measured in 1st century AD Jerusalem, by the cubit.
There were various cubits in use in Jesus' time, including one for use in the Jerusalem Temple. There was also a cubit of the market place, known as the Assyrian cubit, which was the one most widely one used, being the international standard of that time for merchants of the Near East. This common cubit of commerce was carried along with the Assyrian language, Aramaic, which was the common language of trade and diplomacy from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea, and had become the language of the Jew (Jn 5:2; 19:13,17,20; 20:16), which Jesus spoke
[Above: Page 67 of "Inductive Metrology: Or, The Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments," by William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1877), showing the Assyrian cubit was 21.6 inches (~54.9 cms) (see below).]
Petrie & Oppert. During the 19th century the archaeological pioneer, Sir Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) and Assyriologist Julius Oppert (1825–1905), took many measurements of ancient buildings in Babylon (which Assyria had annexed in the 9th century BC). Petrie and Oppert found the length of the Assyrian cubit to be almost 21.5 inches, since refined by other archaeologists to be 21.6 ±0.2 inches (54.9 ±0.5 cms). In fact according to page 67 of Petrie's book above, he himself accepted 21.60 inches as the mean length of the Assyrian cubit. And this is what the Shroud conforms to, taking the lower limit of 21.4 inches (54.4 cms):
|21.4 inches x 8||=||171.2 inches|
|Shroud recorded length||=||171.0 inches|
|21.4 inches x 2||=||42.8 inches|
|Shroud recorded width||=||43.0 inches|
Now 171.2 inches is 434.8 cms, and 43.0 inches is 109.2 cms, which are very close to the Shroud's 437 cms by 111 cms. Indeed, those latest, most accurate dimensions of the Shroud are even closer to the Assyrian cubit's middle value of 21.6 inches or 54.9 cms. Dividing 437 and 111 cms by 54.9 cms equals 8 (7.96) cubits and 2 (2.02) cubits, respectively!
Guralnick. Archaeologist Eleanor Guralnick claimed that from measuring slabs and figures from ancient Assyrian capitals Khorsabad and Nineveh in Iraq, from the reigns of Sargon II (r. 721–705 BC), Sennacherib (r. 705 – 681 BC), and Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC), she derived new standard lengths of three different cubits from the Late Assyrian period. They were, the Standard Cubit (51.5 cms), a Big Cubit (56.6 cms), and a "Cubit of the King" (55 cms). Despite Guralnick's standard cubits having been derived from a smaller sample set than Oppert/Petries', what Guralnick called the "Cubit of the King" (55 cms) appears to be Oppert/Petrie's "Assyrian Cubit" (54.9 cms), as highlighted in the table below.
[Above: Comparison of Oppert/Petrie's and Guralnick's three Assyrian cubits in relation to the dimensions of the Shroud of Turin. As can be seen, Guralnick's "Cubit of the King" (55 cms) is very close to Oppert/Petrie's "Assyrian Cubit" (54.9 cms), and the 437 cms long by 111 cms wide dimensions of the Shroud equal 8 by 2 of those cubits of Guralnick and Oppert/Petrie.]
Medieval forger? The Bible mentions cubits (Gn 6:16; Ex 25:10,17,23; 26:13,16; 30:2; 36:21; 37:1, 6,10,25; Dt 3:11; Jdg 3:16; 1Ki 6:16; 7:24,31,35; 2Chr 4:3; Eze 40:5,12,42; 42:4; 43:13,14,17; Mt 6:27; Lk 12:25) but does not say how long they were. So it is highly unlikely that a medieval forger would even know about the Assyrian standard cubit, and even if he did, it is even more unlikely that he would bother obtaining a first century fine linen shroud of those dimensions, especially given that fine linen then ranked with gold in value. And that is assuming that he could obtain one, let alone one with the Shroud's three-to-one herringbone twill linen, of which the Shroud is the only one remaining in existence.
"Such conformity to an exact 8 by 2 Jewish cubits ... correlates perfectly with the `doubled in four' arrangement by which we hypothesized the shroud to have been once folded and mounted as the `holy face' of Edessa[see below], for the exposed facial area of this latter would have been an exact 1 by 2 Jewish cubits.
[Above: Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin illustrated: The full-length Shroud of Turin (1), is doubled four times (2 through 5), resulting in Jesus' face within a rectangle, in landscape aspect (5), exactly as depicted in the earliest copies of the Image of Edessa, the 11th century Sakli church, Turkey (6) and the 10th century icon of King Abgar V of Edessa holding the Image of Edessa, St. Catherine's monastery, Sinai (7).]
Proof the Shroud is authentic. So even the dimensions of the Shroud of Turin are among the many proofs beyond reasonable doubt that it is authentic. That is, the very burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the image of His beaten (Mt 26:67-68; 27:30; Lk 22:64; Jn 18:22; 19:3), scourged (Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15; Lk 23:16; Jn 19:1), crowned with thorns (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5), crucified (Mt 27:35,38,44; Mk 15:24-27,32; Lk 23:33; Jn 19:16-18), died (Mt 27:50; Mk 15:37,39; Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30), legs not broken (Jn 19:32-33), speared in the side (Jn 19:34), wrapped in a linen shroud (Mt 27:59; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:40), buried in a rock tomb (Mt 27:59-60; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:38-42) and resurrected (Mt 28:1-6; Mk 16:1-6; Lk 24:1-6; Jn 20:1-9) body!
1. This post is copyright. No one may copy from it or any of my posts on this my The Shroud of Turin blog without them first asking and receiving my written permission. Except that I grant permission, without having to ask me, for anyone to copy the title and one paragraph only (including one graphic) of any of my posts, provided that they include a reference to the title of, and a hyperlink to, that post from which it came. [return]
2. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," , Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.21. [return]
3. "4.34m x 1.09m." Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, p.11. [return]
4. Wilson, I., 2000a, "`The Turin Shroud – past, present and future', Turin, 2-5 March, 2000 – probably the best-ever Shroud Symposium," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 51, June. [return]
5. Wilson, I., 2000b, "Recent Publications," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 51, June. [return]
6. Brkic, B., 2010, "Hitler had designs on the Shroud of Turin; Indiana Jones fans are not surprised," Daily Maverick, 8 April. [return]
7. By my calculation assuming 1 inch = 2.54 cms. [return]
8. Wilson, 2000a. [return]
9. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.18. [return]
10. Whiting, B., 2006, "The Shroud Story," Harbour Publishing: Strathfield NSW, Australia, p.177. [return]
11. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.64. [return]
12. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.161. [return]
13. "345 ± 22 µm." Schwalbe, L.A. & Rogers, R.N., 1982, "Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin: Summary of the 1978 Investigation," Reprinted from Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 135, No. 1, 1982, pp.3-49, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co: Amsterdam, 1982, p.43. [return]
14. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.68. [return]
15. Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, p.1. [return]
16. Shroud Scope, "Durante 2002, Horizontal" (rotated vertical). [return]
17. Iannone, 1998, pp.1-2. [return]
18. Wilson, 1998, p.67. [return]
19. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.181. [return]
20. Dickinson, I., 1990, "The Shroud and the Cubit Measure," BSTS Newsletter, Issue 24, January, pp.8-11, p.8. [return]
21. Ibid. [return]
22. Dickinson, 1990, p.9. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. Dickinson, 1990, pp.9-10. [return]
25. Petrie, W.M.F., 1877, "Inductive Metrology: Or, The Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 2013. Google books. [return]
26. Dickinson, 1990, p.10. [return]
27. Ibid. [return]
28. Ibid. [return]
29. Guralnick, E., 1996, "Sargonid Sculpture and the Late Assyrian Cubit," Iraq, Vol. 58, pp.89-103, p.89. [return]
30. Ibid. [return]
31. Wilson, 1991, p.181. [return]
32. Dickinson, 1990, p.11. [return]
33. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.74-75. [return]
34. Wilson, 1991, p.181. [return]
Updated: 9 September, 2014.