Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shroud of Turin may not be a fake after all!

The following is an article in Western Australia's major newspaper on Tuesday. It is not webbed, so I had to scan it.

[Left: Shroud of Turin: Material Evidence, Performance Films]

However, it appears to be identical to an article in the Daily Telegraph and similar to an article in

See also my post of 12-Feb-08 about this story when it first broke. The article is in bold font to distinguish it from my comments.

Shroud of Turin may not be a fake after all, The West Australian , February 26,2008 .... This is a great headline! It is also more accurate than the others claiming that there is to be "fresh tests" on the Shroud. The story does not say that the Shroud itself is going to be retested, just that there are going to be "fresh experiments that could explain how genuinely old linen could produce "younger" dates" (see below). I would be very surprised if the Roman Catholic church allowed any more of the Shroud's linen to be destroyed in destructive tests.

Twenty years later, Oxford laboratory admits carbon dating tests may have been wrong ... This is commendable, but it really is long overdue. Shroud pro-authenticity advocates have been pointing out the problems of the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud for most of those 20 years, but have been derided by anti-authenticity critics as "true believers," "religious fanatics", etc. If science wants to boast that it is special among other human activities because it is self-correcting, it really has got to do better than that!

The Oxford laboratory that declared the Shroud of Turin to be a medieval fake 20 years ago is investigating claims that its findings were wrong. The head of the world-renowned laboratory has admitted that carbon dating tests it carried out on Christendom's most famous relic may be inaccurate. Professor Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, said he was treating seriously a new theory that contamination had skewed the results. Again, as I pointed out in my post of 12-Feb-08, the real question is, given that the Shroud is "an almost copy-book case of an object seriously unsuitable for carbon-dating":

"In the light of such concerns, the shroud's known history, that is, its universally accepted history subsequent to the mid-fourteenth century, provides an almost copy-book case of an object seriously unsuitable for carbon-dating. Quite aside from it having been subjected to centuries of smoke from burning candles, an equivalent surely to cigarette smoke, well-known also, not least from the scorches and patches it carries to this day, is that the shroud was involved in a serious fire in 1532. In this latter it came so close to destruction that the silver of its casket melted, destroying one corner of the cloth as it lay folded inside. Knowing that this process could only have happened at temperatures in excess of 960°C, silver's melting-point, Manchester textile specialist John Tyrer has remarked: `In these circumstances moisture in the shroud would turn to steam, probably at superheat, trapped in the folds and layers of the shroud. Any contaminants on the cloth would be dissolved by the steam and forced not only into the weave and yarn, but also into the flax fibres' very lumen and molecular structure ... [They would] become part of the chemistry of the flax fibres themselves and would be impossible to remove satisfactorily by surface actants and ultrasonic cleaning.' [Tyrer, J., British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, 20 October 1988, p.11] Furthermore, two years after the fire the shroud was sewn onto a backing made up from three portions of sixteenth-century holland cloth. Inevitably this linen must contain carbon with equally as much contamination potential as the paper, cardboard and cotton wool mentioned by Dr Bowman. And it has now been in the closest contact with the shroud for over four hundred and fifty years." (Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places," Doubleday: London, pp.176-177)

how did the three laboratories, working "separately" (see below), i.e. without collusion, using different methods of pre-treatment, remove almost all the "contamination" that would otherwise have "skewed the results"? Especially given that in "the dry run" tests before the actual dating of the Shroud, the radiocarbon laboratories produced widely (if not wildly!) discrepant dates for the same three ancient linen artifacts:

"More germane to the issue is the dry run of C-14 testing, which was detailed in the journal Radiocarbon in 1986. Scientists used C-14 to date an Egyptian Bull Mummy linen (the wrappings from an ancient Egyptian burial) as well as two Peruvian linen cloths. The results of this testing using the new accelerator method was extremely revealing. First of all, it underscored the fact that the method is somewhat wanting in accuracy. On the Egyptian Bull Mummy linen, the dates ranged from 3440 to 4517 B.P. (before present)-a span of 1100 years. Although the known age of the cloth was 3000 B.C., the closest date they could get using C-14 was 2528 B.C. ..., a date which required a calibration of 472 years to correct it. That should raise plenty of eyebrows. The second sample, one of the Peruvian cloths, was not much better, with a span of 450 years and the closest date 250 years off. Finally, the third, also a Peruvian cloth, had a span of over 1100 years and the closest date less than 100 years off. This Peruvian cloth was a much easier target to hit because the date was `guesstimated' between A.D. 1000-1400. That range gave the testers a built in window of +/- 200 years to start with! After the tests on these three samples were run, the farthest dates were 1549 years, 709 years, and 439 years off respectively. To allow that margin of error on calibration alone would be ridiculous. Moreover, even admitting that errors of contamination would radically affect the test results still underscores the inherent weaknesses of this dating method. In fact, when the testers accredited these poor results to contamination during pretreatment and reran the tests with significant improvement, the oldest cloth still showed an error of nearly 1,000 years. Most importantly, it was 1,000 years on the young side !" (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, pp.53-54. Emphasis original).

such that Prof. Harry Gove, the co-inventor of the AMS radiocarbon-dating method that was used, was seriously concerned that the then "new procedures seemed to ... be fraught with peril" that at least "one of the three laboratories" might obtain "an outlier result":

"My main concern was that this highly public application of the AMS technique, which I had played a major role in inventing and developing, be successful. The new procedures seemed to me to be fraught with peril. If one of the three laboratories obtained an outlier result as one did in the British Museum inter-laboratory comparisons it would be impossible statistically to identify it and the three measurements would all have to be included in the average thereby producing an incorrect result. The inclusion of the other laboratories would have obviated this potential risk. As it turned out my fears were not realized. The three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly and the final result is a public triumph for AMS if not for the `true believers'. That the shroud's age is the historic one is the dullest result one could have wished for. But in science as in many other aspects of life one does not always get what one wishes." (Gove, H.E., 1989, "Letter To The Editor: The Turin Shroud," Archaeometry, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.235-237, p.237)

yet we are expected to believe that "The three laboratories" just happened to have "performed their measurements flawlessly and the final result" just happened to be "That the shroud's age is the historic one," i.e. ~1325AD!

Though he said he would be surprised if the supposedly definitive 1988 tests were shown to be far out - especially "a thousand years wrong" - he insisted he was keeping an open mind. Again this misses the real point. How could the radiocarbon-dating be wrong, and yet the three laboratories still just happened to converge on "1350 AD ... the time" the Shroud's "historic record began":

"The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls. Each run consisted of a 10 second measurement of the carbon-13 current and a 50 second measurement of the carbon-14 counts. This is repeated nine more times and an average carbon-14/carbon-13 ratio calculated. All this was under computer control and the calculations produced by the computer were displayed on a cathode ray screen. The age of the control sample could have been calculated on a small pocket calculator but was not-everyone was waiting for the next sample-the Shroud of Turin! At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied by Doug Donahue. His face became instantly drawn and pale. At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. ... Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, the year the flax had been harvested that formed its linen threads was 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ's burial cloth but dated from the time its historic record began." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, pp.264).

And then there is another problem that, the further back in time the Shroud is claimed to have originated, the more primitive become the artistic ability. Indeed, even the 14th century was too "artistically ... backward":

"But if this was the best that those who still believed the Shroud to be first century could come up with, oddly, little greater light came even from those who fully accepted the radiocarbon dating's findings. All these needed to account for was how someone of the fourteenth century could have `faked the Shroud up' as Professor Hall would describe it. In other words how someone of an artistically relatively backward period managed to create on the Shroud an image that so convincingly looks to be a positive photograph when it is viewed in negative, despite the fact that no one of the Middle Ages could have seen it in this manner. (Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.9).

to have created the Shroud (the great artists like Leonardo da Vinci 1452?1519, being 15th-16th century) let alone an artist pre-14th century!

The development will reignite speculation about the 4m linen sheet, which many believe bears the miraculous image of the crucified Christ. Even the Shroud's fiercest critics admit that "If the shroud is authentic," i.e. not "an artist's representation," then "the image is that of Jesus":

"Oddly enough, the Shroud opponents have actually helped to make our case. Certainly the need to resort to a denigration of the scientists on the basis of their religious preferences shows a decided bias on their part. In addition, if critics feel the need to declare Jesus a myth, are they not actually suggesting that the Shroud evidence indeed matches the Gospel narratives of Christ's passion and death? At least a few of them are willing to admit this in print. For example, Schafersman states, `Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ ... a very conservative estimate. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation... ." [Schafersman, S., "Science, the Public, and the Shroud," Skeptical Inquirer, B, 1982:4]" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.196-197. My emphasis).

The original carbon dating was carried out on a sample by researchers working separately in laboratories in Zurich and Arizona as well as Oxford. Note the "working separately." If the laboratories colluded to arrive at the same radiocarbon-date, when they claimed to have been "working separately", then this would already be a form of scientific fraud, and would make a nonsense of the claim that three "laboratories in Zurich and Arizona as well as Oxford" arrived at the same result. And in fact there is evidence that the three laboratories did collude, as the British Museum coordinator, Prof. Michael Tite, later admitted that "results from each testing centre have been circulated to the others with a proposal for a coordinated date on the Shroud from the samples":

"Contrary to Tite's protocol letter which stated the labs would not communicate with one another, he acknowledged that the `results from each testing centre have been circulated to the others with a proposal for a coordinated date on the Shroud from the samples....' [Shroud News, October 1988, p.7 ]" (Guerrera, V., 2000, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.132).

To the dismay of Christians, the researchers concluded

[Right (click to enlarge): Late Prof. Edward Hall, Drs Michael Tite and Robert Hedges on 13 October 1988 announcing the Shroud was carbon-dated to "1260-1390!": Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, pl.3b]

that the shroud was created between 1260 and 1390 and was therefore likely to be a forgery devised in the Middle Ages. Being physicists, not art experts all that the researchers could actually claim is that the sample of the Shroud's linen that they tested, returned a radiocarbon date of AD1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ± 65. It was beyond their sphere of expertise to claim that the Shroud was "a forgery devised in the Middle Ages." Yet that did not prevent Oxford's Professor Edward Hall from claiming that in the fourteenth century, "Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up, and flogged it":

"For many, the most disturbing aspect of the whole thing was perhaps the glee with which certain scientists publicly exulted over the downfall of the Shroud. As Professor Hall of the Oxford laboratory told the press on 14 October, `There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the fourteenth century. Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up, and flogged it'. No mention of the unique and inexplicable nature of the image, which has never been reproduced satisfactorily. If nothing else, this contemptuous, and contemptible, statement demonstrates how thoroughly certain upholders of a rigid scientific orthodoxy had been rattled by the mystery of the Shroud." (Hulse, T.G., 1997, "The Holy Shroud," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, pp.31-32)

and also "The non-professional addition of the exclamation mark" after the date 1260-1390, "is an indication of their" unscientific "jubilation over the results":

"The report by the 21 scientists was finally made public in the journal Nature, February 16, 1989, five months after the announcement of the test results was made. Standard scientific procedures call for a critique of the data through peer review; this was not followed in this case. On October 14, 1988, the day after Cardinal Ballestrero issued his press release, the British Museum held its own press conference. Seated at table were Tite flanked by Hedges and Hall. Behind them on a blackboard was written the estimated date: `1260-1390!' The non-professional addition of the exclamation mark is an indication of their unrestrained jubilation over the results." (Guerrera, 2000, p.133).

Even Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero, the then Cardinal of Turin, conceded that the relic was probably a hoax. The late Cardinal Ballestrero did not concede "that the relic was probably a hoax." That was the invention of the British media. What Cardinal Ballestrero actually wrote in his press release was that "the laboratories ...have finally communicated the result of their tests through Dr Tite of the British Museum" in a document which "states that the cloth of the shroud can be assigned with a confidence of 95 per cent accuracy to a date between AD 1260 and 1390" but that "At the same time the problems about the origin of the image and its preservation still remain to a large extent unsolved and will require further research and study" (my emphasis):

"The full, exact text of the Cardinal's communique, as published on 17 October 1988 in the weekly English language edition of the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, was as follows:
In a dispatch received by the Pontifical Custodian of the Holy Shroud [i.e. Cardinal Ballestrero] on 28 September 1988, the laboratories of the University of Arizona, of the University of Oxford and of the Polytechnic of Zurich which had conducted the tests for the radio-carbon dating of the cloth of the Holy Shroud, have finally communicated the result of their tests through Dr Tite of the British Museum, the co-ordinator of the project. This document states that the cloth of the shroud can be assigned with a confidence of 95 per cent accuracy to a date between AD 1260 and 1390. More precise and detailed information concerning the result will be published by the laboratories and Dr Tite in a scientific review in an article which is in the course of preparation . For his part Professor Bray of the `G. Colonetti' Institute of Metrology of Turin, which was charged with the review of the summary report presented by Dr Tite, has confirmed the compatibility of the results obtained by the three laboratories, whose certainty falls within the limits envisaged by the methods used. After having informed the Holy See, the owner of the Holy Shroud, I make known what has been communicated to me. In submitting to science the evaluation of these results, the Church confirms her respect and veneration for this venerable icon of Christ, which remains an object of devotion for the faithful in keeping with the attitude always expressed in regard to the Holy Shroud, namely that the value of the image is more important than the date of the shroud itself. This attitude disposes of the gratuitous deductions of a theological character advanced in the sphere of a research which had been presented as solely and rigorously scientific. At the same time the problems about the origin of the image and its preservation still remain to a large extent unsolved and will require further research and study. In regard to this the Church will show the same openness, inspired by the love of truth which she showed by permitting the radio-carbon dating as soon as she was presented with a reasonable and effective programme in regard to that matter. I personally regret the deplorable fact that many reports concerning this scientific research were anticipated in the press, especially of the English language, because it also favoured the by no means objective insinuation that the Church was afraid of science by trying to conceal its results, an accusation in open contradiction to the Church's attitude on this occasion also when she has gone ahead resolutely.
13 October 1988
Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero
On the basis of this carefully dispassionate communique London's Daily Telegraph, theoretically one of Britain's `quality' newspapers, carried the headline `Turin shroud is a forgery, says Catholic Church', followed by a first paragraph `The shroud of Turin is not the burial cloth of Christ ... the Roman Catholic Church said in Italy yesterday.'" (Wilson, 1991, pp.190-192).

In fact Cardinal Ballestrero later stated that, "In my opinion, the Turin Shroud is authentic" and regarded "The radiocarbon measurements, dating the Shroud in the Middle Ages" as wrong (my emphasis):

"Initially, the Cardinal seemed to accept the test result, but in an interview years later said: `In my opinion, the Turin Shroud is authentic. The radiocarbon measurements, dating the Shroud in the Middle Ages, would appear to have been performed without due care.' [Die Welt, September 5, 1997]" (Guerrera, 2000, p.133).

There have been numerous theories purporting to explain how the tests could have produced false results but so far they have all been rejected by the scientific establishment. Which is a reflection on the scientific objectivity of "the scientific establishment." If it had been any other ancient linen artifact than the claimed burial sheet of Christ, they would have kept an open mind and if the radiocarbon date conflicted with other evidence (which it does), they would have long before now accepted the radiocarbon date could have been wrong. But such has long been the case when scientists' own personal religious (i.e. anti-religious) views are threatened, as agnostic anatomy professor Yves Delage found in 1902 when his scientific evidence presented to the French Academy of Sciences that the Shroud was authentic, was simply rejected out of hand, and Delage observed, "If, instead of Christ, there were a question of ... one of the Pharaohs, no one would have thought of making any objection":

"Since the early 1900's, the Shroud has attracted the attention of biologists interested in the anatomy of crucifixion. Among the first to approach the problem were Paul Vignon, a French biologist, and Yves Delage, an anatomy professor at the Sorbonne. In 1902, Delage gave a lecture to the Paris Academy of Sciences in which he reported that the image appeared to be in every respect anatomically correct. Although The Lancet critiqued his paper as being sound, Delage's peers at the Academy did not think much of it and refused publication. Subsequently, Delage wrote: `If, instead of Christ, there were a question of some person like a Sargon, an Achilles or one of the Pharaohs, no one would have thought of making any objection... . I recognize Christ as a historical personage and I see no reason why anyone should be scandalized that there still exist material traces of his earthly life.' [Walsh, J.E., "The Shroud," W.H. Allen: London, 1963, p.107]." (Culliton, B.J., 1978, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin Challenges 20th-Century Science," Science, Vol. 201, 21 July, pp.235-239, p.238).

Many people remain convinced that the shroud is genuine. That is because: 1) the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence is for the Shroud being genuine:

"The C-14 Laboratory Test Results ... . The results of the test were first officially published in an article entitled `Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin' in 1989 in Nature Magazine. ... The report stated the following conclusion: `The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95 percent confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of A.D. 1260-1390. These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is medieval.' Headlines all over the world jumped on this report and, ignoring the vast body of evidence to the contrary, and the warnings of the perils of the C-14 test, prematurely accepted the results of this one test to condemn the Holy Shroud as a `fake or fraud.' ... It was truly a bleak period for the Holy Shroud - no stranger to difficult periods - and for scientists who had carefully studied the `preponderance of evidence,' as Dreisbach calls it. They knew that the mass of evidence supported the probable authenticity and antiquity of the Shroud while one test contradicted this evidence. Unfortunately, the press, in a highly unbalanced approach, simply ignored the body of evidence and never questioned the reliability of the Carbon-14 test." (Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, pp.164-165).

and 2) there is no adequate alternative theory of how the Shroud was produced if it is not the burial sheet of Jesus:

"As for the fundamental questions for anyone adopting the forgery hypothesis - for example: `Who forged such an extraordinary image?' 'How did he do so without betraying any obvious sign of his artifice?' 'How did he manage to get so much right medically, historically and culturally?' - if you ask yourself whether Sox, or any of the other current detractors, from McCrone and Hall to Picknett and Prince, has yet offered any genuinely satisfying answers, the response has to be no. Indeed, if anyone had come up with a convincing solution as to how and by whom the Shroud was forged, they would inevitably have created a consensus around which everyone sceptical on the matter would rally. Yet so far this has not even begun to happen. Realistically, to date there has been only one genuinely satisfying, albeit still only partial, replication of the Shroud's image, that by Professor Nicholas Allen. And that demands so much ingenuity and advanced photographic knowledge on the part of someone of the Middle Ages that it may actually represent rather better evidence for the Shroud's authenticity than for its forgery." (Wilson, 1998, p.235).

Professor Ramsey, an expert in the use of carbon dating in archaeological research, is conducting fresh experiments that could explain how genuinely old linen could produce "younger" dates. Again, these are presumably not to be "Fresh tests on Shroud of Turin" but "fresh experiments" on other "genuinely old linen" artifacts to explain how it "could produce `younger' dates."

The results, due next month, will form part of a BBC television documentary on the Shroud of Turin. This is The Silent Witness II by David Rolfe which David Rolfe himself discusses in the British Society of the Turin Shroud's December 2007 newsletter. Interestingly, Dr Ramsey was a student at the same Oxford radiocarbon laboratory in 1988 when the Shroud was tested:

"Our schedule will take in Oxford and the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art. Dr. Christopher Ramsey who now heads it was a student there when the Shroud was tested. He brings a personal recollection of that fateful event for the Shroud in modern times. He will cast his eye over some new attempts to see if there could have been anything awry."

David Rolfe, the director of the documentary, said it was hugely significant that Professor Ramsey had thought it necessary to carry out further tests that could challenge the original dating. He said that previous hypotheses, explaining how the cloth could be older than the 1988 results, had been "rejected out of hand". Agreed. Prof. Ramsay is to be commended for his honesty and courage for admitting that the radiocarbon-dating of the Shroud could have been wrong.

"The main reason is that the contamination levels on the cloth that would have been needed to distort the results would have to be equivalent to the actual sample itself," he said. "But this new theory only requires 2 per cent contamination to skew the results by 1500 years. Presumably this is something like the "kinetic isotope effect" where in the 1532 fires the Shroud was in, there could have been a "differential C14 production" which could have caused "A higher ratio of C14" to C12 which would then make the Shroud's radiocarbon age be much younger than it actually is (see also `tagline' quotes):

"Which brings us back to the Shroud fire. Dr. Adler points out that the 40% carbon exchange supposedly needed to push the date back to the first century need not be so. A much lesser percentage is needed if another type of kinetic isotope effect, not from the biology of living plants, but from chemical reactions during the fire, took place. It would have the same result as biofractionation in the flax plant, but would produce differential C14 production chemically and not biologically. A higher ratio of C14 would obtain during the carbon exchange, with the result that, say, a 20% exchange could mean a first century date. But the quantities and the conditions of the fire are not knowable with any degree of reliability, as Dr. Adler is quick to point out. The fire is however the most promising event to look for revised C14 dates. At least in the Shroud fire we have a discernable chemical reaction that would have occurred in the mixture of combustion gases, steam and silver ions." (Case, T.W., 1996, "The Shroud of Turin and the C-14 Dating Fiasco," White Horse Press: Cincinnati OH, p.38)

Moreover, it springs from published data about the behaviour of carbon-14 in the atmosphere which was unknown when the original tests were carried out 20 years ago." It will be interesting to know what this is. The problem is that "the fraction of C-14 to C-12 is so infinitesimal" ("one part in a trillion of the overall carbon content", i.e. one C14 atom in one million million C12 and C13 atoms), "and since this measured ratio is the basis for calculating the organism's age, any error in measuring or counting the C-14 isotope could alter the date, perhaps significantly":

"However, this balance is infinitesimal with C-14 being approximately one part in a trillion of the overall carbon content (1/1,000,000,000,000). This very tiny amount of C-14 formed in the atmosphere, along with the much larger amounts of C-13 and C-12, is taken up in atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesizing plants and is, thereby, spread throughout the biosphere, thus allowing all living things to have a similar ratio of C-14 to C-12. ... Since the fraction of C-14 to C-12 is so infinitesimal, and since this measured ratio is the basis for calculating the organism's age, any error in measuring or counting the C-14 isotope could alter the date, perhaps significantly. A correct date can be calculated if and only if the very tiny trace amount of measured C-14 from the object accumulated there by the above natural process. If the measured C-14 got on the object any other way, the interpretation of the date will be incorrect." (Antonacci, M., 2000, "The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, pp.156-157. Emphasis original)

so it may be that this "behaviour of carbon-14 in the atmosphere" which was "unknown ... 20 years ago" could markedly change the estimated radiocarbon age of the Shroud sample, even to the extent that "the Shroud can easily be 2000 years old" (see `tagline').

Mr Rolfe said the documentary would also contain new archaeological and historical evidence supporting claims that the shroud was a genuine burial cloth. I expect this will include the evidence discovered by Dr Alan Whanger of a high number of points of congruence between the Shroud's facial image and 6th century Christ Pantocrator icons, coins and the Sudarium of Oviedo as well as flower images on the Shroud (see Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin: Shroud Image Comparison Motion GIFs). This visual evidence would be especially effective on television.

The documentary will focus on two other recorded relics, the Shroud of Constantinople, which is said to have been stolen by Crusaders in 1204, and the Shroud of Jerusalem that wrapped the body of Jesus and which, according to John's Gospel, had such a profound effect when it was discovered. There is good visual evidence for at least the first of these (see "The History of the Shroud of Turin from Edessa to Constantinople" and "The Shroud of Turin Story: Early history in Jerusalem, Edessa and Constantinople").

According to Mr Rolfe, the documentary will produce convincing evidence that these are one and the same as the Shroud of Turin, adding credence to the belief that it dates back to Christ's death. I expect this documentary will be sensational because most people will be completely unaware of the amount of new evidence that has accumulated in the 20 years since 1988, pointing unequivocally to the Shroud of Turin being the very burial sheet of Jesus.

Posted: 28 February 2008. Updated: 20 September 2017.

"Dr. Adler: ... The C12 isotopic molecular structure will react faster than the C14 one will, so if you carry out a series of chemical reactions, you're going to find that the ratio of C14 to C12 varies ... Because it will have undergone a different amount of what people call biofractionation. Which a chemist calls a kinetic isotope effect. This is the point that has been brought out by these two Russian scientists, Kouznetsov and Ivanov [ [Kouznetsov, D., Ivanov, A. & Veletsky, P., "Effects of fires and biofractionation of carbon isotopes on results of radiocarbon dating of old textiles: the Shroud of
," Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1996, pp.109-121], who tried to explain some problems with the C14 date." (Case, 1996, pp.72-73).

"Dr. Heller:: ... if the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which was produced, exchanged with the carbon of the sample, as in the Russian model, you would expect that you would get a more recent date. ... Case: .... Would you explain the `khaki' effect that produced the iron oxide particles in the water stain margins, particles that were found inside the closed tubular fibers? Would such chemical reactions taking place under extreme conditions produced by the fire have any relevance to a possible accelerated carbon exchange in the fibers themselves? Dr. Adler: We discovered that in the 1800s some of the people living in India produced khaki by staining with iron salts, putting it in alkali, and then letting it dry out, to make iron oxide, producing a khaki color. So, we decided to try the same experiment, and we discovered ... it puts particles inside the fibers. ... That can happen, as we pointed out in the paper, during the fire. The stuff would have gotten on the inside, and over a period of time it would have precipitated and then dried out at the time of the fire. So in fact the fire would have relevance to this kind of `khaki' evidence. And it could also have produced carbon exchange. That's the whole point of the Russian paper." (Case, 1996, pp.80-82).

"Dr. Adler: ... The Russian paper claims that that is good reason for doubting the date. Case: I figured that in 5700 years, half the C14 would decay; after 2000 years, 18%; and after 700 years, 6%. This means that about a 12% increase in the C14 counted would give a date 1300 years too recent. Comment? Dr. Adler: Wrong. The problem is, the decay is not linear. It's exponential. That's the physics of it. And what you mean by these percentages-all sorts of people have screwed this thing up. There's a better way of saying it. To have the date be over one thousand years off, you'd have to replace 40% of the carbons by modern carbon-to get the right ratio (of C12 to C14) to make it turn out right. That doesn't mean you'd have to replace it by C14. It means you have to take C14 in a ratio to C12 that's here now today. But you would have to replace 40% of the carbons. Now if you had some crazy mechanism that would selectively replace C14 atoms, then it would take a much smaller percentage. And what these Russians seem to have found is a mechanism that will in fact do that. Because they're talking about what is known as a kinetic isotope effect, and that's very clever." (Case, 1996, pp.84-85).

"Dr. Adler: The combination of these two [C12 and C14] produces a different clock time. But it's not a linear clock. It's an exponential clock. ... you can't extrapolate these numbers that you've got, because you're calibrating linearly. You can't extrapolate linearly. You have to go through the exponential calculations. ... Let's say you start with a sample that's got a radioactivity of one. And it's got a half life of say, a year. That means in one year it drops to one half of what it had. In two years it drops to one quarter of what it had. It drops by a half again. In three years it drops to one eighth of what it had. Half again. It isn't just dropping in a linear way. It's dropping in an exponential way. That's a lot harder to think about. You have to calculate it. Not just sit down with a piece of paper and a ruler and draw lines-which a lot of people have done for this. You also have to watch out, because you are not at liberty to pick any old year you want to talk about that you want to put
into the experiment. Because you have this problem of the C14 to C12 ratio. In any given instant in time it isn't constant. ... ... Case: I know. You have to plug in this calibration curve ... Dr. Adler: And some of those variations are very big. By ignoring that, you can come up with all kinds of crazy things that are off by a couple of thousand years. Case: Say that in the fire, a whole lot of carbon got exchanged, or came in. Dr. Adler: It could change the date back to the date we see. That's the point of the Russian's argument. ... This is this thing I told you about where the molecules don't react at the same rate. And so you can have more C14 added to the structure than C12. ...You see there's no way you can simply calculate this. You actually have to sit down with the right physics and do the physical calculations, starting with the right dates, when you think things happened, with the right corrections. It's a very complicated calculation. Case: But this was done in that paper you were talking about, that the Russians wrote. Dr. Adler: This is the Kouznetsov-Ivanov paper. And they claim because people ignored all this, that the same thing happened to the Shroud, corresponding to the results they found in the laboratory experiments, the Shroud can easily be 2000 years old. They can't prove it's 2000 years old but they can prove that if these kinds of conditions obtained, it could easily be that." (Case, 1996, pp.86-88).

"A laboratory model especially created to `reproduce', i.e. to simulate the physical/chemical conditions of the 1532 Chambéry fire was developed for the purpose of determining experimentally the probability that fire-induced chemical modifications of the Turin Shroud textile cellulose had occurred and evaluating its possible impact on the radiocarbon dating results. In these studies, both old Russian and old Middle Eastern (En Gedi, Israel, BC100-AD100) linen textile samples were tested by near-IR reflectance spectrophotometry, field ionization/field desorption mass spectrometry, and conventional AMS analysis. We found that the different fire-simulating model conditions were able to promote the carboxylation of unscreened OH-groups in textile cellulose molecules. This carboxylation process involves carbon-containing combustion gases, CO and CO2, in the presence of silver cations, water and heat. As a result, a significant additional amount of 14C and 13C atoms incorporate into the textile cellulose structure as a portion of carboxy-groups. Radiocarbon ages of experimental textile samples incubated under fire-simulating conditions have been estimated by the common AMS technique with correction for C-isotopes fractionation. As seen from the resulting data, fire-induced carboxylation, i.e. `carbonization', of the textile cellulose, leads to a significant error in the radiocarbon dating results. The extent and mechanism of this phenomenon as well as the problem of accuracy and the limitations of the radiocarbon method are discussed. All experimental data and theoretical statements presented in this work deal with the re-evaluation of the Shroud of Turin dating results obtained by Damon et al. using a conventional radiocarbon approach." Kouznetsov, D., Ivanov, A. & Veletsky, P., "Effects of fires and biofractionation of carbon isotopes on results of radiocarbon dating of old textiles: the Shroud of Turin," Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1996, pp.109-121, p.109).


Tamara Beryl Latham said...

More importantly, if all the testing is discounted, we are left with a most important fact.

The Sudarium has been in Oviedo, Spain since the 7th century. I believe since 631 AD. This is fact.

When the Sudarium and The Shroud of Turin face are aligned, the blood spots exactly line up. The Sudarium and the Shroud of Turin both have the rare blood type AB.

This alone should be cause for alarm, with respect to the C14 dating of the shroud. The C14 should have, at least, dated the shroud to the 7th century.


Tamara Beryl Latham

Stephen E. Jones said...


Thanks for your comment.

>The Sudarium has been in Oviedo, Spain since the 7th century. I believe since 631 AD. This is fact.

Agreed about "the 7th century" but not necessarily "631 AD". The Sudarium probably entered Spain on or shortly after AD616 but did not arrive in Oviedo until 718 (see below).

The AD631 date is when St. Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, Spain, wrote in a letter that "the linteaminibus [linen] and the sudarium in which the Lord's body was wrapped" had been in Jerusalem but he did not know of their present whereabouts (Guscin, M., "The Oviedo Cloth," 1998, pp.11-12). He was either genuinely ignorant of the location of the Sudarium being in Spain, or did not want to reveal it.

Guscin says that, according to the chronicle of Pelayo, bishop of Oviedo (1101-43), the Sudarium was taken from Jerusalem before it was sacked by the Persians in 614 and arrived in Spain after the fall of Alexandria in 616 and before the death in 633 of St. Fulgentius, bishop of Ecija, Spain, who received Sudarium in a chest (Guscin, p.14).

The chest containing the Sudarium passed to St. Isidore, bishop of Seville (c.560-636), who in turn passed it on to his student San Ildefonso (St Ildephonsus), who became bishop of Toledo in 657 and died in 667.

Then following the Muslim invasion of Spain in 711, the Sudarium was taken in 718 in its chest to a cave near Oviedo (which was not founded until 761).

The sudarium remained in the cave until King Alfonso II (791-842) built the Camara Santa for it in the Oviedo cathedral in 840 (Guscin, p.15). The chest was eventually opened in 1075, by King Alfonso IV and the Sudarium was in it (Guscin, p.17).

So the historical evidence is that the Sudarium has been in Spain since at least 633 (and probably 616-620), and before that it was in Jerusalem, presumably from the time of Jesus' crucifixion (because why would anyone keep a small, plain, blood-stained cloth in Jerusalem if it was not Jesus'?).

>When the Sudarium and The Shroud of Turin face are aligned, the blood spots exactly line up.

Agreed. This is the strongest evidence (which in a criminal trial would be accepted as proof beyond reasonable doubt) that the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin covered the same face.

And since the Sudarium has been in Spain since 616-633 and in Jerusalem before that, the simplest hypothesis is the Shroud of Turin must also have been in Jerusalem and also covered the body of Jesus.

>The Sudarium and the Shroud of Turin both have the rare blood type AB.

Apparently old blood tends to degrade to type AB, so this is not conclusive evidence that the blood of the Sudarium's and Shroud were from the same victim. But if the blood type had been different, then that would have been strong evidence against the Sudarium and the Shroud having covered the same body. So the fact that the Sudarium has the same type AB blood as the Shroud is an important test of authenticity that the Sudarium could have failed but successfully passed.

>This alone should be cause for alarm, with respect to the C14 dating of the shroud. The C14 should have, at least, dated the shroud to the 7th century.


Before the Sudarium of Oviedo evidence, the evidence that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Christ was already very strong (e.g. the Shroud's unique marks found on art going back to the 6th century), and the only positive evidence against it was the 14th century C14 dating.

Because of the many problems with C14 dating, due to contamination with external carbon, etc, archaeologists normally disregard a C14 date as anomalous if it disagrees with other known facts about an artifact.

So the only reason the C14 dating has not been set aside in the case of the Shroud is because of the enormous loss of face science would have to endure, especially in respect of Christianity. This is exacerbated by the fact that most scientists are agnostics/atheists and if the Shroud of Turin really is the burial sheet of Christ, then that is personally very hard for them to accept.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

Great post. I'm curious where you found that excellent photo of the gentleman with the carbon dating results behind them - do you happen to know where to find the source of this?

thanks so much,

Stephen E. Jones said...


>Great post.


>I'm curious where you found that excellent photo of the gentleman with the carbon dating results behind them - do you happen to know where to find the source of this?

Sorry, I should have given the source, which I have now added. It was in Ian Wilson's "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, plate 3b. That plate is after page 142.

Stephen E. Jones

Tamara said...

Dear Stephen E. Jones

The Latest News on Shroud of Turin Hologram - shown by Physicists that an Event Horizon occurred when Jesus was resurrected - Shroud authentic - Nothing like it in the world. The Shroud may also have the code to the universe. See Links.

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Tamara Beryl Latham