Here is "2.6. The other marks (4): Plant images", which is part 15 of my series, "The Shroud of Turin." The previous post in this series was part 14, "2.6. The other marks (3): Dirt on foot and limestone." See the Contents page (part 1) for more information about this series.
2. WHAT IS THE SHROUD OF TURIN?
2.6. THE OTHER MARKS (4): PLANT IMAGES
© Stephen E. Jones
Introduction As previously explained, by "other marks" is meant those significant marks on the Shroud of Turin which are not wounds (see "2.4. The wounds") or bloodstains (see "2.5. The Bloodstains"). In my previous two posts I covered the `poker holes' and the dirt on the man's foot and the limestone in that dirt. Again the order in which they are presented is from the most to the least obvious (not necessarily from the most to the least important).
Plant images In 1983 German physics teacher Dr Oswald Scheuermann noticed flower images on photographs of the Shroud. In that same year Scheuermann communicated his discovery to Dr Alan Whanger, a Duke University Professor of Psychiatry, with whom he had been corresponding about experiments with high-voltage corona discharges to produce Shroud-like images on linen.
[Above: One of Scheuermann's corona discharge images of a Chrysanthemum coronarium flower (left), a Chrysanthemum coronarium flower image visible on the Shroud (centre) and a drawing of a Chrysanthemum coronarium flower in Flora Palaestina (right)]
Dr. Alan and Mary Whanger At the time Whanger and his wife Mary could not see any flower images on the Shroud. Whanger's Shroud research involved working with a life-size copy of Giuseppe Enrie's high-quality 1931 monochrome photographs of the Shroud. Then one day in 1985, out of the corner of his eye, Whanger noticed a flower image above and to the left of the Shroud man's head. This he later identified from Flora Palaestina as a Chrysanthemum coronarium.[Above (click to enlarge): Flower image near the head of the man on the Shroud: ShroudScope: Enrie Negative Vertical. The flower is a Chrysanthemum coronarium(see below), and is native to the Mediterranean and East Asia. The flower image is clearer on Enrie's 1931 negative photograph. Note that the flower is actually on the man's left side but on the Enrie negative photograph it appears to be on his right side because of mirror-reversal.]
Whanger's plant images Alan Whanger has tentatively identified images of 28 different plant species on the Shroud, which are sufficiently clear and complete to compare them with drawings in Flora Palaestina. Of these 28 species, 23 are flowers, 3 are small bushes, and 2 are thorns[13 ]. All 28 plants grow in Israel, with 20 of them growing in and around Jerusalem itself, and the other 8 in the vicinity of Jerusalem. All 28 plants would have been available in Jerusalem markets in a fresh state or growing along the roadside or in fields for picking on the day of Jesus' crucifixion (see below).
Prof. Avinoam Danin In 1995 the Whangers were in Israel and were invited to the home of Dr. Avinoam Danin, Professor of Botany at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a world authority on the plants of Israel's. The Whangers showed Prof. Danin some of their photographs of flower images on the Shroud and after less than a minute of looking at them he exclaimed, "Those are the flowers of Jerusalem!" . In 1997 Prof. Danin visited the Whangers' home in North Carolina, USA, and after examining their claimed plant images on their life-size, high quality photographs of the Shroud, Danin stated that he agreed with 22 of the Whanger's 28 plant identifications, and of the remaining 6, Danin said that 3 are probably correct and the other 3 are possibly correct . Besides Chrysanthemum coronarium, Prof. Danin identified on photographs of the Shroud, images of the rock rose (Cistus creticus) and the bean caper (Zygophyllum dumosum). He later identified across a range of photographs, including Enrie 1931, Pia 1898 and Miller 1978, images of Gundelia tournefortii, Capparis aegyptia, Pistacia lentiscus and Zygophyllum dumosum, amongst others. At the 1998 exhibition of the Shroud Prof. Danin was able to identify images of both Zygophyllum dumosum and Pistacia lentiscus on the Shroud, and at the 2000 exhibition, Gundelia tournefortii .
Geographic indicators Prof. Danin noted that Chrysanthemum coronarium was a widespread Mediterranean species that grows in most districts of Israel and Jordan. But being widespread around the Mediterranean means that C. coronarium is not as useful as a geographical indicator. Its value lies in it being one of the clearest plant images on the Shroud being discernible with the unaided eye using any high resolution photograph of the Shroud. However. Zygophyllum dumosum grows only in Israel, Jordan, and Sinai, therefore it's presence on the Shroud limits the Shroud's place of origin to that area. Similarly,
[Above: Distribution map of the endemic species Zygophyllum dumosum which is confined to Israel, Sinai and Western Jordan.]
Capparis aegyptia grows only on the Egyptian mainland, Sinai, and desert areas of Israel. Gundelia tournefortii's distribution is Middle Eastern, extending from western Turkey through Israel, Syria and northern Iraq, Iran and the southernmost fringes of the former Soviet Union. Cistus creticus grows across the Mediterranean zone in western Israel with a desert boundary to the east of Jerusalem. The only place on earth where people could bring fresh parts of the four species Gundelia tournefortii , Zygophyllum dumosum, Cistus creticus and Capparis aegyptia, is the area between Jerusalem and Hebron", a distance of a mere twenty miles (32 kilometres)[ 33].
[Above: Distribution map of the only place on earth where Gundelia tournefortii, Zygophyllum dumosum and Cistus creticus are all found growing together, the area around Jerusalem (green circle).
Temporal indicators As well as being geographic indicators, some of the flower image species identified by Danin are also temporal (i.e. time of year and even time of day) indicators. For example, Zygophyllum dumosum in the stage of bloom seen on the Shroud indicates that it was cut between the months of December and April as this is the only season when both leaf types and flowers are found together on the plant. The blooming time of Chrysanthemum coronarium ia from March to May; that of Capparis aegyptia is between December and April; as is Zygophyllum dumosum's (as already mentioned); Cistus creticus blooms from March to June, and Gundelia tournefortii from March to May. All these flowering period have in common the period between March and May, which was the very period of the year within which Jesus' Passover eve crucifixion (Mt 26:2; Jn 18:28,39; 19:14) occurred (which was on April 7, 30, or April 3, 33). Capparis aegyptia is significant as an indicator for the time of day when its flowers were picked, since its flowering buds begin to open at about midday and gradually open until they are fully opened about half an hour before sunset. Flowers seen as images on the Shroud correspond to them having been picked at about 3-4 PM, which corresponds to the time of the death of Jesus, "the ninth hour" (Mt 27:45-50; Mk 15:33-39; Lk 23:44-46), i.e. 3 pm.
Dr Max Frei's pollen Of the 28 species of plant images the Whangers' identified on the Shroud, these were the same or similar to 25 species of pollen collected from the Shroud and identified by Swiss criminologist, the late Dr Max Frei. Some of the plant images on the Shroud confirms the identification of certain Palestinian and Middle Eastern species of pollen on the Shroud, which we will discuss in "6. Science and the Shroud"). For example, Gundelia tournefortii was one of the more abundant pollen species that Frei identified on the Shroud and Danin and Baruch have confirmed that identification. And significantly, one of Danin's Cistus creticus images occurs in the very same spot that Frei in 1973 found pollen which he identified as Cistus creticus on the Shroud.
Other images The Whangers claim they have found tiny flower images on early coins and portraits of Christ. Also, they claim to have found on the Shroud images of two lepton coins of Pontius Pilate, one over each eye, two desecrated Jewish phylacteries (or prayer boxes), one on the man's forehead and the other on his left arm, an amulet of Tiberius Caesar, a crucifixion nail, a Roman spear, a crown of thorns, a sponge tied to a reed (Mt 27:48; Mk 15:36; Jn 19:29), a hammer, a pair of pliers, two Roman flagrums, two sandals, a scoop, two brush brooms, a pair of dice, a coil of rope, several letters from the inscription "the King of the Jews" fixed to the Cross above Jesus' head (Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26, Lk 23:38; Jn 19:19), and possibly partial images of the cloak, the tunic and two more nails. Apart from the images of the lepton coins for which there is good evidence (see next "2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over the eyes"), I am sceptical of the other non-plant images claimed by the Whangers to be on the Shroud. For example, it seems highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that the Roman soldiers would have allowed Jesus' disciples to take back His clothes, when the gospels record that the soldiers "divided his garments among them" (Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24), let alone valuable items like a Roman spear, hammer and pliers. And that the disciples would have the time, to collect all these items, especially the flagrums from the place where Jesus was scourged (presumably Pilate's Antonia fortress), and place them all inside the Shroud next to Jesus' body, given that the sabbath was imminent (Mt 27:57-60, Mk 15:42-46; Lk 23:50-54, John 19:38-42).
Faces in clouds? Ian Wilson who had visited the Whanger's home and looked at their claimed other non-plant objects on their life-sized, high quality, Shroud photographs was not convinced and dismissed them as akin to seeing "faces in clouds". But even Wilson had to admit that the chrysanthemum image "was undeniably there" . Moreover, at the 2000 exhibition where Wilson had two hours to view the Shroud in natural daylight, it was to him "quite apparent ...that flower images are not just an aberration of black-and-white photographs" but "[f]aint flower-like shapes are quite definitely there on the cloth itself". And Prof. Danin's confirmation and identification of flowers and plant parts on the Shroud is significant given that, as previously mentioned, he is a world authority on the flora of Israel . And as a Jew, Danin cannot be accused of Christian bias. Moreover, unlike the Whanger's non-plant claims, Danin has verified the presence of his botanical images across a range of different photographs of the Shroud and even on the Shroud itself at the 1998 and 2000 exhibition. Each image must be evaluated on its own merits. I accept that the chrysanthemum image is on the Shroud because I can see it in Internet photographs (see above). I therefore accept that there are other flower and plant images on the Shroud which I cannot yet see (although I can also see some others) which have been identified by Prof. Danin.
Conclusion That there are flower images on the Shroud has implications for how the image was formed, in that any theorised image formation process which cannot imprint flower images on linen must be rejected as inadequate. We will examine this further in "2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over the eyes." Also, that there are Palestinian and indeed Jerusalem flower images on the Shroud is another major problem for the forgery theory[§15]. How would a medieval or earlier forger imprint Palestinian and Jerusalem flower and plant images on the Shroud's linen and why would he?
1. Whanger, M. & Whanger, A.D., 1998, "The Shroud of Turin: An Adventure of Discovery," Providence House Publishers: Franklin TN, p.71. [return]
2. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.167. [return]
3. Danin, A., Whanger, A.D., Baruch, U. & Whanger, M., 1999, "Flora of the Shroud of Turin," Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis MO, p.10. [return]
4. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.28. [return]
5. Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin, 2001, "Chrysanthemum coronarium from Flora Palaestina; drawing courtesy Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, corona image by Scheuermann," CSST Still Image Gallery, 4 October. [return]
6. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.71. [return]
7. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.72. [return]
8. Maloney, P.C., 1999, "A Contribution toward a History of Botanical Research on the Shroud of Turin," in Walsh, B., ed., Proceedings of the 1999 Shroud of Turin International Research Conference, Richmond, Virginia, p.251. [return]
9. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.86. [return]
10. "Garland chrysanthemum," Wikipedia, 6 September 2012. [return]
11. Guerrera, V., 2000, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.149. [return]
12. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.78. [return]
13. Ibid. [return]
14. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.79. [return]
15. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.78. [return]
16. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.79. [return]
17. Ibid. [return]
18. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.80. [return]
19. Danin, A., 1997, "Pressed Flowers: Where Did the Shroud of Turin Originate?: A Botanical Quest," ERETZ Magazine, November/December. [return]
20. Danin, et al., 1999, pp.18-19. [return]
21. Danin, et al., 1999, p.16. [return]
22. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.91. [return]
23. Danin, et al., 1999, p.16. [return]
24. Ibid. [return]
25. Ibid. [return]
26. Maloney, 1999, p.251. [return]
27. Danin, 1997. [return]
28. Danin, 2010, p.17. [return]
29. Danin, A., 2010, "Botany of the Shroud: The Story of Floral Images on the Shroud of Turin," Danin Publishing: Jerusalem, Israel, p.54. [return]
30. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.88. [return]
31. Danin, 2010, p.17. [return]
32. Danin, 2010, p.54. [return]
33. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.92. [return]
34. Danin, 2010, p.52. [return]
35. Danin, et al., 1999, pp.21-22. [return]
36. Danin, et al., 1999, p.18. [return]
37. Ibid. [return]
38. Danin, et al., 1999, p.22. [return]
39. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.91. [return]
40. Doig, K.F., 2006, "Doig's Biblical Chronology: Part IV, The Crucifixion of Jesus." [return]
41. Danin, et al., 1999, p.22. [return]
43. Mark 15:33-34, in Cole, R.A., 1989, "The Gospel According to Mark: An Introduction and Commentary," The Tyndale New Testament commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press Leicester: UK, Second edition, p.320. [return]
44. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, p.78. [return]
45. Danin, A. & Baruch, U., 1998, "Floristic Indicators for the Origin of the Shroud of Turin," Third International Congress on the Shroud of Turin, 5-7 June 1998, Turin, Italy, in Minor, M., Adler, A.D. & Piczek, I., eds., 2002, "The Shroud of Turin: Unraveling the Mystery: Proceedings of the 1998 Dallas Symposium," Alexander Books: Alexander NC, p.209. [return]
46. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.86. [return]
47. Whanger & Whanger, 1998, pp.81-82. [return]
48. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.83. [return]
49. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.84. [return]
50. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.87. [return]
51.Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.92. [return]
52. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.85. [return]
53. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.292. [return]
54. Danin & Baruch, 1998, p.203. [return]
55. Danin, et al., 1999, p.16. [return]
56. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.91. [return]
57. Maloney, 1999, p.253. [return]
§15. To be further examined under "9. Problems of the forgery theory". [return]
Continued in part 16, "2.6. The other marks (5): Coins over the eyes."
Last updated: 9 April, 2015.