Copyright © Stephen E. Jones
Here is "Selvedge," part #6 of my series, "The evidence is overwhelming that the Turin Shroud is authentic!"
- Introduction #2
- Selvedge #6
Shroud. There is a selvedge on each lengthwise side of the Shroud. The Shroud consists of two sections with selvedge on one lengthwise side each: a larger (~437 x ~103 cm) section called the main body of the Shroud, and a smaller section (~397 x ~8 cm) called the sidestrip (see Sidestrip #5). That the sidestrip and main body of the Shroud were once part of a larger cloth and had been expertly rejoined to match each weft or widthwise thread is evident in that radiographs reveal that banding structures continue from the main body of the Shroud, through the seam across into the sidestrip [Right (enlarge)]. The combined dimensions of the two sections which together make up the Shroud, are 437 x 111 cms. This equates to 8 x 2 Assyrian cubits, the standard unit of measurement in Jesus' time, even among the Jews (see Dimensions #3). And since this is the overall dimensions to which the two sections which make up the Shroud were cut down to, it must have been deliberate and so reflect the historical period when the Shroud was made, which includes the first century!
Wide looms in antiquity. Ancient textiles conservator Mechthild Flury-Lemberg has pointed out that looms in antiquity were up to 11½ feet (3.5 metres) wide. The reason for such wide looms was to produce the tunica inconsutilis, or seamless tunic, which was particularly fashionable in the Roman period. Jesus Himself wore such a seamless tunic (John 19:23). Since the side strip and the main body of the Shroud were part of the same larger linen sheet (as we saw above), it would make no sense to cut an ~8.5 cm full length strip off a ~1.1 metre wide cloth and then sew the strip back on again. The most likely explanation is that of Flury-Lemberg, that the bolt of
[Above (enlarge): "How the shroud was originally woven much wider than its present width. Reconstruction of the likely size of the bolt of cloth of which the two lengths of the Shroud (shaded) formed part. This wider cloth was very expertly cut lengthwise, then the raw (i.e. non-selvedge) edges of the shaded segments joined together by a very professional seam to form the Shroud we know today.".]
linen from which the Shroud and sidestrip were cut, had been woven on a loom about three times the Shroud's width (~3.5 metres). The cloth was then cut twice lengthwise, and the two sections with a selvedge, the main body of the Shroud and the sidestrip, were joined by a seam (see above) to form the cloth which became the Shroud. This is supported by the fact that although the main body of the Shroud and the sidestrip share the same common weft (widthwise) threads, there are slight differences between each cloth's thread-counts and colour, as would be expected if they were woven at opposite sides of the same wide loom. The central section without side selvedges, would have been used for other purposes, such as a tunica inconsutilis since it would have been seamless.
Not Medieval. By contrast, no such wide seamless fabrics are known from the Middle Ages. The widest medieval woven cloths up to the 16th century were tapestries, and they were a maximum of only 3 feet (~91 cm) wide. The tunica inconsutilis was produced only in ancient times, never in the Middle Ages. All known linen bed sheets in the Middle Ages are joined by a seam at their selvedges to make them wide enough for a bed. This indicates that there were no wide looms in the Middle Ages. Moreover, according to Flury-Lemberg, the professionalism of the Shroud's manufacture, evident in it having been woven on a very wide loom, the expert lengthwise cutting and seaming, the unusual selvedge (see also next), and the unusual and expensive style of weaving (see Weave #4), points to its production in a major, sophisticated cloth-making 'factory'. Such are known to have existed in Roman-period Egypt and Syria for making the large seamless garments that were then fashionable, but not in the Middle Ages.
Masada. As with the stitching of the seam (see Sidestrip #5) examples of the same most unusual two double thread selvedge on the Shroud, and the same way of binding and finishing the edges of the cloth, were found at the Jewish fortress at Masada near the Dead Sea, which was overthrown by the Romans in AD 73 and never occupied again. These technical parallels link the Shroud to the very region and period in which Jesus died!
Problem for the forgery theory. This is yet another part of the problem for the forgery theory, that the Shroud is not medieval (see #1, #3, #4, #5). As we saw above, the two selvedges running down the lengthwise borders of the Shroud prove beyond reasonable doubt that: 1) and the main body of the Shroud and the sidestrip were evidently cut lengthwise from a larger cloth and then joined to form a composite cloth which became the Shroud, with the combined dimensions of 8 x 2 Assyrian standard cubits (see also Dimensions #3); 2) the cloth that the Shroud and sidestrip were cut from had evidently been woven on a wide loom, which existed in the Roman Period but not in the Middle Ages; 3) the sophisticated weaving and tailoring of the Shroud points to it having been manufactured in a textile `factory' which are known from Roman period Egypt and Syria but not from the Middle Ages; and 4) the unusual stitching, binding and finishing of the selvedges is, like the stitching of the seam joining the sidestrip to the main body of the Shroud (see Sidestrip #5), known only from the first century Jewish fortress of Masada.
The "mediaeval" radiocarbon date was wrong. Since the Shroud is not medieval, the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud was wrong that, "... the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390 ...". But then since: 1) the probability that the Shroud
being first century (as the evidence overwhelming indicates), has a "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" radiocarbon date, is "astronomical", "one in a thousand trillion", "totally impossible", and indeed "a miracle"; 2) the midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ±65, which 'just happens' to be only ~30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in c. 1355; 3) conventional explanations of the discrepancy all fail; therefore 4) some form of fraud is the only viable explanation. However, conventional fraud such as the laboratories switching the Shroud sample for a 13th-14th century control sample are highly implausible. Not only were the laboratory leaders honest, they already believed the Shroud to be medieval, and the Shroud's distinctive weave meant that any substitution would be readily detected. But there was a form of fraud that the fully computerised AMS radiocarbon dating process was vulnerable to, and which was rife in the 1980s, namely computer hacking! See further my new series, "The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking."
As pointed out in Sidestrip #5, advocates of the medieval forgery theory can still resort to the pre-1988 fall-back position of the late leading anti-authenticist Walter McCrone (1916-2002), that "a first century cloth could have been found and used by a 14th century artist to paint the image". But, apart from the problem of how an unknown medieval forger obtained a first-century ~4.4 x 1.1 metre herringbone twill fine linen sheet, when there is only one 14th century fragment of that weave in existence (see Weave #4); that would be anti-authenticists admitting that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" was wrong all along!
To be continued in part #7 "Yarn" of this series.
1. This post is copyright. Permission is granted to quote from any part of this post (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this post. [return]
2. Extract from Latendresse, M., 2010, "Shroud Scope: Durante 2002: Vertical," Sindonology.org. [return]
3. 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.71. [return]
4. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.72, 315. [return]
5. Wilson, 2010, p.315. [return]
6. de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.109. [return]
7. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.162. [return]
8. Adler, A,D., Whanger, A. & Whanger, M., 1997, "Concerning the Side Strip on the Shroud of Turin," Shroud.com. [return]
9. Wilson, I., 2000, "`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]
10. Dickinson, I., 1990, "The Shroud and the Cubit Measure," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 24, January, pp.8-11. [return]
11. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.42. [return]
12. Wilson, 2010, p.72. [return]
13. Ibid. [return]
14. Ibid. [return]
15. Wilson, 2010, p.73. [return]
16. Ibid. [return]
17. Ibid. [return]
18. Crispino, D.C., 1990, "Recently Published," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 37, December, p.26. [return]
19. de Wesselow, 2012, p.109. [return]
20. Wilson, 2010, p.76. [return]
21. Wilson, 2010, pp.76-77. [return]
22. Wilson, 2010, p.77. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. de Wesselow, 2012, p.110. [return]
25. Wilson, 2010, p.76. [return]
26. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.41. [return]
27. Wilson, 2010, pp.76-77. [return]
28. Wilson, 2010, p.74. [return]
29. de Wesselow, 2012, p.109. [return]
30. Wilson, 2010, p.74. [return]
31. Wilson, 2010, p.73. [return]
32. Wilson, 2000. [return]
33. de Wesselow, 2012, p.109. [return]
34. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
35. Wilson, 1998, p.7 & pl.3b. [return]
36. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.86; Rinaldi, P.M., 1988, "For the Holy Shroud, the Hour of Truth," April, in McCrone, W.C., 1999, "Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, p.243; Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, p.60; Case, T.W., 1996, "The Shroud of Turin and the C-14 Dating Fiasco," White Horse Press: Cincinnati OH, p.27; Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, p.76; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.6. [return]
37. Wilson, 1998, pp.6-7. [return]
38. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.303. [return]
39. Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, pp.114-115. [return]
40. Tipler, F.J., 2007, "The Physics of Christianity," Doubleday: New York NY, pp.178-179; 216-217. [return]
41. Wilson, 1998, p.7; McCrone, 1999, p.1. [return]
42. Wilson, 2010, p.222. [return]
43. Wilson, 1998, p.11. [return]
44. "An Interview with Dr. Michael Tite - by Chantal Dupont," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 25, April/May 1990. [return]
45. Wilson, 1998, p.11; Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," The Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, pp.137-138. [return]
46. Gove, 1996, p.264; Sox, 1988, p.147. [return]
47. McCrone, 1999, p.141. [return]
Posted: 11 September 2015. Updated: 24 October 2015.