Monday, November 30, 2015

News articles #2: Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud

Continuing from part #1, this is part #2 of my comments on further news articles about the paper, Barcaccia, G., et al., 2015, "Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud," Nature, Scientific Reports 5, 5 October. These will be in date order, with the article's words in bold.


"Turin Shroud: DNA and pollen from all over the world found on cloth, new study finds," The Independent, Kashmira Gander, 14 October 2015

[Above (enlarge): STURP's Ray Rogers (L) and John Jackson (C), and Turin's Giovanni Riggi (R) in October 1978, having partially unstitched the Shroud's Holland cloth backing which had been sewn on in April 1534, are the first to look at the underside of the Shroud in 444 years.[1]]

... Scientists have added to the complex and controversial tales of origin surrounding the Turin Shroud, by revealing the myriad locations of the DNA and pollen that are present on the cloth. As per my previous posts (18Oct15, 10Nov15 and 24Nov15), that the plant and human DNA in the interspace between the underside of the Shroud and its Holland cloth backing, which was sewn on in 1534, has "myriad locations" is inconsistent with the 1988 radiocarbon dating claim that, "the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390"[2]. Because that would leave less than 3 centuries between the claimed earliest possible radiocarbon date of 1260 and 1534, when the Shroud was then entirely in France and Belgium. In fact, less than 2 centuries between the Shroud's first public exposition in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in 1355[3] and 1534. But again, it is consistent with the Shroud having had a ~15 centuries history up to 1534, in widely different locations including "Jerusalem... Edessa ... Constantinople ... Athens ... [and] France":

"... the journey of TS [the Turin Shroud] began in Jerusalem in the year 30 or 33 AD. After concealment for years, TS would have been first moved to Edessa (now Şanliurfa in Turkey) and then to Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey) in 944 AD. A burial cloth, which some historians consider the Shroud, was owned by the Byzantine emperors but disappeared during the Sack of Constantinople in 12044. After this event, TS would have been taken by the crusaders and transferred to Athens (Greece), where it remained until 1225. Official documents attest that it was in France at Lirey around the years 1353 to 1357 and then was kept at Chambéry from 1502 to 1578, where passed into the hands of the Dukes of Savoy. From 1578, apart from some brief displacements in an effort to hide it during war periods, TS was kept in Turin (Italy) and later placed in the royal chapel of the city Cathedral inside a specially designed shrine where it has been permanently conserved from 1694 to the present."[4]
... The length of linen is highly contentious. Some Christians believe the fabric – which is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin - is the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, dating back over 2,000 years. Again a secular, naturalistic, false dichotomy: "Some Christians" versus "scientific studies." But as previously pointed out, so strong is the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity that non-Christians like agnostic zoologist Prof. Yves Delage (1854-1920), agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow and Jewish Barrie Schwortz have become pro-authenticists. However, previous scientific studies have suggested that the cloth, which appears to be imprinted with the image of a man, may in fact be from the 13th or 14th century - centuries after Jesus is believed to have died. The evidence is very strong that this 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" (see above).

Now, a new study by Italian researchers published in the prestigious science journal Nature gives a further insight into the potential origins of the cloth. To make their findings for the paper entitled 'Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud', the team behind the study sequenced the DNA of pollen and other dust from the cloth. This is doubly misleading (either deliberate or through journalistic ignorance). First, it was not just "DNA of pollen and other dust" but both plant and human DNA. Second, the dust did not merely come "from the cloth" but it came "from the interspace between the Shroud and the Holland Cloth sewn to it as reinforcement":

"In 1978 and 1988, dust particles were vacuumed from the interspace between the Shroud and the Holland Cloth sewn to it as reinforcement ... In this study, we performed DNA analyses to define the biological sources of the dust particles ... vacuum-collected in 1978 and 1988 ... To identify plant taxonomic entities and human genetic lineages, universal plant DNA sequences ... and human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) target regions were amplified and sequenced. This allowed the identification of DNA sources from a wide range of plant species and human mitogenomes belonging to numerous haplogroups. The overall findings were then evaluated to determine whether the geographic areas of origin and distribution of detected plant cpDNA species and human mtDNA haplogroups might provide novel clues concerning the origin of the Turin Shroud."[5]
And what even the Nature article omits to mention is the crucially important fact that "the Holland Cloth sewn to it" was in 1534:
"On the night of December 4, 1532, fire broke out in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambéry, where the Shroud was then kept. ... the cloth itself was only saved by the quick intervention of one of the duke of Savoy's counsellors ... and two Franciscan priests. ... For sixteen months the Shroud languished in a state quite unfit for exposition. Then, on April 15, 1534 ... it [was] sent to the nearby convent of Poor Clares for repair. ... on May 2 the cloth was returned, now backed by a simple piece of Holland cloth of the same size to give it strength. Over the worst of the damage had been sewn fourteen large triangular-shaped patches and eight small ones, all made from altar cloth."[6]
Because, as previously pointed out (see 18Oct15), if the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud's linen as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" was correct, then this would leave at most a mere 274 years between 1260 and 1534 (and indeed a mere 179 years between the first undisputed exposition of the Shroud at Lirey, France, in 1355 and 1534), for all this plant and human DNA from "myriad locations" to be deposited on the underside of the Shroud!

By doing so, they were able to pinpoint the biogeographic origin of the people who came into contact with the shroud. Again (see 24Nov15), the key word is "contact". In all its known expositions, the Shroud has been held by clerics on a raised platform or balcony, high above the general public, so they could have no personal contact with it. See again the engraving by Antonio Tempesta of the 1613 exposition in Turin [above (enlarge)[7]. Again, this DNA was on the underside, which in all known Shroud expositions, the general public viewers would not have even seen, let alone touched to leave their DNA on it.

The authors found traces on the parchment The Shroud is linen cloth, made from flax, not "parchment," which is "made from processed animal skin." See above on journalistic ignorance! from people and pollen from around the world, including Europe, south Asia, eastern Africa and the Middle East. Again (see above) this is consistent with the Shroud being authentic and having a ~15 centuries history up to 1534, in widely different locations including Jerusalem, Edessa, Constantinople, Athens and France. But it is inconsistent with the Shroud being a medieval forgery, having had a less than 3 centuries history between the earliest possible radiocarbon date of 1260 (in fact less than 2 centuries between the Shroud's first public exposition in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in 1355) and 1534, when this DNA on the Shroud's underside, was sealed in by the Holland cloth backing. And when the Shroud was entirely in France and Belgium.

Researchers said that the findings could indicate that that the shroud made its "historic [...] presumed journey" from the Near East What the Nature paper said was:

"Such diversity ... would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East."
and was taken around the world before being kept in Italy; See above on:
"the journey of TS began in Jerusalem in the year 30 or 33 AD. [it] ... would have been first moved to Edessa ... and then to Constantinople ... in 944 AD. ... but disappeared during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. After this event, TS would have been taken by the crusaders and transferred to Athens (Greece) ... it was in France at Lirey around the years 1353 to 1357 and then was kept at Chambéry from 1502 to 1578 [in] ... the hands of the Dukes of Savoy. From 1578, apart from ... during war periods, TS was kept in Turin (Italy) ... to the present."
or that it has its origins in medieval Europe where and was contaminated by those who travelled to it. See previous (10Nov15) that:
"It may be genetically possible, but it is historically highly implausible. There is no evidence for, and much evidence against, that there were `thousands of worshippers who came into contact with the relic in France and Italy' before 1534 (or even after it), close enough to the Shroud to leave their DNA on it (especially its underside). All the depictions of public Shroud exhibitions in those centuries, show the Shroud being held by bishops on a high platform, well above the `thousands of worshippers' .... The Shroud would have been torn to pieces if it was allowed to be handled by those `thousands of worshippers,' which it would have to have been for them to leave their DNA on it. If it were the case, that `thousands of worshippers who came into contact with the relic in France and Italy,' left their DNA on the Shroud, then the European-only haplogroups H1, H3, H4 and U2 would have the highest frequency, not among the lowest, since the vast majority of those `worshippers' (not to mention the Shroud's de Charny and Savoy owners and its ecclesiastical custodians) were Europeans."
and 24Nov15:
"Genetically there are two explanations: 1) the Shroud originated in Jerusalem in the 1st century and in the subsequent ~15 centuries it was taken via Edessa, Constantinople, Athens and France up to 1534, when its underside was sealed off by its Holland cloth backing. Or 2), the Shroud originated no later than 1260 and in the less than 3 centuries between then and 1534, plant and human DNA was deposited on its underside, in greater quantities than European DNA, from Palestine, Turkey, France and even India. The second option, while genetically possible, is historically and realistically, effectively impossible! ... As geneticists, using only the tools of genetics, they could not rule out the anti-authenticist option 2. But historically and realistically it is preposterous that in the less than 3 centuries between 1260-1354, indeed less than 2 centuries between the Shroud's first public exposition in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in 1355 and the sewing of the Holland cloth backing on the Shroud in 1534, that `worshipers (and plants) from all over the world ... made their way to Europe [and] contaminated' the Shroud. Yet, the Shroud's European owners, ecclesiastical custodians and worshippers, contaminated it the least with their DNA!"
In a further twist, the study indicated that it may have been manufactured in India. See previous 10Nov15:
"It is no problem for the authenticity of the Shroud if its flax or linen came from India, but there would be a problem for the anti-authenticity alternative because there is no record, and it would seem highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that Indians in any great numbers (indeed any at all) had access to the Shroud in the period 1260-1534, when the Shroud was in France. The Shroud was in the 13-16th centuries, as it is today, displayed but not allowed to be touched by the public."
and24Nov15:
"It is no problem for the authenticity of the Shroud if its flax or linen came from India, or even if the Shroud went, with the Apostle Thomas, to India in its early centuries. But there would be a problem for the anti- authenticity alternative because there is no record, and it would seem highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that Indians in any great numbers (indeed any at all) had access to the Shroud in the period 1260-1534, when the Shroud was in France."

Continued in part #3 of this series.

Notes
1. Schwortz, B.M., 2005, "In Memoriam: Raymond N. Rogers - July 21, 1927-March 8, 2005," 2005 Website News, Shroud.com; Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.68. [return]
2. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
3. Wilson, 1998, p.111,278; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.222-223. [return]
4. Barcaccia, G., et al., 2015, "Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud," Nature, Scientific Reports 5, 5 October. [return]
5. Barcaccia, et al., 2015. [return]
6. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.24. [return]
7. Freeman, C., 2014, "The Origins of the Shroud of Turin," History Today, Vol. 64, Issue 11, 24 October. [return]

Posted: 30 November 2015. Updated: 6 December 2015.

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