Saturday, May 26, 2018

21 April 1988: On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

This is part #10, "21 April 1988," of my series, "On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud." For more information about this series, see part #1. I have fallen behind again. I wrongly thought the next key date in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud was 21 May 1988 and only tonight (26 May 2018) realised it was 21 April 1988! So I am more than a month behind again. But as before I will catch up and then post each day in the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as near to its 30th anniversary as possible. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Index #1] [Previous: 25Mar88 #9] [Next: 06May88 #11]

21 April 1988 At 4:30am on Thursday, 21 April 1988 the Shroud in its casket was secretly taken down from its then resting place since 1694 over the high altar in Turin's Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which is

[Above (enlarge): Interior of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud designed by the architect Guarino Guarini (1624-83), as it had been since 1694 before it was closed for repair in 1990[2]. The Shroud in its casket was kept high in the lighted rectangular reliquary.]

between Turin Cathedral and the Savoy Royal Palace[3]. At 5am the Shroud was taken out of its casket and at 7am carried in its red silk wrapping wound around a roller[4] into Turin Cathedral's sacristy[5]. There the Shroud was unrolled and laid out on a table[6] in the presence of those assembled: the British Museum's Dr Michael Tite, the directors of the three chosen AMS radiocarbon-dating laboratories:

[Above (enlarge): Extract of a photograph[7] of some of those present at the cutting of the Shroud sample on 21 April 1988: Front from left Cardinal A. Ballestrero, M. Tite and L. Gonella. Back from left: R. Hedges, D. Donahue, E. Hall and P. Damon.]

Arizona's Douglas Donahue, Oxford's Edward Hall (1924-2001) and Zurich's Willy Wolfli[8], the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero (r. 1977-1989)[9], his scientific adviser Prof. Luigi Gonella and others[10], including two textile experts, Franco Testore, Professor of Textile Technology at Turin polytechnic and Gabriel Vial, curator of the Ancient Textile Museum of Lyon, France, who were to choose the best location from which to cut the sample(s)[11].

But at 9:45am Turin's Giovanni Riggi (1935-2008), after a long argument with Gonella about from where on the Shroud the sample should be taken[12], cut a strip of about 8.1 cm long by 1.6 cm wide[13]

[Above (enlarge): "How the Shroud sample that Giovanni Riggi cut off on 21 April 1988 became apportioned"[14]. Note that the three laboratories' samples were subdivided from the same ~4 cm x ~1 cm sub-sample cut from the Shroud. Yet as we shall see [in future "16Feb89"] the 1989 Nature paper admitted:

"An initial inspection of Table 2 shows that the agreement among the three laboratories for samples 2, 3 and 4 is exceptionally good. The spread of the measurements for sample 1 [the Shroud] is somewhat greater than would be expected from the errors quoted"[15].
But as I pointed out on 13Jun14, 11Feb15, 03Jun15, 27Aug15, 18Nov15 and 24Oct16, this is impossible if the Shroud dates were real and not computer-generated by a hacker's program.]

from the Shroud's heavily contaminated bottom left-hand corner[16] (see below), just above the place where Prof. Gilbert Raes (1914-2001) had taken one of his samples in 1973[16a] [see 15Aug17]. Riggi then

[Above (enlarge)[17]: The bottom left-hand corner of the Shroud from where the radiocarbon dating samples were cut. This is the same corner where, "literally hundreds of sweaty hands would have clutched ... to hold up the cloth at expositions over the centuries"[18] (see below).]

[Above (enlarge): "Ostension of the Holy Shroud" (1579) engraving by Carlo Malliano of the 1578 Exposition of the Shroud in Turin[19]. The radiocarbon dating sample came from the top left hand corner (bottom left-hand corner when the Shroud is usually displayed vertically) being held by a cleric's (one of hundreds over the centuries) "sweaty hands". This means that pre-treatment cleaning of the Shroud samples would have had to be perfect to remove all traces of carbon contamination for the Shroud to radiocarbon date 1260-1390, the mid-point of which 1325 ±65 years, is only ~30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in c.1355! See future "13Oct88".]

divided the sample into two, with one part ("R" above) retained by the Cardinal[20]. The other part ("O", "Z" and "A" above) was divided into three samples for each of the three laboratories (see "O", "Z" and "A" above)[21]. The sample and parts cut from it were weighed on an electronic scale by Testore[22]. However it was then found that Arizona's sample "A" weighed less than the other two samples, so a small piece ("A1") was cut from the Cardinal's reserve sample ("R") and added to Arizona's sample ("A")[23].

The laboratories' samples were then taken into an adjacent Sala Capitolare out of range of the television cameras which had been recording the proceedings[24], with only the Cardinal, Tite, Gonella and Riggi present[25]. This was done to preserve the pretense of `blind' testing [see 25Mar18] as specified in the 1986 Turin protocol[26]. But this gave rise to untenable claims by the French ultra-conservative priest, Br. Bruno Bonnet-Eymard, that the Shroud sample was switched by Tite for the 13th-14th century control sample[27] (see below).

Three control samples of known age had been obtained by Tite: 1. linen from a tomb in Nubia dating from the 11th-12th century AD; 2. linen from an early 2nd century AD mummy of a Cleopatra (not Queen Cleopatra (c.69-30 BC) from Thebes; and 3. threads from the linen cope of St Louis d'Anjou (1274–1297) dated late 13th-early 14th century AD[28].

In the Sala Capitolare, with no video cameras recording, the Shroud sample and two control samples were placed by Tite in aluminum foil and then in numbered stain-

[Right: Two of Oxford laboratory's stainless steel cylinders bearing Shroud sample identification code "O1" and control sample "O3", as well as Cardinal Ballestrero's wax seal[30].]

less steel cylinders for each of the three laboratories[31]. Originally there was going to be only two control samples, but the third control sample, the threads from the cope of St. Louis d'Anjou, was handed to Tite on that morning by Gabriel Vial who was given it by Prof. Jacques Evin, the Director of the radiocarbon dating laboratory at the University of Lyon, France, and there being no time to prepare a cylinder for it, it was divided into three and given to each of the three laboratories in an envelope[32]. In a further departure from even the pretense of `blind' testing, included with each laboratory's sample was a letter from Tite telling them the age of each of the control samples![33]. Each cylinder and envelope was stamped by Riggi with Cardinal Ballestrero's wax seal[34].

The three Directors took their samples back to their laboratories[35]. Hall flew back to London on 25 April with the samples in his hand luggage and was met at the airport by a reporter from the London Independent and received a lot of publicity in the ensuing newspaper article[36]. Gove was critical of Hall for continuing "to play the 'blind measurement' game", i.e. lying to the reporter and through him the public in that article, that he had "no way of telling which" of the samples was from the Shroud, when "it would be instantly apparent to Hall which one came from the shroud":

"Professor Edward Hall, head of the Oxford University Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, is charged with the task of determining whether the Turin Shroud dates back to the first century or is an extremely clever medieval forgery. He has just collected his sample from Italy along with 2 other pieces of ancient linen. He has no way of telling which is which, they are simply numbered 1, 2 and 3. [Since the samples were not unravelled it would be instantly apparent to Hall which one came from the shroud-as he well knew. Hall continued to play the 'blind measurement' game.]"[37].
On that same day, 25 April, Prof. Garman Harbottle (1923-2016) of non-AMS Brookhaven laboratory phoned Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009), the unofficial leader of the radiocarbon dating laboratories[38], but whose AMS Rochester laboratory, was not chosen to date the Shroud, and told him that he had learned from Bob Otlet of non-AMS Harwell laboratory that there was no possibility of any outliers because the three chosen AMS laboratories would consult together so the answers would come out the same[39]! Gove dismissed this as either "paranoid" or "cynical" on Otlet's part[40], but he did not deny it could have happened!

But before the cutting of the samples on 21 April (above), in mid-April Gove wrote to the editor of Nature in answer to Tite's article of 7 April [see 25Mar18] which appeared in the 12 May 1988 edition[41]. Gove compared the new procedures for dating the Shroud with those of the 1986 the Turin Workshop Protocol [see 27Apr87] and he concluded with:

"All these unnecessary and unexplained changes unilaterally dictated by the Archbishop of Turin will produce an age for the Turin Shroud which will be vastly less credible than that which could have been obtained if the original Turin Workshop Protocol had been followed"[42]!

Continued in the next part #11 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]
2. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.16. [return]
3. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, pp.131-132; Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.260; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.59; Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.308-309. [return]
4. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.7; Sox, 1988, p.132; Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.5-6; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.59; Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, p.53. [return]
5. Hoare, R., 1995, "The Turin Shroud Is Genuine: The Irrefutable Evidence," [1984], Souvenir Press: London, p.10; Wilson, 1998, p.309. [return]
6. Hoare, 1995, p.10; Gove, 1996, p.260. [return]
7. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.82A. [return]
8. Gove, 1996, p.252. [return]
9. Hoare, 1995, p.10; Wilson, 1998, p.309. [return]
10. Garza-Valdes, L.A., 1998, "The DNA of God?," Hodder & Stoughton: London, p.179; Oxley, M., 2010, "The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin," AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.223. [return]
11. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.48. [return]
12. Hoare, 1995, p.10; Wilson, 1998, p.190; de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.166. [return]
13. McDonnell, D.J., 2003, "The Great Holy Shroud Dating Fraud of 1988," 4 November; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.63; Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.179. [return]
14. Wilson, 1998, p.189. [return]
15. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, 613. [return]
16. de Wesselow, 2012, p.166. [return]
16a. Gove, 1996, p.261; Oxley, 2010, p.223. [return]
17. Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., 2008, "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol 26, No. 4, July-August. [return]
18. Wilson, 1998, p.227. [return]
19. "Books," Geocities, October, 2009. [return]
20. Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.180. [return]
21. Wilson, 1998, p.309. [return]
22. Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.24; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.65. [return]
23. Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.180. [return]
24. Hoare, 1995, p.10; Gove, 1996, p.261; Wilson, 1998, p.309; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.182. [return]
25. de Wesselow, 2012, p.166. [return]
26. Dupont, C., 1989, "Radio Courtoisie," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 32/33, September/December, pp.36-37; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.77; Wilson, I., 1996, "Reviews of New Books and Articles: Orazio Petrosillo & Emanuela Marinelli, `The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science' ...," BSTS Newsletter, No. 44, November/December. [return]
27. Wilson, 1991, pp.10-11; Gove, 1996, p.261; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, pp.56-57, 68; Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, p.65. [return]
28. Damon, 1989, p.612; Hoare, 1995, p.10; Guscin, 1998, pp.65-66; McCrone, W.C., 1999, "Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, p.247; Guerrera, V., 2001, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, p.130; Oxley, 2010, p.223. [return]
30. de Castella, T., 2010, "Unshrouding the science of the Shroud," BBC News, 12 April. [return]
31. Sox, 1988, pp.134, 136-137; Damon, et al., 1989, p.612; Gove, 1996, p.261; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.67. [return]
32. Wilson, 1991, p.10; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, pp.57, 70, 81; Guscin, 1998, p.65; Antonacci, 2000, p.182; McDonnell, 2003. [return]
33. Hoare, 1995, p.11; Antonacci, 2000, pp.181-182. [return]
34. Sox, 1988, p.134; Damon, et al., 1989, p.612; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.69; Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.179. [return]
35. Garza-Valdes, 1998, p.9; Guerrera, 2001, p.130. [return]
36. Gove, 1996, p.252. [return]
37. Schoon, N., 1988, "Analyzing the Strands of Time," The Independent, London, 25 April, in Gove, 1996, p.253. The words in square brackets are Gove's. [return]
38. Sox, 1988, p.95; Antonacci, 2000, pp.192-193. [return]
39. Gove, 1996, p.252. [return]
40. Ibid. [return]
41. Gove, 1996, p.251. [return]
42. Gove, 1996, pp.251-252; Gove, H.E., 1988, "Radiocarbon-dating the shroud," Nature, 12 May, Vol 333, p.110.[return]

Posted: 26 May 2018. Updated: 23 June 2018.

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