Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shroud News - November 2007

Here is my Shroud News for November 2007 (see also issues Oct-07, Sep-07, Aug-07 & Jul-07).

Last Website Update of 2007 ... Barrie Schwortz,, November 21, 2007 ...Two New Papers Added ...

[Above: Jospice mattress imprint, See below and `tagline' quotes.]

Dr. Frederick Zugibe ... The Jospice Mattress Cover Image. ... [Zugibe concludes that the Jospice mattress image was probably the result of ... "bilirubin in the patient's urine being forced in some manner through the thin polyurethane layer of the nylon fibers, within or between the polyurethane coat and the nylon fibers" and that "Many dissimilarities are noted when comparing the mattress image with that of the Shroud of Turin."]

Remi Van Haelst ... A Tantalizing Photograph Of Some Oxford Samples. ... [Van Haelst seems to be saying that this is photographic evidence of a possible mix-up (or deliberate switching) of Oxford's Shroud and control samples?] ...

Fact or Forgery? Whangers Apply Test of Science to Shroud of Turin, DukeMed Alumni News, Summer 2007, Jim Rogalski. ... Today the Whangers are considered international experts on the roughly 14-feet by 4-feet piece of ancient linen-likely the most widely studied artifact in the history of modern science. ...

[Left: Mary and Alan Whanger, Duke Medical Alumni Association]

The couple have written dozens of peer-reviewed articles. ... The Whangers are credited with major shroud discoveries over the past three decades that have been corroborated and accepted among noted shroud researchers and scholars and rejected by others. They include: ... Images imprinted on the Shroud of Turin ... nearly 30 different flowers indigenous to Jerusalem banked around the body ...

[Right: Image of a flower imprinted on the Shroud]

Coins cover each of the eyes of the man on the shroud. They are identifiable widow's mite coins of Pontius Pilate struck in the year 29. ... Christian iconographers dating back to the third century used the image of the face on the shroud as their model for creating paintings, coins, and statues. ... At the heart of the Whangers' research and what helped to establish them as shroud scholars is a photographic projection technique that Alan developed in 1981 called polarized image overlay.... Alan had discovered no fewer than 250 points of congruency between the Christ Pantocrator icon, its background imagery, and the face and background on the Shroud of Turin. "A court of law," Alan pointed out that day, "requires just 14 points of congruency to match fingerprints and 45 to 60 points of congruency to match faces." ... Since the images are in photo negative form with stunning anatomical detail, Alan says that if the shroud is indeed a medieval forgery, then the artist who created it would have had to have knowledge of the art of photography some 600 years before photography existed. "Not only that," he adds, "but the body image is an anatomically and physiologically correct image of a 30- to 35-year-old Semitic male who has been severely beaten, scourged, and crucified. The artist would have had to have medical knowledge that did not exist at the time." ...

[Left: image of the face on the Shroud of Turin, left, shows properties similar to x-ray of human skull, right.]

evidence strongly suggests that the Shroud of Turin is "the world's first X-Ray. Physicists and radiologists who have studied the shroud agree that there is evidence of radiation, but they can't explain it," ...Alan believes two forces were at work to create the detailed X-ray-like skeletal and surface images on the shroud: autoradiation (radiation emanating from within the body), and coronal or electrostatic discharge from the surfaces. "You can see the teeth and their roots, and the bones in the hands and wrists," he says. "The images were formed in a very short period of time-perhaps a tenth of a second-with the release of vertically directed complex radiation, not radiation going in different directions. Because the blood clots on the shroud are intact, the body disappeared from within the folds of the shroud." Many attempts have been made to duplicate the Shroud of Turin, but to date no one has succeeded. ... [A great article! One does not have to agree with everything the Whanger's claim to have found on the Shroud, but the fact is that some of the images (e.g. the Chrysanthemum and the coin over the right eye), one can see for oneself. Even one such non-body image, which are the same spectrographic intensity as the body image, means that some form of radiation imprinted the images on the cloth, and dead bodies don't emit radiation (but resurrected ones might)!]

"Only Rumors: Public expo of Holy Shroud a fabrication, says Archbishop of Turin," Catholic News Agency, November 26, 2007, ROME ... The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto,

[Right: Cardinal Severino Poletto]

has denied reports in the press about a supposed public exposition of the Holy Shroud to take place at the end of the decade. "This is news invented by the press," the cardinal told reporters, referring to a story in the Turin daily "La Stampa" which said the expo would take place in 2009, and a story in "La Repubblica" which said it would be held in 2010. Cardinal Poletto also denied reports that a date for the expo would be decided after the consistory of cardinals held in Rome this past weekend. The last time the Shroud was publicly displayed was in the year 2000, as part of the Jubilee Year. [Despite the denials, it will be interesting to see if there turns out to be some real `fire' behind this `smoke'! ]

"Cathedral hosts shroud display," Bendigo Advertiser, 14 November 2007 ... BENDIGO residents have until Sunday to see

[Left: A guide points to a life-size photo of the frontal image on the Shroud, Bendigo Advertiser]

an exhibition based around one of the world's most controversial artifacts. Photographs and lectures on the Shroud of Turin is on display in The Sacred Heart Cathedral. The blanket features the disputed image of Jesus Christ. The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. "Some believe the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus and that his image was recorded on its fibres at his resurrection," the website says. "Others contend it is a mediaeval hoax or forgery. "The question of its true origins continues to be the subject of intense debate among some scientists, believers, historians and writers." The shroud will be on display until Sunday. ....
"Jesus shroud sparks intrigue: Religious relic on display at cathedral ," Bendigo Weekly, November 2, 2007 ... THE Shroud of Turin is said to have been one of, if not the, most scientifically studied artefact. It's believed to be the cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus of Nazareth after he was taken down from the cross. The Sacred Heart Cathedral will host an exact, full-sized copy of the shroud, from Sunday until November 18. Max Crockett of the Missionaries of the Holy Face said there would be information on display as well as the shroud, which will be encased in glass. When studied, the actual Shroud of Turin revealed traces of blood and watermarks. "The main thing about the shroud is the image - it's a negative, it has no edges, it's just a faint continuous image," Mr Crockett said. "When a negative was produced of the image it showed all the flogging marks, and the blood comes up as white." Mr Crockett said countless scientists had claimed to have found explanations for all the mysteries surrounding the shroud. "But they've no idea," he said. "The image is like a sheet put over a body, and a direct image has been made into the shroud. So the image on the shroud is a photo image. "Scientists say the only thing similar is [the physics] of a black hole. The shroud [features] new physics that's never been known before. "NASA put an image analyser VP8 over it and amazingly it changed from a flat image into a 3D image. "The scientific research supports the authenticity of the Shroud ... the essential thing is that it all supports the gospel story that we have of Jesus." "Using a polaroid overlay ... can focus into the skull, you can see the teeth, you can do the same with the hands. It has x-ray properties as well. "They found pollens on the cloth, a particular pollen is one from hair at the back of the head: Echinops gaillarootii, it's a thorny plant possibly used for crown of thorns. "The flowers, leaves etc. have all been identified and they happen to come from Jerusalem." The display is open to members of the public and admission is free. Regular presentations will be given each hour explaining the image, markings, history and scientific analysis of the shroud. .... [A good summary of some of the evidence for the Shroud being the burial sheet of Jesus. However, I have never heard of Echinops gaillarootii and neither can I find it webbed. It may be a garbled Gundelia tournefortii . Bendigo is a major Australian regional city. This is the same touring Australian Shroud exhibition which was in Adelaide in July 2005. Bendigo is ~2700 km (~1650 miles) from Perth where I live, so if the exhibition is not coming over here to Western Australia, I will have to eventually fly over to an exhibition in an Eastern Australian capital city.]

"Chris gets the time to break a few myths," Exeter Express & Echo, 19 November 2007 ? They are historical whodunnits which have captured people's attention for centuries.But the mysteries of early man and the Ice Age might have forever been lost in time without Chris Turney. Now, the renowned Exeter geographer is keen to show how he helped to solve man's greatest puzzles and clear up a few untruths about the past. Professor Turney is an expert in determining how old objects are by using carbon dating, a process where age can be calculated by how much radioactive material has broken down. The Exeter University academic used the technique when a new species of human, nicknamed the Hobbit because of its appearance, was found recently in Indonesia. He explains the exciting find, which was 18,000-years-old, plus other topics including King Arthur, the age of the pyramids, the Turin Shroud, climate change, extinction, human evolution, the end of the dinosaurs and the age of the Earth in the book Bones, Rocks and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened, published in paperback last week. Prof Turney's aim is to show how dating the past can help answer age-old questions about history.

[Right: "Bones, Rocks and Stars" (2008), by Chris Turney.]

In the book, he explains how written records, carbon, pollen, tree rings, constellations, and DNA sequencing can help archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists to "tell the time". He believes it's important to view history through facts and in the book attacks creationists - who believe the Earth was created by God. "I try to question how we know about things. I used these techniques as my bread and butter but most people don't know about them," he said. HE adds:"There are a lot of urban myths but they stick. For example, it has been proved the Turin Shroud dates from the 14th century but it's still associated with Jesus." [If this article is an accurate reflection of Prof. Turney's views, then he seems to be labouring under his own "myth" that "creationists ... who believe the Earth was created by God," are all Young-Earth, whose position is threatened by "dating the past," as opposed to Old-Earth creationists (like me) who accept such dating. And as for "it has been proved the Turin Shroud dates from the 14th century," this is itself a "myth," that of "the experimentum crucis, or crucial experiment" but as the late Stephen Jay Gould pointed out, "single `crucial' experiments rarely decide major issues in science" (see `tagline' quote below). Especially when the ~430 cm2s sample represented only about 0.02%, or 2 hundredths of 1 percent of the Shroud's total ~4.74 m2 area! Gould's "Of course, for a person who believes that evolution never occurs at all, one good case can pack enormous punch," applies equally to metaphysical naturalists who believe that the supernatural "never occurs at all." In the case of the Shroud, they seize on one experiment that cast doubt on the authenticity of the Shroud and simply ignore, or dismiss out of hand, all the other evidence for the Shroud's authenticity. However, if some of the pollen from the Shroud is radiocarbon-dated, and dates from the 1st-6th centuries AD, they would not be able to ignore or dismiss that!]

"To know a veil," Nature news, Philip Ball, 28 January 2005. ... The most recent scientific study of the Turin shroud will not surprise anyone with even a passing interest in this mysterious bit of cloth.

[Left: "Shrouded in mystery: no one knows how this image was imprinted on the Turin shroud," Nature news]

Retired chemist Raymond Rogers claims that the sample used for radiocarbon-dating studies in 1988 - which suggested that the shroud was a medieval forgery - is quite different from the rest of the relic. Rogers, who worked on explosives at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, presents chemical arguments for the shroud being much older than those datings implied. It is, he says, between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. Let's call it somewhere around the middle of that range, which puts the age at about 2,000 years. Which can mean only one thing... And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made. It does not seem to have been painted, at least with any known historical pigments. ... Among the wilder [sic] entrants is the idea that Christ's image was burned into the cloth by some kind of release of nuclear energy from his body. ... [Although dated 2005, this important article appears to have been made publicly accessible in HTML format only recently. See `tagline' for further quotes from it.]

Here is what Rogers wrote in Thermochimica Acta in 2004, and was published in 2005, about the Shroud's vanillin content indicating that it was "between 1300- and 3000-years old":

"The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years." (Rogers, R.N., 2005, "Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin," Thermochimica Acta, Vol. 425, Nos 1-2, 20 January, pp.189-194, 192).
If the Shroud was 1300 years old in 2004, its linen would date from ~AD 704. If it was 3000 years old in 2004, its linen would date from ~996BC. That is a range of ~996BC to ~AD 704, or ~146BC ± 850 years. Jesus' crucifixion was in AD 30, which was ~176 years after ~146BC, and the Shroud's flax would have been harvested and its linen woven before AD30.

"Throughout all our discussion of the so-called body image on the Shroud negative, there was one point which we quite deliberately ignored, rather as if it was to be taken for granted. This was consideration of whether any genuine dead body has ever been known to make a similar imprint to the kind seen on the Shroud. The blunt answer to this has to be no. If it were quite normal for dead bodies to make imprints of themselves, then the Shroud's image would not retain the mystery it has. Which does not mean to say that dead bodies cannot and do not sometimes leave strange stains. For instance, among the exhibits in the British Museum's `Byzantium' exhibition held in 1995 there was a pair of sixth-century Byzantine curtains that had subsequently been used for an Egyptian's burial shroud. These unmistakably bear brownish stains from their contact with this Egyptian's body. Likewise, in the wake of a UK television documentary on the Shroud transmitted in October 1988, retired London undertaker Ronald Warrior wrote to the programme's producer remarking on indelible brownish stains that he used `frequently' to find in the white-painted interiors of the wooden `shells' in which he and his fellow undertakers routinely transported corpses. Also, in 1981 a West Indian who died of cancer of the pancreas in a Liverpool hospice left remarkable and equally indelible outlines of his arm, hand and buttocks on a mattress cover ... The problem with these is that none has exhibited images even remotely comparable to the Shroud's 'photographic' body imprint. " (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1998, p.30).

"In fairness to Dr Straiton ... he has justifiably alluded to one modern-day Shroud-type phenomenon that is undeniably intriguing, the so-called Jospice Mattress. When in 1981 a West Indian died of cancer of the pancreas in a Jospice International hospice on the outskirts of Liverpool, to the astonishment of his carers he left an indelible partial imprint of himself, predominantly his hand, buttocks, arm, shoulders and jaw, on the synthetic mattress on which he had been lying ... . Yet enigmatic though this imprint remains in its own right, in the final analysis it cannot be regarded as sufficient of a parallel to the Shroud to suit Straiton's argument. The body features appear on it in the form of simple outlines and blocks of shadows. Even the lines of the hand can be seen. And there is nothing special to its photographic negative." (Wilson, 1998, p.209).

"The fallacy of the crucial experiment. In high-school physics classes, we all learned a heroically simplified version of scientific progress based upon a model that does work sometimes, but by no means always-the experimentum crucis, or crucial experiment. Newton or Einstein? Ptolemy or Copernicus? Special creation or Darwin? To find out, perform a single decisive experiment with a clearly measurable result full of power to decree yea or nay. Throw the accused witch in the pond; if she sinks, she was innocent (however dead by drowning). ... more generally, single `crucial' experiments rarely decide major issues in science-especially in natural history, in which nearly all theories require data about `relative frequencies' (or percentage of occurrences), not pristine single cases. Of course, for a person who believes that evolution never occurs at all, one good case can pack enormous punch, but this basic issue was adequately resolved more than one hundred years ago. Nearly every interesting question in evolutionary theory asks `how often' or `how dominant in setting the pattern of life'-not `does this phenomenon occur at all?' For example, on the most important issue of all-the role of Darwin's own favored mechanism of natural selection- single examples of selection's efficacy advance the argument very little. We already know, by abundant documentation and rigorous theorizing, that natural selection can and does operate in nature. We need to determine the relative strength of Darwin's mechanism among a set of alternative modes for evolutionary change-and single cases, however elegant, cannot establish a relative frequency." (Gould, S.J., "The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant," Natural History, December 1997/January 1998, Vol. 106, No. 11, p.60).

"The most recent scientific study of the Turin shroud will not surprise anyone with even a passing interest in this mysterious bit of cloth. Retired chemist Raymond Rogers claims that the sample used for radiocarbon-dating studies in 1988 - which suggested that the shroud was a medieval forgery - is quite different from the rest of the relic. Rogers, who worked on explosives at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, presents chemical arguments for the shroud being much older than those datings implied. It is, he says, between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. Let's call it somewhere around the middle of that range, which puts the age at about 2,000 years. Which can mean only one thing... But it would be unfair to imply that Rogers has steered his study towards a preconceived conclusion. He has a history of respectable work on the shroud dating back to 1978, when he became director of chemical research for the international Shroud of Turin Research Project." (Ball, P., "To know a veil," Nature news, 28 January 2005)

p>"The scientific study of the Turin shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God: it does more to inflame any debate than settle it. Believers' ability to construct ingenious arguments is more than a match for the most exhaustive efforts of science.... And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made. It does not seem to have been painted, at least with any known historical pigments." (Ball, 2005).

"And the relic is surrounded with legend and linked to Cathar sects, shady secret societies and papal conspiracies. If all this sounds like a popular current novel about hidden codes and religious mysteries, that may be no coincidence: among the flaky theories about the shroud's origin is one that it was created by Leonardo da Vinci, using a primitive photographic technique to record his own image." (Ball, 2005).

"The photographic hypothesis has been developed (so to speak) in some detail, notably by South African art historian Nicholas Allen. He has even used medieval materials to create faint photographic images on linen cloth saturated with silver nitrate. But Allen failed to convince other shroud scholars, who reasonably asked how an invention as marvellous as photography could have remained otherwise unknown until the nineteenth century." (Ball, 2005).

"The international team of scientists who convened in 1987 to put a date on the shroud probably did not expect to banish such fantasies. But by applying radiocarbon dating to the fabric, they were at least employing the most definitive of archaeological tools. Or so they thought. The textile sample was cut from the shroud in Turin Cathedral in April 1988, under the supervision of textile experts, representatives of the laboratories in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich selected to perform the analyses, a conservation scientist from the British Museum, and the Archbishop of Turin. The three measurements indicated with 95% confidence that the shroud's linen dated from between AD1260 and 1390. This, the researchers said, was `conclusive evidence that the linen of the shroud of Turin is medieval" [Damon, P.E., et al., Nature, Vol. 337, 1989, pp.611-615]." (Ball, 2005).

"Needless to say, the ink was barely dry before others started to quibble. Professor of history Daniel Scavone collected examples of erroneous radiocarbon dates and problems with the method that were "well known to the 14C community". And microbiologists Leoncio Garza-Valdes and Stephen Mattingly proposed in 1996 that bacteria and fungi on the fibres had skewed the dates, by a thousand years or so." (Ball, 2005).

"Rogers has pursued another objection. ... the suggestion that the carbon-dated fragment was taken from a patch repaired in the sixteenth century did not look promising. The shroud was indeed damaged by fire and patched up in 1532, but those patches, called the Holland cloth, are obvious. Rogers thought that he would be able to `disprove [the] theory in five minutes'. But he now says that there is something in it. Luigi Gonella, the Archbishop of Turin's scientific adviser, provided Rogers with a few threads from the piece cut for dating, which he compared with the samples he collected during the Shroud of Turin Research Project. The radiocarbon sample, but not other parts of the shroud, seems to have been dyed with madder, a colorant not widely used in Europe until after the Crusades, Rogers writes in Thermochimica Acta [Rogers, R.N., Thermochimica Acta, Vol. 425, 2005, pp.189-194]. This suggested that the fabric could have been inserted during repair, after being dyed to match the original, older cloth. Well, maybe. Perhaps more compelling is that most of the shroud lacks vanillin, a breakdown product of the lignin in cotton fibres. There is vanillin in the Holland cloth, and in other medieval linen. Because it decomposes over time, this suggests that the main body of the cloth is considerably older than these patches. By calculating the rate of decay, Rogers arrives at his revised estimate of the shroud's age." (Ball, 2005).

"There is no explanation, however, of how the 'repaired' threads used in radiocarbon dating were woven into the old cloth so cunningly that the textile experts who selected the area for analysis failed to notice the substitution. This is by no means the end of the story. Will scientists ever accept that trying to establish the true status of the Turin shroud is a vain quest? The object itself is too inaccessible, and its history is too poorly documented and understood, to permit irrefutable conclusions. And of course 'authenticity' is not really a scientific issue at all here: even if there were compelling evidence that the shroud was made in first-century Palestine, that would not even come close to establishing that the cloth bears the imprint of Christ." (Ball, 2005).

Posted 1 December 2007. Updated 21 April 2024.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen E. Jones said...


I have deleted your comment under this my November Shroud News, since it should have been under my August Shroud News.

I made no mention of you in this my November Shroud News, therefore your response to my August Shroud News comments was off-topic under it.

If you repost your comment under my August Shroud News, I will briefly respond to it.

Stephen E. Jones