Friday, March 18, 2011

Re: Shroud blood ... types as AB ... aged blood always types as AB, so the significance of this ... is unclear


Thanks for your message. As is my usual policy when I receive a private message on a topic that is covered by my blog, I respond via my blog,

[Above: "Blood type (or blood group) is determined, in part, by the ABO blood group antigens present on red blood cells": "Blood type," Wikipedia, 11 March 2011. Note that type AB has no antibodies present.]

minus the sender's personal identifying information. Your words are >bold to distinguish them from mine.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:07 PM
Subject: Shroud of Turin AB Blood Q

>Dear Mr. Jones,
>In surfing the web for information about the Shroud, I ran across your blog, one dated Thurs, June 28, 2007.

That would be my post on my CED blog: "Bogus: Shroud of Turin? #9: Bloodstains on the Shroud are type AB, contain DNA and are anatomically perfect," where I used to post on the Shroud of Turin, before I started my The Shroud of Turin blog.

>I have followed the science of the Shroud with interest for a number of years.
>In listening to several podcasts & interviews of Shroud conferences when discussing the Shroud blood, which types as AB, a clarification is often added that aged blood always types as AB, so the significance of this (the AB phenotype) is unclear.

Blood from the bloodstained areas of the Shroud of Turin has been independently tested at the State University of New York (SUNY) and it was again confirmed that it was real blood, of blood type AB:

"Several claims have been made that the blood has been found to be type AB, and claims have been made about DNA testing. We sent blood flecks to the laboratory devoted to the study of ancient blood at the State University of New York. None of these claims could be confirmed. The blood appears to be so old that the DNA is badly fragmented." (Daniel R. Porter, "How do you know that there is real blood on the Shroud?," 6 November 2005)
But if blood of any type tends to lose its antibodies over time (which seems reasonable, although I don't know of any definitive scientific statement to that effect or how long it takes), then it would eventually come to appear to be type AB blood, since as the Wikipedia diagram above indicates, type AB blood has no antibodies.

However, see my post of 07Feb12 where archaeologists found that the blood group of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton (c. 1353-1336 BC), i.e. then ~3368 years old, was "A2 with the antigens M and N present." (see also comments below this post). A2 is a sub-type of blood group A - it is not AB. So it is not true that "aged blood always types as AB" and therefore the Shroud's and the Sudarium of Oviedo's blood group is AB, unless there is other evidence to the contrary.

Therefore, while that the blood from bloodstained areas of the Shroud of Turin (and the Sudarium of Oviedo) are both blood type AB does not prove that the blood on them is from a Jewish person, it is still significant in that:

1) It further confirms that the blood on the Shroud (and the Sudarium) is real blood. This is a huge (if not fatal) problem for all forgery theories, because (as would be the case if the Shroud was Jesus' or at least a real crucifixion victim), there is no image under the bloodstains, i.e. the blood was on the cloth before the image was formed. But no forger would, or even could, apply blood first on linen and then paint, scorch, photograph or otherwise, the image around the bloodstains:

"Interestingly, there is no image under the blood meaning that the order of events is blood first followed by image. This is the correct sequence if authentic but nearly impossible for an artist. As such, according to the article, they added blood after the image was already created." (Russ Breault, "Is the Shroud of Turin a Fake?,", 11 October 2009).

"The image does not exist below blood stains. An artist would have needed to apply real blood first anticipating the exact placement of the image or to have created the image with reserved areas for the blood stains. The very idea of an artist doing so is preposterous." (Daniel R. Porter, "The Shroud image is not manmade," Shroud of Turin Story, 26 July 2004).
And if the Shroud is not a forgery, then even arch-sceptics like Steven Schafersman admit that it must be authentic, i.e. it is Jesus' Shroud:
"Oddly enough, the Shroud opponents have actually helped to make our case. Certainly the need to resort to a denigration of the scientists on the basis of their religious preferences shows a decided bias on their part. In addition, if critics feel the need to declare Jesus a myth, are they not actually suggesting that the Shroud evidence indeed matches the Gospel narratives of Christ's passion and death? At least a few of them are willing to admit this in print. For example, Schafersman states, `Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ ... a very conservative estimate [Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.128]. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation... ." [Schafersman, S., "Science, the Public, and the Shroud," Skeptical Inquirer, B, 1982:41, italics added]" (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, pp.196-197. Emphasis original).
2) It is not inconsistent with the Man on the Shroud being Jewish. If the blood on the Shroud had been of a predominantly European blood type like O, then that would be evidence for the Shroud originating in medieval Europe.

3) It is consistent with the Shroud being old. If the blood from the Shroud had been of a blood type other than AB, or a mix of AB and another type in varying stages of denaturing, then that would be evidence that the Shroud was medieval, or at least not from the time of Jesus.

4) It is consistent with the Shroud of Turin and Sudarium of Oviedo having both covered the same body of Jesus, whereas it would be evidence against the authenticity of one or the other, or both, if they had different blood types:

"The most striking thing about all the stains is that they coincide exactly with the face of the image on the Turin Shroud. The first fact that confirms the relationship between the two cloths is that the blood on each belongs to the same group, AB. If the blood or each cloth belonged to a different group, there would be no sense in pursuing the comparative investigation, and little meaning in any further points of coincidence. This test is the starting point for all the others, and the results are positive. Blood of the group AB is also very common in the Middle East and rare in Europe." (Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, pp.27-28).
>I noticed a reference on your blog page for this, Wilson & Schwartz, 2000, p.77,

Here again is the quote from Wilson & Schwortz, 2007, p.77:

"In fact, quite independently of Drs Heller and Adler, other findings have served to confirm that what appears to be blood genuinely is blood. For instance the Italian pathologist Dr Pier Luigi Baima-Bollone, who has carried out thousands of autopsies, and who has had more Shroud `blood' sample than was accorded to Dr Adler, has not only confirmed it to be blood, but confidently identified it as of the AB group. [Baima-Bollone, P., Jorio, M. & Massaro, A.L., "Identification of the Group of the Traces of Human Blood on the Shroud," Shroud Spectrum International, Issue 6, March 1983, pp.3-6] Although this group is comparatively rare among Europeans and is found in only 3.2 per cent of the world's population as a whole, its incidence is 18 per cent among Jewish populations of the present-day Near East. [Garza-Valdès, L., "The DNA of God?," Doubleday: New York , 1999, p.39] Caution is needed, however, since some researchers have noted a tendency among blood samples more than several centuries old always to test AB." (Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, 2000, p.77).
And here are some further quotes on the topic of the Shroud blood being type AB:
"Which blood-group? The last step has been identifying the blood-group made feasible by the fact that the persistence of the relevant properties in very ancient materials can be taken for granted. Laboratory findings are that the stains on the Shroud behave like those of people with blood-group AB, while the `white' fibres give no response. Many factors can lead to error in determining the blood-group of ancient stains. A whole series of antigens of animals, worms and bacteria are know to produce falsely positive responses. In the Shroud's case, contamination by matter accidentally preserved in the cloth is ruled out because the stained fibres yielding a positive response and the `white' fibres yielding none were offered up on the same slides and thus examined under the same conditions. Furthermore, a falsely positive result is mainly found with B antigens. In our case, microscopic control has shown no differences in the intensity of agglutinisation A and aglutinisation B. What is more, the earlier haematological investigations showed that the blood on the Shroud is perfectly preserved, with no trace of contamination, due perhaps to the inhibiting presence of the aloes and myrrh. Nor, lastly, can it be objected that B properties did not exist in antiquity, since all investigations undertaken prove the contrary." (Baima-Bollone, P. & Zaca, S., 1998, "The Shroud Under the Microscope: Forensic Examination," Neame, A., transl., St Pauls: London, pp.22-23. Emphasis original).

"Blood of the AB group Following the generic identification of the blood, Baima Bollone, in 1981 succeeded in showing that it was human blood. The year after he communicated yet another step forward in his discovery: its type according to the ABO grouping system. It turned out that the blood on the Shroud was of the group AB. [Sindon, n. 31, December 1982, pp. 5-9]." (Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.210. Emphasis original).

"In Italy, Dr Baima Bollone, who had taken samples from the `blood' areas with sticky tape, reported that yes, there was blood, and it was of the AB group ... The immunohistochemical tests we conducted showed that the blood on the Shroud was of the AB group, which was and still is the most common blood group among Jews. In western Europeans and in Americans, it is less common. (We did not have enough blood sample to test for the rhesus factor.) It was interesting that our findings supported the claims of Baima Bollone back in Italy." (Garza-Valdes, L.A., 1998, "The DNA of God?," Hodder & Stoughton: London, pp.38-39. Emphasis original).

"On the afternoon of 21 April 1988, just a few hours after having cut off the snippets of the Shroud used for radiocarbon dating, the Italian microscopist Dr Giovanni Riggi took a 1.5 mm `blood' sample from the back-of-the-head region. In June 1993 he provided some of this sample to a visiting American microbiology professor, Dr Leoncio Garza-Valdès, who took it back for analysis at the University of Texas' Center for Advanced DNA Technologies at San Antonio, Texas. There the laboratory director, Dr Victor Tryon, and his technician wife, Nancy Mitchell Tryon, quickly established that the sample was human blood of the AB group, just as Baima-Bollone had before them" (Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, pp.77-78).
Note that Dr Victor Tryon, of the University of Texas, also "established that the sample was human blood of the AB group."

>Do you know of any further references (especially scientific articles) related to this? I don't have this book, when I look on Amazon & click on it, it says unavailable.

I don't know of any independent scientific statement that all blood types tend to denature or degrade over time to type AB. But again the chart at "Blood type," Wikipedia, 11 March 2011, above indicates that blood type AB has no antibodies present, which would seem to indicate that if any blood type, over time, lost its antibodies, it would eventually resemble type AB.

There are secondhand copies of Wilson & Schwortz' book available at as well as at

>Any further info you might be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

The above quote appears to be the best I have. Surprisingly there does not seem to be much in the Shroud literature on the topic of blood losing its distinctive antibodies over time and coming to resemble type AB blood.

Also, there may not be much (if anything) in the scientific literature about all blood types losing their distinctive antibodies over time and becoming the same as type AB (no antibodies), because it may not be of much use either to archaeology or forensic science, the former probably not being interested in blood types and the latter being only interested in comparatively recent blood.

However, if you or anyone find any information about this in the non-Shroud scientific literature, feel free to post it as a comment under this post.

>Best Regards,

Thanks again for your question. I hope this has helped answer it.

Posted 18 March 2011. Updated 29 March 2024.