Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John P. Jackson, "An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image" (1991)

This paper by physicist and founding Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) member, Dr. John P. Jackson, proposing his "Cloth Collapse theory" to explain the origin of the Shroud's image is, in my opinion,

[Above: Dr. John Jackson (left foreground) about to begin STURP's five-day examination of the Shroud, 8-13 October, 1978: Wilson, I. & Miller, V., "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, 1986, p.46a]

one of the most important things ever written about the Shroud of Turin. This is because it claims to, and I agree that it does, "explain all image characteristics found on the shroud image." Yet, it has never been published online and can only be found in a comparatively obscure, out-of-print book: Berard, A., ed., 1991, "History, Science, Theology and the Shroud," Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX. However, you can see Dr. Jackson's presentation of his theory at the St. Louis Symposium in the video, "What is Missing? ." An earlier version of Dr Jackson's `cloth collapse' theory was since published online as, "Is the Image on the Shroud Due to a Process Heretofore Unknown to Modern Science?," by John P. Jackson, Shroud Spectrum International, No. 34, March 1990 and also at Dr. Jackson's own website.

I am publishing Dr. Jackson's paper here on my The Shroud of Turin blog , with the kind permission of Dr Jackson and his wife Rebecca's Turin Shroud Center of Colorado. The book's page numbers are in square brackets. Dr. Jackson has requested that I mention: 1) The paper represents his theological thinking as of 1991. Since the conference in St. Louis, he has completed advanced Biblical and Catechetical studies; and 2) The copyright belongs to Dr. John P. Jackson.


By John P. Jackson

*© Copyright, 1991. All rights reserved by the author

With the permission of Turin Shroud Center of Colorado


In this paper, I would like to begin by discussing certain characteristics of the Shroud image that may shed light on its image formation mechanism. These characteristics are so distinctive that the genesis of the image likely involves a mechanism that is heretofore unknown to modern science.

A. Characteristics of Bloodmarks

First, let us begin with those characteristics that allow us to conclude, with reasonable certainty, that the Shroud covered a real human when the body and blood images were formed. To demonstrate that the Shroud enveloped a crucified body, Lavoiel has brilliantly interpreted a certain blood feature, labeled A in Figure la, which cannot reasonably be attributed to artistic handiwork. He associates this with blood flowing down and under the forearm at the elbow where it pooled and dripped off the body. The arm must have been approximately in a crucifixion-like position in order for gravity to migrate the blood along such a path. Of course, this presents no problem since the Man of the Shroud appears to be a crucifixion victim. The elbow blood feature is then explained by asserting that the Shroud wrapped around the arm and received a clot imprint by direct contact.

Another indication that the Shroud enfolded a human body was described to me by Bulst.2 He pointed out a connection between the blood trickle off the dorsal foot, labeled G1 in Figure la, and a blood mark of similar size and shape next to the foot region of the frontal image, labeled G-2. In our experiments where a volunteer subject was enfolded in a full-scale model of the Shroud with an image drawn upon it, we found, as Bulst indicated, that Features G-1 and G-2 align directly over one another. This cannot be a coincidence nor the result of a supersophisticated artist who anticipated such a detail. This congruence strongly suggests that the Shroud was folded lengthwise over the head of a body and that the feet [326] were wrapped so as to bring the dorsal bloodstain into contact with the frontal end of the cloth where blood residue was transferred.

Figure la


Figure lb.

There are, in addition, other aspects of the Shroud which indicate that the cloth enveloped a real body. This is demonstrated by the numerous bloodstains, labeled B-F in Figure la, which correspond to distinctly [328] different flow directions, consistent with a vertical crucifixion first, followed by a horizontal burial of a real corpse. Several examples that illustrate flows in the vertical position are the wound in the side (Feature B), trickles along the forearms (Feature D), puncture wounds on the head (Feature E) and the wrist wound (Feature C). Conversely, the bloodstain across the small of the back (Feature F) and the trickle at the dorsal foot (Feature G-1) correspond to a body oriented in the horizontal position. The latter set of bloodstains depict liquid and, therefore, presumably late time post-mortem flows. In contrast, the vertical bloodstain set corresponds to clot transfers and, hence, earlier flows that had dried to some extent. Thus, the bloodstains are consistent with crucifixion followed by burial.

The wrist bloodstain (Feature C) is particularly interesting because it provides an independent confirmation that the flow-path was in the direction of gravity. Ultraviolet fluorescence photography of the wrist clot shows a clear halo emanating into the cloth. This can be explained as a gravitational separation of serum from blood. If the two streams of this blood feature are then positioned so as to be in the downward direction of gravity, the accompanying hand and forearm assume a crucifixion position.

We should not overlook the fact that it was only through ultraviolet fluorescence photography that the "scourge" marks were observed to contain many finely spaced lines or scratches, consistent with what would be expected from a flogging of real skin. In addition, on the dorsal foot imprint, the 1970 examination discovered an abundance of microscopic dust or dirt, atypical of the rest of the image. This, of course, was likely transferred to the Shroud from the feet of a barefoot man. These subliminal details cannot reasonably be ascribed to a hypothetical artist because (1) he himself could not see them and (2) there was no reason to put them there since no one else could see them either. Therefore, these particular details, including the blood features, are consistent with the concept that the Shroud enfolded a wounded and dirty corpse, as opposed to a statue, who had been scourged and crucified.

The above interpretations of the bloodstains assume, of course, that they are indeed blood as opposed to a reddish iron oxide pigment, such as has been proposed by McCrone. In this regard, we are fortunate to have the published work of Heller and Adler3 which conclusively refutes the McCrone interpretation and shows, by a large number of independent [329] microchemical tests on samples taken from the Shroud in 1978, that the bloodstains are in fact blood. We should note that their work was presented before the Canadian Forensic Society in 1981 and subsequently published in the journal of that society after appropriate peer review. Heller and Adler's work has also been referenced in other refereed scientific journals. Unfortunately, the McCrone studies never were subjected to peer review and appeared only in a periodical published by the McCrone Institute, of which McCrone is the founder and head.

B. Characteristics of the Body Image

As a final demonstration that the Shroud covered a human body, I would like to refer to my own studies of the body image. These studies show that the intensities of the frontal Shroud image can be calculated using a single mathematical relationship of intensity versus distance between two surfaces. These surfaces correspond geometrically to an anatomically reasonable body shape and a cloth draping naturally over that shape.

What is significant about the ability to characterize the Shroud image in this way is that; (1) two complex surfaces can be related to the complex intensity structure of the Shroud image by a single and simple mathematical equation and (2) that the two surfaces correspond to realistic body and enveloping cloth. Figure 2 shows how the image intensity on the Shroud can be converted to a three-dimensional plot of cloth-body distance by a single mathematical function. Although this three-dimensional plot should be strictly plotted from a draping cloth surface to produce the originating body surface, the sense of an anatomically reasonable human form is, nevertheless, apparent. This effect cannot be an accident nor the clever handiwork of an artist; it is further confirmation that the Shroud covered a body shape at the time of image formation. Thus, I believe we are on solid ground to conclude that the Shroud covered a body when the body and blood images were formed.

C. Physical Significance of Image Structure on the Shroud

Once it is recognized that the Shroud image was generated from a real human body, a particular set of questions may be asked which otherwise would not be posed if one were to assume that this image was produced in an artist's studio. Immediately, we recognize that the image must have been generated by some principle whereby body structure became encoded into varying shades of intensity on the cloth. The three [330] dimensional brightness surface of Figure 2 makes this point most graphically. If such a mechanism were not operative that could, in effect, convert cloth-body distance to corresponding shades of image intensity, then the computer generated brightness surface would not appear as a physiologically reasonable body shape.

Figure 2.

Obviously, this has occurred to produce the Shroud image, but this conclusion brings forth certain problems. First, how could a physical mechanism act through the space between a body and cloth without blurring anatomical structures that are smaller than the projection distance, e. g., in the region of the lips? In a set of experiments I showed that images formed by direct contact exhibit high resolution, but lack gradation of intensity. On the other hand, images formed by diffusion or attenuated radiation from a body surface to an enveloping cloth contain shading gradations that correlate more or less with cloth-body distance, but suffer significantly in resolution. Yet, the Shroud image displays [331] simultaneously both a shading correlation with cloth-body distance and reasonably sharp focus.

A second problem concerns the directional relationship between points on the body to their corresponding image location on the Shroud. For example, a point on the side of the nose might conceivably be mapped perpendicular to the local body surface, or the local cloth surface where point is imaged, or vertically upwards from the nose point onto the Shroud. After careful study, I have concluded that body points are imaged essentially in the vertical upwards direction for the entire frontal image. This conclusion is further reinforced by noting that there are no side images about the frontal image and particularly in the space between the frontal and dorsal heads. If the image formation mechanism discolored the Shroud according to a principle that projected perpendicular to either the body or cloth surfaces, image shading should have occurred along the sides of the body and at the top of the head. On the other hand, a vertical mapping logically precludes shading in these regions where, in fact, no shading is observed.

We cannot, however, argue that the cloth was held away from the sides of the body as an attempt to explain the lack of side images, or that intervening material, such as burial spices, blocked image formation. Lavoie has shown that the blood feature off the elbow in Figure 1 could only have occurred by direct contact of the cloth with the side of the arm. Thus, the Shroud must have been in intimate contact with the body at that location and, yet, no image discolorations were formed there.

A similar argument follows from a consideration of the space between the frontal and dorsal heads. Geometrically, the Shroud must have been in intimate contact with the top of the head, as we have shown by enfolding a human body in a cloth model of the Shroud. Again, no image discolorations can be seen there. A hypothetical chin band may explain part of the void, but it is likely not to have covered the entire head and at the same time tuck neatly under the jaw.

A third problem arises in the comparison of the shading structures of the frontal and dorsal images. There are certain similarities between these images, for example, in color; however, there are noteworthy dissimilarities as well. The frontal image, appears as a blended, continuous shading structure that, as we have seen, contains a correlation with presumed cloth-body distance. The dorsal image, on the other hand, is discontinuous [332] in shading and has a mosaic-like appearance; see Figure l b. We see, in particular, that the shoulder region is bounded by a sharp, discontinuous change in intensity. However, running through this boundary, is a pattern of scourge marks. Since these marks contain dried blood material, they could only have been placed onto the cloth by direct contact. Accordingly, if the body image was correlated with cloth-body distance over the same several centimeter range deduced for the frontal image, the sharp discontinuity would not have occurred. Rather, we would have observed, at most, a blended intensity variation from the base of the shoulders to a several percent lower intensity in the small of the back. Instead, we see a complete and abrupt dropout of intensity at the base of the shoulders into the lower back region. Thus, the dorsal image has an intensity structure more like a direct contact image than one that is correlated with cloth-body distances over centimeter range as for the frontal image.

Still another significant characteristic of the Shroud image is the observation that the image discolorations penetrate only a few fibrils deep into the thickness of the threads comprising the Shroud cloth. Microscopic direct observations show that there exist yellow fibrils next to white fibrils. Thus, it appears as though the gross or microscopic shading structure that we see as the body image on the Shroud is determined by the ratio of yellow to white fibrils in a given area. In addition, the fibrils that possess the yellow color are, in fact, individually colored and there is no evidence of cementation or gluing between adjacent yellow fibrils such as would be expected if a paint pigment were applied to make the image. Direct chemical tests of the yellow fibrils have shown that the cause of the color is due to a dehydration phenomenon, as it is called, similar to the way linen is discolored, when scorched, say, by a hot iron. That is not to say that the body image was, in fact, set onto the cloth by heat, but only that the chemistry of the fibrils comprising the Shroud image appears to be similar to that caused by scorching. In fact, the scorching process, typically causes discoloration all the way through the thickness of the cloth such as was the case for the 1532 fire. In contrast, the depth of penetration of the Shroud image into the bulk of the cloth is completely superficial. Such an effect must be explained by any successful theory of image formation.

From the above discussion and the array of various facts about the Shroud, several conclusions seem warranted. First, the general arrangement of blood patterns on the Shroud and the intensity structure of the [333] body image are entirely consistent with the hypothesis that the Shroud image was formed from a cloth-covered human body shape. Because the blood stains tested positive for human blood and, because certain effects like serum separation are observed, we conclude that the body shape must have been that of a real human body that had been wounded and subsequently wrapped in the cloth at the time of image formation. As such, it is apparent that the image on the Shroud is not and cannot be the handiwork of an artist or craftsman.

The question becomes: what process was involved in creating the image of a human body onto the Shroud? This question is not straightforward, because most types of physical mechanisms can be excluded on the basis of certain characteristics we find on the Shroud image. For example, the idea that the frontal image on the Shroud was the result of a direct contact mechanism, i. e., where image discolorations were imprinted onto the cloth only where it touched the body is refuted by the gradations of image intensity that correlate with expected cloth-body distances. In other words, it seems as though the image formation mechanism acted through space, between the body and the cloth, such as for diffusion or radiation. However, these mechanisms must be excluded, because, although they can discolor the cloth at a distance, they cannot form a high resolution; sharp image, such as what we find on the Shroud. Thus, it appears as though the explanation of the Shroud image must be quite different from those that are based on direct contact, radiation, or diffusion.

There is, however, one particular observation that definitively places the Shroud image in a unique category. Consider Figure 3 which shows a view of the hands. If we examine this image region carefully, we can see, as recently pointed out by Carter,4 that the finger bones are visible well into the palm of the hands, extending right up to the base of the wrist. These cannot be interpreted as tendons, because tendons and ligaments are much too narrow. Rather, we see that the thickness of the fingers are individually preserved well into the palm of the hand. It thus seems as though we are looking at the internal skeletal structure of the hand imaged through the intervening flesh tissues onto the Shroud cloth.

In addition, at the base of the top hand, we see a diffuse discoloration with a color the same as the body image. In transmitted light, this feature is transparent like the rest of the body image, implying that it, too, must reside only on the surface fibrils of the cloth. Its intensity falls within the range of intensities found in the Shroud body image. Thus, it appears [334] that this discoloration, whatever it is, must be part of the body image.

Figure 3.

But, if so, what does this feature represent? An important clue is evident from the fact that are no thumbs visible in the hand image. Now, given the apparent fact that internal finger bones of the hand are imaged onto the Shroud, it is a small step to propose that this particular discoloration is, in fact, the thumb folded into the palm of the hand and likewise imaged through the hand onto the Shroud, in a manner similar to the finger bones found in the palm. If this interpretation is correct, then it follows that whatever mechanism produced the image of the body onto the cloth, it must be a radically different mechanism, than any physical mechanisms that have been considered to date. For what process is [335] capable of rendering internal body structure into the image patterns that we see on the Shroud?


Keeping in mind these varied and surprising characteristics found in the Shroud image, let us now turn our attention to the problem of how the image was produced. To be sure, finding a satisfactory mechanism for the origin of the Shroud image has shown itself to be a complex and difficult problem. Perhaps the reason why a satisfactory hypothesis has not been found is not so much due to a lack of image characterization but to an overcharacterization. That is, we seem to have a situation where the set of observables is so restrictive that all hypotheses posed thus far must be excluded, or at least be considered highly questionable, often on the basis of multiple objections.

Therefore, perhaps the time has come to ask if we ought to start thinking about the Shroud image in categories quite different from those that have been considered in the past. In particular, perhaps we need to be more flexible in our scientific approach and consider hypotheses that might not be found readily in conventional modern science; for it is conceivable that the Shroud image represents, if you will, some type of "new physics" that ultimately requires an extension or even revision of current concepts.

Some time ago, I decided to pursue such an approach to see where it might lead, having first spent many years trying to understand the Shroud image strictly in terms of conventional science. But given the apparent failure, or difficulty, of conventional transfer mechanisms to explain all characteristics of the image, I wondered if I could conceive of a principle by which the image might have been formed, even if such a principle contradicted current concepts of science. The result was a simple theory that I think accounts for the entire set of diverse image characteristics described above and, further, makes certain new predictions which could be tested during a future examination of the Shroud. As will be seen, this theory clearly contains certain aspects which do not fall within categories of modern science, but nevertheless is scientifically well-posed and internally consistent. Finally, because we are dealing here strictly with image formation; the conclusions contained herein are independent of the recent radiocarbon date and it is to be further noted that there is no attempt here to presuppose anything concerning the identity of the "Man of the Shroud." The hypothesis will be developed and argued strictly [336] from considerations of image properties and no support will be derived from extraneous speculations.

Let us now develop the hypothesis. It is useful to begin with three basic inferences concerning the image formation process which I think can be deduced from observations made directly from the Shroud image. These inferences, when considered collectively, lead naturally, if not compellingly, to the hypothesis proposed in this paper. This hypothesis can then be tested against all image properties as per the Scientific Method.

A. Inferences concerning image mechanism deduced from observational data

INFERENCE 1. The body and blood images were formed directly from a human body that was enveloped in the Shroud. As discussed above, this assumption certainly is implied by the fact that image intensity can be described consistently between two complex surfaces, one corresponding to an anatomically reasonable body shape and the other to a cloth draping over that shape, by a simple and global mathematical relationship. This is compelling evidence that a cloth-covered body was directly responsible for the image. This conclusion is further strengthened by various characteristics associated with the blood patterns, as pointed out above. In general, forensic opinion regards the blood patterns as representing authentic flows from a human corpse, owing to their flow characteristics and general appearance on the Shroud. Even at the microscopic level, there is no evidence of pigment that can be associated at any statistical significance with the macroscopic body image. Further, it has been shown that the alleged bloodstains are composed of blood or blood derived substances. It is difficult to see how these various image subtleties and characteristics could be the work of human craftsmanship. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that the image on the Shroud was generated directly from a cloth-covered body by some process.

INFERENCE 2. Gravity was a significant factor in the production of the image. We noted above that if the Shroud drapes over a body lying in a horizontal or supine position, image features align more or less vertically above the corresponding body part. That this should occur is not immediately obvious because it is conceivable that image features could have been mapped, for example, perpendicular to either the body or cloth surfaces rather than strictly vertical. The significance of this result is that whatever mechanism was involved in producing the Shroud image,[337] it must have had the property of transferring body surface information in the vertical-only direction. But how could such a thing have happened? It would appear that, somehow, the image formation process must "know" the vertical direction at each point on the body. It is reasonable to suspect that gravity, because it naturally manifests a vertical symmetry, was responsible for the observed near-vertical alignment of the image with respect to associated body features. Without further information, it is not clear how gravity could have achieved this, but I am proposing its involvement in the image formation process because: (1) it possesses the required symmetry to account for the vertical alignment observed in the Shroud image, and (2) gravity is a natural physical phenomenon that unarguably must have been present during the time of image formation.

INFERENCE 3. The Shroud was in two different draping configurations when the body images were formed. Consider the bloodstains that appear in the hair along either side of the face as seen in Figure la. If we ignore the body image for a moment and ask where these bloodstains came from, we would find, by a simple draping experiment of a cloth over a face, as first noted by Lavoie6 that these bloodstains must have originated from the sides of the face. However, the sides of the face are visible in the body image and appear several centimeters inside the pattern denoted by the bloodstains. That is, the bloodstains and the locations where, according to the body image, they must have come from by direct contact do not coincide spatially on the Shroud. Therefore, if the body image and bloodstains were produced from the same body shape, it follows that the Shroud must have been in two distinct draping configurations when the body image and bloodstains were generated. The initial draping configuration must have been the one by which the bloodstains were transferred (because an independent observation pertaining to halos around the blood indicates that blood preceded the body image discolorations onto the Shroud). As can be seen in Lavoie's experimental photographs and discussion, this draping configuration corresponds to the way in which a cloth would drape naturally over a human face. Subsequently, when the body image was generated, the Shroud apparently deformed, for some reason, to a somewhat flatter draping configuration, the result of which laterally positioned the images of the sides of the face several centimeters inside the bloodstain pattern. These bloodstains now happen to be coincident with the hair images due to the geometrically induced shift of the bloodstains relative to the body image (note that the hair has nothing to do with the argument other than being a convenient way to describe the position of the bloodstains in question). [338]

B. Paradox posed by Inferences

The foregoing three statements concerning the Shroud image are logical inferences from certain empirical observations of image structure and layout. To my mind, their significance is not what they represent individually, but rather what they imply collectively. For I think that a specific picture of the image formation process is indicated. The problem, as I see it, is now to construct an image formation hypothesis that unites these three inferences and then test that hypothesis against all specific observations pertaining to the Shroud image.

How to achieve such a unification, however, is not immediately obvious, because, at first thought, Inferences 1-3 seem mutually contradictory. For example, according to the third inference, we apparently must require that the Shroud was flattened or straightened subsequent to the time when the bloodstains were formed. This flattening must have been significant in order to account for the several centimeter misregister between the locations of the bloodstains appearing in the hair image and those of the sides of the face where the bloodstains must have originated. Now, the second inference proposes that gravity was involved in the image formation process. Since obviously something must have caused the flattening or straightening of the Shroud, and gravity must apparently be incorporated into the image formation mechanism, it is logical to propose that the flattening was due to gravity. However, when considering the first inference that the formation of the body image involved an underlying, real human body, we encounter a logical difficulty in that the body structure would prevent the cloth from flattening under its own weight.

C. Proposed solution of Paradox and formulation of Hypothesis

Thus, it would appear as though the three inferences contain ideas that are not easy to reconcile. Yet, I think each one of them taken separately is a reasonable interpretation of certain documented characteristics of the Shroud image. If that is granted, the problem still remains as to what hypothesis of image formation is consistent simultaneously with all three inferences. It might be tempting to discard the concept of a cloth being flattened by gravity because of the apparent contradiction that the body prevents the collapse. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the collapse idea is a reasonable and natural synthesis of the two very different ideas contained in Inferences 2 and 3. If we retain the proposition of a [339] collapsing cloth, then it seems to me that we are left with only one alternative in order to unify all three inferences. We must assume that, according to Inference 1, the Shroud initially covered a body shape, but, for some reason, that body did not impede the collapse of the Shroud during the time of image formation.

Now, such a conclusion can be interpreted in two very different ways. On one hand, it might mean that the observational data or logic taken to arrive at this point are defective, for a violation of common sense appears to be required to reconcile the three inferences. On the other hand, it might mean that "common sense" or, more properly, currently accepted laws of physics, may be inadequate to explain the image on the Shroud.

In the remainder of this paper, I would like to develop the thesis that the second interpretation is correct; specifically, that in the case of the Shroud image, the cloth did collapse into and through the underlying body structure. As a physicist, I admit to having my own difficulties with this concept, but I also know that scientists must be ready to overturn even their most hallowed principles if observation warrants. The real test of any hypothesis is not so much the logic by which it was deduced, but its ability to explain observations, make predictions, and provide insight into how reality is constructed. And, let us keep in mind that, to date, no "conventional" hypothesis has been advanced, which successfully explains the Shroud image. To this end, I would like to ask the reader to put aside, for the moment, any reservations he or she might have concerning the "unconventional" nature of this concept and consider it merely as a hypothesis to be evaluated critically using the well established principles of the Scientific Method.

The concept of a cloth falling into the underlying body region and receiving an image, in essence, requires that two separate assumptions be made. First, we must assume that the body became mechanically "transparent" to its physical surroundings and, second, that a stimulus was generated that recorded the passage of the cloth through the body region onto the cloth as an image. With regard to the latter assumption, it is unclear in an a priori sense what to assume for the physical nature of the stimulus. However, we at least know that it was able to interact physically with cloth; otherwise, image discolorations would not have been formed. I propose that, as the Shroud collapsed through the underlying body, radiation emitted from all points within that body discolored the cloth so as to produce the observed image. As will be seen below, this assumption [340] explains the superficiality of the Shroud image and, perhaps, the differentiation in fibril coloring.

D. Image Characteristics explained by Hypothesis

Let us now show how this concept explains each of the image characteristics of the Shroud discussed at the beginning of this paper.

1. High Resolution. As various points on the Shroud intersect different topographical features on the body surface during the collapse process, radiation dose on the cloth begins to accumulate. If the radiation is assumed to be strongly absorbed in air, radiation effects on the cloth cannot begin until virtual intersection with the body surface occurs. Thus, a one-to-one mapping between a given point on the body to a unique point on the cloth is achieved for all points on the Shroud, which is equivalent to stating that the resulting image is well resolved.

2. Superficial Penetration of Image. Once the cloth enters the body region, radiation emitted from within the body volume interacts with each cloth fibril throughout the bulk of the cloth from all directions. However, fibrils on both surfaces of the cloth receive a greater dose than those inside because they are unobstructed by overlying fibril layers. These fibrils would probably be highly absorbing to the radiation because the air, which is less dense by nearly three orders of magnitude than cellulose, is assumed to be highly absorbing to account for image resolution. (See also discussion in Item 5 below pertaining to absorption in cellulose.) The net result is an exaggerated dose accumulation of the surface fibrils over those inside the cloth.

3. Correlation of Image Intensity with Cloth-Body Distance. The initial draping configuration of the Shroud over a body establishes the initial cloth-body distances. If, then, the Shroud overlying the body falls into the body region, different points on the cloth will intersect the body surface at different times depending upon how far that point was originally away from the body. Thus, each cloth point will receive a radiation dose in proportion to the time that it is inside the emitting body region. Since that time is inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance, it follows that the radiation dose, and hence image intensity, is likewise inversely proportional to the initial cloth-body distance. However, since the cloth on the dorsal side of the body does not move into the body, image discolorations are generated only at point of contact; hence, the [341] dorsal image appears as a direct contact image.

4. Absence of Side Images. As the cloth collapses into the body region, internal stresses within the cloth cause it to bulge away from the sides of the body and at the top of the head. Because the radiation is strongly absorbed in air, very little dose is accumulated in the side and upper head regions of the cloth and, hence, no image is visible there.

5. Chemical Nature of the Image. Electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed strongly in air consists of photons in the ultraviolet or soft x-ray region. It happens that these photons are also sufficiently energetic to photochemically modify cellulose. Such photons are strongly absorbed in cellulose over fibril-like distances. Experiments performed by the author have shown that subsequent aging in an oven of photosensitized (bleached) cloth by shortwave ultraviolet radiation produces a yellow-browned pattern like the Shroud body image composed of chemically altered cellulose. Thus, I posit that radiation from the body initially photosensitized the body image onto the Shroud. This pattern would have appeared, if the radiation was ultraviolet, as a white (bleached) image on a less white cloth. With time, natural aging would have reversed the relative shading of the image to its presently observed state where it appears darker than the surrounding cloth (which also aged or darkened with time, but not as fast). This mechanism is consistent with (1) the observed lack of pyrolytic products in microchemical studies of Shroud fibrils expected from high-temperature cellulose degradation (in this case image coloring occurs by natural aging at ambient temperatures over a long period of time) and (2) the absence of substances in the image areas that chemically colored the cloth (Note that image coloration is produced onto the cloth only by radiation and without any extraneous chemicals).

6. Blood on the Shroud. As the Shroud is initially draped over a body covered with blood, that blood is transferred naturally to the Shroud by direct contact.

7. Vertical Alignment of Image and Associated Body Features. As the Shroud collapses into the body region, each cloth point falls vertically downwards. Thus, relative to the initial draping configuration of the Shroud over the body, image features tend to align vertically over their corresponding body part. The only exception to this rule would be where stresses in the cloth are sufficient to perturb the otherwise vertical motion. Such stresses [342] would probably be significant mostly near the sides of the body image due to the flattening of the cloth and bulging away from the body as explained above.

8. Equivalence of Maximum Intensities of Frontal and Dorsal Images. Image intensity is determined solely by contact time of the cloth with the body region. Thus, assuming the radiation event is operative on a time scale less than the time for the upper part of the Shroud to fall completely through the body region, as discussed above, it follows that the interaction timed for cloth points, whether initially in contact with the frontal or dorsal surfaces of the body, are equal. Hence, the doses, or image intensities, at those initial contact points should be equal.

Thus, the hypothesis of the Shroud collapsing into a radiating body explains all the above characteristics of the Shroud image, something that other image formation hypotheses posed thus far fail to do.

E. Testable Predictions of Hypothesis

In addition, there are several other predictions of the theory which should be noted:

1. Possible Imaging of the Internal Body Structures. If the assumed radiation is homogeneously generated throughout the body region, then image intensity would be determined strictly by the length of time that a given part of the cloth is inside the body region. However, if the radiant emission varied with type of internal structure, such as tissue versus bone, then internal body structures, might be convoluted into the general image picture. However, the fact that the surface details of the body appear to dominate the image indicates that the assumed volumetric emission of radiation would have to have been nearly homogeneous. In the context of the collapse theory, the hand region might be an example where an internal body structure dominated the image which normally recorded body surface topography. In particular, the "elongated fingers" discussed above might actually be images of the internal bones of the hand extending into the palm region, which, as the cloth passed through the hand region, recorded a greater dose than the surrounding tissue.

2. Surface Discolorations on Both Sides of the Shroud for the Frontal Image. As noted above, the superficial nature of the image is explained by the theory. However, the above reasoning leads to one other prediction [343] concerning the superficiality of the image; the frontal image should reside on both sides of the Shroud, whereas the dorsal image should reside on only one side. The reason is that when the upper part of the Shroud falls into the body region, radiation from the body impinges upon both sides of the cloth. However, in the case of the dorsal image, radiation impinges from only one side because the cloth there never moves into the body. Unfortunately, there are no suitable data available to test this prediction because the reverse side of the Shroud has been covered since 1534 with a backing cloth. But if such a prediction could be confirmed by a future examination of the reverse side, then the theory proposed herein would be given considerable support. It is likely, however, that if a frontal image discoloration exists on the reverse surface of the Shroud, it would be somewhat less intense than the discoloration which is observed on the normal viewing side because that side presumably entered the body first. However, one complication might exist; depending upon how the body was actually wrapped in the Shroud, it is possible that the sides of the cloth were folded back onto the top of the body, making a double layer with the top part of the cloth. It is unclear how such a folding configuration might affect the generation of a possible frontal image on the reverse side of the Shroud.

3. Photochemical Modification of the Shroud Blood. Given that the assumed radiation stimulus induced a chemical change in the cellulose of the Shroud, which we refer to generically as the "body image," it is reasonable to ask if analogous chemical changes might also have been induced in the blood which remained attached to the Shroud during the hypothesized collapse. This possibility could be addressed by further direct chemical testing. In this context, I would like to note that the off-elbow bloodstain discussed above in Figure la is brown, whereas the blood flow to which it is connected on the forearm is red, suggesting a possible chemical difference between on-and off-image bloodstains. It is also possible that the collapse hypothesis might explain Barbet's "mirror image" effect of the bloodstains.7

F. Final Remarks

Thus, the hypothesis of a collapsing cloth into a radiating body appears to explain all known characteristics of the Shroud image and makes certain testable predictions, some of which have yet to be verified. I have endeavored to show that this hypothesis arises strictly from considerations of specific image characteristics. The major problem with the hypothesis [344] is, of course, to explain why a human body would behave in such a manner. It is beyond the scope of this paper to address this question and it is unclear how physics would have to be modified in order to accommodate the thesis presented here. But, in spite of the unconventional nature of the hypothesis, I think there exist sufficient reasons to seriously consider it per standard practices of the Scientific Method. I would hope, however, that it would not be rejected merely on the subjective grounds that it is "unconventional." As pointed out in the text, more studies and data are required in order to test the theory further.

It might be that a simple piece of cloth, known as the Shroud of Turin, represents a valid case for rethinking certain concepts of modern science. To this end, I would encourage my colleagues in science to realize that the image on the Shroud of Turin is far from being defined by one radiocarbon test, but could be one of history's greatest scientific puzzles.


1. G. Lavoie et al, "Blood on the Shroud of Turin: Part I," Shroud Spectrum International, June, 1983.

2. W. Bulst, "The Imprints of the Feet on the Shroud of Turin. A Complex Problem," private communication, 1987.

3. J. H. Heller and A. D. Adler, "A Chemical Investigation of the Shroud of Turin," Can. Soc. Foren. Sci. J., Vol. 14, No. 3, 1981.

4. G. Carter, "Formation of the Image on the Shroud of Turin by x-Rays: A New Hypothesis," ACS in Chemistry, No. 205, Archaeological Chemistry. -III, Joseph B. Lambert, ed., 1984.

5. J. P. Jackson, "Is the Image on the Shroud Due to a Process Heretofore Unknown to Modern Science?", Shroud Spectrum International, March, 1990.

6. G. R. Lavoie et al, "Blood on the Shroud of Turin: Part III," Shroud Spectrum International, Sept., 1987.

7. P. Barbet, A Doctor at Calvary, Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1963.

(Jackson, J.P., "An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image," in Berard, A., ed., 1991, "History, Science, Theology and the Shroud," Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX, pp.325-344).

Posted 18 January 2012. Updated 1 June 2024.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud has to be wrong!: #1 Introduction

On Dan Porter's Shroud of Turn Blog I recently commented :

As I and others, especially Dan, have pointed out: 1. the Pray Codex (1192-95), 2. the Vignon markings unique to the Shroud on coins and art from the 6th century, 3. the exact match of bloodstains on the Sudarium of Oviedo (which has been in Spain since at least AD 840) and the Shroud, and now 4. the ENEA report showing that the Shroud's image is only "one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter" and therefore it could not possibly have been created by a medieval or earlier forger. Because of any one of the above, let alone all four, lines of conclusive evidence that the Shroud is not medieval, the AD 1260-1390 medieval radiocarbon date of the Shroud simply has to be wrong. The only question now is: how did the three radiocarbon laboratories get it so wrong? The ball is now in the Shroud anti-authenticist court to try to find a face-saving answer. The pro-authenticity side no longer have to provide an answer since it no longer is (if it ever was) their problem. The 16th century invisible reweave theory is a possible explanation, among many, of how the radiocarbon labs got it wrong. If ... and his Shroud anti-authenticist ilk don't like that explanation, then let him/them find another. It's now his/their problem, not ours!
I have decided to flesh out those four lines of evidence (which I have called "proofs" in the title to reduce its length), in separate posts and in the order of their discovery:

1. the Vignon markings-which showed that unique features of the Shroud face were being copied by artists from the mid-6th century;

2. the Hungarian Pray Codex (1192-95), with its unique features of the Shroud image and cloth, dating from the 12th century;

3. the exact match of bloodstains on the Shroud head and the Sudarium of Oviedo which has been in Spain since at least AD 840; and

4. the ENEA report which found the image on the Shroud was only "one fifth of one thousandth of a millimeter" and therefore could not possibly have been created by a medieval or earlier forger.

Any one of these individually, let alone all four together collectively, provide conclusive evidence that the Shroud of Turin is not medieval and therefore the AD 1260-1390 medieval date of the Shroud has to be wrong.

First, some background to the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the

[Right (enlarge): Prof. E. Hall, Dr. M. Tite and Dr. R. Hedges on 13 October 1988 announcing the Shroud had been carbon- dated to "1260-1390!": Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, pl.3b]

Shroud. On 16 February 1989, the leading science journal Nature reported that three radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Oxford, and Zurich had in 1988 radiocarbon-dated "very small samples from the Shroud of Turin" and the results, "provide[d] conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390":

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. ... The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval ... The age of the shroud is obtained as AD 1260-1390, with at least 95% confidence" (Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, 1989, pp.611-615, p.612).

Note that these were "Very small samples" (about 1.2 x 8 centimetres total, divided equally among the three labs - Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud," p.189), and that the Shroud is a very large cloth (about 4.37 x 1.11 metres - Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," p.18).

[Above (enlarge): The postage-stamp size of the "very small samples" used to radiocarbon-date the Shroud compared with only its the front image half: Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol 26, N0. 4, July-August 2008.]

According to an illustration given by Prof. Harry Gove, a pioneer of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) method used to date the Shroud, if "The entire shroud could be covered by 8,800 standard 22-cent stamps. The amount of material the ... Three labs would need [is] seven-tenths of a stamp":

"Gove said speculation that the motive for reducing the number of labs from seven to three was to conserve the amount of shroud material that would have to be destroyed is specious. `As a homey example, let's measure it in terms of postage stamps,' he said. `The entire shroud could be covered by 8,800 standard 22-cent stamps. The amount of material the original seven labs would need is a sample the size of about two-and-a-half stamps. Three labs would need seven-tenths of a stamp. So what? It's like knocking a few dollars off the national debt.'" (Clark, K.R., "Shroud of Turin Controversy Resumes," Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1988).
But in fact "every laboratory [was] ... given a piece of material about the size of a stamp," i.e. the three laboratories were together given a total of three `stamps':
"In the crossfire of the polemic, Gonella justified the limited number of the laboratories by the fact that this would reduce to the minimum the damage of the Shroud. Gove, however, answered him by noting that the additional amount of fabric necessary for four laboratories did not justify their exclusion. He gave this example: the Shroud could be covered by 8,800 22-cent stamps. The amount necessary for the seven laboratories would have corresponded to two-and-a-half stamps. Three laboratories need seven-tenths of a stamp. [Fidelity, cit., p. 42] Actually, every laboratory would eventually be given a piece of material about the size of a stamp." (Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, 1996, p.47).
That is, the total sample of the Shroud that the three laboratories tested, was a minuscule 3/8,800 = 0.035% or about one third of a thousandths of the Shroud!

So there already was a potential major problem of the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to AD 1260-1390, that the sample size was so very small that it was not necessarily representative of the whole Shroud. Which was in 2008 shown to be the case by in fact, by Los Alamos National Laboratory analytical chemist Robert Villarreal:

"The results of the FTIR [ Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy] analysis on all three threads taken from the Raes sampling area (adjacent to the C-14 sampling corner) led to identification of the fibers as cotton and definitely not linen (flax). Note, that all age dating analyses were conducted on samples taken from this same area. Apparently, the age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case. What was true for the part was most certainly not true for the whole. This finding is supported by the spectroscopic data provided in this presentation. The recommendations that stem from the above analytical study is that a new age dating should be conducted but assuring that the sample analyzed represents the original main shroud image area, i.e. the fibers must be linen (flax) and not cotton or some other material. It is only then that the age dating will be scientifically correct." (Villarreal, R., Schwortz, B. & Benford, M.S., "Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth," August 16, 2008, "The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma, " 2008 Columbus Ohio International Conference, August 14-17, 2008).
Professor Christopher Ramsey Bronk, whose name ("C.R. Bronk") is on the 1989 Nature paper, as a

[Right: Dr Christopher Bronk Ramsey: Science Photo Library]

member of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory which jointly carbon-dated the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390," and is now Director of that same Oxford laboratory, has conceded that, "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow":

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." (Ramsey, C.B., "Shroud of Turin Version 77," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March, 2008)
As we will see, there are at least four different, independent, lines of evidence that not only "suggest," but in fact prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow! And therefore the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud has to be wrong!

Continued in, "Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud has to be wrong!: #2 The Vignon markings (1)."

Posted: 15 January 2012. Updated: 2 March 2022.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shroud of Turin: Burial sheet of Jesus!: #10 His death and burial matches the Gospels' description of that of Jesus Christ

This is part #10, "His death and burial matches the Gospels' description of that of Jesus Christ," which is part of my series, "Shroud of Turin: Burial sheet of Jesus!." The previous post in this series was part #9, "The man has wounds and bloodstains which match the Gospels' description of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ" For more information about this series, which is based on a PowerPoint presentation that I am preparing, see parts "#1 Title Page" and "#2 Contents" .

[Click on the above image to enlarge it.]

Here are quotes under the categories of "Death" and "Burial", and within those categories in year order (oldest first), which serve as references to the above statements:


"Rigor Mortis After death the Body of Christ remained suspended on the cross for hardly less than two hours. Under the circumstances, it must have grown rigid much more rapidly than is normally the case. It was probably rather thoroughly stiffened by the time it was taken down from the cross. The body enveloped in the Shroud was already rigid. This is suggested by the general appearance of the two figures, but there are more precise indications. The arms had been brought down from their extended position, but the hands remained as they had been on the cross, stiffened with the spontaneous curvature of the fingers and the inward bend of the thumbs illustrated by Dr. Barbet's experiments. The feet also were stiffened in the position they had on the cross, sloped forward and inward. It is an unnatural position which could not have been maintained if the feet had been normally flexible. The left foot had been crossed over the right. This caused a bend in the left knee, which grew rigid in that position and remained bent upward while the body was enveloped in the Shroud. One looks in vain for realistic details like these in art. They are present in these imprints because the Shroud registered with the utmost fidelity the condition of the body that rested within its folds." (Wuenschel, E.A., "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, 1954, Third printing, 1961, pp.46-47. Emphasis original).

"The shroud was made of ivory-colored, almost yellow linen, and was disfigured in several distinct ways. Wrinkles zig-zagged the 14½ -foot length and 3½-foot width of the cloth whenever it was hung for exposition. Burn marks from a fire in 1532 ran down the cloth's sides. Water marks resembling rough-cut diamonds, made when the sixteenth-century fire was doused, could be seen with the naked eye. Also appearing on the shroud were two softly diffused but distinct impressions of a body. They were difficult to see up close, but at a distance they stood out in subtle brown. It was as though the cloth had been wrapped around a body - not in mummy fashion, but lengthwise - beginning at the heels and proceeding up the back to the base of the skull, then over the head and down the face to the toes. The face was owl-like, almost grotesque. The eyes were open and staring, with what looked like pinholes for pupils. The nose was long and thin-a line in the center of the face. The mouth was a smudge beneath the nostrils. The hair appeared coarse and stringy, and hung almost to the neck in what appeared to be two braids. Between the hair and the sides of the face there was a curious space. The feet appeared to be missing from the frontal image, and the legs were little more than lines tapering from the trunk. But the thighs, knees, and calves could be discerned, and the hands were folded over the loins in repose. The stomach, chest, and arms were easily recognizable on the frontal image, whereas the head, shoulders, and buttocks stood out on the dorsal. The dull red stain of blood was everywhere. Large droplets from under the hairline suggested the entrance points of thornlike instruments. Small lacerations all over the body could easily have been the result of indiscriminate and interminable flogging. Wounds from nails resulted in large seepages on the hands as well as thin trickles on the arms. The gash in the side showed the most bleeding; blood had gathered around the hole, then flowed down the sides of the body and across the small of the back. These were the images Secondo Pia expected to see as he peered into the tray of chemicals and waited for the negative plate to develop. The year was 1898, and he had been commissioned to make the first photographs ever of the shroud. But what he saw as he held the dripping plate up to the red light was something far different. The face was alive with expression; its details were almost portrait-like. The eyes were closed and tranquil as though the figure were asleep. The mouth was full, with mustache above and beard below. The nose was long and prominent, with gradations of shadow down the sides. The hair, strands of which were matted with blood, appeared soft and smooth. What Pia was looking at were positive images, and what he saw on the cloth itself, the photographer concluded, must be negative images. Exactly how these images had been transferred to the shroud he could not say. What was clear was that Jesus had left not only his `photograph' on the shroud but also a visual record of what happened to him in the bloody hours before his death." (Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," Macmillan: New York NY, pp.3-4. Emphasis original).

"THE SHROUD OF TURIN is a linen cloth, fourteen feet long and three and a half feet wide. The threads were hand-spun and the fabric hand-woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill. On the long fabric are two faint, straw-colored images, one of the front and the other of the back of a nude man who was apparently scourged and crucified, with the hands crossed over the pelvis. The images appear head to head, as though a body had been laid on its back at one end of the fabric, which was then drawn over to cover the front of the body. The cloth has many burn holes and scorches; the holes have been patched. There are also large water stains. Although the cloth appeared in France 630 years ago, its history is obscure." (Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.vii. Emphasis original).

"The conventional argument that the image on the Shroud is the true image of Jesus assumes that we all agree, as perhaps we may, that the image came from a dead man's body. Most reasonable investigators have firmly ruled out the possibility that the image was painted, and they are also persuaded that it could not have been effected by means of a scorch from a hot statue. In addition, experts in anatomy and forensic medicine have concluded that the image on the Shroud could only have come from a human body, and in fact from the body of a man who had died (rigor mortis is evident) the violent death indicated by the visible wounds. These conclusions, as we have seen, were first reported by Delage in his 1902 address to the French Academy, and they have often been confirmed: in greatest detail by physician Pierre Barbet, and most recently by Robert Bucklin, deputy medical examiner of Los Angeles County in California." (Drews, R., 1984, "In Search of the Shroud of Turin: New Light on Its History and Origins," Rowman & Allanheld: Totowa NJ, p.27).

"From the ankle, a rill of blood appears to have broken away directly onto the cloth, and it is the seemingly post-mortem nature of this that has caused most interest. While all previously discussed bloodstains have theoretically flowed while the body was upright on the cross, dried on the body, then somehow become transferred after death, this ankle rill must have been of a different nature, presumably an accidental spillage as the body was laid on the cloth for burial. There is even a counter-impression where the cloth would appear to have been slightly wrinkled at the time. The fifth and final of the Shroud's visible injury groups is indicated by an elliptical wound 4.4 centimeters wide immediately adjacent to one of the 1532 fire patches and, on the body of the man of the Shroud, locatable in the right side. Even to the layman this looks obvious as the entry point of some spear, from which blood appears to have flowed for some 15 centimeters while the body hung upright on the cross. But it is inevitably the pathologists for whom, again, the injury is most meaningful. There is general agreement that the exact point of injury would have been in the fifth intercostal space, immediately above the sixth rib, and it is to be noted that the wound is angled perfectly for such a between-the-ribs location. Some investigators even see slight interruptions in the flow of the blood downward exactly corresponding to the spacings of the middle ribs. The most dramatic aspect of this injury is that, as in the case of the foot wound, there is a post-mortem spillage associated with it, in this instance in the form of a copious and intricate splashing of blood visible right across the small of the back on the dorsal image, extending out to each side. Among the pathologists, there is general agreement that this spillage would have occurred as the heavy body was inevitably heaved onto the cloth at the time of burial." (Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, pp.24,26).

"If the Shroud is genuine, obviously such a dramatic chest injury must have been caused by a blow intended to cause death. But, quite aside from this, doctors and pathologists have pointed to other evidence that the man of the Shroud was indeed dead when laid in the cloth. As Professor James Cameron of the London Hospital has observed, if the man of the Shroud had been still breathing when laid in the cloth, the natural effect of his inhalations would have been to suck the linen into his mouth and nostrils, as indeed occurred in one modern case which Cameron was called upon to examine. This would inevitably have distorted the Shroud facial image; yet it shows no sign of this. Cameron also interprets the already noted stiffness of the arms in the burial position as due to rigor mortis. He argues that the arms had become fixed in the attitude of their suspension on the cross, and those who took the body down therefore had forcibly to break this rigor at the shoulders in order to place the arms in the burial position. Cameron also offers an interesting explanation for the oddly skeletal appearance of the hands. He points out that a nail through the wrist would be likely to hit not only the median nerve but also the main artery, thereby partially draining the hands of blood and creating an early post-mortem tissue-drying effect he refers to as `de-gloving.'" (Wilson, I., 1986, pp.25-26).

"There are at least three signs on the Shroud that Jesus was dead when He was buried. First, the body of the man in the Shroud is in a state of rigor mortis, in which the muscles stiffen, keeping the body in the position the person occupied just prior to death. Such a state is complete in about twelve hours after death, begins to wear off in twenty-four hours, and disappears in thirty-six to forty hours. Of course, these times are variable and imprecise, and therefore somewhat unreliable. Closely related to rigor mortis is a state called cadaveric spasm, an immediate stiffening, a rather sudden contraction of the muscles that occurs quickly after some violent deaths. Rigor mortis is observable on the Shroud in several places. The head was bent forward, the feet were somewhat drawn up, and the left leg in particular had moved back toward its position on the cross. Especially visible in the three-dimensional image analysis of the Shroud are the retracted thumbs and the `frozen' posture of the chest and abdomen. As was also noted by Bucklin, the entire body was quite rigid and stiff, occupying some of the positions it did on the cross. The second evidence of death in the man of the Shroud is the post-mortem blood flow, especially from the chest wound. If the heart had been beating after burial, the blood literally would have been shot out onto the cloth. But the blood oozed out instead. Also, a comparatively small quantity of blood flowed, and there was no swelling around the wound. Finally, the blood from the chest, left wrist, and feet separated into clots and serum and was much thicker and of much deeper color than it would have been prior to death. Zugibe also mentioned a third piece of evidence based on his medical experience. If Jesus had been alive after the spear wound, the soldiers and others at the site would have heard a loud sucking sound caused by breath being inhaled past the chest wound. Zugibe related that when answering a distress call after a man had been stabbed in the chest, he heard the loud inhaling of the unconscious man all the way across the room. He saw this phenomenon as `a direct refutation of the theory that Christ was alive after being taken down from the cross." [Zugibe, F.T., "The Cross and the Shroud," Angelus Books: New York NY, 1982, p.165]" (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.113. Emphasis original).

"There are essentially four categories of injuries that anyone, whatever their viewpoint, may reasonably `see' and identify on the Shroud: (i) a set of injuries as from a severe whipping (ii) a set of injuries as from various forms of incidental abuse (including apparent `crowning with thorns') (iii) a set of injuries as from piercing at the hands and feet (iv) a single injury as from the driving of a bladed weapon through the chest To which may be added as a final category: (v) evidence of apparent post-mortem blood spillages from (iii) and (iv)" (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.31).

"Which brings us to the fifth and final category of readily visible injury marks on the Shroud, apparent post-mortem spillages, that is, bloodflows that do not appear to have come from the body during life or its immediate expiry, but which broke loose from it while it was being laid in the Shroud. Two examples of this may be cited, both readily visible on the back-of the-body image. First, by the right foot there can be seen a spillage that has broken away at the level of the ankle, extending several centimetres laterally ... Second, right across the small of the back can be seen a large, similarly lateral splash of blood ... In the case of this latter, from its position and from the absence of any other obviously related injury, it can only have come from the lance wound in the chest. As interpreted by Dr Joseph Gambescia, a professor of medicine at the Hannemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, this: `... makes sense only if the body were tilted on its side with the side-wound oriented momentarily toward the ground and then turned up on the other side so that the flow could make its way transversedly across the back toward the ground." (Wilson, 1998, p.38).

"Further evidence of the man's death on the cross is found in the numerous identifications of rigor mortis apparent on the Shroud image. Rigor mortis develops because of complex chemical processes that cause all body muscles to stiffen. The actual stiffening typically begins four to six hours after death and continues for another twelve hours. Once complete, rigor mortis gradually declines over the next twelve to twenty-four hours and the muscles relax again. The onset of rigor mortis can be accelerated by muscular exertion before death, an elevated body temperature, or warm weather. In cases where physical activity has been strenuous and intense, as would be the case in a crucifixion, rigor mortis can set in immediately after death, especially in a hot climate. If the corpse were then placed in a cool environment, such as a tomb, rigor mortis would tend to remain longer. When looking at the back of the man's legs and feet, we see that his left leg is raised slightly and that both feet, especially the right one, are flat and pointed down. For the lower extremities to have remained in such an awkward position indicates that rigor mortis set in while the man remained crucified. Moving up the back of the man, we notice that the thighs, buttocks, and torso are not flat, but instead are stiff and rigid. If rigor mortis had declined and the muscles had relaxed, these parts of the body would appear flatter and wider. On the frontal image we see the chin drawn in close to the chest and the face turned slightly to the right. For the head to remain in this position inside the burial cloth without rotating further to the side requires the presence of rigor mortis. The man's expanded ribcage is a sign of asphyxia, and the enlarged pectoral muscles drawn in toward the collarbone and arms provide evidence that the man had been pulling himself up to breathe. That these parts of the body remained in such positions further indicates that the onset of rigor mortis occurred while the man hung suspended. Rigor would also maintain the thumbs in the positions held during crucifixion. ... All of the data gleaned from extensive study of the pathology evident on the Turin Shroud tells us this piece of linen was wrapped around the corpse of a man who was crucified and died while still nailed to a cross. We also know that the man's corpse lay inside the burial linen for no more than two or three days. Had he been there longer, decomposition stains would be present on the cloth, but the Shroud contains no signs of bodily decomposition." (Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, pp.32-33).

"J. Malcolm Cameron, British Home Office pathologist, notes that the arms of the Man on the Shroud were forcibly bent across the lower abdomen to break the postmortem rigor (muscle stiffening) of the shoulder girdle (a common problem for morticians regardless of the cause of death, in order to get a body into position for burial). Drs. Jackson and Jumper of the STURP scientific team noticed, when their computer projections were developing three-dimensional images from the Shroud data, that the head was bent forward as a result of rigor mortis. Knees bent by the rigor are also observable, especially the left. Moreover, their three-dimensional images have further special value for medical studies of the Shroud because they show, for instance, the degree of swelling in the right cheek, and the overextension of the chest and abdominal muscles." (Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," [1983], Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, p.100).

"Did Jesus die on the cross or after he was taken down? This has often been raised by skeptics and critics of the Shroud. Scientists studying the Shroud no longer have doubts on that point, for a variety of reasons. Professor Giovanni Tamburelli of Turin University has used the computer in his study of blood flows on the Shroud. For instance, he has found that all streams of blood on the face flow down the face; none of them flow toward the ears or back of the neck or head. Thus it is clear that the death of the Man of the Shroud caused the blood to stop running while he was still on the cross. If he were alive when removed from the cross, the blood would have still been flowing, and as he lay on his back it would have flowed toward his back. Tamburelli also noticed a drop of blood from the right nostril that did not fall because its weight was not sufficient. The drop was pointed, not round, proving that the blood ceased to flow because of death while he was still on the cross. Another significant characteristic is that the Shroud bloodstains have a `halo effect' that is typically suggestive of the separation of blood and serum, which happens after the heart has already stopped-evidence of death on the cross." (Tribbe, 2006, p.101).


"If genuine, the Shroud is a record of a burial, a Jewish burial that reputedly took place nearly two thousand years ago of none other than Jesus Christ. Among the key questions therefore to be considered are the extent to which it is compatible with known Jewish burial customs of the time and, above all, the specifically recorded burial of Jesus Christ. In entering this field, we come upon one of the most difficult areas of Shroud studies. From the rise of the Herodian dynasty to the first half of the second century A.D., Jewish burial custom would seem to have been first to wash the body, a practice normal in most cultures. Then it was dressed in clean linen clothes, generally the white garment worn by the deceased for festivals, and bound at the chin, wrists, and feet. Such a custom would seem to be quite explicit from the description of the raising of Lazarus in which we are told, `The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, let him go free"' (Jn. 11:44). So far this seems reasonable enough. Had Lazarus been swathed in bands, mummy fashion, it would have been impossible for him to move at all. Instead he appears to have been at least able to shuffle forward at the command `Come out,' requiring only the chin, hand, and foot bindings to be severed for him to resume normal life." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, p.38).

"Some of the details visible on the Shroud are consistent with such practices. As in Jewish custom we can be reasonably sure that the man of the Shroud was laid out flat and intact in some sort of prepared tomb. ... The position of the body with the hands across the pelvis is also identical with Jewish burials of the Essene sect ... in the area of Qumran. We can also detect that, as in Jewish custom, the man of the Shroud seems to have been bound at head, hands, and feet. On the Shroud there is a distinct gap between the frontal and dorsal images of the head, almost certainly indicating the presence of a chin band tied around the face. At the region of the wrists we may perceive that there is an apparent break in the blood flow immediately to the left of the covering hand. A binding cloth or cord at this point would almost certainly have been functionally necessary to counteract the effects of rigor mortis, which according to some medical opinion would have tended to return the arms to the original crucifixion position. In the area of the feet, the possible presence of a similar cord or binding cloth is less obvious, but there is a blank in the image at precisely the most likely position." (Wilson,1978, p.39).

"... the Turin Shroud ... This length of ivory-coloured cloth measures 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches, or 4.36 metres by 1.10 metre. Its exact age has not yet been determined, but it is at least six hundred years old, and there is nothing in its fabric or weave to invalidate the claim that its manufacture is of the first century AD. From the purely textile angle it can be described as a three-to-one herring-bone twill, the material being linen with a small admixture of cotton (as the Belgian Professor Gilbert Raes reported in 1976 after his microscopic examination of carefully selected and extracted threads of it in his textile laboratory at Ghent University). The presence of cotton fibres in the weave is considered by experts to be conclusive in ruling out a European provenance for the fabric of the Shroud, since cotton was not grown or used in Europe in any possible epoch of the manufacture of this cloth. But it is entirely consonant with a Palestinian provenance, as the fibres are of the Gossypium Herbaceum variety which is cultivated in the Middle East. The total absence of wool in the Shroud's composition is instructive to anyone versed in the Mosaic Law with its prohibition of textile mixture, for Leviticus 19:19 commands: `Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.' The presence of even one wool fibre would have excluded this cloth from ever having been a Jewish burial shroud." (McNair, P., "The Shroud and History: fantasy, fake or fact?," in Jennings, P., ed., "Face to Face with the Turin Shroud," Mayhew-McCrimmon: Great Wakering UK, 1978, pp.21-22).

"Jewish Burial Customs. The first point of comparison is the cloth itself. The gospels say that Jesus was buried in a cloth (or cloths); the Shroud of Turin appears to be a burial cloth which medical experts say once held a dead body. The image reveals a man lying on his back with his feet close together. His elbows protrude from his sides and his hands are crossed over the pelvic area. We can ascertain that the linen sheet was wound lengthwise up the front and down the back of the corpse. ... Is this kind of burial compatible with the New Testament reports? It is at least compatible with Jewish customs as we know them from extrabiblical sources. Recent archaeological excavations at the Qumran community found that the Essenes buried their dead in the way represented on the Shroud. Several skeletons were found lying on their backs, faces pointing upward, elbows bent outward, and their hands covering the pelvic region. The protruding elbows rule out an Egyptian-type mummified burial. Also very instructive is the Code of Jewish Law, which discusses burial procedures in its `Laws of Mourning.' It instructs that a person executed by the government was to be buried in a single sheet. This is another parallel with the Shroud." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.46. Emphasis original).

"Ancient Jewish Beliefs Regarding Death, Burial and Resurrection Let us first provide some background on the evolution of ancient Jewish theological thought, especially during the Second Temple Period regarding death, burial and the idea of resurrection. ... When an individual died, the family was required to bury him as quickly as possible because of the climatic conditions favoring the onset of decay. Primary burial involved burial in either a wooden coffin in the ground or in a shroud in a cave-tomb cut from the soft limestone rocks. In the area of Jerusalem, most people were buried in the cave-tombs carved out of the soft limestone outside and near the walls of the city. Cemeteries were required to be outside the city walls. .... The body was usually enveloped in a shroud (a large linen sheet called a sindon in the New Testament) and laid on a stone shelf in the cave-tomb. ... The burial of Jesus was consistent with the primary burial procedures of the Jews. The New Testament relates that Joseph of Arimathea (a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin - the Jewish religious ruling body) buried Jesus in a cave-tomb cut from the rock nearby the crucifixion site on Golgotha (Calvary) and enveloped Him in a shroud. `Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his new tomb which he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away' (Mt 27:59-60). Rt. Rev. John A.T. Robinson notes: `The corpse of Jesus enfolded in a simple linen cloth passing lengthwise over the head and covering the whole body back and front is not, I submit, what any forger with medieval or modern presuppositions would have thought of; but it makes complete sense of the texts and conforms with the other ancient evidence.' [Robinson, J.A.T., "The Shroud of Turin and the Grave-Clothes of the Gospels," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," Albuquerque NM, 1977, p.25] It was not customary in the ancient or medieval world for an artist to paint on linen, and painting Jesus naked was unheard of. The Shroud represents a true Jewish burial in a linen shroud." (Iannone, J.C., "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, 1998, pp.75-76. Emphasis original).

"Lazarus died a natural death. In accordance with normal Jewish practice he would have been washed, interred fully dressed in his Sabbath best, tied up with a few binding strips to keep his jaw and limbs suitably together, and provided with some kind of face cloth for screening purposes. Jesus, in contrast, died a very bloody death, and stark naked, his clothes having been removed from him at the time of his crucifixion. [Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23] In his case Jewish law prescribed something very different. As has been carefully explained by Jewish-born Victor Tunkel [Tunkel, V., "A Jewish View of the Shroud," Lecture to the British Society for the Turin Shroud, London, 12 May 1983] of the Faculty of Laws, Queen Mary College, University of London, the belief among the Pharisees of Jesus's time, shared by Jesus's own followers, was that everyone's body would be physically resurrected at the end of time. This meant that as far as humanly possible everything that formed part of that body, including particularly the life-blood, should be buried with it. As expressed in the Jewish Code of Laws, `One who fell [e.g. in battle] and died instantly, if ... blood flowed from the wound, and there is apprehension that the blood of the soul was absorbed in his clothes, he should not be cleansed.' [Gansfried, 1927, Vol. IV, ch. CXCVII, Laws Relating to Purification (Tahara nos 9 and 10), pp.99-100] In these circumstances, therefore, those preparing the dead person for burial had to wrap a `sheet which is called a sovev' straight over any clothes, however bloodstained. This sovev had to be an all-enveloping cloth, that is a `single sheet ... used to go right round' the entire body. Such a sovev readily corresponds to the `over the head' characteristics of Turin's Shroud. " (Wilson, I., "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, 2010, p.52).

The next post in this series will be part #11 "Science has been unable to explain how the image was formed on the cloth."

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My response to: "The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it," by Tom Chivers, The Telegraph, 20 December 2011

I had planned to write a general "Response to Critics of the ENEA Report" but I have now decided to first respond to this article by Tom Chivers in The Telegraph . His words are bold to distinguish them from mine.

The Telegraph

The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it

By Tom Chivers Science Last updated: December 20th, 2011

[Above (click to enlarge): Diagram of ENEA's excimer laser experimental setup: Paolo Di Lazzaro, et. al., "A Physical Hypothesis on the Origin of the Body Image Embedded into the Turin Shroud," in "The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma," Proceedings of the 2008 Columbus Ohio International Conference, August 14-17, 2008]

First things first. The "authenticity" or otherwise of the Shroud of Turin does not have any implications for whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it was a medieval forgery, it doesn't mean the stories aren't true; if it really was made in the first century AD, it doesn't mean they were.

Agreed that the Shroud of Turin could be false and Christianity be true. And that the Shroud could be first century, and yet it not be Jesus'. And that it could be Jesus' and yet Christianity could be false. But if the Shroud of Turin is Jesus' (as the vast preponderance of the evidence points to), and it bears the image of His crucified body, then it would be additional extrabiblical evidence that Christianity is true.

Until we find a reliable method of linking the shroud with Christ Himself - a nametag stitched in it by His mum, perhaps - the existence of a 2,000-year-old cloth does not imply that a particular person who died around the time it was made was the Son of God.

Chivers is wrong that there is no "reliable method of linking the shroud with Christ Himself." It is the same "reliable method" that courts everyday sentence persons to prison and even execution, based on forensic evidence: improbability. The atheist and Shroud anti-authenticist Steven Schafersman admitted that if the Shroud is not a forgery, then the odds are less than "1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ":

"As the (red ochre) dust settles briefly over Sindondom, it becomes clear there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic (naturally or supernaturally produced by the body of Jesus) or it is a product of human artifice. Asks Steven Schafersman: `Is there a possible third hypothesis? No, and here's why. Both Wilson [Wilson, I., "The Shroud of Turin," 1979, pp.51-53.] and Stevenson and Habermas [Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "Verdict on the Shroud," 1981, pp.121-129] go to great lengths to demonstrate that the man imaged on the shroud must be Jesus Christ and not someone else. After all, the man on this shroud was flogged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, did not have his legs broken, was nailed to the cross, had his side pierced, and so on. Stevenson and Habermas [Ibid., p.128] even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ (and they consider this a very conservative estimate). I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus.' [Schafersman, S.D., "Science, the public, and the Shroud of Turin," The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 6, No. 3, Spring 1982, pp.37-56, p.42]" (Nickell, J., "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," [1983], Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, 1987, Reprinted, 2000, p.141. Emphasis original).
This was because of the exact correspondence of the pattern of wounds of the man on the Shroud with the Gospels' description of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, and which at least one, the crown of thorns (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5), was true of no other crucifixion victim, because it was done to mock Jesus' claim to be King of the Jews (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:18; Jn 19:3).

The Rev. Herbert Thurston (1856 -1939), another arch-enemy of the Shroud's authenticity, admitted that, "As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud ... The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head ... In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified":

"Father Thurston, for example, writes of the Shroud of Turin: `As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head, can still be clearly distinguished in spite of the darkening of the whole fabric. If this is not the impression of the Body of Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified.' [Thurston, H., "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," The Month, CI, 1903, p.19] We shall see that there is much more than the five wounds, the scourging and the crowning with thorns to show that Christ and the Man of the Shroud are one and the same." (Wuenschel, E.A., "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, 1954, Third printing, 1961, p.40).
I mention this because today, we report that a group of scientists - working, unexpectedly, for the Italian sustainable energy agency ENEA - claim that the marks on the cloth may have been made by ultraviolet radiation. [Note: originally I quoted them as saying it could "only" have been made by UV. Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro of ENEA has emailed to say that's not the case, so I've updated it.] They say that "When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection," and that they "hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate". They do, however, say "as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes."

Chivers fails to inform his readers what the ENEA report [], translated from Italian to English by Google translate, with only my minor editing for style, stated:

  • The Shroud image is "extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter ... corresponding to the thickness of the primary cell wall of a single linen fiber" (pp.4,8). Clearly no medieval or earlier forger could make even a single mark on linen that thin, let alone create the image of a man, front and back, on a linen sheet, of that extreme thinness.

  • The "total power of the VUV [vacuum ultraviolet] radiation required to instantly color the surface of linen corresponding to a human body of medium height is equal to 34 thousand billion watts" and "this power can not be produced by any light source VUV built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts)" (p.22).

  • It would require "a battery of ten thousand excimer lasers to accurately reproduce the image on the Shroud" (p.22). That is, instantaneously. And, although the report does not says it, they would have to be directed by a computer which followed a digitized map of the Shroud.

The implication, of course, is that a divine light shone when Jesus's body was resurrected, and that this emitted a burst of high-frequency photons which burned an image on the cloth around him.

The implication is indeed, that "when Jesus's body was resurrected, and that this emitted a burst of high-frequency photons which burned an image on the cloth around him." As Ian Wilson pointed out as far back as 1978, the evidence was pointing to the Shroud image being "a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection":

"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the ... image ... of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, 1978, p.210).

This possibility has been discounted in the past by Raymond Rogers, a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (Sturp) which examined the fabric in the 1970s, who said: "If any form of radiation degraded the cellulose of the linen fibers to produce the image color, it would have had to penetrate the entire diameter of a fiber in order to color its back surface", but that the centres of the fibres are unmarked.

Ray Rogers' 2002 claim that:

"If any form of radiation (thermal, electromagnetic, or particle) degraded the cellulose of the linen fibers to produce the image color, it would have had to penetrate the entire diameter of a fiber in order to color its back surface. Some lower fibers are colored, requiring more penetration. Radiation that penetrated the entire 10-15-μm-diameter of a fiber would certainly color the walls of the medulla. All image fibers show color on their surfaces but not in the medullas." (Rogers, R. & Arnoldi, A., 2002, "Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin - A Review")
is simply wrong! If Chivers bothered to Google translate the ENEA report and then read it, he would discover that it explains why the high-energy, narrow frequency, ultraviolet light of the ENEA experiments coloured only the "outer skin is called the primary cell wall" of the flax fibrils which is made of hemicellulose, while leaving the "inner (medulla) of pure cellulose" unaffected:
"Each linen thread is made up of about 200 elementary fibers having a cylindrical structure with an average length of 30 mm and average diameter of 20 micrometers, called fibrils. Each linen fiber has an inner (medulla) of pure cellulose, and a thin (0.2 μm [micrometers]) external film composed of hemicellulose, cellulose and other minor components. This outer skin is called the primary cell wall. The ... color of the extremely superficial image on the Shroud was formed by an unknown process that caused oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the structure polysaccharide of flax fibers, to produce a conjugated carbonyl group as a chromophore. In other words, the color is the result of a process of accelerated aging of linen. [There are] two different chemical transitions probably involved in forming the image on the linen of the Shroud. .... There are two possible transitions ... that convert the cellulose and hemicellulose in a chromophore consisting of carbonyl groups married after undergoing processes of oxidation and dehydration. The double bonds ... are the main responsible for the yellow image of the fibers of the Shroud of Turin. ... The different thicknesses of staining obtained with lasers and excimer XeCl ARF ... can be due to different wavelength. In fact, a shorter penetrates less into the tissue and consequently the energy absorbed per unit volume is greater. However ... there [is] only a 11% difference in absorption between the flax 0.193 and 0.308 μm ...Then you must find an additional mechanism to explain the different thicknesses of light penetration fibrils and in different color, ie yellow or yellow-sepia after irradiation to 0.193 μm -or light brown after irradiation at 308 μm. This mechanism could be promoted by additional absorption band at 0.260 μm below the ketone carbonyl groups ... that promote yellowing of the hemicellulose in primary cell wall. In other words, the VUV radiation at 0.193 μm is absorbed by the ketone carbonyl and leads to photolytic degradation of hemicellulose, causing the dissociation of molecular bonds that promotes the chemical reaction ... At the macroscopic level, such reactions produce the yellow-like Shroud ... Note that the UV radiation at 0.308 μm is too long to fit in the absorption band of carbonyl ketone, while it can be absorbed by the aldehyde groups ... Thus, the UV radiation is not able to begin the process with many steps that leads to yellowing of the above-described cellulose and hemicellulose." (pp.19-20)
That is, it is the chemical structure of the hemicellulose of the flax fibril's "outer skin" or "primary cell wall" that absorbs the energy of "VUV radiation at 0.193 μm [which] leads to photolytic degradation of hemicellulose, causing the dissociation of molecular bonds that promotes the chemical reaction" and "At the macroscopic level, such reactions produce the yellow-like Shroud." The flax fibril's "inner (medulla) of pure cellulose" does not absorb the VUV energy and therefore its chemical structure is not changed so does not change colour.

There are many hypotheses about how the images could have been made, and they have each come in and out of favour. Without wanting to be too cocky, when the ENEA scientists say that radiation is the "only" way the image could have been made, I imagine that many of their fellow researchers will say it's the only way that they managed it.

There are indeed, "many hypotheses about how the images could have been made, and they have each come ... out of favour"! That is because, as the ENEA report itself states, none of them until now had been able to reproduce "one of the most distinctive features of the Shroud image" it is "extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter":

"The interest of these studies is that the attempts to replicate the Shroud image is of chemical and physical methods have proved so far unsuitable obtain the characteristics of the image. In particular, the chemical methods do not allow to get in contact one of the most distinctive features of the Shroud image, color or thickness of extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter." (p.4).
Chivers can "imagine" whatever he likes what "many of their fellow researchers will say" that "it's the only way that they managed it." But for any researcher to challenge the ENEA scientists' finding, they would need to produce marks on linen that are: 1) the same colour as the image on the Shroud; and 2) the same extreme thinness. I predict now (6 January 2012) that no researcher ever will discover another way, other than radiation, to manage it [still holds ~7 years later on 3 May 2019].

However it was made, if - as many have claimed - the Shroud was made in the 13th century, then it isn't a relic of Christ, for obvious reasons. Radiocarbon dating has repeatedly placed the Shroud as medieval in origin - specifically, between 1260AD and 1390AD.

Based on the above ENEA report's findings, the image on the Shroud could not possibly be the work of a medieval, or earlier, forger, because as Chivers' colleague Nick Squires pointed out, it "could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period":

"Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud - purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body - could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period." ("Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ's authentic burial robe," Nick Squires, The Telegraph, Rome, 19 Dec 2011).
Therefore, my comment on Dan Porter's Shroud of Turin blog stands true:
"Therefore, ALL medieval forgery theories for the creation of the Shroud image (whether painting, hot statue, primitive photography, crucified victim, etc) are WRONG. And also the 1988-89 radiocarbon date of the Shroud linen to between 1260-1360 AD is WRONG!"

That is, since a medieval or earlier forger could not possibly have reproduced an image on linen that is only "one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter" thick, the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... 1260-1390":
"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. As controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated. The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval. ... The age of the shroud is obtained as AD 1260-1390, with at least 95% confidence" (Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, 1989, pp.611-615, p.612).
simply has to be wrong! Indeed, doubly wrong because the AD 1192-95 Pray Codex with its artist's depiction of the Shroud, complete with nude Jesus, hands crossed in front, no thumbs, nails in the wrist, herringbone flax weave, and L-shape poker holes, already proved that the Shroud was in existence in the twelfth century AD, well before the earliest possible 13th century radiocarbon date of AD 1260.

There have been suggestions that the radiocarbon process got it wrong - but this is unlikely, according to Professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, one of three labs which carried out the research. "We're pretty confident in the radiocarbon dates," he told me. "There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up.

Chivers may not be aware that Ramsey's full name is Christopher Ramsey Bronk and that he is the "C.R. Bronk" whose name is listed first of those at Oxford University in that 1989 Nature paper which claimed that the linen of the Shroud was "medieval ... AD 1260-1390":

"Nature 337, 611 - 615 (16 February 1989) ... Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin .... C. R. Bronk , E. T. Hall , R. E. M. Hedges , R. Housley , I. A. Law , C. Perry , ... Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QJ, UK ..."
That Prof. Ramsey Bronk's name is listed first of those from Oxford, indicates that he was the scientist at Oxford who actually did the radiocarbon dating [No. It is in alphabetic order]. Therefore, he is far from being a disinterested party in defending that now doubly discredited AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date. The only question now is how did the three labs get it so wrong? The most likely explanation is that the tiny 1.2 cm x 0.8 cm (0.012 x 0.008 m) sample of the 4.37 x 1.11 m Shroud that was divided equally among the three labs for testing, was actually a medieval patch, not part of the original main body of the Shroud (see Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., "Discrepancies in the Radiocarbon Dating Area of the Turin Shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol. 26, No. 4, July-August 2008).

I no longer maintain that "The most likely explanation" for the first-century Shroud having a 1260-1390 radiocarbon date is that the Shroud sub-samples that were radiocarbon dated by the three laboratories "was actually a medieval patch, not part of the original main body of the Shroud." For my reasons see 08Dec14 & 23Jul15. However, see what I later called my "Revised Hacker Theory" , 29May19, 02Sep19 & 14Feb20.

"One is that the samples were contaminated. But that doesn't work, because to make an 2,000-year-old object appear just 800 years old, about half the material would have to be contaminant, and that's if it was all modern. If it was older, it would have to be even more. Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure.

Agreed that it is unlikely that if the linen was 1st century AD, there could be enough new carbon contamination on it to make it appear to be between AD 1260-1390, i.e. in 1988 between 728 and 598 years old (not "800 years old"). But since the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date has to be wrong, in that the image could not possibly have been created by a medieval forger (see above) this leaves only three alternatives: 1) the three labs bungled the tests; or 2) they committed fraud; or 3) the sample they dated was not part of the original Shroud itself and it was between 728 and 598 years old.

Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure.

Ramsey Bronk cannot have forgotten that it was his own Oxford laboratory (perhaps he himself) which found that the Shroud sample was contaminated with cotton, which was "a fine, dark yellow strand, possibly of Egyptian origin and quite old":

"Staff at a Derbyshire laboratory have been working on one of their most unusual and fascinating problems ever to help unravel a second mystery concerning the world-famous Turin Shroud. The true age of the Shroud was announced recently following exhaustive tests by laboratories in Britain, Switzerland, and the USA. Precision Processes (Textiles) Ltd. in Ambergate, Derbyshire, earned the distinction of being the only lab in the UK to assist Oxford University with the prestigious assignment, their task being identify `foreign' bodies found in the cloth. Managing director Peter South explains, `It was while the sample was undergoing tests at the radiocarbon acceleration unit in Oxford that Professor Edward Hall noticed two or three fibres which looked out of place. He mentioned this to his friend Sir James Spooner, chairman of Coats Viyella, to which our firm belongs. Consequently, after several telephone calls, the minute samples, which looked like human hair, were sent to us.' The strange fibres were magnified 200 times under a microscope and were immediately identified as cotton. `The cotton is a fine, dark yellow strand, possibly of Egyptian origin and quite old. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say how it ended up in the Shroud, which is basically made from linen,' said Mr. South. `It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past, or simply became bound in when the linen fabric was woven. It may not have taken us long to identify the strange material, but it was unique amongst the many and varied jobs we undertake." ("Rogue fibres found in the Shroud," Textile Horizons, December 1988, p.13).
So either: 1) this cotton was part of the original Shroud and was "quite old", in which case the labs AD 1260-1390 date must be wrong (especially Tucson and Zurich labs which did their tests 2-3 months before Oxford and did not find the cotton [or did they find the cotton but picked it out and discarded it as irrelevant?]); or 2) the cotton was part of a medieval repair and was dyed yellow to appear "quite old" amongst the yellowed linen.

It's also been hypothesised that the patch we tested was a modern repair, but most of us agree that's implausible, because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly. Then there are more complicated notions, like contamination with carbon monoxide, but tests have shown that carbon monoxide doesn't react with the fabric under the circumstances that you might expect."

Ramsey's reason for why "the patch" (Freudian slip!) tested was not a modern (i.e. medieval) repair, "because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly" is amazing and shows that he has never bothered to take the time to read Benford & Marino's Invisible Reweave Theory:

"It was a brilliant bit of detective work. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino consulted with several textile experts. They examined the documenting photographs of the carbon 14 samples and other close up photographs of the Shroud. They found clear indications of a discrete repairs to the Shroud. The repair seems to have been what modern tailors call invisible reweaving. This results in an intermingling of new and older thread. Threads are even spliced together. The newer thread is carefully dyed to match the older material so as to make it almost invisible to the naked eye. This was a common method by which artisans repaired valuable tapestries during the middle ages. Enough newer thread was identified so that Ron Hatfield of the Beta Analytic, one of the world largest carbon 14 dating firm, to estimate that had the cloth of the Shroud been 1st century and the new cloth 16th century, the results would have been what the carbon 14 tests had revealed." (Daniel Porter, "Medieval Reweaving the Shroud of Turin," Shroud of Turin Skeptical Spectacle, 2008).
Obviously an invisible repair of the Shroud would "match... the rest of the shroud perfectly"!

Regarding the ENEA findings, he is similarly sceptical. "There are several possibilities, and it could just be a chance effect due to a number of different phenomena," he say. "But in archaeological science, being able to reproduce something doesn't imply that that's the technique used; it may simply show that you've got a new technique you want to try out." He adds that the confidence in the medieval result is such that, were it not suggested to be a relic, there would be no more discussion over its age.

Ramsey Bronk's reply indicates that he has not even bothered to read the ENEA report. The best response to Ramsey's continued claim that "the radiocarbon dating results putting it at 1260 - 1390AD were reliable" was from "one of the lead authors of the Italian [ENEA] study, Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro" via Chivers:

"I have no experience of radiocarbon dating. As a consequence, I have to accept the opinion of Prof Ramsey. However, I note we have a problem: there is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD. Does Prof Ramsey have any idea how to solve this contradiction? Can we collaborate to find a solution? Is it possible to organise a team of experts that reconsider both dating and microscopic characteristics of this extraordinary image?" ("The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes," Tom Chivers, The Telegraph, December 30th, 2011
So what is Prof. Ramsey Bronk's answer to the contradiction that the Shroud "is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD"? As far as I am aware, neither Prof. Ramsey nor Tom Chivers has resolved this contradiction. Clearly since the Shroud's image "has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD," then the radiocarbon date of AD 1260-1390 must be wrong!

So there remain questions about how the Shroud of Turin was made, but there seems to be little reason to think that it's anywhere near

That "reasons: are overwhelming that "the Shroud of Turin is ... old enough to have been Christ's." The problem is that Chivers, like other Shroud sceptics, does not want to accept those reasons and like a drowning man clutching at a straw clings to any excuse he can to not believe in the Shroud's authenticity.

(Interestingly, John Calvin in 1543 already thought it was a fake: he pointed out that according to the Gospel of St John, two cloths were used to shroud Jesus, one on His body and one on His face;

Those two cloths exist today: the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo!

he also suggests that it is strange that none of those recording his death in the Gospels mentioned a miracle "so remarkable as the likeness of the body of our Lord remaining on its wrapping sheet".)

Calvin's arguments against the Shroud are fallacious. See my Re: John Calvin on the Shroud #1 and #2.

Also, the ENEA report (if Chivers had bothered to read it) found a mechanism for the Shroud image to be latent and only become "visible after some time (years) from when it was formed":

"We obtained similar results ... using the XeCl laser verifying that the staining appears after a latent natural aging over a year, while the linen in irradiated threshold in a drawer in the dark . The importance of these latent staining results is twofold. On the one hand there is the scientific interest of a double synergistic mechanism of coloration (UV and VUV light that breaks some chemical bonds favoring the effect oxidizing and dehydrating heat) .... On the other hand there is the interest of historians, attracted by the possibility that the image on the Shroud could have made visible after some time (years) from was formed when the same image" (p.15).

"After laser irradiation, which does not produce a visible color, color is a latent artificial aging of the flax plant ... or a year later for natural aging. The underlying color is important both for the double staining synergistic mechanism, both for historians, attracted by the possibility that the image on the Shroud could have made visible after some time (years) from when it was formed."(p.22)
So it is possible that the image did not become visible until after the Gospels had been written or even after the New Testament writers had all died. Indeed, this is a possibility that Shroud pro-authenticity theorists had proposed:
"Also, the Gospel accounts do not mention an image on Jesus' burial sheet. These omissions are one reason Bishop d'Arcis believed the Lirey Shroud could not possibly be the one referred to in the Bible. Wouldn't the Gospel writers have said something about preserving Jesus' burial linen with his precious blood on it? Wouldn't they have mentioned if it had contained a portrait of Jesus himself? As Bishop d'Arcis argued, this would seem to be proof that the Lirey Shroud with its image was not the same as the shroud of the Gospel accounts. One explanation may be that the image was not yet visible on the cloth. Perhaps it only darkened little by little. (Remember what was said about the slow yellowing of linen.) If an image could not yet be seen on Easter morning, then the Evangelists (Gospel writers) could not mention one." (Scavone, D.C., "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, 1989, p.70).
It's a fascinating and mysterious object, but it says nothing about the questions of whether Christ was a historical figure, whether He was the Son of God, or whether He rose from the dead.

Chivers is deceiving himself. Remember what the atheist Steven Schafersman pointed out, "If the shroud is authentic [i.e. not a forgery], the image is that of Jesus."

But since the Shroud, which has a continuous documented history since the 1350s, "could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period" and "is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD," then it is not a forgery. Therefore it "is authentic" and therefore "the image is that of Jesus."

Therefore, the Shroud does answer "yes" to the question "whether Christ was a historical figure." If Chivers regards it as a valid "question ... whether Christ was a historical figure" then it would reveal how extreme is his anti-Christian position (on a par with arch-atheist Richard Dawkins). Clearly someone who "questions ... whether Christ was a historical figure" is not going to believe that the Shroud is authentic, let alone "whether He was the Son of God, or whether He rose from the dead."

But the Shroud does answer the question, to those whose minds are not closed against it, "whether He [Jesus] rose from the dead." Clearly if the image had to be formed by the equivalent of to "a battery of ten thousand excimer lasers "delivering the energy of "34 thousand billion watts," from His dead body, then Jesus did rise from the dead and He is "the Son of God" as He claimed to be (Mt 27:43; Mk 14:61-62; Jn 5:25; 10:36; 11:4).

More importantly, I think, the rush to suggest that it does is a bit undignified. The intelligent faithful don't need trinkets like this to justify their belief, surely?

The Shroud of Turin is not a "trinket." If Chivers really thought it was, why is he wasting so much time writing about it? And while Bible-believing Christians don't "need" the Shroud to " justify their belief," it is extrabiblical evidence that helps to "justify their belief" to others.

We are constantly told that science cannot disprove God; that it is a non-scientific question, that the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping.

We are "constantly told" by the Richard Dawkins' of this world that science has disproven God! And Christian apologetics has long presented scientific evidence to supports its arguments for the truth of Christianity. It was only the "Non-overlapping magisteria" position of the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould" which held that "the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping," but few have accepted that position.

This ENEA report itself is evidence that "science and religion" (i.e. Christianity) are overlapping, and that science can in fact help support the truth of Christianity.

But then, when something which goes the other way occurs - something which might suggest that one or other given Bible story is true - suddenly all that goes out of the window.

Agreed for those who argue that "the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping" but few do. Chivers himself here tacitly admits that science can help "suggest that one or other given Bible story is true" in this case the all-important account of the suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection" of Jesus.

The Turin Shroud is (almost certainly) fake. It makes no difference to anything. Get over it.

No. The ENEA report is yet another major piece of evidence that the Turin Shroud is certainly NO fake. And again, if it "makes no difference to anything," why does Chivers bother to write about it? Chivers (and his ilk) would like to be able to "Get over" the Shroud but the evidence won't let them!

Tom, if you are reading this: The Turin Shroud is NO fake. It is objective (i.e. true whether it is believed or not) evidence that Jesus lived, suffered, died on a cross for the sins of those who put their trust in Him (John 3:16) , was buried, and rose from the dead. That makes all the difference to everything. Accept it!

Because the Face on the Shroud is of Him who is to be your Judge (and

[Above (enlarge): The image of Jesus' face imprinted on the Shroud at the moment of His resurrection! ("Shroud University).]

mine) on the Last Day (Jn 5:26-27; Act 10:41-42; 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:1):

"In this context, although there are many individuals who are quite happy to accept that the shroud was faked in the fourteenth century, and regard it as of supreme unimportance in their everyday lives, there are others, including myself, for whom the question `Was this what you really looked like?' simply refuses to go away. Not only is the shroud as difficult to attribute to a fourteenth-century artist as the Sistine Chapel ceiling is attributable to Van Gogh, there is not even any comfort in not being able to dismiss it in such a way. For if that face, however subjectively, seems as though it has transcended two thousand years, it is as if neither time, nor the grave, have any meaning. It bespeaks the very same questions as those that wracked the pilgrims to the Veronica: `Were those the lips that spoke the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Rich Fool?'; `Is this the Face that is to be my judge on the Last Day?'" (Wilson, I., "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, 1991, p.189).

Posted: 6 January 2012. Updated: 2 March 2022.