The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud) is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The origins of the shroud and its image are the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers.
Believers contend that the shroud is the cloth placed on the body of Jesus Christ at the time of his burial, and that the face image is the Holy Face of Jesus. Detractors contend that the artifact postdates the Crucifixion of Jesus by more than a millennium. Both sides of the argument use science and historical documents to make their case.
The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The striking negative image was first observed on the evening of May 28, 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
A radiocarbon dating test was run on the shroud in 1988. The results of this test proved that the shroud dates from the Middle Ages, between 1260 CE and 1390 CE, . However it should be noted that much controversy has arisen over the reliability of the test.
The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 × 1.1 m (14.3 × 3.7 ft). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, yellowish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.
Reddish brown stains that have been said to include whole blood are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that, according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image, the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus: The "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.75 m, or roughly 5 ft 9 in, to 1.88 m, or 6 ft 2 in). Markings on the lines include:
Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage from a fire in 1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. Some burn holes and scorched areas down both sides of the linen are present, due to contact with molten silver during the fire that burned through it in places while it was folded.
In May 1989 amateur Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud and he took the first photograph of the shroud on the evening of May 28, 1898. Pia was startled by the visible image of the negative plate in his darkroom. Negatives of the image give the appearance of a positive image, which implies that the shroud image is itself effectively a negative of some kind. Pia was at first accused of doctoring his photographs, but was vindicated in 1931 when a professional photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, also photographed the shroud and his findings supported Pia's.
Image analysis by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that rather than being like a photographic negative, the image unexpectedly has the property of decoding into a 3-D image of the man when the darker parts of the image are interpreted to be those features of the man that were closest to the shroud and the lighter areas of the image those features that were farthest. This is not a property that occurs in photography, and researchers could not replicate the effect when they attempted to transfer similar images using techniques of block print, engravings, a hot statue, and bas-relief.
In the Catholic Encyclopedia Herbert Thurston writes: "A certain difficulty was caused by the existence elsewhere of other Shrouds similarly impressed with the figure of Jesus Christ [...] notably those of Besançon, Cadouin, Champiègne, Xabregas, etc."
An illustration of what appears to be the Shroud of Turin complete with the distinctive "L-shaped" burn marks and fishbone weave is depicted in Codex Pray, an Illuminated manuscript written in Budapest, Hungary between 1192 and 1195.
According to the Gospel of John (John 20:5-7), the Apostle Peter and the "beloved disciple" entered the sepulchre of Jesus, shortly after his resurrection—of which they were still unaware—and found the "linen cloths" that had wrapped his body and "the napkin, that was about his head."
There are numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in various locations before the fourteenth century. However, none of these reports has been connected with certainty to the current cloth held in the Turin cathedral. Except for the Image of Edessa, none of the reports of these (up to 43) different "true shrouds" was known to mention an image of a body.
The Image of Edessa was reported to contain the image of the face of Jesus, and its existence is reported since the sixth century. Some have suggested a connection between the Shroud of Turin and the Image of Edessa. No legend connected with that image suggests that it contained the image of a beaten and bloody Jesus. It was said to be an image transferred by Jesus to the cloth in life. This image is generally described as depicting only the face of Jesus, not the entire body. Proponents of the theory that the Edessa image was actually the shroud, led by Ian Wilson, theorize that it was always folded in such a way as to show only the face.
Ian Wilson, under 'Reconstructed Chronology of the Turin Shroud' recounts that the 'Doctrine of Addai' mentions a 'mysterious portrait' in connection with the healing of Abgar V. A similar story is recorded in Eusebius' 'History of the Church' bk 1, ch 13, which does not mention the portrait.
Three principal pieces of evidence are cited in favor of the identification with the shroud. Saint John of Damascus mentions the image in his anti-iconoclastic work On Holy Images, describing the Edessa image as being a "strip", or oblong cloth, rather than a square, as other accounts of the Edessa cloth hold. However, in his description, St. John still speaks of the image of Jesus' face when he was alive.
To the contrary, Averil Cameron, expert of Late Antique and Byzantine History at the University of Oxford, denies the possibility of the Turin shroud being identified with the Image of Edessa. Among the reasons are too big differences in the historical descriptions of the Image of Edessa compared to the shroud. The Image of Edessa has according to her its origin in the resistance to the Byzantine iconoclasm.
On the occasion of the transfer of the cloth to Constantinople in 944, Gregory Referendarius, archdeacon of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, preached a sermon about the artifact. This sermon had been lost but was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives and translated by Mark Guscin PDF (187 KB) in 2004. This sermon says that this Edessa cloth contained not only the face, but a full-length image, which was believed to be of Jesus. The sermon also mentions bloodstains from a wound in the side. Other documents have since been found in the Vatican library and the University of Leiden, Netherlands, confirming this impression. "Non tantum faciei figuram sed totius corporis figuram cernere poteris" (You can see not only the figure of a face, but [also] the figure of the whole body). (In Italian) (Cf. Codex Vossianus Latinus Q69 and Vatican Library Codex 5696, p. 35.)
In 1203, a Crusader knight named Robert de Clari claims the cloth was among the countless relics in Constantinople: "Where there was the Shroud in which our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday raised itself upright so one could see the figure of our Lord on it." (The apparent miracle of the cloth raising itself may be accounted for as a mistranslation: the French impersonal passive takes the form of a reflexive verb. Thus the original French could equally well be translated as the cloth was raised upright. De Clari's matter of fact delivery does not suggest that he witnessed anything out of the ordinary.) However, the historians Madden and Queller describe this part of Robert's account as a mistake: Robert had actually seen or heard of the sudarium, the handkerchief of Saint Veronica (which also purportedly contained the image of Jesus), and confused it with the grave cloth (sindon). After the Fourth Crusade, in 1205, the following letter was sent by Theodore Angelos, a nephew of one of three Byzantine Emperors who were deposed during the Fourth Crusade, to Pope Innocent III protesting the attack on the capital. From the document, dated 1 August 1205: "The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens." (Codex Chartularium Culisanense, fol. CXXVI (copia), National Library Palermo)
Unless it is the Shroud of Turin, then the location of the Image of Edessa since the 13th century is unknown.
Some historians suggest that the shroud was captured by the knight Otto de la Roche who became Duke of Athens, but that he soon relinquished it to the Knights Templar. It was subsequently taken to France, where the first known keeper of the Turin Shroud had links both to the Templars as well the descendants of Otto. Some speculate that the shroud could have been a major part of the famed "Templar treasure" that treasure hunters still seek today.
The association with the Templars seems to be based on a coincidence of family names; the Templars were a celibate order and so unlikely to have children after entering the Order. However, the location of the Shroud in the 13th-14th centuries is interesting, since the Frankish (French) contingent in the 4th Crusade, which resulted in the sack of Constantinople, was led by Tibaut of Champagne. Lirey, the first known location of the Turin Shroud, is located in the territory of this count.
The known provenance of the cloth now stored in Turin dates to 1357, when the widow of the French knight Geoffroi de Charny (said to be a descendant of Templar Geoffroy de Charney who was burned at the stake with Jacques de Molay) had it displayed in a church at Lirey, France (diocese of Troyes).
According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia :
On 20 June 1353, Geoffroy de Charny, Lord of Savoisy and Lirey, founded at Lirey in honour of the Annunciation a collegiate church with six canonries, and in this church he exposed for veneration the Holy Winding Sheet. Opposition arose on the part of the Bishop of Troyes, who declared after due inquiry that the relic was nothing but a painting, and opposed its exposition. Clement VI by four Bulls, 6 Jan., 1390, approved the exposition as lawful. In 1418 during the civil wars, the canons entrusted the Winding Sheet to Humbert, Count de La Roche, Lord of Lirey. Margaret, widow of Humbert, never returned it but gave it in 1452 to the Duke of Savoy. The requests of the canons of Lirey were unavailing, and the Lirey Winding Sheet is the same that is now exposed and honoured at Turin."
In the Museum Cluny in Paris, the coats of arms of this knight and his widow can be seen on a pilgrim medallion, which also shows an image of the Shroud of Turin.
During the fourteenth century, the shroud was often publicly exposed, though not continuously, because the bishop of Troyes, Henri de Poitiers, had prohibited veneration of the image. Thirty-two years after this pronouncement, the image was displayed again, and King Charles VI of France ordered its removal to Troyes, citing the impropriety of the image. The sheriffs were unable to carry out the order.
In 1389, the image was denounced as a fraud by Bishop Pierre D'Arcis in a letter to the Avignon Antipope Clement VII, mentioning that the image had previously been denounced by his predecessor Henri de Poitiers, who had been concerned that no such image was mentioned in scripture. Bishop D'Arcis continued, "Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed." (In German: .) The artist is not named in the letter.
The letter of Bishop D'Arcis also mentions Bishop Henri's attempt to suppress veneration but notes that the cloth was quickly hidden "for 35 years or so", thus agreeing with the historical details already established above. The letter provides an accurate description of the cloth: "upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and the front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Saviour Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb, and upon which the whole likeness of the Saviour had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore."
Despite the pronouncement of Bishop D'Arcis, Antipope Clement VII (first antipope of the Western Schism) refrained from expressing his opinion on the authenticity of the shroud He prescribed indulgences for pilgrimages to the shroud, so that veneration continued, though the shroud was not permitted to be styled the "True Shroud."
In 1418, Humbert of Villersexel, Count de la Roche, Lord of Saint-Hippolyte-sur-Doubs, moved the shroud to his castle at Montfort, Doubs, to provide protection against criminal bands, after he married Charny's granddaughter Margaret. It was later moved to Saint-Hippolyte-sur-Doubs. After Humbert's death, canons of Lirey fought through the courts to force the widow to return the cloth, but the parliament of Dole and the Court of Besançon left it to the widow, who traveled with the shroud to various expositions, notably in Liège and Geneva.
The widow sold the shroud in exchange for a castle in Varambon, France in 1453. The new owner, Anne of Cyprus, Duchess of Savoy, stored it in the Savoyard capital of Chambéry in the newly built Saint-Chapelle, which Pope Paul II shortly thereafter raised to the dignity of a collegiate church. In 1464, Anne's husband, Louis, Duke of Savoy agreed to pay an annual fee to the Lirey canons in exchange for their dropping claims of ownership of the cloth. Beginning in 1471, the shroud was moved between many cities of Europe, being housed briefly in Vercelli, Turin, Ivrea, Susa, Chambéry, Avigliana, Rivoli, and Pinerolo. A description of the cloth by two sacristans of the Sainte-Chapelle from around this time noted that it was stored in a reliquary: "enveloped in a red silk drape, and kept in a case covered with crimson velours, decorated with silver-gilt nails, and locked with a golden key."
In 1532, the shroud suffered damage from a fire in the chapel where it was stored. A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. Some have suggested that there was also water damage from the extinguishing of the fire. However, there is some evidence that the watermarks were made by condensation in the bottom of a burial jar in which the folded shroud may have been kept at some point. In 1578, the shroud arrived again at its current location in Turin. It was the property of the House of Savoy until 1983, when it was given to the Holy See.
In 1988, the Holy See agreed to a radiocarbon dating of the relic, for which a small piece from a corner of the shroud was removed, divided, and sent to laboratories. (More on the testing is seen below.) Another fire, possibly caused by arson, threatened the shroud on 11 April 1997, but fireman Mario Trematore was able to remove it from its heavily protected display case and prevent further damage. In 2002, the Holy See had the shroud restored. The cloth backing and thirty patches were removed. This made it possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth, which had been hidden from view. Using sophisticated mathematical and optical techniques, a ghostly part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004. Italian scientists had exposed the faint imprint of the face and hands of the figure. The most recent public exhibition of the Shroud was in 2000 for the Great Jubilee. The next scheduled exhibition is in 2010.
The origin of the relic is hotly disputed. Researchers have coined the term sindonology to describe its general study (from Greek σινδών—sindon, the word used in the Gospel of Mark to describe the type of cloth that Joseph of Arimathea bought to use as Jesus' burial cloth).
The image on the cloth has many peculiar and closely studied PDF (377 KB), for example, it is entirely superficial, not penetrating into the cloth fibers under the surface, so that the flax and cotton fibers are not colored; the image yarn is composed of discolored fibers placed side by side with non-discolored fibers so many striations appear. Thus the cloth is not simply dyed, though many other explanations, natural and otherwise, have been suggested for the image formation. Alone among published researchers, Walter McCrone believed the entire image to be composed of pigment. However, this hypothesis was disproved after closer inspection showed that there were no more pigment particles on the image area than on the non-image area of the shroud. Other results have shown the image to be a discoloration, not a "coloration."
The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a reducing sugar. The cellulose fibers of the shroud are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch fractions, various sugars, and other impurities. In a paper entitled "The Shroud of Turin: an amino-carbonyl reaction may explain the image formation," R.N. Rogers and A. Arnoldi propose that amines from a recently deceased human body may have undergone Maillard reactions with this carbohydrate layer within a reasonable period of time, before liquid decomposition products stained or damaged the cloth. The gases produced by a dead body are extremely reactive chemically and within a few hours, in an environment such as a tomb, a body starts to produce heavier amines in its tissues such as putrescine and cadaverine. This raises questions, however, as to why the images (both ventral and dorsal views) are so photorealistic, and why (if the images were produced by the additive process of staining, and not by damage to the fiber material itself) they were not destroyed by later decomposition products. Removal of the cloth from the body within a short enough time frame would prevent exposure to these later decomposition products. It is worth noting, however, that the Maillard reaction is ordinarily observed as the browned parts of cooked foods, especially in broiled, grilled, or fried dishes, in which cases, the most superficial portions are subjected to high temperature (310 Fahrenheit/155 Celsius), low moisture conditions.
In their book "The Second Messiah: Templars, the Turin Shroud and the Great Secret of Freemasonry", Masonic historians Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas claim that the image on the shroud is actually that of Jacques de Molay. Jacques de Molay was the last Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar, arrested for heresy at the Paris Temple by Philip IV of France on 13 October 1307, and tortured under the auspices of the Chief Inquisitor of France, William Imbert. Per Lomas and Knight, De Molay's arms and legs were nailed to a large wooden door or panel, creating wounds similar to crucifixion, and after one period of torture De Molay was wrapped in a piece of cloth in the fashion of a shroud and left to recover, during which time acids in the traumatised De Molay's perspiration created the image on the shroud. This is supported by the hypothesis of Dr. Alan A. Mills in his article "Image formation on the Shroud of Turin", in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 1995, vol. 20 No. 4, pp 319–326, who calls the chemical reaction auto-oxidation. He also notes that the image corresponds to what would have been produced by a volatile chemical if the intensity of the color change were inversely proportional to the distance from the body of a loosely draped cloth.
Per Knight and Lomas, De Molay was later executed together with a fellow Templar leader, Geoffroy de Charney, into whose family the possession of the shroud then passed, until Jeanne de Vergy, the widow of De Charney's grandson, put the shroud on display at a church in Lirey.
According to the art historian Nicolas Allen the image on the shroud was formed by a photographic technique in the 13th century. Allen maintains that techniques already available before the 14th century, as e.g. described in the Book of Optics which was just in this time translated from Arabic into Latin, were sufficient to produce primitive photographs and that people familiar with these techniques could be able to produce an image as found on the shroud. To demonstrate this, he has successfully produced photographic images similar to the shroud using only techniques and materials available at the time the shroud was made. He described his results in his PhD Thesis, in papers published in several science journals, and in a book.
The technique used for producing the image is, according to W. McCrone, already described in a book about medieval painting published in 1847 by Charles Lock Eastlake ("Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters"). Eastlake describes in the chapter "Practice of Painting Generally During the XIVth Century" a special technique of painting on linen using tempera paint, which produces images with unusual transparent features—which McCrone compares to the image on the shroud.
In 1977, a team of scientists proposed a set of tests to be conducted on the Shroud, designated the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP). Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, the archbishop of Turin, granted permission, despite disagreement within the Church. STURP scientists conducted the tests over five days in 1978. Walter McCrone, upon analyzing the samples he was given by STURP, concluded in 1979 that the image is actually made up of billions of submicrometre pigment particles. The only fibrils that had been made available for testing of the stains were those that remained affixed to custom-designed adhesive tape applied to thirty-two different sections of the image. (This was done in order to avoid damaging the cloth.) According to McCrone, the pigments used were a combination of red ochre and vermillion tempera paint. The Electron Optics Group of McCrone Associates published the results of these studies in five articles in peer-reviewed journals: Microscope 1980, 28, 105, 115; 1981, 29, 19; Wiener Berichte uber Naturwissenschaft in der Kunst 1987/1988, 4/5, 50 and Acc. Chem. Res. 1990, 23, 77–83.
Dr. John Heller and Dr. Alan Adler, the scientists whom STURP asked for a second opinion after McCrone's, examined the same samples. They confirmed McCrone's result that the cloth contains iron oxide. However, they concluded, the exceptional purity of the chemical and comparisons with other ancient textiles showed that, while retting flax absorbs iron selectively, the iron itself was not the source of the image on the shroud. McCrone has responded saying "My colleagues at McCrone Associates used X-ray fluorescence and X-ray and electron diffraction on the samples, which confirmed my research in every respect"
Other microscopic analysis of the fibers seems to indicate that the image is strictly limited to the carbohydrate layer, with no additional layer of pigment visible. Proponents of the position that the Shroud is authentic say that no known technique for hand application of paint could apply a pigment with the necessary degree of control on such a nano-scale fibrillar surface plane. Moreover, they claim the technical skill required to produce the photographic or near-photographic realism in the image on the Shroud would be unrealistically advanced for the twelfth or thirteenth century.
Another hypothesis suggests that the Shroud may have been formed using a bas-relief sculpture. Researcher Jacques di Costanzo, noting that the Shroud image seems to have a three-dimensional quality, suggested that perhaps the image was formed using an actual three-dimensional object, like a sculpture. While wrapping a cloth around a life-sized statue would result in a distorted image, placing a cloth over a bas-relief would result in an image like the one seen on the shroud. To demonstrate the plausibility of his hypothesis, Costanzo constructed a bas-relief of a Jesus-like face and draped wet linen over the bas-relief. After the linen dried, he dabbed it with a mixture of ferric oxide and gelatine. The result was an image similar to that of the Shroud. The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide. Similar results have been obtained by author Joe Nickell. Instead of painting, the bas-relief could also be heated and used to burn an image into the cloth.
Scientists Emily Craig and Randall Bresee have attempted to recreate the likenesses of the shroud through the dust-transfer technique which could have been done by medieval arts. They first did a carbon-dust drawing of a Jesus-like face (using collagen dust) on a newsprint made from wood pulp (which is similar, but not identical to, 13th and 14th century paper). They next placed the drawing on a table and covered it with a piece of linen. They then pressed the linen against the newsprint by firmly rubbing with the flat side of a wooden spoon. By doing this they managed to create a reddish brown image with a life-like positive likeness of a person, a three dimensional image and no sign of brush strokes.
Some believers have suggested that the image on the shroud was miraculously produced at the moment of Resurrection by divine methods intended to record the various stages of the Passion of Christ in that "the blood stains from the Shroud seem to record at one moment all the events of the Passion". Quoting Pope Paul VI's statement that the shroud is "the wonderful document of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, written for us in letters of blood" author Antonio Cassanelli argues that the shroud is a deliberate divine record of the five stages of the Passion of Christ.
Some believers also contend that empirical analysis and scientific methods will perhaps never advance to a level sufficient for understanding the divine methods used for image formation on the shroud, since the body around whom the shroud was wrapped was not merely human, but divine.
During restoration in 2002, the back of the cloth was photographed and scanned for the first time. An PDF (1.52 MB) on this subject by Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua and others, describe the electrostatic corona discharge as the probable mechanism to produce the images of the body in the shroud. Congruent with that mechanism, they also describe an image on the reverse side of the fabric, much fainter than that on the front view of the body, consisting primarily of the face and perhaps hands. Like the front picture, it is entirely superficial, with coloration limited to the carbohydrate layer. The images correspond to, and are in registration with, those on the other side of the cloth. No image is detectable in the reverse side of the dorsal view of the body.
Supporters of the Maillard reaction theory point out that the gases would have been less likely to penetrate the entire cloth on the dorsal side, since the body would have been laid on a stone shelf. At the same time, the second image makes the electrostatic hypothesis probable because a double superficiality is typical of coronal discharge and the photographic hypothesis is somewhat less probable.
In the book The Ancient Jewish Shroud At Turin by John N. Lupia (Regina Caeli Press, 2010; ISBN 978-0-9826739-0-4) Lupia shows a new theory that the image formation can be explained by risidual unguent from anointing the body at burial. The various ingredients and chemistry of the anointing unguents are examined and discussed that provide evidence for their presence and creation of the image of the deceased on the Shroud of Turin.
In 1988, the Holy See agreed to permit six centers to independently perform radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud, but at the last minute they changed their minds and permitted only three research centers to undertake such analysis. The chosen laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, produced results indicating that the analysed portion of the shroud dated from the 13th to 14th centuries (1260–1390). Some members of the scientific community had asked the Holy See to authorize more samples, including from the image-bearing part of the shroud, but this request was denied. A possible reason is that if the image is genuine, the destruction of parts of it for purposes of dating could be considered sacrilege. The 13th and 14th century dating matched the first appearance of the shroud in church history.
One argument against the results of the radiocarbon tests was made in a study by Anna Arnoldi of the University of Milan and Raymond Rogers, retired Fellow of the University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory. In an interview with Harry Gove, Gove acknowledges that bacterial contamination, which was unknown during the 1988 testing, would render the tests inaccurate, although he also acknowledged that the samples had been carefully cleaned with strong chemicals before testing. By ultraviolet photography and spectral analysis they determined that the area of the shroud chosen for the test samples differs chemically from the rest of the cloth. They cite the presence of Madder-root dye and aluminum-oxide mordant (a dye-fixing agent) specifically in that corner of the shroud and conclude that this part of the cloth may have been mended at some point in its history.
A 2000 study by Joseph Marino and Sue Benford, based on x-ray analysis of the sample sites, shows a "probable" seam from a repair attempt running diagonally through the area from which the sample was taken. These researchers conclude that the samples tested by the three labs may potentially have been contaminated by this possible repair attempt. They further note that the results of the three labs show an angular skewing corresponding to the diagonal seam: the first sample in Arizona dated to 1238, the second to 1430, with the Oxford and Swiss results falling in between. They add that the variance of the C-14 results of the three labs falls outside the bounds of the Pearson's chi-square test, so that some additional explanation should be sought for the discrepancy. To the contrary J. A. Christen applied a strong statistical test to the radiocarbon data and concludes that the given age for the shroud is, from a statistical point of view, correct.
Microchemical tests also find traces of vanillin in the same area, unlike the rest of the cloth. Vanillin is produced by the thermal decomposition of lignin, a complex polymer and constituent of flax. This chemical is routinely found in medieval materials but not in older cloths, as it diminishes with time. The wrappings of the Dead Sea scrolls, for instance, do not test positive for vanillin.
These conclusions suggest that other samples, from a part of the shroud not mended or tampered with, would need to be tested in order to ascertain an accurate date for the shroud. Since the Vatican has refused to allow such further testing, for some people the age of the shroud remains uncertain.
Raymond Rogers' 20 January 2005 paper in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta argues that the sample cut from the shroud in 1988 was not representative. Rogers concludes, based upon the vanillin loss, that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.
Rogers said: "The fact that vanillin cannot be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicate that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggest the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years"
In 2006, Brendan Whiting, an Australian author and researcher who attended several of Dr. Raymond Rogers key conferences, published the book The Shroud Story (ISBN 064645725X) continued this new challenge to the validity of the 1988 sample.
Skeptics contend that the carbon dating was accurate and that Rogers' study was flawed.
The shroud was also damaged by a fire in the Late Middle Ages which could have added carbon material to the cloth, resulting in a higher radiocarbon content and a later calculated age. This analysis itself is questioned by skeptics such as Joe Nickell, who reasons that the conclusions of the author, Raymond Rogers, result from "starting with the desired conclusion and working backward to the evidence". Former Nature editor Philip Ball has said that the idea that Rogers steered his study to a preconceived conclusion is "unfair" and Rogers "has a history of respectable work".
However, the 2008 research at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit may revise the 1260–1390 dating toward which it originally contributed, leading its director Christopher Ramsey to call the scientific community to probe anew the authenticity of the Shroud. "With the radiocarbon measurements and with all of the other evidence which we have about the Shroud, there does seem to be a conflict in the interpretation of the different evidence" Ramsey said to BBC News in 2008, after the new research emerged. Ramsey had stressed that he would be surprised if the 1988 tests were shown to be far off, let alone "a thousand years wrong" but said that he would keep an open mind.
Recently in a new documentary a video message from Ray Rogers, who was a director of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) that analysed the shroud, has come to light. The video was recorded shortly before Rogers' death in 2005, and in it Rogers states the opinion that after declaring the cloth a fake he was now coming to the conclusion that there was a very good chance that this was the piece of cloth that was used to bury Jesus.
A team led by Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes, MD, adjunct professor of microbiology, and Stephen J. Mattingly, PhD, professor of microbiology at the University of Texas at San Antonio have expounded an argument involving bacterial residue on the shroud. There are examples of ancient textiles that have been grossly misdated, especially in the earliest days of radiocarbon testing. Most notable of these is mummy 1770 of the British Museum, whose bones were dated some 800 to 1000 years earlier than its cloth wrappings. The skewed results were thought to be caused by organic contaminants on the wrappings similar to those proposed for the shroud. Pictorial evidence dating from c. 1690 and 1842 indicates that the corner used for the dating and several similar evenly spaced areas along one edge of the cloth were handled each time the cloth was displayed, the traditional method being for it to be held suspended by a row of five bishops. Wilson and others contend that repeated handling of this kind greatly increased the likelihood of contamination by bacteria and bacterial residue compared to the newly discovered archaeological specimens for which carbon-14 dating was developed. Bacteria and associated residue (bacteria by-products and dead bacteria) carry additional carbon-14 that would skew the radiocarbon date toward the present.
Harry E. Gove of the University of Rochester, the nuclear physicist who designed the particular radiocarbon tests used on the shroud in 1988, stated, "There is a bioplastic coating on some threads, maybe most." If this coating is thick enough, according to Gove, it "would make the fabric sample seem younger than it should be." Skeptics, including Rodger Sparks, a radiocarbon expert from New Zealand, have countered that an error of thirteen centuries stemming from bacterial contamination in the Middle Ages would have required a layer approximately doubling the sample weight. Because such material could be easily detected, fibers from the shroud were examined at the National Science Foundation Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry examination failed to detect any form of bioplastic polymer on fibers from either non-image or image areas of the shroud. Additionally, laser-microprobe Raman analysis at Instruments SA, Inc. in Metuchen, New Jersey, also failed to detect any bioplastic polymer on shroud fibers.
There are two books with detailed treatment of the Shroud's carbon dating, including not only the scientific issues but also the events, personalities and struggles leading up to the sample taking. The books offer opposite views on how the dating should have been conducted, and both are critical of the methodology finally employed.
In Relic, Icon or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud (1996; ISBN 0750303980), Harry Gove provides an account with large doses of light humor and heavy vitriol. Particular scorn is poured on STURP (the US scientific team studying the Shroud) and Luigi Gonella, then scientific adviser to the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Ballestrero. Gove describes in great detail the mammoth struggle between Prof Carlos Chagas, chairman of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Cardinal Ballestrero, with Gove and Gonella as the main combatants from each side. He provides a detailed record of meetings, telephone conversations, faxes, letters and maneuvers. Gove initially accepted the dating as accurate, but in the epilogue notes that the bioplastic contamination theory seemed to have some evidence to support it.
The Rape of the Turin Shroud by William Meacham (2005; ISBN 1411657691) devotes 100 pages to the carbon dating. Meacham is also highly critical of STURP and Gonella, and also of Gove. He describes the planning process from a very different perspective (both he and Gove were invited along with 20 other scholars to a conference in Turin in 1986 to plan the C-14 protocol) and focuses on what he claims was the major flaw in the dating: taking only one sample from the corner of the cloth. Meacham reviews the main scenarios that have been proposed for a possibly incorrect dating, and claims that the result is a "rogue date" because of the sample location and anomalies. He points out that this situation could easily be resolved if the Church authorities would simply allow another sample to be dated, with appropriate laboratory testing for possible embedded contaminants.
Much recent research has centered on the burn holes and water marks. The largest burns certainly date from the 1532 fire (another series of small, round burns in an "L" shape seems to date from an undetermined earlier time), and it was assumed that the water marks were also from this event. However, in 2002, Aldo Guerreschi and Michele Salcito presented a paper at the IV Symposium Scientifique International in Paris stating that many of these marks stem from a much earlier time because the symmetries correspond more to the folding that would have been necessary to store the cloth in a clay jar (like cloth samples at Qumran) than to that necessary to store it in the reliquary that housed it in 1532.
According to textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg of Hamburg, a seam in the cloth corresponds to a fabric found only at the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, which dated to the first century. The weaving pattern, 3:1 twill, is consistent with first-century Syrian design, according to the appraisal of Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology in Belgium. Flury-Lemberg stated, "The linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin does not display any weaving or sewing techniques which would speak against its origin as a high-quality product of the textile workers of the first century." However, Joe Nickell, former stage magician and professional skeptic, notes that no examples of herringbone weave are known from the time of Jesus. The few samples of burial cloths that are known from the era are made using plain weave.
In 2000, fragments of a burial shroud from the first century were discovered in a tomb on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem. Although the tomb is believed to have belonged to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy, the shroud was composed of a simple two-way weave, unlike the complex weave of the Turin Shroud. Based on this discovery, researchers concluded that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.
Joseph Kohlbeck from the Hercules Aerospace Center in Utah and Richard Levi-Setti of the Enrico Fermi Institute examined some dirt particles from the Shroud surface. The dirt was found to be travertine aragonite limestone. Using a high-resolution microprobe, Levi-Setti and Kolbeck compared the spectra of samples taken from the Shroud with samples of limestone from ancient Jerusulem tombs. The chemical signatures of the Shroud samples and the tomb limestone were found identical except for minute fragments of cellulose linen fiber that could not be separated from the Shroud samples.
The piercing of the wrists rather than the palms goes against traditional Christian iconography, especially that of the Middle Ages. Many modern scholars suggest that crucifixion victims were generally nailed through the wrists, due to the fact that the bones and tissues in the hand are unable to support the weight of the body. A skeleton discovered recently in Israel shows that at least some were nailed between the radius and ulna. This was not common knowledge in the Middle Ages. Proponents of the shroud's authenticity contend that a medieval forger would have been unlikely to know this operational detail of an execution method almost completely discontinued centuries earlier. However the nailing of the feet may be inconsistent with Roman crucifixion technique as evidence shows that feet were nailed on the side through the heels.
A controversial technicality could be settled by a first century date of the shroud. Blood stains running down the arms indicate the crucifix had a cross piece.
There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood. McCrone (see above) identified these as containing iron oxide, theorizing that its presence was likely due to simple pigment materials used in medieval times. This is in agreement with the results of an Italian commission investigating the shroud in the early 1970s. Serologists among the commission applied several different state-of-the-art blood tests which all gave a negative result for the presence of blood. No test for the presence of color pigments was performed by this commission. Other researchers, including Alan Adler, a chemist specializing in analysis of porphyrins, identified the reddish stains as type AB blood and interpreted the iron oxide as a natural residue of hemoglobin.
A problem with a blood type AB for an authentic shroud is that it is today known that this type of blood is of relative recent origin. There is no evidence of the existence of this blood type before the year AD 700. It is today assumed that the blood type AB came into the existence by immigration and following intermingling of mongoloid people from central Asia with a high frequency of the blood type B to Europe and other areas where people with a relatively high frequency of the blood type A live.
Drs. Heller and Adler further studied the dark red stains. Applying pleochroism, birefringence, and chemical analysis, they determined that, unlike the medieval artist's pigment which contains iron oxide contaminated with manganese, nickel, and cobalt, the iron oxide on the shroud was relatively pure but later proven to be iron oxide resulting from blood stains (Heller, J.H., Adler, A.D. 1980). Dr. Adler then applied microspectrophotometric analysis of a "blood particle" from one of the fibrils of the shroud and identified hemoglobin (in the acid methemoglobin, which formed due to great age and denaturation). Further tests by Heller and Adler established, within claimed scientific certainty, the presence of porphyrin, bilirubin, albumin, and protein. Interestingly, when proteases (enzymes which break up protein within cells) were applied to the fibril containing the "blood", the blood dissolved from the fibril leaving an imageless fibril (Heller, J.H., and Adler, A.D. 1981). PDF (117 KB). It is uncertain whether the blood stains were produced at the same time as the image, which Adler and Heller attributed to premature aging of the linen. Working independently with a larger sample of blood-containing fibrils, pathologist Pier Baima Bollone, after using immunochemistry, concurred with Heller and Adler's findings and identifies the blood as being from the AB blood group (Baima Bollone, P., La Sindone-Scienza e Fide 1981). Subsequently, STURP sent blood flecks to the laboratory devoted to the study of ancient blood at the State University of New York. No claims about blood typing could be confirmed. The blood appeared to be so old that the DNA was badly fragmented. Dr. Andrew Merriwether at SUNY said that "... anyone can walk in off the street and amplify DNA from anything. The hard part is not to amplify what you don't want and only amplify what you want (endogenous DNA vs contamination)."
Joe Nickell notes that, unlike McCrone, Heller and Adler are neither forensic serologists nor pigment experts, nor are they experienced in detecting art forgeries. Nickell makes reference to the 1983 conference of the International Association for Identification where forensic analyst John E. Fischer demonstrated how results similar to Heller and Adler's could be obtained from tempera paint. Skeptics also cite other forensic blood tests whose results dispute the authenticity of the Shroud. "Forensic tests on the red stuff have identified it as red ocher and vermilion tempera paint." Even if blood is found, "it could be the blood of some 14th century person. It could be the blood of someone wrapped in the shroud, or the blood of the creator of the shroud, or of anyone who has ever handled the shroud, or of anyone who handled the sticky tape. But even if there were blood on the shroud, that would have no bearing on the age of the shroud or on its authenticity." Skeptics also note that the apparent blood flows on the shroud are unrealistically neat. Leading forensic pathologist Michael Baden observes that real blood never oozes in neat rivulets, it gets clotted in the hair. He concludes that "[h]uman beings don't produce this kind of pattern." The same result was established by McCrone which had compared the shroud pigments with test specimen of his own blood on gauze.
Researchers of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported the presence of pollen grains in the cloth samples, showing species appropriate to the spring in Israel. However, these researchers, Avinoam Danin and Uri Baruch, were working with samples provided by Max Frei, a Swiss police criminologist who had previously been censured for faking evidence. Independent review of the strands showed that one strand out of the 26 provided contained significantly more pollen than the others, perhaps pointing to deliberate contamination.
Another item of note is that the olive trees surrounding Jerusalem would have been in full bloom at the time, meaning that there should have been a significant amount of olive tree pollen on the Shroud. However, there does not seem to be any at all. Others note that the Gospels themselves actually indicate, indirectly, that Passover that year occurred before the flowering of the fig trees (Mark 11.13).
The Israeli researchers also detected the outlines of various flowering plants on the cloth, which they say would point to March or April and the environs of Jerusalem, based on the species identified. In the forehead area, corresponding to the crown of thorns if the image is genuine, they found traces of Gundelia tournefortii, which is limited to this period of the year in the Jerusalem area. This analysis depends on interpretation of various patterns on the shroud as representing particular plants. Skeptics point out that the available images cannot be seen as unequivocal support for any particular plant species due to the generally indistinct "blobiness", even under powerful microscopes, of these tiny, spotty impressions.
Another problem is that the Catholic veneration of the Shroud by the faithful probably involved touching it. Public display of the Shroud in the past may have contributed to its contamination not only by bacteria, as described above, but also by pollen and other air-borne plant material.
In the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, there is a small bloodstained piece of linen that is also revered as one of the burial cloths of Jesus mentioned in John 20:7 as being found in the empty tomb. John refers to a "Sudarium" (σουδαριον) that covered the head and the "linen cloth" or "bandages" (οθονιον—othonion) that covered the body. The Sudarium of Oviedo is traditionally held to be this cloth that covered the head of Jesus.
The Sudarium's existence and presence in Oviedo is well attested to since the eighth century and in Spain since the seventh century. Before these dates the location of the Sudarium is less certain, but some scholars trace it to Jerusalem in the first century.
Forensic analysis of the bloodstains on the shroud and the Sudarium suggest that both cloths could have covered the same head at nearly the same time. Based on the bloodstain patterns, the Sudarium would have been placed on the man's head while he was in a vertical position, presumably while still hanging on the cross. This cloth was then presumably removed before the shroud was applied.
A 1999 study by Mark Guscin, a member of the multidisciplinary investigation team of the Spanish Center for Sindonology, investigated the relationship between the two cloths. Based on history, forensic pathology, blood chemistry (the Sudarium also is reported to have type AB blood stains), and stain patterns, he concluded that the two cloths covered the same head at two distinct, but close moments of time. Avinoam Danin (see above) concurred with this analysis, adding that the pollen grains in the Sudarium match those of the shroud.
Skeptics point out that the match with the Shroud is based on a polarized image overlay technique which they contend is subjective and unreliable. Further, they claim the argument about the pollen types is greatly weakened by the debunking of Danin's work on the shroud due to the possibly tampered-with sample he worked from. Pollen from Jerusalem could have followed any number of paths to find its way to the sudarium, and only indicates location, not the dating of the cloth.
Before 1998 the Sudarium was carbon dated at the seventh century by Professor Baima Bollone and more recently at around AD 700  (although the date is qualified by cautions about carbon dating processes).
The burial posture of the shroud, with hands crossed over the pelvis, was used by Essenes, but also is found in a burial site under a medieval church. The skeletons were dated pre-1390 and post Roman.
Using techniques of digital image processing, several additional details have been reported by scholars.
NASA researchers Jackson, Jumper, and Stephenson report detecting the impressions of coins placed on both eyes after a digital study in 1978. The coin on the right eye was claimed to correspond to a Roman copper coin produced in AD 29 and 30 in Jerusalem, while that on the left was claimed to resemble a lituus (lepton) coin from the reign of Tiberius. Greek and Latin letters were discovered written near the face (Piero Ugolotti, 1979). These were further studied by André Marion, professor at the École supérieure d'optique and his student Anne Laure Courage, graduate engineer of the École supérieure d'optique, in the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée in Orsay (1997).
On the right side coin Prof. Francis Filas of the Chicago Jesuite University identified the letters ΨΣ ΚΙΑ (UCAI), fragments from a Latin-letter transliterated Greek text. This was a common minting practice, because the more complicated shape Greek alphabet was difficult to imprint on mass produced mint using antique technology.
The coin circular text reads (TIBER)IOU CAICAROC, which means Tiberius Caesar in Greek. This lepton coin of the emperor was circulated between 29AD and 32AD in the Holy Land area. The other eye's coin, which depicts three leafs of oars banded together, is also known from the 1864 edition of F. W. Madden's Catalog of Ancient Holyland Nunismatic Rarities. This coin was minted in 29AD by Pontius Pilate to praise the emperor's mother, Julia.
Skeptics claim there is no recorded Jewish tradition of placing coins over the eyes. However, two first-century Jewish graves unearthed in the outskirts of Jericho contained skulls with coins inside, although it was not possible to determine, if those coins had originally been placed on the eyes or under the tongue, more in line with the Hellenistic Charon's obulus myth. The Kaiafas crypt, recently unearthed near Jerusalem also contained a female skull with coin inside: that particular coin was minted during Agrippa I.'s reign. The reading of "UCAI" is suggested by some to be due to a photographic enlargement and to computer processing, often arbitrary operations which eliminate stains and shades.
The Gospel of John has sometimes been cited as evidence that the Shroud of Turin is not authentic because of the plural word "othonia" (linen cloths or strips) used to describe the burial covering of the body of Jesus: "Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes [othonia] lie, and the napkin [soudarion], that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself" (John 20:6–7, KJV). Shroud proponents hold that "linen clothes" refers to the Shroud of Turin, while the "napkin" refers to the Sudarium of Oviedo. The Gospels of Matthew (27:59), Mark (15:46), and Luke (23:53) all refer to a singular "sindon" (fine linen cloth) which was wrapped (entulisso) around Jesus' body. In other Greek usage the word "sindon" refers to a wrapping such as a toga (Mark 14:51-52) or a mummy wrapping (Herodotus 2, 86).
The Gospel of John also states, "Nicodemus ... brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (John 19:39–40, KJV). No traces of spices have been found on the cloth, though it's questionable whether the Gospel of John is reliable in its burial details, and uncertain what the word "with" means here.Frederick Zugibe, a medical examiner, reports that the body of the man wrapped in the shroud appears to have been washed before wrapping. It would be odd for this to occur after the anointing, so some proponents have suggested that the shroud was a preliminary cloth that was then replaced before the anointing, because there was not enough time for the anointing due to the Sabbath. However, there is no empirical, or historical evidence to support these ideas. Some supporters suggest that the plant bloom images detected by Danin may be from herbs that were simply strewn over the body due to the lack of preparation time mentioned in the New Testament, with the visit of the women on Sunday thus presumed to be for the purpose of completing the anointing of the body. Since neither the gospels nor historical records mention this there is no way to confirm the hypothesis.
There are many historical references which proponents claim are of the Shroud of Turin. Among them are the ancient Abgar Legends which place the cloth in the City of Edessa (Turkey), 400 miles north of Jerusalem during reign of King Abgar V, somewhere between AD 30-40. Pollen finds confirm the presence in Edessa (Anatolian Steppe). Ancient historians Eusebius and Evagrius speak of the Cloth moving with disciple Thaddaeus to Edessa. The Acts of Holy Apostle Thaddaeus (6th Cent.) speaks of the tetradiplon (cloth doubled-in-four). Dr. John Jackson's raking light test of 1978 confirms fold marks matching tetradiplon. The Byzantine Greeks speak of the Acheiropoietas: (image not made with human hands). The Hungarian Pray Manuscript of AD 1192-95 has an illustration showing four burn holes which are found on the Shroud well before the carbon-14 dates. There is a reference by a Chronicler of the 4th Crusade (Robert de Clari) that the "sindoine" disappeared from Constantinople in 1204.
In the Budapest National Library is the Pray Manuscript, the oldest surviving text of the Hungarian language. It was written between 1192 and 1195 (65 years before the earliest carbon-14 date in the 1988 tests). One of its illustrations shows preparations for the burial of Christ. The picture includes a burial cloth. According to proponents, it has with the same herringbone weave as the Shroud, plus four holes near one of the edges. The holes form an "L" shape. Proponents claim this odd pattern of holes is the same as the ones found on the Shroud of Turin. They are burn holes, perhaps from a hot poker or incense embers.
As a depiction of Jesus, the image on the shroud corresponds to that found throughout the history of Christian iconography. For instance, the Pantocrator mosaic at Daphne in Athens is strikingly similar. This suggests that the icons were made while the Image of Edessa was available, with this appearance of Jesus being copied in later artwork, and in particular, on the Shroud. Prior to the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, art historian W.S.A. Dale proposed that the Shroud was an icon created for liturgical use, and suggested an 11th century date based on art-historical grounds. In opposition to this viewpoint, the locations of the piercing wounds in the wrists on the Shroud do not correspond to artistic representations of the crucifixion before close to the present time. In fact, the Shroud was widely dismissed as a forgery in the 14th century for the very reason that the Latin Vulgate Bible stated that the nails had been driven into Jesus' hands and Medieval art invariably depicts the wounds in Jesus' hands.
The man on the image is taller than the average first-century resident of Judaea and the right hand has longer fingers than the left, along with a significant increase of length in the right forearm compared to the left.
Further evidence for the Shroud as an art object comes from what might be called the "Mercator projection" argument. The shroud in two dimensions presents a three-dimensional image projected onto a planar (two-dimensional) surface, just as in a photograph or painting. This perspective is consistent with both painting and with image formation using a bas relief. A true burial shroud would have rested nearly cylindrically across the three-dimensional facial surface, if not more irregularly. The result would be an unnatural lateral distortion, a strong widening to the sides, in contrast to the kind of normal photographic image a beholder would expect, let alone the strongly vertically elongated image on the Shroud fabric. This argument, though, assumes that the image is formed by contact, which is very unlikely due the 3D effect noticed on the cloth: parts of the body naturally further away from the cloth appear dimmer than parts naturally closer to it. Furthermore, the sides of the body do not appear as images on the Shroud, greatly reducing most major distortions.
The complete argument about the "Mercator projection distortion" is disputed by the paper presented at PDF (385 KB). Essentially, distortions can be small if the Shroud was not lying tight against the body. It is not explained, however, how the details of the face could have appeared on the shroud if it was not lying tight against the body. But that is the whole mystery about the image formation mechanism.
Banding on the Shroud is background noise, which causes us to see the gaunt face, long nose, deep eyes, and straight hair. These features are caused by dark vertical and horizontal bands that go across the eyes. Using enhancement software (Fast Fourier Transform filters), the effect of these bands can be minimized. The result is a more detailed image of the shroud.
Recently a study stated that the shroud of Turin had been faked by Leonardo da Vinci. According to the study, the Renaissance artist created the artifact by using pioneering photographic techniques and a sculpture of his own head—in fact, it suggests the image on the relic is Leonardo's face which could have been projected onto the cloth, The Daily Telegraph reported. US graphic artist Lillian Schwartz of the School of Visual Arts in New York, who came to prominence in the 1980s when she matched the face of the Mona Lisa to a Leonardo self-portrait, used computer scans to show that the face on the Shroud has the same dimensions as that of Leonardo.
The TV documentary describes how Leonardo could have scorched his facial features on to the linen using a sculpture of his own face and a camera obscura—an early photographic device. The programme says the fabric could have been hung over a frame in a blacked-out room and coated with silver sulphate, a substance readily available in 15th century Italy which would have made it light-sensitive. When the sun's rays passed through a lens in one of the walls, Leonardo's facial shape and features would have been projected on to the material, creating a permanent image.
Although the Shroud image is currently associated with Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus, the devotions themselves predate Secondo Pia's 1898 photograph. Such devotions had been started in 1844 by the Carmelite nun Marie of St Peter (based on "pre-crucifixion" images associated with the Veil of Veronica) and promoted by Leo Dupont, also called the Apostle of the Holy Face. In 1851 Leo Dupont formed the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in Tours, France, well before Secondo Pia took the photograph of the shroud.
The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano covered the story of Secondo Pia's photograph of May 28, 1898 in its June 15, 1898 edition, but it did so with no comment and thereafter Church officials generally refrained from officially commenting on the photograph for almost half a century.
The first official association between the image on the Shroud and the Catholic Church was made in 1940 based on the formal request by Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli to the curia in Milan to obtain authorization to produce a medal with the image. The authorization was granted and the first medal with the image was offered to Pope Pius XII who approved the medal. The image was then used on what became known as the Holy Face Medal worn by many Catholics, initially as a means of protection during the Second World War. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and declared its feast to be celebrated every year the day before Ash Wednesday. Following the approval by Pope Pius XII, Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus have been almost exclusively associated with the image on the shroud.
In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See by the House of Savoy. However, as with all relics of this kind, the Roman Catholic Church made no pronouncements claiming whether it is Jesus' burial shroud, or if it is a forgery. As with other approved Catholic devotions, the matter has been left to the personal decision of the faithful, as long as the Church does not issue a future notification to the contrary. In the Church's view, whether the cloth is authentic or not has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of what Jesus taught nor on the saving power of his death and resurrection.
"Since we're not dealing with a matter of faith, the church can't pronounce itself on such questions. It entrusts to scientists the tasks of continuing to investigate, to reach adequate answers to the questions connected to this Shroud."
Pope John Paul II showed himself to be deeply moved by the image of the Shroud and arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000. In his address at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday May 24, 1998 (the occasion of the 100th year of Secondo Pia's May 28, 1898 photograph), he said:
"The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin ... The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age."
In 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that the Shroud of Turin is ″a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing. In some inexplicable way, it appeared imprinted upon cloth and claimed to show the true face of Christ, the crucified and risen Lord."
Pope Benedict XVI has not publicly commented on the Shroud's authenticity, but has taken steps that indirectly affect the Shroud. In June 2008 he approved the public display of the Shroud in the Spring of 2010 and stated that he would like to go to Turin to see it along with other pilgrims. In April 2009 Pope Benedict XVI advanced the beatification process of Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli who coined the Holy Face Medal, based on Secondo Pia's photograph of the Shroud, by formally recognizing a miracle attributed to her.
In the winter of 2002, the Shroud was subjected to an aggressive restoration which shocked the worldwide community of Shroud researchers and was condemned by most. Authorized by the Archbishop of Turin as a beneficial conservation measure, this operation was based on the claim that the charred material around the burn holes was causing continuing oxidation which would eventually threaten the image. It has been labeled unnecessary surgery that destroyed scientific data, removed the repairs done in 1534 that were part of the Shroud's heritage, and squandered opportunities for sophisticated research.
Detailed comments on this operation were published by various Shroud researchers. In 2003, the principal restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, a textile expert from Switzerland, published a book with the title Sindone 2002: L'intervento conservativo — Preservation — Konservierung (ISBN 88-88441-08-5). She describes the operation and the reasons it was believed necessary. In 2005, William Meacham, an archaeologist who has studied the Shroud since 1981, published the book The Rape of the Turin Shroud (ISBN 1-4116-5769-1) which is fiercely critical of the operation. He rejects the reasons provided by Flury-Lemberg and describes in detail what he calls "a disaster for the scientific study of the relic".
On April 6, 2009, the London newspaper The Times reported that official Vatican researchers had uncovered evidence that the Shroud had been kept and venerated by the Templars since the 1204 sack of Constantinople. According to the account of one neophyte member of the order, veneration of the Shroud appeared to be part of the initiation ritual. The article also implies that this ceremony may be the source of the 'worship of a bearded figure' that the Templars were accused of at their 14th century trial and suppression.
On April 10, 2009, the Telegraph reported that original Shroud investigator, Ray Rogers, acknowledged the radio carbon dating performed in 1988 was flawed. The sample used for dating may have been taken from a section damaged by fire and repaired in the 16th century, which would not provide an estimate for the original material. Shortly before his death, Rogers said:
"The worst possible sample for carbon dating was taken." "It consisted of different materials than were used in the shroud itself, so the age we produced was inaccurate." "...I am coming to the conclusion that it has a very good chance of being the piece of cloth that was used to bury the historic Jesus."
A recent study by French scientist Thierry Castex has revealed that on the shroud are traces of words in Aramaic spelled with Hebrew letters. Barbara Frale, a Church scholar, told Vatican Radio on July 26, 2009 that her own studies suggest the letters on the shroud were written more than 1,800 years ago.
On October 5, 2009 Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, announced that he had made a full size reproduction of the Shroud of Turin using only medieval technologies. Garlaschelli placed a linen sheet over a volunteer and then rubbed it with an acidic pigment. The shroud was then aged in an oven before being washed to remove the pigment. He then added blood stains, scorches and water stains to replicate the original. The image on the reproduction closely matched that of the Turin shroud with differences explained as the result of natural fading over the centuries.
In a rebuttal to the creation by Luigi Garlaschelli, shroud scholar Petrus Soons explains why the Italian Fake does not reproduce the Shroud of Turin. The image on the Garlaschelli cloth was created using a red ochre based paint. In 1978 the original STURP team ruled this out as a possibility for the following reasons: 1) Adler reported that the " straw yellow color" of the body image fibers does not match the color of any of the known forms of ferric iron oxides. 2) Moreover, Adler reports that there is no correspondence of the body-only images to the concentration of iron oxide since the spectral characteristics of the body-only image are different from those of iron oxide. 3) The colors of the fibers, due to iron oxide, is also precluded by the fact that oxidation or reduction converts the yellow fibers of the body-only image to a white color. 4) Only rare particles of iron oxide are noted on the body-only image fibrils. 5) Large amounts of iron bound to the cellulose of the Shroud (not iron oxide) and Calcium were both present throughout the Shroud. This is believed to be due to the ability of linen to bind iron and water by ion association during the retting process (manufacturing process by which linen is immersed in water during fermentation). An estimated 90% of the iron and calcium exist in this form bound to the cellulose of the linen, and only a small amount is present as iron oxide. 6) X-ray studies of the body-only image do not contain enough iron oxide to show up on the X-radiographs. 7) All of the iron of the Shroud, whether from iron oxide particles or from blood, proved to be 99 percent chemically pure, with no discernable manganese, nickel, or cobalt. Prof Garlaschelli explains the absence of any traces of iron oxide on the original Shroud by stating that the pigment on the original Shroud faded away naturally over the centuries.
In November 2009 Dr. Barbara Frale, a Roman Catholic researcher at the Vatican secret archives, announced that she had "managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth." imprinted in fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing, together with the image of a crucified man on the cloth. She asserted that the inscription provided an "historical date consistent with the Gospels account" and that the letters, not obvious to the human eyes, were first detected during an examination of the shroud in 1978, with others since coming to light. Like the image of the man himself Frale reports that the letters are in reverse and only become intelligible in negative photographs. Frale further asserts that under contemporary Jewish burial practices, within a Roman colony such as Palestine, a body buried after a death sentence could only be returned to the family after a year in a common grave (though the gospels report that Jesus was buried in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea), therefore a death certificate was glued to the burial shroud, usually stuck to the face, to identify it for later retrieval.
Other scholars have argued that the writing originates from a reliquary that the cloth was housed in during medieval times. Frale disagrees on her assumption that a medieval Christian would not have referred to Jesus as "the Nazarene" but rather "Jesus as Christ" since the former would have been "heretical" in the Middle Ages, defining Jesus as being "only a man" rather than the Son of God. Frale's reconstruction of the text reads:
Frale further argues that the use of three languages was in line with the multi-lingual practices of Greek-speaking Jews in a Roman colony.
In December, 2009, archaeologists unearthed a burial shroud from the time of Jesus in the Field of Blood cemetery in Jerusalem. Believed to be belonging to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy who died from leprosy, the newly found cloth has a much simpler two-way weave than the Shroud of Turin's complex herringbone weave. The researchers believe that the cloth is representative of the typical burial cloths used at the time and conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from 1st Century Jerusalem.
In a more recent TV documentary (December 2009) one of the scientists involved in the above carbon dating exercise made the discovery that the piece of material used included more recently added cotton threads, which had been dyed and woven into the original linen, in order to repair the corner of the Shroud. The date that this had been done was not clear, but was certainly no earlier than medieval times and would have impacted upon the carbon dating evidence.
In 2010, three professors of statistics wrote in a scientific paper that the statistical analysis of the raw dates obtained from the three laboratories suggests "the presence of an important contamination in the 1988 TS samples".
In March 2010, a third permanent exhibit of the shroud was opened at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Sacramento, California. The exhibit features a yellowed replica, crown of thorns and a bronze statue of Jesus.