Ten Questions for Shroud Skeptics

The latest scientific tests show that the Shroud of Turin dates to the first century. Go here to read more. Still, Shroud skeptics say it’s a medieval forgery. So here are some questions for them:

1. If it’s a fake why hasn’t anyone–even with modern technology–been able to reproduce it?

2. How did the forger not only know about photography in the Middle Ages, but manage to produce what is, in effect, a photographic negative?

3. The image is not painted, but “singed” or burnt on to the fabric. How did they do that?

4. The “burned” image doesn’t penetrate more than the surface level of the cloth. Paint would soak in wouldn’t it?

5. When paintings are put into a 3-D replicator they don’t produce successful 3-D images. This does. How did the forger do that?

6.  They found pollen and traces of soil from the area of Jerusalem. Did a medieval forger in Europe think of that and travel out there to get samples?

7. Are carbon 14 dating tests ever wrong? We’re assuming someone in the Middle Ages was a fraud. What if the modern scientists cheated? Its possible isn’t it?

8. The man in the shroud was nailed through the wrists. Medieval artists showed Christ’s nails through his hands. How did the medieval forger know that the Romans nailed through the wrist and not the hand as people thought back in the Middle Ages?

9. The forger even got the details of the wounds correct because the flagellation wounds correspond not only to Roman flagella, but to the direction from which the two men would have whipped the victim according to Roman torture techniques. How did the forger know that?

10. The pigtail at the back? It links up with the hair style of Jewish men who had taken the “Nazarite vow” in the time of Christ. This was some fantastic forger no?

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • Mark Shea

    Just one question: “If it’s a fraud by unscientific wahoos who believe in miracles, please make another one.”

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  • Guest

    I think it was created by the same alchemist who also discovered the elixer of life and how to turn copper into gold but he got run over by a donkey cart and his discoveries died with him.

  • Joe

    The part of the shroud that was used for the carbon-14 dating was actually a patch that was stitched in in the Middle Ages. The stitching in that section is different from the rest of the material. So it only proves the age of that patch.

    • AnneG

      And, that patch was cotton.

  • tprc62

    This is the “just asking questions ” approach favored by the moon-landing skeptics.
    The cloth was independently tested by three different labs, and they all came up with the same answer, roughly 1350. While there are always error bars on these type of measurements, you won’t get the answer to move 1300 years claiming error. Items of known provenance from ancient civilazations(i.e. Egypt) have been accurately dated using C-14. If any of the excuses for why the date was wrong (later patch actually tested, affected by later fire, etc), were remotely believeable, the Church would be all over having it restested, but they know what the answer will be. And don’t underestimate the artists of the 14th Century, they were excellent.

    What is the old joke about relics of the “True Cross”? Enough wood has been sold to make several Arks? If someone came to you with a “True Cross” relic, and it actually C-14 dated to 30 CE, would you believe them?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      If it is a medieval forgery, then please answer the other questions, or even better: replicate it using medieval techniques. People have tried. No one can.

      If you’re really interested, check out the latest findings which say the Shroud if first century: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/9958678/Turin-Shroud-is-not-a-medieval-forgery.html

      As to the relics of the true cross making the ark. This is an old myth that was disproved by the research of a French scholar Charles Rouhault de Fleury. You can read about it here if you’re interested: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0150.htm

      • Michael

        Fr. Longenecker, you miss the point. One can always have questions about ancient artifacts, who created them, the details of how it was made, the provenence of ownership, but there is one question that has been answered quite clearly using scientific doubly blind testing with cloths from various eras at multiple labs. The shroud dates from the same time as its first appearance in the historical record.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          There is more scientific evidence to the shroud than just the carbon 14 testing, and the problem I have is that all the other scientific tests do not jive with the carbon 14 testing. If we have twenty pieces of evidence and one does not fit, then we have just cause to question why that one piece of evidence does not fit with the others. We would have to therefore either trash all the other evidence (which is not a valid way forward) or find some other explanation as to why that one piece of evidence doesn’t fit. Those who examine the carbon 14 process and offer other explanations do so to try to explain why the carbon 14 results are anomalous.

          Therefore, the ten questions I posed in my original post are valid and substantial questions. The burden of proof is also shared by those who suggest that the shroud is a medieval forgery. They should make every attempt to explain how it was produced and reproduce a scientifically recorded process of how that could have been done using technology from the 1300s.

          • Michael

            Questions are not evidence. There are many unanswered questions about how Stonehenge was built, many questions about the pyramids, even about how early humans made stone tools, but those are just that, unanswered questions. What has been answered is the age of the cloth. Carbon 14 dating has been used by science with increasing accuracy for years. It’s inaccuracies are well know and it is why the dates obtained for the shroud have error bars that place it creation at the time of it’s first appearance in the historical record. Your questions are interesting and are valid. We don’t know how this image was created, who created it or how the subject details were chosen, but we do know when it was created.

    • Ray Hill

      It seems to me that it is much easier to replicate another “landing on the moon” than it is to replicate the Shroud of Turin. I have a friend who is convinced that Da Vinci created the Man on the Shroud. My reply was “what a pity that this Shroud does not bear [Da Vinci's] name – it would’ve been his greatest masterpiece.” And I say that because of the incredible intrinsic beauty in this piece. I mean, look at the face of the man on the Shroud. The serenity does not match the brutality inflicted on the body, a detail which is very interesting to me. A scientist might not pick up on this detail, but one who has an artistic sense would.

      I have to say, the most interesting thing about the Shroud of Turin (other than the Shroud itself) is reaction to it. Talk about a hot button issue. Nothing is dismissed so quickly by an atheist scientist than scientific discovery in favor of authenticity in this linen. Something about this Shroud is gnawing at people and the easiest path available is simply to dismiss this altogether. I’m an engineer by profession, and when something in the physical world strikes my fancy, I just need to know how it came to be. And no one can tell me how this image of the man on the Shroud was made except perhaps by some powerful event such as a Resurrection. That event is the key to why this is such a hot button issue. I imagine some really wouldn’t want to find that out.

    • Zwetschgenkrampus

      I read somewhere (unfotunately don’t know any more where) that Willard Frank Libby (who discovered C14 dating) was firmly convinced that the Turin shroud was not an object suited for dating with this method. In his opinion the contamination of the shroud allowed for no clear results. He was quoted that the contamination made the shroud a stratified collection of linen, medieval patches, the dirt of centuries, assorted micro-organisms and fungi.

      Well, obviously the man didn’t know what he was saying …

      Zwetschgenkrampus

  • Christine

    More recent tests than those C14 tests (back in the early 80s) which placed it in the middle ages show it to be from the 1st Century.

    • Michael

      Do you have a reference to those tests?

  • FW Ken

    I remember when the first carbon dating was done. One concern was that what they tested was a medieval fungal growth (or something like that) that formed a film over the fibers. That’s one theory, anyway.

    I should say that the authenticity of the Shroud is not an article of faith with me. I don’t “believe” the Shroud is authentic, but I do think that in the absence of a credible means by which it was produced, it sure might be. In any case, it’s a real reminder that the Lord is risen. That’s enough for now.

  • Glenn Juday

    Jeeze – what is so hard to understand about the concept of “the latest findings” being, well, the latest findings?

    The C14 tests of the 1980s were good work – for what they represented. But the location of the samples was questionable, and a number of other issues (biovarnish, etc.) raise legitimate scientific questions that require a rethink. So, rethink (please). Look, the interpretation of C14 dating is not always straightforward. For example, “old” carbon can work its way into food webs, become incorporated into living tissues, and produce false dating from perfectly calibrated machine readings. I once knew of newly hatched baby ducks that dated to 1,400 years old. Likewise, any “new” carbon (maximum enrichment of C14 from cosmic ray transformation of upper atmospheric carbon in carbon dioxide) that is leached into an “old” carbon object will skew the dating to very much more recent that the true age of the object.

    It is particularly important for scientist skeptics, who have a philosophical disregard for even the possibility that the Catholic religion might be true, to simply keep an open mind. The spirit of open inquiry is supposed to drive science forward, not dogmatic closemindedness.

    Another new and very powerful finding: the equally mysterious and incredibly detailed image of the face on the Veil of Manopello is a perfect match to the face on the Shroud. High quality dating of the veil, or Veronica (true image), begins in 1199. There is reasonable assurance of the veil’s existence centuries before then. So now we have to have our master forger strike twice, centuries and centuries apart, using an image technique equally baffling as the Shroud, and leave this “earlier” image on the finest silk in existence, woven from byssus, which are the threads of marine bivalves and probably not available during the Middle Ages.

    Alternatively we could set aside this convoluted naturalistic tale, and observe that objects consistent with the Veil and Shroud are mentioned in the Resurrection account. This would be a conclusion of scientific probability, because the Church makes clear that our faith does not depend on the authenticity of these or other objects of antiquity. As a matter of science and history, however, they are consistent with what the Church teaches.

    • Guest

      I believe the Shroud is real – the burial cloth of Jesus – simply because I don’t believe it could have been created by any technique known to man. But I have to say that one of the things that gives me the most pause is the fact that none of scripture mentions the image. We have a pretty detailed account of the empty tomb and the burial cloths in 2 separate places but no mention of the image on the shroud.

    • AnneG

      I’m glad you mentioned the Manopello. There is also the Sudarium of Oviedo that goes with these. Most remarkable, though is the Icon of the Pantocrator in St Catherine Monastery, Mount Sinai. If you make an image of the face of the icon and one of the Shroud and the Manopello, they are all identical. These are not necessary for the faith, but are signs for those who believe and obstacles for those who don’t.

      • CJ Williams

        And I’m glad you mentioned the Sudarium of Oviedo, Anne! I just wrote something about it the other day, but here’s a link to an article from the archives of the online edition of 30 Days that’s pretty thorough and better than anything I could write about it: http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_21068_l3.htm

    • Michael

      Glenn Juday – Would you have had all these questions about the accuracy of carbon dating if testing had shown the cloth to be of 1st century origin? My guess would be no. The trouble is that’s not the way science works. And you and Fr. Longenecker demonstrate how faith, when confronted with contradictory evidence, works.

      Also – Do you have a reference for those 1400 year old carbon dated ducks? I couldn’t find any links in a cursory search of the web?

      • Caravelle

        I have no idea why anyone would want to carbon-date newly-hatched baby ducks, but it would obviously give inaccurate errors – Carbon-14 dating can’t be used to date anything more recent than 1950, when nuclear testing began.

        Radiocarbon dating, like all dating methods, has a specific domain of application (and a specific level of precision within that domain). Any example of C-14 dating “failing” that involves dating something that’s well-known to be outside that domain is completely irrelevant. It’s like saying calendars are unreliable because my 2012 calendar got the day of the week wrong for April 1st 2013.

  • Charles E. Mac Kay

    Its fabulous! Who can imagine it could survive the length of time that it has. Its a joy to look at. The face is so peaceful yet powerful. Yes its worthy of veneration.

  • Jame Grant

    What do you make of the fact that Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia, who is the shroud’s custodian, has rejected the legitimacy of these new tests?

    http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/postit/diario_vaticano/2013/03/27/Custode-pontificio-nessun-serio-valore-nuovi-studi-_8469741.html

    “la proprietà e la custodia dichiarano di non poter riconoscere alcun serio valore ai risultati di tali pretesi esperimenti.”
    In short, he sees no value in these experiments.

    And neither do I: the way they average the age of teh shroud is…weird. In the Vatican Insider article, they give the three test results: “the dates given to the Shroud after FT-IR testing, is 300 BC ±400, 200 BC ±500 after Raman testing and 400 AD ±400 after multi-parametric mechanical testing. The average of all three dates is 33 BC ±250 years.”

    Whhaaaaa! I’m no big city lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that scientists don’t average three wholly inconsistent date ranges in order to come up with an average date.

  • tprc62

    Fr. Dwight>>>

    The C-14 testing is dismissed as “labaratory contamination”, yet resulted in the same answers from all threee laboratories. Is it likely that all three labs had identical contamination? As for the new infrared testing paper, we wil have to wait until

    Glenn

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Believers in the shroud do not claim laboratory contamination. They claim that the section of the shroud taken for testing was contaminated by human handling or that it was part of the shroud that was patched.

  • tprc62

    Sorry for the short comment, I ended the previous comment early.

    Fr. Dwight>>>
    The C-14 testing is dismissed as “labaratory contamination”, yet resulted in the same answers from all threee laboratories. Is it likely that all three labs had identical contamination? The reason they sent samples to three labs was to rule out lab contamination. As for the new infrared age-testing technique, if the paper withstands scientific scrutiny(as C-14 testing has over the decades), then that would actually be some evidence for the shroud. Right now, it is still just a fanciful story, a religious relic suddenly appears after thirteen centuries and dates to the time it first appeared(1300s). Not very suprising. And if the cloth is from the 1300s, as the evidence currently indicates, then the rest of the questions don’t really matter.

    I didn’t mean that the True Cross was in any way associated with the Ark, just that many people over the centuries have bought purported cross relics, and if they were added together, would comprise enough material to build several wooden ships. The relic business has been around for a long time.

    Glenn >>
    The amount of “modern carbon” contaminant needed to change the date from 1st century to 14th century would be approximately would be twice the amount of carbon in the entire shroud itself. Do you really think scientists who specialize in C-14 testing haven’t thought about these issues? It is very important to accurately date items from the past. Scientists have worked extremely hard over decades to vet the C-14 techniques, along with all the other radioactive dating techniques.

    As for the benefits of an “open mind”, if people wish to claim that the shroud is real, they need to provide the evidence. I am certainly willing to change my mind, given sufficient evidence. Given the brisk market in religious relics over the centuries, a lot of compelling evidence would need to be provided. Right now, there is a only a pile of special pleading(why actual C-14 and paint evidence should be ignored), and “I can’t understand how it was done”, therefore it must be real. When you see a magician make an object apparently disappear, you don’t really think he makes it disappear, do you?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      You missed my point about the relics of the cross and the ark. Please read the link in my response to learn about the research of Charles Rouhault de Fleury–if you are actually interested in truth that is…As to the shroud–I doubt very much if you have seriously studied the evidence. Very serious scientific studies have been done on the shroud and it remains–at best–a mystery which cannot be explained away as a forgery. Once you have looked into it with the open mind you claim to have come back and discuss. Until you have examined the evidence don’t talk about evidence.

    • Glenn Juday

      I specified that the results of the c14 tests of the 1980s, produced by the top labs in the field, could be credited with a high degree of reliability – for what they represented. You seem to be missing the point about what C14 testing yields. The AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) testing provides a count of c14 atoms, period. THEN come all the steps of calibration, interpretation, analysis, and logic involved in making an inference about the true dating of the object tested. I provided the comment to perhaps pull the curtain back a bit on this more opaque bit of the science associated with this testing method. I have great respect for (and collaborate with) folks who do this second phase work of dating objects. Certainly most of the primary literature I have encountered on the C14 dating of the Shroud was expressed in the appropriate way. Of course on the face of it, modern C14 incorporation into the Shroud in amounts sufficient to falsely shift a first century object into the fourteenth century is physically implausible. It was not my intention to suggest that process alone as an explanation, but to simply to point out to laymen who may not be aware the complexities of inputs that go into a reliable dating. I thank you for clarifying the point.

      But then we have a number of anti-authentic polemicists (yes, there are pro-authentic polemicists as well) who utter the phrase “the C14 test makes the Shroud an object of the Middle Ages,” as if that settles the matter. No, it does not – and for a number of reasons that anybody interested in the pursuit of plain scientific truth recognizes. Compared to a very, very substantial and diverse body of perfectly coherent evidence, the C14 result is contradictory and baffling. That is not the stage at which an alert and engaged scientific mind goes to sleep. Rather that is the invitation for a great scientific adventure. Already some progress has been made in explaining why the C14 result may have come out as it did. If these latest claims don’t hold up under further investigation, then science will have proved its value for arriving at natural explanations once more.

      But I have trouble believing that an objective scientific mind can appropriate the results of the vast array of other non-C14 test results which are repeatable, agree with each other, and highly informative by providing insights well beyond those originally sought, and then still adopt the proposition that the C14 tests of the 1980s have definitively settled the matter. That is a claim that the available C14 test results cannot reasonably support, and that claim should be suspended, not matter how strongly it is held as a matter of faith by its adherents.

  • Michael

    I just wonder if the scientific, double blind, multiple lab, testing had have come back with a date of 1st century AD would the believers still be questioning the accuracy of carbon dating or would they proclaiming their trust in the scientific procedure used?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Along with the carbon dating one has to evaluate all the other scientific evidence and ask the questions I posed in the original post. Those who are really interested will find that the carbon dating doesn’t actually jive with the rest of the evidence. If one piece of evidence doesn’t match the rest of the evidence then we question the one piece that doesn’t fit.

      • Michael

        But again, you don’t have evidence, only questions. IAn analogy might be made to those who deny evolution (which fortunately the Catholic Church doesn’t). One always has questions about how various aspects of evolution occurred, (blood clotting, bacteria flagellum, development of eyes, etc.) but the mere existence of questions does not negate the overwhelming evidence in favour of evolution, only that there are unanswered questions about specific processes. That analogy, I believe, applies here.

    • Guest

      Michael,
      Maybe. One thing I can tell you for sure is that the non-believers would be trashing the accuracy of the carbon dating.

  • Daniel Harrigan

    Father, There was a documentary about the shroud which had scientists go back and talk to one of the scientists who tested the Shroud. They had interviewed him before his death and it took forever to convince him that the Carbon14 dating was faulty and luckily he still had a remnant of the Shroud which was not from the patch section. I believe he tested that sample and it came back as 1st century date. He actually recanted his findings and said he was wrong. He died a few months later. Hopefully someone can find that documentary.Happy Easter!

  • Obpoet

    The one thing I cannot get my head around is how the image was made. I do not mean by what process. I mean more from a question of spacial orientation. Why would a 3D structure produce a 2D image? I get that there is apparently 3D information of sorts contained in the image, but cloth touching a body wouldnt produce this image, radiation coming out would come out in all directions. Energy exiting a body wouldn’t produce a perfect front and back image, would it? I just cant envision the topography of it all.

  • Lynda

    My understanding is that all the earlier date-testing were done from pieces taken from a sample that turned out to be a medieval patch.

  • http://PortaCaeli Patricius

    I am not a shroud sceptic but I think that a number of your questions exhibit common misconceptions regarding the Holy Shroud. The most basic mistake, I believe, is to regard the image as a photograph/photographic negative when in fact two features clearly prove that it is not. The first concerns the composite nature of the image where researchers have distinguished two distinct processes being at work in the production of “body” and “blood” imaging. The second concerns the fact that photography as normally understood involves the registration of light originating from a source reflected from the forms it illuminates. The tendency to view the shroud image as photographic derives from the fact that a photographic negative – both by virtue of its tonal reversal and condensing of scale- gives a greater visual coherence to the imagery than is apparent in the original viewed under normal conditions. I’d suggest, therefore that if the shroud is a fake then there is a very simple answer as to why no-one has been able to reproduce it. In short they have been distracted by the “hype” about it being a “photograph” or by puerile notions of artistic development and “genius”.
    I recall the carbon dating carried out in 1988 being loudly trumpeted in the media both before and afterwards. It involved allegedly reputable universities- like Oxford. Other tests which are now claimed as countering those results have emerged, as it were, out of the shadows. Occasionally “experts” make idiotic claims about finding “writing” or the traces of coins minted under Pontius Pilate on the shroud making it difficult to know who to believe. Sadly, while many of the shroud sceptics appear to be off the wall the same might be fairly said of some shroud enthusiasts. Leaving aside the carbon dating the strongest argument against authenticity remains the lack of clear historical provenance prior to 1350. Even if it is genuine I should not be surprised if some day someone manages to fake it.

    • Glenn Juday

      I’m afraid that the statement “the strongest argument against authenticity remains the lack of clear historical provenance prior to 1350.” is a major overstatement. There is a perfectly plausible and likely historical pathway for the Shroud, with confirming, but not dispositive, evidence behind it.

      The evidence amounts to the object itself (ancient weave and material characteristic of Judea, not Europe of the Middle Ages), objects on the Shroud (pollens consistent with exposure to the atmosphere in Judea, Constantinople), and to fragmentary historical records that can be salvaged from the utter destruction brought about by the Islamic conquests. Taken together the historical and material evidence is sufficient to rule against an indigenous European forgery. At the very least a very old Judean cloth was procured, and carefully exposed to the atmosphere in a series of steps retracting a route through Asia Minor, residence at the edge of Asia and Europe over a period of perhaps centuries, and finally arrival in southern Europe in the Middle Ages. The C14 test results do not invalidate any of this.

      The cloth of the Shroud looks ancient, and was manufactured with ancient technique including processing of the linen fibers. That is powerful evidence for authenticity. But the C14 test counts the atoms of an organic object of the Middle Ages. That is a puzzle, and evidence against authenticity. The evidence of objects on the Shroud attests to exposure to the atmosphere in a route from the vicinity of Jerusalem, through the Byzantine Empire and environs eastward, and into southern Europe most recently. That is very powerful evidence for authenticity.

      Objects with probable characteristics of the Shroud and definitely with the same religious significance were among the prized treasures and even ransomed from capture by the Byzantine Empire. That is evidence consistent with authenticity of the Shroud. The unfortunate sketchiness of the records is understandable given the brutality of conquests experienced in the late Byzantine Empire. Western knights, with prominent participation by Franks (the French), participated in an episode of looting of the treasures and sacred objects of Constantinople in 1204. That provides a perfectly plausible, in fact likely, route for the Shroud into Europe in the custody of a French knight, the actual circumstances at which a western historical record begins.

      Certainly we would like historical records to provide more evidence, or at least more certainty, but that is not available right now. Eventually more records may turn up, although, of course, what is documented now may be all we get. Given these facts, the lack of a clear, satisfying trail of evidence meeting contemporary academic standards cannot be used to establish much of any point, and certainly not a negative one.

      We are in the midst of a period of major advances in the historical sciences, particularly with respect to the Eastern Mediterranean in the period of classical antiquity. Impressive new finding keep turning up. Extremely sophisticated new tools of investigation and analysis keep turning up. Helpful comparative databases are gradually emerging. There is much more to be learned. But, impressively, so far all of these new developments when applied to the Shroud have pointed toward authenticity with impressive agreement. And a single set of tests counts the atoms of C14 in a way that, standing alone, suggests the Shroud is too recent to be authentic. That’s the state of play, but it’s hardly the final word.

    • Quinn

      “I’d suggest, therefore that if the shroud is a fake then there is a very simple answer as to why no-one has been able to reproduce it. In short they have been distracted by the “hype” about it being a “photograph” or by puerile notions of artistic development and “genius”. ”

      Wow. All those NASA scientists, all those brilliant people, all that multi-gazillion dollar equipment, all those atheists and agnostics working on it, the Nobel prize winners….
      And YOU, you ALONE, Patricius, have discovered the secret of the shroud……wait for it…….wait for it…… All thecs scientists WERE DISTRACTED by a METAPHOR! (note: no one has ever claimed it was an actual photographic negative!)

      I don’t care what century it is from. But write a book, Patricius, or maybe reproduce it yourself (with what technique) since you alone among all men have seen the Truth!

      Or maybe you could just step away from the bong.

      Bye bye. Have fun staring in a mirror and telling yourself how brilliant you, and you alone, are.

      • http://PortaCaeli Patricius

        I am sorry. I seem to have upset you. You appear to set great store by the brilliance of scientists but fail to recognise that scientists fall on both sides of the pro- and anti- authenticity divide. I have been interested in the shroud and read a great deal over forty years. As a Christian I have to admit that I should like to believe it authentic but that truth is what matters most. When the results of the carbon dating were announced in 1988 I was shocked. As a non-scientist I could not dispute them. As an artist, however, I felt bound to ask myself “What kind of image am I looking at?” when I look at photographs of the shroud. I still do not know but I think certain approaches such as drawing and painting with a brush and photography can be ruled out. I feel fairly certain that the image derives in some manner from direct one to one contact with a three-dimensional body. Was that the body of our blessed Lord as He lay in the tomb? Or was it a life size sculpture? In either case I cannot account for the image forming process. If I thought I could then perhaps I should write a book as you so kindly suggest.
        God bless you.

  • Meg

    Beyond the issues of science, and of our inability to work out how this image could be made in medieval times, there’s the question of art.

    Look at how artists painted the human figure in the 1300s. Then look at the man on the shroud. The realism of the image doesn’t strike us as odd because we’re so used to seeing photos – but nowhere will you find a representation like it in medieval art.

    So this medieval forger was not just a technical genius, but an artistic one, who out of nowhere invented a revolutionary way of portraying the human figure? Just doesn’t make sense.

  • jeff

    I also saw a doco where they seemed to show pretty conclusively that the ’80s C14 tests were all from one corner that they were able to show was a mediaeval cotton repair job, dyed to match the colour of the linen. I don’t know why they haven’t replicated the tests from different parts of the shroud

  • Michael

    For those amateur Sidonologists, just one question. What evidence would be necessary for you to accept that the Shroud is of 13th century provenance? For me, if independent reputable labs in double blind tests had have shown the cloth to be of 1st century origin I would have accepted that. Also, there were other fabrics tested at the same time of independently verified dates (the blind aspect of the test). The tests on these samples gave dates commensurate with their dates of origin. Why only doubt the Shroud’s testing?

    • jeff

      I doubt the Shroud’s testing if the portion was taken from a mediaeval repair job. They admit that all the samples were collected from the same place.

      If someone can show conclusively that we:
      1. know precisely where the 1988 samples were collected from,
      2. know precisely where the mediaeval repairs were…

      … then the question of the reliability of the C14 tests should be fairly well settled.

  • Michael

    This article in the Vatican Insider says that the new sample testing “cannot recognize any serious value to the results of those alleged experiments.” because there is no certainty as to the authenticity of the purported shroud fibers that were used for the experiments. That plus the experimental procedures have not been scientifically published leads to serious doubts about these latest assertions.

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/inchieste-ed-interviste/dettaglio-articolo/articolo/sindone-23653/

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  • http://www.shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com Colin Berry

    1. If it’s a fake why hasn’t anyone–even with modern technology–been able to reproduce it?
    Answer: First invent a time machine, so one can see precisely what materials and procedures were employed. Until then, focus on getting the science right before the technical details. Thermography (contact scorching from a heated template) would seem to fit the bill in many ways. There are problems still to be addressed – uv fluorescence etc – but these are not insuperable obstacles when looked at scientifically.

    2. How did the forger not only know about photography in the Middle Ages, but manage to produce what is, in effect, a photographic negative?
    Answer: It’s not a photographic negative, but is easily modelled, at least in principle, as a thermographic negative.

    3. The image is not painted, but “singed” or burnt on to the fabric. How did they do that?
    Answer: heat a metal or ceramic template, probably bas relief, shaped like a person, then press down into linen with some soft backing material – damp cloth say – to get a nice sharp imprint. Brief contact is needed – to avoid that ‘insuperable objection’ fielded by the radiationista – excessive scorching.

    4. The “burned” image doesn’t penetrate more than the surface level of the cloth. Paint would soak in wouldn’t it?
    Answer: Yes, just like the “blood” soaked in to some extent. (“Blood” since it may have been inside a leech for a few days, weeks even, before being applied like paint).

    5. When paintings are put into a 3-D replicator they don’t produce successful 3-D images. This does. How did the forger do that?
    Answer: but it’s not a painting. Contact scorches respond beautifully to 3D-enhancement in ImageJ etc. So did a Mickey Mouse cartoon. There’s nothing mysterious about softwareprograms that c0nvert image density to 3D relief.

    6. They found pollen and traces of soil from the area of Jerusalem. Did a medieval forger in Europe think of that and travel out there to get samples?
    Answer: Dunno. The evidence on pollen is unreliable. failing to follow systematic and verifiable scientific protocols.

    7. Are carbon 14 dating tests ever wrong? We’re assuming someone in the Middle Ages was a fraud. What if the modern scientists cheated? Its possible isn’t it?

    Answer: What, 3 different laboratories, hundreds or thousands of miles apart, each with their support teams? That’s some conspiracy. Have you seen and heard Prof. Chris Ramsay in front of camera, like in that Rolfe BBC documentary on the Shroud Center theoscience? Does he strike you as a fraud or conspirator?

    Colin Berry
    Shroud sceptic

    8. The man in the shroud was nailed through the wrists. Medieval artists showed Christ’s nails through his hands. How did the medieval forger know that the Romans nailed through the wrist and not the hand as people thought back in the Middle Ages?

    9. The forger even got the details of the wounds correct because the flagellation wounds correspond not only to Roman flagella, but to the direction from which the two men would have whipped the victim according to Roman torture techniques. How did the forger know that?

    10. The pigtail at the back? It links up with the hair style of Jewish men who had taken the “Nazarite vow” in the time of Christ. This was some fantastic forger no?

    • Glenn Juday

      Nearly every suggested answer in this series is outside the realm of plausibility or feasibility. It appears the respondent has not engaged with the evidence at a sufficient depth.

      • http://www.shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com Colin Berry

        Why the curt and dismissive response? Maybe you are the one who needs to engage at “sufficient depth”. Or are you afraid to do so?

      • The Deuce

        Yup, but as wildly implausible as it is, Colin’s theory actually attempts to deal with the facts better than any of the other forgery theories out there. It’s useful for precisely that reason: an illustration of the extremes that Shroud anti-authenticists must resort to in order to even attempt to address even a portion of the evidence.

  • http://www.holyshroud.info David Roemer

    The image on the Holy Shroud was presumably created by Gnostics in the 1st or 2nd century using methods that have been lost to mankind. My slideshow/lecture has been suppressed by the Catholic Church in the U. S. because it discusses the history, theology, and science of the Holy Shroud honestly. I’v filed a complaint with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization on November 19, 2012. I have not gotten a response. My correspondence about the Holy Shroud is at http://newevangelist.me/2012/10/02/the-truth-about-the-shroud-of-turin/

  • Charles Freeman

    Qu. 6. Remember that a significant proportion of medieval relics came to Europe from the Holy Land. Quite apart from the documented transfer of relics from Jerusalem to Constantinople Jerusalem was within the Byzantine empire) before the Arab conquests), there is documented trade in relics from the seventh century and the numbers coming in intensified at the time of Crusades. Not a single one has yet been proved to be from the first century. Specifically as to cloths some ( the veil at Apt is a good example) have been traced back to Islamic workshops. As there was such extensive trading of relics from the Holy Land, evidence that the Shroud may have come from the Holy Land is not any indication of authenticity.
    I am awaiting for all the doubters of the 1988 carbon 14 tests to get their act together and agree on why the tests are wrong. Please provide the photographic evidence of any reweaving. Please challenge Flury Lemburg’s intensive, some would say too intensive.cleaning of the cloth in 2002 that failed to find any evidence of any reweaving. Please say what you think the contaminant was, if that is your objection, and how it survived the cleaning by the laboratories. Please give a reason why there might have been cheating- why would the Vatican not want the Shroud to be authentic? If you challenge the statistics please show why these are so way out as to suggest a date in the first century. But above all, get a coherent argument together that provides a reason for conventional scientists who specialise in radio-carbon14 dating to be convinced that they medieval dating is wrong. Until then you are only preaching to the already converted.
    We have no explanation as to how the Shroud was made but this fact does not make it authentic!!!

    • Glenn Juday

      One does not have to doubt the count of C14 atoms that three prestigious and reliable labs produced in order to be puzzled by the major discrepancy between the fourteenth century date inferred from those counts and the impressive consistency in the smallest details of the Shroud with the gospel accounts of a specific Roman-style crucifixion of a Jew in first century Jerusalem. The distinguishing characteristic of science is that it deals with all the evidence, not just one type that happens to support a particularly satisfying conclusion. As a matter of both science and faith, the Catholic Church is open to the possibility that the Shroud of Turin is not the authentic burial cloth of Jesus the Nazorean. The proposition that it cannot be authentic, as a matter of philosophic presupposition, clouds much of the commentary offered in objection.

      Speculation about trade in relics reflects the true sensibility of the 19th century. It is not quite excludable as a remotely allowable explanation, but is offered lacking any specific basis for its application in this case, and with a casual disregard for the physical evidence that would make its production the most astounding achievement of artistic effort and historical sciences of its time.

      Many of the most useful investigations in the history of science have involved the resolution of apparently contradictory, but strongly supported, findings. That fruitful and beneficial result is made impossible by an unwillingness to take seriously all reliable findings, no matter how divergent, and grapple with them. The current stage in the investigation of the Shroud is a time to open our minds to a range of explanations, some contradictory, about why the C14 results are divergent from the rest of the evidence, not to settle on a single one as the “coherent” alternative. As each alternative explanation is set aside we close in on what is likely to be the truth, including the possibility that the Shroud is a fourteenth century product. An agreement to settle on a single explanation now would be a triumph of dogma over open inquiry which, of course, is an unfortunately common recommendation coming from critics of the Church.

  • wayne

    To answer all the questions:

    It forger wasn’t trying to produce a photographic negative, just a believable relic. The image was made using sunlight, which selectively faded the cloth through a glass pane on which an image was painted. The technique was probably discovered by accident by a maker of stained-glass windows, who would have left painted panes out to dry, lying on top of old cloths to prevent scratching the glass. The 3D effect is produced accidentally by the lensing-effect of the moving sun shining through a thick pane of refractive material at constantly changing angles, onto the 3D surfaces of the fibers.

    C14 results can be wrong, which is why three tests were done – and they all matched up closely. It’s very unlikely that all the people in all three labs all took the risk to cheat together, and nobody has ever squealed on them.

    STURP photos taken before the sampling was done show that the natural colour-bands in the fabric continued through the sampled area – therefore clearly it was not a patch. The “evidence” that it’s a patch was derived only from inspecting a few stray threads, which turned up much later and whose own provenance is unproven.

    Crusaders knew all about flogging, and how blood flows when you kill people. They had seen real crucifixions often enough, and had killed many themselves. A relic of this nature was worth billions of dollars in their money – more than enough incentive.

    There is no evidence that the pigtail was a religious hairstyle – many people with long hair tie it back for convenience, without any religious motive.

    There are three possible explanations for the pollen etc – A) there was no Jerusalem pollen, exactly as STURP found, and Frei faked it; B) the relic was faked in Jerusalem by a crusader, and it was dusted with the pollen at the time of manufacture; C) a subsequent owner took it with him on pilgrimage to celebrate Easter Mass in Jerusalem.

    One must also consider that when the relic surfaced it was thoroughly washed (even boiled) by hoax-busters, and was then subsequently exposed to adoring crowds many times in French fields, so the continued presence of Israeli pollen is strange, and the comparative absence of French pollen is ridiculous.

    It probably could be reproduced today, but since the C14 conclusively proves it’s a fake, why spend more money to convince people who don’t want to be convinced?

    • Glenn Juday

      Max Frei did quite reliable work throughout his career, including on the Shroud. The uncomprehending comments directed toward him and disparaging his work by a member of the STURP team have no particular probative value. The pollen grains that Frei collected are mounted on microscopic slides, and were transferred to Dr. Alan and Mary Whanger who claim to have discovered evidence of flower images on the Shroud consistent with the pollen. The resident Israeli expert botanists Avinoam Danin and Uri Baruch fully confirmed and strengthened the pollen results.

      The C14 result, in relation to all the other evidence, is conclusive only to those who are prone to, or worse, satisfied with, hasty conclusions.

      Crusaders were men from a time accustomed to a pattern of violence different than our own. The assumption that crucifixion was a common part of that experience is odd and ahistorical. The micro-geography of the blood flows, stains, and pools on the Shroud make any inference that it was produced by something other than a human male victim of scourging, head puncture wounding, and quite authentic pre 4th century Roman crucifixion quite implausible. The features of the body depicted in the Shroud represent those of a semitic male in the prime age years, not a victim at random.

      While a motive of financial fraud by Crusaders can be hypothesized, the oath associated with “taking the cross” (thus the name “Crusaders”) was a living presence reflected in their attire, their social life, their very presence on the armed pilgrimage they undertook. An easy assumption that the required number of conspirators among them would throw it all over in a supreme act of blasphemy is a 21st century way of failing to come to grips with them and the world they lived in. They were sometimes petty, frequently feuding, capable of great violence, and yet they functioned under various systems of discipline – none of which would allowed the suggested financial fraud. The very flaws that people of today are most quick to see in them make the more modern and sly forms of fraud we are more comfortable with considerably less than a natural inference.

      • http://www.shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com Colin Berry

        Too wordy. Please state your meaning more concisely.

    • The Deuce

      The 3D effect is produced accidentally by the lensing-effect of the moving sun shining through a thick pane of refractive material at constantly changing angles, onto the 3D surfaces of the fibers.

      Nope. That can be immediately ruled out by the fact that, for starters, the 3D effect is actually an elevation map. It doesn’t use perspective lighting the way 2D paintings do. Rather, the darker parts of the image (lighter in negative) correspond to those parts of Jesus’ body that would be closest to the Shroud, and the lighter parts correspond to those that would be furthest away, and the 3D gradation is far too detailed and accurate to have been painted by hand by someone who had no way of checking their work (not to mention, they would’ve had to paint in grayscale). To even get off the ground, any forgery theory must start with the assumption that the Shroud was made with a real 3D object.

  • http://www.pinocchios.net Sean Keohane

    Wow, many comments could be made here, but there are already over 50 comments total, so for now here is simply a Youtube link for those interested in last Holy Saturday’s ostentation of the Turin Shroud:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mqs8L4J0s6E

    The link I previously posted, to the RAI Uno network’s replay, is no longer valid, but Barrie Schwortz has posted the new Youtube link at http://www.shroud.com . Hope everyone had a great “Quasimodo Sunday!”

  • The Deuce

    One fact that rarely gets noticed or mentioned these days is that until just a little more than a century ago, the Shroud just looked like a piece of linen with some sweat or slight discoloration on it. There wasn’t much reason to think it miraculous just from looking at it, except for the witness of tradition stating that it had been the burial cloth of Jesus. The amazing properties of it have only been discovered since then, and would have been impossible for an artist before that time to do intentionally or even imagine. Some examples:

    1) The Shroud’s photo negative quality, such that the image only becomes fully visible and detailed in negative, with “correct” lighting, was discovered in 1898, and so could not have possibly have been intended by any putative medieval artist.

    2) The fact that the image on the Shroud is only 200nm thick was only discovered in the last couple of decades or so, and certainly could not have been intended by any medieval artist.

    3) The fact that the image on the Shroud is actually an elevation map, where darker parts correspond to higher elevation on a 3D image of a man, was only discovered, and demonstrated with imaging software, in the past few decades.

    And based on these things, we can rule out the major forgery theories pretty quickly:

    1) We can immediately rule out for certain that the Shroud was painted, or made with any sort of “2D” method. It would have been flat-out impossible for an artist to paint an image in negative which he couldn’t even see, much less paint it as a 3D topography map with intricate detail, much less when he didn’t even know about photo negativity. And that’s in addition to the fact that the image isn’t made with paint, and that it is sub-microscopically thin.

    So, to even get off the ground, any explanation for the Shroud must start by acknowledging that it was made with a real 3D object (whether a body or a statue) that was highly detailed, and was “transferred” to the cloth somehow.

    2) Next we can rule out that the Shroud was made by burning the image in (eg from a hot statue or something along those lines). There’s no way that a burned-in 3D image could only penetrate 200nm into the cloth, uniformly, and also create an image on the other side, but without leaving anything in between.

    And before people try to construct elaborate ways to get around this limitation, it has to be pointed out that the supposed medieval artist couldn’t have even been trying to do so. The artist (imagining for a moment that he existed) wasn’t trying to figure out how to get the image to only burn in only 200nm. To the people and technology of the middle ages, a regular burned-in image with low detail would’ve looked about the same, and been just as good, as the actual Shroud was at that time.

    Furthermore, all attempts to reproduce the Shroud using such methods have, in practice, resulted in a less detailed image with obvious distortion, and that’s despite the fact that the people attempting it have access to modern technology and can “check their work” by looking at it in negative before releasing it to the public, whereas our imaginary artist is supposed to have achieved all this entirely by accident.

    3) And then there’s all the properties of the Shroud that I didn’t mention here: the intricate and post-medieval knowledge of anatomy and hematology on display, the real blood that’s on it, the pollen, the match with the Sudarium of Oviedo, the nailing through the wrists, the Roman flagellation wound, and much more.

    Here’s the bottom line. We have, from the Gospels and the witness of the early Church, eyewitness testimony that Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead, that his tomb was found empty with his burial clothes still in it, that he was seen by many, and even conversed with them and ate with them, and that these witnesses were willing to be tortured to death for this testimony.

    At the same time that we have eyewitness testimony to this miraculous event, we also have a burial shroud that has long been claimed to have been preserved from Jesus’ burial, which has an image of a crucified Jesus on it, and which appears to have miraculous properties itself – properties that we are unable to account for or duplicate using modern technology.

    And while there are theories about this shroud being a medieval forgery, they don’t help to explain the miraculous properties, because those miraculous properties were completely unknown in the middle ages, and people already believed it was the burial cloth of Jesus before those properties were discovered, based on the historical witness of tradition to it.

    In short, the skeptic must hold that a medieval artist, in trying to forge a relic of history’s most famous miraculous event, just so happened to imbue that fake relic with miraculous properties of its own completely by accident, which he didn’t even know about and which still confound us even today, and that he got everyone to believe that it was the real deal even though neither he nor they even knew about these miraculous properties.

    In other words, the skeptic must say that the seeming miraculousness to both the Resurrection and the Shroud are a total coincidence, regardless of whatever forgery theory he tries to endorse. The Christian, on the other hand, can accept the multiple independent testimonies to the same miraculous event as confirmation of that event.

  • kristin

    THE RADIOCARBON SAMPLE WAS NOT VALID FOR DATING THE ENTIRE SHROUD. At least two people here have pointed out that a recent documentary on TV (I saw it on the History Channel) have shown conclusively that the samples were taken from a 1534 patch in which the linen fibers were unwoven and then re-woven with cotton fibers which were then dyed to match the linen. The documentary showed that the carbon dating of the samples ranges from 1260 to 1390. Each of the three independent labs gave a date in that range. We now know that the sample with the most cotton had the latest date and the sample with the least cotton had the earliest date. This info is easy to Google, so why are so many commenters still in the dark?


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