Archive for the ‘The Shroud of Turin’ category

Introduction to the Shroud of Turin

July 5, 2010

The Shroud of Turin
is a linen cloth 14 feet 3 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide, bearing the highly distinct Image of a Crucified Man. Since the sixteenth century, the Shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ, has been kept in St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Turin, Italy. From August until October 2000, the Shroud was displayed publicly — for the last time — in Turin, Italy. The previous public exhibition was in 1998 and, prior to that, 1978 and even before that, 1933, 1931, and 1898.

Modern scientific interest in the Shroud can be said to have begun in 1898 when the Italian photographer, Secunda Pia, took the first photographs of the Shroud. During the normal course of making a photographic print, Pia noticed that the negative image on the Shroud looked very much like a photographic positive. This discovery raised scientific eyebrows and began a continuous and growing scientific interest in the Shroud until the present day.

The scientific significance of Pia’s discovery is twofold. First, the shading of the Shroud body image is like a negative, where shades of light and dark are reversed from the way they normally appear in ordinary visual experience. That is, we are used to seeing people with light highlights and dark shadows. But on the Shroud, this shading convention is reversed. The immediate question that arises from this result is how could the Shroud sensibly be the work of an artist or a craftsman. Such a person working in the Middle Ages or before would apparently have to work with an absolutely unfamiliar and unnatural shading structure before the advent of photography. The second significant aspect of Pia’s discovery is that the information density (or correlation with anatomical subtleties of a human body) is exceedingly high, well surpassing that expected of normal artistic renditions of the human form. It is for this reason that the Shroud image has been compared to a photograph.

In 1931, the Shroud was again photographed by Giusseppi Enrie, another Italian photographer. These photographs showed the negative characteristic of the Shroud image as well, but with considerably more fidelity.

In 1902, the French Chemist Paul Vignon, in studying Pia’s photograph, thought that the intensity of the Shroud image seemed to vary with expected cloth-body distance. That is, the closer the draping Shroud was to a presumed underlying body, the more intense was the body image. While he could not demonstrate this observation quantitatively, he nevertheless proposed that the image was due to ammonia vapors emanating from the body surface as an attempt to explain the distance correlation.
In 1974, it became possible to rigorously test Vignon’s intensity versus cloth-body suggestion. Using a microdensitometer (an instrument that measures intensity of a photograph) and a reconstruction of how a cloth model of the Shroud drapes over a body, American Physicist John Jackson and colleagues were able to show that, indeed, image intensity does vary with cloth-body distance with a significant degree of correlation.
However, this correlation can be convincingly demonstrated using a special image analysis technique. The idea is to plot image intensity as corresponding levels of three-dimensional topographical relief. If the intensities of the Shroud image indeed correlate with cloth-to-body distance, then the resulting relief image should correspond to a sensible three-dimensional form of a human body (excluding the second order effect of cloth drape).

On February 19, 1976 Jackson brought a photograph of the Shroud to the image analysis laboratory of Bill Mottern. The Shroud image was viewed with a device called a VP-8 Image Analyzer, an analogue computer that converts image intensity directly to vertical relief. Astonishingly, the relief image looked quite anatomically plausible, even down to the subtle details of the face.  It is interesting to see how the intensities of various image features in the Enrie photograph (e.g. face, chest, hands, etc.) have been interpreted by the VP-8 as corresponding levels of relief. Clearly, the overall 3-D structure of the VP-8 image resembles a realistic human form.
If we now consider the facial relief image, we see (to within the resolution capabilities of theVP-8 system) that the entire three-dimensional facial structure of a normal human face is reproduced accurately.

For example, we see that the nose is higher in elevation than the cheeks, which are both higher than the eye sockets, etc. We can also see that the relief structure of the lips is in proper three-dimensional relation to the nose and the cheeks. If we compare with Enrie’s facial image, we can see precisely why the VP-8 relief has these characteristics. We see that the nose is plotted with the highest relief because it has the brightest intensity . The cheeks are less bright and, consequently, they wind up with correspondingly less topographical relief than the nose.
It is important to recognize that the VP-8 relief was generated from a SINGLE function of relief versus intensity applied uniformly across the entire Shroud image . Thus, the 3-D intensity correlation is a fundamental characteristic of the image structure on the Shroud. The three dimensional characteristic is discussed in detail by Jackson et al. (Ref 1).
The empirical fact that the Shroud frontal body image is highly correlated with cloth-body distance presents major problems for hypotheses describing the origin of the Shroud image. First, the “three-dimensional” characteristic of the image argues forcefully that it could not be the work of an artist. Controlled experiments with highly trained artists have demonstrated that the human eye-brain-coordination system is incapable of both recognizing and creating an intensity correlation to the degree found on the Shroud within the visible contrast variations observed currently in the Shroud image. We have investigated numerous artistic copies of the Shroud produced over the past several centuries with the VP-8 system. Without exception these relief images appear quite distorted. Moreover, we are unaware of any artistic examples in history where someone thought to intentionally encode the intensity structure of their artwork with three-dimensional meaning.

Accordingly, we must consider that the image on the Shroud was the result of a physical process of some sort (because the intensity-distance correlation reveals a mathematical order in the image structure). However, we can reject, on the basis of this correlation, the hypothesis that the image was the result of a direct contact transfer from a body to the cloth (because we see body image discoloration where cloth contact is extremely doubtful). We can also exclude simple diffusion or radiation from a body shape, because both transfer mechanisms, while acting through space, would produce a blurred image. This latter category, in fact, rejects Vignon’s ammonia vapor diffusion hypothesis mentioned above.

In 1978, the Shroud was studied first-hand by a team of professional scientists from the United States, called STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc.) This team was composed of scientists from universities, scientific laboratories, and scientific industries. STURP was allowed by the Cardinal of Turin, the custodian of the Shroud, to acquire diverse amounts of scientific data from the Shroud on-site. This team worked in an interdisciplinary manner so that conclusions reached could have multiple corroboration. The results of STURP were published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals in the early 1980’s.

The major conclusions of the team were that the bloodstains on the Shroud are blood and that the body image is chemically a form of degraded cellulose. In otherwords, the body image is the result of a molecular change in the linen cellulose, with a chemistry similar to that induced by scorching (although a thermal explanation for the image seems unlikely). No extraneous chemical agents of any significance were detected that could be associated with the image. The body image was shown to reside on the surface (or uppermost) fibrils of the cloth. At the microscopic level, brownish colored fibrils in the body image could be seen lying atop and next to white fibrils that comprise the threads that make up the weave of the Shroud.

There are considerable microscopic surface debris on the Shroud that were picked up on sticky tape samples. For example, certain red particles were noted on some fibrils, but it was concluded that these are due to major microscopic erosions of the reddish blood regions. These red particles were presummed to have been distributed over the body image by simple contact transfer during folding and rolling for storage and display purposes of the Shroud.
The possibility that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus comes primarily from a consideration of the many wounds found on the Shroud. In particular, the evident wounds of crucifixion in the wrists and the feet, numerous scourge-like marks over the back, puncture wounds on the top of the head, and a wound in the side all correlate well with the New Testament accounts of the Passion of Jesus.

Moreover, the Shroud and its image have numerous characteristics that are entirely consistent with a Jewish burial of the First Century. For example, the Man of the Shroud appears to be of Jewish racial type and was buried according Jewish burial custom. In particular, the blood on the Man of the Shroud was not removed before burial, which is mandated by Jewish law for a Jew who dies a violent death. In addition, the fingers of the Man of the Shroud are extended, which the Jews of the First Century ensured in defiance of contemporary pagan burial practices (e.g. as seen in Egyptian mummy configurations and statuettes). The dimensions of the Shroud can be expressed in the unit of the cubit used at the time of Christ. These and other indications of a Jewish character for the Shroud are consistent with the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived and died, and thus support the Shroud’s authenticity.

However, in 1988 the Shroud was subjected to radiocarbon analysis. In spite of the above characteristics that point to the Shroud being the actual historic burial cloth of Jesus, the reported radiocarbon age turned out to be only 14th century. If valid, then the Shroud could not be the historic burial cloth of Jesus, but merely a product of the Middle Ages.
Nevertheless, the totality of the various types of historical and archaeological data concerning the Shroud are sufficiently compelling towards authenticity that we think it is unwise to tacitly accept the radiocarbon date without a rigorous critique of its applicability to the Shroud. For example, the late Dr. Max Frei reported finding numerous pollens on the Shroud from plants that grow only in the Middle East (and not in Europe). If the Shroud dates only from the fourteenth century, and we know historically that it has been in Europe continuously from that time, then we must critically ask: How did all the pollens from the Middle East come to exist on the Shroud?

We can also readily observe in Eastern Christianity a profusion of Shroud-like icons (e.g. Christ’s face on cloth, images of Christ rising out of a box with arms folded in front, etc.) These traditions well predate the radiocarbon’s fourteenth century conclusion. Moreover, these traditions are so entrenched into Eastern Christianity that they presuppose a prototypye upon which they are based. Because the Shroud shows no evidence of being the handiwork of human craftsmanship, and exhibits many of the intrinsic characteristics of these icons, it is entirely reasonable to hypothesize that the Shroud is, in fact, THAT prototype and, therefore, must predate the fourteenth century proposed by the radiocarbon measurement. Certainly, more scholarly research is needed to clarify such intriguing possibilities.

If the radiocarbon date is in error, it is necessary to show why. There are a variety of suggestions that have been proposed, all of which would make the radiocarbon date appear too young. However, we presently think that the most fruitful avenue of research is that inspired by some scientists in Russia who have reported seeing major shifts in the radiocarbon date of linen samples that have been incubated at modest temperatures.
This research is interesting because we know that the Shroud endured a significant thermal event during a fire in 1532 while in Chambrey, France. The entire cloth has yellowed and in some places scorched and burnt. Thus, based on the Russian studies, it is logical to suspect that the 1532 fire altered, perhaps significantly, the radiocarbon date of the Shroud. This effect appears to be related to an interaction with carbon dioxide in the surrounding air that favors significant chemical enrichment of the sample by those carbon dioxide molecules that contain the heavier carbon isotope (i.e. C-14).

It is necessary that the Russian experiments be confirmed independently. However, the University of Arizona, one of the original radiocarbon daters of the Shroud, has published that they were unable to confirm the Russian experiment. We, however, have performed studies indicating that the conditions of the Arizona experiment may have caused any enrichment in carbon-14 to dissipate before the end of their experiment. Such late time dissipation can, in fact, be seen in the Russian data, but at a much slower rate.

We believe it is important to understand exactly what the Shroud is because, if authentic, it would arguably have been the closest physical object to the very cornerstone event of Christian faith, the burial and Resurrection of Christ. The New Testament does not indicate that anyone directly witnessed what happened in the sealed, dark tomb of Jesus; but if the Shroud of Turin were to be shown to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus, then it might provide an unprecented witness to the event of that first Easter morning.

Such an achievement, if indeed it is even possible, will come only with considerably more research, which certainly must include a new direct examination of the Shroud. Because of the potential importance of what the Shroud could mean for mankind, we must insist on only the highest standards of science and scholarship. We must be open to whatever outcome future research will give us, whether it will be proved to be merely an inauthentic Shroud or a Shroud that was, in its own way, a direct witness to the Resurrection.

Jan. 25, 2005 — The Shroud of Turin, the piece of linen long believed to have been wrapped around Jesus’s body after the crucifixion, is much older than the date suggested by radiocarbon tests, according to new microchemical research.
Published in the current issue of Thermochimica Acta, a chemistry peer- reviewed scientific journal, the study dismisses the results of the 1988 carbon-14 dating.
“ A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old. ”
At that time, three reputable laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Ariz., concluded that the cloth on which the smudged outline of the body of a man is indelibly impressed, was a medieval fake dating from 1260 to 1390, and not the burial cloth wrapped around the body of Christ.
“As unlikely as it seems, the sample used to test the age of the shroud in 1988 was taken from a rewoven area of the shroud. Indeed, the patch was very carefully made. The yarn has the same twist as the main part of the cloth, and it was stained to match the color,” Raymond Rogers, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratories and former member of the STURP team of American scientists that examined the Shroud in 1978, told Discovery News.
The presence of a patch on the shroud doesn’t come as a surprise. The linen cloth has survived several blazes since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, including a church fire in 1532.
Badly damaged, it was then restored by nuns who patched burn holes and stitched the shroud to a reinforcing cloth that is now known as the Holland cloth.
In his study, Rogers analyzed and compared the radiocarbon sample with other samples from the controversial cloth.
“As part of the STURP research project, I took 32 adhesive-tape samples from all areas of the shroud in 1978, including some patches and the Holland cloth. I also obtained the authentic samples used in the radiocarbon dating,” Rogers said.
It emerged that the radiocarbon sample has completely different chemical properties than the main part of the shroud, Rogers said.
“The radiocarbon sample had been dyed, most likely to match the color of the older, sepia-colored cloth. The sample was dyed using a technology that began to appear in Italy about the time the Crusaders’ last bastion fell to the Mameluke Turks in 1291.
“The radiocarbon sample cannot be older than about 1290, agreeing with the age determined by carbon-14 dating in 1988. However, the Shroud itself is actually much older,” said Rogers.
Evidence came from microchemical tests that revealed the presence of vanillin in the radiocarbon sample and in the Holland cloth, but not in the rest of the shroud.
Produced by the thermal decomposition of lignin, a chemical compound of plant material including flax, vanillin decreases and disappears with time. It is easily detected on medieval linens, but cannot be found in the very old ones, such as the wrappings of the Dead Sea scrolls.
“A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old,” Rogers wrote.
According to Tom D’Muhala, the president of the American Shroud of Turin Association for Research, the new chemical tests produced “conclusive evidence.”
“They indicate that the linen Shroud is actually very old — much older than the published 1988 radiocarbon date,” D’Muhala said.

Shroud History
Scientific interest in linen cloth began in 1898, when it was photographed by lawyer Secondo Pia. The negatives revealed the image of a bearded man with pierced wrists and feet and a bloodstained head.
In 1988, the Vatican approved carbon-dating tests. Three reputable laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Ariz., concluded that the shroud was medieval, dating from 1260 to 1390, and not a burial cloth wrapped around the body of Christ.
But since then a growing sense that the radiocarbon dating might have had substantial flaws emerged among shroud scholars.
The history of the cloth has been steeped in mystery. It has survived several blazes since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, including a mysterious fire at Turin Cathedral in 1997.
Kept rolled up in a silver casket, it has been on display only five times in the past century. When it last went on display in 2000, more than three million people saw it. The next display will be in 2025.

source: The Discovery Channel

The Shroud of Turin

July 5, 2010

The Shroud of Turin is reputedly Christ’s burial cloth. It has been a religious relic since the Middle Ages. To believers it was divine proof the Christ was resurrected from the grave, to doubters it was evidence of human gullibility and one of the greatest hoaxes in the history of art. No one has been able to prove that it is the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, but its haunting image of a man’s wounded body is proof enough for true believers.

Click to view entire shroud enlarged (hi-res image).

The Shroud of Turin, as seen by the naked eye, is a negative image of a man with his hands folded. The linen is 14 feet, 3 inches long and 3 feet, 7 inches wide. The shroud bears the image of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Jesus.

The section of the shroud showing the face reveals dramatic features
when viewed as negative image (click on the right image to enlarge).

Three-dimensional relief of the Shroud face after smoothing of rough transitions with a recursive filter.The computer showed us what the face of Jesus Christ probably looked like before the Passion or after Resurrection, through an electronic cleaning of the blood and wounds which provides the almost natural images of the face

The shroud is wrapped in red silk and kept in a silver chest in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy since 1578. The shroud is unquestionably old. Its history is known from the year 1357, when it surfaced in the tiny village of Lirey, France. Until recent reports from San Antonio, most of the scientific world accepted the findings of carbon dating carried out in 1988.  The results said the shroud dated back to 1260-1390, and thus is much too new to be Jesus’ burial linen.

The following image shows the most likely position in which Jesus died. This body
position is based on interpretation of the blood stains contained in the shroud.


This frontal image (above) shows the forearms, wrist, and hands. There appears to be a large puncture wound on the wrist. This is significant because if nails were placed through the palms of the hand, this would not provide sufficient support to hold the body to the cross and tearing of the hands would occur. Only if the nails were placed through the wrists would this provide sufficient support to hold the body fixed to the cross.

We can also see a large blood stain and elliptical wound on the person’s right side (remember, in a negative imprint left and right are reversed). From studying the size and shape of this wound and historical records, we can deduce that this wound could have been caused by a Roman Lancea. This lance is pictured in Slide 13.

In addition, by measuring the angle of dried blood on the wrist, one can reconstruct the angle at which this person hung from the cross. He mainly hung from a position 65 degrees from the horizontal.
But there is another angle of dried blood at 55 degrees. This shows that this person tried to lift himself up by 10 degrees. Why? Medical studies show that if a person just hangs from a position of 65 degrees in would start to suffocate very quickly. Only if he could lift himself up by about 10 degrees would he be able to breathe.
Thus he would have to raise himself up by this 10 degrees by pushing down on his feet which would have to have been fixed to the cross. He would then become exhausted and fall down again to the 65 degree position. Thus, he would continue to shift from these two agonizing positions throughout crucifixion.
That is why the executioners of crucifixion would break the legs of their victims to speed up death.
If they could not lift themselves up to breathe, they would suffocate very quickly.

Image Formation Theories

The Painting Theory

One theory is simply that the Shroud is a painting . It has been proposed that it was painted using iron oxide in an animal protein binder. The STURP scientists have concluded from their studies that no paints, pigments, dyes or stains have been found to make up the visible image. Small amounts of iron oxide have been found on the Shroud but the iron oxide is evenly distributed all over the Shroud. If it were painted using iron oxide you would expect its concentration to be greater in the image areas verses the non-image areas. This is not the case but the iron oxide is evenly distributed all over the Shroud. Thus it is probably a containment caused by the presence of the Shroud in artists studios throughout history who were copying it. It is also possible that the copies may have been touched to the Shroud to transfer its sacredness and this contaminated the Shroud with iron oxide.

Also no painter has been able to reproduce all the different qualities and characteristics of the Shroud. That is, its negativity, 3D effect, no brush strokes or directionality, perfect anatomical details from blood stains, scourging, etc. and the image is a surface phenomena, that is the image only penetrates about 1/500 of an inch into the cloth. It was shown that the blood went on first and than image. Try doing that and then painting the body image. Thus up to now no one has been able to reproduce the Shroud in all its characteristics. Most scientists reject the painting theory.

The Radiation Theory

Could the image have been produced by a burst of radiation (heat or light) acting over short period of time which would have scorched the cloth? Scientists have not been able to duplicate the characteristics of the Shroud using this method just like the painting hypothesis. Also the color and ultraviolet characteristics of the Shroud body image and a scorch are different. The shroud body image does not fluoresce under UV light but scorches like the burns from 1532 do fluoresce under UV light. Thus many scientists rule out the radiation theory.

DeSalvo’s Revised Vaporgraphic – Direct Contact Theory

There are other theories regarding vapors from the body diffusing to the Shroud and producing the image. Another theory is a direct contact process in which substances were directly transferred to the cloth and produced the image. DeSalvo’s Theory takes both of these into consideration.

Nature may have supplied us with a miniature example of how the Shroud body image was produced. It is known that when certain plant matter (such as leaves) are placed in a book and left undisturbed for many years, there develops on both the upper and lower sheets of paper a faint sepia colored imprint of the plant matter (called Volckringer patterns). Dr. Jean Volckringer in the 1940’s noticed that these plant images closely resemble the body image on the Shroud of Turin. In fact the plant imprint also appears to be a negative image, just like the Shroud, and when photographed a positive imprint appears on the negative plate.

Vockringer Patterns exhibiting positive and negative characteristics

I decided to explore this similarity in more detail. I was hoping that by understanding how Volckringer Patterns are produced, it would give me some idea of how the Shroud body image was produced. Using a spectrophotomer I did a color comparison between the Volckringer patterns and the Shroud body image. Within experimental error, I showed that the Volckringer patterns were identical in color to the Shroud body image. I than compared the Shroud and Volckringer patterns using UV Fluorescent studies. It was shown that both the Volckringer patterns and the Shroud body image do not fluoresce under UV light. Thus the Volckringer patterns and Shroud body image also have identical UV fluorescent characteristics.

The most startling similarity was that the Volckringer patterns could be reconstructed in 3D relief using a VP-8 analyizer, just like the Shroud body image.

3-D Reconstruction of a Volckringer pattern

In summary, Vockringer patterns resemble the Shroud body image in negativity, visible color characteristics, UV fluorescence properties, and 3D reconstruction.

Volckringer patterns are produced when acids from the plant are transfered to the paper causing cellulose degradation (oxidation). The most prominent plant acid in this process is lactic acid. Where would lactic acid fit in with the Shroud body image formation process? Human perspiration contains a certain amount of lactic acid. A person who had been tortured and crucified would have sweated profusely and medical studies have shown that this perspiration would have very high concentrations of lactic acid. Thus, this could have been the transferring agent involved in producing the body image on the Shroud. The lactic acid would have been transferred to the cloth by both direct contact and vertical diffusion. Areas of the body like the nose that touched the cloth would transfer the lactic acid by direct contact. In the areas further away that did not touch the cloth, i.e the cheeks, the lactic acid would travel to the cloth by diffusion. Thus two processes, both direct contact and vertical diffusion would transfer the lactic acid to the cloth. Than this acid would oxidize the cellulose in the linen and produce the image over a period of time. It may be that originally there was no image on the cloth and after many years the lactic acid working on the cloth eventually developed the image. This is what occurs with the plant matter in books. My theory does not answer all the questions. Some problems are that the Shroud body image is a surface phenomena but the Volckringer patterns are not. They penetrate into the paper. Also calculations using diffusion of lactic acid would not produce the high resolution of the image we see on the Shroud. Thus my theory does not explain all the characteristics of the Shroud and more research needs to be done. Thus no one theory to date can explain how the image on the Shroud was produced.

A Living Man among the Dead

Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here; he is risen.

Angels at the empty tomb to the women visitors (Luke 24:5–6).

Signs of life are surely the last thing that one would expect to find on a burial shroud. Who would suspect a living person among the dead? Moreover, the circumstances would all indicate that the man under the Shroud of Turin must have been dead: the brutal mistreatment, the crucifixion, and the fact that a burial was indeed carried out. No one could survive these serious wounds. Even if the whipping and the crucifixion had not led to death, the lance thrust— directly into the heart, as some believe—must at last have led to death. And, indeed, a Roman execution squad cannot be deceived. It is simply absurd to assume that this man made fools of almost all witnesses to his crucifixion and his burial—a Houdini escape in the history of crucifixions, so to speak.

Around 1950 a certain Hans Naber in post-war Germany expressed the belief that Jesus did not die on the cross. Naber based this belief on a direct message from Jesus Christ to himself, as well as on observations of the Turin Shroud. He claimed too much blood was present on the Shroud, whereas corpses no longer bleed—or at least the large quantity of blood on the shroud does not correspond to the blood emissions from a typical corpse.

Naber was very active and published a series of books. He was, however, strongly attacked and even sentenced to two years in prison for fraud. Both the German media, as well as the church authorities, simply ignored him. Nevertheless, in 1969 the Turinese Cardinal Pellegrino convened a commission of experts, unnoticed by the public, to test Naber’s hypothesis with the Shroud at hand. The result was as expected: “The Man under the Shroud had really been dead, and Naber is wrong with his claim.” But the idea had been launched into the modern world, and later authors came to the same conclusion.* What is it about this idea that the man on the Shroud was still alive in his tomb and that evidence from the Shroud confirms this?

Basically, this question of life or death can be answered only by developing two scenarios. First, what would be expected if the man were dead, and second, what if the man were still alive? Especially important here are the bloodstains, traces of rigor mortis, as well as the question of whether this basic assumption can explain the forming of the image on the shroud. Naturally, one must take into consideration the “entire picture” when conclusively deciding the validity of any hypothesis, as details leave some room open for interpretation, and one can always speculate about circumstances that would explain individual aspects of the Shroud, by which more than one scenario becomes possible.


It was found that blood flowed out of at least twenty-eight wounds while the man was in the tomb. Most of the blood came out of the side wound, yet a considerable amount of blood also flowed out of the nail wounds in the hands and feet, as well as the thorn wounds on the back of the head. Precisely this picture is to be expected if the body were still alive. If this blood flow had not occurred, it would be a certain indication that a corpse must have lain upon the Shroud. But could it also be possible that so much blood flowed out of a corpse?

Of course, corpses can also “bleed” out of large wounds on the lower part of the body due to gravity. Also during transport of a corpse, the emission of blood is possible if pressure occurs in areas containing blood. Looking very carefully at the individual bloodstains on the Shroud, one must differentiate the possible from the impossible. The late Prof. Wolfgang Bonte, former head of the Forensic Medicine Institute at the University of Dusseldorf and president of the International Organization of Forensic Scientists (IAFS) attempted to answer this question in the 1990s.3

3 Described in detail including the expert opinion of Prof. Bonte in Karl Herbst, Kriminalfall Golgatha, p. 97ff. and also Kuhnke, p. 75ff.

First consider the bleeding from the wound on the side (the lance thrust wound). The lower back must have lain in a puddle of blood because bloodstains spread right and left six to eight inches beyond the area covered by the image of the body.

Karl Herbst, a retired Catholic priest, wrote Professor Bonte with this information without revealing to him that the Turin Shroud was involved, in order that Bonte’s judgment would not be prejudiced. Bonte wrote back to Herbst that, according to this description, the opening of the wound on the right front chest wall was placed rather precisely on the highest point on the body, and he, Bonte, considered a spontaneous post-mortem blood flow unthinkable because the blood level in the wound would have to have been lower than the opening of the wound. In such a case, no blood can flow out of a corpse.

On the contrary, a blood flow in the proportions described by you, including the direction of the flow, would agree with the idea that the individual involved was still alive at this time . . . this applies especially then, when larger arterial vessels are opened and when the blood pressure produces the necessary pressure against gravity for the blood to leave the body.

Herbst then revealed to Bonte that the matter involved was the Shroud of Turin and provided photographs and specialist literature for him in which the blood flows on the Shroud had been described in connection with a corpse. Above all, Herbst made Bonte aware of the argumentation of the Italian medical examiner Prof. Ballone, who had declared that “the cause [of the exit of blood on the shroud] is to be sought in the manipulation of the corpse during the burial procedures.

Professor Bonte, however, maintained his opinion and wrote back to Herbst:

I will not repeat my earlier arguments. In my opinion, everything speaks to the fact that the blood circulation activity had not yet ended. Obviously I agree with Prof. Ballone that in the course of the transport of a corpse blood can flow almost passively out of such a stab wound to the chest. Yet one has to pose the question of whether the burial shroud was wrapped around the corpse already at the beginning of the transport. I believe that in this case no so-called statically stain-pattern would have been formed, which without exception permitted a direct, topographical assignment to a lying body. I would then far more have expected numerous traces of smears, whose locations would have been strewn more coincidental and irregularly. The pattern that is in fact recognizable indicates, in my opinion, that the person involved was only wrapped in the shroud during the placement in his grave, and indeed very probably in the form that at first the body was bedded on the shroud and the shroud’s other half was then drawn over the body. I cannot imagine that during this placement a considerable quantity of blood could have flowed out passively.5

5 Herbst, p. 99. own translation

As further evidence for a dead body, it is often said that serum areas would indicate post-mortem blood. To this claim, Professor Bonte wrote:

In my opinion, a great deal of unqualified comments has been said about another phenomenon. I mean the differentiation between the actual bloodstains and the serum areas that surround them, and which are seen as proof of corpse blood. In general one can say that corpse blood does not differ from the blood of a living person at least in the first phase after death. In earlier times corpse blood was used for purposes of transfusion in great quantities. But if one cannot be differentiated from the other, it can not be concluded from any results that the one or the other type of blood is involved. It is correct that with bleeding in the chest cavity a reduction of blood corpuscles can result, and quasi serum can develop. If such an emulsion is brought to flow out by a passive movement of the body, it is possible that indeed serum can escape first. This blood corpuscle lowering can begin, depending on the circumstances, already during life. Having only the end result it can not be concluded whether the individual involved was already dead or still alive. I am therefore of the conviction that nothing at all can be determined from this particular evidence, that is, neither that it must have been corpse blood nor that it was the blood of a still living person

Bloodstains from the crown of thorns and from the side wound (Enrie)

The Shroud was folded double under the feet, and both layers were soaked through with fresh blood from the nail wound. This blood even soaked the opposite side of the Shroud, as the top half of the shroud was wrapped around the feet. So much blood flowed out of the soles of the feet that a total of three Shroud layers were soaked. That seems impossible in the case of a dead body with no circulation of its blood. An interesting piece of evidence is also presented by the bloodstains in the nail wound of the right hand. There are two longer, narrow, clearly distinct courses of blood (called “Blutbahn” in the image), which together form an angle of about twenty-two degrees. Furthermore, there is a third, rather wide and almost round flow of blood roughly at a right angle to the other two that is not clearly delimited and must have formed when the body was in a horizontal position.

Blood flows on the right hand ©Enrie, Kersten, and Gruber
Click on images to enlarge.

In experiments, imitation blood flows were painted on the arms of a volunteer, who was then hanged on a cross. It was apparent that one of the two longer blood flows must have been formed when the body hung upright on the cross (Blutbahn 2 on the image). The other blood flow must have been formed after the crucified man lost consciousness and fell to one side (Blutbahn 1). Looking carefully, one can see that blood flow 1 is narrower than blood flow 2 and is also straight. This can be explained by the fact that the body hung motionless on the cross at the time it formed, while with blood flow 2 the blood ran irregularly down the arm due to the movement of the body.

The alternative interpretation, that the two blood flows arose when the crucified man occasionally changed his position in order to achieve some minor comfort, can be excluded, for in that case both blood flows would have been smeared and would have overlapped each other. “After extensive experimentation, this theory was recently shown to be untenable.” * The width and irregularity of blood flow 2 allows us to sense the pain and suffering that such movements caused.

* Frederick T. Zugibe, The man of the shroud was washed,

The formation of the straight blood flow 1 definitely requires some blood pressure. The crucified man must in any case have still been alive as he hung motionless on the cross. Had he been dead, this blood flow would not have been produced, for it is impossible that a corpse in this position, with arms outstretched and hands positioned above the heart, could have bled so. Could it be that these blood flows first formed after the removal of the body from the cross as is sometimes claimed?9 The answer is that blood flow 2 is as expected if the body was still hanging on the cross. Such a wound had to bleed, and the blood had to run down in exactly that direction on the arm. It is also to be expected that the body, upon loss of consciousness, shifted to one side, whereby the position of the arms and thus the course of the blood would automatically change. One blood flow, due to the movements of the live body on the cross, is wider and more irregular, the other flow narrow and straight. When a body is lying horizontally, only bleeding as in blood flow 3 can be expected; and only if the body is still alive.

The blood flows on the right hand, therefore, allow only one conclusion: the man on the Shroud must have hung only unconsciously until his body was removed from the cross. Otherwise, bloodstain 1 could not have formed. Also found on the Shroud is blood that flowed from many smaller wounds on the back of the head. It comes from wounds that were caused by the crown of thorns. When this crown was removed during the removal of the body from the cross, the wounds, which until then had been plugged by the thorns, opened. In the case of a corpse, no more blood would have flowed here because the exterior blood vessels contract upon death. Corpses, therefore, look empty of blood or “pale as a corpse.” Yet the many distinct bloodstains on the back of the head here are clearly recognizable as blood that could only have flowed in the grave. Should the blood have come out of the (living) body on the cross, it would have dried out and not soaked the shroud in the tomb as it did.

Could the body perhaps have been washed during burial, whereby blood can flow from wounds on a corpse? As the blood flows on the arms show, the body was obviously not washed. Had the hair been wetted, the blood would have mixed with the water and spread itself around equally in the hair. There is no way that such clearly delimited bloody spots, as are observable on the Turin Shroud, could have come from a corpse.

Rigor Mortis

According to overwhelming scientific opinion, rigor mortis begins about thirty minutes after death, forms completely within three to six hours, and then dissipates after thirty-six to ninety hours. In a case where a person has suffered greatly shortly before death, rigor mortis can set in completely within an hour of death. Medical examiners who have studied the Turin Shroud are— to the extent that they assume the Shroud covered a dead body—unanimous in the opinion that, at the time of the removal of the body from the cross, rigor mortis must have been complete.

Rigor mortis is seen in the stiffness of the extremities, the retraction of the thumbs and the distension of the feet. It has frozen an attitude of death while hanging by the arms; the rib cage is abnormally expanded, the large pectoral muscles are in an attitude of extreme inspiration. [ William Meacham, The Rape of the Shroud, 2005, p. 4.]
Yet Professor Bonte came to the following contrary result: “I want to clearly deny, whether one can read the beginnings of rigor mortis in any of the diagnostic findings on the burial shroud. The position as it can be seen on the Shroud can in my opinion also be taken by a living person, that is, a seemingly dead man.” [ Herbst, p. 100 ]

After the man of the Shroud hanging on the cross lost consciousness, his body slumped from an upright position with his arms widespread, his knees bent, and his head leaning forward and down due to gravity. The body must have completely stiffened in this position. One would have had to break the position of the arms with considerable force and bind them together with a wrist band, though no trace of this effort is visible in the image.

If one assumes that the body was laid in its grave in a stiffened position, the following questions or problems appear:

• The arms were spread apart. The position of the arms in the grave, however, could have been forced by means of breaking their rigor mortis, but nothing indicates this. The arms seem to lie quite relaxed on the front of the body.

• The position of the head raises larger questions. At the time of death, or of loss of consciousness, the head must have fallen forward and down due to gravity, whereby the chin must have almost touched the chest (Ill. 17). The position of the head in illustration 18 reflects the position of the head in the tomb. This posture is very different from this posture on the cross. Muscular strength would have been necessary to hold the head in the position indicated by the shroud. This becomes immediately clear by turning the illustration around ninety degrees. The position of the head thus cannot be harmonized with rigor mortis. It may be that here, too, the rigor was forcibly broken, but the question remains as to why.

• At the back of the head and the nape of the neck, the Shroud had direct contact with the body, and the image even follows the curve of the nape. The Shroud was clearly not tied with bands around the neck. Otherwise, the image would have been distorted. Therefore, the head and back must have lain on a kind of pillow. This can be deduced from the curious fact that the image of the back side of the man is actually longer than that of his front side. The body must, therefore, have lain slightly bent or hunched. Also, the hands would not reach so far down and cover the genitalia on the image if the body had lain flat, as anyone can immediately test on himself. Furthermore, the image of the back of the head, as well as that of the bloodstains from the crown of thorns, is spread over a larger area. These point to a soft support of some kind on which the back of the head was supported. If the head were instead elevated into free space due to rigor mortis and the Shroud were wrapped around it in that position, a completely different picture would have resulted in this area.

Back of the body on the Shroud

In illustration above, the wounds of the flogging to the calves and thighs are clearly visible. Thus, the distance between the legs and the Shroud could only have been very narrow. Due to gravity, the Shroud must have lain flat on the surface under it as indicated in illustration below.

This sixteenthcentury painting by Giovanni Battista shows how the body could have been wrapped
in a burial shroud in a position that would match the image on the Shroud of Turin

Otherwise, the Shroud—as in the case of a mummy—would have to have been wrapped tightly around the body or tied up. This scenario is excluded because images and bloodstains would then have been visible on the side areas of the body, and the image itself would have been distorted, which is not the case. Everything, therefore, points to the assumption that both the Shroud and the legs laid flat on the ground. This, too, is not in agreement with the body position on the cross; the feet could not have become stiff in such a straight position.

If all the features of the Shroud are looked at carefully, it is obvious that it did not wrap a body in rigor. On the other hand, everything fits exactly if we assume a living body. Here it may be remarked that, in the case of the wounds of scourging, it is not blood that we see (except for tiny isolated traces). Rather, these wounds are a part of the body image, a subject we will examine later.

Here is another important point: Nowhere on the Shroud has any sign of the onset of bodily decay been discovered.*

* The shroud science group (an e-mail group of about 100 Sindologists, of whom the author is a member), has published a list of more or less agreed upon facts and observations at . The following quote is in category “A” (unquestionable observations): “The body image shows no evidences of putrefaction signs, in particular around the lips. There is no evidence for tissue breakdown (formation of liquid decomposition products of a body)” (Bucklin, 1982; Moran, 2002).

In the recent past the Spanish pathologist Dr. Miguel Lorente published a book in which he explains that from the evidence of vitality and the absence of signs of death on the cloth, it has to be concluded that the man under the Shroud must have still been alive.*

* Miguel Lorente, 42 Diaz – Análisis forense de la crucifixión y la resurrección de Jesucristo, El País Aguilar, 2007.

The Formation of the Image

The image on the Shroud is not a contact print, for the image bears details of places on the body that must have been up to two inches away from the Shroud. Pure diffusion processes alone are thus eliminated because an image of such photographic clarity could never have formed that way.

There is, therefore, a broad consensus among Shroud researchers that the formation of the image must have something to do with energy. If a dead and thus relatively cold body is assumed, there is no known process that would explain the formation of such an image. How can the appearance of an appropriate form of energy in this scenario be explained? Many Christian believers, therefore, assume a kind of energy flash—perhaps resulting from high voltage—which was generated at the resurrection and which somehow branded or singed the image of the body onto the Shroud. But Rogers has found that “any photon or particle with an energy above about 3 eV (e.g., light with a shorter wavelength than green)” cause traces (defects) on the fibers, which can be seen under a microscope. As image fibers do not have more defects than nonimage fibers, he concluded that “the image could not have involved energetic radiation of any kind; photons, electrons, protons, alpha particles, and/or neutrons.”*

* Raymond N. Rogers, The shroud of Turin: radiation effects, aging and image formation at

This is one of the reasons why theories like the “corona-discharge hypothesis” are very controversial among Shroud researchers.*

* See

Science is no longer competent if a miracle is included as part of the explanation. If a solution is to be found based on scientific reasoning, doesn’t everything research found out about the properties of the image have to be looked at very closely? Precise examination of linen fibers that are found in the area of the image has yielded the following information*:

* Raymond N. Rogers und Anna Arnoldi, Scientific method applied to the Shroud of Turin—A Review, at

• The yellowish chemical substance made up of doubly bound saccharides is present only on the surface of the fibers, which seen from a certain distance gives the impression of a body image.*

*There is an excellent photo by Raimond Rogers where this yellow coating can clearly be seen. See
or Wikipedia’s entry for the Shroud of Turin.

The fibers themselves are unchanged. Inside the fibers, neither discoloration nor any other change can be discovered.

• Not all threads in the image area are affected by this yellowish substance. Lying directly next to the threads affected by the image substance are also threads whose surfaces are unchanged and having no image-creating substance.

• The formation of the image must have occurred at a relatively low temperature (air or body temperature). The image cannot have been formed by heat scorching, because in that case the colors reflected under ultraviolet radiation would have a different spectrum than that found during the examination process. The image areas differentiate themselves here significantly from the areas that were scorched in the sixteenth-century fire at Chambery. We can therefore also assume that the process of image formation required a certain amount of time.

• The yellowish substance is found all around the affected fibers/fibrils, including areas on the sides opposite to the body. If the image had resulted from a direct energy effect, the energy would have had to been so strong that it would have discolored the interior of the fibers before it had caused a discoloration of the opposite side of the fibers, which is not the case.

• In the case of the top half of the Shroud, that is, the half that lay over the front of the body, a very faint image is also recognizable on some areas of the opposite side, especially in the face area. The body image was thus formed on both sides of the cloth in some places.*

* 19 Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin shroud, Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, 6, 2004.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Paul Vignon in his book The Shroud of Christ argued that the image formation process must have resulted from gases. [ Paul Vignon, Le linceul du Christ, Paris, 1902.] Vignon assumed that the applied substances of myrrh, aloes, and olive oil, as sensitizing agents, dampened the linen material.

Experiments showed that chemical changes formed in connection with the gas ammoniac, led to a gradual yellowing of a test cloth. Ammoniac or amines form not only during the decay of corpses but also during the decay of urea. Parents know the strong smell of urea that arises from the changing of diapers. Admittedly, urea normally does not occur on the skin. Vignon discovered, however, that urea occurs abundantly in death perspiration, as well as in perspiration produced by a person being brutally tortured [ Rodney Hoare, The Turin Shroud is Genuine, 1998, p. 56 ff.]

The American chemist Raymond Rogers, who spent long years investigating the Shroud, examined in detail the chemical mechanisms that might have been responsible for the formation of the image on it. He was thereby able to offer an explanation for why some fibers contain the image-making substance, while some do not, even when they lie directly adjacent. During the linen production in antiquity, the spun linen fibers were individually moistened with a paste made of crude starch so that the threads could be more easily woven. Some fibers were moistened more than others. The finished Shroud was washed in a solution of saponaria officinalis, a soap-like plant solution, and then laid out to dry. On the surface of the fibers, there remained a thin, irregular coating of residual starch, which then reacted with the gases that arose from the body, forming the yellowish substance that produced the image. This explains why the yellowish substance is found only on the surface of the fibers, and also why there are neighboring fibers that do not contain this substance. Rogers could experimentally reproduce this cause-andeffect process. Also, the fact that the image was formed in some places of the exterior of the Shroud can thus be explained. A portion of the gas diffused itself through the Shroud and reacted with the coating on the surface of the fibers on the other side.

The hypothesis that gases caused the formation of the image seems irrefutable, as only so is the effect through distance explicable. It is clear that the image can not be a pure contact-image, because parts of the body are visible, which must have had a distance of up to 2 inches to the surface of the body.

Rogers assumed that the image was formed by means of a complicated chemical process. He believed also that the man under the Shroud was dead, but the body still had certain residual warmth. The coating on the image-fibers was caused, according to this hypothesis, mainly by amines, which exited the skin due to initial decomposition processes. They reacted with the starch on the linen fibers and thus formed the yellowish coating. Rogers explained that the image substance is allocated on the Shroud in a way that gives the impression of a photograph because of a differentiated concentration of gases and possibly also differences of temperature, among other things. In our e-mail exchanges he admitted that the brilliance of the image cannot be explained by his hypothesis and that therefore this problem is not yet completely solved.

There are indeed a whole series of problems in this approach. The volume of the gas between the body and the Shroud was relatively small. New ammoniac (or amines as a product of decomposition, if one assumes a corpse) was permanently formed on the skin, which exited into the surrounding air and then either diffused through the Shroud or was used up during the formation of the image. It is, therefore, to be expected that equilibrium was established underneath the Shroud, where the amine gas concentration should have been rather steady in the volume between body and cloth, regardless of the distance from Shroud to skin.

A corpse would certainly have had residual warmth in the grave. This warmth would have led to air movement. This in turn would have led to a mixing of the gases and the hindering of the formation of different gas concentrations in the precisely required amounts. Thus a relatively even yellowing of the Shroud would be expected, like a big yellow stain, but not a high-resolution, photograph-like image. Objects are clearly recognizable, such as the upper lip, which must have been up to five centimeters (two inches) from the Shroud.

In the Near East but also in other parts of the world, people have been, and are, buried in shrouds or in cloth sacks. They are laid to rest not only in the raw earth but in grave chambers and catacombs. If it were so simple for a corpse and a shroud sprinkled with starch to yield an image, many such images on grave shrouds would have already been produced. Furthermore, it would be very simple today to reproduce a shroud with such an image. One would simply lay a shroud with such a preparation on the face of a corpse and wait for two days. Yet the image on the Turin Shroud is unique. A second such image of a corpse on a shroud has not been found, nor has it been possible to reproduce such an image experimentally.

Photo-negative Image of Holy Shroud  front

This does not necessarily mean that the image was formed by supernatural forces. Nevertheless, a unique constellation of events must have arisen in the grave and led to a unique process.

Every body that is warmer than its surrounding temperature radiates energy in the form of infrared radiation. Poor conductors like the human body radiate this energy primarily in a vertical direction.
[ Rogers, p. 11.]

The energy radiation of a body decreases with distance. Rodney Hoare carried out the following experiment. A cloth was laid for some time on a man wearing only a swimming suit. Afterward, the cloth was held up and photographed with a temperature-sensitive camera. The photograph clearly showed a picture of heat on the shroud that the body had projected earlier. The less distance between body and shroud, the higher the temperature of the shroud on that spot.

The speed of the chemical process that produced the image substance (Maillard reaction) depends largely on the temperature. Between air temperature and body temperature, a rise of ten degrees Celsius can mean a doubling or even a tripling of the speed of the process [ Ibid., p. 12.].

The chemical reaction can, therefore, cause a “heat picture“ to materialize. The higher the temperature was on a certain spot on the shroud, the more image-producing substance formed, an effect directly related to the distance of the shroud to the body. As already shown, this effect leads to the impression of a photograph-like image, from which even a 3-D image can be produced.

If one assumes a corpse, it must be accepted that this body had certain residual warmth, which according to the described effect mechanism could also cause an image. Nevertheless, the depth of staining over the length of the front and back of the body [image on the shroud] is fairly constant, so the temperature of the cloth must also have been approximately uniform. This could only happen if the blood were still circulating, the heart just beating. The body must have been in a coma, therefore, and not clinically dead by twentieth-century standards.

As soon as a body dies, its heart stops beating, and the blood is no longer forced round the body keeping the temperature nearly even. Very soon the extremities—feet, hands, nose—which have a large surface area compared with the matter they hold, cool down to the outside temperature.  The trunk of the body and the head hold a very great deal of heat and will retain this for many hours. Not only that, but the blood no longer kept circulating, will naturally fall through gravity, causing lividity on the bottom surface. Some of these places, the buttocks and shoulder blades in a prone body, for instance, would therefore stay warm even longer, so that the signs of that warmth should have been visible as darker areas on the Shroud. Had it covered a dead body, the forensic experts would have expected no stain at all towards the feet, and the hands and nose would also have shown much less stain than they do. [ Hoare, p. 69. Result of the examination of the image by forensic scientists ].

In connection with the image, there are three further observations that point to a living organism under the Shroud:

• The nose and the region under the nose belong to the darkest areas of the image. In the case of a corpse, the opposite would be expected, since the nose area cools down more quickly than other parts of the body. Warm air from the lungs would result in stronger discoloration.

• The image in the area of the head is darker than elsewhere. In the case of a corpse, there is no explanation for such a thing. A living organism, however, under heavy loss of blood, directs more blood into the brain and inner organs, which results in relative temperature differences, and thus differences of lightness in the image.

• The wounds of the flogging are a part of the body image and are not bloodstains. This, too, is easily explicable. Skin wounds lead to a light rising of the skin temperature in the area of the wounds (about one or two degrees Celsius). As with the rest of the image, a higher temperature causes the formation of more image substance, and thus the areas in question appear darker, which precisely matches the observations.

However, nobody has yet succeeded in producing a comparable image experimentally. The reason is that a test person would have to be treated the same way as the man under the Shroud. He would also have to lay under a cloth motionless for a while. We also do not know which substances (ointments, oils, spices, and so on) were used during the burial or during the production of the cloth. Therefore, we do not know the exact chemical situation under the shroud. An important step for an experimental verification is, therefore, to analyze the image formation process in several parts.

One question is, for instance, whether a warm body can project a temperature image onto a cloth laid upon it.

In order to test this, I laid a piece of cloth over a rubber glove filled with warm water for a short time, then put the cloth aside, and photographed it immediately with a temperature-sensitive camera.

A thermo-camera converses temperatures in colors or brightness (the warmer, the brighter). A warm body indeed projects a temperature image on a cloth laid upon it. That a chemical process follows this temperature distribution and thus materializes a temperature image can be assumed. The characteristic of the allocation of the image substance on the Shroud corresponds with the characteristics of the temperature allocation on a cloth laid on a warm body. As the image substance darkens the surface of the Shroud, a point on the image becomes darker when the temperature is higher, which happens in places where the distance to the body is shorter. Therefore, the thermo image has to be compared with the negative of the Shroud image.

In 1981 in a Liverpool hospital, a mattress was found that bore the image of one hand and the buttocks of a just-deceased cancer patient. This image had similarities to the image on the Shroud of Turin. [Google:” Jospice mattress”, result, e.g., ]
Thus, under certain chemical circumstances, it is entirely possible that a warm, living body can cause an image to form.

That the Turin Shroud bears a photograph-like image, as well as its fresh blood and the lack of  rigor mortis on the man in the image is further indication that the man under the Shroud must have been alive.

Granted, almost all Shroud researchers assume the Shroud contained a dead body. [ This refers also to the members of the shroud science group ]. In general, most of these researchers are traditional Christians who strictly reject any argument that could suggest that Jesus survived the cross. Such a thought is even considered a kind of heresy. Much is at stake here. From their perspective, it must be a tragedy that the object that appears to lend credibility to their faith should instead become proof that the central belief of their faith might have no historical basis.

True scientific research has always to be without fixed expectations regarding the results. Unfortunately, what is often lacking here is the required scientific neutrality. At present, these matters seem utterly polemical. Dr. Frederick Zugibe, an American medical examiner, writes in his book:

In general, the Swoon Theory is completely unfounded and is refuted by the following facts: First, Jesus’ physical condition was grave. The extent and severity of His injuries dictate that He would not have survived the crucifixion. Second, no medications or drugs of the time would have been able to stop the excruciating pains Jesus was undoubtedly experiencing, and no drugs of the time were capable of placing Him into a deep sleep to feign death given His condition. . . . Those authors who used the Shroud as evidence that Jesus was alive after removal from the cross were either ignorant of or disregarded medical and scientific evidence to the contrary. Moreover, the presence of rigor mortis, noted on the Shroud and acknowledged by well-known forensic and general pathologists, attests to this.

The conviction that the man on the Shroud must have been dead is sustained by two major arguments:

1. Jesus, so badly wounded after the crucifixion, could not have acted as is reported of him.
2. It is impossible to survive the type of injuries Jesus sustained.

The first case involves in an unacceptable confusion of religion and science. On this point, it must be a question exclusively of the Shroud. In order to eliminate bias as much as possible, it is even required to leave the possibility that it could involve the historical Jesus. Thus, only the information taken from the Shroud may be evaluated because the information on the Shroud is far more objective than texts that were written decades after the events.

The second point reveals the poor relationship between what is seen and what would normally be accepted as certain. Of course, it is absolutely improbable to sustain such wounds and thereafter be entombed while still alive and survive the ordeal. On the other hand, if a person is still breathing and the pupils react to light, no one would come to the conclusion that the person is dead, no matter how serious the injuries might be. The direct evidence for life thus takes priority over general observations such as the severity of the wounds, pain suffered, and so on.

Nevertheless, it is repeatedly stated that, at the latest, the thrust with the lance into the side of  Jesus, as seen imaged on the Shroud, must have led to his death because it went directly into his heart. However, no exit wound is visible. The lance only entered the body partially, and therefore one can determine nothing about the direction and the deepness of the lance thrust. In other words, if the man was still alive thereafter, as a series of indications clearly show, the lance could not have hit the heart.

How dangerous was that side wound? The English researcher Rodney Hoare, while chairman of the British Society of the Turin Shroud, wrote in his book how he visited a team of medical examiners with enlarged photographs of the Shroud of Turin. His intention was to let such experts explain the cause of death. To the question of the severity of the lance thrust into the chest, he received the following surprising answer:

That would have done little damage. Put your hand where the point entered as on the Shroud photograph, and then lift your arms to the side in the crucifixion position, and it was too high to damage anything if the wound came from below. It would have bled, as we can see, and it might have allowed water between the lung and its cavity to come out at the same time. That water, the pleural effusion, would have been formed when the body was scourged. The lung would have been forced back, but even if the weapon had entered the lungs they can localise the injury.” Then I asked, if the chest wound could not have been fatal, what did the man die of?

For perhaps thirty minutes they discussed this before I had a consensus report. It was this: “If he lived before the seventeenth century, he would have been dead. He may have been unconscious on the cross and barely breathing, so he would have been dead to the onlookers. That’s what they looked for. After Harvey they would have tested his pulse which would have been beating weakly. If he had lived in the twentieth century he would have been certified as in a coma.”  [ Hoare, p. 68. ]

The lance thrust was not intended to kill the crucifixion victim here. His death should have followed from the crucifixion itself. It was assumed that Jesus was already dead. The heart area would have been the most appropriate place for a deadly lance thrust. The reason for this lance thrust was far more to find out if the victim still showed any reaction to additional pains. The wound in the side was certainly a serious wound, but it occurred on a place of the body that would not lead to fatal injury.

Of course, you must decide for yourself which conclusions you would like to draw from all the facts and interpretations presented here. This book, however, assumes the theory of the natural survival of the man under the Turin Shroud, for the research results show that it is sufficiently plausible. The whole story is in itself incredible, but everything speaks for a natural course of events. There is thus no gap in the explanation needing the assumption of a supernatural event. If, however, the assumption is that there was a corpse under the Shroud, a gap develops in the explanation of the image formation because no satisfactory natural explanation for the formation of the image based on this scenario has been found, even after one hundred years of Shroud research. This is also the reason why many people prefer to believe the Shroud to be a forgery. The argument usually goes something like this*:

  • Science has more or less proven that a corpse cannot produce such an image.
  • Miracles are only in the heads of people and do not occur in actual historical events.
  • Therefore, there is strong evidence that the image on the Shroud must be man-made.

The problem for shroud skeptics is that the Shroud is simply too good to have been forged. As Einstein said, if a problem cannot be solved within a certain paradigm, it is necessary to change the paradigm and look for a solution then.

Leonardo da Vinci:  Photo-image Theory

Is it possible that the Shroud had been created by Leonardo da Vinci?

Leonardo was authorized or allowed to dissect corpses. Leonardo, being religious was aware of everything written about Jesus from the New Testament. Leonardo was a pioneer if not the inventor of the camera obscura and he was knowledgeable about photographic chemicals. Acquiring an old cloth should not have been difficult for Leonardo. The body on the Shroud has unusual dimensions due, obviously, to distortions based on the camera obscura method. The head on the Shroud does not join the body. This is simply explained as follows: the head on the Shroud is that of Leonardo!

Shroud of Turin or Carbon 14

Pick one! One is true, the other is false.
It is either the Shroud of Turin is a fraud and Carbon 14 is an accurate time-measuring instrument…..or, the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ and Carbon 14 is NOT an accurate time-measuring device.

Everything about the Shroud rings true: It is the material used for burial shrouds 2000 years ago in the area of the Holy Land. There is a wound indicated in the chest area. There is the exact number of lashes from a whipping on the back as stated in the Bible. Religious portraits of stigmata are not accurate when they show wounds in the palm of the hands. Nails, creating the wounds in the palms, could not hold the body on the cross. Tests on cadavers prove that bones in the hand are not strong enough to sustain a body’s weight. Nails rip through hand bones and the body falls. On the Shroud, the wounds are at the wrist which can sustain the weight of a body. A religious forger, making a fraudulent Shroud would have placed the wounds in the palms…not at the wrists. The crown of thorns was not a round wreath as we also see in religious portrayals, but a hat of thorns. The trails of blood on Turin’s burial cloth are sensible; they conform to the flow of gravity. Also…why is there blood at all when the body was cleaned, then wrapped and the fact that no blood flows from a corpse?

The most amazing evidence to the reality of the Shroud is that it is a PHOTOGRAPHIC NEGATIVE.
Secondo Pia was the Shroud’s first photographer. The Italian photographed this
faint image on a light-colored material. To his great surprise, when Pia examined his negatives, there was a positive image! By photographing the negative, you have created a positive. The faint image became a light image on a black background. Details emerged that astounded viewers and enlarged the Shroud’s controversy.

What could have formed this negative? It certainly was not a 1000 year old artist faking a holy relic.  Some say the image captures the moment of Christ’s resurrection. Others say that the image was a scorching emanating out due to RADIATION. There were reports that after the Hiroshima blast, pieces of glass were found with negative images of people’s faces. These were people who had their faces near windows when the atomic bomb exploded. Radiation does cause negative imprinting.

What is it that tells scientists that the Shroud of TURIN is a fake? Answer: Carbon 14. Are you so sure that Carbon 14 is accurate? Science needs an UNDER-estimate for many ancient mysteries that baffle us and do not fit the traditional picture. In the same way, Science needs a Rosetta Stone (which also is untrue)…so they can think they understand something that is not understandable. Mysterious artifacts are much older than what Carbon 14 indicates. Traditional scientists say there was a smooth progression of knowledge and technology; in the past, it was primitive and in modern times…it is advanced.  Anything that disturbs this narrow (flat-Earth) view is not accepted. Carbon 14 is perfect for this agenda.

The truth is the mysterious relics of the past are even more mysterious. The truth is you have to take the date Carbon 14 gives you and multiply it by at least a factor of 3.

[This writer knew this back in the 1970s. When I heard that they were going to date the Shroud with Carbon 14, I thought to myself: NO! My sources told me exactly what is stated in the above paragraph.]

The Shroud was tested with Carbon 14 and the rest is history. Now, the scientific world does not believe in the Turin relic because their holy measuring device said it was only 6-700 years old.
Scientists are supposed to be open-minded, not stuck to a canon of unchanging principles.
Maybe there are some things that we have to take on a little bit of faith.

News Articles

Tests Show Shroud Of Turin Much Older Than Carbon-14 Date
October 6, 2000 – Sightings – Oviedo, Spain

Scientists and forensic specialists gathered in Oviedo, Spain, this week to examine an obscure relic that many have claimed authenticates the Shroud of Turin – believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The Sudarium of Oviedo is reportedly the other linen cloth found in the tomb of Christ, as described in the Gospel of John.
The relic, whose dramatic history is intertwined with the Knights Templar, Moors, El Cid, saints and bishops, has been in Spain since 631 A.D.
Meanwhile, in Turin, Italy, the last pilgrims of the Jubilee Year are winding their way past the Shroud of Turin before the exhibit closes on October 23.
Verses 5-8 of the 20th chapter of “The Gospel According to St. John” records, “… he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths, but rolled up in a separate place.”
This head cloth, the sudarium, has become the focus of increasing debates over the validity of the carbon-14 tests on the Shroud of Turin.
The carbon-dating tests set the age of the shroud in the 13th century, which would make the Shroud of Turin a pious icon at best, a clever fraud at worst.
However, the scientific community is divided over the shroud dates because — with the exception of the carbon dating tests — medical, artistic, forensic and botanical evidence favors the authenticity of the shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus.
One example of microscopic testing that supports the Shroud as authentic is the 1978 sample of dirt taken from the foot region of the burial linen. The dirt was analyzed at the Hercules Aerospace Laboratory in Salt Lake, Utah, where experts identified crystals of travertine argonite, a relatively rare form of calcite found near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
It is a stretch, say researchers, that a 13th century forger would have known to take the trouble to impregnate the linen with marble dust found near Golgotha in order to fool scientists six hundred years later.
The debate over the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is elevated by the new discoveries resulting from the studies on the Sudarium of Oviedo.

Sudarium of Oviedo

Unlike the Shroud, the Sudarium, which covered the face of Christ for a short time before the body was wrapped in the longer burial cloth, does not carry an image of a man. Instead, the cloth, held against a face of a man who had been beaten about the head, shows a distinct facial impression and pattern of stains.
The cloth is impregnated with blood and lymph stains that match the blood type on the Shroud of Turin. The pattern and measurements of stains indicate the placement of the cloth over the face.
These patterns have been extensively mapped to enable researchers to compare the markings and measurements with those of the Shroud of Turin.
These measurements and calculations, digitized videos and other forensic evidence indicate that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the same head whose image is found on the Shroud of Turin.
Part of Jewish burial custom was to cover the face of the dead, sparing the family further distress. The sudarium, from the Latin for “face cloth,” would have been wrapped over the head of the crucified Christ awaiting permission from Pontius Pilate to remove the body.
Stains made at that time indicate a vertical position with the head at an angle. There are stains from deep puncture wounds on the portion of the cloth covering the back of the head, consistent with those puncture marks found on the Shroud of Turin, theoretically made by the caplet of thorns.
A separate set of stains, superimposed upon the first set, was made when the crucified man was laid horizontally and lymph flowed out from the nostrils.
The composition of the stains, say the Investigation Team from the Spanish Centre for Sindology, who began the first sudarium studies in 1989, is one part blood — type AB — and six parts pulmonary oedema fluid.
This fluid is significant, say researchers, because it indicates that the man died from asphyxiation, the cause of death for victims of crucifixion.
Recently, Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus of Duke University, employed his Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study correlations between the Shroud and the Sudarium. Dr. Whanger found 70 points of correlation on the front of the sudarium and 50 on the back.
“The only reasonable conclusion,” says Mark Guscin, author of “The Oviedo Cloth,” “is that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the same head as that found on the Shroud of Turin.” Guscin, a British scholar whose study is the only English language book on the Sudarium, told WorldNetDaily, “This can be uncomfortable for scientists with a predetermined viewpoint; I mean, the evidence grows that this cloth and the Shroud covered the same tortured man.”
Guscin also points to pollen studies done by Max Frei of Switzerland.

Microscopic view of a pollen spore of the type used to place the  Shroud of Turin. A common forensic science CSI methodMicroscopic view of a pollen spore of the type used to place the Shroud of Turin in the environs of Jerusalem at some time in its history.

Specific pollens from Palestine are found in both relics, while the Sudarium has pollen from Egypt and Spain that is not found on the Shroud.
Conversely, pollen grains from plant species indigenous to Turkey are imbedded in the Shroud, but not the Sudarium, supporting the theory of their different histories after leaving Jerusalem.
The significance of the Sudarium to the Shroud, in addition to the forensic evidence, is that the history of the Sudarium is undisputed. While the history of the Shroud is veiled in the mists of the Middle Ages, the Sudarium was a revered relic preserved from the days of the crucifixion.
A simple cloth of little value, other than that it contained the Blood of Christ, the Sudarium accompanied a presbyter named Philip and other Christians fleeing Palestine in 616 A.D. ahead of the Persian invasion.
Passing through Alexandria, Egypt, and into Spain at Cartegena, the oak chest containing the Sudarium was entrusted to Leandro, bishop of Seville. In 657 it was moved to Toledo, then in 718 on to northern Spain to escape the advancing Moors.
The Sudarium was hidden in the mountains of Asturias in a cave known as Montesacro until king Alfonso II, having battled back the Moors, built a chapel in Oviedo to house it in 840 AD.
The most riveting date in the Sudarium’s history is March 14, 1075. On this date, King Alfonso VI, his sister and Rodrigo Diaz Vivar (El Cid) opened the chest after days of fasting. This official act of the king was recorded and the document is preserved in the Capitular Archives at the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo. The King had the oak chest covered in silver and an inscription added which reads, “The Sacred Sudarium of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Juan Ignacio Moreno, a Spanish magistrate based in Burgos, Spain, asks the critical question. “The scientific and medical studies on the Sudarium prove that it was the covering for the same man whose image is [on] the Shroud of Turin.
We know that the Sudarium has been in Spain since the 600s. How, then, can the radio carbon dating claiming the Shroud is only from the 13th century be accurate?”

Pollen traces suggest that Shroud of Turin originated before eighth century, near Jerusalem
July 3, 1999 – AP

Electron micrograph of pollen grains of Gundelia tournefortii, which grows only in Israel, Jordan and Syria, yet is by far the most common pollen species found on the Shroud of Turin

A new analysis of pollen grains and plant images on the Shroud of Turin places its origin to Jerusalem before the eighth century, giving a boost to those who believe the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus and refuting a 1988 examination by scientists that concluded the shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.
The earlier study also indicated the shroud came from Europe rather than the Holy Land.
“We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem,” botany professor Avinoam Danin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said Monday during the International Botanical Congress here. “The sayings that the shroud is from European origin can’t hold.”
More than 4,000 scientists from 100 countries are taking part in the botanical conference, which focuses on a wide range of issues related to plants.
The shroud contains pollen grains and the image of a crucified man, as well as faint images of plants.
Analysis of the floral images, and a separate analysis of the pollen grains by another botanist, Uri Baruch, identified a combination of plant species that could be found only in March and April in the region of Jerusalem, Danin said.
Danin identified a high density of pollen of the tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii. The analysis also found the bean caper Zygophyllum dumosum. The two species coexist in a limited area, Danin said.
“This combination of flowers can be found in only one region of the world,” he said. “The evidence clearly points to a floral grouping from the area surrounding Jerusalem.”
An image of the Gundelia tournefortii can be seen near the image of the man’s shoulder. Some experts have suggested that the plant was used for the “crown of thorns.”
Two pollen grains of the species were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus.
Danin, who has done extensive study on plants in Jerusalem, said the pollen grains are native to the Gaza Strip.
Since the Sudarium of Oviedo has resided in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the 8th century, Danin said that the matchup of pollen grains pushes the shroud’s date to a similar age. Both cloths also carry type AB blood stains in similar patterns, Danin said.
“The pollen association and the similarities in the blood stains in the two cloths provide clear evidence that the shroud originated before the 8th Century,” Danin said.
The location of the Sudarium of Oviedo has been documented since the first century.
If it is found that the two cloths are linked, then the shroud could date back even further, Danin said.
The 1988 study used carbon-14 dating tests. Danin noted that the earlier study looked at only a single sample, while he used the entire piece of fabric.

The  shroud itself is a piece of herringbone patterned linen in a 3:1 twill weave. This type of cloth came into use in Europe at the beginning of the 14th Century. Lomas and Knight accept that it would not be impossible for this to have been produced in the first century, however it is unlikely. It is also true, according to the authors, that of all the pollen deposits found embedded in the cloth, no pollen from olive trees has been found, and Israel has always had a high number of these plants. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the flax plants which were used to make the shroud had ceased to live between 1260 and 1390 AD.

On the image itself, Lomas and Knight deduced that the victim whose image the shroud bears was nailed with his right arm over his head and his left arm out sideways. This also corresponds with the observation that the right shoulder on the shroud appears to be dislocated. This conflicts with the traditional crucifixion in which the arms are stretched out sideways to promote great difficulties in breathing. the positioning of the arms on the shroud itself indicates that the victim was not laying on a flat surface, but on a soft padded surface when the image was made. With the head and shoulders raised to assist breathing, and the body heat that would be needed for the chemical process that created the image on the shroud, it suggests that the victim was not only alive, but was intended to recover.

Knights Templar

In 1307, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar was a man called Jacques de Molay. In their book, Lomas and Knight demonstrate that the French king Philip IV had planned to restore his fractured economy by stealing the wealth accumilated by the Knights Templar. Prior to Friday 13th October 1307, the Knights Templar had been a holy order but on this day the Paris Inquisition took 15,000 members, including de Molay and also took control of the Paris Temple. William Imbert was ordered by king Philip to extract a confession from de Molay by whatever means necessary but under no cicumstances was he to kill him.. Lomas and Knight produce evidence to show that one Templar, John of Foligny, confessed to the inquisition that there was a ‘secret place’ inside the Temple which Lomas and Knight believe resembeld a modern Masonic temple, complete with four items within a wooden chest- a human skull, two thigh bones and a white burial shroud (which is still used today in the ritual of the living ressurection just as it was in the Jerusalem Chuch and by the Knights Templar). According to Lomas and Knight, de Molay was interrogated in the Paris Temple. Lomas and Knight believe that Imbert was outraged at the Templars use of a ressurection ceremony which he felt insulted the resurrection of Jesus, and as a form of irony intended that Molay should suffer as Jesus had. They believe thay Molay was nailed most probably to a large wooden door in the manner described above. They believe that when his right arm was raised above his head and the nail driven through the wrist, that the impact from the nail caused his thumb to swing violently across his palm and dislocated at the joint. This concurs with medical examinations of the shroud.

This trauma would have produced large amounts of lactic acid, leading to ‘metabolic acidosis’ this produces severe cramps and was not helped by the fact Molay would not have been able to breathe propperly. This would have caused ‘respiratory acidosis’. It was at this point, Lomas and Knight believe, that Molay was taken down and covered with the shroud found within the wooden chest to show that his “mocking use of a shroud had not gone unnoticed by the Holy Inquisition”. Molay was then placed into the same bed that he had been dragged from, supporting the notion that the man on the shroud had been on a soft surface at the time the image was made. As Molay had no family in the area to care for him, Lomas and Knight believe that the family of his right hand man, that of Jean de Charney was called in to care for him. The Charney family removed the shroud and nursed him to health, though the scars never healed and some years later Molay showed papal representatives the extent of his injuries. The shroud which was bloodied, but a useful cloth, was washed and put away.

The shrouds first display was in a small church in the French town of Lirey in 1357. Interestingly, it was lent to the church by the widow of Geoffrey de Charney, a decendant of the family that Lomas and Knight believe cared for Molay after his tourture. This would explain why this shroud came into their posession.

Is the Shroud of Turin Real?

July 5, 2010

It’s probably real. If we remove questions about God from the questions about the Shroud, the evidence becomes overwhelming. There is no need to appeal to miracles to explain the images. And claims that the Shroud is somehow evidence of a miracle, even specifically the Resurrection, is problematic.


The full Shroud of Turin  with an upside picture of Jesus from the back and an upright picture of  Jesus lying in burial reposeFull length picture of the Shroud of Turin. Is this a genuine picture of Jesus or a faked picture of Jesus?

Christian faith rests mostly on a collection of stories. How literally or metaphorically we believe and interpret these stories is a personal decision; some of us believe it is grace. Wide variation is found among many traditions and within traditions. To rely on an artifact to try to confirm what we believe is probably unwise.

Philosophically, miracle causation for the images or finding in the Shroud’s possible authenticity evidence of a miracle cannot be ruled out. We can only dare to cross the boundaries of science and objective history in this way with great care. We need not do so, however, for the question of the Shroud’s authenticity is a scientific and historical problem. So, too, are questions about the images. Sufficiently confirmed to our own satisfaction, we can then, and only then, consider that it might be evidence that something unusual happened in that tomb where the man named Jesus was buried.

The biggest problem in deciding if the Shroud is authentic is overcoming misconceptions; for instance the notion, repeated incessantly in the press, that “believers say Christ’s image was recorded on the linen’s fibers at the time of his resurrection.”*  That is simply wrong. Some do. But most serious researchers who think the Shroud is authentic do not think so, or at least don’t voice that opinion.

In 1988, the Shroud was carbon dated. It was determined, then, that the cloth was medieval. Hence it was declared a forgery. But, twenty years later, in 2008, Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature, the acclaimed, peer-reviewed, international scientific journal that published the carbon dating results, wrote an interesting piece in Nature Online. He is writing as a scientist only:

It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling.

Ball explains why it is murky. He gives two example. One is scientific; the other historical. His reasons are correct. But is the Shroud’s status just murky? This website argues that the Shroud is probably real. This website is a series of scientific and historical questions with answers. There are also a number of questions about inevitable crazy stuff, mystery, the age old quest for God and the significance of journalism in shaping perceptions.

  • Science, so far, has completely failed to prove anything about authenticity, one way or the other. The carbon dating, as we now know, was a bust. The results are invalid. And, indeed, as Ball contends, science offers no real answers for how the images were formed. All attempts, including ones reported periodically in the press, have been complete failures. Science has succeeded in proving that the images were not painted and are not some form of medieval proto-photography. Mostly, science has posed more questions than it has answered.
  • History provides some of the most compelling evidence. The piece of cloth that is in Turin today was certainly in Constantinople between A.D. 944 and 1204. The evidence is overwhelming. Before that, it was in the city of Edessa, at least since A.D. 544. Dates and places before 544 are tentative, at best. Nonetheless, there is ample evidence to push the Shroud’s provenance back to near the time of Christ. History cannot prove that it is not a fake. Nor can it prove that it is not the burial shroud of someone else. But, if it is either of these things, it is more amazing than if it is real burial shroud of Christ.
  • Mystery is unavoidable. For instance the images are a mystery. And mystery can be seductive. If we are not careful, unanswered questions can lead to god-of-the-gaps thinking. All too easily some of us who are religious can be lulled into thinking that because something lacks an explanation it must be miraculous. Such thinking is bad science, bad theology and bad philosophy. Mystery can point us towards common sense. Mystery can challenge us to find answers. But it is never ever proof of anything.
  • Crazy Stuff is also unavoidable. It appears wildly on both sides of the authenticity debate. It appears in newspapers, books and on thousands of websites. Sadly, it fools many people. Inscriptions on the cloth, images of coins over closed eyes, claims that the images have been reproduced, conspiracy theories such as the one that argues that Leonardo da Vinci created the images with a room-sized camera are but a few examples.
  • A Quest for God is part of what the Shroud means for many people. Ball also wrote in Nature Online, in 2005, that . . .The scientific study of the Turin Shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God. It does more to inflame any debate than settle it . . . .He is right. And it is more than just that. It is part of the quest for the historical Jesus. But should it be?
  • Journalism is how most people learn about the Shroud. Sadly, the demands of brevity and deadlines fuel all too many misconceptions about the Shroud. What if the Shroud is real? What if the images are the result of a natural phenomenon? Then what? How is it that the cloth survived the tomb? Can a journalist go down these paths? Probably not. But he can clear away misconceptions and at least report that the evidence is stiff murky.

Pictures of Jesus

Fake or real, the pictures on the Shroud of Turin are pictures of Jesus. If the Shroud is fake, then the artist intended us to believe that the pictures are pictures of Jesus. If the Shroud is real, and the pictures are the product of a natural phenomenon or a miracle, then they are almost certainly pictures of Jesus.

No one can fully explain how these pictures were formed. Look carefully and you will see two pictures of Jesus, a picture of his front side and a picture of his backside.


And unusually study of  the optical properities of the Shroud of Turin pictures of Jesus reveal  something quite unexpectedA 3D terrain map projection of the image color intensity. This is one of the most puzzling physical properties of the picture. Produced using a VP-8 Image Analyzer

If We Wish to Think it is a Fake Picture of Jesus?

If we want to believe that the Shroud is not genuine then we have to consider some basic questions. How did the faker of relics accomplish this?

How did a faker of relics alter the chemical properties of the carbohydrate coating to create the color and how did he do so with such artistic precision — on both sides of the cloth?

The history of art is the story of the evolution of styles, techniques, methods and technology. Every work of art and fakery is no exception. Every form of art and craft has precedents. When a new technique is discovered it is exploited. Over time the technique is refined and improved. Where are the precedents for pictures such as those that we find on the Shroud? Where are the other works in this new-found technology? Are we to imagine that some genius invented a new way to create pictures, that a single picture was made and the technology was lost to history?

How did  he create a suitable negative picture hundreds of years before the discovery of photographic negativity? How did he know that he had it right? How, without a camera and film, could he test his work? The negativity is extraordinarily precise and correct. Was he simply lucky?

The bigger question is why? What was his purpose? What was his motive? If we are to ask why he created an extraordinarily complex chemical picture, in negative, we must ask some other questions.

  • Why a negative image when a positive image would be more convincing — keep in mind that gradual tone negative images were unknown?
  • Why did he go against conventional expectations of his era? Why did he create a picture with wounds from nails that went through Jesus’ wrists? All art and all expectation throughout medieval Europe showed Jesus nailed to his cross through the palms of his hands.
  • Why is Jesus shown completely naked, unlike in all artistic depictions everywhere throughout the history of Christianity?

Despite many attempts to do so, no one has found or invented an artistic or crafty technique that can reproduce even a few of the characteristics of the images. But that does not mean, that in the future, someone will not find a method to create such images. But if someone does so, the tenacious question will remain: How likely is it that there would be such a one-of-a-kind work of art for which there are no known precedents; created by methods that were never again exploited?

Any method that might be devised must be scientifically credulous, fit into the history of art and conform to the cultural expectations in which the technology was supposedly employed. If not, it will be seen as newly invented art designed to mimic an otherwise unexplained natural process or a supernatural event. The skeptic has a dilemma. To believe that the Shroud is fakery he or she must rely on an underlying belief that transcends scientific fact.

Are They Natural Pictures of Jesus?

Lean over and look down into a perfectly still, smooth-surfaced pool of water and you will see a perfectly formed picture of yourself. But drop a pebble into the water, or wait for a breeze to ripple the surface, and the image becomes indistinct, fuzzy and unclear.

The image in the pool of water, when rippled, looks like an out-of-focus photograph. But that really isn’t the case. In a naturally reflected picture, your eyes are the lenses that provide focus. The reflection surface is wrinkled and causes reflected light to go off in different directions. It distorts the resolution of the image but it doesn’t defocus it. While the analogy is not a perfect one it suggests a potential problem for a natural image explanation.

The images on the Shroud are not only very well focused but highly resolved. It is almost certain that in the first century a piece of linen was naturally wrinkled, that it even had creases from folding. This is something that would certainly distort the resolution of the image.

(Incidentally, it is no less of a problem for those who advance theories about radiation or some mysterious force leaving a picture on the cloth as a body miraculously passes through the cloth).

A reflecting pool was certainly mankind’s first mirror.  Eventually man would learn to make other mirrors, first by polishing stone or metal and eventually by fixing metals such as mercury, tin or silver to pieces of glass. Of course, the glass had to be smooth and flat. If the glass was wavy or curved, any reflected picture would be highly distorted. We see this when we look into the special mirrors in carnival funhouses. Again there is an analogy that relates to the pictures on the Shroud of Turin. It is hard to imagine how any process could form an essentially undistorted image if the cloth was draped across a human form.

What assumption can we make about how Jesus’ body was positioned on the limestone shelf in the tomb? How flat was the shelf? Was it smooth or rough-hewn? We don’t know. Was the cloth smoothed out?

In placing Jesus’ body on the shelf was the cloth pulled about, rippled in places and even creased in places? We can’t know. How closely did the cloth follow the contour of Jesus’ body? Was it pulled like a bed sheet? Did loving hands smooth it across the body? Did it stick in places to still wet blood or to remaining water from some washing? Were there flowers resting on the cloth weighing it down or under the cloth propping it up?

Image analysts and forensic pathologists argue that the image on the cloth is of a man with his knees bent slightly and with his head tilted forward as though resting on a pillow that was under the cloth. Assumptions about the shape of the cloth and how closely it followed the contours of Jesus’ body are difficult if not impossible to make. If wrapped closely, wide and grotesque distortion would result. But even if draped loosely, the distortion caused by the surface terrain of the cloth should be evident.

It becomes extremely difficult to imagine an image that was not very much distorted by shapes and wrinkles no matter how the image was formed. This is perhaps the most intuitively strong argument for thinking the image is the work of an artist. It would be a powerful argument were it not for the chemistry of the image and some of the other rather odd qualities of the pictures.

There is another problem that we must consider. Scientists refer to it as saturation. In the parlance of photography we might say that the pictures of Jesus are surprisingly not underexposed or overexposed. This means if the pictures are the product of a chemical reaction, the reaction ran long enough but not too long. What stopped the reaction at just the right time, everywhere on the pictures?

There would need to be sufficient chemical reaction time and concentrations of reactants to cause highly discernable images. Similarly the reaction must end sufficiently early to avoid over saturation which would washout image detail. Computerized image analysis shows no saturation plateaus or washout anywhere in the image. In simple terms, the chemical process ended late enough to form a discernable image and early enough so it was not ruined.

Reactant exhaustion is one thing that would have ended the process. Another would have been separation of Jesus’ body from the cloth at just the right time. And we do know that if a natural process formed the images, the cloth at sometime had to have been separated from the body.

Another problem is diffusion. If we accept the hypothesis that chemical changes to the carbohydrate coating on the Shroud’s fibers was caused by amine vapors, we must recognize that vapors diffuse and scatter when they come off of a body. Heavy amines molecules do not diffuse as greatly as those of lighter gases. Nonetheless they go isotropically in different directions. So precise are some of the features on the Shroud’s images that one pundit likened vaporous formation to painting a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa with aerosol spray paint.

The pictures seem spectacularly like chiaroscuro (pronounce) images; pictures created by reflected light. When we look at the pictures on the Shroud, and particularly the face, we see seemingly three-dimensional pictures on a flat two-dimensional plane, much as we do when we look at a photograph or a conventional painting of a person — and just as we do when we look at a reflection in a smooth pond or a flat mirror. The cheeks, as they curve around from the front of the face, seem to recede into shade. The hollows of the eyes are evident from their darker tones. The tip of the nose is white and stands out. This is how reflected light works on the human face. Unless we are an artist or a photographer, we probably don’t think about the patterns of light in pictures. But our mind nonetheless puts it all together for us when we look at a person or a picture of a person. And the Shroud, to our way of perceiving pictures, to our anthropic bias, does look like a picture of reflected light.

How do we imagine that given so many chemical reaction variables — wrinkles, the shape of the cloth, diffusion, along with may factors not addressed in this essay such as ambient temperatures, humidity, body chemistry, a likely uneven distribution of evaporation-model coating, other trace impurities, etc. -– that nature will be so kind as to produce such near perfect chiaroscuro pictures of Jesus quite by accident: a picture of arguably the most important person in history?

What do the images on the Shroud of Turin look like?

July 5, 2010

The Shroud of Turin contains two life-size negative images, front and back, of an apparently crucified man. The images are head-to-head suggesting that a man was laid out on the cloth with his feet at one end and that the cloth was brought over the top of his head and draped across his front.

No one has demonstrated, in a scientifically plausible way, how the images were formed. The leading hypothesis is that the image was formed chemically and naturally, perhaps from a chemical reaction of amine vapors coming from the body and a residue of natural carbohydrate substance on the cloth. Such a substance has been detected and is expected from washing the cloth in natural soap after weaving and before the cloth was used. This leading hypothesis is commonly called the diffusion hypothesis.

The images are unique. There is nothing like them in the world of art.

It is difficult to imagine that a faker of relics would and even could paint a negative image of a human face. Our minds are attuned to the way we see reality; a world where black is black and white is white. It is relatively easy, with talent and training, to paint a picture of what we see in the world. An artist, if he is imaginative like Picasso, can alter that perception in stylistic ways. But the one thing he cannot easily do is to perfectly reverse black and white and all the darker and lighter shades of grey while painting a face.

But imagine, just for a moment, that he could. How would he know he had done it correctly without technology to test his results? A more profound question is: why? In an age as undemanding as the medieval, when any sliver of wood could pass as a piece of the true cross and any bramble as part of the crown of thorns, why bother?
Photographic film, invented less than 200 years ago, creates good negative images. And because that is so, it was finally discovered that the shroud image was a negative when it was first photographed in 1898 by Secondo Pia. The negative that emerged from the camera was a positive picture.

Because the image is negative, some have speculated that the images are life-sized, medieval photographs. They are not. How do we know the images are not a photographic negative?

This is what the Shroud looks like (with a bit of contrast enhancement so you can see the images):

Full length picture of the Shroud of Turin

When photographed, the photographic negative is a positive image that looks like this in black and white:

Full positve image seen on negative of shroud

How do we know the images are not a photographic negative?

Since the picture is a negative image, some have speculated that the Shroud of Turin might be a life-sized medieval photograph. At first glance this seems reasonable. But common sense should prevail. How likely was it that photography was invented in the Middle Ages, used once to make a single fourteen-foot long fraud, never exploited for fame and fortune, never mentioned, never even used again until it was “reinvented” in an age of science.

But science also shows us that it cannot be a photograph. The image contains height-field data (3D) and a photograph does not. There is no evidence of any photosensitive material, neither silver nor the resulting products of other photosensitive compounds. Image analysis shows that the image is not produced by light as a photograph would be.

What do we mean when we say the images are 3D encoded?

It is a bit misleading and confusing. What we probably should be saying is the images are actually height-fields that also happen to have a pictorial quality to them. So what in the world do we mean by that?

Imagine a papier-mâché model of a moon crater sitting before you on a table. Now imagine that you want to express everything about the shape of crater as a series of numbers. We can express the shape of any terrain as a long series of three numbers. The numbers are the measurement from left to right, the measurement from front to back, and the height of the crater at that point. In other words, pick any spot on the crater: measure how far that is from the left, how far it is from the front, and how high that spot is. We call these three value x, y and z, respectively.

Crater example used to demonstrate 3D aspects of the Shroud  of Turin image

Smoke ring height-field for a crater.Computer scientists devised any easy way to represent these value. On a flat surface, measure from the left, measure from the bottom and then put a single dot at that spot. Make the dot white for the highest spots on the crater and black for the lowest spots. For heights in between, use varying shades of gray. This is called a height-field. Height fields are used extensively for mapping terrains of everything from planets and moons to imaginary scenes in video games. The image that looks like a smoke ring is a height-field for the crater shown above.

With computer graphics software it is a fairly simple thing to plot the image into a three-dimensional terrain representation (as seen in the top picture). What are the results of plotting a height-field?

Similarly the images on the Shroud of Turin can be plotted into a three-dimensional terrain representation. But, and this is important to understand, paintings and photographs of the human form including the face, cannot be so plotted. There is probably no more important test of any attempt to recreate the images on the Shroud, either to test a hypothesis or to attempt to show how a forger might have created the image, then to see if the image is a height-field. If it won’t plot correctly, it is not at all like the image on the Shroud.

What is meant by the statement: the image is superficial?

In the simplest sense, it means that the images are on the surface only. The thread or yarn of the Shroud’s fabric consists of a varying number of flax fibers spun together. The number of fibers ranges from about 70 to 120. Because the fibers are spun any particular fiber, which may be as long as two feet in length, will at times along its length be in the middle of the thread and near the outside. The images reside on sections of fibers that are at the surface or within one or two fibers deep from the surface. In other words the images are superficial to a depth of only one to three fibers.

But more than that, the image on the fibers is extraordinarily thin, about the thickness of the outer wall of a soap bubble floating in the air.

This completely rules out the use of any liquid colorant such as paint, dye or stain. Any liquid colorant would soak into the thread. Only a very thick paint would remain on the surface and this would be nearly impossible to apply while maintaining the thin quality of the images. But we really don’t need to be concerned with this because there is ample evidence that the images are not painted. Further more:

  • the body is anatomically precise
  • the wounds are medically correct as only a modern pathologist would understand them
  • the images are unexpected from a medieval point of view

How tall is the image of the man on the Shroud of Turin?

The man on the Shroud of Turin

It is hard to know. Estimates generally range from 5’8″ to 6’1″.

A formal study “Computerized anthropometric analysis of the Man of the Turin Shroud,” a series of tibio-femoral indices calculations by Giulio Fanti, Emanuela Marinelli and Alessandro  Cagnazzo, to date, is the most comprehensive statistical analysis. It puts the height of the man (presumably Jesus) at between 5’8″ and 5’9”.

A study by Isabel Piczek, a mural artist with significant expertise in human anatomy determined that the body was close to 6′ tall. She wrote:

I have approached the question of height from the design point of view – an image which describes a 3D object and vice-versa, including the problem of foreshortening. I have also analyzed body type, muscle structure and proportion. I determined the height to be 5’11½” to 6’1″, give or take 1″ for linen stretch and shrinking, both of which are possible. Because of the body type, even with shrinkage, the man cannot be under 5’11½”. I lean more towards 6’0″. Whether Jews in Jesus’s time were smaller or larger is not relevant here. Jews were not small to start with, judging by the finds in the 1st century cemetery excavated near the wall of the Temple in the sixties

One reason is that we don’t know how flat the body is on the cloth, assuming the image is representative of the man’s height.  If the image is anatomically correct, as it seems to be, we can be certain that the knees are bent and the head tilted forward as though resting on a pillow.

Overlooked, often, is the certainty that cloth’s size has been altered by stretching. It has been held aloft, nailed up for display, rolled up and folded. It has been exposed to sunshine and dampness. It was seared in a fire that was doused with water. During a restoration effort in 2002 it was stretched with weights and steamed to remove wrinkles. By some estimates the length of the cloth was increased by eight centimeters during the restoration.

Did a biological polymer throw off the carbon dating?

July 5, 2010

Few think so. Unfortunately, this speculative explanation for why the carbon dating might have been wrong received a considerable amount of undue attention after Harry E. Gove of the University of Rochester, one of the significant players in the development of Mass Spectrometry Analysis for carbon dating, wrote, “There is a bioplastic coating on some threads, maybe most. . . . [if thick enough it] would make the fabric sample seem younger than it should be.”

Thick enough? An error of 1300 years resulting from bacterial contamination would have required a layer approximately doubling weight of the tested samples. Moreover:

  • Biological polymers do not obtain their carbon from the atmosphere but from their host. That would have been the fibers of the cloth. Thus the bioplastic would have had the same carbon 14 ratios as the Shroud and this would not affect the dating.
  • Using highly sensitive pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry, scientists at the National Science Foundation Mass Spectrometry Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska could not detect any such polymers on Shroud fibers.

Some have argued that the corner from which the sample was taken would have been handled more often than other parts of the Shroud, increasing the likelihood of contamination by bacteria and bacterial residue. Bacteria and associated residue (bacteria by-products and dead bacteria) carry additional carbon and would skew the radiocarbon date toward the present. So far, this is only an argument and there is no evidence to support this contention.

For the most part, serious Shroud researchers do not take this argument seriously.

What was the reaction to the 1988 carbon dating?

When the carbon dating results for the shroud of Turin were announced. many who already were convinced (or hoped) it was a fake, were gleeful. But those who had become convinced from the avalanche of historical and other scientific evidence—some of it good and some of it bad, some of it interpreted one way or another—were sure that there must be something wrong with the carbon dating. They argued so. And they expressed their frustration.

Physicist Peter Carr would later write words that expressed that frustration.

When the testing was complete, the scientist reported their findings . . . giving the age as 1260 to 1390, therefore the cloth was mediaeval. This was the limit to their remit, to date the cloth. But they exceeded their remit by making comments about the nature of the cloth, ie that the shroud was a mediaeval forgery. In making such a sweeping statement, they showed complete arrogance of other disciplines and a blind faith in a piece of technology. No self respecting scientist would be so bold. They ignored, or were ignorant of the wealth of historical information that shows that a cloth of some form has been in existence for many centuries, and it predates the carbon dates. The carbon dating information should have been presented along side all other information, and an objective discussion taken place.

If arrogance was a strong word to use, it seemed justified. The official press conference to announce the results really didn’t go beyond the boundaries of science. Journalists did that. The photograph that appeared along with the story told the story. There were three people in the picture. There was Teddy (Edward Thomas) Hall, the director of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford who had previously played a significant role in exposing the Piltdown Man hoax.  There was Robert Hedges also from Oxford and Michael Tite of the British Museum. The dates 1260 to 1390 with a big explanation mark were written on the blackboard behind them. The faces and the body language seemed arrogant, at least to those who are not happy with the announcement. Perhaps there was nothing of the sort in those faces or in the way Hall crossed his arms in front of his chest. Perhaps it was an unfortunate Kodak moment.

But it wasn’t the frustration steeped with emotion that caused people to question the carbon dating. The picture in the Hungarian Pray Codex, the very convincing history from Constantinople, the apparent pollen data, the mysterious and so far inexplicable image characteristics, the forensic pathology all combined to trigger a cascade of research.

Carbon Dating in 1988

Cutting the Shroud of Turin for carbon dating

It happened in 1988. The Shroud of Turin was carbon dated. After the results had been leaked, twenty-one scientists from the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, the Institut für Mittelenergiephysik in Zurich, Columbia University, and the British Museum wrote in a peer-reviewed paper published in Nature in 1989:

The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260 – 1390 (rounded down/up to nearest 10 yr). These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval. How can anyone argue with this? The radiocarbon measurements were done, not at one laboratory, but at three highly regarded institutions. The authors are emphatic. The results provide not just evidence but conclusive evidence. Does this not suffice to answer the students’ questions?

Craziness ensued. One explanation after another was offered. Finally Ray Rogers, who had accepted the carbon dating, decided to disprove a crazy explanation from what he called the lunatic fringe. The crazy idea was that the Shroud had been mended and the samples were from that mending job. What Rogers discovered was that the crazy idea seemed to be right. He concluded that the sample used for carbon dating was not representative of the cloth. It was chemically different. Moreover, one of the chemical differences, the amount of vanillin, provided a new clue about the cloth’s age. Samples from the main part of the cloth, unlike the carbon 14 sample area, did not contain any vanillin. If the shroud was only as old as the radiocarbon date, it would have plentiful vanillin.  The Shroud was at least twice as old. It might be 2000 years old. After a lengthy peer review process, his findings that the carbon dating was wholly invalid were published in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta.

Rogers’ published work showing that the carbon dating is invalid has been confirmed by John L Brown, a forensic materials specialist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia and by Robert Villarreal and a team of nine scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

What is the significance of vanillin in understanding the age of the Shroud?

July 5, 2010

Vanillin is an aromatic compound that occurs naturally in plants, particularly vanilla beans (Vanilla Planifolia). Vanillin is found in flax fibers used in the production of linen. Specifically it is found in lignin, a complex chemical part of the secondary cell walls of the flax fibers. Over time, vanillin decomposes and it is possible to derive some estimates of the age of fibers, within limits, from the amount of vanillin that remains.

Under normal temperature conditions, vanillin should decompose completely in about 1300 years. Thus if a piece of linen cloth has no remaining vanillin, and it has not been subjected to excessive temperatures for a significant amount of time, we can be quite sure it is at least 1300 years old. For instance, linen wrappings for some of the Dead Sea Scrolls do not contain vanillin. Medieval linen, if the lignin has not been bleached away, does contain the chemical.

The main part of the Shroud of Turin does not test positive for vanillin. There is one exception: the place from which the carbon dating sample were cut in 1988.

Quantitative counts of lignin residues show large differences between the carbon dating area and the rest of the Shroud. Where there is lignin, in the sample area, it tests positive for vanillin. Other medieval cloths, where lignin is found, also test positive. Thus we can be quite certain that the carbon dating sample is medieval but that the rest of the cloth is not.

Is the blood on the Shroud real?

July 5, 2010

Despite claims by Joe Nickell, a paranormal investigator for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, that no blood has been found (a bold, unsubstantiated assertion sometimes repeated in the press), blood has been found. The claim is often accompanied by the erroneous statement that all old blood turns black.

All of the material cited below and their publishing journals are peer reviewed scientific journals.

It is human blood:

  • S. F. Pellicori analyzed the spectral properties of the Shroud’s image, the bloodstains, and non-image areas using ultraviolet-visible reflectance and fluorescence spectra.  These are highly reliable quantitative measurements based on reflectance and not visual interpretation. This is documented in Applied Optics (1980). pages 1913-1920.
  • Alan Adler, an expert on porphyrins, the types of colored compounds seen in blood, chlorophyll, and many other natural products concluded that the blood is real. In collaboration with John Heller, the conclusions that the blood is real was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Applied Optics (also 1980). The heme was converted into its parent porphyrin, and this was confirmed with spectral analysis.
  • Baima Bollone also found both the heme porphyrin ring of blood and the globulin in flakes of blood from Shroud samples, independently confirming the work of Adler.
  • X-ray-fluorescence spectra showed excess iron in blood areas, as expected for blood.
  • Qualitative microchemical tests for proteins were positive in blood areas but not in any other parts of the Shroud. Definition of Qualitative microchemical tests.

Various chemical tests by E. J. Jumper, A. D. Adler, J. P. Jackson, S. F. Pellicori, J. H. Heller, and J. R. Druzik are documented in a peer-reviewed scientific papter “A comprehensive examination of the various stains and images on the Shroud of Turin,” ACS Advances in Chemistry, Archaeological Chemistry (1984)

Other analysis by J. H. Heller and A. D. Adler in “A Chemical Investigation of the Shroud of Turin,” Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal and by L. A. Schwalbe and R. N. Rogers, Analytica Chimica Acta (1982)

Skeptics will sometimes claim that the blood cannot be real because old blood is black. Actually, old blood often just turns brown. That all old blood turns black is overstated.

Old blood is not always black. Two factors will keep bloodstains from losing all or most of their red color:

  • The blood on the Shroud contains significant amounts of bilirubin, a bile pigment produced by severe trauma. Bilirubin is bright red and will cause bloodstains to remain red in color.
  • Ancient cloth, after weaving was, was often washed in natural soap such as that derived from the Soapwort plant.
  • Ingredients of this natural soap are hemolytic, which keeps the blood from turning black or brown. S. F. Pellicori also discovered that that the fibers inside the thread were brown while the fibers on the outside were red. Why is this signifcant?

The argument, however, is pointless. The bloodstains are known to be from real blood.

Did the blood go on the Shroud before the images?

There is no image beneath bloodstains; the blood interrupting the formation of an image. As reported in two peer-reviewed scientific journals, (Heller, J. H., Adler, A. D., Applied Optics, 19, 1980, pp 2742-4 and Heller, J. H., and Adler, A. D., Canadian Forensic Society Science Journal 14, 1981, pp 81-103) when blood within a part of an image (containing porphyrin, bilirubin, albumin and protein) was dissolved, there was no image beneath the blood. However the images were formed, bloodstains blocked the process immediately beneath the blood.

If a faker of relics had created the Shroud, either by painting the images or by some medieval proto photographic technique, he would have needed to apply the bloodstains first and then carefully create the images around them. This would be particularly difficult if the image was formed by some proto-photograph method.

If image formation was a natural chemical reaction, as is now widely believed among serious Shroud researchers, bloodstains would have blocked the process. While this doesn’t particularly add credence to such a hypothesis, it is consistent with it.