Is the blood on the Shroud real?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

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.


What is the second face and what does it mean?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

Using new photographs of the reverse side of the Shroud, two researchers at the University of Padua, Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, discovered the faint indications of a second facial image that corresponded to the face on the front of the cloth. Their findings were reported in the scientific Journal of Optics published by the Institute of Physics in London (April 14, 2004). This image, like the image on the front side of the cloth, is completely superficial to the topmost fibers of the cloth.

Both images are superficial. There is no image producing colorant between them. This rules out a liquid such as a paint or a dye. But it does not rule out a reactant gas as an agent in the image formation.

The second face was an important find because it virtually eliminates artistic methods while giving credence to a hypothesis that a natural amino/carbonyl chemical reaction formed the images

Some have argued that the second face rules out photography. It does not. But it makes it implausible. It would have required that the photosensitive emulsion would have needed to have been superficially on both sides of the cloth and not soaked in and that the light used to make the image was strong enough to shine through the cloth. There are plenty of other scientific reasons to know that the image on the Shroud is not a photograph.

The second face is an important criteria in any attempt to explain how the images were made.

If you look carefully, by standing away from the screen, you can see the banding lines or variegated pattern that conceals the image somewhat and even leads others to see objects on the Shroud that are not there. This is a photograph reverse side of the Shroud taken in 2002.

Are there limestone particles on the cloth and what does that mean?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin


Joseph Kohlbeck and Richard Levi found travertine aragonite limestone particles in sample dust collected from the Shroud’s surface. Kohlbeck was Resident Scientist at the Hercules Aerospace Center in Utah. Levi-Setti was with the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago,

Using a high-resolution microprobe, Kolbeck and Levi-Setti compared the spectra of the dust from the Shroud with samples of limestone collected from ancient tombs in Jerusalem. They found that chemical spectral data were identical except for some minor bits of cellulous fiber that could not be removed from the dust.

This is not absolute proof that the Shroud was in Jerusalem, for there might be other places in the world where travertine aragonite has the identical trace chemical signature. However it is statistically unlikely any will be found.

Some skeptics have suggested that the limestone dust was added by a forger creating the Shroud in the Middle Ages. That is highly implausible. Would he have used limestone from the environs of Jerusalem in anticipation of modern forensic analytical tools.

What is the Diffusion Hypothesis of image formation?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

An image formed by means of a Maillard reaction from a diffusion of amine vapors and a carbohydrate layer on the fibers of the Shroud is the leading image formation hypothesis. It is commonly referred to as the Diffusion Hypothesis.

The carbohydrate layer, or coating, consists of starch fractions and saccharides. It is thought that this layer formed when the cloth dried after being washed in suds of soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) to remove starch used during weaving.

The layers on the Shroud’s cloth are very thin. They have been observed using phase-contrast microscopy and the thickness has been estimated to vary between 180 to 800 nanometers. In places they have turned yellow and it is from this yellow color that the images are formed. Where they are imaged, that is to say yellow, they are chemically changed and thinner. This is consistent with a Maillard reaction. The cellular fibers, themselves, are not colored beneath the layer. This has been observed when the carbohydrate layer has been dissolved with diimide or peeled away with an adhesive.  The layers are believed to be evaporation concentrations.

The Maillard reaction can take place naturally and the image color can be produced by amine gases produced by a dead body. They are very reactive. Within a few hours a body starts to produce heavier amines in its tissues such as putrescine (1,4-diaminobutane), and cadaverine (1,5-diaminopentane).

Raymond N. Rogers writes:

There is absolutely no doubt that the image color exists in a thin layer on the surface of image fibers. The layer is amorphous, and it seems to have an index of refraction relatively close to that of the linen fiber. The layer is quite brittle, and many flakes of the color have flaked off of the fibers. Colorless cellulose can be seen where image color has flaked off. The flakes can be seen and identified on the adhesive of sampling tapes. The flakes have the chemical properties of the intact image color on the fibers.

What attempts have been made to show how the images were faked?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

Walter McCrone

Over the years, there have been many attempts to show how a faker of relics might have created the image. Starting shortly after the STURP examination of the Shroud in 1978, Walter McCrone had argued that it was a painting. But when that was proven wrong, other explanations were tried.

  • Emily Craig, a forensic anthropologist, argued that it was a portrait in pigment dust that was transferred to a piece of cloth by rubbing.
  • Joe Nickell, a paranormal investigator and columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine tried to create an image by daubing dry pigment onto a piece of cloth.
  • Two conspiracy theory authors, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, proposed that it was a medieval photograph, perhaps made by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Nicholas Allen, a professor of art in South Africa, tried to actually show how a life-sized photograph could be made using a room-sized camera.
  • Nathan Wilson, an English teacher at a small, mid-western, Fundamentalist Christian college, very much convinced that the Shroud was fake because it contradicted his literal reading of the Gospel of John, set out to show how the image could be made by sun-bleaching unbleached linen with a mask painted on a pane of glass.
  • As recently as October of 2009, Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia in Italy, created an image that looked very much like the Shroud. It was a body rubbing and bas-relief rubbing of a face mask with a pigment laced with acid. The acid etched an image onto the cloth’s fibers that was noticeable after the pigment was washed away.

All of these attempts were ingenious and while they created images that looked something like the images on the Shroud, they failed to recreate essential characteristics of the images. The images have not yet been reproduced despite many attempts to do so.

What is the nature of the cloth?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud is about fourteen feet long and three and a half feet wide. It is four times as long as it is wide. The historian Ian Wilson and others have described it as being eight Talmudic cubits by two cubits.

Jesus and his ShroudAs a burial cloth it is long enough on which to lay the body of a man on his back with his feet at one end and his head near the middle. The cloth is long enough to bring it across the front of body and back down to his feet.  Its width is enough to cover him completely if his arms are not extended.

The cloth is linen. Linen yarn, used to weave the cloth, is made from flax fibers. There are approximately 70 to 120 fibers in the yarn used for the Shroud. Each fiber is about 15 microns in thickness.

Weave of the cloth showing the 3 hop twill of the Shroud of  TurinThe weave pattern is three-hop (or three-over-one) herringbone twill. It is very distinctive, rare and would have been more expensive than plain weave or simple hop twill.  In hop twill the weft or cross thread passes over two, three or four warp threads, under one, over the same number as before, and so forth for each run of a weft thread across the loom. The next weft is offset by one, and the next one, and the next one. That is twill.

Herringbone simply means the offset (twilling) is periodically reversed, hence the diagonal wale is reversed. The resulting appearance is that of a herring fish bone. Other decorative and complex patterns including lozenges, waves and zigzags can be created in twill weaving by varying the hop in different ways. You can clearly see the twill pattern in the fourth, fifth and sixth threads from the top.

Ray Rogers, a chemist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory has discovered a thin carbohydrate coating on the outermost fibers of the yarn. He believes the coating is an impurity layer (or residue) of starch fractions and saccharides from the natural soap Saponaria officinalis obtained from the Soapwort plant and that this coating resulted from an evaporation concentration during drying of cloth following washing before it was used as a burial shroud.

The cloth has a series of vertical or horizontal bands of darker and lighter tone that gives it a variegated appearance. These variegations are commonly referred to as banding and they affect the appearance of the image.

Is there pollen from the areas of Jerusalem, Edessa and Constantinople?

Posted July 5, 2010 by frenz64
Categories: The Shroud of Turin

Dr. Max Frei

At a conference of the prestigious Missouri Botanical Society in St Louis, Missouri, in 1999, Avinoam Danin, a leading authority on the flora of Israel as a botany professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem along with pollen specialist Uri Baruch from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) reported that the combination of pollen spores found lodged into the Shroud’s surface, when juxtaposed with the identification  of certain plant images mysteriously “imprinted” on the face of the cloth, could only have come from plants growing in the environs Jerusalem.

Avinoam Danin

Pollen identification is a legitimate method in criminal forensics to determine where an object has been located geographically. Max Frei, a renowned Zurich criminologist, had previously identified a total of 58 different pollens on the Shroud.  According to him, these pollens are native to areas around

  • the Dead Sea and the Negev
  • the Anatolian Steppe of central and western Turkey
  • the immediate environs of Constantinople
  • Western Europe

Israel , Jordan Valley , Kibbutz Ashdot Yaacov , A domesticated  wild planted field of gundelia AKA Tumble Thistle ( Gundelia  tournefortii ) Used in the Arab cuisine as a herb and vegetable . Pollen  from this plant was found on the the Shroud of Turin . Some scholars  now believe that this plant was the source of the Thorn crown stock  photoPollen from this plant was found on the  Shroud of Turin . Some scholars now believe that this plant was the source of the Thorn crown

Danin and Baruch, at the time, seemed to be confirming Frei’s work. Said Danin:

In the light of our findings, it is highly probable that the shroud did in fact come from this part [the Jerusalem area] of the world.

Israel , Jordan Valley , Kibbutz Ashdot Yaacov , A domesticated  wild planted field of gundelia AKA Tumble Thistle ( Gundelia  tournefortii ) Used in the Arab cuisine as a herb and vegetable . Pollen  from this plant was found on the the Shroud of Turin . Some scholars  now believe that this plant was the source of the Thorn crown stock  photoPollen from this plant was found on  the Shroud of Turin

What Frei had reported was extraordinary. He identified fifty-eight different plants, many from the Middle East, areas around Jerusalem and areas in what is now Turkey that coincided nicely with Edessa and Constantinople. Those looking for confirmation of the shroud’s authenticity were ecstatic.