Shroud of Turin is an ancient yellowed linen cloth which bears the faded image
of a bearded man covered with blood stains which correspond to the wounds of
crucifixion. The Shroud has been kept in Turin, Italy for over 400 years but
has a history that can be traced to the sixth century with legends and folklore
going all the way back to First Century. Millions believe it is the actual burial
shroud of Jesus. National Geographic called it, "One of the most perplexing enigmas
of modern times". Time Magazine called it, "The Riddle of the Ages". The subject
is a fascinating blend of ancient history, sacred art, modern science and religious
This section deals in short summary fashion evidence from multiple fields of research including an update on C-14 Dating.
THE SHROUD OF TURIN RESEARCH PROJECT (STURP) comprised of over
24 scientists subjected the cloth in 1978 to five days of continuous and intensive
scientific analysis. When their results were published in 1981, over 150,000
scientific man hours had been employed in the research and analysis. The research
continues today. The Shroud has become the most thoroughly examined relic or
artifact in the history of man. In 1988 the cloth was carbon dated to the 13th
century. Recent research now questions the validity of those tests.
No other artifact has received as much scientific focus as the
Shroud and yet it remains a mystery. Some people believe it to be a medieval hoax,
however the Shroud image and all of its uniqueness cannot be duplicated by any known
Although erroneously carbon dated (see below) to the middle ages it seems even
more incredible that someone from that era could have artificially produced
this remarkable image which has defied a scientific solution. Public interest
in the Shroud rests entirely on the possibility of its authenticity.
The carbon dating tests of 1988 have largely been discredited as having dated a rewoven portion of the cloth (See Latest News). All the other evidences that were overshadowed by the carbon tests can once again shed their light on the Shroud's incomparable mystery. For
those who seek a genuine solution to this "Riddle of the Ages", the following list of facts may be a good starting point.
Here are a variety of facts from numerous fields of study that indicate the scope and complexity of Shroud research:
Carbon 14 Dating:
- The scientific protocol established for sampling was ignored that called for three different samples to be cut from two different locations on the Shroud. Instead, only one sample was removed and cut into three pieces.
- It was taken from an outside corner where it had been handled numerous times over the centuries for public exhibition.
- The only explanation for this breach of protocol and sample location was that it was "expedient".
- In further violation of the protocol, micro-chemical tests were to be conducted to make sure it was fully representative of the entire cloth. These tests were NOT performed. Only a visual observation was made.
- It now seems that the arrogance of modern scientists has been humbled by the mending skills of skilled weavers capable of performing "invisible mending". Medieval France had a craft guild dedicated to this skill who mostly attended to expensive tapestries and articles of royal clothing.
- Had they tested more than one sample, they would have discovered the error.
- Had they done the micro-chemical analysis, they would also have discovered the error.
- The truth of what happened is finally coming out. The results published in Thermo Chimica Acta in January of 2005 have finally put to rest the bogus results of the 1988 carbon dating tests. Next time they should try following instructions, they should have learned that in grade school.
It is not the work of an artist.
- There are no artistic substances such as paint, ink, dye, pigment or stain.
- This fact is confirmed by spectrographic, radiographic and chemical tests.
- No evidence of an outline to the image as would be required by any artist.
- No evidence of a paint binder necessary as a suspension for any paint medium.
- No light focus...every known artwork has a light focus.
- No evidence of brush strokes or directionality.
- No liquids were applied to account for the image.
- The image is purely superficial coloring only the top two microfibrils...less than 1/10 the diameter of a human hair.
- The image of the face and hands faintly appear on the reverse side of the cloth yet only on the top surface, it did not color the center of the threads.
The image appears to be that of a real human corpse as confirmed by coroners and forensic medical experts.
Blood chemistry indicates that it is human blood from actual wounds. This has been confirmed by 13 different chemical tests giving proof for bile, bilirubin, serum albumin, hemoglobin and other blood components.
- Blood stains show the clear separation of blood and blood serum further demonstrating the man pictured on the Shroud was dead.
- Evidence of rigor mortis further confirms the image of a dead man who died from the these traumatic wounds.
- Evidence from pollen removed from the Shroud indicate a Middle East origin.
- Specific pollens are from plants that grow only in areas around Jerusalem.
- Other pollens confirm a historical trail that precedes its arrival in France in the 1300's.
- Pollen confirms the Shroud's presence in Constantinople, Edessa and ultimately Israel.
- A high density of pollen around the head area of the Shroud demonstrate's the Shroud's probable use in a burial ceremony with flowers being laid in with the body.
- Related to the pollen is the evidence of certain flower images that also corroborates its use in a burial. One such flower image is from a plant that only grows in the Middle East.
Textile experts say the cloth is of a Middle East origin.
- The cloth measures exactly 2x8 Syrian cubits, a Middle East unit of measurement.
- Made out of flax, the threads are hand spun (the spinning wheel was invented in the 12th century).
- The different color bands in the Shroud demonstrate ancient techniques of flax preparation that had been long discontinued by the Middle Ages.
- The 3x1 herringbone pattern weave was performed in 1st century but was very rare and very expensive and conforms with the biblical reference that the Shroud was purchased by Joseph of Arimathea, "A rich man".
- Similar burial shrouds have been found in Masada which supports the Shroud as a genuine Jewish burial cloth.
- The image is a negative that becomes positive only in a photo negative.
- The image contains distance information that acts as a spatial database, similar to a topographical map. The 3-D characteristics show that the cloth wrapped a three dimensional human form at the time of image formation.
- The image is the result of a dehydrated carbohydrate layer on the cloth surface.
- The image has a unique "pixel-like" phenomena. Where the image appears darker, it is not due to more or darker substances, it is because more of the fibrils are effected by the dehydration of the carbohydrate layer covering the cloth surface.
- Travertine Aragonite limestone particles observed at 2500X magnification are similar to the
hills around Jerusalem.
- Degraded DNA shows evidence of human genomes found in the blood.
- Calcite, the common ingredient in road dirt were found only in the area of the man's knees and feet consistent with biblical accounts.
- The image appears to be the prototype for all Byzantine
icons stemming from the sixth century. Stylized Byzantine Icons bear numerous characteristics similar to the Shroud face.
- Iconography confirms the Shroud's existence in Constantinople and Edessa, Turkey long before coming to France in the 14th century.
Anthropology and Archaeology:
The man appears to be a Semitic Jew from
30 to 40 years of age.
- The Shroud shows details of crucifixion
unknown in the Middle Ages.
The bible records that Jesus said to Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" The same question holds true today as it relates to the Shroud. Is it
a medieval hoax? Or is it the most important artifact known to man bearing witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth? The "riddle of the ages" may never be completely solved. In
the end, the evidence in support of the Shroud's authenticity can never replace faith. That will always be a personal decision regardless of evidence.
- The image appears to be partially due to a Maillard reaction of ammonia based gases emanating from a decomposing body with the carbohydrate layer on the Shroud surface from when the cloth was soaked in soapweed as part of the final preparation of the cloth. Soapweed acted as a detergent and a fungicide. After it dried, it left a carbohydrate layer which is the "film" upon which the image was created.
- Even though the image appears to be partially due to a Maillard reaction, the body was not in the cloth long enough to show external signs of body decomposition consistent with biblical accounts.