Turin Shroud 21


Turin Shroud Negative

The Turin Shroud is considered the most famous holy relic in existence.  To be fair, if all the books written about it were piled on a weighing scale the weight of evidence would certainly support that assertion.

Allegedly Jesus’s linen burial shroud, it shows a barely discernible imprint of a crucified man. The shroud was donated to Turin Cathedral in 1578 by the Dukes of Savoy who purchased it from its original owner, a French noblewoman in 1453.

When the Church allowed the shroud to be photographed in 1898, the negative plate revealed the crucified body in astonishing detail. It was a true miracle. Sceptics accused the photographer of trickery. He was vindicated in 1938 when another photograph revealed the same detail.

A group of scientists formed the Shroud of Turin Research Project in the 1970s, taking ultra violet and high resolution photographs of the shroud. Their final report of 1981 stated…

‘We conclude the Shroud image is that of a real scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of haemoglobin and give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made the problem remains unsolved.’

So far so good.

But is it real?

For while individual popes believed it was genuine, the Catholic Church has no official position on the shroud’s authenticity.

When the shroud was radiocarbon dated, it gave the cloth’s date as between 1260 and 1390; tying in with the shroud’s first appearance in France in 1355. There is no record of the shroud before then.

The radiocarbon dates were challenged by one scientist, who claimed he found pollen from plants growing in Jerusalem during Christ’s lifetime. Unfortunately he was later implemented in the Hitler Diaries fraud and no one else was able to confirm his pollen evidence. In 2011 the Head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit firmly announced none of the many challenges ‘stacked up’.

Controversy still surrounds the image as no one has successfully been able to exactly reproduce it. Believers say the burden of proof is on the doubters. The doubters no doubt say much the same about the radiocarbon dates.

In general the doubters believe it is a medieval painting used as an Easter prop. They point out when Henry of Poitiers, the Bishop of Troyes, investigated the shroud around 1400 he concluded it was a painted cloth. They add the fabric is a medieval weave and the body is distorted, reflecting a painted image rather than a real person.

3-D image mapping of body in shroud

The medieval painting technique of tempura uses egg protein and collagen from rabbit skin glue. These and traces of iron oxide pigment found on the cloth would give false readings for haemoglobin and blood protein.

It is also possible real blood might have been used to ‘tart up’ the image some time later. Medieval people did not have our regard for scientific proof, or even authenticity. Relics were important tourist attractions. If they needed to be touched up to keep looking pristine, so be it.

Some fringe researchers claim Leonardo Da Vinci created the Turin Shroud. Even that it’s a self-portrait.

Given it’s a picture of a man with long hair and a big nose it could be anyone – even me in a wig.

That’s essentially swapping one unlikely story for another. Especially as the shroud first appears in 1355, while Da Vinci wasn’t born until 1452. Unless he took it back in his time machine. Now there’s something worth investigating!

Being the big old doubting Thomas I am, I’d say the likelihood of the image being Leonardo da Vinci is about the same as it being Jesus Christ. Or indeed, me!

Also see: The Veronica

21 thoughts on “Turin Shroud

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  4. Reply Shehanne Moore Mar 21,2017 11:43 pm

    YOu know Paul, you always have such fascinating posts. Truly.

  5. Reply Paul Feb 22,2017 12:24 am

    Colin has made an important breakthrough in his long and exhaustive investigation of the Turin Shroud.
    He presents evidence suggesting the shroud might have been made as a souvenir of a powerful man’s penitential crucifixion.
    Even today this ritual goes on in Latin Countries. During the church’s observance of Good Friday a sinner chooses to be scourged through the streets while carrying a cross and then crucified in imitation of Christ to repent his unforgivable sins.
    Colin believes the cloth was created using roasting flour and oil- the very ingredients and method listed for a pleasing sacrifice to God in the Book of Leviticus. Leviticus is the biblical book that concerns itself with the law of sacrifices, purity and atonement.
    A general rule of thumb is that if anything causes a modern Jew or Christian a sharp intake of breath because of its barbarity, it’s probably from Leviticus.
    Swiftly stepping off my soap box I would like to recommend you read his thoughts for yourself on his excellent website.

    • Reply Colin Berry Feb 22,2017 7:49 am

      Thanks for the link to my site, Paul, and your interest in the Leviticus 6 angle that I have just stumbled upon.

      “Penitential crucifixion”?

      For now, all that I personally am suggesting is that the image we call the Turin Shroud was:

      (a) made using a cooperative human subject (correction – probably two, one for the frontal, one for the dorsal image)

      (b) using white flour/oil as imprinting agent onto wet linen

      (c) an oven for image development via Maillard browning reactions – the sort that cause bread and other baked products to emerge brown from a hot oven

      (d) a final wash to remove visible surface encrustation, leaving just a faint fuzzy and highly superficial stain mainly on the crowns of the linen threads.

      The idea of real as distinct from simulated crucifixion having preceded the imprinting is interesting and not impossible, but is not part of my own thinking. You have, as it were, taken the ball and run with it, Paul, leaving me thinking I may have missed the point you were making in our brief initial email correspondence. I see now the germ of your idea re penitential crucifixion. However, I consider that the imprinting of the so-called “Shroud” (an unfortunate choice of term) was intended merely to simulate the double body imprint that might have been left on Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen’ intended primarily for dignified transport of the naked, crucified Jesus from cross to tomb. It probably was not intended to double as final burial shroud, but that’s hardly the issue if the image was intended to be seen as one acquired en route from cross to tomb. But let’s be clear about one thing – the imprinting exercise did not obligatorily require anyone to volunteer for real crucifixion, or indeed to undergo any kind of penance!

      So where does Leviticus play a role in the scenario proposed? Only that an inspired decision was made to use flour/oil/hot oven to create a final faint fuzzy negative image that could be mistaken for centuries old yellowed sweat (or bizarrely by some modern -day investigators as a real negative proto-photograph as distinct from contact imprint!). That choice of imprinting agent, if correctly identified, was brilliant, leaving as it did virtually no trace of its humble kitchen origins after the final wash (except maybe some minute tell-tale flecks of insoluble wheat gluten – see my latest posting). Where did that imprinting model come from, given it’s not one that has been previously spotted until I reached Model 10 in my long and laborious 5 year project?

      I was considering various possibilities a few weeks ago. One was that the methodology was already in use for those charged with setting up ‘murder holes’ at the entrance to defended castles and other strongholds. Yup, it’s all very well to say that hot or boiling oil would rain down on those who tried to force an entrance via the main gate, but how would the defenders know when the oil had reached the right temperature, either for standby status and then a final quick input of more heat to bring to maximum temperature? I got to wondering if a flour imprint onto scraps of linen might serve as a crude thermometer, one that could be dropped into the oil, would float on the surface and could be watched closely, estimating the temperature by the degree of browning(beats a dipped finger any day).

      Leviticus 6 offers an entirely different explanation, but not for the interesting reasons in your interpretation Paul (which may or may not be correct). I see Leviticus 6 as suggesting an entirely different role for flour/oil in burnt offerings – not just for the destructive parting with a valued commodity (regardless of how obtained, fine flour would have been pricey) but for the smoke that wafted upwards to the heavens that – we’re assured- was received and savoured by an appreciative God (with an acutely sensitive, delightfully anthropomorphic sense of smell!). So when the canons of Lirey (?) were sitting around at the brain-storming stage, wondering how they could simulate (i.e. “fake”) that double-body image, one of them had a eureka moment. “I know! Use flour and oil, as per the Old Testament. Roast it into the linen. Give the Lord a Leviticus-style gift, thus making absolutely certain He’s aware via aroma from the oven – as well as our prayers- of what we are doing to show RESPECT for HIS sacrifice to us”.

      So in this imagined scenario there is no pressing need, Paul, to invoke a real crucifixion, or indeed anything that exposes the one – or as I say probably two- volunteers to tying, nailing, shedding of blood etc. They were required merely to serve as templates for a contact imprint – and indeed the “difficult” face may well have required a separate bas relief of flatter surface contours fashioned in wood or clay as realistically conceded by Prof Luigi Garlaschelli. That might explain the somewhat severe, mask-like face on the Shroud, with those abrupt cut-offs at both cheek bones, without the expected lateral (“wrap-around”) image distortion etc.

      See what happens when you get me started? It’s difficult to know when to stop, especially when one is out on a limb, as I am, and now you too Paul, albeit a different limb from mine – but thankfully the same tree … 😉

      • Reply Paul Feb 23,2017 7:37 pm

        Thanks as always for taking time to share your views Colin. It is appreciated that you do this and keep our understanding moving forward.

        Now I just realised, in a couple of short paragraphs in my comment below, I put words in your mouth that you never said. And I drew conclusions without one scrap of evidence.

        Bloody great…

        Hey Maw, look at me, I’m a journalist!

  6. Reply Colin Berry Feb 12,2017 8:19 am

    You are someone with a gift for expression, Paul – fresh, entertaining, economy of words etc. I would be privileged to have you as ambassador for my thinking re the Shroud on your social media sites. Don’t feel obliged to agree with everything I say – I thrive on differences of opinion, as most scientists do, or at any rate should…

    Thanks for placing the comment on my site. Feel free to return at any time!

    • Reply Paul Feb 13,2017 1:58 am

      Thanks Colin I will be returning. And I know if I didn’t disagree I could say something because that is science… or at least how it should be (which is another philosophical argument entirely)…cos otherwise that would be religion. And whereas clerics argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, scientists ask for the empirical evidence angels exist. stay in touch mate …I was looking for you on Twitter

      • Reply Colin Berry Feb 17,2017 11:24 am

        Hello again Paul. I hope you won’t mind if I now use your site – and possibly your social media contacts too – for a kite-flying exercise, the kite in question being a mere 3 hours old!

        It began with me googling (bible flour). I got to wondering this morning if there might be some clues as to why medieval ‘forgers’ of the Turin Shroud might choose to use white breadmaking flour as an imprinting medium.

        Suppose I said there was a chapter in the Bible that mentions not only my white flour, that additionally mentions cooking oil (also an important ingredient in my imprinting medium) AND fire AND white linen as well? That would be asking too much, right, to have 4 vital components in my medieval manufacturing scenario not only in the Bible, but in a particular chapter thereof?

        Well, guess what? There is. See Leviticus, third book after Genesis and Exodus in the Old Testament, Chapter 16!

        It’s about the procedures/rituals that have to be followed by those who have confessed their sins to a priest, and who are required under Jewish law to make a sacrifice.

        Chp 16 is targeted at poorer folk who can’t afford animal sacrifices, who are told to bring along cheaper food, “finest flour” especially – some to be used as a burnt offering, the rest to be baked into unleavened (i.e. non-yeasted) bread for the presiding priest and hopefully his family especially!

        Here are two key verses (New International Version):

        15. The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

        Wow! That’s three of the ingredients – flour, oil and fire. What about the 4th? Linen?

        Guess what? It comes 5 verses earlier in the same chapter :

        As before, the New International Version:

        10. The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar.

        (Yes, the white linen has special ritual significance, given what we read in the following verse):

        11.Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean.

        This comment is already too long, Paul, so I shall end here, except to propose an entirely new explanation for the Turin Shroud. Might it have been intended initially to symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus as an Old Testament style sacrifice of Son by Father, intended as an expiation of someone else’s , i.e. mankind’s sins.

        That explains why the technology was customized, a one-off. It was a gesture on the part of those powerful, privileged folk who commissioned it (the Lirey-based de Charny family certainly, based on the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, but conceivably under instructions from the highest in the land, King John the Good as well, no less. Those two battle-hardened knights were linked via their self-created chivalrous Order of the Star, said to have been de Charny’s idea, modelled on England’s Order of the Garter).

        You read it here first!

        Listen ye here now, you authenticity-promoting imaging via nuclear or electromagnetic radiation obsessed tunnel vision shroudologists. You may get away with ignoring my site, basically because I’m uninclined at this stage to involve the MSM (or even so-called ‘peer-reviewed’ journals, read chum-reviewed in many instances). Will you dare ignore Paul’s and others’ internet sites too?

        • Reply Paul Feb 18,2017 11:50 pm

          HI Colin,
          Thank you for this fascinating update. I makes a lot of sense especially when you consider the Passion Plays that still happen in some places in Spain and Latin America where it is considered an honour to take the role of Christ and under go a ritualised version of the crucifixion – but still with real trauma. I think your findings had cast serious light on the possible origins of the shroud. This would make it a personalised souvenir of the occasion especially for some medieval lord who as you said might have undergone the ritual for the forgiveness of some terrible sin like, knowing the medieval church, not paying his church tax to them or refusing to burn a heretic!

          • Reply Colin Berry Feb 19,2017 11:15 am

            Thanks for the perceptive and appreciative comment Paul.

            Some 18 months have passed since I first modelled the Shroud image using simple ingredients and materials available in a medieval kitchen (white flour, vegetable oil, hot oven) and demonstrated that the final washed image displayed many of those allegedly ‘enigmatic’ properties like responding to 3D-rendering software (ImageJ) as in fact do all imprints, and even those peculiar microscopic properties (‘half tone’ effect, discontinuities etc). The response from the Shroudosphere? Essentially zilch, whether pro- or anti-authenticity, with the notable exception of Thibault Heimburger (previously a severe critic of simple contact scorching – Model 2 of 10), the splendid and articuate David Goulet (author of ‘Looney Tombs’)and now your good self. Even authenticity-opposed Hugh Farey, editor of the BSTS Newsletter went strangely silent on flour-imprinting, after initially backing me up on Dan Porter’s now discontinued shroudstory site.


            I’m open to suggestions as to why a substantially criteria box-ticking model has failed to gain traction, or even attention. Maybe it’s because flour and oil is too mundane after all those wacky pro-authenticity models that rely on flasheds of em radiation, pulsed uv laser beams, transition from human corpse to well-behaved mini-neutron bomb, corona discharges etc etc.

            Might the proposed, still partly tendentious Leviticus connection be what the model needs, to rescue it from its present obscurity, by providing a spiritual and religious dimension to what otherwise looks like a ‘total letdown’, substituting cookery for science?

            Incidentally, it’s Leviticus Chapter 6, not 16 as previously stated.

  7. Reply Colin Berry Feb 9,2017 6:46 am

    “Controversy still surrounds the image as no one has successfully been able to exactly reproduce it. Believers say the burden of proof is on the doubters. The doubters no doubt say much the same about the radiocarbon dates.”

    But it’s hard even to know where to begin if one doesn’t know what materials were employed to create the body image (blood can probably be treated as a separate challenge). That’s especially so if an image-forming ingredient was used that was subsequently washed out, leaving just a trace of image pigment with no clues as to how it was formed.

    Are you aware of the conclusions reached in my 5 year research programme, reported in real time on the web, and culminating in what I call Model 10. Yes, the first 9 had to be rejected for one reason or another).

    I believe the body image was obtained using a novel, one-off process that began with ‘flour-imprinting’. One (or more probably 2) adult males were lightly smeared with vegetable oil, then lay down on the floor head to head, one face up, the other face down, and sprinkled with white wheaten flour. After shaking off the surplus, a wetted sheet of linen was draped over both and pressed down firmly onto the highest relief only – not the sides or top of head. The imprinted linen was then suspended in a bread-making oven or similar, and roasted until the flour imprint turned yellow-brown (the linen remaining largely unaffected). The image was latter rendered fainter, dare one say more ghostly, by vigorous washing that also served to remove unreacted starch etc. But I reckon telltale traces of insoluble wheat gluten (storage protein) were left behind, visible on high mag/high contrast photos of the Shroud, e.g. Shroud Scope, as reported on my most recent posting:


    • Reply Paul Feb 12,2017 1:29 am

      Colin, wow mate it’s at times like this I feel like a right fraud. This is brilliant and proper research. Thank you for making me aware of it. I will read your piece immediately.

      I love history, but I am not an historian and this blog is entertainment – hopefully to make people think. What I would love to do is share your work on my social media accounts -it’s not like I have millions of followers but you know, every little helps and it will give people a chance to follow up on the article- I can think of a good half dozen right off the top of my head who will devour this.

      Thanks for sharing your work. What you do is massively important and I truly wish everyone in the world would read proper research. Sadly I don’t think most people ever will, but it does not mean the work of scientists is not important… in fact I would go so far as to say it is one of the strongest things we have in today’s world to leave the preconceptions of the past behind and move into a clearer future. Indebted to you. Paul

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  9. Reply Sally cronin Feb 7,2017 2:38 pm

    Brilliant Paul.. I am just reading book ten of Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom and enjoying as much as the rest of the series.. there is quite a bit about the falsification of relics.. But it was clear that if you were a believer that trumped (pardon the expression) the facts getting in the way of a good story. Will of course share and put in the blogger daily tomorrow.

    • Reply Paul Feb 12,2017 2:03 am

      Dear Sally there is a chap above Called Colin Berry who has done exhaustive research on the Turin Shroud. Absolutely spellbinding read.. puts my stab to shame. Bernand Cornwell is one of those great writers I really want to read. One day I’m going to take a year off and read everything!

  10. Reply Sue Vincent Feb 6,2017 7:50 am

    ‘Fake’ or not… it is a genuinely intriguing piece of art.

    • Reply Paul Feb 12,2017 2:08 am

      True Sue and a fascinating piece of myth too. One thing I have problems with is organised religion using the sacred to try and control people. Their relgions are not about the divine and making the world better, but about power and enforcing the status quo. Which is why I always prefer belief systems that are gnostic in the full sense of the word and require no intervention by a hierarchial priesthood with a vested interest. However saying that the church does have some of the best art. but then they had all the wealth.

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