# Shroud of Turin

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## Main Question or Discussion Point

As I remember it this piece of cloth, which now sits in a church in Turin Italy, was carbon dated to around a date between 1200 and 1400 AD. It was also inspected for pollen and other microscopic evidence to determine an origin of the cloth. The official results were that the pollen was from the middle east. There have been several explainations about the shroud that range from religious accounts of a figure radiating their image into the cloth to scandalous accounts of 13th century methods of photography being used to fool the clerics of the time.

shroud of Turin

"All empirical evidence and logical reasoning concerning the Shroud of Turin will lead any objective, rational person to the firm conclusion that the Shroud is an artifact created by an artist in the fourteenth-century." --Steven D. Schafersman

The shroud of Turin is a woven cloth about 14 feet long and 3.5 feet wide with an image of a man on it. Actually, it has two images, one frontal and one rear, with the heads meeting in the middle. It has been noted that if the shroud were really wrapped over a body there should be a space where the two heads meet. And the head is 5% too large for its body, the nose is disproportionate, and the arms are too long. Nevertheless, the image is believed by many to be a negative image of the crucified Christ and the shroud is believed to be his burial shroud. Most skeptics think the image is a painting and a pious hoax. The shroud is kept in the cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Apparently, the first historical mention of the shroud as the "shroud of Turin" is in the late 16th century when the shroud was brought to the cathedral in that city, though it allegedly was discovered in Turkey during one of the so-called "Holy" Crusades in the so-called "Middle" Ages. In 1988, the Vatican allowed the shroud to be dated by three independent sources--Oxford University, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology--and each of them dated the cloth as originating in medieval times, around 1350. The shroud allegedly was in a fire during the early part of the 16th century and, according to believers in the shroud's authenticity, that is what accounts for the carbon dating of the shroud as being no more than 650 years old. To non-believers, this sounds like an ad hoc hypothesis.
According to microchemist Dr. Walter McCrone,

The suggestion that the 1532 Chambery fire changed the date of the cloth is ludicrous. Samples for C-dating are routinely and completely burned to CO2 as part of a well-tested purification procedure. The suggestions that modern biological contaminants were sufficient to modernize the date are also ridiculous. A weight of 20th century carbon equaling nearly two times the weight of the Shroud carbon itself would be required to change a 1st century date to the 14th century (see Carbon 14 graph). Besides this, the linen cloth samples were very carefully cleaned before analysis at each of the C-dating laboratories.*
http://skepdic.com/shroud.html

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I'm sorry I should have guessed this topic would have been covered. What I find interesting is the fact that the cloth is dated to originate from the same period as when Da Vinci was an active inventor. In fact he was in Turin painting the Mona Lisa around the same period the cloth dates from. Da Vinci is noted for inventing the Camera Obscura (no one is perfectly sure, many attribute the invention of the camera obscura to Aristotle) which has been shown to be a possible mechanism in creating a crude photographic negative. And the images on the shroud are negatives. In fact the image of the back of the man on the shroud and of the front of the man are two different people altogether. The man's back is about 4 inches shorter than the man's front image. So, however the images were transfered, they come from two different specimens.

The Camera Obscure became a widely used instrument for artists. Vermeer was constantly sticking his head in one to capture images of his Dutch townships, tracing the inverted images that poured through the pin-hole in the camera.

Here's how it may have played out:

During the mid-1990s a South African scientist, Professor Nicholas P Allen, conducted experiments to show that, if the image on the Shroud is of medieval origin, it could have been produced in a camera obscura.

He built a room-sized camera obscura containing a lens in one wall. On the opposite wall he suspended a cloth which had been pre-soaked in a solution of a (light-sensitive) silver salt. Outside the camera he suspended a manikin which had been coated in whitewash to reflect the rays of the sun to the maximum extent. After three days he had produced an image on the cloth which he was able to 'fix' by soaking the cloth in urine - a dilute solution of ammonia. The image possessed many of the three-dimensional features of the image on the Shroud of Turin.

All the necessary chemicals would have been available in medieval times.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2875430

You can imagine Da Vinci using the Turin morgue's cadavers here. Leonardo had no fear or qualms about handling the dead in order to get a better understanding of the human physiology. Or, to stick it to the church for which he had a fair amount of distain.

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Ivan Seeking
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Twenty years after radiocarbon dating supposedly proved once and for all that the Shroud of Turin was a medieval hoax, scientists are revisiting their research to see if the tests were erroneous and the shroud really dates back to the time of Christ.

“The result of the first test done in 1988 was almost an embarrassment at some point,” Barrie Schwortz, the photographer who documented the original Shroud of Turin Project, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in a Good Friday interview in New York. “Now that we’re 20 years later, the technology certainly has improved.” [continued]
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23742885/

I think the most striking claim of recent years is that the original carbon dating test was done on a corner of the cloth that had been repaired in the middle-ages - a new section of cloth was sewn in where the original was damaged and missing. This was apparently first noticed by a textile expert who was asked to repair another section of the cloth.

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Don't you mean the shroud of Turino?

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
Don't you mean the shroud of Turino?
No in engish it would be Shroud of Turin, in Italian it would be Torino

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Gold Member
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23742885/

I think the most striking claim of recent years is that the original carbon dating test was done on a corner of the cloth that had been repaired in the middle-ages - a new section of cloth was sewn in where the original was damaged and missing. This was apparently first noticed by a textile expert who was asked to repair another section of the cloth.
Its a marvel how Da Vinci was able to buy 1450 year old cloth to carry out his hoax on the church.

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I actually wonder if any so called relics are real, given the huge numbers of fakes from the middle ages. I mean lets face it there are probably about 100 nails from the true cross out there. I wonder if any one of them has passed a scientific dating test?

CEL
I actually wonder if any so called relics are real, given the huge numbers of fakes from the middle ages. I mean lets face it there are probably about 100 nails from the true cross out there. I wonder if any one of them has passed a scientific dating test?
I don't think that iron could be dated. But there are enough pieces of the 'true cross' to build a small house if glued together. And wood can be carbon dated with precision enough to say if those pieces are from the first century CE.

I don't think that iron could be dated. But there are enough pieces of the 'true cross' to build a small house if glued together. And wood can be carbon dated with precision enough to say if those pieces are from the first century CE.
Iron can be dated, the spear that stabbed Christ was proved as a fake by looking at the techniques used to make it, the type of iron and its composition. A nail from the cross would most likely be iron from a local area, with a specific amount of impurities too. We also know the specification of a nail used in the crucifixion of prisoners.

I have the forefinger of Christ himself on ebay.

If you want to get in on the deal for 50% off the ebay price I'll sell you one for $1000 or$8000 for a dozen? PM me if you're interested.

Ivan Seeking
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Something that I never realized is that the Catholic Church has never claimed that the shroud is authentic.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
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Something that I never realized is that the Catholic Church has never claimed that the shroud is authentic.
I never had the impression they rush to hasty judgement on these sorts of "artifacts." It really makes no difference to them or their believers if there is an actual artifact in someone's possession, or if it is considered lost for all time...and more harmful if they claim something is authentic that can be proven a hoax. Textiles are so difficult to preserve, while some do survive, such as in Egyptian tombs, it's rare and they need to be in just the right conditions that it's really hard to believe that even if such a thing as the Shroud of Turin existed that it would have survived to modern times to be found.

Similarly, would one really expect a nail from the first century AD to survive until today? And, even if one were found, how would one go about proving it was used for Jesus' crucifixion, and not one of the many other crucifixions of criminals held at that time?

The entire reason ancient artifacts are such a big deal to wind up displayed in museums and to be viewed with awe is that they are RARE.

Gold Member
Something that I never realized is that the Catholic Church has never claimed that the shroud is authentic.
I think the main thing is that the church and its officials recognize that there is a holiness endowed and embodied in a relic even if it is a fake. The fact that 600,000 or millions of people believe something to be a relic of a saint or famous religious figure makes it special and its ok to worship it. Any press is good press said the bishop.

I mean, these are practices that take one book that's been re-written over 300 times to be the truth and nothing but the truth.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
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I think the main thing is that the church and its officials recognize that there is a holiness endowed and embodied in a relic even if it is a fake. The fact that 600,000 or millions of people believe something to be a relic of a saint or famous religious figure makes it special and its ok to worship it. Any press is good press said the bishop.

I mean, these are practices that take one book that's been re-written over 300 times to be the truth and nothing but the truth.
...Despite the legends and written reports of the existence of the shroud, the documented provenance of the relic begins in 1357 in Lirey, France, when it was presented to a church by the widow of Geoffroi de Charny, a French knight. It was pronounced a fraud in 1389 by Bishop Pierre D’Arcis, who claimed to have talked to the man who painted it. The Catholic Church continues to hold that the shroud is not authentic, but the faithful are allowed to venerate it as a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection....
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23742885/

seycyrus
I mean, these are practices that take one book that's been re-written over 300 times to be the truth and nothing but the truth.
You can bash on religion without having to resort to such fallacies. That's like saying the dictionary has been rewritten thousands of times.

Gold Member
Yes... I remember seeing a documentary that followed the shroud back through history to Constantinople where it was said to have been presented to Constantine by a man or woman who got it from the Hebrews (and there was a long history to that tale as well).

So, the story of the shroud really extends back to perhaps 2 or 3 hundred years after the Judaea/Roman resistance which is what all the Christian stories seem to document.

It is thought that there were a few of these shrouds up until the time of da Vinci who took this legend as an opportunity to fool the church. And he quite probably used photography to do so... along with a bit of paint, blood etc...

edit: (And let's not forget Victor Mature in "The Robe"... which seems to echo the tale of the Shroud.)

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Gold Member
You can bash on religion without having to resort to such fallacies. That's like saying the dictionary has been rewritten thousands of times.
Right, the dictionary has "Red Sea" as a body of water parted by a man with a beard.
How often do people "swear" on a dictionary in court?
Is there a dictionary waiting for you in the drawer beside the bed at the Super 8?

I think you're drawing an unfair comparison. Think more along the lines of a fairy tale and how it has changed over the centuries etc.... Some of these tales started as true, legends. Then became what we know today... as fairytales or stories with some social importance. The bible certainly has these qualities... and many good ethical practices have come out of the bible. But, using the bible as proof of what has happened in the past or proof of how the order of the universe is laid out... is like believing everything the Coca Cola tells you about its product.

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Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
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Yes... I remember seeing a documentary that followed the shroud back through history to Constantinople where it was said to have been presented to Constantine by a man or woman who got it from the Hebrews (and there was a long history to that tale as well).

So, the story of the shroud really extends back to perhaps 2 or 3 hundred years after the Judaea/Roman resistance which is what all the Christian stories seem to document.

It is thought that there were a few of these shrouds up until the time of da Vinci who took this legend as an opportunity to fool the church. And he quite probably used photography to do so... along with a bit of paint, blood etc...

edit: (And let's not forget Victor Mature in "The Robe"... which seems to echo the tale of the Shroud.)
You need to provide sources to support your assertions.

Yes... I remember seeing a documentary that followed the shroud back through history to Constantinople where it was said to have been presented to Constantine by a man or woman who got it from the Hebrews (and there was a long history to that tale as well).

So, the story of the shroud really extends back to perhaps 2 or 3 hundred years after the Judaea/Roman resistance which is what all the Christian stories seem to document.

It is thought that there were a few of these shrouds up until the time of da Vinci who took this legend as an opportunity to fool the church. And he quite probably used photography to do so... along with a bit of paint, blood etc...

edit: (And let's not forget Victor Mature in "The Robe"... which seems to echo the tale of the Shroud.)
The problem with this account is that it does not fit in with the scientific data available, from analysing both thread sources (plant matter) And pollen samples in the thread it is clear that the shroud is dated to the middle ages +/- a certain number of years. So I think this might be wishful thinking more than a valid and scientific study. I've seen documentaries that have clearly debunked it as a clever fake. The Catholic church was not bothered by it being revealed as a fake, because it still draws the faithful to this day. So it's symbolic relic status is still as powerful as it always was, before the exposure of its lack of authenticity. Whether the Church was complicit in the deception or not, which seems unlikely even at the time of its recovery, they did not affirm without doubt it was genuine.

These documentaries claim that the forensic evidence is compelling:

This BBC report claims that it is the subject of much controversy:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3624753.stm

However what isn't compelling or controversial I think is the carbon dating, which is the key evidence. If it is two thousand years old, it's cloth should be dated to 2000 years old, it's hard to overcome that. Is the shroud a shroud from a body made to simulate Jesus death or is it a shroud from Jesus himself?

The BBC's QED program did a series of documentaries on it but unfortunately they don't appear easy to track down.

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CEL
I saw a documentary where a guy smeared a statue with oil, put stains of minion in some places and enveloped it in a white cloth. The oil and minion were transfered to the cloth providing an image very similar to that on the shroud.
The technology and the material were available in the middle ages.

I saw a documentary where a guy smeared a statue with oil, put stains of minion in some places and enveloped it in a white cloth. The oil and minion were transfered to the cloth providing an image very similar to that on the shroud.
The technology and the material were available in the middle ages.
Sounds a lot like the QED documentaries, they showed how it could have been made using medieval techniques, how the proportions of the images body were all wrong which would fit in with the idea of an image, amongst much other compelling evidence. However there is a second image underneath but I don't think this really reveals much, all it suggests is they used a body as a template for the final image, not that it is genuine.

Gold Member
You need to provide sources to support your assertions.
Sir. Yes sir!

Here's a history of the shroud from 544 AD and up.
In 544 AD, in the city of Edessa, a folded burial cloth bearing an image, believed to be of Jesus, was found above a gate in the city's walls. We know from various sources that the cloth was a burial shroud with a faint full-body image of Jesus and bloodstains positioned on the image. The image was variously described as a reflection, produced by sweat and divinely wrought. There is even some indication that the image was thought to be negative.
http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/history.htm

Here's an account of the shroud from 1349 and up.

http://www.shroud.com/history.htm

However, all of these accounts are as circumstantial as the shroud that can be found in Turino itself.

(Please let me clarify my opinion which is that there have been stories about the shroud around for centuries and these stories provided an opportunity for someone (whom I believe to be da Vinci) to capitalize on the belief to the extent of creating a masterpiece of medieval photography.

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Gold Member
Sounds a lot like the QED documentaries, they showed how it could have been made using medieval techniques, how the proportions of the images body were all wrong which would fit in with the idea of an image, amongst much other compelling evidence. However there is a second image underneath but I don't think this really reveals much, all it suggests is they used a body as a template for the final image, not that it is genuine.
I will note here that the use of the Camera Obscura was in full bloom during the "middle ages" and so it counts as a medieval technique. Da Vinci is often credited with its invention.

(edit) mistakenly I directed us to a blog by an evangelistic minister of some sort...

here's another look at the idea of photography in the middle ages..

There continues to be controversy over whether the image on the Shroud of Turin is the genuine image of Christ, produced by some supernatural process at the instant of his death, or whether it is a medieval forgery.

Radiocarbon tests completed in 1988 appeared to show that the cloth was medieval, dating from between 1260 and 1390. During the mid-1990s a South African scientist, Professor Nicholas P Allen , conducted experiments to show that, if the image on the Shroud is of medieval origin, it could have been produced in a camera obscura.

He built a room-sized camera obscura containing a lens in one wall. On the opposite wall he suspended a cloth which had been pre-soaked in a solution of a (light-sensitive) silver salt. Outside the camera he suspended a manikin which had been coated in whitewash to reflect the rays of the sun to the maximum extent. After three days he had produced an image on the cloth which he was able to 'fix' by soaking the cloth in urine - a dilute solution of ammonia. The image possessed many of the three-dimensional features of the image on the Shroud of Turin. The necessary chemicals would have been available in medieval times.

Glass lenses for the medieval camera obscura would have just about been available. Until recently they were believed to have been produced in Europe from the end of the 13th Century. However, in 1998 archaeologists discovered some clear quartz disks at a Viking settlement in Sweden . These dated from 700-1000 AD. Although originally thought to be jewellery, it has since been found that they were sophisticated lenses.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/pda/A2875430?s_id=12&s_split=2

Here I'd like to point out that Da Vinci used "Silver Point" to draw sketches. This was a pencil like rod of silver that left trace amounts of silver in its path... to make a sketch.

Da Vinci also used Tempura, or egg albumen as a medium for painting. It is entirely plausible that the silver from his silver point and the albumen were mixed at some point and perhaps produced a light sensitive solution... which he observed and made note of.

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Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus