The Turin Shroud

Close-up of shroud face as it appears on the negative (c) 1978 Barrie M. Schwortz

A Genuine Article

The vast majority of the general public have been led to believe that the Turin Shroud is a fake. This view has been broadcast widely on television at the expense of the opposite view, so that the general public are not aware that many who are closely associated with Shroud research find it difficult to believe the carbon dating results. This article is an attempt to redress the balance. It is an attempt to consider the evidence – the strong pointers to the genuineness of the Shroud – an attempt to make those who claim it to be a fake, address the shortcomings of their hypotheses and to put aside theories that are not at all tenable. The Turin Shroud, revered by many as a relic of the life of Jesus Christ(as), was first photographed by Secondo Pia in 1898. He was amazed to find that the frontal image was an almost perfect negative. The Shroud indeed turned out to be a miracle. Then, and even now its image has not been fully explained, after the many thousands of hours of scientific research expended on it. Numerous scientific experts have studied the Shroud in minute detail. The evaluation of the results is startling, yet somehow, conclusions always seem to become very one­-sided when presented to the general public. The media has continuously presented the Shroud as a fake without giving any serious consideration to the evidence opposing such a view.

Unfortunately, in many cases, scientists who have presented results opposing the fake theorists have avoided making the most obvious conclusions from their observations in order to give the appearance of impartiality, which has led to confusion rather than clarity about the whole subject. This becomes apparent in the way results of the 1978 tests were published and then contended – or rather, first contended and then published. The report of The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) ended by stating:

‘In the end, the question of the authenticity of the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth remains open ended. We should all keep in mind that science is really not in a position to ever prove categorically that the Shroud is authentic…The question is left so that those who wish to believe it authentic are not hindered with scientific objection to doing so. However, without proof of authenticity, those who choose to believe the Shroud is not authentic are also free to do so without scientific objection, provided they do not assert a production mechanism that is excluded by the information now available.’ 1

What a travesty for scientific investigation. The most important question about the Shroud is left unattended, as if that truth is of no consequence to scientists. Thousands of man-hours went into these tests and the analysis of results, all to end with this diplomatic statement which appears only to condone the general view of the Church – saying, ‘we shall agree with you that science and faith should be kept apart as isolated entities, the one should not interfere with the other.’ At the same time this concluding attitude left open the gates to all kinds of nonsensical claims about the formation of the image. The STURP report contains so much evidence in favour of the authenticity of the Shroud (as we shall see below) that it is amazing that the above conclusion did not begin with the words:

‘We can find no evidence whatsoever against the view that this is the authentic Shroud which covered the body of Jesus of Nazareth because we have not found any evidence to support any proposed hypothesis that it is a fake…’

Alas, the important results of their tests gained little mention in the mass-media. The scientist involved in the STURP team cannot be blamed for presenting their report in a ‘professional scientific’ way. It was just that no-one seemed able to present their results in an exciting enough manner or in short enough time to attract the media attention the report deserved. The mentality of today’s television producers is that if you cannot put across an idea in 30 seconds or so you may as well not try. On the other side of the debate, whenever anyone with any sort of reputation in scientific circles declared the Shroud to be a fake, their views made world-wide headlines. Whether they had any real evidence for their assertions was beside the point. This was the case with Walter McCrone, who was present at the 1978 exhibition. Even before the STURP report was published he had declared the Shroud to be a fake. Needless to say, his remarks made headline news and the STURP report faded into anonymity.

Carbon Dating

However, McCrone’s view would seem to be supported by the carbon dating tests of 1988 after which the Shroud was again declared to be a forgery. Many Shroud researchers with scientific backgrounds raised objections against these results but they were made to appear to be flying in the face of the most concrete evidence. Far from being concrete this evidence is not as firm as the general public are led to believe.

In other cases where carbon dating has gone against archaeological evidence, has it been accepted as being totally predominant in overthrowing consideration of all the evidence against it? Perhaps the most spectacular case, though not broadcast, was when the Manchester Museum found that the linen wrapping a mummified body was dated 1000 years later than the body it wrapped. This result obviously meant that there was an error in the dating, but no explanation has yet been given for the discrepancy. We do not know how many other cases have gone unnoticed, where there was not very strong evidence on the side of the archaeological dating. Dr Rosalie David has very recently arranged for tests to be carried out on an ibis mummy and its linen wrapping from Manchester Museum collection. Although the results have not yet been published the indications are that the same anomalous results have been obtained – the linen appears to be much younger than the bird it wrapped2. No one yet understands why this should be so and until we do, it seems premature to declare the Turin Shroud a fake solely because of carbon dating results at the expense of all other evidence.

Prior to the 1988 carbon dating tests, preliminary tests were carried out in 1986, when six labs were each given 100mg fabric samples for a test run, without being told their age; one was Egyptian from 3000 BC and one Peruvian from 1200 AD. The dates of these samples were fairly well-established from archaeological evidence. The Zurich institute was 1000 years off the mark on one sample, because the cloth was not cleaned properly and was provided an additional sample to re-run its test. Furthermore, all the labs gave far too recent a date for the Peruvian sample. It is not clear how the conclusion was arrived at that carbon dating would be definitive after this experience, which was specifically designed to test the validity of two different methods of carbon dating. These results were off the mark, by archaeological reckoning, yet the labs involved were consistent in their dating. For the Peruvian sample they all provided a date that was too late. Did such a result not ring alarm bells to the advocates of carbon dating? It seems that consistency between the labs was all that was sought, never mind the archaeological evidence it contra­dicted. It did not seem to occur to anyone that a consistently wrong result needed to be analysed further. The evidence suggested that there was some mechanism that was causing a systematic error in these results.

These results in themselves would appear to be sufficient grounds for not relying too heavily on the carbon dating of the Turin Shroud, but some Turin Shroud researchers find other faults with the methods adopted. For instance, many of the recommendations of the scientists involved in the earlier non­-destructive tests of 1978 were not followed in the carbon dating tests of 1988. The most significant deviations were a) the tests were not carried out blind – all the labs knew which sample was the Turin Shroud; b) only three labs were used instead of the six originally recommended; c) there was not supposed to be any communication between the labs but it is known that this was not observed at levels lower than the principals of the labs concerned.

The Catholic Church did not escape criticism; it was now facing accusations of badly managing the testing procedures. Some (e.g. Kersten and Gruber) even presented evidence to support the possibility that samples had been switched while they were being packaged. It does seem strange that it took half an hour for two competent men to put nine pieces of linen into nine cylinders and screw on the lids. All this was done away from the cameras, making a mockery of video taping of the rest of the proceedings. Kersten and Gruber compare the photographs taken at the point where the samples were taken with those when the samples were received at the labs. They conclude that the samples must have been switched because they do not match, thread for thread. However, there may be other reasons for this. The fact that individual threads do not line up in each of the photographs could be due to the pictures having been taken from slightly different angles or due to the sample having been stretched before the second photograph was taken. The reader may refer to their book to make comparisons3.

Another accusation made by Kersten and Gruber against those responsible for taking the samples is the discrepancy in weights taken at the time of cutting the sample and the total of sample weights received by the three labs. This realisation apparently caused some embarrassment to Dr Tite and Cardinal Ballestrero, the Archbishop of Turin, the only two people in the room when the samples were being packed. After some hesitancy it was eventually explained that four samples were cut. It is amazing that this was not recorded at the time. What really happened to the fourth sample I doubt we shall ever know for sure – the debate about it is still going on today.

However, overall, there is little to be gained through pursuing such accusations since there is no way of proving claims of conspiracy. We must conclude that Dr Tite and Cardinal Ballestrero must be given the benefit of any doubt and should therefore be presumed innocent. This does not mean, however, that we can accept the carbon dating results without question. As stated above, the anomalies found in other carbon dating tests, although inexplicable as yet, are sufficient grounds for doubting the results if there is sufficient evidence elsewhere to promote such doubts. Thus, before coming to a conclusion about the Shroud we need to consider all the evidence contained in, and related to, this enigmatic piece of cloth.

Linen Studies

The cloth itself is good quality linen having a herringbone weave. This material was probably intended for clothing rather than as a burial Shroud. We have no other examples of this type of weave in burial cloths, which would generally have been of cheaper material with the normal one to one weave, but examples of 3 to 1 weave similar to that of the Shroud have been found in woollen fabrics dating as far back as 2000 BC. Linens more ancient than the Shroud also exist, some of which go back to 2000 BC. We also have linen samples from the Dead Sea Scrolls, so it was quite a common fabric at the time of Jesus(as). The Shroud’s size is 4.35m x 1.1m, dimensions which Ian Dickinson has shown to be 8 by 2 cubits, using the Babylonian cubit. This would have been the commercial cubit used in the 1st century. Linen samples are very rare even in collections from Medieval Europe and those that exist have been imported. Linda Wooley of the Victoria and Albert Museum claimed to know of only two linen samples in the herringbone weave from the first century, and both these were to be found in Israel4.

The linen of the Shroud contains some odd fibres of cotton which grows in the Middle East, yet there is no trace of any wool impurities. This strongly suggests that the cloth was manufactured in the Middle East rather than Europe. Syria or Palestine are the preferred locations, because of the particular type of cotton impurity found in the linen of the Shroud. Every European loom would have been used mainly for wool and had the cloth been produced in Europe we would have found significant woollen impurities in it. The cloth was almost certainly manufactured in Palestine or Syria.

Historical Evidence

Ian Wilson in his book The Turin Shroud (1978) has provided much circumstantial evidence that the face image of the Turin Shroud was known in much earlier times than 1260 AD, the earliest limit of the carbon dating tests, but such evidence cannot be considered con­clusive since if the Shroud was a fake the forger could have used earlier images for his model. However, a more complete assessment of the Shroud clearly stands against the proposition that it is a forgery. There is, however, one drawing in the Codex Pray of 1192 which provides strong historical evidence that puts the carbon dating out by at least seventy years from the declared 1260-1390 range of dates. The same cloth as the Turin Shroud is depicted in this drawing as is evident from the four burn holes arranged in an L-shape. These must have been caused much earlier, so that by the time this drawing was made the artist thought them to be an original feature of the cloth, present at the time Jesus(as) was wrapped in it. Let us review the results of various studies on the Turin Shroud and clarify what is evidence and what is not. What are the relative merits of the various forms of evidence presented and how are we to evaluate them?

The mystery of the Shroud has really only been fully appreciated in the twentieth century. Even to this date, with all our scientific advance­ment, it seems to have defied all attempts at reproduction. Some have got close to reproducing some features of the image on the Shroud, but to explain all the features is difficult. This in itself stands in opposition to the theory of forgery. Why on earth would a mediaeval forger even wish to produce a negative image rather than a positive, and then such a faint image that can only be appreciated when the observer stands ten feet away from it. Even so, if it was forged by human cunning in medieval times, then someone today should be able to reproduce such an image. But that is not the whole problem; there are numerous other details not all related to the image which have to be explained before it can be accepted as a forgery. If we examine the results of various researchers of this century, the problems facing the fake theorists will become evident.

Pollen Evidence

In 1969 Max Frei, a Swiss forensic scientist undertook to take sticky tape samples from the Shroud, in order to analyse the pollens found upon it. He was a pioneer in this field. Pollen samples from clothing can be used to provide evidence regarding the localities through which it may have passed. In the tests of 1978 further samples were taken and the results tabulated by Professor Werner Bulst S.J. Does this provide us any further evidence about the history of the Shroud and its movements? It does, but the evidence of the pollen has been put aside by those who believe the Shroud to be a forgery, with the excuse that Sahara winds may have carried these pollens to Italy. A total of 58 pollen types taken from the Shroud have been identified. Of these pollens 45 come from plants found in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. 17 out of the 58 pollen types are found in France and Italy. Obviously there is some overlap of pollen types found in different locations. But it is important to note that, of the 45 which could have come from Jerusalem, 38 could not have come from Europe, whereas only 10 pollen types are peculiar to Europe to the exclusion of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Thus, there is a significant majority of pollen types found on the Shroud that could not have come from plants in France or Italy, while the known history of the Shroud places it in Europe since the early 1300s. So why do we find more non-European pollen types on the Shroud than those of European origin? Looking at the whole spectrum of pollens found on the Shroud we can say that the pollen evidence corresponds with a jour­ney from Jerusalem to Edessa to Constantinople and to Europe, which was the generally accepted view about the history of the cloth prior to the carbon dating tests. The pollen evidence appears to be inconsistent with the cloth having remained in Europe for all its life. Even if we allow for the uncertainty of its whereabouts from 1290 to say 1330, we can say that the pollen evidence is still inconsistent with its having spent less than 6% of its life outside of Europe. But, as mentioned above, some have presented an explanation of this by suggesting that the pollen from the Middle East could have been carried to Europe by Sahara winds. Is this really a possibility? To understand this we need to understand the climatic conditions prevailing in the Mediterranean area. During the 6 summer months the Etesian winds blowing from the north prevent a transport of pollen from Jerusalem to Europe. The Sirocco winds of the Sahara can sometimes, though very rarely bring dust and pollens to Europe. But a transport of pollens from the Middle East is highly improbable.

Prof. Werner Bulst S.J., presenting his study of the pollen evidence, states:

‘Pollen grains can come upon the Shroud only when it is exposed in the open. It would have been a stupendous miracle if, precisely in the few days when the Shroud was being exposed storms would have brought pollens over a distance of 2500 km and – even more miraculous – if those winds were carrying many more pollens from the Middle East than from the European environment. Moreover, the pollens on the Shroud are from plants which bloom in different seasons of the year. Therefore, the same improbable ‘accident’ must have happened repeatedly.5

Now if the pollen findings really do not constitute any evidence at all and are totally meaningless, then those who propose such a view should at least produce similar results from some other material which is known to have been in Europe since the fourteenth century. They could perhaps test the Cope D’anjou. This Cope has a backing of linen quite similar to that of the Shroud. Its full history is known. Therefore, it should provide us a good control sample.

Findings of the 1978 Tests

In 1978 two teams of scientists, one American (the STURP Team) and one Italian, carried out extensive non-destructive tests on the Turin Shroud. The conclusions reached were that:

  1. The body image is made up of yellowed surface fibrils of the linen that are at more advanced stages of degradation than the non-image linen.
  2. No evidence was found in the body image of any added substances that could have contributed to the yellow colour of the fibrils that form the image.
  3. No signs of brush marks could be found on the image areas, and no pigment or binder could be found except in very insignificant amounts and of a sporadic nature.
  4. Under ultra-violet light the burn marks on the Shroud fluoresce reddish to yellow-green, whereas the remaining image area, including the blood marks, does not. This test proves that the image was not created through a process of scorching.
  5. X-ray fluorescence analysis failed to detect any presence of silver or chromium, photosensitive substances normally used in modern photographic plates or paper.
  6. The blood images on the cloth are made of blood. When some blood was removed from the image area it was found that the linen under it was whiter than the surrounding areas, so the blood had protected the cloth from whatever mechanism caused the image. Thus the blood was applied first and the discoloration of the fibrils came later. Later tests have indicated that the blood was real human blood of type AB. This piece of evidence on its own would appear to be against the hypothesis of a man-made process having created the image.
  7. There were no major distortions of the image which could account for its formation by a contact method. If such were the case the face would have been broadened and we would see an image of the ears. Thus a projection in directions at right angles to the face appears necessary, as would be the case for a photograph, but there is a significant difference to a normal photographic negative.
  8. Photographs taken of the Shroud were later analysed by Dr Jackson and Jumper using a VP- image analyser, a computerised method of analysing photographs taken on the moon (for example) which enables distances to be calculated from the intensity of reflected light. The light source has to be uni-directional, and such a process cannot be used on ordinary photographs where light reflected onto the object from its surroundings would distort the depth information. In normal photographs the image intensity is proportional to the brightness of an element of the object. For the Shroud it was found that there was a correlation between density of image on the Shroud and the distance it would have been from the body. Image density was inversely proportional to cloth-body distance and fibrils were discoloured up to 4 cm from the body while beyond that distance there was no discoloration of the linen.

These then are the major findings of the STURP team’s tests, which, when considered in their entirety, indicate that the image on the Shroud is a unique one. Any hypothesis about the image formation must therefore take into account all the factors mentioned above.

Fake Theory 1—A Painting

From the earliest times, fake theorists have maintained that the Shroud image was a painting. In 1978, before the STURP team reported their results, micro analyst Walter McCrone made the same claim – that it was a painting. He had gained notoriety through his assertion that the Vinland map was a fake. This map was first believed to be a mediaeval Viking map from a fifteenth century manuscript. McCrone pronounced upon the map after microscopic analysis of a very small sample of its ink. He was later proved wrong on his findings6.

McCrone proposed the painting theory because of the presence of iron oxide particles on the Shroud. He addressed a lecture on his theory to the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) in 1978, which he began by stating that his study begins with the belief and knowledge that any forger must inevitably make some mistake somewhere and thus give himself away. However, he failed in the end to provide any proof of any mistake made by the forger of the Turin Shroud. The only evidence he came up with was the presence of iron oxide, but the presence of this substance has been explained by the STURP team as possibly having come from the blood particles on the cloth or from the original retting of the linen in water containing iron oxide (e.g. the Red Sea). Furthermore, McCrone himself did not claim that the iron oxide was the element that produced the image on the Shroud. Its presence is not at all related to the discoloration of the linen fibrils and it is found on non image areas as well.

McCrone also commissioned an artist friend to make a finger painting of the image on the Shroud from a life size photograph of the original, which he claimed faith­fully replicated the kind of method that could have been used to produce the Shroud image. The problem with McCrone’s picture was that it was produced by a twentieth century artist who was copying the negative image of the Shroud, but what was the mediaeval artist copying when he made his image? He could only have had reference to a positive image. Even a modern day artist could not easily produce a negative from a positive subject that would on conversion to a positive image be so anatomically accurate. After his lecture to the BSTS in 1978 when Victor McCrone was questioned about whether his image would pass the VP-8 test, he quite nonchalantly declared that he thought it would. No one seemed to pick him up on this and ask him to have it done for his finger paintings to prove his point, (ref. Tape of his lecture to the BSTS). A further point of interest is that, according to the STURP report, the artist would have had to apply the blood marks on the image prior to carrying out his discoloration process, which would appear to be a very unlikely event for a mediaeval forger.

A detailed analysis of the blood flows strongly suggests that the body had been crucified and these again cannot be reconciled to a forgery. This is especially so of the blood runs on the wrist. An artist of the thirteenth-century would prob­ably have shown the nails passing through the palms, as do all paintings of the crucifixion from that time. The two distinct directions of blood flow have been shown experimentally to corre­spond to what would occur if the person was actually hung on a cross7. The blood is real human blood of type AB. Would such details be needed to fool a fourteenth century audience, or an earlier one?

The image of the soles of the feet as it appear on the Shroud is very difficult to envisage as a forgery. If we imagine a body being laid on a long cloth which then passes over the head and front of the body, we can imagine that the sole image should either not appear or that it should come with the image of the top of the legs, not the bottom. Furthermore, would a forger of the thirteenth or fourteenth century have gone to the trouble of putting traces of dirt on the image of the feet to be picked up by future analysis?

The STURP report concluded that: The data, taken together, do not support the hypothesis that the images on the Shroud are due to an artist8. This report and the analysis of Sam Pellicori was decisive against Walter McCrone’s suggestion of the use of iron oxide as pigment, yet their findings got no mention in the news headlines alongside McCrone’s assertions. Of course, they were not sensational enough for that.

Fake Theory 2—A Photograph

Picknett and Prince propose that Leonardo da Vinci produced the Shroud image using a pinhole camera. Apart from the docu­mentary evidence that shows the cloth’s presence at least one hundred years before Da Vinci was even born, their image formation mechanism is also not supported by the evidence of the STURP results. Picknett and Prince believe that egg tempera was applied to the cloth, the cloth was then exposed via a pin-hole camera to a bust of Leonardo’s own head and then the cloth was lightly scorched in front of a fire. They only seek to explain the image of the face, how the body image was formed is left to our imagination. The STURP tests have shown that the scorch marks on the cloth, due to the fire of 1532, fluoresce under ultra-violet light, whereas the remaining image area does not. Therefore, out goes Picknett and Prince’s theory.

Dr Nick Allen proposes that the Shroud image could have been produced with twelfth century materials and methods, if some very clever people could have put the various technologies together. He claims the image is a photograph made with a giant camera using a darkened room as the body of the camera and a lens of quartz crystal of approximately twelve inches in diameter. He has produced a photograph similar to the Turin Shroud with this technology, using linen cloth dipped in a silver salt solution as the film, and a statue hung in the open air for four days at a distance from the lens. His theory was given wide coverage in the UK, on News broadcasts and the Tomorrow’s World programme on 9 September 1995, followed soon after by the Everyman programme. He claims that if the cloth was then soaked in a dilute solution of ammonia (e.g. in urine) then all traces of the silver salts would have been removed and the image fixed.

The principle of a camera obscura may have been known at this time. Ibn al-Hatim (11th century) and Roger Bacon (c1250) knew the principle. In 1437 Alberti used the method to view, within a darkened room, paintings outside the room. But did anyone put together the technology for making a photo­graph in the twelfth century? If so, why have we never known about it? Why did it have to be rediscovered at the end of the nineteenth century? Dr Allen explains that such knowledge was kept secret in those days and would not have been widely broadcast. The state of Europe was so unstable, due to wars, pestilence, etc. that the few people who knew of these methods could have easily been wiped out over a short period, and the knowledge lost with them.

We are led to believe that the first thing this twelfth century genius thought of when he discovered the revolutionary process of photo­graphy was to make a forgery of the Shroud of Jesus(as). This is the only such image that has been uncovered. The sole motivating force behind the discovery of photography was to perpetrate this one single fraud. No other useful applications were found for this technology. Why would this ingenious forger produce a fake faint negative image that could hardly be recognised for what it was supposed to be until another negative of it was made with the use of modern photography? Surely he could have deceived the twelfth century public in a much simpler yet more convincing way appro­priate to that time?

Perhaps the hoax is not aimed so much at the twelfth century public as to those of the twentieth century. He was indeed an exceptional forger for he had, quite indepen­dently, worked out that Jesus(as) must have been nailed through the wrists as against the evidence of pre-renaissance images of the crucified Jesus(as) depicting the nails passing through the hands. Even to contemplate a forger first using a negative plate of size 4.35m x 1.1m and making two images on it is mind-boggling. He also went to the trouble of putting the blood spots on the cloth in the right places before forming the photographic image so that the cloth in those areas did not leave any sign of similar discoloration to the rest of the image – again for the benefit of twentieth century scientists. Then he went to the trouble of leaving traces of dirt on the soles of the feet, to be picked up by future micro­scopic analysis. How did he manage to get an image of the soles of the feet with the rear of the legs? Again, he must have gone to great trouble to match the front and rear of the images. All these things are explained if the image was formed by a real person lying in the cloth with the ends taken up against the soles of the feet.

The photographic theories may be able to reproduce images somewhat similar to the face, but they do not explain the kind of image found on the rest of the body of the Turin Shroud. For instance the image of the back on the Shroud is not at all like the photograph produced by Dr Nick Allen. Finally, neither Picknett & Prince’s nor Dr. Allen’s image would contain image densities that indicate the cloth-to-body distances revealed by the VP-8 image analyser. We present this challenge to these photograph theorists. Have these images processed and let all see the results.

Conclusion

If the carbon dating is correct it creates as big a dilemma as before. How could such an image have been forged? It has been proved beyond doubt that it is not a painting. Dr Nicholas Allen would have us believe that it is a photograph. Even if it was remotely possible that such technology existed in the middle ages, it is not conceivable that a medieval forger could go to such lengths and anticipate future advances in science to authenticate his forgery. How did blood flows appear on the body in two directions. If he used a dummy and applied real blood to it, it should have shown a direc­tionality related to a person lying down, not of someone who had hung on the cross. And if he applied the blood to the dummy or a live person in an upright position there should not be any flows on the cloth indicating a flow in the horizontal position. Would he have gone to the trouble of authenticating his forgery with the use of human blood, when his audience would not have known the difference if he had used the blood of a sheep or a cow? Why would he have gone to the trouble of leaving traces of dirt on the soles of the feet? How did he know about pollens and consequently took the cloth through Palestine and Syria to catch sufficient pollen types of the area to fool the twentieth century scientists. The list of such impon­derables can grow quite long. All such evidence contradicts the carbon dating results, yet it gets little attention in the media.

Now, if the Shroud is a genuine article no-one can deny that the image is one of Jesus(as) the Messiah. Who else was put on the cross with a crown of thorns on his head (or something very similar); with a spear wound to the side; whose legs were not broken; who was important enough that his followers would preserve a piece of cloth associated with him?

The possibility of a freak accident of nature producing the image at any time cannot be ruled out. Such an accident could have happened in the thirteenth century as easily as it could have happened in the 1st century. But if such an accident did happen in the middle ages, then we have to ask: who was crucified in the middle ages; with a crown of thorns on his head; with nails through the wrists, something unknown to the artists of the time; with a spear wound to the side; whose legs were not broken – the normal mode of bringing about death in Roman crucifixion; and who was important enough that his followers would preserve a piece of cloth associated with him.

Some have proposed the idea that the man was a crusader, (Knight Templar) who was executed by the Saracens, in a mock crucifixion. Even the crucifixion of Christian prisoners of war by the Japanese has been cited as somehow indicating precedence for the Saracens of the Middle Ages. What a ridiculous idea! There is not a shred of evidence for making such a claim. There is no historical record of the Muslims ever having used such a method of execution. Even if they had, would they have bothered to preserve his Shroud? It is so surprising how claims made without any evidence can gain so much publicity.

Muslims hold Jesus(as) in high regard, as a great Prophet of God. The psychology involved in mock crucifixions is something totally outside the range of possibilities for Muslims to contemplate. Such an act would only be mocking the sanctity of Jesus(as) Christ himself. For a Muslim to do such a thing would mean that he was ready to make a mockery of his own faith.

Considering the evidence in its totality, in the end, one can only arrive at the view that there is a far greater probability that this is the actual Shroud that wrapped Jesus(as) than that the Carbon dating results of 1988 are correct.

References

1. A copy of this report is found in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1984.

2. See BSTS Newsletter No. 44, Nov/Dec 1996.

3. The Jesus Conspiracy, Kersten and Gruber, Element Books, (1995).

4. Ibid. p.73.

5. The Pollen Grains on the Shroud of Turin— article in Shroud Spectrum International No. 10, March 1984. p. 20.

6. See BSTS No. 43, June /July 1996, pp. 22-25.

7. Rodney Hoare in his book The Turin Shroud is Genuine, Souvenir Press, 1994.

8. Quoted from the STRUP report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1984