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Skip to comments.Review of Discovery Channel Documentary “Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence”
Posted on 01/21/2009 12:08:20 AM PST by Swordmaker
As a child in Chicago in the early 1950s, I watched my first TV special about the Shroud of Turin---shown there on Easter Sunday. I was amazed by the mysterious linen cloth, when all we really knew was that it had the shocking image of a crucified man complete with what appeared to be blood stains and bruise marks, that the image seemed to be almost a photographic negative, and that the provenance of the Shroud was highly questionable. After all, a Bishop had written in 1389 that the Shroud was just a painting and that he knew the unnamed artist. Still, I sat there in child-like fascination staring at the image of the face on the Shroud on our old Muntz TV screen wondering how an artist could paint that. Over 50 years later, Im still wondering.
As of today, a host of scientists, textile experts and others have closely examined and even carbon-dated the cloth. After all that we may be no closer to solving the mystery of the Shroud of Turin than we were in the 1950s. There have been numerous TV documentaries since that first one I saw in Chicago. They have been shown on the commercial channels, on PBS, on the National Geographic Channel, and others. In my opinion, none of them were as thoroughly researched and presented as clearly with easy- to-understand imagery and animations as the recent Discovery Channels Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence. If you can only see one Shroud documentary, this is it.
Unlike some other televised presentations, it does not subject viewers to the usual outrageous parade of skeptics and deniers who have made a career out of writing books and speeches ridiculing the Shroud---while studiously ignoring evidence for its authenticity and treating it like a Bigfoot sighting. Instead, the Discovery Channel presents the Shroud facts as we know them to date and lets the viewers reach their own conclusions.
Results from the so-called STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) group of scientists, who spent 120 consecutive hours studying the cloth in 1978 without cutting or marking it, are presented in language that a general audience will appreciate. The overwhelming consensus from a host of chemical, spectral, and X-ray measurements of the Shroud was that the image was not painted or dyed. There was clear evidence that the apparent blood stains were really blood; the bodily secretion bilirubin was also detected, consistent with flesh wounds. However, STURP unfortunately was unable to fulfill its major goal of explaining how the mysterious image of a crucified man was created---a mystery that endures to this day. Barrie Schwortz, the official STURP documenting photographer and one of the key participants in the Discovery show, has stated that if any skeptic can create an image on linen that matches the Shrouds physical and chemical properties, he would never discuss it again (Schwortz is also the Webmaster for the original Shroud of Turin website). To date, not one skeptic has come close.
After Pope John Paul II had decided it was finally the right time to carbon-date the Shroud, many believed we would get some answers at last. When a sneering panel of university professors and carbon-dating specialists announced in 1988 that the Shroud was a medieval (1260-1390!) fraud---and one of them added that those who refused to accept this result should join the Flat Earth Society---it seemed the mystery of the Shroud had ended with a thud. Well, not quite. As predicted by the skeptics, a variety of theories to explain away the medieval date was proposed by many who had been interested in the Shroud for years and by some who were convinced it had been wrapped around none other than Jesus Christ in the First Century. Nearly all the theories to explain how carbon dating could be off by over a thousand years, some proposed by what a STURP scientist called the lunatic fringe of believers, have been shown to be invalid. However, one of the theories seemed to require an error so unimaginable that I had dismissed it long ago. This was the notion that somehow the Turin authorities had selected a sample of the Shroud for carbon dating that was anomalous---a part of the cloth that had been repaired or rewoven in medieval times, which could explain the dating result. This theory was created because of Turins own insistence that the samples be taken from just one region of the Shroud instead of from several regions, as had been originally planned.
Could the Turin Shroud authorities have made such an elementary mistake---and would the three eminent universities performing the carbon-dating have gone along with the test from only one region of the Shroud? My initial doubts about this theory have been swept away after watching the Discovery documentary, which presents chilling evidence that such a combination of mistakes and misjudgments may indeed have taken place in 1988. An unlikely pair of non-scientists, Sue Benford and Joe Marino, discovered the key evidence that the sample used for carbon-dating the Shroud to medieval times may well have been partly or wholly a rewoven patch from that era. Among numerous discrepancies identified by Benford and subsequently verified by textile experts (who examined close-up photos of the cloth without realizing it was the Shroud), Benford also observed distinct tell-tale color changes in the Shrouds chemical composition map called the Quad-Mosaic image that was originally produced by the 1978 STURP team. This image revealed a distinctly different color than the rest of the Shroud in the region where the carbon-dating sample was taken---suggesting a different chemical composition.
This region was immediately adjacent to one of the missing corner sections that would have been ripe for medieval relic taking as suggested by Benford and Marino in a peer-reviewed paper in Chemistry Today. Benford also noticed that the herringbone weave---so consistent over the rest of the Shroud---seemed misaligned in the region where the carbon-dating sample was taken.
Chemist Ray Rogers, who had given up on the Shroud after the carbon dating was announced, was certain Sue Benford and Joe Marinos theory was just another lunatic fringe idea---until he looked at the fibers from the area of the carbon-dating sample, compared them to the rest of the Shroud, and saw major differences. Rogers, who died several years ago, concluded their theory was correct. He is extensively interviewed in the Discovery documentary and provides key scientific data to back up Benford and Marinos observations. Rogers compiled all his Shroud research results in an excellent book published after his death, A Chemists Perspective on the Shroud of Turin (lulu.com, 2008).
In my opinion, any objective viewer of this Discovery documentary will conclude that enough questions have been raised about the 1988 carbon-dating of the Shroud that there is an urgent need to redo these tests so the medieval fraud claims can be confirmed or rejected, once and for all.
It doesn’t seem genuine to me.
I always thought it was strange how Mel Gibson used it in his movie, The Passion of the Christ, but that’s just my opinion.
All anyone has to do is carbon date a couple of other sections of the shroud. Methinks no one really wants the answer here to come forth.
On what do you base your opinion?
bump for later read
You like the carbon dating?
That may no longer be directly possible. It seems that after the "restoration" work done in 2002, the Shroud was placed into its casket after the wood of the casket had been immersed in Thymol... a high carbon content preservative... that may have irretrievably contaminated the Shroud.
However, there is a way to date the Shroud indirectly. During that same "restoration," the idiot who did it, Madame Bechtold Fluery-Lemburg, trimmed away some scorched areas of the Shroud that had been burned in the fire of 1535, under the mistaken opinion that the Shroud was still buring! Those trimmings have been stored and are not contaminated with Thymol. Certainly using those already excised pieces of the Shroud would do no further damage to the cloth.
Incidentally, an unauthorized C-14 test was done on a thread from the main body of the Shroud. It dated to the 1st Century, Plus or minus 50 years.
No one even KNEW it had a figure in it until recently.
The carbon dating by the three ASM labs in Oxford, Zurich, and Arizona were accurate... on what they tested.
However, what they tested was not 100% original Shroud material but rather a melange of skillfully rewoven old original Linen and newer Cotton material from the 16th Century.
This hypothesis has now been shown conclusively to be the case in peer-reviewed AND duplicated science. In fact, that is main subject of the documentary being reviewed in the above article.
One side of the tested sample was made of un-dyed, natural Linen (a product of the Flax plant) but the other side, and a portion mixed with old un-dyed Linen in the re-weaving area, is made entirely of dyed-to-match Cotton. between these two areas of pure Linen and pure Cotton is an area of varying width of threads of both materials that have been skillfully spun together to join them invisibly and rewoven to match the original three over one herringbone pattern of the Shroud.
The so-called textile expert Mdm. Fleury-Lemberg (the same one who orchestrated the disastrous 2002 "restoration" of the Shroud) claims she has examined the area where the patch was taken and says she "finds no evidence of any darning", which would, according to her, "show threads hanging on the backside of the Shroud." She further claims that the technique of "French Invisible Reweaving" does not, and never did exist. Unfortunately for Mdm. F-L, a small volume titled The Technique of French Invisible Reweaving," published in 1954, demonstrating the technique (which is STILL being done by fine art restoration specialists today) long before the now proved theory that such a technique had been used to repair the corner of the Shroud where the C-14 sample was taken was proposed in 2000. In addition, her assertion that she would see the "darn" demonstrates here complete lack of knowledge of the technique.
The Carbon 14 labs did excellent work... but ignored the red flags. The major red flag was that the tests of four subsamples of a supposedly homogenous item, which should have reported dates well within the margin of error of the testing (+/- 25 years or so) instead were spread over more than 190 years... 1235AD, 1246AD, 1326AD to 1430AD. To make the red flag even more obvious, the oldest and the youngest test results came from the same lab... the one in Arizona which is considered the most experienced and most accurate of all of them! The Arizona lab was given two of the four samples. These were sub-samples taken from the ends of the main sample with the Zurich and Oxford labs getting one sample from between the two Arizona sub-samples.
The proportion of old Linen to new Cotton varies from 44/60 percent to 60/40 percent in the C14 samples and completely accounts for the anomalous ages (which went unremarked) of the various sub-samples reported by the three labs in the 1988 tests, with the younger reported dates coming from a subsample with a larger portion of newer material, while the older reported dates coming from a sample with a larger portion of older material. Harry Gove, the inventor of the Atomic Mass Spectrometry technique of Carbon dating used on the Shroud samples, when asked how old the original material would have to be if it were contaminated with 40% 16th Century material to give a date of 1260AD. He did some calculations and said "First Century, give or take 100 years." This was confirmed:
" Ronald Hatfield, a scientist at Beta Analytic, the worlds largest radiocarbon dating service, a merging of threads from AD 1500 into a 2,000 year old piece of linen would augment the C-14 content, such that a 60/40 ratio of new material to old, determined by mass, would result in a C-14 age of approximately AD 1210 (Beta Analytic Laboratories, 2000).
So, yes, I like the carbon date... but not the abysmal sampling done that broke the agreed protocols for the C14 testing and took the sample to be tested from the worst possible site on the Shroud.
If by "recently" you mean 944AD... or even the second century.
The Sermon of Gregory Referendarius, Arch Deacon of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople contains descriptions of the image on the Shroud. The Hymn of the Pearl, found in the Gospel of Thomas, dated to the 2nd Century, describes the grave clothes as being like a mirror with Christ observing himself, both front and back sides of himself.
The image has always been there... what we did not know until Secondo Pia photographed it for the first time in 1898, was that the image was apparently a negative image and when looked at on the negative photographic plate, it was a positive image.
it’s what I meant...the NEGATIVE image.
I don't know why, but my instincts would wrap the body .. and IF I were to fold it ... it would be from the feet up.
Do you have any other info on that thanks
I beleive this must be the burial cloth of Jesus...doesn’t seem to be any other explaination.
Thanks for the ping!
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