Skip to comments.Surprising new study on Shroud of Turin
Posted on 02/26/2005 8:43:02 PM PST by ETERNAL WARMING
Surprising new study on Shroud of Turin Simple technique could have been used to produce image
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted: February 26, 2005 1:19 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Rench © 2005 Assist News Service
MOSCOW, Idaho The Shroud of Turin has long baffled scientists and scholars, Christians and skeptics for over seven centuries. The cloth bears a photonegative image of a man crucified and is thought by many to be the miraculously preserved burial cloth of Christ. Over the years, skeptics have been unable to convincingly demonstrate how any medieval forger could have produced such an image.
N.D. Wilson, a fellow of literature at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho, believes that he has done just that.
"The Shroud has always been particularly mysterious because the image is both three-dimensional and a photonegative," Wilson says. "Artists are simply not able to produce images like that on their own, and so many conclude the Shroud is an authentic relic of Christ's resurrection. What I've done is demonstrate how easy it could have been for a medieval to create a three-dimensional photonegative."
Wilson, who describes his experiment in an article published in Books and Culture, (March/April, 2005) as well as on his website, began his experiment by painting faces on glass. The painted panes of glass were then set on top of linen and left in the sun for various lengths of time. Dr. Scott Minnich, a microbiologist well-known in Intelligent Design circles, provided Wilson with scientific advice on structuring his experiment. Minnich was not expecting the results the experiment produced.
"The success of these experiments was a surprise to me," Minnich said. "And as Nate [Wilson] aptly concludes in his paper, it doesn't disprove the Shroud's authenticity. However, it does show an alternative hypothesis for its making that has not been considered to my knowledge. And I don't think he goes beyond the data in his interpretation."
Commenting on Wilson's lack of scientific credentials, Minnich said, "It is the irony of science that often someone out of the mainstream shoots an outside shot with such accuracy."
Though the images Wilson produced look remarkably similar to the Shroud of Turin, he does not believe he has proved the relic to be a fraud.
"I believe it to have been faked. But that's not something I can prove," he said. "What I have demonstrated is that in order to produce an image like the one on the Shroud, nothing more is required than the cloth itself, and a painting on glass. All things available to a medieval. A forger would have three-dimensionally encoded a photonegative onto cloth, without even being aware of the completeness of his art, or for how long he would be confusing the rest of us."
Antonio Lombatti, a fellow researcher of medieval church history at the Deputazione di Storia Patria in Parma, Italy, was quite interested in Wilson's findings.
"I am eager to examine his results under the microscope to check the chemical properties of his shroud. What I really find interesting about Wilson's experiment is that his shroud has encoded 3D data even if it was not produced with a real face or a bas-relief."
Wilson said that his faith has surprised people: "Im a Trinitarian Christian. I believe in the Resurrection and all that it means for this world. Either the Shroud is genuine or, as I believe, it is a lie about a great truth. I think Christians should want to see religious fraud exposed wherever we can find it."
Scientists from around the world have already begun requesting samples of Wilson's shrouds. When asked if he would distribute samples from his experiments, Wilson was unsure.
I haven't thought that far ahead."
One of Wilson's Shrouds, as it appears to the eye (left) and as it appears in photonegative (right)
I see... Well if it's a "terrain map", then how do you explain the fact that your "terrain map" shows that the guy in the shroud image has what look like crab eyestalks prominently jutting out from his eyeballs where his pupils should be?
Hint: It's not actually a terrain map, but flat images recognizable as representations of 3D objects (like a human face, for example) will of necessity contain data that can give a reasonable facsimile of a 3D shape when processed appropriately. However, certain aspects of the flat image (like dark pupils in a light eyeball) will give spurious 3D "data" and break the illusion of an actual "terrain map".
Or if not, what's standing in the way of such tests?
Part of the history of the shroud falls more into an area where I have a little bit of knowledge, and that's artistic restoration. Prior to approximately the 1930's restoring work meant making it look like new. For this reason, after the fire, etc, when restoration work was done, the restorers attempted to make the shroud look new. Historical accuracy was not one of their concerns, and, of course, they could not have known that future examiners would look at weaving techniques and use some unknown at the time dating system. If the shroud got frayed, it was repaired.
Much of the second half of the twentieth century restorers have been removing the "restoring" of greek and roman statues. It used to be common practice to restore arms, legs, etc., with no regard for what the original looked like. Later restorers removed the repairs. This left many statues without heads or arms, but all the remaining work is now work done by the original artist (think about Ted Turner "fixing" movies like Casablanca by colorizing them).
This is one area where I think some of the scientific researchers have honestly moved into an area where they have less expertise. I don't think they are deliberately trying to mislead, but I do think there are several issues for them, and I think it colors their judgement.
First, many of the researchers assume that the shroud is a fake, and therefore look for those results. Second, finding a date of 1st century AD could be extremely embarassing for them. One of the common tenants of science today, for many, is that it rejects any possibility of the supernatural. Therefore, a naturalistic explanation MUST be found. Third, as I mentioned earlier, several of the researchers were undoubtedly not familiar with medieval restoration techniques, and discounting of these techniques could easily lead even a non-biased researcher to look at restored areas and assume they are part of the original.
That was the point of my original post. If the shroud is fake, it is a fake produced by wrapping the object around a three dimensional item. The glass technique suggested in the original article assumes three dimensional knowledge by a painter that simply did not exist in the 1300s, and use of photographic negative techniques that didn't exist until the early 1800s.
One area I've never seen explored is whether the wrapping technique used was the one commonly used by Jews of the first century, and also whether the cloth making technique was one used during the first century. While not conclusive, these examinations should be non-destructive.
The concept of historical accuracy did not become common until approximately one generation after the invention of the camera. That's why, for examply, you see Renassiance paintings of Jewish slaves dressed like fourteenth century Italian court ladies and Roman guards dressed like fifteenth century French militamen. People simply didn't think in terms of historical accuracy. They assumed everyone had always done things pretty much the way they had.
I've never seen much data on this aspect of the shroud, and I think it could be extremely enlightening.
The STURP members (although STURP itself has been disbanded) have made repeated requests to the Catholic Church to allow further Carbon 14 testing. Permission is not forthcoming. Some have been informed the church is waiting for more refinements in the procedure. Since the first request for a C14 test, the amount of material needing to be destroyed has decreased from over two square feet to just a few square centimeters. The church may be waiting for the requirement to be reduced even further before allowing testing.
Or if not, what's standing in the way of such tests?
Permission from the Shroud's owner... the Pope.
It might interest you that an unauthorized C14 test of a thread extracted from the Shroud before the STURP study (STURP's permission to have access to the Shroud precluded any destructive testing) was performed without permission. The thread was taken from the same area as the Raes and 1988 samples. The thread in question ran horizontally across both the Raes and 1988 sample locations before they were cut from the Shroud.
The interesting thing is that this thread was cut into two pieces and both were tested... one half reported an age of 1000 years (+/-75 years)... the other half reported an age of 1700 years (same degree of confidence). No record was kept of which end was which or the orientation of the thread in situ. I suspect that the younger half included a large percentage of "patch" while the other only a small amount. The large (150 year) spread of each date is because the thread was much smaller than what would normally be tested to get a higher degree of confidence.
We don't have to explain it because it doesn't have "crab eyestalks prominently jutting out". It is well known that the image on the shroud shows that something has been placed on the eyes, probably to keep the eyelids closed.
First Century Jewish burial practices included such an object... sometimes a potsherd, other times a small coin. Some Shroud researchers claim that under enhancement the object on the right eyelid is a Pontius Pilate Lituus Lepton, minted from AD 29 to AD 32. Others claim what is seen is on the same order as finding bunny rabbits in clouds because of the low resolution and the high noise factor from the weave of the linen.
After publication of the enhanced photographs showing the purported coin's inscription, it was noted that there appeared to be a misspelling in the Latin inscription (CAI instead of the expected UKAI)... this was immediately jumped on as proof of an error by the medieval forger by shroud debunkers. However, AFTER the publication of the photos with the misspelling, six Pontius Pilate Leptons of known provenance have been unearthed with the exact same misspelling.
My position is that I have seen the coin on some enhanced photographs... and not seen it on others. It may be an artifact of the enhancement, although the circumstantial evidence of the identification of a misspelled word that is later shown to be accurate to a very rare version of the coin might lead some credibility to the claim.
Some recent enhancement workers have proposed that the less clear object on the left eyelid is a Julia Lepton, minted only in AD 29 to honor Tiberius Ceasar's wife Juia. They claim 73 points of congruence.
This has been researched and the answer is that they did indeed shroud their dead in such a manner... although usually not with such a fine cloth. Most shroud material was an inexpensive one over one weave. The Shroud is a three over one herringbone twill weave. The threads are handspun. Such a cloth could have taken a master weaver several weeks to produce.
In answer to your question about the technique being used in the 1st Century:
Recently, Mechthild Flury Lemberg, a former curator of the Abegg Foundation textile museum in Switzerland and a leading authority on historic textiles, has found a strong similarity between the Shroud's fabric and fragments of cloth produced in the Middle East about 2,000 years ago. Lemberg has likened stitching on both hems of the Shroud and on a lengthy seam down one side to that on cloth found in the ruins of Masada. Masada was a Jewish stronghold overlooking the Dead Sea and Jordan. The Masada fabrics have been dated at between 40 BCE and 73 CE.
It should be noted that Madam Flury Lemberg was also the moving force behind the ill advised 2002 shroud restoration that removed all the charred portions, ironed it, removed the patches placed on the Shroud by the Nuns of Poor Clare in the 14th Century, and replaced the Holland cloth backing. The purported reason for the restoration was the erroneous theory that the charred areas were still expanding under some kind of oxidation. Her work on "restoring" the Shroud was done under less than scientific methods... she handled the shroud with bare hands, used weights to stretch wrinkles out, trimmed charred areas with scissors and scraped others, power vacuumed the shroud and steam cleaned some soiled areas. Most other researchers were horrified. The wrinkles, soil, and chars were part of the Shroud's history and should have been retained.
Juia = Julia...
Oh you horrible man! How dare you bring verifiable information about the real world into this discussion? Why must you always be so rational? Are you part of some kind of conspiracy of sane people? Why can't you and your ilk just leave the Shroudies alone? You're a big ol' meanie!
While it may be true the fire did not affect the C14 dating. It is true that the sample may have been faulty.
It is not clear that the fibers removed for sampling were all from the original cloth.
While the figure on the shroud may not be Christ. I don't know of any other image like this on a shroud. Also, there are aspects of the shroud that appear authentic.
The location of the nail holes and other aspects of the figure do not conform to the knowledge of most artists at the time. If there were nail holes in the palms, it would have been conclusive the shroud was a fraud.
You can't dismiss the shroud as a forgery, yet.