Important update: added 23rd June. I’m working on a new development of the scorch hypothesis, one that uses a real body instead of a heated metal statue.
The heat for the scorching comes from a chemical reaction between the water in the body, migrating through the linen shroud, where it meets quicklime (calcium oxide, CaO) on the outer shroud surface. It’s the hugely exothermic (heat-releasing) reaction between calcium oxide and water, aka the slaking of lime, that produces the scorch, and possibly, just possibly, an imprint of the enshrouded moisture-releasing corpse.
Calcium oxide + water = calcium hydroxide + heat
CaO (s) + H2O (l) = Ca(OH)2 (aq) ΔHr = −63.7 kJ/mol of CaO)
or: quicklime + water = slaked lime + a great deal of heat
See my science buzz site for a brief summary of the new model, which I hope to put to an experimental test very shortly (an order has been placed for calcium oxide).
First there was scorching off a heated statue or bas-relief template, to leave a negative imprint on linen (see site banner above for modelling thereof).
(Apologies btw for the length of this posting, which will seem to go on, and on, and on: I’ll explain later. Clue: this site is STILL down at Page 12 or 13 of Google listings. Right, where was I? Ah, yes).
Then there was gradual shedding of the more strongly scorched fibres over many centuries to leave today’s barely visible image.
Yes, it could be as simple as that.
It could explain why the Shroud image is so scorch-like ( STURP in 1978 pretty well admitted as much) while, thanks to ageing, it now possesses some subtle characteristics (ultra-superficiality, half-tone effect etc) that are not easily reproducible in a new scorch.
So don’t just think about the making of the Shroud image (requiring a few hours or at most days). Think too about its gradual ‘unmaking’ , i.e degradation over centuries. Yes, sad, isn’t it? All things must pass, revered
relics icons included.
Please see my immediately preceding postings for the geekish details at the molecular, fibre, thread and fabric level.
If you’ve time to spare, look too at the 200+ postings before that. (Just kidding. My next task is to catalogue them so hopefully making it easier for folk to see how the case for scorching/image-degradation was gradually arrived at methodically, and some might think, far, far too slowly).
Nope. It wasn’t rocket science. It just required a knowledge of fairly basic physics, chemistry and botany. Oh, and a deep distrust of my fellow scientists.
Yes, it required an open, enquiring, probably sciency-kind of mind, along with the age-old maxim: “Take nobody’s word for it”, least of all that of fellow scientists.
(The world would be a somewhat dysfunctional and probably quite hazardous kind of place without scientific peer review).
See too my earlier posting on WHY the Shroud was fabricated in the first place, and a hint as to why it made its first documented appearance in approx 1356 in a small church in Champagne country approx. 200km to the south-east of Paris, founded by the knightly Geoffroi de Charny, Lord of Lirey, and his wife, Jeanne de Vergy.
The so-called Lirey Pilgrim’s badge is a vital part of the jigsaw (enter into your favourite search engine). So too was the recently discovered ‘Machy mould’ for a variant of the Lirey badge with that intriguing addition of the Veronica motif(?) and the ambiguous term SUAIRE (burial shroud being the conventional meaning, but “face wipe”, ad hoc or otherwise, being an intriguing alternative).
Late addition: “Face wipe” (suaire) is a genteel description for what, etymologically served as a “sweat cloth”. Think small sweat cloth (the Veronica Veil); think a post-mortem whole body-sized version thereof – the Shroud.
Afterthought: here in a nutshell is a summary of the ‘scorched fibre attenuation’ hypothesis (I’ll try to think of something snappier):
Stage 1: Production of an obvious scorch to represent a victim of slow roasting (prob.a Templar, but possibly St.Lawrence of Rome).
Stage 2: Deliberate attempt to attenuate the image by the various devices described by Lalaing (boiling in oil etc*), in order to reinvent as a whole body “sweat imprint” to trump the Veil of Veronica, then attracting hordes of pilgrims.
Stage 3: Addition of blood to leave absolutely no doubt that the image was that of the newly crucified Jesus of Nazareth is his burial shroud.
Stage 4: Natural attenuation of the image over centuries to render the image still fainter, acquiring subtle characteristics that render it more of an enigma to modern science.
Second thoughts (re naming): since this idea of mine is certain to create a bit of a tiff, then why not call it the TIFF hypothesis ( TIFF being an acronym: Thermal Imprint/Fragile Fibre). ;-)
It avoids use of the term “scorch”, which is not sufficiently specific as to mechanism of fibre coloration.
Let’s take a break.
Click on link above to see posting immediately preceding this one with the crucial ‘sciency’ stuff, like how the peculiar ‘half-tone’ effect may have arisen as a TWO-STEP process (initial scorching, followed by fracture and loss of the more brittle, more heavily scorched fibres to leave just the minimally scorched ones).
Postscript (added 19 March): on an entirely different aspect (possibly the subject of a future more detailed posting) I came across a “sindonological” site yesterday that attempts to dismiss the scorch hypothesis in just a few lines, by citing the problem of “image distortion”. That’s based on the argument that if you smear the face or torso of a volunteer with some kind of paint and then wrap the subject in cloth, the imprint is distorted and grotesque (the further from the midline, the greater the lateral distortion).
What that argument overlooks is one small but crucial detail regarding the Shroud image. The sides (and top of the head) are not imaged. So when one imprints off a head or torso, living or inanimate, there is no need to stray very far from the midline, certainly not to the falling away sides.
What’s more, recalling the details of my LOTTO procedure, used to create this site’s banner, one starts with the hot effigy horizontally laid out, one covers with the linen, which hangs freely at the sides, one covers with damp sacking or similar, and then pats gently all over. The patting is done mainly vertically, while moulding around any obvious prominences in the top plane like nose or folded hands etc. One does not pat the sides, which remain unscorched because the linen hangs vertically, with no contact pressure between fabric and template. The end -result is the imprinting off the most elevated planes only of the effigy. Whilst the latter may be 3D, the effect of light vertical patting is to make the imprint look as if it had come from a bas relief.
Note that the radiation exponents are forced to invoke ‘orthogonal projection’ of radiation, to explain lack of side imaging etc, and emanating from a dead body, for which there are simply no scientific precedents. No such qualifying assumptions, certainly not exotic ones, are needed in the contact scorch model. It is the patting down and moulding to topmost relief in the vertical plane, the areas that present resistance to the patter’s palms and fingers, that results in selective imprinting of the highest planes in the effigy i.e. that are square-on to the cloth. The result is an image that may show a little distortion, but probably slight and undetectable to most eyes, especially when one considers the faintness and fuzziness of the Shroud image generally.
Further postscript, added 20th March.
Someone is sure to raise the issue of fluorescence, as the occasion when Mr.Barrie Schwortz crashed in on a Troll Central posting to put me right on the subject.
“Sadly, that’s why I don’t post to blogs very often. I don’t have time to waste debating folks who simply choose to ignore the published science. They obviously have already made up their minds so why bother? Perhaps they have more time on their hands than I do, but I am not interested in arguing for the sake of argument. That is why I never try to convince anyone of anything. Frankly, I don’t really care what this gentleman thinks and will leave him in your and Dan Porter’s able hands.”
Such old world charm! Here’s a form of words I have just composed. It will have to do for now, at least until we have some molecular fingerprinting data on the mix of fluorescent species that are generated by scorching of linen under different conditions of temperature, oxygen access etc and their subsequent fate on storage etc.
“Uv fluorescence (or lack thereof): frequently cited by promoters of Shroud authenticity as a “killer argument”.”The 1532 scorch marks fluoresce under uv, the Shroud body image does not. Ipso facto, the image cannot be a scorch”.
How about: “ The 1532 scorches left holes in the cloth with elemental carbon round the edges of the hole. The body image did neither. Therefore the image cannot be a scorch”? Equally sound logic?
The 1532 fire caused high temperature pyrolysis, sufficient to degrade cellulose and produce compounds such as hydroxymethylfurfural, and probably aromatics too by condensation reactions. The temperatures required to produce a scorch on linen are not high enough to degrade cellulose, at least by brief contact. It is the more reactive hemicelluloses that are pyrolysed. The properties of the new chemicals formed (uv fluorescence etc) from hemicelluloses at low temperatures are different from those produced from cellulose at higher temperatures.”
Folk have asked why I don’t simply get hold of a uv lamp and make a start in filling in the huge gaps in our knowledge of scorching and fluorescence (similar to Hugh Farey’s studies reported previously on this site, with a greater focus on what’s happening at the molecular level).
But it would be more “kitchen lab” stuff, wouldn’t it, and easy target for the debunkers on Troll Central? There’s also an element of biohazard – my eyes have suffered enough in the past from previous exposure to lab-generated uv (a brief glance at burning magnesium as a chemistry teacher was enough to induce instant headache and nausea).
Here’s a hint as to what I would do if I had proper lab facilities. I would produce scorches at different temperatures and aerobic/anaerobic conditions. Reaction products (low MWt) would be leached with various combinations of solvents (chloroform/methanol/water), the extracts concentrated and run on TLC. Individual bands, fluorescent ones especially, would be eluted and then injected in a mass spectrometer for identification. The stability of any fluorescent properties would be studied, with exposure to air and other oxidants for different times, different temperatures.
Yet another postscript/afterthought
Here’s the tail-end of a sniping comment that appeared a few days ago on Troll Central (I’ve omitted the slander that precedes it, attempting to impugn my honesty):
“May be one day I’ll have the pleasure to study a paper from your investigations on chemical scorching of linen fibers proving that a Shroud-like image with ALL PROPERTIES LIKE THE ORIGINAL (namely microscopic, absence of medulla coloration, colored fibers side by side with non colored fibers, 3D encoding etc.) can be obtained by this method.”
Antero de Frias Moreira
(Centro Português de Sindonologia)
Well now, Dr. Moreira, that’s quite a tall order. Reproduce all properties, like the “original”? But we don’t have the original. We have it many centuries after it was formed. How are we supposed to know what aspects are original, and what are age-related.
Actually, I can tell you with almost 100% certainty what is original. It’s that twin-track scorched-in crease one sees at chin level (and a fainter one at the top of the head).
Those scorched-in creases have been the subject of two of my previous postings, the first over 2 years ago on my sciencebuzz site.
Why does the Turin Shroud appear to have scorched-in crease marks? Tell-tale signature for medieval forging?
The only way I can see how they were formed was by pressing a hot template into linen, or pressing linen down onto a hot template, such that the fabric became creased due to flexure over the 3D relief of the template.
Or maybe you have a better idea? If so let’s be hearing it please. The onus is not only on we sceptics to explain ALL the features of the Shroud image. It’s on the authenticists too, especially those features that suggest the image is a non-natural, non-miraculous artefact.
Update: Monday 5 May
Yup, this blogger can still be followed on his ‘science buzz’ site. It’s general science-based, but still has postings now and again on the ever-intriguing TS.