A generic model for how the Turin Shroud could have been forged via a TWO STEP process (image capture, then separate image development).

Here’s a comment I left a couple of days ago on Dan Porter’s shroudstory site (my last on that impervious-to-reason site). It flags up my current thinking that the Turin Shroud must have been produced via a TWO STEP process (necessary for fine-tuning the forgers’ objectives of simulating what a  1300 year old sweat/blood imprint might look like on Joseph of Arimathea’s linen, the latter deployed as a temporary makeshift stretcher/body bag* used simply as a dignified means for transferring the crucified Jesus from cross to nearby rock tomb – NOT AS FINAL BURIAL SHROUD).

May 17, 2015 at 1:52 am

Just to say that this blogger is now nearing the end of his 40 month (approx) journey. There’s just one more posting that needs doing. It’s to generalize my currently preferred white flour/nitric acid model. It may or may not have been white flour used as imprinting medium. It may or may not have been nitric acid that was used to turn that faint off-white image into a more prominent yellow or yellow-brown colour. The key thing is the use of a two-stage model: initial imprinting of a proto- (‘ghost’) image followed by second stage development. Note the parallel with pre-digital era photography, except my model is maybe better described as a mix of medieval impactography and chemography – no photons or neutrons needed.

Why use two stages, when one would suffice (e.g.Garlaschelli’s frottage or Accetta’s wood-block imprinting)? Answer: to permit fine-tuning of the end-result, so as to achieve that oh-so-subtle negative image – not too contrasty, not too ghostly. For example, a first stage imprint with flour could be softened around the edges by sponging with a damp cloth. The permutations are endless when one adopts a two-stage model.

Time now to bow out from this site, both stimulating and infuriating by turns. All queries to do with the TS image per se addressed to me here will henceforth be answered on either my sciencebuzz or recently-reactivated specialist TS site.


* See a previous posting on this site, with this and other examples from the artistic record of Joseph of Arimathea’s linen being used as an aid to transport.

Insert caption

(Have still to track down name of artist and date).

Next task (before putting finishing touches on the ‘two-step’ model) is to replace the banner of this site showing one-step scorch technology with some imagery from my recent round of experimentation.  It will show stages in the favoured  two-step process (imprinting from a human subject or part thereof with a white flour paste, followed by image development using nitric acid (either as vapour or solution).

Update: task completed (though I may fine-tune the images later)

Here’s the previous banner, showing just 10 minutes ago:

Previous site banner showing redundant one-step scorch technology

Previous site banner showing redundant one-step scorch technology

Here’s the new banner with a brief description of what each picture shows:

New banner added to this site 19 May 2015 to replace old one-step scorch model with new two-step model.

New banner added to this site 19 May 2015 to replace old one-step scorch model with new two-step model.

From left: 1. crossed hands on Turin Shroud; 2. a simple one-step imprint of my hand using chocolate spread (posted a while ago to show how fingers can look bony on a contact imprint); 3. first stage in new methodology: coat hand with paste made with white flour and cold water; 4. press linen on to coated hand to capture a negative image, visible (just) on reverse side when linen pulled away; 5. development of the weak primary image using nitric acid vapour (or solution); 6. final developed image of hand after removal from nitric acid, neutralization of acid, washing and drying.

Update (24 May 2015) : here’s a list of postings since April 1st on my sciencebuzz site.  It starts with the realization that while H2SO4 did not appear fit-for-purpose in any model for the TS image, another more chemically-reactive strong acid (HNO3) might:

1 April 15 (125 views)

What does sulphuric acid do to linen fibres? Might it provide us with clues to the Turin Shroud?

6 April 15  (89 views)

Was this the man who supplied the chemical know-how for faking the Turin Shroud – 13th century Paul of Taranto?

6 April 15 (157 views)

Might fumigation with nitric acid vapour and NOx gases have been used to artificially age the Turin Shroud? Just an idea at this stage.

9 April 15 (292 views)

Modelling the Turin Shroud (medieval fake?). Just waiting now for the nitric acid to arrive.

20 April 15 (56 views)

The enigmatic Shroud of Turin: experimental testing of my novel nitric acid fumigation model is currently underway (preliminary results look distinctly PROMISING).

21 April 15 (168 views)

Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

3 May 15 (109 views)

Modelling the Turin Shroud: my flour/nitric acid vapour model looks better and better with each passing day.

6 May 15 (72 views)

The chemical principles behind the iconic Turin Shroud can now be explained. All that remains is to produce a look-alike copy.

20 May 15 (92 views)

Where does blood fit into the new two-stage medieval forgery model of the Turin Shroud?

Update: as I say, this blogger is nearing the end of his interest in the TS. So what’s to follow? Answer: it’s nothing to do with fundamental science (more to do with misuse of instrumentation and technology) but it’s still to do with the misapplication of so-called “science”.

A recent experience of driving out of a small village in Ayrshire (Scotland, two days ago) brings it right up to the top of this motoring blogger’s agenda and list of priorities.

The persecution of  essentially law-abiding motorists has to stop. It’s become a civil rights issue.

See this recent article in the Mail for growing disquiet re the use of stealth mobile speed cameras, that may or may not be correctly used. Some of the comments especially are worth checking out.


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Modelling the Turin Shroud: forged in the 14th century as a white flour imprint onto linen? Then chemically developed with nitric acid to resemble ancient yellowed sweat?

What follows is a concise summary of several weeks of somewhat hazardous research, first with sulphuric acid, then nitric acid, in the author’s garage. The numerous experiments that led up to it, with minute to minute photography and interpretation, are all described on his sciencebuzz site, this site having been mothballed some months ago and now reactivated. I have decided against placing images on this posting – they can all be found on sciencebuzz.

Note: the author is a retired biomedical scientist, best known for his research into cereal dietary fibre and resistant starch. His aim is NOT to produce a facsimile copy of the Turin Shroud (not having access to it, even simply to examine through a hand lens would make that difficult). It is merely to suggest how  it might have been produced, as a riposte to those misguided souls who would have us believe that the so-called ‘enigmatic’ features of the TS image – negative superficial image, 3D properties etc. – place it beyond the realms of conventional science, “not made by human hand”, a product of supernatural radiation etc etc.

As I say, this is just a bald summary, with no attempt at literary flourishes.

1. The so-called Shroud of Turin  was probably made in the first half of 14th century, in agreement with the radiocarbon dating. (I say “so-called” because I don’t consider it was made to represent a burial shroud at all – see below).

2. It built on the idea of the Veil of Veronica, the latter having according to legend having captured a likeness of the face of Jesus imprinted shortly before crucifixion onto a face cloth. The Veronica was then Christianity’s most venerated relic, despite it having no biblical authority. In contrast, the new cloth, the new ‘relic’, WOULD have biblical authority. What’s more it would show the entire body of Jesus, front and back.

3. The three synoptic Gospels provided a legitimizing ‘window of opportunity’ for creating a whole body image on cloth before consignment of the crucified Jesus to the rock tomb. All make clear that Joseph of Arimathea’s sheet of linen was used to receive the body at the cross itself (not the tomb) for discreet and dignified onward transport to a nearby tomb. In other words the cloth functioned not only as an impromptu stretcher but, in the instant visual narrative created by the TS, as an up-and-over ‘body bag’ too, given its length (approx. 4.4 x 1.1 metres). There are no strong grounds for thinking J of A’s linen was intended as the final burial shroud. The account in John suggests otherwise, it being replaced by Nicodemus’s “winding” sheet.

4. The new image was therefore to be that of the crucified Jesus on J of A’s linen. It would have the bloodstains obviously. But how to represent the body? Answer: by supposing that the body left a sweat imprint too, one that had yellowed or browned over 13 centuries.

5. The imperative was to produce an image that would be interpreted immediately by relic-hungry pilgrims as an IMPRINT, not a painted image. How was that ensured? Answer: first by showing a LIFE-SIZE image of a naked man (clothing, even a loin cloth would interfere with imprinting of sweat). Second by showing both frontal and dorsal surfaces aligned head to head, with a small gap between the heads, so as to be suggestive of an imprint formed on an up-and-over sheet of linen. Third, it would be fine linen (herring bone twill) consistent with the biblical account. It is the fourth detail that is the crucial one: the image would not be that as in an artist’s portrait, with light and shade used to give the appearance of form, depending on direction of light, with prominent features like nose, chin and forehead appearing light, and recessed features like eye hollows being dark. Everything would be reversed. Raised relief would be dark, recesses would be light, because that is the reversed pattern that one sees after IMPRINTING BY CONTACT, as distinct from portrait painting, or modern photography. However, we can describe the desired outcome as saying it was to resemble a photographic negative, centuries before photography was invented.

6. No attempt would be made to imprint images of wound sites (from flagrum, nails, lance) – too difficult. Instead blood (or blood substitute) would be applied in all the biblically correct places at the sites of those wounds.

7. The body image would have to be imprinted first, so as to know where to apply the blood.

8. The task then becomes one of creating a NEGATIVE imprint off both sides of a naked man that would be yellow or yellowish-brown in colour for body, with additional bloodstains. It needed to be clearly visible, viewed at close quarters, say a few metres, but not too prominent.

9. A painted image was ruled out. First, it is difficult to paint by freehand a convincing negative image intended to be seen as an imprint. Second, paint pigments would be immediately recognized as such. A more subtle means or mimicking an ancient dried-on sweat imprint needed to be found, using novel one-off technology if necessary.

10.  Novel one-off technology might indeed have been deployed and available in the 14th century (possibly with the aid of alchemy).  The first of two steps required choosing an organic-based material that could used for imprinting the negative image that could then be made, in a second step, to turn yellow, or yellowish brown, by treatment with a “developing” agent. In other words, the image was to be produced not by photography, but a tactile equivalent (contact imprinting) followed by chemical development. The TS image might thus be described as a TACTILE CHEMOGRAPH.

11. It was reasonable to suppose that acids would be considered as chemical development agents, not the weak acids of nature (acetic, lactic, citric etc ) but the far stronger MINERAL ACIDS. The three most important, found in all chemical laboratories, are: hydrochloric (HCl), sulphuric(H2SO4) and nitric (HNO3). Descriptions, and methods of making these three all began to appear in the 13th/14th century alchemical literature. Which would be seen as prime candidate for developing an organic imprint to simulate sweat? Answer: nitric acid. Why? Because inadvertent splashes of nitric acid onto skin quickly become bright yellow or orange. It’s an example of the so-called xanthoproteic reaction, used in fact as a quick test for protein. At first sight a nitric acid stain on skin might seem to be a “burn”, but it’s not. It’s far more subtle. The nitric acid is reacting with certain amino acids in skin protein (keratin) specifically  the so-called aromatic amino acids, producing yellow or orange-red  nitration products. The prime target is generally considered to be the amino acid tyrosine, being phenolic and thus chemically reactive towards nitro-substitution. One or two others (tryptophan, phenylalanine) may or may be targets as well (the literature is confusing). One report claims that tyrosine and tryptophan give different colours (yellow and orange respectively) which may or may not be relevant to the TS “sepia” image.

12. 13th/14th century alchemists knew nothing about the mechanism of the xanthoproteic acid, only the end result – that certain organic materials turned yellow or orange when treated with nitric acid. Which organic material would have been chosen for imprinting. It would have to be one that could be smeared or painted onto a human subject (living or dead) to which blood spots and trails could then be added, and the two ingredients then efficiently transferred to linen by imprinting, ready for the second stage development with nitric acid.

13. White flour from wheat fits the bill, as least in principle. A cold dispersion in water, i.e. paste or slurry, acts as a fairly fast (but not too fast) adhesive, helping stick things together, like the photos in a home-made album this author made as a young child. Flour slurry, of the right consistency, allows linen to mould itself closely to body contours,. When one removes the linen, the adhesive properties of the rapidly drying paste are apparent. Flour transfers efficiently to linen, leaving the skin stripped almost clean of flour.

14. (Late addition in italics – in response to first comment below; original version shown scored through).  After ‘painting’ the human subject with imprinting medium (flour paste etc), blood is added in trickles directly on top of the paste in all the biblically correct places (before the latter has time to dry). Subject and linen are then brought together under some pressure to get a conjoint imprint of medium and blood. When the linen is peeled away, one has blood imprint UNDER body image, thus modelling the Heller/Adler finding from protease digestion, i.e. that there is no body image under the bloodstains.

The negative flour image can then be dried, blood, or blood substitute added, and then  The imprinted linen is then either (a) exposed to the vapour from concentrated nitric acid or (b) steeped in nitric acid solution of approx 10% w/v concentration or greater. The yellow-brown image takes several hours to develop in vapour, usually with faint discoloration of the linen per se. Image development is much faster in solution (typically an hour or less) but the linen is more discoloured.

15. The colour is due to reaction between the nitric acid and flour protein, notably the viscoelastic gluten, so crucial for breadmaking. Starch contributes at most a trace of faint yellow colour. That is easily demonstrated by making a stiff dough of white flour with water, then kneading it under water. The starch granules wash out;,  leaving a much smaller ball of rubbery gluten. One then allows the starch to sediment under gravity, such that it and gluten can be tested side-by-side with nitric acid. The gluten turns orange, the starch is scarcely altered at all.

16. To conclude, a new model has been described for how the TS body image was produced as a medieval fake/forgery/hoax, one that could be promoted as representing the sweat (and blood) imprint left by the newly crucified Jesus on Joseph of Arimathea’s linen.

The model still needs a name, more or less specific for the unique chemistry proposed, based on nitration of food proteins (admittedly a leap of faith there, inasmuch as other combinations of imprinting medium and chemical might result in a developed sepia image).  But my gut instinct says it’s nitric acid and food protein.  So why not call it the xanthoproteic model? That means – yellow/protein in plain English.

Comments on the science and technology are welcome, but this is not the place for discussing theological implications. Theology may occasionally benefit from an input of science, to be carefully distinguished from pseudoscience, but – with no disrespect to Stephen Hawking- science rarely if ever benefits from an input of theology.

PS: please ignore the banner on this blog (due to be replaced).  It was designed to convey the essence of the model that preceded the one set out here – i.e. the contact scorch model. It seemed to have quite a lot going for it, a scorched-on image being symbolic of the way that an alleged Templar uncle of the Shroud’s first known owner (Geoffroi de Charny) had been executed by sadistic slow-roasting alongside Jacques de Molay in 1314.  So what prompted the flight from thermal imprinting to wet imprinting/chemical development? It was little or nothing to do with the properties of thermal scorches, vis-a vis the TS. The latter has often been described as “scorch-like”.  STURP almost said as much in its 1981 Summary.  No, it was one tiny detail on the Machy mould for a second Lirey pilgrim’s badge – a small inset image on the border of what clearly was the face of Jesus above the word SUAIRE.  I (and possibly I alone) took that to be an allusion to the Veil of Veronica face cloth. Whether it was or not hardly matters – it was the realization that a simulated sweat imprint ticked a lot more boxes than a heat scorch, provided some of the drawbacks of wet-imprinting could be solved, e.g. reverse side coloration, maybe via minor changes of technique. Both of course are imprints, so either can be a valid working model for exploring the generic properties of imprints – their negative character, 3D properties etc – as proved to be the case with the “wasted years” focused on thermal scorches. Much know how was acquired exploring linen properties and its ability to acquire a superficial image by different means.

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A new take in pictures on an old artefact – the (not really a) Shroud of Turin, more an imaginative 14th century marketing wheeze.

Update (added April 5 ,2015) : my thinking re the medieval technology needed to produce the Turin Shroud is changing by the day, as new experimental data are collected. See my main site, sciencebuzz, for the latest up to date information, as well as this recent posting  and comments on Dan Porter’s shroudstory.com.

Further update, April 15: Have today changed this blog’s banner to reflect my new thinking – namely that the superficial Shroud image may have been chemically rather than thermally-induced, though still using an imprinting technique to achieve the negative, 3D-enhancible image. The end-result of the two technologies might be virtually indistinguishable in chemical terms – namely caramelized linen carbohydrates in both cases arising from the dehydration/oxidation/formation of yellow or tan-coloured chromophores containing conjugated  (-C=C-C=C- ) double bonds etc.

Our story begins here, with Jesus on the road to the crucifixion site, carrying his own cross.  According to legend, St.Veronica wipes the sweat and blood from his face with her veil.  An image of Jesus appears on the cloth, now known as the Veil of Veronica, which Nail MacGregor, Director of the British Museum describes as the "central icon" of the 14th century Roman Church, attracting hordes of pilgrims.   Did a medieval entrepreneur spot an opportunity to create a rival artefact, also in "seat and blood", or seemingly so, that would have even greater pulling power if providing an image of the entire body - both sides, front and rear?
Our story begins here, with Jesus on the road to the crucifixion site, carrying his own cross. According to legend, St.Veronica wipes the sweat and blood from his face with her veil. An image of Jesus appears on the cloth, now known as the Veil of Veronica, which Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum describes as the “central icon” of the 14th century Roman Church, attracting hordes of pilgrims.
Did a medieval entrepreneur spot an opportunity to create a rival artefact, also in “sweat and blood”, or seemingly so, that would have even greater pulling power if providing an image of the entire body – both sides, front and rear, POST-crucifixion, but not necessarily pre-interment?
Of all the representations of the Veil if Veronica on internet image files ,this is maybe the one that looks least like a painting, and one where the artist has at least paid lip service to the idea that it was an image created with bodily sweat.  But it's still a positive image note, from looking at the distribution of light and shade, so could be said to fail the diagnostic test for an imprint. It's still a painting, albeit monochrome - the artist's only  concession to alleged imprinting mechanism.
Fig.2: Here’ s another artistic rendering of the Veil of Veronica. I’ve chosen this one because it’s more imprint-like. Most others are shown as fully-fledged colour portraits with ‘helpful’ additions, like the crown of thorns, implying some, er, outside help in morphing a sweat imprint into a recognizable face. Never mind – it’s the principle that matters. In the medieval mind, when Jesus has his face wiped by a sympathetic bystander you get a image of near-photographic quality (right?).
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Fig.3: Here’s a famous Rubens picture showing the Descent (aka Deposition) from the cross. It was the subject of a posting on another site, claiming it to have no basis in scripture (wrong – it fits very well with the account of the crucifixion in the  synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). It took this blogger a little while to spot that Joseph of Arimathea’s linen is being used as a chute or slide to assist removal of the body from the cross,  with Joseph (?) the gent with the long beard and red cap appearing to use the linen as a brake (see the way it’s coiled around Jesus’s leg) and others with outstretched hands helping ease the body down to the ground in a dignified manner.
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Fig.4: We’re now at ground level and the linen is being used as a makeshift stretcher. The gent in orange appears to be in the process of gathering the cloth around the body as if to protect from view.
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Fig. 5: Here we see the linen being  used as a stretcher. The head is still exposed, no doubt as artistic licence, so you know it’s Jesus.
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Fig.6: We’ve now arrived at the tomb, the body now enveloped completely in linen except for the head, again for artistic reasons.
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Fig.7: The body is now being removed from Joseph’s linen, implying that the latter was intended to be used for transport only, not – as so many seem to imagine – as the final burial shroud.  It would have been heavily soiled, needless to say, with blood etc, but medieval artists understandably omitted that detail. (The “etc” above is important, when recalling that the Veil of Veronica was considered  to have started as an imprint of blood AND sweat).
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Fig.8: We’re now in the tomb, and Joseph’s linen is being removed in order to prepare the body for final burial.   Note: linen is being removed – not added.  This picture gives no clue as to what will replace Joseph’s ‘transport’ linen. Time is running out, according to the Bible, due to the start of the sabbath (that same evening at dusk).
Fig.9: Here’s a detail from the late 13th century Hungarian Pray manuscript. It’s been chosen since it appears to show Joseph’s linen under the body, now opened out, possibly with securing ties now untied, while linen winding strips are in readiness, as per the account of St. John’s gospel, once the anointing with oil has been completed. .
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Fig.10: Can you guess at what stage this image  was fabricated as a rival to the Veil of Veronica? It’s the (Belgian) Lier copy (1516) of the present Shroud of Turin, before it  acquired the disfiguring burn holes from the 1532 fire (and relatively free of blood as well). I say the TS image was a medieval representation of the imprint that Jesus might have left in SWEAT and BLOOD between cross and tomb when Joseph’s linen was being used as a stretcher or, more likely, a completely enveloping BODY BAG (see previous posting). So the “Shroud” of Turin may not be a burial shroud at all – whether real 1st century, improbable,  in view of the radiocarbon dating, or more probably imagined/reconstructed 14th century – merely the cloth with which Jesus was enveloped for transport purposes. If I’m right, the Vatican should cease calling it the Shroud of Turin.  The Enigmatic Imprint of Turin?


Shroud of Turin (Durante 2002 image from Shroud Scope with adjustment to contrast and brightness). Note the blood flow ONTO the linen from a foot (circled) suggestive of imaging (real or simulated) having occurred soon after removal from the cross, i.e. more likely en route to tomb.
Fig.11: Shroud of Turin (Durante 2002 image from Shroud Scope with adjustment to contrast and brightness).
Note the blood flow ONTO the linen from a foot (circled) suggestive of imaging (real or simulated) having occurred soon after removal from the cross, i.e. more likely en route to tomb.
Close-up of that copious flow of blood from the foot.
Fig. 12: Close-up of that copious flow of blood from the foot.

Update, Sunday 1st March:   See shroudstory.com’s latest posting: Picture for Today: Fresco in Pinerolo

fresco pinerolo TS and veronica

Not only do we see the Veronica (ed. or rather Veronica herself, not an image of Jesus en route to Calvary!) and the Shroud shown together in the same picture, but both have been given approximately the same monochrome quality (yellowish brown) as if to suggest they share much the same mechanism of origin (sweat imprint maybe, at least between the Shroud and the reputed Veronica image of JESUS?).

veronica on pinerolo fresco -10,10.-50Is that a shawl we see around the neck and shoulders (the red hair suggests that the coloration around the jawline and chin should not be interpreted as a beard, i.e. the image is that of a serene Veronica, with doe-like eyes,  not  a tortured Jesus).

Ring any bells? It should do. The very first known representation in history of the ‘double-image’ Shroud was on the Mark 1 Lirey Pilgrim’s badge. Let’s acknowledge immediately that there was no representation of the Veronica  (with JESUS) on that lead/tin casting dredged up from the Seine in 19th century Paris.  But a motif of the Veronica labelled SUAIRE  (most convenient) WAS added to the Machy mould, which was clearly intended for a  Mark2 Lirey badge (or maybe Mark Zero ). See my previous posting.

Speaking of which, who can spot the connection between these images and what happens daily on shroudstory.com?

carousel to ride today


“Your steed awaits you sir. Enjoy going round and round, bobbing up and down, up and down, round and round …”

“On A Carousel”

Riding along on a carousel
Trying to catch up to you
Riding along on a carousel
Will I catch up to youHorses chasing ’cause they’re racing
So near yet so far
On a carousel, on a carouselNearer, nearer by changing horses
Still so far away
People fighting for their places
Just get in the waySoon you’ll leave and then I’ll lose you
Still we’re going round
On a carousel, on a carouselRound and round and round and round and round
And round and round and round with you
Up, down, up, down, up, down too

Update 10:00 (still Sunday March 1)

So why the pseudo-Veronica on that fresco, one showing the lady imprinter, not the imprinted? I think it’s the artist inviting the viewer to regard the Shroud as a Veronica Mark 2 – albeit a whole body imprint – not just the face. The essentially monochrome nature of both Veronica and the Shroud is a message – to see the image as that of an CONTACT IMPRINT – not a painting. Charles Freeman please note.

I was wondering why this old posting is suddenly getting new hits on my sitemeter. Explanation: it’s just been flagged up on shroudstory.com under “Comments”, thanks to WordPress’s ‘pingback’  alert, which we’re assured we need for improved connectivity, with no facility that I’m aware of for de-activating.  Improved connectivity? Yeah, right.

On my sciencebuzz site right now (21st Feb 2015):

 Might the Shroud of Turin properly be described as a ‘proximity imprint’ in sweat and blood, real or simulated, to distinguish it from Freeman’s faded painting?

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The Shroud of Turin: probably not miraculous, just a simulated sweat imprint – a triumph of medieval joined-up thinking.

Modelling the Shroud image: from heated brass crucifix (left) to 3D-enhanced light/dark reversed scorch image (right).  Not 100% there yet, but arguably making progress.

Modelling the Shroud image: from heated brass crucifix (left) to 3D-enhanced light/dark reversed scorch image (right). Not 100% there yet, but arguably making progress.

The first recorded appearance of the TS was in the tiny French hamlet of Lirey, south of Troyes in 1357. Why then, one may ask,  at that particular era of French history, given there’s no evidence of where it had come from? And why was the image so peculiar, quite unlike anything that preceded it (allegedly) or anything that followed (allegedly). Apologies for the expressions of doubt in parentheses. All will be explained shortly.

This science-oriented blogger now believes, after some 3 years of scientific and historical detective work, that there is a simple answer to both those questions. What’s more, there WAS a precedent for the TS image in the 14th century, at least conceptually, and there are modern day experimental models too, at least approximately. See my photograph above (taken just an hour ago).

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the TS is to go back seven years from 1357 to 1350. That was declared a “Holy Year” in the calendar of the Roman Church in Europe. What’s more, there was an existing ‘holy relic’ that had captured public imagination, one that has been described as the Church’s “central icon”. It was so valued, so revered that “wherever the Church went, the relic went with it” (according to Neil MacGregor , celebrated art historian and currently Director of the British Museum). As an old boss of mine was wont to say: “No mean slouch”.

Here’s a slightly edited passage  from  a book I’ve just discovered from googling. It’s  entitled “The Templars and the Grail, Knights of the Quest” (by one Karen Ralls). The editing is designed to keep you in suspense , dear reader.

“Preserved in Rome as a matter of record since at least 1011 and venerated by pilgrims, the icon in question was seen publicly very rarely, but one of those rare occasions was in that Holy Year 1350- when it was displayed to a rapturous audience of pilgrims. It was the talk of Europe. Papal records show that in the jubilee years 1300 and 1350, many people were trampled in the rush to look upon the icon which was said to cure all ills, including leprosy.”

So what was this icon that has such enormous pulling power, and why?

OK, time to come clean: It was the fabled “Veil of Veronica”,  a central feature of all that follows.

Of all the representations of the Veil if Veronica on internet image files ,this is maybe the one that looks least like a painting, and one where the artist has at least paid lip service to the idea that it was an image created with bodily sweat.  But it's still a positive image note, from looking at the distribution of light and shade, so could be said to fail the diagnostic test for an imprint. It's still a painting, albeit monochrome - the artist's only  concession to alleged imprinting mechanism.

Of all the representations of the Veil of Veronica on internet image files, this is perhaps the one that looks least like a painting, and one where the artist has at least paid lip service to the idea that it was an image created with bodily sweat. But it’s still a positive image note, from looking at the distribution of light and shade, so is not only diff                                                                                            erent from the TS, but xi be said to fail the diagnostic test for an imprint. It’s still a painting, albeit monochrome – the artist’s only concession to alleged imprinting mechanism.

Here’s how the same Karen Ralls introduced the above section:

The well-known story of the lady Veronica tells how she compassionately wiped the face of Christ as he was carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, on the way to his Crucifixion. It is said that as a reward for her kindness, an image of his face miraculously remained on the cloth. So powerful was the medieval cult that grew around scene, that the incident became the sixth of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Yet ironically the story appears nowhere in the Gospels. The cloth, preserved as a relic, became known as the Veil of Veronica. Some historians have identified it with the Mandylion of Edessa, which disappeared in 1204 after the siege of Constantinople.

Present whereabouts of the Veil of Veronica? No one knows for certain whether the one that caused all the stir in 1350 still exists or not. The problem is the existence of many icons that claim to be it. But many look less like a sweat imprint on fabric, as originally described, even with some miraculous enhancement (we are told) . Instead they look more like artistic representations with common pigments (art historian Charles Freeman would love ‘em   ;-)

 From wiki:

There are at least six images in existence which bear a marked resemblance to each other and which are claimed to be the original Veil, a direct copy of it or, in two cases, the Mandylion. Each member of this group is enclosed in an elaborate outer frame with a gilded metal sheet (or riza in Russian) within, in which is cut an aperture where the face appears; at the lower extreme of the face there are three points which correspond to the shape of the hair and beard.

However, what matters for the purpose of this communication is not whether the Veronica that was on display in 1350 was genuine or not, or whether it was simply a sweat imprint, or an enhanced version of sweat, whether as a result of human art or divine intervention. It’s the medieval perception of the Veil as having ORIGINALLY been a sweat imprint of the face of Jesus onto some fabric proferred by a sympathetic bystander, while carrying his cross.

There must have been at least some who, viewing, or even hearing of the Veil, must have asked themselves: how can plain old perspiration (“sweat” in common parlance) imprint an image on cloth? What would it look like initially? What would it look like a day later, a week later, a century or millennium later? And among those people, might there be just one individual who then asked themselves an audacious question: could or might the process be simulated, or to put it baldly, faked? Could one pass off an entirely and audaciously  man-made image as that of a divine sweat image? And if that were the case, what would be the most profitable way of doing that? Content oneself with producing a face imprint that was superior to that on the Veil, and claim that one had the “real” version, and that the one in Rome was the fake? Or avoid any such controversy and unpleasantness. Instead, marshall one’s technology to make an even more audacious claim, namely that one had not only an image that captured the face of Jesus, but that of his entire body! How could that be done? Was there a scenario from the New Testament gospels that might be adduced to back one’s claim?

Certainly there was, and it’s one that occurred just a day or two AFTER the crucifixion. It was the initial placement by Joseph of Arimathea of Jesus on  a costly sheet of linen, conveniently with no reference at this stage to the body being cleaned of blood and other bodily secretions, notably sweat.

Already a plan for developing that germ of an idea was taking shape. What were the criteria that could be adopted first to produce a whole body imprint of the crucified Jesus that would pass muster, yet importantly pose no threat to the status of the Veil?

Here are a few:

1. The image must NOT be mistaken for anything but a burial shroud. A single image of the frontal side might be mistaken for some kind of painted portrait. Solution: imprint BOTH sides of the body, align them head to head making it seems as though  a body had been first been laid on the lower half of a rectangle of linen, then the spare half at the top turned to cover the front surface, ie. with the body finally sandwiched between two layers of linen.

2. The image must look as if it were imprinted off a body, not a painted version thereof. Imprinting by contact, which can be modelled with one’s own hands, feet, face etc given a suitable “paint” leaves a distinctive incomplete image, because it only the highest relief that makes contact that can leave an image. Everything else – the lower relief, e.g. eye hollows etc must NOT be shown. In modern parlance we would say the image must resemble a photographic negative (although that term can be and indeed is a source of confusion). So too is the term “lack of directionality”. Both those terms (“negative”and “directionality”) will be will be discussed later in the Technical Appendix.

3. No sides to the body, on assumption that linen does not make good contact witjh sides if draped over loosely, and even if it did there would be a tendency  for imaginary “sweat” to drip down under gravity. Similarly, no imaging of the top of the head, which is the same as a  vertical “side”. But one  is allowed to image the vertical soles of the feet on the dorsal image (see below) if it is assumed that linen had been pulled up and around by burial attendants.

4. .The body image should be a discoloration of linen, maybe difficult to make out, compared with conventional paintings, but not too hard. Make it yellow or pale brown to stand out against white linen.

5. Choose a weave that is receptive to one’s imprinting process. A twill weave  (e.g. herringbone 3/1 weave) has more flat areas than a simple 1/1 criss-cross one.

6. Thei mage should have what artists would call form but no outline, to avoid risk of seeming to have been painted.

7.The image should be somewhat fuzzy, not sharp.

8. The image should seem highly superficial, i.e. not have an encrusted appearance that might be mistaken for applied pigment.

9. A body that leaves a sweat imprint would have been unwashed. If the image is to be seen as that of Jesus it must therefore have his blood from open wounds and scourge marks too.

10. It is sufficient to place blood in all the correct biblical locations. There is no need to create images of the broken skin itself, since it is only intact skin that sweats, not open wounds . So the scourge marks too must be imaged as blood, not sweat, which may be problematical but is not insuperable.

11. Hair is somewhat problematical. One cannot make the hair seem as if painted. One has to imagine how an imprint of sweat-sodden hair might look as if imprinted onto linen. It must have the same character as the skin imprint, and only be recognizable as “hair” by its overall shape and location.

12. The eyes must be closed. It is an image of a recently deceased man.

13. Feet are a problem. Does one terminate the dorsal imprint at the heel, as would be expected, thereby leaving an image lacking feet? Or does one image-imprint off a template as if the linen had been pulled up around the heels and pulled tight against the soles to capture those surfaces as well (creating an option for adding blood imprints too on soles of feet issuing from crucifixion nail holes)? Go for that latter option, since human intervention with enveloping a  shroud around the feet is not inconsistent with the the 1st century rock tomb scenario and indeed serves to enhance it.

14. The chin and neck are also problematical. Cloth laid loosely over the frontal surface would tend to bridge from chin to chest, creating a detached floating head with no neck. But cloth that imaged the neck, as if it had followed all the contours would risk imaging the underside of the chin too, making the neck look too long. Some compromise is needed, to get some neck and not too much underside of chin. Maybe simulate a crease at the chin to suggest there had been pressure applied to the linen, manual, or maybe from having a ‘neck tie’ of some kind that would not itself be imaged.

15. Loin cloth? Problematical. How can it be imaged realistically if all it leaves is a sweat imprint, more or less imprinted? How could it be recognized as a cloth imprint as distinct from uncovered skin. Conclusion: there is no avoiding bare buttocks. Finer sensibilities must take a back seat. Maybe use scourge marks to partially disguise the private skin.

16. Frontal nudity? Use crossed hands to cover the genital area. Take liberties with human anatomy if ncessary (slightly overlong arms and fingers).

 Overview: What we see here is the birth by degrees of an iconic image, one that is not strictly speaking a representation of a real person, but an imagined imprint of a real person from some kind of contact template, in which numerous assumptions and compromises have had to be made.  Sure, the final body image with its blood additions looks reasonably realistic at first glance, but look more closely and one can see that it is idealized and, most importantly of all, tweaked to perfection (or as some might say, slight mperfection).


I have set out a possible scenario that led to the TS being fabricated as a rival attraction to the Veil of Veronica, indeed one that built on the established credentials of the Veronica as perceived by those at the time, and which later over several decades and centuries came to supplant the Veronica as the Church’s new “central icon” (to borrow Neil McGregor’s words re the 14th century Veronica).

 Imaging mechanism? This posting has deliberately been kept free of mechanisms by which the “sweat imprint” was or might have been fabricated. That is deliberate. The idea mooted here regarding the aim and  motivation for creating the TS image as a simulated sweat imprint should not be based or judges on practical, technological details of executing that objective. The latter have been extensively discussed previously by this blogger in well over 200 postings (a flavour of these has been consigned to my single opening graphic and a technical appendix that will follow in due course) They should be judged purely in terms of human motivation: why would a medieval artisan and his sponsors have wanted to go to all the trouble of creating an artefact that could be passed off as the genuine burial shroud of Jesus Christ? Which details would need have been got exactly “right” to achieve those ends.  Which could have been slightly altered in the interests of practicality and artistic licence? The rest as they say is history (and appropriate technology).

I have as yet no clinching evidence, needless to say, and may never do so, but this new perspective, dare one say paradigm (as in “paradigm shift” this blogger having long nurtured an ambition to declare a paradigm shift, especially one of his own making) hopes there are enough anomalies accounted for re the otherwise perplexing TS image for these ideas to receive serious consideration.

Wish to know more? Comments invited, here or or my main sciencebuzz site.

Recent Shroud-related postings on sciencebuzz:




Technical appendix and image gallery

Here’s one route to simulating the TS image as a “sweat imprint” (there may well be others), This one is purely thermal (“contact scorch” onto untreated linen, but one could explore thermochemical imaging, onto pretreated linen, or possibly ones that are entirely chemical at room temperature, though less probable). Forget those radiation models – they are pseudo-science unless the precise wavelength range and image focusing/image-reception chemistry are specified).

It's arguably the so-called lack of directionality in the pattern of light and shade that is the Shroud image's peculiarity (apart from light/dark reversal).  It makes the Shroud image look "flat" despite the cryptic 3D properties. Ordinary photographs generally allow one to deduce the location of a  single light source. Lack of directionality is a feature of imprints obtained from a template, and distinguishable in that respect from photographs, including those theorized  1st century or later anachronistic "proto-photographs" that have been proposed, generally a sound scientific basis.

It’s arguably the so-called lack of directionality in the pattern of light and shade that is the Shroud image’s chief and immediate peculiarity (apart from light/dark reversal). It makes the Shroud image look “flat” despite the cryptic 3D properties that can be shown with digital enhancement software (e.g. ImageJ). Ordinary photographs generally allow one to deduce the location of a light source, assuming one only.
Lack of directionality  (and the other peculiarities) is a feature of imprints obtained from a template,i.e. physical contact,  and distinguishable in that respect from photographs, including those theorized 1st century or later anachronistic “proto-photographs” that have been proposed, generally without a sound scientific basis.


Modelling the Turin Shroud: heat up a metallic 3D template of one’s desired subject.

Imprint as contact scorch onto linen

Imprint as contact scorch onto linen

Light/dark reversal (convert to "negative")

Light/dark reversal (convert to “negative”)

3D enhancement of the negative image, using ImageJ

3D enhancement of the negative image, using ImageJ

Here's the 3D enhanced version of the same scorch image prior to conversion to a light/dark reversed negative.

Here’s the 3D enhanced version of the same scorch image prior to conversion to a light/dark reversed negative.

Here’s an image needed to make a point elsewhere (on another’s site):

Details from the Machy mould. The face above the word SUAIRE (reversed). Are they eyes open or closed? The face of one of the two clerics supporting the shroud is shown for comparison.

Details from the Machy mould. Left hand image: The face above the word SUAIRE (reversed). Are the eyes open or closed? The face of one of the two clerics supporting the shroud is shown for comparison (right hand side).


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After 2 years, and over 200 postings, I think I’ve finally cracked it – the enigma of the Shroud of Turin.

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).

Era?  Probably early-to-mid 14th century, consistent with the 1988 radiocarbon dating (1260-1390). eureka

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.

Comments welcome.

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.

* see entry for April 14th, 1503 in ‘Shroud History’

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.


Back again.


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.

Here are those images from above (dark v fainter scorch) after 3D-enhancement in Image J. Note the increasingly Shroud like appearance, especially with the imaging of dorsal side feet after turning up the fabric during imprinting - surely hich i

Here’s a reminder of the result from earlier (November 2014), imprinting off a hot brass crucifix at two levels of scorching (fainter one on right).  It’s a small scale experiment, granted,  one that ideally needs repeating with a life-sized effigy, but with that caveat, there is no very obvious degree of lateral distortion, due to the  lack of contact and/or contact pressure between the sides of the template and the fabric.


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

Home page: science buzz

Home page: science buzz

Yup, this blogger can still be followed on his ‘science buzz’ site.  It’s general science-based, but still has postings now and again (and again and again…) on the ever-intriguing TS.

Monday 6th October 2014

Want to read more on this site, but don’t know where to start (you masochist you)?

Maybe this will help. It’s a listing of all my postings in rank descending order, according to the site host’s statistics package:

Top Posts for all days ending 2014-10-06 (Summarized)

All Time

Title Views
Home page / Archives 13,726
Blood-grouping the Shroud of Turin – like trying to sort apples from oranges in the dark wearing boxing gloves. 3,039
The Shroud of Turin – let’s focus on that hemicellulose coating on the linen fibres … It could explain a great deal 2,008
Did you know there is a high-definition image of the Turin Shroud (most of it still under wraps)? 1,025
The Turin Shroud Man is not a photograph, but a negative THERMOGRAPH – and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise… 784
Raymond N Rogers: STURP supremo chemist (RIP) who sadly lost the plot (due to an apparent blind spot, it would seem, for those ultra-thin and highly superficial primary cell walls of flax and linen fibres). 683
Shroud Scope 8: 372 impossible scourge marks (surely?) on the Shroud of Turin 580
Is the Man on the Turin Shroud a pseudo-negative imprint from a DEATH MASK? (Could that be why the modern-day photographic negative looks so much better than the original?). 467
Comparison of Lirey Badge (Cluny medal) depicting the Shroud of Turin in the14th century with the 1865 Forgeais drawing – for open discussion 466
Thibault’s Principle: true for a stepped template, maybe – but not an artistic bas relief with rounded contours and gentler relief 433
A comprehensive new theory detailing a medieval origin for the Turin Shroud: a scorching onto linen – and human consciousness – of the last of the Knights Templar. 419
Was the Shroud of Turin intended as a visual double entendre – with an martyred Knight Templar serving as proxy for the crucified Christ? 414
Shroudie-Alert: Day 12: time now to write that long-overdue letter to the Royal Society… 396
A leisurely, thinking-aloud appraisal of those recently-released Shroud photomicrographs. 378
Seven short and simple answers to the Shroud of Turin Enigma Challenge – and a plea for the reporting of real science… 376
Shroud Scope 10: my very own gallery of 20 close-up views of the Shroud – all lightly photo-edited for optimised colour-differentiation 359
Modelling the image of the Turin Shroud – an interrupted experiment using onion epidermis – just one cell thick. 351
Refining a model: children’s ‘invisible ink’ trick with lemon juice allows thermal imprinting (“scorching”) at a much reduced temperature 346
What are you – stupid or something? Of course there’s a perfect correspondence between the Shroud and that face cloth… 336
Corona discharge for Shroud of Turin – advance notice of my paper for presentation at the Quantum Theology 2012 Conference, Instituto Polytecnica of Mamma Mia, Italy 310
Who says the Shroud is not a scorch mark – and more to the point, WHY? 303
Charring, fluorescence and image-forming mechanisms. Beware Shroudology’s junk science and flawed logic… 280
“Let’s poke ‘em with hokum…” 277
The Pope calls it “an icon written with blood”. I say it’s an elaborate medieval con, still being promoted for all its worth… 275
Shroudie Congresses – places where fantasies are peddled… 269
Could this be clinching evidence that the Shroud image is a contact scorch? 266
Still more character assassination allowed, indeed fostered, on That Other Site … 239
After 2 years, and over 200 postings, I think I’ve finally cracked it – the enigma of the Shroud of Turin. 234
Time maybe to re-think the received wisdom about the entire Shroud image being “highly superficial”? 233
No, dear Yannick, Adler and Heller did not PROVE it was real blood on the Shroud of Turin – even if some real blood is now present. 233
Stephen Jones BSc. Grad Dip.Ed persists in his mistaken belief that the Shroud image is a photograph. (Where’s the scientific evidence?) 227
STURP’s Raymond N. Rogers, top-notch (?) thermochemist, appeared to have abandoned thermodynamics completely when he argued for that implausible Maillard reaction 222
Shroud of Turin: one man’s scrutiny and interpretation of what he calls “clack” (i.e. dribbles of reddish-brown pigment) in real time 219
End-of-year brain-teaser for Shroudies: I challenge you to explain this apparent contradiction… 218
Can one bottle a scorch image? Could similar technology be applied to the Shroud image (scorch or otherwise)? 209
Guest posting from Hugh Farey (yipee – another science bod!): here’s a snapshot of his current studies of scorching and uv fluorescence. 209
Time maybe for a radical re-jigging of the scorch model – and of the alleged superficiality of the Shroud image too? 209
Brief message to Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, re your hijacked posting on pseudoscience and the Turin Shroud 205
I think I now know why STURP chemist Raymond Rogers detected hydroxyproline in the blood on the Shroud – and it’s to do with those medicinal leeches… 201
It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science? 201
No Mr. Breault – the blood IS on the hair (because that’s where the artist intended it to be) 199
If the Turin Shroud is just a heat scorch, then why does it not fluoresce under uv light? (The late Ray Rogers provides a possible answer). 197
It’s still looking good for leech digesta (as the source of “blood” on the Shroud of Turin) 196
OK, so there is bilirubin in the Shroud bloodstains (or so we are told). But how much precisely? 196
Did blood-sucking leeches help to establish – at least in some eyes – the ‘authenticity’ of the Shroud of Turin? 186
It would seem that those linen fibre nodes, aka dislocations, are prime targets for a thermal imprint from a hot template (“scorch mark”) 186
Why are the ‘radiationists’ still plugging their imaginary physics and chemistry? 183
Shroudie-Alert: Day 11 Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI – what is one to make of his devotion to the Shroud (despite that radiocarbon dating)? 173
More thoughts on the fragility of image-bearing fibres on the Shroud of Turin 169
One very good reason why the Turin Shroud could not POSSIBLY have been produced by scorching onto linen – and 10 even better ones why it could. 167
About 167
A scientist’s eye view of how the iconic Turin Shroud image came about – a happy accident of thermographic and photographic inversion? 160
Draft document discovered in the paper-skip at my local recycling centre: “Ten killer arguments for opposing any re-run of the radiocarbon dating.” 158
Try not to be ‘substandard’ when questioning Sir’s grasp of the facts – to say nothing of his slanted narrative… 158
Yet more ‘Fanti-sy’ from Fanti, Faccini et al, this time on the spear so-called “wound”… 152
Faking it Part 3: Why do early copies of the Shroud show so little evidence of the in-your-face blood stains we see today? (Some won’t like the answer..). 152
Flow chart summarising a novel hypothesis for how the Shroud of Turin came into existence (and fooled generations of scholars) 149
Simple physics says there are 7 ways of producing a scorch on linen 148
Dear Royal Society. Time maybe to take a hard line on those who peddle Turin Shroud pseudoscience? 144
Critique of Rogers’ so-called vanillin clock for dating the Shroud: why was Stanley T. Kosiewicz not a co-author (and where’s the data)? 139
A reply to Dan Porter and his Shroud of Turin associates re the significance of the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge 138
Message from Mr.Barrie Schwortz, President of STERA Inc (The self-styled “Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc”) 138
Daniel R. Porter’s shroudstory.com: ‘Troll Central’ by any other name. 135
ColinB’s cunning plan for re-dating the Shroud of Turin 127
Shroud Scope 1: Let’s take a closer look at the bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin. Correction – the images that are interpreted as bloodstains. 114
Shroud Scope 3: Now let’s take a closer look at the wrist – the one with the bloodstain and, supposedly, an underlying nail wound. 110
Two things you should do before reading Barrie Schwortz’s response to my criticism of STERA (The Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, aka Shroud (+) Copyright Inc) 110
Shroud Scope 4: No matter what process mysteriously produced a negative ‘snapshot’ of the Man on the Shroud, it captured that of creases in the linen too. Why? 109
An open letter to the President of the Royal Society. Would you and your Fellows be willing to assist in separating the science from the pseudoscience? 103
The Turin Shroud: but for the pseudo science it would have been dismissed long ago as a medieval fake 98
Hello, all you Shroud sceptics out there 97
Why there is a pressing need for higher definition Shroud images to be placed in the public domain (Barrie Schwortz’s STERA please note). 94
What is a Shroud “expert” – and is he or she to be trusted? 94
Is it safe to have ammonia in the home? Won’t it turn all your starched linen yellow via a Rogers’ Maillard reaction? 90
How’s this for Mickey Mouse statistics from Stephen E.Jones BSc, Grad.Dip.Ed? 90
Shroudie-Alert: Day1.Chief topic: the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge and that enigmatic chain… 89
Shroudie-Alert: Day 10. A new(ish) take on a very old amulet 87
Shroudie-Alert: Day 3. Chief topic: the Lirey badge and my search for Ian Wilson’s “nails and pincers”. 87
Mickey Mouse science now in the crosshairs. 86
The Turin Shroud: Spotlight on a particular ?-mark stain. Some call it blood; I call it CLACK… 85
Antibes market, Saturday 1st December 2012 85
One picture can be worth a thousand words … 84
Nul points, Dr.Thibault Heimburger. You have arrived at an over-hasty, ill-judged diagnosis… The patient is NOT dead… 83
Reply – in small considered instalments – to Thibault Heimburger re my “Sorry Mr.Rogers” posting 83
And now for something completely different… 82
Doh! I can think of only 19 reasons why the Shroud image was made by thermal imprinting (“scorching”) onto linen from a heated effigy 81
Is agenda-driven ‘theophysics’ the real reason why John Jackson’s Shroud Center of Colorado is STILL pushing its ne’er- do- well radiation model? 80
Needed urgently – scorch scanner (gd wkg cond) 80
Have you seen the new Wikipaedia (UK) entry on ‘scorchophobia’? It’s a must for all Shroudies! 79
Shroud Scope triumphs again 79
Let’s take a closer look at a subset of bloodstains that STURP says were imprinted before the body image… (Warning: this post is not for those who are convinced of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin)… 79
Yet more Mickey Mouse science (despite a Google top-ranking). 78
Hugh Farey, aficionado of linen fibre pyrolysis, has some more scorches for our delectation… 78
Dan Porter and his 2002 Long Bet,10 years on. Was he right? I say NO.Time has proved him spectacularly WRONG… 76
Let’s take a closer look at one of the peculiar blood stains on the Shroud – the one in the hair shaped like a question mark 76
Why is the Shroud image so superficial? More on the ongoing battle between science and pseudoscience. 75
Was the blood on the Shroud applied with a monkish felt-tip pen (well, a somewhat primitive version thereof)? 75
Mr. Barrie Schwortz, President of STERA Inc: please stop proselytizing narrative-driven so-called science. 73
A compression scorch from a hot template ought theoretically to leave a tell-tale signature on linen… 71
The new all-embracing, all subsuming ABC paradigm – now taking the world of sindonology by (almost) perfect storm…. 71
If you take away the blood from the Man in the Shroud, what are you left with? 71
How a cunning 14th century visuo-semantic marketing ploy helped establish the ‘authenticity’ of the Shroud – and corrupted the French language into the bargain. 70
Certainly there’s a blood stain on the wrist. But where’s the puncture wound, exit or otherwise? 70
Shroudie-Alert: Day 4. Mainly about the Lirey badge, the Cluny Museum, Pope Benedict XVI and the remarkable staying power of junk science… 69
Quickie response to Thibault Heimburger re that 1949 Lea and Hannan paper on the casein-glucose Maillard reaction. 67
Why is the Shroud image so superficial, half-tone and striated? Is it on raised ribs of primary cell wall hemicellulose? 67
Is it true that the Shroud image (“unlike a scorch”) ceases to be visible when backlit and viewed with transmitted light? A reader comments… 67
Doubly puzzling news item regarding Shroud promoter Russ Breault. 66
“Heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration” says Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro. Oh yes it can – and here’s the evidence… 65
My research credentials (in three different areas over a 20 year time period) 65
Shroudie-Alert: Day 9. Is it real human blood on the Shroud? A reply to Richard Savage, aka Jabba. 64
Shroudie-Alert: Day 7 Shroud Mk 1 – somebody’s private joke (in appallingly bad taste)? 64
Shroud Scope 2: Now let’s take a closer look at the hair on the Shroud of Turin. Correction – those parts of the image which from their location are interpreted as hair. 63
Here’s what Alan D. Adler could (should?) have done to investigate the porphyrins of those anomalous Shroud bloodstains. 59
No, the Shroud of Turin was NOT used to wrap Jesus. It was a 14th century thought experiment. It was not used to wrap anyone. 58
Shroud Scope 5: now for a more down-to-earth interpretation of those hands than the one supplied by those wacky Shroudologists. 58
Shroudie-alert: Day 5 Time to go for broke (before Hugh Farey nips in ahead of me) 58
Ten questions for anyone claiming that “a miraculous flash of light” was needed to create the Man on the Shroud 57
To all those who persist in claiming that the Shroud image is far too superficial to be a simple heat scorch: I say they are 100% wrong – with some help from WD40 – no uv laser beams needed. 57
Shroud Scope 9: how simple photo-editing may help resolve controversial issues regarding the blood and body images 56
Are the Godfathers of Shroudology really so ignorant of elementary chemical principles? 56
A revised flow-chart model for why the Turin Shroud was first documented in 14th century France. 55
Shroud Scope 6: is that transverse stitching across the dorsal view – or just an artefact of imaging? 55
Boring post, boring topic (“Which is weft, which is warp?”) 53
A holding reply to Thibault Heimburger MD re the longevity of blood stains on the Shroud of Turin 51
Faking it Part 2 : The Turin Shroud – a medieval marketing coup based on cleverly-contrived ambiguity … 50
A challenging scorch assignment that I had been putting off, and off, and off… 50
Sorry, Mr.Rogers (RIP), but you got it wrong about banding in the Shroud image ruling out linen modification 48
Shroudie-Alert: Day 8. How was the Lirey Shroud able to morph from cruel in-joke to Holy Relic? Did the Lirey badge provide a handy smokescreen? 48
How long before the grey scales fall from people’s eyes, and the Shroud image accepted as a thermal imprint (“scorch”)?? 47
10 reasons for thinking that the Shroud of Turin does NOT show a crucified man (more likely a barbecued Knight Templar) 47
My response to a typical ‘Ron-putdown’ arising from Dan Porter’s latest pirating of my content 47
The Thoughts of Paolo Di Lazzaro – still more Mickey Mouse science 47
Yes, the elaborate blood stains on the Shroud were indeed a true work of art, Dan Porter… 46
Today’s project – to produce a new chronological flow chart, proposing how a scorch image was ingeniously re-invented as a whole body “sweat imprint” (to suggest kinship with the Veil of Veronica). 45
Glad to be of service, “anonymous”… 44
Of course heat can produce a superficial coloration – I ask those who say it can’t to do my simple experiment 43
The jerk replies… 42
Reply to Bailey Packard re her Rez Project video – sadly pseudoscience by any other name… 41
My immediate response to a comment on “Did the bloodstains really precede image formation on the Shroud of Turin?” 40
Shroud Scope 7: Why call it blood if one’s not sure it is blood? A sceptic’s dilemma 39
Never forget heat CONVECTION (especially you who proselytise radiation models of the Shroud of Turin) 39
Response to Jos Verhulst: delving in the literature confirms my hunch that the Maillard browning reaction is EXQUISITELY sensitive to temperature – especially in the environmental range of interest to Shroudologists… 39
Today is the day the gloves come off.. 38
Shroudie-Alert: Day 6 37
Links to my immediate three-part response to Thibault Heimburger’s critique of the scorch hypothesis 35
A flow chart summary of the “hot Templar/hot template”model of the Shroud of Turin 35
Yawn: yet another new sighting of the Shroud in medieval art (well, a ‘water stain’ anyway) 34
Is the Lirey badge telling us that the man on the TS had been barbecued on a HORIZONTAL GRILL – like St.Lawrence? 33
Did John Jackson really demolish scorching as a mechanism? Maybe someone could explain to me how (in simple terms) 32
Am I the only one to have spotted that the Lirey Shroud was piggybacked on the Veil of Veronica – which may explain why the French still call it the Suaire (“sweat-impregnated facecloth”) de Turin”? 32
Was the Shroud image imprinted from a medieval life-size version of a crucifix? 31
A possible new approach to learning more about the chemical make-up of the Shroud’s image 31
What can one conclude from looking at the point of closest contact between frontal and dorsal Shroud images? 31
Here are my most-viewed postings to date (Aug 2012) on the Shroud of Turin 30
Too ludicrous for words… 30
My hypothesized link between the Shroud of Turin and the Templar executions is reinforced – via the Lirey badge and its reverse-side diamond trellis. 29
Building (sand) castles in the air – and maybe clay ones too… 29
A question for Stephen Jones re his so-called “wounds” on the Shroud (not to be confused with bloodstains) 29
Raymond N. Rogers, RIP. STURP’s out-of-control chemist, deficient in a knowledge of plant cell anatomy. 29
My ranking of spurious and/or unsupported claims made by Shroudologists 28
A free tutorial for Stephen E.Jones, BSc, Grad. Dip. Ed. on set theory 28
Beware: with each passing decade and century, the Shroud image sheds vital evidence as to its origins. 28
Twelve questions one might ask about the Shroud of Turin – to which the answer is NO… 28
Change of tack … 28
Change of direction 27
More thoughts on why LOTTO is the way to go. 27
I’m glad you asked me that Paul (even if posted to The Other Site) … 27
My checklist of key criteria that need to be reproduced in modelling the Shroud image mechanism – and the extent to which thermal imprinting (“scorching by direct contact”) could be claimed to meet those criteria 26
Can you see those supposedly inimitable discontinuities and striations in Shroud image fibres? 26
Shroudie-Alert: Day 2. Chief topic: the Lirey badge, the chain and the so-called “blood belt” 25
Does the cotton contamination affect a much bigger area of the Turin Shroud than first thought (say 4.4 x 1.1m)? 25
STURP got its priorities entirely wrong. Result – no real scientific insights. 25
Calling all Shroudies: have you ever seen a Shroud image fibre in close-up? If so – where? 24
Hugh Farey tells it the way it is – science is not about the absolute truth (whatever that is) … 23
Yes, there is clear evidence of tenting, Thibault, with all-or-nothing imaging (yet another nail in the coffin for radiation models) 23
Response to a confontational question on shroudstory.com from “anonymous” re modelling of the Shroud image. 23
I spy (?) lifting/lowering ropes on the Lirey badge (which point to ROASTING, not CRUCIFIXION). Time to rethink the “Shroud of Turin” 22
“Colin never produced results at all, except for some scorched images on cloth …” 22
On the meaning of “superficial”, as in a superficial wound – or scorch … 22
Eureka! 21
News update: the ‘hot Templar/hot template’ hypothesis appears on a Telegraph discussion. 19
Time methinks to refresh this blog’s tagline (and hopefully improve its dismal Google ranking). 17
Checklists – easy things to cut-and-paste – but is the inquisitor genuinely interested in one’s answers? 17
The more you have, the more you hoard … (Barrie’s Song) 17
Those “unique” 3D properties of the Shroud seem to be proving more of a hindrance than a help to those keen to promote their New Age radiation physics. 16
How come the Shroud image looks so fuzzy and ghost-like? 16
Was the Mark 1 TS image – a presumed heat scorch – relaunched at Lirey as a notional sweat imprint? 16
Does anyone have a bronze head they can lend me? 16
Message to Stephen E.Jones: I am not “Weaving Fan” 16
The ‘hot Templar/hot template’ hypothesis finally makes it into the mainstream media. 15
The arrow of time – and entropy 14
Short summary: why I too think the scorch image on the Turin Shroud represents Jacques de Molay (Templar Grand Master, barbecued Paris, 1314) 14
This title will not improve this blog’s Google ranking. But then, what will? 14
Message to Dan Porter, owner of laid-back pro-authenticity shroudstory.com site 13
“This strange hybrid method, through which a literary genre convinces itself it is a science” 13
One man’s jaundiced view of the aftermath of the ’88 radiocarbon dating. 13
One final attempt to make the priggish “anonymous” on Dan Porter’s site aware of his profoundly unscientific approach to the TS. 11
Same old, same old from Dan Porter’s site – one rule for me, another for pro-authenticity Shroudologists… 10
We need to know much more about the chemistry of linen pyrolysis before excluding the scorch hypothesis 10
An attempt to invalidate my own “improved” thermal imprinting procedure: 2. Microscopic level 10
Why are Shroud image fibres mechanically weaker than non-image bearing fibres? Pyrolysis of core hemicelluloses? 9
Still more manure from the owner of shroudstory.com 8
Beware the mirage of apparent reverse-side scorching produced by the ‘BROIL’ effect. 7
Was this how the Turin Shroud was made? Read on… 5
An attempt to invalidate my own “improved” thermal imprinting procedure: 1. Macroscopic level 5
Oh dear. One of our comments is missing… 3
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The arrow of time – and entropy



Here is a schematic representation of the arrow of time – and with it entropy – operating at the thread level in the Shroud (see previous posting for  likely changes at the individual fibre level).

OK – much simplified. It’s reckoned there are something like 200 retted bast fibres in each of the Shroud’s linen threads. Will try and track down the reference.

If one imagines the first diagram to represent a new scorched-on imprint, say from a heated metal template, possibly/probably a bronze statue  and/or  bas relief to represent a cruelly- tortured man (Knight Templar*?) –  one who could be mistaken for the  crucified Jesus  (especially after judicious applications of blood) and the last in the series above to represent how it might look after centuries of mechanical and/or other attrition – read wear-and-tear – then one has a ready explanation for some of the peculiar properties of the Shroud image.  (You know, the ones that are routinely trotted out reeled off by ‘sindonologists’  as evidence for how the Shroud image “cannot possibly be a scorch”).

Changes in the image at the individual fibre level were the subject of the preceding post, and the posting before that  warned of a peculiar optical illusion operating at the fabric level in  (what I dubbed  the BROIL mirage – due to Back Radiation of Incomplete Light). “Incomplete” was a sciency way of saying “coloured” that made for a questionably better acronym. Ouch.

I’ll be back later to list some of those peculiarities, ones  that I say are as much a reflection of  plain-old entropy as of original  thermal imprinting technology.  The latter was no doubt   “branding iron”- inspired, dreamed up by an imaginative medieval artisan, possibly a blacksmith with a mischievous and devil-may-care streak.

Oh, and I’ll  have to add an extra diagram to represent the way the so-called half-tone effect gives a more intense image despite having end-stage pale yellow fibres only. Those more closely-spaced fibres would have originally been underneath a more highly scorched first stage.

* See my recently updated manicured and brushed-up idea ( pretty pictures as well!)




Light scorch to begin with. After ageing and associated fibre fracture and detachment, there remain only thinly dispersed yellow fibres in the top surface. Result: faint half-tone image.



Heavy scorch to begin with  After ageing and more extensive fibre fracture/detachment, there are still many yellow fibres in the top surface. Result: a more intense half-tone image than above.  


Afterthought: while I’ve said that this posting is addressed to events at the thread level, please note that there’s no suggestion that whole threads break off. It’s the more superficial, highly-scorched fibres of crown threads in the weave in immediate contact with the heated template OR IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT TO THEM that break off over time.


Several signs here of fibre fracture to leave stumps. Copyright STERA Inc. Displayed here for research purposes only.

Several signs here of fibre fracture to leave stumps tufts.
Mark Evans Collection. Copyright STERA Inc. Displayed here for research purposes only.

So what are those subtle and/or peculiar features of the Shroud image that are attributed to a unique 1st century event in a Palestine rock tomb, but which I say are more likely due to a combination of contact scorching followed by centuries of gentle, slow motion disintegration?

1. Ultra-superficiality at the individual fibre level, i.e. the alleged 200nm image thickness, is explained. Many fibres initially had thicker image layers, due to the zone of pyrolysis extending deeper into the core than the PCW. But those heavily scorched fibres,  being mechanically compromised, have broken off over the centuries, leaving just those with highly superficial scorching with relatively unimpaired mechanical strength.

2. The ‘half-tone’ effect (always tricky to explain, whichever proposed mechanism (radiation, conduction, convection) is invoked – why should coloured fibres have immediate neighbours that are uncoloured?).

Attrition explains the half tone effect. Any fibre that has more than a certain degree of colour from scorching has broken off, leaving just the minimally coloured fibres, probably with scorching restricted to the hemicelluloses of the PCW.

3. Image fibres are weaker than non-image fibres, demonstrated by the fact that they were easier to strip off with  Rogers’ sticky tape in the flying ’78 STURP visit.

4. Attrition might be one reason why Shroud image fibres are non-fluorescent under uv light, if it were supposed that fluorescence was conferred by chemical changes occurring at temperatures above those needed for superficial scorching only. But I think there are other, better reasons for explaining lack of fluorescence that have been set out previously on this site. Briefly, unless one knows the precise chemical nature of the fluorescent species – their volatility, their proneness to oxidation, polymerization etc  –  then I personally do not see why lack of fluorescence centuries after the initial image-forming process can be held as a serious objection to any proposed mechanism of image formation.Fluophores are usually low MWt substances with plenty of conjugated double bonds. It would be a remarkable fluophore that would survive in fabric for centuries. (Yes, I know the 1532 ‘scorch marks’ still fluoresce, but they are not just  surface “scorches” – they are the margins of full-thickness burn holes, and have been far more heavily pyrolysed).

5. I don’t pretend to understand the ‘stochastic processes’ that G.Fazio and his colleagues say were necessary to obtain discrimination between image and background colour, nor the reason why that then requires a latency period of some decades for full image development. What I do know is there you will not find a single reference to post-production degradation of the image in the link to that 2013 paper above.  One wonders whether the random factors that operate in degradation have been conflated with those that he imagines operate in the latency period. Mechanisms of image formation will always be somewhat conjectural.  There  is nothing conjectural about the phenomenon of age-related decay. I have only to look in the mirror to be reminded of that. No doubt the distribution of age spots and wrinkles would also fit a ‘stochstic model’ with a long latency period.


Feedback (from Elsewhere):

  1. March 12, 2014 at 7:53 am | #16

    Is there anywhere on the Shroud where the image penetrates deeper into the linen than in other spots? Is it not logical to assume that if the image is a man-made scorch it would have penetrated deeper in some areas — undetectable at the time but not so today. Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?

    • Yannick Clément
      March 12, 2014 at 10:53 am | #17

      Quote: “Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?”

      That’s the conclusion of the STURP team. The ultra-superficiality is present not only in areas very faint but also in most probable zones of direct-contact where the image is the darkest like the nose area for example… This simple fact, along with the bloodstains evidence, is enough to discard any hypothesis involving a man-made forgery. Can we move forward please?


      “Zones of direct contact”

      Like, er, you know, atom to atom? What kind of mechanism transfers energy  directly, atom-to-atom? Think Physics 101.Think heat conduction (as distinct from diffusing molecules, radiation etc).


      Update: 16:22

      David Goulet commented on Is Time the Secret Ingredient We Need to Consider?.

      in response to Yannick Clément:

      Quote: “Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?” That’s the conclusion of the STURP team. The ultra-superficiality is present not only in areas very faint but also in most probable zones of direct-contact where the image is the darkest like the nose area for example… This simple fact, along […]

      The only way to move forward, given the lack of new data/tests, is to question and re-examine what we already think we know. I don’t expect Colin is going to find conclusive evidence to validate the scorch theory, but his experiments and thought exploration could lead to other insights. He may ‘accidently’ hit upon something revelatory that does move us forward. This is certainly better than standing pat waiting for Turin to allow new tests.


      Yes, there may be an appearance of a random walk about scientific investigation, David, especially when folk look at the clock (or calendar).  But then the same might be said about bloodhounds, sniffing at this or that. We science bods learn to follow our nose… It’s all in the nose you see (the grey matter comes later).

      This blog, and its predecessor on my sciencebuzz site, began over 2 years ago as a challenge: to crack the enigma of the Turin Shroud.  To “crack” obviously means to produce an explanation that meets my own expectations of credibility which, if I’m properly humble, means it could be proved wrong by others in the fullness of time, armed with better evidence. My chief aim was to produce an account in real time of the manner in which the scientific mind – or rather just one in particular- tackles a problem. With no implied criticism of David, I do not believe that I stumble on truth by accident. I may do it by a circuitous route, but there is no accident about gravitating towards the right answer simply because one is exploring side-turnings on the way, simply to ensure that nothing is missed.

      David’s comments has given me all the encouragement I need to break off from the research and  to begin to catalogue the some 230 Shroud-related postings on this (mainly) and two other sites to show how I arrived at today’s posting, proposing that the curious Shroud image is a product of  both ingenious manufacture (by contact scorching) and time-related image degradation.

      It’s not been a random walk. It has always had ‘directionality’, as I hope to show.  Later, I may advance some quite adventurous ideas on what guides the scientific temperament, ones  that folk reading this blog are  probably unlikely to have encountered elsewhere. You see, it’s more than just head,  or even heart and head. Clue: primitive limbic centre of the brain. Sense of SMELL (metaphorically speaking), or as we would say now, intuition, or gut feeling.


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Beware: with each passing decade and century, the Shroud image sheds vital evidence as to its origins.



The three faces are a supposed time sequence – there seems little doubt that the Shroud image has been fading over the centuries.

The second row of images underneath is part hypothesis, part common sense. It relates fading to the loss of degraded linen fibres (regardless of mechanism of image imprinting, whether by mysterious radiation, or as I prefer to imagine (see site banner) by contact scorching from a heated bas relief metal template).

The first fibres to break off and be lost would be those that are degraded all the way to the central lumen of each fibre, with visible coloration of what Rogers described as the “medullas”, i.e. the interface between empty central lumen  (“hole”) and secondary cell wall.  Coloured “medullas” probably represent scorched remnants of the long-deceased flax cell membrane and cytoplasm.

Less degraded fibres, with degradation confined to the hemicelluloses of the outermost primary cell wall (PCW, dark brown)  and thick secondary cell wall (SCW, yellow) would be next to fracture and detach.

The image we see today probably represents the population of minimally-degraded fibres, with damage to the highly superficial PCW only, with largely unaffected SCW cores.

The third horizontal row is an attempt to portray the shed fibres collecting in a heap.

Expect similar attrition, i.e. progressive flaking off,  of the bloodstains, regardless of the origins of the blood.

The Shroud image is not frozen in time. It is subject to entropy like everything else in this world. Order proceeds to disorder, because there are more disordered than ordered arrangements, because random change is more likely to create disorder from order than vice versa, at least in open systems in which energy can dissipate.

More later on the implications of progressive image attrition on some misguided attempts to exclude proposed mechanisms of image formation, notably contact scorching.


As before, I am giving search engines, Google  especially, no assistance in tagging this post (no image captions, no keywords etc) for reasons previously stated.


Back again (now 09.00 local time).

Some might consider this posting to be a statement of the obvious – even if the focus on events at the individual fibre level is a bit sciency (but then, I am a scientist, albeit long since retired). So why bother posting?

If the truth be told, I should have done this post two years ago. Then, on the scores of occasions when the  sciency “200nm” card is played, I could have come back with this. The 200nm card, for the uninitiated is the one that was introduced to shroudology by the STURP team leader Raymond N.Rogers. He went to Turin in 1978, and pressed sticky tape onto  various Shroud locations, and took them back to New Mexico to analyse. One of his memorable and much cited findings was that one that described how one could grab the end of an image fibre with forceps, and when one pulled, the coloured image stayed in the adhesive as a “ghost”. It was so thin one could not resolve it by light microscopy. Given the range of wavelengths of visible light, the mantra was born that the Shroud image layer is a mere 200nm to 600nm thick – amazingly thin. (Reminder: 1cm = 10mm; 1mm =1000micrometres; 1 micrometre=1000 nanometres).

Fast forward to Shroudie forums, and one is informed time and time again that no man-made scorch, at least off a hot solid template, could be so incredibly thin, and that one has to invoke some kind of radiation. (Cue uv excimer lasers, corona discharges, neutron bombardment from earthquakes and fracturing rock etc etc).

OK, so it’s a tall order (maybe) to create a 200nm thick scorch that never goes deeper into the weave. But it’s not a tall order if one is then allowed to come back a few centuries later when all the more deeply scorched fibres have broken off, leaving just those with the PCW scorched. Reminder: the PCW of flax/linen fibres is reckoned to be of the order of 100nm thick!

Oh, and 200nm is not so  impossibly thin as to defy human comprehension. It’s the thickness of gold leaf that was used to illuminate medieval manuscripts, balanced on the end of a paintbrush by the master gilder.

One encounters other forms of the “impossibly-thin-to-forge” mantra. Like: “the image is restricted to the outermost fibres of each thread”.  Well, it could seem that way centuries later, when what one is looking at are lightly coloured fibres that are now on the outside, but weren’t initially.

Or there’s the mysterious “half-tone effect”.  That also comes with the anti-scorch mantra. All the fibres in the image are either a fixed intensity of yellow or are uncoloured. There are no in-betweens. What may seem like a darker image area is “simply” due to having a greater ratio of coloured to uncoloured fibres. Yes, I know. This is starting to get monotonous. What if there had been darker fibres to begin with, but being mechanically weaker they have simply broken off, leaving a population of stronger, weakly coloured fibres that can rejoice for ever after under the tag “half-tone” effect, anticipating 19th century photographic reproduction technology by several hundred years?

It’s implicit from what I’ve said so far that modern photography is of no help – we’ve arrived too late, that all the more intensely-scorched fibres will have detached a long time ago, leaving a homogeneous collection of yellow fibres, with nothing so undignified as a singed bristle in sight. Hmmm. I’m not so sure about that. While close-up photographs of the Shroud, at a magnification large enough to see individual fibres are as rare as hen’s teeth, there was one  (under copyright protection) that one SSG member was able to liberate from another’s archive and insert in his anti-scorch pdf. Here’s a screen grab – justified here as being used for research/education purposes only.



Is it my imagination, or are there not hints of broken fibres in various locations that seem darker (“more heavily scorched”) than those that are still aligned with the threads. Could this be the smoking gun for my entropy focus?  Are there more pictures hidden away in private archives that could be brought to bear on the crucial issue  and, more importantly, chief mechanism of wear-and-tear?

Late edit: in fact I was looking at the same photomicrographs way back in October 2012 and arriving at the same conclusions re broken ends ends.


Back later (to discuss fluorescence and other issues that have been fashioned as weapons by the anti-scorch polemicists)

Update 20:40

It’s over two years since this blogger/scientist picked up on a brief reference to the PCW and hemicellulose in linen fibres (Feb 13th 2012 to be precise, the second posting on this site) and quickly made a case for those two being the likely site for a faint and superficial  200nm thermal imprint by direct contact. By rights, in a sane and rational world, that hypothesis should quickly have edged out Rogers’ impurity coating (for reasons I don’t intend  to enumerate now, but may do so in the next day or two). Yet here we are two years later with the same fixation with Rogers’ impurity coating being expressed on Misinformation Central. I use that M word advisedly, given the quaint belief over there that Rogers was advancing a serious hypothesis with his low temperature Maillard scenario. He wasn’t. It does not stand up to close scrutiny (again, the reasons can come later). What’s more, Rogers had a total blindspot for the PCW and its heat-sensitive hemicelluloses, and having argued (correctly) that cellulose was too resistant towards heat to be the prime target, and being clearly unaware of the botanical facts of life, like the PCW being external, really left himself nowhere to go except in the direction of dreaming up impurity coatings. But that’s no reason for the host of Shroudieland’s premier blog site and one of its Rogers’ disciples to continue to preach 24/7 the Gospel according to St.Raymond, and to fail to acknowledge the strength of the case for PCW as the image-receptive surface. Is it any wonder that this site, with its 200 postings that have consistently developed the PCW hypothesis continues to be virtually invisible in the search engines under (shroud of turin) when a highly tendentious and  outdated version of events is still promoted and/or hankered after. My postings simply have the life sucked out of them when those cover versions appear in the Shroudie digest, and its quite clear from my flag counter that the same old broken records get played without visits here first to check what I have said in its entirety, instead of Daniel R.Porter’s spoon-fed milk-and-water version.

Rogers probably believed he was heading in the right direction, given the gap in his education (plant science).  But for that other site to persist with his fantasy, and to close its eyes to the PCW thinking  is something different altogether. I say its agenda-driven pseudoscience we are seeing over there. As I’ve said many times before, I heartily detest any kind of pseudoscience. What has real science (and this real scientist) done to deserve this kind of shabby dismissive treatment – one of being contained, neutralised, decontaminated. Maybe that’s the real raison d’etre for that site. It’s all about CONTROLLING THE INTERNET to allow the promotion of the Shroud and associated agenda elsewhere. It’s about fire-fighting, damage limitation etc etc.

Update: 10:23 from Mike M (Canadian pharmacist as I recall)>

“I think what comes out of CB post is simply an implied admission that his scorch hypothesis can’t replicate the superficiality at the fibre level… So it must be time (i.e. don’t ask me to replicate it because it happened over hundreds of years and I can’t replicate that) what about the real scorches on the shroud? Why are those still there, after the same time has passed and all the foldong and unfolding why are they still there, Full with Lumen discoloration, UV Fluorescence and transmitted light presence?”

First, let me say that I see no difficulty with selective scorching of the PCW,  even if it is a mere 100nm, or a few multiples thereof. As I’ve said over and over again, one can have a scorch as faint and superficial as one wishes, since there are no theoretical of commonsense grounds for thinking that a scorch at the limit of visibility would penetrate deeper than the SCW PCW.

But Mike M may not  be aware of my thinking that the Mark 1 Shroud was made as a tribute to a roasted Templar, probably Jacques de Molay of Geoffroi de Charney, and there would have been no attempt to produce the exceedingly faint scorch we see today. That would hardly have been a crowd puller.  So the original scorch was more intense, but has since become faint as a consequence of the more heavily scorched and thus more brittle fibres snapping off over time. There may have been proactive attempts to speed up that process in the early days when Mk1 Shroud was being reinvented as Christ’s burial cloth (see the references to boiling in oil, repeated laundering etc).

As for the “real” scorches on the Shroud, they weren’t done by an artist/artisan. They are the edges of burn holes where the entire thickness of the fabric has been charred. Sorry, not a fair comparison. The same goes for those other properties (fluorescence etc) – entirely different scenario, involving much higher temperatures in the 1532 fire.

The chief point is that one cannot go listing differences between modern scorches and proposed ancient ones, using them as evidence for or against scorching, without considering the effect of wear and tear. The latter is unavoidable, especially given the time scale, and, given the exotic nature of some Shroud image characteristics (“half tone effect”) one is entitled to seek explanations that involve not only the initial energy input, but the subsequent degradation too. Might it be the failure to consider ageing effects that explains why the Shroud has been regarded as an enigma for so long.

Update: 12th March am

March 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm | #11

That’s true.

To work seriously one has to consider the differences between fiber, thread and fabric levels.


I dealt with an aspect of events at the fibre level in the previous posting, warning against a particular optical illusion that involves the interstices of the weave and back-reflection/scattering of coloured light. It’s so far not been spotted or relayed elsewhere as far as I’m aware.Thanks Google etc. You and your fellow search engines really are a dead loss at failing to report  the serious attempts being made to solve the Shroud enigma, despite the frequent appearance of a “News” tab on the first page of listings under (shroud turin).

As regards events at the thread level, see Hugh Farey’s comment that followed yours, and my reply.


Hugh Farey
March 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm | #13

They’re not still there, are they? In fact, so much of them was being crumbled away that it was thought there was a danger of the charred fragments damaging the rest of the shroud, hence the 2000 restoration.

That is to say, of course, that there are degrees of discolouration, from the lightest image colour to the blackest char, and quite possibly the most friable parts of all of it have been crumbled off. The darkest burns have been rubbed away to nothing – hence the enlargment of the ‘burn holes,’ and the lightest discolourations have been excoriated the least. Possibly the non-image areas haven’t been rubbed away at all. All the remaining marks, from burns to faint image, are what remains, not the original undamaged surface. Doesn’t that make sense?


March 12, 2014 at 2:26 am | #15

Thank you Hugh. You put things so much better than me, which is perhaps why I rely a lot on diagrams. In fact you have given me an idea for today’s posting, which will show diagramatically the effect of that great equalizer – mechanical attrition – at the thread as well as the fibre level. It will plagiarize the cable-like portrayal of threads in cross-section from that splendid paper of Fanti, Di Lazzaro, Heimburger et al on Macroscopic v Microscopic Aspects.


Here’s a cut-and-paste of the abstract of that open-access 201o Fanti et al paper. (My bolding. What a pity that Raymond Rogers did not live to see it, or appreciate the importance of the PCW, especially its EXTERNAL location on plant cells, including those that have acquired a secondary cell wall.)

The “superficiality” of the Turin Shroud body image is a characteristic frequently described in scientific papers but too often in vague terms. Originating from a discussion among the members of the Shroud Science Group, this paper was compiled thoroughly describing the unique characteristics of the body image superficiality. This concept of superficiality is here described at the fabric, thread and fiber levels. At the fabric level, we show the importance of the geometry of the fabric. At the thread level, the very specific distribution of the color is emphasized. Finally, at the fiber level, we confirm that the color is a chemically altered layer about 200 nm thick found at the surface of the colored fibers (the inner part remains uncolored). We suggest that the chemical alteration that produced the discoloration is related to the primary cell wall of the linen fiber. The description of image superficiality here reported will be useful for the formulation of future hypotheses about the body image formation process.


To which this blogger would say “Amen” and simply add a few extra words to the end :

“… and subsequent fading via mechanical and/or other attrition.”

Update: Thur 13 March: It slipped my mind earlier to mention that Thibault Heimburger published an extensive and valuable collection of photomicrographs from the Mark Evans collection (STERA copyright).


See also this posting for more discussion and links:


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