Latest: (Aug 21): have just updated this site’s ‘credo’ that sits alongside the title above. It now reads “The greatest conjuring trick in history, achieved using a variant of invisible ink technology – to IMPRINT (a double full-length man’s body). The imprinting agent? Probably humble oil/white flour, later turned golden-brown in a HOT OVEN or similar, then given an ABRASIVE wash using soap and water. See banner below.”
Latest: (Aug 22): have just discovered a colorimetric test for my Stage 2 Shroud-like imprints. They change from yellowish-brown to pale yellow with no hint of brown. The nature of the reagent provides important clues to chemical structure. However, I shall defer posting further details pending some feedback* on the more important proposition offered in this posting – namely that the TS image was a ‘conjuring trick’, one that exploited medieval knowledge of “invisible ink”, cleverly adapting the principle to permit ‘invisible imprinting’ of the human form onto linen, followed by thermal development and visualization of the image in a hot oven or similar.
* This posting has been up for 6 days, but so far has elicited no comments here or other sites, and indeed has done nothing whatsoever for search-engine ranking (still halfway down Page 4 of a google.uk search under (shroud of turin) and lower still on a Stateside google.com search.
Aug 16 (start of original posting):
This posting conveys what I believe to be an important message regarding the provenance of the Turin Shroud – medieval, not 1st century. To keep the message simple, and ensure that this posting (my 340th approx on the Turin Shroud!) gets seen and hopefully read from start to finish, I’ll write it in short instalments, making new additions every day or two. Comments and indeed criticism are invited (beware: WordPress holds up a site newbie’s first comment for the blogger’s vetting and approval).
Let’s begin then with a series of photograph that I took yesterday, which I believe speak for themselves (but I’ve added a few words).
The words were written on paper using using milk as ‘invisible ink’ The paper was then held over a hotplate for a few seconds to develop the ‘message’. The ink quickly turns browner than the paper, being more thermochemically-sensitive to sugar-protein Maillard reactions etc than the cellulose fibres.
The above was the result of loading a rubber date-stamp with milk, pressing onto paper, then developing with heat as above. In principle, milk can be used to imprint as well as to write.
The above image shows promise that “invisible ink” might at least in principle be used (or HAVE BEEN USED) to imprint part or all of a human body to obtain a contact imprint. Note that the image is a ‘negative’, i.e. tone-reversed as per the body image on the Turin Shroud. Why? Because the more prominent non-recessed parts with the highest relief that would appear brightest in a photograph, through intercepting and reflecting more light towards the camera, appear darkest through making the best contact when imprinting a dark pigment onto a light background.
So there’s an image of sorts, even using a crude imprinting agent, i.e. milk. Might a better result have been achieved using an imprinting agent that was less fluid, or indeed a solid, say a white powder, maybe assisted by a liquid vehicle?
Water-soaked linen was then draped over the coated hand, pressed down using an extra layer of towelling so as to imprint from the highest relief only. (An oil-free slurry of flour in water was tested with dry linen in pilot experiments and found wantimg, for reasons that need not concern us at present).
Result with flour (right): vastly more superior than with milk (left) and arguably somewhat Shroud-like (fuzzy indistinct transition between image and non-image areas of the linen). Might the technology, derivative of ‘writing with invisible ink’ be further improved?
Something quite remarkable happens to a roasted flour imprint when it’s gently washed with soap and water. It ‘plumps up’, so to speak, to make a bas-relief, i.e. semi-3D image. One can just about see the effect in the above photograph. There’s a way of showing the effect to much better advantage. One uses an EXCESS of flour at the coating stage, i.e. one does NOT shake of the surplus before imprinting. Might this effect have been discovered by the putative fabricators of the Shroud in mid-14th century France? Did it have a role to play in the early displays of the Shroud, when we know it made an immediate impact before the showing were banned for some 30 years on the order of the Avignon-based Pope.
Before pursuing that line of enquiry, let’s see what happens to the flour-imprinted image after thorough and abrasive washing with soap and water, intended to dislodge all encrusted cooked flour. What remains?
Again, note the arguably IMPROVED superiority of the flour-based image, i.e. the startling resemblance – though I say it myself- with the body image of the Turin Shroud, with that nebulous ghostly quality. Was this how the image was obtained in the 14th century – by use of a ‘secret ingredient’ – plain white flour- that was then subsequently washed out leaving no visible traces, either for contemporaries of that period, or for modern day analysts, notably the STURP team members of 1978, armed with their state-of-the-art instrumentation, but looking for artists’ paint pigments.
So what happens if one imprints off the hand you see above? Answer: something truly, TRULY remarkable, something that might account for a peculiarity of the first known (double, head-to-head ) image of the Man on the Turin Shroud. namely the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge, circa 1355, at present in the Cluny Museum in Paris. Yes, there’s more to come, stuff you will not have read elsewhere, dare one say dramatic claims, but let’s stop here for now (and see how this posting fares in the search engine rankings). This site is presently on Page 4 of a Google search under (shroud of turin), sixth entry down from the top. I feel after 4.5 years of research and regular progress reports it ought to be on Page 1, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Wednesday Aug 17 2016
There’s a vast research literature on the TS, accumulated over decades. That includes the ambitious STURP blitz of 1978, yet one that finally produced virtually zero insights into the physical and chemical nature of the body image.Why?
Hopefully what appears thus far provides a ready answer. Two properties of linen have been largely, perhaps ENTIRELY overlooked in the speculation on image-forming mechanisms.
And what might they be?
Answers: (a) the extraordinary resistance shown by linen towards heat that allows it to be imprinted with an image forming substance, and the ENTIRE LINEN then heated to 200C if necessary to develop the image. The linen emerges still WHITE, or at worst a little off-white (which in the case of the TS can be mistaken for ageing changes) and still STRONG. There is nothing in the appearance to suggest that the linen has been roasted!
(b) the ability to launder linen after one’s heat development, to leave just the fabric and its final image, washing away all traces of surplus imprinting agent.
Result: the best equipment in the world will fail to detect the deployment of a particular imprinting agent if the latter has been completely washed out. Nor would its presence be so much as suspected if one approached the TS convinced ahead of time it was a genuine 1st century burial shroud with an image of the actual in-the-flesh founder of Christianity formed by a process unknown to science. Sadly that seems to have been the case where several key members of the STURP team were concerned.
Science cannot rely on instrumentation alone to provide all the answers, no matter how state-of-the-art. Science operates by model-building, dare one say ‘having hunches’, indeed pure guesswork at times, while importantly wasting no time in putting those models to experimental tests. Science as often as not is more about weeding out the dud hypotheses, the better ones often being discovered by a process of patient and systematic elimination. Scientists who fail to go straight to the ‘correct’ answer are accustomed to being told they are “going round in circles”. Wrong. If conscientious and dedicated, they are more likely to be going round in a spiral, gradually converging on the centre with the least incorrect answer. It’s a process that can’t be rushed.
Returning to specifics. I promised to post what I consider a spectacular result when using a thick application of flour imprinting medium. Here is the 1st stage imprint, after colour development in the oven, after a gentle wash with soap and water:
Yes, that’s an image of my hnad, would you believe it, and yes it’s 3D (or at any rate, a bas relief semi-3D). What did I do to see that amazing effect? Answer – the heat-treated linen was soaked in water and rubbed gently with soap. In a matter of a few minutes, it began to plump up. Later, after drying it collapses back flat again, but the 3D effect returns when one exposes a second time to water.
Yet underneath that bold 3D image lurks a ghost image that can be seen by abrasive washing to remove all the surface encrustation.
So there is not just one image to consider in this new model for the Turin Shroud – but two – a bold first stage image, seen above, and a faint nebulous second stage. Might both types of images have been seen AND deployed at Lirey in the mid-1350s, but for different purposes, one being more controversial than the other?
Expect to see a brief section soon on the historical implications of there being TWO image types!
Thursday Aug 18
Time then to address that tantalizing possibility, namely that the Turin Shroud image as first displayed in the mid-1350s in the tiny hamlet of Lirey, near Troyes, was NOT the faint faded image we see today. Instead it was a bold, PLUMPED-UP image similar to the one you see above, because at that stage the decision had NOT been taken to wash abrasively to see what if anything survived.
First, let’s briefly ask if there’s any evidence in the historical record of the early TS having been washed. Yes, indeed there is. It’s the evidence of House of Savoy courtier Antoine de Lalaing from 1503 which can be found in Ian Wilson’s splendid summary of Shroud history, as currently displayed on the STERA site:
Here’s the quotation:
“Lalaing adds that the Shroud’s authenticity has been confirmed by its having been tried by fire, boiled in oil, laundered many times ‘but it was not possible to efface or remove the imprint and image’.”
One can if one wishes reject the notion that the early TS would have been treated in so cavalier a fashion for the improbable or misunderstood reason stated without rejecting the idea that being linen, and having come from an oven or open charcoal fire, it had been laundered. And not just laundered once, but maybe several times with increasing vigour to leave a final resistant image (deemed perhaps to have the greatest ‘pilgrim-pulling’ power). The ‘back story’ whispered at each consecutive display could have been hardened to make it increasingly a claim for being THE actual burial shroud of the crucified Jesus, explaining why initial approval from the local Troyes bishop (Henri de Poitiers) quickly changed to spluttering outrage, as described in the celebrated missive from his successor Bishop Pierre d’Arcis sent to the Pope much later (1389). One’s tempted to refer to an initial bold artistic-looking image, albeit made unconventionally via a novel imprinting process, gradually morphing into an altogether more subtle quasi-image, though ‘de-morphing’ might be a more appropriate description.
Still to come: might there be supporting evidence for the speculative ideas above from the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge?
Fig.15: Close up, frontal v dorsal sides of the cast figure (lead/tin alloy), Lirey Pilgrim’s badge
As stated earlier, the Lirey badge is the first known depiction of the Turin Shroud as a double, head-to-head image (beware claims made for earlier images that lack those defining, dare one say iconic features). If it were the image we see now – faint, scarcely visible, ghostly-looking, then why did that artist/artisan who created the mould for the above badge go to all the trouble to make the figure on the cast appear in semi-3D bas relief? Maybe for immediate visual impact, given the medium gives scope for bas relief, not merely scratches or grooves as in simpler engraving? Maybe. But why is the figure so grotesquely bulbous, given it’s supposed to represent Jesus Christ.
Two alternatives spring to mind. One is that the figure on the first (of two) variants of the Lirey badge was NOT intended to represent Jesus, a hypothesis this investigator explored in detail some 3-4 years ago, suggesting instead the final slow-roasted fate of Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Templar order. The new findings with flour imprinting now suggest a second interpretation. Maybe the figure was intended from the start to represent the crucified Jesus, but what the souvenir badge-maker saw was the Stage 1 imprint on display, non-abrasively laundered i.e. the ‘plumped-up’ one, and it was that he duly attempted to replicate, and reasonably well one might say, given the small dimensions, and having to laboriously and painstakingly hollow out and smooth off soft stone (assuming the second variant of the Lirey badge, the so-called Machy mould, is a reliable guide to extant 14th century metal-casting technology).
Here are two images from my previous posting, comparing those plumped images first with the two figurines from which they were imprinted, suitably aligned head-to-head:
And here are those Stage 1, plumped up imprints compared with the Lirey badge:
(Technical detail: I used a different method for ‘cooking’ the imprints in the above experiment; it was inspired by the 1503 de Lalaing testimony – see earlier- that was not solely about laundering. Can anyone guess what it was?)
Mechanism of imprinting?
This posting is long enough already without going into the detail of what appears to be a subtle process. Suffice it to say that the crucial geometry is to have 4 components in the following order: dry skin- oil – white flour – wet linen. When the linen is peeled off theorder is simply: oil-white flour-wet linen. The Stage 1 image is simple to explain – it’s simply a crust of reddish-brown roasted flour. It’s the faint fuzzy Stage 2 image that remains after abrasive washing that is subtle. It appears to be the result of a PUSH-PULL process that occurs on heating. The flour”fries” due to the attached traces of oil, exuding tiny amounts of yellow-brown liquid. The oil PUSHES that liquid into the fibres of the linen, while the latter exert a PULL action due to capillary action (mainly the result it seems of narrow channels between the fibres of a thread), So the real imaging medium is LIQUID formed at high temperature that sweats out of the roasting flour – but there’s so little of it that the penetration into the weave is short range. That accounts no doubt for the peculiar microscopic properties reported for the TS and confirmed with my model system, namely discontinuities (abrupt colour cut-off along particular fibres) and uniform coloration of a small proportion of fibres, surrounded by a majority of non-coloured ones (the so-called ‘half-tone’ effect).
Friday Aug 19
This posting is still failing to get visibility in the big wide world, based purely one admits on Google ranking (still stubbornly stuck on Page 4 listings, though having briefly made the top of that page yesterday). Will it make Page 3 or better? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on how the algorithm works. There are days when I suspect that personal blogs such as this are tagged in such a way that they never get higher than a certain page, regardless of number of clicks, comments etc. We shall see.
In the meantime, research conmtinue with a view to confirming the proposed imprinting mechanism – see yesterday’s entry – which is not easy.
Here’s a snapshot from an experiment I did yesterday – or rather the first step in that experiment- in which I created two separate zones of vegetable oil and water on a single sheet of linen, and then imprinted across BOTH zones, using my oil/flour coated hand:
Would anyone care to guess the appearance of that imprinted linen (a) immediately after oven-heating (b) after gentle non-abrasive washing in soap and water to obtain the Stage 1 image (c) after abrasive washing to dislodge the orange crust to be left with the final Stage 2 image (if any!)?
Please feel free to use comments facility at bottom of posting.
So, assuming the correctness of my model (about which I now have no doubt) might the TS body image be properly described a “heat scorch”? Answer: no, despite resembling one.
It’s better described as a dye-like STAIN produced by the ‘sweating’ of a high temperature-exudate from the imprinting medium, the latter probably white flour or similar. Chemically, the stain can confidently be assumed to comprise high molecular weight (loosely speaking ‘polymeric’) MELANOIDINS, the same class of chemically-complex, indeed, largely-uncharacterized substances that give baked or toasted products (bread etc) their attractive brown colour and flavour..
STURP’s John Heller and Alan Adler performed a chemical test that is consistent with the body image being organic, i.e. carbon-based in nature, a result that is all too often ignored or overlooked by those still claiming against all the evidence that the image is a residue of artist’s inorganic paint pigments. The test? Bleaching by diimide, chemical formula NH=NH. That reagent is highly specific in its action, hydrogenating -C=C- double bonds that are responsible for the colour in most organic compounds (normally due to CONJUGATED double bonds, i.e. alternating single and double, i.e.:
While I don’t have access to diimide, I have previously found and reported that ordinary domestic bleach (sodium hypochlorite) quickly decolorises my heat-developed flour imprints, both Stage 1 and Stage 2. .Did Heller and Adler test ordinary bleach? Answer: I don’t know, and sadly neither is still around to be contacted on that point.
I’m using my own Comments facility to add afterthoughts. See the inconspicuous Comments tab below. Alternatively, us this LINK.