Here’s an updated version of my ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud” (probably a misnomer).

It attempts to reprise what almost certainly began life as an ingenious medieval thought experiment focused on a certain blank sheet – before receiving and enveloping the body from the Cross – Joseph of Arimathea’s linen. It in turn took the initially imprinted image of the face of Jesus on the legendary Veil of Veronica as its model to emulate, nay eclipse. Jumping forward to the 21st century, here’s an imprint of the writer’s hand, made using medieval technology (plain white flour, water, linen and a hot metal smoothing iron).

Left: as-is imprint, no photoediting. Right: same, after adjustments to contrast, brightness and midtone value.

Left: as-is imprint, no photoediting. Right: same, after adjustments to contrast, brightness and midtone value.

Above, after roasting slowly to 220 degrees Celsius max. Unroasted control linen (left).

Above, after roasting slowly to 220 degrees Celsius max. Unroasted control linen (left).

Version 2/2 (17 July 2015), replacing all previous versions (not displayed).

This is a very crude first draft. The reason for publishing  now is two fold. First, I need a URL to give a friend who is preparing a summary of this blogger’s 3.5 year research on the so-called Shroud (more about that “so-called” later). Second, it will convey from the word go that this posting is to be seen as a work in progress, one to which I expect to be returning to again and again to tweak and update,  always leaving just the most recent version (a departure from previous practice where I have left early postings unchanged, given the nature of this site as an investigator’s journey, with no set end date, no likelihood of ever reaching firm conclusions, given the one-off, untouchable nature of the artefact in question, housed in its secure glass case under argon gas)

So here’s a cut-and-paste from file of what I composed yesterday, probably with typos, missing verbs etc. with many images to be inserted at the indicated places. I am calling this Version 2, having spent the last hour editing. Apologies if you are an early finder (unlikely if relying on Google!).  Look back again tomorrow, though it may be Version 3 or 4 you are then looking at, with no idea what preceded it, given some initial thoughts  may have been rephrased or scrubbed.

  1. The Turin ‘Shroud’ was not in fact intended to be a shroud, assuming that term to mean burial shroud. It was a medieval (approx mid 14th century) attempt to cash in/capitalize on the celebrated Veil of Veronica’ How? By simulating on a larger scale the capturing of an image of Jesus by brief contact between skin and cloth. But there was a problem. The Veil of Veronica carried an image of Jesus in life, albeit scourged, crown of thorns, carrying a cross, though artists felt free to enhance the image as to make it more attractive. There was arguably no room for a second image of Jesusas he was in life, human life that is, least of all a rival to the Veil that itself had no biblical authority. And appearing with no back story. Solution?

    Legend of the Veil of Veronica. Jesus, en route to Calvary, stops to wipe his face with cloth provided by the lady bystander. An image is left on the cloth, maybe natural, at least initially due to imprinting of sweat and blood,  maybe not.

    Legend of the Veil of Veronica. Jesus, en route to Calvary, stops to wipe his face with cloth provided by the lady bystander. An image is left on the cloth, maybe natural, at least initially due to imprinting of sweat and blood, maybe not.


2. Solution: look for another opportunity/occasion/episode/moment/ when the body of Jesus made contact with cloth, but one that did have biblical authority that might compensate for the lack of a back story. There was indeed an opportunity, but one that needed to be handled delicately, because it was post-mortem. When? The accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke of Joseph of Arimathea obtaining permission from Pilate to remove the body of Jesus from the cross for interment in a nearby rock tomb. Joseph of Arimathea purchased ‘fine linen’ into which then body of Jesus was placed. Here was our entrepreneur’s opportunity to  spring on the world a darker Mark 2 version of the Veil of Veronica – not just the face, but the entire body – both sides!

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. In this instance, 10,000, at least, many of them my own. Picture variously attributed, e.g.  Giulio Clovio (1498-1578)

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. In this instance, 10,000, at least, many of them my own. Picture variously attributed, e.g. Giulio Clovio (1498-1578)


  1. Who was the prime instigator? Who had the resources, the motivation to pull off so audacious as undertaking? First known owner of the TS, whose widow placed it on public display, shortly after his death at the battle of Poitiers, was the celebrated knight, Geoffroi de Charny. De Charny was a close confidante of the King of France, John II, aka John the Good (he was highly religious). Together, at Geoffroi’s suggestion we’re told,  the two founded the chivalric and highly exclusive Order of the Star which some have suggested was an attempt to recreate some of the mystique of the oulawed and cruelly disbanded (1307-13) Knights Templar. Maybe, maybe not. But one’s thing is for certain. Geoffroi de Charny was no obscure knight, despite his home base being a tiny hamlet (Lirey) on the outskirts of Troyes in rolling Champagne country. He had patronage, resources, influence, and a strong religious faith. It is not inconceivable that the ‘Shroud’ was intended to serve a ceremonial role in Star rituals, not necessarily seen by insiders as the genuine Jospeh of Arimathea cloth – more a facsimile, a club or semi-secret society’s totem so to speak, so good that it could be mistaken by outsiders for the real thing- at least by repute.

    John the Good of france, instituting the Order of the Star, 1352. Geoffroi de Charny, first recorded owner of the

    John the Good of  medieval  France, instituting the Order of the Star, 1352. Geoffroi de Charny, first recorded owner of the “Shroud” is probably among those in attendance on the right, the Order having been his idea.


  1. Back to the Bible and J of A: perform a thought experiment to show how an image of the crucified Jesus might have been formed on his linen. Decide what to include, what to exclude. More importantly, devise a mechanism of imaging involving an unwashed body, shiny with sweat and blood that could be seen as realistic, NOT artistic. The answer could not have ben simpler: go for a body imprint. Front of body, as if linen had been laid on top? Rear of body, as if linen had been underneath? Answer: both. Imagine the linen had been used to envelope the entire body. How? By spiral wrapping? No, that would not leave a recognizable image when unwound. Instead, imagine the body had been laid out on the lower half of the linen, and the top half then turned around the head, to create a double body imprint. When the body is subsequently removed for burial (in different linen) there would then be an intriguing dual image: two body images, head to head, immediately recognizable to the viewer as that which would be left by the subject placed in an up-and-over length of linen, then asking; who, when, how? Supply further clues to QUICKLY answer those 3 questions. The image must be a narrative without words. The narrative is well known. The image must support and reinforce that narrative.

    The celebrated Lier copy of the

    The celebrated Lier copy of the “Shroud” (1516). Shown here because it preceded the Chambery fire of 1532, so appears as it may have looked to the artist before acquiring all those disfiguring burn holes. Very faint, monochrome image, note –  clearly of an IMPRINT (note missing low relief) and thus hardly consistent with the original being “just a painting”, despite this skilfully executed copy being one!


  1. Details of the thought experiment: getting it right, getting it consistent, getting it credible, achieving an image that is neither attractive nor repulsive, one that instils wonder, fascination, devotion, belief.

It will be a contact imprint in (a) blood and (b) sweat. The blood will be real blood, or a blood susbstitute that looks real, but better keeping properties, clot free etc .The sweat cannot be real. A substitute needs to be found that imprints well and has the right colour to suggest aged sweat. One could try a yellow dye, but that might not look realistic. Better maybe to imprint with something that is colorless or white, and then treat to make it go yellow. When and where to add the blood?

Anyone can instantly tell the difference between a photograph of the sole of a foot, and an imprint thereof (

Anyone can immediately tell the difference between a photograph of the sole of a foot, and an imprint thereof (“footprint”) if only that the imprint is less complete. Some folk have difficulty with the idea that a footprint is also a tone-reversed negative, the latter term being  handy even when there’s been no photography, mere imprinting. The “Shroud” image is a tone-reversed negative,  NOT a photograph. but a contact imprint.


6. An imprint does not look like a portrait. It has a peculiar quality, which in modern terms we call a negative image. In other words, normal tones are reversed. Parts that are highest relief look brightest in a photograph or well-painted portrait through receiving more light than those that are recessed. In an imprint those lightest parts look darker, and darkest parts look lighter. Dos that matter in an image that is to be promoted as that left by the real Jesus on J of A’s linen?

Answer: yes and no. Yes, because it’s unfamiliar, somewhat unattractive, has gaps where there’s been no contact. No, because the very tone-reversed nature makes clear that it’s NOT a painting, that it’s an imprint, and that imprints can be left by bodies, living or dead. Maybe the starkness of an imprint can be made less so by achieving a slightly-blurred, soft focus quality that conveys a ghostly and haunting quality. On balance, the tone-reversed image can be said to be superior to a conventional image. Indeed, combined with the double body image, it might even come to be seen as iconic. Much depends on the details, the fine details, the little touches, the internal consistency. What should be included? What excluded?


As-is “Shroud” image top. Tone-reversed negative below, looking for all the world like a photographic positive. Does that make the “Shroud” image a tone-reversed negative? Yes. Does it make it a photographic negative? No.

Previous banner on this site, showing how scorch imprints, i.e. NOT photographs on linen, respond in the same way as the

Previous banner on this site, showing how scorch imprints, i.e. NOT photographs on linen, respond in the same way as the “Shroud” to tone-reversal, then looking more like a photograph of the original template, in this case a brass crucifix.


7. Checklist of features for inclusion/exclusion,

(a) crown of thorns – exclude. It would have been removed by J of A. Would not leave a sweat imprint. Use bloodstains to indicate presence of thjorns.

(b) head hair. Include. Might leave an imprint if saturated with sweat ( a mixture of water and oily secretions)

(c) facial hair: include

(d) eyes. Exclude. They lies in hollows.

(e) ears? Exclude. Why? Because there must be no imprinting of the sides of body. Why not? Lateral distortion.

(f) loin cloth: exclude. Crossed hands for modesty.

(g) feet: tricky! Careful thought needed. Much depends on how linen is draped, presence of absence of tension, tying etc. Get the detail right.

(h) scourge marks. Include, but in blood, not body image. Why?

(i) nail wounds: include (blood, not body image)

(j) lance wound: include.


A taster of the real thing - the feet on the

A taster of the real thing – the feet on the “Shroud”, still faint and poorly defined, despite some photo-enhancement, relative to other features, notably the face. F1 and f2 are frontal feet, D1 and D2 dorsal.
Why the fuzziness? Why are the dorsal feet (one especially) better imaged than the frontal feet. One needs to consider the likely mechanism of imaging in a 14th century ‘thought-experiment’ model, designed to emulate the Veil of Veronica, especially in a contact-only model, where bridging of linen between extremities means loss of contact and failure to imprint. Even where there is contact, the degree of manual pressure applied to make linen mould to body contours can result in better or worse imaging that may seem to compromise a contact-only model. All images need to be scrupulously examined.


8. Imprinting procedure (draft):go for two-stage process: offers far greater versatility, in that an innocuous substance can be used to coat the subject, and the imprinted linen then exposed if need be to harsher treatments to develop the colour.

Feasible model (works in small scale pilot tests): use flour/water slurry as imprinting medium. Why?

Secondary development: chemical, thermal, thermochemical. Chemical: cold nitric acid. Thermal: hot iron, maybe a hot oven.Thermochemical: hot limewater. No shortage of options. Good for artisans. Bad for 21st century researchers.

There’s a quick and simple way of producing a “Shroud” like imprint of oneself. I call it the “Blue Peter” method, since anyone can do it at home. Here’s one we made earlier in six simple steps.

1 (left): make a thin slurry of plain white flour and water. 2 (right): paint onto skin.

1 (left): make a thin slurry of plain white flour and water. 2 (right): paint onto skin.

3.(left) Press linen onto painted hand. 4 (right): peel back linen to obtain, at this stage, a scarcely-visible imprint.

3.(left) Press linen onto painted hand. 4 (right): peel back linen to obtain, at this stage, a scarcely-visible imprint.

5. (left) Allow the imprint to dry in air. Then press with iron directly on its highest temperature setting (

5. (left) Allow the imprint to dry in air. Then press with iron directly on its highest temperature setting (“linen”).
6.(right) Developed “Shroud”-like image after applying heat. The forefinger (left) was not ironed, serving as a comparison.


  1. How will the linen be displayed? Hung vertically? Held up horizontally? Permanent support rods? Removable support rods? Laundering? Side strip (selvedge): curious.

Images: Display of TS by clerics, selvedge on shroud,

10.Launch and marketing. After death of Geoffroi at Battle of Poitiers, defending his King, bearer of the royal standard (“Oriflamme”). Why? King captured, held to ransom! Cautious initially. Lirey Pilgrim’s medallion Mark 1. Figure not obviously Jesus-like (but not surprising if there is no cross, no blood, no loin cloth etc. but crucifixion tools shown in margin – pincers, nails etc. Mark 2: bolder. Incorporation of what arguably is a Veronica motif. Link now made with the earlier imprint. Calamity: the display is banned. Not surprising in view of Pierre d’Arcis account of what his predecessor as outraged Bishop of Troyes thought about reports reaching him. Ban lasted 30 years. Only allowed on condition that each display is accompanied by announcement stating that the ‘Shroud’ was not genuine.

Lirey Pilgrims' badge (Cluny museum). Cast in lead alloy. Approx 1355. Dredged up from R.Seine, Paris in late 19th century along with hundreds of other mementos of pilgrimages cast in river at a particular spot over centuries.

Lirey Pilgrims’ badge (Cluny museum). Cast in lead alloy. Approx 1355. Dredged up from R.Seine, Paris in late 19th century along with hundreds of other mementos of pilgrimages cast in river at a particular spot over centuries.

Mould for presumed Mk2 Lirey badge found a few kilometres down the road at nearby Machy. Note the new addition: a  Veronica-like motif above the (reversed) letteringn that spells SUAIRE (face cloth in French) or as some would say, an alternative word for

Mould for presumed Mk2 Lirey badge found a few kilometres down the road at nearby Machy. Note the new addition: a Veronica-like motif above the (reversed) letteringn that spells SUAIRE (face cloth in French) or as some would say, an alternative word for “linceul” meaning burial shroud.


10 points. That should be sufficient.

What about those gee whizz ‘radiation’ models one may ask? What about them?

The First Law of Photochemistry states that light must be absorbed for photochemistry to occur. This is a simple concept, but it is the basis for performing photochemical and photobiological experiments correctly. If light of a particular wavelength is not absorbed by a system, no photochemistry will occur, and no photobiological effects will be observed, no matter how long one irradiates with that wavelength of light.

Anyone proposing a radiation-based theory MUST  (a) state the wavelength of the radiation and (b) the chemical species (chromophore) that is capable of absorbing that particular wavelength.

Be wary of those who try to sidestep the First Law by telling you that their radiation source is hugely intense and monochromatic, or a type of radiation unknown to physics. There is no escaping the First Law. No absorption means no photochemical reaction, no localized heating, no coloration. That applies to ALL electromagnetic radiation, from long wavelength radio waves  though microwaves, infrared, visible, uv, x rays to  the highest frequency/energy short wavelength gamma radiation.

Intense sources, e.g from a laser, may simply target a trace component that wouldn’t normally  be sufficiently energized to produce  coloration. Trace components of linen that come to mind as normally overlooked  chromophores, but more readily energized molecule for molecule than cellulose, would be lignin and other phenolicss with aromatic ring structures, absorbing moderately in the blue end of the visible spectrum and the near uv.

Whinge: we’re told that the EU is losing patience with most people’s default search engine – Google- for favouring its own sites, and thus discriminating unfairly against others. I too am losing patience. This posting would have been invisible on Google, but for my linking to it from sciencebuzz, my Blogger-hosted site, owned by, guess who? Yes, Google. In other words, it’s not this posting that gets listed, but the Google Blogger site that linked to it. The EU is said to want the Google search algorithm to be made public. I second that. Google needs to be made accountable. It also needs to be viewed as a ‘constructive monopoly’ and made to behave in a transparent fashion – or risk being forcibly broken up.

This posting is now spotlighted on Dan Porter’s shroudstory site, but is still not searchable directly under Google. That organization gives this blogger the creeps (like when I enter “iconoplastic” into the search, knowing that it will assume I meant “iconoclastic” and then ask “Did I  mean iconoplastic”, or when the first set of returns score out my carefully selected tags, throwing back totally irrelevant listings. Is it  something in the water (west of the Rockies, that is)?

Update: 23:15, 18 July

An appreciative comment to this posting has appeared on the new shroudstory posting. But there’s one tiny (and not infrequent) error:

“However I saw nothing there mentioning vanillin, another possible UV target.”

Vanillin is not a separate component from lignin. In fact it’s not even a component of  flax or linen. It’s a degradation product of lignin, derived from oxidation, side-chain shortening (loss of 2 carbons)  and detachment starting with one particular  monomer in the complex resinous polyphenol that is lignin, ie. coniferaldehye. See my earlier posting on the subject, this site.

Ray Rogers no less described and discussed vanillin as though it were a preformed component of lignin that gradually reduced with age. Nope: as the lignin oxidizes, the vanillin is newly formed, and being a relatively small molecule, gradually evaporates away, being responsible for the distinctive aroma of old lignin (the ability to detect it by smell being a sure sign that molecules are escaping into the air).

Update Sunday July 19

Methinks it’s time this plodding old science bod jumped aboard the gee whizz bandwagon, hopefully to attract worldwide publicity, or even the attention of Google. But how? Brainwave (wavelength unspecified): might there be a region of the electromagnetic spectrum that nobody’s properly investigated so far, maybe one where I could instal a state-of-the-art machine in my otherwise humble home lab. Financing? Crowd sourcing? Seems a lot of trouble – I’ll try sweet talk and my wife’s teacher’s pension first.

The science? Yup, the boring old science? Well I won’t say too much about that just yet, knowing how folk are put off by the boring old science. Science isn’t the most cooperative of the disciplines either when one has an idea one wants to sell to the media. But I’ll give a clue. There were two splendid pdfs published some 10 years ago, scandalously ignored by sindonology, from one Bernard Power (a meteorologist as I recall so easily dismissed). He identified a region of the em spectrum that looked highly promising for those seeking a gee whizz radiation mechanism to explain the ‘Shroud’ image.


power image formation attenuation radiation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s more it had big words in it, like Attenuation and Collimation. Well, I’ve done a little reading around as one does, being a boring old science bod, and find there’s a strangely neglected target chromophore in linen that could be energized specifically by Power’s air-attenuated radiation. It’s a highly superficial film of sequestered H-bonded dihydrogen monoxide, comprising some 8% typically of the core cellulose of linen. It can be blitzed and volatilized by the radiation source I and my new friend Bernard have in mind, producing superheated vapour that might then produce a faint discoloration of linen fibres.  I can see the photographs in the Independent or Sun now, with my name and research institute attached (for which I’ll have to think up some anonymous initials, if only to impress Charles Freeman for whom ‘home lab’  wins no admiring glances from the blue-rinse ladies at the Captain’s table!).  To think a major cryptochromophore of linen can be specifically targeted and energized by radiation emanating scientifically, or failing that, miraculously from a radioincandescent black body emitter (possibly white body too) ) is hugely gobsmacking – I can scarcely  contain my excitement.

Scientific principle: to energize the target molecules in such as way as to send them into tumble-mode. One picture is worth a thousand words:

Spinning molecules - a spun-out fantasy beckons.

Spinning molecules – a spun-out fantasy beckons.

Sneak preview of the ENEA technology (Exceedingly New Exciting Apparatus).  Maintenance guide 1 Foot Part  2 Screw Part  3 Hinge, bottom  4 Washer, nylon Part 5 Base assembly  6 Holder, fuse  7 Fuse, 15  8 Screw  9 Screw  10 Motor, blower 11 Plate Part  12 Screw Part  13 Rectifier, h.v.  14 Power cord  15 Clamp Part  16 Nut/washer  17 Capacitor, h.v.  18 Bracket Part  19 Transformer, h.v.

Sneak preview of the ENEA technology (Exceedingly New Exciting Apparatus). Maintenance guide
1 Foot Part
2 Screw Part
3 Hinge, bottom
4 Washer, nylon Part
5 Base assembly
6 Holder, fuse
7 Fuse, 15
8 Screw
9 Screw
10 Motor, blower
11 Plate Part
12 Screw Part
13 Rectifier, h.v.
14 Power cord
15 Clamp Part
16 Nut/washer
17 Capacitor, h.v.
18 Bracket Part
19 Transformer, h.v.

The big question mark: will the energized molecules be around long enough to produce the desired discoloration of linen? (We’ll worry about the tedious business of producing an image later). Might they escape too quickly? We wouldn’t want to end up with something that looked half-baked now, would we? ;-)

Is this really supposed to set pulses racing in the world of sindonology? Gee whzz? Or gee swizz?

Is this really supposed to set pulses racing in the world of sindonology? Gee whizz? Or gee swizz?

Oops. Seems I’ve overlooked to mention the region of the em spectrum for which Bernard Powers saw possibilities (which he elaborated in detail, with attention to ‘hotpsots’ on linen fibrils). It is of course the microwave region, lying between infrared and radio waves. The Argos catalogue is doing a good deal right now on microwave ovens. Expect this boring old science bod to re-enter gee whizz sindonology in a big way, once he gets those cellulose-bound water molecules (dihydrogen monoxide, H2O) spinning.

Update: Monday July 20

Have just been re-reading Ian Wilson’s splendid pdf for the BSTS on the Machy mould, the key this blogger believes to understanding the instant impact and success of the Lirey “Shroud” (so successful that its display was banned for 30 years but not before 1 and probably 2 pilgrims’ badges had entered circulation). But there’s one disappointing aspect regarding Wilson’s article. Here’s the engraving that intoduces his article:


Note the refererence to badges displayed on hats , one with a Veronica face to show a visit to St. Peter’s in Rome. That is Wilson’s only reference to the Veronica, despite what follows in his article re the inset face of Jesus on the Machy mould above the word SUAIRE (face cloth/burial shroud).

Here’s a close-up of those badges, with the Veronica circled in each case.

Veronica badges

Veronica badges

But further on we get this:

“Disembodied face of Jesus” linking to Wilson’s controversial ideas re the Image of Edessa having been a framed version of the “Shroud” showing face only, excluding any mention of a more probable explanation, linking the face to the celebrated Veil of Veronica, a must-see icon for medieval pilgrims that Wilson himself acknowledged in his introduction.

Sorry Ian, but I see that inset motif as an image of Jesus in life, arguably with eyes open, not closed, and indisputably a positive, not negative image (highest relief lighter, not darker).  As such it was intended to represent the face on the still living face on the Veil of Veronica, NOT the tone-reversed imprint of the crucified post mortem Jesus on the so-called Shroud, whether the one in Lirey, or the same as Ian imagined it centuries earlier on display in Edessa as a vignette. (Yes, the Veronica image was conceptually a negative in the first instance, being an imprint, but artists quickly chose to ignore that, even assuming they were aware of the mechanics of imprinting in the first place).

So why go the the bother on engraving that face on the Machy Mould, which may or may not have been present on the Lirey badge (bearing in mind it’s damaged and incomplete)? That has been the subject of previous postings here, focused on Jeanne de Vergy’s skilful marketing ‘launch’ that was the first Lirey exposition – too successful in fact – recalling the furious response from Troyes bishop Henri de Poitiers that resulted in a 30 year ban on expositions. (Charles Freeman describes the first “Shroud” exposition as a “flop”: perhaps folk can now see why I prefer my history to come from his bete noire Ian Wilson, despite my disagreeing profoundly with his “Edessa” narrative,  Wilson knowing the difference between use and misuse of words).

Update: Monday 20 July

The pie-in-sky image hypothesis that won’t go away – the one that depends on thinking and best-case-scenario experimentation that should never have got past the journal referees : nope, not gee whizz radiation models, but Raymond N.Rogers’ ‘naturalistic’ alternative, one formed by putrefaction amines from a corpse reacting with a starch impurity coating to give Maillard reaction products.

I don’t intend to repeat the reasons why that scenario is simply make-believe chemistry – the kind that proves the old adage ” a little knowledge is dangerous”.  But havingencountered today still more undeserved paeons of praise for the sadly deceased Ray Rogers, thoughts turned yet again to that “starch impurity coating” assumption. the analytical evidence for such a coating is virtually zilch, and such as exists is based on little more than anecdotal evidence with spot test reagent (in one instance an inappropriate one, designed to test for something else). but ev en if there were an even coating of starch that was evenly distributed, and backed up with impeccable data, would that allow for a Maillard reaction, one that went at environmental temperatures?

Maillard reactions do not occur with starch. They occur with degradation products of starch – namely reducing sugars such as glucose, maltose, oligomeric dextrins etc.  How readily does starch break down to generate reducing sugars?

This paper provides an answer.

Even in strong hydrochloric acid (1M hydrolysis (

Even in strong hydrochloric acid( 2.2N)  hydrolysis (“lintnerization”) of starch is slow, requiring many days (15 in the abov epaper!) at ordinary temperatures.

Where on earth did folk get the idea that Raymond N.Rogers  has/had to be regarded as the last word on all matters chemical?  Rogers’ writings are littered with over -simplication and frank errors. It’s time he was viewed as a generally competent chemist, acquainted with a wide range of literature. But he was frequently out-of-his-depth, and never was that shown more clearly than his proposals for “Shroud” image formation via reaction between putrefaction amines and “starch”, the latter NOT being synonymous by any stretch of the imagination with reducing sugars.  If he thought that starch played a crucial role, then why did he not take a leaf from the Adler/Heller book and test the effect of exposing “Shroud2 image fibres to a specific starch-digesting enzyme, e.g. alpha-amylase, comparable to the protease tests to investigate blood/image relationships?  (Proteases digest proteins; amylases digest starch).

Update (still July 20).

STURP told us next to nothinjg about the chemical nature of the “Shroud” image, which was hardly surprising, given that sampling was restricted to those sticky tape tests. (Shame though that some of the effort that went into showing it was not a painting (wasted where a certain book-writing historian is concerned) did not go into telling us something positive about the image characteristics. However, one thing we were told (of interest to those of us trained in organic chemistry) was that the image coiuld be bleached by a certain highly reactive reducing agent called diimide (NH=NH). The latter is not just any old reducing agent. It is highly specific in itas action, hydrogenating -enes and presumably conjugated dienes to the saturated compound, and thus an agent par excellence for destroying chromophores (since colour in organic compounds frequently depends on the presence of those C=C double bonfds, singly, or more often conjugated ( -C=C-C=C-).  Significance? Some,  but limited. The sepia colour of the “Shroud” image is presumably due to ORGANIC carbon-based  chemicals, and not to inorganic comounds like iron oxide (McCrone) or assorted inorganic  paint pigments.Carbon-based dyes are not excluded however.

So is it only that somewhat exotic diimide that bleaches the “Shroud” image, OR modelled versions thereof? What about plain old bleach (sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl)?

Answer: NO, as this quick test showed, using the image of my hand from earlier in this posting, one that I presume, correctly or incorrectly, is a Maillard reaction product (possible but less probably with some caramelised carbohydrates too).

Effect of thick bleach solution on roasted white flour imprint. Bleaching of both imprint and the discoloured background linen.

Effect of thick bleach solution on roasted white flour imprint. Bleaching of both imprint and the discoloured background linen.

Halleluja. We have a quick test for showing if my flour paste model is wrong.  if the “Shroud” image is NOT bleachable with sodium hypochlorite, then my model is WRONG. How many other models are capable of being tested and shown wanting? How many get traction and mileage, year after year, for the simple reason they are difficult to test, being hedged around with some many qualifying assumptions and/or other intangibles, as to be essentially untestable? Both Rogers’ “starch impurity” model and the radiation ones might be said to fit that description.

Note however that the roasted linen outside the image area was also bleached. What about a plain old contact scorch, from pressing hot metal against linen, with no white flour? In other words the Mark 1 scorches studied on this site until the ‘simulated sweat imprint’ hypothesis came along, requiring a change of tactics.

Scorch impints from heated horsebrasses exposed to bleach solution (two locations)

Scorch impints from heated horsebrasses exposed to bleach solution (two locations)

Note the bleaching of the images below the plastic beaker (left) and between the two more intense scorches (right).

So the bleach test, while handy, does NOT discriminate between a direct contact scorch, obtained by pressing hot metal onto linen, and the more subtle kind that one obtains in the new two-stage imprinting prcedure that uses flour paste to imprint off a real person, followed by thermal, chemical or thermochemical development of the image.

Update: Tuesday July 21

Ah, but do the imprints in the flour/water model have the required set of so-called ‘microscopic’ features, matching those of the “Shroud” (you know, like those oft-cited “discontinuities”)?  Everyone of course knows what’s meant by “discontinuities”, don’t they? Speak up if you don’t know or aren’t sure what a discontinuity is? Do I hear a lone voice? Why yes. It’s sounds a bit odd, being filtered through bone, but there’s a reason for that. It’s my own voice. Yes. I have to confess that I haven’t the faintest clue as to what is meant by a discontinuity in the “Shroud” image at the fibre level. I think I know what it is as the thread level, but what it is at the individual fibre level, and whether or not that is the same or differentf rom a discontinuity at the thread level I  frankly haven’t the faintest clue. I guess I could try and track down the Pellicori and Evans paper of 1981 in “Archaeology” from which the “discontinuity” concept apparently started,  being the one usually quoted. See this Introduction from a Rogers pdf, for example:

Note the importance that Ray Rogers (RIP) attached to those

Note the importance that Ray Rogers (RIP) attached to those “discontinuities” in “Shroud” image fibres, citing a paper by fellow STURP team members, Sam Pellicori and Mark Evans.

But from the little one can glean from the open literature, i.e. that which is not behind expensive paywalls, the prospects of getting a definitive answer do not look at all promising. Why not? Well, this patch of weeds seems as good a place as any to start (might as well cultivate one’s own long grass than be kicked into someone else’s).

I’ll be back later to explain in more detail. For now, let’s insert a corrective. The “outstanding characteristic” of the image on the “Shroud” is NOT the “discontinuous distribution of colour on the surface”. It is the negative, i.e. tone-reversed image. There is a simple explanation for that negative image. It’s a contact image. If the contact is made with a weave that has “crowns”, ie. high points where one thread loops over another, then one expect discontinuities due to abrupt transitions from contact to non-contact. Maybe those “discontinuities” are not so mysterious as Rogers and others seem to suggest. Maybe they are not really  a microscopic feature of “Shroud” fibres at all, but a macroscopic one of “Shroud” threads (even if easier to see under a low power binocular microscope than a hand lens or unaided eye). Does that Rogers pdf above provide any clues as to which of those two is in the frame – threads or fibres?

It would appear from a shroudstory posting, one in which Dan Porter tackled Ray Rogers directly on the issue of his and others terminology (“pixels” etc) that Rogers’ view on “discontinuities” were based on the photomicrographs of STURP’s Mark Evans. One in particular, labelled ME-29″ was cited:

Verbatim quote from Dan Porter (my bolding)

On the facts used for the analysis, Ray wrote:

A29) “The color of the image-areas has a discontinuous distribution on the entire facing surface (Pellicori and Evans, 1981).” Before making assumptions on the basis of this statement, please look at the photomicrograph of the tip of the nose that Mark Evans took (ME-29).

Here’s what I suspect to be a crucial screenshot from the same posting, the source of all repeated references, nay Chinese whisperings, to those “microscopic discontinuities” at the fibre(?) level.

From shroudstory (see link in above text)

From shroudstory (see link in above text)

Photomicrograph? Yes (x64). But apart from a hint of fine structure within the individual fibres (e.g. the so-called growth nodes, but poorly resolved due to internal reflection and refraction) there’s really nothing about distribution of image colour that cannot be obtained using a good x10 hand lens (as I have just this minute confirmed by looking at my own linen imprints). And what does that image above tell us about “discontinuities at the microscopic (fibre?) level”? Answer: nothing. Nothing whatsoever. What we see above are bunched fibres in entire threads. Apart from one or two detached fibres (where colour distribution CANNOT be seen at this level of magnification) one is looking at entire threads. Any particular distribution of colour, continuous or discontinuous, can only be described at the level of whole THREAD. Since the whole thread can be seen with the naked eye, assisted with a hand lens, one is NOT entitled to refer to discontinuities at the microscopic level, implying directly or tacitly that those discontinuities exist at the fibre level. To make that claim one would need to tease out the individual fibres, and then examine at high magnification under a phase contrast microscope.

Am I splitting hairs (or fibres)? it would be nice to say yes and move on. But I am not, and for reasons that will now be set out. The misattribution of a thread effect to individual fibre level, with its apparent switch from macroscopic to microscopic, is and has been the source of much confusion in the “Shroud”literature, and it’s hard not to escape the view that it’s been part of an attempt to promote one or other pro-authenticity model. How? Why? Because the crucial image characteristic – its negative character – implies a contaact mechanism. But contact is not easily accommodated within pro-authenticity models. Consequently, the image negativity – a macroscopic character – gets sidelined.  A  macroscopic characteristic like discontinuity of image on threads, thread CROWNS especially, is noted but quickly shunted into the microscopic sidings (thanks to x64 magnification -OK for macroscopic threads but too small for near-microscopic fibres). Even if there were clear discontinuities seen in individual fibres it would mean nothing is the result of a contact imprinting across the highest ie. crown threads. that is a macroscopic, not microscopic effect.

If one googles for those two m words, one will find this pdf review paper from G.Fanti et al with them in its title.

There is much of value in that paper, notably the much-neglected brittleness of “Shroud” image fibres (hardly consistent with Rogers’ impurity coating model) but there is no, repeat NO attempt to justify the term “microscopic”. Again, it’s based it would seem on those low magnification Mark Evans enlargements of Shroud weave at the thread lvel, where the term “photomicrograph” becomes hugely misleading.

What did Rogers himself have to say about contact models? Look carefully to see whether his remarks referred to the entire gamut contact models,existing or still to come, or just one that was easily shot down, or seemingly so.

Go to a different Rogers pdf, and immediately under  Fig.22, a Mark Evans ‘photomicrograph’ (yes, our old friend ME-29 again) we read this:

4)  Scorching by contact with hot irons, statues, etc., must be ruled out, because heat flow by conduction penetrates a cloth. Different colors can be seen as a function of the depth into the cloth, and fibers are colored through their entire diameter. The medullas of scorched fibers are colored. The Shroud image is entirely different.

Needless to say, there is m0re than one way of imprinting a scorch directly onto linen that could restrict thermal effects to the most superficial layer (notably the approx.200nm thick primary cell wall, PCW, an entity with a distinctive chemical composition, with a preponderance of reactive hemicelluloses). The mere fact that “scorching”, ie. pyrolysis, caramelization etc is an endothermic,  heat-abstracting process means the template cools as soon as it makes contact with the fabric. There are many other ways of minimizing the depth of scorch, e.g. by coating the fabric with some kind of thermal buffer,e.g. chalk, having a damp umderlay etc etc. One could even overlay with a sacrificial layer of fabric, cheap cotton maybe, designed to take the brunt, reducing the heat that conducts to the linen underneath. But there are more subtle ways of imprinting an image, as shown by the current model, using a flour/water mixture that is ironed at a temperature that does not appeciably affect linen  per se, but high enough to initiate Maillard-type browning reactions. Rogers (in common with virtually all pro-authenticity investigators) clearly did not wish to be detained for one second longer than necesaary by anything as crass and downmarket as a contact-imaging process. The victim in all of this is the paramount characteristic of the “Shroud” image, the negative image, implying imaging by contact, preferential imaging of the crowns of the weave, and a series of discontinuities at the level of threads, probably fibres too. But the ‘tunnel vision’ that fixes on any model except imaging by contact has resulted in the elevation of “discontinuity” to cult status for entirely spurious reasons –  an implied microscopic effect at fibre level that is in reality a macroscopic effect at thread level – an entirely predictable signature of imaging BY CONTACT, producing that NEGATIVE IMAGE.

Where modelling the “Shroud” is concerned, there are those who wish to turn it into a beauty contest, with a preponderance of part-time  theologians on the judging panel. Reminder: this site has a URL that reads turin-shroud-without-all-the-hype. Yup, this is the place for hype-free science. This site has no ambitions to be an entrant in a beauty contest. Cold hard facts are its stock-in-trade.

In short, if anyone should ever challenge this blogger, as they have done previously, with the pointed question: “What about the microscopic properties?”, my reply will be: “Do tell us about the microscopic properties. Do provide a photomicrograph so we all know what you are talking about, assuming, that is,  you know what you are talking about, and not simply intoning a mantra you’ve picked  up from one or other theologically-slanted shroudoscopic website.”

Wednesday July 22

Summary: the “Shroud” image is a negative. It’s a negative because it’s an imprint. But it’s not an imprint onto a perfectly plane surface like printer paper. It’s an imprint onto a weave in which some parts of some threads are higher than others. So one expects to see discontinuities in the imprint corresponding with loss of contact at points where warp threads loop under weft threads and vice versa. The first  task of any objective microscopist, examining a negative imprint on a woven material, and seeing “discontinuities” should have been to identify those discontinuities that are natural and expected accompaniments of printing onto the weave. Simply lumping all discontinuities together (assuming without evidence there are discontinuities unrelated to weave) and referring to them as though an enigmatic  microscopic property of the “Shroud” image, one that presents a huge and possibly insurmountable challenge to anyone attempting to reproduce them, is an example of a strange and thankfully rare anatomical conversion of living tissue to copper/zinc alloy (known in common parlance as “having a brass neck”).

10: 25: Latest example of deep historical analysis from Charles Freeman, commenting on the shroudstory site:

“However, we have no evidence that the Lirey shrine attracted any of the elite and it was quickly suppressed until Geoffrey the Younger managed to find a way of exhibiting the Shroud with official ( papal) approval in the 1390s.”

Er, no. The whole point of putting an item on public display, producing a medallion as take-away souvenir, is not  ostensibly to attract the elite (who would probably have had a private viewing beforehand that went unrecorded in the annals of French history). The idea is to attract ordinary folk (albeit those with time on their hands, and the financial resources to be self-supporting on long cross-country hikes excluding those who relied on begging). Yes, ordinary folk, with money in their pockets, sufficient to purchase that medallion, and probably other items (indulgences?) too, and not just scores of ordinary folks, but hundreds, maybe thousands of them per annum.  Or at any rate, that was the business model, no doubt, until the Church imposed its ban. That income would have come in handy for the relic’s owner, the newly widowed Jeanne de Vergy, her husband having been killed at the Battle of Poitiers, 1356. There’s also the small matter of his King (John II) who he was personally defending having been captured by the English at the same battle and then held to ruinously expensive ransom. Was the instant display of the “Shroud” a response to one or more of these new financial pressures one wonders? Freemam’s “elite” was a distressed elite. Does he not appreciate that?

Update: 20:00

This blogger has already been accused of plagiarizing Rogers’ ideas (in seeing a role for Maillard reaction products, albeit between reducing sugars and proteins of white flour, and needing an excesdeingly hot iron to get the colour). Well, I’m about to make things even worse for myself – by narrowing the gap between my medieval model and the pro-authenticity 1st century tomb scenario of Rogers. It involves volatile amines, those fishy smelling things with the general formula R-NH2 (primary amine)  where R is an alkyl group, e.g. CH3, C2H5, or, if a secondary amine, R-NH-R’, or a tertiary amine,  R-N(R’)-R”. What you may ask!  We know where the amines are implicated in the Rogers’ model (putrefaction of a corpse).  How can amines be implicated in a white-flour model?

Well, it’s a long shot, but here we go.  The yellow-brown image has been described here as a Maillard reaction product, formed between reducing sugars and proteins. But there’s a problem. The “Shroud” image was tested by Adler et al for protein – none were found.  But my image appears to have two components – an outer one that looks and feels thick, and can be reduced by washing, brushing etc, and a more resistant one that survives those treatments, and seems more like an intrinsic part of the linen fibres. What might have happened to produce the latter.  Well, there’s a little protein in linen fibres, and one might propose that had reacted with reducing sugar, and that the Maillard product formed had failed to react as protein. But one instinctively dislikes qualiofying assumptions. Might there be an alternative explanation? Yes, there is. The most superficial part of the linen fibre is the PCW, and that comprises hemicellulose as a major constituent. Hemicelllulose has a lot of pentose sugars, which are chemically reactive,  more so than the hexose sugars of starch and cellullose, and known to enter freely into Maillard reactions. Maybe the linen provided the sugar for the Maillard reaction. But where did the amine come from? It might have been the protein of the flour or linen, especially the epsilon amino group of lysine (not involved in peptide bond formation). But there’s an intriguing alternative. Enter volatile amines. When one adds cold  limewater to white flour there’s an immediate strong fishly odour. So there’s an amine precursor there that is easily released by alkali. Maybe it’s released by heat also, even at lower pH closer to neutrality. Maybe it’s that amine that reacts with the pentose sugars of the linen PCW to produce the ‘resistant’ image that survives washing etc, and that does NOT test positive for protein.

What might be the source of the free amine? Am not sure. It might be glutamine, with terminal -CONH2. It might be polar secondary or tertiary amine groups of phospholipids (lecithin, phosphatidylethanolamine etc).  Much food for thought (maybe a few experiments can help reduce the search options).

Update: Friday 24  July

One of the occupational hazards of attempting to develop a model for the “Shroud” based on medieval technology is the flak that draws from the Raymond Rogers fan club. The fact that he’s sadly no longer with us, able to respond to one’s comments and criticsim does not help. Any criticism made of his work and ideas is treated with outrage: “How dare you attack someone who is no longer able to defend himself”.  But that’s to miss the point entirely. It’s not the man himself who’s primarily in the frame. It’s his ideas. Of course, it doesn’t help if those ideas are based on what one regards as inappropriately designed experiments, where it takes the eye of a fellow (bio)chemist to spot the liberties that have been taken to achieve a highly publicized result.

Do I exaggerate? Am I being unfair? To answer that, let’s return to a posting that appeared almost 3 years ago on Dan Porter’s shroudstory site (I was reminded of it forcibly today, but let’s not bother with the circumstances, involving as they do the troll who I commented on earlier). Here’s a screen shot of the second half:

Rogers' model system. Note carefully the ingredients. Note carefully the use of excess ammona.

Rogers’ model system. Note carefully the ingredients. Note carefully the use of excess ammonia.

It’s an experiment that Dan Porter describes as a “success”. Did he bother consulting a chemist before making that judgement?

It was NOT a success at all, if intended to show that a Maillard reaction can occur between starch and ammonia at room temperature as a model for the Turin Shroud. Note first that it did not use starch, which we are told was an impurity coating on the linen. It used “dextrins” which are  highly degraded starch,  more sugar than starch. That substitution, easily overlooked because Rogers makes no attempt to justify it, gets around the small difficulty that Maillard reactions require reducing SUGARS. Starch is not a reducing sugar. Nor does it easily “fall apart” to make reducing sugar. Google “lintnerization”. It gets worse. Saponins have been added as well. Why? Because the linen is now said to be impregnated not only with starch (pity about the absence of analytical data) but with saponins too (they were used as a kind of soap see in the 1st century AD). Saponins (again, no analytical data) that just happen to have lots of pentose (5-carbon) sugars in their carbohydrate polymers. Pentose sugars are chemically more reactive than 6-carbon sugars like glucose or highly degraded starch. Pentose sugars react more readily than hexose sugars to give Maillard reaction products.  But it doesn’t end there. Note Rogers’ choice of “putrefaction amine”, the simplest amine of all – ammonia- a highly volatile gas, half as light as air. Note that his mixture of degraded starch and saponins was exposed to ammonia gas for 24 hours. We are supposed to be impressed that he demonstrated a Maillard reaction at room temperature. What’s easily overlooked is that excess ammonia raises pH, and that Maillard reactions that are normally sluggish at room temperature are greatly assisted by an alkaline pH. So on three counts – degraded strarch, saponins and alkaline pH – we see Rogers’ so-called Maillard reaction being assisted by dubious means, of no proven relevance to a 1st century tomb.  To cap it all, we are given no evidence that the yellow colour was in fact a Maillard product. It may have been, it may not – some supporting data was needed before ASSUMING it was a Maillard product and not (say) a product from exposing saponin or sugars to alkali and oxygen. Why were there no controls?

Those who try to pitch me against Raymond N.Rogers should take careful note of the kind of science that supported his attempts to provide experimental evidence in support of his Maillard hypothesis. No, that experiment you cite was NOT a success  Dan Porter, but it needs a chemist’s eye perhaps to see why. With no disrespect to  a dead man, I say it’s time to cease playing Rogers’ findings as if a trump card, and in fact to see many of his findings for what they are: deeply flawed, unable to stand up to close scrutiny. “Shroudology” will make no progress while the Rogers’ findings are considered sacrosanct and above criticism.

Note too by the way the absurdity of claiming that Rogers found starch on the STURP samples (he didn’t) while his model requires reducing sugars that would require highly degraded starch that would no longer give a positive test for starch (e.g. a blue-black colour with iodine).  Good, isn’t it?  Day after day we see one Rogers ‘groupie’ banging on endlessly that Rogers DID find starch (no he didn’t) and another Rogers’ groupie insistent that Rogers’ Maillard model is the correct one, despite unfavourable thermodynamics at low temperature/ordinary pH,  requiring reducing sugar, not starch.  Why does Dan Porter allow this self-contradictory, self-defeating nonsense to continue, month after month, year after year. Why does he allow his site to be ruled – and ruined – by this kind of fanaticism that is blind or indifferent to the facts?

Update: I have just returned to that Rogers paper that Dan Porter quoted as showing that a Maillard reaction can occur at room temperature, provided one’s willing to wait 24 hours. It’s accompanied by that photograph, showing a STRONG yellow colour, despite the text saying the low temperature gave “a very light colour”. There’s a simple reason for the discrepancy. Dan Porter did not quote the full passage. He stopped after the first sentence below, leaving off the second sentence that I have shown in bold:

“The sample was then treated for 10 minutes with ammonia vapour: a very light colour
could be observed on the top surface after standing 24 hours at room temperature. To increase the reaction rate, a sample was treated at 66 ºC for a few minutes (Figure 2 above).”

In other words, the striking result, the one Dan Porter calls a success, the one in the photograph (Fig.2)  was NOT the very light colour, one whose lightness we can only guess at. The photograph shows the result at a kinetically and thermodynamically more favourable 66 degrees C. Quite what the relevance that temperature was to a 1st century tomb is anyone’s guess.

That experiment of Rogers was frankly fudged to give the desired result.  This researcher despises fudged demonstrations. What we see above is pseudo-science. This is the kind of “science” that assorted trolls and fanatics are so keen to promote on Porter’s site, and the site’s owner let’s them do it, year after year after year.

And how was Rogers’ able to substitute dextrins, i.e. highly degraded starch, made commercially by heating starch with strong acid, or digesting with amylase enzymes, for intact starch? Simple. He refers to his dextrins as “crude starch”.That is taking one enormous liberty with words. When one extracts starch from a planr source, one may use the term “crude starch” to imply there are non-starch contaminants, e.g protein or cell wall material. To describe  the starch as crude to imply that it is partially degraded to low molecular weight dextrins, simple sugars  with reducing properties, as needed for Maillard reactions. etc  is quite simply appalling. If Rogers were here today, I would tell him to his face that he was at least deceiving himself if he imagined that linen initially impregnated with “crude starch” would supply the “reducing sugar” needed for his Maillard reaction, with or without prior ageing of the manufactured fabric. Starch does not, as I said earlier, easily fall apart. The glycosidic linkages in starch are strong and not easily broken.

If starch is kept dry, it will remain intact indefinitely (this blogger has a 60 yearold home-made photo album which used flour paste as adhesive – most of the photos are still where he stuck them). If it’s allowed to get wet, then it’s a different matter – moulds and bacteria will use the starch as a carbon source, secreting amylase enzymes to degrade it to simple sugars. Starch does not degrade of its own accord. “Linerization” of starch, i.e. hydrolysis to dextrins and simple sugars requires hours of even days of exposure to strong hydrochloric acid (see screenshot earlier in this posting).  Rogers so-called “crude starch”, i.e. more sugar than starch, is pure fantasy. No wonder he had to buy in “dextrin” from a commercial source.

Update: 15:20  July 24

Message to Dan Porter: this blogger is a retired professional biochemist. If anyone doubts my professionalism, then they must come to this site under their real name and be prepared to argue the science in detail. What I am not prepared to tolerate is having my science cut-and-paste to your site site for a cowardly individual, operating under a pseudonym, to attack my professionalism, usually with no attempt to address the detail. That is trolling. You have no business using my content, while allowing a troll to operate freely and unhindered on your site.  If you wish to use my material, then eject the troll from your site, or ban her from commenting on my material. If you wish to allow the troll to carry on as usual, attacking my professional credentials, then kindly stop using my material. In short, observe comm0nsense netiquette.

Update: 23:45 July 25

It didn’t take much searching to confirm that starch that is kept dry is a highly stable material, surviving millennia:

Book on role of ancient starch in archaeology

Book on role of ancient starch in archaeology

The idea that starch ‘falls apart’ with time to make what Rogers called “crude starch”, conveniently a source of reducing sugar for his Maillard reaction, is a complete fiction. Rogers may be some people’s chemical guru. He is not mine. His Shroud reseacrh is riddled with serious errors and/or blind spots and a serious deficiency of strict scientific objectivity.

Here’s a handy tutorial answer on the “strength” of glycosidic linkages in starch v cellulose. On close reading, one sees that it’s not really strength that differs, but accessibility of the bonds to hydrolytic enymes. The glycosidic linkages in the helical chains of amylose (linear starch) and/or in non-linear amylopectin (between the branch points)  are more accesssible than those in the extended chains of cellulose that interact more strongly to create H-bonded fibres.

Here’s a useful graphic from the above link, comparing cellulose (left) with its beta (1,6) glycosidic linkages with those of starch (right) with alpha (1,6) linkages. Note the difference in secondary structure (sheet v helix).

cellulose v starchUpdate, Saturday July 25 (this blogger’s 45th wedding anniversary)

Am feeling a tad more forgiving today, so let’s itemize those 4 fudge factors (fudge, note, not fraud as misreported by Dan Porter) in rank order.

1. Slipping in the saponins. We’ll forgive him that

2. Excess ammonia generating highly alkaline pH.  We’ll forgive him that too, but alarm bells are ringing.

3,  Highly raised non-physiological temperature  (66 degrees C) pre- or post-mortem for Fig 2.  Naughty naughty.

4. “Crude starch”,  a totally misleading description for commercial part-hydrolysed (sugary) starch. Outrageous. But then one has to say, more in sorrow than anger, that he was a chemist straying into biochemistry, treading water, increasingly out-of-his-depth!!!!!!

Update: gold dust is quite a rare commodity, in science, same as everywhere else. The natural tendency is to eke it out, mixing with something else that will disguise the paucity of the rare metal. Diluent? Bullsh*t has near-perfect properties as a diluent, being highly adherent, while allowing brief glimmers of the good stuff if viewed from the right angle, under good illumination. Scientists differ as to the maximum content of bullsh*t that passes muster. Some say a maximum of 5% (this blogger subscribes to that school, or used to at any rate when grant-renewal time came around). Some say that in skilful hands one can get away with 25-30% bullsh*t or even higher.

Further update: call me old-fashioned if you like, but I resent deeply having my chemical/biochemical credentials attacked on a third party site by someone operating under a pseudonym who recently described herself as a “chemist”. If she’s a real professional chemist, as she would have us believe, then her behaviour on that site is TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL. Come out from under your cover, come to this site under your real name, and debate the science IN DETAIL  What you are doing at present is acting as just another tedious and irritating internet troll, using your anonymity to launch personal attacks. You make it impossible for this blogger to contribute to that site is a calm frame of mind.

I repeat: you are trolling. Why does the site owner permit that, while constantly looking to this site to provide content?

Update: Sunday:  There is also haranguing, not as serious as trolling. Yannick Clement on Dan Porter’s site is in full-haranguing mode with a string of consecutive comments that I don’t intend to answer there, or reproduce here. I’d simply say this, not mincing my words:

Here is a link to the “scientific method” – just one of several that could have been chosen:

Search it for “expert” and you will not find a single mention. The term “expert” has no useful role to play in science, its relevance being to consultancy where an instant opinion is required that may not immediately give the right answer, but is less likely (hopefully) to give the wrong one.

The closest the article comes to “expert” is this passage, one that Yannick should consider carefully before launching any more of his naive and ill-informed attacks on this experimentalist:

 My italics:

 “Recognizing that personal and cultural beliefs influence both our perceptions and our interpretations of natural phenomena, we aim through the use of standard procedures and criteria to minimize those influences when developing a theory. As a famous scientist once said, “Smart people (like smart lawyers) can come up with very good explanations for mistaken points of view.” In summary, the scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of bias or prejudice in the experimenter when testing an hypothesis or a theory.

Rogers’ experimental design for a Maillard reaction was heavily influenced by bias towards a 1st century provenance, to the extent of introducing reactants that were largely or entirely a matter of conjecture (degraded  ‘sugary’ starch, saponins, large quantities of  ammonia gas” and extending the temperature far beyond the range that is physiological, pre- or post-mortem.

Rogers achieved much in the course of his long career, especially as regards the application of DSC and mass spectrometry to safety evaluation of chemical explosives, but that Maillard model was not his finest hour.  Some might think the sooner that experiment is forgotten the better. The sooner Yannick Clement stops his hero worship of Ray Rogers, the better too for all concerned. There is no role for hero worship and/or infallible so-called experts in science.

Further update: Sunday:

From ‘Thermodynamics of hydrolysis of oligosaccharides’ (1991)

“The enthalpies of hydrolysis of two different samples of amylose were 1062 +/- 20 and 2719 +/- 100 kJ mol-1, respectively.”

See also this link to a pdf for confirmation that starch hydrolysis is endothermic.

This demonstrates what this blogger has been saying, namely that the hydrolysis of starch to simple sugar is endothermic (positive value for delta H). It’s little wonder that it requires heating with strong mineral acid for hours, days even.  Yet Raymond Rogers promulgated the idea that a starch coating on linen (conjectural!) could be assumed to break down spontaneously to reducing sugars, sufficient to give a Maillard reaction in the environmental range of temperature (despite Maillard reactions typically needing elevated temperatures of 100 degrees and greater to proceed at a reasonably brisk rate). Despite renewed protests on my part this morning the lady  troll is back on Dan Porter’s site, claiming I have “shamelessly distorted” Rogers’ Maillard model, in other words making yet another character attack, and still Dan Porter sits idly by while this continues. The reasons why Rogers was wrong, and spectacularly so, is for the kind of reason set out above – he imagined or assumed chemical changes that simply do not occur. Repeat: starch is a highly stable polymer. It requires enzymes or drastic chemical treatment to degrade starch. Rogers conceded himself in that Maillard paper that there was no colour when he used ordinary plain starch. It needed highly degraded starch, purchased from a chemical supplier as “dextrins”, i.e. low molecular weight sugary substances – making the model INADMISSIBLE. This blogger is not shamelessly distorting. He is telling it the way it is.

Afterthought: to those with a biochemical background, the idea that starch breakdown is endothermic may seem counter-intuitive. One is accustomed to thinking of biosynthesis as a process requiring energy (usually in the form of ATP, so the reverse process would release energy, i.e. be exothermic, not endothermic). The contradiction is probably accounted for as follows: the early stages of starch biosythesis,  the making of maltose, triose etc will be endothermic. But as the growing chain gets longer and more starch-like, it will then undergo internal H-bonding interactions to form helices etc, the process being exothermic. The latter release of heat will not usually be reckoned in the overall energetics if simply summing the energetics of each stepwise addition of a glucose unit.  So the overall process of starch synthesis will not be as endothermic as one might think, and indeed is probably exothermic, making the reverse hydrolysis endothermic, as measured by two different experimental groups in the above links. I will try to dig out some more on the energetics of starch hydrolysis, though it seems to be a neglected topic in the literature searched so far.

It’s also not terribly clear what’s meant by “per mole”. Per mole of what? Amylose, with a huge and probably unknown molar mass, or per mole of polymeric glucose,  reckoned as C6H12O6, or anhydroglucose (C6H10O5), recalling that starch can be represented as (C6H10O5)n? It’s probably one or other of those monomer units, approx molar mass 160, but it would have been nice to have had that specified as the basis of calculation.

Still Sunday:  setting the record straight (posted to shroudstory):

Despite the knocking copy from Paolo Di Lazzaro, Thibault Heimburger and others, this blogger was content to stick with the direct scorch from a heated metal template model for the best part of two years. Why? Because the claims of reverse side imaging, excessive image contrast simply did not tally with experimental results, provided one observed sensible temperature control, brief contact time, moist underlays etc. The chief downside was that it needed a statue or bas relief, when a real person would have been preferable.

The sea change in thinking came with the discovery of the Veronica-like motif on the Machy mould above the word SUAIRE, suggesting that the “Shroud” had been modelled as a sweat imprint on Joseph of Arimathea’s linen. That was the signal to think in terms of a two-stage process. First, find a proxy for body sweat (white flour paste!) that could be smeared on a real person, then imprinted onto linen. Second, develop that negative imprint in a way that produced a yellow-brown colour. That proved possible, first with cold nitric acid, then with hot limewater, and then simply with a hot iron, presumably as a result of Maillard or caramelization chemistry.

So while the initial scorch model was abandoned, there’s a sense in which I’ve returned to it, but with a major improvement. Direct scorching requires a higher temperature, with the risk of excessive scorching, whether that materialized or not with careful temperature control. In contrast, development of a flour imprint can be done with or without thermal treatment. If thermal, as with a hot iron, one can use a temperature, obtained by trial and error, that causes browning of a flour imprint with absolutely no risk whatsoever of scorching linen per se, certainly not on the non-imprinted parts of the linen.

I make no apology for abandoning the Mark 1 scorch model, ie. for changing my mind, switching horses, call it what you want. It’s in the nature of science to refine models and occasionally abandon them. The crucial point, as indicated, was to view the “Shroud” as a simulated sweat imprint. Did anyone suggest that previously, and say that the negative image was immediately accounted for? If they had, then I missed it. If one has to have one’s own eureka moment in order to explore a new line of investigation, then I would say there’s no shame in having previously pursued a different one, especially when one ends with what might be described as a scorch imprint Mk2 hypothesis, two stage rather than single stage, using a real person not a statue. Others may disagree, to which my response is: “Then show me YOUR model and say why it’s better.”

What’s yours, Thibault – or are you still too busy looking for things to criticize in mine, preparing with Dan’s help to pdf me into submission?


What I didn’t mention in the above comment was that white flour had featured earlier in the Mk 1 scorch model, but in the dry state. I reported that one could sensitize linen to scorching at a lower temperature by sprinkling flour onto it before scorching with a hot template. Link to post: Modelling the Shroud of Turin image with a flour-assisted Maillard reaction (October 2014).

Here’s a result from that posting:

Flour-assisted scorching, October 2014, prior to current 2-stage model.

Flour-assisted scorching, October 2014, prior to current 2-stage model. Flour is more sensitive to scorching than linen, a finding exploited in the new model.

Update: July 27

So why have I waited all this time to blow the whistle on Rogers’ fanciful Maillard hypothesis, full of chemical make-believe? Answer: I haven’t. I was making exactly the same points over 3 years ago on Porter’s site, May 21st,  2012, and have done so subsequently. e.g. on the unfavourable thermodynamics (even assuming that ammonia and reducing sugar are/were really present).


Look at the comments. Look at the obfuscating hero worship of that windbag of a  Rogers’ groupie, he with the initials  YC.  Look at the attempt to portray Rogers as the infallible starch expert. Look at his attempts to write off this blogger as a nonentity.  (The blogger in question was too restrained or modest to tell him t0 google (dietary fibre resistant starch) and spot the citation classic on ‘resistant starch’ at the top of  page 1 of returns with well over 400 mentions in the literature, or to suggest that he do a comparable search in Google Scholar for starch papers by Raymond.N.Rogers.

Dan Porter claims to welcome real science. But look at the graphic he placed on that paper. Look how he allowed YC to filibuster the site, making out Rogers as a saintly scientist, making out his critics as having one or other character defect. No, it wasn’t trolling, more  verbal assault bordering on diarrhoea.

What a mucky site. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s high time Dan Porter cleaned up that site of his in a way that allows the science to be heard and not instantly set upon by assorted trolls, groupies and fanatics.

Further update:

Another hero-worshipped figure is “STURP member” Robert V. Bucklin (pathologist), currently being discussed on shroudstory. I’ve stated previously my first reaction on reading his “mock autopsy report” in which he imagines the body to be laid out on a marble slab while he circles around with his clipboard making notes.  Nor shall I repeat what I said about the stilted Victorian language, the formality, the pomposity. I was told off severely on shroudstory for my levity. So let’s stick to the facts, shall we.

First, look at the list of STURP team members on, noting carefully which names lack an asterisk, meaning they did NOT go to Turin, but worked on material supplied to them. Note that Bucklin’s name does NOT have an asterisk. That means he did not see the Shroud image itself, but must have been working from photographs. So much for that mock formal autopsy report. But whose photographs? Why is there no photograph shown on Bucklin’s “autopsy” report, so we can see precisley what he was looking at? Why is the reader left to assume that a key STURP team member, chosen for his pathology credentials, had seen the actual  Shroud image and bloodstains with his own eyes when he clearly had not?

One thing’s for certain. He did not have access to the high quality ‘as-is’ Durante 2002 pictures that we have available at the click of a key from Mario Latendresse’s  Shroud Scope.

Had he done so, he might not have made that bizarre claim that there are no scourge marks on the arms, with an opportunity (one of many) for inserting a pro-authenticity message about the victim having his arms “above his head” during scourging.

Shroud Scope. See scourge marks on arms, especially those on viewer's right.

Shroud Scope. See scourge marks on arms, visible especially  on viewer’s right where there’s better separation from bloodstains.

Here’s the concluding passage from Bucklin’s report. Note the scientific objectivity…

It is the ultimate responsibility of the medical examiner to confirm by whatever means are available to him the identity of the deceased, as well as to determine the manner of this death. In the case of Man on the Shroud, the forensic pathologist will have information relative to the circumstances of death by crucifixion which he can support by his anatomic findings. He will be aware that the individual whose image is depicted on the cloth has undergone puncture injuries to his wrists and feet, puncture injuries to his head, multiple traumatic whip-like injuries to his back and postmortem puncture injury to his chest area which has released both blood and a water type of fluid. From this data, it is not an unreasonable conclusion for the forensic pathologist to determine that only one person historically has undergone this sequence of events. That person is Jesus Christ.

As far as the mechanism of death is concerned, a detailed study of the Shroud imprint and the blood stains, coupled with a basic understanding of the physical and physiological changes in the body that take place during crucifixion, suggests strongly that the decedent had undergone postural asphyxia as the result of his position during the crucifixion episode. There is also evidence of severe blood loss from the skin wounds as well as fluid accumulation in the chest cavities related to terminal cardio-respiratory failure.

For the manner of death to be determined, a full investigation of the circumstances of death is necessary. In this case, it would be determined historically that the individual was sentenced to death, and that the execution was carried out by crucifixion. The manner of death would be classed as judicial homicide.


Priceless. nay, hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and brought to you by STURP no less!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Afterthought: yes, there’s that 4th category of commentator that is tolerated (some might say encourgaed) on Porter’s stite: the serial browbeater, endlessly claiming that black is white and white is black, and woebetide anyone who says otherwise. The serial browbeater is immune to reason or logic, and totally indifferent to the facts.

Tuesday 28 July

Have just posted this comment to shroudstory. (Nope, it won’t alter in the slightest anyone’s thinking re authenticity – merely elicit still more special pleading, still more qualifying assumptions, more haughty lectures etc etc , but no matter, this blogger is frankly beyond caring where that site is concerned):

July 28, 2015 at 1:56 am

“Take the name of Jesus out of this and not one person on this Earth would be debating the credibility of the pathologists report”

Correction. At least one person would (me). For a start, it’s hard enough drawing conclusions re 3D anatomy, injuries etc from observing a faint and fuzzy 2D image. When you don’t know how the image was formed, why are you even inviting pathologists to comment, given their training and experience is with real cadavers on mortuary slabs?

That’s not including another overlooked detail – namely that Robert Bucklin, while described as a member of STURP, did not make the trip to Turin, so did not see the “Shroud” with his own eyes. That so-called autopsy report of his must have been based on one or more photographs, though you wouldn’t know that from reading it. Whose photographs? They certainly weren’t those of Durante (2002) which we can all of us view on Shroud Scope. Had they been, Buckley could not have got away with stating there were no scourge marks on the arms, and making deductions that assumed authenticity re biblical-era scourging (arms above head).

I despair of this travesty of science, brought to us by Robert Bucklin (and others!) who time and again were prepared to abandon scientific objectivity in their attempts to fill in for us the details of the biblical narrative.

Furher update: despite Robert Bucklin lacking an asterisk against his name in the list of STURP team members (see earlier) indicating that he did not accompany the team to Turin in 1978, we read this in his 2001 Obituary on the site:

“I am deeply saddened to hear that our tall, gentle giant of the “Silent Witness,” Dr. Robert Bucklin, passed away. I first met him through Fr. Peter Rinaldi in Turin, Italy, in October 1978. As we walked together through the streets of Turin, Bob said, “The man on the Shroud is proof that He was dead and that a living G-d brought back His body and made the imprint on His Shroud. That is my private opinion.” And I agreed.

  1. David Alexander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Posted October 6, 2001

Was he there, or wasn’t he? And if he was there, did he do his “autopsy” on the real “Shroud” or on  photographs (see below)?

Even if he was in Turin, one has to ask why he in particualr was selected as “pathology expert” given his conviction in 1978, ahead of the inconclusive 1981 STURP Summary,  that the image on the cloth was that of Jesus himself. That was bound to have coloured his judgement, something abundantly obvious from that so-called “autopsy” report.

We then read this from historian Ian Wilson in the same 2001 obiturary (my bolding):

With the death of Dr. Robert Bucklin on September 19, the Shroud world has lost one of its most distinguished and gentlemanly medical specialists.

Never has the medical case for the Shroud’s authenticity been more succinctly and more convincingly conveyed to the widest possible audience than by Robert Bucklin for David Rolfe’s award-winning cinema and TV documentary Silent Witness. Via life-size negatives of the Shroud laid out in his Los Angeles laboratory as if these were an actual crucified body, Bucklin explained the wounds of crowning with thorns, scourging and crucifixion with such gentle authority and matter-of-factness that the scenes involving him were arguably the most powerful single contributor to the documentary’s winning of a BAFTA award. Personally, I will never forget his quiet, clinical explanations of the terrible injuries. Or his calm gazing direct at the camera to conclude with heart-melting emphasis: ‘The markings on this image are so clear and so medically accurate that the pathological facts which they reflect concerning the suffering and death of the man depicted here are in my opinion beyond dispute.’ Such authoritative assessment by a seasoned medical specialist, talking about the very basics of the subject from within his own field of professional expertise, represents the very life-blood of what Shroud research should be all about.

With characteristic modesty, Robert Bucklin, in his paper for the 1993 Rome conference, personally assessed his then four decades of Shroud research work as ‘a mere drop in the bucket compared to the continuing highly technical work that continues to be done.’ But if there is any validity to the now increasingly recognised efficacy of homeopathic medicine, Robert Bucklin’s ‘drop in the bucket’ was, in truth, a most subtly mighty one.

Ian Wilson
Excerpted from an upcoming article in the BSTS Newsletter

That confirms that Bucklin did work from photographs. But that was probably a year or more earlier than the STURP visit to Turin, whether he was there or not. It’s clear that he was involved in the making of David Rolfe’s “Silent Witness” (which did not as I recall involve a privileged viewing of the Shroud).  Might Bucklin have written his “autopsy” based on photographs at the time of Silent Witness, or, at any rate, before the 78 STURP visit to Turin?

(Although the film appeared in 1978, it was made the year earlier according to Rolfe’s own Enigma site)

Was that autopsy the one that went into the STURP archives, even if written pre-1978,  maybe the previous year, and possibly unaffected by anything its author may or may not have seen with his own eyes if really in Turin? The person who could tell us would be Barrie M.Schwortz, STURP’s Documenting Photographer, President of STERA and owner of the site, but I don’t suppose he reads this site…  If Robert Bucklin was in Turin in 1978, and got to see the “Shroud” with his own eyes, then that list of names (with and without asterisks) needs correcting.

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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

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).
Insert caption
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’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

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 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 ‘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 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 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 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.


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  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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