Who says the Shroud is not a scorch mark – and more to the point, WHY?

Turin Shroud (cropped, with original light/dark reversal that looks better when viewed as a photographic negative)

Has scorching been conclusively ruled out, as many would have us believe?

Let’s look the evidence. It breaks down into  at least 8 most-frequently-cited arguments (see below- apologies if I have forgotten any).

I have simply listed the first that spring to mind.   Let me know if there are others.

I shall then begin to assemble responses to each point.  it may take days, weeks, months even. I shall edit/re-edit shamelessly (though preserving as a matter of ‘netiquette’ any original versions if they become the target for criticism).

That is the nature of this blog. It is NOT an attempt to intimidate or browbeat with scientific data, nor any other kind of semantic or rhetorical devices.  It is interactive (assuming, that i,s there are some folk who may wish to interact) and it is, as my blog says on the tin, an attempt to remove the hype, to de-mythologise.

I don’t pretend for one moment to have all the answers, but I do now have a handle on the topic, as can be seen from the graphic that appears at the top of my blog, in terms of thermal imprinting.  Gradually I hope to assemble a trustworthy archive  of evidence both for and against particular models, scientific models that is, though so far I can see only one (mine!), but then maybe I am short-sighted.


  •   Lack of fluorescence of Shroud under uv
  •   Strippability with adhesive tape
  •   Faintness of the image, so-called half tone effects,  superficiality and thinness of the image, failure to see damage in medullae of fibres or the interior of cloth
  •   Response to a chemical reducing reagent (diimide) or oxidising agent (hydrogen peroxide)
  •   The fact that the image is a negative, suggestive of photography
  •   Encoded 3D information
  •  A.N.Other
  • Image not in the cellulose itself but some kind of surface coating
  • Heat would have produced pyrolytic change in the blood stains (which lie under, not over the image)

(Sorry about the vacant bullet points that stubbornly resist deletion. A few bullet points up the backsides of software designers might do a power of good)

I shall shortly begin addressing each and every point in turn, but at the risk of sounding repetitive, this blog is a work in progress, not a  fait accompli. There are quite enough of the latter already in the over-stuffed world of Shroudology.

Point 1:  Lack of fluorescence of the Shroud image areas under uv light.

It is not difficult to see why, IN PRINCIPLE, a new scorch on cellulose or other carbohydrate material should induce fluorescence under ultraviolet light. All that is required is for fluorescent chromophores  (fluorochromes) to be formed, which does not require the formation of particular chemical compounds, but rather particular patterns of chemical bonds, usually an alternation of single and double bonds, so-called conjugated double-bond systems, which extend for some distance over linear and or cyclic parts of the molecule. Such systems, with so called delocalised pi-electron clouds, have electrons that are easy to promote to higher energy levels,  i.e. further from the nucleus, when absorbing  one of more quanta of uv light, and which subsequently fall back to their original ground state positions by two or more separate steps,  at least one of which corresponds in energy to a quantum of visible light, the latter being emitted in the visible region of the em spectrum . Thus quinine has a blue fluorescence, riboflavin yellow-green, porphyrins red etc.

The typical chemical reaction produced by pyrolysis of cellulose, say (pyrolysis being thermal degradation that is independent of, or preceding combination with oxygen) is dehydration, i.e. loss of the elements of water, to produce a range of products with  carbonyl C=O groups, anhydrosugars etc, but the kinetics and products are highly dependent on temperature and conditions. Thus the presence of oxygen favours scission of C-C and C-O bonds, with release of greater amounts of CO and CO2. It would be virtually impossible to relate changes in fluorescence to so complex a pattern of chemical change, especially as the first formed products at lower temperatures are modified celluloses, i.e. still macromolecular, as distinct from small molecules than can be isolated and characterized.

So when we say that scorching is accompanied by the acquisition of fluorescence, we mean that a property has been acquired without being specific as to the precise nature of the chemicals formed, except to say they are still in all probability firmly associated with the polysaccharide, and indeed are merely part of an altered polysaccharide structure.

What we are NOT entitled to say is that those alterations will still be there centuries later, merely because the scorch is still visible. The properties that give rise to the typical  yellow or brown scorch coloration  are not necessarily one and the same as those that give rise to fluorescence. Fluorescence is generally far more demanding of precise patterns of chemical bonds than is yellow colour alone.  For example, there is an abundance or yellow or orange organic compounds that are not fluorescent, and there are some non-yellow ones, e.g.  colorless quinine that are.

It may well be that the image of the Shroud was fluorescent when it was first formed, but has lost its fluorescence over time. All that is required for that to happen is for addition reactions to occur across the more reactive double bonds (the chemistry of double bonds being dominated by such addition-type  reactions). There are many agents in the natural environment capable of adding across double bonds, notably ground level ozone, O3, and even oxygen, O2, given time. Exposure to light and uv can sensitize to, or accelerate, reactions with oxygen.  Let’s not forget either that the 1532 fire exposed the Shroud image not  just to elevated temperatures but to an abundance of gaseous products of pyrolysis, some of which, e,g, hydrogen, H2, are capable of adding cross double bonds.

There’s another reason for mentioning the 1532 fire: it is often cited as if it were a model  for scorching with statements like (“the Shroud image does not fluoresce, while the charred edges from the 1532 do”). That is hardly a valid comparison, given not only that the fumes from one may have quenched the fluorescence of the other, but that the circumstances of the fire, i.e.  high temperatures with a melting silver reliquary, hot enough to drip molten silver, melting  point  962 degrees C, onto the Shroud fabric were far more extreme than those that created the Shroud image, given that the latter did not appreciable weaken the fabric of the cloth, far less create holes with charred edges.

Fluorescence quenching was mentioned  above: that is yet another phenomenon that needs to be considered when assessing the reasons for an aged sample of f unknown provenance lacking fluorescence. The fluorochromes responsible for initial fluorescence may still be present, but their fluorescence is blocked by the presence of subsequently acquired ‘ fluorescence quenching agents”, the details of which need not concern us here. Suffice it to say that one of the most common, and certainly ubiquitous of the quenching agents, is oxygen gas itself, due to the ground state (unexcited)  molecule existing in an unusual triplet state.

Conclusion:  fluorescence may be a marker for a modern scorch, but it cannot be claimed as a marker for an ancient one, far less to claim that the absence of fluorescence precludes the description of a mark that,  on other grounds,  may be strongly suspected to be a scorch (if only by a process of elimination). It is no more scientific to declare that the Shroud image is definitely not a scorch, based on the absence of fluorescence, than it is to claim the image is definitely a scorch, based on suggestive or indirect evidence.  It is entirely wrong for those who claim the authenticity of the Shroud as the 2000 year old  burial cloth of Christ to adduce fluorescence evidence, or lack thereof, as grounds for ruling out a mechanism that involves scorching. Indeed, since the “miraculous” means of image production seem to involve a flash of  intense or otherwise high energy radiation, it is not clear why a “scorch” is being ruled out, given that it is possible to scorch linen at a distance with radiation, even that of relatively long wavelength, e,g., infrared, at least in the presence of  an opaque absorbing material.  Infrared rays  can be used in cooking and heating food as they predominantly heat the opaque, absorbent objects, rather than the air around them.”

Point 2: Strippability with adhesive tape

It sounds a simple test, but “strippability” even if confined to the Shroud image raises a huge range of issues as to how the Shroud image was created, and how well it has preserved its original character and properties over the centuries. In that sense the issue of “strippability” is reminiscent of that of uv fluorescence, and can quickly become  a veritable can of worms.

Let’s imagine for the sake of simplicity that the original Shroud image was a scorch onto the cellulose fibres of linen – one that did not depend on surface coatings that have been invoked by Rogers (saponins, starch etc etc).   If it was anything like the scorch that I  personally, in home experiments, have produced on linen, then adhesive tape (plain old Scotch tape) does indeed strip off SOME of the scorched fibres  but does not remove the complete image.  That is hardly surprising – some fibres are bound to be more severely  damaged than others. What neither I nor others can do is to continue running the same test every century to see whether the scorch becomes progressively prone to stripping as it ages.  But here’s something to bear in mind: the image on the present Shroud is said to be exceedingly faint, the face only being visible by viewing for a distance of at least 5 feet. There is a strong possibility that the scorch region has become progressively weaker and easier to detach over the centuries, such that ALL of what now remains can be stripped away with adhesive tape.

In short, strippability tells one more about the aged  condition of the Shroud (i.e. centuries old) than it does about the nature of the image or how it was formed.

Incidentally – what about the 1532 scorch marks? Were they strippable too?  First impressions are that we are not told – at least in the documentation that is available on the internet…

Yup, if you google  (rogers adhesive tape 1532 shroud turin) you see numerous references to Rogers having sampled  32  regions of the Shroud no less, but his comment, and  I have to say cursory comment at that,  is confined to  tape data in respect of image v non-image regions, with no specific references that I can see to the 1532 burns and scorching.  Raymond Rogers did not hesitate to use the fluorescence of the  latter to make a point. Shame then that there is no mention as to how a ancient undisputed scorch responded to his strippability test. The latter is compromised  in its scientific relevance by his failure to do so.

Conclusion– all the adhesive strip test tells one is that a centuries-old image on linen is rather weakly attached. Indeed, some may have detached long before 20th century scientists began to examine it.

Point 3:   Faintness of the image, so-called half tone effects,  superficiality and thinness of the image, failure to see damage in the medullas of individual fibres or the interior of cloth

I have to say that this is probably the most difficult of the aspects to address, since one is trying to picture in one’s mind events that occurred centuries ago without having seen them with one’s own eyes, or even having any first, or indeed second-hand accounts by which to reconstruct. That is why I spent some weeks in home experiments (“kitchen puddling” as described elsewhere) in an attempt to get some kind of handle on the problem – because that is how  a scientist – or  in this case a retired science bod works – he puts down the existing published work, rolls up his sleeves, and launches into practical experimentation.

No matter how crude the latter may seem at first sight, it quickly leads into privileged insights that NO ONE else possesses.  That is the beauty of being a scientist – one quickly finds oneself out there on one’s own – a scout in uncharted territory – being forced to think for oneself, and no longer dependent on “received wisdom”.  Even if the experimentation and its findings ultimately prove to be wrong or misinterpreted – I leave time to judge in my own case – the mere fact of discovering new effects and attempting to interpret them gives one a commanding advantage over those who are dependent on others’ data, with no reference points of their own, no gut feeling as to what is the truth.

With that preamble I shall now prepare a reply to Point 3 – which as I say is probably the crucial one.  But first I have to get this website looking half-decent – having only just learned how to break up the title into separate words.

The chief resource for this section will be the recent paper (2010) by G.Fanti et al.

Downloadable in full, free of charge

This interesting and  well-documented paper (shame about the introduction which I’m   surprised got past the journal’s editors and referees) will be the chief resource for now. I shall return later to look at the earlier work of Raymond Rogers another time. The aim right now is to give a thumbnail summary of the chief findings and conclusions – I may decide to do a fuller appreciation and critique of the paper at a later date.

PRECIS  (my bolding, and with UK spellings of fibre, colour etc)

Superficiality of Shroud image at (A) the fabric level

(1) The colour only resides on the external surface of the TS.  According to the fabric model described earlier,  that surface is not flat. In any given region of the  body image, there are more coloured warp threads  than adjacent weft threads: the image is mainly carried by the warp threads. However, some weft threads are also coloured. The colour does not penetrate the whole cloth in any image area. ………..

(2) The superficial colour is not due to any pigment  since no pigment particles can be seen either macroscopically or microscopically nor are there any external substances or evidence of media scorching in image areas. The colour is only due to a chemical reaction (dehydration and oxidation).

(3) Where one of the image-threads crosses over another, the yellow coloration of the fibres is often interrupted on the lower thread.

(4) A colour concentration can be detected in correspondence to furrows where two or three yarns cross each other, or between two coloured parallel yarns. This colour concentration becomes more evident after a contrast enhancement.

(5) The image of the dorsal side of the body shows nearly the same colour density and distribution as the ventral, but the face image shows a higher colour density.

(6) According to Fanti and Maggiolo  the body image is doubly superficial in some areas of the frontal image, such as face and perhaps hands.

…  we know that “coloration does not appear under the crossing threads of the weave or penetrate the cloth” This implies that the imaging phenomenon was superficial as if an energy only coloured  the surface of the directly exposed fabric, and no communication of colour exists at fibre levels between the two sides of the fabric. The thread is twisted so the image goes around the thread, but as the image does not communicate itself along the fibre, the phenomenon of a faint back side image cannot be explained with thread twisting. The double superficiality therefore means that in some areas the image resided only on the two opposite  external surfaces, but there is no image in the middle.

(7) No image is formed under the blood stains.

(8) The hue of the body image is everywhere nearly the same: the measured chromaticity coordinates (CIE x , y , z) are in the range of 0.480–0.515 for x and 0.410–0.417 for y. The image chiaroscuro is instead a result of different concentrations of yellow to light brown fibres having almost the same colour. This means that the chromaticity coordinates of image areas are independent of optical density level because density variation reflects number of fibres affected rather than the degree of coloration exhibited by individual fibres. The dimension of the finest    detail observable in the TS body image, is nominally 4.9± 0.5 mm,17 and not comparable with   thread or fibre dimensions.

Superficiality of the Shroud image at (B) the thread level

(1) The colour only resides in the most external (two or maximum three) fibres of the threads.

(2) Some non-coloured fibres  in image areas can be found adjacent to coloured TS image fibres on a  given thread of the image areas. Striations are evident on an image-thread. The striations can often be followed on several adjacent warp threads, not only on an individual thread. The image has a distinct preference for running along the individual fibres making up a thread, colouring some but not  others

(3) On a given coloured thread, there are relatively homogeneous brighter areas with smaller concentrated groups of darker fibres.

(4) There is no evidence of cementation among fibres or capillary flow characteristic of liquids.

 Superficiality at Shroud image at (C) the fibre level

(1) The image only resides in the external surface probably corresponding to the “primary cell wall”  composed of polysaccharides of lower activation energy than the cellulose.

(2) The image fibres are uniformly coloured all around their cylindrical surface; i.e., the entire primary cell wall is circumferentially coloured

(3) The extinction distance of the colour along a fibre is of the order of 0.1 mm.  Therefore no  communication between front and back surface of the fabric exists because each fibre was coloured only if exposed to the “energy” that resulted in chemical reaction.

(4) The cellulose of the linen fibre residing in the “secondary cell wall”  is not coloured and the medullas of the 10– 20- m-diameter fibres  in image areas also appear colourless.. Phase-contrast  photomicrographs show that there is a very thin layer on all the TS fibres,    characterized as “ghost” by Rogers,   which may correspond to the primary cell wall; this is the external thin coloured layer pulled from a linen fibres by the adhesive in the TS  STURP sampling.

(5) The yellowed fibres are not yellowed continuously over their entire length.

The authors’ summary:  the superficiality of the TS body image consists of a redox chemical reaction involving the primary cell walls. This chemical modification (regardless of mechanism) involves only the outermost (two or maximum three) coloured linen fibers of the image carrying threads.

My own take thus far: 

There is a great deal of valuable information and insight here in this Fanti et al paper (some of it new, some of it incorporating the previous findings of Rogers and STURP).

 The take-away message is clear. The image is exceedingly thin, a mere 200nm, approximately the same thickness as the gold leaf used in gilding or to illuminate manuscripts.  The thinness is perhaps not surprising, given the faintness of the image, and indeed is so superficial that it corresponds probably the so-called primary cell wall of the flax fibre. Ray Rogers had previously suggested that a peeling image layer represented a coating of an adventitious material gained in linen manufacture, e.g. starch or natural detergent (saponins), but Fanti et al  here not only arrive at what I consider the appropriate botanical conclusion, but support it with the crucial chemical observation that the primary cell wall is primarily hemicellulose, not cellulose. Despite the similar names, hemicellulose is an entirely different polymer from cellulose and, what’s more, being less crystalline, i.e  less highly ordered,  is a a lot more vulnerable to the kind of chemical reactions (dehydration, oxidation etc) implicated in image formation (which incidentally I would call “scorch” chemistry, but more of that another time).

Continuing with that checklist (see earlier bullet points):

Ability to bleach the image with diimide (N2H2, or NH=NH), a powerful reducing agent, able to add hydrogen and electrons to molecules able to accept electrons for new C-H or other bond formation  :

“Image color can be chemically reduced with diimide, leaving colorless cellulose fibers. All image color resides on the outer surfaces of the fibers”

The above was cited elsewhere in a list of points that attempted to dismiss any notion that image represented a heat scorch. I shall be addressing all those points in due course. Suffice it to say that the diimide result is consistent with an image produced by  dehydration and chemical double bond formation, as Fanti et al themselves state, and that scorching (the first sign of pyrolysis) also involves dehydration and double bond formation which the authors omit to state.

In other words, the diimide bleaching is entirely consistent with a chemical reduction of one or more double bonds in a yellow chromophore that interrupts the typical sequence of single and double bonds that confers colour, resulting in loss of pigmentation. The diimide reaction only has a bearing on the chromophore chemistry, not how the chromophore came to be there. It certainly cannot be used to dismiss any suggestion that the Shroud image represents a heat scorch. In any case, what else caused chemical dehydration and double-bond formation if it was not high temperature?  Conc. sulphuric acid? Phosphorus pentoxide?  Acetic anhydride? In the absence of any other chemical signatures, other than the dehydration/double bonds, one is left with pyrolysis, i.e. thermal degradation, accompanied perhaps by some oxidation, as the DEFAULT position.

If you have a break-in and see footprints under a broken window you assume that’s where the intruder got in, right? It’s not just the courts of law that occasionally have to rely on circumstantial evidence. Science uses it all the time and for the same reason (given that CCTV is not always sited at the right place at the right time).

Inability to bleach with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)

That is an interesting finding, since there is at least anecdotal evidence from internet sites that ironing scorch marks can be removed with hydrogen peroxide. It is something I shall try myself shortly. Regardless of outcome, it is important to bear in mind that the Shroud image is centuries old, and regardless of what produced it, one cannot assume that it behaves towards chemical reagents now as it would have done originally. Who is to say, for example, that the original image has not faded over time as a result of slow oxidation with atmospheric oxygen, ozone or other oxidising agents, as indeed seems probable, and that what we see now is the resistant residue that is less prone to further bleaching?

Next bullet point: The fact that the image is a negative, suggestive of photography

This finding has been around since 1898, yet it still occasions surprise and, all to often, wild imaginings about Da Vinci code-like messages from the past. yet all that it is saying is that the image is light-dark reversed, so that a nose would look light, as if reflecting a lot of light, and eye sockets look dark, through being recessed and in shade.

Artists , needless to say, generally paint to portray people and things as we see them: reproducing as many natural cues as possible, we are able to “look into” the picture as if it were a real scene, to suspend our critical faculties.

There are those who claim that no artists, or at any rate medieval forger, could have painted so faint an image (they seem to assume the Shroud was always faint) as a light/dark reversed image. My advice would be never to understimate the skills of medieval painters – some modern ones would be had pushed to paint convincing looking ermine, silk, velvet etc etc. But that’s beside the point. the Shroud is not a painting, or if it is it is one that has left no trace of pigment, no clogging up up of the interstices between warp and weft.  Personally, I’m somewhat surprised that more attention was not given years, decades, nay centuries ago to the technology that ALWAYS produces a light/dark reversed image, and ALWAYS in a yellow or brown shade that long predated sepia (which I nearly described I until remembering that scientists endeavour to avoid ambiguous, anachronistic or otherwise misleading terms). In fact, livestock owners who, not just in the Wild West but centuries ago branded their animals to signal ownership would have known all about negative images through comparing what appears on the hide or fleece with what was on their branding iron. More about that later…

The principle of branding (note light/dark reversal; also left/right, but not so obvious here)

(No animals were hurt in the making of this graphic)

Next bullet point: encoded 3D information

Few aspects of the Shroud can  have elicited greater interest and excitement than the 3D-like images that were produced by computer programs that, using analague or digital processing, convert light and dark into a relief map, reminiscent of the kind that show the Lake District as if viewed from a hot-air balloon (so much prettier than those Ordnance Survey maps with the brown contour lines).

But a lot of mystique – not so say obscurantist and unhelpful comment, has grown up around what those programs are doing. What’s more, and is perhaps unforgivable, is that we are constantly told that it is only the Shroud image that gives a high quality image (criteria for which are unspecified) – that ordinary photos, paintings etc do not respond. Yet as I pointed out elsewhere, one of the best known 3D-realisations of the Shroud shows not only the face and body in 3D, but the edges of the 1532 burn holes as well!

Why had no one else commented before (to the best of my knowledge)?

(Maybe some folk see only what they want to see)

That drew the reply that “of course” one would have expected that. Would one?  Really? Then what price the uniqueness of the Shroud image if a pattern of light and dark burns and scorching can also be processed to make a 3D relief that is totally irrelevant (GIGO – garbage in/garbage out as they are wont to say in the computer-savvy world). Look too at the banner that appears on all my posts – the image on the far right was produced from the scorch mark in the centre by use of a re-imaging program that is downloadable for free on the internet. Note that while it produces a 3D appearance, it is not the same as that of the original object – the African mask – from which the semi-charred imprint (“brand”) was taken. The 3D realization alone would have given a rather false impression of the appearance of the original template, looking more Oriental than African perhaps?

Next bullet point Image not in the cellulose itself but some kind of surface coating

Here is a visual aid that shows in highly diagrammatic form the relationshio between highly-ordered cellulose (blue) and hemicelluloses (yellow), the latter being in the peripheral “primary cell wall”, and the likely site for that scorched-on image. Ignore the brown (lignin) which will be a minor component in flax fibre and linen.

Here is a fascinating abstract that I have just unearthed on the comparative behaviours of cellulose and hemicellulose on pyrolysis (essentially heating in limited amounts of oxygen), the important point being that the first is endothermic, the second is exothermic. These findings have enormous significance, a theme that will be developed later.  I have bolded the key sections:

“The pyrolysis characteristics of three main components (hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin) of biomass were investigated using, respectively, a thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA) with differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) detector and a pack bed. The releasing of main gas products from biomass pyrolysis in TGA was on-line measured using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. In thermal analysis, the pyrolysis of hemicellulose and cellulose occurred quickly, with the weight loss of hemicellulose mainly happened at 220-315C and that of cellulose at 315-400C. However, lignin was more difficult to decompose, as its weight loss happened in a wide temperature range (from 160 to 900C) and the generated solid residue was very high (~40wt.%). From the viewpoint of energy consumption in the course of pyrolysis, cellulose behaved differently from hemicellulose and lignin; the pyrolysis of the former was endothermic while that of the latter was exothermic. The main gas products from pyrolyzing the three components were similar, including CO2, CO, CH4 and some organics. The releasing behaviors of H2 and the total gas yield were measured using Micro-GC when pyrolyzing the three components in a packed bed. It was observed that hemicellulose had higher CO2 yield, cellulose generated higher CO yield, and lignin owned higher H2 and CH4 yield. A better understanding to the gas products releasing from biomass pyrolysis could be achieved based on this in-depth investigation on three main biomass components.”

Hemicellulose is probably so important in understanding the Shroud image that it is worth cutting-and-pasting here the excellent Wikipedia entry, which I have abridged to bare essentials:

Here is is:


A hemicellulose is any of several heteropolymers (matrix polysaccharides), such as arabinoxylans, present along with cellulose in almost all plant cell walls. While cellulose is crystalline, strong, and resistant to hydrolysis, hemicellulose has a random, amorphous structure with little strength. It is easily hydrolyzed by dilute acid or base as well as myriad hemicellulase enzymes.


Hemicelluloses include xylan, glucuronoxylan, arabinoxylan, glucomannan, and xyloglucan.

These polysaccharides contain many different sugar monomers. In contrast, cellulose contains only anhydrous glucose. For instance, besides glucose, sugar monomers in hemicellulose can include xylose, mannose, galactose, rhamnose, and arabinose. Hemicelluloses contain most of the D-pentose sugars, and occasionally small amounts of L-sugars as well. Xylose is always the sugar monomer present in the largest amount, but mannuronic acid and galacturonic acid also tend to be present.

Structural comparison to cellulose

Unlike cellulose, hemicellulose (also a polysaccharide) consists of shorter chains – 500-3,000 sugar units as opposed to 7,000 – 15,000 glucose molecules per polymer seen in cellulose. In addition, hemicellulose is a branched polymer, while cellulose is unbranched.

Native structure

Hemicelluloses are embedded in the cell walls of plants, sometimes in chains that form a ‘ground’ – they bind with pectin to cellulose to form a network of cross-linked fibres.


Microfibrils are cross-linked together by hemicellulose homopolymers. Lignins assist and strengthen the attachment of hemicelluloses to microfibrils.


Hooray – final bullet point. Congratulations to those brave souls out there who have stayed the course:

Heat would have produced pyrolytic change in the blood stains (which lie under, not over the image)

OK,  Dr, Raymond Rogers (sadly RIP),  I am going to have to say some quite candid things that I’d have said to your face, but you being a scientist an’ all (a real one I might add, a chemical kindred spirit in fact) I’m sure you won’t object if I say them now, posthumously.

Very briefly:  Ray Rogers wrote a very short section on why he considered the image was not a scorch. I have to say I find it the least satisfactory, the most oddly peremptory and dismissive in an otherwise impressive collection of high-grade research data

It is short so here it is in full (rendered in italics)

His section title:  How do you know that the image was not a scorch?

“As discussed in (Why radiation did not cause images), the crystallinity of the flax fibres in all of the parts of the Shroud that were not scorched has not been significantly degraded.

The Arrhenius Law describes the effect of temperature on rate constants for all consistent chemical reactions, as follows:

k = Ze-E/RT

where k is the rate constant at any specific temperature, Z is the Arrhenius pre-exponential (related to the probability that any specific molecule(s) will react), E is the Arrhenius activation energy, R is the gas constant, and T is any specific, constant absolute temperature (degrees Kelvin).

 If the image were a scorch or any part of the Shroud had been heated enough to make significant changes in the rates of decomposition of any of its components, we would see changes in the structure of the flax fibres and blood.

The blood still evolves hydroxyproline on mild heating, and the cellulose crystals are largely undistorted.

Image and control fibers show identical crystal properties. The image is not a scorch.

The cloth was not heated, not even boiled in oil.”


Very briefly:  Ray Rogers wrote a very short section on why he considered the image was not a scorch. I have to say I find it the least satisfactory, the most oddly peremptory and dismissive in an otherwise impressive collection of high-grade research data

It is short so here it is in full. I have broken it down into a few bite-size sections(in italics) , which I have numbered: :

1.  Rogers’ question: How do you know that the image was not a scorch?

His reply:

“As discussed in (Why radiation did not cause images), the crystallinity of the flax fibres in all of the parts of the Shroud that were not scorched has not been significantly degraded.

My reply: well, it is interesting that Rogers should say “scorched”, given the title. It suggests that the idea of scorching was at least at the back of his mind, or there again a bit more in the forefront, indeed, “playing on his mind”, the way that a potent idea tends to…


“The Arrhenius Law describes the effect of temperature on rate constants for all consistent chemical reactions, as follows:

k = Ze-E/RT
where k is the rate constant at any specific temperature, Z is the Arrhenius pre-exponential (related to the probability that any specific molecule(s) will react), E is the Arrhenius activation energy, R is the gas constant, and T is any specific, constant absolute temperature (degrees Kelvin).”

Ah yes, the Arrhenius equation. If it were left to me. Arrhenius would not be deferred until  Chemistry A-level. It has to be one of the key concepts of chemistry, namely the energy hump that has to be overcome in chemical reactions, and the way that increasing temperature allows an increasing number of reacting atoms and molecules to get over that energy hump (the so-called “energy of activation”, E in that Arrhenius equation ). In fact some GCSE syllabuses (indeed the National Curriculum as I recall) do approach it, albeit in a cautious kind of way by getting pupils to do bond energy calculations. There they learn that before one can make new chemical bonds, one has to break the existing ones. Breaking chemical bonds requires an initial investment of energy (E, the energy of activation) which will repaid in full, and more besides, if the new bonds are more stable than the old ones. Then the reaction is exothermic, and will tend to “go”  (ignoring entropy considerations for the moment) , after giving an initial shove.

But there are the endothermic reactions too, where the energy released in forming the new bonds is less than the energy  needed to break the initial bonds, and then the reaction MAY be reluctant to go, unless there is a extra bonus in terms of entropy change (the latter being definitely A-level) which can be quantified…

So i am pleased that Rogers introduces the concept of  Arrhenius activation energy – it is central to any discussion of ”scorching”, sorry “surface degradation of unknown origin”.  It’s just that while we know that the E value for cellulose degradation is high, it is almost certainly much lower for hemicelluloses, and, what’s more, there is an additional thermodynamic driving force, given that pyrolysis of hemicelluloses is exothermic, ie. that once over the energy hump, the reaction is downhill to a level below the starting point. (We can discuss thermodynamics v kinetics another day, with respect to rates of reaction versus  final equilibrium positions). The crucial point is this- that Rogers thought the superficial coating was starch or detergent, which are somewhat obscure in terms of pyrolysis chemistry, whereas more recent identification of that layer with the primary cell wall, mainly hemicellulose, makes cellulose and its unfavourable kinetics and thermodynamics somewhat peripheral, possibly irrelevant, if the  surface “scorching” is about hemicelluloses, with a lower energy of activation, and with favourable thermodynamics that results in a nett increase of entropy and a decrease in free energy.  In short, you were right, Dr. Rogers.  to be thinking about  Arrhenius activation energy, but you did not have the components of the system under study fully defined. It happens. Such is the nature of science. We all build on what has gone before.

Final point from Ray Rogers on the last bullet point (honest)

“If the image were a scorch or any part of the Shroud had been heated enough to make significant changes in the rates of decomposition of any of its components, we would see changes in the structure of the flax fibres and blood.

Maybe. it depends.

The blood still evolves hydroxyproline on mild heating, and the cellulose crystals are largely undistorted.

Hydroxyproline? Why havc we suddenly decided to adopt hydroxyproline as a marker for heated for unheated blood?  That is a odd marker to use. Why? Yes, I know you say that animal tissue evolves hydroxyproline on heating. But virtually all the hydroxyproline is a constituent of connective tissue, primarily collagen, not blood.  What’s more, the hydroxyproline in blood is mainly a product of collagen degradation, not synthesis (since proline is incorporated first, and then hydroxylated), and is en route to the liver for degradation and disposal. But OK, that is your marker, but what a curious way to measure it, i.e. by pyrolysis-mass spec. The latter might make sense if one had just a few substances in a mixture, and could pick out peaks in the mass spectrum that could be unambiguously assigned to this or that molecular ion or fragment. But last time I looked the hydroxyproline molecular ion had some 35 other organic compounds with exactly the same molecualr mass to the second decimal place. Attempting to decide whether blood has been heated by measuring a single metabolite in blood, and a peripheral one at that, by a somewhat rough-and-ready method does not strike me as state-of-the-art chemistry.

Cellulose crystals undistorted? Yup, we’ve already discussed that. Think hemicellulose, not cellulose.

“Image and control fibers show identical crystal properties. The image is not a scorch.”  The cloth was not heated, not even boiled in oil.”

Again, there is too much focus on crystalline cellulose.

As for the last two sentences – they are simply unsupported by the evidence and data produced.  There is strong circumstantial evidence that the image WAS produced by heating, and that it involved  largely selective pyrolysis of hemicellulose in the highly superficial primary cell wall.

Why are we talking about “boiling in oil”? Who said anything about “boiling in oil”.

Time now to end this review of the existing literature, having demonstrated that I am not running away from any indictments made against my position on scorching. It’s simply that detailed indictments call for detailed rebuttals, which is why this post has run to the length it has. Never mind – it can serve in future as a kind of resource, to which I may refer from time to time to avoid having to repeat myself. Next post: to unveil my tweaked conduction/radiation model for how the Shroud was produced as a medieval fake.


About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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34 Responses to Who says the Shroud is not a scorch mark – and more to the point, WHY?

  1. colinsberry says:

    Here’s a comment I have just placed on another site – one with Richard Dawkins being roundly abused:

    “Speaking personally, I can’t think of any scientists I would want to burn at the stake, but I can think of quite a few I’d like to excommunicate – well, send on a reorientation course, anyway.

    Dawkins I hasten to add would not be one of them – but those Italians who reckon it takes intense beams of coherent uv light from an excimer laser to stand any chance of duplicating the “unique” characteristics of the Turin Shroud image – cue miraculous flash of light – would be prime candidates in my book.”

  2. Pingback: Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air? « Shroud of Turin Blog

  3. Thanks for the post. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  4. colinsberry says:

    Under normal circumstances I’d be flattered James. But I see that your particular string of words crops us again and again on internet forums, suggesting you are a cog in the wheel of some kind of marketing campaign, or maybe an operation to boost rankings in internet search engines. Forgive me if I have misjudged you.

    PS: How come this blog appears nowhere if I enter simply ‘Shroud of Turin’ but can be at or near the top of returns by adding just one extra term, like ‘scorch’?

  5. edward wagner says:

    Could a life size statue ,heated ,and wrapped with the “shroud” ,have produced the image ?Ps.what is the next velocity after zero of an object that has moved?I’l be very very interested in the answer!

  6. colinsberry says:

    If you look at the banner of this blog, you’ll see how a scorch from a heated template can produce a negative image, and I see no reason why the image should not be exceedingly superficial if, as suggested previously, it were to be confined to the primary cell wall of flax/linen fibres.

    That’s the principle. Whether it is feasible in practice is another matter. I personally do not have the resources to investigate with life size templates, and am in any case interested primarily in the theory, especially when one reads that the TS “defies scientific understanding” on account of allegedly peculiar properties (superficiality, 3D properties etc) when there is in fact nothing about those properties that should occasion surprise if the image is merely a superficial scorch.

    In fact I don’t put all my theoretical eggs into one basket. The Garlaschelli method, using rubbing of ochre pigment with a live volunteer as initial template may well be a “scorch/template” model when one notes that the linen with the ochre negative is subsequently roasted in an oven. Scorching may occur selectively where the ochre is in contact with linen.

    Sorry, I don’t understand the second part re velocity. Perhaps you could explain further what point is being made.

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin ,
      Thanks for your reply ,I did’t expect to hear anything so soon ,.In the second part of my message I am trying to get an answer to something that has puzzled me for a long time .How can the velocity of a body jump from nothing to something, .If it can, what’s it doing in between these states ?This question has implications for the Quantum theory .Ps. this question has nothing to do with the Turin Shroud ,I only asked you as I was very impressed with the extent of your scientific knowledge in your blog ..Eddie.

      • colinsberry says:

        Basic physics: if you apply a force F to an object of mass m, you make it accelerate:


        Note that is an acceleration – a change in velocity. Once you remove the applied force, the object does not stop moving. It continues at the velocity it had acquired up to removal of the force. To slow down, another force would need to be applied, even a non-obvious one like friction.

        So what is the nature of the force that produces acceleration? If you look at what is happening at the atomic level, it is electrostatic repulsion. The contact is between the electron clouds in the outermost atomic orbitals, so it’s negative-negative repulsion.

        One could model the process using two magnets, bringing two like poles together (N/N or S/S). Just watch the target magnet jump away (“accelerate”) when you bring up the other. If you had a lubricated surface you might even be able to see the velocity of departure maintained for a few seconds.

        Even now I’m doubtful as to whether I have answered your question. Nobody’s ever asked me it before!

        PS :On reflection, I’ve realized that electrostatic repulsion cannot be the entire story, because one could make a neutron move by colliding it with another, or simply pushing it (my physics is somewhat rusty) and I have been overlooking one of the most basic laws of physics – conservation of momentum. If one moving object is brought to a halt by contact/collision with another, then the momentum of the first (the product mv) is completely transferred to the second. Kinetic energy (half mv squared) can be dissipated through friction, heat etc. Momentum cannot. It is completely conserved.

        • Edward Wagner says:

          Hi Colin ,
          Thanks again for such a rapid reply! I know that to move from rest the body has to have a resultant force on it producing an acceleration ( a change of velocity per second) my question refers to the minimum change of velocity .That is from zero to the next velocity (ie from nothing to something) Ps. momentum is only conserved if the resultant external force is zero.Eddie

          • colinsberry says:

            You seem to asking if velocity is quantized, right, i.e. that is comes in discrete packages like electromagnetic energy? I’ve never heard it described as such, and can’t think of any obvious, read simplistic, reasons why it should be, except maybe for sub-atomic particles like electrons, not cars or planets. But don’t take my word for it – I’m just a test-tube man…

          • Edward Wagner says:

            Hi Colin,
            You have got to the heart of the matter ! If velocity is not quantized then kinetic energy (half m v squared ) would not be quantized this would contradict Quantum Theory .I’m so glad you have understood my problem .I now know that I chose the right man to ask ! even though you claim only to be a “test-tube man! Eddie .Ps. I’m so surprised that I’m getting such rapid replies !

  7. colinsberry says:

    Yes, but there are many who believe that mass is quantized, and thus momentum too (regardless of whether velocity is quantized). So kinetic energy would also be quantized.
    Try googling mass quantized as I have just done and you’ll see any number of listings, all saying the same thing in different ways.

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi colin,
      Thanks again for your usual rapid reply ,you have “hit the nail on the head ” and solved my problem! I can easily see mass being quantised just by considering a glass being filled with water 1 molecule at a time . I’m so glad your answer did not involve Schrodinger’s Operator !The one last problem that I have is in understanding how a body can ” jump” from rest to some velocity Although it can be seen happening on a simple velocity-time graph of an accelerating body at the origin ! Are these “jumps” different for different accelerations ? Ps. Many congratulations on solving my problem.

  8. colinsberry says:

    Sorry Eddie, but I can’t help with the “jump” problem. But there’s a twist to the quantized mass problem, not so much at the very small end of the range, but at the very large where one might least expect it. While the neat provision of mass in single atoms and molecules can be viewed as “quantization”, that is mass that is at rest, i.e. with zero velocity, relative to other mass in the neighbourhood, what about relativistic mass, you know, the kind that photons have by virtue of velocity? What about the additional exponential increase in mass that a body acquires as it approaches the speed of light? It could well be that the extra relativistic mass is added in discrete quanta.

    Glad to see I have still not stunned you into silence with my scratch-the-surface musings, as I did the other day when I inflicted my Theory of Everything onto Guardian readers.


    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin ,
      Thanks for the reply ,I must admit I never thought of relativistic mass !I have to pick up my beautiful daughter and beautiful grand-daughter very soon so I can’t write everything that I would like to .Relativistic mass is equal to the rest mass times one over the square root of 1-(the velocity squared over the the velocity of light squared) and hence if velocity is not quantised the relativistic mass would also not be quantised .Ps. very impressed with your Guardian comments/contributions .PPs.can I ask you questions about ancient Egypt?

      • colinsberry says:

        Ancient Egypt? A bit of a far cry from physics, but closer to the TS. I’m all ears, but you may be dismayed to discover how little there is between those ears on this particular topic.

        Now go and do your grandfatherly duties. My 3 year old grandaughter, having spotted me yesterday making small talk with her father, enquired of my wife out of earshot if her (own) Dad and I were sort of friends with each other.

        • Edward Wagner says:

          Hi Colin,
          I have a few questions but I’d like to start with this one .Why during the 5000 years of the Ancient Egyptian civilization not one pyramid was depicted in any of their paintings? Thanks again for your early replies .I’m not used to getting rapid replies from anyone .I sent an e-mail to Classic fm to inform them of the correct pronunciation of Polish composers names but never got a reply .All they have to do is pronounce “i” as “ee”and “w” as “v”.Ps. your granddaughter ( I can’t believe it’s a double “d”) asked a very interesting question ,she must be a very clever girl! Eddie.

          • colinsberry says:

            One thing I learned while at the University of Wikipedia (5 minutes ago) was the following::

            During the early years of Egyptian history, the bodies of the pharaohs were placed in “pyramids,” massive stone structures built on the edge of the desert, near the high flood level of the Nile. The pyramids were both royal tombs and religious temples, where the spirit — or “ka” — of the dead pharaoh could be worshipped.

            … besides making pottery, the people of the ancient world also enjoyed painting. Evidences of early paintings can be found in the tombs of Egypt. These tombs contained statues and paintings of servants, who were believed to come alive when certain prayers were recited, thus extending their service to the pharaoh even into the next world. Images of daily life were also painted on the walls of the tombs and these images were believed to come alive in the next world. For this reason, the scenes depicted the pharaoh as young and healthy and in pleasant surroundings.
            These tomb paintings and statues represent the most extensive treasury of ancient Egyptian art. Artists of ancient Egypt were taught, not to be original, but to follow rigid conventions. As a result, the artwork reveals a simple and formal style. For instance, in painting the human figure, various parts of the body are represented from their most characteristic angle. The head is shown from the side, the top half of the torso from the front, the legs from the side, and so on.

            Methinks there may be a possible answer, or rather two, to your intriguing question, based on:

            1. Artistic convention. There were some things one was allowed to paint, some that one was not (think grave-robber danger).

            2. Location. There may have been nothing but pyramids to see in the lonely arid situations they were constructed- not even a date palm or camel. There were no tourist postcards either for making one’s work known to a wider audience. So art was restricted to what one’s sponsor wanted to see … life, maybe, not death, or monuments constructed to house the dead.

            Yup, granddaughter (sic), spelt as such despite few adding an extra ‘d’ to grandad, is gradually sussing out relationships, but the thought that I am her dad’s dad has not quite occurred to her yet.

          • Edward Wagner says:

            Hi Colin,
            Thanks for your 2 interesting suggestions,if I may I’d like to ask you a somewhat controversial question about the Turin Shroud .If the TS is genuine does that mean that Jesus left the tomb naked?None of the Gospels have any mention of this startling fact.Eddie

  9. colinsberry says:

    For those of us who believe that the linen is of 13/14th century provenance, who consider the invisible weaving/patch story to be totally lacking in credibility (intact banding under uv light etc), the question does not arise. Maybe you should put it to the regulars on The Other Site. It would provide yet another bone of contention, for days and days of better-read-than-thou one-upmanship.

    Speaking for myself, if I had found myself coming round from a swoon in a rock tomb from which I then wished to escape, reluctantly leaving behind the upmarket herring- bone shroud with my curiously imprinted image (with or without the thought that it would intrigue scholars for millennia, especially if there really were bloodstains under my body image) while still wishing to preserve modesty (until able to lay my hands on, say, some surplus-to-requirements jobbing gardener’s garb) I’d maybe try to fashion something out of those 100lbs of myrrh and aloes, a botanical overkill if ever there was, while trying scrupulously to avoid contact with xerophytic prickles on the more sensitive parts of the anatomy.

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin,
      Thanks again for your very witty reply ,I’d like to ask you yet another ,possibly my last, question that has puzzled me over many years .Why is it that in an endothermic reaction the temperature of the reactants drops (as in the salt-ice mixture reaction) if energy is absorbed from the surroundings ?and then in the Thermit reaction the temperature of the reactants increases with energy being given out from the reactants in the exothermic reaction .(I suspect the answer will involve potential energy but I would really like to finally find out once and for all.) Ps. from your answer above I’ve just realized that you believe the TS to be a fake am I right ? Eddie

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin,
      I’m taking up your offer to “pop by any time”,as I was walking to the library to check my e-mails an idea came to mind about the TS.Could the TS be literally an impression of the original? the two cloths being pressed together to produce a mirror image on the new cloth .Thanks again for taking the trouble to answer all of my e-mails.Eddie.

  10. colinsberry says:

    Hello again Eddie. You are certainly keeping me on my toes re the science.

    Are you sitting comfortably? Yes? Then I shall begin. For most chemical reactions, bar a few exotic ones at high temperature involving free atoms or free radicals, then there’s a simple principle that has to be kept in mind. Before one can have a chemical reaction that requires forming new chemical bonds, existing chemical bonds have to be broken. Think of it as a Lego construction kit, not a new one straight out of the box with separate pieces, but the recycling of one construction – a house say – to make a different one – e.g. a ship. There’s some pulling apart to be done first, which in the case of chemical compounds requires energy. The difference is that making new chemical bonds releases energy, which is not modelled with Lego, but is if you use magnets say (they come together with a crash if you bring unlike poles together).

    Now then, if the energy needed to break the existing bonds is greater than the energy released when you form the new ones, then the reaction is endothermic, meaning that heat has to be absorbed from the surroundings for the reaction to proceed. That heat might come from a Bunsen burner say. If on the other hand the energy needed to break existing bonds is less than the energy released when new ones are formed, the reaction is exothermic, releasing heat into the environment.

    The ice/salt is a special case in which the endothermic reaction can proceed without applying external heat from a Bunsen burner, where the energy comes instead from the warm surrounding air resulting in a drop in temperature system itself, ie. the kinetic energy of the atoms, ions and molecules initially at room temperature. As the energy is abstracted, the particles vibrate or move more slowly, the temperature drops, then later returns to room temperature as heat from the surroundings is absorbed. How can that happen spontaneously (just as well it doesn’t happen often or none of us would be here)? It’s on account of entropy. In some systems the increased disorder or randomness of the products is so much greater than the more ordered nature of the reactants that the reaction proceeds without the need for a Bunsen burner, by abstracting energy from the surroundings (fast moving air molecules etc become slow moving). It is entropy change that determines whether or not reactions proceed spontaneously. If the overall entropy change of system AND surroundings is positive (more disorder) then yes, the reaction is spontaneous (but may still need a kick start). If negative the reaction is not spontaneous, and will not respond to a kick start.

    The ice/salt system is a case in point, because there one has ordered solids (ice and salt crystals initially) whereas one has a highly disordered salt solution at the end – liquids with scattered molecules and ions). Hope that helps.

    The TS a fake? Possibly, but I’m more inclined to think it was produced initially as some kind of visual metaphor for a dead hero or martyr (Crusader? Knight Templar?), possibly the victim of death in battle or by burning /slow-roasting at the stake. Maybe it was intended to portray the idea of how someone taken down from the stake prematurely – dead but not charred – might have left a scorched imprint on both contact sides of an up-and-over burial shroud. The blood could have been added later to morph that Crusader/Templar(?) image into that of the crucified Christ, not necessarily (in the first instance) to “fake” Christ’s burial shroud, so much as to draw a parallel between two martyrs – one 1st century, the founder of Christianity, the other medieval – a soldier of Christ, or alleged heretic who had fallen foul of the Church, whether for doctrinal or other reasons.

    I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the motives of Philip-the-so-called-Fair of La Belle France for liquidating the Knights Templar, thus filling his coffers to pursue the 100 Years War against the English monarchy. He had papal support for his hideous pogrom, roasting thousands of Templars after having first divested them of their wealth via torture, though some present-day Vatican spokespersons would have us believe otherwise, telling us it was not as simple as that. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your excellent answer to my question re.endothermic /exothermic reactions and for explaining your belief re. the TS.I’l leave you in peace now! Eddie.

      • colinsberry says:

        Nice talking to you. Feel free to pop by any time Eddie. It’s been interesting to see how you have latched on to the details that are often left unexplained in textbooks.

        • Edward Wagner says:

          Hi Colin,
          I’m taking up your offer to “pop in at any time”,as I was walking to the library to check my e-mails an idea came into my mind concerning the TS .Could the TS be literally an impression of the original? the two cloths being pressed together to form a mirror image of the original on the new cloth.Thanks again for answering all of my e-mails .Eddie.

          • colinsberry says:

            Sorry, not clear what you mean by “the original”. Is that a Mark 1 shroud, the one in Turin being some kind of facsimile, or the 3D subject, human or effigy-like, from whom or which the TS was imprinted via direct body contact?

          • Edward Wagner says:

            Hi Colin,
            The “original” I’m referring to is the Mark 1 ,the one in Turin being an impression of it ( a “blotting paper”copy of it ) Eddie.

  11. colinsberry says:

    “The “original” I’m referring to is the Mark 1 ,the one in Turin being an impression of it ( a “blotting paper”copy of it ) Eddie.”

    Thanks for clarifying on that Eddie. But can you describe more fully how and when a blotting paper copy might have been made, why, by whom, the mechanism of image transfer, needing or not needing wet-dabbing etc etc, and what happened to the Mark 1 original. Without that info it’s difficult to know what to assume, where to start etc etc.

    • Edward Wagner says:

      Hi Colin,
      If the TS cloth is a cloth from the 13th or 14th century as indicated by the radiocarbon dating then the only way,that I can see ,such a detailed image could be produced is by getting a “blotting paper” copy of it from the original (which would at that time be 1300 years old and hence deteriorating )I have no idea how that could have been done .If on the other hand the radiocarbon dating is unsound because of contamination by carbon 14 from smoke sources such as burning cloth or incense ,then the cloth could be a genuine shroud of a scourged and crucified man.( from the 1st century as indicated by the weave of the cloth)Thanks again for replying I hope I’m not bothering you too much .I have no detailed knowledge of the TS and feel as if I’m wasting your time.Eddie.

  12. colinsberry says:

    Far from wasting my time, you are providing much food for thought (to say nothing of posing new scenarios to which instant answers do not spring to mind). Give me time, give me time (well, a day or two at least).

  13. Hugh Farey says:

    Hi Eddie (and Colin, again!),
    I didn’t know this site was still alive until tracking it down again via Colin’s latest comment on shroud story.com. In its heyday I was a keen contributor, and a number of well informed people also took part, although there was sporadic acrimony. If you were interested you could do worse than start at the beginning (https://shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com/2012/page/12/) and follow it through, especially the comments. That was how I rejoined mainline shroud research after several years of neglect.
    As to the Mark 1/Mark 2 hypothesis. There is much to be said for it. However, it doesn’t adapt well to an ‘evidence for versus evidence against’ kind of trial, so just consider what follows as a fairly off-th-cuff collection of ideas thrown into the meting pot!
    The shroud does look like something left behind after something else has gone. I have a piece of Indonesian batik framed on my wall. Although I have no intention of taking it apart, I wonder if, if the covering glass and the batik was removed, there might be some sort of image on the paper backing? The vague appearance of the shroud image owes much to its faintness, its monochromaticity, and its superficiality, all characteristics that could be a result of it being either a backing cloth, or a deliberate transfer experiment of some kind.
    So what might have been Mark 1, and what happened to it? Perhaps a medieval painting. Might the pigment have remained on the original and the solvent stained the backing? Was it destroyed in the 1532 fire? Destroyed by accident elsewhere? Destroyed deliberately when it was discovered that the ‘backing’ was more ‘realistic’? Or separated from the backing, only to turn up a few years later as the Shroud of Besançon?
    Or was Mark 1 an original relic, which, as you suggest finally deteriorated to the point of falling part, leaving the backing? Of course that opens the can of worms which even authenticists can’t agree on, namely how the Mark 1 image was made, whether the shroud was wrapped, draped or horizontal over the body, and so on.
    As for the C-14 date, doubts about its accuracy fall into three general areas. The first suggestion was contamination by oil, paint, smoke, grime, fibres from vestments, a ‘bioplastic’ coating, bacteria, etc. etc. This has largely been discredited even by authenticists; it is clear that all this extraneous gunk would have been completely washed away by the cleaning processes carried out by the labs. The current argument is about the possibility that the sample was actually made of 16th century interpolation, either a patch or a clever reweaving. It would mean that about 70% of the C-14 sample was new, and only 30% original. It’s a sensible idea, but it seems unlikely that such an interpolation would be completely invisible, even after intense scrutiny. The final idea is that the original cloth somehow had its C-14 content changed. Apart from wild speculation, two proper experiments have been carried out. The first did demonstrate that intense neutron radiation can indeed change C-12 to C-14 in a piece of cloth. Whether this was likely as a feature of the resurrection is question of religious faith rather than science. A more realistic experiment, to find out if ‘modern’ carbon monoxide could be incorporated into an ‘ancient’ cloth during an episode of intense heat, thus changing the C-14 proportion, was a complete failure.
    Finally – the naked Jesus. Well why not? Most medieval paintings of the resurrection show him naked, albeit with the odd wisp of random material to prevent sacrilege. The ‘physics of the supernatural’ is to me a complete oxymoron, but some people speculate. Jesus almost literally exploded in a nuclear blast (mysteriously leaving the rest of Jerusalem intact) and reappeared in a completely different assemblage of matter elsewhere, with or without clothing. Jesus simply miraculously ‘healed,’ woke up, drew aside the bedclothes and walked out (naked or draped in a spare bit of gravecloth). Jesus suddenly dematerialised, leaving a body-shaped vacuum which collapsed with an audible pop, the shroud falling down through the space, and then reappeared elsewhere, in whichever form he chose. All good fun. Other scenarios are possible.
    That should give you food for thought!

    • colinsberry says:

      Hello again Eddie (and welcome back Hugh)

      There’s really not a lot I can add to Hugh’s detailed reply – and I’m not sure there’s a great deal I could have said anyway, having no ready shoot-down-out-of the-sky-in-flames answers to hand.

      All I would say is that science proceeds best from the facts, especially the ones that have curious unexplained oddities that no-one else has seen fit to pursue.

      Like for example: the Shroud image is said to be highly superficial. 200nm is the figure that is usually quoted, which is a guesstimate (odd that it’s not known with greater precision, and still depends on that Rogers experiment with the sticky tape where he says he cannot see the ghosts in cross-section – the latter being the yellow “coating” on the fibres after the fibres are pulled away from adhesive, and must therefore be thinner than the smallest wavelength in visible light). Let’s take 200nm as the thickness. Is that really a starch-coating as Rogers claimed, quoting (or misquoting) Pliny and with scarcely a shred of experimental evidence to support that assumption. Suppose Rogers were correct and it was a sizing coat of starch. Then you would not expect a chemical reaction on that coating to affect the mechanical strength of the thread. But we are told that image-bearing fibres are mechanically-weaker than non-image fibres – they break more easily. Why should that be? There is an alternative to the image being in an added coating. It might be intrinsic to the fibre itself, needing no starch. That is most likely to be the primary cell wall of flax fibres. While I have no definite information re their thickness, 200nm seems the right ball park, which is still exceedingly thin, compared with the diameter of the entire fibre. So it’s still uncertain why chemical change in so thin a surface layer, comprising a mix of non-crystalline cellulose and hemicelluloses.

      Mechanical weakening suggests that the image fibres must have weakened cellulose cores as well, not enough to be visible, and not enough (according to Rogers) to disturb their crystallinity as judged by birefringence under cross-polaroids.

      Well, my hunch is that has to be some subtle kind of damage to weaken the entire fibres, and if that’s the case then it was caused by something that did more than leave its signature purely on a 200nm surface coating. That would tend to rule out any mild chemical agents that came into contact with the linen. Thus my focus in the past on scorching, where that term has been seen mainly in terms of thermally-induced pyrolysis, i.e. chemical dehydration of carbohydrates. But there are other ways of producing chemical dehydration, for example by contact with dilute involatile acids (sulphuric being the best known, though there are others) which become concentrated as the water evaporates, and then able to abstract water chemically from carbohydrates.

      So while scorching from a heated template is an obvious mechanism, it’s possible to envisage alternative that are a little more subtle. Garlaschelli’s imaginative modelling of the shroud image used ochre (iron oxide) to capture and imprint the 3D features of real people onto linen, but if you read his paper carefully you’ll see that the ochre-imprinted cloth was subsequently baked in an oven. Hot ochre may have produced local scorching at the points of contact. Or maybe the ochre had acid contaminants that produced a local dehydration/pyrolysis at points of contact, leaving the rest of the linen relatively unscathed.

      There are entirely different models too, as Hugh has pointed one. One that I’m currently thinking about was the practice of embalming Crusaders who had died in combat and transporting them back to Europe in a preserved state. Might that have generated an image on linen, either during transport or at a later drying-out stage, again via a chemical dehydration mechanism?

      Anyway, I have chuntered on for far too long, and shall now break off to see what kind of flak awaits me on the other websites I frequent. Bye for now.

      • Edward Wagner says:

        Hi Colin and Hugh,
        Thanks for all your efforts ,it looks like the mystery of the TS will take a long long time to resolve .I still have the very impressive dignified “face” of the Shroud on the front of a Times magazine from 1978 !It’s always fascinated me ,making me wonder if I was looking at Jesus Christ himself !Eddie.

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