Shroud Scope 8: 372 impossible scourge marks (surely?) on the Shroud of Turin

I have been been looking at the “scourge marks” on the Shroud of Turin with my new Shroud Scope toy, and comparing with the map provided by the 2010 paper of Faccini and Fanti.


Map of scourge marks from Faccini and Fanti – no less than 372 in total. All are said to be distinguished from other image-bearing regions by having traces of “blood”.

Some curious comments in that paper about “overlapping” images, about which I shall have more to say later, made me decide to look closely at parts of the image where scourge marks are adjacent to major “bloodstains”. (See my previous posting for why I have placed quotation marks around “bloodstains”, and why I prefer for now to use the term “AROW-blood” for those stains, i.e “assumed-rightly-or-wrongly blood”.

Why compare scourge marks with bloodstains, or rather AROW-blood?  Because the Fanti paper says that those scourge marks represent a major source of blood on the Shroud, but failed to make clear what a scourge mark image represented – just blood – or the outlines of bruised or torn flesh- or maybe a combination of the two.

This sceptic’s misgivings about the scientific precision of that paper, i.e failing to make clear exactly what was being studied –  were further increased when he came to read the classification system those authors employ for scourge marks (admirable though it was on the part of the two authors to catalogue and classify scourge marks into three categories – two major and one minor)

You see, we are told that there are two major categories – one from a Roman flagrum (“Type 1”) and the other a collection of bound rods (“Type 2”). It is the former that interests me most. Anyone with the least familiarity with the Shroud will know that the Man shows what appears to be scores and scores of scourge marks on both frontal and dorsal sides – 372 no less according to Fanti et al, and that some of these are “dumbbell-shaped” corresponding with a Roman flagrum (whip) that has two lead spheres near the tip of each strap.

But the authors state that some straps have three spheres per strap, but in their images of the marks left by two and three spheres, there is scarcely any difference between the two.

‘Tis a wonderful thing – the eye of faith

Why? Because the strap between the spheres leave its imprints too. When there are 3 spheres per strap, one sees virtually no evidence of each sphere – just a somewhat blurred rectangular smear of image density that — with the eye of faith-  might show 3 spheres. Even with just 2 spheres per strap there is so much imprinting of the strap between the two that one can only just make out the “dumbbell” shape that is supposed to be the signature of a Roman flagrum.  There is worse to come: it is only the strap that lies between the spheres that leaves an imprint according to F&F (if I may so describe our two investigators). The strap that connects the spheres with the handle is not imaged. Now how can that be, one wonders? How can a small part of strap between spheres  leave an image, and not the strap that connects with the handle?

And in any case, what is the nature of the image? We are told elsewhere that the lead spheres tend to bruise rather than cut – so why is it imaged if not breaking skin and shedding blood? What is blood on those “scourge marks” and what is “broken skin” but, most importantly, where is the blood or lesion that would surely have been left by the strap that is adjacent to the sphere that is furthest from the end, closest to the handle.

One might also ask why a mark that is little more than a short rectangle, a mere 2cm long, is interpreted as a flagrum with 3, rather than 2 lead spheres?

Matters are not helped by the map that F&F use to show the marks that they specifically identify as flagrum -derived (Type 1 in their terminology). They use a symbol that almost exclusively shows 3 rather than 2 lead spheres per strap – so we are given no indication as to the relative proportions of 2 spheres (classic “dumbbells”) and this intruder – the 3-sphere dumbbell that is not a dumbbell.

To make matters worse, they show us a reconstruction of the flagrum that produced the marks on the Shroud. Look at it carefully.

Two or three lead sphere per strap? Why is the one closest to the handle shown as an incomplete sphere?

It fudges on the key issue of the number of lead spheres by showing two complete distal spheres, with the third (nearest the handle) being an incomplete sphere.

I shall publish this now, but be back later with a Shroud Scope image that suggests that it was not the Man on the Shroud that was lashed (difficult if there was no strap connecting lead spheres with handle) but the Shroud itself. Yup, we have prima facie evidence here that the Shroud image was a hoax/forgery, because the multiple scourge marks simply fail the test of credibility.

Sorry to give an incomplete story (that will be rectified in the next few hours) but it’s the way I work – presenting instalments rather than a finished work. It’s the way Charles Dickens wrote his novels (in penny instalments) except mine are free.

20 June: Time now to deliver on that reference to Shroud Scope in the title. First, here’s a portion of the F&F map with which I opened this post.

Faccini and Fanti map (with extra contrast) : my white overlaid arrow indicates area of interest

The region of interest is the area of the forearm indicated by the white barrow. It is one that has some faint scourge marks. Let’s look at those in close up, since they reveal a surprising and somewhat alarming feature (which is just about visible here, even without magnification).

Faint scourge marks visible, corresponding to the map, but note lateral extension to left (as seen by viewer)

As above, highest level of magnification under Shroud Scope

So areas of image intensity which are identified on the F&F map as being scourge marks – if not the Type 1 flagrum type – but the Type 2 rod type – can be located on the Shroud Scope image, if somewhat indistinct (F&F used a range of image-enhancement techniques). But they are not confined to the forearm as indicated on the map. They extend onto the fabric. Why should they do that, if the scourge mark is a type of wound that while imaging at least partly on account of seepage of blood, does not bleed so profusely as to create blood trails onto the fabric beyond the immediate image. If the latter occured generally, then many more “scourge marks” would have shown the same propensity to leak beyond the site of the lesion.

However, if scourge marks – or at any rate, some of the 372 of them on the Man in the Shroud – were not on the figure at the time of imaging, but applied directly to the latter, then it is perhaps not surprising that some were misapplied so as to leave imprints beyond the intended area. The risk of the latter occurring would be greatest, needless to say, with a slender limb than with a more extensive part of the anatomy like the chest, back and shoulders.

My next post will look critically at the entire range of alleged scourge and blood markings on the Shroud, and ask the question: “Is the range and presentation of these markings too good to be true – are we seeing clear evidence of a hoax or forgery?”

Reference will be made to two features reported here: that of F&F, namely that the lead spheres of the Roman flagrum appear to be unconnected to the whip handle, and also mine, i.e. that at least one set of lash marks (one marking in particular) has run over onto the neighbouring fabric, suggesting that it was fabric, not subject, that received the scourging, or rather an attempt to simulate the appearance of scourging.

Update: 22 June: There is now a follow-up post to this one, entitled: Shroudie Congresses- places where fantasies are peddled.

Final thought: x-ray fluorescence was one of the techniques used to detect the heavier elements in the Shroud. Why do we not have, say, an iron (Fe) map for the entire Shroud, one that would discriminate between different image areas, notably blood/non-blood? X-ray fluorescence is a non-destructive procedure, and is ideally suited to the scanning of surfaces (indeed, it does not penetrate more than a few mm at most)


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.
This entry was posted in Shroud of Turin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Shroud Scope 8: 372 impossible scourge marks (surely?) on the Shroud of Turin

  1. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    BC the well unknown IMAGINARY archaeologist/palaeopathologist/blood pattern image analyst STRIKES AGAIN. In the world of serious Shroud Science, there won’t be a before or after BC. The Latter had to think very LONG and very Hard before to reach such a ZILCH, NADA in archaeology, paleopathology and blood pattern analysis! Awsome!

  2. Pingback: Berry: Shroud was Scourged, Not the Man. A Critical Look at Faccini and Fanti « Shroud of Turin Blog

  3. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    CB’s amateurish interpretation is a very good exmple of Turin Shroud antiautenticistic TALIBAN’s misleading and agenda-driven work of desinformation…

  4. colinsberry says:

    I have just added this comment to The Other Site:

    No one seems willing to say precisely what is imaged when we refer to a scourge mark. Is it entirely blood, in which case it is a subset of “bloodstains” and presumably imprinted on the cloth at the same time as bloodstains, while having a distinctive morphology (dumbbells etc), OR is it an acquired detail of body morphology that is imprinted along with the rest of the body features, which just happens to have also acquired a thin film of blood to make it a hybrid marking on the Shroud – part image/part blood?

    Methinks there is a growing credibility gap where those “scourge marks” are concerned. But then some of us have been growing increasingly incredulous about “bloodstains” too from seeing how they look remarkably “image-like” under the Shroud Scope, i.e. confined to the ribs of the weave, with no penetration worth speaking of into the furrows. Time methinks to write another post, and to stop being mealy-mouthed about something that is plainly a contrivance, and a very clever one at that, but simply does not stand up to close scrutiny, at least by those of us with limited social skills… 😉

  5. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    I very much doubt you can discriminate between archaeological and non archaeological blood. (from only more or less biased photographs).. if you know what I mean….

  6. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Meguesses you have never heard of ARCHAEOLOGICAL remoistened dried up blood cartographic mordancing….

  7. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Although I don’t agree with much of Fanti & co’ analysis, I cannot help thinking you are TOO an archaeological blood pattern IMAGINARY analyst…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s