The Turin Shroud: Spotlight on a particular ?-mark stain. Some call it blood; I call it CLACK…


Late addition (July 2019)

Please forgive this postscript, correction, “prescript”,  correction, intrusion, added many years later – based on some 350 and more postings here and elsewhere.

That’s including some 7 years of my hands-on investigation into image-forming techniques, chosen to be credible with simple, indeed crude, medieval (14th century) technology etc etc.

(Oh, and yes, I accept the radiocarbon dating, despite it being restricted to a single non-random corner sample, making all the oh-so-dismissive, oh-so-derogatory statistics-based sniping totally irrelevant – a ranging shot being just that me dears- a single ranging shot, albeit subdivided into three for Arizona, Oxford and Zurich).
Sindonology (i.e. the “science” , read pseudoscience – of the so-called “Shroud ” of Turin) can be simply summed up. It’s a re-branding exercise, one designed to pretend that the prized Turin possession is not just J of A’s “fine linen”, described in the biblical account as used to transport a crucified body from cross to tomb.

Oh no, it goes further, much further, way way beyond the biblical account. How? By making out that it was the SAME linen as that described in the Gospel of John, deployed as final “burial clothes”. Thus the description “Shroud” for the Turin Linen, usually with the addition “burial shroud”. Why the elision of two different linens, deployed for entirely different purposes (transport first, then final interment)? 
Go figure! Key words to consider are: authentic relic v manufactured medieval icon; mystique, peaceful death-repose, unlimited opportunity for proposing new and ever more improbable image-formation mechanisms etc. How much easier it is to attach the label “Holy” to Shroud if seen as final burial clothes, in final at-peace repose – prior to Resurrection- as distinct from a means of temporary swaying side-to-side transport in an improvised makeshift stretcher !
As I say, a rebranding exercise (transport to final burial shroud) and a very smart and subtle one at that . Not for nothing did that angry local Bishop of Troyes suddenly refer to a “sleight of hand” after allegedly accepting it when first displayed. Seems the script was altered, or as some might say, tampered with! It might also explain why there were two Lirey badges, not just one. Entire books could be written on which of the two came first… I think I know which, with its allusion (?) to the Veil of Veronica… yes, there are alternative views (the face above “SUAIRE” a visual link to the face-only display of the Linen as the “Image of Edessa” or as that on the then current “Shroud” per se.


Face shown  (left) on mid- 14th century Machy Mould (recently discovered variant of the Lirey Pilgrim Badge) above the word “SUAIRE” (allegedly meaning “shroud”). Inset image on the right: one version among many of the fabled “Veil of Veronica” image.  I say the two are related, and deliberately so, but this is not the time or place to go into detail.

No, NOT  a resurrectional selfie, but instead a full size version of, wait for it,  the legendary VEIL OF VERONICA , product of inital body contact – no air gaps- between body and fabric, but with one important difference. The Turin image was intended to look more realistic, less artistic.

How? By displaying a negative tone-reversed image implying IMPRINT (unless, that is, you’re a modern day sindonologist, in which case ‘resurrectional proto-photographic selfie” becomes the preferred, nay, vigorously proferred explanation assisted by unrestrained imagination, creation of endless pseudoscience etc etc, with resort to laser beams, corona discharges, nuclear physics, elementary particles, earthquakes etc etc – the list is seemingly endless! 
Welcome to modern day sindonology. 
Personally, I prefer no-nonsense feet-on-the-ground hypothesis-testing science, aided by lashings of, wait for it, plain down-to-earth common sense.

Start of original posting:

? Alleged blood stain on subject’s hair. Well might it be shaped like a question mark.
(Image from my archive of lightly photo-edited Shroud Scope HD close-ups with increased contrast in MS Picture manager – see my two previous postings).

I need a name for this, and other similar features on the Shroud that have prematurely (in my view) been labelled as “blood”, despite the everlasting strong red or red-brown colour. This particular stain is handy – reminding one there is indeed a huge question mark…

What I need is one of those smart buzz-word acronyms that folk can spring on the unsuspecting to show they are streets ahead in the knowledge. So what is one to call this blood that is almost certainly not blood (unless the result of recent touching-up)?

Alan Adler made a  heroic if less-than-objective effort to explain everlastingly red blood as a novel complex formed as a result of crucifixion trauma.  It envisaged a complex of  bilirubin and an exotic species of oxidised  (met) haemoglobin  that he called ‘para-hemic’.   He claimed to have produced a test-tube complex that showed exactly the right spectral characteristics to match the peculiar ones of Shroud “blood” (ones which he acknowledged  inconveniently differ from authentic blood).

ESSENTIAL SCIENCE BIT  (in bold) – sit up and pay attention:

Bilirubin is a linear tetrapyrrole, formed by busting open the cyclic tetrapyrrole ring of haem (that’s heme to some who may be reading this).

Think of it if you will as akin to breaking a link in a pearl necklace, losing one bead (which curiously comes off as carbon monoxide, yes MONoxide) and being left with a straight chain.

So I thought of calling it COLACTELComplex Of Linear And Cyclic Tetrapyrroles – Everlasting Life.

Well, COLACTEL sounds quite ‘sciency’ would you not agree?  But that’s the trouble. It’s too sciency. Sorry, Alan Adler (RIP) : there are others too who know a thing or two about tetrapyrroles, linear ones especially, and who see nothing sciency in the idea that bilirubin  could form a stable molecular complex with a cyclic tetrapyrrole, least of all one that results in everlasting stability towards light, oxygen etc

OPTIONAL SCIENCE BIT (italics)  – skip if you wish:

You see, bilirubin curls up on itself through internal hydrogen bonding – which explains its surprisingly low solubility in aqueous buffers and why it has to be transported in the bloodstream attached to serum albumin . (So any association with haem would require wresting it first off albumin). Cyclic tetrapyrroles prefer to form ligands with metal ions, notably iron, using the four pyrrolic nitrogen atoms each with their lone pair of electrons. That’s why we have stable haems, ie. porphyrins that form strong associations (ligands) around a central iron atom, correction, ion.  So  why on earth should  they complex with bilirubin? And why should the putative complex be so stable, given that  free haem and bilirubin both have a substantial  literature on their ability to generate active oxygen species (peroxy radicals, singlet oxygen etc), or, in the case of bilirubin, to mop up those damaging active oxygen species but becoming chemically degraded  to dioxetanes, dihydroxyl derivatives, oxidised dipyrroles etc in the process.

COLACTEL could be contracted I suppose – maybe to CLAC.  Or how about CLACK?

CLACK =  Chemically Laughable – A Crazy Kinship.

Yup, that will do. Admittedly some might look up “clack” in the dictionary, and find it listed as “thoughtless or prolonged talk or chatter”.

But there’s an awful lot of that kind of clack in Shroudology, correction sindonology, as the Pray Codex etc etc  demonstrates.

Examples of the endless stream of clack that appears under comments on The Other Site:  Rogers’ putrefaction amine/Maillard reaction theory – clack;  Pray Codex –clack;  virtually all of Ian Wilson’s ideas re the Mandylion as folded Shroud – clack;  invisible reweaving to refute the radiocarbon-dating – clack; so-called ‘scientific’ grounds for ruling out thermal imprinting – clack etc etc…. The eternally red stains on the Shroud that are described as blood now join the list – clack.

This post is a preliminary to my next one, which will discuss the fine structure of those red stains on the Shroud and their relationship to adjacent body image. I shall make strenuous efforts to avoid or minimise use of the B-word, and shamelessly describe them wherever possible as  <font color=”red”>CLACK </font>. You read it here first!

Addendum: I see the latest clack to appear on the Other Site centres on that idiotic ‘coins in eyes’ nonsense.

Word of advice: if you cannot see coins in the digital HD photographs, viewed  at magnifications that retain the resolution without reducing the image to a pixellated blur, then it is NOT THERE. The ideal is a photograph in which the herringbone weave is discernible (proof of high resolution) but does not dominate (with the attendant risk of optical illusions –  aka seeing what you want to see – due to increased noise/signal ratio).

Shroud Scope HD image with light photo-editing to increase contrast and colour-differentiation (see the posting that immediately precedes this one)
Some see coins in those eyes. But then some see Christ’s complete polyglot death certificate too on the Shroud … Believing is seeing…

Beware those who say you HAVE to use pre-digital era photographs, with their propensity for generating artefacts of developing, printing and processing. A digitally-encoded array of tiny pixels has to beat analogue silver grains or  wet chemical dyes any day… give me solid-state phosphors any day…

I see another post has appeared on the Other Site, in which I am one of 3 listed by name for expressing a difference with another scientist – in my case Giulio Fanti (see my earlier post pouring scorn on his “chronology” of scourge marks).  But the posting  (“just for fun”) is under the title of scepticism, or ‘skepticism’ (Am) which is portrayed as a soft option.  I don’t intend to get involved in any more endless wrangles with that site, given the condescension and misrepresentation that is its hallmark.

Here’s a guarded  ‘sciency’ reply. The statistics meter that comes with WordPress says that the posting on this particular site  attracting the greatest number of views to date  (548) is the one I did on my hemicellulose theory.

I invite anyone to consult that post and tell me that it was negative in tone and/or sceptical. It expressed original views, ones you will find nowhere else in the same degree of thermochemical detail  – ones that can explain the subtlety of the Shroud image, in particular its superficiality and half-tone character. You know, the subtleties that we are are constantly reminded have never been explained … that defy reproduction by the best of modern science  etc.

For as long as one can propose alternatives – especially testable/falsifiable ones – then perennial scepticism with the alternatives should be expected, especially when the so-called scientists who propose vaguely-framed  alternatives often cannot be bothered to test them properly, preferring to get them straight into the public domain, bypassing the scientific journals, or at any rate the prestigious ones.

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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