Let’s take a closer look at one of the peculiar blood stains on the Shroud – the one in the hair shaped like a question mark


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:

one I have chosen for this exercise is one of that peculiar set in the hair that has been the subject of some comment, indeed expressions of disbelief (see today’s comment by David Mo on  the Other Site).:

Focus on that blood stain in the hair, circled in yellow, shaped like a question mark

Yes, one might ask how blood could trickle down hair as if the latter were a smooth surface like skin, crossing effortlessly from strand to strand. There have been attempts to explain in in terms of what one can only describe as one-off Resurrection photography, that only captures a perpendicular projection of energetic radiation onto a plane surface (the linen), thus causing apparent lateral displacement of  peripheral features like that ? mark blood stain – or something like that. I personally ignore that kind of gee whiz speculation, preferring to stick with conventional science and conventional explanations. In  fact my reason for choosing this image is because it is one step up the difficulty scale in interpreting blood stains (see previous posting) but is still a relatively faint blood stain, i.e. with relatively few areas of opacity, except for dense red-brown flecks here and there. As explained yesterday I interpret this picture and similar ones as images that would previously have had much more red-brown opacity, but from which most of the blood has flaked off, leaving just a few flecks and a faint footprint of the original high density stain, conveniently described here as a “question mark”.

So let’s home in on that ? mark shaped blood stain, and see what we can see, in particular its relationship to adjacent/encroaching body image.

Here’s a close-up of our ? mark seen in Shroud Scope default settings (0,0,0).

Here is the same image with maximum contrast in MS Office Picture Manager (0,100,0). Note the differentiation between body/hair image (grey) and blood (reddish brown)

And here it is after some fine tuning to improve differentiation between body and blood image:

As above, but now adjusted to (-7,100,15) which are brightness/contrast/mid range values respectively.

Standard “small web size” cropped image, on the same ‘optimised’ settings (-7,100,15).

I invite early birds who are reading this to look carefully at the above image, to note the location of body image and blood image on the herringbone weave. Are the two on the same or different tracks? I can see where each is in relation to the other. Can you?

I shall now put the above image into MS paint and add some circles, arrows etc to signpost key features and then tell you how I interpret this and all the other “blood stain” pictures, at least those where the relative intensities of blood (including flaked-off blood) and body image are roughly the same, allowing one to detect which was imprinted first (the major objective of this and the previous posting)

Update: I have just this minute spotted the latest posting on The Other Site, which has Prof. Giulio Fanti responding to my recent criticism of his published work, notably the paper in which he claimed he could see the ‘temporal sequence’ aka chronological order in which his three categories of scourge mark were applied.  Or maybe he did not like my take on his ‘corona discharge’   theory hypothesis. I shall try to respond within a day or two, but it certainly won’t be via the back door route he proposes, i.e. his journal publishers. Everything I feel needs to be said will be said  here.  Scientific journals are not discussion forums anyway, and I am not asking that a corrective be inserted.  I am using a web forum to discuss his published findings, which is what web forums are for. Whether he chooses to respond or not, here in the blogosphere, is entirely his decision. I would not hold it against him if he were to decide to stay aloof.  I  for my part endeavour to keep my criticism fair and balanced – and the comments section here is always open to all  at any time provided the elementary courtesies are maintained (Max Patrick Hamon please note). Of course, one man’s gentle sarcasm is another man’s “rudeness”, and we each interpret “elementary courtesies” differently. I draw the line at those who try, without justification, to impugn a man’s honesty and integrity, which is why I now decline to respond to comments on the other site, given the license given there to those who engage in defamatory comment. See my scoring out above. There’s really nothing more that needs to be said.

Back to the image analysis/interpretatio

Here’s a labelled version of the close up of that ? mark bloodstain (a ? mark in more ways than one):

The blue stars indicate the places where the image of “hair” is especially strong (hair being a subset of body image, and indeed indistinguishable from adjacent skin on the face). The yellow circle indicates a break in the footprint but with residual detail that is crucial.

Look closely at the image within the circles area. once can see grey body image that is continuous through that gap in the footprint of the ? mark.  I interpret the gap as a region in which most of the blood has flaked away with age, leaving a mere hint of its previous existence. but importantly, there is body/hair image in that gap that has not flaked off,  and its presence in that gap is strong evidence in my view for thinking that the body hair image was imprinted BEFORE the application (“transference” is perhaps a less loaded term)  of blood.  This image is one of many I can produce that challenges the blood first/body image dogma of which so much use has been made by those who claim authenticity. I believe the body image was imprinted first, the blood was then carefully applied,  very lightly so as to imprint on the elevated ribs with little penetration into furrows. In other words, the Shroud of Turin is at least a partial forgery, with applied blood being the major means of depicting a man who had been crucified. What is the evidence other then those blood stains for saying the man had been crucified? Where for example  is the nail WOUND, as distinct from the patch of blood that is interpreted as the site of a wound? I see no nail wound.

Blood stain on wrist, Shroud Scope, (17,100,0)

Late addition: here is the face again, with a second bloodstain circled in blue, the one I call the ‘wishbone’.

Focus now on the ‘wishbone’ inside the blue circle

Here’s a close up of the wishbone:

Close up of wishbone (13,100,23)

It is images like this that persuade me that one is seeing what remains after extensive loss of blood (or other pigments) as a result of ageing, e.g. through physcially flaking off. Note the denuded areas that have lost all the opaque red-brown pigment,leaving just a faint pink background, presumably of soluble pigment that penetrated deeper into the weave. Note also the location of red-brown pigment on the ribs of the weave – the same ribsa s occupied by body/hair  image. Note too the way that flecks of red-brown pigment are retained where there is an irregular weave that creates little pockets in which the pigment gains a stronger purchase. These little signs all suggest that the original wishbone stain was entirely opaque red-brown, and that most has flaked away over the centuries,  What is interesting is the way that the grey or grey-brown body image tracks across those denuded areas. At first sight one might think they had been imprinted on a denuded area – but that is not possible. They could either be on top of an original blood stain or underneath. If they were on top, they would have flaked away too, and in any case would almost certainly have had a different colour from body image, given that blood has an entirely different chemical composition from linen, being predominantly protein and carbohydrate respectively.

That leaves only one possible explanation: the body/hair image one sees in those denuded areas arrived first, before the blood stain, and was subsequently covered over by blood, being protected in fact, and has since been exposed as a result of the overlying blood stain gradually flaking away. The imprint of the body stain in these pictures might have been clearer, but for the pink coloration that the originally opaque blood stain imparted to the underlying linen, and which has survived to cause a degree of interference in my  ‘spot the exposed body image’ exercise. But then science is rarely simple and straightforward, especially when one is dealing with an artefact for which we have to rely on photographs – and there are rival photographic archives, some like Shroud Scopes’s that are in the public domain, and other (earlier) ones that I’m asked to take on trust  are superior, but which are strangely not freely available, requiring the permission of their custodians for publication. Sorry, this science bod takes nothing on trust, and is growing increasingly irritated by all this talk of “copyright”. $hroud of Turin?

I am not willing to discuss – or even look at-  earlier photographs unless or until they are placed in the public domain. If  they are as good as they are cracked up to be, revealing important details, or telling a different story from Shroud Scope (“you’re so so wrong: the blood is not on the ribs, but down in the furrows”) then they need to be in the public domain, and not being passed around between individuals for private viewing with warnings about not breaching the “owner’s”/”owners’ ” copyright.

My motto here is simple – total openness, total transparency…

Here’s another from my Shroud Scope archive – a close-up of a blood stain on the right forearm, with a prominent body image.

Right forearm (7,100,17)

Note again the extensive tracking of body image (in this instance “skin” which is grey or grey/brown ) across the pinkish denuded areas of the blood stain. There is sufficient differentiation here between grey/brown and pink to be fairly certain of there being body image in those otherwise denuded areas of the blood stain, which could only be there through having been imprinted FIRST, before the blood.

And here’s a similar view from the left forearm, again showing extensive tracking  of body image across denuded blood stain areas.

Left forearm (-9,100,8)

Finally, for now at any rate, this picture shows the difficulty in making a judgement when the blood image is too strong relative to the body image. It is the underside of the left foot, seen on the dorsal side.

Here the body image is grey, as per usual, and one can see horizontal bars of this grey in the upper half of the picture. Moreover one can see where those bars cross the blood areas. But such is the intensity of that pink background, it is not possible to say with any degree of confidence that body image is present on that blood image.

At the risk of repeating myself, the test areas of choice for this kind of exercise are those in which a strong body image impinges on a weak blood image. But the blood image must ideally show some tell-tale flecks of opaque red brown material to be reasonably certain that the faint pink areas represent areas that once had a substantial blood stain that has since flaked off.  Ideally the body image would show some “morphology” too, so to speak, i.e. to have a recognisable footprint that allows one to be reasonably certain that the footprint encroaches on  the denuded bloodstain. The search continues for that ‘killer’ visual aid, the single photograph that ticks all these boxes, one that will convince even the most diehard of  sceptics that body image was imprinted before that of blood.

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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4 Responses to Let’s take a closer look at one of the peculiar blood stains on the Shroud – the one in the hair shaped like a question mark

  1. Hugh Farey says:

    I still disagree with your ultimate conclusions, but your observations and explanations thereof are really fascinating. I’m catching up on this blog with ever-increasing absorption.

  2. Mark Anthony Rivera says:

    Your implicit assumption is that whatever mechanism produced the image would have been effected by the presence of blood on the cloth. Since we do not know with certainty what mechanism produced the image, it may be possible that blood could still have been their prior to image formation.

  3. Colin Berry says:

    Thanks for your comment on this 5 year old posting Mark (better late than never!).
    Even now, I try to think as little as possible about the Shroud blood (or should that be “blood”?), being a ‘body image’ man.
    Yup, even now, nothing about the blood seems to make sense!

    • Colin Berry says:

      PS:I was asked recently to comment (via email) on the pdf by Prof. G.Lucotte of Paris (BSTS Newsletter No.85, June 2017).

      Click to access n85part3.pdf

      He and his fellow analysts were given a sticky tape sample from a bloodstain on the eyebrow, just below the ‘reversed 3’ /epsilon stain. Most of it was red/yellow/brown in colour, “like all other bloodstains on the Shroud” . But, shock horror, it did not analyse as blood, or components thereof, but as “yellow-red clays” (iron-containing aluminosilicates)!

      If that is the case, then it’s now possible finally at long last to combine the blood and body image into a single narrative with the simulated sweat imprint model. How?

      Well, it’s admittedly a long shot at present, but here we go. The following is based on the fact that (a) clays are stable to heat (b) can be imprinted onto the linen first, before the flour.

      Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

      The flour was sprinkled onto the oil-smeared subject(s) first. A gooey slurry of fine clay (“blood”) – selected for its redness – was then trickled onto the flour-coated subject, and wet linen pressed on top. The clay- before- flour imprinted linen was then exposed to the open charcoal fire, giving the apparent dual two-tone “blood/sweat”- imprinted Shroud.

      Gradually with time, some of the clay particles detached, leaving odd unsightly paler patches. Along came a Shroud custodian with a new blood substitute and paintbrush or dabber, probably containing at least some real blood, though lacking intact or recognizable red blood corpuscles (mushed-up medicinal, i.e. blood-sucking leeches?) and did some touching up. Result: today we have hybrid bloodstains, which give positive tests for porphyrins, albeit with atypical spectra (Adler and Heller) or yellow-red clays, or both. We then have an explanation for why the bloodstains are variously described as having a “peculiar” colour (STURP observer, 1978) or “too red” (Adler and Heller) when seen under the microscope on a well-illuminated stage.

      You can wake up now. I’ve said what I wanted to say…

      PS: As recent as a year or two ago, I might have wasted no time in modelling the latest idea, in this instance testing out a clay slurry as Mark 1, 14th century ” blood”.

      Not any more – announcing the idea and leaving it at that will now have to suffice. That’s my considered response to the casual indifference of sindonology to experimental modelling – like the scores, possibly hundred of my experiments reported here on this and other sites, deploying white flour to model a 14th century SIMULATED sweat imprint that have never received the slightest mention… So why bother with the icing on the cake – fine clay to simulate the ancient blood?

      There’s nothing quite so closed as the collective made-up mind of sindonology’s authenticity-promoting clique, forever recycling its fond illusions and facile mantras.

      (I may do the experiment to further my own education, but shall waste no further time in reporting the outcome to those deaf ears/closed minds).

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