If you take away the blood from the Man in the Shroud, what are you left with?

Is this how he looked before the artist got busy with the paint pot of “blood”? (Oops, I edited out the blood or most of it – but forgot to edit out the latterly-acquired 1532 burn holes and water stains).

This is really a postscript to my previous post, a PS with an admittedly strident take- away message:  we MUST get that blood radiocarbon-dated. It’s that or having to endure a never-ending stream of pseudo-science,  epicentre the Vatican (Papal edict: “the Shroud is not falsifiable”) and surrounding Universities and Polytechnics.

(Actually, according to a  Daily Telegraph journalist  it was the Vatican daily that said the Shroud was “impossible to falsify”, but  I seem to recall reading that commet was attributed to Pope Benedict himself)

Who can doubt that ALL the evidence that the man in the Shroud had been crucified  as per Biblical account rests upon one single generic ingredient. What’s more it’s nothing to do with any body image-forming process – miraculous or otherwise.

That ingredient is, needless to say, “blood”.  And a most remarkable kind of blood it is at that, at least according to one of the leading STURP investigators, sadly now deceased, inasmuch as it stays permanently red,  lacks the characteristic mineral ions that one associates with blood (K etc),  has an atypical spectrum for porphyrin, and is loaded we are told with bilrubin (though I see references only to quickie spot tests and fluorescence).

Was there a definitive test for bilirubin, like mass spectrometry?  I see none, despite having used and reported the technology myself well before STURP began work.

What about serum albumin, a major component of blood, especially blood serum?  Was its presence conclusively demonstrated? Only if you regard a test with a dye (bromocresol green) to test for its ability to bind coloured anions- hardly a unique feature. My own skin seems to have an unerring ability to bind coloured dyes and pigments within seconds of removing the lid on DIY products….

Link to bromocresol test for albumin.

Techie notes: haemolysis interferes strongly, so a blank has to be run, and real absorbance measured by difference ( never a good thing).   “Tightly stoppered samples (of serum albumin) are stable for 24 hours at room temperature (25-350C), one week at 2-80C and for 3 months at -200C.”  Yes, but can one use a dried-on specimen that is allegedly 2000 years old?

Any amino acid analysis to confirm albumin? Not that I’m aware of.

Moving on: what about haemoglobin – the major protein of red blood corpuscles? Alan Adler said the bloodstains did not have red blood corpuscles, which he attempted to explain away with a scenario of mind-boggling complexity, apparently inventing new physiology on the hoof, as was his wont, with one qualifying assumption heaped on another, with Mr.Occam spinning in his grave.  It was all to do with clot retraction, exudation of serum with red haemolysis products etc etc. So if you thought that was real blood on the Shroud then think again because that contradicts the Gospel according to  St. Alan. It’s not whole blood,  you see, just a wishy-washy exudate, lacking even potassium (see below).

Ah, but there should still be porphyrin,  right, the stuff that gives blood its red colour, at least when complexed with iron? After all, the blood, sorry, exudates is still red we are told, or maybe pink. Yes, but even in the hands of Prof. Adler, a  porphyrin specialist, it gave an atypical spectrum, as he freely admitted. So how did he explain that? Did he inject a sample into a mass spectrometer and look for a molecular ion that corresponds with porphyrin, and with fragments thereof (mass spectrometry being a method that provides fingerprinting capabilities)? If he did, it seems he omitted to say so. Yet curiously another leading light in STURP, Raymond  Rogers, WAS highly adept at mass spectrometry, even if (in my humble opinion) he misapplied it in his efforts to dismiss scorching as a mechanism for image formation (the ‘hydroxyproline story’). So how come those two – Adler and Rogers – did not collaborate on the major question regarding the blood – was its red colour really due to  haemoglobin, notably the iron-bound porphyrin?

Nope. Instead of nailing the porphyrin structure as responsible for red or red-brown pigmentation using modern analytical techniques, Adler instead proceeded to hang up  his porphyrin chemist’s hat and switched to being an instant  physiologist, and a highly unconventional one at that,  inventing brand new physiology to account for the “atypical porphyrin”.

As I’ve said before, several times, Adler proceeded  to posit the existence of a novel complex between oxidised haemoglobin and  bilirubin. I’ve discussed the details of that proposed complex before, and what I consider its totally unrealistic role for bilirubin as an agent for conferring  everlasting stability towards otherwise ruinously destructive light and oxygen, instead keeping Shroud “blood” permanently red.

Adler’s complex was frankly a non-starter, as any bilirubin chemist or photochemist could have told him. Why did he not consult with them – the McDonaghs, the Bonnetts,  the Schmidts, the Ostrows etc etc.?

What about the absence of physiological ions, such as potassium, K+?  Oh, that too can be explained away with a complex sequence of events to do with clot retraction and exudation of serum (Can it? I didn’t think one could lose mineral ions so readily).

In short, the evidence for crucifixion and the particular wounds that came before and after rests entirely on the distribution of blood on the Shroud, or so-called blood that was NEVER PROPERLY CHARACTERIZED as blood, and which indeed differed from blood, even aged and degraded blood in numerous ways that were never properly followed up.

Ah, but you might say, surely each blood stain also carries evidence of the wound that produced the blood? Does it? Which stains are we talking about? The ones on the wrist and forearm? Where is the evidence for a puncture wound, even if an exit wound only? I see none.  Wounds associated with crown of thorns? Where? And why does the blood trickle so unrealistically down the hair?  Scourge wounds? I have looked at scores of them (admittedly not the full 372!) and never seen any evidence for a wound, as distinct from dumb-bell shaped imprints that are made in blood, judging by colour, NOT body image, lacerated or otherwise). Spear wound in the side? There is plenty of blood on the side and under the back, but I see no evidence of a spear wound.

In fact the only blood stain that seems to have something unusual at its centre is on a foot, seen on the dorsal image that I have previously commented on. But that is merely a region of higher image intensity, with no evidence of any puncture.

Take away the blood stains from the Man in the Shroud (see my mischievously photo-edited image above) , and what are you left with?  A naked man with hands crossed over privates, still conscious of sensibilities. Now that image may have some surprising properties – pseudo-negative – encoded 3D information etc – which some may still regard as miraculous (in which case I would refer them to a previous post) but the mechanism by which the image was produced, and the question of who it represents is one that is ENTIRELY different if one takes away the evidence for crucifixion, especially one that manages to reprise so many details of the Biblical account in what some might see as highly stylized fashion. (372 scourge marks).

Could anyone be flayed so comprehensively and still be able to bear a cross?  Take away the blood marks and all one is left with is a naked man.

Expressed in those terms, the idea that the man in the Shroud represents Christ, or indeed anyone who had been crucified, starts to look highly tendentious. There is a corollary: if anyone in medieval times came by a curious double image, frontal and dorsal,  head-to-head –  of a naked man on a long sheet of quality linen, then all that he had to do to make it represent Christ – or SEEM to represent Christ – was to paint on blood in all the right places.

Already I hear the cry – “Ah, but the blood came first, that’s been proven”. Nope, it has not been proven. One somewhat desultory test with a proteolytic enzyme proves nothing, especially when it gives an answer that chimed with so many preconceptions of one ot its authors that were on show elsewhere (like ‘trauma-induced bilirubin’, ‘trauma-induced  ‘para hemic methemoglobin’.  Indeed the late Professor Alan D Adler invented a whole new branch of physiology that might be called PCTS (post- cruci-fictional traumatic stress).

In fact as I have said recently, there is as much if not more evidence that the blood stains came AFTER the body image, not before, if ones looks closely, as I have,  at the Shroud Scope images, carefully adjusting contrast and brightness to differentiate between blood and body image.

There is a simple way of cutting through the Gordian knot of science, pseudo-science and sheer fantasy and wishful thinking that still surrounds the Shroud of Turin, despite the medieval date for the linen. It’s the same one that I proposed yesterday. Obtain a radio-carbon dating for the blood!

I confidently predict that the blood will be medieval or post-medieval. Whether it is real, or partly real blood, with additions of fake blood (permanently red) acquired in one go or in instalments over time hardly matters, not if the stains are medieval or post medieval. If the latter then it is not the blood of Christ, which then raises the question: who is the Man in the Shroud if not Christ? That’s assuming he is a real man, not a clay or bronze model used as template. How did he die, if not by crucifixion?

I shan’t burden readers who have stayed with me thus far with my own previous theorizing, or as some might say, musings on that score – only some of which I’m told are original.

Clues can be found by taking a look – a very close look – at the Lirey badge, aka Cluny medal, the first historically-validated representation of the Shroud in western Europe  (search with thy internet connection and ye shall find).

Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, aka Cluny medal, mid-14th century

Is the totality of information on that badge consistent with the image represented there being that of Christ, and of death by crucifixion – or brutal execution by some other means? Make sure you look at the real Lirey badge, not the idealised Arthur Forgeais drawing that appears in Wikipedia (the only one there  it would seem).

In fact it is instructive to put the two side by side, and see perhaps the beginning of the Great Shroud of Turin Escapist Fantasy, the morphing of a clearly tormented but anonymous figure on the Lirey Pilgrim’s  badge ( a Templar martyr? Jacques de Molay?  Geoffroi de Charney-with-an- e Sr?) into a more familiar Christ-like figure (long hair, definite beard etc).

Mario Latendresse  (provider of those magnificent Shroud Scope images) visited the Cluny Museum in Paris recently, only to discover that that the diminutive Lirey Badge was not on display. Why not?  Orders from on high to keep it under wraps? Too many troublesome details at odds with the new Vatican narrative, like that problematical chain?

How strange that a crucial historical representation of the Shroud should have received so little attention. Google “Lirey badge” and you’ll find that it is my own briefly sketched-out theories, right or wrong, that dominate the returns… That speaks volumes methinks for a deliberate ignoring (suppression? see below)  by the Shroudie establishment of a valuable and tangible artefact, the first in fact to throw some light on the early history of the Shroud in western Europe).

Further reading (especially for the benefit of ‘ad hom Ron’ on The Other Site):

Theory and Practice of Radiocarbon Dating – a Brief Summary.


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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