Faking it Part 2 : The Turin Shroud – a medieval marketing coup based on cleverly-contrived ambiguity …


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:

This is Part 2 of a post I made earlier:

We have said how the body image was created. It may not have been intended to represent Christ in the first instance. Indeed, there are grounds for thinking that it represented someone entirely different, someone who had perished just a few decades prior to the first display of the Shroud in 1355 or thereabouts. Those first pilgrims may have thought they were viewing the burial Shroud of Christ but may have been duped with a false prospectus – because –according to one theory –  the Shroud really represented a captured Crusader who had been crucified OR (more probably) one of the Knights Templar who had been hideously slow roasted in 1314.  Look at the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge – a memento that pilgrims brought back from their visit to the tiny obscure French village of Lirey – and decide for yourself.

Personally I think it depicts someone other than Christ, someone who has not been crucified, but someone who has been roasted (look at the knees especially) and then ask yourself: does the figure look Christ-like? Is that the face that, as the Mandylion etc. inspired the gentle modern image of  Christ with long hair and a distinctive beard?

Irrespective, I think it’s highly possible that the Shroud image displayed in 1355 had no blood or scourge marks. Had that been the case then surely the Lirey badge would have attempted to indicate that, say by showing a reversed 3 (“epsilon”) on the forehead. That might explain why Shroudologists pay so little attention to the Lirey badge – it fails to underpin their preconceptions, it fails to supply the “points of correspondence” they delight in ticking off in the case of the Hungarian Pray Codex.  But the Lirey Badge is a crucial artefact – representing as it does the one that is used to  fix the first authenticated arrival of the Shroud in western Europe.

I suspect that the early Shroud – and the Badge – a kind of marketing tool – was used to ease in a new religious relic with deliberate ambiguity – a ploy that worked with stunning success. Why? Because initially it could have been intended to represent the death of a number of powerful Knights Templar at the hands of Philip IV of France by means of a scorched-on image – a kind of metaphor for death by slow-roasting.

Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney , Grand master of the Knights Templar and Preceptor of Normandy prepare to meet their maker. First there is the small matter of slow-roasting to be endured – with a chain around the waist to ensure compliance with chosen punishmen t.

Back to that Lirey Pilgrim’s badge again. Now there’s a thing – a chain around the waist.  What does a chain have to do with crucifixion if the figure shown were intended to represent Christ? Who else might it have represented?

The chain across the waist  of the subject could have been cited as evidence of a continuing Templar cult  – and dangerous one intent perhaps on revenge – but if the authorities grew suspicious the squire of Lirey and his wife ( Geoffroi de Charny-without-the-e  and Jeanne de Vergy respectively,  both of whose coats of arms are on the Badge- could have said “No, you have misconstrued its purpose. It represents the death at the hands of  the Saracens of a Crusader Knight, crucified in mockery of the Christian beliefs”.  Or even that of Christ himself.  But later, once visitor numbers swelled, a different explanation emerged – that it was not a crucified knight, but yes – no question of doubt- an image of Christ himself. But that needed some rejigging.

What about the chain? How could that be removed, or made to look like something else? How could the figure be made to look like someone who had been crucified?   Cue the idea for staging a fire, and using that as cover for making some changes, claiming that any subtractions were the work of fire, and any additions had been there previously, and challenging anyone to prove otherwise. Cue the famous fire of 1532, Chambery, which reinvented the Shroud of Turin, stripping it of Templar symbolism, and endowing it with unmistakeable visual clues to a 1st century AD crucifixion. Cue the event that ushered in  the Greatest Hoax in History – one that has worked to this day, aided and abetted in recent times by some peddling of pseudo-science. Tomorrow I shall detail what I believe was done to reinvent Shroud Mark 1 as Shroud Mark 2.


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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