My immediate response to a comment on “Did the bloodstains really precede image formation on the Shroud of Turin?”

Comment from Richard Savage on The Other Site

“But is Berry correct that our opinion (the blood being on first) “rests on somewhat token  and insubstantial evidence based on a single spot test with proteolytic enzyme on a microscope slide.” In, Adler bases his claim on publications by himself, Heller and Jumper — but, are they all referring to “a single spot test”?

In all my reading, Richard, I have only ever seen one experiment cited in support of the “blood first, image second” dogma. It was the Adler/Heller experiment with the proteolytic enzyme, performed on a microscope slide, which described how digestion of the bloodstain left clean image fibres  i.e. with fibres underneath resembling clean non-image fibres.

Conclusion: the blood came first, the body image second –  suggestive evidence, but hardly definitive or clinching on which to base so major a claim

However, I do not claim to have read every word that has been written on the subject. So if anyone knows of supplementary experiments to back that claim, then please let me know (with a link too if possible).

As a retired biochemist who spent years handling enzymes, I have a number of reservations about that experiment. I shan’t bore the pants of people by listing them all. Suffice it to say that the experiment makes a number of assumptions (unwarranted assumptions in my view).  Personally, I believe that in attempting to establish what came first,  the initial experiment  should have been a dry, not wet system, using mechanical and optical methods only. Here’s the kind of thing I have in mind, using a miniature version of an angle grinder and a lens or microscope.

“Blood first, body image second” scenario, with angled abrasion and microscopic examination. The linen would first be embedded in paraffin wax or resin. It could then be sectioned in a microtome to get thin slices for microscopy, those sections being permanent after mounting and available for a range of opinions.

Body image first, blood second scenario, abraded and examined as before.

One abrades the surface at as gentle as possible an angle the normal, as in the diagrams, and examines the abraded surface under the lens. One seeks to identify blood that is not overlaid with body image, or body image that is not overlaid with blood, deducing which came first.

I don’t imagine for one moment that the experiment is a doddle, given the thinness of the body image (allegedly less than 200nm in thickness) but it is worth trying in the first instance, using if necessary a range of image enhancement techniques. If  it gives an unambiguous yes/no answer, then that is a result that is not hedged around with uncertainties, unlike the wet enzyme system.


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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3 Responses to My immediate response to a comment on “Did the bloodstains really precede image formation on the Shroud of Turin?”

  1. Matt says:

    So did the “blood” come first? Or image. The stains aren’t realistic and look painted.
    Also just another question, I read your post about scorches and fluorescence. So the reason the 1500s burn fluoresced red (and the image didn’t) was because they didn’t use a strong enough UV light? The same one as yours which didn’t make fluorescent images? Just a little confused.

  2. Colin Berry says:

    As I expect you know, Matt, John Heller and Alan Adler produced evidence for blood before body image, using protein-digesting enzymes. One can nitpick if not liking that conclusion, given it makes life a little more difficult for forgers if they can’t simply paint blood onto the linen after imprinting the body image. For my part I provisionally accept the blood-first ‘dogma’ since it does not present an insuperable problem to a forger. Why not?

    There are at least two ways round the problem, maybe more, which can be used if imprinting with powdered white flour onto wet linen (my Model 10!). The first is to sprinkle the flour onto the oil-smeared subject first, then paint or dribble the blood (or “blood”?) onto the flour-coated skin, then imprint onto the wet linen. The blood goes onto the linen first, meeting the Adler/Heller claim. But there’s a problem – the blood would look nothing like blood after the oven-roasting stage for image development!

    There’s an alternative means which I strongly suspect was used for the site (at least) of the lance-blood. One uses an offcut of linen to protect a sizeable patch of skin from being coated with flour. One then does the oven-roasting stage, and then and only then one paints blood onto the blank area of the linen. That could explain how the area is said to show water as well as blood, as required for strict biblical ‘authenticity’. Of course, it’s not really “water” one sees mixed in with blood, evaporated water being invisible but small patches of blank linen, free of yellow body image! Clever these medievals!

    I’m not sure if the masking technique would work with all the blood stains, especially the more intricate ones like those on the arms etc.

    Uv fluorescence? Nope, I doubt if the intensity of uv light is a major factor, though wavelength might be. Personally I think it was a mistake on the part of Barrie Schwortz and others to make statements like “all scorches fluoresce under uv” when based purely on the weak pinkish-red fluorescence of the charred edges of the 1532 burn holes. Those edges are not experimental scorches, using the term in its broadest sense to mean linen that has acquired a thermal imprint by one means or another. Those edges have been exposed to far higher temperatures (800 degrees of more) if the molten silver reliquary narrative is correct, compared with the temperatures required for my flour-imprinting model (180 to 200 degrees C) or the slightly higher ones used in my now abandoned direct contact Model 2 using a heated bas relief.

    None of my thermal imprints, whether one-stage “scorches” or two-step flour imprints show any fluorescence whatsoever under uv, so the attempts by promoters of authenticity to dismiss thermal imprinting out of hand via fluorescence simply don’t stand up to experimental test. It’s simply empty propaganda if the truth be told.

    I hope that helps. Don’t hesitate to keep the the questions flowing. It’s good to see some interest being shown out there!

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, it just seems suspicious the evidence for painted stains and painted stains where there is hair. If these “blood” stains were painted first it wouldn’t take that much effort to align the bas relief. As for Adler and Heller, I’m skeptical of the results any STURP member given some of their pseudoscientific methods and claims. Shroudies are just saying that the blood-first is slam dunk evidence that it is the real thing. As for the fluorescence your post “Most definitely no”, was very good. I was just reading what Hugh said “The implications are that, yes, scorches always fluoresce, but only at high power. There is thus no reason why the ‘image’ of the Shroud is not a scorch!”. I guess used a different wavelength of UV.

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