I think I now know why STURP chemist Raymond Rogers detected hydroxyproline in the blood on the Shroud – and it’s to do with those medicinal leeches…


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:



Raymond N.Rogers

Yup, I’ve been expressing bewilderment for months now as to why STURP’s Ray Rogers  (left) thought there was hydroxyproline in human blood.

Chemical structure of hydroxyproline – a key constituent of collagen connective tissue.

He cited the presence of hydroxyproline as crucial evidence  against the  Shroud blood ever having been heated, using that to dismiss any idea that the body image was a thermal imprint (scorch) – since that would have driven off the hydroxyproline.

Ray Rogers was a chemist, more specifically a thermochemist working on explosives. This retired biochemist-turned science -blogger was at a loss to understand him, given that hydroxyproline is a constituent of connective tissue, notably collagen, and that there is scarcely any worth speaking of in blood (except for a tiny amount from degraded collagen going back to the liver to be broken down).

Well, I think I can now retrace the events that led Rogers to go barking up the wrong tree.  It came from re-reading Thibault Heimburger’s  2008 review of STURP research, where I came across the following:

” At least one of the blood samples (the “Zina thread” from the image heel) showed a strong peak for hydroxyproline at low temperature. This amino-acid is present in animal proteins including blood proteins or collagen.”

In other words, Rogers put some Shroud blood into his pyrolysis mass spectrometer, saw a sharp peak at a particular value, looked it up in the tables to find the only physiological metabolite known to have that precise mass was hydroxyproline (probably 4-hydroxyproline). Rogers then ASSUMED that hydroxyproline was a regular constituent of human blood. Had he consulted with biochemists, physiologists etc he would probably have been quickly disabused of that idea. Instead he must then have picked up on the use by the meat industry of  hydroxyproline as a marker for meat that has not been heated  and assumed he could use it as a marker for (un)heated blood. But as I say there’s simply not enough in blood – real uncontaminarted blood that is – for that to be possible.

Fast forward and we see Rogers  deploy his HP argument against the idea that the body image on the Shroud could  have been caused by scorching.

“ If the image were a scorch or any part of the Shroud had been heated enough to make  significant changes in the rates of decomposition of any of its components, we would see  changes in the structure of the flax fibers and blood. The blood still evolves hydroxyproline on mild heating, and the cellulose crystals are largely undistorted”.

Yes, the blood was giving off hydroxyproline alright, but it was not coming from human blood.  Where was it coming from then? If  we knew the answer to that we might have a better idea as to whether that really was human blood pure and simple on the Shroud – or mixed in with something else –  of animal origin

Well, I’ll now let you into a secret, dear reader. I think Ray Rogers realized his error in 2004, just one year before his sad demise from cancer, when he wrote the following:

“Incidentally, the pyrolysis/ms spectra of samples from apparent blood spots showed   hydroxyproline peaks at mass 131,  a pyrolysis product of animal proteins”


Note the words “apparent” and “animal” (my italics). That’s all. There were no other mentions of HP. Know what I think?  Rogers was quietly flagging up that there was a substance of animal origin in those apparent blood spots, but didn’t want to go into any more detail, maybe because he realized that the blood on the Shroud was not entirely human blood.  That would really have rained on the STURP parade would it not, recalling what it wrote in its executive summary in 1981:

“We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man.”

But that view can only have been based on the bloodstains, since the body image per se shows no (unequivocal) evidence of wounds. If the blood is not real human blood, or is accompanied by animal-derived products, then what price the STURP claim that the Shroud image is that of a “scourged crucified man”?

So where did the hydroxyproline come from?   Those who have been following my recent postings will know that I am more and more enamoured of the idea (my own!) that the blood on the Shroud came from medicinal leeches fed on human blood.

The practical advantages of using leech digesta to fake human blood  (Christ’s blood!) are numerous, especially as it keeps for months inside leeches in their state of postprandial torpor without any risk of clotting  or putrefaction (thanks to the leech’s powerful anticoagulant and to their specialized digestive gut bacteria) .  Blood – easily “paintable” blood-  is always there on tap when needed. Just hoik another leech out of the water tank…

Hydroxyproline? Connective tissue? So where does that fit in?  Look up “medicinal leech” in wiki, and one of the first things you will see is that leeches are choc-a-bloc full of connective tissue. It’s what gives them their rigidity.

Collagen fibrils – leech

So all one has to suppose is that harvesting of leeches for the purposes of “look-alike blood”, with a somewhat aged look, as indeed it would have after weeks or months of digestion inside the leech gut, needed nothing more than maceration (mashing them up) – connective tissue an’ all- so that what was applied to linen had loads of hydroxyproline, waiting for 20th century chemists to discover and misinterpret. Ah, but we 21st century biochemists are not fooled quite so easily, even if we are at an age when we qualify for a free bus pass and medical prescriptions.

Comments welcome – but I only answer them on this site, which insists on a modicum of courtesy. The kind of toxic comments that we see addressed to this retired science bod on other sites (like being called “hysterical” a day or two ago,  simply for challenging the “blood first” dogma,  or an “empty vessel” elsewhere) will simply not be tolerated.


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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23 Responses to I think I now know why STURP chemist Raymond Rogers detected hydroxyproline in the blood on the Shroud – and it’s to do with those medicinal leeches…

  1. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    CB, for once I will tend to agree with you: there is “[…] human blood […] accompanied by [an] animal-derived product[]”. As early as 1994, I have claimed the Sindon was soaked with the waters of the Red Heifer ashes (most likely the in-soaked inner long linen burial cloth was used to purify the shed innocent blood of the crucified victim whose tightly wrapped-up body was then to
    be subjected to a myrrhic aloetic fumigation).

  2. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    The detected hydroxyproline in the blood on the Shroud has nothing to do with leech but with the Red heifer and crimson dyed wool…

  3. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    …or/and the Malky stone dust.

  4. colinsberry says:

    The idea is to find a link between the unusual amino acid – hydroxyproline – and a likely protein source – not make an unlikely protein (or other source) fit the unusual amino acid.

    Reminder: hydroxyproline is unusual because it is not incorporated into collagen and elastin as such. It is incorporated as the much commoner proline, which is then hydroxylated in situ. It’s that two-step process that makes hydroxyproline so unusual, and why it serves for all intents and purposes as a marker for connective tissue, collagen especially.

    • Max Patrick Hamon says:

      The only alternative left to explaining the presence of hydroxyproline in the blood on the Sindon at heel level could be contact with one of the relic’s painted copies.

  5. colinsberry says:

    Ah yes, the time-honoured ploy of playing the contamination card. That could run and run (if the rubbishing of the radiocarbon dating – invisible reweaving etc – is anything to go by).

    It should be relatively easy to run immunoassays on leech-derived antigens in Shroud blood – possibly in samples still held by STURP members or gifted to the STERA archives.There’s a good chance that ancient specimens will still respond, especially if antibodies are raised to the specialised symbiotic bacteria of leech gut. If they test negative, then it is just egg on the face of one retired science bod. If positive, the entire teetering top-heavy edifice of Shroudology comes crashing down. Go figure, as our US friends are given to saying…

  6. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    I bet for the collagen egg white on the face of one retired science bod…

    • Max Patrick Hamon says:

      If I am right, it would be also just egg on the face of the corona discharge, laser-like beam etc etc arch-miraculists…

      • Max Patrick Hamon says:

        Correction: If I am right, it would be also just egg on the face of the corona discharge, laser-like beam etc etc on the face of the arch-miraculists…

  7. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Contamination whether ritual or accidental JUST cannot be ruled out. Actually it might well be here both an archaeological and scientific trump card

  8. colinsberry says:

    Occasionally, just occasionally, there’s a pressing need for commonsense to be ruled in.

  9. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    CB, Mentioning TRUE commonsense (not your alleged commonsense!) , according to Carlos Ortal (see the other site) hydroxyproline is “An excellent argument for authenticity!
    -In the normal, healthy individual, the hydroxyproline is found as traces in the blood serum and in greater amounts in urine as a free hydroxyproline and conjugate hydroxyproline with peptides.
    -On the individual sick with various diseases that do not interest here, the hydroxyproline increases in the blood serum and urine.
    -Did they guess situations in which increases substantially the hydroxyproline in serum and urine?
    -The hydroxyproline increases very significantly in blood serum and urine in deep stretch muscle kept, what is well known for the sports medicine.
    -I think not a stretch muscle maintained more intense than the one provided for 3 hours of CRUCIFIXION.
    [the peak of hydroxyproline in the sample from the heel suggests to me “pollution” by urine.] [The type of death suffered by Jesus would normal urine…. even of faeces and seminal fluid emission]
    -I am a clinician, suggest that a doctor better qualified than me in biochemistry of blood and urine as Dr. Heimburger resume the subject of the hydroxyproline.”
    This might well be the best explanation to the presence of hydroxyproline in the blood on the Sindon at heel level…

  10. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    …contaminated blood, I was telling you.

  11. colinsberry says:

    I have to raise my hat to the Spanish medic for his inventive and imaginative thinking – even if some details are perhaps a little repellent. A bloodied foot with up to three more contaminants – all managing to supply hydroxyproline in one or other form – is just about conceivable, though whether there would be sufficient from the other sources for Rogers to have picked it up as a major peak on his pyrolysis-mass-spec is another matter entirely. I think not.

    But the strength of my leech hypothesis is that it does not rely on a single biochemical for falsification (or verification) . There are numerous leech-specific chemicals and thus antigens. Finding any one of these in Shroud blood would present Dr.Carlos with a much greater challenge in the crucifictional plot -writing department, assuming the feet of victims were not routinely dangled into leech-infested waters. Methinks I hear the sound of a time bomb ticking away (that’s how confident I am about this hypothesis – even if based mainly on a little science and a lot of gut feeling).

  12. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    I would say your “medicinal leech Science Fiction’ applied to the Sindon Shroud blood is much more imaginative and inventive than Carlos’ pathological approach as yours is totally inconsistent and Carlos’ totally consistent with the paleopathological & anatomopathological pieces of evidence (a crucidied victim).

  13. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    You wrote: “Methinks I hear the sound of a time bomb ticking away” still lost in imagination…

  14. colinsberry says:

    How odd that Shroudology showed not the slightest interest in hydroxyproline, except as “evidence” against scorching, despite Rogers himself flagging it up as possibly of animal origin. But now it’s accommodated within a coherent narrative – my narrative- one based on medieval forgery and thus entirely consistent with the radiocarbon dating – then all of a sudden we see a resurgence of cobbled-together crucifictional pathology all assembled on the hoof, with the onus placed on me to prove it wrong, when in fact it should be the other way round. Sorry, but I’m not impressed with desperate attempts to explain things away by piling one qualifying assumption on top of another, heedless of the Occam principle. That’s not science – it’s sheer time-wasting. Re-do the radiocarbon dating if one must – and test for animal collagen and/or leech antigens in the bloodstains at the same time.

  15. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Medieval forgery is not a proven fact if only based on radiocarbon dating as you seem to infer. Shall I repeat, statistically speaking, 14C dating reliability is only about 60% NOT 100% when applied to textiles.

  16. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    To recur to medicinal leeches used as felt tipped pens to back up you hypothesis, IS the desperate attempt of an old science bod losing it to explaining the most accurate hematic cartography medical examiners can observe on the linen cloth.

  17. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    That’s neither Science. nor Archaeology…

  18. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    …what is really ODD is OldSciencebodology!

  19. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    Sorry, OldScienceBODDology…

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