How long before the grey scales fall from people’s eyes, and the Shroud image accepted as a thermal imprint (“scorch”)??


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:



An interesting and thought-provoking comment has just appeared from “ChrisB” on The Other Site. For me it’s one that has previously  fallen into the “I’m glad you asked me that question … er”, even if, in this instance, the question was addressed to the general readership of that site, of which I am still one, despite now unwilling to contribute comments directly. (To those who might be minded to question the etiquette of responding here, on my own site, the post title is “Where is the evidence Colin?”.  Colin, c’est moi,  is doing his best to provide the evidence, and at the same time fill in on the background detail of the Scorch Hypothesis. Btw: I believe it now deserves to be called the Scorch Theory, but I’m trying to avoid being too confrontational right now). Anyway, I have had time to think about the grey scale (Am. gray scale) question, and here are my preliminary thoughts:

First, the comment in question:

September 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm | #7

The scorch theory should be discountable by examining the range in grey-scale values. The Shroud should have a greater range in grey-scale values compared to a scorch, which would presumably have more uniform values.

The first question that needs to be asked is what mechanism is being proposed for the Shroud image formation if not a scorch? Why suppose it has a wider range of grey-scale values than other mechanisms? Do I not detect a hint here that the Shroud image is being thought of as a photograph? But there is no evidence that it is a photograph, whether a pseudo-negative or not. A scorch from a hot template however immediately accounts for the pseudo-negative character, so there are no grounds for making the scorch mechanism a poor relation so to speak, especially as I have yet to hear any mechanism for how rival hypotheses, credible or otherwise, can produce a negative image.

Now let’s consider the mechanics of producing a scorch image (“thermal imprint”) in detail. They can vary significantly. One could have the figure/subject/template lying horizontally (“recumbent”) on a raised support, heating it and then merely draping linen over the top. Thermal imprinting will be greatest where there is closest contact, e.g. the tip of a nose, and least where there is no contact, say the eye hollows. But as I said many moons ago, I do not believe that was the mechanism – the image produced would register too little detail. A more realistic mechanism is to lay the linen over a bed of yielding material, say sand, or snow, or wool, or many layers of fabric, and to press the heated template DOWN into the linen to get a better imprint.

The next step is to consider the nature of the template. If it were a very shallow bas-relief, like a coin say, the end product would be little different from that of a rubber stamp image, with at best a crude differentiation between raised/not raised relief.

But the Shroud image is too good, especially when seen in the Secondo Pia dark/light reversed form, to have been obtained from a shallow bas relief. I believe it was formed from something that was probably intermediate between a shallow bas relief and a fully-rounded statue, and have suggested a plaster cast replica of a real person as a possibility, essentially a death mask (see my recent post), with separate casts perhaps for the torso, limbs etc

When you analyse the likely points of contact, and, equally if not more important, the pressure at those points of contact with the linen in a “sand bed” model, it quickly become clear that the gradation of image densities in the final imprint can approach the complexity and subtlety of a photograph. Without labouring the detail, one could have two quite different reasons for a particular feature of the anatomy making a good imprint. The first is that it is prominent (“sticks out”) like the nose, and given that it probably digs deep into the underlay, compressing lots of sand as it goes, a good imprint is assured. But there are other parts that do not “stick out” that could still imprint well, namely the planes that are most  “square on” to the linen, like the forehead, say, which quickly encounter resistance when pushed into the linen/sand. Conversely, there are planes that are “side on” rather than “square on” like the two sides of the nose, the peripheries of the face near the ears etc that will not press firmly against the linen and underlay material, that will leave a weak imprint. The end result is a complex image: small wonder then that it may respond in a spectacular fashion to light/dark inversion, followed by transformation in a 3D-enhancement program that interprets image density as height. See my banner graphics for what was achieved simply by making a thermal imprint of a metal trinket in a sand bed system.

So, in summary, I would say to Chris that we already know from modelling studies that there is nothing inferior about a thermal imprint (“scorch”) if taken from a good template with ample 3D contours, and arranging the presentation onto linen so as to best capture and record those contours.

Colin Berry


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 How long before the grey scales fall from people’s eyes, and the Shroud image accepted as a thermal imprint (“scorch”)??

  1. ChrisB says:

    Hi Colin, thanks for referencing my comment on your blog. One thing that strikes me about your theory about how the Shroud image was formed (effectively plunging a 250c statue into a sand bed covered with a linen sheet as I understand it) is that there should be on the Shroud a correlation between the superficiality of the image and intensity of grey scale. On this point, for your theory to hold, it seems to me the image depth should be greater on places like the tip of the nose than on the side of the nose for example, as you pointed out more pressure would be exerted there. I don’t know if this is the case with the Shroud as I’m not sure where image samples were taken from.

  2. colinsberry says:

    Hello Chris. Good of you to look in. I’m no expert where digital image analysis is concerned, but grey scale seems fairly self-explanatory. That said, I’m not sure I’d agree that image superficiality should correlate with grey scale. Why not? Because we’re told that image intensity, and thus grey scale, has peculiar, some might say unexpected, half tone qualities. It’s explained by saying that it is the number of coloured fibrils that determines image intensity, as distinct from intensity of individual fibril colouring. So where you have a high image intensity and high grey scale value, you do not necessarily have a deeper, more weave-penetrating less superficial image. All the action, so to speak is in the most superficial surface layer.

    But it’s self-evident that if you have a hotter template, you’ll get a deeper scorch, which might sound like I’m contradicting myself, which in a sense I am. I guess what I’m saying is that in modelling the Shroud image one makes a decision at the outset to use low temperature templates to get uniformly faint scorches (overall), so that any differences in intensity/grey scale are then down to half-tone differences, all at the same level of superficiality.

    I hope that makes sense, but I’ll read through what I’ve written tomorrow morning,and may regret my decision to hit the send key.

  3. colinsberry says:

    One “Olowkow” on the Randi forum, following a tip from Hugh Farey, has visited this site, and offered the following comment early this morning:

    “I must add that you might want to soft pedal the picture of the enhanced green face on the shroud on the upper left in your website. If you believe that it has any significance at all, you missed my post a few years months back of Frank Zappa using the same “3D” effect. It’s bogus. Always has been, always will be. It merely reveals the unscientific nature of this quest.”

    That was a reference, needless to say, to the banner that appears above all my postings, referring to the ghostly green “processed” TS face in the top left hand corner.

    Sorry, Olowkow, but you have spectacularly missed the point. What I intended to convey, admittedly without cluttering captions, is that the so-called encoded 3D properties of the TS are not uniquely mysterious, as STILL claimed by Shroudies on a regular basis. They can be reproduced very simply and quickly simply by pressing a heated bas-relief template, like my Ghana trinket (second from left) into linen to produce a scorch, and then doing a light/dark inversion, as per Secondo Pia, followed finally by 3D enhancement in any computer program that reads image density as height above a reference plane (I used ImageJ, freely downloadable). So where 3D enhancement is concerned it’s a case of “move on folks, nothing to see here”. Much the same might be said for the welter of mystery-promoting (pseudo)science that is promoted elsewhere, mainly on U$-based sites, where the $hroud of Turin is still Big Bu$ine$$.

    I see that the incorrigible fellow Brit David Ro£fe is now taking another bite at the apple, hoping no doubt to make another killing to match the one he got for starting all the overblown mystery-promoting hype with that Si£ent Witness film. He’s now sunk to the level of promoting a daft conspiracy theory involving not just one Pope, but two.The man is an embarrassment.

    PS. My admiration for the peerless Hugh Farey grows by the hour, viewing his most recent postings on two quite different sites, yet maintaining the same “voice” on both. I’m not jealous – just pleased that I gave him a slot here, on this site, some months ago, feeling his focused, laser-beam approach was exactly what the doctor ordered where Shroudology is concerned. His pupils (and their parents) should feel privileged to have so methodologically-correct and penetrating a science teacher, able to slice his way through the jungles of misinformation.

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