What is a Shroud “expert” – and is he or she to be trusted?


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:




Sorry, but this one was not written by a Shroudologist, despite the title...

Sorry to disappoint the hopeful, but this one was not written by a Shroudologist, despite the title…

Research update  (Saturday am ): unrelated to this post. Hugh Farey has emailed some very pretty pictures of linen fibres taken under high magnification which I shall display in a day or two. The question that is bothering both of us at the moment is whether or not the primary cell wall (PCW) plays an important role in capturing a thermal imprint (“scorch) in comparison with alternatives, e.g. Rogers’  hypothesised impurity layer or even those nodes (see previous posting) .

Strategy: experiment with ways of getting linen fibres to shed their PCW, then see how readily the remaining SCW can accept a scorch.


It’s  possible to become – or at any rate be perceived as – an expert without doing any original research – i.e. through ‘merely’ analysing and criticizing other people’s findings (Please don’t misconstrue that word ‘merely’ as in any way pejorative – I am not here to demean patient, meticulous scholarship). That makes an expert, thus qualified, entirely dependent upon existing literature with others’ findings. What’s more, one has to ask why he or she has made no original contributions. Well, one might just as well ask why certain people get first class honours degrees but are not invited to stay on at University  to do research. Being a good scholar and being a good researcher are like two different sets in a Venn diagram which partially overlap. Some are in one or the other, some are in both, and even in that overlap area, there are some who are good on the hands-on research, but weaker doing the laborious background reading and analysis  and vice versa. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everyone was equally endowed in all respects?

As for that rather rare breed – original researchers – of varying aptitude for their chosen mission in life (to boldly go where no man has gone before, freely splitting infinitives along the way) they  may or may not be seen as experts. They may be seen as an expert in their own specialized area of research, except that co-researchers usually have little or no use for the term “expert”. What does the latter mean when one is wrestling with new and maybe fragmentary data, attempting to get a handle on the problem? One may be seen as a gifted researcher, or a plodder.

The term expert comes into its own when wider society is confronted with an emergency, where decisions are needed quickly, and quite naturally one goes for those who are familiar with the general area in which the emergency is concerned.

This volume reflects the progress made in the last ten years by the WHO/CISAT Scientific Committee for the Toxic Oil Syndrome. First, various projects were supported aiming at the full chemical characterization of the oil matrix. Second, attempts were made to reproduce, on both a laboratory and an industrial scale, the refining process to which the suspect oil had been subjected, in an attempt to establish the conditions under which the toxin(s) were generated and to provide sufficient amounts of reconstituted oils for toxicological studies. Third, a search was undertaken for an animal model in which to study the disease. Finally, work on the possible immune origin of the intoxication was stepped up, with promising results to date.

Publisher’s blurb: note the last sentence, which is a bit of a slap in the face to  ‘experts’ in chemical toxicology.. This volume reflects the progress made in the last ten years by the WHO/CISAT Scientific Committee for the Toxic Oil Syndrome. First, various projects were supported aiming at the full chemical characterization of the oil matrix. Second, attempts were made to reproduce, on both a laboratory and an industrial scale, the refining process to which the suspect oil had been subjected, in an attempt to establish the conditions under which the toxin(s) were generated and to provide sufficient amounts of reconstituted oils for toxicological studies. Third, a search was undertaken for an animal model in which to study the disease. Finally, work on the possible immune origin of the intoxication was stepped up, with promising results to date.

Thus the Spanish cooking oil disaster (aka Toxic Oil Syndrome) in 1981 pulled in scores of toxicologists etc. who were properly described as experts at the time. But why have I chosen that particular episode? Despite vast recalls of cooking oil in a plethora of different containers, of detailed chemical analysis, of toxicology studies no one knows for certain, even to this day, what caused the deaths and appalling disability. Original views of the experts that it was adulterated cooking oil , linked maybe to attempts to “clean up” industrial oil by removing aniline impurities etc, proved to be premature and in all probability wrong. What was the real culprit? Organophosphates or other agricultural pesticides?  Something triggering  an immediate autoimmune condition? Who knows? If the experts don’t then it could have been almost anything…

Suppose the real agent had been X. Anyone working in the area of X might quickly have been elevated to the role of expert, but might have been hopelessly incapable of dealing with enquiries that were peripheral to their narrow area of expertise. So there are “experts” and “experts” with differing breadth of vision.

Now to the nitty gritty. Is there such a thing as a Shroud expert?

I shall now be controversial, and say NO, there is not, and try to explain my thinking (or culture-based non-thinking – see below).

Firstly, no one knows the precise chemical nature of the Shroud image, despite decades of research (actually, little research has been done directly on the image, for reasons we’ll address on another occasion). So there are no experts on the Shroud image – just some who are well informed about how little we actually do and do not know.

That’s where someone like myself fits into the picture. I too know next to nothing about the Shroud image. Since I have no access to the Shroud itself – and probably would not be able to wave any magic wands if I did – I have to fall back on the time- honoured approach of the scientist who is under no great time pressure to deliver a solution. That is to propose a model, to study that model, and then patiently attempt to spot points of similarity or difference between model and unknown subject. In my case the model is thermal imprinting aka scorching. I cannot be described as a Shroud expert – but with time there might be one or two charitable souls prepared to regard me as an expert on scorching… C’est la vie.

What about the other aspects of the Shroud? Are there experts in those areas?  History?  There’s been a lot of attention on the question as to where the Shroud was prior to 1355 when it was first put on display. Prior to that it was in private hands and well-concealed, but for how long?  (The Vatican claimed recently that it had been in the care of those mysterious Templars). But no one knows for sure where the Shroud was. They can only make proposals, based on references that might (or might not) refer to the Shroud, e.g. as that famous Mandylion, the “Edessa image” etc. But that does not make those historians ‘experts’ on the Shroud, merely experts on the fragmentary knowledge as it relates to the Mandylion etc. So their approach is no different to mine with the scorching – they have had a hunch – an intuition if you like – and developed it into a model – a working hypothesis – but have no claim to be regarded as a Shroud expert. Knowledgeable, perhaps, quickly able perhaps to dismiss or at any rate point out the defects in alternative theories. Come to think of it – is that not the attribute that really defines the expert – someone who has sufficient background knowledge to be able to quickly narrow down the options through being able to rule out the improbable? Isn’t that where experts come into their own when there is a crisis or emergency? They prevent the decision-makers wasting too much time and resources on chasing up blind alleys? But is that not what happened in the Spanish Cooking Oil crisis, despite the plethora of experts?

So let’s redefine an expert as someone who is perceived as capable of focusing on essentials, able to spot and reject the irrelevant, while not necessarily having anything new or original to say in the area that they have isolated as the one where the likely solution is to be found. Experts in that view act effectively as sieves aka filters. They are highly desirable in the short term when there’s an emergency. But here’s the rub. They are NOT necessarily of great use if or when no immediate solution is found to a crisis. Indeed they might become an encumbrance if they impede the search for the new solution. Could that happen? Could an acknowledged “expert” in a field suddenly become surplus to requirements?

Here I have to tread carefully. My answer is yes – possibly. Why? Because an expert who has a sound grasp of existing literature, but is not themselves an original mind, in the sense of seeing new directions that others have overlooked, is by the same token not especially well equipped to cope with current new research. How can they be, if not directly involved, and having to rely entirely on what others are currently discovering and thinking, only some of which is published in the open literature?  That is where the Great Divide opens up between those who have established reputations as experts, and the young (or not so young) Turks who are perhaps dissatisfied with received wisdom, or lack thereof, and are pushing into new lines of enquiry, ones that may be seen by the expert as irrelevant, or addressing problems which they consider to have been settled a long time ago.

There’s another difference: experts have minds that tend to crystallize through long acquaintance with a subject area – and is that so surprising (after all, who wants to live constantly in a fog of uncertainty?) while the new blood researchers will take an entirely different view, unwilling to take anything at face value, and certainly suspicious of anything that is held to be unquestionable or sacrosanct if it conflicts with new evidence,

To summarise: experts have their uses in certain situations, as I have suggested and they may acquire guru status if they have a track record for sound judgement, i.e  their previous positions having proved correct in the fullness of time. But they may not be able to bring unique insights into an ongoing problem if the latter has defied solution, and may indeed hinder progress if they are too quick to criticize or dismiss current lines of research. That is especially the case if they are not actually researching it themselves, and not immersed in that indefinable quality I would describe as the ‘culture of research’, especially that which attempts to discover not just the known unknowns, but those entities once famously described as ‘unknown unknowns’.

Yes, a reference right at the end to ‘culture’ might look somewhat grandiose, but let me disabuse you of any such desire or intention of self-aggrandisement immediately. I recently came across a definition of culture that clicked immediately – it’s those things that people do without thinking, or feeling they have to think.

There are different approaches to the Shroud – some that require thinking, some which do not. It’s part of the human condition for the thinkers and non-thinkers to eye each other suspiciously. But all of us are occasionally thinkers or non-thinkers, depending on context, and if some or all of that ‘non-thinking’ is cultural, then there’s little point in taking cudgels to each other.

Missus will shortly be along to ask what I want for breakfast. I shall rely mainly upon prior experience and cultural conditioning to provide a quick answer, and without having to divert mental effort away from more important matters, like where that image is on the Shroud, what it comprises chemically, how thick, and most important of all – how formed … Me, I’m no expert,  just a humble (and occasionally less-than-humble) seeker after truth.

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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15 Responses to What is a Shroud “expert” – and is he or she to be trusted?

  1. Charles Freeman says:

    A good question as to who is an expert here. I have been surprised by the number of people who describe themselves as ‘shroud researchers’ and list over twenty years experience but who simply seem to reproduce the ideas of others with no original input of their own. So Stephen Jones ( who has accused me of knowing that the Shroud was authentic but casting doubt on its authenticity simply to make money – and for an article for which i was paid nothing!) merely parrots Ian Wilson (Saint Ian of the Holy Shroud) and so far as i can see from his website provides nothing original of his own while seeing off anyone who dares to comment unfavourably on what he has written. No wonder Dan Porter’s blog flourishes while Stephen Jones’ stagnates.

    My expertise on the Shroud is marginal, as the author of the only full length history of medieval relics on the market (Holy Bones, Holy Dust, Yale UP, 2011), one which has been well received. The two and half years of full time research I have done on medieval relics makes me believe that the Shroud is almost certainly medieval but, as there was once a burial shroud in the tomb of Jesus, there is a tiny, and really tiny, outside chance that it could be it.

    However, I have also earned my living professionally as a historian for forty years and it was from this ‘expertise’ that I saw the immense weaknesses in Ian Wilson’s work on the Shroud. Is he an expert on the Shroud who,however, fails miserably as a historian? Certainly the real experts on Byzantine history, religion and literature unanimously condemn his argument about the Image of Edessa, so I am in good company. (If it were proved that the Shroud is authentic, it is much more likely that it came to Constantinople with the other relics from Jerusalem that we know arrived in the fourth and fifth centuries- see the wonderful ivory (now in Trier) of the relics of St. Stephen being brought into the city from Jerusalem c. 420.) I would also rate Madame Flury-Lemburg, who is an acknowledged expert on textiles and who has worked closely on the Shroud, when she says there is no reweaving, over Ray Rogers, whose views, never confirmed or replicated by any later research, seem to be based on threads that he claims, without any further authentication, to come from someone who was present, years before, at the cutting up of the Shroud. How he got this one past his peer reviewers I cannot imagine! All kinds of contamination could have got into those threads in the years after they were cut off and before they were forwarded to him ( and why him when there were so many laboratories in italy where the level of expertise in textile analysis would have been many times greater?). So which experts decide who are the real experts? A good question.

  2. colinsberry says:

    Greetings Charles. Good of you to look by again.

    As I say, the term “expert” is almost meaningless when applied to an unsolved enigma, even for those of us who have few reservations about the medieval dating. It was Professor Luigi Gonella I believe who was largely responsible for abandoning the pre-agreed sampling protocol at the eleventh hour AND for quietly sequestering a thread or two from that single corner sample that he subsequently gifted to Ray Rogers. What price then Rogers’ claim that the thread was an end-to-end splice of two initially separate ones, implying re-weaving? Who’s to say that it was not Gonella who did the splicing – having pulled too hard on his forceps or whatever and snapped the thread?.

    As for Rogers’ bizarre report being described without hefty qualification as “peer-reviewed”, I’ve no doubt you are not unaware of his choice of journal – Thermochimica Acta – one which he helped to set up and for which he served as Editor for many years. For my sins, I used to referee scientific papers. I would not have declined to referee a paper submitted by one of its own Editors – but would have sought reassurances that my involvement and report was totally anonymous. Did that happen with Rogers’ paper? Is anyone on the present Journal prepared to state categorically that was how it was handled? If not, then the review process was seriously flawed. Personally, I don’t think Rogers should have chosen his own journal anyway for so controversial a paper. And while he may have described himself as a thermochemist, that particular speciality was somewhat peripheral to a critique of the radiochemical dating, unless that white-rabbit-from-hat called Vanillin was an attempt to substitute dodgy chemistry for good physics.

    I’ve chuntered away for too long and will now take a break. Keep an eye on this thread, however. I may have one or two other observations to make, not about Stephen Jones’s site, where I try not to linger any longer than absolutely necessary, but Ian Wilson (for what he wrote about the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge).

    Oh, and while I’m loath to call anyone an expert, there are sound scholars and others less so. You I regard, and have always done so, as one of the Shroud’s soundest (and most cogent) scholars…

    • Charles Freeman says:

      Thank you, Colin. It is important to contribute when you can. I am pleased to see that my article on ‘tetradiplon’ has now worked its way up to the top of a Google search because the attempts to fit that tetradiplon to the Turin Shroud/Image of Edessa were just laughable. One could possibly argue that it meant a cloth folded into four or a cloth folded double four times but Ian Wilson had a cloth folded double THREE times and so folded into EIGHT -as a result he missed both possibilities! So I am glad that his idea is no longer the first you come to in a search, even if you don’t agree with everything I say.

  3. colinsberry says:

    While you’re here, Charles, might I have a historian’s opinion on something that has been bugging me for years (see my comment yesterday to Hugh and the link that accompanied it to a long defunct site of mine). I assume we are both indigenous English with but minor exotic components in our genomes. What is the likelihood that we are both descended from Saxons, Anglo-Saxons, call them what you will, who arrived post 420AD, i.e. the orthodox view, the view we were taught at school. ? What of the alternative idea, mooted notably by Stephen Oppenheimer, that we are more likely to be descended from pre-Roman occupation Britons, and not necessarily Celts either, but truly indigenous Brits, ones who colonised Britain shortly after the ice receded some 15000years ago (Basques?).

    Beware. Any interesting view you propose is likely to be quoted on a new site I’m sketching out in my mind… 😉 It would follow a similar ‘learning curve’ format to this one, the latter to go shortly onto the back burner (except for new comments which are always welcome).

  4. Hugh Farey says:

    I thought I quite understood genetics until I got very bogged down in Oppenheimer’s book. Exciting ideas, and possibly true, but rather turgid to wade through. If he’s correct though, I think he demonstrates that cultural heritage is not the same as genetic heritage. So what if only half a dozen Angles and an extended Saxon family actually settled in Britain – they still managed to erase 400 years of Roman occupation almost without trace (until excavated hundreds of years later), and pretty well everything that had happened before that. I don’t know much about Breton, Erse or Scots Gaelic, and precious little about Welsh, but Welsh does seem to be as much like the language of the later Romano-British as we’re likely to find extant. And if we originally spoke Basque – is there any evidence of that?

  5. colinsberry says:

    Yes, I too said as much yesterday on that other site, Hugh, the one I mentioned in my email.

    If you’re interested we could maybe exchange ideas there (or here if you would prefer). It belongs to one ‘Prospect Magazine’, which I only discovered yesterday through searching. Its remit sounds interesting – wanting to shape public opinion but keen to garner new thinking, including/especially the counter-orthodox. It invited Oppenheimer to set out his views in 2009, and still has a trickle of comments. They are pre-moderated. Mine was sent last night and appeared this morning – frustrating delay, maybe, but not bad for a thread that other journals would probably have closed down a year ago or more.

    Am I German (which would not bother me unduly, having been taught that at school, but arguably lacking real historical depth and mystery – the prehistoric roots thingy) or am I a Native Britannian, ancestors established long before the Romans arrived, never mind the Anglo-Saxons? I want to know…

  6. Charles Freeman says:

    It’s not my field, Colin. Certainly there are constant reports of finding Scandinavian DNA in the eastern side of the UK where they settled. I suspect it is complicated . Certainly the collapse of Roman rule in England had more profound effects than virtually anywhere else with a dramatic fall in living standards and even the ability to make pottery of a wheel.

  7. colinsberry says:

    Thanks Charles. Oppenheimer says that no single group of immigrants contributed more than 5% to our respective genomes – so one has to suppose that applies to Scandinavians too, however defined. But down south, where I live, it’s the Anglo-Saxon heritage, more German than Scandinavian, that is the one we are fed from birth. Why equate English with Anglo-Saxon if the heritage has scarcely any genetic component, and is based on an imposed social and economic system from the Continent*, with a question mark over the true origins of the English language (pre-or post Roman.) On that basis we might equally describe ourselves as Roman or Norman surely?

    I’ve decided what my first task will be: to start with a page by page , chapter by chapter visitor’s guide to Oppenheimer’s book. It will only be a critique, inasmuch as it will highlight the sections where that author lost me (and perhaps others) on first reading some 6 years ago. I will then follow up by researching the relevant disciplines, genetic typing especially, and try and decide whether my difficulties were with the exposition or with the soundness of the underlying science.

    That’s my project, aka anti-Alzheimer prophylaxis for 2013 (while keeping an eye open for significant new developments in the Shroudosphere)…

    * Some might suspect that my current interest is prompted by continuing attempts on the part of our Continental neighbours to impose their preferred social and economic system, to which my reply is: you may think that, but I could not possibly comment…

  8. Charles Freeman says:

    A good project. While you are into genetics, which is not my field, you might look at the AB blood grouping of the Turin Shroud. I have my doubts about the analysis of the blood anyway but now it is firmly argued that it is blood group AB. The general consensus is that this was not known before AD 900 and was the result of incoming B groups from the east mingling with native A groups on the Hungarian plain, with AB becoming genetically embedded in the population by 1100-1200. That the initial encounter was here is backed by the Hungarians having the highest percentage of AB of any native population in Europe, suggesting a longer period of interaction.. Analysis of Hungarian graves has also failed to find any evidence of AB before 900. Like many consensuses I have found it stated by various people including a Hungarian professor summarising these findings in an online interview but haven’t got the original research.
    I have asked around for any evidence of earlier AB and there has only been ONE example provided, a very small Israeli sample of 1977 which found AB among a family group there. However, some other early testing suggesting AB in Egypt has now been redone and found invalid ( I think it turned out to be A not AB) and without some replication here this does not seem to be firm enough evidence to overthrow the presumption that AB is post 900..
    As I already believe that the Shroud is medieval, partly because, despite all the mud thrown at the radiocarbon labs, no one has come up with any plausible reason why the tests were invalid and there is not an ounce of scientific evidence that the Shroud is first century, then the AB grouping is at the moment for me, merely supportive evidence which needs much more backing than i can give it. It may be that whatever is on the Shroud anyway is not blood from the AB group but the ‘Shroud is authentic’ believers have nailed it to their mast so they must be prepared for the obvious objection that AB blood is almost certainly medieval. Over to the scientists! meanwhile I will keep on asking my medical contacts – so far no one has come up with anything earlier than 900.

  9. colinsberry says:

    There’s only one thing worse than a can of worms, from a scientific point of view Charles, and that is a can devoid of contents, worms included. I refer to the fact that testing for AB, at least serologically, is totally dependent on the presence of red blood cells, i.e. the forward test, since there are no antibodies for A or B in the plasma for reverse testing. So one may well ask how anyone managed to get a serological test for AB on Shroud “blood”, given it was said by Adler et al to have no visible red cells. As if that weren’t enough of an analytical roadblock, we were also told by Adler that it cannot even be described as haemolysed aged whole blood, but a pale shadow thereof (“serum exudate from retracted blood clots”). So I for one take any so-called positive test for AB on Shroud “blood” with a hefty pinch, nay fistful of salt.

    The real focus should arguably be not simply on ABO blood groups, but on the mystery connective tissue that presumably accounts for Rogers’ finding hydroxyproline (HP) in Shroud “blood”, the latter a marker for collagen and elastin. I think towards the end Rogers was on the point of acknowledging (in a throwaway sentence) there was some contaminating animal protein there, since there should be scarcely any HP in human blood, except for traces from connective tissue breakdown . Elsewhere I have proposed that the Shroud was painted with the semi-digested contents of medicinal leeches that had gorged on human blood (having numerous advantages over freshly-drawn blood, like not clotting, due to the leech’s anti-coagulants.). Leech tissue just happens to be choc-a-bloc full of connective tissue fibres, aka collagen, and thus its specific marker HP.

    Think AB, certainly, but don’t overlook HP !

  10. Charles Freeman says:

    Well, I certainly ignored the AB on the Shroud as being unlikely when I first read of it. But there is someone called Kelly Kearse who is making a big thing of it – I don’t know what his qualifications for doing this are as there does not seem any evidence that he has analysed the sample himself. If I was arguing the ‘Shroud is authentic’ case , I would certainly be very cautious about making definitive statements about AB, always a minority grouping, on such poor samples in case they were used against me, but there you go.
    Similarly if I was looking at how a first century Jerusalem relic might have got to Europe, I would start with the three most likely routes as there is documentation and evidence from all three.
    a) The early recorded relic trade between the Holy Land and Europe documented by Michael McCormick in his Origins of the European Economy.
    b). The documented transfer of relics from Jerusalem to Constantinople from 330 onwards, including those relics brought in by Pulcheria, the emperor’s sister in the early fifth century. Then transfer to Europe as a result of the massive looting of relics by the Crusaders
    c) The documented transfer of relics collected in the Holy Land to Europe from the Crusades.
    When we have so much evidence to explore here, why did Ian Wilson ever dream up the Image of Edessa idea as a means of getting the Shroud to Europe? It has been condemned by every Byzantine scholar who has discussed it and, due to the sheep -like nature of those who have accepted it, has diverted attention from far more relevant areas of research in the early relic trade. However, virtually none of these ‘shroud researchers’ have any background in the period 350 to 1100 which, and I still see myself as an outsider to it, is extraordinarily complex as a result of poor sources and complex literary conventions in the Greek and Latin texts.So they swallow Wilson and ignore the most likely ways in which an authentic first century relic, if any such exist from a period when relics were not collected anyway, might have reached Europe!!

    • colinsberry says:

      Postscript to your comment above re Dr. Kelly Kearse: have you seen this sentence with which he concludes his most recent comment elsewhere: “Given the relative unknowns on the origin and appearance of ABO blood types in humans, it is probably not the best yardstick in terms of possible evidence for non-authenticity.”.

      “Non-authenticity” note, which I find somewhat rich, don’t you? Those pushing for or even quietly giving succour to authenticity will go on telling the world that it’s real blood on the Shroud, blood group AB in fact. Never mind the dodgy methodology, just feel the authenticity. But as soon as you or others point out that Type AB is at odds with the historical and geographical evidence, then that suddenly becomes a problem for them, in having the temerity to question authenticity. You couldn’t make it up…

      • Charles Freeman says:

        Yes, you have hit the nail on the head. There is no evidence from which to start with a presumption of authenticity so his statement is meaningless. The presumption is that alongside thousands of other medieval relics it is a later creation made by methods we do not yet understand. Even the STURP ‘analysis’ could not come with anything in favour of authenticity. And the way that the samples taken in 1978 have been scattered around to those who have already come out in favour of authenticity makes the whole thing a joke.

        • colinsberry says:

          It could just be a coincidence, but it was not until this retired biochemist began to research the biochemistry of ABO blood groups, posting comments on Dan Porter’s site February 15 2012, that self-styled “card-carrying immmunologist” Dr. Kelly P Kearse, Assistant Professor (?) at East Carolina University suddenly appeared on the site as guest contributor the very next day. Was that to prevent me acquiring by default a wholly undeserved status as the only blood expert in the village? Did Kelly just happen on that thread by chance, or did one of the godfathers of shroudology tip him off that a real immunologist was needed as a matter of urgency, one who could be trusted to be sympathetic to authenticity, as indeed Kelly seems sympathetic to authenticity? In passing, is that how the STURP team was recruited – by recruiting those considered to be generally sympathetic to authenticity? If so, it is any wonder we are currently knee-deep in PDFs and personal memoirs with their special pleading and dodgy half-truths etc etc (not to impugn KK).

          Yes, KK’s was an skilful summary, and I was the first to say so, but the case he was arguing was arguably pro-authenticity, inasmuch as he was keen to explain how a counter-authenticity claim had come into being through a methodological quirk. I refer to his addressing the claim that all old blood reverts to AB, which as he rightly points out could be true but only if relying on reverse serological typing (see my previous comment).

          Sorry, must run, and have probably said more than is wise… 😉

  11. colinsberry says:

    Ian Wilson’s essential Big Idea (essential for selling his book that is) wasn’t just pay dirt for him. It quickly spawned by way of spin-off (and handy sales promotion) that glossy feature in the Sunday Times Magazine, then Rolfe’s TV documentary and much else besides. It plugged the remaining gap in the Shroudie Survival Kit (and gave a new lease of life to the more proactive RC-proselytising roadshows that continue to this day, see The Other Site for when and where). 😉

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