How come the Shroud image looks so fuzzy and ghost-like?

Yes, how come the Shroud image looks so fuzzy and ghost-like (if, as I maintain – supported by the radiocarbon dating –  it  was simply branded onto linen with a heated template by a medieval craftsman)?

fuzzy 2 and 3 final

That’s the ‘as-is’ Shroud image on the left, the Durante 2002 image straight from Mario Latendresse’s Shroud Scope (where would we be without it, free of copyright restrictions?).  The image is fuzzy, of that there can be no dispute. Even after adding extra contrast (right) it still looks fuzzy despite the superior definition.

For over a year now, I have been saying that the images you see above could have been made by thermal imprinting (“scorching”) by direct contact between a heated metal (or maybe ceramic) template and linen.  The technology is thousands of years old, being  essentially no different from “branding” as used to mark the hide of cattle. There are murals of ancient Egyptians branding cattle with hot iron.

But there is a particular snag with with that hypothesis that I  have scarcely touched upon so far, namely that scorches from a metal template, like the one in my banner above (the Ghanaian trinket) tend to produce quite sharp borders on linen. In other words, there is little heat conduction laterally into the linen to give a fuzzy border. (Strange, isn’t it, how so many Shroud so-called authorities instantly dismiss scorching on the grounds that it would invariably scorch the reverse side, despite the lack of lateral spread – the subject of tomorrow’s  long-overdue, unflattering no-holds-barred posting on anti-scorch calumny?)

Well, I shall stop here for now while I collect some links from one or more past postings. I’ll be back later  to suggest how a simple change in scorch-technology (already proposed) could produce that fuzzy Shroud effect. That’s  assuming  the latter is  not simply the result of  age-related wear and tear. Who knows – it may also be possible to tick a few more boxes  re the curious and distinctive Shroud characteristics?

Here’s a link to posting of mine from 2nd Feb last year. It describes how ‘thermal imprinting’ from a metal bas-relief template (that same trinket) can be greatly improved by pressing it down into linen, instead of merely draping it over the template, relying on the weight of the cloth to make good contact between heat and metal. (I said nothing there about the huge implications for those radiation models that assume – incorrectly – that radiation can scorch across air gaps, and going on to make spurious claims about image intensity being  inversely proportional to cloth-body distance – without scarcely any evidence that the linen ever made contact with a real body – the being an article of faith – and thus unscientific if uncritically assumed).

The crucial feature of the ‘press-down’ model is that requires some kind of underlay that allows the linen  to conform to the contours of the bas-relief template. I initially suggested it might be sand (but have subsequently used several layers of damp cloth).

Can you guess what’s coming? (Yes, this is being composed in real time, as you dear reader must already be aware).

SAND!  That’s the way to ensure a fuzzy image. But not underneath – but  ON TOP!

Sprinkle a thin layer of fine sand on top of the linen before applying the template. That way the template makes little or no direct contact with the cloth. Contact is between template and sand grains, and between sand grains and linen, but (repeat) no direct contact. The linen becomes scorched by contact with a multiplicity of approximately spherical sand grains. NOT with flat metal or curved template surface.

OK, so the sand helps to give that soft focus effect that’s not going to have viewers saying “If you ask me that’s just a scorch”. It helps to prevent hot template fusing onto linen (sand grains may, but they can be brushed or even washed away later). Sand help to prevent hot spots and excessive scorching , burned bits etc. Sand acts as a thermal buffer.

Buffering particulate sand could also explain another curious Shroud feature – namely the stochastic aspect of the Shroud image when digital images are examined pixel by pixel. By that I mean the random element in the distribution of image colour. Grains of sand could account for the randomness.

We all know that the Shroud image is located primarily but not exclusively  on the crowns of threads which are the most superficial part of the weave. Sand could account for the patchy distribution of coloration that partly intrudes into the interstices of the weave,

Sand could explain some of the reverse-side scorching.especially seen on the TS head. Where application force is greatest, e,g, the prominences of the face, then hot sand particles could be forced through the interstices of the weave, especially if the latter were stretched to widen the apertures. They could then scorch the rear side of the cloth.

Likely objections?  A fairly predictable one would be that the heated sand dropping down into the interstices of the weave would allow too much scorching, thus negating one of the major plus points of scorching, namely that contact with hot template would can account selective scorching of the crown threads, more so than rival theories based on any kind of radiation.

But any sand that does penetrate the weave is likely to be a series of  approximately spherical grains (depending obviously on the type of sand employed) that make tangential contact only with each other. So the major scorching may still be where a single grain of sand separates hot template from linen than a series of grains with so little contact with each other that heat cannot be efficiently conducted down into the interstices.



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.
This entry was posted in medieval forgery, Shroud of Turin and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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