Shroudie-Alert: Day 12: time now to write that long-overdue letter to the Royal Society…


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:




paul nurse pseudoscience

Highlighted text (blue): “Sir Paul believes strongly that scientists have a duty to speak out about science in public life and challenge pseudoscience.” (I’m happy to accept  whatever the President of the Royal Society understands by the term “pseudoscience” and in any case will be asking the RS to rule on what is or is not pseudoscience, so it’s the RS’s definition that matters, not mine.

Crunch time has arrived, given the Vatican has dropped any pretence at neutrality and is now seeking actively to promote authenticity. (That much has been clear to some of us for a while)

(I’ve reverted to chronological order today, so that responses to this post are added on the end).

The blood-first dogma that I was discussing here yesterday is essential to authenticity. If the blood came second, then the Shroud narrative cannot fit the Gospel account. Put another way – if blood came second, then the medieval provenance is verified by an entirely different technique- one that confirms forgery – at least where the ‘touching up with blood’ of a pre-existing image is concerned. (The initial imprinting of an image need not necessarily have been an attempt to forge a sensational representation of Christ’s burial shroud – it may have been designed and executed for an entirely different purpose.  Once  that purpose had been served, the putative Mark 1 shroud was then gleefully seized upon by the newly-widowed Jeanne de Vergy (in accordance with her knightly husband’s “vows”)  as an artefact that could be recycled/re-invented, with a little help from one or more cautiously-designed , highly detailed pilgrim’s badges (aka souvenirs, medals, medallions, amulets, enseignes de pèlerinage etc; see yesterday’s and other recent postings).

The Royal Society, London, founded 16??

The Royal Society, London, founded  November 1660

Which is on top of which? Which came first?   I now have something focused and testable to  put to the Royal Society– at any rate, testable in principle, though it might take the best of modern instrumentation to probe surface structure. Because that is what is needed – something that can give us info as to which came first –  blood or  image?  And, as a secondary goal, to determine if the “blood” had been reasonably fresh human blood that transferred to the linen, and if so at what stage of the coagulation or (conjectured) de-coagulation process. That’s assuming there ever was any coagulation in the first place (see an alternative view).

Getting the RS involved is now my top priority. I will spend time re-composing that draft letter I posted here a while ago (receiving a number of encouraging responses) , mail it to the RS, and then see what if any response  I get. After long reflection, I’ve decided it will NOT be an open letter as initially proposed. The RS should not be made to feel it is under any pressure. I also believe that as the author of well over 150 Shroud-related postings in the public domain, having listened carefully to all the responses – positive or negative – I am entitled now to deal with the RS on a private 1:1 basis, saying frankly what I think and don’t think at this particular juncture,  without having to watch my back.

If the RS agrees to act, then  it goes without saying that it would have my permission to retroactively publish the letter that started the ball rolling, where my case for RS involvement  is set out to break the present impasse (especially as the Vatican has made no moves to get the radiocarbon dating repeated with a more sensible, statistically-rigorous  sampling frame, while taking a progressively harder line on authenticity).

But as I say, my first priority  is to get the RS involved. There’s a time and a place for everything. This is the time for a quiet private approach.


Responses to responses on TOS (The Other Site). Click on the numeral against the #

March 2, 2013 at 9:29 am | #3

This is not the first time CB suggests this, although now seems really determined. In other words, despite his scientific profile, he has not succeeded by himself to demonstrate the scorch theory. Now he wants a highly reputated institution (RS) to take over this task, focus the research according to his instructions and put the whole devices of RS at work. Obviously, he wants the RS to finish up his research by saying “Colin was right. It was a medieval scorch”.
If he knew -as he continuosly claims- which the standard scientific protocols for -in this case- putting up a research, evaluate its feasibility, its relevance, find finantial help, and so on are, he should know that “writing a letter” is just not the way.
Perhaps he thinks that due to his high scientific profile and to the interest of the subject all these usual steps will not apply to the proposal in that letter.
Good luck, Colin!

My reply:  this is not about how the body image was acquired, whether by scorching or some other way. It’s about which came first – blood or image. If the image arrived first, then the blood was not from a bloodied victim of crucifixion, but was dabbed on later, to make the image of a naked, arguably wound-free man on the Shroud  look as though he had been crucified.  I suspect there is something wrong with Adler and Heller’s purely visual evidence on which the blood-first claim was made (microscope, protease enzyme solution),  We need confirmation of that finding by independent means, preferably physical and recordable and made available on the internet. If  there were obvious alternatives they might have been  proposed by now (well, I did, but it was not picked up on TOS, so I never had feedback). Thus my resort to the RS – to suggest new technology for addressing the blood-first claim, hopefully that would not require snipping bits off the Shroud, i.e. could be applied in situ, custodians permitting. If they don’t permit, then folk can be left to draw their own conclusions (and the RS asked to state which existing evidence it considers science, which pseudo-science).


March 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | #4

This is simply laughable (I mean that literally because it made me laugh). Colin is naive if he thinks the Royal Society would want to re-open the can of worms that in their view the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud closed, by providing “conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval … AD 1260-1390″ (Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, 1989, p.611).

Going by polls of the equivalent to the Royal Society in the USA, the National Academy of Sciences, the members of the Royal Society would probably be 90-95% atheist/agnostics.

Therefore like most atheist/agnostics they prefer to ignore the Shroud on the `ostrich with its head in the sand’ principle. That is, if they can’t see it, it isn’t there. Colin is one of the rare exceptions to that rule and he deserves credit for that at least.

My guess is that if the Royal Society even deigns to reply to Colin, that is, in more than a standard `canned’ response, it will be with words to the effect:

“the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud provided conclusive evidence that the Shroud of Turin is medieval. There is therefore no need for the Royal Society to become involved in requesting further testing of what in the Society’s view is merely a medieval artifact.”

My reply: maybe Stephen Jones has been away from his home country for too long, and is unaware of the Royal Society’s current policy of confronting and exposing pseudo-science. Perhaps he missed the BBC Horizon programme in which the President of the RS, Sir Paul Nurse, went to the home of a high-profile climate change denialist, accompanied by TV cameras, and  through carefully and politely phrased questions left the interviewee a quivering wreck, struggling to get the words out. The RS will not be deterred by a “can of worms” if it can be persuaded that the can  and contents were deliberately contrived to fool the media and shut down debate.

As for labelling, nay stereotyping  scientists according to their religious belief or disbelief,  words fail me.  I am amazed that someone who signs himself off as BSc (Biol), Grad Dip Ed, and says he’s on call as a science ‘supply teacher’ can make so  irrelevant, indeed bigoted  a comment. However I note his positive comments about this free-spirit, which are appreciated.


From today’s TOS, flagging up this post, quoting my introduction:

“Crunch time has arrived, given the Vatican has dropped any pretence at neutrality and is now seeking actively to promote authenticity. (That much has been clear to some of us for a while)”

Followed by: “Neutrality, Colin?”

I’m not quite sure how to take that. If as I suspect it means “Who are you to criticize for failing to be neutral?” then I would point out that I said “pretence of neutrality”. That’s where the retiring Pope differed from his predecessors, making it abundantly plain that he accepted the Shroud’s authenticity without actually saying that in so many words, resorting to phrases like “icon written in blood” etc. What if the blood were daubed on, by an over-zealous medieval monk? What price an icon that was devoid of blood in all those strategic locations – now referred to as  “wounds” –  even by Shroudie professors who should not need to be reminded that it is serious disinformation to describe a patch of red pigment on linen dated to the medieval era , even if authentic human blood,  as the site of a 1st century wound without providing corroborating evidence.

For my part, there is no hypocrisy. I have always regarded the Shroud as having a medieval provenance, based on the radiocarbon dating.  Yes, we know the single sample was inadequate, but if one views it as a ranging shot, it still gives a date that is almost 1300 years too late, and no amount of wishful thinking or fantasizing by people, some  who should know better, like those who claim to be scientists.  is likely to return the “correct” answer on any prospective re-testing.

I still find it unacceptable that an increasing number of Shroudie true-believers engage in conspiracy theories at the expense of the three laboratories, while the ex-incumbent pays homage to the Shroud, and then arranges a last-gasp exhibition of the same – scheduled for TV cameras at the end of the month.  That is tantamount to telling the 3 labs that they goofed (or worse) and won’t be invited back to complete the task to everyone’s (statistical) satisfaction.  That is bad business ethics, to say the least,  but maybe the Vatican  and/or outgoing Pope is more concerned with the Holy See’s perceived self-interest than anything so worldly as business  ethics.


13:00 Monday 4th March

I see I am being required to produce a definition of ‘pseudoscience’ on TOS. Well, the host is as capable of googling to get answers on that as I am, and if he does,  he will find a variety of answers, all saying much the same thing but in different ways.  In fact, I’ve never set great store by definitions, anyway. How does one define an elephant? A zoologist could, of that I have no doubt, but most of us are content with recognizing one when one sees one, with the single word “trunk”  used to instantly convey to others what one has in mind.  Even defining a trunk can be  tricky, as distinct from a mere description.  “Unique hollow elongated extension of the nasal cavity with an ability to grip slim objects like tree branches  at its extremity, or to draw up and expel water at high velocity?” Nope, that’s not a definition. It’s a description.

It’s the reality of pseudoscience that concerns me right now, especially as David Rolfe had a hand in a 1 hour long BBC documentary that was little more than a commercial for the Shroud Center of Pseudoscience.  If I wanted to challenge the radiocarbon dating, would I have placed the onus on the Oxford laboratory to prove me wrong, to DISPROVE my tendentious hypothesis that linen has an amazing propensity to bind prodigious amounts of  nascent C-14 monoxide from the troposphere,  a very minor constituent of the atmosphere, while continuing to trumpet that purely conjectural CO  hunch-cum-wishful-thinking  in my institute’s literature (before the section on theology)  and in front of TV cameras. No, as a scientist, I would  have set about devising tests of my own theory, and if the miracle-seeking “scientist”  in question had asked me how, I’d have told him this. CO can be made by dehydration of formic acid, HCOOH. I’ve no doubt one can buy C-14 radiolabelled formic acid, i.e. HC*OOH. So one mixes HC*OOH and conc H2SO4, and looks to see how well linen adsorbs that radiolabelled  C*O  that is evolved, compared, say, with activated charcoal, the stuff that goes into gas masks and oven extractor-hoods.

Would I have bothered to do that experiment? No.  Why not? Would they really go to the trouble of putting charcoal into gas masks if all that as needed  was a rolled-up handkerchief?  Floating a wild theory in the public domain, one that has no discernible merit where conventional physics and chemistry are concerned, is shameless PSEUDOSCIENCE. Forget the definitions. Some of us have had a belly full of Shroudie pseudoscience, especially when we see it on our own TV screens as a BBC programme being touted as balanced science. Shame on David Rolfe, shame on Rageh Omaar.

PS: Oh, and this beaut of a comment has just appeared:  “Who is the pseudo-scientist: Colin Berry who throws the word around with abandon, or John Heller who discovered the nature of the blood stains on the Shroud by using a microspectrophotometer?”

Answer from Planet Earth: Adler and Heller did NOT discover the nature of the bloodstains with their spectroscopy – quite the opposite in fact. They found an atypical spectrum for the “porphyrins”, assuming that’s what they were. That should have been their cue, encouraged by effectual project management,  to deploy a different technique, e.g. mass spectrometry. Did they? Did they heck. They proceeded to dream up improbable scenarios involving complexes with bilirubin (thereby ‘neatly’ explaining away the permanent red colour of the “blood” into the bargain). Fact, of which there was little, became hopelessly scrambled  with pure speculation – with scarcely any attempt to verify those conjectures.

That “bilirubin” story contaminates Shroudie literature to this day. The first thing I was asked on posting to TOS is what I thought of the bilirubin story, my answer to be forwarded  to the Shroud Science Group (aka black hole). I provided a very full answer – having worked with bilirubin at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Medical School in the early 70s, detailing all the then state-of-the-art methodology that was available for characterizing bilirubin and other tetrapyrroles. Not a word of my answer ever appeared on TOS, in fact no feedback whatsoever, not even an acknowledgement. Stunned silence is all I got for my trouble. They thought they could put me on the spot – and instead found I almost certainly knew far more about bilirubin than anyone in STURP ever did. So why were Adler and Heller allowed to stray out of their areas of their competence/expertise, and start wearing different hats?  I’ll tell you why. Ineffectual team management. From a management standpoint, the entire project was shambolic, full of largely self-selected prima donnas most nearing the end of hum-drum careers,  self-indulging in pseudoscience (look it up Daniel R.Porter).

19:30:  This comment on TOS is one I shall NOT be responding to here. Why not? Because it is  typical of the kind of  simpering, smug,  ad hominem character attack that is standard fare on TOS:

“Regarding CB’s call to the RS, it is really amazing that now he does not want the RS to demonstrate the scorch theory (like a few months ago). No, he wants to involve the RS to analyze the blood-first theory which makes everything even more confusing.
I sort of understand this move as an implicit admitance of the difficulties he has found with the scorch theory. This seems as he wanted someone else to take over his work, disappear from the scene, start blogging on the origin of the “euskaldunak” and let someone else (RS) take the dialectic blows of his poor scorch theory. Good luck again Colin.”.

Nope. I shan’t sully the body of this post, responding that kind of toxic comment. If he cares to post it to my Comments, then he can rest assured that a very full answer will be forthcoming – one in which I shall not mince my words not just about his own appalling misrepresentation of my researches to date,  but about an entire generation of so-called Shroudie “scientists” who  have demonstrated a collective  blind spot for one of the three major mechanisms of heat transfer – CONDUCTION.   And if anyone wants a clue as to the sole source of information on the real world conduction/scorch model, they need only take a look at my banner above….

PS: I have just re-read the draft letter I posted in August. Nothing would please me more were the RS to address all those questions raised about image-formation mechanism. But they are unlikely to do so – there are too many of those interesting questions. In the months spent mulling over that draft, my position has hardened, especially as a result of seeing the never -ending stream of propaganda- mainly based on fanciful radiation models that flout the most elementary laws of physics and chemistry, and watching entire scientific congresses dedicated to Shroud research come and go without any indication that the participants are interested in genuine ground-breaking research, as distinct from endlessy raking over the stale remains of the STURP project, now 30 years old. The time has come to put the entire issue of Shroud authenticity to a new test that does not require a re-run of the radiocarbon dating, welcome and long overdue that would be.

Reminder: the test is a simple one, at least in principle (it’s the methodology that may need to be state of the art): determine which came first – blood or image. Shroud authenticity requires that blood comes first. If the image arrived first, then the blood was painted on afterwards. If the blood was painted on afterwards, then there is nothing on the image to indicate that the figure depicted had been crucified. Given the era when the Shroud mad eit s first recorded appearance in W.Europe, a scorched-0n image of a naked man was far more likely to have represented a Templar (recalling the events of 1314, with burning, nay roasting at the stake.

I  reckon I have done more than anyone to demonstrate how scorching from a hot inanimate template can reproduce major features of the Shroud image (with recent support from Hugh Farey, even if he is more circumspect than me re the Shroud’s history). I  do not need the votes of confidence from a know-all brigade of mind-numbing bores on  TOS,  repeatedly recycling the same old mantras, to know that I have supplied scorch data backed up with abundant photographic evidence that should have been in the public domain decades ago. Repeat – there are only 3 major mechanisms of heat transfer (conduction/convection/radiation) . To interpret scorching with a zero air gap (cloth in direct contact with subject or model thereof) as the result of an optimized radiation burn is astonishing in the ignorance it betrays of elementary physical principles, the kind of stuff one learned as a teenager.  To go on and interpret fainter scorching across an air gap in terms of the inverse square law of radiation,  totally ignoring heat convection  (rising hot air)  is worse still – it is pseudo-science, given the way it is all too often disguised with a smokescreen of jargon.  What we see are the grand old men of Shroud science making howlers that even a reasonably alert and attentive 16 year old could  and should easily have spotted.

But the  conduction/scorch mechanism is no longer the crucial issue where RS involvement is needed. The RS’s collective know-how  is needed to answer just that one very simple question – which came first – blood or image?  If other  similar bodies – e.g. the US National Academy of Science can be persuaded to join in, then so much the better,  but I’m concerned with the art of the possible, and assembling  international task forces is frankly  not my metier.   The RS has already stated its position on pseudoscience – see the photograph and ‘mission statement’ I added to the top of this posting an hour ago.  It’s time to put the scatter gun away. The appropriate weapon now is the  precisely targeted laser beam.

Tue: 16:35  I was going to stop there and concentrate on re-drafting my submission to the RS. (There are different ways of doing that, one being a letter to my old class mate, Robert V. who is an FRS mathematician). But an extraordinary comment has just appeared on TOS from a lady schoolteacher in the US, one who I have previously described as the Valkyrie, given to swooping on me from a great height. I shall leave readers to find her comment for themselves. There’s one word in particular to which I take exception – namely “naive”. Apparently it is naive of folk to imagine that any approach I make to the RS would be successful. How can she be so certain? What does she know about the way that science policy-making operates in the UK? Does she imagine that the policy makers live in hermetically-sealed compartments, cut off from the likes of “John Does” like me (to use an Americanism), or that the John Does are totally ignored by the media outlets?  Methinks it’s time to disabuse her, but it won’t be here, on this site, but the one I reserve for trivia.

Here’s a hint of what is to come.

My Energy Blog in the Daily Telegraph, which ran for 10 weeks.

My Energy Blog from 2009  in the Daily Telegraph, which ran for some  10 weeks. (There used to be a mugshot in that blank space but that, and much else besides (postings!) has disappeared with the passage of time).

Over on the other site, I shall mention the time I discussed the hazards of CCS in exhausted North Sea oil wells with Britain’s  Chief Scientific Adviser in the last Government, with a video clip of yours truly being invited to put the first question to that gentleman and other members of the panel.

Sir David King. Chief Scientific Adviser to the Blair Government

Sir David King, previously UK Government  Chief Scientific Adviser

Here’s a screen grab of me putting my question.

me cropped

(the following caption re-edited at 07:25 Wed)

Colin, above, he say (being a free agent): My letter to Sir Paul Nurse PRS will go into the post by the end of the week. hopefully quite soon.  (ed. nope, on second thoughts I’m not giving myself any precise deadlines )  It will focus, at least initially,  on just two carefully-selected and crucial questions regarding the TS where I consider that the UK’s premier scientific society could play a useful and clarifying role: 1. Which arrived first on the linen : blood or image (as already discussed) – a test of authenticity entirely independent from radiocarbon dating  2. Can  heavily media-promoted  hypotheses based on any kind of electromagnetic (em) radiation, such as those of John Jackson, Paolo Di Lazzaro, Luigi Fanti, (ed: a more all-embracing term than em radiation would be needed to include corona discharges)August Accetta and others  be safely dismissed as unscientific, or in some cases pseudoscience,  through their disregard for established principles of physics and chemistry. (If others wish to make similar approaches to their own learned societies then that is fine by me.)

Update: Thursday 21:00: change of plan. Now is not the best time to contact the RS. Better to wait till the end of the month, and see what the media make of the Shroud, and, more to the point, what the authenticity-promoters have to say.  Will John Jackson still be pushing his radiation model?  I can then start my letter with a few cuttings from the paper  – nothing beats topicality for grabbing attention.

This might be a good time to summarize the position of this blogger/researcher after 14 months on the case. It could take the form of an alternative ‘Shroud of Turin 4 Journalists’, giving those journos a concise and handy checklist of reasons for thinking the Shroud is a medieval forgery. Yup, I could do that, and be more proactive than I have been so far re the media, i.e. mail it to the editors a few days in advance of Shroudie (emeritus) Pope Benedict’s Big Day, last papal fling…

Yup. That’s what I’ll do. What’s more, I’ll start composing it in the space below, and  shamelessly recompose, if only to keep the blog ticking over (with comments welcome as ever should  anyone  spot anything  that lodges in the craw).

First draft: Alternative Shroud of Turin for Journalists

1. The  faint base image on the Shroud of Turin, imagined without its bloodstains, is simply that of a naked male, evidently dead, with no clues as to how he met his death.

2. There are no self-evident grounds for thinking the base image is that of someone who had been crucified.

3. Rather, there is circumstantial evidence for thinking that the man shown was in fact an early 14th century Knight Templar who had been burned at the stake (see later), possibly Jacques de Molay ( executed in Paris, 1314). The crucifixion assumption depends entirely on the position of stains that are allegedly authentic human blood.

4. It is often claimed that the blood on the Shroud, whether authentic or not, is from wounds, the latter being claimed to be feature of the base image.  That is not so. There is no nail wound in the wrist, no lance wound in the side, no wounds from a crown of thorns, no scourge wounds (except perhaps for score marks on the linen),  no nail wounds in the feet.

5. The bloodstains have played a major role in the promotion of the Shroud as the real burial cloth of Christ, despite lack of corroborating evidence from wounds.

6.  Authentic whole blood?  Blood is a tissue, a highly complex one, with dozens of key components, which may or may not be detectable  in centuries old blood.   If you were buying a kit car, would you accept a list of what parts were in the crate – engine, wheels, gearbox etc?   You’d be silly and over-trusting  you did, no matter how long the list. Instead you would ask if the kit is complete, allowing you to drive away safely and legally in your car.  You ask which if any components are NOT supplied. Yet that is what pro-authenticity writers constantly do. They reel  components that were found ( albumin, blood group  etc , many with methodological uncertainties, especially with ancient blood) while omitting to tell us what were  not.

7. What was NOT found?

Red blood cells were NOT  found, or mere traces thereof

A typical porphyrin  uv/visible absorption spectrum  from the  remnants of red cell haemoglobin  was NOT found.

Potassium was NOT found.

An expected brown or black colour for ancient oxidised blood was NOT found.  Instead the blood looks much too red.

8. So how can this be described as “real blood”?   In fact,  STURP’s Alan D. Adler never claimed as much:

Adler maintained that  what we see on the Shroud is not whole blood, but a (red- pigmented) serum exudate from retracted blood clots.  He frequently referred to linen fibres as coated with “serum”, not blood.

9.  Adler could only be said to have found depleted blood. But there is more than one way by which blood could have become depleted of key ingredients, other than by clotting and exudation if one considers forgery  scenarios, which Adler clearly did not (crucifixion being an implicit assumption in all his discussion).

Continuing this theme : 8 March

10. (Out of numerical sequence but never mind, I’ll renumber later):

Even the Vatican, now unmistakeably pro-authenticity thanks to Passé Pope Benedict XVI, is not beyond invoking a Templar connection when it suits it, or rather its in-house researcher Barbara Frale with her privileged access to the Vatican’s  ‘secret archives’ (natch).

Yes, those Templars were the Shroud’s secret guardians in the embarrassing period of world history before the radiocarbon dating kicked in, didn’t ya know?    That was  before they were brutally suppressed by Philip the Fair of France, who saw the Templars and their wealth as Fair game when all that remained in his coffers was one stale croissant,  with a little help from ….      (see Vatican  secret archives for more details)

More about that radiocarbon dating (1260-1390 ) later.

11.  Whilst acknowledging that certain key constituents were missing from Shroud blood, Alan D. Adler compensated by finding ‘extraordinary’ amounts or what is normally (except in jaundice, with yellow skin)  a minor constituent – orange bilirubin  – a breakdown product of blood.

The trauma of flogging, crucifixion etc would make the victim jaundiced, according to Adler.  By proposing that the extra bilirubin formed a close association with oxidized haemoglobin, he was able to kill two birds with one stone –  not  merely  ‘explain’ the atypical  porphyrin spectrum, but also why the bloodstains on the Shroud  exhibit a degree of redness that seems too good to be true. Having thus drawn a line, he moved on to other details, like his ‘clot retraction’  explanation for how dried clots, many hours old,  could leave bloodstains  of near-artistic quality on the Shroud.

Sadly that is not how science is done. Scientists do not ‘move on’. They  attempt to put their  ideas to the test. Adler failed to do so. If the truth be told,  after Adler joined STURP he gradually morphed from scientist  to  Shroudie pseudo-scientist.  There, somebody had to say it,  despite the man no longer being around to defend himself. (But if criticism of deceased scientists were not permitted, every deceased scientist making OTT claims could be come an ‘immortal’…).

Here’s one definition of pseudoscience from rationalwiki (there are others):

Pseudoscience is any belief system or methodology which tries to gain legitimacy by wearing the trappings of science, but fails to abide by the rigorous methodology and standards of evidence that demarcate true science.

Adler  was not the  ‘blood expert’ as described by STURP photographer Barrie M.Schwortz, now director of the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association (STERA Inc) and travelling ambassador for authenticity.  He was an organic chemist specializing in a class of cyclic tetrapyrroles known as porphyrins. There is a world of difference between synthetic organic chemistry and clinical pathology and haematology. Adler was operating out of area – and it shows.

12. So what are the other mechanisms  might explain why the Shroud bloodstain are depleted in recognizable red blood cells and potassium, while displaying a mysterious  red colour and atypical porphyrin after centuries of exposure to air?   One has only to find ONE credible or even half-credible  alternative to Adler’s untested ideas  – still  part of  Barrie M Schwortz’s authenticity-promoting marketing message –  to show that Adler’s off-the-wall  ‘bilirubin hunch’  is not the only game in town.

There is one alternative that must briefly be flagged up here.

Suppose one were a medieval forger, wishing to ‘paint’ blood on the Shroud in all the right places. What would one use? Freshly-drawn blood, e.g. as drawn by nicking a vein with a lancet (standard therapy in the Middle Ages)?  Problem: the blood would begin clotting within minutes of being drawn.

There is another time-honoured way of drawing blood in which clotting does not occur – using the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis). The leech secretes a potent anticoagulant (hirudin). What’s more the leech can take months to digest each meal, and the first thing it does is expel the watery plasma of blood taking with it much of the soluble mineral salts (sodium, potassium etc). Its gut enzymes  then digest away the lipid membrane of the red blood cells,  releasing the soluble red haemoglobin,  and then slowly  digests the globin protein (its chief source of nutrition) finally excreting the red haem  as a waste product – the porphyrin of which is  probably chemically-modified due to  lengthy sojourn in the leech gut, populated by bacteria, accounting perhaps the atypical uv/visible  absorption spectrum.

Leech-derived blood  arguably ticks a lot of boxes for explaining the ‘permanently red’ clot-free blood on the Shroud. It would probably have an ideal paint-like consistency due to the concentration effect mentioned above, and loss of packaging cell membranes, generating a creamy consistency, almost like oil or acrylic paint  And, I repeat, there is no risk whatsoever of clotting and thus, no lumps. And it’s testable (look for leech-derived  bacteria or antigens in Shroud blood).

More to follow…

Brainwave: I shall send this checklist to Sir Paul first, as an aide memoire to new thinking on the Shroud (much of it my own!), and say little if anything initially about getting his Fellows onto the case just yet.  Better to let things evolve in their own good time…

Continuing at 15:00 (after a needless distraction from TOS):

13.  It’s now time to address the ‘base image’, i.e. the faint sepia image of the man without those bloodstains. What is its chemical nature? How was it formed? Can it be described as a “scorch” regardless of how formed?

In fact we know more about what the image is NOT, rather than what it is. It is not applied pigment. That much was established by the STURP investigators, with one dissenting voice (that of Walter McCrone which is now mainly of historical interest, although his observations on iron oxide (“artist’s ochre”) still remain to be fully investigated in the light of more recent knowledge.

Spectrally the sepia image shows little if anything to distinguish it from the kind of discoloration that linen displays after exposure to energy that produces so-called pyrolysis.  Pyrolysis is a term for chemical decomposition that results from thermal energy alone  (“heat” in all its forms including radiant energy) without requiring the presence of other substances, notably air or oxygen (though the latter if present  may modify the outcome).

Given that linen comprises mainly cellulose and smaller amounts  of other non-cellulosic carbohydrates, the assumed products are caramelized compounds formed by chemical dehydration, i.e. loss of the elements of water  – two hydrogen atoms for each oxygen – to form substances in which reside so-called conjugated double bonds, e.g. –C=C-C=C-.

These conjugated diene systems, in which there is an alternation  of single and double bonds, are able to absorb the blue component of white light,  reflecting/scattering back blue-deficient light  that  is readily detected by the eye as a scorch, even if highly superficial, which we perceive as yellow, tan or sepia-coloured. The assumed presence of double bonds is consistent with the observation (one of STURP’s surprisingly few chemical tests) that the Shroud image can be bleached by diimide, a powerful reducing agent that converts double bonds back to single bonds by addition of hydrogen.

There is an alternative theory that the image was formed by a more complex reaction involving putrefaction amines from a decomposing corpse – ammonia, putrescine, cadaverine – reacting with reducing sugars to form so-called Maillard browning products – the kind that give toasted bread, beer etc  its colour.  That hypothesis would require that the body image was enriched in nitrogen over non-body areas. In the absence of confirmatory data on nitrogen or reducing sugars, that  imaginative hypothesis has to be regarded as tendentious, applying Occam’s razor. It is not entirely clear why it has gained so much traction, except for the fact that it offers a ‘naturalistic’ explanation, requiring no “miraculous flashes of radiation.” But in the absence of supporting evidence, it still requires a considerable  leap of faith in view of its many improbable requirements and/or assumptions.  However, science is not about faith, but testable hypotheses. (Attempts by Raymond N.Rogers, proponent of the Maillard hypothesis, a chemical kinetics specialist working on  safety testing of high explosives – again ‘out of area’  – to invoke the presence of  conjectured 1st century fabric processing aids  – “starch fragments”, saponins etc – in lieu of the required reducing sugars again sadly represented ‘pseudoscience’ – see above definition).

More to come:

17:20: Here’s a comment I was about to post to Daniel R.Porter on TOS, but decided not to. The sentiments are genuine and heartfelt. I just didn’t want them appearing on that post, in that company and at this time.

“What a shame you could not have said that months, perhaps years ago, Daniel R Porter, instead of waiting for me finally to protest at the spamming and the trolling, and then having the effrontery to bookend me with MPH as one of two “children”. When are you going to cease this genteel mud-slinging at a serious fellow blogger?

Or maybe you are not a genuine blogger, Daniel R.Porter – merely the front man for pushing that carefully nuanced authenticity agenda of yours –  while clearly attempting  systematically to heap scorn and ridicule on anyone with the temerity to be off-message – your message, your backers’ message. The aim? To undermine their credibility, thus alienating and marginalizing. In short, your mission  and that of your backers is to control the internet as a source of information, employing   all the dark arts of  PR and propaganda, and constantly pushing out misinformation AND  disinformation re the Shroud.”

Continued: Saturday 9th March

I’m a firm believer in snail mail if one wants to be certain of  ensuring that one’s communication is handled properly, with some prospect of getting a considered response.  But what if it’s a document generated online, with lots of links and graphics. In that situation one wants a letter that conveys the important points, with maybe a URL to one’s internet site for all the bells and whistles.

The pdf format would seem to fit the bill there, but I’ve scarcely used  the ‘Save as pdf’ format before. So I’ve just done a little experiment, creating a file called “onion” (needed to nail a particular point re  the ability to create superficial scorches), and have succeeded in embedding a link to that file in my original “onion epidermis” posting, and will now attempt to insert it here as well.


OK, that’s worked fine, except for one thing. There are errors in that file, and so far there seems no way of editing, now it’s in pdf format. So the moral is, keep one’s draft documents in Word at all stages, do any editing in Word, and regard any ‘saved as pdf’ as a fait accompli. Return to the Word version should any editing be necessary.

Today I’m putting the spotlight on responses I received from the arch proponents of  radiation, namely John Jackson and Paolo Di Lazzaro.  Neither had the courtesy to acknowledge my comments, yet both are guilty of having used pseudoscience against me, or as I might describe it today, funny fiziks. Reproducing and criticizing their responses in full will bloat this work-in-progress, so what follows immediately will probably have to go later into an appendix of the pdf that goes to the RS ahead of the TS spectacular on Sat 30 March.. But it’s an opportunity  to show what I understand by the term pseudoscience, and why in this instance I believe the two named individuals have been doing neither science nor the public interest any favours by deploying it purely to advance their own theology-inspired take on the Shroud. Yes, that t word – theology. Both have at one time or another enployed the t word  in their prospectus or press releases. Reminder: science is science. There is no place for Christian or any other theology in science. It is a discourtesy to scientists of other religions – or no religion – to find that Christian theology intrudes on a supposedly scientific investigation of an artefact – no matter how the latter was formed – or conjectured to have been  formed. For it to appear straightaway undermines one’s confidence in the researcher’s objectivity. But then objectivity as a prerequisite for good science does not seem to be on either of the gentlemen’s radar screens..

10:45:  Suppose you were wishing to model the Shroud image on linen or some other fabric, and you had decided to imprint with hot metal, e.g. a bas-relief template like a coin, a horse brass, a trinket etc. What would you do first?

A. Go to physics textbooks and mug up on the thermal conductivity of linen etc, the kinetics of discolouring of individual threads within the weave, depth of penetration, etc

B. Just do it.

My approach was B, as I suspect would be most people’s, and here’s the kind of result one obtains, this one drawn from my photo-archive.  It is neither the best result nor the worst in terms of demonstrating the relative extents of  top-side versus reverse-side scorching.

top side verus obverse side scorching with pc and trinket

Observe two main features. Firstly, the images on the left decrease in intensity in going from left to right. That’s because the same hot template was used without re-heating, so as it loses heat – and temperature – the scorch gets progressively fainter. Secondly, looking at the reverse side from the same experiment, one sees that only the most intense scorches on the front produce scorching on the reverse side. This result has been seen scores of times. For demonstrating ‘encoded 3D information’ in scorches I have tested down to the limits of visibility, and find firstly, no reverse side scorching as above, and secondly, even the faintest scorch on the top side responds to 3D -enhancement in ImageJ.

But according to both John Jackson of the Shroud Center, Colorado, USA,  and Paolo Di Lazzaro of Italy’s ENEA , the above results was not possible on theoretical grounds – or should that be pseudo-theoretical grounds, aka funny fiziks.

I shall now reproduce in full what they said on TOS, addressed specifically to me (both taking the form of ‘hit-and-run’ attacks). Look carefully and you should have little difficulty in spotting the pseudoscience.

Reminder (from earlier): Pseudoscience is any belief system or methodology which tries to gain legitimacy by wearing the trappings of science, but fails to abide by the rigorous methodology and standards of evidence that demarcate true science.

Here it is in full, with my bolding up some especially egregious attempts to blind with science, nay funny fiziks…

John Jackson on Colin Berry’s “highly misleading” comments

March 4, 2012 Go to comments

imageJohn sends this along:

First, the  description of my using “tin man” statues by Mr. Berry is highly misleading.  What I did, as discussed in detail in the Journal of Applied Optics 1984, was to first intentionally encode three-dimensional geometric information into a bas relief model.  This was accomplished by first mathematically re-scaling the z-coordinate of a given full three-dimensional face so as to suppress its relief.  The reason was to try to avoid image blurring that results from a full relief caused by thermal radiation, which is Lambertian in nature.  The bas-relief was constructed from a solid bronze casting made from a mold that contained the suppressed relief geometry.  This bas-relief was heated uniformly in an oven to a temperature that could scorch linen.  As expected, the scorch intensities on the cloth transferred the three-dimensional geometry of the original statue (which had been intentionally transferred to the bas-relief) with seemingly acceptable image blurring (because the cloth-body distances had been significantly suppressed).

The problems with this technique, as explained in detail in my 1984 paper, is that thermal discoloration propagates through the thickness of the cloth on a time scale between 1/100 to 1/10 second.  This could be mitigated to some extent by pre-soaking the cloth, but this moved the resulting image to appear more like one of direct contact, owing to the need to vaporize the moisture in the linen which requires time that competes with the thermal penetration time into the cloth.  On the Shroud we see a full-sized image of a human form.  It seemed to me then — and it still does now — that the concept of placing a linen cloth on a full-sized bas-relief on the extremely short time scales noted above was practically unfeasible and seemingly impossible to a medieval craftsman.  The reason for insisting on this requirement is because the STURP examination clearly showed that the body image is only on the surface of the cloth, whereas the 1532 scorch mark discolorations at the same intensity of the body image discolor the cloth throughout its bulk.

There is, however, another problem against using a hot statue or hot bas relief to create a Shroud-like image.  The STURP examination showed in several ways that the blood stains occurred physically on the Shroud BEFORE the body image.  Blood is considerably more thermally sensitive than cloth.  My experiments many years ago showed that whenever one creates a scorch discoloration on cloth, the blood material on that cloth would be unavoidably charred and obliterated by the heat.  Since such effects are not at all seen in the blood stains, I have concluded that the hot bas-relief hypothesis is unacceptable.

We must require that ALL characteristics of the Shroud image be explained by any successful image formation hypothesis.


John Jackson

Back later with more.

Critique (for now, of  my bolded points only, though there is a lot more that one can take issue with):

1, …caused by thermal radiation, which is Lambertian in nature

Notice Dr.Jackson wastes not a single second  in putting his radiation model at the front of his shop window, but feels he has to dress it up with the reference to “Lambertian”.  How many folk on a web forum would benefit from knowing the radiation was Lambertian? Look again at the  rationalwiki’s definition of pseudoscience  (“… tries to gain legitimacy by wearing the trappings of science”). Let’s not bother with the meaning of Lambertian, for reasons that should soon be apparent.

2. This bas-relief was heated uniformly in an oven to a temperature that could scorch linen.

Yes, but Dr.Jackson omits to tell us why the linen scorched at his (unspecified) temperatures If he’s not prepared to say at this early juncture what caused the linen to scorch, then what price anything else he has to say?  Reminder, so far the only mechanism of scorching alluded to is radiation. But there are two other mechanisms that can scorch or discolor cloth, either of which was not just possible but 100% probable from those words above. They are conduction and convection.  If he tested the temperature of his oven by pressing linen briefly against the bas relief, or a shelf  or tray in the oven, then the mechanism of scorching is conduction.

Before we go any further, look carefully through Dr. Jackson’s piece. How many times do you see the term conduction used. Count them up carefully  and you will see they come to a nice round zero.

So either Jackson has a blind spot to a major form of heat transfer, especially when linen comes into direct contact with hot metal, e.g. by being draped over such that there is zero air gap in places, or maybe he did his temperature test a different way.

Did he place linen inside the oven next to the bas relief?  It would still be touching somewhere, but there might still be overall browning. But assuming the linen was not being irradiated from a red hot heating element, that would be scorching due to the second form of heat transfer, namely convection (currents of hot air). Notice I have made no mention so far of radiation, for the simple reason that white linen reflects/scatters so much thermal radiation (infrared) that is it is virtually impossible to discolor by that mechanism, which I demonstrated in my very first Shroud posting in December 2011 using infrared (and visible light) from a spot lamp. The way I  achieved scorching in that situation was to coat or impregnate the cloth with an opaque radiation-absorbing pigment (wood charcoal) to produce what I called “thermostencilling” of linen  exclusively under the charcoal, leaving the white areas unscorched. So why is Dr. Jackson  leading us up a garden path to a mysterious place at the end called Shroud Radiation Center?  What lies in wait? Let’s read on.

because the cloth-body distances had been significantly suppressed

This comment would lead the reader to assume there is better image as the distance between cloth and bas-relief reduces to zero. Yes, that is true, but it’s nothing whatsoever to do with radiation. It’s to do with conduction when there is no air gap and, in all probability, convection  when there is – as in the drape-over model with cloth above hot metal being gently roasted in laminar flow of hot air. repeat: radiation is a total irrelevance if that bas relief  template had been removed from an ordinary domestic oven, with a maximum temperature of approx 250 degrees, Only in the context of  an electrical toaster etc with glowing red hot element would white linen be able to absorb sufficient radiation to scorch, assisted no doubt by the drying out of the the cloth’s protective moisture content in the time needed to acquire a radiation scorch.

..thermal discoloration propagates through the thickness of the cloth on a time scale between 1/100 to 1/10 second…

Pseudoscience, a textbook example thereof, and I noticed that Dr. Jackson deployed that as a soundbite in that dreadful BBC documentary that slavishly followed him around, trying to knock the radiocarbon dating. It was a David Rolfe production I gather. Now there’s a surprise.

Reminder: thermal discoloration that affects the reverse side only happens when the template is too hot initially, or pressed against the linen too long, or when there is no heat sink on the reverse side, like a damp underlay when  pressing a  heated template down into linen (my preferred model). The sentence  above might just as well have been replaced by  “we  fouled up on the experimental conditions”  (see also the critique of Paolo Di Lazzaro who did likewise).

… to appear more like one of direct contact

That’s the closest Jackson ever comes to mentioning conduction, and from the context that is clearly the worst thing that could possibly happen, to have the cloth receiving thermal energy by something other than radiation (so zero air gap is interpreted perversely as optimum radiation!).  Some months ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post on the ‘ABC paradigm’ that dominates the wacky world  of radiation-based Shroudology. ABC was short for Anything But Conduction.

…the concept of placing a linen cloth on a full-sized bas-relief on the extremely short time scales noted above was practically unfeasible and seemingly impossible to a medieval craftsman…

Speaking as someone who has scorched scores of images on cloth, I can assure Dr. Jackson that the problem is one that exists  purely in a mind that is stuffed full of self-serving funny fizicks.

One heats up one template (or more likely separate templates), testing with a swatch of linen until one gets a sepia-coloured scorch only on brief contact. One then presses the template down into linen with a damp underlay to get at most a faint scorch. There are other steps that might have  been taken to avoid excessive scorching -like having a very fine overlay of fine sand, clay, charcoal etc to act as a thermal buffer (with the bonus that image might then look more fuzzy and ‘ghost-like’).

in several ways…  was there more than one (claimed) demonstration of the blood-first dogma? If so, that’s news to me…

… the hot bas-relief hypothesis is unacceptable…

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he, given that his Shroud Center has tacked a ‘Theology’ section onto the end of its prospectus. Bas-relief means medieval forgery, in agreement with the radiocarbon dating, which would leave the Shroud Center with no ‘enduring mystery’ to proselytise – no more  no more TV documentaries , no more in-house “critical summaries” which awards the boss man’s radiation hypothesis maximum marks (24/24), but can’t even bring itself to list that taboo conduction-scorching in the list of candidate mechanisms.

There’s something rotten in the state of Colorado, like rotten fiziks,  and the BBC chose the wrong documentary maker to investigate.

See also narrator Rageh Omaars’s summary: “The Shroud of Turin“, BBC2, screened 22nd March 2008

Let’s now look at the hit-and-run missive I had in Feb last year from ENEA’s Paolo Di Lazzaro.   That was the one in which he gave me a free tutorial in radiation physics, or in his case radiation fiziks.  Before displaying his posting, I’ll reciprocate by giving him my own free tutorial.

The following diagram is a thought experiment in which two radiators, one at a higher temperature than the other, are placed inside a protective sphere with an inner reflecting coating.  The effect of having the radiators matt black are compared with them being shiny white (like linen say). The outer sphere is deliberate, being intended to cut the two radiators off from the real world. Later we can can look briefly at the effect of removing it, restoring real world conditions. Beware  those who discuss radiation exchange in the real world, e.g. in the interior of linen, as if there were a protective sphere trapping radiation, allowing an isothermal  steady state to be achieved within the sphere,  preventing radiation  from heading off (finally) into cold dark space, which is where all radiation ends up finally,

blackbody radiation The left shows 2 black body radiators, the right 2 non-black body radiators.  Perhaps I should have included a third circle – the face of a clock…Left hand: blackbody radiators are simultaneously good at emitting and absorbing radiation. While both are radiating at each other, there is greater radiation flux from hot to cold than cold to hot.  Nett radiation transfer is from hot to cold. The two radiators rapidly achieve equilibrium, i.e. the same temperature, each then radiating the same to the other. (The inside surface of the large enclosing sphere can be imagined as highly reflective such that emitted radiation is sooner or later intercepted by one or other of the two smaller spheres).

Right hand: as above, but with non-blackbody radiators, e.g. with  white or silvery coatings on the spheres, the time taken to reach equilibrium is much longer.

But in all other respects, the two situations are identical. They both reach equilibrium finally, but at different times.

Introduce something else inside the spheres that conducts or convects heat, like  conducting material – iron wool or even linen fabric –  or a gas or liquid to create convection currents , and the two spheres will come to equilibrium much faster, since they are no longer dependent purely on inefficient radiation, especially in the situation on the right with non-black body radiators.

In the situation where conduction and/or conduction is feasible, then radiation becomes essentially irrelevant, especially in the real world without the confining large sphere, where radiation escapes, with little or none returning.

What the above diagram shows is that radiation should only be invoked as a last resort of there is no other medium present that permits more efficient heat transfer via conduction or convection. Such is the case when one considers the effect of pressing a hot metal or other template against WHITE linen, given the tendency of the latter to reflect/scatter incident infrared or visible white light, with only a tiny proportion being absorbed, giving negligible temperature rise.

Right, having clarified on the relative importance of conduction/convection over radiation in real-life situations. let’s take a look now at Paolo Di Lazzaro’s missive-cum-put-down from February 2012. Again, I cut-and-paste from TOS in its entirety, and bold up the parts that I consider to be fiziks, not physics.

Colin Berry’s idea is untenable, and heat cannot produce a superficial coloration

February 21, 2012   Go to comments

imageAfter Colin Berry posted his statement about image formation, referenced here, I personally requested comments from members of the Shroud Science Group. This is Paolo Di Lazzaro’s answer to me and other SSG members who might not be expert enough in physics to understand why Colin Berry’s model (without experiments) is untenable. Now with Paolo’s kind permission those notes to SSG members are being published here:

Dear Dan and All:

I checked the idea of Colin Berry in the website you quoted.  In short, from a physics point of view, his model is untenable, especially concerning the depth of coloration. Let me explain why.

Berry wrote: “The scorching will initially be confined to those parts of the fabric that are in immediate contact with the hot metal; no air gap is permissible, since radiated heat will not scorch white linen. What is more, the scorch will be confined to the outermost fibres of the thread, because the scorch will tend remain trapped within the first-encountered fibres, rather than being able to “jump across” to adjacent fibres. Why is that? It is because the resistant cellulose cores that are unaffected are able to conduct away heat rapidly, bringing the temperature of the hot template down to below that which will induce scorching Is it realistic to suppose that cellulose fibres could conduct away heat without themselves becoming degraded? Yes. I believe it is.”

It is quite easy showing the above assumption is wrong, and it is one of the few cases where it is faster doing the experiment than to explain the theory. According with a paper quoted by Berry, the onset of pyrolysis in hemicelluloses is at about 220°C.  We have heated a 5-cents euro coin at about 230 °C  in contact with a linen cloth.  Just 5 seconds after the coin reached the max temperature the whole cross section of threads in contact with the coin was colored.  After 15 seconds all the thickness of the cloth was colored and the round shaped image of the coin appeared on the opposite side. After checking in our Lab, we repeated this easy and small-size experiments in the RAI3 TV studios (GeoScienza) to demonstrate that heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration. See starting from the minute 16:30.

After the experimental demonstration, let’s approach the basic elementary physics that explain why the idea of Berry is untenable, and heat cannot produce a superficial coloration.

The hot metal transfers energy (heat) to the primary cell wall (pcw) of the linen fibrils by contact. From a microscopic view, transferring energy by contact means the hot (i.e. fastly moving)atoms of metal hit hemicelluloses molecules transferring momentum, thus increasing both amplitude and velocity of the motion of hemicellulose molecules around the equilibrium position (centroid). As a consequence, hemicellulose increases its temperature.

In the regions of contact between pcw and cellulosic medulla, we still have a transfer of heat by contact, like in the previous metal-pcw case. The temperature of the medulla will increase.  In the region where there is no contact (e.g.,a small air gap between pcw and medulla) we have heat transfer by irradiation. In fact, every material emits radiation having a spectrum peaked at a wavelength which depends on its temperature: the higher the temperature, the shorter the wavelength. This is the well known phenomenon of the black body emission, governed by Planck’s law, Wien’s law and so on (first year exam for students of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Engineer).

As an example, at 20 °C the walls of a room emit radiation with a broad spectrum, peaked in the far infrared at about 10-micrometers wavelength. In the case of hemicelluloses at 200 °C the pcw emits infrared radiation peaked at 6,1 micrometers. In the case we are considering, the 6-micrometer wavelength will interact with the cellulose of the core of the linen fibril (medulla), exciting vibrational levels of cellulose that decay in heat thus increasing the temperature of the medulla.

In addition, a well known optics law tells us the penetration depth of the interaction between radiation and medulla cannot be smaller than the wavelength, that is, not smaller than 6 micrometers in this case. This fact alone explain why infrared radiation cannot produce a superficial coloration of fibers.

By the way, it is not possible that “the resistant cellulose cores that are unaffected are able to conduct away heat rapidly” (see above Berry’s statement) because of elementary fluid dynamic equations (a classical engineering problem), of a not convenient area/volume ratio of cylinders (elementary geometry) and because Berry assumes a exothermic pyrolysis of cellulose, that is, by definition, a runaway process, extended in time.

In summary, when heating a linen cloth by a hot metal in contact, well known physics models foresee the pyrolysis of the whole fibers and threads, and this is exactly what we observe in the experiments.

Useless to say, it is all the approach of Colin Berry to find a middle age technology able to create the Shroud image that is hopeless: just consider the half tone effect.  It could not have been made by medieval forgers because they would need a modern microscope to observe and then control their micrometric-scale coloration.

All the best


Critique to follow, point by point.

“We have heated a 5-cents euro coin at about 230 °C  in contact with a linen cloth.  Just 5 seconds after the coin reached the max temperature the whole cross section of threads in contact with the coin was colored…”

But that is NOT  how one would produce a scorch on fabric. One presses the hot template  onto linen just long enough to get an image of the required intensity. The hot template would be cooling all the while it was in contact with linen. Doing it  the way described above virtually guarantees that the cloth will become become excessively scorched.  Spot the science! GIGO!

After15 seconds all the thickness of the cloth was colored and the round shaped image of the coin appeared on the opposite side.

And if it had not scorched the opposite side in 15 seconds, what then? Would you have started with a hotter coin, and/or held it on the linen for longer than 15 seconds?

Spot the science. GIGO!

..heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration.

Oh but it can – see my photographs above, with images of decreasing intensity obtained as the template cools on serial imprinting, with essentially no reverse side scorching from cooler templates that produce fainte rbut still easily recognizable  images on the topside.

Why bother doing an “experiment” that was guaranteed to produce the desired result?  Where is the satisfaction in insulting other people’s intelligence?

…let’s approach the basic elementary physics that explain why the idea of Berry is untenable

No comment.

the motion of hemicellulose molecules around the equilibrium position (centroid).

No comment (but see the rationalwiki definition of pseudoscience from earlier, with that mention of “all the trappings…” ).

In the region where there is no contact (e.g.,a small air gap between pcw and medulla) we have heat transfer by irradiation.

Just because there are air gaps, and just because radiation can cross those gaps, does not mean that there will be appreciable heat transfer by that means, given the larger amounts that can be transferred by conduction through solid fibres, and via convection as hot expanded air, steam and pyrolysis gases,. For the radiation to heat the fabric, it would have to be intercepted and absorbed by something. But what is that something able to do that in white linen? Yes, we know that all substances absorb (and re-radiate) infrared radiation, but the process is slow and inefficient in white linen (see my diagram above) due to the absence of efficient black-body radiators. That is why I experimented with charcoal in my very first Shroud posting, demonstrating that an image could then form below the charcoal due to efficient intercepting and absorption of radiation.



(first year exam for students of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Engineer).

No comment

…the 6-micrometer wavelength will interact with the cellulose of the core of the linen fibril (medulla), exciting vibrational levels of cellulose that decay in heat thus increasing the temperature of the medulla.

No, white linen is too inefficient as an absorber of infrared radiation for appreciable heating by that mechanism. Warming perhaps, but we are discussing scorching. That statement is not physics, but fiziks.

This fact alone explain why infrared radiation cannot produce a superficial coloration of fibers.

It cannot produce any kind of coloration, short of holding it up against an incandescent glowing element of a toaster or electric fire.   But I have never claimed that infrared radiation is responsible for scorching. The idea that radiation of some kind can be implicated is yours and Dr. Jackson’s – not mine. I have said from the outset that in the absence of an added thermosensitizer such as charcoal, the mechanism of image imprinting from a heated template involves primarily conduction, probably with a contribution from convection too.

Nearly there. Back later, after I have checked the meaning of fluid dynamics.

.. .  elementary fluid dynamic equations…

More of those “trappings” (pseudoscience )?  What possible relevance has fluid dynamics to the scorching of linen?  A fluid is a gas or liquid. There is a separate branch of science called solid dynamics…

Berry assumes a exothermic pyrolysis of cellulose

Misquoted!  It might be an idea to read or re-read one of my most visited postings, the one where I compared the pyrolysis temperatures of cellulose and hemicelluloses, the one where I proposed that the half-tone effect might be due to the exothermic pyrolysis of hemicelluloses.  I was careful to contrast that with endothermic pyrolysis of cellulose. It is incredibly galling to be misquoted on so major a detail,  given the likely importance of the differing thermodynamics of the two classes of carbohydrates in linen – loosely packed hemicelluloses v highly ordered cellullose fibrils, microfibrils, ultrafibrils etc…

… well known physics models foresee the pyrolysis of the whole fibers and threads,

Pseudoscience. Does it come any worse than this with its “much better read than thou” pretence to authority, concealing or disguising no real knowledge or understanding, content  merely to create a smokescreen of affected certainty.

the half tone effect.

But you have not provided an explanation for the half-tone effect, or none that I am aware of, whereas I have, in terms of  exothermic hemicellulose pyrolysis.

.. medieval forgers because they would need a modern microscope to observe and then control their micrometric-scale coloration.

You missed your vocation. Have you thought of doing stand-up comedy?

Finally,before moving on from the theo-fiziks, here’s a reminder of an experiment I did a while ago.

Click to ENLARGE

Click to ENLARGE

Strip a sheet of epidermis from onion  – just one cell thick. Dry it overnight. Place on linen, then apply a heated metal template (a pencil sharpener). The epidermis takes an intense imprint, but the linen underneath is essentially unaffected. The notion that scorching is an all or nothing process – scorching all the fabric, right through to the opposite side – is pure speculation based on bad physics(Jackson) or a guaranteed result based on prolonged application time (Di Lazzaro).  A  sheet of  epidermis (plant “skin”) just one cell thick  took the entire brunt of the conducted heat from that template, becoming  highly scorched in the process, not necessarily by the same chemical mechanism as scorching of linen, but scorching all the same.

Incidentally, the template still has enough heat to produce a scorch when applied direct to unprotected linen (as shown in further experiments).

It is ludicrous that anyone should attempt to dismiss conduction/scorching out of hand if they have not bothered to do careful experiments, as I have done, to show that scorch images reproduce major features of the shroud image as can be seen in  the banner at the top of the page.  Yet TOS continues to refer to the ‘profoundly mysterious’ 3D properties of the Shroud image. It is a stubborn refusal to accept the facts, preferring instead to peddle mystery, pandering to ignorance and gullibility.

Sunday 10th March

Some reading this will know that the blogger is a retired biomedical scientist. His exposure to formal physics ended with his  London University A-level. But that has not stopped me (here, or as ‘sciencebod’) venturing into physics, even when dealing with physicists and engineers, if the physics being espoused does not seem to make sense at the level of basic, fundamental, underpinning scientific principles.

Thanks to Google I  have been able to unearth this discussion from the archives.

realclimate homepage

It was me, trespassing on the RealClimate site (“climate science for climate scientists”)  in December 2009 to get some advice. The difference on that occasion was that I found myself dealing with folk who knew what they were talking about, in depth, and who admitted that the questions I had raised were not one that could be answered in a few words, indeed if at all it would seem

real climate site

Comment 170

sciencebod says:

5 Dec 2009 at 6:28 PM


I’m new here. I do an Energy Blog for the Daily Telegraph, and am seeking an urgent answer to a question that’s been bugging me and others. Can anyone help?

etc etc etc (see above)
Comment 171

David B. Benson says:

5 Dec 2009 at 7:03 PM

sciencebod (170) — It is actually not so easy. In the links, BPL provides some (approximate) equations:

A different approach may be found in Ray Pierrehumbert’s

If that is not enough then I fear you may need a graduate text on atmospheric physics, not something I care to tackle…

Comment 172

sciencebod says:

6 Dec 2009 at 5:50 AM

That’s fine to be getting on with, David. Thanks a lot. I’ll get back once I’ve seen what those sites have to offer.

Just a brief thought. Could one not go out after sunset, with no moon, and monitor back-reflected infrared. If it matches the discrete lines in the emission spectra of greenhouse gases then it’s a photon in-photon out mechanism. But if it’s a continuous spectrum, as if from a blackbody, then it’s a photon in, no immediate photon out. The incoming photon has briefly energised the greenhouse gas molecule, which has then shed the energy through kinetics, ie imparting translational kinetic energy to its neighbours, which then radiate a bit more as a blackbody. So there is a photon out, finally, but not from the originally energised trapping molecule, or even from a greenhouse gas (predominating O2 and N2 would serve for the purpose of dissipating the excited bond enrgy. I hope that makes sense.

Comment 175

Hank Roberts says:

8 Dec 2009 at 7:23 PM

> monitor back-reflected infrared. If it matches the
> discrete lines in the emission spectra of greenhouse
> gases then it’s a photon in-photon out mechanism. But
> if it’s a continuous spectrum, as if from a blackbody,
> then it’s a photon in, no immediate photon out.

Remember the infrared going out from the ground is already very broad. Most of it gets captured, except for a few narrow ‘windows’ — so you’re not looking for what you think, I think.

I think there will still be emissions characteristic of the various bonds in the molecules — that’s one way gases are identified, by their emission spectrum fingerprints. Someone who knows something can certainly comment on that.

But if we got only exact lines, the infrared astronomers would not have to make so much of an effort to subtract the atmospheric background, as by tipping and tilting telescopes to subtract the atmospheric emission; they could just filter the narrow spike frequencies.

Comment  176

sciencebod says:

9 Dec 2009 at 6:35 AM

Thanks Hank

Yes, the outgoing ir radiation is ‘broadband’, so to speak (is one allowed to say that without causing confusion)? But it’s possible to imagine that an ir spectrometer pointed up at the sky after sunset might pick up nothing but discrete lines were all the back-radiation due to absorption and re-emission at those fixed ir frequencies that correspond with specific modes of bond excitation. Alternatively, back radiation could also be broadband if the bond-exciation were quickly dissipated to neighbouring molecules via collisions, the latter acquiring greater speed, and becoming better blackbody broadband radiators.

Yes, the difficulty is that there will always be a warm blanket of gas with broadband radiation coming back to Earth. But the key question is whether there is additional energy at discrete frequencies, and measuring the amountproportion of energy coming back in discrete frequencies. What would it be as a percentage of the flux of blackbody ir radiated from the planet’s surface?

A lot of sites and papers seem to imply that discrete frequencies are simply pinged back to Earth, but I doubt very much that is the case. It’s probably mainly “broadband” due to kinetics and momentum-transfer, but I wish I had hard evidence on that.

Thanks again. Further comments welcome.

Comment 178

Completely Fed Up says:

9 Dec 2009 at 10:41 AM

If 100% of IR at CO2/H2O/etc bands are absorbed, then the emission spectra of the earth would be broadband at ~220K (or whatever) with ABSOLUTE BLACK at those absorption bands.

If this isn’t true then it can’t be 100% absorbed, can it? Since only with less than 100% absorption can any of that absorbed light be visible from space.

If you maintain 100% absorption therefore no effect from more CO2 yet also agree with the evidence that these absorption lines are not black when earth is viewed from space, please explain the physics.

Comment  179

Hank Roberts says:

9 Dec 2009 at 10:49 AM

> imagine that an ir spectrometer pointed up at the sky after sunset might pick up …discrete lines

You’re pointing out that the words used in verbal explanations often aren’t clear, I think. Yep.
And the infrared astronomers do look up, and do not see discrete lines (else they could filter them out and work from the grouhnd). So you do have your experimental proof, if that’ll do.

This has been gone over at RC in several earlier topics. It took not just math but serious work with big computers to figure it (per Spencer Weart’s book); for the rest of us words like “mean free path” and “relaxation time” and “time between collisions” and altitude and density are just poetry.

Comment  180

sciencebod says:

9 Dec 2009 at 6:32 PM

I think we’re on the same wavelength, Hank (no pun intended). If I read you correctly – let me know if that’s not the case – then the back-radiated ir is broadband – it’s been monitored and there’s no evidence of discrete wavelenghts. Therefore its wrong to imagine that CO2 moleclules etc act as a miniature trampolines for receiving and bouncing off ir photons, where a photon is briefly absorbed and immediately re-emitted at the same or similar discrete wavelength, which finally returns to Earth, still as discrete wavelngths. If by “poetry” your mean that the literature you read is full of terms like mean free path etc, then you do seem to be suggesting that it’s a chain of events that returns ir to earth as broadband radiation. In other words: CO2 molecules absorbs ir photon, becomes energised eg bond-bending oscillation, the oscillation energy is then passed on to another molecule, not necessarily greenhouse gas – through random collision and becomes, say, translational energy by transfer of momentum (note the original CO2 has retained its ir photon – it has not re-emitted). The “lost” photon finally reappears as part of the broadband spectrum of a slightly warmed troposphere that has captured and dissipated the energy of ir radiated from Earth. In other words, narrow band ir out, broadband back. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious, but it’s been difficult to get a clear statement of step-by-step sequences of events, yet one still gets sniped at whether one says it’s a simple ping-back mechanism or the opposite where the specific ir frequencies are lost, and the troposphere just becomes a warmer blackbody radiator.

Completely Fed Up – thanks for the interest. We may or may not be talking about the same thing. It always takes me a while to get on to the same wavelength with a fresh contact. Would you agree or disagree with the mechanism set out here?

Comment  181

sciencebod says:

9 Dec 2009 at 7:11 PM

Oops.I made a silly slip in that last comment. I said “narrow band ir out”. That should have been broadband out, needless to say, with selective removal of discrete wavelengths on first encounter with CO2 etc. Sorry about that. It’s late where I am.

Comment  183

Completely Fed Up says:

10 Dec 2009 at 7:45 AM

sciencebod: “through random collision and becomes,”

INELASTIC collision.

That is the extremely important point that EVERY SINGLE DENIER ignores.

Rather like they ignore the second law of thermodynamics says NET energy flows from hotter to cooler bodies. Forgetting “NET” and just coming to the assinine conclusion that a cooler atmosphere cannot warm the warmer ground. Assinine because NET flows are away from the warmer earth, but that is less than the NET flow if there were no atmosphere. The difference being the flow of energy from the cool ***but not absolutely cold (Zero Kelvin)*** atmosphere to the ground. For denialists, it’s as if there can be NO RADIATION OF WARMTH from a layer that is cooler than an adjacent one.

“In other words, narrow band ir out, broadband back”.

You’re looking for the term “thermalisation”. With enough collisions and transformations, all that energy is turned into a thermal broadband emission.

Remember: there is no such thing as narrow band ir, just a narrow range of IR photons in the system. If those photons are destroyed by absorption, they don’t exist any more. How that energy is expressed depends on the system they are in, not the original source.

And in the case of the optically thick atmosphere (in wavelengths it IS optically thick), the body they are in is a thermal source and will radiate as such with black-body intensities.

Comment 185

sciencebod says:

11 Dec 2009 at 7:34 AM

Hello CFU

It’ll take me a while to get my mind round all the subtleties there. One thing on which I think we’re both agreed is that the Second Law is only about initial and final states, and does not attempt to prohibit radiation exchanges that are from cooler to warmer bodies. A radiating mass of greenhouse gas will send out energy in all directions – some into space, some back to Earth. It has no way of knowing what is hotter or cooler – and doesn’t care anyway.

The only difference that I can see in having a blanket of greenhouse gas is that it creates higher steady state temperatures on Earth than would otherwise be the case, with an intermediate temperature in the blanket.

But some people are not happy with an argument that says Earth would be cooler but for the blanket – despite their guru acknowledging as much on p.366 of the Holy Writ. One cannot take the blanket away to give them proof. Thus my interest in knowing if it were possible to provide more direct evidence of back-radiation of infrared. If it were “broadband” then that would would prove nothing. But if it were narrowband, ie with frequencies corresponding to the known emission spectra of greenhouse gas molecules, then it would be exceedingly hard for them to deny the greenhouse gas effect would it not?

One would presumably have to do the demo at night. During the day, the same greenhouse ags molecules would be absorbing photons from the sun’s ir radiation, creating an absorption spectrum, with “gaps” at the critical frequencies that would make it harder to distinguish emission from the atmosphere at those same frequencies.

Thanks again for the interest.

Comment  188

Completely Fed Up says:

11 Dec 2009 at 9:19 AM

sciencebod: ” Thus my interest in knowing if it were possible to provide more direct evidence of back-radiation of infrared.”

There are pictures of the brightness of the earth from space that shows at absorption bands for CO2, the earth is getting dimmer.

If that’s not enough, then until we genetically engineer humans to see photons in transit ***in the transverse direction of travel*** and ***individually*** and also to get them to look (which for most denialists will be harder than the genetic engineering), there’s no way.

Just like you can’t prove to the extremely devout that there is no God.


12:12   He, guess what? Sciencebod rides again, after being dormant for the best part of year, in picking up the threads of another of my interests, namely Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.

bbc stonehenge 9 march 2013

Have just placed a comment on yesterday’s article in the Guardian.

Update: got to wondering how I could point Sir Paul Nurse to my Shroud postings. First step: ask him to enter (sir paul nurse shroud turin) into a search engine. Here’s what he would see with Google:

sir paul nurse shroud turin

But what should go into the search terms that would point Sir Paul to ensure  that this posting appears at the top of the returns, and gives him a flavour of what what to expect?

Here’s what he needs to enter, with or without the brackets: (shroud turin “funny fiziks”):

Yup, I’ve discovered I’m not the first to have written physics as  “fiziks”, or even to have hit on the alliterative “funny fiziks”, but entering  (shroud turin “funny fiziks”) does the business):

shroud turin funny fizicsUpdate: 15:20  10th March:

Richard Dawkins, modern guru for atheistic sentiment,  and thus target of  Shroudie documentary maker David Rolfe, referred to earlier, has a US- based (why?) website.  It is being revamped as we speak,  but my comments refer to what it was a few days ago.  The site  invites topics for discussion from all and sundry, but warns that only 1 in 5 submissions is accepted, requiring typically 3 days or so in which scrutineers can determine acceptability.

Considerably more than 3 days have passed since I submitted a topic for discussion. You can probably guess what is was – yup, the Shroud of Turin. I gently alluded to the fact that the TS might be difficult territory in which to rush in, given Rolfe’s “Enigma Challenge”,  so was  not surprised that my contribution  failed to appear. Shame though  it could not have been acknowledged by email, with a word or two of explanation. Yes, I know that Prof. Dawkins’ site  has been  bombarded on a daily basis, some of it of exceedingly low quality, so much so that I  have deleted from my bookmarks this morning for fear of becoming terminally disenchanted from my fellow human beings.  Some of the comments and letters are pretty hair-curling to say the least, fuelled by illicit or illegal substances it would seem.  Strange, strange moderation/moderators – nuff said.

Advice to RD:  take control, do your own site moderation for a week or two. Stamp your own presence and authority on the site before delegating to those who frankly haven’t a clue.

Sunday 17:54:  “Dirt on foot and limestone”? That limestone being travertine aragonite, a particular crystalline  form of plain old calcium carbonate, CaCO3,  allegedly confined to a few parts of Europe and the  Middle East, especially, wait for it, Palestine, and especially, wait for it, burial caves in and around Jerusalem. Well, so says the man with all the answers, Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones,  BSc, Grad. Dip. Ed. bless him, is in overdrive at the moment, relating the gospel according to man and wife, Marty and Roger Gilbert, members of the  original STURP team that went to Turin for that famous week of frenetic activity, working a shift  system to beat the clock. (Aside: did you know that Alan D. Adler, source of so much Shroudie ‘received wisdom’ re bloodstains etc,  was NOT  in Turin at the time of the original STURP investigation, though one could be forgiven for thinking  he was when you read his personal  memoirs, like that ‘Orphaned Manuscript’ of his, available from STERA Inc at a price).

“Time, ladies and gentlemen please, married couples included. Your time is up.  Kindly vacate the Turin Cathedral, taking your equipment with you”.

But who are Marty and Roger Gilbert?  Are/were  they trained in the scientific method?   How come two people from a commercial firm, producing scientific equipment, were on the STURP team? Come to think of it – how come STURP looked for all intents and purposes like a  scratch US team, flying the Stars and Stripes (bow your heads) ?  How come there were no Limeys. Frogs, Krauts, Itals, Dagos, Polaks,  Ruskies etc?  You know, those dodgy unassimilated foreigners with their strange  accents and failure to reside between NY and LA, preferring instead to live in parts of the globe that are cluttered with unfamiliar place names, no proper demarcation  into boxy state borders,  with non- rectilinear city street plans, that are too closely spaced on the map,  and lumbered with unintelligble pre-1492 history?  You know, tradeeeetion!  Not the  kind of  unreliable  people you want on your STURP team…

Late edit, 12:00pm 12 March:  this comment has just appeared from Ms. Valkyrie on TOS.

March 12, 2013 at 6:51 am | #1

Colin Berry has resorted to mean and nasty personal attacks. What is he trying to achieve?One needs to load up the ridiculous posting of his and scroll down 4/5 of the way to his personal attacks on Jones and Jackson and the whole of STURP. Did he mention that the rating of a professor that he shows was 1 of 1 and that such ratings are often by disgruntled students. “no Limeys. Frogs, Krauts, Itals, Dagos, Polaks, Ruskies etc? You know, those dodgy unassimilated foreigners with their strange accents,” he writes of STURP. Yeah, right. The Royal Society is going to listen to this elitist, angry man. I say it is time to boycott his blog altogether.”

Response (I’ll keep it brief, for fear this lady seizes on something new for her own particular brand of ad hom and troll-like fixation with yours truly): : Once again, the lady has totally misunderstood, and then gone to TOS to misrepresent. It should be clear that the less-than-polite references to ‘other nationalities’ was not a reference to any STURP members, or indeed any of the contributions to that magnificent melting pot we call the US of A (where incidentally I have family).  It was a reference to the fact that STURP confined its recruiting to the USA, not bothering to co-opt foreign nationals from the Big Wide World.  Why, when the central aim was to travel to Turin?  That’s Turin, Italy you know, not Turin,  Coweta County, Georgia.  How’s that for insularity?

Seriously:  I’ve been googlin’. It’s amazing what one can – and cannot  find…

More later re the enigmatic Marty and Roger Gilbert, and the oh-so-authenticity-clinching  “aragonite” on the sole of the TS.

(Yes, I know this posting is getting absurdly long, but there is a method in my madness, as I hope will become apparent in due course).

Monday 11th March

mystery prof

The above is accessible on the web to anyone with an internet connection. The professor being rated by one of his adoring  students is described elsewhere as an “honorarium instructor” at a certain US university, the identity of which we shall leave shrouded in mystery.

Monday 12th March

Here is the all-too-easily imitable (yawn) Daniel R.Porter on TOS in profoundly thoughtful mode:

But is this( re the rationalwiki definition of pseudoscience)  what Colin is really talking about, most of the time, when he uses the term? It seems to me that he means only that if something doesn’t fit his worldview it is pseudoscience.

Yes, it must be deeply disappointing that I do not share an identical world view with that of  Episcopalian Daniel R.Porter.  My preference  in socks and (neck) ties is probably different too. He continues:

It is interesting to note the advice from Richard Dawkins on Pseudoscientists at the top of the Rational Wiki page that Colin points us to:

If you are in possession of this revolutionary secret of science, why not prove it and be hailed as the new Newton? Of course, we know the answer. You can’t do it. You are a fake.

Scorch theory anyone? Colin, why not prove it? Or can’t you do it?

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. How many times does one have to say it? A scientific hypothesis or theory may or may not be falsifiable, but can rarely be proved. Proof is for mathematicians – and self-deluding theologians.

If it’s evidence he wants, I suggest he takes a look at my banner at the top of the page, noting how a scorch imprint can be inverted back to a positive image, and then enhanced in ImageJ to give a semi-3D appearance, not unlike that of the original bas relief. Does that not ring any bells, like, you know,  the green image of face of the Man on the TS  at the extreme left of that strip of images, one that has also  been inverted back to a positive image, and then enhanced etc etc etc. ?

Why bother with the Daniel R.Porters of this world?  They are single- issue folk, pushing an agenda. As for me, I’m a retired science bod, interested in popular science and current affairs, with a loathing of pseudoscience, especially agenda-driven, publicity-seeking pseudoscience. It’s really as simple as that, and any ‘world view’ that I possess is simply a facet of what makes me tick as a human being. What makes Daniel R.Porter tick –  to be content with projecting the same old bland, tired persona,  scarcely varying the pro-authenticity message, year in, year out, revealing next to nothing about himself and his background? One thing’s for certain. That’s not my idea of blogging, and I doubt if it is that of the thousands, nay millions of others who have taken up the pastime… He clearly fronts a  understated, nuanced  PR operation, desperate to avoid too high a profile, content to manage and manipulate the media and public opinion with a soft touch, with his backers preferring to stay in the background.


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, medieval hoax, Shroud of Turin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Shroudie-Alert: Day 12: time now to write that long-overdue letter to the Royal Society…

  1. ChrisB says:

    And if it is established finally that blood came first?

  2. colinsberry says:

    We’ll worry about that when it happens, Chris 😉 Welcome to the site, btw. Apols if you’ve posted previous comments here.

    The important thing right now is to recognize that the blood-first narrative-cum-dogma is absolutely essential for those who argue for authenticity. If blood came second, after the image, then authenticity is dead in the water, as I’m sure you must be aware.. Getting nervous, are we?

    Disproving the blood-first dogma is the ‘acid test’ of authenticity. Acid tests are usually few and far between, and should not be deflected into the long grass.

    Now let’s turn the quest for yes/no answers on its head: can you think of an acid test for medieval forgery? Like, er, you know, shhh, that radiocarbon dating, that has already been nudged into a carefully-cultivated overgrown meadow? If so, please let me know.

  3. Matthias says:

    image first, blood second wouldn’t destroy the possibility of authenticity. The image might still be authentic, and the blood stains could be “add ons”

  4. colinsberry says:

    How many true-believer Shroudies would settle for that Matthias? It would be like asking a teenager to be content with a meat-free hamburger…

    Seriously:if the blood was added later, how can you be so certain the figure had been crucified? You see, there’s something that is conveniently overlooked in mystery-seeking Shroudland: take away the blood and there are no images of wounds on the Shroud, like, you know – broken skin, lacerations, puncture marks, open wounds etc etc. You’ll see plenty of references to “wounds” as if they are a separate entity, distinguishable from blood. For what it’s worth, I personally have been unable to spot a single “wound” on the Shroud. That’s despite months of looking at close-up images (e.g. Durante 2002 etc) whose resolution is good enough to show clearly the herring-bone weave – so why not wounds as well? Answer: there are no wound images as such – just strategically-applied blood, or a more manageable blood substitute…

    The Shroudie narrative depends entirely on those bloodstains to link the faint image on the linen with the crucified man in the gospels. His being crucified with nails is implied from blood, his wearing a crown of thorns – implied from blood – having first received 372 (!)skin-breaking scourge marks – implied from blood – and finally despatched with a lance in the side – implied from blood. Sorry to disillusion you, but the base image, stripped of its blood, is simply that of a naked man, presumably dead, whose hands have been positioned to avoid looking like a page from Gray’s Anatomy.

  5. Matthias says:

    I agree that the blood is important to the authenticity argument, but it is not necessarily critical.
    Don’t worry you are not disillusioning me. I don’t hang on every Shroud argument with my dear life.I have a passing interest in it.
    But the fact remains that even if the blood was added – which is far from proven, and there are indeed a number of strong arguments for the blood’s ‘authenticity’ – the image could still be authentic. It would take sheer unscientific arrogance to dismiss that possibility, unless a bullet proof theory for the image was produced. In that respect, whilst you have an interesting theory, the evidence is far from robust enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that scorching created the image.
    But I am always happy to be convinced by a very strong, well supported case.

  6. colinsberry says:

    I shan’t lose a minute’s sleep over the failure to “prove” it’s a contact scorch, Matthias, given that science works not on proof but on the weight of evidence. There is abundant evidence that the image IS essentially some kind of contact scorch. What’s more, it’s not too difficult to imagine why someone might have wanted to produce a one-off image of a man scorched into linen, given the period of history (with Templars, probably stripped of their clothing, being roasted at the stake on an industrial scale, 1314 being the key date, just a few decades before the first public exhibition of the Shroud in an out-of-the-way French village (Lirey). The herrring-bone weave, while expensive, was needed to ensure good imprinting of image, with its ‘1-over-3’ weave creating plenty of flat threads at the surface for image reception and adhesion.

    I personally would be losing sleep if I were a proponent of radiation being the source of energy, being unable to specify what kind of radiation can not only discolour the linen but produce an image too. Those issues do not seem to bother the Jacksons or the Fantis. At least Di Lazzaro recognized it would take highly energetic uv radiation to discolour cloth, but he has failed abysmally to produce an image, and has acknowledged that an impossibly large amount of uv radiation would be needed to produce one as large as the TS. (And it’s hard to see how a magical corpse radiating in the uv could produce an image of hair as well as skin – or is the hair of magical corpses especially resistant to being singed).

  7. Matthias says:

    There are a number of albeit circumstantial factors that make the theory that the Shroud image was created by scorching after 1314 difficult, most particularly existence of Greek epitaphios from circa 1280 – 1300AD with similar depictions of the shroud ie. a bloodied Jesus with hands folded over pelvic region on a herring-bone weave shroud.
    Also, there are artistic / historic difficulties with the theory that blood was ‘added’. Why would blood be placed on wrist rather than hand? Why the illogical trickle of blood across the lower back (makes no art history sense at all). These are important questions which to my mind have not been satisfactorily answered by ANY authenticity skeptic.
    Your scorch theory may be right, and your historical explanation is certainly interesting. But there are still valid questions that can be applied.
    Also what is the ‘abundant evidence’ for the scorch theory? Your own experiments? I want to see peer reviewed studies. Then “abundant evidence” can be claimed.

  8. Matthias says:

    I will add that I think you present the best anti-authenticity theory to date. It offers a plausible explanation why the image is of a naked man (ie. in your theory the templar, having been burnt naked at the stake). Other anti-authenticity arguments fall down on this point – a forger trying to make an image of Jesus from the outset (as opposed to a tribute to a templar that was later fabricated into an image of Christ) would have certainly made a bas relief or whatever with a cloth around the mid region as the vast majority of artistic representations do

  9. colinsberry says:

    Well, I’m fascinated to hear about those Greek images, Matthias, even if they have been dated almost to the 14th century. Any chance you could provide a link? As for scorching, take another look at my banner, showing how thermal imprints, aka scorches, can be processed to give semi-3D images within seconds. Then take a look at the disingenuous pseudoscientific twaddle that Daniel R. Porter has in the margin of his Home Page, viz. “But no one has created images that match the chemistry, peculiar superficiality and profoundly mysterious three-dimensional information content of the images on the Shroud”.(My italics)

    What’s better: experimental data from one blogger, freely available online, accompanied by ample photographs, showing how simple contact scorches can be processed to give Shroud-like images, OR totally false statements such as the one above claiming they cannot?

    At the moment, I am in the business of counter-propaganda. I state that as my credo on my sciencebuzz site – and it’s made clear at the top of this one too.

    If you want to see an egregious example of pseudoscience from one of the supposedly top men of Shroudology, published as an attack on me and scorching last March, then ask and I will publish here, under Comments, with a more complete answer than my first. Anyone else who wishes to see “pseudoscience” in overdrive can also ask to see my reply. I’d add it on to the post, but that is long enough as it is, and in any case I prefer to have a better balance between postings and comments (Thanks for your dropping by).

    One final word: interesting though your comments and observations are, it’s time to draw a line under objections to scorching based on ” a wealth of other evidence”. That’s why I’m now determined to cut to the chase by placing the spotlight on one very simple question testable in principle: “Which came first – blood or image?”. I don’t have the resources to provide answers, and I doubt whether any one particular lab does. It needs to be tackled using state-of-the-art instrumentation for probing fine details of surface structure (like some of those the Spanish commentator – Carlos Otal?- mentions on TOS from time to time). This is where the Royal Society could assist – or equivalent elite scientific bodies elsewhere.

  10. Matthias says:

    I don’t have epitaphios evdience to hand, the university libary has Schiller’s a classic text on Christian art, I’ll check in on that when I’m next in at the Uni.
    You are right many epitaphios date from about 1400, but there are at least 2 examples I have seen that are circa 1300 or sligtty earlier.
    BTW tthoughts on my blood comments?

    • Matthias says:

      Got in to the university today and viewed Schiller’s authoritative “Iconography of Christian Art”. It showed the epitaphios housed in Venice, dated 1200 AD.
      The epitaphios is kept in the museum of St Mark at the Basilica of St Mark in Venice.
      you can view a very small image of it here at the museum website:

      click on ‘see the images’

      The museum dates it to late 1100s / early 1200s, so generally consistent with Schiller’s dating.

      On the epitaphios which I viewed in Schiller’s volume, Christ’s body is covered in bloody wounds over most of the body , very unusual for the time. His hands are crossed over the pubic area. He wears a loin cloth, but this does not mean the epitaphios was not based on the shroud (you will of course know of at least 2 artistic ‘copies’ of the shroud from the 1500s onwards where the shroud image is shown with a modesty protecting loin cloth)

      It’s impossible to say categorically that this epitaphios is based on the shroud, however there are certain congruences with the historical records of a similar time mentioning a full length image of Christ, plus the Hungarian pray codex of a similar time.

      Is it mere coincidence that this tradition of a bloodied Christ with hands crossed developed at this time, from 1200- 1300 AD? Is it irrelevant? Is there a historical / theological explanation beyond the possible influence of the shroud that could explain this development, which occurred outside the general Christian artistic tradition? (beyond these byzantine images a tradition of a bloodied / heavily wounded Christ did not really arrive until the 1300s in Germany)

      Or was in fact the Shroud in Constantinople circa 1200AD, and then taken back to France? And this and other epitaphios were based on the Shroud?

      • colinsberry says:

        The ones I have seen in the same genre (in my case countable on the non-elongated fingers of one hand) show the wrists crossed, not hands, like the one on your ‘lament’ picture. So the backs of the palms are visible on both hands. If the artist had wanted to include nail exit wounds, then both bloodstains would be visible. But I don’t need to tell you that the Shroud has a palm over palm config’ – and while hesitant to say it (again) I suspect there was an element of mischief in the (pyrographic) artist’s intentions, wishing to portray a hint of the man while still alive, standing or kneeling over glowing hot charcoal, protecting himself as best he could.

        Did you see my before and after result with the clone tool, taking away the bloodstains (“Last Post”)? See what one is left with – not a single indication that the man had been crucified? Yet that is how STURP described the TS man in its executive press summary, while admitting it did not have a clue as to how the image had been formed (fail to seek hard enough and ye shall not find?) and having reported atypical blood with no red cells or even red cell debris, no potassium and an atypical porphyrin spectrum, with resort to highly tendentious hypothesizing re “extraordinary amounts of bilirubin”. Shame no numbers were given, shame that bilirubin was not quantified at all as far as I can tell (we would surely have been given some actual numbers, had that been the case).

        • Hugh Farey says:

          There’s also a chicken and egg question to be raised. If many these epitaphioses (epitaphioi?) were known to a medieval forger, then presumably he might have liked to copy their figures onto his sheet, selecting the bits he thought most realistic. The pre-1300 iconography of the shroud might have led to the shroud being the way it is, not the other way round. That does leave us with the interesting question of where the previous shroud pictures acquired their ‘standard form.’ The face, perhaps, from the statue of Zeus, the blood from the accounts in the bible, but the very long cloth (end to end as opposed to side by side), the double image and the hands crossed at the groin presumably started somewhere.

          • colinsberry says:

            Yes, we keep hearing how the burial interment conformed in every detail with 1st century Jewish ritual – there is John Jackson’s wife – co-founder of the Shroud Center- stating as much on that authencity-promoting BBC/Rolfe/Rageh Omaar video – shame about the bias- without specifying which of the Lost Tribes she belongs to. But has anyone in the Shroudoscopic blogospere ever made a sighting of an end-to-end doubled-over shroud in a work of art – or figured out how that fits with the idea of a winding cloth? (Yup, I know about the selvedge theory, but can’t get terribly excited about one or two better-safe-than-sorry cross-ties).

            There’s that scorch theory – you know, the one that is eclipsed neatly by most Shroudie blind spots – giving an immediate explanation for the up-and-over shroud. It was intended as a visual metaphor for a ‘hot body’ leaving a scorch top and bottom. That’s why the Shroud image is a one-off, stubbornly refusing to reflect the rest of medieval “art” (being more evening school craft than art). That would explain the herring bone weave too (which I refuse to believe was a 1st century Syrian fad that just suddenly died out, such that it was “unknown” 13 centuries later in relatively prosperous France). The herring bone 1-over-3 weave makes for a much better ‘tapestry’ on which to imprint a scorched image, given that the tops of the weave are then flat hyphen-like crowns, as distinct from the bitty hair pin ends one would have with a simple 1-over-1 weave.

          • Matthias says:

            mmm, maybe Hugh.
            It would be good to get an art historian’s view on this. I wonder what De Wesslow says about epitaphioi, if anything.
            I find it curious that Byzantine epitaphioi circa 1200-1300 suddenly show a heavily wounded Christ, with hands folded, seemingly out of nowhere in an art history sense.
            As I said earlier, maybe there were theological / historical reasons behind this sudden artistic ‘revolution’, or maybe they had seen or had heard accounts of the shroud.
            I keep an open mind on the answer.

          • Matthias says:

            what do you both make of Robert de Clari’s account:

            ‘But among the rest [of the churches in Constantinople], there was also another of the minsters [churches], which was called the Church of my Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, within which was the shroud [or syndoine or syndoines: singular or plural] wherein Our Lord was wrapped. And on every Friday that shroud did raise itself upright [or stood up straight], so that the form [or features] of Our Lord could clearly be seen. And none knows – neither Greek nor Frank – what became of that shroud when the city was taken.’

            This account was circa 1200AD I understand.
            Given the development of a Byzantine epitaphios tradition from the same / similar time, with some quite Shroud-like features (ie. long, leanish Jesus, heavily wounded, hands crossed over public area, hair and beard characteristics similar to shroud) plus the Hungarian Pray manuscript (showing Christ being anointed on a roughly double length shroud, hands crossed etc) at the same time from Hungary which had a very direct family connection with the Emperor in Constantinople, I consider a degree of weight should be given to the notion that the shroud was in existence in Constantinople circa 1200AD, and that through either direct witness or second hand account generated both the epitaphios tradition and the depiction in the pray manuscript.

            (Note – I keep an open mind! I still think your theory has potential Colin, but I also believe some of this historical information is quite interesting.)

          • Hugh Farey says:

            I think if I were compelled to appear as an ‘expert witness’ against authenticity i would say something like this.
            1) Early descriptions and paintings of Jesus were fairly inconsistent but were generally beardless.
            2) Round about 350AD some particular images gained popularity and authority, and were justified by being referred to acheiropoieta. Although there were fewer of these, they still lacked consistency. Some being bearded and some not.
            3) Round about 450AD the Statue of Zeus at Olympia was moved to Constantinople.
            4) After its destruction in 475AD, images of Jesus increasingly began to resemble it, in spite of at least one bishop claiming it was heresy to make Jesus resemble Zeus.
            5) Nevertheless, the Byzantine influence won, and beardless acheiropoieta went out of fashion.
            6) Several hundred years later, a ‘resurrection event’ was staged in Constantinople, consisting of a long cloth that emerged vertically from a mock-up tomb. The cloth was painted to resemble an image left on a shroud, following the conventions of the Passion Story, that Jesus was Flogged, Crowned, Stripped, Crucified, Speared and Entombed. All these elements were included, with the hands modestly covering the image’s nakedness. The face, of course, resembled the Zeus face that had already become standard.
            7) This new, full-length, image became so famous that it too became a standard form, and was immediately copied by Hungarians and whoever, sometimes adapting the image to suit local conditions.
            8) Either this image, or the nearest that could be found to a replica, became the Shroud of Turin.

            I don’t think this account is necessarily true, but it would act as a counterbalance to the Agbar-Edessa-Mandylion-Shroud account, and I think I could make it difficult for a balanced jury to decide on their verdict, even if they did come down on one side or the other in the end!

  11. Matthias says:

    apologise for my poor typing above!
    The epitaphios of Salonika, of King Milutin, and of Thessaloniki are all credibly dated to 1300-1320AD

  12. colinsberry says:

    The blood?

    Where the wrist is concerned, there is one possibility I mooted many moons ago. The metacarpal bones that are in the palm of the hand seem remarkably well-imaged on the Shroud (thus the wacky “X-ray story”, the ghost image of a hidden retracted thumb etc, with wacky medics going to Shroudie congresses after swallowing radioactive technetium to show fuzzy pictures of their internal organs). Regardless of why that should be so, i.e.the X-ray look, it’s possible that the monk or whoever given the task of adding blood in all the right places mistook those metacarpals for finger bones (an easy enough thing to do). He then decided to play safe, and place the blood well below the metacarpals, thinking that would be the location of the palm.

    Before moving on to that second site – the back – perhaps I might ask you a question: if the Shroud image influenced early pre-medieval art to the extent that so many claim, then why didn’t the wrist become quickly adopted as the standard site for showing the nail wound?

    “Illogical” trickle of blood? Take a look at the Lirey badge, and see how that trickle is represented as something that looks nothing like blood, unless highly stylized (with little if any evidence elsewhere ot any attempt to stylize). If it were meant to represent stylized blood, from the lance wound as Ian Wilson blithely assumes, then why does it extend from BOTH sides of the sheet, rather than just the side with the wound? What’s more that same configuration may have appeared on the frontal image too if the Forgeais drawing of 1865 is a reliable indication of how the badge appeared shortly after recovery from the Seine.

    There’s another entirely different explanation for the “blood belt” as Wilson describes it, one I’ve mooted before. It was originally the imprint of a chain, the latter being needed to secure someone to a stake before burning, as per Templars in 1314. It would have appeared on the Shroud as an image that was indistinguishable from body, if thermal imprinting (scorching) were the mechanism. Our medieval monk with his “blood” might have chosen to dab blood, or blood substitute, right on top of that “chain” motif, link by link, trying, not terribly successfully, to make it look even more like a complex blood trail. The rest as they say is history, or rather Ian Wilson’s rose-tinted version thereof! (I was much intrigued by your suggestion on TOS that the loops represent two entirely different flows from the nail wounds in the hands, NOT the side wound. Whether right or wrong it at least shows you too have doubts that so complex a trail could have come from a side wound, although I see that Fanti et al tried to do so at an Ohio conference – shame about their highlighting of the side wound which they can see, but at least one other person cannot).

    • Matthias says:

      ‘then why didn’t the wrist become quickly adopted as the standard site for showing the nail wound?’

      Perhaps because the Shroud was not widely seen or known. Perhaps because the biblical account of the wounds to the hands was dominant. One can also say that the nudity of the Shroud image was not adopted either, again probably because of dominant artistic tradition and modesty

    • Matthias says:

      I struggle to see how that very thin / fine trickle of blood across the lower back might be ‘covering up’ a previous impression of a chain. On the Lirey Badge, the “chain” appears quite prominent.

      • colinsberry says:

        You may be surprised, or there again not, Matthias, to know that I too have pondered on the discrepancy between what we see on the Shroud, what we seem on the Lirey badge, and what we see on the “improved” drawing of the latter that Arthur Forgeais made in 1865. I don’t have any immediate answers – but it’s still near the top of my ‘To be pondered further’ list. The first priority in my view is to get independent corroboration of that ‘blood before image’ dogma. I’m 90% certain the image arrived before the blood, and it should be possible to find ways of scanning the Shroud to get at the answer (thinking of the techniques used to detect art forgery etc).

        What i find somewhat dispiritng Matthias is that in reading your comments above re that Pray Codex, it’s as if we have never had those previous discussions. I watched that BBC Rolfe documentary the other day, with M.Fleury-Lemberg talkign so categorically about the “L-shaped holes” on what she took to be the patterned Shroud, complete with herring bone weave. But for once it is I who has artistic convention on my side. That is not the Shroud with poker holes and herringbone weave. It is a (poorly executed) representation of the propped-up lid of a sarcophagus. It is not a herring-bone pattern, but squared-off zig-zag, . possibly representing a mosaic. I say it is not the face cloth in a heap on that lid – but a token representation of a biblical shroud , with no attempt to represent a 4 metres length of up-and-over material, because the illustrator had not seen the Shroud, and was making no attempt to incorporate coded symbols. Had the latter been the case we would have seen some consistency in the 4 pictures – but there is none relating to the Shroud, certainly no attempt to flag it up as a cryptic influence in the design. But then who am I to comment on artistic convention? I just look for a degree of internal consistency when confronted with artefacts, and try not to look for hidden meanings – that being a road that leads to insanity unless there are independent reference points (shame there’s only one surviving Shroud!)

        That the Pray Codex is part of the authenticity-promoting agenda – given credence by David Rolfe/BBC in that agenda-driven commercial for Jackson’s Shroud Center – Rolfe’s and Jackson’s – is something that really gets me down. How can people be willing to scrape the barrel using some tiny, badly executed line drawings in an otherwise obscure and instantly forgettable manuscript? i have had to abandon many ‘brilliant insights’ in my scientific career, knowing that it is highly improbable that controversy would or could ever translate into established fact. That’s why my narrative has been so consistent and unchanging over the months – not because I am unwilling to change my views, but because my ideas have already gone through a long process of critical reflection before they ever appear on this site, and even the ‘wackier’ ones like leech blood can account for several otherwise explained oddities re Shroud blood (lack of potassium, atypical porphyrin, no sign of blood clots, presence of a marker for connective tissue (leech?), ability to be applied as a non-coagulating paint, possible the “permanent red colour” due to exotic haem species generated from having spent weeks or months exposed to digestive juices, bacteria etc.

        • Matthias says:

          I’m not interested in a debate on the lower image on the pray codex. You might be right that what some proponents claim to be the shroud is actually a sarcophagus lid, although the L shaped pattern of holes IS rather curious, in my view. I’m not interested in debate of a minute nature, whether it is the farcical so called “nails in the wrists” of the later images in the pray codex or whatever.

          The fact remains that the upper image does show a naked Christ with hands folded over pubic area, seemingly being anointed and about to be wrapped in a double length shroud. As I’ve said before there were very strong connections between Hungary and Constantinople circa 1200AD, so it is not fanciful in the slightest that the pray codex artist may have based the image on the shroud located in Constantinople, whether he had seen it with the naked eye, or heard of its characteristics from a witness.

          • colinsberry says:

            A double length of Shroud? Well, i raise my hat to you Matthias for being able to make sense of the picture to which I think your refer. I see two quite separate lengths of fabric. There is one under the body that I would not have described as double length. It is single length, albeit with some detail at the mid point that might be interpreted as a some kind of fold over point, but lacking the prerequisite of length. Then there’s the long narrow strip of what I presume is a ‘winding cloth’ that intertwines around the arms etc of the people in attendance. I really can’t see how anything in that picture can be construed as a representation of the Shroud, not even an approximate one. But as I say, I look for more substantial evidence, one way or the other, for authenticity. Hunting for clues in particular illustrations is simply not a valid exercise, at least in a statistical sense. You would presumably reject the radiocarbon dating on the grounds that one strip from a corner is perhaps not representative of the whole, so why imagine that one particular picture’s features are proof that at least one person had really laid eyes on the Shroud, and had wished the world to know that by incorporating “tell tale ” clues that are in fact given far too much over-interpretation through modern eyes, given there are probably hundreds of similar depictions in manuscripts etc of the period.

            My focus is now mainly on what came first – blood or image. If the image arrived first, the Shroud’s bloodstains could not have been acquired via a narrative based on the New Testament. The blood would have been painted on – by a medieval forger intent on turning a fairly simple image of a naked man into that of a crucified man, made to fit the highly detailed, indeed unique Biblical description of Jesus of Nazareth (crown of thorns etc).

  13. colinsberry says:

    Shroud “not widely seen or known”? Yet it was sufficiently well-known enough to appear hundreds of miles away in Hungary on the Pray Codex – or so we are told.
    What about the fig leaf convention in art? If plant anatomy can be used to avoid giving offence then why not human anatomy too – like crossed hands with unusually long fingers?

    But this is missing the main point. The Shroud was not designed to reflect the then current conventions in art. I say it was designed initially to serve some completely different purpose, probably black humour in an all-male ‘clubbish’ setting, probably as a visual metaphor of someone burnt at the stake. Adding clothes, even a loin cloth – would have made a nonsense of the metaphor (thanks btw for the appreciative words earlier re the barbecued human interpretation, an arresting way of showing how a barbecued Templar might leave a scorch on both sides of an up-and-over burial shroud, which may or may not have been my idea originally). (Edited).

    • Matthias says:

      Actually the pray codex theory is not so far fetched. There were very strong familial ties between Hungary and Constantinople at the time the codex was created around 1200 AD.
      Although far from convinced by the codex – shroud connection theory, I find it hard to dispel as well for a number of reasons

      • colinsberry says:

        To those reading this, not familiar with the Hungarian Pray Codex,the important thing is to be wary about any claim until you have looked at all 4 plates in the series, and cross-checked for internal consistency.

        Ignore Plate V in the above sequence (script only) and beware siren voices that would have others believe one that one is deliberately avoiding Plate V, the one they claim which best makes their point (nail wound in wrist, bla bla).

        Beware also a particular website whose blogmeister must, or should know that it is being used to disseminate mis-or disinformation on a daily systematic basis, and who opts to turn a blind eye. More generally, beware so-called blogs that are nothing more than PR shop windows, with links to satellite sites where the true purpose of the Mother (Brother?) Ship becomes abundantly clear.

        • Matthias says:

          I think the ‘nail in the wrist’ bla bla is garbage!!!! BUT….I can’t ignore the following:
          – the image on the top of Plate 3 is quite ‘Shroud-like’ and certainly is a VERY rare example of Christ nude in artistic tradition
          – As mentioned previously there were VERY close ties between Constantinople and Hungary at the time, and there are teasing references to a shroud like object in Constantinople around this time
          None of this means the pray codex pictures MUST have been based on the shroud, but to my mind it is a possibility that should not be dismissed.

          • colinsberry says:

            David Rolfe advised me to check out the recent TV documentary he did for the BBC, narrated by Rageh Omaar. It was ostensibly to see John Jackson doing his darnedest to whittle down, sorry up, the age of the Shroud, and making Oxford’s Prof Chris Ramsay feel obliged to check out Jackson’s wacky CO hypothesis (negative results, needless to say, which was entirely predictable from recalling undergraduate physics and chemistry). But in passing, we saw Ms. Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, the textile restorer, telling us that some inconspicuous little circles among the “herring bone weave” in one of the 4 Pray Codex illustrations were a “perfect match” for the L-shaped poker holes on the Shroud (they weren’t!). Shame it was neither shroud nor fabric of any description hosting those hugely diagnostic pen-drawn circles (looking more unmistakeably hole-like than any other tiny pen-drawn circles I have ever seen previously in my entire life 😉 but, sad to relate, merely the lid of a sarcophagus, which was patterned certainly, though not with a herring-bone weave. Towering oaks of mis- and dis-information from little acorns of mistaken sightings grow.

    • Matthias says:

      Re: your 6.02pm comment Colin.
      I interpret the cloth in the top image of Plate 3 as being a wide cloth. So not fully consistent with the shroud, which is a long narrow cloth.
      So points are deduced in favour of the theory that the image may have been based on an eye witness viewing of the shroud. But it is still quite possible that the artist drew it based on an eye witness’s account, or a step further removed, and details about the precise nature of the shroud got lost in “Chinese whispers”. The fact is it does show a shroud that would wrap around the whole figure of Christ.

      • Matthias says:

        whilst we are on this topic, it is also interesting that Christ’s image shows his hands with 4 fingers showing on each hand, like the shroud

        • colinsberry says:

          You need to divest yourself of that Shroud Center-approved tunnel-vision eye-glass Matthias. (You know, the one you received in the post from Dr.& Mrs.John Jackson). Look at picture 4 (Christianity). Not only will you see the risen Christ still with a winding sheet (oh so 1st century), but he is now (miraculously?) back to a full complement of digits. Could this have been the first representation in Western art of the ‘thumbs up’ gesture (“everything’s OK again, nice happy ending”)?

      • colinsberry says:

        Enough of your Hungarian wraps-oddie, Matthias (ouch). Show me a pre-14th century* up-and-over Shroud in the kind of prestige art you might expect to see in a national gallery – not some obscure manuscript illustrated with cartoon-like visual aids intended for those with a weak grasp of early Hungarian script….

        * You get extra points for finding a herring-bone weave and nail wounds in at least one wrist

        • Matthias says:

          don’t think the lack of artistic quality in the pray codex is that relevant. The fact is it has some characteristics, well depicted or not, that are shared with the shroud

          • colinsberry says:

            Yes, but as I say, one has to look for internal consistency in the 4 pictures, so if one has no thumbs, and another does, then one can hardly cite “lack of thumbs” on one’s never-ending Jones’-style laundry list of “correspondences”.

            I see there’s a discussion on TOS about that letter “a”, apparently New Age Latin script for that period of Hungarian history. I’m in the mood this morning for some more out-of-the-box thinking. Merged into the dress of the Holy Mother(?) with the flask of oil, there’s that head of an elderly man. I seem to recall that has been interpreted by some as indicating the presence of God the Father. In view of the direction that head is pointing, ie. toward the (just?) vacated shroud, I wonder if he’s not there to represent a miraculous life-restoring breath from On High, and that “a” is some kind of letter that alerts the viewer to that idea of Paternal Assistance (PA for short). Just a thought.

            PS. Note the way the angel’s finger points straight at that “a”.
            And I have just found this, merely by inputting “latin word for life”, so was intrigued to see the bolded phrase:

            anima : “life” , “breath of life” , “the vital principle”

            Might that be “a” for anima?

  14. Hugh Farey says:

    Something that’s been growing on me. Google “epitaphios” and you get dozens of pictures all looking in one way or another a bit like the image on the shroud. However, among the most prominent markings is invariably a deep line defining the bottom edge of the pectoral muscles. There are lots of other markings which may or may not be related to markings on the shroud, but the pectoral muscles are almost always very well defined on these images, and not at all on the shroud as we have it today. As we are frequently told that every tiny blemish on the shroud is faithfully reflected in all these early paintings, it seems to me odd that one of their most prominent features isn’t, in fact, there at all. Were they copying from a different shroud, one asks oneself…

    • Matthias says:

      Re: Colin at 10.23
      Despite the limited artistry of the codex artist, he is quite good with some perspectives, especially hands. You will note that when the thumb is hidden in hands it is usually for a good perspective reasons.

      • colinsberry says:

        I thought hidden thumbs were supposed to be terribly symbolic – a spy clue to the illustrator having seen the Shroud before its first attested display in 1357 approx. So the relevant search has surely to be for any picture in the Codex where thumbs do appear, whether for perspective or other reasons.

        And as we know, thumbs DO appear – Plate 1(probably) and Plate 4 (certainly). Ipso facto there can be no grounds for thinking that any significance can be attached to plates where thumbs are not visible – especially when, as you say, one would not expect to see them on account or perspective, or being obscured by the rest of the hand.

        Irrelevant aside: Yesterday I wrote the introductory post on my new ‘Dear Royal Society” blog and hit the Post now button. It’s not been picked up as yet by the search engines, which is not a bad thing, since I’m having trouble getting the ‘voice’ right, to say nothing of the organization, so will shamelessly edit. It is being posted under I have John Klotz on TOS for putting some fire in my belly. I’d describe him as the kind of person we all hope we never turn into… 😉

  15. Matthias says:

    Hugh, personally I wouldn’t read much into that. The epitaphios, if based on the shroud, could merely be a more finely detailed ‘fleshing out’ (pun unintended) of the vague image on the shroud.
    But in a broad sense there are many similarities between the shroud image and the epitaphios – long, lean figure, hair similarities, small goatee beard, bloodied body (noting a bloodied Jesus in art circa 1300 AD was rare – it became more common through the 1300s most notably in Germany), and perhaps most signficantly a herringbone weave on some epitaphios

    • Hugh Farey says:

      Well I agree, of course. However, there are those who claim that the “water stain” on the chest is reflected in the way the lower curvature of the ribs is drawn, as if every mark on the shroud has a representation on the picture, with the corollary that every distinctive feature of the picture (big eyes, forked beard, caved in abdomen) is derived from marks on the shroud. Thus the absence of prominent pecs on the shroud, compared to their prominence on the pictures, gives me pause for thought. Strange that one would want to “flesh out” the chest, while leaving the abdomen so scrawny?

  16. colinsberry says:

    So what do you make of the totally conflicting accounts re herring-bone (1-over-3) weaves, Matthias, with some saying it was commonplace in 1st century Palestine, Syria etc and unknown in Europe, and others saying it did not appear until medieval Europeans began looking for variety (at a price)? When was the earliest herring-bone weave shown in works of art, say from the Byzantine period, or did it make a late arrival, consistent with a late discovery?

    Irrespective, that weave must have been a boon to medieval artists wishing to distinguish between shroud and other patterned or unpatterned surfaces in a 1st century cave tomb, especially as they had the quaint(?) idea that Joseph of Arimathea purchased not only a probably anachronistic variety of linen, but a sarcophagus as well, requiring its (patterned?)lid to be propped up at an angle to see an “empty tomb”. Interestingly the Lirey badge shows both herring-bone weave and what Ian Wilson interprets as the “empty tomb”, the latter again oddly sarcophagus-like. Whether it has a lid on top or something else (grid? grill?) is another matter. The Lirey badge is arguably the key for unlocking the mystery of the Shroud if you ask me, made all the more interesting by the recent discovery of the Machy mould – showing there were at least two or perhaps more pilgrims’ badges commissioned, and that the “message” was being subtly altered with time. Fine-tuning of the artwork? To what end? Grooming each new cohort of arrivals to view the Shroud in a new increasingly more ‘pro-authenticity’ way, while having to tread very warily (and as it turned out, unsuccessfully) to keep the Bishop of Troyes and other first-generation sceptics off one’s back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.