“This strange hybrid method, through which a literary genre convinces itself it is a science”


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:




There wasn't room for this graphic in the banner - which would precede the others. It shows the crucial 'LOTTO' imprinting procedure in my new impovred method. The heated crucifix is underneath, linen is laid across it, and then a damp overlay placed on top (LOTTO = Linen On Top, Then Overlay). The fabric layer is then patted gently round the contours of the template until one can no longer stand the heat conducting through. That's the time (or a little longer) to peel back the linen to see the negative image on the contact side of the linen, usually with nothing visible on the reverse side, such is the superficiality of the image and its light roasted appearance under the microscope. The image responds well to light/dark inversion in ImageJ AND reasonably well to 3D enhancement in the same program (see banner). I will be placing this graphic at the top of all future postings, believing as I do that I have finally sussed out the the Shroud image was made (or could have been made) with a medieval setting, consistent with the radiocarbon dating. if folk wish to reject the dating, and stick with the idea that the Shroud is the real burial robe of the crucified Christ, and that the bloodstains preceded the image, then they are at liberty to do so. I'm a nuts-and-bolts kind of science bod who prefers to operate within the envelope of known or credible science, while thinking outside of the numerous man-made boxes that can exist with in that envelope. ;-)

There wasn’t room for this graphic in the banner – which would precede the others. It shows the crucial ‘LOTTO’ imprinting procedure in my new improved method. The heated crucifix is underneath, linen is laid across it, and then a damp overlay placed on top (LOTTO = Linen On Top, Then Overlay). The fabric layers are then patted gently round the contours of the template until one can no longer stand the heat conducting through (takes a few minutes generally). That’s the time (or a little longer) to peel back the steaming linen and overlay  to see the negative image on the contact side of the linen, usually with nothing visible on the reverse side, such is the superficiality of the image and its diffuse lightly toasted appearance under the microscope. The image responds well to light/dark inversion in ImageJ AND reasonably well to 3D enhancement in the same program (see banner).
I WILL BE PLACING THIS GRAPHIC AT THE TOP OF ALL  FUTURE POSTINGS , believing as I do that I have finally, after some two years of research,  sussed out how the the Shroud image was made (or could have been made) within a medieval setting, consistent with the radiocarbon dating. If folk prefer to reject the dating, and stick with the idea that the Shroud is the real burial robe of the crucified Christ, and that the bloodstains preceded the image, then they are at liberty to do so. I’m a nuts-and-bolts kind of science bod  myself,  one who prefers to operate within the envelope of known or credible science, whilst  never hesitating to think  outside of the numerous man-made boxes that can exist within
 that envelope. 😉


Preamble: here’s how I ended the posting immediately prior to this one, bemoaning STURP’s failure to devise a proper plan of campaign, (taking into account the pre-existing information, notably the unusual negative image) and proceeding without any attempt to create a model. (Scientists model,  as in the verb “to model”, it being what they do best, those models, even if mere mental constructs,  providing the means by which meaningful questions can be formulated and tested).

There’s a common misconception among those who don’t “do” science that it is entirely objective and detached, and woe betide anyone, notably  on web forums, who suggests otherwise. That view sees science as kind of vacuum cleaner – one simply goes in, sucking up all the strands of evidence and then goes away to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, nature is rarely so 0bliging as to leave trails of clues as to how a particular item of interest came to be the way it is. So there’s vacuum cleaner science that rarely gets anywhere, and there’s intelligent science that is totally at ease with the takings of positions that some might see as opinionated, because that is the nature of real intelligent science – it is a model-building exercise, or rather serial model-building.  Yes, one can be as opinionated as one wishes at the outset, as long as the model building leads to the framing of testable hypotheses that in turn leads to lines of experimentation, hopefully fruitful, that one might not otherwise have thought of doing without that initial blue sky thinking. Science is an interplay of mind and eye, and it does not have to be a cold logical mind. Reason, i.e. as in reasoning plays a big part, obviously, but that does not have to be construed as the application of cold hard formal logic. If as one suspects the initial model in the minds of STURP was that the TS was merely a painted image (or that it was necessary to disabuse others of that idea) then it was the wrong model. It failed to make use of what was already known, notably the negative “imprint” like character. It failed to ask why anyone would go to the trouble of producing an imprint-like image, and more importantly HOW they would set about doing  it.   STURP,  for reasons best known to itself,  tried to dispense with the essential pump-priming stage of thinking – of model -building – up front.

To which I might by way of afterthought add this: Was that to avoid any taint of partiality, to head of anticipated criticism from those who have no idea how science, intelligent as distinct from robotic vacuum cleaner science, operates in the real world?

Now for today’s posting.

The title was a (borrowed) description applied by Daniel Porter, the host of shroudstory.com,  to my comments and, hopefully informed  speculation regarding the TS. To say that the source he chose for his putdown was quite the most objectionable piece of naff journalism I have encountered in a long long time, one that trivialized (and indeed defamed) the memory of Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, logician etc etc  would be a gross understatement.  As soon as I protested, Porter issued a quick apology, which I in turn rejected, some might think ungraciously,  given its flippancy but more importantly the fact that his icy cold douche was just the latest in a long long series of similar attempts at name-and-shame postings.

  Henceforth, I shall be having nothing more to do with that site. The truth will finally out regarding the Shroud: whether it takes a year, decade or longer, I repeat: the truth will finally out, and then we can have a bonfire of all the dodgy, narrative-friendly, agenda-promoting so-called science that is the stock-in-trade of shroudstory.com and the majority of its true-believer clientele. I say believe what you want. Just don’t tell me you have science on your side. The pro-authenticity, constantly beg-the-question brand of so-called science stinks to high heaven.

 Anyway, here are comments I posted to that site going back to the start of the month (November 2013).  Have fun folks in dissociating the pot-calls-kettle black ‘pseudoscience’ from the beguiling literary genre.  Please don’t count the syntax errors, split infinitives, hanging prepositions etc etc.but don’t hesitate to nominate me for a Booker award (better still,  a Nobel Prize in Literature)


November 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm | #8

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Thanks Hugh. Very interesting. Myth busted? Am not completely certain yet, but there’s a big question mark hanging over that so-called “half-tone” effect and probably much else besides at the microscopic level.

My gut feeling, as of this moment, is that there is no half-tone effect, merely a non-iconic saturation effect kicking in at middling image intensity, such that no fibres on the TS image look highly scorched – just pale yellow – but below that peak saturation intensity there is a continuum of image intensities. No either/or, no appeals to digital imaging – not so 21st century teccie-sounding eh?

Consider moving along folks – there’s (probably) nothing to see here at the microscopic level, except those pie-in-the-sky stochastic processes that admit naturalistic 1st century imaging. That’s if you are an “expert” nuclear physicist, one who views chemistry as a branch of applied statistics (which I suppose it is in a way, provided one does not allow one’s common sense to desert one).


November 22, 2013 at 2:55 am | #21

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Thanks Thibault. I’m not sure why the initial photo was blurred – I did try focusing. Anyway, I took a whole lot more pictures yesterday and will post them as an archive without comment. The general “smeared-out ” yellow effect seems to be real, with only occasional instances of burnt fibres. Maybe the new geometry works more by blasting with superheated steam – forced convection in other words – as distinct from highly localised conduction and attendant over-heating.

There is in fact some debris in the sealed USB sender unit that has put a disfiguring blue “fibre” in every field of view, so I may end up doing as you suggest.


November 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm | #30

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You are missing the point, anonymous. It is not the findings of those ‘experts’ I dispute. It is the manner in which those findings of an atypical blood picture were used to support a chronologically-correct biblical narrative of events between crucifixion and resurrection.

A red stain that has no observable red blood cells cannot truthfully be described as real blood (though you are undeterred). It’s at best a fraction of blood, and even that description is not secure, based on the findings of an atypical porphyrin spectrum, absence of potassium etc.

So why do you continue to proselytise that “real blood” mantra, knowing as you do that the experts failed to find ‘real blood’ and resorted to the chemical/physiological equivalent of creative accounting to explain away the incomplete/atypical blood as a “serum exudate of retracted blood clots”.

That was an ingenious bit of footwork, granted, but without further rounds of predictive hypothesis testing it remains a fanciful and some would say unseemly departure from strict scientific objectivity (an act of moral sturpitude? ;-). I’m no longer allowed to call it pseudo-science here, so I hesitate to call it pseudo-science. By the same token I’m presumably not permitted to accuse you of shamelessly proselytising pseudo-science so shall not raise hackles any further than I have already by laying the charge of proselytising pseudo-science at your door.


November 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm | #33


How can the “blood-first-image-second” mantra be “accepted fact” when few scientists are probably unaware of the experimental evidence on which it is based, and who, if they did, would be pressing for independent confirmation by others workers, deploying a range of other techniques.

Independent confirmation/corroboration is the name of the game in science. That has to be especially true at the interface of science and religion, where nobody’s objectivity, my own included, can be taken for granted. Adler’s embrace of the “serum exudate of retracted blood clots” theory and that handy pat answers on the “bilirubin” must certainly place a question mark over his objectivity. I’d have expected mine to be questioned and indeed closely scrutinized had it been me making those claims.

It’s far too crucial a question to be settled “conclusively” by a enzymic/colorimetric spot test on a microscope slide based purely on colour with no hard recorded data.

As I say, it’s a crucial test, since image-first, blood-second would be disastrous for authenticity, would it not?


November 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm | #37

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Anonymous :
By the way, I still wait for you to show me side-by-side 2 microscopic images from a very dark and a very pale area.

It sounds an easy question to pose in principle, but is actually quite difficult to check in practice, given the resistance of linen to taking intense scorches (cotton scorches more quickly and intensely), and the fact that my new geometry with linen on top makes it even harder to produce a deep scorch on linen. But I’ve been trying, and in fact posted yesterday under the title “Glad to be of service, anonymous”, and have today added follow-up postings on deliberate attempts to “over-scorch” (in an attempt to test the model to possible destruction)


I’ll say no more until hearing your response. Be as constructive or destructive as you wish. Just keep in mind that I am model-building, employing a mix of a priori theorizing and experimentation, not attempting to impose a dogma that just happens to fit preconceptions (the latter ain’t science, but I’m not allowed to tell you what it is called).


November 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm | #38

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Do those creases come out with time? Any thoughts also on how the forger managed to handle a full size heated statue.


November 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm | #39


Creases? Did you mean to say scorches?

Since one is imprinting off one side at a time, the cold bronze could be manhandled down onto a bed of glowing charcoal, and when judged hot enough (test with lint), scoop the embers away, and imprint in situ, i.e. spread linen on top followed immediately by the damp overlay, then pat the two fabrics into place around the relief and its contours. It takes a minute or two in my scaled down model for heat to come up through the layers. After another two minutes it may be too hot to pat. That’s the time to check on progress (lift up a corner for a peek) and maybe decide the imprint is the right shade of sepia to entrance one’s contemporaries, to say nothing of holding successive generations in thrall.


November 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm | #42

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Thanks Colin.
I have seen your new pictures on your blog. Much better.
Try again to use your camera (at the beginning, it’s difficult) but it is the only way to obtain HD pictures of a larger area (low magnification).
This is the only way to see the color pattern at thread level on some adjacent (weft and warp) threads.
In your new experiment, I see that some areas (like the torso) are more colored (brownish) than other areas (the arm);
It would be very interesting to compare them this way.
And to compare with the ME pictures.
And to look at the superficiality in you new model.
And …
If you can’t obtain those pictures, ‘ll try to do that, following your new technique.

Thank you for the appreciative comment, Thibault.

Yes. superficiality is probably the next big test. Curiously, one could probably learn more in a day or two of well-provisioned research on thermal scorches than the sum total of hard information about the Shroud’s superficial image, based as it is mainly on that one sticky tape pull-est.

An obvious first experiment would be to take serial imprints of a hot template as it cools down, and monitor the surface changes physically and chemically to the point where the image is no longer visible. My guess is that superficiality, whether restricted to the PCW or with some involvement of the SCW too (with its matrix of hemicelluloses around the resistant cellulose fibres) is not an exotic issue at all. It probably takes relatively little browning of carbohydrates by chemical dehydration to become quickly apparent as a surface yellowing or browning, possibly at the tens or low hundreds of nm level.

If nothing else, model studies with hot templates etc could help to develop specialized know-how for characterizing the Shroud image (though I’m naturally more interested in ticking all the boxes on the scientific characteristics of the TS image – a credible explanation – not necessarily a complete facsimile.Then I can go back to studying Stonehenge and Silbury Hill. 😉

I’ll persevere a bit longer with the microscopy, but it’s not really my forte, especially as the hobbyist’s microscope is too powerful, at least when linked up to the laptop. I look forward to hearing in due course your experience with the LOTTO method (Linen-On-Top-Then-Overlaid)


November 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm | #50

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Yes, a fresh impression scorch creates a kind of indentation, and there’s a corresponding protuberance on the reverse. Both tend to disappear after one has patted flat for photography, so those temporary effects should not play havoc with subsequent enhancement in ImageJ etc.

Please understand that battle-hardened experimentalists do not blunder into a minefield of artefacts. It becomes second nature to spot the lie of the land first, and suss out the minefields.



November 21, 2013 at 7:44 am | #9

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On a different matter Hugh, might I ask your assistance? You are the one with the uv lamp. Could you try out faint scorching in my new geometry- linen and damp overlay on top of heated template. Is there still that taboo fluorescence? (Hunch – the geometry allows easier escape of low-boiling fluorescent species via steam distillation).

Must See: The Informative Mark Evans Photomicrographs


November 18, 2013 at 10:36 am | #5

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What these long-awaited close-up pictures show is the subtlety of the Shroud image fibres, inasmuch as they are a faint yellow, mainly on the most superficial parts of the weave, but with some encroachment into the interstices via the oblique “diving down” threads.

I had previously thought this subtlety was difficult to explain in a simple contact scorch scenario, i.e. by pressing a hot metal template vertically into linen that is spread over a layer of sand or similar. I now realize that was the wrong model, because it did not permit close-enough imprinting, if relying purely on contact between substrate and linen under applied pressure (too much “tenting”). Something more “tactile ” was needed, and if using a hot metal template, a means of detecting heat (and minimizing over-scorching) by finger-tips alone.

I now believe I know how it was done, to produce a very faint image, with pale yellow fibres, as per these welcome pictures, mainly but not exclusively on the more superficial crowns.

Basically what it required was a reversal of the geometry I had been using previously, now laying a hot metal template down onto a hard surface. placing COTTON fabric on top initially, then covering with a double layer of damp cloth, and pressing/moulding around the contours of the template with one’s finger tips. As soon as there is excessive heat detected, one has two options. One is to fold the damp cloth to get a double thickness, and go on moulding to take more heat out of the template until satisfied it will not excessively scorch more expensive linen (though fortunately linen is actually harder to scorch than cotton). When the hot template has passed the finger tip test one takes away the cotton, replaces with linen and repeats the procedure, moulding fabric to contours with finger tips, monitoring temperature. One can lift a corner if need be to check on progress.

Finally, one draws back the linen, and if the result is like the ones I obtained this morning ones sees a VERY FAINT image of one’s template with no reverse side penetration or scorching. It’s in fact difficult to see the image except at a distance (ring any bells?) and under a x10 hand lens there is no obvious localisation of discoloration to the crown threads as might be expected from scorching off an over-hot template. There are subtleties, which I shan’t try to explain now, but ones that might well impact on 3D imaging, giving an odd quality.

The take- away message is this: don’t get too hung up on the science (and I’m as guilty of that as anyone). Think technology – of doing things in slightly different ways to achieve slightly different more subtle end-results, while all the time imagining oneself to be a medieval artisan or similar..

I’ll try and put together a posting in the next day or two of the new results. Warning: one or two oft-cited mantras might be hurt in the making of that post..


November 18, 2013 at 10:58 am | #7


But there was great artistic genius in medieval times, John – like magnificent cathedrals with highly detailed and life-like interior and exterior representations of people, the crucified Jesus included..

There would have been life-size statues in bronze and similar that could have been used to get imprints via “tactile” moulding of linen to contours (and I can show you permanent semi-3D replicas one can obtain by that method, given the way that fabric responds to heating and stretching and contour memory-imprinting to form a kind of shell-like mask.

As for the face, I consider (following Luigi Garlaschelli) that a separate more shallow bas relief was used. But we “pseudo-skeptics” do not imagine for a moment that anything we say will make the slightest impression on minds that are already made up… ;-).


November 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm | #19

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Hello again David

No matter ‘how well things go’, I could never claim to have been “successful in reproducing a copy of the Shroud”. The best I could hope to do was produce a reasonable facsimile, one that satisfied me and a fellow I talk to down at the pub..

Groundbreaking achievement? Again, I hardly think so, since there would always be those who would say that one or other characteristic had still not been reproduced.

If I could just stop my regular newspaper (the Daily Telegraph) printing headlines that say “Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ’s authentic burial robe”


or the Independent’s: “Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural”


then I’d be content.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m fussy about claims made in the name of science, especially those that involve any kind of magic. Science is complicated enough as it is, especially quantum mechanics or the mechanisms of abiogenesis and evolutionary change, or memory imprinting in the brain,or Big Bangs and singularities, parallel universes etc without having to acquiesce to officially-prescribed magic (wishful thinking or a means of mind-control as often as not).

I have no problem with the Christian narrative, and a great deal of respect for the Christian ethic. Being outsmarted by a 14th century blacksmith (or 13th, 12th, 11th etc ) is something else. If he’s looking down on us now, he must be laughing his socks off (or long johns, knitted hose whatever)….


November 19, 2013 at 3:26 am | #29

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One wonders how many folk seeing a collection of image threads and fibres for the first time – say Fig.4.2 dense image (foot) – would have immediately declared: “Oh, how peculiar, there are just two kinds of fibre – with and without colour – and those with colour all have the same intensity of colour.”

Am I the only one here to think that if you took a random sample of 100 people off the street, showed them that photo, and asked what they thought was unusual about the fibres,
the number saying there was a strict either/or classification at the fibre level would be essentially zero?

In fact, even when knowing what one is supposed to be looking for – the so-called “half tone” effect – it would be well nigh impossible to arrive at that conclusion without teasing out threads to show fibres separate from each other, and even then one would have to be on one’s guard against refraction artefacts that make light microscopy of individual linen fibres fraught with hazard, says he having prematurely cried “eureka” not so long ago re linen nodes. Let’s not dwell on that 😦 What price the alleged “half-tone” effect?

November 19, 2013 at 10:25 am | #34

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Hello Matthias

I hesitate to mention it, but there’s that iconic late 12th century Codex that we are forever hearing about on this site as evidence that the Shroud was around pre-14th century.


It shows the crucified Jesus laid out naked, with hands crossed to protect modesty. So if that was permitted in 2D art, then why not 3D as well? Admittedly there are fewer uses for a horiizontal statue in that mode and specific biblical setting, than the classic nailed on cross posture, but it’s not impossible. Indeed, if it had outraged sensibilities, might someone not have hit on the idea for using it as a template for a back-to-2D thermal imprint?


November 20, 2013 at 7:03 am | #35


PS: How many folks here are aware of the presence of the so-called sedillis marks on each of the buttocks (symmetrical sets of 3 marks each forming a triangle)?


Mario Latendresse interprets them as an additional torture device of Roman crucifixion, and Yannick Clement, mentioned at the end of the above link, thinks they may be burns marks, not blood.

I think they are where mounting bolts(sawn off to flush stubs) or maybe open bolt holes for a lifesize crucifix existed and which imaged onto the dorsal view as a scorch. They were subsequently disguised as blood marks.

I’m presently revisiting some older ideas I expressed many moons ago that the Shroud was made from a crucifixion bronze from which the arms were removed and re-positioned. There was probably a loin cloth to be disposed of too, but that could help resolve some oddities re the figure on the Lirey badge, especially that curious coiled belt, which Wilson interpreted as blood from the lance wound, gathered on the underside of the back, and which I previously thought could be a chain used to secure a victim.


November 20, 2013 at 8:05 am | #40

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Matthias :
well in a recent trip to Spain I probably saw more than 50 statues of Christ from the 1300s – 1500s, and every one had a loin cloth. And in pouring through numerous texts on Christian art history I’ve never seen a statue without loin cloth.
Yes, I’ve seen a few (a lot? that is an exaggeration) baptism pictures of a naked Christ, partly disguised as you say, but that is beside the point.
I reiterate my point that the lack of loin cloth on the Shroud image suggest that it is unlikely that the image was created from an existing statue. Maybe a remote chance it was created from a custom made one.

Good day Matthias. Here’s one for you to (shortly) sleep on there in Oz.

I’m now returning to the idea that the image was imprinted from a life-size crucifixion bronze, and yes, it would have had a loin cloth, but the artistically-rumpled up parts that identify it immediately as a tied-off cloth could easily have been filed off. What;s interesting me at the moment, especially thinking about the Shroud’s peculiar hands and fingers is the possibility that arms may have been sawn off and re-positioned to create the horizontal entombment posture with crossed hands, My little brass crucifix, bought a year ago in France, is providing lots of clues as to what needed to be done to re-model a crucifixion statue as a post-crucifixion template for the tomb scene.


November 20, 2013 at 8:18 am | #42

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I’ll give some thought to that, Matthias, and no doubt ‘anonymous; will be along soon to remind us of the evidence of the blood that excludes all possibilities bar authenticity.

As a boring old science bod, I deal in boring old hypotheses that are testable, at least in principle (and practice too if Pope Francis were to permit a second week of investigation)

I say those sedillis of Mario Latendresse (see earlier) arrived first, as unwanted details of body image off a template, i.e. bolt fixture markings, and were subsequently disguised as blood.

OK, so here’s the prediction: if one gets 5 grades of sticky tape with increasing stickiness, and applies each in turn to the same sedillismark, the blood will come off first; revealing the scorch image underneath. (In fact, I would make the same prediction for all the blood stains on the Shroud, but that can wait).


November 20, 2013 at 8:48 am | #44

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I now find that the topic of Mario’s sedillis* was covered by Dan on Jan 29, 2012, provoking a lively debate as to whether the marks were scorches or blood.


I say they were both, acquired in that order.

* Am not sure that the italics are necessary, but I’m using them for now since it’s not a word in common usage in English, and refers in this context to a little known feature of certain crucifixion practice (not mentioned in the biblical account needless to say). I’m also assuming, rightly or wrongly, that the same word serves for both singular and plural (sorry, my Latin’s a bit rusty).


November 20, 2013 at 11:21 am | #46

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You make some interesting points. As regards manpower and secrecy, the Shroud is believed is said by authenticists to have been in the protection of the Templars prior to its first display in the mid 1350s. They were, as we know, a highly secretive order so would have had little difficulty in keeping their possession of the relic known only to themselves. By the same token they surely had the ability to fabricate it too, and keep that a secret (and money and manpower would have been no problem, at least prior to their liquidation by Philip the (Un) Fair). So Templar involvement could be said to cut

both ways where the debate between authenticity and medieval fabrication is concerned.

As for the nuts and bolts, I frankly don’t know enough about medieval bronzes to know if they were solid or hollow, but am inclined to think they were the first. That would make them an enormous weight. My own brass crucifix from the French street market is less than 15 cm from head to foot, but weighs a whopping 300grams!

If I place it against a wall, the only points of contact are the hands and, guess what – the buttocks? If one tried to secure by the feet there would be an unsightly gap, and the bolts would have to be angled if doubling as crucifixion nails. Frankly I doubt whether 4 crucifixion nails, through hands and feet, could have safely doubled as securing bolts to a wall, even indoors. My crucifix has a long threaded bolt into the middle of the back, but a better, neater solution for a full size effigy would surely be the buttocks, especially as they are flush against the wall, making for an invisible attachment if viewed from the side.

I’m fairly certain that the torso at least would have been modelled on a statue rather than bas relief (and have always considered the head to have a bas-relief mask-like appearance what with that token vertical hair, the sharp cut-off at both sides of face, being unconvinced by the bleaching/banding arguments). It’s the feet that are the give-away. No bas relief would have made the feet so problematical from an imprinting point of view. There is scarcely any imprinting of frontal feet, at least none recognizable as feet with toes, and it’s not difficult to see why if imprinting from a statue with the feet almost at right angles to the legs and torso.

Enough for now. I’ll give some thought to your other points.

November 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm | #48

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Anonymous :
Quote: “They were subsequently disguised as blood marks.”
Even if I completely disagree with your hypothesis concerning these marks, I want to say that they are not at all “disguised” as blood marks. They are scorches in fact. Look at the Shroud scope, around the area where those marks are and you’ll see other scorches looking pretty much the same color and intensity. Look at this area for example and compare the color and intensity of these obvious scorches with the marks Latendresse interpreted as blood: http://www.dshroud.com/shroudScope/shroudScope.shtml?zl=11&image=4&lon=17358&lat=1948
Remember that these marks that were described as blood by Latendresse where described as “probable scorches” by Miller and Pellicori in their analysis of the UV fluorescence photos of the Shroud…

Distinguishing blood from scorch by colour alone is not a straightforward matter, as this picture will show, if it transfers.

The problem is the heterogeneity that can exist within a single blood area, at least under maximum contrast settings. “Blood” can appear as both a plum colour and a superimposed red-brown. New(er) blood? Old(er) blood?

One needs chemical tests, obviously, like iron, haemochrome and other degraded haemoglobins, porphyrins etc (and dare I say mineral salts) to make a positive identification of blood.


November 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm | #49

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OK, so it didn’t embed. Here’s a old-fashioned link to the image in question:



November 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm | #53

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I wasn’t going to start the microscopy for a few days, Thibault, but you asked, so here’s the first using my revised technique (linen on top of heated template, damp cloth on top of linen, gentle manual pressure).

Let me say first of all that the procedure produces very faint scorches, dare I say Shroud-like, so faint that one can scarcely see them at all under a hand lens. Here’s a picture I have just taken at x40, the lowest magnification on my USB microscope.


I’d say the threads and fibres were a pale yellow, with no obvious “patchiness” or restriction to crowns of threads only, but these are early days.

November 21, 2013 at 4:56 am | #55

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anoxie :
What is the temperature of your “hot” template ?
Could you quantify the pressure ?

Good morning anoxie.

I place my template on a halogen ring turned up to its maximum value (incandescent red) and leave it there for at least 5 minutes until a small swab of fabric, touched against its top surface instantly chars to a toasted colour.

I had not thought seriously about measuring temperature precisely, making no secret of working in a kitchen But you have just given me an idea. If I drop my heated 320g template into a known volume of water, and measure the temperature rise, then knowing the specific heat capacity of brass (approx) it should be possible to work out its temperature.

I could give you ballpark estimates of course, based on the fact that the template is not hot enough to affect cellulose appreciably, the scorch presumably being a chemical dehydration of the more reactive hemicellulose constituents.

There’s a useful paper that gives the pyrolysis temperature of hemicellulose as 220
– 315 degrees C compared with 315 to 400 degrees C for cellulose.


Pressure? Apply fingers lightly based on the fact that the overlay gets hot quite quickly. Sorry I can’t be more precise, but this is less about science now, more about hands-on technology…


November 22, 2013 at 6:43 am | #56

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Matthias :
Colin / others – any further thoughts on those feet wounds ?

“Why would a forger do that?” is not a question that can be addressed scientifically, so any view I offered would probably be no better than anyone else’s and probably a good deal worse.

If it’s a scientific view you want, Matthias, based on hours spent examining every bloodstain in Shroud Scope, and doing so under different contrast and brightness settings in my photo-editing software, then you have only to ask,. But you might not like the answer. Oops – I warned “anonymous” a couple of days ago about the colour heterogeneity within Shroud bloodstains, and what it might be due to, as seen through an ageing increasingly jaundiced eye (except any jaundice in my eye would indeed be due to bilirubin, unlike anything blood-like on the Shroud that looks too good, especially too red, to be true).

Barrie Schwortz on EWTN Recently


November 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm | #5

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OK, so, you set out in Mode 1 to show that the Shroud is authentic, with blood of expected imprint character and composition. But when you find it’s not, you switch to Mode 2, saying that because the Shroud IS authentic, one would not expect the blood picture to be typical, due to crucifixion trauma, to miraculous imprinting processes etc.

OK, you are allowed to switch from Mode 1 to Mode 2, from a sceptical stance to a believer’s stance. What you are not allowed to do is switch back to Mode 1 again in order to diss someone still in Mode 1, still framing and testing scientific hypotheses about image formation. You are not allowed to tell that researcher that the “evidence” of the blood disproves their hypothesis, not when the so-called evidence rests on a number of allegedly miraculous processes. It is not evidence. It is a narrative – an agenda-driven narrative – an attempt to shoe-horn facts into a model, instead of fitting a model to facts. You cannot intermix science with magic, and still pretend to be scientific. You have forfeited the right to posture as a student of science.

If you choose Mode 2, then you must stay in Mode 2, and not attempt to cramp the style of those of us still in Mode 1. To do so repeatedly is not just unscientific. It is discourteous.


November 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm | #12

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Anomymous :
The bloodstains on the Shroud are both physically and chemically typical of any highly traumatized body that was tortured, scourged and who died by crucifixion. Therefore, it cannot be anything else than a burial cloth that enveloped for less than 48 hours a real dead body of a real crucified man and this could have been done by a forger who wanted to replicate the bloody stigmata of Christ (highly improbable scenario) or by some persons during a real Jewish burial procedure involving the corpse of Jesus or of another person looking like him. So, I don’t know what you tried to express with me using two different mode of expression.

Each time you make that comment (which must be numbered now in scores, possibly hundreds) you demonstrate your total ignorance of the scientific method. You treat model and fact as if they were one and the same. You do not understand the self-discipline that is needed to keep those in two separate compartments.

My advice to you is to stay in Mode 2 – and stop posturing as though your position were science-based. It is not. It is magic-based. That does not make it wrong – just unscientific . You have no business criticizing scientists who are still in sceptical Mode 1.


November 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm | #27

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Might I suggest that the President of STERA (Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association) check the literature on the instability of bilirubin when exposed to light (ordinary daylight, especially the blue component) before continuing to promote the Adler thesis? Adler himself belatedly acknowledged the instability of bilirubin in his paper on Shroud preservation.

There’s a fulsome literature on the subject, given its relevance to the phototherapy of neonatal jaundice (my very first research project in the early 70s) though now superseded by photoisomerism as the favoured mechanism.

Try searching (bilirubin + self-sensitized + photo-oxygenation ) if you want to know the real facts about exposing bilirubin to light and oxygen. It self-sensitizes its own destruction, via a singlet oxygen mediated process. It can be accelerated by riboflavin (also in blood). Here’s the link.


It’s a negative. It’s 3D. Yes? Maybe? Sort Of?


November 15, 2013 at 7:59 am | #5

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It’s not immediately obvious to this amateur pyrographist how one makes a scientifically rigorous comparison between the embedded 3D information in two images that are centuries apart in age. But one has to try, so this is what I did.

First I took my optimized ImageJ settings from the crucifix above and applied them the Durante2002 dorsal image on Shroudscope. There was some 3D enhancement of the Shroud image, as expected, but of rather inferior quality. So I decided to do it the other way round – to optimize on the Shroud image and then apply those settings to the crucifix scorch. The result came as a pleasant surprise – the 3D enhanced images were virtually identical to the ones displayed above. In other words, there’s no reason for thinking that the characteristics of the model scorch are qualitatively different from those of the Shroud.

The next thing to do will be to repeat the exercise on the frontal images of both Shroud and crucifix, which will be a lot more demanding an exercise, given the high relief on the brass which will make it virtually impossible to capture all the detail. But then I’ve always maintained that if the Shroud image were a contact scorch from a metal or ceramic template it would need to have shallow contours, i.e. bas relief, and it’s maybe worth remembering that Luigi Garlaschelli was forced to resort to bas relief in his frottage (powder rubbing) procedure, finding the face/head too difficult to imprint off his live volunteer.


November 15, 2013 at 11:10 am | #31

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Some folk here seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that I set out one Thursday afternoon to provide a complete solution to the Shroud enigma, with all loose ends neatly tied up. In fact the experiment was prompted by this comment from David Goulet:

“If anyone is doing another heated statue experiment, I’d be interested in seeing the result when using a statue with a minimum of three levels of contact – approximating the three levels of the body in the Shroud (top hand, bottom hand, lower trunk). Spatulas and coins are a good start but an object with more detailed 3D would be very helpful.”

That’s when I remembered having bought a brass crucifix a year ago, with some challenging in-the-round 3D that I had not got round to testing thinking it would be a “difficult” subject. It wasn’t actually, though I found I needed to use lots of backing cloth and a club hammer to press down into those accommodating and yielding layers.

I’m sorry the dorsal image could be mistaken for Superman, but when you come to think of it …oh, never mind…

Those with simplistic ideas about blood/image relationships might do well to ponder on the implications of Alan Adler’s claim for some bloodstains being out of stereoregister with body image (thus blood rivulets on “hair” for example) and if thinking his orthogonally-projected radiation is nonsensical, then what price the alternative of orthogonally- projected ammonia molecules needed in a more ‘naturalistic’ Rogers’ scenario? I personally dismiss both radiation and ammonia, but that leaves a lot of other possibilities open to experimentation and hypothesis-testing, shrugging off the dogmatists who say I’m wasting my time. It’s my time to waste – not theirs.

The first essential in attempting to understand the Shroud image is to begin by shelving or dumping a lot of the comfortable mantras and dogmas, taking stock of the “hard” evidence, of which there is not a great deal, whether in relation to image or that peculiar “blood”.


November 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm | #46

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Yes, but we are told that a modern day contact scorch does not match the microscopic appearance of Shroud fibres, yet so far I have yet to see a true photomicrograph of Shroud fibres (the x35 or x50 photos in those Mark Evans photographs only allow one to see the threads in reasonable detail, but not the individual fibres in close-up. Indeed, in the paper you cite, we are really told very little about the microscopic character of the individual image fibres of the Shroud except that they are uniformly pale yellow, with no burnt bits, and those yellow fibres can be adjacent to non-yellowed (the well-known half-tone effect)

But there is the crucial observation that scorched fibres are brittle, and putting that together with the evidence from Fanti et al elsewhere that Shroud image fibres fracture more easily than non-image fibres, there is an alternative explanation for the uniformly yellow fibres and the so-called half-tone effect, namely that we are now seeing only those very lightly scorched fibres (regardless of scorching mechanism) that have survived to this day without breaking and falling off. One can hardly expect the modern day experimentalist to reproduce image-forming mechanisms AND the effect of centuries of ageing and disintegration.

What’s needed, as I’ve said on numerous previous occasions, are high magnification, high HD photomicrographs, especially those from scanning electron microscopy, ones that allow us to see the surface of individual Shroud image fibres in close-up, as well as those that carry “blood” or whatever that red stuff is on the Shroud described improbably as a narrative-friendly “serum exudate of contracted blood clots” (one marvels they still look so red). We really can’t have this term “microscopic properties” routinely deployed as a debating point when all we have are views that are scarcely better, if at all, than those one could get simply by looking through a hand lens.


November 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm | #58

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I will post some of the 32 ME photographs the next week-end (including clear cloth, image, scorch, blood etc.).
Now it seems you want to see individual fibers of the TS image in close-up.
There is the high-resolution contrast phase picture
provided by Rogers, (Dan, can you show it again ?). The best one.
There are also the pictures from Fanti in our paper about superficiality…
” Indeed, in the paper you cite [My paper], we are really told very little about the microscopic character of the individual image fibres of the Shroud except that they are uniformly pale yellow, with no burnt bits, and those yellow fibres can be adjacent to non-yellowed (the well-known half-tone effect)”
The half-tone effect has nothing to do with the observed fact that “yellow fibers” can be adjacent to non-yellowed fibers.
The half-tone effects actually means that the color density of a given image area depends only on the numbers of yellowed fibers in a given image area and does not depend on the color of the individual fibers. All the image fibers have the same yellowish color (+/- 10%).
“But there is the crucial observation that scorched fibres are brittle, and putting that together with the evidence from Fanti et al elsewhere that Shroud image fibres fracture more easily than non-image fibres, there is an alternative explanation for the uniformly yellow fibres and the so-called half-tone effect, namely that we are now seeing only those very lightly scorched fibres (regardless of scorching mechanism) that have survived to this day without breaking and falling off. One can hardly expect the modern day experimentalist to reproduce image-forming mechanisms AND the effect of centuries of ageing and disintegration.”
That’s true. We have to think about the result of ageing and disintegration.
I don’t think that ageing and disintegration can explain the TS image properties.
We have to work.
But if you write: ” One can hardly expect the modern day experimentalist to reproduce image-forming mechanisms AND the effect of centuries of ageing and disintegration.”
then you close the door.

Thank you for the response. First reaction – I don’t see any discrepancy between my shorthand description of the half-tone effect and yours, and I certainly don’t dispute anything in your version. We are both agreed that imaging at the fibre level operates on an all-or-nothing basis, with no intermediate degrees of coloration at the fibre level, so that degrees of coloration at the thread or fabric level are due entirely to differences in ratio of coloured to uncoloured fibres, It’s analogous to a digital as distinct from analogue audio recording.


November 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm | #64


“…our hypothetical forger would have been so genius that he would have succeed to create perfect body images (forensically speaking) while being able (we don’t know by what miracle) to not distrurb or damage at all the blood and serum stains on the cloth! …”

Perfect body images, you say? No body image can be described as “perfect” unless you have the original subject for comparison.

As for blood, do you regard the blood trails as perfect too? What about the rivulets in the hair? Since when has blood from scalp wounds flowed down the surface of hair as if on glass?

Do I sense another reference to miraculous events? I thought your naturalistic theories for image formation did not require miracles. So why do you admit miracles to explain blood but not image?

And if miracles are part of your narrative, if only for blood, what gives you the right to sit in judgement on any scientific hypothesizing on image-formation mechanisms

that do not require miracles, especially when you constantly invoke bloodstains which by your reckoning DO involve miracles?

Your repeated dogma on blood v image is internally inconsistent, self-contradictory and TOTALLY unscientific. Kindly change the record (and try to find one that is not cracked).


November 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm | #67

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“It’s all rather inconsistent.”

What’s also inconsistent is the imaging of wounds as distinct from blood. Some folk claim to see wounds under the blood sites, forgetting that one is not supposed to see a body image of any kind, including lacerations, punctures etc, under a bloodstain (” blood first” dogma). Yet we have all that amazing morphology with the scourge wounds, what with that Fanti /Faccini paper listing the different kinds of scourge marks and their dumbbell lead endings – all said to be blood imaging only. One could be forgiven for thinking they were at least hybrid images – partly body image/partly blood, but no, that’s heretical thinking to imagine that any kind of body image could be under a blood stain assisting with interpretation.

Incidentally, thank you Hugh for reminding me that there’s another macroscopic criterion for body images that has to be met – namely no reverse-side scorching (though do we have anywhere an obverse side view of what is normally not visible due to that Holland cloth etc?).

I’ve decided to break with my present technique of pressing down into linen, since that drives hot pyrolysis gases through the interstices of the weave, and may be the reason for the reverse side discoloration. I’ll try sitting the crucifix on a pedestal arrangement, draping fabric over the top, then tamping up and down,comparing dry and moist tampers.One could argue that the latter drill is more technician-friendly, with less risk of burned fingers, and would arguably be as good if not better at imprinting finer detail. Once can also monitor the scorching, stopping as soon as there are signs of upper (reverse) side scorching.


November 16, 2013 at 10:43 am | #74

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ChrisB :
We’ve been through all this before haven’t we? Didn’t Thibault show that a contact scorch like this just doesn’t have the same microscopic properties as the Shroud.
As for the 3D, it looks to me like the crease in the fabric resulting from the heat has given rise to much of the 3D you can see there. Also, there’s far more of the image missing compared to the Shroud. I’d also like to see how superficial those feet scorches are. Do you have any microscopic images Colin?
Hugh, am I right in recalling you dismissed the scorch theory not long back. If so, does this experiment convince you otherwise?

Chris: I am still trying to determine precisely what these microscopic properties are that one is supposed to be reproducing. So far, it seems to be the half-tone effect that is meant, which simply means a mix of fibres with either a particular hue and intensity of yellow or white uncoloured with no in-betweens. But how much of that is a direct result of imprinting, and how much a result of subsequent ageing, with a few surviving weakly pigmented fibres?

It may sound like a cop-out, and Thibault seemed to indicate as much yesterday, but age and deterioration are the one certainty we have in this world of ours. The physicists call it entropy, and it’s a vastly important concept (like the driving force for ALL chemical reactions) . I’m sorry that it’s not easily testable, if at all, but that’s the nature of the problem – we are dealing with an exceedingly old piece of fabric, but one thing seems fairly obvious – the image seen in the 15th century, say, was a lot more intense than the one we see today, or it would surely not have attracted hundreds, thousands of viewers, many of whom died in a crush I believe on one occasion.

As for the entire thing being a result of creasing, all I can say is this. Press a hot template into fabric, and do the same to a sheet of smooth white paper alongside. You will get the same 3D enhancement in either. Creases play little or no part when one is dealing with scorch images, even the faintest.

Yes, there is image missing, because of flexure at the knees. But I was not attempting to imprint everything – merely trying to see what would imprint by pressing down into an underlay of cloth. Next week, I shall reverse the geometry and try imprinting from above with a tamper to get as much of the template in contact with fabric. The advantage of the new heavy brass template is that it holds its heat for much longer than previous smaller templates.

The image of the feet is not superficial, because I was holding the cloth manually against the soles for some time. However, I am presently starting to look in detail at the whole issue of superficiality, especially the reverse-side scorching that is said to exclude contact scorching from “relevant science”. Some of my fainter images from the crucifix show essentially no reverse-side scorching, and when they do, the coloration is confined to the deeper parts of the weave, with crown threads unaffected. It maybe that imprinting with fabric on top, allowing pyrolysis gases to escape more easily into the air, combined with damp tamping, could greatly reduce the “inadmissible” reverse-side scorching, especially as one can see and monitor scorching on that side with the new geometry. We shall see.

Microscopic images? No I don’t have any just yet.But let’s first be seeing the ones on which descriptions like “discontinuities” and “striations” are based and held up as “impossible” to achieve by any known means, except uv laser beams, corona discharges etc. Ordinary thermal energy, presented in a range of ways, should not be prematurely ruled out until thoroughly-tested.The answer may be as much in the (to be continued – we are only back to Nov 16 so far – lots more to come)




About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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