10 reasons for thinking that the Shroud of Turin does NOT show a crucified man (more likely a barbecued Knight Templar)

Cautionary note:  this is a hurriedly-written post, a response to some who have totally misunderstood my scribblings these last two years, or (more probably) have not bothered to read them – probably relying instead on second-hand accounts. Being hastily written, I reserve the right to come back and edit, amend etc.

1. The Turin Shroud has been radiocarbon dated by three  independent labs to 1260-1390,  providing  prima facie evidence it is not 1st century. Attempts to explain away the result as “invisible mending” are mostly fixed mindset, narrative-driven nitpicking.

2. The base image of the Shroud simply shows a naked man with no obvious wounds.

Shroud of Turin as it would look without those bloodstains. But the latter are the only evidence for the existence of wounds. There is no clear and unequivocal evidence for wounds in the basal body image.

Shroud of Turin as it would look without those bloodstains. But the latter are the only evidence for the existence of wounds. There is no clear and unequivocal evidence for wounds in the basal body image.

The claims for wounds, specifically those created by scourging or nails, rest entirely on blood (or blood substitute) that could have been painted on afterwards.  Evidence for “blood-before-image” rests on one form of evidence only (spot test on a microscope slide with enzymic digestion).

3. The image of the man on the Lirey medallion/pilgrims badge circa 1357,  also shows a man  who while appearing distressed, shows no obvious wounds. The only evidence is the “blood belt” on dorsal side,  that being Ian Wilson’s description, and that might equally well be some kind of restraining cord or chain. Chains were not used in crucifixion, but were used for burning at the stake. (I may add some details here later that may NOT help my case, but there you go,  that’s science bizz).

4. The Lirey medallion bears the  coat of arms of  French knight Geoffroi de Charny and his wife Jeanne de Vergy.  De Charny is considered by some to be the nephew of Geoffroi de Charney, one of the Knights Templar burned at the stake in Paris on the same day in 1314 as Jacques de Molay, last Grand  Master. Any objective evaluation of the Shroud of Turin has to consider the possibility that the figure represented was a Knight Templar, undergoing torture and/or death by burning.

The final indignity - to be available in a "toy soldier" catalog

Jacques de Molay’s  final indignity – to be available near-naked  in extremis in a “toy soldier” catalog. Note however the marked similarity with the Shroud image.

5. The Shroud image has the physical and chemical characteristics of a superficial heat scorch in which linen carbohydrates become partially degraded by heat. The pyrolysis reactions are poorly characterized but  intuitively involve chemical dehydration, cross-linking etc etc. Why would a medieval artist  choose to employ quirky pyrographic art  to produce an image instead of conventional paint or some other applied pigment? Was it a deliberate attempt to convey in vivid form the manner of torture up to and including  death – by slow roasting of a man at the stake?    (Ed: Incomplete in one very important aspect – see postscript*)

6. Negative image. Unattractive but it is what is obtained if one imprints from a template.comparable to a heat brand on cattle hide. Negative images can be vastly improved by reversal of light/dark, as is the case with Secondo Pia’s discovery of the iconic light/dark reversed image. What’s more negative scorches also respond to 3D enhancement. The Shroud image is fully consistent with a  contact scorch. Inconsistencies (modern-day lack of fluorescence under uv) should be viewed as a challenge – not used to contemptuously dismiss.

7. Peculiar scratch marks on Shroud – overzealous scourging of the actual fabric, maybe with a blood-coated flagrum- to create some of those “scourge marks”?

8. Evidence based on blood is largely speculative if the blood has not been radiocarbon-dated.  There are difficulties with the blood studies, i.e. Group AB, bilirubin, hydroxyproline,  special ‘trauma-induced’ type of  ‘high spin methaemoglobin ‘ etc etc, all addressed in previous postings (links to come).

9. The crossed feet – for a crucifixion pose a qualifying  assumption of rigor mortis  is required . No such assumption needed if the Shroud is an imprint from a life-size crucifix. Again, there are difficulties here that do not (for now at least) help my case. They will be added later.

10.  Elongated fingers? Peculiar arm alignment (despite evidence being largely obliterated by 1532  fire-damage and burn holes?   Head too small for torso?  There are details that are difficult to relate to a real human being, and easier to ascribe to an effigy.

Again, apologies for the rushed nature of this posting,.  But when you find bowdlerised, nay mangled  versions of your views appearing on shroudstory.com (not just once, but twice of late) then immediate action is required to set the record straight.

Publish and be damned. Again, that’s science bizz for you. Maybe I should switch to nitpicking mode. It’s so much safer.

PS : (26 Jan)  Maybe it’s old age, but I omitted to mention the most important detail – namely how the image was created. That’s what happens when you get too close to a topic of interest.

I believe the image was made by heating a life-size template (or templates) and then covering with linen, with a final overlay of damp sacking or similar.  See my first  LOTTO posting (Lotto = Linen On Top, Then Overlay) and following posts.  The two fabric layers were then hand-moulded to the contours, capturing the relief as a superficial heat scorch.

brass rubbing

Think of thermal imprinting as a variant of brass rubbing (above).  Use linen instead of paper, heat the template, and there’s no need for the  wax crayon – just a damp cloth and cautious pressing with fingertips. (Although a ‘thermograph’ will of course be left-right reversed, unlike the brass-rubbing above).

Everything except the head  may have been imprinted from a bronze of the crucified Christ (thus the crossed feet), though the arms would need to have been sawn off and re-positioned. Providing the ‘patting’ was gentle there would be minimal ‘wrap-around’ distortion.  The head was perhaps added from a separate template,  probably using a shallow bas relief. That might explain why the head looks somewhat too small relative to the rest of the body, and the peculiar appearance of the neck region where two separate images meet.

Update, Monday 27 Jan.

Here’s a comment on The Other Site that I have decided not to respond to there, having addressed it a number of times previously, and in some detail, starting with this posting on a different site.


January 26, 2014 at 11:19 pm | #222

I guess whoever fried de Charny must have added the burn holes after seeing the Hungarian Pray Manuscript! yeah right

followed by:

daveb of wellington nz
January 27, 2014 at 2:42 am | #225

Nice to see some wit at last! Pray manuscript 1192, Knights Tamplar Jacques de Molay & Geoffrey de Charnay executed 1314! But still a better call than Leonardo, died 1519!


My response:  We’re off to an early start today with the ‘whataboutery’ I see. I wondered who would be next to play the HPM card…

No disrespect to Dr.Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, but she really should have confined her comments to textiles, and not go playing I-spy-L-shaped poker holes* when looking at selected figures and/or objects in a single obscure codex. Heaven spare us from professionals operating out of area (though I may engage in a little of that myself this morning in relation to Rogers’ so-called chemical clock, the equivalent in horological terms to a burning candle to which the creator has thoughtfully attached a home-made, rough-and-ready time scale. (The analogy is better than might seem as first sight, once you factor in the alternative fates of melted wax).

See also the comments under “A Masterly Demolition of the Pray Manuscript?”.


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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