Might flour-power have been used create the enigmatic “Shroud” of Turin body image? A retired FMBRA flour scientist says …


Back in January 2012 this investigator set out to model the Shroud of Turin body image, using known scientific principles. (He thinks he may have succeeded!)

Imprint of this blogger's hand using new 3-stage technology, starting with dry flour as imprinting medium.

Imprint of this blogger’s hand using new 3-stage technology, starting with dry flour as imprinting medium.

It was in response to the claim by Paolo Di Lazzaro and his colleagues at Italy’s government-run ENEA research institute that the image was too superficial, allegedly as thin as 200nm to be explainable with known science, and that resort to exotic uv laser beams was needed to begin to understand the ghostly image. Well,  a superficial 200nm image would place it on the primary cell wall  (PCW) of linen fibres certainly one might think, making it difficult to model with classical forms of input energy. Or maybe not … Maybe the image is not on the PCW (see later).

The first two years of the project were spent investigating direct contact scorches from a heated metal effigy of the human form. That preoccupation was sustained by a theory, nay hunch, that a scorched-on image of a naked man with no obvious flesh wounds per se (ignoring bloodstains) might not necessarily represent that of a crucified man, but that of someone slow-roasted at the stake, namely Jacques de Molay, Templar Grand Master, thus despatched in Paris in 1314. It was also possible to make contact scorches fainter and more subtle than previously claimed, and to show that they were not only negative imprints but had 3D properties too (sorry, but 3D properties in imprints have no mystique).

Direct scorch imprint (old technology!) onto linen from heated brass crucifix (left) to give negative image. Response to 3D rendering in ImageJ (centre). Combination of tone-reversal -to restore positive image- and 3D-rendering (right). So let's be hearing no more about the 'profoundly mysterious' negative ND 3D properties of the Man on TS. They are the expected properties of any contact imprint.

Direct scorch imprint (old technology!) onto linen from heated brass crucifix (left) to give negative image. Response to 3D rendering in ImageJ (centre). Combination of tone-reversal -to restore positive image- and 3D-rendering (right). So let’s be hearing no more about the ‘profoundly mysterious’ negative ND 3D properties of the Man on TS. They are the expected properties of any contact imprint.

That approach changed dramatically with the new insight gained from the recently recovered Machy mould, with its Veronica-like motif) that the TS image might have been intended to represent a contact imprint left by a recently crucified man,  not only in blood but SWEAT also, the latter being the faint body image.

That idea tallied with the biblical account which describes the fine linen of Joseph of Arimathea being used to receive the body of Jesus from the cross, and then used, possibly stretcher-like to transport to the nearby rock tomb (as depicted in so much medieval (?) art).

See website caption. Medieval? Renaisssance? Who determined the cut-off point?

See original website caption (www.michaeljournal.org/shroud.htm)  Medieval? Renaisssance? Who determined the cut-off point?

Now discarding my art historian hat, and proceeding to don the biblical scholar one, let it be known that the New Testament account in the book of John gives no support to the idea that J of A’s linen was ever used, or intended to be used as the final burial shroud, and indeed there is a strong indication that a different source of fabric, supplied by the oh-so-Jewishly orthodox (?) Nicodemus blokey  was used for that purpose.

That then suggested an entirely different approach on the part of a medieval entrepreneur, namely to SIMULATE /mimic a highly aged sweat imprint of a dead man, full length, with a head to head frontal/dorsal configuration to make immediately clear to the viewer/pilgrim that the image was a body imprint, not a painting, thus accounting for the otherwise peculiar negative “tone-reversed’ properties first restored to a normal “positive” by Secondo Pia with silver-salt photography.

The real eye-opener: Secondo Pia's demonstration that the Ts image was a negative that could be restored to a positive using pre-digitsl photo-processing. The impact of the positive was and still is stupefying, but only because (?) it was being seen for the first time (party pooper interlude).

The real eye-opener: Secondo Pia’s demonstration that the TS image was a negative that could be restored to a positive using pre-digital era silver salt  photo-processing. The impact of that ghostly and serene positive was and still is stupefying, but only because (?) it was being seen for the first time (party pooper insertion).

Late insertion: as a sideline to the “hot template” scorch hypothesis, this blogger experimented briefy in October 2014 – almost a year ago- with an alternative “cold template” hypothesis,  one that could equally well have been applied to a REAL human subject – using oil and white flour to get the imprint that was then developed in a hot oven. He should have stayed with that, and not have been put off by crumbly, easily detachable imprints that were nevertheless remarkably detailed!  It was what’s underneath that mattered!

How might an ancient sweat imprint have been modelled? Initial experiments focused on acids, chosen for their ability to etch or colour linen, first sulphuric acid (H2SO4) which was unsuitable unless dangerously concentrated, then nitric acid (HNO3). While the latter had little effect on linen per se, it became effective if linen was impregnated with any substance that contained protein, turning it yellow via the so-called xanthoproteic reaction. It was quickly discovered that a slurry of white flour in cold water made an effective imprinting medium, the colour of which was then “developed” akin to pre-digital era photography using nitric acid vapour or solution as “developer”.

See this blog’s (outdated) banner above, which will need to be replaced  when  I’ve an hour to spare with the thermochemical  mid-14th- state-of-the-art technology (purely chemical development being oh-so- Spring 2015- fashion).


It was then discovered that roasting in an oven served equally well if not better than nitric acid to develop the flour imprint, probably via Maillard browning reactions between proteins and reducing sugars in the flour (note the crucial and possibly novel role of protein in the process). A further improvement was made by imprinting off the human form using DRY white flour onto pre-wetted linen, moulding the latter to body contours. As before, the wet linen and its imprint could be transferred to the oven for colour development. A final optional stage was introduced, namely to wash the roasted linen in soap and water so as to remove encrusted material leaving just a faint and arguably more TS-like image. Using dry powdered flour made that image impressively “fuzzy” and as with earlier scorch images it was negative and showed usually predictable 3D properties (hardly surprising when one learns how the  “3D-rendering” software works). What’s more, colour was localized predominantly on the highest parts of the weave, the so-called crown threads, as seen in the TS. That is explainable in the imprinting model as the result of flour particles attaching to the highest part of the weave, and remaining there during the development process. But did it match the peculiar microscopic properties reported for the TS?

Two in particular stand out in the much cited  STURP (1978, Mark Evans) “photomicrographs” – which scarcely warrant that description, however, being weave and threads in close-up with individual fibres difficult to discern.  One is the so-called two-tone effect, with two types of fibre only: uncoloured versus fully coloured, with no in-betweens. Second are the image discontinuities, where colour can stop abruptly on a particular thread and even fibre. Both those characteristics are seen in the latest flour-imprint model.

Indeed it’s been possible to account for them too, if it’s assumed that the flour-imprint ‘weeps’ its natural oil (1.5%) in the oven and that the oil plays a role in colouring the fibre. The natural oil being limited in amount explains the discontinuities and maybe half tone effect as well. Adding extra vegetable oil promotes faster colour development.

Migrating hot oil hypothesis to account for discontinuities in TS fibre coloration and possibly the so-called 'half-tone' effect too.

Migrating hot oil hypothesis to account for discontinuities in TS fibre coloration and possibly the so-called ‘half-tone’ effect too.

Further evidence in support of the model? Much will depend on where the image is located. Is it really on the most superficial PCW? In the present model, there’s another possibility. Linen has an unusual lignified layer in the outer part of the  (much thicker and tougher) secondary cell wall (SCW) immediately below the PCW.

Credits to follow shortly

Credits to follow shortly

Might the combination of heat and oil produce colouring in the S1, either of the lignin, the surrounding carbohydrate or both? Interestingly one sees no discrete coloration of fibres when cotton replaces linen. It is interesting, maybe significant, that cotton is a much purer form of cellulose with essentially no lignin. (Late addition: lignin was flagged up by BSTS Editor Hugh Farey as long ago as late 2012 as a neglected constituent of linen fibres, one that needed to be considered as possibly being the ‘real’ image chromophore on the TS, not carbohydrates).

Do I think the “Shroud” (quote-unquote) of Turin is a medieval flour imprint?

Ah, I’m glad you asked me that. Here’s my answer, in a single word (sorry, have exceeded my self-imposed 1000 word limit).

Postcript (first of two): got to wondering what folk might discover through googling “FMBRA” and my surname (“meegling”)  in the title. Came across this job ad in New Scientist from 1988!

Amazing what's preserved for posterity on the internet!

Amazing what’s preserved for posterity on the internet! I simply entered (fmbra berry). Search terms in yellow… FMBRA  of Chorleywood, Hertfordshire,UK no longer exists as such, having been merged with another research institute to become CCFRA (Chipping Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association). Its prime function now is to survive and pay this blogger’s monthly pension cheque.

Second postscript: added 30 Aug 2015

Having just modified/updated this blog’s title and credo, I got to thinking about what one might use to replace the banner with its now superceded ‘nitric acid’ technology. It has to be something that fits into a letter-box shaped template, ideally 940 x 198 pixels says WordPress. The first thought was a cut-and-paste horizontal TS image, frontal v dorsal, that being nice and rectangle-box friendly. But that’s such a cliche. Might one be able to MODEL that image, albeit on a small scale? Brainwave. Why not model it with the same brass crucifix that was used above in the now-abandoned direct scorching technology (heated metal scorch) and adapt it to fit the new flour imprinting procedure.  How?  Why didn’t I think of it before? Smear vegetable oil on the both front and rear sides of the crucifix, then dust both sides with dry flour, then wipe any oil/flour from the top of the head, then place rear side down onto the lower half of a vertical rectangle of  wet linen with some soft underlay to imprint the rearside/dorsal image.  Then turn the top end of the linen over the head and proceed to imprint the frontal/ventral image. Isn’t that exactly how the imprinting could have been done with a real person?  What’s more it helps to see how the frontal and dorsal images come to be so-well spaced and aligned if done in a single operation as suggested. One simply has to make sure that corners are properly superimposed, left and right, in the doubled-over linen before proceeding to press cloth onto the contours of the “subject”. Inevitably there will be some who will think I’m reverting to a metal-template model. That’s a risk we’ll have to take.

I had resolved to cease practical experimentation, given how it makes one an easy target for the sour-puss back-biting tendency of sindonology, but I’ll make this one exception, since if it works, the end-result should make an excellent banner for this blog, as well as conveying some subtleties of technique, like use of oil (previously flagged up for both theoretical and practical reasons) and the two modes of imprinting (previously tagged LUWU – Linen Underneath With Underlay- and LOTTO (Linen On Top Then Overlay) that can both be deployed to achieve synchronized double-imprinting.

Third postscript: 12:00, 30 August 2015

Dry-flour imprints onto wet linen from an oil/flour coated plastic template, the imprints then oven-roasted and seen here pre-final attenuation stage (soon to be washed in soap and water to leave a fainter, fuzzier, arguably more TS-like image).

Contact imprints onto wet linen(top)  and wet cotton (bottom)  from an oil-smeared/flour -dusted plastic template. The imprints were then oven-roasted and are shown here pre-final attenuation stage (soon to be washed in soap and water to leave a fainter, fuzzier, arguably more TS-like image).

Well, this result did not take long to obtain, using the latest homely, low-tech, medieval-friendly technology (nope, no uv excimer lasers were used in the making of this image).  A before v after sequence of photos has been used to create the new banner (just added) that replaces the previous ‘nitric acid’ technology shown earlier.

That completes this posting. I shall now move back to my sciencebuzz site.

My sciencebuzz site, going since August 2009/ homepage, This screenshot was from 31 Aug 2015

My sciencebuzz site, going since August 2009.
This screenshot was from 31 Aug 2015

where the next posting will show all the stages in producing the above image, before (above) and after the final image-attenuation step, the latter still homely and low-tech, namely washing in soap and water. That removes the high-intensity surface pigments  (probably Maillard products formed by high-temperature reaction between flour proteins and reducing sugars), leaving the much more subtle wash-resistant image that I suspect is NOT on the surface of the fibres (i.e, not on that PCW above) but in that mysterious lignified layer directly underneath the PCW, namely the outermost, first formed (S1) layer of the SCW.

End of posting.

Colin Berry

(contactable at sciencebod01@aol.com)

30th August 2015

Update: 1 month on (30 September 2015):

Am presently taking a break from full-time Shroud research, but am giving thought to some of the details that while interesting were previously well down the list of priorities, like:

  1. Why does the allegedly straw-coloured TS image  look so mauve and low-contrast in Shroud Scope, with scarcely any difference between body image and blood? I have emailed Mario Latendresse, and put it to him that the “Durante 2002” image supplied to him may have been photoedited to decrease contrast – with tell-tale reduction in  the percentage of red/green  (corresponding to yellow in additive, non-pigment colour mixing)  combined with an increase in the percentage of blue. This hard-to-fathom shift in colour balance is readily modelled when one takes, say, other TS images, notably those labelled as “Durante” and/or “post 2002 conservation” and intentionally decreases contrast to obtain that somewhat unsatisfactory default “Shroud Scope” look that cries out for extra contrast. * (See below for a copy of my latest email to Mario, October 4th 2015, setting out my case in detail for giving his Shroud Scope post 2002 conservation Durante-derived image some additional contrast).

2. Why the “side strip” aka selvedge (the 8.5cm wide strip that was cut from the long-dimension edge then apparently re-attached with a seam)?

It’s always been perplexing, and a number of explanations offered, none of which are entirely satisfactory. My hunch, for what it’s worth, is that the medieval  fabricators of the TS sought some means of reinforcing the idea that the linen should be seen as Joseph of Arimathea’s, supplied to the cross, and used as a stretcher/makeshift body bag (not as a final burial shroud).  The side strip was meant to implant the idea – possibly reinforced verbally by the first-generation custodians – of it having been hastily cut off to be used as a securing tie/ties, e.g. around the neck, waist and maybe the ankles too, the one length doing for all – and then later re-attached. Put another way, the side-strip would have served as an authenticity-promoting talking-point, but not today’s “authenticity-narrative” that assumes with no good evidence, certainly not biblical, that the TS can only have been intended as the final burial shroud. Medieval artists thought otherwise (see my previous postings).

Speaking of which -previous postings that is – I came across this today  on an evangelizing biblical site, while checking for latest online submissions in response to my now routine  Google ‘Shroud of Turin’ search (yes, we like to keep up-to-date):

“Arguing against the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is the Bible’s complete lack of evidence for such a burial shroud. As mentioned earlier, the Bible mentions a whole piece of linen that was used to take Jesus’ body from the cross. This linen was probably also used to transport the body to Joseph of Arimathea’s nearby tomb. At the tomb hasty preparations for burial were made; these would have included washing the body and rewrapping it. Luke 24:12 mentions “the strips of linen.” These same strips (plural) are mentioned twice in John 20:5–6. And John 20:7 says there was a “cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.” This description of the actual burial clothes—“strips” of linen, rather than one large piece; and a separate cloth to cover the head—seems to negate the claim that the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Christ.”

Transport linen, not final burial shroud? Hmmm. Now where have I read that before?

Yup: it’s in a string of my postings, starting in Dec 2014 approx.  See especially this one with its art reproductions notably Fig.5 and the caption referring to Joseph of Arimethea’s ‘fine linen’ being used (and intended) primarily as a makeshift stretcher. See also the posting that preceded it, proposing that the TS was inspired by the Veil of Veronica, and intended to be seen by relic-receptive medieval pilgrims as a plain old sweat imprint initially, though maybe miraculously enhanced with the passage of time, whether seconds, minutes, days etc…

Further update: Friday 2nd October 2015

I have just had a quick skim of the 4 instalment pdf from OK in Poland, flagged up on shroudstory.com. Despite its apparent erudition, there are some serious errors and oversights there,  ones this investigative blogger is now fully accustomed to where the pro-authenticity-brook-no-opposition mindset is concerned.  Should I respond? Nope, certainly not on shroudstory.com, that great black hole of the Shroudie blogosphere, where ideas and insights go in,  never to re-appear elsewhere. Yes,that site functions as a sponge, and I doubt that is accidental. That’s its raison d’etre one suspects – to soak up all Shroud-related comment, to put a positive spin on pro-authenticity contributions, to put a negative spin on anything that is off-message.

No thanks. Some of us have better things to do with our time than place comments (hundreds, possibly thousands in my case) on that site, simply to see them disappear without trace.

The whole idea of the blogosphere is to inter-link with other sites, AND with the big wide world outside the blogosphere, which for we investigators should translate into a gradually improving search-engine ranking and/or wikipedia visibility  That simply does not happen on Dan Porter’s site. Let’s not mince out words: it’s a sponge, precisely as intended, and thus a total, albeit clever and contrived abuse of internet.

Update: October 4th. Here’s a copy of an email sent earlier today to Mario Latendresse (see above):

Hello again Mario. Sorry to be so long in getting back. I’ve been busy looking at precisely what happens when one takes a typical ‘sepia-toned’ photograph of the TS, or rather its central zone, avoiding those 1532 burned regions, reducing contrast in my MS Office Picture Manager by degrees until it looks more like your Shroud Scope, and recording the RGB total and composition at each stage, using Image J (provided in the 3D Plugins/Analyze menu). Pure white is of course a max of 255,255,255 and pure black 0,0,0, giving max values of 765 and 0 respectively if one were working in grayscale (which of course we’re not, choosing to stay with colours, artefacts an’all, with a view to identifying precisely how the artefacts arise.

See attached my diagram in paint for the two simultaneous changes that take place when one lowers the contrast (though I doubt that any of this will be new to you, while for me it’s been an interesting pattern-finding exercise).

Highly schematic representation of what decreasing contrast does in terms of total RGB value (max 255,255,255) and % composition. Reducing contrast reduces total (R+G+B) and produces a strictly unit-for-unit shift from (R+G) to blue, which is equivalent to yellow to blue in additive colour mixing.

Highly schematic representation of what decreasing contrast does in terms of total RGB value (max 255,255,255) and % composition. Reducing contrast reduces total (R+G+B) and produces a strictly unit-for-unit shift from (R+G) to blue, which is equivalent to yellow to blue in additive colour mixing.

(Note: the above colours are not pure RGB 255 values, needless to say, being straight from the MS Paint palette).

First, the total (R+G+B) reduces when one moved the Contrast control from the mid-range zero down through negative values towards -100. Distinct blueing of any white areas in the image becomes apparent when one goes past -30 (I deliberately introduced a small solid white circle to my TS image in order to monitor that effect, though not enough to affect the average RGB except marginally).

The reduction in total RGB was related to the contrast setting by applying the formula:

% reduction = contrast setting x 0.3 (accurate to within 1% or less).

So on a Contrast setting of -40, there was a 12% reduction in total (R+G+B). On – 60 it was 18% etc.

As for the shift in colour balance, that too proved easy to quantify, simply by eye-balling the numbers and spotting the pattern. With progressive decrease in contrast, the sum of (R +G) as a percentage of total (R+G+B) became smaller, while B became larger. In fact, the two were simply related. If the initial (R+G) as a percentage of (R+G+B) was, say x%, and reduced to y% of the new (R+G+B) total, i.e. an absolute change of (x-y) percentage points, then the B component increased by (x-y)% when comparing its final % contribution to the total with the initial in absolute terms.

No doubt there are sound theoretical reasons for these patterns that you will understand, and possibly provide a link, but as I say, I’ve been content to see it simply as a hands-on pattern-finding exercise.

Conclusion: at least when using my photoediting software to decrease contrast, its impossible to avoid (a) a reduction in total (R+G+B) and (b) a shift away from (R+G), i.e. yellow towards blue.

That does not seem unreasonable, even if unavoidable. When increasing contrast in gray scale, the aim is to make the brighter regions brighter still, i.e. shift from gray to white, and the darker regions shift from gray towards black. So the opposite applies to a reduction in contrast – making the darker gray regions a lighter gray, making the paler gray regions a darker gray, thus reducing contrast. To achieve a similar effect with coloured images, yellow stands in for white (requiring a mix of R + G) while blue substitutes for black.

The test for the soundness of that conclusion from this novice is to predict what happens when one increases contrast in a TS image. One expects it to become progressively brighter, more yellow, less blue, and that is indeed what one sees.

Take home message: looking at your default Shroud Scope image alongside the more straw/sepia-toned Durante images available elsewhere online, I strongly suspect that the image you were given was originally sepia-toned too, and that the supplier deliberately reduced the contrast. Would you agree or disagree with that conclusion Mario?

If you agree, would it not be better to increase the contrast as default, rather than supply that option for increasing or decreasing contrast. Granted there might be a problem in deciding what was the “correct” default value. Maybe there isn’t one, at least scientifically, given that arbitrary decisions need to be made when converting a faint 4m x 1m image to a compact one on a computer screen. However, I maintain that it’s reasonable to expect better differentiation between blood and body image than one sees on Shroud Scope, where most of the difference ones sees with the other images have been largely lost (a shame in my view, making for a less interesting image).

(Update: helpful and constructive reply received to my email – 9th October – see below)

Afterthought: here are some actual numerical data for those who might wish to check out the ‘patterns’ for themselves.

'As is' sepia Durante TS image, taken from the sindone.com site. RGB values: 211.3/184.5/144.9

‘As is’ sepia Durante TS image, taken from the sindone.org site (with my added white circle):
RGB values: 211.3/184.5/144.9

As above, after reducing contrast to -30 in MS office Picture Manager. RGB now 177.4/161.2/137.2

As above, after reducing contrast to -40 in MS Office Picture Manager. RGB now 177.4/161.2/137.2

So what’s the effect of ADDING extra contrast to the Shroud Scope image? See here the effect of adding it stepwise in MS Office, 10 units at a time from left to right from initial zero to max 100 setting. The upper chevron is default brightness setting, the lower chevron with a modest increase (+10 units):

Stepwise addition of contrast to Shroud Scope image (top left) at two levels of brightness (upper and lower chevrons).

CLICK TO ENLARGE: stepwise addition of contrast to Shroud Scope image (top left) at two levels of brightness (upper and lower chevrons).

A need to submit controversial claims to a peer review? Definitely. Many of the claims of pro-authenticity sindonology desperately need to be submitted for peer review. Examples?

1. The claim/assumption that the Turin Shroud can be viewed as the final burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. That conflicts entirely with the biblical account, in which Joseph of Arimathea’s single large sheet of linen was delivered to the cross, not tomb, and can be reasonably assumed was intended merely to receive and transport a naked body to the nearby rock tomb, where it was then replaced by more specialized burial garments.
2. The claim that the body image cannot be a contact imprint, that there must have been imprinting across air gaps. testing that claim requires consideration of non-authenticity (‘forgery’) models in which linen is manually pressed onto body contours, instead of just draping loosely, presupposing a genuine burial scenario.
3. The claim that the body image is highly superficial (outermost 200nm approx layer on linen fibres, corresponding with the thickness of the primary cell wall). Where’s the hard data?
4. The claim that blood was imprinted before body image, suggested but not proved by the Adler/Heller enzymatic test performed on a microscope scale with supposedly image/blood bearing fibres.

5.  The claim that the TS image displays a proliferation of “wounds” corresponding to the biblical account (from scourge, nails, spear, crown of thorns) that can be logged and interpreted as if performing an autopsy on a real victim, as in that risible Robert Bucklin charade for the ‘Silent Witness’ documentary that so influenced and indeed pre-conditioned STURP.  Even the multiplicity of scourge marks with their ‘dumbbell shapes’ etc are, we are given to understand,  blood imprints, not part of the body image.Where is the evidence for a single instance of wound-imaging in the body image, as distinct from a bloodstain? Why was there no peer review of the claim for the body image showing evidence of wounds? Why is the burden of proof shifted to those who ask: “Where’s the evidence?”

6. What of the claim, nay set-in-concrete assertion, that the TS fibres display peculiar features at the microscopic level (“half-tone effect”, “discontinuities”,  “striations” etc). They are said to be visible in 8 particular Mark Evans so-called ‘photomicrographs’, despite their being enlargements of entire threads in a weave, not individual fibres. This investigator looked carefully at each of the 8 pictures recently, and found little evidence of the so-called microscopic feautures, and indeed an instance where there was a glaring discrepancy with the so-called half-tone effect. Why has the much cited panoply of “microscopic features” never been submitted peer review?

This investigator proposes that the TS body image was acquired as a medieval modelling of a sweat imprint onto Joseph of Arimathea’s linen, the latter deployed as a makeshift/stretcher-cum-body bag between cross and tomb. The proposed imprinting was done with an organic substitute for real sweat, possibly something in the form of a white powder that goes yellow or brown on brief oven-roasting, e.g. wheaten flour. There is nothing here to submit to peer review. These are proposals. They are not assumptions, nor preconceptions and certainly not dogmas.

Update: October 7th

Came across sceptic Joe Nickell’s site today, due to his having updated with a summary of the Italian group’s dismissal of Rogers’ mass specrometry data, the latter being used to claim the 1978 radiocarbon samples were atypical due to invisible re-weaving etc (yeah, right, he and other closet authenticists would say that, wouldn’t they?).

Was briefly minded to post a comment, until I saw what was written in red:



No thanks, Joe. It’s URL’s that make the blogosphere go round… Deny URLs and you betray either an ignorance of – or indifference to – blogospheric etiquette.

Further update: Thursday 8th October.

One ‘Giorgio HSD’ commenting on shroudstory.com has read a comment from newbie ‘diddlysquat’ and assumed for reasons best known to himself that it’s me, posting under a pseudonym. Not so – not my style – and in any case I don’t bother posting anymore to the Big Sponge. However, I do endorse heartily the sentiments expressed, namely that the 3D properties of the TS image are a illusion. It’s the software, e.g ImageJ, that creates the pseudo-3D effect, when given 2D images that have steps or gradients in their image intensity.The software merely elevates the image intensity, pixel by pixel,  onto an entirely artifical z (vertical) axis, and the crucial (much neglected) ‘lighting’ control can then be used to accentuate the 3D effect by means of the virtual shadowing created by lateral skimming angle illumination from a virtual light source.

In the last 4 years this investigator has shoen how ImageJ can be used to render at least 8 different sources of 2D images:

  1. The burn marks on the TS.
  2. The bloodstains on the TS including the dumbbell-shaped scourge imprints.
  3. Scorch imprints from a hot metal template
  4. Roasted white flour imprints in the current model
  5. Schematic diagrams constructed with MS Paint, e.g. concentric circles with stepwise increases in image intensity having, needless to say, no 3D history.
  6. A charcoal sketch of the TS image
  7. A representation of the TS in a medieval oil painting
  8. A Mickey Mouse cartoon

In biomedical science, when performing a colorimetric assay in which one mixes one’s test sample with a reagent chosen to produce a particualr colour, it’s customary, nay obligatory, to run a reagent blank, i.e. to determine any of the expected colour that may be present in the reagent, and to subtract that blank from one’s determination. Focusing entirely on the so-called “3D properties of the Shroud” to the exclusion of everything else is like doing a colorimetric determination with a dodgy non-specific reagent, and without bothering to do a ‘reagent blank’. It’s not just sloppy science. It’s pseudoscience. It’s what keeps shroudstory on the road, week after week, month after month, year after year.

See this posting of mine from a couple of months ago, showing how ImageJ actually works to produce pseudo-3D effects that are entirely artefactual, as a result of how the software has been programmed to generate that third vertical dimension, whether one wants it or not (yes, the default z=0.1 setting sees to that, and the lighting/shadowing does the rest).

Email reply just in (still October 8th) from Mario L – see earlier re the contrast level in Shroud Scope:

Hi Colin,

You have seriously taken on this project.

The Durante photo can certainly be modified to enhance contrast on a computer screen.

My only little quibble is on your use of “deliberately reduced the contrast” as if some negative intention were implied, but I might be reading too much in that statement. It was probably deliberate but for a specific reason, such as to increase visual acuity when printed, but I have no idea if this is the case.

A probable project would be to enhance the contrast of various areas of the photo with different parameters. Enhancing contrast over the whole photo is not ideal for viewing, because in doing so, the visual acuity is reduced in some areas.

By the way, I prefer to use raw tools such as “convert” from ImageMagick, because you can explicitly and systematically control the transformations. You can also automate the process used and document it so that others can easily reproduce it, even by using other software based on such transformations. I have never used ImageJ.

I will wait until I get the new implementation of Shroud Scope to reconsider what to do about the Durante photos. I might change its default contrast.



Update: Sunday 18th October

Eagle-eyed visitors to this site may notice that the strap next to the blog’s title is being progressively honed and tweaked. Why? Because it’s the strap that is displayed on Google listings, so has to be condensed down to the essential message.

Here’s how it read first thing this morning:

It’s neither authentic, nor a “burial” shroud. Think instead an ingenious look-alike blood/sweat imprint on Joseph of Arimathea’s  TRANSPORT linen.

But it was too long: the Google snapshot seen by anyone searching TURIN SHROUD (presently Page 2 of listings on google.uk) had chopped off the last two words, which this blogger considers important, possibly an original (and biblically-consistent) observation not widely bruited elsewhere.

It now reads: “It’s not a “burial” shroud. View instead as an ingenious look-alike blood/sweat imprint onto “Joseph of Arimathea’s” TRANSPORT linen.”

Hopefully, with some 12-13 fewer characters/spaces the entire strap will now appear on Google including TRANSPORT LINEN although it will probably be some 3-4 days before it replaces the previous longer one. Shame about having to delete one’s upfront, brutally honest stance on authenticity, but there you go (or rather, don’t/can’t go anymore in the interests of brevity).

PS: … and “oven-roasted” in the site’s title has just been replaced with the gentler “lightly-toasted”.

20 October 2015: the new pithier strap has now appeared on a Google search for SHROUD OF TURIN:

New strap: 20 October 2015

New strap: 20 October 2015

Update: Saturday 24 October 2015

Is this my final posting on the TS? Nope, not by a long chalk (though I’m taking a long holiday from the experimental side).

The next posting has a provisional title: “76 mistruths about the Turin Shroud”. (One could almost set that to music, featuring massed trombones).

Uh huh. That sindonology band is back in town...

Uh huh. That sindonology band is back in town…

Or there again (cautionary note):

never look at the trombones

Don’t expect anything soon – though end November is a possibility.

Musical finale:

Update: Tuesday 27 October.

Hard though it is to believe, the denizens of the shroudsponge site are STILL returning again and again to what are seen as allegedly conflicting NT accounts re burial garments. (oh no they’re not).

As stated here before, MANY, MANY TIMES, there is no conflict whatsoever between the “sindon” (single large linen sheet) supplied to the cross by Joseph of Arimathea (as per 3 synoptic gospels), intended for discreet transport of a naked or near-naked body to the nearby tomb, and the “othonia”, assumed to be a narrow winding strip (or strips) supplied by Nicodemus and taken direct to the tomb, along with that 100lbs of myrrh and aloes.

Even those 12th century Hungarian monks charged with providing simple pen-drawn illustrations for the Pray Codex had no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling those two separate sources of linen, providing us with a ‘snapshot’ of one replacing the other!

Hungarian Pray Codex (1192). Note the presence of TWO separate linens - Joseph of Arimathea's beneath the corpse, having served its transport function, and the narrow winding strip in readiness as the permanent burial shroud. (Whether the medieval mind was correct in asssuming 'othonia' to represent a narrow bandage-like winding is an entirely separate issue from that of TWO separate linens (sensible interpretation) v the self-serving notion prevailing in sindonology that J of A's linen was somehow intended to be dual-purpose, thereby air-brushing out John's testimony re Nicodemus having supplied additional linen replacing J of A's transport linen, to serve as final burial shroud).

Hungarian Pray Codex (1192). Note the presence of TWO separate linens – Joseph of Arimathea’s beneath the corpse, having served its transport function, and the narrow winding strip in readiness as the permanent burial shroud. (Whether the medieval mind was correct in assuming ‘othonia’ to represent a narrow bandage-like winding is an entirely separate issue from that of TWO separate linens (sensible interpretation) v the self-serving notion prevailing in sindonology that J of A’s linen was somehow intended to be dual-purpose, thereby air-brushing out John’s testimony re Nicodemus having supplied additional linen replacing J of A’s transport linen, to serve as final burial shroud).

Yes, yet another tedious update (October 29), appended more in sorrow than in anger.

Have just spotted this bathtime-brainwave, though lacking the obligatory “eureka”,  from “Thomas” on the shroudstory site:

October 29, 2015 at 2:48 am


The Shroud is just so mysterious! So compelling!
Lying in the bath tonight with my 187m (sic) tall, 200 lb frame (similar to the Shroud Man) I jiggled around with different lying postures and thought this:

Surely a medieval artisan, if creating the Shroud image, would have shown Jesus with legs together and flat, if portraying the image of a dead and buried Christ …eg. like this: (2 graphics).

The apparently bent legs – amongst other things – just make so little sense in the medieval artisan theory!

The answer to Thomas’s conundrum has been supplied on this site for well over 18 months, and was recently summarized in the new strap at the top, next to the site’s title.

It’s not a “burial” shroud. View instead as an ingenious look-alike blood/sweat imprint onto “Joseph of Arimathea’s” TRANSPORT linen.

What’s more, it was repeatedly stated and re-stated by yours truly on that same site.  Yet “Thomas”, an old hand on that site, now displays a total blindspot for the simple point this blogger has made, namely that the Shroud should be seen as a medieval modelling of J of A’s linen being used in TRANSPORT mode, from cross to tomb, NOT as a final burial garment. I don’t suppose Thomas is alone. Before learning can take place, some unlearning may be necessary. But authenticists  in their entirety seem incapable of appreciating that Joseph of Arimathea’s linen (real or medievally-modelled) was NOT intended to serve as a burial shroud but as a temporary makeshift transport aid (i.e. stretcher or indeed up-and-over body bag).

from-cross-to-tomb-1So imaging, real or modelled, could have occurred IN TRANSIT, while  (notionally at any rate) blood  AND bodily sweat were still reasonably moist etc. thus making all the intricate body washing/wound re-bleeding/clot-retraction scenarios unnecessary, at least in the medieval modelling (the focus of Thomas’s comment).

The internet, or at any rate blogosphere, may serve as a handy means of instant communication. But it’s clearly a dead loss, at least in this blogger’s keyboard-fingering hands, as an instrument of start-from-square-one EDUKASHUN!

Update: October 30th

I went to see one of my three grown-up offspring last night (all in their 30s). The one in question does medical research at Cambridge University, and is scheduled to give a paper in Japan shortly (awarded £300 prize – yen equivalent) by conference organizers before even arriving!). Having spotted a comment this morning on the shroudsponge site (more later) that made reference to the St.Louis 2014 Shroudie so-called “conference” (the one that made no provision for questions/answers – thus making CONFERence a total travesty) I accessed the real conference website that lists my offspring’s contribution to see what it said about questions.

Here’s the drill for those giving oral presentations:

instructions for oral presentersNote the split between talk and questions – the latter comprising between a quarter and a third of the total time allotted.

Even the drill for those giving poster presentations reads:  “The poster discussion is open-ended. Speakers should stand in front of their posters at the poster discussion time on…”

Yes, what you see above is the protocol for a genuine conference, in stark contrast to that travesty that took place in St.Louis in 2014.

Over a year later, we see Robert A. Rucker, nuclear engineer turned  Shroud-smitten theo-physicist, slipping in a mention of his St.Louis ‘credentials’ to a comment on shroudsponge (ed. now elevated to as yet unread posting) as if somehow giving extra authority to his wild fantasies. Well, I have news for you, Robert A.Rucker. Authority carries with it accountability. No accountability, no authority. Your St.Louis presentation gives your words no more weight and authority than one of my blog postings. Indeed, it gives less, since mine have been open for questions and criticism here and on shroudstory, aka here as shroudsponge, for the best part of 4 years.

When is shroudology going to organize a genuine CONFERence, one that makes the guest speakers and poster presenters ACCOUNTABLE for their words? Some like this blogger would welcome that extra shop window for their ideas, as an alternative to submitting them to that bottomless pit called shroudstory.com.  See the “Thomas” comment above as proof of the utter futility of communicating one’s ideas with that sponge of a site, one that is content to ‘mop up’ current thinking, retaining thereafter somewhere within its dark innards, giving nothing back in return (except promotional plugs for the likes of that St.Louis so-called conference).

Shroudology (re blogosphere and phoney conferences) reeks to high heaven. Correction: its version of heaven.

Added note: there are some who may think my words are a bit harsh. If so, might I suggest they take a look at Dan Porter’s posting from October 2014 entitled “The Conference (sic) Is Over”. The following passage alone gives a flavour of the true nature of a Shroudie so-called “conference” – recalling there were no questions, least of all critical comments permitted before that “seismic applause” (sic).

Saturday afternoon: When Bob Rucker finished his extended talk, MCNP Analysis Of Neutrons Released From Jesus’ Body In The Resurrection the applause was seismic.  In closing, he mentioned that he had a few handouts of his slides. They were gone in 15 seconds as people all but climbed over tables to grab them. I was approached by several people to see if I would publish his PowerPoint now because nobody wanted to wait until the conference papers were published, probably in December. Bob has given me an electronic copy of 54 of his charts and is writing up notes of what he said. When I get it I’ll post the whole thing here. So watch for it. 

Who was it who said that Shroudology is 90% pseudoscience? Oops. It was me. Except I’d now revise that to 95%.

So what one sees above is a parody of a scientific congress, when in reality it’s essentially a support group catering for the needs of a minority interest. Welcome to the 21st century, where media manipulation, internet-enabled, rules supreme.

Update: Monday 2nd November

Am happy to tack little addenda onto this posting, now well over two months old. It saves having to write new ones. More importantly, it gives insights into how the Google algorithm works if one pares down the variables (no new postings, no new comments on other sites). Yes, there has been confirmation of a long-held suspicion that having links made to one’s site on another one (in particular) does nothing whatsoever for one’s Google ranking – indeed quite the contrary! Nuff said.

Have been taking another look at those two splendid research paper re the Machy Mould that Ian Wilson published in previous BSTS letters.

Link to the second:   (which has a link to the first) – both pdf.

What a pleasure they both are to read – and the attention to detail and cautious summarising are an example to us all. Having said that, I have to take issue with him re his conclusion that the Lirey badge cast from the Machy Mould was a Mark2 version of the better and longer known “Paris” Lirey badge (i.e. the lead/tin alloy one dredged up from the Seine in Paris in 1850, now housed in the Paris Cluny museum). Why? Because the Machy mould simply depicts the familiar double-body imprint, along with a Veronica-like Jesus image above the lettering SUAIRE and the two coats of arms (Geoffroi de Charny and Jeanne de Vergy). Apart from that, there is nothing else to suggest that the double body image was that of a crucifed man, far less that it was Jesus. It was a relatively “safe” image, maybe suggesting that Jesus might in principle have left an imprint on Joseph of Arimathea’s linen, comparable to that of the legendary Veil of Veronica, then attracting huge numbers of pilgrims, but without claiming that the Lirey shroud was the actual extant 1300 approx year old imprint – merely an “artist’s impression”, despite the attempts at realism (negative imprint rather than painting). That would explain why Henri of Poitiers, Bishop of Troyes, was initially enthusiastic about the new “cult” at Lirey, referred to by Wilson. So what changed his mind, resulting in the furious missives to the Avignon Pope set out in the d’Arcis memorandum? Answer: that “Paris”Lirey badge. Why? Because the Veronica-like image has been replaced by a set of implements used in scourging and crucifixion (something which Wilson describes but omits from the final analysis) namely a flagrum, nails, pincers for removing  nails, box-like tomb etc. In other words the Paris badge essentially said: “What this pilgrim who sports this badge was privileged to view at Lirey was the ACTUAL length of linen upon which the crucified Jesus left his double-imprint, ie. that described in  the first three synoptic NT Gospel chapters as supplied by Joseph of Arimathea to the cross, and used to receive the body for transport to the nearby rock tomb”. It was the inclusion of those crucifixion ‘paraphernalia’ that so infuriated the local bishop, especially if he had first been lulled into taking a softer line re the Mark 1 “Machy” badge.

So when did the changeover occur? Probably around 1356, with the death of  Geoffroi de Charny at the Battle of Poitiers (when his king-cum-close confidante, John the Good, was captured and held to ransom). When Geoffroi was still alive, pre-1355, he authorized the Machy mould and the resulting badge, there being little risk of any charge of blasphemy. After he died, his widow Jeanne de Vergy took a different, harder line, maybe driven, as Wilson proposes, by finding herself in financial straits, and looking to a re-launch of the Lirey Shroud as a bigger and better draw and money-spinner. That would have been the signal for Bishop of Troyes, Henri de Poitiers to erupt in fury.

Nope. I’ve said nothing here about “wounds” or “blood”, pertinent to the linen we see today, though not necessarily that when it was put on display in the mid 1300s (notwithstanding Adler & Heller’s blood first/image second dogma), there being quite enough speculation already. There are no obvious attempts to represent either wounds or bloodstains on either of the Lirey badges, maybe on account of their small size, maybe not, so it’s futile to go looking for answers on either of those artefacts.

Update 26 November 2015

Acquired a uv lamp today, the sort used to check bank notes that have otherwise invisible security features.

banknote under uv 1

Left: under ordinary artificial light. Right: under the ultraviolet lamp.

Yes, it worked perfectly, revealing  the fluorescent imprints on sterling (see above) and euro banknotes that are only visible under uv. (Sorry, no dollars left, having given my remaining store to offspring, ahead of the latter’s attendance at a San Diego conference).

Have tried the same lamp on my archive of Mark 1 scorches, obtained with hot metal bas relief templates, comparing with the new Mark 2  model (oven-roasted flour imprints from my own hand, before and after washing with soap and water). Preliminary results are most encouraging, suggesting that the new Mk 2 system gives a close match with the TS , where the body image is non-fluorescent under uv, while the 1532 “scorch” marks are. I now need to do a series of new controlled experiments, comparing Mk 1 v Mk2, taking photographs along the way.  If all goes well, there may be a new posting (first since this one now 3 months old). That may take some time, and won’t start for a week or so in any case.  Expect something mid-December.

Incidentally: those who stomp around the Shroudie lecture circuit scoffing at the idea that the TS image could be a scorch (any kind of scorch) on the alleged grounds that  “all scorches fluoresce under uv”, then citing as sole evidence the claimed fluorescence of the TS “scorched areas” may be in for a bit of a surprise. Has it never occurred to them that their blanket statement regarding scorches requires modern experimental evidence from controlled experiments, NOT references to the semi-carbonized edges of the 1532 burn holes of the earlier “poker holes” (of undetermined provenance actually).  Those regions have little if anything in common with the models proposed – certainly not the Mk2 flour model, or even the Mk1. While admittedly a bit of a mouthful “thermochemical imprint” involving either the linen, a surface coating or both might usefully replace the vague term “scorch”.

(Late addition: googling has just turned up this earlier statement of my views on the ‘all scorches fluoresce’ dogma’ from a year ago). With the pantomime season now on us, my riposte is “Oh no they don’t”.)

None of my ‘thermochemical imprints” (Mk1 or Mk2) are semi-carbonized. How do I know? Because they are totally decolorized with ordinary domestic bleach (sodium hypochlorite). That would not be the case if there were any elemental carbon present.

In conclusion: the important thing is not to demonstrate that this or that thermochemical imprint fluoresces under uv as per the fringes of the TS “poker holes”. The important thing is to demonstrate that any model one proposes for the body image, whether or not a thermochemical imprint, does NOT fluoresce under uv.  Calling it a scorch does NOT necessarily mean it’s fluorescent under uv, and therefore excluded from consideration. There’s really no place in science for “rules of thumb” that are bandied around without having bothered to verify them via controlled experiments.





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 contact imprint, FMBRA, medieval forgery, Shroud of Turin, sweat imprint, Turin Shroud and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Might flour-power have been used create the enigmatic “Shroud” of Turin body image? A retired FMBRA flour scientist says …

  1. Colin Berry says:

    “Grandad. You’re funny”.
    From the mouths of babes.

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