Jesus dna blood national geographic

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The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot linen cloth bearing an image of a crucified man that has become a popular Catholic icon. For some, it is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus Christ. For others, it is a religious icon reflecting the story of the Christ, not necessarily the original shroud.

More than 600 years after it first appeared in historical records, the Shroud of Turin remains an important religious symbol for Christians around the world.

1. The shroud first surfaced in medieval France.

The earliest historical records of the Shroud of Turin place it in Lirey, France during the 1350s. A French knight named Geoffroi de Charny allegedly presented it to the dean of the church in Lirey as Jesus’ authentic burial shroud. There’s no record of how de Charny got his hands on the shroud, nor where it was during the 1300 intervening years since Christ’s burial outside Jerusalem.

WATCH: Jesus: His Life on HISTORY Vault

2. The pope soon declared it was not an actual historic relic.

After the church of Lirey put the shroud on display, the church began to draw a lot of pilgrims, and also a lot of money. However, many prominent members of the church remained skeptical of its authenticity.

Around 1389, Pierre d’Arcis—the bishop of Troyes, France—sent a report to Pope Clement VII claiming an artist had confessed to forging the shroud. Furthermore, d’Arcis claimed the dean of the Lirey church knew it was a fake and had used it to raise money anyway. In response, the pope declared the shroud wasn’t the true burial cloth of Christ. Still, he said the Lirey church could continue to display it if it acknowledged the cloth was a man-made religious “icon,” not a historic “relic.” Today, Pope Francis still describes it as an “icon.”

3. De Charny’s granddaughter was excommunicated for selling it to Italian royals.

In 1418, when the Hundred Years’ War threatened to spill over into Lirey, Geoffroi de Charny’s granddaughter Margaret de Charny and her husband offered to store the cloth in their castle. Her husband wrote a receipt for the exchange acknowledging that the cloth was not Jesus’ authentic burial shroud, and promising to return the shroud when it was safe. However, she later refused to return it, and instead took it on tour, advertising it as Jesus’ real burial shroud.

In 1453, Margaret de Charny sold the shroud in exchange for two castles to the royal house of Savoy, which ruled over parts of modern-day France, Italy and Switzerland (the house later ascended to the Italian throne). As punishment for selling the shroud, she received excommunication.



4. Before the shroud moved to Turin, it was almost lost in a fire.

In 1502, the house of Savoy placed the shroud in the Sainte-Chapelle in Chambéry, which is now part of France. In 1532, a fire broke out in the chapel. It melted part of the silver in the container protecting the shroud, and this silver fell onto part of the shroud, burning through it. The burn marks and the water stains from where the fire was extinguished are still visible today.

In 1578, the house of Savoy moved the shroud to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, which later became part of Italy. It has remained there ever since, with the exception of World War II, when Italy relocated it for safekeeping.

5. There have been many scientific studies about its authenticity.

Despite the fact that Pope Clement VII declared the shroud a fake over 600 years ago, there has been no end to the debate about the shroud’s authenticity. Starting in the 20th century, people on both sides of the debate began to bolster their arguments with scientific studies.

In the 1970s, the Shroud of Turin Research Project said the markings on the cloth were consistent with a crucified body and that the stains were real human blood. In 1988, one group of scientists said their analysis showed the shroud originated between 1260 and 1390, while another said their analysis showed it originated between 300 B.C. and A.D. 400. In 2018, researchers used forensic techniques to argue the blood stains on the shroud couldn’t have come from Christ.

6. The shroud is protected by bulletproof glass.

Security is tight for the frail Shroud of Turin. It is rarely shown to the public, and is guarded by security cameras and bulletproof glass. The latter security measure actually proved to be a bit of a roadblock in 1997, when a fire broke out in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Firefighters had to hammer through four layers of bulletproof glass to save the shroud.

7. The shroud entered the digital age.

In April 2020, Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia announced that in light of the devastation from COVID-19, people around the world would be able to view the Shroud of Turin online for Easter. On the Thursday before the holiday in 2020, Italy reported 143,626 known cases of COVID-19 and 18,279 deaths from the virus. Archbishop Nosiglia said he was motivated to provide a livestream of the shroud, which was last publicly displayed in 2015, by thousands of people who requested to view it during the global COVID-19 crisis.

READ MOE: What Did Jesus Look Like?


Why Shroud of Turin's Secrets Continue to Elude Science

The 53-square-foot rectangle of linen known as the Shroud of Turin is one of the most sacred religious icons on Earth, venerated by millions of Christians as the actual burial garment of Jesus Christ.

It is also among the most fiercely debated subjects in contemporary science, an extraordinary mystery that has defied every effort at solution.

Over the 117 years since a photographic negative of the linen unexpectedly revealed the image of a tortured body, ranks of physicists and chemists have weighed in on the fabric’s age and the image’s composition. Forensic pathologists, microbiologists, and botanists have analyzed its bloodstains, along with specks of dirt and pollen on its surface. Statisticians have combed through mountains of data.

The sum result is a standoff, with researchers unable to dismiss the shroud entirely as a forgery, or prove that it is authentic. “It is unlikely science will provide a full solution to the many riddles posed by the shroud,” Italian physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro, a leading expert on the phenomenon, told National Geographic. “A leap of faith over questions without clear answers is necessary—either the ‘faith’ of skeptics, or the faith of believers.”

On April 19, the shroud goes on public display at Turin’s cathedral for seven weeks, its longest exhibition in modern history.

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The Scientific Record

Scientific inquiry into the shroud began in 1898, with the startling image captured by Italian amateur photographer Secondo Pia. Under normal conditions, only the vague sepia blur of a human body appears on the fabric. But when Pia examined the reverse negative of his photographic plate in the darkroom, he discovered the detailed likeness of a bearded man with visible wounds on his body.

For seven decades, indirect analyses of the image were conducted by researchers, most aimed at determining whether it had been painted onto the linen or produced through contact with a human corpse. It wasn’t until 1969 that scientists were allowed to examine the fabric directly, with the task of advising on preservation techniques and future testing. This set the scene for the establishment of the U.S.-led Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), which was granted an unprecedented five days of continuous access to the shroud itself in 1978.

The project’s 33 members ran the gamut of scientific disciplines, and their credentials included high-level posts at 20 major research institutions. They arrived in Turin with seven tons of equipment and worked in shifts 24 hours a day. An associate team of European scientists acted as expert observers.

Their analyses found no sign of artificial pigments. “The Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist,” the project’s 1981 report declared. “The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin.” But the report also conceded that no combination of “physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances” could adequately account for the image.

The Shroud of Turin, the STURP team concluded, “remains now, as it has in the past, a mystery.”

The Carbon-14 Bombshell

In 1988, the Vatican authorized carbon-14 dating of the shroud. Small samples from a corner of its fabric were sent to labs at the University of Oxford’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (RAU), the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. All three found that the shroud material dated to the years between 1260 and 1390, more than a millennium after the life and death of the historical Jesus.

The labs assessed the reliability of their estimate at 95 percent. To make the case even more convincing, the dates closely coincided with the first documentedappearance of the Shroud of Turin in 1353.

Since their release 27 years ago, the carbon-14 dating results have become the focal point of the shroud controversy, with a stream of critics taking aim at its methodology and conclusions.

Among the most innovative critiques were those published in 2010 by statisticians Marco Riani, of the University of Parma in Italy, and Anthony Atkinson, of the London School of Economics. In a recent interview with National Geographic, they noted that the laboratories conducting the carbon-14 tests were in full agreement on the ages of control fabrics from an ancient Egyptian mummy, a medieval Nubian tomb, and a medieval French ecclesiastical vestment. Yet raw data from the same tests on the shroud yielded results that differed by more than 150 years.

The published carbon-14 findings were the mean results drawn from the combined data of the three labs. It was assumed that the data were “homogeneous”—near-identical age estimates based on repeated measurements of the samples, each of which had been divided into four segments for testing.

But when computers crunched through all 387,072 ways to cut the samples, they identified a marked pattern of variations. “The dating which comes from a piece at the top edge [of an uncut sample] is very different from the date which comes from a piece taken from the bottom edge,” Riani explains.

“Our research does not prove that the shroud is authentic, nor that it is 2,000 years old,” he cautions. But it does call into question the carbon-14 report’s assertion of “conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is medieval.”

The Oxford lab insists that the 1988 conclusions were accurate, and rejects arguments that the test samples were flawed.

The Question of Questions

Looming above all other issues is what physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro calls “the question of questions”: how the image was produced, regardless of its age. Every scientific attempt to replicate it in a lab has failed. Its precise hue is highly unusual, and the color’s penetration into the fabric is extremely thin, less than 0.7 micrometers (0.000028 inches), one-thirtieth the diameter of an individual fiber in a single 200-fiber linen thread.

Di Lazzaro and his colleagues at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) conducted five years of experiments, using state-of-the-art excimer lasers to train short bursts of ultraviolet light on raw linen, in an effort to simulate the image’s coloration. The ENEA team, which published its findings in 2011, came tantalizingly close to approximating the image’s distinctive hue on a few square centimeters of fabric. But they were unable to match all the physical and chemical characteristics of the shroud image. Nor could they reproduce a whole human figure.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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The ultraviolet light necessary to do so “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today,” says Di Lazzaro. It would require “pulses having durations shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and intensities on the order of several billion watts.”

If the most advanced technologies available in the 21st century could not produce a facsimile of the shroud image, he reasons, how could it have been executed by a medieval forger?

For believers, the radiation thesis suggests that a “divine light” in the tomb might have seared the crucified form of Jesus Christ onto the shroud. “One could look at hypotheses outside the realm of science, a sort of miracle,” says Di Lazzaro. “But a miracle cannot be investigated by the scientific method.”

3-dimensional reproduction of the sacred linen

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Historical Backdrop

References to various “divine images” of Christ, some explicitly described as burial sheets, reach back 15 centuries. Whether or not any was the linen known today as the Shroud of Turin is uncertain. The history is clearer after 1353, when a French knight, Geoffroi de Charny, acquired the shroud and deposited it at a monastery in Lirey, France, 130 miles east of Paris. By the early 16th century, it had been moved to the city of Chambéry, where it was damaged by a fire in 1532, leaving scorch marks and water stains that are still visible on the fabric. Its owner by then was the aristocratic House of Savoy.

In 1578, the Savoys moved the shroud to their capital, Turin. It has been there ever since, housed in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. In 1983, it was legally turned over to the Catholic Church.

The Vatican takes no official position on the shroud’s authenticity, although it encourages the faithful to venerate it as a symbol of Christ’s suffering. As Pope John Paul II put it in 1998, “The Church entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate.” 

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A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants. In general, the rarest blood type is AB-negative and the most common is O-positive. INTRODUCTION. To date, Family Tree DNA has tested more than one million people and has more than 700,000 records in its database The discovery of the cell continued to impact science one hundred years later, with the discovery of stem cells, the undifferentiated cells that have yet to develop into more specialized cells. Physicians attempted the use of milk and animal blood as an alternative to human blood, but met with limited success: the discovery of blood types allowed modern transfusions to safely take place. Jesus’ mission, beginning with his disciples, was to unite them in love as a sign of his union with God, then send them to the ends of the earth to proclaim the power of  love to unite diverse nations and peoples into a single new Creation, the crucified and risen body of Christ advancing to its divine destiny as the Beloved Community. O . Applied also to modern criminal investigations, facial reconstruction brings together the work of numerous specialists ranging from dentists to geneticists, and from archaeologists to radiologists. The DNA found on the shroud is very defragmented. How to merge videos on Facebook. Read reviews from world's largest community for readers. Found insideThis book carefully considers whether that claim is true. The result is the most lucid and thorough discussion of the topic I have ever read. This book will mark a watershed moment in the history of evangelical Christianity. 2017 national security Strategy . Summary: One day soon, you may be able to pinpoint the geographic origins of your ancestors based. The present collection is the first descriptive and analytical volume on the health safety issues that confront Americas archaeological community. DJ got us Fallin' in love Genius. National and international efforts have strived to standardize the filter paper collection device for whole blood. The three-hour television event, based on the global best . In this book Mark Antonacci scientifically challenges earlier radiocarbon testing and presents new evidence in determining the Shroud's true age. All who hunger and thirst for justice are welcome. That means when you study the DNA, it's unreliable, but a lot of people think they can do much more with DNA analysis, that we can say this is. Are labs deep chested dogs. The combinations that can be . Common sources of chlorophyll used for medicine include. He has the wonderful talent of creativity since his childhood. Found insideApplication ofthe paperdisctechnique to the collection of whole blood and serum ... Polymerase chain reaction amplification of DNA fromaged bloodstains: ... Finde Von Jesus Zu Christus Warum sein klares und reines Wissen heute nicht mehr in ursprünglichem Sinn gelehrt wird. A Women's Congress, attended by 200 women, was convened in 1929 Wed 13 Sep 2000 21.19 EDT. National Geographic Jesus and The Origins of Christianity book. Their production is under the control of the DNA. iftime valeriu are all armenians related benadryl for anxiety panic tecab star was2 gerko katgert minor pentatonic scale. - The Shroud is a living cloth because, as in the past, new technologies will reveal new mysterious properties contained within the Shroud, And the South Carolina man's genes -- obtained by a consumer genetic testing company and given to the National Geographic Genographic Project-- have more than any seen to date Blood tests positive for heme, bile, serum albumin and other blood components. Artificial blood is a product made to act as a substitute for red blood cells. Below is a chart showing blood types (A, B, AB, O) and Rh Rhesus status (Rh-positive and Rh-negative) by country, One aspect of the wide variety of humans is all the different blood types. Jump to. [ See Images of Jesus' House and Nazareth Artifacts National Geographic partnered with Helix to enrich its century-long genealogy research with modern genetic science. Source: Cornell University. Puppies for sale Mauchline. Blood samples from the infants and/or their family members were used for DNA analysis. According to Nat Geo, I'm way less than 100 percent Ashkenazi The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot linen cloth that is believed to have wrapped the body of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. Explores the evidence for and against the existence of the legendary giant ape known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch. The National Geographic Society's Strategic Plan, NG Next, celebrates our legendary legacy and charts a dynamic, five-year plan for our future.. Dr. Wells and a team of renowned international scientists are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our. On February 1, 2018, National Geographic broke a story about some incredible new discoveries in Mesoamerican archaeology using new technology.On subsequent days, the story was picked up by other major media outlets such as BBC, Washington Post, NPR, The New York Times, and Fox. Read all about this interesting project in our review As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Cor 11:26). Where is the tomb of Jesus Christ? The body of proof that we are alive in Christ is our willingness to proclaim his death by defending the dignity and equality of all our brothers and sisters from every attempt to divide us. As in 2004, Asian New Yorkers had higher blood mercury concentrations . "As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26). Reno birthing Center. Jesus death and resurrection hinges on the fact of Jesus, the Son of God shedding His blood More question than answers Foerster explains that Their blood types are very complicated as well, they should be blood type O if they're 100% Native American and that's not the case. Mom's results: 31 percent from. The most common blood types are A+ or O+. Jesus' Burial Tomb Uncovered: Here's What Scientists Saw Inside. Her father, Donald. The only evidence that would conclusively authenticate the Shroud against naysayers and claims of forgery is Jesus' DNA. Prof. Alan Cooper, director of the Australian [ DNA Testing on Mummies Reveals Surprise Ancestry for Ancient Egyptians. 70th Birthday Decorations female. This shrine is known as the Holy Edicule, and it was last reconstructed after a fire in the early 1800s, according to National Geographic. Up to 53% of Latin Americans and 47% of African Americans have blood type O+. The G6PD enzyme helps protect red blood cells from damage. 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Who Was Jesus? - National Geographic

Is It a Fake? DNA Testing Deepens Mystery of Shroud of Turin

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 1:55 p.m. E.T.

Is it a medieval fake or a relic of Jesus Christ? A new analysis of DNA from the Shroud of Turin reveals that people from all over the world have touched the venerated garment.

"Individuals from different ethnic groups and geographical locations came into contact with the Shroud [of Turin] either in Europe (France and Turin) or directly in their own lands of origin (Europe, northeast Africa, Caucasus, Anatolia, Middle East and India)," study lead author Gianni Barcaccia, a geneticist at the University of Padua in Italy and lead author of the new study describing the DNA analysis, said in an email. "We cannot say anything more on its origin."

The new findings don't rule out either the notion that the long strip of linen is a medieval forgery or that it's the true burial shroud of Jesus Christ, the researchers said.

Long-standing debate

On its face, the Shroud of Turin is an unassuming piece of twill cloth that bears traces of blood and a darkened imprint of a man's body. Though the Catholic Church has never taken an official stance on the object's authenticity, tens of thousands flock to Turin, Italy, every year to get a glimpse of the object, believing that it wrapped the bruised and bleeding body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]

According to legend, the shroud was secretly carried from Judea in A.D. 30 or 33, and was housed in Edessa, Turkey, and Constantinople (the name for Istanbul before the Ottomans took over) for centuries. After crusaders sacked Constantinople in A.D. 1204, the cloth was smuggled to safety in Athens, Greece, where it stayed until A.D. 1225.

However, the Catholic Church only officially recorded its existence in A.D. 1353, when it showed up in a tiny church in Lirey, France. Centuries later, in the 1980s, radiocarbon dating, which measures the rate at which different isotopes of the carbon atoms decay, suggested the shroud was made between A.D. 1260 and A.D. 1390, lending credence to the notion that it was an elaborate fake created in the Middle Ages. (Isotopes are forms of an element with a different number of neutrons.)

But critics argued that the researchers used patched-up portions of the cloth to date the samples, which could have been much younger than the rest of the garment.

What's more, the Gospel of Matthew notes that "the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open" after Jesus was crucified. So geologists have argued that an earthquake at Jesus' death could have released a burst of neutrons. The neutron burst not only would have thrown off the radiocarbon dating but also would have led to the darkened imprint on the shroud.

Global traveler?

In the current study, Barcaccia and his colleagues analyzed dust that they vacuumed from the shroud that contained traces of both plant and human DNA.

The plant DNA came from all over the world, the researchers reported Oct. 5 in the journal Scientific Reports. European spruce trees; Mediterranean clovers, ryegrasses and plantains; North American black locust trees; and rare East Asian pear and plum trees all left their mark on the cloth.

The team also sequenced the human mitochondrial DNA (DNA passed from mother to child) found in dust from the shroud. The genetic lineage, or haplotype, of the DNA snippets suggested that people ranging from North African Berbers to East Africans to inhabitants of China touched the garment.

Still, the strongest genetic signals seemed to come from areas in and around the Middle East and the Caucasus — not far from where Jesus was buried, and consistent with the early folklore surrounding the object. [The 10 Most Controversial Miracles]

"One of the most abundant human mitochondrial haplotypes, among those discovered on the shroud, is still very rare in western Europe, and it is typical of the Druze community, an ethnic group that has some origin in Egypt and that lives mainly in restricted areas between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine," Barcaccia told Live Science in an email.

The oldest DNA snippets (which tend to be shorter because DNA breaks down over time) are found in many places on the shroud, and come from genetic lineages typically found only in India, Barcaccia said. That finding suggests that the shroud was manufactured in India before somehow making its way to Europe, as Indians had little contact with Europeans at the time of its origin.

"In my opinion, it is hard to believe that in the past centuries, in a historical interval spanning the medieval period, different subjects — such as priests, monks or nuns, as well [as] devotees and other subjects of Indian ancestry — have had the possibility to come in contact with the shroud in France and/or Turin," Barcaccia said.

Unsettled question

But the new results don't settle questions about the shroud's authenticity, said Hugh Farey, editor of the British Society of the Turin Shroud newsletter. [Who Was Jesus, the Man?]

As far as the plant DNA goes, "they've done a good job, and they've identified a number of species that mean, broadly speaking, nothing at all," Farey told Live Science.

The new study suffers from the same issues that made past studies of pollen on the shroud unreliable, said Renée Enevold, a geoscientist at the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark who has analyzed ancient pollen in the past.

"The plant DNA could be from many sources, and there is no way of finding the right source," Enevold told Live Science in an email. "Also, the sub-genus level of taxon that has been reached is not near enough to the species level that is needed to determine the area of origin for each plant."

The researchers also mistakenly relied on an interpretative method that is used to analyze thousands of grains of pollen in a lake, she said. In that environment, the conditions that led to the deposition of pollen — rain and wind, for instance — are known. In contrast, there are so many unknowns when it comes to describing how dust settled onto the shroud.

"It is very bold and completely wrong to use the same interpretational approach on the presence of DNA — or just a few pollen grains, for that matter — on a shroud that has been man-handled for decades," Enevold said.

Given that the cloth was publicly displayed for centuries, it's not surprising that so many people touched it, Farey added. "Apart from ruling out the United States of America as the source for the shroud, it leaves just about everything else open," Farey said.

As for the possible Indian manufacture, it's just as likely that Indian DNA got onto the object during its 20th-century testing, he said. To truly determine where the cloth was manufactured, the researchers would need to analyze the DNA from the flax seeds used to make the linen shroud, which was not done, he added.

Still, Farey said he's about 40 percent convinced the shroud is authentic and about 60 percent inclined to believe it is a forgery.

"There is a pretty substantial amount of evidence on both sides," Farey said. "So the proper thing to do is to maintain an open mind at the moment."

However, using DNA analysis and more sophisticated scientific techniques could ultimately settle the question, Farey said. For instance, geologists can now determine the origin of rock with incredible precision, by analyzing its ratio of isotopes of certain elements. If researchers can one day figure out how to test the isotopes in the limestone dust found on the shroud, they could say with greater certainty whether the shroud was ever in Jerusalem, he said.

Editor's Note: This story was edited to note that the crusaders, not the Ottomans, sacked Constantinople in A.D. 1204. The Ottomans conquered the city in A.D. 1453.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitterand Google+. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Blood geographic dna jesus national

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin (Greek παρθένος, parthénos). Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit.  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ancient X Files: The Blood of Christ. Sudarium of 
Oviedo: on National Geographic. MUST WATCH VIDEO.
ALSO READ ABOUT Jesus Christ's 'death certificate' found on Turin Shroud. 
Luke 2:8-14. King James Version (KJV)
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Who Was Jesus? - National Geographic

It was the first stop on an extraordinary journey. On a bright but bitterly cold January afternoon earlier this year, I found myself on a small island in the Black Sea, just off Sozopol on the east coast of Bulgaria. Sveti Ivan has long been a destination for travellers: it boasted a temple of Apollo in ancient times. But I was there to speak to an old Bulgarian archaeologist about the most important find of his career.

In 2010, Kasimir Popkonstantinov discovered what he believes are the bones of one of the most famous of all saints: John the Baptist. I was interested in what DNA analysis could tell us about these bones, and other ones. Together with biblical scholar Joe Basile, I was travelling around the world filming a documentary about the religious and scientific evidence linking archaeological artefacts to Jesus Christ himself.

Popkonstantinov made his discovery when excavating a sixth century church on the island, built on top of a basilica from the century before. As he carefully scraped through the mud where the altar would have been, he came across a stone slab and was amazed to find a small marble box underneath. He immediately knew what it was. For a church to be consecrated in this part of Europe in the fifth century, it needed to contain a relic from a holy saint or religious person. This box, known as a reliquary, would have housed such a relic.

He continued to dig around and found another, smaller box about a metre away. On the edge of the inferior box was an inscription: “May God save you, servant Thomas. To Saint John.” When Kasimir later opened the reliquary, he found five bone fragments. The epitaph on the smaller box, probably used to carry the bones when travelling, was the key piece of evidence that led him to believe that the bones could perhaps be those of John the Baptist. The finding is hugely important, partly because John the Baptist was both a disciple of Jesus and his cousin – meaning they would share DNA.

Thanks to a number of scientific advances, the field of ancient DNA – the extraction and analysis of genetic material from bones and fossils of organisms dug up out of the ground – is booming. We now have DNA sequences from hundreds of people who are long since dead, and analysis of these sequences is further refining our understanding of human history.

DNA as proof of identity

I was initially sceptical about what the Bulgarian bones could teach us. For a start, no DNA test can prove that these were bits of John the Baptist, Jesus or any other specific person. We can’t extract and analyse an unknown DNA sample and magically say that it belonged to this or that historical character. To do that, we’d need to have a DNA sample that unambiguously came from John the Baptist that we could compare the bones to. So sequencing DNA in itself is not going to be too helpful.

Another major consideration is the risk of contamination. In an ideal scenario, ancient material we want to use for genetic analysis should be untouched by anyone since that person had died. The best ancient samples are dug out of the ground, put into a bag, and then sent straight to an ancient DNA lab. In the 500 years between John’s death and the bones being sealed in the church, any number of people could have handled them and left their DNA behind.

But this doesn’t mean that all is lost. DNA degrades over time, so we can test any DNA extracted from ancient remains for telltale signs of degradation. That means we can differentiate modern contamination from ancient genomes. We can also try to take DNA from the inside of bones and sequence DNA from the people who are known to have come into contact with the artefacts to help tell the ancient DNA and modern contaminants apart.

What DNA can tell you

DNA should be used as an additional tool to archaeology. In my opinion, there are two clear benefits that the analysis of DNA can bring to this particular party. We can compare the DNA from a relic to DNA from other relics. If we find other relics purported to be from John the Baptist, or a close relative like Jesus, then we could use genetics to compare the two to see if they are likely to have come from the same or related people. Also, we have growing collections of DNA sampled from people around the world, which we can use to make a guess on the geographical origins of the relics.

So what did the Bulgarian bones tell us? Radio carbon dating suggested they were indeed 2,000 years old. Their DNA sequence appeared to show an affinity to modern day Middle Eastern populations.

Unfortunately, when I spoke to the geneticist who did the research, he told me they had since discovered that the DNA sequence matched the person who’d actually extracted the bone material – meaning it was more than likely contamination. And they only had a small amount of material to work with, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to use DNA to get to the bottom of who the bones belonged to.

However, I also visited other scientists who had other relics, where DNA analysis could be possible. For example, recent research identified multiple people’s DNA on the The Turin Shroud, which is a piece of cloth that some believe wrapped Jesus when he was taken down from the cross.

In Jerusalem, we also met with a man who is in the process of sequencing material from the James Ossuary, a first century chalk box which may have held the bones of Jesus’s brother. We also met an archaeologist in Israel with several crucifixion nails, one of which was still embedded in a poor crucified soul’s heel bone. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to extract DNA from rusty iron.

While DNA analysis can’t prove that these are the artefacts some believe them to be, the hope is that these and other items could one day provide insight into the relationships between them and their modern descendants. Let’s assume for a moment that contamination could be completely ruled out and that DNA analysis demonstrated that DNA from the Shroud was a familial match to DNA from the James Ossuary – and that they are both related to the Bulgarian bones. Could this then have been the DNA of Jesus and his family? To answer that, all you need is a little belief.


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Shroud of Turin

Cloth bearing the alleged image of Jesus

Shroud of Turin
Turin shroud positive and negative displaying original color information 708 x 465 pixels 94 KB.jpg

The Shroud of Turin: modern photo of the face, positive (left), and digitally processed image (right)

Size4.4 m × 1.1 m (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in)
Present locationCathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Turin, Italy
Period13th to 14th century[1]

The Shroud of Turin (Italian: Sindone di Torino), also known as the Holy Shroud[2][3] (Italian: Sacra Sindone[ˈsaːkra ˈsindone] or Santa Sindone), is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man. Some claim the image depicts Jesus of Nazareth and the fabric is the burial shroud in which he was wrapped after crucifixion.

First mentioned in 1354, the shroud was denounced in 1389 by the local bishop of Troyes as a fake. Currently the Catholic Church neither formally endorses nor rejects the shroud, and in 2013 Pope Francis referred to it as an "icon of a man scourged and crucified".[4] The shroud has been kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Turin, in northern Italy, since 1578.[2]

In 1988, radiocarbon dating established that the shroud was from the Middle Ages, between the years 1260 and 1390.[1] All hypotheses put forward to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[5] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[6][7][8] the bio-contamination hypothesis[9] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[10]

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative—first observed in 1898—than in its natural sepia color. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified.[11] The shroud continues to be intensely studied, and remains a controversial issue among scientists and biblical scholars.[12][13][14][15]


The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 1.1 metres (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbonetwill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.[16]

The image in faint straw-yellow colour on the crown of the cloth fibres appears to be of a man with a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 to 1.88 m or 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 2 in).[17] Reddish-brown stains are found on the cloth, correlating, according to proponents, with the wounds in the Biblical description of the crucifixion of Jesus.[18]

In May 1898 Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud. He took the first photograph of the shroud on 28 May 1898. In 1931, another photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, photographed the shroud and obtained results similar to Pia's.[19] In 1978, ultraviolet photographs were taken of the shroud.[20][21]

The shroud was damaged in a fire in 1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. There are some burn holes and scorched areas down both sides of the linen, caused by contact with molten silver during the fire that burned through it in places while it was folded.[22] Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage.


Main article: History of the Shroud of Turin

The first possible historical record of the Shroud of Turin dates from 1353 or 1357,[12][23] and the first certain record (in Lirey, France) in 1390 when Bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote a memorandum to Pope Clement VII (Avignon Obedience), stating that the shroud was a forgery and that the artist had confessed.[24][25] Historical records seem to indicate that a shroud bearing an image of a crucified man existed in the small town of Lirey around the years 1353 to 1357 in the possession of a French Knight, Geoffroi de Charny, who died at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.[12]

Some images of the Pray Codex are claimed by some to include a representation of the shroud. However the image on the Pray Codex has crosses on what may be one side of the supposed shroud, an interlocking step pyramid pattern on the other, and no image of Jesus. Critics point out that it may not be a shroud at all, but rather a rectangular tombstone, as seen on other sacred images.[26] A crumpled cloth can be seen discarded on the coffin, and the text of the codex fails to mention any miraculous image on the codex shroud.

There are no definite historical records concerning the particular shroud currently at Turin Cathedral prior to the 14th century. A burial cloth, which some historians maintain was the Shroud, was owned by the Byzantine emperors but disappeared during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204.[24] Although there are numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in various locations before the 14th century, there is no historical evidence that these refer to the shroud currently at Turin Cathedral.[27]

The pilgrim medallion of Lirey (before 1453),[28]drawing by Arthur Forgeais, 1865.

The history of the shroud from the 15th century is well recorded. In 1453 Margaret de Charny deeded the Shroud to the House of Savoy. In 1578 the shroud was transferred to Turin. Since the 17th century the shroud has been displayed (e.g., in the chapel built for that purpose by Guarino Guarini[29]) and in the 19th century it was first photographed during a public exhibition.

In 1532, the shroud suffered damage from a fire in a chapel of Chambéry, capital of the Savoy region, where it was stored. A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. In 1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the cloth to be brought from Chambéry to Turin and it has remained at Turin ever since.[30]

Repairs were made to the shroud in 1694 by Sebastian Valfrè to improve the repairs of the Poor Clare nuns.[31] Further repairs were made in 1868 by Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy. The shroud remained the property of the House of Savoy until 1983, when it was given to the Holy See.

A fire, possibly caused by arson, threatened the shroud on 11 April 1997.[32] In 2002, the Holy See had the shroud restored. The cloth backing and thirty patches were removed, making it possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth, which had been hidden from view. A faint part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004.

The Shroud was placed back on public display (the 18th time in its history) in Turin from 10 April to 23 May 2010; and according to Church officials, more than 2 million visitors came to see it.[33]

On Holy Saturday (30 March) 2013, images of the shroud were streamed on various websites as well as on television for the first time in 40 years.[34][35] Roberto Gottardo of the diocese of Turin stated that for the first time ever they had released high definition images of the shroud that can be used on tablet computers and can be magnified to show details not visible to the naked eye.[34] As this rare exposition took place, Pope Francis issued a carefully worded statement which urged the faithful to contemplate the shroud with awe but, like his predecessors, he "stopped firmly short of asserting its authenticity".[36][37]

The shroud was again placed on display in the cathedral in Turin from 19 April 2015 until 24 June 2015. There was no charge to view it, but an appointment was required.[38]


Main article: Conservation-restoration of the Shroud of Turin

The shroud has undergone several restorations and several steps have been taken to preserve it to avoid further damage and contamination. It is kept under laminatedbulletproof glass in an airtight case. The temperature- and humidity-controlled case is filled with argon (99.5%) and oxygen (0.5%) to prevent chemical changes. The shroud itself is kept on an aluminum support sliding on runners and stored flat within the case.[citation needed]

Religious views[edit]

A poster advertising the 1898 exhibition of the shroud in Turin. Secondo Pia's photograph was taken a few weeks too late to be included in the poster. The image on the poster includes a painted face, not obtained from Pia's photograph.

The Gospels of Matthew,[39]Mark,[40] and Luke[41] state that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus in a piece of linen cloth and placed it in a new tomb. The Gospel of John[42] refers to strips of linen used by Joseph of Arimathea.

After the resurrection, the Gospel of John[43] states: "Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus' head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen." The Gospel of Luke[44] states: "Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves."

In 1543, John Calvin, in his book Treatise on Relics, explained the reason why the Shroud cannot be genuine:[45]

In all the places where they pretend to have the graveclothes, they show a large piece of linen by which the whole body, including the head, was covered, and, accordingly, the figure exhibited is that of an entire body. But the Evangelist John relates that Christ was buried, "as is the manner of the Jews to bury." What that manner was may be learned, not only from the Jews, by whom it is still observed, but also from their books, which explain what the ancient practice was. It was this: The body was wrapped up by itself as far as the shoulders, and then the head by itself was bound round with a napkin, tied by the four corners, into a knot. And this is expressed by the Evangelist, when he says that Peter saw the linen clothes in which the body had been wrapped lying in one place, and the napkin which had been wrapped about the head lying in another. The term napkin may mean either a handkerchief employed to wipe the face, or it may mean a shawl, but never means a large piece of linen in which the whole body may be wrapped. I have, however, used the term in the sense which they improperly give to it. On the whole, either the Evangelist John must have given a false account, or every one of them must be convicted of falsehood, thus making it manifest that they have too impudently imposed on the unlearned.

Although pieces said to be of burial cloths of Jesus are held by at least four churches in France and three in Italy, none has gathered as much religious following as the Shroud of Turin.[46] The religious beliefs and practices associated with the shroud predate historical and scientific discussions and have continued in the 21st century, although the Catholic Church has never passed judgment on its authenticity.[47] An example is the Holy Face Medal bearing the image from the shroud, worn by some Catholics.[48] Indeed, the Shroud of Turin is respected by Christians of several traditions, including Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians.[49] Several Lutheran parishes have hosted replicas of the Shroud of Turin, for didactic and devotional purposes.[50][51]


Although the shroud image is currently associated with Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus, the devotions themselves predate Secondo Pia's 1898 photograph. Such devotions had been started in 1844 by the Carmelite nun Marie of St Peter (based on "pre-crucifixion" images associated with the Veil of Veronica) and promoted by Leo Dupont, also called the Apostle of the Holy Face. In 1851 Dupont formed the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in Tours, France, well before Secondo Pia took the photograph of the shroud.[52]

Miraculous image[edit]

Further information: Acheiropoieta, Veil of Veronica, Manoppello Image, Image of Edessa, and Sudarium of Oviedo

The Vatican Veil of Veronica

The religious concept of the miraculous acheiropoieton (Greek: made without hands) has a long history in Christianity, going back to at least the 6th century. Among the most prominent portable early acheiropoieta are the Image of Camuliana and the Mandylion or Image of Edessa, both painted icons of Christ held in the Byzantine Empire and now generally regarded as lost or destroyed, as is the Hodegetria image of the Virgin Mary.[53] Other early images in Italy, all heavily and unfortunately restored, that have been revered as acheiropoieta now have relatively little following, as attention has focused on the Shroud.

Vatican position[edit]

In 1389 the bishop of Troyes sent a memorial to Antipope Clement VII, declaring that the cloth had been "artificially painted in an ingenious way" and that "it was also proved by the artist who had painted it that it was made by human work, not miraculously produced". In 1390 Clement VII consequently issued four papal bulls, with which he allowed the exposition, but ordered to "say aloud, to put an end to all fraud, that the aforementioned representation is not the true Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but a painting or panel made to represent or imitate the Shroud ".[54] However, in 1506 Pope Julius II reversed this position and declared the Shroud to be authentic and authorized the public veneration of it with its own mass and office.[55]

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano covered the story of Secondo Pia's photograph of 28 May 1898 in its edition of 15 June 1898, but it did so with no comment and thereafter Church officials generally refrained from officially commenting on the photograph for almost half a century.

The first official association between the image on the Shroud and the Catholic Church was made in 1940 based on the formal request by Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli to the curia in Milan to obtain authorization to produce a medal with the image. The authorization was granted and the first medal with the image was offered to Pope Pius XII who approved the medal. The image was then used on what became known as the Holy Face Medal worn by many Catholics, initially as a means of protection during World War II. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and declared its feast to be celebrated every year the day before Ash Wednesday.[56][57] Following the approval by Pope Pius XII, Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus have been almost exclusively associated with the image on the shroud.

In 1936, Pope Pius XII called the Shroud a "holy thing perhaps like nothing else",[4] and went on to approve of the devotion accorded to it as the Holy Face of Jesus.[58]

In 1998, Pope John Paul II called the Shroud a "distinguished relic" and "a mirror of the Gospel".[59][60] His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, called it an "icon written with the blood of a whipped man, crowned with thorns, crucified and pierced on his right side".[4] In 2013, Pope Francis referred to it as an "icon of a man scourged and crucified".[4]

Other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Methodists, have also shown devotion to the Shroud of Turin.[49]

In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See by the House of Savoy.[61] However, as with all relics of this kind, the Roman Catholic Church made no pronouncements on its authenticity. As with other approved Catholic devotions, the matter has been left to the personal decision of the faithful, as long as the Church does not issue a future notification to the contrary. In the Church's view, whether the cloth is authentic or not has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of what Jesus taught or on the saving power of his death and resurrection.[62]

Pope John Paul II stated in 1998 that:[63] "Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet."[64] Pope John Paul II showed himself to be deeply moved by the image of the Shroud and arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000. In his address at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday 24 May 1998 (the occasion of the 100th year of Secondo Pia's 28 May 1898 photograph), he said: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin ... The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age."[65]

On 30 March 2013, as part of the Easter celebrations, there was an exposition of the shroud in the Cathedral of Turin. Pope Francis recorded a video message for the occasion, in which he described the image on the shroud as "this Icon of a man", and stated that "the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth."[36][37] In his carefully worded statement Pope Francis urged the faithful to contemplate the shroud with awe, but "stopped firmly short of asserting its authenticity".[37]

Pope Francis went on a pilgrimage to Turin on 21 June 2015, to pray before, venerate the Holy Shroud and honor St. John Bosco on the bicentenary of his birth.[66][67][68]

Scientific analysis[edit]

Sindonology (from the Greek σινδών—sindon, the word used in the Gospel of Mark[15:46] to describe the type of the burial cloth of Jesus) is the formal study of the Shroud. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first use of this word in 1964: "The investigation ... assumed the stature of a separate discipline and was given a name, sindonology," but also identifies the use of "sindonological" in 1950 and "sindonologist" in 1953.[70]

Secondo Pia's 1898 photographs of the shroud allowed the scientific community to begin to study it. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since been proposed, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis. The scientific approaches to the study of the Shroud fall into three groups: material analysis (both chemical and historical), biology and medical forensics and image analysis.

Early studies[edit]

The first direct examination of the shroud by a scientific team was undertaken in 1969–1973 in order to advise on preservation of the shroud and determine specific testing methods. This led to the appointment of an 11-member Turin Commission to advise on the preservation of the relic and on specific testing. Five of the commission members were scientists, and preliminary studies of samples of the fabric were conducted in 1973.[12]

In 1976 physicist John P. Jackson, thermodynamicist Eric Jumper and photographer William Mottern used image analysis technologies developed in aerospace science for analyzing the images of the Shroud. In 1977 these three scientists and over thirty other experts in various fields formed the Shroud of Turin Research Project. In 1978 this group, often called STURP, was given direct access to the Shroud.

Also in 1978, independently from the STURP research, Giovanni Tamburelli obtained at CSELT a 3D-elaboration from the Shroud with higher resolution than Jumper and Mottern. A second result of Tamburelli was the electronic removal from the image of the blood that apparently covers the face.[71]

Tests for pigments[edit]

In the 1970s a special eleven-member Turin Commission conducted several tests. Conventional and electron microscopic examination of the Shroud at that time revealed an absence of heterogeneous coloring material or pigment.[12] In 1979, Walter McCrone, upon analyzing the samples he was given by STURP, concluded that the image is actually made up of billions of submicrometre pigment particles. The only fibrils that had been made available for testing of the stains were those that remained affixed to custom-designed adhesive tape applied to thirty-two different sections of the image.[72]

Mark Anderson, who was working for McCrone, analyzed the Shroud samples.[73] In his book Ray Rogers states that Anderson, who was McCrone's Raman microscopy expert, concluded that the samples acted as organic material when he subjected them to the laser.[74]: 61 

John Heller and Alan Adler examined the same samples and agreed with McCrone's result that the cloth contains iron oxide. However, they concluded, the exceptional purity of the chemical and comparisons with other ancient textiles showed that, while retting flax absorbs iron selectively, the iron itself was not the source of the image on the shroud.[18]

Radiocarbon dating[edit]

Main article: Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin

After years of discussion, the Holy See permitted radiocarbon dating on portions of a swatch taken from a corner of the shroud. Independent tests in 1988 at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded with 95% confidence that the shroud material dated to 1260–1390 AD.[75] This 13th- to 14th-century dating is much too recent for the shroud to have been associated with Jesus. The dating does on the other hand match the first appearance of the shroud in church history.[76][77] This dating is also slightly more recent than that estimated by art historian W. S. A. Dale, who postulated on artistic grounds that the shroud is an 11th-century icon made for use in worship services.[78]

Some proponents for the authenticity of the shroud have attempted to discount the radiocarbon dating result by claiming that the sample may represent a medieval "invisible" repair fragment rather than the image-bearing cloth.[24][79][9][6][80][81][82][83] However, all of the hypotheses used to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[10][5] including the medieval repair hypothesis,[6][7] the bio-contamination hypothesis[9] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[10]

In recent years several statistical analyses have been conducted on the radiocarbon dating data, attempting to draw some conclusions about the reliability of the C14 dating from studying the data rather than studying the shroud itself. They have all concluded that the data shows a lack of homogeneity, which might be due to unidentified abnormalities in the fabric tested, or else might be due to differences in the pre-testing cleaning processes used by the different laboratories. The most recent analysis (2020) concludes that the stated date range needs to be adjusted by up to 88 years in order to properly meet the requirement of "95% confidence".[84][85][86][87]

Material historical analysis[edit]

Historical fabrics[edit]

In 1998, shroud researcher Joe Nickell wrote that no examples of herringbone weave are known from the time of Jesus. The few samples of burial cloths that are known from the era are made using plain weave.[25] In 2000, fragments of a burial shroud from the 1st century were discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem, believed to have belonged to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy. The shroud was composed of a simple two-way weave, unlike the complex herringbonetwill of the Turin Shroud. Based on this discovery, the researchers stated that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.[88][89][90]

Biological and medical forensics[edit]

Blood stains[edit]

There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood, but it is uncertain whether these stains were produced at the same time as the image, or afterwards.[91] McCrone (see painting hypothesis) believed these as containing iron oxide, theorizing that its presence was likely due to simple pigment materials used in medieval times.[92]

Skeptics cite forensic blood tests whose results dispute the authenticity of the Shroud, and point to the possibility that the blood could belong to a person who handled the shroud, and that the apparent blood flows on the shroud are unrealistically neat.[93][94][95]

Flowers and pollen[edit]

A study published in 2011 by professor Salvatore Lorusso of the University of Bologna and others subjected two photographs of the shroud to detailed modern digital image processing, one of them being a reproduction of the photographic negative taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931. They did not find any images of flowers or coins or anything else on either image.[96]

In 2015, Italian researchers Barcaccia et al. published a new study in Scientific Reports. They examined the human and non-human DNA found when the shroud and its backing cloth were vacuumed in 1977 and 1988. They found traces of 19 different plant taxa, including plants native to Mediterranean countries, Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Asia (China) and the Americas. Of the human mtDNA, sequences were found belonging to haplogroups that are typical of various ethnicities and geographic regions, including Europe, North and East Africa, the Middle East and India. A few non-plant and non-human sequences were also detected, including various birds and one ascribable to a marine worm common in the Northern Pacific Ocean, next to Canada.[97] After sequencing some DNA of pollen and dust found on the shroud, they confirmed that many people from many different places came in contact with the shroud. According to the scientists, "such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth."[97]

Anatomical forensics[edit]

Full length negatives of the shroud.

A number of studies on the anatomical consistency of the image on the shroud and the nature of the wounds on it have been performed, following the initial study by Yves Delage in 1902.[69] While Delage declared the image anatomically flawless, others have presented arguments to support both authenticity and forgery.

The analysis of a crucified Roman, discovered near Venice in 2007, shows heel wounds that are consistent with those found on Jehohanan but which are not consistent with wounds depicted on the shroud. Also, neither of the crucifixion victims known to archaeology show evidence of wrist wounds.[98]

Joe Nickell in 1983, and Gregory S. Paul in 2010, separately state that the proportions of the image are not realistic. Paul stated that the face and proportions of the shroud image are impossible, that the figure cannot represent that of an actual person and that the posture was inconsistent. They argued that the forehead on the shroud is too small; and that the arms are too long and of different lengths and that the distance from the eyebrows to the top of the head is non-representative. They concluded that the features can be explained if the shroud is a work of a Gothic artist.[25][99]

In 2018 an experimental Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) was performed to study the behaviour of blood flows from the wounds of a crucified person, and to compare this to the evidence on the Turin Shroud. The comparison between different tests demonstrated that the blood patterns on the forearms and on the back of the hand are not connected, and would have had to occur at different times, as a result of a very specific sequence of movements. In addition, the rivulets on the front of the image are not consistent with the lines on the lumbar area, even supposing there might have been different episodes of bleeding at different times. These inconsistencies suggest that the Turin linen was an artistic or "didactic" representation, rather than an authentic burial shroud.[100]

Image and text analysis[edit]

Image analysis[edit]

Both art-historical, digital image processing and analog techniques have been applied to the shroud images.

In 1976 scientists analysed a photograph of the shroud image using NASA imaging equipment, and found that the shroud image has the property of decoding into a 3-dimensional image.[101] Optical physicist and former STURP member John Dee German has noted that it is not difficult to make a photograph which has 3D qualities. If the object being photographed is lighted from the front, and a non-reflective "fog" of some sort exists between the camera and the object, then less light will reach and reflect back from the portions of the object that are farther from the lens, thus creating a contrast which is dependent on distance.[102]

The front image of the Turin Shroud, 1.95 m long, is not directly compatible with the back image, 2.02 m long.[103]

If Jesus' dead body actually produced the images on the shroud, one would expect the bodily areas touching the ground to be more distinct. In fact, Jesus' hands and face are depicted with great detail, while his buttocks and his navel are faintly outlined or invisible, a discrepancy explained with the artist's consideration of modesty. Also, Jesus' right arm and hand are abnormally elongated, allowing him to modestly cover his genital area, which is physically impossible for an ordinary dead body lying supine. No wrinkles or other irregularities distort the image, which is improbable if the cloth had covered the irregular form of a body. For comparison, see oshiguma; the making of face-prints as an artform, in Japan. Furthermore, Jesus' physical appearance corresponds to Byzantine iconography.[104][105][106]

Hypotheses on image origin[edit]


The technique used for producing the image is, according to Walter McCrone, described in a book about medieval painting published in 1847 by Charles Lock Eastlake (Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters). Eastlake describes in the chapter "Practice of Painting Generally During the XIVth Century" a special technique of painting on linen using tempera paint, which produces images with unusual transparent features—which McCrone compares to the image on the shroud.[107]

Acid pigmentation[edit]

In 2009, Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, stated that he had made a full size reproduction of the Shroud of Turin using only medieval technologies. Garlaschelli placed a linen sheet over a volunteer and then rubbed it with an acidic pigment. The shroud was then aged in an oven before being washed to remove the pigment. He then added blood stains, scorches and water stains to replicate the original.[108] Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermic measurements at the University of Padua, commented that "the technique itself seems unable to produce an image having the most critical Turin Shroud image characteristics".[109][110]

Garlaschelli's reproduction was shown in a 2010 National Geographic documentary. Garlaschelli's technique included the bas-relief approach (described below) but only for the image of the face. The resultant image was visibly similar to the Turin Shroud, though lacking the uniformity and detail of the original.[111]

Medieval photography[edit]

According to the art historian Nicholas Allen, the image on the shroud was formed by a photographic technique in the 13th century.[112] Allen maintains that techniques already available before the 14th century—e.g., as described in the Book of Optics, which was at just that time translated from Arabic to Latin—were sufficient to produce primitive photographs, and that people familiar with these techniques would have been able to produce an image as found on the shroud. To demonstrate this, he successfully produced photographic images similar to the shroud using only techniques and materials available at the time the shroud was supposedly made. He described his results in his PhD thesis,[113] in papers published in several science journals,[114][115] and in a book.[116]Silver bromide is believed by some to have been used for making the Shroud of Turin as it is widely used in photographic films.[117]

Dust-transfer technique[edit]

Scientists Emily Craig and Randall Bresee have attempted to recreate the likenesses of the shroud through the dust-transfer technique, which could have been done by medieval arts. They first did a carbon-dust drawing of a Jesus-like face (using collagen dust) on a newsprint made from wood pulp (which is similar to 13th- and 14th-century paper). They next placed the drawing on a table and covered it with a piece of linen. They then pressed the linen against the newsprint by firmly rubbing with the flat side of a wooden spoon. By doing this they managed to create a reddish-brown image with a lifelike positive likeness of a person, a three-dimensional image and no sign of brush strokes.[118]


In 1978, Joe Nickell noted that the Shroud image had a three-dimensional quality and thought its creation may have involved a sculpture of some type. He advanced the hypothesis that a medieval rubbing technique was used to explain the image, and set out to demonstrate this. He noted that while wrapping a cloth around a sculpture with normal contours would result in a distorted image, Nickell believed that wrapping a cloth over a bas-relief might result in an image like the one seen on the shroud, as it would eliminate wraparound distortions. For his demonstration, Nickell wrapped a wet cloth around a bas-relief sculpture and allowed it to dry. He then applied powdered pigment rather than wet paint (to prevent it soaking into the threads). The pigment was applied with a dauber, similar to making a rubbing from a gravestone. The result was an image with dark regions and light regions convincingly arranged. In a photo essay in Popular Photography magazine, Nickell demonstrated this technique step-by-step.[25][119][note 1] Other researchers later replicated this process.

In 2005, researcher Jacques di Costanzo constructed a bas-relief of a Jesus-like face and draped wet linen over it. After the linen dried, he dabbed it with a mixture of ferric oxide and gelatine. The result was an image similar to that of the face on the Shroud. The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 °C (482 °F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.[120]

Instead of painting, it has been suggested that the bas-relief could also be heated and used to scorch an image onto the cloth. However researcher Thibault Heimburger performed some experiments with the scorching of linen, and found that a scorch mark is only produced by direct contact with the hot object—thus producing an all-or-nothing discoloration with no graduation of color as is found in the shroud.[121]

Maillard reaction[edit]

The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a reducing sugar. The cellulose fibers of the shroud are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of starch fractions, various sugars, and other impurities. The potential source for amines required for the reaction is a decomposing body,[74]: 100  and no signs of decomposition have been found on the Shroud. Rogers also notes that their tests revealed that there were no proteins or bodily fluids on the image areas.[74]: 38  Also, the image resolution and the uniform coloration of the linen resolution seem to be incompatible with a mechanism involving diffusion.[122]

Fringe theories[edit]

Main article: Fringe theories about the Shroud of Turin

Images of coins, flowers and writing[edit]

Various people have claimed to have detected images of flowers on the shroud, as well as coins over the eyes of the face in the image, writing and other objects.[123][124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131] However a study published in 2011 by Lorusso and others subjected two photographs of the shroud to detailed modern digital image processing, one of them being a reproduction of the photographic negative taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931. They did not find any images of flowers or coins or writing or any other additional objects on the shroud in either photograph, they noted that the faint images were "only visible by incrementing the photographic contrast", and they concluded that these signs may be linked to protuberances in the yarn, and possibly also to the alteration and influence of the texture of the Enrie photographic negative during its development in 1931.[96] The use of coins to cover the eyes of the dead is not attested for 1st-century Palestine. The existence of the coin images is rejected by most scientists.[132]

Radiation processes[edit]

Some proponents for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin have argued that the image on the shroud was created by some form of radiation emission at the moment of resurrection.[133][134][135] However, STURP member Alan Adler has stated that this theory is not generally accepted as scientific, given that it runs counter to the laws of physics.[133] Raymond Rogers also criticized the theory, saying: "It is clear that a corona discharge (plasma) in air will cause easily observable changes in a linen sample. No such effects can be observed in image fibers from the Shroud of Turin. Corona discharges and/or plasmas made no contribution to image formation."[74]: 83 

See also[edit]


  1. ^For his pigment, Nickell first used the burial spices myrrh and aloes, but changed to red iron oxide (the pigment red ocher) when microanalyst, Walter McCrone identified it as constituting the shroud’s image. (McCrone had identified the blood as red ochre and vermilion tempers paint.)[25]


  1. ^ abTaylor, R.E. and Bar-Yosef, Ofer. Radiocarbon Dating, Second Edition: An Archaeological Perspective. Left Coast Press, 2014, p. 165.
  2. ^ ab"Shroud of Turin | History, Description, & Authenticity". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  3. ^"Turin Shroud: full text of Pope Francis' comments". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  4. ^ abcd"Pope Francis and the Shroud of Turin". National Catholic Reporter. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  5. ^ abRadiocarbon Dating, Second Edition: An Archaeological Perspective, By R.E. Taylor, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Routledge 2016; pp. 167–168.
  6. ^ abcR. A. Freer-Waters, A. J. T. Jull, "Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin", Radiocarbon 52, 2010, pp. 1521–1527.
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