ZENIT Press Agency, Monday, January 31, 2005

New chemical tests on the Shroud confute its Medieval dating

The linen would be in fact much more ancient

ROME - On January 19 the AMSTAR (The American Shroud of Turin Association for Research), a scientific organization that devotes itself to the research on the Holy Shroud of Turin, announced that the 1988 C14 test was not carried out on the original burial sheet, but rather on a re-woven area of the Shroud, so producing a wrong dating.

The C14 tests carried out by three radiocarbon laboratories had put the age of the Shroud between 1260 and 1390 A.D.

According to Professor Raymond N. Rogers, member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, “chemical tests show that the linen of the Shroud is in fact much old – much older than the radiocarbon date  published in 1988.”

The chemist maintains that “the sample used in 1988 to assess the age of the Shroud of Turin was taken from a re-woven area of the Shroud.”

The new discoveries of the American scientist have been published in the current issue of Thermochimica Acta (Vol. 425, numbers 1-2, 20 January 2005, pp. 189-194), a scientific magazine dealing with chemistry.

In order to investigate the topic and understand if and to what extent Rogers’ new studies are able to  change the terms of the debate on the authenticity of the Shroud, ZENIT has interviewed Emanuela Marinelli, graduated in Natural and Geologic Sciences, who has been involved in studying the Shroud for nearly thirty years.

She has written a lot of books on the subject; she and her brother Maurizio are the webmasters of an Internet website where they publish the latest scientific news (www.sindone.info).

Professor Raymond Rogers maintains that the tests carried out on the Shroud in 1988 are not reliable because they are on a re-woven area of the linen. Which is your opinion on that?

Marinelli: The authority of the scientific magazine where Dr. Rogers published his paper, Thermochimica Acta, and the great experience of this renowned chemist, both as an analyst and as a Shroud expert, make his study highly remarkable.

Dr. Rogers speaks as a scientist who has carried out research on material taken from the Shroud. His statements cannot be questioned, therefore his conclusions must be considered as definitive: the tests carried out in 1988 with the radiocarbon method have given unreliable results because the examined sample was not made up only of original threads from the Shroud, but also of threads added later for a so-called “invisible” darn, that is, a darn not showing to a simple naked eye observation. This darn had become necessary in the last centuries because of the wear caused by the intense manipulation of that area.

Do these new discoveries change anything in the debate on the authenticity of the Shroud?

Marinelli: Sure! Before these analyses there was the strong suspicion that the radiocarbon test had been carried out on a not representative sample of the Shroud because it had been taken from a corner presumably reinforced with added threads. Now it is not a suspicion anymore, now there is the certainty that the radiocarbon result, which had put the origin of the Shroud in the Middle Ages, is not valid, therefore the only obstacle risen against the authenticity of the revered relic falls definitively.

After so many years of study what idea have you got about the Shroud? Who is the man whose  imprint remained there? And how can one believe that he is really Jesus Christ?

Marinelli: The Shroud has all the characteristics of a true burial sheet, which would correspond to the Judaic culture of Jesus’ age. The yarn, the weaving and the manufacture are comparable to those of the Syrian-Palestinian area of two thousand years ago. On the relic numerous pollens have been found of plants not living in Europe; some of these are typical or even belonging only to the desert of the Sinai.

Other interesting micro-traces are those of the aragonite, comparable to the same mineral found in the caves of Jerusalem; and then there are the remains of aloes and myrrh, just the two perfumed spices mentioned in the Gospel for Jesus’ burial. The image imprinted on the Shroud is that of a tortured man, who has lost plentiful blood. The analyses have shown that it is true  human blood transferred from wounds, not added with the paint-brush!

The tortures endured by the Man of the Shroud, the scourging, the crowning of thorns, the crucifixion, are in full agreement with those inflicted by the Romans to Jesus, not only for what we can infer from the Gospel, but also for the true details from the historical-archaeological and forensic medicine point of view.

An example: in Jesus’ times, in the crucifixion the foot-rest was not in use yet: it is a later element that the artists nearly always represent, and the nails were therefore hammered in the wrists, in order to bring the weight of the body; but all that was not known in the Medieval age, when a counterfeiter would have inspired himself just to the artistic tradition in order to realize his forgery. Instead, the Shroud is in contrast with the Medieval knowledge and is in accordance with what we know today, confirming therefore once again its authenticity.

On the identification of the Man of the Shroud, I think that the best reflection was made by a child. Answering to people saying that the Shroud, even admitting its dating to the age of Jesus, could have belonged to any other crucified, said: “But the Apostles were not so stupid as to throw away Jesus’ Shroud and keep a robber’s one!”.

And this without taking into consideration that the common crucified were thrown in a common grave, while we are here in presence of a precious sheet, a precious cloth that only a rich man could afford, and here the words of the Gospel resound: “... there came a rich man of Arimathæa, named Joseph…”,    “... and he bought fine linen, and took him down...”

The fascinating mystery of the print of that corpse remains, a corpse which remained in the sheet only few hours and left the shadow in the negative of his look in it, whose most likely cause appears to be a stream of light or energy.

Once again the words of the Gospel remind us of the extraordinary event of the Tabor: “... his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light...”. Here also the science stops and all the mosaic is recomposed: the Man of the Shroud is Jesus, there are no more objections.