Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shroud News - July 2007

I have decided to start here a monthly `newsletter' to post newsworthy items about the Shroud of Turin. Usually I will post the first item of significant current Shroud news for that month as I become aware of it, and then continue to add to that post with further Shroud-related news items through that month.

Leonardo: The man behind the Shroud? As I have already blogged about, starting here, on Sunday 1 July, the ABC (Australia's national public broadcaster) showed a National Geographic `documentary', "Leonardo: The Man Behind the Shroud," which claimed that Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519) forged the Shroud (which has a documented European history since at least 1357, i.e. ~100 years before he was born)! [Right: Sydney Morning Herald] Unfortunately I was unaware it was being shown until the day after, although I have only just found out that it was 6 years old, having been produced in 2001. The show was promoted in The Sydney Morning Herald:

".... this documentary looks at the possibility that the Shroud of Turin was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by cheeky Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci. It points out that there was once a thriving trade in religious artefacts: at one stage, six churches claimed to have Jesus's foreskin. Another place of worship claimed to hold St Joseph's last breath in a jar. Someone must have been turning prophets into profits. An argument is made via experts and artwork, carbon dating, scientific analysis and historical details ..."

However, as historian Ian Wilson pointed out, that the 14th century was so credulous that many (if not most) accepted as genuine such relics as, "St Joseph's last breath in a jar," is actually evidence in favour of the Shroud being genuine:

"Also is it not rather incredible that this unknown individual should have gone to so much trouble and effort to deceive in an age in which, as twentieth-century journalists have reminded us, a large proportion of the populace would have been very easily duped by a feather of the Archangel Gabriel or a phial of the last breath of St Joseph?" (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," Simon & Schuster: New York, 1998, pp.59-60)!

Shroud exhibition in the Phillipines As per the following news articles: SM Pampanga unveils 'Shroud of Turin', 'Shroud of Turin' scholar arrives for RP exhibit, and [Left: Main exhibit, a life-size Shroud replica, Shroud.com] `Shroud of Turin' awes Pampanga, a travelling exhibition of the Shroud was displayed in the Phillipines city of Pampanga. It features:

"a replica of the Shroud, together with over 80 other exhibit items from the collection of Barrie Schwortz, the official documenting photographer commissioned by King Umberto II of Savoy, the Shroud's previous monarch-owner."

The exhibition had previously toured New Zealand and will continue to tour the Philippines until April 2008.

President Reagan's thoughts about the Shroud makes post-moderns cringe! Book Review: The Reagan Diaries - The White House from 1981 to 1989, Blogcritics [Right: Amazon.com] magazine, Alessandro Nicolo, July 27, 2007. The reviewer notes that the late President Reagan:

"... thought the `Shroud of Turin' was proof of the bodily ascension. ... Indeed, this sort of ... thinking would make most post-modern individuals cringe, but to Reagan it made perfect sense."

It never seems to occur to such "post-modern individuals" that those of us, like President Reagan, who consider the Shroud of Turin to be extra-Biblical "proof of the bodily ascension" of Jesus could actually be right!

New National Geographic Shroud documentary A new Shroud documentary [Left: "Secrets of the Shroud" video trailer] is now showing in the USA. The blurb says:

Is it Real? Secrets of the Shroud [TV-PG] Monday, July 23, 2007, at 09P Believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is one of Christendoms most priceless treasures. But little is known about the mysterious origin of this precious relic or priceless work of art. Could it perhaps be the work of a cunning 14th century forger or was it really the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb? Now, with a team of scientists from both sides of the debate, NGC investigates the forensic and evidence connected to the mysterious Shroud of Turin.

The above blurb, and the trailer which is only about Kersten & Gruber's conspiracy theory, does not sound very promising. However Barrie Schwortz gives some grounds for hope that it may have some good points:

New Shroud Documentary to Air on the National Geographic Channel I am posting this special website update to let you know that a new television documentary, titled, "Is It Real? Secrets of the Shroud," will premiere on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) here in the U.S. on Monday, July 23, 2007 ... Tuesday, July 24, 2007 at 12:00am EDT and Sunday, July 29, 2007 at 2:00pm EDT. ... The program includes interviews with Ian Wilson, Dr. Frederick Zugibe and Barrie Schwortz presenting pro-authenticity arguments, Steve Schaffersman [sic] and Joe Nickell advocating their Shroud-is-a-forgery theory and Holger Kersten presenting his own Shroud-is-real theory.

Radiocarbon sample too tiny (~0.02%!) to represent entire Shroud PS: Regarding Barrie Schwortz's comment in the `tagline' quote below, that for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud in 1988:

"They only took one sample, from one little corner and divided that in thirds. Good science requires multiple samples from multiple sites" (my emphasis)

he is right! Since the Shroud measures ~4.4 x 1.1 m = ~4.84 m2, and only an "Approx 1.2cm x 8cm sample [was] removed for radiocarbon dating," (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.189), the

[Giovanni Riggi cutting the sample, Left: BSTS Newsletter, No. 43, June/July 1996. Note its size compared with the cutting man's fingers and thumb]

sample area was only 1.2 x 8 cm = 9.6 cm2 or 0.012 x 0.08 m = 0.00096 m2. This means that the sample was only 0.00096*100/4.84 = ~0.02% (or ~1 fiftieth of 1 percent), of the Shroud's total area. And since that 1.2 x 8 cm sample was then divided into three for each of the laboratories, each test was actually done on at most (in fact it was even less because, as the Nature paper admits, "all three laboratories subdivided the samples" for multiple tests) only ~0.02%/3 = ~0.007% (or ~7 thousandths of 1 percent), of the Shroud's total area! It is simply not "good science" (to put it mildly) for those radiocarbon laboratories (and their supporters) to claim that one sample of ~7 thousandths of 1 percent (or even combined ~1 fiftieth of 1 percent) is a statistically valid representation of the whole Shroud.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biol).
My other blog: CreationEvolutionDesign


"It is fitting that the daddy of all reputed religious relics is a shroud. For the Shroud of Turin is itself enveloped - in eternal controversy over its authenticity. And if you think it odd that the man who has become the shroud's modern advocate is Jewish - well so does he. American photographer Barrie Schwortz ... is a believer. But he wasn't always - he was raised in an orthodox Jewish family, and Jews don't believe Jesus was the son of God. In 1978 he was invited to photograph the investigations of a non-partisan group of scientists embarking on an unprecedented five-day study of the shroud, in its home in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. `I was convinced that I was going to get to Turin and take a close look and see the paint and the brushstrokes and come home,' Schwortz says. He and the scientists assembled in Turin and the shroud was brought in and laid on a table. `And I leaned over it, probably with my nose just a few centimetres from the cloth, and I looked at it. And after about a minute or so I stood up and I thought, "well, I'm going to have to rethink my thinking on this, because it's obviously not a painting". `Up close it's almost invisible. One needs to stand back probably 3m before you can get a sense of where the image is and it becomes coherent to you because it is so subtle.' ... `And yet, the irony of my life is how much time I spend, as a Jew, trying to educate Christians that this could well be a relic of Jesus.' Schwortz runs a website - http://www.shroud.com/ - that has become an international focal point for the debate over the shroud's authenticity. He also lectures on the topic ... The History and Science of The Shroud of Turin. Its centrepiece is an actual-size replica of the shroud, from the photographs he took in 1978. ... Schwortz ... doesn't accept the results of radiocarbon dating of a small section of the shroud in 1988 in which three scientific laboratories independently concluded the cloth was created in medieval times. `They only took one sample, from one little corner and divided that in thirds. Good science requires multiple samples from multiple sites. That's no way to date anything.' `I mean, if someone wanted to date a vehicle, and they took the paint from one fender, what if that fender had been repaired from a crash, and would be newer paint - would that tell us how old the vehicle was? No. That's the best analogy I can think of for what happened with the shroud.'" (Sell, B., "Doubt about shroud turns to faith," The New Zealand Herald, May 07, 2005)

Updated: 21 June 2015.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Leonardo: The Man Behind the Shroud? #5

Leonardo: The Man Behind The Shroud, ABC, 1 Jul 2007 ... Continued from part #4. Was it indeed painted, using a

[Above: Microscope close-up of Shroud linen fibres showing superficiality of the image (the golden-brown colour on some fibrils, i.e. threads in a fibre): Sindonology: Photomicrographs. For an artist to have painted the Shroud, he would have to be able to paint individual flax fibrils which are 1/100th the thickness of a human hair!]

very sophisticated technique? No. Even Professors Edward Hall and Michael Tite (who were leaders in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin as being 14th century), and despite Prof. Hall then claiming in 1989 that "Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it", both privately admitted to Ian Wilson in July 1988 (after the tests had all been completed but before they were published) that the Shroud was "very unlikely to be a painting" and "unconvinced by the McCrone mediaeval-painter hypothesis," respectively (my emphasis):

"When in early July 1988 I visited Professor Edward Hall at the Oxford laboratory, he told me that although his recent trip to Turin had not persuaded him of the Shroud's genuineness, even so, having taken the opportunity to examine its imprint carefully with a hand lens, he thought it very unlikely to be a painting. On hearing this, I quizzed him why he did not accept McCrone's findings and he told me very candidly that he was totally unimpressed by McCrone as a scientist and thought he relied far too much on subjective visual assessments from looking through a conventional microscope. Likewise, Dr Michael Tite expressed himself unconvinced by the McCrone mediaeval-painter hypothesis, inclining instead to the view that the Shroud had been made, albeit in the fourteenth century, by someone who used a genuinely crucified human body for his purpose." (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1998, pp.198-199).

As Christian theologian Gary Habermas summarising the evidence against the painting hypothesis pointed out: 1) "There is no paint, dye, powder, or other foreign substance on the image fibrils;" 2) "Paintings do not produce a 3-D effect, but the shroud image is 3-D"; 3) "the shroud image is superficial, which means that it is only on the top few fibrils of the affected threads"; 4) "It does not even soak to the back threads, let alone to the back of the cloth"; 5) "there are no plateaus or saturation points on the shroud image"; 6) "the shroud image is nondirectional"; 7) 'there is no capillary flow on the shroud"; and "the 1532 fire ... would have caused chemical changes in organic pigments, but there are no changes in the shroud" (my emphasis):

"We do not have to know how somebody could have painted it, but science is adept at finding paint when it is present. ... There is no paint, dye, powder, or other foreign substance on the image fibrils that could account for the image. Microchemical analyses revealed no paints or pigments. ... Paintings do not produce a 3-D effect, but the shroud image is 3-D. ... In addition, the shroud image is superficial, which means that it is only on the top few fibrils of the affected threads. Each thread has about 200 fibrils, and the image is on the top few fibrils only. It does not even soak to the back threads, let alone to the back of the cloth. Paint is not superficial, and reproducing the shroud has not been possible in the laboratory. Further, there are no plateaus or saturation points on the shroud image. But if you apply any pigment or dye there will naturally be saturation points. Still further, the shroud image is nondirectional. Now if one is going to put paint on a cloth, one moves the hand from side to side. When one gets tired, one often starts moving the hand up and down. But even if one only moves from side to side all of the time, that is directionality. One cannot generally apply paint without directionality. If one uses a spray gun it still involves directionality. But there is no directionality on the shroud image. Also, there is no capillary flow on the shroud, which rules out any liquid movement. In addition, the 1532 fire that the shroud was involved in would have caused chemical changes in organic pigments, but there are no changes in the shroud. Further, the water applied to the shroud to put out the 1532 fire would usually cause chemical changes, but there are no such changes observed on the shroud. .... A 1982 report from a team of scientists, released at a New London, Connecticut, meeting, states that, `No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found in the fibrils.' So again, we could falsify the shroud if there was paint. But they have not found any. Now maybe they will find some in the future. I am open to that, but right now that is a weak hypothesis. .... The shroud image does not appear to be painted at all." (Habermas, G.R., "Discussion," in Miethe, T.L., ed., "Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?: The Resurrection Debate," Harper & Row: San Francisco CA, 1987, p.119).

Every method suggested points to the fact that the artist would have needed unique talents, and the film demonstrates that these talents were exhibited by one individual: Leonardo da Vinci - inventor, visionary, scientist, anatomist, artist and heretic.

As for "artist," even Leonardo da Vinci could not have painted the Shroud of Turin, because (apart from the Shroud having a documented European history from 1357) and requiring amongst other things (like "a microscope ... attached to a ... color TV" set!), he would have needed "a paintbrush one to two meters long" that "consisted of a single bristle, since it painted single fibrils that were 10 to 15 microns in diameter" (a micron is one thousandth of a millimetre):

"With all this in mind, Adler and I began a gedankenexperiment to see what would be required of an artist. As mentioned earlier, you cannot see the man in the Shroud unless you are one or two meters away. An artist cannot paint if he cannot see what effect his brush is producing. Our putative artist, then, must have had a paintbrush one to two meters long. It must have consisted of a single bristle, since it painted single fibrils that were 10 to 15 microns in diameter. The finest paintbrush bristles I know of are sable, and a sable hair is vast in diameter compared with a linen fibril. In addition, the artist would have had to figure out a paint medium that had no oil or water, because there were no indications of capillarity. Now, to see what he was painting he would have needed a microscope with an enormous focal length that would permit the brush to operate under it. The physics of optics preclude such a device, unless it is attached to a television set. In this case, it would have had to be a color TV, for the straw-yellow is too faint to register on black and white. Another constraint the artist must have-dealt with is the limit of the human nervous system. No one can hold so long a brush steady enough to paint the top of a fibril. One would need a twentieth-century micromanipulator, which would have to work hydraulically at a distance of one to two meters. It would have to be rigged to a device called a waldo, which is an invention of the atomic era. Also, the artist would have to know how many fibrils to paint quantitatively, and do the whole thing in reverse, like a negative." (Heller, J.H., "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 1983, p.202).

Not only that but the "hypothetical artist" (including da Vinci) would have "had to paint with serum albumin alongside the edges of the scourge marks" but "Since serum albumin is visible only under ultraviolet" he would have "had to paint with an invisible medium"! (my emphasis):

"Our hypothetical artist obviously must have used blood - both pre-mortem and post-mortem. And he had to paint with serum albumin alongside the edges of the scourge marks. Since serum albumin is visible only under ultraviolet, not white light, he had to paint with an invisible medium. If an artist had painted the Shroud, the blood must have been put on after the images. We decided to check that point. We took some blood- and serum-covered fibrils from a body image area. If the images were there before the blood, and if we removed the blood, we could expect to see straw-yellow image fibers. We prepared a mixture of enzymes that digest blood and its proteins. When all the blood and protein were gone, the underlying fibrils were not straw-yellow; they were ordinary background fibrils. This was strong evidence that the blood had gone on before the images. It suggested that blood had protected the linen from the image-making process. Surely this was a weird way to paint a picture."(Heller, 1983, pp.202-203)

And there is no evidence that "Leonardo's" was a "heretic. " According to his near-contemporary, painter-architect Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), Leonardo died a Christian:

""Finally, in his old age Leonardo lay sick for several months, and feeling that he was near to death he earnestly resolved to learn about the doctrines of the Catholic faith and of the good and holy Christian religion. Then, lamenting bitterly, he confessed and repented, and, although he could not stand up, supported by his friends and servants he received the Blessed Sacrament from his bed. He was joined by the king, who often used to pay him affectionate visits, and having respectfully raised himself in his bed he told the king about his illness and what had caused it, and he protested that he had offended God and mankind by not working at his art as he should have done. Then he was seized by a paroxysm, the forerunner of death, and, to show him favour and to soothe his pain, the king held his head. Conscious of the great honour being done to him, the inspired Leonardo breathed his last in the arms of the king; he was then seventy-five years old." (Vasari, G., "The Lives of the Artists," Volume I, Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, 1971, p.270) .

Indeed, it would be a strange (to put it mildly) for a "heretic" to create such a realistic depiction of Christ's crucifixion that many thousands (perhaps even millions) down through the centuries have either become Christians, or had their Christian faith strengthened, through it!

Leonardo had not only the means to create the Shroud, he also had the motive. This is false on both counts. First, as we have seen, Leonard da Vinci did not have "the means to create the Shroud." What the French biologists and artist Paul Vignon stated in 1937 still applies, "Even today no artist can paint so exact a negative," let alone in the 15th century when "the idea of a negative became known only through the invention of photography in the 19th Century" and even then "No artist, in fact, has yet succeeded in making an exact copy of the negative figures on the Shroud, though competent artists have made the attempt" (my emphasis):

"The figures on the Shroud, in fact, are not paintings at all. As already stated, they are negative images; and the idea of a negative became known only through the invention of photography in the 19th Century. No artist of any earlier period, therefore, (certainly none of the 14th Century and, above all, none before the 5th), could have conceived the idea of painting a negative. The figures, moreover, are very exact negatives. When they are photographed, they appear on the film with the natural proportions of a full-grown man, with a true perspective, with a noble, impressive countenance, and with a minute fidelity to nature even in minor details. Each one of these points involves principles of science and of art which were unknown or poorly grasped until comparatively modern times. It is hard , enough to carry out these principles in an ordinary positive painting, in which the lights and shades have their normal values. On the Shroud, they are perfectly illustrated with the lights and shades reversed, though it takes a photograph to reveal the fact. Even today no artist can paint so exact a negative. No artist, in fact, has yet succeeded in making an exact copy of the negative figures on the Shroud, though competent artists have made the attempt." (Vignon, P., "The problem of the Holy Shroud," Scientific American, Vol. 156, 1937, pp.162-164, p.162)

Second, da Vinci did not have the "motive" to create the Shroud (i.e. a Mk. II improving on the existing or previous Mk. I). Why would he, if he was a "heretic," create a better Shroud that would only help Christianity?

His was a life of facing challenges, of discovering the unknown, of pushing the boundaries and of devising riddles and practical jokes. There is a difference between "pushing the boundaries" and "practical jokes" and committing major art fraud (what Shroud sceptic David Sox called in the sub-title of his 1988 book, "The Shroud Unmasked," "the Greatest Forgery of All Time") of the holiest of all Church relics, which in 15th century Italy the penalty would probably be death (with or without torture). One would not need a genius IQ as Leonardo had to realise that it would only take one member of the House of Savoy (or even an accountant or servant) who knew that Shroud Mk. II was not Shroud Mk. I, and that Leonardo had faked it (and indeed the claim is that only Leonardo could have faked it) and at best his reputation would be ruined and at worst he would be executed.

He also despised the excesses of the Catholic church - though he moved among the upper reaches of its hierarchy. No doubt this is true, but Leonardo would realise that there was a difference between the corrupt medieval institutional Church and Christianity itself. An again, it is a strange way of showing one one's despising of "the excesses of the Catholic church" by creating a better Shroud of Turin that could only help that church!

Indeed, he was close to the Pope himself, through whom he was familiar with the Savoy royal family. Whether or not Leonardo was "close to the Pope," (presumably Innocent VIII - 1484 to 1492 is meant), there is no need to dispute it. It depends on what is meant by "familiar." No doubt Leonardo knew about "the Savoy royal family," but there is no evidence that he had anything to do with them, let alone conspired with it to create a major art fraud. In the three biographies of Leonardo that I was able to find in Perth City's public library, namely: Kemp, M., "Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man" (Oxford, 1981); Turner, R.A., "Inventing Leonardo" (Knopf, 1993) and Nicholl, C., "Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind" (Viking, 2004) there is not even an entry for "Savoy" in their indexes!

And it was the Savoys who, significantly, owned the Shroud at the time a Papal blessing gave it its aura of authenticity. Well, since the Savoys owned the Shroud from 1453 (i.e. the year after Leonardo was born) until 1983 (when ex King Umberto II of Savoy died) , it is of no significance in respect of Leonardo, since it was when Leonardo was 15 that the Shroud received its first "Papal blessing" when "In 1467, Paul II " "authorized ... Amedeo IX ... the son of Duke Louis I, who had received the Shroud in 1452 from Margaret De Charny" to "erect a Church ... for the preservation of" the Shroud (although that was not mentioned explicitly)

Leonardo: The Man behind the Shroud, captures the wonder that the shroud holds, and the mastery of Leonardo. No, it doesn't! As I have shown in this part #5 and previous parts #1, #2, #3 & #4, there is no evidence at all that Leonardo da Vinci committed, what would in fact be major art fraud, to forge the Shroud of Turin. As I said in a previous comment, for once I agree with Shroud sceptic Joe Nickell that "the claim that Leonardo had created the Shroud of Turin, even though the shroud appeared a century before [his] ... birth" was "a ... foray into nonsense" (my emphasis)!:

"Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, had made a previous foray into nonsense (1994) with the claim that Leonardo had created the Shroud of Turin, even though the shroud appeared a century before the birth of Leonardo (1452-1519). The duo believe the image on the cloth ... was produced for two reasons. It represented both `an innovative technique' (Leonardo, they suggest, invented photography to create the image!) and `an encoded heretical belief' (he supposedly faked blood on the image as still flowing so as to indicate that Jesus did not die on the cross) (Picknett and Prince 1998, 25, 289)." (Nickell, J., "Deciphering Da Vinci's Real Codes," Skeptical Inquirer, May/June 2007).

But what the claim does show is that if the Shroud was a forgery it would have required an artist at least as skilful as Leonardo da Vinci (and in fact more skilled-see above), and not just an unknown "Someone" who in "the 14th century ... just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it" as would have to have been the case if the 1988 radiocarbon dating of 1260-1390 AD was true.

Indeed, as Ian Wilson pointed out (see `tagline' quote below), what all these mutually exclusive theories of the creation of the Shroud (including that "Leonardo" da Vinci was "The Man Behind the Shroud") in the ~14-15th centuries show, is that "if anyone had come up with a convincing solution as to how and by whom the Shroud was forged, they would inevitably have created a consensus around which everyone sceptical on the matter would rally" but "so far this has not even begun to happen" (my emphasis)!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. BSc. (Biology).
My other blog: CreationEvolutionDesign


"So what are we to make of the Shroud mystery? Surely, despite all the arguments advanced earlier in this book, we are too rationalist to accept belief in miracles? Surely we ought to be able to cast the Shroud from our minds as too good to be true, as something that simply must have been forged? Surely the `safe', sensible, rational option must be to accept the verdict of the three radiocarbon-dating laboratories that some cunning forger simply faked the Shroud's image some time between 1260 and 1390? Mustn't it? After some thirty years of actively grappling with the subject I almost envy this position .... As for the fundamental questions for anyone adopting the forgery hypothesis - for example: `Who forged such an extraordinary image?' 'How did he do so without betraying any obvious sign of his artifice?' 'How did he manage to get so much right medically, historically and culturally?' - if you ask yourself whether Sox, or any of the other current detractors, from McCrone and Hall to Picknett and Prince, has yet offered any genuinely satisfying answers, the response has to be no. Indeed, if anyone had come up with a convincing solution as to how and by whom the Shroud was forged, they would inevitably have created a consensus around which everyone sceptical on the matter would rally. Yet so far this has not even begun to happen." (Wilson, 1998, pp.234-235. Emphasis original)

Updated: 18 June 2015.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fr. Maurus Green's "Enshrouded in Silence" is now webbed

Having read in an online back-issue of the British Society for the Turin Shroud's newsletter, in the obituary by Ian Wilson of

[Above (click to enlarge): "The Vignon markings-how Byzantine artists created a living likeness from the Shroud image. (1) Transverse streak across forehead, (2) three-sided "square" between brows, (3) V shape at bridge of nose, (4) second V within marking 2, (5) raised right eyebrow, (6) accentuated left cheek, (7) accentuated right cheek, (8) enlarged left nostril, (9) accentuated line between nose and upper lip, (10) heavy line under lower lip, (11) hairless area between lower lip and beard, (12) forked beard, (13) transverse line across throat, (14) heavily accentuated owlish eyes, (15) two strands of hair." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, 1978, p.82ff.)]

Fr. Maurus Green (1919-2001) that, "In just 24 pages he effectively set down the guidelines for all future research on the Shroud's history" (my emphasis):

"In the autumn of 1969, by which time he had moved to St. Mary's Priory, Warrington, Maurus published in the Ampleforth Journal his most seminal article on the Shroud `Enshrouded in Silence'. In just 24 pages he effectively set down the guidelines for all future research on the Shroud's history, this being the most scholarly UK based approach to the subject since the sceptical Jesuit Fr. Herbert Thurston's articles written more than forty years earlier." (Wilson, I., "Obituary - Fr. Maurus Green, OSB," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 56, December 2002)

I decided that that journal article was a must read!

However, it was in a lesser-known periodical called the Ampleforth Journal (published by Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, England), which was not online. So I emailed the Abbey asking how I could obtain the article and a Fr. Anselm Cramer OSB, kindly scanned it and put it online. Here is the link within a full citation of the article:

Green, M., "Enshrouded in Silence: In search of the First Millennium of the Holy Shroud," Ampleforth Journal, Vol. 74, Autumn 1969, pp.319-345.

Fr. Cramer gave me permission to post the above link to the article on this my The Shroud of Turin blog, although he cautions that it is a work-in-progress, requiring correction of a number of typos (which I am helping him find). [Fr. Cramer has since advised that he has "been right through the article and fixed a whole series of glitches. .... it is now in fairly good condition"].

Here are some quotes from the paper (or rather my own proof-read and corrected copy of it). I have deleted references (e.g. pictures) that are not yet in the webbed article.

The first quote is of the late Yves Delage (1854-1920), an agnostic Professor of Zoology and Anatomy at the Sorbonne, who in 1902, in a letter to the French Academy of Sciences, gave his "refutation of the forgery charge" that: 1) in the "fourteenth century ... there must ... have existed an artist-who has remained unknown-capable of executing a work hardly within the power of the greatest Renaissance painters"; 2) "While this is already very difficult to admit for an image painted as a positive, it becomes quite incredible in the case of a negative image"; 3) "Why should this forger have taken the trouble to realise a beauty not visible in his work" until the invention of photography "five centuries later"; and 4) "the forger has deliberately flouted the susceptibilities of his contemporaries. `The hands are pierced through the wrist and not through the palm ... against tradition" and "the nakedness of the image" would "shock their feelings or scandalise them" (my emphasis):

"In the light of subsequent discoveries, it is interesting to look again at Delage's refutation of the forgery charge . `As the shroud is authenticated since the fourteenth century, if the image is a faked painting, there must at this epoch, have existed an artist-who has remained unknown-capable of executing a work hardly within the power of the greatest Renaissance painters. While this is already very difficult to admit for an image painted as a positive, it becomes quite incredible in the case of a negative image, which lacks all aesthetic character in this form and assumes its value only when the lights and shades are reversed, while strictly respecting their contours and values. Such an operation would be almost impossible except by photography, an art unknown in the fourteenth century. The forger, while painting a negative, would have to know how to distribute light and shade so that after reversal they would give the figure which he attributed to Christ, and that with perfect precision; ... I add this argument whose force will be felt on reflection: Why should this forger have taken the trouble to realise a beauty not visible in his work and discernible only after reversal which was only later made possible?'- five centuries later! `He would be working for his contemporaries and not for the twentieth century and the Academy of Sciences.' Delage points out that in various ways the forger has deliberately flouted the susceptibilities of his contemporaries. `The hands are pierced through the wrist and not through the palm, in conformity with the anatomical requirements and against tradition.' Of the nakedness of the image, he writes, `the shroud destined to enflame the zeal of the faithful should not at the same time shock their feelings or scandalise them. This is so true that the loincloth has been added to certain copies'. [Delage, Y., "Communication to Academie des Sciences, Revue Scientifique, 31 May 1902]" (Green, M., "Enshrouded in Silence: In search of the First Millennium of the Holy Shroud," Ampleforth Journal, Vol. 74, Autumn 1969, pp.319-345).

And here are some quotes where Fr. Green summarised the evidence, that French biologist/artist and colleague of Delage's, "Paul Vignon and his followers have noticed" namely "certain peculiarities of the Syro-Byzantine Christs which, when taken in conjunction with their generally accepted characteristics" such as a "long-haired Christ with the forked beard and staring eyes" as well as "forehead marks" which were "disfigurements" which "seem to pin-point their [common] origin" (my emphasis):

"Paul Vignon has made a detailed study of the Image, comparing every feature with the details of the mask of the Turin Shroud. Since the chief characteristic of the Mandylions is their lack of neck and shoulders, it is probable that they derived this peculiarity from the Image of Edessa. Otherwise, they belong to the same family as the typical Christs of the normal Byzantine icons. Their faces are of the same type, as can be seen from a comparison between them ... and the Early Portraits ... As we have seen, this type of Christ appeared in the sixth century with the Edessan Image as the most famous, and perhaps the earliest, of the miraculous Mandylions. Art historians associate this long-haired Christ with the forked beard and staring eyes with Syria rather than with Greece or Rome. None have been able to explain its origin nor its immediate acceptance as the true type as against the Greco-Roman Christ. Only Paul Vignon and his followers have noticed certain peculiarities of the Syro-Byzantine Christs which, when taken in conjunction with their generally accepted characteristics, seem to pin-point their origin. ... The forehead marks of these Christs, for instance, are real disfigurements, as if their artists had deliberately accentuated one Byzantine method of emphasising eyebrows till their portraits seem to be branded for identification purposes. Were they driven by some remote model that they could not escape?" (Green, Ibid.).

These "forehead marks" which were actually "disfigurements" are "also found on portraits of Apostles, Saints and Emperors", for example the Christian Roman "Emperors Constantine and Justinian":

"The forehead marks are also found on portraits of Apostles, Saints and Emperors, but are rarely given to lesser mortals. The best example is the mosaic in Sancta Sophia, Istanbul, which shows the Emperors Constantine and Justinian presenting their gifts, Constantinople and Sancta Sophia, to the Virgin and Child. Across their foreheads are strong horizontal lines surmounting three sides of a square, more emphatic even than the branding of the Christ of St Pontianus... whilst Jesus has a rounded mark beneath the line in keeping with his child's face. The iconographic evidence so far accumulated gives the impression that these marks are reserved for Christ and his close friends, just as Byzantine artists frequently give Apostles and Emperors the same cast of feature as the Christs depicted with them. This facial resemblance suggests a concern to express physically the spiritual likeness to Christ ..." (Green, Ibid.).

[Above: 8th century Pantocrator "Bust of Christ in the catacomb of Pontianus," National Gallery of Art, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis]

As "Vignon has highlighted" all these "strange anomalies or disfigurements," include not only "the wounds and bruises of the Man of the Shroud" but also "faults in the linen" are "to be found on the Turin Shroud" and with which "their artists felt compelled to adorn" the "hundreds of icons and Mandylions that strongly indicate the presence of the Shroud in the East from the sixth century" (my emphasis):

"If the archives of Edessa and Constantinople had not been so thoroughly destroyed or lost, we might be able to tie down this `icon-shroud' hypothesis with more documentary evidence. In default of this, Vignon has highlighted evidence of another kind-the hundreds of icons and Mandylions that strongly indicate the presence of the Shroud in the East from the sixth century. This is the earliest we can expect to hear of it in view of a long sequence of events and universal attitudes hostile to its disclosure and compelling its guardians to keep it a close secret: the Jewish horror of `impure' burial linens combined with the Jewish and Roman persecutions; the Christian shrinking from crucifixion and its detailed portrayal in art, an attitude that lasted many centuries; and the continuous quarrels about sacred images, both affecting and affected by the Christological controversies, from the earliest times to the final defeat of Iconoclasm. The late B. G. Sandhurst [pseudonym of Green's father] called these images of Christ `the Silent Witnesses' which steadfastly direct our attention to the Shroud. How do they do this? They point silently with the strange anomalies or disfigurements with which their artists felt compelled to adorn them. All these anomalies are to be found on the Turin Shroud ... where they were produced either by the wounds and bruises of the Man of the Shroud or by faults in the linen accentuated by the stains of the imprint." (Green, Ibid).

As Green pointed out, that "the Turin Shroud is the prototype of the Byzantine Christ and indeed the more remote origin of his traditional likeness in every school of art down to the present day" (my emphasis):

"None of the artists reproduce all the anomalies, but all feel bound to show some. This may have been due to the Byzantine canons of art, their books of instruction laying down strict rules of convention to be observed by religious artists. The Byzantine strait-jacket, though it did not rob artists of their individual inspiration, led to centuries of copying accepted models, of which Edessa was the most notable. In the first instance probably a very few artists actually saw the death mask of the Shroud but they seem to have reproduced its anomalies and mistakes so faithfully that subsequent artists felt bound to copy them. A careful study of the characteristics and anomalies common to the Mandylions ... Byzantine Christs ... and the Shroud ... will reveal what Vignon, Wuenschel and Sandhurst mean when they say that the Turin Shroud is the prototype of the Byzantine Christ and indeed the more remote origin of his traditional likeness in every school of art down to the present day." (Green, Ibid)

can be confirmed by "show[ing] a positive photograph of the Face of the Shroud to someone who has never seen it nor heard of the Shroud, and ask him whose image it is. He will get only one answer" - Jesus (my emphasis):

"A most striking confirmation of this theory can be experienced by the reader. Let him show a positive photograph of the Face of the Shroud to someone who has never seen it nor heard of the Shroud, and ask him whose image it is. He will get only one answer. The only explanation I can see for this recurrent phenomenon is that the ancient artists who copied the negative of the Shroud and gave us our traditional Christ, did their job so well that when the camera revealed the secret of its mysterious mask the resemblance was obvious. They did, up to a point, transpose negative details, e.g. the nose, so dark in the Shroud image, becomes of natural tone in the pictures. Other points, however, were not recognised, e.g. the dark-coloured closed eyelids are copied as wide open eyes; the drawing of the mouth is badly affected by the lack of understanding just where the lights and darks are inverted in the Shroud image." (Green, Ibid).

Green concluded that "we have already sufficient evidence to indicate beyond reasonable doubt that ... the Turin Shroud was in existence at least from the sixth century on, and by implication" (since there certainly was no Leonardo da Vinci or photography in the sixth century AD!) "dates therefrom back to the time of Christ" (my emphasis):

"Even without such identification I believe that we have already sufficient evidence to indicate beyond reasonable doubt that, whatever its whereabouts, the Turin Shroud was in existence at least from the sixth century on, and by implication dates therefrom back to the time of Christ. I submit that this would appear eminently acceptable to the ordinary canons of the history of art, were it not for the fact that the Shroud of Turin is so unusual a document. As was the case with Delage's medico-legal evidence, so it is, or has been, with the Shroud's historical and artistic claims. What he wrote of the reaction of his scientific colleagues in 1902, applies with equal force to the attitude prevailing in some circles today. `If they [the hypotheses that he had put before the Academy of Sciences] have not received from certain people the welcome they deserved, the sole reason is that there has been unfairly grafted on to this scientific question a religious issue which has excited men's minds and misled right reason. If not Christ but Sargon or Achilles or one of the Pharaohs had been involved, no one would have any objection. I consider Christ as an historical person, and I see no reason why people should be scandalised if there exists a material trace of his existence.' Perhaps Delage would allow us to add: Nor should we be surprised if strangely compelling artistic witnesses and certain documents urge us to look again at the baffling claims of that material trace." [Delage, Y., "Communication to Academie des Sciences, Revue Scientifique, 31 May 1902]" (Green, Ibid).

Note that some of these Vignon markings are not part of the body image at all but are just wrinkles and blemishes in the cloth (e.g. "(13) transverse line across throat" above). But artists from the sixth century onwards were dutifully copying these non-image, accidental blemishes found on the Shroud in their portraits of Christ.

And then note, as the late British paleontologist Professor Colin Patterson pointed out in a different context, that "in the law courts (where proof `beyond reasonable doubt' is required), cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that ... whatever ... is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original (my emphasis):

"An interesting argument is that in the law courts (where proof `beyond reasonable doubt' is required), cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that the text (or whatever) is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original. Similarly, in tracing the texts of ancient authors, the best evidence that two versions are copies one from another or from the same original is when both contain the same errors. A charming example is an intrusive colon within a phrase in two fourteenth-century texts of Euripides: one colon turned out to be a scrap of straw embedded in the paper, proving that the other text was a later copy." (Patterson, C., "Evolution," [1978], Cornell University Press: Ithaca NY, Second edition, 1999, p.117).

So there simply is no other reasonable explanation for why these "errors," i.e. those that are just wrinkles and blemishes in the linen of the Shroud of Turin, appear also in Christian art dating from at least the sixth century AD, other than that the Shroud of Turin was the original way back then from which they all, directly or indirectly, copied. That is because these accidental wrinkles and blemishes found on the linen of the Shroud of Turin are the exact equivalent of the "colon ... in two ... texts of Euripides: one colon turned out to be a scrap of straw embedded in the paper" (= blemishes in the Shroud's linen) "proving that the other text" (= portraits of Christ from the sixth century onwards) "was a later copy"!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biol).
My other blog: CreationEvolutionDesign


"Before probing deeper into what might have had such a profound artistic influence in the sixth century, it is important to consider whether there is any way in which one could be more positive that the Shroud likeness had been at work. Fortunately, there is, in the form of some most unusual, and so far largely unrecognized research on the part of Frenchman Paul Vignon, the biologist colleague of Professor Yves Delage. In the 1930s Vignon turned his interest away from the scientific aspects of the Shroud, and began to study some of the post-sixth-century Byzantine portraits looked at earlier in this chapter, together with many similar pre-fourteenth-century portraits of Christ. He had noticed that in many of these portraits there were certain oddities, certain peculiarities to the Christ face. One painting to which he paid particular attention was the eighth-century Christ Pantocrator from the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome. On the forehead between the eyebrows of this work a starkly geometrical U shape had caught his eye. Artistically it did not seem to make sense. If it was intended to be a furrowed brow, it was depicted most unnaturally in comparison to the rest of the face. It, therefore, intrigued him greatly that when he turned to the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there was the same feature, equally as geometric, and equally as unnatural because it appeared to have nothing to do with the image itself. The significance of the Pontianus discovery was heightened when other Byzantine Christ portraits were found to exhibit the same marking. The eleventh-century Daphni Pantocrator, the tenth-century Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco, the tenth-century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and an eleventh-century portable mosaic from Berlin are typical of many Byzantine works featuring the same peculiar shaped brow, generally more stylized, but still suggestive of the same derivation. Coincidence? Or could the Byzantine artist have been working from some blueprint likeness of Christ, faithfully reproducing this feature derived from the Shroud? Vignon, and after him the American scholar Edward Wuenschel, [Wuenschel, E.A., "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild," Esopus NY, 1954] began to search for other such peculiarities, and found some twenty in all, oddities originating from some accidental imperfection in the Shroud image or weave, and repeated time and again in paintings, frescoes, and mosaics of the Byzantine period, even though artistically they made no sense. By no means every work featured every peculiarity. Nor were the markings confined exclusively to front-facing portraits but were sometimes found three-quarter face. Occasionally some, such as the forehead markings, were given to saints, perhaps as a special mark of holiness. And some were seen reversed right to left, perhaps because of understanding of the reversing effect of an `impression.'" (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, 1978, pp.83-84)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leonardo: The Man Behind the Shroud? #4

Leonardo: The Man Behind The Shroud, ABC, 1 Jul 2007 ... Continued from part #3. Was ... the image burnt on by

[Above: "The Shroud face in fluorescent light" (Wilson, I., "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, 1986, pl.8), showing that while its bloodstains fluoresce, i.e. they were formed from real blood, the image does not fluoresce, showing it is not a thermal scorch.]

pressing the cloth against a heated sculpture?

There are at least eight problems of the theory that the Shroud's "image [was] burnt on by "pressing the cloth against a heated sculpture":

1) There is no evidence of such a method ever being used in the past (including Leonardo da Vinci's day) to produce images of anything on cloth, let alone the Shroud's. As historian Ian Wilson, after reviewing the "concept has been that, instead of a body, a lifesize statue or relief was employed," observed, "No amount of poring through the art of the Middle Ages reveals anyone who worked even remotely in this way" (my emphasis):

"Another popular concept has been that, instead of a body, a lifesize statue or relief was employed. ... But can it be sustained? It is, for instance, very surprising that some unknown artist, in addition to all his other cleverness, should have displayed the subtlety and depth of anatomical knowledge displayed on the Shroud. No amount of poring through the art of the Middle Ages reveals anyone who worked even remotely in this way." (Wilson, 1986, pp.66,68).

2) The sculpture itself, and multiple copies of the Shroud made from it, should still be in existence but they are not. Once such a statue was created, then Shroud copies could have been be churned out from it like from a printing press. But since "Shroud copies of this level of artistry would have demanded a king's ransom," then "Where is the statue or the bas-relief that the artist used?" (my emphasis):

"An artist who was good enough to create an image as impressive as the Shroud's would surely have made many copies of it. Shroud copies of this level of artistry would have demanded a king's ransom. Where is the statue or the bas-relief that the artist used? It would have graced the finest cathedral and become a famous image in its own right. And, to repeat a point made before, this artist would have had to have forged an image that, would not have been appreciated for hundreds of years after his death, until the invention of photography and other modern analytical techniques." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, 1981, p.109).

3) Heat scorches like those caused by the 1532 fire which burnt holes in the Shroud, fluoresce under ultraviolet light but the Shroud's images do not fluoresce. That is, if the Shroud was created "by wrapping the cloth around a heated metal statue," the scorches would "fluoresce under ultraviolet light" as the "scorches from the 1532 fire indeed do" but "the Shroud's ... body image does not" (my emphasis):

"Another popular concept has been that, instead of a body, a lifesize statue or relief was employed. Prior to 1978 there was considerable interest in the Shroud body image's similarity to the scorches from the 1532 fire. It was theorized that someone in the Middle Ages had produced the Shroud's delicate gradations by wrapping the cloth around a heated metal statue, the linen receiving scorches proportionately more intense according to the cloth's distance from any one part of the hot statue. Cogent as this idea might seem, in the light of the 1978 testing it has attracted enthusiasm from neither the STURP team nor Dr. McCrone. According to STURP members, scorches fluoresce under ultraviolet light, and while the Shroud's scorches from the 1532 fire indeed do so, the body image does not." (Wilson, 1986, pp.66,68).

4) Scorches of linen placed over hot statues form on both sides of the cloth, unlike the Shroud's image which is only on one side. Experiments by STURP physicists "Eric Jumper and John Jackson found that an image produced by having "heated a bronze statue ... and thrown a piece of linen over it ... would also be present on the back of the cloth" (my emphasis):

"Eric Jumper, another Air Force physicist, thought that if the Shroud had been scorched, it would have to have been a very short burst of high energy radiation. He and John Jackson ran some experiments in which they scorched pieces of linen with lasers. Within a short time, an image appeared on the reverse side of the cloth almost as dark as the one on the front. Jumper thought that this ruled out any plausible forgery using a scorch. A forger could have heated a bronze statue or a flat plate and thrown a piece of linen over it, but the image this process produced would also be present on the back of the cloth. By contrast, their experiments showed that the radiation process would have to be very quick and very intense in order to scorch only the topmost layer of the linen fibers. [Jumper, E., "Considerations of Molecular Diffusion and Radiation as an Image Formation Process on the Shroud," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference on the Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Bronx NY, 1977, p.187]" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, pp.71-72).

But the Shroud's "`... body' image areas are superficial in the extreme, lying only on the very top of the Shroud threads" (my emphasis):

"As Dr Adler continues to argue, [Adler, A.D., "The Shroud Fabric and the Body Image: Chemical and Physical Characteristics', International Scientific Symposium, "The Turin Shroud, past, present and future," Villa Gualino, Turin, 2-5 March 2000] in the wake of Heller's death and having been granted a relatively recent direct viewing of the cloth to facilitate conservation recommendations, `the body' image areas are superficial in the extreme, lying only on the very top of the Shroud threads. They do not penetrate the cloth, nor do they exhibit any capillarity or absorptive properties. They are more brittle than their non-image counterparts, as if whatever formed them corroded them. They are uniform in coloration, they are not cemented together, neither are they `diffused' as they would be if they derived from some dye or stain. They do not `fluoresce' or reflect back any light. Most emphatically, they are not made by pigment contact." (Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara: London, 2000, p.74)

5) Such scorches on linen placed over a heated statue have "hot spots" where the linen touched the statue, but the Shroud has no such "hot spots":

"Another objection to the hot statue method lies in the inevitable creation of `hot spots' or well-defined regions of enhanced image density at points where the statue touched the cloth. Such spots would necessarily result from thermal conduction, [Schwalbe, L.A. & Rogers, R.N., "Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin," Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 135, 1982, pp.3-49, p.28] yet no such regions are present on the Shroud body image. ... the entire image contains the same density of coloration." (Antonacci, M., "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, 2000, p.79)

6) Scorches on linen placed over hot statues are not three-dimensional, unlike the Shroud's image which is:

"John Jackson pointed out another problem with various theories of image formation. Employing sophisticated mathematical analysis, he showed that no reasonable physical mechanism could produce an image which was both three-dimensional and highly detailed. To achieve clarity, three-dimensionality had to be sacrificed. To produce an image that contained three dimensional data, the image would not have been as detailed as the Shroud image is. Jackson thought his findings made it unlikely that the Shroud image was formed by some natural process involving diffusion of chemicals. He also said that no simple scorch caused by exposing the cloth to thermal radiation could not have produced a clear three-dimensional image either. However, Jackson said a scorch was still a possible explanation for the image because it could have been caused in some way other than by thermal radiation. [Jackson, J., "Problem of Resolution Posed by the Existence of a Three-Dimensional Image on the Shroud," in Stevenson, 1977, pp. 223-33]" (Stevenson,& Habermas, 1981, p.72. Emphasis original).

Indeed, Jackson showed mathematically in 1982, that "the three-dimensional effect is the Waterloo for all artistic theories" including those that posit "hot statues or hot bas-reliefs" (my emphasis):

"But as Dr. Jackson demonstrated, the Shroud image is three-dimensionally `consistent with a body shape covered with a naturally draping cloth and which can be derived from a single, global mapping function relating image shading with distance between these two surfaces.' [Jackson, J.P. & Ercoline, W.R., "The Three-Dimensional Characteristics of the Shroud Image," IEEE 1982 Proceedings of the International Conference on Cybernetics and Society, October 1982, p.573] In short, though none of the Shroud opponents would willingly concede this point, the three-dimensional effect is the Waterloo for all artistic theories. That same effect has been scientifically demonstrated and subjected to the best peer review. And it still stands. Also, this same characteristic proves to be the acid test for all the image formation theories Dr. Jackson tried regardless of how well they met or failed to meet the other known Shroud image characteristics. A catalog of ruled-out theories includes the following: direct contact, diffusion, lab-induced radiation from a body shape, engraving, powdered bas-reliefs, electrostatic imaging, phosphorescent statues, hot statues or hot bas-reliefs." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1990, pp.32-33).

The reason is that "A hot statue would produce ... heat [that] radiates the same in all directions" and "This type of uniform radiation could not produce the subtle cloth-drape distortions found on the Shroud" but "would ... produce a blurred image." Also, the "blood and serum marks also could not be reproduced with a draped hot statue" but "would undergo thermal degradation as a result of their contact with a hot surface" (my emphasis):

"Hot Statue Method Just as the heated bas-relief method cannot account for all the Shroud image characteristics, neither can the hot statue technique, which involves laying cloth over a full-size three-dimensional hot statue. A hot statue would produce an isotropic radiation source, which means the heat radiates the same in all directions. This type of uniform radiation could not produce the subtle cloth-drape distortions found on the Shroud because the distance information encoded onto the cloth would not be transferred along vertical, straight-line paths; [Jackson, J., "A Problem of Resolution Posed By The Existence of a Three Dimensional Image on the Shroud," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Bronx NY, 1977, pp.223-233] instead, the heat would travel in all directions and produce a blurred image. Thus the three-dimensional shading and high resolution of the Shroud image could not be encoded simultaneously if this image-forming method were used. [Jackson, personal communication, February 1, 1988] Furthermore, the hot statue technique would scorch the image into multiple layers of the linen's threads, which means the image could not be superficial and confined to only the topmost fibrils of the cloth. [Jumper, E.J., "Considerations of Molecular Diffusion and Radiation as an Image Formation Process on the Shroud," in Stevenson, Ibid., pp.182-188]." (Antonacci, 2000, pp.78-79. Emphasis original).

7) Since the blood was on the cloth before the image was formed, contact with a hot statue would thermally degrade it, but the Shroud's blood is not. But, "If the images were there before the blood, and if we removed the blood, we could expect to see straw-yellow image fibers," however "When all the blood and protein were gone, the underlying fibrils were not straw-yellow; they were ordinary background fibrils" (my emphasis):

"Our hypothetical artist obviously must have used blood - both pre-mortem and post-mortem. And he had to paint with serum albumin alongside the edges of the scourge marks. Since serum albumin is visible only under ultraviolet, not white light, he had to paint with an invisible medium. If an artist had painted the Shroud, the blood must have been put on after the images. We decided to check that point. We took some blood- and serum-covered fibrils from a body image area. If the images were there before the blood, and if we removed the blood, we could expect to see straw-yellow image fibers. We prepared a mixture of enzymes that digest blood and its proteins. When all the blood and protein were gone, the underlying fibrils were not straw-yellow; they were ordinary background fibrils. This was strong evidence that the blood had gone on before the images. It suggested that blood had protected the linen from the image-making process. Surely this was a weird way to paint a picture." (Heller, J.H., "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 1983, pp.202-203).

This was confirmed by "Microscopic and ultraviolet examinations of the Shroud" which indicated "that the blood images were transferred to the cloth before the body image." Therefore, "If the body image were encoded through contact with a hot surface, thermal discoloration or degradation of bloodied fibrils would be evident" but "Microscopic study of the bloodstains on the Shroud ... reveals no thermal discoloration" of the image (my emphasis):

"Microscopic and ultraviolet examinations of the Shroud indicate that the blood images were transferred to the cloth before the body image. [Jumper, E.J., et al., "A Comprehensive Examination of the Various Stains and Images on the Shroud of Turin," in Lambert, J.B., ed., "Archaeological Chemistry, III," American Chemical Society: Washington DC, 1984, pp.447-476 & Jackson, J.P., et al., "Three Dimensional Characteristics of the Shroud Image," IEEE 1982 Proceedings of the International Conference on Cybernetics and Society, October 1982, pp.559-575] If the body image were encoded through contact with a hot surface, thermal discoloration or degradation of bloodied fibrils would be evident because the blood images would have been in direct contact with the bas-relief heated to temperatures high enough to scorch linen. Indeed, this effect appeared in the experimental testing of this technique [Jackson, Ibid.]. Microscopic study of the bloodstains on the Shroud, however, reveals no thermal discoloration or fusing (except in areas where the fire marks of 1532 intersected bloodstains). Furthermore, a heated bas-relief could not produce the many other aforementioned unique features of the blood on the Shroud." (Antonacci, 2000, p.79).

8) All attempts to produce a realistic copy of the Shroud by pressing a cloth against a heated sculpture have failed. Indeed "every attempt to experimentally create an acceptable image by the use of direct contact between a body or statue has failed," one reason being that it has been found by that method to be "impossible to create an acceptable impression of a three-dimensional object," which the Shroud is (see above), "on a two-dimensional surface" (my emphasis):

"Furthermore, every attempt to experimentally create an acceptable image by the use of direct contact between a body or statue has failed. It seemed to be impossible to create an acceptable impression of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.69).

And in fact no "artist or forger has ever created an image showing all the characteristics of the image of the man of the Shroud," "even with the aid of modern technology," since "none of them are three-dimensional, superficial" (confined to the topmost surface fibrils)" and "non-directional" which the Shroud is (my emphasis):

"The basic fact remains: neither Joe Nickell nor any other artist or forger has ever created an image showing all the characteristics of the image of the man of the Shroud. For example, none of them are three-dimensional, superficial, or non-directional. Photographers claim that it is impossible to fake such a delicate image photographically. One cited by Wilcox wrote, `I've been involved in the invention of many complicated processes, and I can tell you that no one could have faked that image. No one could do it today with all the technology we have. It's a perfect negative. It has a photographic quality that is extremely precise.' [Leo Vala in Wilcox, R.K., "Shroud," 1977, pp.130-131] In recent years a skeptical artist and photographer from Great Britain set out to deliberately duplicate the Shroud image using modern photographic techniques. He was convinced at the outset that the Turin cloth was a hoax. In the end, although his results were good enough to be used in the movie, `The Silent Witness,' his image is vastly inferior to the original. He concluded that it was virtually impossible for a human to have forged the Shroud image. In fact, the Shroud has never been successfully duplicated even with the aid of modern technology, despite some valiant attempts. In summary, it is virtually impossible that the Shroud image can be a forgery. ... The scientific testing of the Shroud uncovered no evidence for forgery. The technical demands of such a forgery appear far beyond the capabilities of a medieval artist, and modern-day attempts to duplicate the Shroud image have all failed." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, pp.109-110).

After "a comprehensive review of the comparative plausibility of every conceivable variety of image-forming process" by "Drs. Jackson and Jumper" they found that "although images were produced ... these fell far short of the photographic realism of the Shroud" (my emphasis):

"Back in 1978, arising from firsthand observations of the Shroud body image's similarity to some of the scorches from the 1532 fire, there was much discussion that the image might have been created by a scorch, perhaps from some searing flash of light at the very moment of Jesus' Resurrection. During the 1970s, an English author, Geoffrey Ashe, had created Shroud-like scorch pictures by applying a heated brass ornament to damp linen. But, as established by the 1978 ultraviolet fluorescence photography, there is a marked qualitative difference between the body image and the scorches. The 1532 fire scorches fluoresce red when irradiated with ultraviolet light, whereas the body images do not. ... Attempts to simulate some aspects of such a process have been made by Drs. Jackson and Jumper and colleagues in a comprehensive review of the comparative plausibility of every conceivable variety of image-forming process. But although images were produced, as in so many other experiments, these fell far short of the photographic realism of the Shroud." (Wilson, 1986, pp.125-126)

However, even if "back in the fourteenth century" some "mediaeval sculptor" created "a life-size, anatomically convincing ... statue of ... Jesus, made in metal, that someone managed to heat to just the right temperature and manipulate so that a fourteen-foot length of linen could be wrapped all round it," "he would then have had to paint in the wounds ... in the mode of bloodclot transfers - so realistically that they fooled dozens of twentieth-century doctors and pathologists." (as well as master time-travel to plant "the evidence we have seen for the existence of something like our Shroud well before the Middle Ages") (my emphasis)!:

"But while we are still considering the Shroud as the work of an artist, we should also take account of the idea that rather than using a paintbrush the mediaeval faker may cleverly have deployed some life-sized statue of Jesus in a manner so as to transfer its image to a piece of linen. Professor Hall, while generally shunning taking a serious interest in how the Shroud's image might have been made, told me during our July 1988 meeting in Oxford that the one idea he did favour was this so-called `hot statue' theory. The simple principle behind this is that a forger heated a metal statue of Jesus, then quickly wrapped a length of plain linen around it, thereby scorching the `body' image onto it rather in the manner of a branding iron. It is an idea that has circulated for some while, having been demonstrated as early as the 1970s by the English author Geoffrey Ashe [Ashe, G., "What Sort of Picture," Sindon, 1966, pp.15-19], who for his 'statue' simply heated a brass ornament (one used to decorate the trappings of horses) and applied it to a piece of linen he had dampened. Even though the effect, home-spun as it was, was far from totally convincing, it was actually rather more Shroud-like than anything we have seen from either McCrone or Craig and Bresee. Even so the `hot statue' theory suffers from the serious problem that it demands the existence, back in the fourteenth century, of a life-size, anatomically convincing and totally nude statue of a recumbent Jesus, made in metal, that someone managed to heat to just the right temperature and manipulate so that a fourteen-foot length of linen could be wrapped all round it. ... None the less even if we could accept that a mediaeval sculptor had created such a statue, in doing so he would then have had to paint in the wounds not with whole blood, but in the mode of bloodclot transfers -so realistically that they fooled dozens of twentieth-century doctors and pathologists. And this is aside from all his other accuracies and the evidence we have seen for the existence of something like our Shroud well before the Middle Ages. Further contradicting any such `scorch' theory is the fact that the STURP team's ultraviolet fluorescence photography of 1978 revealed that whereas the cloth's scorches from the 1532 fire fluoresce red when irradiated with ultraviolet light, the body images do not. This argues strongly against the Shroud's body image having been created in some conventional scorch-like manner." (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1998, pp.203-204. Emphasis original).

And anyway Leonardo da Vinci was not as great a sculptor as he was a painter, with "A small group of generals' heads in marble and plaster ... linked with Leonardo" but of "inferior quality" and "two great sculptural projects ... not realized" (my emphasis):

"Leonardo worked as a sculptor from his youth on, as shown in his own statements and those of other sources. A small group of generals' heads in marble and plaster, works of Verrocchio's followers, are sometimes linked with Leonardo because a lovely drawing attributed to him that is on the same theme suggests such a connection. But the inferior quality of this group of sculpture rules out an attribution to the master. No trace has remained of the heads of women and children that, according to Vasari, Leonardo modeled in clay in his youth. The two great sculptural projects to which Leonardo devoted himself wholeheartedly were not realized ... " (Heydenreich, L.H., "Leonardo da Vinci: Sculpture," Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Accessed 4 July 2007).

Continued in part #5.

Posted: 21 July 2007. Updated: 14 February 2016.


"If I had known Stewart would need a profile of the man in the shroud, I would have brought along the photographs made by Leo Vala, a photographer of British royalty and a pioneer in the development of the 3D visual process and cinemascope movie screens. By manipulating light through photo transparencies, he produced an image on a normal screen that enabled sculptors to make a three-dimensional model which could then be photographed in profile or indeed from any other angle. In perfecting the process Vala had selected the shroud face as a subject `because it's such a beautiful image.' After publishing the results of his experimentation in the March 8, 1967 issue of Amateur Photographer, he became an outspoken critic of anyone who thought the image could have been produced by human hands either through artistry or technology. `I've been involved in the invention of many complicated visual processes, and I can tell you that no one could have faked that image. No one could do it today with all the technology we have. It's a perfect negative. It has a photographic quality that is extremely precise.'" (Wilcox, R.K., "Shroud," Macmillan: New York NY, 1977, pp.130-131)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Leonardo: The Man Behind the Shroud? #3

See also my "Medieval photography: Nicholas Allen" post of 7 August 2016.

Leonardo: The Man Behind The Shroud, ABC, 1 Jul 2007 ... Continued from part #2. Was it created photographically,

[Above: How a medieval forger supposedly created the Shroud of Turin, "photographically, in a camera obscura," based on a model by Prof. Nicholas Allen: Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.214]

in a camera obscura, was the image burnt on by pressing the cloth against a heated sculpture? I responded to "Was it created photographically" in general at the end of part #2. As for "Was it created ... in a camera obscura?" i.e. as proposed by Prof. Nicholas Allen (see above). The short answer is no, because the "camera obscura" was the "ancestor of the photographic camera" (my emphasis):

"camera obscura ... ancestor of the photographic camera. The Latin name means `dark chamber,' and the earliest versions, dating to antiquity, consisted of small darkened rooms with light admitted through a single tiny hole. The result was that an inverted image of the outside scene was cast on the opposite wall, which was usually whitened. For centuries the technique was used for viewing eclipses of the Sun without endangering the eyes and, by the 16th century, as an aid to drawing; the subject was posed outside and the image reflected on a piece of drawing paper for the artist to trace. Portable versions were built, followed by smaller and even pocket models; the interior of the box was painted black and the image reflected by an angled mirror so that it could be viewed right side up. The introduction of a light-sensitive plate by J.-N. Niepce created photography." ("camera obscura," Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Accessed 12 July 2007)

that is, "The forerunner of the camera" (my emphasis):

"photography, history of Antecedents ... The forerunner of the camera was the camera obscura, a dark chamber or room with a hole (later a lens) in one wall, through which images of objects outside the room were projected on the opposite wall. The principle was probably known to the Chinese and to ancient Greeks such as Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago. Late in the 16th century, the Italian scientist and writer Giambattista della Porta demonstrated and described in detail the use of a camera obscura with a lens. While artists in subsequent centuries commonly used variations on the camera obscura to create images they could trace, the results from these devices depended on the artist's drawing skills, and so scientists continued to search for a method to reproduce images completely mechanically. In 1727 the German professor of anatomy Johann Heinrich Schulze proved that the darkening of silver salts, a phenomenon known since the 16th century and possibly earlier, was caused by light and not heat. He demonstrated the fact by using sunlight to record words on the salts, but he made no attempt to preserve the images permanently. His discovery, in combination with the camera obscura, provided the basic technology necessary for photography. It was not until the early 19th century, however, that photography actually came into being." ("photography, history of: antecedents," Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Accessed 12 July 2007)

not the photographic camera itself.

As the above Wikipedia entries state, "It was not until the early 19th century" with "The introduction of a light-sensitive plate by J.-N. Niepce" (in 1824, i.e. over 300 years after Leonardo's death) that "photography actually came into being" (my emphasis)!

Now as for Allen's experiment to test his medieval photograph theory, Brendan Whiting summarised it as follows:

"The Camera-Obscura Theory In 1995 a theory that the Shroud image might have been created through the application of an early, crude form of photography known as camera-obscura - supposed to have been utilised in the Middle Ages - was tested by Professor Nicholas Allen, a dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at the Port Elizabeth Technikon in South Africa [Allen, N., "Verification of the nature and causes of the photo-negative images on the Shroud of Lirey-Chambery-Turin," De Arte, April 1995, pp.31-34]. Allen knew that the image on the Shroud was not a painting, and was aware that in medieval Europe, Italy in particular, there existed knowledge of the use of quartz for making lenses for magnification purposes. He was also aware that at that time there was knowledge of silver salts, which had the properties required for converting into light-sensitive chemicals. To test his theory Allen constructed a camera obscura in the form of a room that was totally dark except for an aperture in the front wall, in which he set a type of rock-crystal lens that he believed could have existed in the Middle Ages. He soaked a shroud-like cloth in light-sensitive silver nitrate, folded it in half across the middle, and installed it vertically in the middle of the room, some 5 metres from the aperture, while it was closed. For the subject to be `photographed' he made a plaster cast from a naked and bearded male life-model who had stood in a death-like pose, as similar as possible to that of the man of the Shroud. He suspended the plaster cast vertically in full sunlight, about 5 metres in front of the aperture outside the room, having precalculated that at this distance from the lens the subject's image would be exposed on the light-sensitive cloth life-size and upside-down. He opened the aperture and kept it open for several days, during which the plaster cast remained exposed to sunlight. The result was a `negative' exposure of the front of the cast-image on the cloth. To produce a double image, front and back, he repeated the process, closing the aperture, turning both the plaster cast and the folded cloth around, then opening the aperture for several more days. To complete his experiment he had the cloth washed in a solution of ammonia salts to remove the silver salts, thus `fixing' the exposures. The entire experiment was conducted according to his hypothesis that he had replicated a form of photography believed to have been known in some scientific circles in medieval Europe." (Whiting, B., "The Shroud Story," Harbour Publishing: Strathfield NSW, Australia, 2006, pp.158-160. Emphasis original).

But artist-physicist Isabel Piczek pointed out that, amongst other things: 1) "the camera obscura ... was not a primitive photo camera, but a device used by artists to aid in representing buildings and open space in perspective"; 2) "at the time the [photo]chemical properties of silver nitrate were unknown"; 3) "there was no knowledge of ... the properties of light employing a bi-convex, finely ground quartz lens"; and 4) "a real corpse would have been required, and would have to hang in the sun for fourteen days" but "the image on the Shroud is of a corpse in a state of rigor mortis and ... `corpses do not maintain rigor mortis" for "fourteen days in the sun" (my emphasis):

"The idea that the Shroud is a primitive photograph was further explored by Nicholas Allen, dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at Port Elizabeth Technikon, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Allen proposed that the Shroud could have been created in the fourteenth century by an artist who used: (1) rock crystal; (2) silver salts; and (3) salt of ammonia (found in urine), all of which would have been available at the time. In his article entitled `Verification of the Nature and Causes of the Photo-negative Images on the Shroud of Lirey-Chambery-Turin' he argued that the Shroud `could have been' produced by a form of primitive photography. This `hypothetical photographic technique,' Allen insisted `... is the only plausible explanation for the image formation on the Shroud ... and indicates that people in the late thirteenth and fourteenth century were indeed privy to a photographic technology which was previously thought to be unknown.' The South-African scholar constructed a device known as a camera obscura. The size of a typical living room, it was built so that no light could get in except through a small opening for a rock crystal lens. He closed this opening and prepared a cloth made to the same dimensions of the Shroud, and, folding it once across its width and soaking it in light-sensitive silver nitrate, hung it up inside the camera obscura fifteen feet from the lens. When the cloth dried it became a sort of unexposed film. Next he made a plastic cast of a living man of roughly the same size and shape of the man of the Shroud. Allen then suspended the statue in the sunlight fifteen feet in front of the lens. His object was to project the image of the statue through the lens onto the cloth. After several days the reflection of the statue imprinted a negative onto the cloth. Allen then closed his improvised shutter and turned the statue around so that the back faced the lens, which he opened for several more days in order to create a front and back image similar to that of the Shroud. So that the negative would not fade from exposure to light, Allen washed it in a solution of ammonia salts. Although the process devised by Professor Allen produced an image with many characteristics of that of the Shroud of Turin, some have questioned whether it really could have been carried out in the Middle Ages. ... Isabel Piczek rejected Allen's hypothesis. First of all, she argued, the camera obscura that figured prominently in both the theories of Allen and of Picknett and Prince was not a primitive photo camera, but a device used by artists to aid in representing buildings and open space in perspective. Although it was used by the Greeks and the Romans, it was not used in the Middle Ages. While Allen argued that all the materials needed for making a photograph were available by the thirteenth century, Piczek pointed out that at the time the chemical properties of silver nitrate were unknown, and there was no knowledge of optics `or the properties of light employing a bi-convex, finely ground quartz lens.' The medieval photographer would have had to know the properties of ultraviolet radiation `before electromagnetism was known at all' and he would have had to known how to stabilize his image through the use of ammonia. Since it was unlikely that medieval technicians could produce a body cast of the quality Allen devised, a real corpse would have been required, and would have to hang in the sun for fourteen days. Piczek pointed out that the image on the Shroud is of a corpse in a state of rigor mortis and the fact is that `corpses do not maintain rigor mortis [and] cannot hang fourteen days in the sun, or else you would not care to see what the camera obscura would bring in onto your canvas,' [Piczek, I., "Alice in Wonderland and the Shroud of Turin?," Holy Shroud Seminar Retreat at Mount Esopus, New York, August 24, 1996, pp. 8-9] (Ruffin, C.B., "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, 1999, pp.140-142)

In fact "it was not until 1556" (i.e. 37 years after Leonardo's death) "that the light sensitive nature of silver nitrate was rediscovered" by Georg Fabricius (1516-1571) and even then "he found this discovery of little interest." It was not until 1725 (i.e. 206 years after Leonardo's death) that "Johann Heinrich Schulze proved that the darkening of silver salts ... was caused by light and not heat":

"Despite the translation of much of Geber's ["the Arab alchemist Jabir Ibn Haiyan ... (ca721-803CE)"] work, it was not until 1556 that the light sensitive nature of silver nitrate was rediscovered. Georg Fabricius (1516-1571) from Chemnitz added salt to silver nitrate solution, forming a white solid, silver chloride, which went black in sunlight. However because of his theoretical ideas he found this discovery of little interest. Fabricus's researches were wide ranging: as well as being an alchemist, he was a poet, teacher, historian and archaeologist, and was probably best known for his popular guide-book to the antiquities of Rome. Fifty years later in 1614, Angelo Sala (1576-1637), an Italian Calvinist who left Italy to avoid religious persecution to settle first in the Low Countries and later Hamburg, published a paper including his work with powdered silver nitrate. He found this turned black on exposure to the sun, although he did not make it clear whether this was due to the light or the heat of the rays. He also found that it stained paper black if in contact with it. .... Robert Boyle (1627-91) also noted the blackening of silver nitrate on exposure in 1667, but he put it down to the action of air on the material. Although one of the most eminent scientists of the time he apparently jumped to an incorrect conclusion without examining the evidence or carrying out suitable experiments. Further work on the light-sensitivity of silver salts was carried out in 1693-1694 by German chemist Wilhelm Homberg (1652-1715). One of his experiments involved dipping bone in silver nitrate solution; it then darkened in sunlight. Homberg showed the darkening was due to the rays of the sun, but, like Sala, failed to make clear whether it was a result of their light or heat. It was not until the work of Johann Heinrich Schulze in 1725 that this was sorted out, (although there were further confusions over the next 75 years.) Schulze noticed the effect (using chalk dipped in silver nitrate and nitric acid) and tried to reproduce it with heat. When these experiment failed he turned to the effect of light, and found that this produced the darkening. Schulze carried out a number of lecture demonstrations using card with cut shapes wrapped around silver nitrate bottles and produced darkening giving a crude impression of these shapes in the solution." ("Photo History - Finding the chemistry, Part 2: Alchemy to Chemistry," About.com)

Indeed, it was not until "about 1795" (i.e. 276 years after Leonardo's death) that "The fantastic possibility of producing images by the action of light ... occurred to anyone as a serious thought" when "Thomas Wedgwood ... narrowly missed becoming the inventor of photography" and so it was not until "1816" that "Joseph Nicephore Niepce ... set out to take pictures from

[Left: Nicéphore Niépce's earliest surviving photograph, c. 1826, Wikipedia]

nature using a camera and paper sensitized with silver chloride" but even then he had only "limited success almost immediately ... because the image tones were ... negative ... and he could not make the image permanent" but "At last, in 1826" (i.e. 297 years after Leonardo's death) "he succeeded" and produced "The world's first permanent camera image" (my emphasis):

"In 1777 Carl Wilhelm Scheele, the Swedish chemist, investigated the properties of silver chloride and made some interesting discoveries. Like Schulze, he established that the blackening effect on his silver salt was due to light, not heat. He also proved that the black material was metallic silver and he noted that ammonia, which was known to dissolve silver chloride, did not affect the blackened silver. If Scheele had realized the importance of this last discovery, he could very well have become the inventor of photography because by this time the essential processes were known. Silver chloride could be reduced to black metallic silver by exposure to light; ammonia could preserve the image by dissolving the silver chloride without harming the image tones; and, of course, the camera was still waiting in the wings. But Scheele's investigations were only noted in passing. The world was not yet ready for photography. The fantastic possibility of producing images by the action of light had simply not occurred to anyone as a serious thought. This essential idea finally came to Thomas Wedgwood, the youngest son of the famous potter, Josiah. In addition to being an outstanding craftsman and artist, Josiah was a brilliant and respected member of the English scientific community. Thomas was familiar with the camera obscura because his father had used it as an aid in drawing scenes for use on his pottery. The Wedgwood family also owned the notebooks of William Lewis, who in 1763 had described Schulze's and his own experiments with the silver compounds. These circumstances and natural curiosity prompted young Thomas to begin experiments of his own, probably about 1795. Thomas Wedgwood narrowly missed becoming the inventor of photography for two reasons. He gave up attempts to make pictures with the camera obscura (his exposures were not sufficient), and he was unable to fix the silver images he did produce by direct printing. In France, meanwhile, Joseph Nicephore Niepce and his son Isidore were busy experimenting with lithography at the family estate near Chalon. ... Nicephore began to explore light sensitive varnishes, hoping to find a coating for the stones that would record the drawings by exposure to light. He must have made some progress because in 1816 he set out to take pictures from nature using a camera and paper sensitized with silver chloride. Niepce had limited success almost immediately, but he was displeased because the image tones were reversed from nature (they were negative) and he could not make the image permanent. He realized that the tonal reversal was an inherent part of the silver process and tried to produce a positive print by reprinting one of his negatives, but his attempts were unsuccessful. He also found that nitric acid helped to preserve the image for a while, but it only postponed disaster and could not prevent it. He began to experiment with other materials. Finally, in 1822 he produced a copy of an engraving by exposing through the original onto a glass plate coated with bitumen of Judea, a type of asphalt. Light hardens this material, so when Niepce washed his exposed plate with the usual solvents, only the unexposed portions were floated away, leaving the image in permanent lines. He called his process heliography (sun writing). He made a number of similar heliographs in the next few years and continued his efforts to record a camera image. At last, in 1826, he succeeded. The world's first permanent camera image shows the view from Niepce's second floor window and is little more than an impression. It is a bitumen image on pewter, showing only masses of light and dark tones. The exposure supposedly took about eight hours." (Hammerstingl, W., "The beginnings of Photography," 1999)

So all photographic theories of explaining the Shroud's existence in the 14th century (or even the 15th century) fail by being hopelessly anachronistic in requiring that someone (e.g. Leonardo) in the Middle Ages invented the whole process of photography, from: 1) discovering that silver nitrate was light-sensitive; 2) discovering how to fix silver nitrate images; 3) taking the 4.3 x 1.1 metre photograph of a man (or model) crucified exactly as Jesus was (arguably the greatest photograph ever taken!); 4) recording that image on linen covered with silver nitrate; but not 5) knowing how to convert the negative image to a positive; and then 6) not doing any other photographs; nor 7) telling anyone else; or 8) writing down for posterity his great discovery!

Not to mention the `minor' matter that the Shroud of Turin is a colour, namely sepia, whereas Allen's image obtained from silver nitrate is necessarily black and white!

[Above: Black and white Shroud `replica' produced by Prof. Nicholas Allen (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, plate 47c) compared with actual sepia coloured Shroud (Examine The Shroud of Turin)]

And as Wilson pointed out, even if "someone of the Middle Ages having successfully mastered such an advanced degree of photographic expertise ... this would have been directed solely to producing a `negative' image that to any mediaeval observer could only have seemed most unconvincing" since the "`positive' photograph would still have been inaccessible to ... even the `photographer' who created it, for another five hundred years" (my emphasis):

"Furthermore, it cannot be stressed enough that even in the unlikely event of someone of the Middle Ages having successfully mastered such an advanced degree of photographic expertise - only then to lose it again this would have been directed solely to producing a `negative' image that to any mediaeval observer could only have seemed most unconvincing. The so compelling hidden `positive' photograph would still have been inaccessible to anyone, even the `photographer' who created it, for another five hundred years." (Wilson, 1998, p.217).

The final nail in the coffin of Allen's medieval camera obscura photograph theory (and indeed to all such medieval photograph theories) is that it requires the artist/photographer to "produce subtle photographic details, like scourge wounds and bloodstains, all from a total distance of 10 metres." Allen tried to get around this by claiming that, "The stigmata and other areas of the blood of the Shroud were probably added with the aid of a paintbrush and real blood, after the negative image had been obtained" but in fact "there are no signs of any body image beneath the bloodstains, meaning that the blood wounds penetrated the fibres before the image appeared on the cloth" (my emphasis):

"The result was images which bore a number of similarities to the Shroud image when viewed by the naked eye. The cloth had developed a straw-yellow discoloration of its surface fibrils, and faint evidence of an image of the plaster-cast was apparent when the cloth was viewed from about 2 metres distance. The most telling effect became evident when he photographed his cloth with a modern camera, using black-and-white film, and examined the negative. It revealed a `positive' image of the subject. While his experiment might have supported his conclusion, `that people in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century were privy to a photographic technology which was previously thought to be unknown before the beginning of the nineteenth century' [Allen, Ibid., p.34], it would be an extreme interpretation of his work for him or anyone to claim that the Shroud images could have been created in a similar way. Not only would it have required the procurement of a Jewish male corpse, crucified in the same way as Jesus, with the nail and lance wounds, and for it to be suspended for several days in sunshine, facing the aperture, then for several days more with its back facing the aperture, without displaying any sign of decay, and also produce subtle photographic details, like scourge wounds and bloodstains, all from a total distance of 10 metres. To have fulfilled such onerous requirements is beyond belief. Yet, in attempting to dispel disbelief that the Shroud image could have been formed in this way Allen wrote: `The stigmata and other areas of the blood of the Shroud were probably added with the aid of a paintbrush and real blood, after the negative image had been obtained'. This was not possible, for the simple reason that scientists have discovered there are no signs of any body image beneath the bloodstains, meaning that the blood wounds penetrated the fibres before the image appeared on the cloth. With all photography the choice of film and the purity of the developing emulsions define the degree of sharpness and clarity of a photographic image. The fact that no museum or library in the world possesses a medieval camera-obscura photograph or even a crude pre-1800 photograph is sufficient evidence that no one had produced one before the invention of photography." (Whiting, 2006, pp.160-161).

Therefore, as Ian Wilson pointed out, because "to date there has been only one genuinely satisfying, albeit still only partial, replication of the Shroud's image, that by Professor Nicholas Allen" but that demands so much ingenuity and advanced photographic knowledge on the part of someone of the Middle Ages that it may actually" (and in fact does) "represent rather better evidence for the Shroud's authenticity than for its forgery" (my emphasis)!:

"As for the fundamental questions for anyone adopting the forgery hypothesis - for example: `Who forged such an extraordinary image?' 'How did he do so without betraying any obvious sign of his artifice?' 'How did he manage to get so much right medically, historically and culturally?' - if you ask yourself whether Sox, or any of the other current detractors, from McCrone and Hall to Picknett and Prince, has yet offered any genuinely satisfying answers, the response has to be no. Indeed, if anyone had come up with a convincing solution as to how and by whom the Shroud was forged, they would inevitably have created a consensus around which everyone sceptical on the matter would rally. Yet so far this has not even begun to happen. Realistically, to date there has been only one genuinely satisfying, albeit still only partial, replication of the Shroud's image, that by Professor Nicholas Allen. And that demands so much ingenuity and advanced photographic knowledge on the part of someone of the Middle Ages that it may actually represent rather better evidence for the Shroud's authenticity than for its forgery." (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1998, p.235).

To be continued in part #4 with my response to: "Was ... the image burnt on by pressing the cloth against a heated sculpture?"

Posted: 13 July 2007. Updated: 26 August 2016.


"The figures on the Shroud, in fact, are not paintings at all. As already stated, they are negative images; and the idea of a negative became known only through the invention of photography in the 19th Century. No artist of any earlier period, therefore, (certainly none of the 14th Century and, above all, none before the 5th), could have conceived the idea of painting a negative. The figures, moreover, are very exact negatives. When they are photographed, they appear on the film with the natural proportions of a full-grown man, with a true perspective, with a noble, impressive countenance, and with a minute fidelity to nature even in minor details. Each one of these points involves principles of science and of art which were unknown or poorly grasped until comparatively modern times. It is hard enough to carry out these principles in an ordinary positive painting, in which the lights and shades have their normal values. On the Shroud, they are perfectly illustrated with the lights and shades reversed, though it takes a photograph to reveal the fact. Even today no artist can paint so exact a negative. No artist, in fact, has yet succeeded in making an exact copy of the negative figures on the Shroud, though competent artists have made the attempt." (Vignon, P., "The problem of the Holy Shroud," Scientific American, Vol. 156, 1937, pp.162-164, p.162)