Monday, April 23, 2012

Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date for the Shroud has to be wrong!: #2 The Vignon markings (5)

Continuing from part "#2 The Vignon markings (4)" with this part #2 (5) of my series "Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date for the Shroud has to be wrong!"

Examples of 6th to 12th century artistic representations of Christ's face which bear the Vignon markings found on the Shroud, include:

Holy Face of Laon (10th century)

[Above (click to enlarge): The Holy Face of Laon: Wikipedia. "Icon of the Holy Face (Mandylion), purchased in 1249 in Bari (Italy) by Jacques Pantaleon, archdeacon of the cathedral of Laon, who later became Pope Urban IV. Exhibited in the Cathedral of Laon." (Wikipedia, Google translated from French).]

The "Holy Face of Laon" (Fr. Sainte Face de Laon) [1] is about 44 cm high and 40 cm wide, and bears an image of Christ's face painted on wood. [2] It has an inscription in Old Slavonic, by the artist, which reads, "Obraz Gospodin na Ubruzje" ("The Lord's picture on the Cloth"). [1]

In 1249 papal chaplain Jacques Pantaleon de Troyes (later Pope Urban IV) sent this icon from Rome to his sister Sibylle, Abbess of the French Cistercian convent of Montreuil-des-Dames. [3] In 1795 the painting was transferred to Laon Cathedral where it has been ever since. [2]

Therefore this icon must have been painted many years, if not decades, before 1249, and if it was copied from the Shroud, then that must have been in existence even earlier still. [4] It is probable that this icon was already ancient when Jacques de Troyes received it as a gift from the Serbian Orthodox church, which had been liberated from the Byzantine Emperor's authority after the sack of Constantinople in 1204. [2] The most likely time of the icon's creation is between 944 and 1201, when the Shroud was in Constantinople. [3] And since it preserves features associated with the Edessa Cloth or Mandylion [5], such as the face of Christ surrounded by a circular "halo," which was in turn surrounded by a gold trellis pattern [6], a tenth century origin seems more likely, before it was discovered in Constantinople that the Mandylion head cloth was actually the full-length Shroud. [7] So if the Holy Face of Laon is a copy of the Shroud, then the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" [8] must be wrong! [4]

The fifteen Vignon markings [see part #2 (1)], including "a transverse streak across the forehead, a three-sided `square' between the brows, a V-shape at the bridge of the nose, a raised right eyebrow, accentuated left cheek, enlarged left nostril, a hairless area between the lower lip and the beard and two strands of hair descending from the middle parting" [4], found on the Shroud and on many Byzantine depictions of Christ from the 6th to 12th centuries, is proof beyond reasonable doubt that these early artists were working from the Shroud. [4] And the Laon icon contains more Vignon markings than any other known icon [9], thirteen of the fifteen [4] Indeed, by my count it it has fourteen out of the fifteen :

"(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, ... (14) heavily accentuated owlish eyes, (15) two strands of hair." [10]

and of the one that is missing, "(13) transverse line across throat," there is no throat area shown on the icon! Moreover, the Holy Face of Laon is particularly notable for the minute exactness with which it reproduces some of these anomalies of the Shroud, an exactness which would only have been possible if the artist had the Shroud before his eyes. [11] This, together with the artist's inscription that his painting was of "The Lord's picture on the Cloth", must mean that he was working directly from the Shroud itself. [9]

But, as we have seen, the Holy Face of Laon was already ancient in 1249, which itself is over a decade before the earliest possible radiocarbon date of 1260. Therefore, once again, the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" [8] has to be wrong!

[To be continued]

Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic (10th century)

Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco (11th century)

Pantocrator of St Saviour in Chora, in Istanbul (11th century)

Daphni Pantocrator (11th century)

Cefal├╣ apse mosaic (12th century)

[1] Currer-Briggs, N., 1987, "The Shroud and the Grail: A Modern Quest for the True Grail," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, p.58. [return]
[2] de Riedmatten, P., "The Holy Face of Laon," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 68, December 2008. [return]
[3] Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.47,79. [return]
[4] Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, pp.56-57. [return]
[5] Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.150-151. [return]
[6] Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," Image Books: New York NY, pp.114-115, 121. [return]
[7] Wilson, 1979, pp.157-158. [return]
[8] Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
[9] Currer-Briggs, 1987, pp.67-68. [return]
[10] Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, p.82e. [return]
[11] Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, pp.58-59. [return]

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

`De Wesselow fails to answer the reasons why rational people accept the Shroud is a fake'


Thank you for your comment under my post, "My comments on a Telegraph article about Thomas de Wesselow's claim that the Shroud is authentic but Jesus was not resurrected #2."

[Right: "1516 Copy of the Shroud Attributed to Albrecht Durer or Bernard van Orley": Daniel R. Porter, 2008. One of the "as many as forty" known copies of the Shroud ("What are some of the famous painted copies of the Shroud?" Daniel R. Porter, 10 December 2009)]

As I then briefly responded, because of the many points you raised, I would reply in a separate (this) blog post. Your words are >bold to distinguish them from mine.

>When are people going to accept reality *without* filtering it through their beliefs?

You are deceiving yourself if you think that you (and your Shroud anti-authenticity ilk) are the exception to the rule that humans perceive reality through the filter of their beliefs.

It is no coincidence that the vast majority of Shroud anti-authenticists have an a priori belief that Christianity is false and they refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence that the Shroud is authentic and cling to the few shreds of evidence that it is not, all the while congratulating themselves on how `rational' (see below) they are!

But as the agnostic French anatomy professor Yves Delage observed in 1902, "If, instead of Christ, there were a question of some [other] person ... no one would have thought of making any objection":

"If, instead of Christ, there were a question of some person like a Sargon, an Achilles or one of the Pharaohs, no one would have thought of making any objection ... I have been faithful to the true spirit of science in treating this question, intent only on the truth, not concerned in the least whether it would affect the interests of any religious party ... I recognize Christ as a historical personage and I see no reason why anyone should be scandalized that there still exist material traces of his earthly life.'" (Walsh, J.E., "The Shroud," Random House: New York NY, 1963, p.107. Ellipses original).

>The shroud is a fake, just like the eighty or so others.

That there may be forty (not "eighty") copies of the Shroud original (like the 1516 Lier copy above), does not thereby make that original a "fake".

And as agnostic art historian de Wesselow points out, the Shroud is "nothing like any other medieval work of art:

"That controversy still rages, but de Wesselow is convinced of the shroud's authenticity from an art history approach. `It's nothing like any other medieval work of art,' de Wesselow said. `There's just nothing like it.' Among the anachronisms, de Wesselow said, is the realistic nature of the body outline. No one was painting that realistically in the 14th century, he said. Similarly, the body image is in negative (light areas are dark and vice versa), a style not seen until the advent of photography centuries later, he said. `From an art historian's point of view, it's completely inexplicable as a work of art of this period,' de Wesselow said.' (Stephanie Pappas, "Did Shroud of Turin Inspire Spread of Christianity?" LiveScience, 5 April 2012).

And it is not enough to merely assert that "The shroud is a fake". Shroud anti-authenticists like yourself have to not only: 1) prove that the Shroud could not be the burial cloth of Jesus; and 2) plausibly explain away all the evidence that the Shroud is authentic; but also 3) convincingly show how all the major features of the Shroud image and bloodstains were created by a medieval or earlier forger.

>De Wesselow fails to answer the reasons why rational people accept it is a fake, e.g.

You are self-deceived if you think that only those who believe the Shroud is a fake are "rational".

But you inadvertently confirm John Klotz' point in David Rolfe's Dawkins' Challenge, that de Wesselow's claim that the Shroud is authentic but Jesus was not resurrected has put de Wesselow's atheist/agnostic colleagues "in a bind":

The silence from Dawkins is deafening and revealing. De Wesselow's book "The Sign" may give some cover to Resurrection skeptics, but the simple fact is that once you accept the authenticity of the Shroud as the 1st Century CE burial cloth a man crucified in the manner scripture said he was, the whole think begins to unravel. It's like pulling the a loose thread of a knitted sweater. De Wesselow concedes the validity of the Shroud but his speculation that all the appearances related to Jesus after the Resurrection were more or less a mirage simply do not add-up. However, it puts agnostics and atheists like Dawkins in a bind ... his support of the authenticity of the Shroud even as a professed agnostic isn't going to serve his agnostic colleagues well. His supposed debunking of the reality of the Resurrection is as transparently absurd as the Emperor's New Clothes. It's much easier to dismiss the Shroud mistaken for the real Christ argument then it is to disprove his finding that the Shroud is authentic. The first is a speculation, the second is a fact. The militant atheists will be in a bind I suspect they will try to ignore.

Because while atheists/agnostics would normally welcome any new claims that Jesus was not resurrected, and therefore that Christianity is false, it is too high a price for them to pay to concede that the Shroud is authentic, because de Wesselow's claim that Jesus' resurrection was the Shroud is so "transparently absurd."

>the lack of evidence it existed prior to ~1355

There is plenty of evidence that the Shroud existed prior to ~1355. See my series: "Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date for the Shroud has to be wrong!," where my first three lines of evidence: "1. the Vignon markings-which showed that unique features of the Shroud face were being copied by artists from the mid-6th century"; "2. the Hungarian Pray Codex (1192-95), with its unique features of the Shroud image and cloth, dating from the 12th century"; and "3. the exact match of bloodstains on the Shroud head and the Sudarium of Oviedo which has been in Spain since at least AD 840"; are proof beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud existed well before the earliest AD 1260 radiocarbon date.

>the incompatibility of the shroud with usual Jewish burial practices

Actually the Shroud is compatible with first century Jewish burial practices:

"The apparent bloodstains suggest that the body was not washed before burial and this has led some to argue that the Shroud cannot be authentic because the Jewish rite always included washing. However, as recently pointed out by London University Jewish scholar Victor Tunkel, if a first-century Jew died a bloody death, such as from crucifixion, the body would quite specifically not have been washed, in order to keep the life-blood with the body in preparation for the anticipated physical resurrection - striking evidence in favour of the Shroud's authentic Jewishness." (Wilson, I., "Jesus: The Evidence," 1984, p.111).

>the definitive radiocarbon dating

First, the evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud existed well before the earliest radiocarbon dating of AD 1260, and indeed that it existed in the sixth century AD. Therefore the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1360" (Nature, 337:1989:611-615) simply has to be wrong!

Even Prof. Christopher Ramsey, current Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Unit, and a co-signatory of that 1989 Nature paper, has admitted that "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow":

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." (Ramsey, C.B., "Shroud of Turin Version 77," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March, 2008).

The only question now is: how did the three C14 labs get it so wrong?

The three C14 labs dated one tiny postage-stamp sized sample of the ~4.4 x 1.1 metre (~14.3 x 3.6 foot) Shroud, which had been subdivided into three roughly equal parts, and a part given to each lab. All three labs used the same then new AMS C14 dating method. The sample was taken from the worst possible part of the Shroud, being a bottom corner where the Shroud had been damaged and repaired. Which is the reason that location was chosen at the last minute by order of the Vatican, to minimise the damage to the Shroud, not to maximise the best C14 date. The most likely explanation of how the three C14 labs got it wrong, was that the sample given to them to date was then unknowingly part of a 16th century "invisible reweave" repair:

"One prominent theory regarding the results of the 1988 Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of the Shroud is that the sample area had been repaired with a patch or "invisible reweave," thus producing a dating resulting from a combination of 16th century and first century cloth. This paper recounts the initial doubts about the validity of the C-14 results; the history behind the patch theory; the abundant historical and scientific information support of the theory, especially from the findings of the late Ray Rogers in his paper published in 2005 after his direct examination of the C-14 samples compared with other samples from the main cloth; independent confirmations of Rogers’ findings; criticisms of Rogers’ findings; and refutations of these criticisms. The authors conclude that the invisible reweave is the most reasonable explanation for the dating of the Shroud." (Marino, J.G. & Benford, M.S., "Invisible Mending and the Turin Shroud: Historical and Scientific Evidence," in "The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma," Shroud Science Group International Conference, Ohio State University, August 14-17, 2008).

But whatever the reason the C14 labs got it wrong, as I pointed out in my first post of my series, "Four proofs that the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud has to be wrong!:

The ball is now in the Shroud anti-authenticist court to try to find a face-saving answer. The pro-authenticity side no longer have to provide an answer since it no longer is (if it ever was) their problem. The 16th century invisible reweave theory is a possible explanation, among many, of how the radiocarbon labs got it wrong. If ... and his Shroud anti-authenticist ilk don't like that explanation, then let him/them find another. It's now his/their problem, not ours!

>the textile analysis

Textile analysis points to the Shroud's being first-century Jewish:

"In 2002, renown textile restorer Mechthild Flury-Lemberg went to Turin to help preserve the shroud and found a style of stitching she had only seen once before - in the ruins of Masada, a Jewish settlement destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 74. The cloth's herringbone weave, while common in the 1st Century, was rare in the Middle Ages, she said." (Draper, E., "Lab agrees to test Shroud of Turin for new theory," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2008).

>the belief of contemporary church figures that it was a fake, even indicating a local bishop questioned the artist who created the shroud

There was only one known contemporary church figure who claimed the Shroud was a fake, the Bishop of Troyes, Henri d'Arcis, who claimed in a 1389 draft memo to the Pope that "thirty-four years or thereabouts" (i.e. about 1355) his predecessor bishop Henri of Poitiers had "... discovered the fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it ..." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," 1978, pp.67-68).

But problems with this include: 1) the Shroud is not a painting: there is no paint, dye or pigment on it that forms its image (see below); 2) the document is only a draft - there is no evidence in either the Troyes diocesan or the Papal archives that the memo in that form was ever sent or received; and 3) there is no evidence that bishop Henri of Poitiers had a problem with the Shroud being exhibited at Lirey church in the 1350s.

>the pigment analyses, microscopical and chemical

Again, there is no pigment responsible for the Shroud image. The image is the result of accelerated aging of the topmost flax fibrils, as the following photomicrograph of the Shroud face image area shows:

[Above (click to enlarge): Micrograph X64 of Shroud nose image area, showing that the image consists of accelerated aging and hence yellowing of the topmost surface of the flax fibrils themselves: Lavoie, G.R., "Resurrected: Tangible Evidence That Jesus Rose from the Dead," 2000, p.55]

Note that those flax fibrils above are magnified 64 times. That is, they are in reality 1/64th the thickness they are shown in the above microscope photograph. Then ask yourself: "Could a medieval or earlier forger have even seen one of those flax fibrils, let alone paint only some of them yellow (to simulate their accelerated aging) while leaving others unpainted"?

>the iconographic similarity to other religious art of the period

The only iconographic similarity between the Shroud and other religious art of the period is in copies of and from the Shroud. And as the Vignon Markings show, those iconographic similarities date back to the sixth century AD!

>the ease with which the shroud has been replicated using period methods

In fact the Shroud has not been able to be replicated using any medieval or earlier period methods. Claimed replications do not withstand in-depth analysis. Which is why there are so many claimed replications, none of which satisfy other Shroud anti-authenticists. What Wilson wrote in 1998 is still true today:

"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, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.235).

>the lack of correspondence of the image on the cloth to that which would result from it being used as a shroud

The Shroud image perfectly corresponds to it having been used as Jesus' burial Shroud.

>It's rather pathetic how desperate the religious are to (ab)use science to support their beliefs and quiet the doubts.

Your comment is based on a false dichotomy between "science" and "religion." There are many scientists who accept that the Shroud is authentic and there are many "religious" people who do not.

Indeed it is "science" which actually supports the Shroud being authentic! For what its worth, I have a Bachelor of Science degree and am a part-time Science and Mathematics high school teacher. It was the scientific evidence that convinced me (and still does) that the Shroud is authentic.

And as for "support their beliefs and quiet the doubts," the boot is actually on the other foot. If the Shroud was a fake it would not affect my Christian beliefs at all. I had been a Christian for nearly 40 years before I accepted the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity. But as Joe Marino points out, it is so-called "sceptics" (like yourself) who need the Shroud to be false, rather than Christians (like me) who need the Shroud to be true:

"Skeptics who deny the authenticity of the Shroud are often atheists, and many of these atheists are in the forefront of Shroud opposition. They are not willing to acknowledge the possibility of the supernatural and find it safer to dismiss the Shroud as a forgery, even when it flies in the face of all the evidence. Quite simply, the reality of the Shroud and its possible ramifications scares them. They know that an authentic Shroud of Turin puts their atheism on shaky ground. A comment by a bishop to one such skeptic really puts the whole significance of the Shroud in perspective. The bishop told him, `If the Shroud turned out to be 2,000 years old, it wouldn't really affect my faith, but it might affect yours'. Thus in a real sense, the Shroud is more important for skeptics than it is for Christians. It penetrates to their deepest philosophical levels." (Marino, J.G., "Wrapped up in the Shroud," 2011, p.272).

But as the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand found out, too late, denying reality by refusing to see it, does not make it go away!

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign& Jesus is Jehovah!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Proceedings of the 1986 Hong Kong Shroud Conference now online

Below is an email from archaeologist Prof. William Meacham, convenor of the Symposium, "Turin Shroud - Image of Christ?" Hong Kong, March 1986, advising that he has now put the Proceedings of that Symposium online.


A joyful Easter to everyone.

A couple of things I've just finished:

Prompted by a request from Stephen Jones, I've made a digital copy of the Proceedings of the 1986 Hong Kong Shroud Conference. The url is

The paper by Al Adler is significant as he told me that while working up his notes into a paper for this publication, the idea occurred to him that a high level of bilirubin caused by prolonged torture could account for the surviving redness in the bloodstains.

Secondly, motivated by the discussion a few weeks ago about making all published Shroud writings more widely available, I have compiled a "digital bibliography" of things I have written that are currently available online.

The site is:

Five of the articles are behind a pay wall, but if any member would like a copy of those I'd be happy to send the pdf.

I encourage everyone to compile a similar index of their papers that are available digitally.

William Meacham
Honorary Research Fellow
Centre of Asian Studies
Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Hong Kong

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!