The following article from Approfondimento Sindone, Year II,vol. 2, 1998, is reprinted with the permission of the publisher.Copyright © 1998 by Centro Studi Medievali (Pontremoli MS,Italy). Nothing may be copied or reproduced in any form without thewritten permission of the publisher.

Unraveling the Shroudof Turin

Department of Science and Mathematics
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Odessa, Texas


This paper has two purposes: First, a response to the specificstatements by Paul Maloney1 about the alleged pollen onthe Shroud of Turin, and second, a brief summary of the convincingempirical evidence that makes it clear that the Shroud is afourteenth-century artifact and not a first-century archaeologicalobject. The Shroud of Turin is a notorious religious relic that,without the tremendous pseudoscientific support put forward in recentyears to popularize its authenticity, would be as ignored andridiculed by reasonable people today as are pieces of the true crossand nail clippings and foreskins of Jesus. The past efforts by someindividuals, with scientific or technical training and access toscientific equipment, to promote the Shroud's authenticity bypresenting irrelevant, misinterpreted, fudged, and even fraudulentdata and interpretations--while at the same time ignoring,misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and clumsily explaining-awayreliable evidence against authenticity--are nothing short ofastonishing, and have put the Turin Shroud firmly in the pantheon ofpseudoscience. The saddest aspect of the Shroud story is that theseunfortunate efforts continue today--as if evidence, logicalreasoning, skepticism, and analytical thinking are irrelevant whenreligious relics are concerned.

In a method shared with William Meacham2 in 1983, PaulMaloney1 presumptuously discusses the authenticity of theShroud from an archaeological point of view. Meacham famouslyconcluded that the archaeological evidence showed that the Shroud wasauthentic, while Dr. Maloney much less provocatively concludes that,while science and archaeology can never unequivocally prove theShroud authentic, nevertheless so many questions remain--and so manyanalyses suggest authenticity--that science, history, archaeology,and medicine can build a case consistent with the Gospel narrative.Further, since scientific data are currently inadequate to finallyend the controversy and firmly demonstrate authenticity, a newcomprehensive examination of the Shroud is needed.

Unfortunately for this shared method and viewpoint, the status ofthe Shroud as an archaeological specimen--and not, for example, as anartifact or fraudulent relic--must not be presumed and presented as aproposition, but must first be the conclusion of logical argumentsbased on empirical evidence, and this has never been done. Infact, the opposite is true: the Shroud has been demonstrated byappropriate arguments and evidence to be a medieval artifact,contrived by a fourteenth-century artist for the purpose ofrepresenting the burial shroud of Jesus and creating a religiousrelic for exhibition and veneration. All the historical, artistic,iconographical, and scientific evidence compels one to accept thisconclusion. No further examinations or tests of the Shroud areneeded: the Shroud of Turin is not the burial shroud of Jesus, andcertain individuals, authors3, magazines4,organizations5, and institutions6 should stopthe unseemly exploitation of it as if it were or as if it couldbe.

Pollen on the Shroud of Turin

Dr. Paul Maloney, like other pro-authenticity supporters, attemptsto use Max Frei's pollen data to support the authenticity of theShroud and explain away the objections of others--primarily my ownobjections. I was the first person7 to publicly claim anddocument that, for a number of reasons, Max Frei's pollen data couldnot possibly be true, and his conclusions were incredible and couldnot be taken seriously. Contrary to some commentators, including Dr.Maloney, I did not claim that Max Frei was unquestionably responsiblehimself for putting the pollen on his sticky tapes and then falselyclaiming that he found this pollen on his Shroud samples, only thathis claims were so extremely unlikely that deliberate deception wasfar more probable than the veracity of the results that Frei claimedto achieve. Although I certainly did believe--and said as much--thatMax Frei himself spiked his slides with Palestinian, Turkish, French,and Italian pollen, and plainly stated that Frei falsely claimed tohave found dozens8 of endemic species of pollen on hisShroud tape samples, thereby perpetrating a fraud, I must obviouslyleave open the possibility--as preposterous as it may be--thatsomeone else did the dirty deed and Frei innocently found the pollensand was duped. But I can't think of anyone else who might have wantedto deceive him, or would have the means to do so. After all,it was Max Frei alone who made repeated trips to Turkey and the HolyLand to collect endemic plants and microscopically examine,catalogue, and photograph their pollen. Photomicrographs ofthis collected pollen were the ones Frei illustrated when heclaimed either that these were specimens taken from the Shroud itselfor were examples of pollen of the same species that he observed onhis sticky tape samples taken from the Shroud.

Palynologists know that it is almost impossible to identifyunknown pollens to species, since the pollen of related plant speciesare often identical.9 Max Frei, however, had collectedconsiderable comparative material, and he claimed that the pollens heallegedly found on the Shroud were exactly identical to those he hadcollected in the Middle East and illustrated. If what he was claimingabout the pollen was true, he would indeed have strong evidence thatthe Shroud was at one time physically located in Palestine and Turkey(specifically Jerusalem, Anatolia (Edessa), and Byzantium/Istanbul),so it was possible to give him the benefit of the doubt on thispoint. In 1982, therefore, I used other arguments against Frei'sclaims:7

Frei's pollen precisely supported an author's fantastic chronology10 of how the Shroud made it from Jerusalem to Edessa to Constantinople/Byzantium to France, a travelogue totally unsupported by any credible historical or scientific evidence, and this match seemed to me to be too coincidental to be true. Frei's pollen data, in fact, remain to this day the only empirical "evidence" that the Shroud was ever in the Holy Land or Turkey, which is probably why such evidence is still matter-of-factly discussed today by Shroud researchers despite its overwhelmingly fraudulent character.

The sticky tape samples examined by other Shroud investigators, including STURP11 and Walter McCrone12, found very few pollen grains. In fact, as revealed much later, even Max Frei's own sticky tape samples contain very few pollen grains (with one exception, discussed below).13 I knew that the number of pollen grains on these samples was far too few to account for the large number of different species that Max Frei claimed to have found.

I noted that many of the endemic Palestinian and Turkish plants whose pollen Max Frei claimed to have discovered on the Shroud were insect-pollinated, and this makes it extremely unlikely that their pollen could have been transported to the Shroud by the wind. The pollen of such plants is retained by the plants in special organs and can be removed and transported only by the appropriate pollinating insect species; furthermore, such pollen is not adapted to travel by wind, and would not go anywhere even if somehow it came loose from the flowers.

I also demonstrated that it would be essentially impossible (I used the term "miraculous") for the pollen of so many particular Middle Eastern endemic plants from such specific localities to reach Europe by natural winds, while the pollen from many more regions did not fall on the Shroud in France. Long-distance transport of pollen was STURP's explanation for dismissing Frei's data, but it was so ridiculous that Frei's authenticity claim was actually more plausible! I speculated that STURP did not believe or want to be associated with Max Frei's pollen claims, but they did not want to publicly state, as I was willing to do, that fraud was involved, so they concocted the outrageous explanation of intercontinental wind transport of pollen.

I stated that the overwhelming independent historical, artistic, and scientific evidence that the Shroud is a medieval artifact created by a fourteenth-century artist in France was sufficient reason alone to doubt that the Shroud had ever been in Palestine or Turkey, and that Frei's results were therefore strongly suspect--so suspect, in fact, that they could not be taken seriously. Now, with the radiocarbon dating, this argument is even stronger.

I now find that Dr. Maloney has attempted to use my own wordsagainst me, while ignoring the essentials of my arguments againstFrei's pollen claims. Although twice emphasizing my belief that theShroud is not authentic, he claims I had no "objective foundation" tostate that Max Frei himself probably placed the Middle Eastern pollenhe had collected on the tapes (or simply and falsely claimed that hehad found such pollen on the tapes). Dr. Maloney quotes a longpassage of mine in which I document the extreme unlikeliness thatwind-transported pollen could travel more than a very short distancefrom the source plants, thereby refuting the STURP explanation andaffirming how excellent Frei's findings would be, if true,that the Shroud had been in Palestine and Turkey. Needless to say, Iwas being ironic, since my whole point was to assert that Frei's datawere, in fact, too good to be true.

Dr. Maloney also correctly quotes my insight that many of thepollen species that Max Frei claimed to have found on the Shroud wereinsect-pollinated species, and thus could not be expected inwind-distributed assemblages. With the references at my disposal, Icould only determine this fact with respect to eight genera,therefore I am delighted to learn from Dr. Maloney's paper that Dr.A. Orville Dahl, an atmospheric palynologist, determined that no lessthan 32 of Max Frei's 57 species are insect-pollinated! Dr. Dahl, tohis credit, correctly concluded that their presence on Frei's Shroudtape samples "must be due not to wind-borne deposition but to humanactivity of some sort since these pollen types are not transportedany distance at all by wind."1 This was, of course,precisely my conclusion in 1982. Dr. Maloney believes this pollenfound its way on the Shroud by celebrants placing flowers on theShroud and their pollen fell off and stuck to the fibers!1The overreaching quality of this simple-minded explanation appears tobe lost on Dr. Maloney, who would have us believe that Shroudcelebrants in Palestine, Anatolia, and Byzantium placed desert andsalt-soil plants (most of the Middle Eastern species were xerophytesand halophytes) directly on the Shroud at the exact time all of thesespecies were pollinating, and then pollinating insects came andremoved and fortuitously dropped the pollen on the Shroud fibers(because the pollen of entomophilous flowers just doesn't fallout--the pollen must be physically removed by some mechanism, eitherinsect or human!). Perhaps part of Shroud liturgical rituals in thefirst millennium involved the scrapping of pollen from flowersdirectly onto the Shroud.14

Dr. Maloney also explains the STURP team's lack of success infinding significant pollen on their sticky tapes by their use of atorque applicator (so as not to damage the Shroud). Max Frei, on theother hand, in both 1973 and 1978 used a simple cellophane tapedispenser to take his samples by pressing the tape down onto thecloth using his fingers (to the alarm of the watching STURPparticipants!). By this method, as Max Frei explained to Dr.Maloney1, he was able to secure samples of pollenbetween the threads of the Shroud, thus allowing him todiscover 57 species when other investigators could find little ornone. If we are to believe this, then we must also believe thatalmost all of the pollen on the Shroud worked its way by somemechanism down into the fibers, so that little or no pollen remainedon the surface of the cloth to be retrieved by the tapes of unluckierinvestigators. And that's only if we accept the concept--which I donot--that Max Frei's special technique was the only way that pollenfrom between the fibers could be collected. So Dr. Maloney isoverreaching again.

Fortunately, as alluded to briefly above13, Max Frei'sown tape samples were examined by independent investigators in 1986(five tapes) and 1988 (all 26 tapes), including by Walter McCrone,and--with one exception--were found to contain insignificant amountsof pollen, far too little to account for 57 different species ofplants. Walter McCrone estimated that all of Frei's slides couldcontain no more than 100 pollen grains with about one pollen grainper square centimetre, a density, by the way, exactly the same asobserved on the STURP tape samples! There was, however, that oneexception: the "lead" (that is, one end of the tape on the slide) ofslide 6-B/d contained dozens of pollen grains within a 2-3 squaremillimetre area, many more pollens than all of the other 25 tapesamples combined.13 McCrone at first diplomatically calledthis extreme concentration of pollen "contamination," but he lateradmitted13 that it appeared that the tape lead had beenpulled back and the pollens introduced by human "skullduggery." Inaddition, the same lead of slide 6-B/d contains dozens of cottonfibers from Max Frei's glove, apparently left there when the pollenswere inserted, since there should be no cotton fiber contamination ona tape properly placed on the Shroud, and, indeed, the other 25slides did not reveal these cotton fibers, but only linen fibers withred ochre pigment particles (identical to the STURP tape samples thatMcCrone first examined). Paul Maloney knows this history and thesefacts (in fact, he provided the photo of slide 6-B/d that Joe Nickellused to illustrate his article13), but he ignores them inhis paper.

Finally, Dr. Maloney1 objects to my conclusion that MaxFrei spiked his tape samples with Middle Eastern and falsified histrue findings, by stating that my "suggestion is unfair because itneedlessly impugns another man's reputation." I answered thisobjection in some detail in my 1982 paper15, since I wasaccused then of exactly the same thing, so I won't repeat myarguments here. Much later, in 199413, I learned that MaxFrei had pronounced as genuine the forged "Hitler Diaries," and thathe had "been several times found guilty and was censured" by thepolice administration in Switzerland for "overenthusiasticinterpretation of his evidence," in other words, for faking hisresults to make it easier to obtain convictions, as a number of otherforensic scientists have been accused of doing recently in the UnitedStates. His Basel counterpart expressed surprise that Max Frei wasable to keep his position as head of the police crime lab in Zurich.Dr. Maloney knows this history and these facts, too, so I will thankhim for not needlessly impugning my reputation in the futureby his continued defense of Max Frei's "reputation."

And while we are on this subject of reputations, what is Dr.Maloney's purpose in recounting his story of how he "submitted" MaxFrei's tainted pollen data to legitimate, presumably neutral pollenand botanical authorities such as Dr. Orville Dahl, Dr. AharonHorowitz, Dr. Avinoam Danin, and Dr. Shokry Ibrahaim Saad,"requested" their professional "evaluation," and then published theirobservations which support Maloney and Frei's thesis1? Inmy opinion, Dr. Maloney is involving these neutral scientists andtheir reputations in a complicity to legitimatize Max Frei's data andconclusions and make it appear that there is widespread scientificsupport for them, when in fact there is none. In my experience, thisis classic pseudoscience, and I object to such conduct. Theseindividual scientists may not want their names associated with theconclusion that Frei's pollen data support the Shroud's authenticity,and therefore they should have been informed by Dr. Maloney, prior tothe requested evaluations, that Max Frei's list of Middle Easternplants derived from his pollen studies of the Shroud were almostcertainly fabricated--or at least highly controversial anddoubted--and any new conclusions derived from this list werescientifically worthless.

The Shroud is a Medieval Artifact

Artist's Pigment Particles on theShroud

I wished primarily to discuss the fraudulent pollen data and theircontinued misrepresentation, but I also want to comment briefly on anumber of other topics concerning the authenticity of the Shroud ofTurin. First, Walter McCrone16 found artist's red ochre(iron oxide) pigment particles covering the image area and both redochre and vermilion (mercuric sulfide) pigment particles in the bloodareas, but none of these particles on tape samples from the off-imageareas. This evidence was sufficient for any objective and rationalperson to accept the fact that the Shroud was an artisticrepresentation of the Shroud, and not the real thing. But McCrone wasillogically and unjustifiably criticized by STURP participants andother advocates of authenticity, who then and now attempt to clumsilyexplain away the plain and obvious evidence of artifice that he firstdiscovered. Walter McCrone recently summarized his results again inthis journal17, so I will not repeat them again.

But let me assert that ad hoc, overreaching, counter-arguments toMcCrone's conclusions--such as (1) some of the iron oxide particlescame from blood iron, (2) most of the red particulate matter is fromthe blood on the Shroud, (3) most of the red particulate matter is"intimately associated with the image areas because shards of thismaterial have broken off the blood areas and, since image area isalways folded against image area, there occurred a translocation ofthe shards from the blood areas to the non-blood image areas," and(4) the presence of pigment particles on the shroud is due to paintchips falling off the frescoed ceiling and walls of the room use forthe Shroud examination--are so far beyond the pale that they are amockery of analytical thinking. Such explanations arepseudoscientific attempts to keep the possibility of authenticityalive in the minds of supporters who lack the ability to thinkcritically. There is no blood on the Shroud: all the forensictests specific for blood have failed18 (although someinvestigators19 unrigorously concluded that blood waspresent after conducting numerous forensic tests for iron, protein,albumin, etc., which came up positive because these materials areindeed on the Shroud in the form of tempera paint). Old blood is notbright red, and no amount of bilirubin20 can explain thataway. Real blood mats on hair, and does not form perfect rivulets andspiral flows. Real blood does not contain red ochre, vermilion, andalizarin red pigments. Real blood and its organic derivatives haverefractive indices much less than red ochre or vermilion, and theycan be easily distinguished using Becke line movement under a lightmicroscope. McCrone's examination of the red particles on the Shroudsamples revealed no blood or blood derivatives.

The Shroud's Alleged Photographic Negative and
Three-Dimensional Encoding Properties

Let me next turn to two issues that I will consider together, thephotographic negative quality of the Shroud image and thethree-dimensional information it contains. These two properties arecertainly among the paramount features that advocates claim asevidence for the Shroud's authenticity, for how could afourteenth-century artist know about either photography or theembedding of three-dimensional data in a two-dimensional object? Yet,I will show that not only are these two properties NOT evidence forthe Shroud's authenticity or supernatural origin, but that theyconfirm how the Shroud artist in fact created the Shroud.

The alleged photographic negative quality of the Shroud image hasbeen championed by Shroud enthusiasts as evidence for authenticitysince 1898 when the feature was first discovered. According to theseaccounts, a photographic negative of the Shroud image reveals aphotographic positive, and both the original image and itsphotographic negative have been repeatedly published in books devotedto the Shroud. However, a number of investigators21 havedocumented the fact that the Shroud image is NOT a true photographicnegative but only an apparent one--a faux-photographicnegative. As with a true negative, light features such as skinare dark on it and light on the positive and shadows are light on itand dark on the positive. Unlike a true photographic negative,however, dark features like the beard, mustache, hair, and blood aredark on it and light on the positive. So unless Jesus was blond orwhite-haired and his blood was white, the Shroud image cannot be atrue photographic negative.

The second odd property of the Shroud is the three-dimensionalinformation allegedly embedded in its image.22 There isindeed some three-dimensional information contained in the image, butit is very crude, requiring much fudging and a number of blatant,scientifically-impermissible "corrections" to produce anythingresembling a human face and body.23 Today, however,computer-generated 3-D images and videos, and three-dimensionalmodels of the Man on the Shroud's body and face, are widelyavailable; both have been used to illustrate depictions of theShroud's formation in non-skeptical, pro-authenticity televisionprograms. The outrageous statements, then and now, that such 3-Dinformation is the result of a paranormal or miraculous burst ofradiation or flow of vapors from the body--and was capable of"regenerating faith in a skeptical age"--are so contrary toscientific knowledge and common sense that their origin can only beascribed to a religiously-inspired zealotry that separates a personfrom his or her analytical abilities.

Both the apparent "photographic negative" and crude "embedded 3-Dinformation" properties of the Shroud of Turin can easily beexplained by simply understanding how the artist created it. Althougha direct painting on linen using red ochre pigment in a temperabinder17 cannot be absolutely ruled out as an hypothesisfor the Shroud's creation, it is much more likely that the Shroud wasconstructed using a rubbing technique on a bas-reliefmodel.18 Joe Nickell was the first person to suggest thismethod of producing the Shroud. He observed that contact imprintsfrom bodies are invariably grossly distorted, and hypothesesinvolving a vapor or radiation would cause the image to penetrate thecloth, unlike the superficial Shroud image that is observed. Afterexperimenting with various techniques, the Shroud artist prepared asuitable mixture of pigments and tempera binder, molded a wet linensheet over the bas-relief he had constructed, and used a dauber (alsotermed a pounce or tamper) to apply the mixture to the surface of thelinen.

The bas-relief rubbing method automatically produces notonly an apparent negative image (that is, one without truephotographic quality), but also an image with crudethree-dimensional properties. Unlike a photographic negative, inwhich light and dark are reversed, a bas-relief rubbing produces anegative in which topographically high areas become dark and lowareas become light. This is because the topographically higher areasreceive more of the pigment and lower areas receive less. This isprecisely what we observe on the Shroud: the nose, mustache, beard,hair, brow ridge, and cheek bones on the bas-relief were raisedrelative to the sunken eyes, the space between the hair and face, andthe area below the nose and mustache, so the former areas are darkeron the Shroud image and the latter areas lighter. A genuinephotographic negative of the Shroud's faux-photographic negativeimage--that is, a faux-positive--looks appealingly natural andlife-like, if one ignores the white blood and hair. Furthermore, asthe pigment is applied, there is a gradation of pigment and binderdensity from topographically higher to lower areas, producing thetonal variation that creates a crude three-dimensionalquality.

I remember typically extravagant statements from STURP members inthe late 1970's and early 1980's to the effect that "no medievalartist could produce a photographic negative" and "it is impossiblefor a two-dimensional object to contain three-dimensionalinformation." Rubbings are well-know from the Middle Ages and, as wenow see, are a form of negative that precisely matches thefaux-photographic negative quality of the Shroud. Also, it is quiteeasy to encode three-dimensional data onto a two-dimensional surface:topographic maps, bathymetric charts, isopachous maps, and many otherkinds of maps do this with contour lines--lines that representspecific heights, depths, thicknesses, and other quantitativeinformation along their length. The variations in pigment and binderdensity on the Shroud image can be quickly converted to numericaldata using an image analyzer. This is precisely what Jackson andJumper of STURP did, and when the resulting 3-D image was too crudeto be recognizable--because the topographic-density variation of theoriginal image was crude--they fudged and corrected the data untilthey achieved something that looked like a three-dimensional humanface.

I basically agree with Walter McCrone that the Shroud image iscomposed of billions of microscopic particles of iron oxide (redochre) applied to the surface of the linen cloth, but I am aware thatsome sindonologists maintain that the image on the Shroud today isformed entirely by dehydrated cellulose of the linen--that is, thealteration or recrystallization of the cellulose was effected by somecomponent, still undetermined, of the pigment or binder. There is nodoubt that this dehydration or recrystallization took place, sincethe linen of the of the Shroud image areas is distinctly yellowedcompared to the off-image areas--that is, the color change isevidence of the alteration--but whether this alteration is solelyresponsible for the image is controversial and probably not true. Ifthis alteration is solely or partially responsible for the image, itwould presumably have a tonal variation derived from the density ofthe original pigment or binder, which subsequently evaporated,decomposed, or was mostly removed by washing. Unquestionably, theoriginal Shroud image was darker and clearer to the unaided eye,since the Shroud was the subject of paintings in earlier centuries,when artists did not have the benefit of filtered images andhigh-resolution photography. The original conspicuous image wasmostly destroyed by one or more washings (or perhaps by boiling inoil!)--which removed most of the original particulate iron oxidepigment--leaving the ghostly image that we know so well today.

The Shroud's Medieval RadiocarbonDate

Without question, the most spectacular refutation of theauthenticity of the Shroud of Turin was the determination that thelinen on which the image lies dates from approximately 1325. TheShroud was sampled and the dates determined by the most scrupulousand scientifically-valid techniques and procedures that are possible.Sampling was carefully conducted and witnessed, the samples wereproperly cleaned and prepared, and three different laboratoriesperformed the 14C dating using blind control samples inaddition to the Shroud samples. All the dates were consistent amongthe labs. Since Robert E. M. Hedges has reviewed the radiometricdating analyses and results in this journal24, I need notrepeat them here. I merely want to state that the quality of theradiometric data are so rigorous that no objective, rational personcan reasonably deny them.

Naturally, believers in the Shroud's authenticity have thrown upnumerous criticisms that are variously ludicrous, vacuous, andwithout merit. Contrary to pro-authenticity advocates, the linensamples were not deceptively switched, not taken fromthe wrong part of the Shroud material, not improperly cleanedand prepared, did not have a bioplastic coating, werenot contaminated by modern bacteria and fungi that were notremoved, the carbon-14 content of the cloth was not altered bythe fire of 1532, the final results were not deliberatelyfalsified by a conspiracy of anti-religious scientists, and so forth.As has been pointed out by others, modern material of approximatelytwice the mass as the Shroud samples would have to be added to thesamples to bring authentic first-century linen up to radiocarbondates of the fourteenth-century, and this would have been just tooobvious to go unnoticed by so many independent investigators. Onceagain, the ad hoc excuses, criticisms, and counter-arguments of theradiocarbon dating by Shroud enthusiasts were put forward to preserveappearances at any cost, a classic characteristic of pseudoscience.In real science, legitimate and reliable data that falsify one's mosttreasured hypotheses and beliefs are accepted, and lead one toabandon one's former beliefs. But sindonology is a pseudoscience, notreal science.

The Shroud's History, Artistry, andIconography

Unlike many shrouds of Jesus known from the Middle Ages, theShroud of Turin was pronounced by a contemporary fourteenth-centuryCatholic bishop in France to be a fake, since his predecessor asBishop of Troyes, "after diligent inquiry and examination, discoveredthe fraud and how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, thetruth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, thatit was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought orbestowed." I don't understand how such credible contemporary writtenevidence can be dismissed so lightly by supporters of the Shroud'sauthenticity, but they do. They believe the Shroud of Turin isauthentic, but presumably not the other two dozen shrouds of whichhistorians are aware. If letters from medieval Catholic bishopsattesting the fraudulence of these other shrouds were in ourpossession today, would present-day Shroud believers then believethat the other shrouds are authentic, too?

In 1982, I was the first to point out that the image of Jesus onthe Shroud had a number of physical abnormalities.25Jesus' face, body, arms, and fingers were unnaturally thin andelongated, and his left forearm was longer than his right. EitherJesus was horribly deformed, or the image of Jesus was characteristicof medieval Gothic art. I defended the latter conclusion, but itseems my observations spawned, much to my amusement, a number oftypical counter-explanations from pro-authenticity Shroud supportersabout possible diseases that Jesus might have had, such as Marfan'sSyndrome (F. Zugibe), or the idea that the elongation is an expecteddistortion created by cloth-to-body drape (J. Jackson).26.Once again, such suggestions to preserve appearances at all costsborder on the comical (but only border, since they were proposedseriously).

Finally, many Shroud supporters have made much of the fact thatthe face of Jesus on the Shroud is very similar to the many Byzantineimages of Jesus that are known. I agree that this observation ofsimilarity is valid. From this, however, the pro-authenticitysupporters illogically conclude that the Byzantine artists must haveseen the Shroud and copied their images of Jesus' face from it. Themuch more obvious and logical explanation is that the Shroud artisthad seen one or more of the Byzantine representations of Jesus, andcopied it or them. Crusaders returning from the Holy Land by way ofByzantium probably brought such representations to France withthem.

There are many more arguments and appeals to evidence I could makethat would demonstrate the validity of my conclusions. But I andother writers, especially Walter McCrone and Joe Nickell, havealready published these analyses, and I do not want to repeat themhere. The references are now widely available on the World Wide Webat,the Skeptical Shroud of Turin Website, and on the new website ofApprofondimento Sindone at,to which I refer all readers.


All empirical evidence and logical reasoning concerning the Shroudof Turin will lead any objective, rational person to the firmconclusion that the Shroud is an artifact created by an artist in thefourteenth-century. Arguments to the contrary by pro-authenticitysupporters are tendentious and marked by appeals to speciousreasoning and misinterpreted or fraudulent evidence. There are novalid reasons to perform any more scientific tests or examinations onthe Shroud, for the ones already performed are more than adequate todemonstrate its true nature. Sindonology is a pseudoscience whoseadherents will stop at nothing to preserve the appearance ofauthenticity, irregardless of the illogical, ad hoc, andscientifically-invalid arguments they must use to prop up theirbeliefs. To all sindonologists, I say: Get a life!


1 PAUL C. MALONEY, Science,Archaeology, and the Shroud of Turin, in <<ApprofondimentoSindone>>, 1998, Year II, no. 1, p. 67-104.

2 WILLIAM MEACHAM, TheAuthentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in ArchaeologicalEpistemology, in <<Current Anthropology>>, June,1983, vol. 24, no. 3, p. 283-311. Meacham's paper was followed by theresponses of both his supporters and critics, including mine, and allcan be found on the Web at<>. My response to Meacham'spaper began as follows: "Although such a blatant example of humancredulity rarely finds its way into the professional scholarlyliterature, . . ."

3 For example, IAN WILSON,The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's MostSacred Relic Is Real, 1998, The Free Press, New York, 333p.

4 For example, DAVID VANBIEMA, Science and the Shroud, in <<Time>>, April20, 1998, vol. 151, no. 15, p. 53-61.

5 For example, the Shroud ofTurin Research Project (STURP), the Association of Scientists andScholars International for the Shroud of Turin (ASSIST), ShroudSpectrum International (SSI), the Shroud of Turin Website at<>, etc.

6 For example, the RomanCatholic Church.

7 STEVEN SCHAFERSMAN,Letter to the Editor, in <<The Microscope>>, 1982,vol. 30, p. 344-352. [This first-published version of my originalletter was heavily edited and significant statements and argumentswere deleted and meanings changed. A version without the editorialdeletions--but which, unfortunately, has introduced numerousmisspellings, dropped words, punctuation errors, and typos, includingthe consistent misspelling of my own name--was subsequently publishedas Appendix Two in WALTER McCRONE's book, Judgement Day for theShroud of Turin, 1997, p. 298-308. I will undertake to publishthe correct original version of my 1982 letter on the SkepticalShroud of Turin Website at <>sometime in the near future.]

8 MAX FREI found 49 pollenspecies (34 endemic to Palestine and Turkey) on samples taken in 1973(Wissenschaftliche Probleme um das Grabtuch von Turin, in<<Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschu>>, 1979, vol. 32, no.4, p. 133-135), but this increased to 57 species (54 endemic toPalestine and Turkey!) after further study of a second set of sampleshe took in 1978 (Nine Years of Palynological Studies on theShroud, in <<Shroud Spectrum International>>, June,1982, vol. 1, no. 3, p. 3-7.)

9 RICHARD H. EYDE, Letterto the Editor, in <<National Geographic>>, February,1985.

10 IAN WILSON, The TurinShroud, 1978, Gollancz, London.

11 L. A. SCHWALBE AND R. N.ROGERS, Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin: A Summary ofthe 1978 Investigation, in <<Analytica ChimicaActa>>, 1982, vol. 135, p. 3-49.

12 WALTER McCRONE foundinsignificant numbers of pollen in his examination of both the STURPtape samples (see Judgement Day for the Shroud of Turin, 1997,Microscope Publications, Chicago, for a full discussion andreferences to his original papers) and Max Frei's own tape samples(see note 13).

13 JOE NICKELL, Pollens onthe "Shroud": A Study in Deception, in <<SkepticalInquirer>>, Summer 1994, vol. 18, p. 379-385.

14 Just kidding!

15 See note 7. I might say,however, that as an investigator of pseudoscientific topics (such asscientific creationism, flood geology, and similar doctrines) forover twenty years, my experience has taught me that the first thingsto suspect and look for are fraud, forgery, deception,misrepresentation, sophistry, and specious reasoning, and if theseare not in evidence, I then look for illogical reasoning,self-deception, misreading, inadvertently fudged data, and willfulmisunderstanding, and if these are not in evidence, I then look forignorance, innocent mistakes, misinterpretations, equipment errors,out-of-date references, overlooked results or causes, etc.Unfortunately, ALL of these items MUST be examined FIRST wheninvestigating any pseudoscientific topic, BEFORE one begins lookingfor presumed new or unusual natural phenomena. And I would like toremind readers that sindonology is a pseudoscience, no matter howscientifically-legitimate its practitioners and adherents try to makeit out to be. After all, the whole purpose of a pseudoscience is tomasquerade as a science, not acknowledge itself to bereligiously-inspired nonsense.

16 WALTER McCRONE and S. A.SKIRIUS, Light Microscopical Study of the Turin "Shroud" I, in<<Microscope>>, 1980, vol. 28, no. 3,4, p. 105-114.WALTER McCRONE, Light Microscopical Study of the Turin "Shroud"II, in <<Microscope>>, 1980, vol. 28, no. 3,4, p.115-128. WALTER McCRONE, Light Microscopical Study of the Turin"Shroud" III, in <<Microscope>>, 1981, vol. 29, p.19-38.

17 WALTER McCRONE, RedOchre and Vermilion on Shroud Tapes?, in <<ApprofondimentoSindone>>, 1997, Year I, no. 1, p. 21- 28.

18 JOE NICKELL, Inquest onthe Shroud of Turin, 1983, 1987 (updated), Prometheus Books,Buffalo.

19 J. HELLER and A. D. ADLER,A Chemical Examination of the Various Stains and Images on theShroud of Turin, in <<Canadian Society for Forensic ScienceJournal>>, 1981, vol. 14, no. 3, p. 81-103.

20 As maintained by ERIC J.JUMPER and others, A Comprehensive Examination of the VariousStains and Images on the Shroud of Turin, in J. B. LAMBERT, ed.,<<Archaeological Chemistry III, Advances in ChemistrySeries>>, 1984, no. 205, American Chemical Society, p.446-476.

21 Discussed in detail inNICKELL, 1987, p. 95-106 (see Note 18).

22 This observation wasoriginally made by JOHN P. JACKSON and ERIC J. JUMPER, and theiroriginal analyses was published in KENNETH E. STEVENSON, editor,<<Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Researchon the Shroud of Turin, March 23-24, 1977, Albuquerque, NewMexico, USA>>, Holy Shroud Guild, Bronx, NY.

23 Again, discussed in detailin NICKELL, 1987, p. 85-94 (see Note 18).

24 ROBERT E. M. HEDGES, ANote Concerning the Application of Radiocarbon Dating to the TurinShroud, in <<Approfondimento Sindone>>, 1997, Year I,no. 1, p. 1- 8.

25 STEVEN D. SCHAFERSMAN,Science, the Public, and the Shroud of Turin, in <<TheSkeptical Inquirer>>, Spring 1982, vol. 6, no. 3, p.37-56.

26 PAUL C. MALONEY, Reply,to the paper of WILLIAM C. MEACHAM in Note 2.

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