Conflicting Turin shroud tests

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  • Published: Feb 6, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Base Peak / X-ray Spectrometry / NMR Knowledge Base / Proteomics / Chemometrics & Informatics / Raman / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy / MRI Spectroscopy / Atomic

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The news that the Bible may be wrong when it refers to people riding camels during the time of Christ reminded me that this is not the first scientific controversy surrounding the Church, and it probably won't be the last. I am thinking of the Turin Shroud, which was radiocarbon dated in 1988 and has been the subject of continuing controversy since then. That work placed the shroud at 1260 to 1390 AD, a result that has been disputed by many people ever since.

The Catholic Church itself has been very careful to steer itself away from the debate by calling the shroud an icon, not a relic, but it has received support from several later studies which suggest that the shroud may after all be authentic, or, at least, date from the correct period.

A study published in 2005 supported claims that tiny samples that were tested in the 1988 work were far younger, probably being sewn in to repair the shroud after it had been damaged, possibly by fire. A combination of pyrolysis mass spectrometry, microscopic and microchemical observations indicated that the sample that was dated was not part of the original cloth.

In 2013, after 15 years of research, Italian scientists published a book which backed up those claims. Giulio Fanti and Saverio Gaeta from Padua University carried out extensive research using both Raman and FTIR spectroscopy which dates the shroud at 33 BC ± 250 years. Unfortunately, their results have not been published in a peer-reviewed publication so cannot be authenticated. Until that occurs, many people will remain sceptical whatever their spiritual beliefs.


1. At 08:48 on Feb 6, 2014, norman vincent wrote:

The Shroud is a fascinating subject on so many levels scientifically, spiritually, and historically. For a great read, check out the new novel by an American author, "The Linen God" on Amazon.


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