Facts: The Shroud of Turin is the most analyzed artifact in the world, yet it remains a mystery. Sindonology is the formal study of the Shroud. (Rooted in the Greek word—sindon, used in the Bible’s New Testament Gospel of Mark to describe the burial cloth of Jesus.)
Fact: The Shroud of Turin is an ancient linen cloth measuring 14 feet by 3.5 feet.
Facts: The cloth is made of handspun flax. Historians have determined that the weave of the Shroud cloth is woven in a 3-over-1 herringbone pattern. These dimensions correlate with ancient measurements of 2 cubits x 8 cubits - consistent with loom technology of the 1st century AD. The fine weave of 3-over-1 herringbone confirms the New Testament statement that the "sindon" (or shroud) was a “fine linen cloth.” Such a cloth would have been purchased by a wealthy man. Joseph of Arimathea, the owner of the cloth, was a wealthy trading merchant who traveled outside of Jerusalem.
Fact: The Shroud has resided in Turin, Italy since 1578. Thus the name, the Shroud of Turin.
Facts: The great enigma of the Shroud is the faint, front and back full-body image of a 5’10” crucified man. The “man in the Shroud” is characterized by long hair, full beard and a pattern of bloodstains that are compatible with the torturous wounds inflicted upon Jesus as recorded in all four New Testament Bible Gospel accounts.
Here are some of the wounds suffered by the Man in the Shroud as seen on the cloth:
- Over 100 whip marks on every portion of his body, left by scourging from Roman flagra and consistent with ancient Roman whips used at the time.
- Blood stains that formed a circle around the top of his head are consistent with the crown of thorns.
- Severely bruised knees that could have resulted from several falls. (The Bible says Christ fell three times on his way to his crucifixion.
- Blood stains around holes in the man’s wrists and feet that would be consistent with the aftermath of large spikes; the marks of crucifixion.
- Blood stains around a large wound that would be consistent with an injury sustained by a spear in his side.
- The man in the Shroud did not have broken legs which is compatible with the biblical account. The legs of both thieves crucified on either side of Jesus were broken to speed asphyxia and death. Jesus was already dead, so the Roman’s did not need to break his legs.
In 1978 a team of nearly 40 scientists comprising the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc. (STURP) had unprecedented access to the cloth for 120 hours and performed a myriad of optical and chemical tests to determine the nature of the image and the bloodstains.
In 1981, the conclusion of the STURP team was announced: The Shroud image was NOT the work of an artist and blood was indeed blood as evidenced by the presence of several blood components. Further testing of the blood demonstrated it to be an AB blood type. DNA analysis of a blood sample in 1995 revealed the blood to belong to a human male but was too degraded to indicate ethnicity.
The most significant conclusion of the Shroud Project, as published in 24 separate peer-reviewed journal articles is there is no visible trace of any artistic substances on the cloth to account for the image. There is no evidence that the image of the crucified man on the Shroud is the result of paint, ink, dye, pigment or stain.
Fact: The image of the man does not penetrate the cloth as it would if any artistic substance was used by someone to create the man’s image. In fact, the best chemistry regarding the image is that it is simply a discoloration of the cloth as a result of something having caused the accelerated dehydration and oxidation of the cellulose linen fibers but only in those areas immediately surrounding a body. The image affects only the cloth’s top two microfibers. It is so thin it can be scraped off with a razor blade. Furthermore, the image is uniform in intensity throughout the entire cloth with no variation in density or color—an impossible feat for any artist of the Middle Ages.
Fact: The mysterious image is the result of dehydration and oxidation of the cellulose fibers composing the linen. There is no known artistic process used in the middle ages that could account for the image.
Fact: Unlike the image, the blood stains on the Shroud do fully penetrate the cloth front to back. The blood stains appeared on the cloth first followed by the image of the man. There is no image under the blood. This makes sense if the Shroud is authentic, i.e. Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday. But it makes no sense if the Shroud is the work of an artist.
Facts: The Shroud contains 3D “distance information,” the application of which was utilized as the basis for the History Channel’s 2010 mega-hit documentary “The Real Face of Jesus?” and 2017’s updated version, "The Face of Jesus Uncovered?"
Learn more about the man behind these two “Face of Jesus” documentaries, 3D artist and animator, Ray Downing.
Fact: Dust and pollen found on the Shroud are native to where, according to the Bible, Jesus lived and walked.
Fact: The widely reported and controversial 1988 carbon-14 dating tests dating the Shroud between the years 1260 and 1390, used by naysayers to disregard the Shroud as a “medieval hoax” is still hotly contested by scientists and Shroud researchers 30 years later.
A good question to ask is: How could a medieval “artist” make or take a photo negative when photography was not introduced to the world until 500 years later in 1839?
Here are links to mainstream media articles about the controversy.
Do your own research about the authenticity of the Shroud. Learn more about the undisputed facts behind this ancient burial Shroud that will lead you to know more about the Man in the Shroud – Jesus Christ.
Shroud Photographs ©1978 Barrie M. Schwortz Collection, STERA, Inc.