New study suggests Shroud of Turin a fake, supporting study retracted

July 24, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org
Full length negatives of the shroud. Credit: Public Domain

A pair of Italian researchers, one a forensic anthropologist, the other a chemist, has conducted tests to determine the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and report that their analysis indicates that the shroud is a forgery. In their paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Matteo Borrini and Luigi Garlaschelli describe the tests they conducted and what they found. A separate paper published last year has been retracted; it was originally published on the open access site PLOS One by another team claiming to have found evidence of trauma to the body of the person seen on the shroud.

In this new effort, Borrini and Garlaschelli tested the authenticity of the shroud by carrying out experiments with fake and real and cloth simulating the shroud. Their goal was to find out if blood stains on the shroud were consistent with each other and with reports from the Bible.

One of the experiments involved applying blood to the body of a live volunteer (who was lying in a pose reminiscent of the person seen on the shroud) and then wrapping him in linen to see what sorts of stains it would leave. They also noted that the Bible reported that Jesus had been stabbed in the side with a spear—to mimic such a wound, the researchers attached a sponge to a wooden stake, soaked it with blood and then used it as a spear to impale a mannequin.

The researchers that the bloodstains on the shroud are inconsistent—blood flowing in rivulets would not have formed stains in the ways observed on the shroud. As one example, they point out that blood flowing from a wound to the hand could only have made the stains seen on the shroud if the person were standing upright—the Bible reports that the body of Christ was put in the shroud after death. They conclude by claiming that it would have been impossible for the blood stains on the shroud to have originated in the way the Bible describes; therefore, they say the shroud is a forgery.

Meanwhile, a paper published by a team last year detailing a study of the shroud (and claiming to have found evidence of trauma in the victim) has been retracted by the publishers of PLOS One—the editors note in their retraction that concerns have been raised about the quality of the data used by the researchers and the conclusions they drew.

More information: Matteo Borrini et al. A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin, Journal of Forensic Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.13867

Elvio Carlino et al. Atomic resolution studies detect new biologic evidences on the Turin Shroud, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180487

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