Shroud of Turin - Test Show it is From First Century

 The authenticity of the Shroud of Turin has been hotly debated for many decades. Is the Shroud the burial cloth of Jesus and could it possibly contain an image of Jesus? Some believe this is exactly what the Shroud is, while others insist the Shroud is a fake manufactured sometime during the Middle Ages. A new study in Italy has now given us new reason to believe the Shroud may indeed be from the first century and therefore, could be the actual burial cloth of Jesus.

The primary area of controversy surrounding the Shroud is the age of the fabric. If the fabric is from the first century, or earlier, then it opens the door for the Shroud to be authentic. If the fabric was produced in the Middle Ages, then obviously the Shroud is a fake and all but worthless.  For years the church would not allow testing of the Shroud because the testing would require the destruction of a small piece of the Shroud. While the church does not official say the Shroud is genuine or fake, they have always held the position that since it is possibly the real thing, no part of it should be destroyed.

Shroud of Turin 

The church had a change of heart and finally allowed the Shroud to be scientifically tested. Many people felt the controversy would be put to rest in 1988 when the results of Carbon 14 testing on a small section of the Shourd were revealed. According to the test, the fabric of the Shroud was from the Middle Ages, the fabric was only 700 years old, it could only be a fake. Almost immediately critics began to voice their objection to the results. They claimed the Carbon 14 testing was done on a section of the Shroud that had been repaired and was not a part of the original Shroud but was in fact a patch. Combined with the fact the Shroud had been exposed to smoke and extreme high temperatures when the church where it was kept burned, critics claimed the Shroud could not be properly tested using Carbon 14. It was also pointed out that there have been numerous instances of errors when attempted to use Carbon 14 testing on fabrics. The porous nature of the fabric makes it difficult to get accurate test results, according to some.

Now in Italy a new, non-destructive test, was performed on the Shroud.  The test was supervised by Doctor Liberato de Caro who is with Italy’s Institute of Crystallography of the National Research Council. The institute used a test known as WAXS or Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering, in an effort to find the age of the fabric. The tests measure the structural degradation which is the result of the natural ageing process of the cellulose in the linen threads. These measurements are then compared to a number of samples of fabric which the exact age is known.

After comparing the WAXS results with a number of fabric samples, a close match was found. The results for the Shroud of Turin closely matched a piece of fabric that is known to be from the siege of Masada in Israel. The sample fabric was believed to be from between 55 and 74 A.D.  The siege of
Masada took place near the end of the first Jewish-Roman war. The siege took place during the years of 73 and 74 A.D. so the fabric could be older than 74 A.D. but not any younger. These results, if found to be accurate, show the fabric of the Shroud of Turin is indeed from the first century and thus removes a major reason for doubting the authenticity of the image on the Shroud.

It was also reported the WAXS test indicate that fabrics and textiles can become contaminated over time, making Carbon 14 dating unreliable. Doctor De Caro stated that molds and bacteria along with dirt or carbon containing elements can distort the Carbon 14 dating process. In effect you cannot be certain if you are testing the original fabric, the contaminants, or a combination of both. Doctor De Caro cautioned against being to excited about the findings. He insisted the results needed to be confirmed by other laboratories in an effort to replicate the findings. One of the benefits of the WAXS testing is that it is non destructive and multiple tests can be performed on the exact same sample to compare and confirm results.

De Caro pointed out there was also pollen found on the fabric which could only have originated in the ancient region of Palestine and not Europe. The pollen does not prove the Shroud is authentic, but it does show the Shroud spent a good deal of time in the Middle East before being brought to Europe.

Additional Notes concerning the Shroud of Turin

  • In the 1970's the Shroud of Turin Research Project reported the stains on the fabric were real human blood.
  • The image on the Shroud, which many claim to be Jesus, depicts a muscular man who stood between 5'7" and 6'2"
  • The Shroud was first discovered in a church in Lirey in north central France. The church was founded by French Knight Geoffroi de Charny.
  • One theory on how the image on the Shroud was formed is that solar rays reflected by the damp shining body of Jesus were immediately imprinted on the damp inner side of the burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in.
  • In 1502 the Shroud was moved to the Sainte-Shapelle in Chambery.
  • The Shroud has been in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista in Turin Italy since 1578.
  • In 1532 a fire broke out in the chapel where the Shroud was housed. The fire was so intense it melted a part of the silver frame protecting the Shroud. The molten silver burned through sections of the Shroud. These burn marks and the water stains from firefighters extinguishing the flames are still visible of the Shroud.
  • Carbon 14 testing was done on the Shroud in 1988 and showed the fabric to be approximately 700 years old. - These findings have bene challenged by a number of critics.
  • After the fire in 1532, nuns patched some of the burn marks and stitched the Shroud to a reinforcing cloth which is known as, "The Holland Cloth".
  • The Shroud of Turin in 14'3" long by 3'7" wide.
  • The Shroud was moved to a remote monastery in southern Italy during World War II to protect it from danger and from being stolen by the Nazis.

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