- The Ohio woman who appears to have discovered a critical
flaw in the 1988 carbon dating of cloth samples from the Shroud of Turin
says her insights into the controversial Christian relic were communicated
to her by Jesus Christ himself.
- Sue Benford, who co-authored a research paper in 2000
with her partner Joseph Marino, a respected shroud scholar, told the Citizen
yesterday she's "excited" that their findings could help refute
the 1988 tests that have led most experts to conclude the shroud was a
medieval forgery and not the burial cloth of Christ.
- Roman Catholic officials in Italy have confirmed that
new experiments are being performed by a Swiss textile expert, apparently
to test the Benford-Marino theory: that the cloth sample chosen in 1988
- and which yielded a date of origin between 1260 and 1390 A.D - was actually
a blend of original material almost 2,000 years old and newer threads woven
into the shroud as recently as 400 years ago to repair damaged or pilfered
portions of the sacred object. Ms. Benford, a former nurse who now
runs a nonprofit educational organization near Columbus, said it was a
"divine revelation" in March 1997 - followed by months of arduous
research with Mr. Marino - that produced their theory that the 1988 study
was fundamentally flawed.
- "I was working at my computer when a voice told
me to go watch TV," said Ms. Benford, 45, who began flipping channels
until she happened upon a show about the Shroud of Turin. "I
was just stunned," she said, because she instantly recognized that
the face on the shroud belonged to the same man whose voice had instructed
her to watch television, and which later explained to her why scientists
had mistakenly concluded the shroud was a fake. "I don't want
to sound like a nut case, but that's what happened," she said. "I
was given the answer."
- The couple's theory was presented at a conference in
Italy in August 2000, around the same time the Vatican announced there
would be no further testing on the age of the shroud in the immediate future.
But members of the official Committee for the Conservation of the
Holy Shroud have disclosed to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that
testing has begun again.
- They said that the cloth's backing and about 30 triangular
patches used to mend the shroud in the 16th century after it was damaged
by fire have been removed in a "secret experiment." They added
that the committee as a whole has not been consulted and instead the testing
has been authorized by a small number of church "insiders."
Officials in Turin also confirmed that the shroud has been removed from
its case and would not be on display while the experiment was in progress.
They said the operation is being conducted by Swiss textile expert Mechtild
- As startling as Ms. Benford's story might seem, the central
argument she and Mr. Marino have advanced has also been embraced by a prominent
U.S. scientist who first studied the shroud in 1978 and still possesses
samples of the cloth. Ray Rogers was part of an international team
20 years ago that performed a chemical analysis of shroud fibres and determined
that the image on the cloth was not painted.
- That finding ruled out an obvious hoax and left open
the possibility that the shroud was authentic. But most of the scientific
community - including Mr. Rogers himself - were later convinced by the
1988 carbon dating that the cloth was a fake after all.
- Mr. Rogers, a retired chemist living in Los Alamos, New
Mexico, told the Citizen yesterday that he dismisses Ms. Benford's story
about speaking with Jesus. But the observation itself - that old
and new fibres had been mistakenly mixed in the 1988 experiments - is valid,
- "When I first saw Benford and Marino's study, I
said they're full of it," recalls Mr. Rogers, who re-analysed his
shroud threads based on the Ohio couple's hypothesis. "But I have
to agree with what they're proposing. The 1988 radio-carbon analysis was
probably the very best ever done, but it was done on the worst, most stupidly
selected sample of cloth."
- The 1988 sample, explains Mr. Rogers, comes from the
lower left corner of the shroud which, it appears, has been "cleverly
rewoven" over the centuries to disguise the fact that cuttings have
been taken from the outer edge of the cloth from time to time.
- But several threads studied by Mr. Rogers in 1978 came
from a section of the shroud slightly closer to the famous image of a crucified
man that appears in the middle of the cloth. Some of those threads had
been expertly "spliced" to connect older and newer fibres.
In 1982, says Mr. Rogers, one of the threads from his samples was carbon
dated - unbenownst to himself and against the wishes of Roman Catholic
officials who had authorized the chemical analysis. Nevertheless, that
test showed an age difference of more than 1,000 years between the newer
and older fibres - and suggested the original portions of the shroud dated
from around the year 200 A.D.
- "I have not been able to find any information on
the accuracy and precision for the dating method used," says Mr. Roges.
"However, the dates determined are so different that I could believe
a real difference between the ends of the threads." The shroud,
preserved in Turin Cathedral, is held by many Christians to be the cloth
in which Jesus Christ was wrapped after the Crucifixion. Venerated for
centuries as the Holy Shroud, it preserves the image of a tall man with
crucifixion marks which only came to light when the 4.37-metre-by-1.11-metre
cloth was first photographed at the end of the 19th century.
- (First published 8-21-02)
- 1988 Carbon-Dating Of The Shroud Questioned
- By Orazio Petrosillo Il Messaggero
- Two scholars claim there are also invisible seams on
the linen cloth. The radiocarbon test may have been altered. "According
to the Carbon 14 test, the cloth appeared Medieval... but perhaps only
some of the threads were."
- ROME -- Medieval was the darn, not the Shroud. Just
while 30 visible patches are removed, some scholars direct their attention
to the invisible darns on the Turinese Sheet. They were widely used in
the Middle Ages for very precious cloths, just like the one venerated as
the holiest of relics. Therefore, the result of the dating tests of the
Shroud with the radiocarbon method (14C), carried out by the laboratories
of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich in 1988 and dating the Shroud cloth between
1260 and 1390, has been altered by the presence, just in the area of the
dating of the small linen samples, an invisible darn dating back to the
16th century. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, two American sindonologists,
claim this. A series of pictures of one of the samples taken in 1988 for
the radiocarbon dating and of the remaining part that was not used were
submitted to three textile experts, independently and without saying the
samples had been taken from the Shroud. All the three experts recognized
a different weaving on one side of the samples. According to the calculations
of Beta Analytic, the largest provider of radiocarbon dating in the world,
a mixture of 60% of material, from the 16th century, with 40% of material
from the 1st century would carry a 13th century dating. The proportion
of more recent material has been evaluated on the basis of what the three
textile experts observed.
- Interesting observations have been carried out by Ray
Rogers, a chemist who was a member of STURP, the group of American scientists
who examined the Shroud in 1978. Rogers has linen fibers (which the Shroud
is made of) coming both from the same area of the sample for the 14C analysis
(they had been cut by the Belgian expert Gilbert Raes in 1973) and from
other areas of the Shroud. In only the Raes' corner, where the 1988 sampling
had been carried out, the fibers appear coated and soaked by a yellow-brownish
amorphous substance, whose color varies in intensity from one fiber to
the other. On the contrary, the fibers coming from the other parts of
the Shroud do not have such a coating, which is almost certainly a yellow-rubber
vegetable, very likely the gum-arabic, once used for textile applications.
Moreover, Rogers has observed a superimposition (splice) in the center
of a thread of the Raes sample: it is an invisible darn, widely used in
the 16th century. In 1982 a thread of the Raes sample had already been
dated with a radiocarbon method at the California Institute of Technology
(CalTech). Half of the thread appeared covered with starch. The thread
was divided in half: the non-starched part turned out to date from the
3rd century A.D., while the starched end gave a date of the 13th century
A.D. This is a message for the Holy See to plan a new 14C test with serenity
but in a multidisciplinary context and with a particular attention to the
representativeness of the sample.
- Also see: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20020819/shroud.html
- Italy - Experts Attack Latest Tests On Shroud
- By Richard Owen c. 2002
The Times - London
- A fresh attempt by Catholic officials to prove that the
Turin Shroud is genuine and not a medieval fake has provoked a row after
experts said that the tests could damage the cloth.
- The shroud, preserved in Turin Cathedral, is held by
many Christians to be the cloth in which Jesus Christ was wrapped after
the Crucifixion. Venerated for centuries as the Holy Shroud, it preserves
the image of a tall man with crucifixion marks which only came to light
when the 4.37m-by-1.11m (14ft4in-by-3ft7in) cloth was first photographed
at the end of the 19th century.
- Carbon-dating tests conducted in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson,
Arizona, in 1988 indicated that the shroud was a forgery and had been made
between 1260 and 1390.
- Two years ago Vatican officials said that there would
be no further tests in the foreseeable future. However, members of the
official Committee for the Conservation of the Holy Shroud have disclosed
that testing has begun again.
- They said that the cloth's backing and around thirty
triangular patches used to mend the shroud in the 16th century after it
was damaged by fire, had been removed in a "secret experiment".
They added that the committee as a whole had not been consulted and instead
the testing had been authorised by a small number of church "insiders".
- Officials in Turin confirmed that the shroud had been
removed from its case and would not be on display while the experiment
was in progress. They said that the operation was being conducted by the
Swiss textile expert, Mechtild Flury-Lemberg.
- Supporters of the latest move said that there was a "plausible
theory" that the 1988 tests on tiny fragments taken from the shroud
had been "skewed" by the possible fusion of the original 1st-century
cloth with the fibres of later additions, giving a "confused and inaccurate"
carbon dating. Removing the patches would enable scientists to test the
original cloth with less likelihood of contamination.
- Two American shroud scholars or "sindonologists",
Sue Benford and Joseph Marino, told Il Messaggero, the Rome daily, that
independent tests conducted on some of the fragments of cloth used in the
1988 carbon dating showed that 40 per cent were 1st-century fibres and
60 per cent were 16th-century material. That would have produced a "median
date" of around the 13th century, they said.
- Emmanuela Marinelli, a leading expert on the shroud,
is angry about the decision to remove the patches and the cloth's backing.
"This is bound to cause damage of some kind. It is at odds with the
great prudence with which it has always been handled until now."
- The existence of a Holy Shroud was first recorded at
Edessa (now Urfa in modern Turkey) in the 2nd century and again at Constantinople
in the 10th century.
- In the 14th century the "burial cloth of Christ"
was allegedly brought to France by Crusader knights. A linen cloth purported
to be the shroud was later entrusted to an order of nuns in Chambery, who
repaired it after a fire in 1532.