1. What the Shroud certainly is

Positive image of the Shroud

It is a linen sheet that certainly wrapped the corpse of a man who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified with nails and stabbed by a lance in the side. The traditional dimensions were quoted as 436 cm of length and 110 cm of width until recent times. From 1998 in the official publications the dimensions were given as 437 cm to 111 cm. After the summer 2002 intervention, the new measures officially communicated are 442 cm to 113 cm.

The blood and serum stains on the sheet are not reproducible with artificial means. It's blood coagulated on the skin of a wounded man and melted again in contact with the wet cloth. It is male human blood of the AB group and from the DNA analysis it resulted as very ancient.

Negative image of the Shroud

The blood is of the same kind of that one found on the Sudarium kept in the Cathedral of Oviedo (Spain), a cloth that measures 83 x 52 cm having many symmetric bloodstains which soaked through while it was folded in two. Traditionally it is called Holy Sudarium or Sagrado Rostro, that means Holy Face. The precious cloth arrived in Oviedo in the 9th century, in a wooden Holy Ark with other relics, coming from North Africa. The blood on the Sudarium is human blood, belongs to the AB group and its DNA has a genetic structure similar to that one of the Shroud. The Centro Español de Sindonologia ( has further information about the Sudarium of Oviedo in its website.

It's interesting also the comparison with the research undertaken on the rests of the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano (Chieti). There in the 8th cent., in the Church of St. Legonziano, in the hands of a basilian monk who doubted of the real presence of Christ in the eucharistic species, at the moment of the consecration the host became flesh and the wine changed into blood. From the research made in 1970 by Odoardo Linoli, fully established University lecturer in Anatomy and Pathologic Histology and in Chemistry and Clinical Microscopy at the University of Siena, it resulted that the flesh is real miocardic tissue of a human heart and the blood is authentic human blood of AB group.

Besides the blood on the Shroud there is the image of the body that it wrapped. This image, due to degradation through dehydration and oxidization of the superficial linen fibrils, can be compared to a photographic negative. It is superficial, detailed, three-dimensional, thermally and chemically stable. It is stable even in the water, it is not made of pigments, it does not have directionality and it was not caused by the simple contact of the body and the sheet: with contact, cloth either touches or doesn’t touch, there is not an in-between. On the contrary, on the Shroud there is an image even where surely there was no contact. Its light and shade images are proportioned to the different distances between the body and the cloth in the various points of draping. Therefore we can assume it was caused by a radiant effect at a distance.

Under the bloodstains there is no image of the body: the blood firstly settled on the cloth acted as a screen of the area below, while the image was created afterwards.

2. What the Shroud certainly is not

The image was not produced by artificial means. It is not a painting nor a print: on the material there isn’t any pigment. It is not the result of a singeing produced with a warmed bas-relief: imprints obtained in this way go right through, they tend to disappear, have different fluorescence and have no tridimensional characteristics comparable to those of the Shroud.

3. What we don’t know about the Shroud

The physical-chemical mechanism that originated the imprint. It is possible to assume a mechanism like a stream of non penetrating radiation that weakens as it passes through the air and diminishes with distance.

4. Why the Shroud can not be medieval

The rough manufacture of the material, the Z throwing of the threads (clockwise), the diagonal weaving 3 to 1, the traces of very ancient Egyptian cotton, the absence of animal fibres traces, all give truth to the origin of the material from the Syriac/Palestinian area of the 1st century. 

Other clues: a great abundance of pollens from the middle east and of aloe and myrrh; the presence of a kind of calcium carbonate (aragonite) similar to the one found in the caves of Jerusalem; traces of coins on the eyes minted in 29 A.D. under Pontius Pilate; a side seam identical to those existing on Jewish cloths of the first century found in Masada, a hill near the Dead Sea. 
Shroud compared to Egyptian materials
The Shroud (left) compared to Egyptian
materials of the 2nd c. A.D. (P. Savio)

During the Middle Ages, historical and archaeological knowledges about scourging and crucifixion in the 1st century was completely ignored and their memory was totally lost.

The hypothetical medieval forger could have not represented Christ with details in contrast with the medieval iconography: crown of thorns as a helmet, carrying on the shoulders of the sole patibulum (the horizontal beam of the cross), nails through the wrists and not through the hands, naked body and no footrest. Furthermore, he should have considered the burial rites used by the Hebrew during Christ’s period.

The same forger should have imagined the invention of microscope that happened at the end of the 16th century, adding elements invisible to the naked eye: pollens, mould, serum, burial fragrances, aragonite.

The forger should have known of photography, invented in 19th century, and of holography achieved during the 1940’s. He should have known how to distinguish between arterial and venous circulation, studied for the first time in 1593, and he should have been able to stain some parts of the sheet with living blood and other parts with post-mortem blood; in the end he should have respected the law of gravity, discovered in 1666, to achieve hematic dripping.

Pray Manuscript
Pray Manuscript, Budapest
1192-1195 (M. Paolicchi) 

Even though we accept that the forger had all this scientific knowledge, he should also have had the capacity and the means to produce the object. It is impossible that a forger with such a superhuman capacity, after having produced such a perfect work remained completely unknown to contemporaries and posterity; but he would have used a cloth that had just come out from a loom, and therefore medieval, thwarting all his powers to foresee the future scientific discoveries. 

On the contrary, in the light of the present scientific conclusions, it is undeniable that the Shroud had wrapped a corpse. We should assume that he was not an artist-forger but a murderer-forger; this second hypothesis would be just as difficult. 

It would have been impossible for the unscrupulous murderer to find a victim whose face had many congruence points with the icons of Christ of the Byzantine art; and above all to “beat to bleed” the man in order to obtain the swellings on the face reproduced by the icons. He should have killed many people before reaching his aim: he would have been an elusive serial-killer...Even the other details such as the apparent lack of thumbs and the flexed position of a leg, are present in the ancient representations of the dead Christ, but it is difficult to reproduce them with any corpse.

It is not at all an easy experiment to produce a wound on the side of a dead person with a Roman lance, obtaining the separated emission of blood and serum. It would have been just as hard to keep the corpse wrapped in the sheet for about thirty hours avoiding the putrefaction, especially because this phenomenon is accelerated after a death caused by many traumas.

Another difficulty not less would have been to foresee that it was possible to obtain an image so rich in details from a corpse; at the end, it would have been impossible to remove the sheet from the corpse without causing a tear or a movement that would have altered the borders of the blood traces. The artificial production of the Shroud today is still impossible; and in the Middle Ages even more so.

5. Why the Shroud is the funeral sheet of Christ

There is a perfect coincidence between the narrations about the Passion of Christ in the Gospels and what we can see on the Shroud, even for the “personalised” details of the torture.

  • The scourging as a punishment by itself, too abundant to be the prelude of crucifixion (120 lashes instead of the usual 21) 

  • The crowing with thorns was a very unusual event. 

  • The carrying of the patibulum. 

  • The nailing on the cross instead of the more common method with ropes. 

  • The absence of crucifragium 

  • The wound on the side, made after death, with the emission of blood and serum. 

  • The lack of washing of the corpse (because of the violent death and the hurried burial). 

  • The wrapping of the corpse in a precious cloth and the entombment in one tomb instead of a common grave. 

  • The short time in the sheet. 

Shroud face in ultraviolet negative
Shroud face in
ultraviolet negative
(G.B. Judica Cordiglia)

Valuating with a probability calculus 100 statements formulated in favour or against the Shroud authenticity, the engineer Giulio Fanti, teacher at the Padua University, and Emanuela Marinelli obtained this result: it is more probable the fact that comes out the same number at the roulette game for 52 times running rather that the Shroud is not Jesus of Nazareth's burial sheet.

6. Suitable clues for the Resurrection thesis

The body of the Man of the Shroud doesn’t have any sign of putrefaction; it was wrapped in the sheet for 30-36 hours.

The formation of the image could be explained with a photoradiant effect linked to the Resurrection.

There isn’t any trace of movement of the sheet on the body. It is as if it suddenly lost its volume.

7. Objections to the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud

The dating was made by the laboratories of Oxford, Tucson and Zurich. The result, 1260-1390 A.D. was announced on October 13, 1988 and published in Nature on February 16, 1989.

7.1 - The method limits and the non applicability to the Shroud

  • Today some of the postulates on which the method is based are questioned.

  • There are sensational cases of wrong dating due to contaminations that are impossible to eliminate. The Egyptian mummy 1770 kept in the Manchester Museum, for example, has given different dates for the bones and the bandages. In the first dating the bandages appeared to be 800-1000 years younger than the bones and in the second dating they appeared to be  220-460 years younger than the bones. Further dating of this mummy continued to give controversial results, possibly due to the resins and ointments used in the mummification process.

  • Peculiarity of the object that is a “unicum”.

  • The sheet suffered many vicissitudes (fires, restorations, water, exposition to nature, to candle smoke, to believers breath, etc.) and then it was subject to many alterations and contaminations.

Egyptian mummy kept in Manchester
Egyptian mummy kept in the
Museum of Manchester (I. Wilson)
Exhibition of May 11, 1578
Exhibition in 1578 (G.M. Pugno)

7.2 - Perplexities on the procedures of the examination and suspicions of its correctness

7.3 - The fire and the biological patina

The high temperature reached during the fire in Chambéry (the case with the Shroud burned during the fire on December 4, 1532) could have caused exchanges of isotopes increasing the radiocarbon, so that the material results in proportion “younger”.  

Some bacteria present on the linen surface, through their enzymatic action, can chemically link alkylic groups to the cellulose. These groups contain carbon coming from the local environment. Even when the bacteria are cleaned off, the cellulose modifications still remain.

We have to underline that the transformations of linen caused by the fire and the microbial action has a chemical and not a physical nature: that’s why the solvents and the cleaning methods used by the laboratories for the radiocarbon dating remove the physical contamination, such as dirt, but don’t remove the groups containing carbon because they form chemical links directly with the cellulose molecules.

Leoncio Garza Valdés, researcher at the Microbiology Institute of the Universith of Texas Health Science Center (USA) affirms that, on a Shroud sample he received unofficially from Giovanni Riggi, he identified a biological complex made of fungi and bacteria covering the threads like a patina that can not be eliminated through normal cleaning methods. This factor would have distorted the radiocarbon dating. 

7.4 - A mending of the XVI century

Joe Marino and Sue Benford have submitted to three textile experts, independently and without saying that they were of the Shroud, a series of photographs of one of the samples taken in 1988 for the radiocarbon dating and of the remaining part that it was not used. All the three have recognized a different weaving on one side. According to the calculations of the Beta Analytic, one of the greatest service for radiocarbon dating at a world-wide level, a mixture of 60% of material of the 16th century with 40% of material of the 1st century would carry to a 13th century dating. The proportion of more recent material has been estimated on the basis of what was observed by the three textiles experts.

Raymond N.  Rogers, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA,  who was a member of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project), the group of American scientists who examined the Shroud in 1978, carried out interesting observations. Rogers had linen fibers (of which the Shroud is composed) coming both from the zone of the sampling for the radiocarbon analysis (where it was made a previous sampling examined by the Belgian textile expert Gilbert Raes in 1973), and from others zones of the Shroud.

The fibers of the Raes sample appear covered and impregnated by a yellow-brown amorphous substance, whose color varies of intensity from one fiber to the other. The fibers coming from the main cloth of the Shroud do not show such a covering.
Fibrils of cotton of the type Gossypium herbaceum, an ancient Near Eastern variety, were identified in the Raes sample. In the main cloth of the Shroud there is only some small trace of it.

The Raes threads, like those of the Holland cloth (sewn as a  backing cloth by the Clare nuns of Chambéry after the 1532 fire) and of modern linen, have much less lignin at growth joints compared to the fibers of the main cloth of the Shroud. In the sample of Raes, traces of alizarin (Madder root) on crystals of calcite and binded to hydrous aluminum oxide, probable residual of a mordant (alum) were found. A mordant and alizarin mixture can produce the wished tonality of yellow. These incrustations does not attack themselves to the linen while they cover a lot the cotton. This last one, therefore, can have been added in order to render the coloration possible, so that the comparison of the color with the main cloth of the Shroud could be made easier. Inside, the center of the colored cotton thread appears clear, therefore the used liquid was viscous and was applied by wiping. Before the coloration, the threads were treated with starch. The covering of the fibers is almost surely a yellow plant gum, most probably gum Arabic, used diffusely in past times for textile applications.

The difference between the fibrils of the Raes sample and those of the main cloth of the Shroud brings Rogers to assert that the samples used for the radiocarbon dating are not representative of the Shroud.

Rogers has moreover observed an overlap in the middle of a thread of the Raes sample. A darker thread is twisted in a larger and lighter thread. It is clearly noted a splice. An "invisible mending" was possible in the 16th century with great skill. In 1982 a thread of the Raes sample was already dated with the radiocarbon method in California. Half thread appeared covered by starch. The thread was divided into halves: the not starched part turned out to date back to 200 A. D., while the starched part gave a date of 1200 A. D.

Rogers said one dating test, which measures the gradual disappearance of the compound vanillin in linen, found it was present in the zone analyzed in 1988 but not on the main body of the Shroud. He said linens found with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to the time of Christ, also show no vanillin. He estimated the Shroud could be anywhere from 1,300 to 3,000 years old.

7.5 - The irradiation

Three Italian researchers, the Prof. Mario Moroni, the Eng. Francesco Barbesino and the Dr. Maurizio Bettinelli, carried out important experiments on cloths of an Egyptian mummy: such samples irradiated with a neutronic flux and subsequently thermically treated simulating the Chambéry fire, resulted to the radiocarbon dating younger than about 1100 years respect to their real age.

The experiments of the biophysicist Jean-Baptiste Rinaudo, researcher of nuclear medicine in Montpellier, are very interesting. According to this scientist the acid oxidation of the superficial fibrils of the Shroud in the images, the tridimensional information of the figure, the vertical projection of the points can be explained through an irradiation of protons emitted by the body under the effect of an unknown energy force. The experiments carried out on linen materials produced results that can be compared to the Shroud. It is interesting how the following artificial ageing of the samples reinforces the colouring of the oxidations obtained. J.-B. Rinaudo believes that atoms of Deuterio, present in the organic matter, are involved in this phenomenon: it is the element that needs less energy to extract a proton from its nucleus which is made by a proton and a neutron. It is a stable nucleus, therefore to break it, a great energy force was necessary. The produced protons would have caused the image, while the neutrons would have irradiated the material with a following increase of radiocarbon which would have distorted the dating.

At the ENEA (Ente per le Nuove tecnologie, l’Energia e l’Ambiente,  National Council  for New Technology, Energy and the Environment) in Frascati (Rome) some linen cloths have been irradiated with an excimer laser, an apparatus that emits a high intensity UV radiation. The results, when compared with the Shroud image, show interesting analogies and confirm the possibility that the image has been provoked by a directional ultraviolet radiation. These results are compatible with the hypothesis of the image formation due to a crown effect, since the crown effect generates an ultraviolet radiation. The linen coloration becomes more intense as time passes.

Another important study was carried out by August Accetta, an American doctor who performed an experiment on himself: he injected in his veins a solution of methylene/diphosphate, containing technetium-99m, a radioisotope decaying rapidly. Every technetium atom gives out a single gamma ray, which can be detected by a special sensing device. Dr. Accetta aimed at creating an image resulting from a radiation given out by a human body. According to Dr. Accetta, the image on the Shroud may have been caused by the energy given off inside Christ’s body in the very moment of His Resurrection. The images Dr. Accetta got are very similar to those we can see on the Shroud and, in fact, this experiment reaches the threshold of the mystery of that image which reminds us of the central mystery of faith.

7.6 - Three new analysis

Three new analysis, performed by ing. Giulio Fanti, associated professor of Mechanical and Thermic Measurements at the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Padua, date the Shroud back to Christ's time.

Some fibers of the relic have been subjected to two chemical dates, based on the vibrational spectroscopy. The basic idea is that time degrades the polymers of the fibers, altering their chemical structure, so that the concentrations of certain groups of atoms, typical of cellulose, vary according to the aging of the samples, groups that vibrational spectroscopy manages to recognize and count.

After the correction of a systematic effect that is 452 year old, due to the Chambéry fire, the dating of the Shroud through vibrational spectroscopic analysis FT-IR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) resulted with dating back to 300 b. C. ±400 years with a 95% level of confidence. The Raman vibrational analysis provided a dating of the Relic back to 200 b. C. ±500 years, still with a 95% level of confidence. Both vibrational datings result compatible with the date of 1st century A.D. when Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine.

The third dating method is mechanical, result of ing. Pierandrea Malfi's work for achieving a master degree in Mechanical Engineering, under Fanti's supervision. To perform the mechanical experimental tests on the linen fibers, a traction machine for vegetal textile fibers has been specially designed and built.

The basic idea is that in this case the decaying of the polymeric chains of the fibers caused by time, going to break them and change their order of mutually displaying into space, is able to modify their mechanical properties so that the property can be used in order to date them. In fact, the result was that five mechanical properties vary in a biunique way as time passes. The multi-parametric mechanical dating obtained on these five significant parameters, combined among themselves, led to the Relic dating back to 400 A.D. ±400 years with a 95% level of confidence.

The average of the resulting values of the two chemical datings and of the mechanical one provides the most probable date of the Shroud of 33 b. C. ±250 years with a 95% level of confidence.