An Ongoing Mystery: Shroud, part 6

Disclaimer: Though I believe the Shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Christ (as you shall see), I do not believe it to be an object of worship; only Jesus Himself and God the Father are to be worshipped. However, I do believe that the Shroud provides sufficient evidence of the Resurrection. It is for this reason that I present this material. For more information, visit, hosted by Barrie Schwortz; he presents all views on the Shroud, as well as the latest information. To see my complete series, click here.

In 1988, a finger size piece of the Shroud was cut and split into three pieces. Each piece was given to a specific laboratory.[1] The piece was to be carbon dated by each laboratory, only to find that the Shroud dated back only 700 years.[2] Many scientists from various fields doubted that the carbon dating was accurate and decided to do further research of their own.[3] One reason for doubting this dating, besides the fact that many believe the Shroud to be authentic, is the fact that the pieces of cloth given to the laboratories for examination were, according to Dr. Raymond Rogers, “not from the original shroud material, but…part of a medieval patch, woven into the cloth to repair fire damage.”[4] He reasons that “The radiocarbon sample has completely different chemical properties than the main part of the shroud relic.”[5] In fact, the STURP team called for an examination of seven samples from various areas on the Shroud. Instead, three samples were taken, and all from the same place – from the most contaminated area of the Shroud, and probably the place that would give a Middle Ages dating. As a result of the independent research of the scientists, the Shroud can be dated back as far as the 5th or 6th century.[6] It is in the 5th and 6th centuries that artists began depicting the same characteristics in their paintings that are visible on the Shroud![7] To further prove this point, coins were found in the eyes of the Man on the Shroud. These coins were “both minted in Palestine in the year AD 29 under the authority of Pontius Pilate. This is consistent with the tradition then of placing a coin on the eyes of the deceased.”[8] Because of the discovery of the coins, it is guessed that “Two possible dates for the Crucifixion are April 6, AD 30 and April 1, AD 33. The LIZ coin may have been in circulation in April 30, and was definitely available in April 33.”[9] In 1980, Rev. Francis Filas found coins in the eyes of the Man on the Shroud. He said that it was a Roman “lepton.” This coin was minted during the early first century. [10] As William Meacham says, “From this massive conflict between the Shroud and medieval art I believe there can be only one conclusion - that the Shroud image belongs to the 1st millennium.”[11] The question that now arises is “Where did this Shroud cloth come from?” A Swiss criminologist, Dr. Max Frei, was given permission to collect pollen sample from the Shroud of Turin.[12] In a period of ten years, Frei was able to identify fifty-eight different pollen species as coming from Jerusalem, Turkey, France, and Italy.[13] Frei found many pollen grains that were “known only in Palestine.”[14] As Max Frei put it, “The presence of pollen from such plants growing exclusively in the land of the Bible and the surrounding deserts permits only one conclusion – that in some time in its history, the Shroud was exposed to the open air in Palestine.”[15] The particular weave of the Shroud comes from Palestine. “Frei's pollen evidence does indicate a Middle Eastern origin for the cloth…”[16] Also Frei says that there is a big possibility that “the Shroud originated from the time of Christ.”[17] This evidence is supported by botanist Avinoam Danin. He says that he found “pollen grains on the shroud from plants that could only be found in and around Jerusalem” [18] This would place its origins in the Middle East. The thorny plant from which the crown of thorns was made has also been identified in Israel.[19] Interestingly, some of the flower fragments that were found on the Shroud point to flowers that blossom in Jerusalem only in March or April. Remember, Jesus crucifixion was suggested to be April 6, 30 AD.[20] “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”[21] The Sudarium of Oviedo is thought to be the “handkerchief” mentioned here. It is believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus.[22] There are a few amazing parallels between it and the Shroud of Turin. First, Max Frei said that he found pollen grains “known only in Palestine”[23] on the Shroud. Some of the same species of pollen grains have also been found on the Sudarium. Also, the Sudarium has the same AB type blood on it as the Shroud.[24] This further suggests what was previously mentioned about the use of a napkin to bind up the jaw, and it gives amazing proof to the Bible’s accuracy in the burial procedures of the time. In 1978, a group of two dozen scientists[25], commonly referred to as STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project), conducted a series of tests on the Shroud for a period of five continuous days.[26] According to skeptics, this research was bias because, as they say, all of the STURP members were religious. However, according to Barrie Schwortz, the official photographer for STURP, “The scientists were Christians, atheists and Jews. They had no agenda other than to discover the truth.”[27] The tests included X-rays, photographic floodlighting, narrow band ultraviolet light, sticky tape being pressed against the surface and removed, and, as Schwortz says, “performing dozens of tests, taking thousands of photographs, photomicrographs, x-rays and spectra. A total of 120 continuous hours of testing is done, with team members working on different parts of the Shroud simultaneously. This is the most in-depth series of tests ever performed on the Shroud of Turin.”[28] A primary reason for their research was Secondo Pla’s discovery – that the image on the Shroud is a negative.[29] They did not find any dyes on the image to show that it had been painted. However, Raymond Rogers did find dye on the patches of cloth that were weaved onto the Shroud after the 1532 fire. He said, “The area is certainly dyed to match the sepia color of the old [original] cloth. There is ample chemical and microscopic proof of that.”[30] Here is a brief summary of STURP’s conclusions: “No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography. The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations, which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation, which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific consensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately. Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery. We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The bloodstains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.”[31] Barrie Schwortz, a Jew, went into this research highly skeptical. “I fully expected to see brush strokes—essentially a manufactured relic—and walk out…But I've followed the science over 30 years. And when you have eliminated other possibilities, the one remaining—no matter how unlikely—must be the truth.”[32]

Stay tuned for our conclusion to this series!


[1] The Silent Witness, 1978 video recording [2] [3] [4] [5] ibid [6] [7] ibid [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] ibid [14] The Silent Witness, 1978 video recording [15] ibid [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] ibid [21] Power Bible CD 2.5, NKJV, John 20:6-7 [22] [23] The Silent Witness, 1978, video recording [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]


  1. This is a spectacular series on the Shroud. I have always been very interested in its history and significance. Your depth of detail and research is awesome!!!


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