The Shroud of Turin – What about All the Evidence?
John Lee, Johannesburg – The Shroud of Turin is, conceivably, the most precious relic of Christianity.
Botanical evidence from the Shroud places its origins in Jerusalem — botanist Avinoam Danin of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has said the analysis of plant and flower imprints on the Shroud, coupled with pollen grains, reveals species of plants that could be found only in March and April in the Jerusalem region centuries ago.
This calls into question the controversial 1988 findings of a group of scientists based on carbon-dating tests that the Shroud dates back only to the 13th or 14th century, which led to the conclusion that the Shroud was a medieval forgery.
However, the erroneous date was arrived at because the samples used were taken from a side strip of the Shroud, had frequently been touched, and only one type of solvent was used—not enough to remove contamination.
Comparison of the Shroud has also been made with the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be the burial facecloth of Jesus. (The Sudarium has been in the cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the 8th century and claims a documentary trail back to the 1st century.)
Dr Danin said many of the pollen grains on both cloths come from a thorny thistle plant which has bloomed in Palestine between March and April for millennia.
There is abundant proof of the Shroud’s authenticity:
- The weaving technique of the fabric is consistent with 1st century Palestine.
- The fabric contains cotton—wool would have violated Jewish law.
- A dirt sample from the foot area contains a relatively rare form of calcium carbonate, matching that found in Jerusalem.
- The Shroud contains pollen grains from plants found in Palestine flourishing in soil with high salt content (such as the Dead Sea area).
- The Shroud shows the crucifixion nails through the wrists (as was the custom) and not the hands as in all artistic representations of the crucifixion over the centuries.
- The crown of thorns was cap-shaped and not the circlet of traditional artistic representations, which a forger would have used.
- The bloodstains on the Shroud and on the Ovieto Sudarium are of the same blood type.
- The flow of blood on the Shroud is consistent with that of a V-shaped cross-beam. A forger would have used the horizontal type of traditional representation.