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View Full Version : The continuing mystery of the Shroud of Turin



ColoradoGuy
11-06-2010, 04:10 AM
There's an interesting new book (http://www.borders.com.au/book/shroud-the-2000-year-old-mystery-solved/2966055/) out by Ian Wilson about the Shroud of Turin. It's called (unsurprisingly, if somewhat pretentiously) The Shroud: A 2000-year-old Mystery Solved. It really doesn't solve anything, but it elaborates (and gives data) on several hypotheses that the author first made thirty years ago. I've always found the question fascinating. There's a good review by John Ray (http://www.shroudtv.com/files/tls-review.pdf) of it in the October 29 Times Literary Supplement. (Ray is a noted Egyptologist, and should know a thing or two about burial shrouds and the like.)

For those who don't know what the Shroud is, it's got its own website (http://www.shroud.com/), its own blog (http://shroudofturin.wordpress.com/), and its own society (http://www.shroud.com/bsts4401.htm). It purports to be the burial shroud of Jesus, imprinted with His image. The common wisdom, based upon radiocarbon dating done in 1988, has been that the Shroud is a fourteenth century fabrication. Wilson argues that it is more complicated than that.

For one thing, pollen evidence from the fabric suggests that the shroud has been in Anatolia, and limestone residues on it are similar to those found in the Holy Land. The alleged forger has also included several other things that would seem excessive for his (or her) purposes. There turns out to be a second image on the other side of the cloth which is essentially invisible. There are no brush strokes of any sort, and the image has a three-dimensional aspect of a sort unknown in any other work of art from the Middle Ages or before. The blood stains on the image also predate the image itself.

Wilson thinks the Shroud is actually a relic known as the Mandylion of Edessa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_of_Edessa), a Byzantine artifact that disappeared with the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. If so, that would at least get it to Europe. But how could the image have been placed on the cloth? If it is a forgery, as the experts maintain (in opposition to millions of believers), in the words of the reviewer: " . . . this man could have taught things to Leonardo." The forger would be "an artist of astonishing sophistication," with artistic abilities that are not in evidence in any other work of the era. In short, a genius who left us nothing else besides the Shroud. Wilson asks: "Is it easier to believe in such a person, or to accept that there are things that are beyond our understanding, and the Shroud is one of them? Perhaps the truth is that the religious people are afraid that the Shroud will turn out to be a work of art, and the art historians are afraid that it will not."

Anyway, I recommend reading Ray's review -- it's quite short and well worth it. The book itself I haven't read yet.

Calla Lily
11-06-2010, 04:26 AM
WARNING: Irreverent post follows.


Interesting review. I fall into the "it's an amazingly clever forgery" camp. Although part of me wants to believe Doctor Who showed up after the Crucifixion, used Time Lord technology to take the pic, hung around till after dawn on Easter Sunday, and then took the cloth for awhile to keep it safe. Because look what you've got on that morning: several panicky women and men, plus various authority figures with weapons and permission to use them, all trying to deal with a) a missing corpse and b) the walking, talking, non-dead. Who among them is going to say, "Hey, gang, ya think we should hang onto the shroud? It may be valuable one day."

Another part of me thinks it would be totally cool if the shroud really was an image of Jesus. Doesn't affect my faith either way. I'm just interested in it from a historical POV.

Ruv Draba
11-06-2010, 05:22 AM
I'm a big believer in doing science that changes lives, but I don't see how this does. On any other artefact, radiocarbon dating to the Middle Ages would have settled any argument on provenance, but on this artefact there's a vested interest in keeping debate alive.

But people will venerate stuff anyway -- especially something old that resembles their favourite myths.

It's not even worth skepticism. Go ahead, say I. Let's all agree to treat it as mysterious and possibly authentic because it's a pretty cool-looking item with no residual scientific value. Venerate away! But in exchange, all those academics trying debunk or rebunk it to pad their citations lists have to agree to go and do some research for human benefit.

Let's agree that it's mysterious and wonderful, but let's also agree not to claim that it's magical, because it's not. Even the Roman Catholic church doesn't claim otherwise.

rugcat
11-06-2010, 05:36 AM
Really interesting. I hope Dan Brown doesn't get hold of this.

And I don't see anything there that can't be explained with two words: space aliens.

Seriously, thanks CG. That's fascinating.

Maxx
11-08-2010, 06:01 PM
There's an interesting new book (http://www.borders.com.au/book/shroud-the-2000-year-old-mystery-solved/2966055/) out by Ian Wilson about the Shroud of Turin. It's called (unsurprisingly, if somewhat pretentiously) The Shroud: A 2000-year-old Mystery Solved. It really doesn't solve anything, but it elaborates (and gives data) on several hypotheses that the author first made thirty years ago. I've always found the question fascinating. There's a good review by John Ray (http://www.shroudtv.com/files/tls-review.pdf) of it in the October 29 Times Literary Supplement. (Ray is a noted Egyptologist, and should know a thing or two about burial shrouds and the like.)

For those who don't know what the Shroud is, it's got its own website (http://www.shroud.com/), its own blog (http://shroudofturin.wordpress.com/), and its own society (http://www.shroud.com/bsts4401.htm). It purports to be the burial shroud of Jesus, imprinted with His image. The common wisdom, based upon radiocarbon dating done in 1988, has been that the Shroud is a fourteenth century fabrication. Wilson argues that it is more complicated than that.

For one thing, pollen evidence from the fabric suggests that the shroud has been in Anatolia, and limestone residues on it are similar to those found in the Holy Land. The alleged forger has also included several other things that would seem excessive for his (or her) purposes. There turns out to be a second image on the other side of the cloth which is essentially invisible. There are no brush strokes of any sort, and the image has a three-dimensional aspect of a sort unknown in any other work of art from the Middle Ages or before. The blood stains on the image also predate the image itself.

Wilson thinks the Shroud is actually a relic known as the Mandylion of Edessa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_of_Edessa), a Byzantine artifact that disappeared with the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. If so, that would at least get it to Europe. But how could the image have been placed on the cloth? If it is a forgery, as the experts maintain (in opposition to millions of believers), in the words of the reviewer: " . . . this man could have taught things to Leonardo." The forger would be "an artist of astonishing sophistication," with artistic abilities that are not in evidence in any other work of the era. In short, a genius who left us nothing else besides the Shroud. Wilson asks: "Is it easier to believe in such a person, or to accept that there are things that are beyond our understanding, and the Shroud is one of them? Perhaps the truth is that the religious people are afraid that the Shroud will turn out to be a work of art, and the art historians are afraid that it will not."

Anyway, I recommend reading Ray's review -- it's quite short and well worth it. The book itself I haven't read yet.

Perhaps its a forgery of a relic. Or a creative fabrication or re-creation of a relic. There were plenty of relics of dubious origin (for example, several dozen foreskins of Our Lord, according to one slanderous fabrication). I'm not sure about the dating or the pollen, but the cloth could have been made in Anatolia and the relic created in Constantinople which was a relatively advanced place in terms of technical options. I'm sure the Byzantines could have taught Leonardo something as could plenty of other people.

Perks
11-08-2010, 06:18 PM
Really interesting. I hope Dan Brown doesn't get hold of this.

Oh, you had to say it, didn't you?

darkprincealain
11-09-2010, 10:38 PM
Doesn't bother me one way or another, but it is interesting. Thanks for the link, CG. :D

Gillhoughly
11-10-2010, 05:54 AM
based upon radiocarbon dating done in 1988, has been that the Shroud is a fourteenth century fabricationI saw a TV show on that one, and it mentioned that the bits of fabric they tested were indeed 14th century--that part of the shroud had been damaged and skillfully repaired at that time. The "new" threads were seamlessly rewoven into the main piece, which explains why one test has one date range, and another thread has a much older date range.

The scientists were hoping to get some threads from a less compromised section of the cloth.

I wonder why anyone would want to keep the cloth, too, unless it was to show to doubting disciples. I'm unclear on Jewish law/custom concerning burials for that period, and am curious if there were restrictions in place about handling used burial shrouds.

But for an appropriate quote on belief from Dr. Who (http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/15-3.htm):

TYLER: Look, you know that I don't believe in all that.

MARTHA: Most round here do. And when most believe, that do make it true.

TYLER: Most people used to believe that the Earth was flat, but it was still round.

MARTHA: Ah ha, but they behaved as if 'twere flat!

RandomJerk
11-10-2010, 08:24 PM
http://www.fixedearth.com/

Albedo
11-15-2010, 04:28 PM
http://www.fixedearth.com/

I...

That's some deep crazy. I'm going to be busy tonight, uncovering the truth of the Copernican Heresy!

Maxx
11-15-2010, 05:34 PM
MARTHA: Ah ha, but they behaved as if 'twere flat!

They did? They learned to breathe rareified air as the oxygen was sucked away by the gigantic elephants underneath?

Albedo
11-15-2010, 06:26 PM
I...

That's some deep crazy. I'm going to be busy tonight, uncovering the truth of the Copernican Heresy!

Aye, this rabbit hole, it doesn't appear to have a bottom.


WHAT IF - Kepler's mother was a witch and he was raised a warlock assigned to bump Brahe off (HERE (http://www.fixedearth.com/brahe_poisoned.htm)), wreck his work, steal his records, and twist them to promote Copernicanism and help pave the way for evolutionism (which he wrote about 250 years before Darwin)?What if indeed, gentlemen? What if indeed.

Ruv Draba
11-15-2010, 11:23 PM
I...

That's some deep crazy. I'm going to be busy tonight, uncovering the truth of the Copernican Heresy!Dig hard, Albedo. I went four links deep and still only got boogabooga conspiracy allegations and book promotions. Still couldn't find out what's wrong with Copernicus. If you locate it, please quotate it. :)

Julie Worth
11-15-2010, 11:35 PM
But how could the image have been placed on the cloth? If it is a forgery, as the experts maintain (in opposition to millions of believers), in the words of the reviewer: " . . . this man could have taught things to Leonardo." The forger would be "an artist of astonishing sophistication," with artistic abilities that are not in evidence in any other work of the era. In short, a genius who left us nothing else besides the Shroud. Wilson asks: "Is it easier to believe in such a person, or to accept that there are things that are beyond our understanding, and the Shroud is one of them? Perhaps the truth is that the religious people are afraid that the Shroud will turn out to be a work of art, and the art historians are afraid that it will not."

Astonishing sophistication! More like astonishing simplicity. Take one naked man, coat him with pigment, wrap him, press down, unwrap, and you're done.

Bring me a naked man and a bolt of linen and I'll show you.

Maxx
11-16-2010, 12:13 AM
Astonishing sophistication! More like astonishing simplicity. Take one naked man, coat him with pigment, wrap him, press down, unwrap, and you're done.

Bring me a naked man and a bolt of linen and I'll show you.

Surely the invention of conceptual art (by the Venetians pretending to be Byzantines? what a concept) is more miraculous than having
a major cosmic being avoid annihilation at the hands of the local
warlords.

Albedo
11-16-2010, 05:28 AM
Dig hard, Albedo. I went four links deep and still only got boogabooga conspiracy allegations and book promotions. Still couldn't find out what's wrong with Copernicus. If you locate it, please quotate it. :)

I can try to summarise what I've read so far:

* Evil Jews invented both heliocentrism and evolutionary biology to destroy the biblically sound geocentrist model of the universe.
* Geocentrism is obviously the correct answer, because if the Earth was moving we'd feel a strong breeze.
* We are all educated stupid and can only be cured by buying this chap's book.
* Mathematics is a Kabbalist plot.
* There is something called Saganism (where do I sign up?)
* For that matter, "[...]a cadre of latter-day Saganite cyberpunks have admittedly turned computer-programmed space technology into a Virtual Reality video game that aids and abets the Kabbalic Kosmology."

There's much, much more to it than this, of course, but I've already got a headache. Why are these unhinged websites always in multicoloured text? Don't they know it's hard to receive a revelation through a migraine?

Calla Lily
11-16-2010, 05:36 AM
Now I need to write a minor character who believes all this...

Nah. My betas would say he was unbelievable. :D

Ruv Draba
11-16-2010, 07:15 AM
Bring me a naked man and a bolt of linen and I'll show you.Sounds Youtubable.

Medievalist
11-16-2010, 09:59 AM
There's much, much more to it than this, of course, but I've already got a headache. Why are these unhinged websites always in multicoloured text? Don't they know it's hard to receive a revelation through a migraine?


You just need a proper hat (http://zapatopi.net/afdb/).

Teinz
11-18-2010, 06:00 PM
But how could the image have been placed on the cloth? If it is a forgery, as the experts maintain (in opposition to millions of believers), in the words of the reviewer: " . . . this man could have taught things to Leonardo." The forger would be "an artist of astonishing sophistication," with artistic abilities that are not in evidence in any other work of the era.

The artist might have used a camera obscura. In the fourteenth century, they had both the knowledge and the chemicals to make it work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_obscura

About this fixed-earth nonsense... Some people WANT to be deluded...

veinglory
11-18-2010, 10:18 PM
All the stuff I saw on PBS about how hard the picture would be to make totally overlooked the 'wrap a dirty guy in a sheet' method.

Ruv Draba
11-19-2010, 01:58 AM
Bear in mind that we've had grave-shrouds for millennia, and death-masks since the late Middle Ages. There must be dozens of ways of recording someone's likeness onto cloth, many of them discoverable purely by accident, and I don't see a legitimate historical mystery here. I think the image makes people confabulate mystique around the process, and despite some compelling physical evidence to the contrary, the mystique is used to perpetuate the legitimacy of the image.

RandomJerk
11-19-2010, 06:59 AM
I'm curious what else will be called "the continuing mystery of". Hollow Earth, Flat Earth, Ether, um . . . werewolves?

There is no continuing mystery. There's no mystery. It's not real. Even the proportions of the figure are completely off.

People need to get a hobby.

ColoradoGuy
11-21-2010, 09:45 PM
. . It's not real.

Of course it's real. The question is, real what?


People need to get a hobby.Presumably only a hobby of which you approve.