Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Argument From the Shroud - The Shroud Itself (Part 1 A)

Before anything else I'd just like to point out that I have gotten most of my information here (23/24ths of it) from Ian Wilson's book “The Shroud: Solving The 2000-Year-Old Mystery”. I highly recommend this book, though I add to such a recommendation that I disagree with Wilson's views on the medieval re-weave – but that's for another post.

Though it is inevitably the image on the Shroud that concerns us, the physical properties can be very telling in and of themselves. The Shroud of Turin is roughly 14.5 feet long by 3.5 feet wide and is made out of yellow linen.1 Linen is made from the flax of Linum usitatissum which “is native to a region from the eastern Mediterranean to India”.2 More importantly, linen was used greatly for clothing “in ancient Egypt...[and] the ancient classical world, including Rome and Palestine”.3 The Shroud has a “'Z' twist”, meaning that “whoever held the original spindle” in its production “rotated it clockwise”.4 This is significant as it rules out an ancient Egyptian origin as their linen had the reverse twist.5

Interestingly, the Shroud was probably once part of an even larger sheet, evidenced by a “seam that runs the Shroud's full length, just under three and a half inches below its top edge”.6 This assertion, made by Dr. Flury-Lemberg, is backed up by the selvedge (“the weaver-finished edging at the left and right sides of a piece of fabric as it comes off the loom”)7 at the top and bottom edges of the Shroud.8

Most exciting of Dr. Flury-Lumberg's discoveries was on the backside of the cloth at the location of the mentioned seam; the “highly unusual technical characteristics” of the seam had only been seen by her in one other set of textiles – those “found at Masada, the historic Dead Sea fortress”, which dates to the first century.9

The actual weave of the Shroud is a “three-to-one herringbone twill”, a very “rare and”, one characterized “of a highly skilled professional” if made before the Industrial Revolution.10 We know that such a weave was used in pre-medieval times from silk weaves found in Syria, Holborough, “Trier, Conthey, Riveauville and Cologne”.11 However, there has not been a medieval parallel of such a weave.12 More parallels with a “three-to-one twill” date even closer to Christ's time with the discovery of textiles at the “Roman fort of Krokodilo.”13 The textiles there have been dated between 100 and 120 C.E.14

Some of the damage on the Shroud also indicates how it has been folded in the past; one comes from a series of “'triple-burn-hole' fire damage” marks that are repeated on the Shroud four times.15 This set of burn-marks are mirror images of one another when the Shroud is folded in four.16

Another set of marks are those of water stains which many had assumed were there from when the Shroud caught fire in 1532.17 What is significant is that a second set of earlier water stains were identified by Dr. Flury-Lumber and “Italian photographer Aldo Gurreschi” independently.18 These marks do not correlate to the 1532 fire damage as the folding pattern is different.19 Nor do they correlate to the previously described burn-holes as there was no attempt to extinguish the flames that made those holes.20 The only found way for these marks to have been formed is when the Shroud is folded in an “accordion-type folding arrangement”21, a style found in antiquity such as the liber linteus.22 The water stains were replicated when Gurreschi placed a cloth folded in this fashion into a replica of the jar the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in.23 It was then replicated again in 2004 for a documentary using the same method.24

Obviously we can't over-state our case here at this point. Thus far it seems very likely though that the Shroud was constructed in a time closer to, and possibly in, the time of Christ compared to the medieval era. This alone of course doesn't prove anything as a forger could have simply used a cloth preserved from this time period. However, as we will see in the next section, the idea of a forgery is going to become a lot harder to accept.

There is one very significant thing about this though; if the cloth can only be identified with ancient techniques, then this suggests (not disproves) that something with the carbon dating went wrong.

1 Robert K. Wilcox, The Truth About The Shroud of Turin, pp. 2
2 Ian Wilson, The Shroud: Solving The 2000-Year-Old Mystery, Kindle Location 1451
3 Ibid, 1452
4 Ibid, 1454
5 Ibid, 1455
6 Ibid, 1469-1470
7 Ibid, 5904-5905
8 Ibid, 1470
9 Ibid, 1488-1489
10 Ibid, 1512-1515
11 Ibid, 1531-1534
12 Ibid, 1526
13 Ibid, 1535-1538 citing from Sheffer and Granger-Taylor, 1994
14 Ibid, 1539-1540 citing from Sheffer and Granger-Taylor, 1994
15 Ibid, 1596-1603
16 Ibid, 1603-1604
17 Ibid, 1606-1609
18 Ibid, 1609-1611 citing Flury-Lemberg, 2003, pp.42–7
19 Ibid, 1611
20 Ibid, 1611-1612
21 Ibid, 1612-1614
22 Ibid, 1626-1627 citing Soric, A. Rendic-Miocevic et al, Katalog Pisati Etruscanski, Muzej MTM Zagreb, 1986
23 Ibid, 1632-1635
24 Ibid, 1643-1644 citing Secrets of The Dead IV: The Shroud of Christ which aired on PBS in the U.S.A.

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