Researchers Find 1988 Dating of the Turin Shroud 'Unreliable,' Call for New Tests

Will Maule | Contributor | Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Researchers Find 1988 Dating of the Turin Shroud 'Unreliable,' Call for New Tests

Researchers Find 1988 Dating of the Turin Shroud 'Unreliable,' Call for New Tests

The Turin Shroud is believed, by many, to be the very cloth within which the bloodied body of Christ was wrapped up after his crucifixion. However, over recent decades, the authenticity of this piece of hallowed fabric has been widely questioned.

Both sides point to scientific testing and research to prove their case, with many believing that the dating of the artifact is inaccurate and that it is actually from the medieval period. Earlier objections included a local Bishop who, in 1390, asserted that the piece was a forgery completed by a local artist – he also insisted that a confession was made to this effect.

Despite the more recent objections that the piece dates later than originally thought, in the ’80s, the Shroud of Turin Research Project encouraged belief in the cloth’s historical validity.

“The Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man… not the product of an artist,” they wrote, according to the Catholic Herald. “No chemical or physical methods known… can account for the totality of the image.”

Since then, questions have continued to swirl regarding both the nature of the piece and the accuracy of its dating.

“The chief complaint is that the three small Shroud test samples were cut from the same outer edge on a piece of the cloth long thought to have been added later in the Middle Ages,” wrote Myra Kahn Adams at Townhall. “This would have been part of a repair or reweave on a corner that had become worn and frayed due to frequent handling when the Shroud was held up for public exhibition.”

As a result of the consistent skepticism, further tests were ordered. Now, in March of this year, a French researcher by the name of Tristan Casabianca completed a set of new tests and analysis using raw data and documents from the original tests that were initially made “unavailable” by the British Museum.

Casabianca’s conclusions were fascinating.

“Our statistical analysis shows that the 1988 carbon 14 dating was unreliable: the tested samples are obviously heterogeneous, [showing many different dates], and there is no guarantee that all these samples, taken from one end of the sheet, are representative of the whole fabric” he said in an interview with L'Homme Nouveau. “It is therefore impossible to conclude that the shroud of Turin dates from the Middle Ages.”

And with that, proponents of the shroud’s authenticity are keen to convince others of its originality.

The Shroud “possesses photographic-negative properties first discovered in 1898, that on the “positive image” clearly show every gruesome, agonizing, torment endured by the “man,” Adams explained. “Additionally, the Shroud displays three-dimensional “distance information” resembling a topographical map but within the cloth’s two-dimensional image of the man.”

“I could go into vast detail about many more fascinating facts,” she concluded. “But the big takeaway is that the more you learn about the Shroud’s mysteries, the more you believe in its authenticity.”

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Researchers Find 1988 Dating of the Turin Shroud 'Unreliable,' Call for New Tests