Monday, February 6, 2012

Why does the Turin Shroud appear to have scorched-in crease marks? Tell-tale signature for medieval forging?

 The standard model - linen draped loosely over the body contours

I had an idea this morning while out on a stroll. Most of the Shroud literature refers to a cloth that is loosely draped over the supposed body of the crucified  Christ. That is then the starting point (all too often) for some frankly amazing speculation about an image being projected onto a cloth (Quite how that is supposed to happen without an imaging system – converging lens etc – or a source of (non-supernatural) radiation is anyone’s guess). Some even seem to imagine that loosely draped cloth being at least momentarily and miraculously spread out flat immediately prior to capturing the image, or so it would seem when one encounters references to "foreshortening" and other effects borrowed from photography and optics generally.

But my model, or rather John Jackson’s plus a supporting bed of sand (the latter being my finishing touch –  does not have a real person, 1stcentury AD or otherwise, but a metal replica, e.g. a bronze statue, one that is heated and then thrust DOWNWARDS with a degree of force into the linen with that all-important backing bed of sand. 

Now think about it: a loosely draped-over sheet creates at most gentle folds, without creases, but being forced into a bed of sand where the cloth gets pushed first this way, then another, is likely to create creases. And those creases, or at any rate some of them, might be captured for all time, so to speak, were they to be forced to make contact with hot metal and then scorched along the new apposed edges. Where would such creases be most prominent? Surely over those parts of a bronze where there is the most abrupt change of relief, e.g. at the end of the chin? 

I could not wait to get home and have another look at the Shroud images. Somewhere at the back of my mind was a recollection of having seen just such creases.

Hallelujah – exactly as predicted. There are indications of prominent crease-like marks in the head region alone – one at the base of the chin, and one where the temple turns through almost 90 degrees to become the top of the head (the latter being un-imaged – worthy of a post in itself). 

Negative image (as seen by eye). Note prominent line at chin level, and a fainter one at the top of head

Here's a comparison of negative v positive images. Both lines are now clearly visible.

Obviously I am restricted to available images of the Shroud, but is there any other useful information that might be gained by looking at those crease-like marks at greater magnification?

Here’s a close -up:

 Seems to be a double-track, like a railway line, rather than a single line

Further magnified
(Note the interesting extra kink in the middle that widens the "track")

Notice that the mark is a railway track-like feature with two outer dark lines and a lighter space in-between.(That's "railroad track" in US parlance).  The dark lines are presumably the result of the same scorching process that produced the main image - the one I call thermo-printing. The intermediate light area is presumably a non-scorched intermediate zone.   Already, and possibly prematurely, I found myself wondering about the geometry of creasing, i.e. which is “inside” and which is “outside” on that crease. Having done so, back-of-envelope style (I reserve the right to have second thoughts) and this being a blog that describes a journey, not the final destination, which incidentally I shamelessly edit and re-edit, I decided to go for broke and add a last paragraph.

Here’s a little piccy I’ve just knocked off on MS Paint to indicate how think those two crease (?) marks could have arisen in a sand bed model. The linen has got rucked slightly to form invaginations, i.e. “creases” in common parlance (sorry ladies, but that seems the most apt appropriate terminology) the U-shaped  interiors of which are protected from conducted heat by slight separation from hot metal, so would appear as that white strip between the two parallel tracks when the cloth is flattened out. 

 Modelling the origin of two scorched-in creases in the Turin Shroud: green - head of heated bronze effigy; white- linen shroud; brown - scorch mark (note two interruptions); blue - cold spot in crease; yellow - sand bed

The aim is to illustrate beyond any shadow of doubt that a 3D object pushed into sand-supported linen can produce scorched-in creasing around major and abrupt changes in relief, and importantly ONLY at those regions.

Conclusion: I regard those two crease marks as evidence for the image having been formed by applying force, consistent with my thermo-printing model, especially with a backing bed of sand. The scorched-in creases would seem to me to be inconsistent with any model that has fabric loosely draped over a 3D subject – living, dead or inanimate. Now please refer again to the title of this post.  Are those creases not a signature for the Shroud having been produced as a forgery, using a replica, e.g. bronze statue, of the crucified Christ?

Postscript: some further predictions that could be made from the sand bed model (although the fourth, a late addition, is perhaps more by way of explanation than prediction):

1. The weave would show greater separation, i.e. stretching,  of yarn fibres  - warp and weft - over the prominences of a metal effigy - the bridge of the nose etc.

2. There could be adhering or impressed sand (?) particles on the reverse side of each image region.

3. Image regions could have traces of metal oxides, eg those of copper and tin if a bronze effigy had been used

4.The ventral (frontal) image would have to inconveniently end at the tip of a toe with no surplus sheet beyond the foot  - since an overlong sheet would have risked imprinting both sides of the feet (think how it would respond to pushing into a sand bed)!  It does seem odd that the Shroud ends precisely at a foot in both ventral and dorsal views, which is somewhat unexpected, is it not? Would one not expect a burial cloth to have had sufficient surplus at the two free ends to permit easy sewing up.  The total length (over 14 feet) of linen was surely sufficient to allow that?

I have always felt there was something not quite right about the position of the feet, right at the end of the Shroud).

1 comment:

sciencebod said...

Here's some spin-off from this post and its focus on those scorched-in creases. A post has just appeared on the Shroud of Turin site which as ever is being highly dogmatic, and in all probability wrong, wrong, wrong about "banding" in the linen.

link to banding

It claims that the gauntness of the face is due to the presence of "darker" bands of linen that effectively narrow the image (presumably by obscuring image).

Firstly, the image shown is the as-is Shroud image (a pseudo-negative) but light/dark restored positive obtained on a silver salt emulsion, so the putative bands are not darker bands, but lighter bands, contrary to what is stated.

But more importantly, the blogger has omitted to consider the implications of the scorched-in crease mark at approx beard level. If a band had influenced the intensity of the image, making part of it seem to be invisible, or scarcely visible, then it should have affected the scorched-in crease mark too. But it did not - the latter with its twin track appearance looks roughly the same all the way acroos, including the right and left cheeks.

What seems more probable is that the non-imprinted regions are little if anything to do with the colour of the yarn. They represent parts of a statue or bas relief template that failed to imprint - the most likely reason being that plane of the metal was sub-optimal relative to linen to have pressure and close contact, and consequently less intense scorching.