Monday, November 10, 2014

Checklist of reasons for thinking the Turin Shroud image represents a dried-on sweat imprint. Real 1st century or simulated 14th century?

This blogger's still steering clear of the non-interactive pdf .

IMPORTANT UPDATE (14 November): from viewing responses to this posting elsewhere, this being an example, it's clear that there's been some misunderstanding, due perhaps to an over-concise title.

Here it is again, with a few extra words (bolded).
Checklist of reasons for thinking the Turin Shroud image represents a dried-on sweat imprint. Real 1st century sweat imprint or simulated 14th century sweat imprint?

Oh, and one other thing before returning to the original post:  even if, as I suspect, the TS image was fabricated in the 14th century to look as if it were a sweat  imprint left by the crucified Jesus on a linen shroud, not forgetting blood as well, I doubt whether sweat or any other bodily fluid would have been used to achieve that aim. The practical difficulties would have ruled out that option. Some other technology would have needed to be devised that simulated, dare one say "faked"  the appearance of a sweat imprint. But please note my earlier suggestion that the TS image was not necessarily created in the first instance as a fake. If the technology used was contact scorching, say, it could have been used  on a Mark 0 Shroud to create a grim memento of the fate of one or more of those Templar Knights, slowly roasted to death in Paris 1314, with the image subsequently being 're-ininvented' as the Mark 1 TS by addition of bloodstains and scourge marks. Who knows, the Mark 0 TS may even have been a representation of St.Lawrence of Rome, who also died (allegedly) from being slow-roasted in 258AD.

Here's the original start to this posting:

Today, my wife  and I are in London, meeting in the flesh for the first time two fellow bloggers from the old days with whom we've kept in contact via web forums.  The initial interaction was on the My Telegraph site (2009) which I helped establish in its pilot phase along with half a dozen or so others. Later a spin-off site developed which helped maintain the contact in a friendlier more informal fashion.

We shall be seeing the amazing poppy spectacle at the Tower of London. Up till now I've only seen it from afar and on high (the elevated hospitality suite of the Shard across the river, now open to the general public, by reservation).

Anyway, with that as preamble, I'll be trying to add to the checklist I've started  on this worksheet of reasons for thinking that the Shroud of Turin was designed and produced to represent a notional, i.e. simulated  imprint on linen, as bodily sweat (accounting for the faintness of the body image) and of course the more visible blood.

Sorry, no polished end product just yet. It's the way this blogger operates, and has done since December 2011 with his first 'Shroudie' posting on this blog. What's  described here is a journey, not a final destination. Who knows, I might even end up in the pro-authenticity camp (but it would take another carbon-14 dating to do that, providing an answer like AD 50 +/- 150 years. The chances of that happening are pretty slim, but you never know).

Come to think of it, a sweat imprint is not incompatible with authenticity any more than, say, Rogers' similarly 'naturalistic' model that visualizes a chemical imprinting of putrefaction amines onto a starch/dextrin 'impurity coating. Compatibility and actual hard physical/chemical/biological evidence are of course two entirely different things.

Here then is  the start of the checklist. Hopefully by the end of the day there will be more points. Then comes the task of fleshing out each point to turn a checklist into a mini-thesis. The end-product would be posted here, along with a copy to my dormant TS site whose last posting in March of this year some might find a touch prolix (I certainly do on re-reading). Don't expect a pdf.  To be candid,  while others may disagree,
I do not approve of the pdf format , given it provides no means for posting comments and/or criticism. For me it's either the informality and interactivity of the blog format OR peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals, with no in-betweens (which would include books, newspaper articles and other press releases).

Knowledge is always provisional, with some knowledge more firmly rooted, less provisional than others. There should be no hint or suggestion of 'fait accompli' where the world of knowledge is concerned, certainly not where science is concerned, especially when it centres on an ancient artefact with no accompanying documentation, one rarely open to public view at close quarters, far less detailed and ongoing scientific examination. So this blogger/retired scientist will continue to keep things informal, both now and for the forseeable future.

Checklist in support of sweat imprint (complete links, references etc will be added later)

1. St. Francis de Sales letter to mother from Annecy in 1614 with references not only to blood but to sweat too - his own, his father's and that on the Shroud,(See footnote 1 for sweat-fixated complete text). He clearly perceived the TS body image as a sweat imprint. And why not? What else was he supposed to think?

2. Veronica-like image above the word SUAIRE added to so-called Machy mould for a planned variant of the circa 1355 Lirey badge (whether produced or not, and whether before/after the lead/tin-cast Lirey pilgrim's badge we do not know). (The Lirey badge was produced to commemorate the first recorded appearance of the TS in Europe by shortly to be widowed Jeanne de Vergy, her knightly husband Geoffroi de Charny having been killed at the Battle of Poitiers (1356). Nothing is known about how the couple came to acquire what is presently called the Turin Shroud, it not having moved to House of savoy ownership and later Turin till much later. See site for a more comprehensive summary of the history of the world's "most studied artefact")

Machy mould for a Lirey badge, presumed circa 1355, Machy field where found being just two km from Lirey. Arrows show location of Veronica-like image above word SVAIRE , i.e. SUAIRE  (reversed),  meaning "facecloth" with connotations of sweat.

Enlargement of that presumed Veronica image, compared with a later artistic rendering (one of several) shown in the wiki entry for 'Veil of Veronica'.

3. Offers a rationale for the negative image (as would any direct imprinting off a template).

4.An attempt to rival the Veil of Veronica which according to celebrated art historian Neil MacGregor was the ‘central icon’ of the Roman Church in the 14th century.
See wiki entry for: Veil of Veronica
and British Museum  (Neil MacGregor is its present Director).

5. Offers a route into the kind of options that would have been considered for creating a look-alike sweat imprint. Possibly chemical, or thermochemical, or even just thermal (scorching). But artists’ pigments shunned – aim being to simulate an imprint, not paint a standard portrait.

7. Offers a rationale for the twin image – an imprint from both body surfaces, without imprinting off sides (since latter don’t make contact with a spread out sheet).

8. Explains why the TS image gives dramatic effect on image inversion and 3D-rendering if it was imprinted off a 3D subject in a manner that captures 3D relief as a 2D image, allowing a degree of 2D ->3D-enhanced  ‘reversibility’ in appropriate software (ImageJ etc).

9. Explains (to sceptics) how hair could be credibly imaged through becoming sweat-saturated.

10. Explains why there is no imaging of actual wounds on the TS - blood only. The template was fairly basic - with no wounds (bronze statues etc that attempt to show wounds with or without "blood" are rarely satisfactory, given the lack of flesh and blood character).

Stopped here at 07:00 am.  Have a train to catch.

17:15 back from London, having seen the amazing carpet of ceramic poppies in the 'dry' moat of the Tower of London, one for each of the fallen (888,246 of them!)  in the Great War, 1914-18.

To think that supposedly civilized nations willingly inflicted that level of carnage on their young men, with an entire generation of the brightest and best - plus essential back-up - virtually wiped out.

On the train back, I gave some more thought to that list. Sadly I could only think of another 13 reasons for thinking the TS body image is a sweat imprint, real or simulated. Must do better  ;-)

Is shall add them here this evening, in the same order they were jotted down- in other words, no particular order.Tidying up will come later

Reasons (continued from No.10 above)

11. If not a negative imprinted image, what could it be? A freehand painting? But there's no trace of artists' pigments (STURP 1982 Report), no sign of brush marks, no 'directionality' that gives clues to the direction of illumination.

12. Why the blood trails on hair, supposedly from a crown of thorns? Blood would not form trails on hair - an artists would realize that. Some suggest the separate imaging of hair and body image caused one to be out of stereoregister with the other. There's a simpler explanation. The hair, along with rest of body image, needed additions of conspicuous blood to make it more easily discernible, the hair being virtually indistinguishable in colour  from image-free background.

13. Many have commented on the absence of a loin cloth, arguing that implies authenticity - no medieval artist (or artisan) would have risked offending public decency through showing bare buttocks.
But if a decision had been made to simulate a sweat imprint, there could be no clothing of any description (how could one depict a loin cloth except as some subtle change in the character of the sweat imprint?). In any case, a loin cloth becomes unnecessary on a shroud-enveloped cadaver - the medieval pilgrim would have known that.

14. One has an explanation for why blood stains, scourge marks etc HAD to be shown.  Any attempt to clean up the corpse before placing in a shroud would have removed sweat as well as blood, and would prevent imprinting by this particular mechanism.

15.One has an explanation for two peculiar features of the 1516 Lier copy of the TS that have been pointed out, namely (a) the very prominent buttocks and (b) the bunching of hair into three conspicuous clumps in the dorsal view.

Not only did the artists manage to convey the faintness of the image, but the reasons for it: prominent buttocks could fit with trapping of sweat, clumping of hair likewise. It's hard to think of alternative explanations.

16. The sweat imprint hypothesis vis -a-vis a painted image explains why the soles of feet are shown in the dorsal view. It's unlikely a artist would  have shown the soles, being  content to stop at the heels. But an image produced off a template (or even real human subject) allows for the turning of linen upwards through 90 degrees around the heels along the soles  before securing with the up-and-over top surface to get a 'tight' wrapping.

17. The sweat imprint hypothesis explains the peculiarity of the TS man's neck, the subject of previous postings.  Most recent link. In brief, the unexpected alternation of light and dark transverse bands is interpretable as a weak imaging of the UNDERSIDE of the chin, followed by a stronger imaging where the cloth then meets the neck 'square on'.In other words, fabric followed all the contours, instead of bridging from chin to chest.

18. Speaking of the chin and neck, this blogger has done several postings on the peculiar and distinctive transverse and twin-track crease  that one sees at the junction of chin and neck, and concluded that it's a 'baked-in- crease'.  Link to a recent posting. While those words were chosen to support the view that the TS image was produced by imprinting from a heated template, sufficientlly hot to produce thermal imprint, i.e. scorch, that conclusion would likewise support a sweat imprint hypothesis too, if one supposed that a heat scorch was used to simulate a sweat imprint.

19. Many have  commented on the unnaturally-long fingers on the TS man and their 'boniness', with some even going so far as to posit some kind of X-ray emanations with radiographic imaging. (Yes, seriously!) While I cannot account for the length, simple modelling with hand imprinting, using a sticky spread, shows how fingers that are held together imprint as if separate, due to preferential imprinting of skin directly over bone. Any direct visual evidence such as this for contact imprinting can be legitimately brought forward as evidence for simulated 'sweat imprinting'.

Stopped at 22:40.  Still more to come (tomorrow).

Wed 12 November.

 Here's one more to make a nice round 20 points, each and all of which in aggregate might be said to support that idea of the TS representing a 'sweat imprint' .

20. Something that is difficult to explain without recourse to some kind of pressure-imprinting, aka impaction scenario is the interesting difference in image intensity of the frontal dorsal surfaces. That was not my observation but none other than John P.Jackson's. Moreover, despite the latter's embrace of radiation as the basis for the imaging mechanism, allowing for imprinting  across air gaps (an idea this blogger refuses to accept - no physical atom-to-atom contact, no image) Jackson himself said the dorsal image had more 'direct contact' character. My own explanation was for different geometries  deployed by medieval artisans for imprinting the two surfaces, described as LUWU (Linen Underneath With Underlay) and LOTTO (Linen On Top With Overlay). See this posting for a flavour of these ideas. Note that this addition to the list addresses the alternative mechanism of imprinting,  with more or less impact pressure, assuming that the image is an imprint, but not necessarily intended as a sweat imprint, so is more by way of indirect, rather than direct evidence for imprinting as simulated sweat.

I rest my case (while still looking for more 'smoking guns').


References etc

(1) Annecy, 4 May 1614
Whilst waiting to see you, my very dear Mother, my soul greets yours with a thousand greetings. May God fill your whole soul with the life and death of His Son Our Lord! At about this time, a year ago, I was in Turin, and, while pointing out the Holy Shroud among such a great crowd of people, a few drops of sweat fell from my face on to this Holy Shroud itself. Whereupon, our heart made this wish: May it please You, Saviour of my life, to mingle my unworthy sweat with Yours, and let my blood, my life, my affections merge with the merits of Your sacred sweat! My very dear Mother, the Prince Cardinal was somewhat annoyed that my sweat dripped onto the Holy Shroud of my Saviour; but it came to my heart to tell him that Our Lord was not so delicate, and that He only shed His sweat and His blood for them to be mingled with ours, in order to give us the price of eternal life. And so, may our sighs be joined with His, so that they may ascend in an odour of sweetness before the Eternal Father.

But what am I going to recall? I saw that when my brothers were ill in their childhood, my mother would make them sleep in a shirt of my father’s, saying that the sweat of fathers was salutary for children. Oh, may our heart sleep, on this holy day, in the Shroud of our divine Father, wrapped in His sweat and in His blood; and there may it be, as if at the very death of this divine Saviour, buried in the sepulchre, with a constant resolution to remain always dead to itself until it rises again to eternal glory. We are buried, says the Apostle, with Jesus Christ in death here below, so that we may no more live according to the old life, but according to the new. Amen.

Francis, Bishop of Geneva
The 4th of May 1614

Postscript. Elsewhere I've just spotted a comment that says "historians are trying to kill scientists", as "Church leaders" did in the past.

I thought of posting the following, but decided against it (and not just because my wife said it's too long).

"Killing" is maybe a bit strong. But there's long been an insidious process at work in the UK that has been described as the 'ghettoization' of science. It was addressed some decades ago in a manner of speaking in C.P.Snow's "The Two Cultures". However that title was somewhat misleading, inasmuch as one of those cultures consistently refuses to view the other as a culture, more as a set of  preordained and rigid operating instructions (which is actually partly true, thus a contributory source of confusion).

Having done a spell of teaching science in English secondary schools according to the prescribed National Curriculum, I think I can see why the problem of cultural supremacy on the part of the liberal arts establishment in politics, the media, finance etc etc continues year after year, decade after decade to maintain its grip.  Too much of our National Curriculum is a box-ticking exercise to get across the so-called principles of the basic sciences, i.e. what has already been discovered, but with scarcely any attention as to HOW it was discovered. The excitement and dare one say intellectual challenge is rarely got across, the opportunities for doing so being curtailed by time constraints. To make matters worse, Government spokespeople and media persistently refer to science and technology as if they were one and the same thing, with scarcely any recognition of the fact that science is rooted firmly in the world of ideas, not facts or things as commonly supposed. The facts,  if the truth be told, are as often as not mere reference points, and often only provisional as new facts emerge. It's the ideas that are important, being needed to make sense of the facts regarding the way things behave - initially under laboratory conditions and then the real world.

What's hugely overlooked and/or downplayed is the creative element of science. Scientists are sadly often their own worst enemies, cultivating the myth that they are concerned purely with the search for verifiable facts, and indeed being dismissive of unorthodox lines of investigation deemed to be "blue sky thinking" (used generally as a pejorative term needless to say).

Never could the clash of the Two Cultures be more excruciatingly apparent than right now, Compare this blogger's approach (scorched linen model) with that of  historian Charles Freeman's writing off of STURP science (and my own modest contributions).

Solution? Who knows? Maybe win the lottery and set up one's own back yard research facility operating in the manner of 18th/19th century 'amateur' scientists. Recreate  curiosity-driven science as a genuine culture that is perceived as such, instead of being written off and indeed 'ghettoized' as if a closed community in which its bespectacled white-coated practitioners peer intently into glassware, communicating among themselves in a strange and  incomprehensible language.


sciencebod said...

This comment appeared yesterday evening on (due to persistent and aggressive trolling on that site, I have decided reluctantly to respond to it and any further questions here on my own site, where trolls and trolling are not tolerated, it being my content, and my prerogative to bring the debate "back home".

November 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Hi Colin,

That the Shroud image could have been seen as a sweat imprint in the past by some people is not surprising.
But what does it tell us about the image forming process?

Incidentally, your claim about the relationships between the Lirey badge (and the Lirey Shroud face) and the Veronica Veil are very dubious.
The face on the Lirey badge is simply a representation of the face of the Lirey shroud.
From the resemblance between the Lirey badge and some pictures of the Veronica Veil you can’t conclude that the Lirey Shroud has been inspired by the Veronica Veil.
As I wrote you many months ago, I add that the word “Suaire” in French (modern French language as well as medieval French) does not necessarily mean “”facecloth” with connotations of sweat” as you wrote. This word is and was used in a much larger sense, including burial cloth. As a general rule,French language is in general very precise. But it is an exception.

What about the relationship between your “light scorch hypothesis” and the “sweat imprint” ?

Points noted Thibault. I'll do you an answer in instalments, while at the same time pursuing a new line in experimental investigation that I mentioned briefly yesterday.

sciencebod said...

"That the Shroud image could have been seen as a sweat imprint in the past by some people is not surprising.
But what does it tell us about the image forming process?"

Well,we seem to be agreed on one thing, namely that the first people to lay eyes on the Shroud would have known what it represented, given the double image, but would have wanted to known how it was formed. If as I believe the image was always faint, our early viewer would have seen it as an imprint left by the body that was once inside the shroud. The view that it was an imprint, not a painting, would have been immediately reinforced by noting that the image is a negative, comparable to a brass rubbing.

In the absence of any documentary evidence to the contrary, and noting the words of St.Francis de Sales that the TS was the repository of blood AND sweat then it seems plain common sense to me that the TS represented a sweat imprint - and that's without having to make any connections with the Veil of Veronica. But the fact that the latter was the Roman Church's "central icon" in the 14th century according to the BM's present director (Neil MacGregor) makes it a racing certainty that the TS was assumed to be a sweat imprint, and that few if any in the era would have entertained ideas of miraculous flashed of light, especially as the image is supposed to have had been covered with blood stains of one kind or another from head to foot. The two ideas of human mortality and miraculous radiation hardly sit well together, would you not agree?

"What does it tell us about the image-forming process". I'll deal with that next, while noting that I am the one who has been attempting to model the TS image these last three years, and been dogged every step of the way by negative criticism from TH. Luigi Garlaschelli came in for the same treatment. TH has never proposed his own hypothesis, so let me tell him this. If one IS trying to model the TS image as a non-miraculous process, if only to deal with the God of the Gaps rhetoric that science is "stumped for an answer" then one has to start somewhere, and that somewhere for me is no longer "it's got to be a contact scorch". It's now "it's got to be a simulated sweat imprint" which may have been accomplished by simple scorching aka thermal imprinting. But there is now a wider range of possibilities to consider and indeed attempt to model, as I was doing recently when investigating "invisible ink" type chemistry based on Maillard or other thermochemical reactions.

sciencebod said...

"But what does it tell us about the image forming process?"

Potentially quite a lot, actually, if the TS were of medieval origin as I believe (and will continue doing so until a new radiocarbon dating says otherwise).

If the TS had been intended to be seen as a sweat imprint - a whole body, two-sided version of the then much venerated Veil of Veronica - then that narrows the options. Painting is straight out for starters (Charles Freeman please note). It has to be a negative imprint, and it would be well nigh impossible for a modern artist to have painted the TS with its lack of directionality, 3D properties etc., never mind one 600 years ago. That means one thing: it must have been imprinted off a template, probably bas relief in whole or in part, but imprinting off a fully 3D template (bronze statue etc) is not entirely out of the question, as I showed with my fully 3D brass crucifix - the trick being to force or mould cloth against only the most superficial relief features thereby minimising lateral 'wrap-around' distortion.

One then has to decide on the source of pigment,constrained by the fact that it cannot be applied like paint. That's where one is spoiled for choice. There's Garlaschelli's powder 'frottage', there's the possibility of impregnating the linen with an "invisible ink", e.g. milk, lemon juice, white flour etc and then thermally imprinting onto the sensitized surface, or one could simply use contact scorching, modifying the technology to get more or less sharper and/or fuzzier images, e.g. my LOTTO versus LUWU, or rubbing powdered chalk or some other kind of inert thermal 'buffer' into the weave first. Substances like milk(after impregnating and drying) etc can also act like an ablative shield - so much energy is required to produce endothermic Maillard or pyrolysis reactions that the template, if bronze or other metal or ceramic cools very quickly when pressed against linen, thus minimizing the risk of over-scorching.

It's entirely impossible for the image to have been formed with no application of heat. I have a permanently-stained shirt from the time I helped clear an overgrown garden. There are plant saps that leave yellow stains that are absolutely permanent - which will not wash out, even with hot water and detergent. But my money's on a thermal component. Why? Because of a little-remarked upon property of TS image fibres, namely their mechanical weakness. Why should that be, given the core of each linen fibre is predominantly tough old cellulose? That's a possible lead I'm chasing up right at this moment.

sciencebod said...

Correction: last paragraph above. "It's NOT entirely impossible for the image to have been formed with no application of heat."

sciencebod said...

"Incidentally, your claim about the relationships between the Lirey badge (and the Lirey Shroud face) and the Veronica Veil are very dubious.
The face on the Lirey badge is simply a representation of the face of the Lirey shroud."

It's easy to say that, TH, but where's your evidence?

We're told that blood preceded body image. So why is there no epsilon-shaped bloodstain on the man's forehead, or any other signs of blood (e.g. on hair) or bruising? It would have been easy for the engraver of the Machy mould to have added some indication of blood, even if it did not subsequently show up too well on the badge (though there's an amazing amount of detail on the Lirey badge, notably the herringbone weave and heraldic details, instruments of torture etc).
There's also the point that the man shown above SUAIRE has open eyes and there's no attempt to portray him as a negative image. So it's NOT a close-up, so to speak, of the man as shown on the TS. It's a close-up showing him as he was when still alive, as was the case if one takes the legend of the Veronica as gospel truth, which one's not obliged to.

Why is there is no corresponding image on the Mark 1(?)Lirey badge? There must have been a reason for adding it to the mould for the presumed Mark 2 badge. I hardly think that was to say "Take our word that the image you see on the Shroud is that of the crucified Jesus, despite absence of wounds or blood, but please don't ask us how it was formed". I say an inset image of the Veronica with the still living Jesus was added as a way of saying "The double image you see on the Shroud is that of Jesus, left as a sweat imprint, top and bottom, post-crucifixion, i.e. the same mechanism you are already familiar with from the Veil of Veronica".

sciencebod said...

"From the resemblance between the Lirey badge and some pictures of the Veronica Veil you can’t conclude that the Lirey Shroud has been inspired by the Veronica Veil."

So what about the resemblances that folk see between the Hungarian Pray Codex and the Shroud, which some of us DO write off as mere coincidences(so-called "herringbone weave", "L-shaped poker holes). I don't ever recall seeing TH take any of those people to task for arriving at conclusions that are not fully supported. So why am I not allowed to make comparisons without having them instantly dismissed as the product of a lazy mind or wild or undisciplined imagination?

Are you aware there was no posting on your favourite site of the Lirey badge until I included it in my scorch hypothesis, TH? The same was the case with the Machy Mould, which I first learned about from Mario Latendresse's site. The reason for citing those two artefacts is NOT though being an apologist, defending or promoting an agenda. It's because one has to make use of whatever information is available, and if there's the slightest feature that is unusual or unexpected, then one is entitled to look for explanations that others may not have considered. That's what research is all about, TH (going boldly etc etc).

Sorry if you don't like the direction, but I follow my nose (scientific nose that is). There is no agenda where there blogger is concerned, except a deep loathing of pseudo-science that postures as real science, especially when designed to grab newspaper headlines. To that can now be added pseudo-history.

sciencebod said...

OK, I'm not going to argue with a native French speaker (even if I suspect your knowledge of medieval French and the historical development of particular terms is less than perfect).

It was French Canadian M.Latendresse who first alerted me to the peculiar use of "suaire" to mean burial shoud, when its better known meaning is "facecloth", as in the "Suaire d'Oviedo" where there's no ambiguity as to the size of the linen.

Here are Mario's exact words under Fig 10b of his Lirey/Machy posting:

We can clearly read the word “Suaire” (Sindon) below the face of the man of the Shroud. It is followed by the three greek letters iota, eta, and sigma which would be the abbreviation for “the Shroud of Christ”. Note that in French, it is more precise to describe the Shroud of Turin, and the shroud that was kept at Lirey, as a “linceul” since a “suaire” is typically only a face cloth."

If someone goes to the trouble of pointing out an anomaly, no matter how slight and seemingly inconsequential at the time, which ceases to be an anomaly in a new and developing re-interpretation, then I'd be a fool would I not to ignore it?

In fact, once could go further and suggest that even if the Machy mould and its resultant badge had not the first use of "suaire" to mean shroud, as you once indicated, it could have cemented this particular semantic ambiguity, arguably mistake, into the French language. Either way, I now have a rationale for why there's that face of a seemingly living Jesus on the Machy mould, which was certainly not added merely to reinforce the obvious or for mere decoration. Space was at a premium on those pilgrim's badge. Each addition had to serve a purpose, to 'earn its keep'.

sciencebod said...

"What about the relationship between your “light scorch hypothesis” and the “sweat imprint” ?"

Sorry, TH. I'm no longer discussing future ideas, or even ongoing work in real time. It makes one easy prey for the knocking brigade, not all as moderate in their language as you, not all able to criticize without trying to trash one's research credentials.

I would simply say this. We have a discrepancy where image characteristics are concerned. On the one hand we have the claim that the image is confined to an exceedingly superficial layer on the primary cell wall or an adventitious coating, and that the cellulose core of the fibre shows no signs of having been thermally disordered or disrupted in any way (Rogers). Yet Rogers himself reported that image fibres were weaker and more prone to break than non-image ones, based on ease of 'strippability'; How can a superficial image weaken the entire fibre? It doesn't make sense. Maybe the entire fibre is weaker, maybe as a result of excessive input of thermal energy, but not the way that Rogers imagined or tested for.

It may be possible to reconcile those findings if one takes into account the entire chemistry of the flax fibre. This passage from the literature gives a pointer:

"At maturity, flax fibres show thickened secondary cell wall with cellulose microfibrils locked into an almost axial direction... Apart from cellulose, flax fibres contain other polymers, which are highly negatively charged..."encrusting components"...these non-cellulosic polymers (NCPs) contain not only classical hemi-celluloses but also pectins...long chains of b1-4-D-galactan as the main encrusting component of ultimate fibres" (Morvan et al. 2003:939)"

I'm onto the case. Nuff said for now.

What would be nice would be to detect a new thermal signature in a model system that one could then go looking for in the TS (or maybe a few presently detached fibres from previous investigations), ideally by non-destructive analytical procedures.

I trust that addresses all your points, TH, even if you are less than satisfied with the answers. Let me know if that's not the case.

Time now to get back to my new line of experimentation.

sciencebod said...

Here's a comment that Hugh Farey, the BSTS editor, has just placed on, the discussion turning there to the credibility or otherwise of the TS image being a genuine sweat imprint.

The distribution of sweat glands is indeed uneven. There are twice as many per cm2 on the front of the body as on the back, for example, and the palms of the hands have even more. (See Henry Gray, The Anatomy of the Human Body, at Their number is also related to the colour of the skin, the darker the more, presumably as dark skin absorbs more heat which needs to be dissipated. However nobody today, I think, thinks that sweat was a major factor in the production of the image.

I hope it was nothing I said that suggested the image had REALLY been formed from sweat. I thought I made it clear that the TS image might have been fabricated as to SIMULATE a sweat image, an idea to which the medieval mind was already attuned, thanks to to celebrated Veil of Veronica face cloth that was clearly seen by many of the faithful as a genuine holy relic, formed as a sweat imprint according to the cross-bearing road-to-Calvary narrative. That view would have been assisted enormously by the Veronica having been what art historian/BM director referred to as the "central icon" of the Roman Church, such that "wherever the Church went, the Veronica went with it."

It's so easy to be misunderstood in Shroudology, where every idea, every word gets minutely analyzed for non-PC thinking (PC being Proauthenticity-Correctness) or merely a suggestion thereof which triggers a full fire-fighting operation.

I see my brief reference to "brass rubbing" has also received the treatment. I mentioned it simply to make clear that the idea of a "negative image" was not totally foreign to the medieval mind when viewing the double image of the Shroud, and spotting its peculiar character, with white hollows where the eyes should be. The medieval mind could probably differentiate between a painting that today we would call a positive, and a negative imprint, such as can be obtained by rubbing a bas-relief brass, where it's the highest, most light-reflecting relief that is preferentially imaged, while recessed features (the eye hollows etc) fail to do so and look unnaturally light in tone.

The medievals weren't stupid. These were the people that built vast sublime cathedrals that stand to this today, the equivalent in their day of today's space programme, employing large numbers of highly skilled specialists. It required only on of them, looking at the TS image, to declare it was an imprint, not a painting, for word to spread. making it a must-see attraction.

What I find incredible is that a modern scholar should have failed to spot the significance of that same attraction being condemned as a forgery and "cunningly painted" long before one would expect any substantial amount of paint ot flake off. No, it was seen as a faint imprint from the outset, because it was designed as such, unless one wants to consider it a genuine sweat imprint (which I don't, which is where we came in).

sciencebod said...

Eight days ago I expressed astonishment that coeliac/celiac disease aka gluten intolerance is now described as an autoimmune disease. It wasn't some 25 years ago when I was Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association.

I've been trying to track down the earliest references to autoimmunity in the context of CD - not an easy task, and as already stated in my posting, one does not have to go back very far to find papers that simply make a case for an (unproven) autoimmune dysfunction, which is not the same as saying it exists. (And I most certainly reject that argument altogether, seeing no reason why an immune reaction on one's own gut tissue should not be regarded simply as a SECONDARY effect, in the same way that inflammation is a secondary effect of infection, mast cell degranulation etc.).

The purpose of this comment is to say that I've located a fairly recent paper that chimes with my views exactly, and I cannot understand why its message is not more widely known and indeed the mainstream one, instead of the crazy misclassification that has been allowed to take root through putting the cart before the horse.

Here's a link to the 6 page paper.

Title: Systemic autoimmune disorders in celiac disease

My chief priority is to master some of the less familiar detail, being out-of-tocuh with technical developments in the area. My immediate aim now is to writing a simplified account of the key issues that need to be grasped if one is to understand why the labelling of CD as an autoimmune disease (as distinct from a disease with an autoimmune component) is COMPLETE NUTS.

One might as well claim that the common cold is caused by an excessively runny nose - and call for better handkerchiefs.

sciencebod said...

There's the weirdest posting just gone up on - one that has Stephen E.Jones raging against one "Weaving Fan" claiming that commenter on his blog was me operating under a different pseudonym.

It wasn't - not my style - and I said so in a posting a full two years ago under the title: "Message to Stephen E Jones: I am not Weaving Fan.

I can't say I understand why Dan Porter has decided to dredge up that particular incident with mistaken identity, to say nothing of paranoia. One can only suppose it's a slow news day on

sciencebod said...

Further to the above, I haev just sent this to Stephen Jones's site, using the Anonymous option (since there's a block as I recall on anything I submit as "sciencebod").

Two years ago you wrongly accused me, Colin Berry aka sciencebod, of posting comments to your site under the pseudonym "Weaving Fan". I felt obliged to post a denial on my TS site, which you may or may not have seen.

Dan Porter, for reasons best known to himself, has just put up a posting that dredges up that sorry episode of mistaken identity and in a sense gives it new life and currency.

It would be nice if you could do the decent thing and disabuse him of what was an over-hasty conclusion on your part. It is not my style to adopt new pseudonyms, least of all troll other people's websites.

sciencebod said...

Comment from Hugh Farey on

Hugh Farey
November 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I don’t think Colin was saying anything about the Shroud being made by sweat. He was suggesting that medieval observers might have considered that it was made by sweat, which is quite a different thing.

Hugh is of course absolutely correct. Some folk seem to have overlooked the adjective "simulated" in the title of my posting. Maybe I should have made it clearer that a medieval artisan, wishing make what might be mistaken for a faint imprint left by sweat - a whole body version of the Veil of Veronica - did not need to use actual sweat, and almost certainly did not do so. My money's still one some kind of thermal or thermochemical contact scorch that acts directly on the linen fibres themselves and/or a thin surface coating, e.g. white flour as suggested previously to give a Maillard reaction.

sciencebod said...

Here's Stephen Jones's response to the comment I posted yesterday. It speaks for itself. Best I refrain from further comment, not that I'm allowed to over there, or would wish to prolong the contact.

November 14, 2014 at 6:54 AM
Blogger Stephen E. Jones said...


>Two years ago you wrongly accused me, Colin Berry aka sciencebod, of posting comments to your site under the pseudonym "Weaving Fan". I felt obliged to post a denial on my TS site, which you may or may not have seen.

No, I don't read your blog. From what I had seen of it in the past, you are simply self-deluded, thinking you can prove the Shroud to be a fake by your tin-pot `experiments' while ignoring the MOUNTAIN of historical and artistic evidence of the Shroud's existence all the way back to the first century.

Even Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Director of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, who as "C.R. Bronk" was a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper, has admitted, "There is A LOT OF OTHER EVIDENCE that suggests ... that THE SHROUD IS OLDER THAN THE RADIOCARBON DATES ALLOW":

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." (Ramsey, C.B., 2008, "Shroud of Turin," Version 77, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March).

But for reasons given in my comments under my 2012 post "The Shroud of Turin: 2.1. A linen sheet" I still believe you are "Weaving Fan."

But if you aren't "Weaving Fan" then just get over it. You have said far worse things about me! "He who comes into equity must come with clean hands."

>Dan Porter, for reasons best known to himself, has just put up a posting that dredges up that sorry episode of mistaken identity and in a sense gives it new life and currency.

I don't read Porter's blog either and I haven't done so since 8th May - over 6 months.

Also, as I wrote in a comment under my post, "Turin shroud was made for medieval Easter ritual, historian Charles Freeman says":

"... mentioning of Dan Porter, and his blog, and his blog's members in connection with Porter's blog, is henceforth off-topic on my blog."

>It would be nice if you could do the decent thing and disabuse him of what was an over-hasty conclusion on your part.

See above that: 1) I still think you were "Weaving Fan", 2) I don't read Porter's blog; and 3) "mentioning of Dan Porter, and his blog .. is ... off-topic on my blog."

>It is not my style to adopt new pseudonyms, least of all troll other people's websites.

Sorry Colin, but from your past repeated breaches of my blog's policies against "off-topic, offensive or sub-standard" comments (see above), which lead to your being banned permanently from making comments on my blog (I have made an exception of this comment so you could at least air your claimed grievance), I have no confidence in your assertions.

For all I know, you could be just trying to enlist me to attack Porter on your behalf, to stir up further trouble between us, so you can sit back and laugh at both of us.

Because: 1) you are banned from making comments on my blog; 2) comments about Porter and his blog are off-topic on my blog; and 3) commenters normally are allowed only one comment on my blog (see above); this was your last comment on this topic on my blog.

Stephen E. Jones

November 14, 2014 at 8:56 AM