Thursday, November 6, 2014

Turin Shroud: Pope Francis at pains to point out the inadequacies of the contact print hypothesis

Trying to capture all the topological relief of facial features onto a cloth mantle can be quite tricky, as the Pontiff demonstrates.

Never mind. We of the contact-imprinting school of Shroudology will press on regardless (no pun intended).

Here's a screen grab of the article from this morning's Express:

PS: Couldn't resist posting this one. However, I'm still working on, and still adding to yesterday's posting, protesting at the new orthodoxy that would have us regard gluten intolerance as an autoimmune disease.

Addendum,  still Thursday am (just)

Speaking of contact imprints, this comment appeared on Dan Porter's shroudstory site  this morning from Hugh Farey in which he throws us a challenge to explain the faintness and other features of the Lier copy (1516)  of the Turin Shroud. Here first is the item in question from a recent Pam Moon pdf:

Lier copy of the Shroud

  1. November 6, 2014 at 4:23 am
    Thanks Thomas. My answer, as you probably expected, is that I have no idea what the image was like, as the evidence, as so often with the Shroud, is conflicting! Charles is certainly correct to say that contemporary accounts go on and on about how fresh the bloodstains are, in particular, and how clearly the image is depicted, which, if they are to be taken at face value, simply cannot correspond with the image as we see it today. However, as I have suggested above, actual copies of the Shroud, however sharply depicted, are so different that it is difficult to believe that the artists had actually discerned anything clearly at all. I think what it will come down to is not a pile of actual eveidence – descriptions and paintings – on each side of the argument, but a more nuanced discussion as to what each describer or artist was putting into his recreation.
    The Lier copy is often considered one of the oldest and one of the most accurate depictions of the Shroud pre-1532. Some details are more accurate than many other copies or depictions from much later – so why did the artist get the shape of the head so wrong, miss out most of the very visible bloodstains altogether, draw three clear strands of hair spreading over the back of the head, and over-accentuate the darkness of the hair and buttocks. Is that what he saw?
    People who think the Shroud was as it is now, and quote the Lier copy as their ‘proof’ have an obligation to explain these anomalies. Perhaps the Lier painter saw, but omitted the blood for reasons of his own. People who use the Lier copy to suggest that the Shroud was different still have to account for alterations, such as the shape of the head or the absence of blood, which cannot be due to the paint falling off. The much derided Picknett and Prince used the Lier shroud to ‘prove’ that the one we see now cannot have been the one the Lier artist painted, which was destroyed and replaced, much later, by Leonardo da Vinci. On the basis of that evidence alone it would be difficult to gainsay them.
    Similarly, pious descriptions of the Shroud can either be taken as forensically accurate or imaginative reconstructions. Anyone who saw what he believed was really his saviour’s face on a cloth, in contrast to the many paintings he had seen, might well feel, quite sincerely, that it was brighter than it was, but on the other hand it is strange that nobody at all seems to have recorded that the image was actually barely visible – a strange case of the emperor’s new clothes!
    Now, what was the question? (Sorry if there are toast and marmalade crumbs over my comment!)

  1. November 6, 2014 at 4:48 am
    “People who think the Shroud was as it is now, and quote the Lier copy as their ‘proof’ have an obligation to explain these anomalies.”

    Having earlier expressed the view that the Shroud was fairly faint to start with, I feel obliged to respond to Hugh’s challenge, albeit briefly. having a new bit between the teeth right now (the new orthodoxy that claims gluten intolerance to be an autoimmune disease).
    The TS was designed (or adapted from something else) to simulate a whole body sweat imprint that would rival, indeed exceed the Veil of Veronica as a draw for pilgrims. That’s why its first recorded appearance in Lirey coincides with the release of the Lirey medal, and why I don’t buy into Charles’ idea that it was intended ‘merely’ as a prop for an Easter ritual.
    Everyone who viewed the early TS, the Lier artist included, was told it was the dried residue of a sweat imprint left behind on a burial shroud, and that would have coloured the way they viewed it (needing all the help they could get, given not just the faintness of the image but its unhelpful negative character, a necessary concomitant of it being a contact imprint).
    So why is the hair the way it is, seemingly glued to the skin? Because that’s the way that sweat-laden hair might look. Why are the buttocks so prominent? Because that’s where there’s a large area of contact between subcutaneous fat and skin that traps perspiration, preventing it from evaporating quickly.
    I could go on re blood etc, or initial lack thereof, suggesting that Charles’ ‘over-flagellation’ was the remedy for making the image easier to make out at a distance, but hopefully there’s enough here to give some pointers as to why the Lier copy is the way that it is.

Thursday 20:00

Charles Freeman, still fending off criticism of his "History Today" article, some of it from me, is now attempting to turn the tables, so to speak, and get me to defend my position on the TS image (despite the fact that all of it is "thinking aloud" on blog sites, with no attempt (as yet) to go public (though that might change in the weeks and months to come).

Here's his comment, followed by my response.

November 6, 2014 at 11:35 am
‘ everyone who viewed the Shroud was told it was the residue of sweat.’ Colin, I have never comes across this before so,please give the quotes from ‘ everyone’ and I will add them to my notes.

I would love to know from Colin how he knows that the images were as faint or almost as faint in the fourteenth century as they are today. It assumes that the chemistry of the Shroud has remained unchanged for seven hundred years despite the many expositions that we know were pretty turbulent affairs – as the nuns caught by the customs officers with brandy in their bottles labelled ‘Holy Water’ put it – Good Lord, another miracle’.

David has dug up yet another quotation that shows beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud looked very differently in the sixteenth century . I have seen the two exact replicas of the Shroud in Turin and I can’t see bloodstains ‘as if they were recent,’ even though Thomas can, and, as David reminds us, the Shroud was described in 1449 as painted.

As a historian I have to make a judgement and in the end I give up on those who really do believe that the Shroud was the same in1350 as it is now ,although I am giving Colin a last chance to provide his evidence.
Just as I can’t see the Shroud in the Pray Codex as it shows Christ being laid out without the bloodstains on his body when anyone seeing the Shroud would put the bloodstains on the body, in the end one just has to accept that one has the wrong spectacles and continue on one’s way trying to find the truth about the Shroud.

I have been in Pistoia looking at the wonderful 1260 Crucifix with scenes of the Passion they have in the cathedral there. There is blood flowing from the five wounds, but no marks of any flagellation and the panel with the flagellation scene shows no blood at all. Christ has a halo, not the Crown of Thorns. The change in iconography over the next eighty years is indeed dramatic. The flagellation marks are shown covering the whole body, the halo becomes the Crown of Thorns, and the blood becomes more prominent – the Shroud is so typical,of this change.

I am keeping my mind open to which of the bloggers here have closed minds!

November 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm
"I am giving Colin a last chance to provide his evidence."

Oh dear. Seems I’m in the Last Chance Saloon at the Freeman Arms. Time then to pull out all the stops.
I can’t provide you or this site with a single piece of rock-hard evidence for my thinking the TS was intended as a sweat imprint to trump the Veil of Veronica, Charles. If I could, It would be my still unwritten piece for the New Scientist or similar that we’d be discussing right now instead of your historico-religious version of events.

Here, off the top of my head, are some of the points I have made over the last 3 years in well over 200 blog postings. I don’t expect a point-by-point critique, but challenge you to provide a single damning objection:

1. The failure of STURP to detect paint, suggesting something other than a painted image.
2. The precedent of the Veil of Veronica, reputed according to legend to be a sweat imprint.
3. The visual evidence from the Lier copy of the image being faint, and other visual cues it was formed in sweat (sodden-looking hair, prominent imprint from buttocks)
4. The negative image and 3D properties, suggesting some kind of contact imprint.
5. The double image, to convey the idea of an imprint left by a corpse, probably/likely as bodily secretion that would been profuse due to events preceding a traumatic death.
6. The nudity, suggestive of a body imprint that made no concessions to finer sensibilities.
7. The present faintness of the image, with nothing except conjecture to suggest it was ever significantly more prominent.
8. The over-flagellation etc that can be interpreted as means of making a faint body image more prominent.
9. The various blank regions in the body image that imply the image was intended to be seen as a contact imprint, with failure to imprint in places, thus not a painting.
10. The sole use of blood to mark the sites of wounds, with no imprinting of open wounds per se, suggestive of a simple “incomplete” template to simulate a sweat imprint.
11. The Veil of Veronica-like motif added to the Machy mould with the word “SUAIRE”, that might simply mean facecloth, but has connotations of sweat too.
12. Frances de Sales letter to his mother after seeing the TS, displaying a fixation not just with blood, but sweat stains too.

As you see, no killer points, just an accumulation of suggestive evidence. All 12 points accrued purely from reading and photographs, with no opportunity to lay eyes on the TS itself, not even through plate glass – so there’s bound to be an element of tendentiousness.

And after all that, here's what I get as a reply, to which I say "No (further) comment".

November 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm
‘ everyone who saw the Shroud was told…’ Well, Colin, you have not provided a single example of anyone who was told. Francis de Sales imagined sweat, along with the blood, but that does not mean much.
I cannot see anything credible you can provide for your case of faint images to set against the mass of primary evidence that everyone was shocked by the prominence of the blood in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Why no further comment? Because there's no point discussing the TS with someone who fails to appreciate that the TS blood and body image are two entirely different things. The blood can be painted on, whether with real blood, a blood fraction or an artist's pigment. The blood does not have the curious properties, like being a negative image. But the body image IS a negative, and does not need to have been an applied pigment, and in all probability was not.

Charles Freeman seems to be blissfully unaware of 30 and more years of scientific investigation, not all of it first class admittedly, but there's enough evidence to show that the TS body image is like no other. To suggest it's what's left when paint has flaked off, merely to sustain a fanciful delusion that it started as paint, is just plain silly.  I'm talking here needless to say about body image, not "blood", which might well be paint. But one cannot view the TS as being all paint, just because the blood may fit that description.

Does Freeman  seriously imagine that the Lirey Pilgrim's badge circa1355 would have been minted to commemorate the first known public display of what he dismisses as a unremarkable length of paint-daubed linen?

PS Here are contact prints off a UK 2p coin, needed to make a point elsewhere.

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