Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where does blood fit into the new two-stage medieval forgery model of the Turin Shroud?

First, here's a commercial for my other specialist Shroud site. I have changed the banner. The previous one showed steps in a one-step thermal imprinting ("scorch") model- from template to negative image to tone-reversed positive to the final 3D-enhanced image. There wasn't space to do all of that with the new model. It simply shows key steps leading up  to the primary negative image, and even then there's only space to show half the final imaged hand (my own).

New banner on my shroudofturinwithoutallthehype website. Click to enlarge.

However, rest assured that the image produced with the two step procedure (imprinting with flour/water, then developing the image with nitric acid) does respond reasonably well to Secondo Pia style tone-reversal (negative to positive) and to 3D  rendering in ImageJ (see previous posting).

Some have noted that I've said little about bloodstains in the new model. I don't intend to, considering that blood (or should that be "blood", i.e. some kind of blood substitute?) while showing some curious and perhaps unexplained details is not one of the 'enigmatic' features of the Turin Shroud, the latter being confined to the faint body image. (It cannot be said too often that the so-called "wounds" and "injuries" on the TS are NOT visible in the body image per se, but merely INFERRED from the locations of bloodstains. What's more, that's true also for the dumbbell-shaped imprints of many of the scourge marks: they are imprints made by trace amounts of blood only. They lack scientific corroboration and thus verification in the body image as regards proving authenticity. (But then, this blogger's aim is not, and never has been, to disprove authenticity - merely to pour cold water on the daft claims - from self-styled "scientists" no less - that the TS body image could never have been generated except by supernatural means).

What any model has to explain is why there is no body image under bloodstains, at least according to the crucial test that Adler and Heller did with their protein-digesting enzyme under the microscope. (One would have preferred more direct evidence that the blood is underneath, not on top of body image - the latter being a more convenient geometry from a forger's point of view- but let's take that particular  Adler/Heller result at face value, even if remaining unwilling to do so in respect of all their results - notably their scarcely-credible  "bilirubin story").

The new model accommodates the 'blood-first, image second' chronology.  One applies the imprinting medium first to the human subject, then, before it's had time to dry, one paints or dribbles on the blood. One then imprints onto linen. The blood is the first of the two liquids to make contact with linen, so there will be no body image under blood. Indeed body image will end up on top of blood.

But is that scenario necessarily the one that was deployed, with its rather demanding time-frame, inasmuch as blood, with all those intricate patterns, has to be applied before the imprinting paste dries and becomes useless for imprinting? Answer: NO. In fact, it's through a consideration of the practical constraints on a 'conjoint' imprinting of blood and body image that some tantalizing alternative scenarios suggest themselves. They will now be briefly flagged up.

In fact, let's cut to the chase with the new thinking. Here goes. The Turin Shroud was not intended originally to be a blood AND body imprint forgery, only a blood one. In other words, it was intended originally to be a whole-body counterpart of the Sudarium of Oviedo, the latter being the alleged face-cloth that was applied to the face of Jesus immediately after death on the cross, with bloodstains but NO body image.

How might that blood-only imprint have been obtained? Answer: by applying blood to a live volunteer (or corpse) in all the biblically-correct locations for scourge marks, crown of thorns, nails in hands and feet, lance wound in side, then taking a double (frontal v dorsal) imprint onto linen.

Map of locations of 372 scourge marks according to Faccini and Fanti*
 *Link to their pdf

 Straightaway one sees a rationale for scourge mark 'over-kill' (there being allegedly 372 of them): without that multitude of scourge marks that cover most of the naked body from chest and shoulders to foot, there would be large empty areas on the imprint.

From a posting this blogger did some 3 years* ago, showing how scourge marks on the Shroud respond to 3D-enhancement in ImageJ, despite being blood-only (not body image)
 * Link to June 2012 posting

One also has a rationale for the absence of loin cloth, otherwise problematical in terms of artistic sensibilities. Folded hands over groin area AND a multitude of scourge marks across bare buttocks helped ameliorate that problem.

A Mark 1 (blood only) length of linen could have been conceptualized, and indeed promoted, as the actual one that was used to transport the crucified Jesus from  cross to nearby rock tomb by Joseph of Arimathea (not intended as final burial shroud note). For all one knows, that blood-only forgery might have been stored for a period, weeks, months, maybe longer,  giving blood plenty of time to set hard and oxidize. Might a new idea have entered the heads of our forgers. Why stop there? Why not call the volunteer back for a second imprinting on top of the blood of something that could be claimed to be body image, created by drying  and yellowing of ancient SWEAT?

How practical is that one may ask: to imprint with "sweat" in a second entirely independent session introduced as an afterthought? Answer: probably not too difficult. Why not? Because the task of correctly aligning blood-stained linen over a flour-pasted body would be much simplified by the fact that the initial blood penetrates the weave of the linen to give a reverse side imprint. That reverse-side blood can then be used to assist with alignment. By the same token, some small discrepancies are likely, as indeed is the case with the TS. Was that blood from a nail wound really mean to be in the wrist (which while mechanically-correct had not featured previously in Western art)? Was there really supposed to be blood trails in the hair, a dubious feature, given blood from scalp wounds tends to clog and create matted hair, not run in rivulets)? Was the blood initially applied to the cheek of the volunteer? Are blood and bosy images out of 'stereo-register', as pro-authenticists have claimed to counter criticism of unrealistic blood trails down hair. Or are these the clues to separate imprinting of blood and body image - in that order?

Is there hard evidence for the Mark 1/Mark 2 chronology suggested, with an indeterminate gap separating the application of blood then body image? Answer: no, and probably never will be, short of discovering some  forger's diary that had slipped down the back of a well-preserved medieval sofa.
Bloodstains - back of head - one of 20 raised-contrast images from my 'Shroud Scope'  gallery*

*Link to gallery, June 2012

But there's one feature that supports it: that's the 'messiness' of some of the bloodstains, notably on the back of the head, that one infers as being due to the crown of thorns. There is something uncompromisingly 'messy Sudarium of Oviedo-like' in that blood, in sharp contrast to the neater (some might say too neat) scourge mark imprints and blood trails on forearms etc. Indeed one even wonders whether the blood stains evolved in separate instalments, say the major ones first, followed by the more subtle and mannered scourge marks later, all this happening before there was an intention or even inspiration to overlay them all with a body image.

Time now to take a break and deliberate further on this more nuanced scenario - a phased evolution of the Turin Shroud, starting initially as big blood-brother to the Sudarium of Oviedo.

Update, May 22:  here's the opening to a comment on the shroudstory site from the tedious Charles Freeman, self-styled historian (writer of history-themed books actually - something entirely different):

"Disproving my hypothesis that the Shroud was originally a painted linen with iconography of the fourteenth century whose pigments have disintegrated would be a step forward. It has not yet been done so I am keeping the hypothesis alive." 

This is not how science operates. It's not even how academic research in any discipline operates. One does not propose a hypothesis, especially one that ignores or flies in the face of accumulated data, and then sit around, waiting for others to disprove one's hypothesis.

To be useful a hypothesis has to be framed in terms that make it testable. To constantly intone, as Freeman does, that there are experts in painted linen out there who given the right equipment will one day prove him correct, is the ANTITHESIS of academic scholarship. (Yes, "experts in painted linen": how's that for begging the question?). The man is a crushing bore, and vain and arrogant with it too. It's time his publishers took a long hard look at the lack of solid scholarship. He is NOT an academic historian.

It's about as exciting a spectacle as watching a circus tightrope performer with a safety net.  Freeman's safety net is his entirely imaginary community of painted linen experts that he sees as his insurance policy should the going become too difficult.

Update: Saturday May 23

Some comments from David Beltz (posting as daveB) of Wellington, NZ have appeared recently on the shroudstory site, one where I no longer place comments (those who follow that site can probably guess why). However, it shan't prevent me from responding to them here.

Here's the first, reproduced in full, with a par-for-the-course put-down reference to this blogger/retired biomedical scientist highlighted in red.

daveb of wellington nz
May 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm
The difficulties are many. A primary difficulty is one of access. The custodians discharge their duty conscientiously over what many regard as a sacred relic. Even the scientists seem too narrowly focused. There are narrow sectional interests. The big advantage of STURP was that it was multi-disciplinary and they were all able to work together. We have not seen its like in sindonist studies since. There seems to be a difficulty with regional and national horizons. The Americans who contributed so hugely to our present scientific understanding seem to have been locked out by the Italians, who seem to have their own peculiar perspectives.

Large-scale funding is required if the investigations are to be anything other than amateur. Much of the science too seldom seems to get as far as the peer-review stage. Colin Berry labours on in his kitchen or his garage, but his work seems to be too agenda driven.
On the historical front, too much has already been lost. The historians find much to criticise in what meagre documentation there is, and they even complain at intelligent speculation, calling it writing a novel.
The ancients were capable of a great deal more than they are generally credited with. As a young man, I found Sprague de Camp’s history on the ancient engineers most enlightening. Given their industry and individual innovation, I do not find it surprising that they might be capable of weaving a herring bone cloth of the dimensions of the Shroud, regardless of what looms might or might not have been generally available at the time.
I see no future in the painted linen hypothesis, only that it may be disproved. No ancient or medieval painting has the realistic form of the man on the Shroud. Shred the paint off any portrait on linen. If anything remains, it will still look like only an artifact by human hand.
In the meanwhile, the Shroud can serve its purpose as an object of religious meditation, which in these pages is too seldom considered.

So I'm an amateur now, am I, despite a record of published research, some highly cited, and despite having supervised and/or examined PhD theses, acted as referee for top biochemical/biomedical journals? One loses one's professional credentials on retirement - is that the take-away message. Oh, and there's that reference to me continuing to labour away in my kitchen and garage. First, our sniffy and superior David Beltz seems to have overlooked that I have ceased labouring away, having proposed a generic two-stage model for the TS that involves first stage imprinting followed by second stage colour development. The model has been validated using white flour for Stage 1 imprinting followed by nitric acid vapour or solution for second stage colour development. No, I'm not "labouring away" David Beltz. I am awaiting critical comment, though none has so far emerged, folk like you much preferring to make derisive putdowns. As for the kitchen and garage: to the best of my knowledge, nitric acid behaves exactly the same inside a glass jar or bottle in my garage as it does in the laboratory. I could if I so desired impose on a close relative who does biomedical research in one of the world's most prestigious research laboratories, said to have a "Nobel Prize winner on each floor" that is  just a 40 minute drive away, and repeat my experiments there, thus avoiding references to my garage completely. However, I respect that individual too much to do that purely to impress the smug superior David Beltzes of this world.

I'll be back later with another comment from the Mr.High and Mighty David Belz later in the day, one that places another now deceased home-researcher, STURP's Raymond N.Rogers up on his customary pedestal. We'll take a look at what Mr. Rogers is quoted as saying in that 'peer-reviewed' paper of his re the alleged detection of starch on the Shroud, by someone else, not he, himself, and the allusions to Pliny era spinning and weaving technology, and proceed to ask: who's the one making rash, unsubstantiated claims and assumptions, and who's the one trying to stick to the facts, backed up by patient and careful experimentation, albeit in a kitchen or garage?

Oh, and as for that reference to my research being "agenda driven", I've stated repeatedly that my beef is with pseudoscience that masquerades as science. If that's an "agenda" so be it, but I suspect that folk were intended to place a rather different construction on Mr.Beltz's deployment of that term, which from where I am standing is about as mean and despicable an implication as one can get, though entirely predictable where that increasingly no-holds-barred  pro-authenticity cheer-leading, tub-thumping shroudstory site is concerned.

Oh, and here's one from the same incomparable daveb made at the start of the month :

daveb of wellington nz
May 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Colin has now been attempting to reproduce the properties of the image for some three years, with indifferent success only, although I applaud his perseverance. Might we suppose that a less chemistry-informed artisan would have struck it lucky any sooner? As one early commentator observed, Colin is more likely to end up proving the resurrection from all his efforts.
So it's a race is it to the correct answer? Who are the other competitors may one ask in the modelling department? Who are these "less chemistry-informed artisans" who should have crossed the finishing line ahead of me?

What we see here, yet again, is snide, belittling comment, the bane of internet forums, that can be summed -up in a single word: TOXIC!

There have been hints previously of that engineer's antipathy towards science and scientists. Here's just one example that I saved to file a way back:

daveb of wellington nz
January 25, 2014 at 3:45 am | #168
The sampling area is clearly anomalous, and unrepresentative of the whole, never mind the details. No other area was sampled. To assert the truth of an hypothesis on such ambiguous evidence would never be accepted in any other scientific endeavour. It merely demonstrates wishful thinking on the part of skeptics and anti-authenticists, not to say their poverty of scientific reasoning. Precisely the same poverty of thought that Yves Delage encountered from the Science Academy in 1905, dominated as it was then by so-called free-thinkers and agnostics. Some things never change!

And he has the nerve to accuse me of being 'agenda -driven' ! This from the same man that faltly rejects the d'Arcis memorandum in its entirety, on the grounds that the original Latin document was uncovered and translated into French in the late 19th century by Ulysses Chevalier, who he claims was ideologically tainted and, guess what, agenda-driven?  The ease with which our David Belz resorts to genteel smear tactics doth truly take the breath away.

And here is another gem from our all-knowing, all-seeing commentator. It's supposed to be authoritative science (peer-reviewed journal!!) from Ray Rogers no less.

daveb of wellington nz
May 22, 2015 at 9:48 pm
(MAILLARD REACTION) MAY EXPLAIN THE IMAGE FORMATION” Raymond N. Rogers & Anna Arnoldi, 2003, This article originally appeared in Melanoidins vol. 4, Ames J.M. ed., Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2003, pp.106-113.

“Observations of weave density and lignin content of the shroud fibres (Rogers, 2001) indicate a very mild bleaching technique in agreement with the methods described by Pliny the Elder (77). The same technology was in use, with some minor differences, until after the last crusade in 1291 (Hochberg, 1980). Linen was spun by hand on a spindle whorl. When the spindle was full, the spinner made a hank of thread. Each hank of thread was bleached separately, and each was a little different. Different parts of the same thread in the shroud’s weave show slightly different colours, like a variegated yarn. The warp thread was protected with starch during the weaving process, making the cloth stiff. The final cloth was washed in a solution made from Saponaria officinalis. Saponaria produces four glycosidic saponins, and all hydrolyse to produce sugar chains. (Ya Chirva et al., 1969) The following carbohydrates were identified in those chains: galactose, glucose, arabinose, xylose, fucose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid.”

“The presence of starch, in particular amilose, on the shroud was confirmed by the fact that during testing for sulfoproteins in blood areas with an iodine-azide reagent (which bubbles vigorously when sulfur is present), a reddish background was formed. Image colour does not appear under the bloodstains when they are removed with a proteolytic enzyme. Whatever process produced the image, colour must have occurred after the blood flowed onto (or was painted onto) the cloth, and the image-producing process did not destroy the blood (Heller and Adler, 1981).”

Note that the authors are asserting that several carbohydrates, including some sugars, were identified, and also amilose, which I take to be a starch. Authors also cite Heller & Adler regarding blood-stains. Searching on “starch” on web-site results in several other papers.

My response:

Had the paper come to me for refereeing with that cited passage above, it would have been rejected out of hand.

I'd have appended the following specific comments to the author and journal Editor:

1. Do not go citing Pliny the Elder out of the blue, begging the question re Shroud authenticity, implying that the radiocarbon dating can be safely ignored.  Oh no it cannot. The author might think it invalid, based on his examination of a few threads illicitly removed from the radiocarbon sample, with a subsequent gap in the chain of custody. But he cannot expect others to take his rejection as the consensus position in science. It's not. Indeed, the manner in which Pliny has been insinuated into the above text suggests strongly that Raymond N.Rogers was not strictly neutral and disinterested on the subject of authenticity when he penned the above paper, making it worryingly possible that he was not  neutral at the time he worked with STURP in 1978. It's my belief that Rogers was a closet authenticist. If he considered the radiocarbon dating was hopelessly wrong (by some 1300 years!)  then he as STURP's chemical team leader should have been the one to press for a repeat dating - not to go tacitly assuming authenticity. Science has to be totally objective in its written PEER-REVIEWED publications.

2. The presence of starch "confirmed" with a reagent that designed to test for something entirely different? The correct reagent for detecting starch is a solution of iodine in potassium iodide, which gives a blue-black inky colour with starch. A solution of iodine in the presence of sodium azide, intended to detect sulphoproteins, one that gives a totally different colour (red), CANNOT be assumed to be testing for starch or one its 2 components UNLESS VALIDATING TESTS ARE REPORTED.  They were not. We are asked to accept that iodine/azide is a dual purpose reagent. Who says? Neither does it inspire confidence to see a reference to "amilose", it being AMYLOSE needless to say. Secondly the differentiation between amylose (straight chain starch) and the unmentioned amylopectin (branched chain starch) simply cannot be inserted into a scientific account without a word of explanation. In any case, the two components of starch were not properly recognized as distinct chemical entities until the 1940s. Their relevance to colorimetric tests for starch is highly questionable to say the least, unless dealing with genetic variants of wheat and other cereals, notably maize, that are enriched in one or the other (e.g. waxy maize starches that are almost entirely amylopectin, which gives a red or purple colour with iodine/potassium iodide). What we see here is at best sloppy and imprecise unscientific reporting that should never have got past the referees.

3. There is no conclusive evidence that starch or other polysaccharides and/or sugars are  present on the Shroud, and even if the red colour with iodine/azide were admissible evidence, for which no assurance is offered, the evidence for that was from Adler and Heller. One CANNOT GO BASING MAJOR CLAIMS (as Roger's "starch fraction/Maillard hypothesis" has become a major claim) on evidence from other workers, in other laboratories, that is little more than anecdotal.

Repeat: the paper that David Beltz cites as if the gold standard in Shroudology SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION.

Research note: while considering my own intervention in TS image research to be largely complete (it is sufficient in science to produce a feasible model that may be beyond the resources of oneself to test ) I may place an order for some iodine/potassium iodide ("Lugol's") solution as a test for starch. The model proposed predicts that while the flour-derived starch would still be present immediately after development with nitric acid vapour (possibly not with the acid as solution)  the starch granules would then selectively wash out in the neutralization step with sodium bicarbonate (leaving just the yellow or orange  nitrated wheat gluten). While starch granules are not 'soluble' in cold water or aqueous solutions, they are nevertheless easily washed out by mechanical action, being of microscopic dimensions, which is the basis for separating wheat gluten protein from starch by kneading flour dough under water, washing out the starch, leaving a rubbery mass of gluten.

I shall add a photo here later of wheat starch granules that I isolated by the washing procedure when showing that it is protein, not starch, that is responsible for the yellow coloration formed when nitric acid reacts with a flour imprint on linen.

 Here are those photos (late addition):

Here's the dried-out sedimented starch at the bottom of the container, after kneading a flour dough so as to be left holding a rubbery mass of gluten (protein)in one's palm. The millions of tiny starch granules then settle out under gravity.
Here's the same sedimented starch, after breaking up into chunks. It's almost but not quite protein-free. Starch granules contain traces of protein (the so-called starch-granule proteins like friablin etc) that are important in determining milling quality - "hard" and "soft". This starch contributes next to nothing to the yellow or orange colour image seen when the negative flour imprints are developed with nitric acid. The colour is due to reaction between nitric acid and gluten proteins.

Update/progress report:  Sunday 24 May

The two stage image capture/image development  model proposed here, which to the best of my knowledge has never been articulated previously, far less demonstrated experimentally, could be said to have began life on 1st April this year (not the most auspicious date I grant you). It was the final posting and abandonment of sulphuric acid as hypothesized agent for the yellow-brown TS image, that acid having been found wanting (it can discolor linen, but only at high concentration AND elevated temperature).  That was the signal to look at alternative acids, with nitric acid being the obvious candidate. The next posting laid the historical groundwork, describing how nitric acid was known in the 13th/14th century, thanks to the writings of 'Pseudo-Geber', possibly one and the same as the Franciscan monk-cum-alchemist, one Paul of Taranto.

Here's a list of the postings on this site, since April Fool's day, taken from the summary table provided by Blogger Blogspot (which hosts this blog) and the current total of visits/views for each posting.

1 April 15 (125 views)

6 April 15  (89 views)

6 April 15 (157 views)

9 April 15 (292 views)

Modelling the Turin Shroud (medieval fake?). Just waiting now for the nitric acid to arrive.   

 Here was the moment when first it all seemed a damp squib, then one's patience rewarded:

Update: 18:00 Friday 17 April

Halleluja: The nitric acid has arrived. (I was out when it was delivered so had to collect if from Post Office, after waiting 2 hours for our regular post-lady  to return it to depot undelivered!).

Experiments are under way.  Results initially promising (there being no immediate effect of HNO3 fumes on linen) but then disappointing (no immediate effect of gelatin or flour imprints either). Never mind. These are early days. Maybe it's the liquid acid solution that's needed for development of image, a quick dip maybe, rather than exposure to fumes. Will report preliminary results in a new posting.

Update Saturday  18th April 2015 (for me a red letter day!)

Seems I spoke too soon. The imprint from the hot-water dispersion of wheat flour was left exposed to nitric acid fumes overnight, and removed from its jar this morning for close inspection.

Imprinted image of brass crucifix onto linen, using viscous gelatinized wheat flour, air dried, then developed overnight in nitric acid fumes. (Photo autocorrected in MS Office Picture Manager).

There IS  a faint yellow brown imprint of my brass crucifix, and what's more it's against a beige background (the linen having acquired what might be described as an aged look). What's more there's virtually no imprint visible on the reverse side of the fabric! We have ticked a number of important boxes it would seem.

18 April, red letter day: first communication of new model to outside world, so to speak, with this comment and snapshot placed on a shroudstory posting:

April 18, 2015 at 5:10 am
“…not a painting, not a scorch, not a photograph…”

No, but possibly a ‘chemograph’, obtained using then state-of-the-art 13/14th century alchemy (calcining of metal sulphates and nitrates to obtain nitric acid fumes).
Here’s my latest result- just an hour or so old:

I’ll describe in detail how it was obtained in my next blog posting (which may take a day or two). For now let’s just say that a viscous dispersion was made of white flour in hot water that was then painted onto my brass crucifix. A negative image was imprinted onto linen that was then allowed to dry (becoming near-invisible). The imprinted linen was then suspended overnight in a jar filled with nitric acid (HNO3) fumes. The linen turns a beige colour (aged look?) with the faint yellow-brown imprint you see above (the photo has been autocorrected in MS Office Picture Manager). There was no appreciable reverse side image, possibly because the swollen gelatinized wheat starch granules still have some kind of particulate properties, making it difficult to penetrate the weave.

These are early days. There’s a vast number of changes that can be rung with this ‘nitric fumigation’ model. I’ve briefly tested the effect of increasing the NOx content in the fumigation jar (by adding copper wire that generates visible NO2 as red-brown fumes, and no doubt invisible NO as well). The extra NOx does not appear to improve on the mainly HNO3 -developed image you see above.
Note the parallel with pre-digital photography, using a developing agent to produce a visible image. That allows for constant visual inspection to achieve an optimised end-result, unlike ‘hit or miss’ contact-scorching with a heated template. As I say, it’s not photography, but chemography. The technique could be adapted to work with a real person, needless to say, pre- or post mortem, though the first of those might object to being painted with goo, even edible goo.
April 18, 2015 at 6:42 am
Chemograph…love it. Whether one is pro-medieval or pro-1st century your experiments are rich with possibilities.

20 April 15 (56 views)

21 April 15 (168 views)

Might this be how the Turin Shroud was faked, using medieval alchemy?

Second red letter day, 26 April:  first shroudstory posting devoted to the new model:

"Might tactile chemography prove to be the super- model?"

3 May 15 (109 views)

6 May 15 (72 views)

20 May 15 (92 views)

That's a total of 1160  views since April 1, starting with that abandonment of the briefly-scrutinized H2SO4 model, and subsequent switch to oxidizing/nitrating HNO3.

Typical response  (with one or two welcome exceptions) from commenters on Dan Porter's shroudstory site :

"If you and your model were any good, you’d have thought of it sooner, instead of wasting our time these last 3 years with your blather"

In addition, there are these 2 recent postings on my specialist Shroud site, only recently reactivated after being dormant since end-2014:

13 May 15 (16 views)

Modelling the Turin Shroud: forged in the 14th century as a white flour imprint onto linen? Then chemically developed with nitric acid to resemble ancient yellowed sweat?

19 May 15 (8 views)

A generic model for how the Turin Shroud could have been forged via a TWO STEP process (image capture, then separate image development).

However, the true birth date for the current hypothesis, and the break with previous "thermal scorch" thinking , could be said to have been with this one on Feb 28, 2013

Shroudie-Alert: Day 11 Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI – what is one to make of his devotion to the Shroud (despite that radiocarbon dating)?

 The title, with its reference to the present Pope's predecessor,  provides no clue. But it's the posting in which a careful note was taken of the recent discovery at Machy, close to Lirey, of a mould for a second Lirey pilgrim's badge, with the inclusion of that (arguably) Veronica like face of Jesus above the word SUAIRE. That was when the thought first occurred to this blogger/retired biomedical researcher that the TS body image was meant to be seen as a sweat inprint. How might an ancient  (1300 year old) sweat imprint be - or have been- created as a negative imprint on linen? It took a while for strong mineral acids to be considered, despite one of them (H2SO4) getting a brief mention in STURP's 1981 Summary, as an agent capable in principle of discoloring linen to produce a tan image. But who's watching the clock - or calendar? I'm not. We are, after all, discussing what is said to be the most studied artefact in human history. What's a few months, or even years more? The important thing is to find the model that best fits all the known facts, one that can be used to make predictions capable of being tested, were the TS ever to be made available for a STURP Mark 2 study. Make up of that new team? I'd suggest that it be international, but restricted to folk who have made original and significant discoveries in their field of relevant expertise unrelated to Shroud studies. (This researcher considers he would qualify on account of his discoveries relating to photochemistry of bilirubin,  membrane effects on hepatic glucuronidation in the endoplasmic reticulum and (especially) much-cited work on the preparation, physicochemical and physiological properties of resistant starch as an essentially  man-made form of dietary fibre).

Update 19:30, 24 May 2015

Well folks, I've completed  what I set out to do over 3 years ago, bar a few small experiments to tidy up on the practical details.

 I've suggested how a medieval forger could have produced the image we see on today's Shroud of Turin, making allowance for some 700 years or so of wear and tear. If certain folk wish to see that as an agenda-driven anti-authenticity position, then so be it. For me, it was simply irritation at seeing that headline that read  "Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural" (Independent Dec 2011). My immediate reaction on seeing that headline was (as it still is) "Who are these scientists? What right do they have to call themselves scientists? What right do they have to put out press releases as if speaking on behalf of all scientists? Do they  not understand that once they opt for supernatural causation, especially if they have not bothered relentlessly to pursue explanations in terms of conventional science for years, decades even, then they have forfeited the right to call themselves scientists, and indeed do science a huge disservice.

All that remains is to ask if I have forgotten or overlooked something regarding the known characteristics of the Shroud image. Are there aspects that cannot be explained by the new model? I shall take questions here, or on my WordPress site, and nowhere else. Those questions can relate to the science, to the historical record or to the biblical account of the Passion. Anything else is likely to be outside my chosen remit or areas of interest. I'll say so if that is the case.

Update Monday 25 April

A most puzzling comment has just appeared from Charles Freeman on the shroudstory site regarding the "too red" blood on the Shroud. Here it is in full:

in response to daveb of wellington nz:
An example of the nil value of an opinion when unsupported by forensic science! The flow is not from the scourge wounds, but from the vena cava, and has occurred during the short journey from the cross to the tomb. Part of this blood has congealed transversally on the back during this journey, consists of […]
Well, we just have to disagree on the reality of the human blood. I am an independent scholar, formerly a Senior Examiner of the International Baccalaureate;s critical thinking programme, Theory of Knowledge, and thus used to looking at evidence or asking those who know.
I had the Heller/Adler papers read by a professor emeritus of physiology who said that their claims that this was blood were totally unconvincing. I show the bloodstains to any forensic expert i can find and they all say they have never seen dried blood that red.
So I am not working on the understanding that this is blood.
Why can’t the STURP tests be replicated 37 years on? Have they lost the tapes???

My response (articulated here, and here only):
Er, which photograph(s) of the TS show the blood as "too red"? How come after 3 years of looking at TS photographs, I have yet to see them?

It can't be the 1931 Enrie photographs, since they are B/W. It can't be the 2002 Durante pictures, at least those that appear on Mario Latendresse's Shroud Scope, since the colour of the blood in those  pictures is scarcely distinguishable from the body image, the entire look being a dull plum.

Durante 2002 (from Shroud Scope): blood too red?
(The first thing I do with Shroud Scope pictures is put then into MS Office Picture Manager and adjust brightness/contrast/midtone from 0,0,0 to -7/100/15 in order to get the blood looking redder). So which photos are Charles Freeman showing to his buttonholed experts? Maybe those Halta pictures on the iPad app, recently described (aptly methinks) as mere toys?

Blood too red? (Click to enlarge)
Or maybe the BBC's earlier release in 2008 of Halta pictures that do show a rosy hue in places where it's not expected, but in prominent areas of body image, not blood especially.

two extremes.jpg
Halta image from BBC site (2008). Some pink coloration - but it's mainly in the beard and other body-image locations.
 Finally, let's not forget the Turin custodians' own site with a selection of TS views, essentially the same it would appear as those on Shroud Scope.No, the bloodstains do not look too red. Indeed, they do not look red at all.

Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller, who said in writing the blood was too red, the porphyrin spectrum was atypical, and thus was born the "trauma bilirubin/acid methemoglobin" claim, which frankly I regard as a self-indulgent digression into narrative-driven pseudoscience (and have said so on numerous previous occasions, right from the word go, back in early 2012, never with a serious challenge). But it gets worse - much worse: look at the list of STURP team members, and see who has an asterisk beside their name, showing they travelled to Turin in 1978, and viewed the TS with their own eyes (albeit in artificial light). Alan Adler and John Heller do NOT have asterisks beside their names. They did NOT go to Turin in 1978. All their work was done with those sticky-tape samples supplied to them by Ray Rogers.  (One could be forgiven for thinking otherwise when one reads Adler's pdf). There is a big difference between viewing the whole TS image, where bloodstains can be seen adjacent to body image, and viewing selected samples of lifted blood (or "serum-coated fibres" as Adler unhelpfully described them) with no body image as a reference.

Barrie M.Schwortz has been responsible over the years for proselytising the "blood abnormally red" description, and his admiration for Alan Adler's pro-authenticity narrative-friendly bilirubin explanation. BS, now STERA  President, was of course was one of STURP's Documenting Photographers. Methinks the time has come for him to release some more photographs from that copyright-protected archive of his that might convince the sceptics, myself included, that the TS blood really does have a brighter colour than might be expected from that of brown 2 month old bloodstains never mind 2,000 years. Or has he already done so, in that archive of photomicrographs(see Figs.8 onwards)  taken by Mark Evans (fellow STURP Documenting Photographer) that he released a couple of years back to Thibault Heimburger MD for his pdf? Is that the (sole?) documentary evidence for blood that looks to red?

Misleading impression of 'redness' created by high magnification/strong illumination? RGB reference standards for comparison? Might the colours also have been digitally adjusted in a manner that accentuated redness?

That still leaves unanswered the question as to which photograph Charles Freeman showed to his forensic experts or emeritus professor of physiology. I shan't bother asking him directly. I've wasted too much time already - putting innumerable points and questions to someone who persistently displays a blissful indifference to the hard facts - and getting back nothing useful in return.

Update: Tuesday 26th May

Once in a while, one stumbles across a line of argument deployed in defence (or promotion) of Shroud authenticity that is so straw-clutching a hatchet job that the best policy is probably to ignore it, so as not to give it any greater currency than it deserves. Such is the case with a paper presented by US attorney Jack Markwardt.

 Yes, he's very keen that we should know he's an attorney, because attorneys are highly skilled at establishing the facts of a case, and setting out arguments in a logical and structured fashion. Right?

This blogger had grounds for suspecting the above cosy assumption was  not to be taken on trust, given that Markwardt's paper was cited by the corrosively cynical David Beltz (see earlier) as having been instrumental in making him reject the d'|Arcis memorandum, on the grounds, we're told, that the discoverer and translator of that document - French historian Chevalier Ulysse, was some kind of bigot intent on demolishing the authenticity of the TS as a means of pursuing a wider agenda against organized religion.

Well, I have just taken a quick look at the Markwardt paper, and what a lot of laboured nitpicking it was, intended to undermine the credentials of the d'Arcis memorandum as a valid historical document. I shall spare you all of that tedious  and turgid screed, dear reader, and just draw your attention to the proposition the readers is supposed to let by unchallenged near the start of the 14 pages.

Page 3/14

In 1900, Chevalier published a study of medieval documents that, he claimed, proved the Shroud a forgery (ref 5).

His conclusion was centered upon the previously obscure
D’Arcis Memorandum, a medieval document in which Pierre d’Arcis, bishop of Troyes, alleged that an unnamed artist had once admitted to having painted the double-body image that appeared on a cloth owned and exhibited by Geoffrey II de Charny, Lord of Lirey.(Ref 6).

Since this cloth and the Turin Shroud were then, and still are, generally
considered as one and the same, the D’Arcis Memorandum, if authentic and credible, would rather decisively lay to rest the relic’s claim to first-century provenance. 

As an experienced historian, however, Chevalier recognized that the charges of forgery contained in the D’Arcis Memorandum would not be deemed credible unless d’Arcis had, in fact, remitted the document to the Avignon Antipope, Clement VII. If Chevalier could establish that this had occurred, the memorandum’s contents would be rendered virtually unassailable inasmuch as the bishop would surely not have risked
asserting a charge that might be exposed as false and slanderous by a papal investigation.
Conversely, were Chevalier unable to establish that the memorandum was submitted to the Pope, the document would constitute little more than the repetition of rank hearsay or outright fabrication and could be accorded little historical weight in the authenticity debate between the conservative and progressive clergy.
The key words in that cut-and-paste are (in red) :

As an experienced historian, however, Chevalier recognized that the charges of forgery contained in the D’Arcis Memorandum would not be deemed credible unless d’Arcis had, in fact, remitted the document to the Avignon Antipope, Clement VII.

 What complete and utter tosh!

Bishop Pierre d'Arcis could have written his memorandum to anyone, far less grand in the Church hierarchy - and its assertions could be judged purely on the case presented. Since when has a communication had to be posted to a VIP in order to be taken seriously and assessed on its merits?

So all the long and tedious arguments about whether the memorandum was actually dispatched or left unposted in draft form, or whether the antipope's  subsequent consent for lifting the earlier long ban on displaying of the Shroud (only as a aid to worship, while explicitly forbidding any claims to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus) was or was not evidence for the memorandum having been received and read) is all totally irrelevant where the historical credibility of otherwise of the memorandum is concerned. D'Arcis could have written it as a letter to his own mother, and it would still be regarded as a valuable historical document, especially in view of the paucity generally of written references to the TS in the 14th century.

In fact, this blogger in the past has made occasional reference to another missive regarding the TS, written by another bishop in a later century (from Annecy, 1614). It was penned by St.Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, founder of the still-going-strong Salesian order, shortly after viewing the TS with his own eyes, and making numerous references to his tacit assumption, accurate or otherwise, that it was an imprint in sweat and blood. 

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

It's a valuable historical record, coming from an eye-witness, and one who had moreover made his mark as a scholar and (probably) man of his word. Is that because his letter was sent to the then Pope? No. It was sent to ...  guess who? Yes, his mother, his dear old mum, and is none the less credible for that. Indeed, some might think it more credible (folk, least of all those who are subsequently canonized, do not generally try to deceive their own mothers).

Update: Wed 27 May 2018

Here's a fascinating and thought-provoking article in today's Mail, which under the less-than-inspiring headline saying that erasers should be banned from classrooms. It goes on to  make the more telling point that children's, and indeed adult's mistakes should be "embraced" as part of the real-world learning process. 

It's a principle this now primarily TS-focused blog-within-a-blog  implicitly recognized when first set up over three years ago. It describes a learning curve, one in which all current thinking is articulated. When, as so often happens, later results and insights make that initial thinking redundant, what does this blogger do? Answer: nothing. The original thoughts, ones that may cause one to cringe when looking back, stay in place. I NEVER doctor far less erase the record. What is becoming increasingly clear is the way in which wrong directions are the result of buying in to false preconceptions, and, as often as not, those preconceptions are, or were, not one's own, but those of the society in which one lives. 

Concrete example? The description of the imprinted linen as a "shroud", with the tacit assumption that the Turin "Shroud" is a burial shroud. If one reads the Gospels, comparing closely the account of the intervention of Joseph of Arimathea in the synoptic gospels with that of the same supplier of linen AND then that of Nicodemus in John with the new reference to winding sheets and aloes, myrrh, spices, ointments, then an entirely different scenario from 'received wisdom' unfolds. The TS, as stated so often on this site, was never intended for use as a burial shroud. It was used merely for receiving the body of Jesus from the cross and transporting it to the nearby rock tomb. That's why the TS image can be interpreted as a contact imprint in blood and sweat requiring no supernatural projection of body image across air gaps that is not just assumed in sindonology circles but actively proselytized  to promote a resurrection narrative. The latter may or may not have occurred - even the gospel accounts seem quite guarded in that respect - but if it did occur, then the image was imprinted on Nicodemus's winding sheets, the real burial shroud, NOT on Joseph of Arimathea's transport linen. Sorry, sindonologists: it's too late to rub out your faulty preconceptions, based not only on wishful thinking, but on a careless or over-hasty reading of the biblical account of the Passion.

Today, I am developing some imprints made yesterday. There are three main questions being addressed: how do imprints made (from my hand) with cold flour dispersion compare with those of a more transparent paste made with hot water (in which the starch granules are gelatinized)? How do LOTTO images compare with LUWU (linen on top of hand, or hand pressed downwards into linen)? How do images made with extracted starch compare with those made with whole flour, the latter having considerable protein, mainly wheat gluten, as well as starch? Results should be available by the end of the day and will be reported in a new posting, drawing a line under this one. 

Update 27 May, 10:25

There's been a response from Dan Porter on his shroudstory site to my earlier comments on this posting re the "blood too red" mantra, the one for which I can find scarcely any evidence in published photographs.

Porter has a pop as per usual re my "overlong" postings that drift, still oblivious to the fact that this site is not a blog in the conventional sense.  It is a report in real time of  a highly focused research project, designed to test the claim that the TS could not have been produced by medieval forgery. All the twists and turns are logged. Why? Because if this 'blogger' were to succeed in his task, one that we're told has eluded generations of researchers ("the TS is the most studied artefact in history") then posterity, or at any rate my grandchildren, might like to know how I was able to arrive at an answer, experimenting in a kitchen and garage, with no proper laboratory, and no research funding, buying all my equipment and chemicals from internet traders.

There is also the inevitable jibe. Right at the very end he gives a link to an earlier posting of his, addressing the "blood too red" issue, one in which he had singled out my then current views, albeit directed more to the wider issue of "bilirubin", the presence or absence thereof. He asks why I had not expressed a view then on the issue of blood colour per se, when so many others were taking the "too red" colour description supposedly as beyond dispute.

There's a simple answer to that. Look at the date on that posting: Jan 10th 2012. I had been in Shroud research less than two weeks, the first TS posting on this site being December 30, 2011. I was expressing deep scepticism re the presence on bilirubin in TS bloodstains, not primarily for its contribution to blood colour, but because I knew from having worked for two years exclusively on bilirubin photochemistry (for its role in phototherapy of neonatal jaundice) that the chances of bilirubin surviving 2000 years, or even 700 years, in amounts sufficient to respond to standard lab tests (diazo etc) were essentially zilch. I repeat: ZILCH! If TS blood really is "too red" for aged blood, then it's something other than bilirubin that is responsible. Alan Adler, sadly no longer with us, but still posthumously accountable as STURP's porphyrin chemist, should not have been content to comment on an abnormal porphyrin spectrum, and then go positing a narrative-friendly fantasy re 'trauma' bilirubin that could not have survived two years without protection from light and oxygen, never mind two millennia. He should have isolated the anomalous porphyrin, e.g. by chromatography, easily tracked by its red fluorescence under uv,  and then submitted it to mass spectrometry to see whether the porphyrin per se was different from normal physiological protoporphyrin IX. One is supposed to do that sort of thing BEFORE invoking interaction with other chemical entities that he claimed to be present "in extraordinary amounts" (omitting to give numbers) based on quick visual spot tests under the microscope, without bothering  to isolate and characterize.

Update, 12:30, 27 May

As I say, I no longer comment on the shroudstory site, it being 90% malevolent flak, most of it hopelessly uninformed, and 10% useful and balanced observation, most from the same two commenters, one UK based, the other US.

However, here's a comment from the advanced positions of the artillery brigade that just has to be recorded, here for posterity, as well as that site.

in response to Dan:
Berry: Where did the story of the too-red blood originate?  Answer: from Adler and Heller You may have noted a comment by Charles Freeman.  Well, we just have to disagree on the reality of the human blood. I am an independent scholar, formerly a Senior Examiner of the International Baccalaureate;s critical thinking programme, Theory of […]
From his very look at an actual small fragment of blood he discerned in his labs high-powered microscope with different mode of viewing, Heller describes what he saw as bright red. Adler later concurred. Explaining the bright red color was a challenge but they believed that it was the result of the torture Christ endured releasing bilirubin into the blood stream.
They did not offer off the cuff anonymous opinions. They checked their findings with associates and received confirmation. They used multispectral analysis down to the nanogram level. They published in a peer review journal.
NONE of the photographs taken of the Shroud are fine definition enough to visualize that level.

Thank you Mr.Klotz, thank you in eternal gratitude, for relating what is almost certainly the  basis of the "too red" claim. I need add no more - not a single word.

Afterthought (13:30, 27 May): well, one self-indulgent  word maybe (or two if hyphenated): pseudo-science. That's agenda-driven pseudo-science. 90% or more (probably more) of 'sindonology' is agenda-driven  pseudo-science, the Adler/Heller  fantasy-based claims for  bilirubin being the root cause of their own dubious claims  for "too red blood" being just one more  egregious example.

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