Monday, November 18, 2019

Forget all those cosy assumptions about Stonehenge (solstice celebration etc). Think pre-Bronze Age SKY BURIAL on growing industrial scale. Think signposting for long-haul coastal gulls. Think uprights and lintels serving as (shhh!) megalithic BIRD PERCHES!






Changed format:  I'll simply provide my take-away message.

 Links will be provided  now and again to more detailed justifying arguments, supplied elsewhere, notably my specialist Stonehenge site, set up in early 2012.

But the main aim is to provide a flavour (beware: strong stuff, definitely not for the faint-hearted) of the main conclusion arrived at, as summarised in the title of this posting!

1. Geographical location of Stonehenge : upper reaches of the Hampshire Avon, approx 20 km (12 miles) as the crow - or seagull- flies  from source at Pewsey ,  and approx 50  km  (30  or so miles) from estuary almost directly due south on English Channel at Christchurch. So it was a means second to none for getting progressively inland, remaining close to lush river valley, easily navigable with simple crafts - wood logs as recently suggested. (Link)





Fig.1:  Map with (a) Stonehenge  (b) Amesbury (c) Christchurch   (d)  River Avon



Now a modern day picture of the Avon at Amesbury - easily navigable.




Fig.2: Description. English: River Avon, Amesbury Amesbury is an attractive small town embraced by a loop of the River Avon as it cuts through the high plateau of Salisbury Plain.
Date 28 June 2008;Source From geograph.org.uk;  AuthorTrish Steel 

2. As riverside population grew so did the demand for funeral services.  The modern day Amesbury on an unhelpful U-bend became seen as a good location for specialized  funeral service. Bodies of the deceased could be transported to nearest access to the River Avon, then taken up to Amesbury via  log raft etc.

(Consider a link to one or other Jacques articles - though I have to say there's much in his narrative to which I have no great enthusiasm. But he's right to emphasise the advantages offered by Amesbury as a place for human settlement - those curious warm water spring, allegedly with year-round constant temperature of 11 degrees (really?), ease of access by river etc etc

Link:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/11/02/britains-first-city-discovered-archaeologists-say-home-people/

See refs to Profs Albert Lin and David Jacques.

3. But there was a problem with "simple" means of body disposal, whether (a) burial aka inhumation   (b) cremation (whole-body).

Why?   Neither was simple, not in pre-Bronze Age era.

 Reasons? Let's not dwell on the detail except to say

1. Burial
 (a)   Lack of metal digging implements requiring antler picks etc (b)  simple burial raised fears of entrapment of body spirit, need for 'soul release'(c) no means of writing, no means of a headstone inscription indentifying the buried individual.

2. Cremation (whole body):  slow, needing constant attendance,  probably incomplete etc etc

4. Our Neolithic forbears adopted a practice what might shock some modern folk (despite being used to this day in some parts of the world).

Technically it's called excarnation , i.e. initial defleshing of body to semi-skeletal state. That's then followed by end-stage cremation (faster and more fuel efficient that whole body cremation). Excarnation can be done manually, with sharp flints (or later with metal blades). But there was an alternative, one that was seen as offering advantages. I refer to "sky burial", where body is exposed to elements, where it's spotted by scavenger birds who then proceed to make short work of it, at least under ideal conditions.

Links to just one of several of my initial postings on sky burial, May 2016:
https://colinb-sciencebuzz.blogspot.com/2016/05/was-mark-1-stonehenge-initially.html


But that's the problem: achieving those idea conditions such that sky burial becomes practical, reliable, able to be completed in a reasonable time-course etc etc.

5. Making sky burial more practical, more dependable on a day-to-day basis, maybe year-round, maybe not:  there are a number of ways.

(a)  strip the turf off a chalky soil, lay body out. Hope birds spot it.
(b)  provide elevated perches in form of bank, with adjacent ditch from which chalk was excavated
(c)  timber posts (bird perches) maybe with cross pieces to provide greater room.
(d) Display animal remains in quiet periods to keep the birds on site.

Here's that iconic Pentre Ifan dolmen in Pembs, with some fascinating (and illuminating) detail...




Fig.3:  Pentre Ifan versus Stonehenge (image from Brian John site). Note parallels with Stonehenge (uprights bridged with capstone (dolmen) or lintel (Stonehenge)

Design  as a bird-friendly "feeding table" explains not only the capstone, but its overhangs, its resting on pointed uprights. How? It's designed to make it difficult for ground-based scavengers to get access to the 'free meal', deterring birds.
(e) standing stones
(f) stone circles (show graphic)

See Appendix 1 for a key passage in the wikipedia entry for "dolmen", making clear that there's no justification whatsoever for defining the dolmen simply as a "burial chamber".

It's a point I made strongly on the Megalithic Portal site (which I have now abandoned, once and for all, given its persistent control freakery!)





Fig.4:   Small part of the vast Avebury stone circle:


(g) stone circles with cross-piece lintels. (Yes, we have finally arrived at Stonehenge). Refer to earlier graphic - comparison with dolmen. Stress the practical function of the lintels!  No need to mention so-called carpentry joints.

6. Next step: how to make one's "sky burial" site better visible from the air? 

Answer: introduce the so-called cursus ( two chalk embankment, approx 80 to 100 metres apart, with their excavation ditches (external to banks) also exposing chalk, doubling the area of 'gleaming white' visibility.




Fig. 5:  Stonehenge  Cursus (a) as is, from air   (b) with highlighting to re-create bird's eye view with gleaming white chalk

Orientation of the cursus is critical: it has to be visible 'square on' to the best of the UK excarnators, that being? Answer: the gull, aka seagull, migrating inland up the Avon river from the Channel. Look at the orientation of the River Avon and the Stonehenge cursus: approx N-S and E-W respectively, i.e. mutually at right angles!




Fig.6:  Stonehenge Cursus: orientation with respect to River Avon and other landscape features


7. How was the idea of the Cursus as a direction pointer  hit upon?

Was it entirely planned from word go? Maybe, one will never know. But it could have been arrived at by accident. How?  Someone exposed chalk on which to lay out a corpse to give it greater visibility to LOCAL bird life.  Over period of time they noticed that the exposed chalk was attracting more and more gulls. They extended the area of exposed chalk, far more than needed for body display, and, hey presto,  summoned up still more gulls!

 The future Stonehenge - industrial scale  Stonehenge- was in the making, albeit in its infancy.

So the idea took hold that one could use two separate areas of exposed chalk: a smaller one for display, and a larger, much larger one for  signposting the free offering. The display area alone was initially a causewayed enclosure, apols for slipping in that technical term,  see link, with excavated pits used to provide chalk that was then perhaps scattered across the central area. That later evolved into the "henge" (another technical term, see link) excavated as a complete, bar the odd one or two openings. The external bank provided added advantage  privacy!

Let's at this point make brief reference fo Thornborough Henge with its dressing of imported white gypsum - designed we're told by wiki to render site more visible. Correction: "visible from the air".
Thornborough henges (give wik link) .  Some references single out the central of the 3 henges as dressed with imported white gypsum. Others say all three were coated.
Quote from wiki entry on Thornborough Henges:

"Archaeological excavation of the central henge has taken place. It has been suggested that its banks were covered with locally mined gypsum. The resulting white sheen would have been striking and visible for miles around".

8.  Initially, the sky burial site was reserved for the elite of society, whose relatives paid the necessary fees for what was a specialized service available to the privileged only. what's more the cremated remains were in some, maybe most cases, interred on the spot of what was seen as a privileged location.
Maybe an image of Stonehenge's cremated bone. Maybe a mention of La Varde with evidence of prior excarnation.




Fig.7:  interred cremated bones from Aubrey Hole at Stonehenge> Some hint that individual's  bones were separately packaged prior to interment in something that has since decayed away (leather pouches?).

But there was a problem, as well as a compensating advantage. As demand for the site's facilities grew, space for interment of cremated bone began to become scarce. But as demand grew, so did the population of resident birds. So did "knowledge" of the site's whereabouts to coastal gulls, aided by the river and the end-stop Cursus.


9. A bold step was taken.  The service offered by the site was opened up to less wealthy folk,  the first step towards industrial-scale Stonehenge, but on one condition: , namely that relatives collected the cremated remains and took them back home, for storage or disposal as they saw fit.

 (Probably wrong on part of some to suggest that absence of later absence of cremated  bone implied cessation of cremation. Reminder: absence of evidence in archaeology should not be taken to imply evidence for absence!). 

Second: the need was seen for a bigger and better Cursus approx halfway between the Channel and Amesbury that will serve as a better 'signpost'. Cue the Dorset Cursus  - still some 80-100 metres in width, but length now extended, first to about 5 then to 10km no less!




Fig 8:  Graphic showing the location and orientation of the Dorset Cursus.
Show that same earlier map, but with an extra large inserted  RED arrow to show the location of the Dorset Cursus approx halfway between the coast and Stonehenge.


10. We have an explanation for the (a) Heel Stone and (b) nearby Slaughter Stone at Stonehenge. (Stone 16  also while we're about it, also with bird bowls/bird bath).

Graphics of Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone (close ups, why few if any mentions of shape - at least not in the major internet sites!). What are you afraid of?



Fig 9: proximity of Heel and Slaughter Stone






Fig.10: close-up of Heel Stone (!)

Alignment of the open end of the innermost trilithon horse shoe to the Heel Stone. (Also ensured illumination of displayed offerings first thing on midsummer sunrise AND last thing on mid-winter sunset).
(Have erased that  winter sunset link, since the only light  at dusk would be coming through the narrow space between uprights, there being only one open-end to the inner trilithon horseshoe!)

11. We now have an explanation for the Altar Stone and why it is where it is, both in terms of (a) alignment (b) depth of embedding in turf. Graphic: Altar Stone? say there's scarcely any visible above ground.
Shoe the B.John diagram with its strategic-situation.

Image to be added shortly




Fig.11: Location of the near-totally obscured/buried Altar Stone.

Image to be added shortly



Fig 12:  Close up of scarcely-visible Altar Stone, immediately above red arrows (ignore fallen pillars on top, shown with red crosses)


12. Most important of all, we have an explanation for the lintels, and indeed the  stone circles. (perch v light'shadow).






Fig. 13: Birds congregating on Stonehenge lintels


13. We now have an explanation for the salt-tolerant lichens at Stonehenge





Fig 14: Photo of Lintel Page,  2011 Visitors' Guide to Stonehenge

Heading (top left, under title "Lichens") reads: "Many of the lichen species found at Stonehenge usually grow only on exposed coastlines:their presence at Stonehenge remains mysterious".

14. We have an explanation for Seahenge (one that briefly attracted the e-word from the BBC in its 1999 Report).

Display the 1999 BBC Page (to come shortly)



Fig 15: Seahenge, BBC 1999

The timbers are now on display in a local museum, with no e-word in the internet page, indeed little on the site itself, more on what the neighbouring human settlement would have looked)!  Nuff said.  (Give link to my recent posting on the Museum's display).

15. We now have an explanation for the Thornborough Cursus, cutting across the central of the three henges:

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/httpwp-mepi6d8-1fy/

More to come

16. We now have an explanation for innumerable  (150+) yet, even now,   mysterious cursus in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  I'll be putting the spotlight on one of the three in Ireland in the next day or two.

17. We now have an explanation for ?????   More to follow.( Yes, am keeping an option in reserve, one of several).

18. We now have an explanation for the location of Woodhenge and Durrington Walls .

Woodhenge a proto-Stonehenge,constructed as the name indicated with earlier timber. Durrington:  Housed the sky burial specialists , not too close, not too far from Stonehenge itself. A discreet distance. How remunerated?  Maybe with livestock. maybe with sustenance for lives. Cue the versatile pig, which could have been housed in pens at Durrington, the accumulations of their bone mistaken for "winter feasting". (The seasonal link was based on  the assumption that the pigs were born in spring. Why? Pigs are happy to breed year round!).

19.  We now have an explanation for Silbury Hill.


"Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe. Probably built over a short period between about 2470 and 2350 BC, it is one of the most intriguing monuments in the prehistoric landscape of the Avebury World Heritage Site"

Note it came relatively late. Maybe sky burial was going out of fashion. Maybe manual excarnation with copper or bronze blades, then making their first appearance.
 See my posting on Ancient Origins  (give link - or maybe screen grab) with a suggested role for earthworms as soil rather than sky "burial".





Fig.16: screen grab,  my Ancient Origins posting on  proposed  function of man-made Silbury Hill.

 Link

20. We now have an explanation for  the  curious route taken by the "Avenue", initially in the direction of upstream Durrington/Woodhenge, then turning sharply down to a more southerly stretch of the Avon, avoiding that awkward bend.

Fig 17: Circuitous route, Avenue (graphic from current posting)
Graphic showing the curious route taken by the Avenue. (Yes. There's the interesting claim that it follows natural chalk stripes, created by melting ice in Ice Age, but there are as many questions as answers).



20. Why the difficulty in getting one's message across? Answer:  when a claim is made via a newspaper headline, the search engine displays the headline as clickbait, and those clicks then assist its rise in rankings. When an internet blogger such as myself composes what one hopes is an eye-catching title for the latest posting, guess what?

Here's a partial screen grab of 2014 Mail Online article on Amesbury as the "London" of Neolithic Britain.




The title  of one's new (poaaibly newsworthy?) postings is invariably ignored! The (major) search engine may give some of one's SITE  (not posting) title.  It may pull a few words from one's posting, eye-catching or otherwise, it may give a date (usually from an older posting,  months, even years earlier, but rarely the date of one's latest posting) but it never, repeat NEVER displays one's posting title.  So is it any wonder that one's idea(s) fail to get a look-in, alongside those trumpeted through newspaper headlines like the one above! Use of the internet as a a real-time learning curve (esp by retired scientists  no longer with  lab access and other back-up facilities ) is a total waste of time for as long as the present state of affairs continues.  Learned societies - kindly get your oar in.  Register a protest on behalf of retired scientists and other professionals.  Condemn the system for its gross inadequacies!


This posting will probably the last on Neolithic Britain where new observation, new content is concerned. I shall now sit and await reactions, from whatever quarter - internet initially, hopefully (later on) from academe and the media too (though holding out no great hope where 'being noticed' is concerned, lacking as I do a published paper in a refereed journal, Press Officer. But think of the hundreds of papers in those refereed journals, instantly flagged up by the media, all promulgating the same old 'solstice celebration" narrative (or as some woukld say, fantasy). Evidence: virtually zilch, not counting correlation ("the axis of Stonehenge faces the Heel Stone, then the Avenue, then the north-east. Ipso facto Stonehnge is oriented towards the midsummer sunrise, or maybe the midwinter sunset, or if they don't quite fit, substitute something else that is  vaguely astronomical, like either of the two equinoxes, or, if really desperate, phases of the Moon bla bla....).

My view on alignment, orientation?  Stonehenge was aligned originally with the Heel Stone, a sarsen that was probably where it is, or nearly so, prior to the arrival of Neolithic man, who was immediately taken with its bird-like features, especially when turned upright from an initial recumbent position. But Stonehenge could have been at any point on the compass, facing the Heel Stone. Why point it at Heel Stone AND the north-east?  Answer: nothing to do with summer or winter solstices as such (longest and shortest days respectively). How could one celebrate one or other day at sunrise or sunset if the sky were cloudy?  Why construct a vast monument to celebrate just one or maybe two days a year? Who would want to celebrate a winter solstice late in December?
No, there's a more down to earth explanation for a north east orientation, towards the Heel Stone AND the north east. It ensured that there was illumination of the central 'business area' of the trilithon horseshoe first thing (i.e.crack of dawn) in the summer months and, as an added basis, last thing (sunset) in the winter months. We're talking now about optimizing to seasonal sunlight, i.e. over months, not singling out particular days of then year to put garland in our hair and dance around pillars, with  mighty labour-intensive lintels (probably over decades)  serving no role beyond mere decoration.

Postscript: Saturday Nov 23

On Monday, in two days time, I'll try a slightly different tack as a means of getting the sky burial explanation for Stonehenge better known (without at this stage involving the mass media). That's industrial-scale sky burial you realize, which explains why things were done (finally) on a megalithic scale, having evolved from much humbler beginnings (henges, timber posts, single standing stones etc).

Here's what I intend to do. I have drawn up a list of 22 points that each contribute some indirect, i.e. circumstantial, evidence that support the sky burial thesis. They will be divided  into a First X1 and a Second X1, cricket-style. Each of the stronger points selected for the First X1 will come with a brief, nay telegraphic summary, so as to provide a quick takeaway mental checklist. (I'll withhold a similar back-up screed for the Second X1 for the moment, so as not to overload the reader).

Why the reluctance on the part of the internet-readership  in general thus far to signal acceptance of what's set out in this posting, to say nothing of previously since early 2012?

Answer?  The chief one is clearly to do with the mechanics of sky burial, aka excarnation, aka defleshing.  Accompanying plus points as regards soul-release, or reference to cremation as a final clean-up seem to make little impact. Sky burial is simply seen as somehow alien to Britishness, not just modern but Neolithic too (overlooking the new evidence that the builders of Stonehenge sailed in originally from the  far away eastern end of the Mediterranean (Aegean Sea, Anatolia etc) , only to be  subsequently displaced by the Beaker folk ).  But I suspect its also to do with the nature of the evidence - not compellingly direct , but a less dramatic accumulation of indirect evidence, brick by  patiently introduced brick...

Meanwhile, English Heritage continues to promote its solstice celebration narrative as if rock-solid fact. Not so, English Heritage. There is a dearth of evidence to support your narrative, nay rose-tinted fantasy. I say its time you began to address hard fact, time to start articulating the likely function of Stonehenge as an industrial-scale site devoted entirely to sky burial, followed by  cleansing end-stage cremation of left-overs.

Further postscript, Nov 24, 2019

Have just responded to Andy Burnham, founder of the Megalithic Portal website. Here's a screen grab (yes, naughty I know) with his response first to my complaint against "dolmen" being equated with "burial chamber", followed  immediately after by my own:



Apols. It's somewhat faint and blurry. Try clicking to enlarge.  Alternatively,  you may prefer,  dear reader, to visit the above thread, via the following URL:

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6019#comments

Further PS (Tuesday Nov 26, 2019)

The comment above, posted to Megalithic Portal. protested initially at a particular "dolmen" being categorized by a fellow commenter as a "burial chamber". Imagine then my surprise at being told by site founder Andy Burnham that it was official site policy to treat the dolmen as a sub-category of burial chamber, and allow the two to go unchallenged in so-called News items . Anyone disagreeing with that policy should place, correction, bury their protest on a particular  "Forum" section of the site's bewildering array of tabs  (labelled "sacred", "mystery"!).  Talk about control freakery!

My contempt for that site grows by the day, attempting as it does to call the shots on all matters related to megalithic additions to the landscape.

At least my comment above is still where I placed it - under the offending News item. It has not been shunted into a Forum or elsewhere, which is more than one can say for yesterday's latest crossing of of swords with the control-freak owner of Meg Forum.

Latest run-in?

Another "News" item appeared yesterday, one which referred to "rock art" and "decorations" on prehistoric stones, lying horizontally in the turf  at the "Whitehall" site in east Dunbartonshire. I have taken the liberty of reproducing here the accompanying image:




Here was my immediate comment sent to the same "News" item (no, not to an obscure forum):




Here's a bolder version of what I wrote:


Get real, for heaven's sake! Cup-marked stones, with or without surrounding concentric circles and linear drainage channels, served not as art but as rainfall reservoirs for sky burial platforms. Read bird bowls. 

Here's a detailed account of those thoughtful (bird-friendly) man-made additions, correction, subtractions (gouged-out rock).  

Link      

Shame about the failure on the part of an otherwise excellent review to put two-and-two (conceptually) together.

Colin Berry


But you won't find it there any longer. Why not? Because Andy Burnham popped up, saying I had been warned that my kind of comment had no place under a "News" item. Yes, it's been moved, goodness knows where, possibly deleted for all I know.  (Oh, but my link to that detailed 2012 review on cup-marked stones  etc  has been retained, though don't ask me where).

I just had time to return with a short message, saying that this retired non-nonsense scientist had no time for the Forum sections of Meg Portal's site, that anytime it wishes me to resume informed comment on its NEWS items it has only to let me know. In the meantime, I shall stay away from Megalithic Portal. with its mental blitz of tabs, many of them repetitive , to say nothing of its galloping control-freakery.

You need to curb your controlling bullying tendency, Megalithic Forum. You need to acquaint yourself with the scientific method, which takes an exceedingly dim view of those who deploy loaded terminology that attempts to pre-empt scientific enquiry, to stunt scientific progress. I say that it's wrong, entirely wrong to pre-classify dolmens as burial chambers. I now say it's also wrong, entirely wrong, to pre-classify those cup-shaped markings  on kerbs, dolmen capstones etc as  mere decorative art. Both are related , I say, to the practicalities of modifying megaliths to serve as sky burial platforms, i.e. to make them bird-friendly.





Start of late insertion (Nov 30, 2019)

I say that Meg Portal  - to say nothing of a few other websites -  is acting as an internet roadblock  to an understanding of our nation's TRUE  hitherto concealed, totally unadorned, PROTO -industrial history.

Yes,  monumental Stonehenge represented  the highest point of  a steadily-growing  pre-Bronze Age industrialized development of THE preferred means of  human body disposal.

Method?  Answer: two-stage body disposal, namely via (admiitedly unsightly) SKY BURIAL , followed by  (admittedly unsightly|) end-stage CREMATION  of  left-overs. But  that two-stage process was considered  marginally superior to  (a)  "simple" inhumation (burial) or  (b) "simple" whole-body cremation.

Reasons?  Ask Neolithic man!  He would given you any number of reasons, all now lost in the mists of time to our modern-day Homo interneticus, bar it seems this single  unsentimental hard-headed, lone voice  it an  otherwise the online wilderness. !

If that be the modern world - then so be it.  I and the modern world will now go their separate ways! May your mind rest easy with those spoon-fed fond delusions, dear reader, constantly sustained by those dodgy supportive websites, pandering  continually to  your fancy, rarely if ever to hard, albeit unsavoury facts.


 You read it here first, dear reader, starting in a small way on this very website some 7 years ago! 

Why hide one's light under a bushel  when pretty well everyone else, on and off the internet,  is trying to hide one's  "tell-it-the-way-it is, no-holds-barred"  torch-light?

I say it's time that we as a nation faced up to truth regarding our own history - bestowed to us via those allegedly 'enigmatic' megalithic monuments. Yes, they continue to litter our national landscape, all having served essentially the same purpose - to assist with disposal of the dead via sky burial,  culminating  in Salisbury Plain's spectacular  end-stage Stonehenge! Then copper and bronze tools came along (spades, picks etc)  simple burial became a faster practical option, and sky burial quickly went out of fashion.

Memories of sky burial were gradually lost. Some better-informed folk  (centuries ago) recoiled no doubt at the sight of those dolmens, knowing or suspecting their true function, and proceeded to cover some of them over with mounds of earth (causing later generations, the current one in particular, epitomized by Megalithic Portal) to mistake them for "burial chambers"! Kid yourselves if you wish, Meg Portal. Just don't expect the rest of us to swallow your fanciful rewriting, indeed gross misrepresentation, of pre-Bronze Age history...

(End of late insertion)

Here's a screen grab of the front cover of that flagged-up Varner review:



Why on earth would anyone bother placing "decorative art"  (read  "cup-holes") on the upper surface of a so-called "burial chamber"  (read "dolmen capstone")?

For heaven's sake, Megalithic Portal!  Cease mixing up ideas with your mangled semantics. You are a disgrace to the world of knowledge...  It is folk like you, Megalithic Portal,  who  give the internet a bad name, shunned  and/or ignored by academe and mainstream media alike. You queer the pitch for everyone else (this retired scientists included) trying to use the internet as a responsible medium of communication.

Sorry to have to say it (graphically) but...




Further postscript (still Nov 26)

The internet hugely bores me right now, at least as a medium for communicating original and dare I say informed viewpoints, developed over many years of patient study, leaving no stone unturned. Like, you know, Stonehenge as a site for sky burial (on a ceremonial, indeed industrial scale)

I've decided to return to an older interest, albeit intermixed with existing focus, namely current affairs, City and business issues especially, climate change, nutrition and health etc

Here's a comment I've just placed on the Telegraph Business Section. It was a quickie response to Juliet Samuel's article entitled " Johnson dare not risk losing this election for the sake of tax cuts".  Link to Comments: 






Appendices

1. Key passage in the wiki entry for DOLMEN (my bolded italics)

It remains unclear when, why and by whom the earliest dolmens were made. The oldest known are found in Western Europe, dating from c 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists still do not know who erected these dolmens, which makes it difficult to know why they did it. They are generally all regarded as tombs or burial chambers, despite the absence of clear evidence for this. Human remains, sometimes accompanied by artefacts, have been found in or close to the dolmens which could be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating. However, it has been impossible to prove that these remains date from the time when the stones were originally set in place.[2]:






Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Re that wrongly named Shroud of Turin: let's try rewriting STURP's deplorable 1981 Summary ...





Above is a screen grab of the  1981 STURP SUMMARY  (available on the site of STURP's Documenting Photographer)


CLICK TO ENLARGE!


Below is my annotated version, showing how  I think it should have been presented, given the yawning gaps and uncertainties in the data, given the blind spot for the negative image, given the infatuation with 3D-rendering software, given the tunnel vision where alleged yellowing of largely inert cellulose is concerned as a mechanism for creating the body image ...

STURP's original: black font. My preferred version - blue italics!


(Photo-gallery to follow)


STURP Summary

No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. 

No conventional pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils.  X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of  an artist's paint  palette playing a role in creating the image.  Ultraviolet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. 

What cannot be ignored is the negative (tone-reversed) nature of the body image. Artists would hardly elect to paint a subject as a negative unless wishing to suggest the image had been IMPRINTED onto the linen. But a better more convincing representation of an imprint is obtained, not with freehand brush, loaded with paint, but by actual IMPRINTING. How? Answer: by coating the subject from head to foot with a suitable imprinting agent, and either pressing subject onto linen, or, more probably,  vice versa - by pressing linen down firmly onto the subject!

(Note: nowhere does the STURP Summary make any mention whatsoever of (a) the tone-reversed negative  or (b)  the likelihood of a negative image having been acquired via imprinting- as distinct from painting . Bizarre! Truly bizarre! ) 

Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it.

Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the  2D image  responds well to 3D-rendering computer software. However, that is equally true of imprints generally, and indeed any 2D figure or graphic with variations in image intensity, the latter being elevated  proportionately onto an imaginary z axis.  That is not say there won't be distortions etc, especially where paintings and photographs are concerned, due largely to shadowing (equally responsive as main image to 3D software!).  Summary: the 3D-response contributes nothing to one's understanding as to how the body image was produced.

 Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. 

 Microchemical analysis has failed to detect the presence of any spices, oils, or indeed any biochemicals known to be produced by the body, either in life or in death. 

That could be seen as further evidence against the Linen being a burial shroud, whether authentic or simulated, and by default, supplies circumstantial evidence in favour of it as Joseph of Arimathea's actual transport linen, or more probably a  medieval mock-up thereof.

It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. 

It is clear there has been a direct contact with a body - or a facsimile thereof - given the dimensions, negative image etc. 

Features such as blood and scourge marks, while serving to reinforce that impression, need to be treated with caution: none of the blood stains, scourge marks included, display any indication of torn or punctured skin in the body image, and may accordingly have been applied separately, either as genuine blood, artificial blood, or a combination of the two, not necessarily simultaneously (e.g. either real or artificial blood as later touching up to restore or enhance colour, given that blood darkens with age).

However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography.

One noteworthy feature deserving of comment is the imprint of the face: it displays a superior definition than the rest of the body, even if some aspects are distorted - notably a flattened  and somewhat distorted nose. 

It is possible that the imprinting procedure for the face differed from that used elsewhere.  Reasons? One can only speculate, but if the body image was of medieval fabrication, as seems likely (see above), a compromise was reached between conveying the notion of a  seemingly realistic  albeit somewhat fuzzy whole body imprint left in age-yellowed sweat and blood to signal a victim of crucifixion, while communicating greater detail in the face alone to signal that it was indeed a particular victim of crucifixion with beard, moustache, shoulder length hair etc.

The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry.

Omit - lacking specifics

 For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. 

Omit - lacking specifics

Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. 

Omit - lacking specifics

The scientific concensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself.  Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. 

The most immediate and obvious recipient of the body image is the linen itself, comprising mainly cellulose, but with minor components as well (hemicelluloses, lignin etc).  

Endowing cellulose with colour is not easy, needing not just dilute sulphuric acid to model in the test-tube, but concentrated  acid (both a powerful chemical dehydrating agent as well as oxidizing agent as well - if hot)- but scarcely realistic or credible. 

So a question mark needs to be placed over chemical modification of the major linen component, and by the same token, heat alone.  In the context of medieval fabrication, in which an imprinting medium may have been deployed, consideration needs to be given to extraneous non-linen components. Candidates? One can but speculate.

However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.


There is a possible clue that might guide future research. It is the finding that the body image fibres are bleachable with any of three different chemical reagents - namely diimide, hydrazine and alkaline hydrogen peroxide -  all having something in common (they interrupt colour-conferring conjugated systems of single and double bonds in organic molecules). Firstly that finding should  serve to exclude from consideration inorganic paint pigments referred to earlier. The chromophore is organic, i.e. carbon-based. Dr.Walter McCrone please note!

Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.

The question as to how the image was produced or what produced the image remains a matter of speculation unless or until that is we have more detailed chemical information on the nature of the body image chromophore. 

Modified cellulose? Improbable!   Maybe a type of extraneous addition  to the linen that lends itself better to introduction of conjugated double bonds, maybe via thermal  or chemical input, and thus development of yellow coloration. Melanoidins?  (High molecular weight   i.e. particulate solid  endproducts of complex Maillard reactions between reduciong sugars and amines involving repeated chemical condensation and polymerization). 

We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man.

We can conclude that the Shroud image is a representation of the crucified Jesus, imprinted onto Joseph of Arimathea's transport linen. Authentic (1st century)? Or a medieval simulation thereof?  The essential next step is radiocarbon dating.

 It is not the product of an artist. 

It is not the product of an artist (but possibly/probably that of one or more medieval artisans who have deployed whole body imprinting, using an unknown imprinting medium, maybe heat or chemically-assisted to generate a faint tan colour as if ancient age-yellowed sweat.

The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin.  

The blood stains appear to contain hemoglobin and also give a positive colorimetric test for serum albumin, based on dye-binding.

The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.

Insufficient data are presently available to identify the image chromophore with certainty, or even to rule in or rule out chemical modifcation of the cellulose or some other linen constituent. 

 Further chemical studies are required. All one can say with certainty is that the chromophore relies on conjugated double bonds for its colour (thus accounting for the bleaching action of the three highly specific double-bond targeting reagents): inorganic paint pigments can be firmly excluded.


If  I had to sum up the '81 STURP Summary in just two words, what would they be?

Answer: woolly obscurantism... yet we're told  recently by STURP's Documenting Photographer (now STERA President and the owner of the shroud,com site)  that it was a model for good science, a shining example for us modern day scientists to follow! 

Er no. The project was shot through  from the word go with  preconceptions and inner contradictions.  (Like later claiming that contact imprinting was out of the question,  that it was imprinted  photograph-like across air gaps, due to lack, we're informed, of inescapable lateral distortion, despite the body image having no sides!

Further reading:  https://shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/no-mr-barrie-m-schwortz-sturp-did-not-provide-an-example-that-future-shroud-researchers-can-use-to-carefully-plan-their-own-work-sturp-showed-how-not-to-plan-or-execute-objectiv/

Photo Gallery to follow! (Yes, this posting is a work in progress)



Photo Gallery



Fig 1 : Left:  a negative image of my own hand (but NOT a photograph in the first instance - merely recorded as such for posterity).
  Right: the same image after tone-reversal (which can be achieved either by photography or via digital computer software).

So how was the initial negative image captured, if not by photography? Answer: as a CONTACT IMPRINT. I simply wetted my hand, and pressed it down onto dark-coloured fabric.
 (Note the absence of so-called "lateral distortion" which we were told by STURP's Director precluded imprinting by contact in the case of the so-called Shroud of Turin. Nonsense! Complete and utter nonsense! One simply keeps the sides of the imprinted item away from the cloth: no side contact, no lateral distortion!)



Fig.2:  Performance of those hand imprints of mine (negative and tone-reversed positive) in modern-day 3D-rendering
software (ImageJ)

Observe that both the original negative and the tone-reversed positive display a 3D appearance after applying the 3D software. The 3D-rendering is due to the software - not the input image. All the latter has to do is supply variations in  2D image intensity, no matter how acquired.
The claim in the '81 STURP Summary that the so-called Shroud of Turin body image displays "unique encoded 3D" is also total nonsense. That fallacious claim is trotted out even now,  nearly 40 years later as if established fact. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shame on you STURP for foisting your pseudoscience on the world at large, and continuing to do so, such of you as are still around...




Fig.3: Here's another negative image, again of my hand, and its tone-reversed positive.  But on this occasion it was  not by liquid  - which tends to spread too far - but by SOLID imprinting, using powdered charcoal. Note the near photograph-like quality of the imprint!


Might a powder have been used to capture the body image on the so-called Shroud of Turin?  I say YES!  Which powder? Answer: plain white flour, as used for breadmaking.  How was the yellow colour produced?  Answer: via heat-treatment of course (roasting the imprinted linen in an oven, or even over the glowing  red hot embers of a flame-free open fire).

Fig.4: Here are some flour imprints of my hand (not my best, not my worst) obtained with two different variants of the imprinting technique:



(For some reason the following stays red in red font, despite several attempts to replace red with black!) 
The one on the left employed a thick slurry of flour in water. That on the right was obtained by dusting the oil-smeared hand with dry flour,  shaking off excess flour, then imprinting onto wet linen. Both imprints were then developed with heat to generate the negative images as Maillard browning products.
 Note the different character of the two imprints as regards overall definition, sharpness of image boundaries etc

Fig.5:  Here's an imprint of my face, obtained using the wet slurry technique.



No heat development was needed: photoediting alone was sufficient to enhance the natural faint yellow colour of plain white flour:

Who says the nose makes it impossible to imprint the face?  Not if one presses hard to flatten and distort the nose - as appears to have happened to the nose of the Man on the Linen!

Fig 6:  contact imprint from a miniature plastic figurine, just 14cm in size, obtained via the dry-flour imprinting technique onto wet linen followed by heating of the imprinted linen.





Observe absence of any "lateral distortion" of the image. Why? Because the figurine was first smeared with vegetable oil, and the flour then sprinkled vertically from above, making scarcely if any contact with the sides (which could have been wiped off had that been the case).   As before, the flour imprint was heated in an oven to develop the colour of the negative imprint. The  negative, tone-reversed image you see is, I consider, a miniature of that on the Turin Linen, obtained via essentially the same procedure. In short, it is wrong for numerous websites to claim, as they do, that the body image on the so-called Shroud continues to elude science, 40 years post that hugely flawed STURP investigation . No it does not. It is easily explainable as a contact imprint, one  whose colour has been developed by thermal means.


Fig.7: Imprinting with sweat and blood (whether authentic or 14th century simulation) not a new idea:

See this paper by Dorothy Crispino, with its reference to Cardinal Gorrevod implicating sweat and blood as early as the late 15th century: 




Fig.8: Indeed, the idea of imprinting by contact immediately after descent from the cross, and receiving into Joseph of Arimathea's "fine linen" (whether with bodily sweat,  or possibly anointing oils - see pot in foreground) was taken up by early painters, notably Roviere in the 16th century:





So what happened to cause the  immediate post-crucifixion First Day imprinting narrative  to be summarily dismissed, and be replaced by supernatural Third Day resurrectional auto-photography (mediated we're told by a burst of corpse-generated radiation). 

Answer: look to STURP, notably its Director and prime initiator, John Jackson PhD  plus colleagues, and their allegedly cause-and-effect correlation of image intensity with "cloth-body distance".

Fig.9:



The key sentence in the above paper is this one:  "The frontal image on the Shroud of Turin is shown to be consistent with a body shape covered with a naturally draping cloth in the sense that the image can be derived from a single global mapping function of distance between these two surfaces".

Yes, but stating something to be consistent is not the same as demonstrating a real cause-and-effect relationship. Most if not all textbooks of statistics include a warning about the the danger of spurious correlations (my Yule and Kendall back in the 1960s illustrated with a graph showing a near perfect correlation between year-on-year increase in alcohol consumption and that of schoolteachers' salaries!).

There is an alternative explanation for the APPARENT correlation between image intensity and cloth-body distance, measured on a subject with loosely-draped linen.  It's the model that's wrong, assuming that loosely-draped linen. See my earlier 2018 posting on the subject, one in which linen is pressed firmly down on the subject, with imaging at the contact points ONLY!

Fig.10: Quickie comparison of two rival imaging models: 





(A) the quasi-photographic model of Jackson et al  featuring pro-authenticity loosely-draped linen, permitting imaging across air gaps, see red pointers,  albeit weaker; (B) the  non-authenticity medieval-imprinting model, strictly imaging-by-contact only, where prominences like the nose are subject to greater contact pressure , see yellow pointers, to permit  physical contact with lower relief.


Fig.11:  Here's a current Page 5 entry under  a Google Any Time search for (shroud of turin). 




Click on the above link to the Chicago-based McCrone Research Institute, and what do you find?  Be prepared for a surprise. Correction - a cobweb-festooned 40 year old surprise that should  by rights have departed gracefully  from the literature decades ago!




Fig 12:  Yes, McCrone, or rather his survivors, are still maintaining that the tan-coloured body chromophore is "red ochre", i.e. inorganic iron oxide, Fe2O3, would you believe it?

Here's a copy of an email I sent the McCrone Research Institute 6 days ago (blue font, thus far no reply or acknowledgement):


Title: Er, why do you continue to promote your founder's fallacious iron oxide paint pigment claim re Turin Shroud body image?

From: sciencebod01@aol.com>
To: info@mcri.org>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2019 


Hello folks

I've just been reading, correction, re-reading your founder's views  re that so-called "Shroud", still prominent in Google rankings.

They start with this statement:

"The faint sepia image is made up of billions of submicron pigment particles (red ochre and vermilion) in a collagen tempera medium. The pigments red ochre and vermilion with the collagen tempera medium was a common paint composition during the 14th century; before which, no one had ever heard of the Shroud."

I can understand the image chromophore being mistaken for iron oxide  (aka red ochre) 40 years ago. But why is that view still being promoted?

40 years ago,  STURP's Adler and Heller showed that the image chromophore was organic, i.e. carbon-based, through being bleachable by reducing agents (diimide, hydrazine, alkaline hydrogen peroxide) that act on conjugated C=C double bonds . One cannot expect an inorganic metal oxide like Fe2O3 to be bleached by any of those three agents!

So why continue to promote an early misidentification, even if understandable at the time?

I personally (a retired PhD biomedical scientist) have been researching the so-called Shroud for well over 7 years. I too believe it to be of medieval manufacture, but NOT a painting (instead a roasted organic whole-body negative IMPRINT, where the final sepia-coloured chromophore is almost certainly a mix of high molecular weight melanoidins, as first proposed by STURP's Chemical Director,  Raymond N.Rogers).  However, I consider your founder was correct about one thing - in identifying the chromophore as solid and microparticulate (sub-micron in size).  

So how about publishing an updated version of your founder's message, ensuring that his particle microscopy does not get dismissed through having been over-hasty with the chemistry?

Let me know if you would consider a joint paper between myself and your research institute as an updated corrective. 

Do you by any chance still have any of Walter McCrone's image fibres from 1978? If so, they could be the basis for a new round of microscopy - focused on the precise location of the body  image chromophore (which I maintain to be inside the SCW cores, not restricted to the PCW as maintained by modern-day sindonologists, keen to promote their miraculous pro-authenticity image-formation mechanisms (corona discharges, uv pulsed laser beams, sub-atomic particles, earthquakes etc etc).

Kind regards

Colin  Berry
Herts, UK

So then, what is the way ahead assuming (a) Turin allows a limited STURP Mk2 (?) and (b) it it's restricted, as before, to - at best - individual image fibres,  maybe dissected out with a blade rather than contaminated with sticky tape?

Answer: not easy, given the likely paucity of specimen for analysis. As before, microscopy would seem to bw the best bet, also given priority in STURP Mk 1 with the dispatch of Rogers'  stripped-off sticky tape sample to microscopist Walter McCrone in the first instance.   However, what mustn't be repeated in a second round is the exclusive focus, at least initially, on microscopy, unaided by microchemistry.  (Thank goodness for Adler and Heller's later testing, notably the  image bleaching studies,  when they finally received samples from McCrone).

So is there a straightforward, previously omitted chemical test that can be applied to image fibres, not to exclude iron oxide (already performed, hat tip to Adler and Heller) but to confirm Rogers' alternative to oh-so-speculative prematurely-aged cellulose, namely those high molecular weight Maillard browning products, aka melanoidins?  I wish I could say there was, but years of literature searching have failed to unearth a simple or even involved test for those pesky entities we call "melanoidins" (read: chemical Mount Everest).

So what's the stand-in solution(s) where any STURP Mk2 is concerned?

There are two that come to mind.

The first is to acquire some tentative evidence at least for a melanoidin chromophore.  Methodology?  Still at the planning stage, maybe exploiting two known properties of melanoidins: (a) their anionic character - due to negative electric charge (carboxyl groups?) and (b) linked to that same anionic character, their ability to bind metal ions, which might  conceivably be exploited to develop a colorimetric or fluorimetric test.

Fig. 13: Here's what I consider might be a useful and potentially informative way forward worth considering for STURP Mk 2. It's a graphic from a posting I did way back in late 2012:




Cellulose, the incredibly resistant polymer that makes up the bulk of the plant kingdom (as cell walls) CAN be dissolved, or at any rate disaggregated as semi-solubilized. How? By adding a solution of copper (II) hydroxide in excess ammonia, which contains the Cu (NH3)4 ++ ion ("cuprammonium ion". What's more, the cellulose fibres can be re-precipitated, merely by acidification.

So how might that chemistry come in handy? It was McCrone's belief that the body image chromophore on the Linen was in the form of minute sub-micron particles, and while his attempts to identify those particles as iron oxide came to naught (and rightly so)  Raymond N.Rogers later offered an alternative more credible explanation - the particles comprise high molecular weight melanoidins , i.e. Maillard browning products.  This scientist will go one stage further and propose that those particles are locked away inside the cores of the SCW (secondary cell wall) of linen fibres. How did they get there? Answer: by entering the fibre cores as a liquid at high temperature, released from roasting white flour imprint, whereupon that liquid then rapidly polymerised and became entrapped in the SCW cores. That's what McCrone saw through his microscope!

Testing the hypothesis: take image-bearing fibres from the Linen. Disperse in the cuprammonium reagent to "dissolve" the cellulose of the SCW, releasing the chromophore particles. Spin off those solid micro-particles to separate from the solution. One then has free liberated chromophore that can then be tested with this or that chemical reagent - or examined with one or other physical technique - in order to pinpoint more precisely the chemical nature of the chromophore.

Fig.14: Here's a pair of graphics  I posted in 2017 to the International Skeptics Forum site, greeted with much derision  (that, namely derisive catcalling,  being the speciality of that now abandoned site !).



Why? Because I deployed a filter available in Windows 10 called "Zeke". What it does is to accentuate anything that is already particulate in nature,  whether body image or blood, allowing it to stand out better from background (artefactual maybe, but useful nonetheless - a kind of contrast-enhancement tool).

Fig.16: As stated elsewhere on many occasions, this investigator believes that the Linen with its imprinted image (as if left on Joseph of Arimathea's 'transport' stretcher) was inspired, nay prompted,  by the pre-mortem Veil of Veronica. Here's a few lines from the wiki entry:

"During the fourteenth century it  (the Veil of Veronica ) became a central icon in the Western Church; in the words of art historian Neil Macgregor: "From [the 14th Century] on, wherever the Roman Church went, the Veronica would go with it." The act of Saint Veronica wiping the face of Jesus with her veil is celebrated in the sixth Station of the Cross in many Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox churches."

There's a large number of artistic representations of the Veil. I've chosen just one.





Note the way the face responds to 3D-rendering in ImageJ software!  "Unique encoded 3D" as    baldly declared by STURP for the Linen of Turin?

Fig 17: See how an imprint of a 14cm plastic figurine responds to ImageJ software. 




Unique encoded 3D?



Final summary of posting: 

The Linen  (no, NOT Shroud!) of Turin, fabricated in the mid- 14th century as a bigger and better rival to the Veil of Veronica, was NOT intended to be seen as the final burial shroud.
(So let's forget about resurrection imaging on the Third Day etc).

 No, it was  created as a trompe d'oeil, intended to represent the kind of image that might have been left on Joseph of Arimathea's "fine linen", deployed in transport mode from cross to tomb.

 Why is the body image a tone-reversed image?

Answer: because it it was intended to be seen as a body IMPRINT, created in bodily sweat in the first instance, then yellowed by centuries of ageing.

(Explaining the blood is a little more problematical: it does not appear to solely blood, or as some might say "blood". Other ingredients appear to be present (red clay according to microscopist Lucotte and Paris-based colleagues).   Yes, they can be explained, including the "blood first,  image second" chronology deduced by Adler and Heller's experiments with blood-digesting enzyme.

 A possible scenario is as follows: an adult human male was first smeared lightly with vegetable oil from head to foot, then sprinkled lightly FROM ABOVE (while in recumbent, i.e.  lying down mode) with plain white flour. The excess of flour was then shaken off, then a slurry of red clay trickled on to represent blood "in all the right places" to identify the mode of death (crucifixion) and what preceded it (scourging, crown of thorns etc) thus identifying the individual's fate according to Holy Scripture. 
The imprinted linen was then roasted, maybe in a bread-making oven, maybe over the glowing embers of a charcoal fire  - responsible  incidentally for those otherwise mysterious "poker holes" - to develop the body image colour as Maillard browning products. The clay areas were then overlaid with blood (real blood, or something that resembled it closely).

The final step, post-roasting, pre-addition of  ';real' blood, was to wash vigorously with soap and water to remove thick surface encrustation, leaving just a faint, dare one say ghostly image of a man's naked crucified figure.

Scourge marks?  As with bloodstains from "nails",  "crown of thorns" etc, they too show no presence in the body image, i.e. are entirely blood (or "blood"). They could have been added at any time (one still awaits data on whether they too are underneath or, conversely,  on top of the body image).

Claims that the Linen could simply have been "painted" to create the body image overlook one crucial feature - namely the negative (tone-reversed) body image.  STURP itself gave priority to the oh-so- tiresome  "just a painting" claim, which was correctly rejected.

What was  less understandable was the omission of any reference in the '81 Summary to the negative image, or to Adler and Heller's hugely significant finding that the body image chromophore was bleachable by 3 different chemical reagents, known to act on colour-conferring conjugated double bonds, i.e. organic, NOT inorganic chromophores.

The bleaching discovery should (by rights) have consigned the red ochre (iron oxide) claim of Walter McCrone immediately to the dustbin of history (but for unfathomable reasons did not do so, his successors at the  Chicago McCrone Research Institute  robotically continuing to trumpet it 40 years later on their founder's website!).

Let's not beat about the bush: the Turin Linen is a fraud, albeit a very clever one.  Its creators tried to conjure up a "1st century" reproduction of Joseph of Arimathea's 'transport linen' that was as realistic as possible, one that looked as if it had been created 1300 years earlier, one  that looked as it it had naturally aged for the following 1300 years prior to its (unexplained) appearance at a tiny Champagne village, albeit with a monarch-funded private chapel attached to the property of one of his leading knights in the land (read: King's favourite!)

The Linen of Turin is by far and away the most successful forgery in entire human history.

Why? Because it wasn't content to "paint" a facsimile version of Joseph of Arimeathea's transport linen.

Oh no! It set out to reproduce the manner of its making in as realistic a manner as possible, namely by whole-body imprinting, followed by an artificial ageing procedure. In short, it was meticulous in its attention to detail.  In modern terminology it was 'nerdy' and thus 'detail-obsessed'  in the extreme.

 But then bored under-occupied clerics attached to Geoffroi de Charny's chapel,  apparently 6 of them no less (link),  employed merely to pray constantly for his warrior soul,  forever at risk of being detached from his body in knightly mortal combat alongside his King, had to find ways to occupy their time...

They certainly made their mark on history - both 20th and 21st century. They opened the door to endless pseudoscience, introducing a cautionary note to the manner in which  modern-day "science" can either be applied - or MISAPPLIED!

Any time you, dear reader, suspect that "science" is being misapplied, ask yourself the following question: is the proponent of this or that seemingly-unscientific proposition addressing IN DETAIL objections from sceptics and other critics?

Or is their "science" in fact pseudoscience, mere window-dressing  intended as part of a marketing exercise, inviting no comment, no objections?

Personal note (added 8th September 2019)

Here's a link to  my attendance yesterday at a Bishopshalt School Reunion, just 6 days short of my 75th birthday.  (I was a pupil there between 1956 and 1963).



End of posting... (Aug 23, 2019)