Shroud of Turin – Fake or Not

By Arif Khan

A few news articles on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin again appeared in the news a few days back (see the end). Arif Khan, a good friend who has written many articles on Should of Turin has most kindly submitted the following on request.

Was the Shroud not Proved Fake in 1988 by Carbon Dating?

Dating of a sample, performed independently by 3 laboratories did return dates ranging from 1260-1390 in 1988, and yet the controversy rages on. The biggest issue was that the dating lead to more questions than it answered. How did the image form? Who formed the image and why?

Recent research, from 2005, by the late Raymond Rogers showed strong evidence to support the idea that the section that was used to cabron date the Shroud of Turin was from re-woven section. This effectively rendered the carbon dating result irrelevant for dating the cloth.

Why was the 2005 research about the carbon dating not more widely covered?

Wide coverage was given to the story, but most people are not aware of it. A story of a test, such as carbon dating, showing a revered relic to be fake gets more attention and coverage than later expert analysis.

Didn’t someone show the Shroud was a fake recently?

There are many so-called experts who come up with press releases about the Shroud being fake. The same theories are recycled about image formation and yet these theories have all been proved wrong many years ago.

Why is it so hard to get objective information about the Shroud?

It seems that anyone seriously interested in spending years researching the Shroud already has a religous agenda. Myself included! The researcher sets out to prove a pre-existing hypothesis. This leads to some strange analysis by ‘experts’, such as those of Dr Frederick Zugibe – as well as recent research from ‘Italian government scientists’.

Why is it so hard to explain the image?

There are specific key characteristics of the image that any theory must account for:

1. The image is a photographic negative
2. There is a 3D property to the image – the further away a part of the body was from the cloth the fainter that part appears
3. The image is visible only in the very upper fibres of the cloth – it does not go all the way through to the back of the cloth
4. When standing close to the cloth the image is not visible – it is only visible when standing a few metres away from the cloth
5. The blood flows on the cloth have been shown to be 100% anatomically correct based on modern physiology
6. There are no pigments or dyes used on the cloth
7. The blood is human and contains extractable DNA samples

It is very hard to put together a theory that can satisfy all of the above items.

Does the Shroud support the theory that Jesus survived the Crucifixion?

One major stumbling block is that most of the researchers are looking for theories that would cause a cold, lifeless body to form an image with the above properties.

Some researchers, such as German scholar Holger Kersten, have stated that if Jesus survived the Crucifixion, and laid in the selpucre recovering from his ordeal for many hours, maybe days, then formation of an image with many of the above characterisitics is possible.

Kersten made attempts to re-create the image in his own experiements, with some success, but without anything conclusive.

What is the next step?

Another carbon dating experiement, using a another area of the cloth, would be appreciated by the scientific community. Until that occurs there are many researchers coming out with material, but most of it is regurgitation of older material.

Who are the experts on the Shroud?

The best source of information on the Shroud of Turin, from an objective and experience scientist, is – this website is maintained by the current leading expert on the Shroud, Barrie Schwortz. Barrie being Jewish also means that his research and view is not coloured with the polemic and religous sentiment that other research and papers often shows.

Video made by MTA International on Hudur Aqdas (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-’aziz)’s visit to see the Turin Shroud in 2008


Latest news item

Italian Study Claims Turin Shroud is Christ’s Authentic Burial Robe
The Daily Telegraph

Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud – purportedly left by the imprint of Christ’s body – could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period.

The research will be an early Christmas present for shroud believers, but is likely to be greeted with scepticism by those who doubt that the sepia-coloured, 14ft-long cloth dates from Christ’s crucifixion 2,000 years ago.

Sceptics have long claimed that the shroud is a medieval forgery, and radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390.

But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis that they were skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

The new study is the latest intriguing piece of a puzzle which has baffled scientists for centuries and spawned an entire industry of research, books and documentaries.

“The double image (front and back) of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin, has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining … is impossible to obtain in a laboratory,” concluded experts from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development.

The scientists set out to “identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud.” They concluded that the exact shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the aid of ultraviolet lasers – technology that was clearly not available in medieval times.
The scientists used extremely brief pulses of ultraviolet light to replicate the kind of marks found on the burial cloth.

They concluded that the iconic image of the bearded man must therefore have been created by “some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength).” Although they stopped short of offering a non-scientific explanation for the phenomenon, their findings will be embraced by those who believe that the marks on the shroud were miraculously created at the moment of Christ’s Resurrection.

“We are not at the conclusion, we are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle,” the team wrote in their report.

Prof Paolo Di Lazzaro, the head of the team, said: “When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection.” “But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to the experts, and ultimately to the conscience of individuals.”

The research, conducted in laboratories in Frascati, a town outside Rome famous for its white wine, backs up the outcome of tests by a group of 31 American scientists between 1978 and 1981.

The Americans – who called themselves the Shroud of Turin Research Project or STURP – conducted 120 hours of X-rays and ultraviolet light tests on the linen cloth.

They concluded that the marks were not made by paints, pigments or dyes and that the image was not “the product of an artist”, but that at the same time it could not be explained by modern science.

“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.”

The US team – which included nuclear physicists, thermal chemists, biophysicists and forensic pathologists – concluded: “The image is an ongoing mystery.” One of Christianity’s greatest objects of veneration, the shroud appears to show the imprint of a man with long hair and a beard whose body bears wounds consistent with having been crucified.
Each year it lures millions of pilgrims to Turin Cathedral, where it is kept in a specially designed, climate-controlled case.

Scientists have never been able to explain how the image of a man’s body, complete with nail wounds to his wrists and feet, pinpricks from thorns around his forehead and a spear wound to his chest, could have formed on the cloth.

The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Benedict XVI has said that the enigmatic image imprinted on the cloth “reminds us always” of Christ’s suffering.



  1. You raised a point that Barrie Schwortz being Jewish wouldn’t contaminate the research paper with his religious views. I don’t think this would be the case. The reason is he is Jewish. If Jesus did survive the cross that means according to their Holy Book Torah, Jesus is a true prophet and therefore Jews should’ve accepted him 2000 years and should accept him today. To Jews he was just a false prophet who died an cursed death. That’s why I think his paper could just be as biased as other papers. Ofcourse Allah knows the best.

    1. Firstly I should say that Barrie Schwortz’s objective approach is primarily, in my view, due to his professional ethics. I’ve never read him make any religious statement regarding the Shroud or Jesus – for that matter. He always refers to Jesus with respect also. His investigation – from what I have seen of him over the years – is a scientific one. He finds it quite ironic that a Jew should devote so much of his life to a Christian relic.

      I would also point out – but warn that this is a far wider topic – that Jewish objections to Jesus being the Messiah go far beyond the Crucifixion and Resurrection / resuscitation. It is my opinion that even If it were shown that the Shroud of Turin proved Jesus survived the Crucifixion this would not lead to Jews on mass suddenly accepting Jesus as the Messiah.


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