October 5, 2009

Shroud of Turin Reproduction Proves Original Is Fake

An Italian scientist claims he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, the linen some Christians revere as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Luigi Garlaschelli said his reproduction proves that the original 14'4" x 3'7" shroud, which bears the reversed image of a crucified man some believe is Christ, is a fake.

"We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud," said Garlaschelli, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia.

He plans to demonstrate the results at a conference on the paranormal this weekend in Italy.

The original Shroud of Turin shows the front and back of a bearded man with long hair and arms crossed on his chest. The cloth is marked by what appears to be streams of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

The Shroud is currently locked away at Turin Cathedral in Italy, and is rarely displayed.  It was last on exhibit in 2000 and is due to be shown again next year.

Laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona conducted carbon dating tests on the cloth in 1988, dating it from between 1260 and 1390.  Some believers challenged the tests, arguing that past restorations of the Shroud had contaminated the results.

But scientists have been unable to explain how the image was left on the cloth.

A Reuters report described Garlaschelli's reproduction, citing access to the paper he will deliver at the conference and the accompanying comparative photographs.

Garlaschelli used methods and materials that were available in the middle ages to reproduce the full-sized shroud.  He placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer, rubbing it with a pigment containing small amounts of acid. A mask was used for the face.

He then artificially aged the pigment by heating the cloth in an oven and then washing it.  This process, which removed the pigment from the surface, left blurry, halftone images similar to those seen on the original Shroud.  Bloodstains, burn holes, scorches and water stains were then added to achieve the finishing effects.

Garlaschelli anticipates that some may contest his findings.

"If they don't want to believe carbon dating done by some of the world's best laboratories they certainly won't believe me," he told Reuters.

An Italian association of atheists and agnostics funded Garlaschelli's work, but had no impact on the results, he said.

"Money has no odor."

"This was done scientifically. If the Church wants to fund me in the future, here I am," he said.

The Shroud of Turin has a long and contentious history. The linen first surfaced in the Middle East and France, before being brought by Italy's former royal family, the Savoys, to Turin in 1578.  Ex-King Umberto II bequeathed the Shroud to the late Pope John Paul in 1983.

The Shroud barely escaped ruin in 1997, when a fireman risked his life to save the linen from a fire that devastated the Guarini Chapel of the Turin cathedral.


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