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All The Evidence For And Against The Shroud Of Turin

Updated August 20, 2019 3k votes 489 voters 16.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the most important debates surrounding the shroud's authenticity.

Within a complex of chapels, cathedrals, and palaces in Turin, Italy, there's an airtight case made of bulletproof glass. The temperature and chemical composition of the air inside this case is carefully monitored and controlled. The contents are a pair of sliding aluminum runners on which rests a piece of linen cloth about 14' x 3' in size. On this cloth is an image of one of the most influential people of all time: Jesus Christ - or maybe not.

The Shroud of Turin is supposedly Jesus Christ's burial shroud, the one he was wrapped in after he perished. However, despite years of debate, testing, and analysis, no one can quite agree on whether or not the shroud is real.

Some scientific authorities claim the shroud could not date earlier than the Middle Ages, while others say those results are tainted. There is a constant rebuttal of evidence suggesting the Shroud of Turin's authenticity, while many also challenge proof suggesting it to be a fake. The integrity of the shroud is so dubious even the Vatican refuses to take a definitive position.

  • 1

    The Blood On The Shroud Is Real And Came From A Distressed Man

    Photo: Iceclanl / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    For a long time, the "paint theory" claimed the blood on the shroud was painted on, a clever imitation. But thanks to advances in microscopy and blood testing, researchers have confirmed it as real human blood and found its type (AB).

    Furthermore, analysis of the blood revealed an unusual amount of creatinine, which indicates the source experienced distress before the blood was emitted. In addition, a particular interaction between creatinine and ferritin indicated the person went through prolonged mistreatment consistent with the story of Jesus's passing.

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  • 2

    Wounds Of The Shroud Figure Are Consistent With Roman Practices

    Photo: Getty Center / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Robert Bucklin, a forensic pathologist, conducted a thorough investigation of the shroud in 1997. He looked at the image from head to toe, and noted such wounds as those around the forehead, at the wrists, and on the person's side.

    They are all consistent with how Jesus was said to have passed, but Bucklin drew further conclusions. For example, due to the pattern of blood from the wrist, Bucklin was able to determine the individual perished while upright. He concluded, "the individual was sentenced to [capital punishment], and that [it] was carried out by [being affixed to a cross]."

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  • 3

    Pollen Found On The Shroud Reinforces Its Claim To Authenticity

    Botanist Avinoam Danin conducted a comprehensive analysis of the shroud in 1999, but he wasn't using carbon dating or spectroscopy. He was looking for pollen. Danin and his team were able to find minute amounts of pollen from flowers left on the shroud. This pollen was from a particular type of thistle, which blooms in Israel from March to May.

    Members of the team even claim some of the pollen come from the "crown of thorns" that Jesus had worn on his head.

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  • 4

    Carbon Dating Originally Found The Shroud Dates To Medieval Times

    Photo: Victor Grigas / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The shroud underwent carbon dating and, in 1988, a team of scientists took a portion of the shroud and dated it between 1260 and 1390 CE, well after the life of Christ. However, there are those who say the lab had taken a patch that had gotten replaced when a fire affected the original shroud in the Middle Ages.

    The doubters have retorted, saying during the carbon-dating process, the team noted the weave of the sample matched the rest of the shroud perfectly.

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