All The Evidence For And Against The Shroud Of Turin

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Vote 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
    339 VOTES

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

    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.

  • 2
    220 VOTES

    Wounds Of The Shroud Figure Are Consistent With Roman Practices

    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]."

  • 3
    208 VOTES

    A 2013 Test Refuted The Original Carbon Dating

    University of Padua Professor Giulio Fanti was the leader of a 2013 investigation that used infrared spectroscopy to ascertain the shroud's exact date of origin. He argued that not enough was known about how the shroud was conserved during its first few centuries, so the results could have become tainted. Fanti's test placed the shroud's creation between 300 BCE and 400 CE, meaning it could well be legitimate.

    However, one of the members of the original carbon-dating team fired back, stating Fanti's methods are new, untested, and not reliably used by the archaeological community.

  • 4
    248 VOTES

    The Shroud Is A Photo Negative And Shows A Human Face

    The Shroud Is A Photo Negative And Shows A Human Face
    Photo: Dianelos Georgoudis / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    One of the most mystifying qualities of the shroud is the strange image of a man's face imprinted on it. This was first discovered in 1898 when Secondo Pia took a photo of the shroud and, as he developed it, a negative image of a man's face appeared. The world was astonished, and there is still no clear consensus on how this photonegative image got imprinted on the shroud.

    There are many theories: some believe it was painted on, or lactic acid from sweat imprinted the image. Still, others think the shroud is a primitive photograph that uses silver nitrate to create the impression. This mystery remains one of the strongest indicators of the shroud's possible authenticity.