|Fibrils from one of the image areas of the Shroud.|
Just when you think you’ve debunked a religious artifact good and proper ….
Many people who only know that the Shroud of Turin is alleged to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ were happy to accept the 1988 carbon-14 dates — 1260 to 1390 — without further question, and not all of them were atheists or anti-Christians. Many Christians would find a Christ who actually rose from the dead to be upsetting; they much prefer the Resurrection as a psychological metaphor rather than as an historical fact. So the “medieval forgery” became the Accepted Wisdom quite easily, despite later stories concerning the integrity and scientific value of the tests.
Those who knew anything more about the Shroud — I’m not a qualified sindonlogist myself — weren’t happy with the results, for reasons having nothing to do with religious faith. The fact is, no one has come up yet with a plausible explanation for how the image on the Shroud was formed given the technological limitations of the 13th and 14th centuries. None of the techniques suggested to date, and some have been rather inventive, would leave an image with the physical and chemical characteristics known of the Shroud; in fact, no one’s had luck reproducing the Shroud with 21st-century tech. Frankly, at this point Erich Von Däniken’s aliens can look like a more credible explanation for the Shroud than some anonymous High Middle Ages genius.
Tuesday saw the release of news about a series of three new tests, two chemical and one mechanical, carried out by “a number of professors from various Italian universities”, which point to a date of 33 BC ± 250 years. This puts 30 AD, the generally accepted year of Jesus’ death, well within the bracket.
Cue the protests.