ROME — Scientists have reproduced the Shroud of Turin — revered as the cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb — and say the experiment proves the relic was man-made, a group of Italian debunkers claimed Monday.
The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, complete with blood seeping out of nailed hands and feet, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen fibers at the time of his resurrection.
Scientists have reproduced the shroud using materials and methods that were available in the 14th century, the Italian Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal said.
The group said in a statement this is further evidence the shroud is a medieval forgery. In 1988, scientists used radiocarbon dating to determine it was made in the 13th or 14th century.
But the dispute continued because experts couldn't explain how the faint brown discoloration was produced, imprinting on the cloth a negative image centuries before the invention of photography.
Many still believe that the shroud "has unexplainable characteristics that cannot be reproduced by human means," lead scientist Luigi Garlaschelli said in the statement. "The result obtained clearly indicates that this could be done with the use of inexpensive materials and with a quite simple procedure."
The research was funded by the debunking group and by an Italian organization of atheists and agnostics, he said.
Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia, said in an interview with La Repubblica daily that his team used a linen woven with the same technique as the shroud and artificially aged by heating it in an oven and washing it with water.
The cloth was then placed on a student, who wore a mask to reproduce the face, and rubbed with red ochre, a well known pigment at the time. The entire process took a week, Repubblica said.
One of my graduate student mentors, Paul Damon, was involved in the radiocarbon dating.
In any case, the Shroud will be on public display next April-May, according to the official web site. It usually is shown only a couple of times each century. I'll be on sabbatical in Europe - I might just go!
Image from the official web site.