The Turin Shroud

The Turin Shroud showing the front half of the body

The Turin Shroud is a religious relic of great fame and much contention.  It bears the image of a crucified man thought by some to be Jesus Christ; others believe it to be a mediaeval hoax painted to look like it was the cloth Jesus was buried in after the crucifixion.  The cloth is kept at Turin Cathedral in Italy and is only exhibited very occasionally.  

The truth of the shroud is yet to be decided and there are many arguments both for and against it being genuine.  Below I have outlined the main cases for and against, and looked at the controversy surrounding the carbon dating.


The Shroud is Genuine


The Shroud is a Fake


The Carbon Dating

This was carried out by three laboratory's, one in Zurich, Switzerland, one in Tuscon, Arizona and one in Oxford, England.  They all used the AMS technique and each had a similar sized sample taken from the same area of cloth.  They all also had two control pieces, one which was 2000 years old from Egypt and one which was from 1100-1200 AD from Nubia.  At the time AMS was a comparatively new technique which was not often applied to linen.  The cloth was cut in front of many scientists and television cameras and placed in steel containers before being given to the labs.  There was however a half hour period where the cloth was taken away to be prepared and no outside representatives were present.  This leads to some claims that a switch may have been made.  Suggestions for why the dating could have been wrong include microbiological contamination from the handling of the cloth and the occurrence of a bioplastic coating of microbes.  This last has occurred in Egyptian mummy cloths which have been dated wrong by the AMS technique.


Fake or Genuine?

This is still a hotly debated topic, listen to anyone who has a particular bias and you soon feel convinced they are right, but then spend some time reading about the opposing view and you are equally sure they are also right.  As usual with a matter of such great importance there are other issues to consider.  Access to the shroud is granted sparingly and a repeat of the experiments is unlikely at present.  Mistakes can and have been made in many supposedly fool proof scientific techniques and many explanations for the shrouds existence, history and origins have been put forward.  For an in depth impartial view of the shroud and all matters surrounding it visit