The Shroud of Turin has become the single-most important religious relic on the planet. Said to be the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus of Nazareth after his crucifixion, it is not surprising that it has become so revered. The shroud does indeed contain the image of a man and many of the features on the cloth do show someone who was crucified. Is the body image on the shroud that of a crucified man from the 1st century, when Jesus lived, or is it a clever forgery? I must admit, seeing a real image of what Jesus really looked like would be a miraculous event for me. Unfortunately, I am of the firm belief that what we have in the shroud is simply a fake. Whoever forged this relic may have known their stuff, for they did a great job of turning some modern-day scientists into believers.
I have gathered a few of my own conclusions simply by weighing the evidence:
1) The original analysis of the shroud was done by STURP in 1978; however it wasn't until 1988 when radio carbon dating and microscopy was done on the shroud by a team of scientists. The date came back proving it was produced between 1260-1390 AD. The tests were done in 3 different labs ( in Oxford, Arizona and Switzerland) with a 95% accuracy on the results. I would say it's not very coincidental then that the shroud 1st appeared on the world stage in 1357 AD (aka 14th century). Some claim that a fire in 1532 in a church in France, where the shroud was kept, caused an inaccurate carbon date. However, most scientists who specialize in carbon 14 dating techniques still firmly claim the tests are accurate- fire or not. According to Dr. McCrone, who was part of the 1988 investigative team, "The suggestions that modern biological contaminants were sufficient to modernize the date are also ridiculous. A weight of 20th century carbon equaling nearly two times the weight of the Shroud carbon itself would be required to change a 1st century date to the 14th century". Check this site for more: http://mcri.org/home/section/63-64/the-shroud-of-turin.
Some claim that the part that was taken from the shroud for the carbon 14 tests may have been from a section that was restitched by nuns after the fire of 1532 in 1534. If that is true then why is the carbon 14 date not dated to the 1500's (they are dated to the 1300's)?
"According to (Joe) Nickell, P.E. Damon's 1989 article published in Nature claims that "textile experts specifically made efforts to select a site for taking the radiocarbon sample that was away from patches and seams." Read more here: http://www.skepdic.com/shroud.html
2) Measurements of the man on the shroud put him as short as 5'9'' and as tall as 6'2''. We know that from measurements of Jewish people from the 1st century that an avg. height of 5'1'' was the norm (to see a forensic rendition of what Jesus looked like and for in-depth proof about the 5'1'' claim read Popular Mechanics Dec. 2002 by Mike Fillon here ) If Jesus was that much taller than his countrymen, his extraordinary height would certainly have been included in the Bible, as he would have been considered a giant.
3) Many supposed relics of Jesus existed in the middle ages onward. There were 4 burial cloths in France and 3 in Italy. There were: the Mandylion, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the Vail of Veronica, the Holy Grail/Chalice, the True Cross, holy nails, the Holy Coat, the Holy Lance, the Holy Sponge, Jesus' swaddling clothes, the Holy Prepuce (Jesus' foreskin-good grief!), and others. Now we also have the supposed ossuary in which Jesus was buried along with his family. Are we to believe these are all authentic? What's next- a 1st century letter written by Jesus's own hand to Mary Magdalene?
4) Fragments of a shroud of a 1st century Jewish person of importance was found in Jerusalem and it did not match the weave on the Shroud of Turin at all. The shroud is not the workmanship of the first century.
5) The supposed blood found on the shroud is unrealistically neat. Dr. McCrone, one of the scientists at the original 1978 tests on the shroud concluded, "Forensic tests for blood were uniformly negative on fibers from the blood-image tapes. Based on these findings, McCrone postulated that the Shroud was painted in 1355." Check this site for more details: http://mcri.org/home/section/63-64/the-shroud-of-turin , and for proof he took to show that indeed there is no blood, but only paint on the shroud: http://mcri.org/home/section/63-64-293/the-latest-shroud-update.
Then there is this scientific claim, "Dried, aged blood is black. The stains on the shroud are red. Forensic tests on the red stuff have identified it as red ocher and vermilion tempera paint. Other tests by Adler and Heller have identified it as blood.* If it is blood, it could be the blood of some 14th century person. It could be the blood of someone wrapped in the shroud, or the blood of the creator of the shroud, or of anyone who has ever handled the shroud, or of anyone who handled the sticky tape. But even if there were blood on the shroud, that would have no bearing on the age of the shroud or on its authenticity." Fore more info. check here: http://www.skepdic.com/shroud.html
6) Pollens have supposedly been found on the shroud that exist only in the Middle East. It has been written that, "It is claimed that the cloth has some pollen grains and images on it that are of plants found only in the Dead Sea region of Israel. Avinoam Danin, a botanist from Hebrew University...claims he has identified pollen from the tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii and a bean caper on the shroud. He claims this combination is found only around Jerusalem. Some believers think the crown of thorns was made of this type of tumbleweed. However, Danin did not examine the shroud itself. His sample of pollen grains originated with Max Frei, who tape-lifted pollen grain samples from the shroud. Frei's pollen grains have been controversial from the beginning. Frei, who once pronounced the forged "Hitler Diaries" to be genuine, probably introduced the pollen grains himself or was duped and innocently picked up pollen grains another pious fraud had introduced (Nickell)." For more: http://www.skepdic.com/shroud.html *(Frei was found guilty and censured by the Swiss police for fraud over the Hitler claims).
Many of the STURP team tried to take pollen samples from the shroud, but ended up with too few grains. Frei himself had too few, though on one small section, from a piece of tape he used to pull off pollen onto, he got an oddly larger number of grains.
7) Many have made their own shrouds over the years using different techniques (and products) that would have been available to those in the 14th century; the last being that of Luigi Garlaschelli, who placed a linen sheet over a volunteer and then rubbed it with an acidic pigment. The shroud was then aged in an oven before being washed to remove the pigment. He then added blood stains, scorches and water stains to replicate the original.
8) According to one author's book (Rachael Bell's), the owner of the shroud was Geoffroy de Charny. "In a letter to the Pope written in 1389, dArcis stated that Geoffroy falsely and deceitfully... procured for his church a certain cloth which had been cunningly painted, and pretended that it was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb. It was suggested that the shroud was the centerpiece of an elaborate marketing campaign launched by Geoffroy, and intended to drive up the sales of accompanying souvenirs he sold to the masses for a substantial profit. According to dArcis, the shroud was the work of human skill, and the identity of the person who forged the shroud had been established, although his name was never mentioned." And later she writes, "However, the pope instituted restrictions that included prohibiting Geoffroy II from displaying the shroud as a holy relic. He decreed that every time it was displayed in public, the exhibitor had to inform onlookers that the shroud was not the actual burial garment of Jesus, and contained only an artistic rendition of is face." For more info: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/scams/shroud_of_turin/index.html?sect=27
9) Some have claimed that the body on the shroud is well-proportioned. However, according to Bell, "many scientists refuted the theory, stating that the image was anything but anatomically correct. In fact, measurements taken of the image of the shroud man found that many of the features were overly exaggerated, not symmetrical or highly abnormal. Some of the questioned features included the face and head that appeared to be too small and detached from the rest of the body, the arms were significantly uneven in length, there appeared to be no thumbs visible on the hands of the image and the hair appeared unnatural, almost drawn in certain areas." For more info: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/scams/shroud_of_turin/6.html
10) The gospel writers mention a risen Jesus, but offer nothing about his burial shroud. If a miraculous image really did come to exist on his burial cloth would not the gospel writers have added that somewhere into the resurrection story?
11) One final note: the image on the shroud matches that of a European male and/or depictions of the Christ in the 1300's. Coincidence? I think not.
Nickell's sums it up here: "Other evidence of medieval fakery includes the shroud’s lack of historical record prior to the mid-fourteenth century—when a bishop reported the artist’s confession—as well as serious anatomical problems, the lack of wraparound distortions, the resemblance of the figure to medieval depictions of Jesus, and suspiciously bright red and picture-like “blood” stains which failed a battery of sophisticated tests by forensic serologists, among many other indicators. (Nickell 2005)."
Recent speculation by some researchers has lead to the belief that all the tests leave us with more questions than there are answers. No one idea of how the artifact was made has been fully agreed upon as of yet. That may change. Here is one website which may hold the key to how the shroud was produced. It admits to the shroud's lack of authenticity: http://www.vera-ikon-544.de/html/english.html
Conclusion- Some have called it a hoax or scam, some have called it a piece of religious artwork, and some have even called it the real thing. Was the Shroud of Turin real or fake? In my estimation there is simply no way this could have been the burial cloth that covered Jesus after his death. There is no shroud of evidence.
* (An article by Clayton Self)