The Shroud of Turin and the Mystery Surrounding Its Authenticity
On Closer Inspection
During the inspection of the cloth, Professor Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology was allowed to collect two samples from the shroud to be examined under an electronic microscope. Another member of the secret commission, Swiss forensic criminologist Max Frei was granted permission to collect pollen samples from the cloth for later inspection. Their examinations would reveal important information concerning the make-up and possible origin of the cloth.
According to Gove, the samples taken by Raes showed, that there were trace amounts of Egyptian cotton present in the make-up of the shroud.
In the fall of 1978, a group of scientists formed a team whose main goal was to gather scientific data and perform experiments on the Turin Shroud. The undertaking would later be popularly referred to as STURP or the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc. Scientists working on STURP would eventually make history by performing the most detailed investigation ever conducted in the shrouds history.
Some of the members of STURP, including a group of 24 scientists from the
That same year, world-renowned micro analyst and member of the STURP team, Walter McCrone began examinations on approximately thirty-two particle and fiber samples taken from various portions of the shroud. He studied the samples microscopically and came upon a startling conclusion. More than half of the samples taken from the shroud, including those from the areas of the body and where there was allegedly blood, were found to have a significant amount of pigment made up of iron oxide and tempera. Thus, McCrones discovery suggested that the image was the work of an artist and likely not the work of divine intervention.
The news of the discovery sent ripples of panic through many of the STURP members whose analysis was still ongoing. McCrone claimed that, anybody who is emotionally wrapped up in the shroud should start to consider the possibility that he better relax his emotions.
In 1980, the first scientific articles related to STURPs 1978 investigation were published in academic journals. According to Gove, the majority of the articles, concluded that the evidence was against its being a painting. In fact, several of the STURP scientists confirmed that the samples analyzed by McCrone actually tested positive for blood.
Some shroud advocates believe this is proof enough that the cloth was indeed the genuine article and the burial shroud of Jesus. However, skeptics believed that the artist may have actually used a mixture of blood and pigment in order to achieve a more realistic effect. Regardless, the fact there was pigment and blood led many to further question its authenticity. It wasnt until the 1980s that more sophisticated techniques would lend greater insight into the age of the shroud and put to rest many of the arguments relating to its genuineness.