The Shroud of Turin, a length of linen rumored to be bearing the negative image of Jesus of Nazareth when buried after crucifixion, has long been debated amongst scientists. However, so far most research has relied on testing the shroud's substance itself.
Now, a study has been revealed that takes an entirely new approach to the question of the historic artifact's authenticity. In a paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences this week, forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK and organic chemist Luigi Garlaschelli of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences reveal they conducted the first blood pattern analysis (BPA) of the famed shroud.
A discouraging analysis
And their findings are not promising at all! What the researchers concluded from their investigation is that it is not possible that the stains were made by a body laying on the fabric.
Using a live subject and a mannequin, the team analyzed the supposed blood flow on wounds on the left hand, the forearms, the torso and around the figure's waist. The experiments were made with donated human blood as well as a synthetic substance that mimics the properties of real blood.
The study took into account the flow for different positions and even evaluated the shortest trickles featured on the linen. What they found was that none of the stains made any sense.
For starters, stains indicating trickles on the back of the hand and along the arm were the result of completely different angles that did not comply with the stipulated position of the body. "The angle between the arm and the body must be greater than 80° and smaller than 100° in order for the rivulets to flow from the wrist toward the elbow on the outer part of the forearm, as it appears on the Shroud," wrote the scientists.
The spear wound was consistent with a wound that would have originated from being pierced while hanging crucified but experiments showed it would have resulted in stains resembling rivulets not the shroud's solidly filled blotch. Finally, the lower back stain on the linen could not be recreated by the researchers no matter the positions undertaken.
Simply unrealistic stains
"Assuming that the red stains on the Turin linen are actually blood from the crucifixion wounds, the results of the experiments demonstrate that the alleged flowing patterns from different areas of the body are not consistent with each other. Even supposing possible different episodes of bleeding (e.g., movements of the body, postmortem bleeding), these are not only non-documented, but also, as for the lumbar stains, they appear to be unrealistic," the paper explains.
The inconsistencies found were so great, the authors suggested the shroud may have merely been an artistic representation. The study was previously presented at both the 66th and 67th Annual Scientific Meetings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in 2014 and 2015.