The cloth

The Shroud of Turin is a single piece of linen cloth measuring about 14 feet by 3½ feet. The weave is a 3 over 1 herringbone weave. The Shroud is bloodstained and shows faint ventral and dorsal images of a man who, by the wounds that are visible, appears to have been crucified. He seems to be in burial repose.

The bloodstains

The bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin are composed of hemoglobin and give a positive test for serum albumin. Numerous tests confirm this.

The images

The Shroud of Turin’s images are superficial and fully contained within a thin layer of starch fractions and saccharides that coats the outermost fibers of the Shroud. The color is a caramel-like substance, probably the product of an amino/carbonyl reaction. Where there is no image, the carbohydrate coating is clear. There is also a very faint image of the face on the reverse side of the Shroud of Turin which lines up with the image on the front of the cloth. There is no image content between the two superficial image layers indicating that nothing soaked through to form the image on the other side.

Until recently, it was widely believed that the images on the Shroud of Turin were produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the linen fibers. This is incorrect. The coating, whether imaged or clear, can be reduced with diimide or removed with adhesive leaving clear cellulose fiber.

The images as they appear on the Shroud of Turin are said to be negative because when photographed the resulting negative is a positive image.

The Turin Shroud was examined with visible and ultraviolet spectrometry, infrared spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, thermography, pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry, laser­microprobe Raman analyses, and microchemical testing. No evidence for pigments (paint, dye or stains) or artist’s media was found anywhere on the Shroud of Turin.


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