A study based on new analysis of the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth used to wrap Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, suggests it is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.
In 1988, analysis using radiocarbon dating techniques concluded it was a medieval fake. But this was dismissed by the new study, published in the US peer-reviewed journal Thermochimica Acta, which claims the sample used in that research was taken from “an expertly rewoven patch” used to repair fire damage and, as such, does not give a true measure of its age.
The shroud is a large piece of linen showing the faint full-body image of a blood-covered man on its surface. Because many believe it to be the burial cloth of Jesus, researchers have tried to determine its origin through numerous modern scientific methods, including the 1988 Carbon-14 tests at three radiocarbon labs which dated the artefact from between 1260 and 1390AD.
But Raymond Rogers, a chemist at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, who conducted the tests, said: “As unlikely as it seems, the sample used to test the age of the Shroud of Turin in 1988 was taken from a rewoven area.
“Pyrolysis mass spectrometry results from the [new] sample area, coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations, prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original shroud. [That sample] has completely different chemical properties than the main part of the shroud relic.”
He went on: “The 1988 sample tested was dyed in Italy at about the time the Crusaders’ last bastion fell to the Mameluke Turks in AD 1291. The radiocarbon sample cannot be older than about AD 1290, agreeing with the age determined in 1988. However, the shroud itself is actually much older.”
Since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, it has been damaged in several fires, including a church inferno in 1532. It is said to have been restored by nuns, who patched the holes and stitched the garment to a reinforcing material known as the Holland cloth.