Turin Shroud is not medieval forgery, says US scientist

Doubt has been cast on the theory that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake after an American scientist published new evidence supporting the hallowed belief that it is Christ's burial cloth.

Doubt has been cast on the theory that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake after an American scientist published new evidence supporting the hallowed belief that it is Christ's burial cloth.

The results of a new chemical study published in the science journal, Thermochimica Acta, found that the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.

The paper confidently contradicts radiocarbon tests carried out in the 1980s which concluded that the linen sheet, which bears the faint image of a blood-covered man, was a medieval fake dating from between 1260 and 1390.

The report's author, Dr Raymond Rogers, said the finding that the shroud was a fake was based on a test of a piece of cloth which had been woven in to repair damage from fire.

"We're darned sure that part of the cloth was not original Shroud of Turin cloth," he said, adding that although the test was valid, the piece tested was the size of a postage stamp. "The radiocarbon sample has completely different chemical properties than the main part of the shroud relic," he said.

Dr Rogers, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said the threads in the patched portion contained cotton and had been dyed to match. The main part of the shroud is pure linen.

The fabric bears the faint image of a blood-covered man, and many believe it was used to bury Jesus after his crucifixion.

The shroud has been damaged in several fires since it was first discovered in France in 1357 and scientists believe it has been patched by nuns.

Tom D'Muhala, president of the American Shroud of Turin Association for Research, said the "conclusive" evidence, gathered over the past two years, was proof the shroud was older than previously thought.

"It proves that the sample used to date the Shroud was actually taken from an expertly-done rewoven patch," he said.

"Chemical testing indicates that the linen shroud is actually very old - much older than the published 1988 radiocarbon date." He added that Dr Roger's findings did not disprove the 1988 test, but established a date for the rewoven area.

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