Scientists have added to the complex and controversial tales of origin surrounding the Turin Shroud, by revealing the myriad locations of the DNA and pollen that are present on the cloth.
The length of linen is highly contentious. Some Christians believe the fabric – which is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin - is the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazereth, dating back over 2,000 years.
However,previous scientific studies have suggested that the cloth, which appears to be imprinted with the image of a man, may in fact be from the 13th or 14th century - centuries after Jesus is believed to have died.
Now, a new study by Italian researchers published in the prestigious science journal Nature gives a further insight into the potential origins of the cloth.
To make their findings for the paper entitled 'Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud', the team behind the study sequenced the DNA of pollen and other dust from the cloth.
By doing so, they were able to pinpoint the biogeographic origin of the people who came into contact with the shroud.
The authors found traces on the parchment from people and pollen from around the world, including Europe, south Asia, eastern Africa and the Middle East.
Researchers said that the findings could indicate that that the shroud made its "historic [...] presumed journey" from the Near East and was taken around the world before being kept in Italy; or that it has its origins in medieval Europe where and was contaminated by those who travelled to it.
In a further twist, the study indicated that it may have been manufactured in India.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies