A “Johnny Come Lately’s” eighteen stumbles in Shroud research, all in the space of four months

Please note: this is not my major “Shroudie” site. See also this one, more scientific, less argumentative…

I’ve been described today on that increasingly vituperative Other Site  of being a “Johnny come lately”,  of  “stumbling” on account of inadequate knowledge of the literature. Well, the first Shroudie posting on my sciencebuzz site was certainly not that long ago – Dec 30th 2011 – and since then I’ve produced some 30 postings on three different sites, plus some commentary on The Other Site which today allows a lawyer to brand me as McCarthyite, an internet troll etc – yet one more reason to give that site wide berth.

Here, off the top of my head, and not in any particular order (a bit of a jumble in fact) are what I consider my chief contributions to Shroud science. Science, note, not wild and fanciful speculation… just patiently acquiring and interpreting experimental detail on model systems for imprinting negative images onto cloth and their subsequent photo-editing and enhancement, with occasional looks, often critical, at what else is in the literature.

OK, so here’s what I have “stumbled” upon these last 4 months:


From left to right: 1. A horse brass with image of King George VI; 2. A scorch imprint (“thermograph”) onto linen, then left/right restored; 3.Inversion (negative back to positive); 4. 3D-enhanced in ImageJ software
1 and 2 could have been used to create the Shroud image. 3 reproduces  Secondo Pia’s 1898 reversion of the pesudo-negative Shroud image to the iconic luminous positive photograph while 4 reproduces John Jackson’s 3D VP-8 enhancement based on converting image intensity to vertical height  on z axis above the 2D x.y plane.

Scorching produces negative images that respond well to light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement, comparable to the Shroud’s sepia-coloured pseudo-negative image, probably also a scorched-on image (cf branding by direct contact with a hot template).


Scorch imprint of hot pencil sharpener onto onion scale leaf epidermis, one cell thick, without affecting underlying linen

Demonstration that thermal scorches can be intense, yet still be highly superficial. The onion skin experiment shows it is possible to scorch onto a layer of cells, just one cell thick, with little if any effect on underlying linen.


Scorch imprint from Ghana trinket obtained by pressing it down into linen with underlying sand bed – helping to achieve even contact pressure. (See photo under Stumble 5 below for the dramatic way in which this and other scorch images respond to 3D enhancement in ImageJ software).

A bed of sand or other yielding material, used as underlay, makes it easy to imprint from a hot bas relief onto linen. What would have served as bas-relief for the Shroud image? Metal perhaps, not necessarily in one single piece, but separate pieces that could be imprinted one at a time – the head, the torso, arms etc.

Lirey Badge, aka Cluny Medal.  Click to enlarge.  A mid-14th century souvenir for pilgrims to take home after viewing the Shroud in Lirey Church. But note the figure, who while naked (at first sight) bears little resemblance to the image of Christ – the one that is supposed to have been bestowed by the Shroud. Really naked? Or at least partly decked out in armour? And what about the chain across waist (dorsal view).

Here’s a possible clue to what may have been used as templates for scorching – the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge, aka Cluny (Museum) Medal, which depicts an image of the Shroud shortly after its first recorded appearance in western Europe when owned by the knightly crusader, Geoffroi de Charny.  There is an armour-like appearance to the dual frontal/dorsal image of the man on the badge (see below under Stumble 18).  Maybe sections of armour plate were used,  for Shroud Mark 1 and the Badge, circa 1355, as a further allusion -cum- metaphor for the last of the Knight Templars  – hideously slow-roasted to death in 1314 at the stake (see below).


From crude cartoon to Shroud-like image (with light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement)

Simple cartoon like sketches with charcoal can be turned into Shroud-like images with light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement


That same scorch from the Ghana trinket, after 3D enhancement., “encoded 3D information” it being an intrinsic property of scorch imprints.

Extensive experiments with bas relief templates, showing sharp imprints that can then be photo-enhanced to produce results that correspond to those when the Shroud image is similarly processed.

6      Re Adler’s hypothesis for centuries old “blood” that is still bright red: involvement of trauma-induced bilirubin is highly improbable, indeed probably impossible, given the chemical instability of bilirubin and its proneness to photo-oxidation . This and other ‘acute trauma-induced’  special pleading rather begged the question.

Alan Adler was an acknowledged expert on porphyrins, but not as far as I’m aware of bile pigments, whereas the latter were my first research interest (phototherapy of neonatal jaundice). In fact my first published paper (1972) was on the photo-oxidation of bilirubin. Linear tetrapyrroles such as bilirubin lack the chemical stability of cyclic tetrapyrroles such as the porphyrins of  intact or oxidised  iron-containing haem pigments.

7       Paolo Di Lazzaros’  and his ENSA colleagues’ ideas on energetic radiation are also highly improbable, not least because they fail to account for  the Shroud image coloration being confined primarily to thread crowns. Their approach to science also begs the question.

As for Raymond Rogers’ vapourgraph theory, the one that requires a steady production for putrefaction amines (from a recently deceased individual?) there are so many qualifying assumptions (starch and saponin pretreatment of linen, elevated temperature to produce rising convection current etc) that Occam’s razor quickly loses its edge. The main objection, as stated elsewhere, is the hair. Why is the hair (“hair”?) imaged so well?  Hair cannot putrefy, yet can hardly assist passage of amines from body to cloth, and indeed would tend to trap gaseous amines. Rogers’ hypothesis was  over-elaborate –  embroidered one might say, and his dismissal of scorching invoked some novel, some might say quirky science (hydroxyproline as a marker for unheated blood etc  etc.   Unheated meat with its high collagen connective tissue, certainly, but not blood).

8         There is a dearth of information on mineral salts to back up evidence that there are degraded blood stains on the Shroud. See my previous posting on this site.


TURIN was painted on with a thin charcoal paste. After drying the cloth was held close to a source of heat (a 60W spotlight). The charcoal was then washed out to leave the scorched-in lettering. The charcoal was needed as a thermosensitizer.

Discovery of thermo-stencilling – which shows that thermal radiation can scorch white linen, but only when a light and heat-absorbing black pigment, e.g. charcoal,  is present. Washing out the charcoal then creates a ‘wot dunnit?’.

Thermostencilling with charcoal could in principle be sued to create a Shroud image by painting a negative-like image onto cloth with charcoal paint, heating,  thorough washing etc, not dissimilar to Luigi Garlaschelli’s pigment/baking procedure, with the advantage that nothing is left at the end except scorch. But it seems unlikely that medieval folk would have gone to all that trouble, given they had no inkling that their efforts would centuries later produce that iconic ghostly luminous positive that looks so deceptively  ‘photograph-like’. A one-off effort to represent a scorched Templar martyr (Geoffroi de Charney (said to have been the uncle of the previously mentioned Geoffroi de Charney) ?Jacques de Molay? see later) seems altogether more credible, i.e. to produce a Mark 1  Shroud. Branding has a practical and logistical edge over  thermostencilling , having the crucial advantage that it  ALWAYS produces a pseudo-negative image – which although looking odd to the uninitiated would probably have been  instantly recognizable by the cognoscenti among surviving Templars as a thermal metaphor for the hideous manner in which the last of the Knight Templars were executed in 1314 on what is now the Ile de la Cité in Paris, at the time a separate small island – the Ile des Juifs).


Those scorched-like  crease marks  on the  Shroud –  a mechanism for their formation via entrapment of a cold spot  – shown in blue above – and scorching of the margins to explain the twin-tracks.


Evidence from 1532 burn holes that the Shroud was curiously and irreverently  folded down the mid-line, bisecting the face of someone supposed to be Jesus Christ. Or was it originally someone else on a Mark 1 Shroud, circa mid 1300s – see 18 below?

12     Criticism, mainly on the Other Site, that the Pray Manuscript has anything useful to offer, certainly not those so-called poker holes. Nobody commented on the red crosses – elsewhere described as stylised blood – yet absent in the “before resurrection” image with the body on the Shroud.

13 First to point out that the Chambery 1532 burn/scorch marks respond to 3D imaging

14     Suggestion that “wrist” nail wound was due to conflation by medieval artists and craftsmen of metacarpals and phalanges (easily done).


I believe I was first to point out that David Rolfe was using as banner a high-definition image that has previously not been available, apparently a still from video footage, which kills stone dead any fond notions about coins in eyes, real eyebrows, real hair etc. But why was that image not been available before, and why is the rest still not in the public domain, or even the scientific domain? How much time and speculation has been expended on artefact-laden prints from silver-salt photographic emulsions? Did anyone at Valencia put this question to David Rolfe? I doubt it somehow… Shroudie conferences are as much about protecting the mystique as advancing the science…


Optimised settings, developed with model systems (scorches onto linen), applied without any further adjustment to the Man on the Shroud

Development of optimised settings for 3D-enhancement of 2D images,  based on a reference 3D  template  (horse brass).  Successful application to the Shroud image. (I discovered today purely by chance that someone else by the name of Geoffrey Ashe as long ago as 1966  had used horse brasses  to produce thermal imprints to simulate the Shroud image (was his also King George VI like mine?). “There’s nothing new under the sun…”


Note the open structure of the primary cell wall, with lacy hemicellulose and cellulose, in contrast to crystalline arrays of cellulose in the much thicker secondary cell wall.

A hemicellulose model is proposed to explain how scorching can be confined to the primary cell wall, PCW, typically 200 nm thick  (1/5000th of a millimetre, roughly the thickness of gold leaf).  It focused on the relatively open network of cellulose and hemicelluloses in the PCW, with relatively little cellulose crystallinity in contrast to the much thicker secondary cell wall with highly crystalline, chemically-resistant cellulose.  It also proposes that the exothermic nature of hemicellulose pyrolysis (cf endothermic for cellulose) may permit selective pyrolysis of hemicelluloses within fibrils, accounting for the half-tone effect (pyrolysis being all-or-nothing within localised compartments)


The Man on the Lirey Badge aka Cluny Medal, generally held to be the same as the Man on the Shroud, but looking more like he had been roasted than crucified, especially when knees are examined in close-up (burned to bone?)

The Lirey pilgrim’s badge aka Cluny medal/medallion shows a man who appears to have been burned/slowly roasted at stake, not someone who has been crucified (see chain round waist in dorsal view- not shown above – possibly filed off in frontal view).

Close-up of that Lirey badge- chain across waist (dorsal view)

Suggestion that the Lirey image, and a putative Mark 1 Shroud image represented a Knight Templar, burned at stake, rather than crucified, but metaphorically “crucified” for standing by his beliefs and refusing to recant.

That’s 18 “stumbles” so far. Not bad for 4 months work, eh?

And with that folks, my Turin Shroud period is over. That’s yer lot, as they say. Time now to let these ideas percolate into the blogosphere and MSM, and see how things look in a year’s time, or even 5 or 10 longer if I’m still around.  Scientists, retired one’s included, need  to take a long-term view, and not imagine that ideas will be instantly accepted – or even rejected. I shall now pursue some other interests, while keeping an eye on other sites, though any comments will for the most part be here where I can blue-pencil the kind of absurdly OTT fulmination that plagues so many internet forums.

Bye…  as regards new content.  (But please feel free to comment/criticize on what’s already here). I may do some editing of this post from time to time – have begun already in fact.


About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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