The Shroud of Turin: Relic or Forgery?

New study claims an ancient earthquake can shed light on the Shroud of Turin

Purported to be Jesus’ burial cloth, the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin has long been debated. A recently published study claims that an ancient earthquake can explain why radiocarbon dating tests conducted on the shroud may not have been accurate. Photo: Vernon Miller.

Is the Shroud of Turin real or fake? Its authenticity has long been questioned. Radiocarbon dating tests conducted in the 1980s concluded that the shroud dated to the 13th–14th century. A recently published study in the journal Meccanica, however, claims that an earthquake that hit Jerusalem in 33 C.E. may have increased the shroud’s carbon-14 levels—putting into doubt the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests.

The shroud is purported to be Jesus’ burial cloth. Front and back images of a man who seems to have been crucified can be seen on the 14-by-3.5-foot linen cloth.

As described by Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., in the November/December 2000 issue of BAR, the tradition of Jesus’ burial shroud and the cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin has had a long and complicated history:

Eusebius reports that in 30 A.D. a certain Thaddeus, one of Jesus’ disciples, gave “a cloth with an image on it” to King Abgar V, whose palace was in Edessa (in modern Turkey). Abgar was severely ill with what scholars now believe may have been leprosy. However, after Abgar touched the cloth, he was miraculously healed. The news of his cure spread rapidly, and soon many pilgrims were flocking to Edessa to see and touch the cloth. More than 900 years later, in 944, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Romanus I, wanted to obtain the “magic” cloth, which by then had become known as the Mandylion, or “Little Handkerchief.” The city of Edessa refused to give up its sacred relic, so Romanus I laid siege to the city until the people surrendered the Mandylion. The cloth was then taken to the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.

According to Byzantine historians, the Mandylion bore only the facial image of Jesus. Some believers today say that the Mandylion was the shroud, folded into eighths to make a small square, leaving only the face visible. (This may be why—if the Mandylion and the shroud are one and the same—historians did not record that the Mandylion contained a full-body image. But why they wouldn’t realize its true size is hard to fathom.) In 1204 Knights of the Temple of Solomon (an order of monk-knights, also known as the Knights Templar) of the Fourth Crusade reportedly took the cloth—whether the Mandylion or the shroud—to France. It remained in France until sometime during the early 1300s, when it was removed to England for safekeeping after King Philip IV of France destroyed and confiscated properties owned by the Knights of the Temple of Solomon. After about half a century in England, it returned to France, and in 1357 a French nobleman, Geoffrey de Charmy, displayed a cloth to the public in Lirey, France, as the “true burial shroud of Jesus.” However, he never revealed where the shroud came from nor how he acquired it. This is the first verifiable reference to the object now called the Shroud of Turin. In 1453 that cloth was given to the King of Savoy. For more than a century, it remained in a castle belonging to the House of Savoy in Chambéry, France. After surviving a fire in the castle in 1532, the shroud was eventually brought to Turin, where it has remained since 1578, in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.


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In this contrast-enhanced photo, details of the Shroud of Turin become more clear. It has been suggested that the white marks on the forehead are blood stains, perhaps caused by the crown of thorns said to have been placed on Jesus’ head in the Biblical accounts. Photo: Vernon Miller.

Numerous scientific studies—from radiocarbon dating to x-ray and pollen analysis—have been conducted over the past century, and numerous theories have been put forth. The Shroud of Turin has been regarded as a relic, a forgery and even a work of art.

A research team led by Alberto Carpinteri of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy hypothesized in a newly published study that an earthquake that hit Jerusalem in 33 C.E. may have been strong enough to cause neutron radiation. This phenomenon in turn may have created the images on the shroud through radiation imagery as well as corrupted the radiocarbon testing conducted on the shroud in the 1980s. It may therefore be possible that the shroud is older than the 13th–14th century dates originally suggested by the 1980s radiocarbon dating studies.

The study by Carpinteri and his team has been met with some criticism. As Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, told LiveScience:

One question that would need to be addressed is why the material here is affected, but other archaeological and geological material in the ground is not. There are huge numbers of radiocarbon dates from the region for much older archaeological material, which certainly don’t show this type of intense in-situ radiocarbon production (and they would be much more sensitive to any such effects).

Carpinteri’s research—on piezonuclear fission—has courted so much controversy that in 2012, the Italian research minister conceded to a call by over 1,000 scientists from Italy and abroad to take a closer look at the research program.

Read more about Carpinteri’s hypothesis on the Shroud of Turin.


Learn more about the Shroud of Turin in the BAS Library:

Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr., “Does Pollen Prove the Shroud Authentic?” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2000.

Gary Vikan, “Debunking the Shroud: Made by Human Hands,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1998.

Suzanne F. Singer, “Has the Shroud of Turin Been Dated—Finally?” Bible Review, April 1989.

Joseph A. Kohlbeck and Eugenia L. Nitowski, “New Evidence May Explain Image on Shroud of Turin,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1986.

Robert A. Wild, “The Shroud of Turin—Probably the Work of a 14th-Century Artist or Forger,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1984.

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  • Jerry says

    Frankly isn’t the whole point of the matter concerning finding some for of physical evidence to prove there is truly a real Godly Being…The Turin cloth is merely a piece of cloth with the impression likeness of a man embedded in it fibers but does any of that prove beyond any shadow of a doubt there is a true Godly Being connected to a mere piece of cloth…?
    In fact although I do not need physical evidence God is real or that Jesus Christ died for my sinful ,lifestyle I still wonder, and I have to ask, is there any physical evidence or any concrete proof beyond any archaeology diggings, and beyond the findings of old ancient holy land grave sits and bone findings, or is there any true evidence beyond old holy land ruins available to us people of today, proof that clearly shows and tells all and anyone there is a true living Godhead Father somewhere within the cosmos or throughout the unseen heavens…? OUCH…I just had to ask…?

  • George says

    How did NASA going to Mars with the Mariner 10 satellite in the 1973 lead to the formation of the Shroud of Turin Research Project later in 1978? This project in 1978 would attract 38 skeptical American scientists on the team of 40 (with only two Christians), who thought they’d prove it a hoax within a week’s time, but leading to all the scientists, even a Jewish man on the team, all coming to faith in Jesus after 5 days studying the Shroud of Turin.

    This would also lead to not only to The Fabric of Time video in 2005 –, but in 2010, Ray Downing would recreate that 3D image using 21st century computers to extract a 2D instruction set on the 2D surface of the Shroud of Turin to replicate a 3D image of the body of Christ on the History Channel: “The Real Face of Jesus From the Shroud of Turin” –

    Then in 2007, the Star of Bethlehem documentary would be released showing that the Magi not only found Christ as a toddler on December 25, 2 BC and the star being commemorated on Romans coins of the day, but that his death following astronomical events of his time (a blood moon) was on April 3, 33 AD and matches an Earthquake recorded on the same date – and is in line with coins found on the image of the Shroud of Turin that were only minted in Jerusalem from 29-33AD, and that have a spelling error on them that matches coins preserved in archeology from antiquity –

    Atheism is a movement in decline, has been since the 1970’s. Only reason you hear about it in the news is because enough old rich white baby boomers from the counter culture have money to put into it and into the court rooms. In another 40 years, it will be less relevant than it is now.

    Sin means “without,” without God specifically, so when Jesus told a sinner to go and sin no more he was really saying, “Go and be without God no more” (avoid Adam and Eve’s mistake of thinking they could cast conversation with the creator to the wayside).

    Just deal with the facts of history. NASA developed the VP8 image analyzer to measure the terrain of Mars from maps in black in white to be able to measure distance information so they would know safely where to land the Viking probes in 1976.

    An air force Captain took a photo of the negative of the Shroud of Turin in black in white, which yielded a positive image for Secondo Pia when he first photographed it on May 28, 1898 giving the world the first positive image of Christ received from the Shroud on the negative film strip.

    When run under the VP8 image analyzer, it generated a 3D image in 1975, which no standard photograph does, and that launched the Shroud of Turin Research Project or STURP in 1978, and led later to the first 3D image yielded from Dutch labs in 2005 as documented in the Fabric of Time, and then Ray Downing’s extraction of a full 3D image for the History channel from 2D surface on the Shroud which yielded an instruction set for creating his 3D image using 21st century computers in 2010.

    The image itself comes from the top 2 microfibers on the Shroud, not threads, but microfibers as there are hundreds of microfibers in a single thread, so that if you were to shave the surface of the Shroud of Turin with a razor blade the image itself would disappear. The Shroud is spun from flax, but the threads used in the 1988 carbon dating came from a repair weave that was from cotton which test from Los Alamos labs have confirmed, which is why carbon dating the cotton yielded a middle age time conclusion. –

    The Shroud of Turin has a 3 to 1 herring bone twill pattern weave typical of the first century and burial cloths from Masada which date to the 1st century are constructed and made the same way. This pattern was not used by more advanced loom and weaving technology of the middle ages, so the fabric itself dates to the 1st century. –

    This is all fact, and none of it is myth.

    The 3D quantum hologram on the surface of the Shroud of Turin is only pointing to the Holographic Universe Science is now finding exists that we live in, since everything is made up of energy/light.

    The holographic Universe and the Father of the Heavenly Lights . . .

    The light and matter in the universe is measured data, and quite ironically you are using digital information to post on this comment that travels via light from your PC to the server, from which our PC’s are receiving the signal and producing it as letters in form of light on our monitors that our eyes can see.

    So not only are your rights from God, so is the sun light you see by and the oxygen you breathe by. Everything belongs to the creator, it’s just on loan to us, and one day when time ends where it began in Eternity, everyone will have to give account of how they managed what they were blessed with in life. How will you measure up?

    • Heidi says


      I like you. Thank you for your comment. 🙂


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