Shroud of Turin, a religious relic or the greatest hoax in the history of art? Topics covered: is Shroud of Turin Christ's burial cloth?, image theories, Carbon 14 dating, religious relics, art history, unexplained objects, strange artefacts, bible mysteries...











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Piri Reis Map (1513)

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Shroud of Turin
Image Theories

Strange Artifacts

Image Theories Carbon 14 Books/Video Related Links

Image Formation Theories

Shrouded in Deceit Leonardo's Last Laugh

Copyright 2005 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Presented with permission

Composite Photograph of the shroud

After 500 years we can at last spot the flaws in Leonardo's 15th century?

Greater contrast of negative image reveals detail

Anomalies resulting from projection of three images:

  • A giant figure 6'8" at front, 6'10" at back!
  • Head too small for body and displaced upwards! (projection of head added separately)
  • Face unnaturally thin; forehead and sides of face foreshortened, ears lost
  • Right arm/hand too long (double exposure of fingers)
  • Light circle on nose (effect of lens, centred on the face)
  • Back of head wider than front of head
  • Image area oxidized and dehydrated (result of using heat to burn chemical image into cloth. Chemical solution then washed off)

Other anomalies:

  • Hair hanging vertically, added later (on a shrouded, horizontal body hair would have fallen towards back of head)
  • Composed expression odd for a torture victim!
  • No loin cloth but naked, with hands over genitals (sensitive to intended audience or a cryptic joke?
  • 'Flowing blood stains' from a corpse? (added in separate process)


Positive image of the Shroud as seen by the naked eye.

The Shroud is a biscuit coloured cloth 4.4 m by 1.9 m. The large marks are the result of a fire which burned the (folded) cloth and its subsequent repair, in 1532.


Carbon Dating of the Cloth

Such hullabaloo greeted the early identification of pollen ("as found in the Holy Land") in 1973 yet carbon dating in 1988 at three different laboratories all agreed: the cloth was no older than the 14th century. At that time, the Crusaders brought back vast quantities of Infidel cloth, of much better quality than could be found in Christian Europe.

That the Shroud was fake was obvious but then how was it done? No known painting technique could reproduce such an effect. This remained the last defense
of die-hard defenders of "authenticity."

But now we know better the Shroud was not painted at all, it is a photograph!

Pity that 15th century Europe was still in the vicious grip of Holy Mother Church we might have had the Box Brownie camera in time for the War of the Roses!


Leonardo Sacrilegious 'Sorcerer' Outwits the Priests

"Many are those who trade in tricks & simulated miracles, duping the foolish multitude; and if nobody unmasked their subterfuges, they would impose them on everyone."

Leonardo da Vinci (Manuscript F, Institut de France, 5v)

Best known for his artistic masterpieces Leonardo da Vinci revealed insights into everything from the human body to engines of war. He conceptualised objects as diverse as scissors, bicycles and helicopters. Living in the age of the Inquisition, a time when merely being a vegetarian might lead to execution, he had to remain ever vigilant of the censure of the Church. For its part, the Church was only interested in Leonardo's ability to artistically represent the Faith.

Commissioned to produce a better Shroud, he pioneered an early photographic technique, using lenses, a camera obscura, chromium salts and in a wonderful satire on Church duplicity his own face in lieu of Jesus Christ!

Head on the Shroud (left) and Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait (right).

On the one hand ...

The 'Shroud' is never mentioned in the New Testament and nor is it ever referred to by early Christians.

On the other hand ...

'Holy Shrouds' were part of hugely profitable medieval fakery industry more than 40 rival shrouds are known. The 'Turin Shroud' appeared suddenly on Good Friday, 1494!

The Devil's Magic? Camera obscura...

At least as early as Aristotle (4th century BC) it had been noted that a small hole into a darkened room throws a reversed and upside-down image of the outside scene onto the opposite wall. From at least the time of the Romans, it had been known certain materials reacted to light.

The challenge for Renaissance alchemist/artists whilst avoiding the attentions of the Inquisition was to capture and fix the projected image using the right material.

Leonardo, man of outstanding artistic skill and technical ingenuity, was equal to that challenge.


Leonardo's sketch of his "oculus artificialis" (artificial eye)
a camera obscura.

When & Where?

Leonardo served several wealthy Renaissance patrons, including Giuliano de Medici, son-in-law of the Duke of Savoy.  The House of Savoy (which became the Italian royal family) had acquired an earlier 'Holy Shroud' from a minor French aristocratic family, the de Charnys, around 1453.

This (painted) shroud had long since been denounced by the local bishop as "a fake used to defraud gullible pilgrims" but he had been silenced by the Pope. Nothing was seen of any shroud for thirty years.

Colluding with the House of Savoy, Pope Innocent VIII (the witch-burning pope, closely tied to Lorenzo de Medici) commissioned Leonardo to produce a 'better shroud' in 1492.

Under what threats Leonardo worked we can but speculate. Vegetarianism alone could have got him burned, let alone his homosexuality.

Two years later no doubt after much experimentation the 'Holy Shroud' appeared. In its positive form it was disappointing and Leonardo was not paid!

By sheer serendipity, modern photography reversed Leonardo's image into an altogether more awesome artifact and triggered off a new century of delirious 'Faith'.

The old alchemist would have laughed his socks off!

Copyright 2005 by Kenneth Humphreys. Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.

Related Links

BOOKS & Video


The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence That the World's Most Sacred Relic Is Real

by Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson's well-written and intelligent book gives a balanced view of evidence for and against the Shroud of Turin's authenticity (including new finds such as the presence of human blood and DNA on the Shroud), and along the way, provides a fascinating discussion of subjects ranging from capital punishment in first-century Palestine to the chemistry of radiocarbon dating. For Wilson, the Shroud's ultimate significance resides in the very fact of Christians' fascination with it. The Shroud represents the possibility that the Resurrection actually happened; if there's any chance the Shroud is authentic, and if that chance excites you, then historical facts are a crucial aspect of your faith. Given that, the Shroud of Turin becomes much more than a curiosity for cranks and crazies. It's a valuable incitement to introspection for all believers. --Michael Joseph Gross

The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence

by Mark Antonacci

In Resurrection of the Shroud , Mark Antonacci authoritatively and scientifically challenges radiocarbon testing and presents new evidence in determining the Shroud's true age.

Jesus and the Shroud of Turin (1999)

Theatrical Release Date: 
January 1, 1999
Video Release Date: 
March 2, 1999

This video is an excellent documentary of the Shroud's history and scientific investigation. It is easy to understand and quite entertaining as it was filmed in many international settings. The Shroud is not a "dead" issue. 

The Shroud of Turin :
The Most Up-To-Date Analysis
of All the Facts Regarding
the Church's Controversial Relic

by C. Bernard Ruffin
(September 1999)

Relic, Icon or Hoax? : Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud

by H. E. Gove
(December 1996)


The Second Messiah :
Templars, the Turin Shroud
and the Great Secret of Freemasonry

by Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas

The the shroud itself is a piece of herringbone patterned linen in a 3:1 twill weave. This type of cloth came into use in Europe at the beginning of the 14th Century. Lomas and Knight accept that it would not be impossible for this to have been produced in the first century, however it is unlikely. It is also true, according to the authors, that of all the pollen deposits found embedded in the cloth, no pollen from olive trees has been found, and Israel has always had a high number of these plants. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the flax plants which were used to make the shroud had ceased to live between 1260 and 1390 AD.

On the image itself, Lomas and Knight deduced that the victim whose image the shroud bears was nailed with his right arm over his head and his left arm out sideways. This also corresponds with the observation that the right shoulder on the shroud appears to be dislocated. This conflicts with the traditional crucifixion in which the arms are stretched out sideways to promote great difficulties in breathing. the positioning of the arms on the shroud itself indicates that the victim was not laying on a flat surface, but on a soft padded surface when the image was made. With the head and shoulders raised to assist breathing, and the body heat that would be needed for the chemical process that created the image on the shroud, it suggests that the victim was not only alive, but was intended to recover.

in 1307, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar was a man called Jacques de Molay. In their book, Lomas and Knight demonstrate that the French king Philip IV had planned to restore his fractured economy by stealing the wealth accumilated by the Knights Templar. Prior to Friday 13th October 1307, the Knights Templar had been a holy order but on this day the Paris Inquisition took 15,000 members, including de Molay and also took control of the Paris Temple. William Imbert was ordered by king Philip to extract a confession from de Molay by whatever means necessary but under no cicumstances was he to kill him.. Lomas and Knight produce evidence to show that one Templar, John of Foligny, confessed to the inquisition that there was a 'secret place' inside the Temple which Lomas and Knight believe resembeld a modern Masonic temple, complete with four items within a wooden chest- a human skull, two thigh bones and a white burial shroud (which is still used today in the ritual of the living ressurection just as it was in the Jerusalem Chuch and by the Knights Templar). According to Lomas and Knight, de Molay was interrogated in the Paris Temple. Lomas and Knight believe that Imbert was outraged at the Templars use of a ressurection ceremony which he felt insulted the resurrection of Jesus, and as a form of irony intended that Molay should suffer as Jesus had. They believe thay Molay was nailed most probably to a large wooden door in the manner described above. They believe that when his right arm was raised above his head and the nail driven through the wrist, that the impact from the nail caused his thumb to swing violently across his palm and dislocated at the joint. This concurs with medical examinations of the shroud.

This trauma would have produced large amounts of lactic acid, leading to 'metabolic acidosis' this produces severe cramps and was not helped by the fact Molay would not have been able to breathe propperly. This would have caused 'respiratory acidosis'. It was at this point, Lomas and Knight believe, that Molay was taken down and covered with the shroud found within the wooden chest to show that his "mocking use of a shroud had not gone unnoticed by the Holy Inquisition". Molay was then placed into the same bed that he had been dragged from, supporting the notion that the man on the shroud had been on a soft surface at the time the image was made. As Molay had no family in the area to care for him, Lomas and Knight believe that the family of his right hand man, that of Jean de Charney was called in to care for him. The Charney family removed the shroud and nursed him to health, though the scars never healed and some years later Molay showed papal representatives the extent of his injuries. The shroud which was bloodied, but a useful cloth, was washed and put away.

The shrouds first display was in a small church in the French town of Lirey in 1357. Interestingly, it was lent to the church by the widow of Geoffrey de Charney, a decendant of the family that Lomas and Knight believe cared for Molay after his tourture. This would explain why this shroud came into their posession.


Sacred Blood, Sacred Image :
The Sudarium of Oviedo,
New Evidence for the Authenticity
of the Shroud of Turin

by Janice Bennett
(February 2001)
The Shroud of Turin and the C-14 Dating Fiasco
by Thomas Case
(June 1996)
Relics : The Shroud of Turin, the True Cross,  the Blood of Januarius...
History, Mysticism, and the Catholic Church

by Joan Carroll Cruz
(October 1984)
Not Made by Hands :
The Miraculous Images of
Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Shroud of Turin

by Thomas Mary Sennott
(March 1999)
The Shroud of Turin: An Adventure of Discovery
by Mary Whanger, Alan Whanger
 (March 1998)
The Turin Shroud Is Genuine :
The Irrefutable Evidence

by Rodney Hoare
(March 1999)
The Shroud of Turin : Unraveling the Mystery
by Michael Minor (Compiler)
(October 2001)
(April 2002) Not yet published
Click to see next page Turin Shroud and Science
by Leonard W. Konikiewicz
The Shroud of Turin: A Case of Authenticity
by Vittorio Guerrera (December 2000)



The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin :
New Scientific Evidence

by John C. Iannone ( June 1998)

Inquest on the Shroud of Turin :
Latest Scientific Findings

by Joe Nickell (March 1999)
The Jesus Conspiracy :
The Turin Shroud and the Truth
About the Resurrection

by Holger Kersten, Elmar R. Gruber (May 1995)
Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin
by Walter C. McCrone (March 1999)

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