The Turin Shroud
The Turin Shroud - a simple linen cloth some 14 feet long overall - appears to be imprinted with the face and body of a bearded man who had been crucified. Many Christians believe that it is the shroud used to cover the body of Jesus after his crucifixion.
Tradition has it that the Knights Templars acquired the shroud and then kept it safe during the during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The shroud is now kept in a chapel in Italy's Turin Cathedral. It was brought to the city during the 16th century, by the royal family of Savoy.
Below is a photograph of part of the shroud. (The dark patches are areas where the shroud was accidentally burnt many years ago and the white patches are repairs to severely damaged areas). The face, body, arms and hands of the man are quite clear.
Below is (a rather poor) enlargement of the face of the man. Below that is a 'reverse' or negative of that face:
Below is a typical icon painting of the face of Jesus - looking remarkably like the shroud's image:
Tests conducted in 1988 by scientists in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, concluded that the shroud was a forgery and dated from 1260 to 1390.
However, in March 2013, a new book claimed that the shroud was not a fake, but was in fact of ancient origin.
The book, “Il Mistero della Sindone” or "The Mystery of the Shroud", was written by Giulio Fanti (a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University), and Saverio Gaeta (a Roman Catholic journalist).
Professor Fanti used infra-red light and spectroscopy — the measurement of radiation intensity through wavelengths — to analyse fibres which were taken from the shroud during a previous 1988 study, when they were subjected to carbon-14 dating. He said that the tests carried out in 1988 were “false” because of laboratory contamination.
His claims are backed up research carried out in 2011 by a team of experts from Enea, the National Agency for New Technologies and Energy, which concluded that the images on the cloth could not be reproduced artificially, even by modern scientific methods, and were therefore not a medieval fake.
These experts suggested that the iconic image was created by “some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)”.
One implication of their work was that the enigmatic marks on the cloth might even have been made at the moment of Jesus’s resurrection, by some sort of intense burst of energy.
Their findings were hailed by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, saying that science could not explain the marks on the cloth: “For science, the shroud continues to be an ’impossible object’ — impossible to falsify".