Italian scientists declared Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake

The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud): photo of the face, positive left, negative right. Note: Negative has been contrast enhanced.

The Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake? And now it has been reproduced, according to a new experiment by Italian scientists, who proved that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus's burial cloth is a medieval fake.

The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches, bears the image, reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.

"We have shown that it is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the shroud," said Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia who is due to illustrate the results at a conference on the para-normal this weekend in northern Italy.

The Shroud of Turin shows the back and front of a bearded man with long hair, his arms crossed on his chest, while the entire cloth is marked by what appears to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

Carbon dating tests by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 caused a sensation by dating it from between 1260 and 1390. Sceptics said it was a hoax, possibly made to attract the profitable medieval pilgrimage business.

But scientists have thus far been at a loss to explain how the image was left on the cloth. Mr Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages.

Scientists placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer and then rubbed it with a pigment containing traces of acid. A mask was used for the face.

The pigment was then artificially aged by heating the cloth in an oven and washing it, a process which removed it from the surface but left a fuzzy, half-tone image similar to that on the shroud. He believes the pigment on the original shroud faded naturally over the centuries.

They then added blood stains, burn holes, scorches and water stains to achieve the final effect.

* Shroud of Turin is one of the Unsolved Mysteries of the World Top 10

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