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The picture above is both the colour positive and black and white negative image of the cloth known as the Shroud of Turin. The body is revealed much more clearly in the negative. The geometrical patches are scars from a known fire in 1532.

An Academic Scandal?

The 4 metre long cloth above has a known provenance from 1355 when it was displayed for the first time by a French crusader in his home village of Lirey. It caused a controversy then and continued to do so right up to 1988 but with the majority of scholarly and scientific opinion weighing heavily in favour of its authenticity. And there was much to justify that.

In 1988, a single C14 test combined with a verdict that it is nothing more than a crude medieval forgery consigned it to relative oblivion. Generations have grown up knowing nothing of it and it has remained "taboo" for most scholars who value their reputation to become associated with its study.

Recently, it has come to light that the C14 test itself was deeply compromised and the test's invigilator, himself, has dismissed the "crude forgery" verdict. However, the Shroud's reputation has yet to recover from the dismissive and contemptuous way the verdict was announced. Especially, as they were announced from the prestigious and iconic steps of the British Museum, the employer of the test's invigilator, Michael Tite.

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Here are a few facts to consider:

1. The cloth itself and its weave and seam are more consistent with an origin in Judea and in antiquity than any other place or time. (The invigilator of the C14 test was charged with the responsibility to find a similar medieval cloth to use as a control sample but was unable to do so despite access to the world's textile museums.)

2. There exists at least two viable provenances for the cloth that go back to 1st Century Palestine.

3. The forensic detail on the image has proven to be entirely consistent with what is
now known about a Roman crucifixion and was not known in the middle ages as evidenced by the way Christ was depicted on the cross in medieval art.

4. The image on the cloth is unique. The discolouration of the cloth has been identified as a "scorch" of some kind but is only microns thick. Perplexing as this sounds, this is only understandable if intense energy was released for an infinitely small amount of time. Anything longer and the cloth would have been destroyed. Nevertheless, the image retains the subtlety of variation to display the body not only more clearly as a "negative" but also, when scanned for relative density, in proportional three dimensions. This makes the nature of the image incomparable to any known historical image of any kind. In short, it is unique. (See below.)

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How the test unfolded.

The single C14 test was carried out on a corner-piece of the cloth. This is not what had been planned. All involved in the process had agreed that an accurate dating could only be obtained from multiple sample areas as there was evidence of repair and contamination of various kinds in different places. How could this change of plan happen?

The answer - and this is hard to believe with such a high-profile event - appears plain and simple. The test went ahead because of the personal vested interests of the individual appointed to be the "independent" invigilator of the test, Dr. Michael Tite, then Head of Research at the British Museum.

It has subsequently been revealed that Tite had been lined up to succeed the then Head of C14 at the Oxford Radiocarbon Unit, Prof. Edward Hall. However, the future of the lab was dependent on a large grant. The grant would be made with much more certainty if Oxford carried out this much vaunted test and did so decisively. Tite was to select the labs and duly selected Oxford but excluded its main rival.

For political reasons, the key protocols established to ensure an accurate dating as approved by Tite were abandoned. It would have been a great set-back for both Tite and Hall if, for any reason, the test did not go ahead. Not only did Tite persuade Turin and the Vatican to proceed with the test without the protocols in place but he also failed to qualify the result with any information about the fact that the protocols had been abandoned. The rest is history.

This all happened a long time ago. Neither Oxford University or the British Museum want to revisit this for obvious reasons. The Shroud of Turin, along with the person depicted on it, is dead and buried for all intents and purposes as far as they are concerned. But justice delayed is justice denied.

I have, of course, laid all this out to Michael Tite and his current employer, Julia Lee-Thorpe at Oxford University and his former employer, the British Museum, currently headed by Dr. Hartwig Fischer. Denial or any form of comment has come there none. They are quite confident that a voice like this will be a cry into the wilderness. They are probably right. Who in the academic or press establishment is going to be brave enough to stand up for the Shroud of Turin - whatever the evidence?

Lastly, I would like to invite Julia lee-Thorpe and Dr. Hartwig Fischer, experts that they are, to place the images on this page into a medieval context in line with Prof. Edward Hall's verdict after the test that a medieval forger simply "…faked it up and flogged it."

Michael Tite, to his credit, in recent times, has come forward with his own new theory. You are invited to listen to him describe it below. I would be interested in Hartwig Fischer's and Julia Lee-Thorpe's opinion on this, too. If Tite is right the Shroud should have pride of place in the British Museum as an important relic of the crusades. Why not?

Dr. Hartwig Fischer
Director
British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
Email: hfischer@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

Prof. Julia Lee-Thorp
Head of the School of Archaeology,
1, South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3TG

Email: julia.lee-thorp@laha.ox.ac.uk

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David W Rolfe, Shroud Enigma, Town Hall, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, HP9 2PP, UK.

A Grave Injustice, a film revealing what went wrong with the C14 test can be seen on the "Films" page.

The space below is reserved for comment from Hartwig Fischer, Julia Lee-Thorpe and Michael Tite.