New claims as Shroud of Turin goes on Display

By Lynn Crombie, CNN.com writer

August 12, 2000



TURIN, Italy (CNN) -- The mysterious and controversial Turin
Shroud has gone on public display in Italy in what is only
the fifth such exhibition in more than 100 years.

Thousands are expected to flock to Turin Cathedral to see
what many believe was the cloth used to wrap the body of
Jesus Christ after he was taken down from the cross.

The cloth, with its reverse image of a body, including
hands, wrists, hollowed eyes and traces of blood, has been
the source of centuries-long discussions by scientists and
historians.

It was brought to Europe by a 14th-century crusader and has
been enshrined in the Italian cathedral since 1578.

The latest exhibition, which opened on Saturday, comes as
Shroud experts present what they say are astonishing new
discoveries.

Ian Wilson and Barrie Schwortz outline the latest findings
in their new book, The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated
Evidence, to be published at the end of August.

Although Wilson has written a number of books on the
subject, he said the latest contains new evidence which
appears to answer many of the sceptics.

"There have been quite a lot of developments since 1998 --
one of the most important has been the examination by an
Israeli botanist of pollen taken from the cloth," Wilson
told CNN.com.

"His evidence showed that the pollen must have been from a
plant called Gundelia which is found in the Middle East and
Turkey."

Invisible stitching

Wilson also puts forwards theories for the results of
radiocarbon dating tests by experts in Zurich and Arizona in
1988, which apparently dated the cloth between 1260 and 1390
-- more than 700 years after the crucifixion.

He lists what he says are a number of other radiocarbon
dating anomalies, adding that such tests can only be
considered reliable once the technology is available to
eliminate the microbiological biofilm which can influence
the results.

Wilson says the findings of a Swiss specialist in textiles
are also remarkable.

"She was able to show that the edges on the shroud had
invisible stitching which was identical to the unusual
stitching found on fabrics in Masada," he said. Masada was a
Jewish fortress during the 1st Century A.D.

As the argument is guaranteed to continue for a long time to
come, Wilson admits that while technology could one day show
the shroud to be fake, it will never be able to prove that
it is genuine.

"Perhaps someone was crucified in the same way, as people
were at the time," he said.

"But what is remarkable is that something happened to
produce an image on the cloth -- dead bodies do not usually
produce imprints like this. It is most extraordinary."

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