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Physical Analyses of the Shroud

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Wojciech Kucewicz
AGH University of Science and Technology, Kraków, Poland

Jakub S. Prauzner-Bechcicki
Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland

The Shroud of Turin has aroused great interest among scholars for more than 100 years. Only a few researchers have had direct access to it, which is of course understandable given its unique nature. Conducting research requires the permission of the Shroud’s owner, which is currently the Vatican. Much of the research has consisted of analysing →photographic images taken most often during public displays of the Shroud. The photographs of the relics led to, among other things, the discovery of the negative character and the three-dimensionality of the image. Particularly fruitful was the 1978 research carried out within the framework of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (→STURP) when a complete photographic documentation of the linen was made in various ranges of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum on a macro and micro scale. In addition, contaminants and material loosely associated with the fabric were collected with adhesive tapes. Importantly, this research has allowed the verification of many →hypotheses about the origins of the image on the Shroud (among others, the one claiming that the image on the Shroud was the work of an artist was rejected—Jumper et al. 1984), and has stimulated scholars to ask new questions and conduct new experiments (Fanti 2014; Fazio 2020), aimed at obtaining images with the physical and chemical properties that characterise the image (Fanti 2015). A separate question troubling researchers is the →age of the Shroud. In 1988, permission was obtained to collect linen samples for radiocarbon dating. Unfortunately, the manner in which they were collected, the tests and consequently the results aroused much controversy. Since then, scientists’ access to direct examination of the Shroud has been further restricted. Methods of non-invasive examination of the age of the textiles have also emerged, which may in future allow the age of the Shroud to be determined with greater reliability (Fanti, Malfi 2013; Fanti et al. 2013; Bonizzoni et al. 2016; Fanti, Basso 2017).


Bonizzoni L. et al., Ageing of Flax Textiles: Fingerprints in Micro-Raman Spectra of Single Fibers, “Microchemical Journal” 2016, Vol. 125, pp. 69–74, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.microc.2015.11.011.

Fanti G., Hypotheses Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud: A Critical Compendium, “Journal of Imaging Science and Technology” 2014, Vol. 55, No. 6, pp. 60507-1–14, http://dx.doi.org/10.2352/J.ImagingSci.Technol.2011.55.6.060507.

Fanti G., Comments on a Stochastic Hypothesis about the Body Image Formation of Turin Shroud, “The Journal of the Textile Institute” 2015, Vol. 106, No. 8, pp. 900–903, https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00405000.2014.961265.

Fanti G., Basso R., Mechanical Characterization of Linen Fibers: The Turin Shroud Dating, “International Journal of Reliability, Quality and Safety Engineering” 2017, Vol. 24, No. 2, 1750006, http://dx.doi.org/10.1142/S0218539317500061.

Fanti G., Malfi P., Multi-Parametric Micro-Mechanical Dating of Single Fibers Coming from Ancient Flax Textiles, “Textile Research Journal” 2013, Vol. 84, No. 7, pp. 714–727, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0040517513507366.

Fanti G. et al., Non-Destructive Dating of Ancient Flax Textiles by Means of Vibrational Spectroscopy, “Vibrational Spectroscopy” 2013, Vol. 67, pp. 61–70, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vibspec.2013.04.001.

Fazio G., The Shroud Body Image Generation: Immanent or Transcendent Action?, “Scientia et Fides” 2020, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 33–42, http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/SetF.2020.003.

Jumper E.G. et al., A Comprehensive Examination of the Various Stains and Images on the Shroud of Turin, “Archaeological Chemistry III” 1984, pp. 447–476, ACS Advances in Chemistry, Vol. 205, https://doi.org/10.1021/ba-1984-0205.ch022 with references.

Sources of Images

1. Photo by B. Schwortz (source: https://0201.nccdn.net/4_2/000/000/011/751/4-K-5-72dpi.jpg)

Wojciech Kucewicz

Researcher staff member at the Faculty of Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunications at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. He is a specialist in the field of silicon detectors of ionizing radiation, which he has been involved in since they first appeared in applications for physical experiments in counter-rotating beam accelerators. He participated in the pioneering work of building silicon apex detectors at the European Organization for Nuclear Research—CERN in Switzerland. He participated in the construction of silicon detectors for several high-energy physics experiments. Since 2000, he has also been involved in the development of measurement systems based on silicon photomultipliers. He has worked and lectured for many years at universities abroad: University of Milan, University of Ferrara, Insubria University of Como (Italy), University of Strasbourg (France), University of Illinois at Chicago (USA) and University of Karlsruhe (Germany). He has been the director or principal investigator of seven national grants and five European grants. His scientific output includes more than 700 publications and three international patents. He was a member of the Council of the National Science Centre (2016–2020) and a member of ministerial advisory panels on several occasions. He is an associate of the Polish Syndonological Centre in Krakow.

Jakub S. Prauzner-Bechcicki

Professor of the Jagiellonian University, physicist, graduate of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, independent employee of the Department of Physics of Nanostructures and Nanotechnology of the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science of the Jagiellonian University, co-author of several dozen scientific articles on processes in strong laser fields, microscopy of close interactions, polymerization on metal oxide surfaces, formation of organic nanostructures and surface functionalization, application of physics to the needs of conservation and restoration of works of art, quantum information technology. Author of several popular science articles.

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