The Holy Shroud: A New Look at Radiocarbon Dating

The Holy Shroud: A New Look at Radiocarbon Dating

Thirty years ago, the results of a radiocarbon dating of the Holy Shroud suggested that it was a linen from medieval times. These results have been countered by the scientific community that studied the question on May 5 and 6, 2018, in Chambéry.

Doctors, physicists, chemists, biologists and historians from all four corners of the earth came together in Chambery on May 5 and 6, 2018, to share and compare the results of their research on the date of the Shroud of Turin.

In the line of fire: the radiocarbon dating of the extraordinary relic realized between 1981 and 1988. Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, research manager, voiced his doubts as to the reliability of C-14 in determining the date of a fabric, for the process presents “greater uncertainties than in other solid samples (bones, artifacts, etc..) because of the greater permeability of the textile sample to external agents (bacterial digestion, mold, dirt).”

“It is no coincidence,” Professor Di Lazzaro added, “that Beta Analytic, one of the most renowned companies for C-14 dating, is now cautious about the reliability of dating fabrics with this technique.”

Indeed, Beta Analytic states that “fabric dating can be done only as part of a multidisciplinary research”, and that “samples taken from fabric treated with additives or preservatives generate a false radiocarbon age”. And it is a proven fact that in the past the Shroud has been in contact with preservatives and moth repellent materials, which may have distorted the dating.

The research manager of Aeneas also challenged the resolution with which at the time, the three laboratories involved in the dating presented their research as “definitive evidence” of the unauthentic nature of the Holy Shroud. The terms used in the columns of the journal Nature were unusual and inadequate for a scientific article, given that “over the centuries, science has progressed questioning the results acquired previously”.

Not to mention the fact that the three laboratories that dated the Shroud “have always refused to provide the exact distribution of raw data. This is the only case I know,” added Paolo Di Lazzaro, “of authors of an article refusing to provide data that would allow other scientists to repeat the calculation and verify whether it was done correctly.” 

The Shroud of Turin has not yet ceased to captivate the scientific community. Nor has it yet revealed all its secrets.






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