Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is much older than suggested by radiocarbon dating carried out in the s, according to a new study in a peer-reviewed. Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin. by P. E. Damon,1 D. J. Donahue,2 B. H. Gore,1 A. L. Hatheway,2 A. J. T. Jull,1 T. W. Linick,2 P. J. Sercel,2. The Shroud of Turin, a linen cloth that tradition associates with the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, has undergone numerous scientific tests, the most notable of.
The three containers containing the shroud to be referred to as sample 1 and two control samples samples 2 and 3 were then handed to representatives of each of the three laboratories together with a sample of the third control sample 4which was in the form of threads. All these operations, except for the wrapping of the samples in foil and their placing in containers, were fully documented by video film and photography.
The laboratories were not told which container held the shroud sample. Because the distinctive three-to-one herringbone twill weave of the shroud could not be matched in the controls, however, it was possible for a laboratory to identify the shroud sample. If the samples had been unravelled or shredded rather than being given to the laboratories as whole pieces of cloth, then it would have been much more difficult, but not impossible, to distinguish the shroud sample from the controls.
With unravelled or shredded samples, pretreatment cleaning would have been more difficult and wasteful. Because the shroud had been exposed to a wide range of potential sources of contamination and because of the uniqueness of the samples available, it was decided to abandon blind-test procedures in the interests of effective sample pretreatment.
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But the three laboratories undertook not to compare results until after they had been transmitted to the British Museum. Also, at two laboratories Oxford and Zurichafter combustion to gas, the samples were recoded so that the staff making the measurements did not know the identity of the samples.
Controls The three control samples, the approximate ages of which were made known to the laboratories, are listed below. Two were in the form of whole pieces of cloth samples 2 and 3 and one was in the form of threads sample 4. Plumley for the Egypt Exploration Society in On the basis of the Islamic embroidered pattern and Christian ink inscription, this linen could be dated to the eleventh to twelfth centuries AD. This corresponds to a calendar age, rounded to the nearest 5 years, of cal BC - AD 75 cal at the 68 per cent confidence level 5 where cal denotes calibrated radiocarbon dates.
Measurement procedures Because it was not known to what degree dirt, smoke or other contaminants might affect the linen samples, all three laboratories subdivided the samples, and subjected the pieces to several different mechanical and chemical cleaning procedures.
All laboratories examined the textile samples microscopically to identify and remove any foreign material. Zurich precleaned the sample in an ultrasonic bath. After these initial cleaning procedures, each laboratory split the samples for further treatment. The Arizona group split each sample into four subsamples. One pair of subsamples from each textile was treated with dilute HCL, dilute NaOH and again in acid, with rinsing in between method a.
The second pair of subsamples was treated with a commercial detergent 1. The Oxford group divided the precleaned sample into three.
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Two of the three samples were then bleached in NaOCL 2. The Zurich group first split each ultrasonically cleaned sample in half, with the treatment of the second set of samples being deferred until the radiocarbon measurements on the first set had been completed. The first set of samples was further subdivided into three portions.
One-third received no further treatment, one-third was submitted to a weak treatment with 0. After the first set of measurements revealed no evidence of contamination, the second set was split into two portions, to which the weak and strong chemical treatments were applied.
All of the groups combusted the cleaned textile subsample with copper oxide in sealed tubes, then converted the resulting CO2 to graphite targets. Arizona and Oxford converted CO2 to CO in the presence of zinc, followed by iron-catalysed reduction to graphite, as described in Slota et al. Gove helped to invent radiocarbon dating and was closely involved in setting up the shroud dating project.
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He also attended the actual dating process at the University of Arizona. Gove has written in the respected scientific journal Radiocarbon that: If so, the restoration would have had to be done with such incredible virtuosity as to render it microscopically indistinguishable from the real thing. Even modern so-called invisible weaving can readily be detected under a microscope, so this possibility seems unlikely.
It seems very convincing that what was measured in the laboratories was genuine cloth from the shroud after it had been subjected to rigorous cleaning procedures. Probably no sample for carbon dating has ever been subjected to such scrupulously careful examination and treatment, nor perhaps ever will again. Atkinson wrote in a scientific paper that the statistical analysis of the raw dates obtained from the three laboratories for the radiocarbon test suggests the presence of contamination in some of the samples.
They examined a portion of the radiocarbon sample that was left over from the section used by the University of Arizona in for the carbon dating exercise, and were assisted by the director of the Gloria F Ross Center for Tapestry Studies. They found "only low levels of contamination by a few cotton fibers" and no evidence that the samples actually used for measurements in the C14 dating processes were dyed, treated, or otherwise manipulated.
They concluded that the radiocarbon dating had been performed on a sample of the original shroud material. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggest the shroud is between and years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as years".
Others contend that repeated handling of this kind greatly increased the likelihood of contamination by bacteria and bacterial residue compared to the newly discovered archaeological specimens for which carbon dating was developed. Bacteria and associated residue bacteria by-products and dead bacteria carry additional carbon that would skew the radiocarbon date toward the present. Rodger Sparks, a radiocarbon expert from New Zealand, had countered that an error of thirteen centuries stemming from bacterial contamination in the Middle Ages would have required a layer approximately doubling the sample weight.
Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry examination failed to detect any form of bioplastic polymer on fibers from either non-image or image areas of the shroud. Harry Gove once hypothesised that a "bioplastic" bacterial contamination, which was unknown during the testing, could have rendered the tests inaccurate. He has however also acknowledged that the samples had been carefully cleaned with strong chemicals before testing.
He inspected the Arizona sample material before it was cleaned, and determined that no such gross amount of contamination was present even before the cleaning commenced. They concluded that the proposed carbon-enriching heat treatments were not capable of producing the claimed changes in the measured radiocarbon age of the linen, that the attacks by Kouznetsov et al. Jackson proposed to test if this were actually possible.
Before conducting the tests, he told the BBC that "With the radiocarbon measurements and with all of the other evidence which we have about the Shroud, there does seem to be a conflict in the interpretation of the different evidence. Other similar theories include that candle smoke rich in carbon dioxide and the volatile carbon molecules produced during the two fires may have altered the carbon content of the cloth, rendering carbon-dating unreliable as a dating tool.
These initial tests show no significant reaction — even though the sensitivity of the measurements is sufficient to detect contamination that would offset the age by less than a single year. This is to be expected and essentially confirms why this sort of contamination has not been considered a serious issue before.
He also added that there is as yet no direct evidence to suggest the original radiocarbon dates are not accurate.