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Magis CenterMay 28, 20192 min read

What is the Shroud of Turin? Here's What Science Says.

The Shroud of Turin is a burial shroud of linen cloth, woven in a 3:1 herringbone pattern. Measuring 14 feet 3 inches in length and 3 feet 7 inches in width, it is a single piece of cloth bearing a front and back image of a crucified man.

The Shroud has been venerated as the Burial cloth of Jesus since at least 1355 when it was displayed for the first time in Lirey, France. It has attracted large crowds and the minting of several souvenir medallions, one of which can be found at the Cluny Museum in Paris.

The Shroud has undergone more scientific testing than any relic in human history. These investigations concern the unique nature of the image and the dating of the cloth itself.

Shroud of Turin Fact Sheet preview

The Image

The image is a faint sepia colored outline of a crucified man with dark brown stains—confirmed now to contain AB blood particles—in anatomically correct locations matching descriptions of Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion found in the Gospels (see Section I).

what is the shroud of turin image

The image of the face reveals a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. The man of the Shroud appears muscular with estimates of his height ranging from 5 foot 7 inches to 6 foot 2 inches. An additional detail, revealed by close examination of the negatives of the image, are coins over the man’s eyes.

Scientific investigation of the image began in earnest after a series of photographs were taken in 1898. The photos revealed that the image itself was a photographic negative.

Eighty years later, the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) investigations confirmed the image was not formed by dyes, chemicals, vapors, or scorching and was not formed by brush strokes. Researchers have investigated multiple naturalistic explanations, but none can account for the unique features of this photographic negative.

The most plausible current scientific hypothesis comes from two teams of researchers:

  1. John Jackson’s team, who proposed the vacuum ultraviolet radiation hypothesis in 2008
  2. Paolo Di Lazzaro’s team, who experimentally substantiated Jackson’s hypothesis in 2010 (see Chapter 5 below).

Learn about the Shroud of Turin

If you would like to learn more about the Shroud of Turin, see the 5 other articles in this series:

  1. History of the Shroud of Turin (Cutting through the Controversy!)
  2. Where Did the Shroud of Turin Come From?
  3. How Old is the Shroud of Turin? 1,970 years. (Give or take 200.)
  4. How Did the Shroud of Turin Get Its Image? (Hint: think radiation.)
  5. Facts About the Shroud of Turin (Age, Dimensions, Blood Stains)



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The mission of the Magis Center is to create content that helps people find higher purpose in life, an awareness of their transcendent dignity, a sense of the transcendent providential power who guides them, and a determination to live ethically responsible lives. To that end, the Magis Center produces and distributes media that provides contemporary commentary on timeless topics.