New Date for Shroud of Turin
New York Times International - Tuesday, Aug 3 1999
An analysis of pollen grains and plant images taken from the Shroud of Turin, believed by millions of Christians to be the burial shroud of Jesus, places the cloth's origin in or near Jerusalem before the 8th century, scientists said. The finding contradicts an earlier study that concluded the cloth was most likely a Medieval forgery.

Right: Professor Hall & Dr. Tite at the 1989 carbon dating press conference. "95% confidence in Medieval dates posted." (photo: D. Telegraph)


Tests trace Turin Shroud to Jerusalem before 700 AD

- by William K Stevens
St. Louis, Aug. 2 - An analysis of pollen grains and plant images taken from
the Shroud of Turin, believed by many Christians to be the burial shroud of
Jesus, places the cloth's origin in or near Jerusalem before the eighth
century, scientists said here today.

The finding appeared to contradict radiocarbon dating tests that in 1988 led
a group of experts to put the origin of the cloth at between A.D. 1260 and
1390 and to conclude that the shroud was most likely a medieval forgery. But
revisionist scholars have raised many doubts since then.

The rectangular linen shroud, which bears faint traces of a man's face, is one
of the most venerated objects in the Roman Catholic Church, although the
Vatican, after the 1988 tests, said it appeared to be inauthentic.

Avinoam Danin, a botanist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said at a
news conference at the 16th International Botanical Congress here that
flowers and other plant parts apparently were placed on the shroud, leaving
pollen grains and imprints.  Analysis of the grains and the images, he said,
identified them as coming from species that could be found only in the months
of March and April in the Jerusalem region.

The pollen of one plant, a thistle called Gundelia tournefortii, was
especially abundant on the cloth, and an image of the plant was identified
near the image of the man's shoulder.  Some scientists say this may have been
the species from which Jesus's crown of thorns was plaited.

Two pollen grains of this species were also found on another ancient fabric,
called the Sudarium of Oviedo, which many believe to be the burial face
cloth of Jesus.  A first century origin for the face cloth has been
documented, the scientists here said, and it has been in the Cathedral of
Oviedo in Spain since the eighth century.  The shroud has been kept in Turin,
Italy, since 1578.

Both the Sudarium and the shroud appear to carry type AB blood stains, and
the stains are in a similar pattern, Dr. Danin said.  "There is no way that
similar patterns of blood stains, probably of the identical blood type, with
the same type of pollen grains, could not be sychronic, covering the same
body," he said.  "The pollen association and the similarities in the blood
stains in the two cloths provide clear evidence that the shroud originated
before the eighth century."  He did not offer a more specific date.

Dr. Danin noted that the 1988 analysis was performed on a small corner of the
cloth, while the new one involves the whole shroud and compares with a cloth
known to exist before the eighth century.

The sample may have been contaminated, said Alan D. Whanger, of the Duke
University Medical Center.  The sample came from a water stained, scorched
edge of the shroud, he said, and carbon could have been added to the cloth,
obscuring the true date of its origin.  Also, living fungi and bacteria have
been found growing inside the fibers, he said, possibly contaminating the
sample.