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The Shroud of Turin – a solution is found: "Solar" image formation mechanism

Левшенко Михаил Трифонович

кандидат биологических наук

Старший научный сотрудник, Всероссийский научно-исследовательский институт консервной и овощесушильной промышленности (ВНИИКОП)

142700, Россия, Московская область, г. Видное, ул. Советская, 21/22, кв. 92

Levshenko Mikhail Trifonovich

PhD in Biology

senior research assistant at Russian National Research Institute of Canning and Vegetable Drying Industry

142700, Russia, Moskovskaya oblast', g. Vidnoe, ul. Sovetskaya, 21/22, kv. 92




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Аннотация: Summary. Discussed in the scientific literature, possible mechanisms of «image» formation on a linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin were considered. It was shown how this «image» on the cloth was formed in a natural way and how much energy did it require. Oil traces of the body imprint on the white cloth which contain particles of myrrh plant ointment and hydrophilic substances from aloe juice, which could fall on the cloth together with the oil from the liniment applied for the body when buried, under the influence of the energy of the southern solar rays, caused oxidation and dehydration of the cellulose fiber of the shroud cloth. This gave the appearance of visible effects of the «image» formation on the cloth. Experimental data of linen cloth heating, on which a handprint (oiled with the liniment) was previously applied, are shown. The results of the heating of such cloth with the light energy of xenon lamp (which is an analogue of solar rays ) have shown that the «image» of the palm consisting of vague yellowish spots without visible borders has come out. This image was caused by a slight darkening of a surface of the cloth fibers. Keywords: The Shroud of Turin, research, imprint on cloth, energy of solar rays, catalysts of cellulose dehydration ,myrrh ointment , aloe juice, exposure.

Ключевые слова:

Shroud of Turin, research, imprint on cloth, energy of solar, cellulose dehydration, myrrh ointment, aloe juice, exposure, cloth fibers, model experiment

Abstract: Discussed in the scientific literature, possible mechanisms of «image» formation on a linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin were considered. It was shown how this «image» on the cloth was formed in a natural way and how much energy did it require. Oil traces of the body imprint on the white cloth which contain particles of myrrh plant ointment and hydrophilic substances from aloe juice, which could fall on the cloth together with the oil from the liniment applied for the body when buried, under the influence of the energy of the southern solar rays, caused oxidation and dehydration of the cellulose fiber of the shroud cloth. This gave the appearance of visible effects of the «image» formation on the cloth.Experimental data of linen cloth heating, on which a handprint (oiled with the liniment) was previously applied, are shown. The results of the heating of such cloth with the light energy of xenon lamp (which is an analogue of solar rays ) have shown that the «image» of the palm consisting of vague yellowish spots without visible borders has come out. This image was caused by a slight darkening of a surface of the cloth fibers.


Shroud of Turin, research, imprint on cloth, energy of solar, cellulose dehydration, myrrh ointment, aloe juice, exposure, cloth fibers, model experiment

The Shroud of Turin – a solution is found:

«Solar» image formation mechanism.


The scientific research of the Shroud of Turin began in 1978 – 1981, when scientists from different countries, mostly American physicists and chemists, joined on a special project called STURP (The Shroud of Turin Research Project). Under this project, scientists conducted physical and chemical research of the cloth of the Shroud using many different methods. During the work, scientists have done thousands of various tests. The data derived from this research still serve as the basic material for the scientific study of the Shroud.

These investigations of the Shroud of Turin made by STURP group helped the scientists to answer two main questions: about the nature of the image and about its age. Scientists came to conclusion that the image appeared from a certain process. The most likely version is that it happened because of short-term effects of radiation (K.Moran, G.Fanta, 2002).Nevertheless, researchers couldn’t explain the mechanism by which the double image of the human body has been formed on this cloth.

Professor Kevin Moran (Moran E. K., 1992) has shown that the visible image of the yellowish imprint on the cloth has been created by a relatively small number of yellowed linen fiber parts in the threads on the surface of the Shroud cloth. From the bottom of the threads and where the threads are interwoven, forming the basis of the cloth, the fibers have no darkening. Shroud researchers noted that in the cross section of the darkened threads only 2 to 5 mosaic darkened fibers were observed. The total number of fibers in the cross section of these threads ranged from 80 to 120. Each darkening of the fiber comes out from discrete yellowed parts of fiber (pixels) with clear boundaries for each yellowing (size of 15-20 microns in width (fiber diameter) and 50-500 microns in length). The yellowing of the pixels is very even, with clear boundaries, and it is 30% darker than the natural white color of fibers.

The chemical nature of the formed yellow color of the pixels was ascertained by John Heller and Alan Adler (J.H.Heller, A.D.Adler, 1981).They showed that the dehydration and oxidation of cellulose molecules in the fibers of the Shroud cloth may lead to the formation of molecular structures of yellow organic chromophores which are absent in typical cellulose molecules. These chromophoresinclude unsaturated groups: carboxyl and carbonyl –HC=O, or contain formed carbon olefinic links –CH=CH-. Another important observation of these scientists is that the blood on the threads protected them from radiation which caused the darkening of linen fibers of the cloth threads. Under the fulvous traces of the blood hemoglobin, the fiber threads of the cloth preserved their natural white color.

Further studies of Shroud fibers by Raymond Rogers (R.N.Rogers, 2004)showed that in these discretely yellowed fibers of the Shroud cloth only a thin upper layer of these fibers is colored. He showed that in some places the fibers are covered with a thin layer of carbohydrates from starch, various sugars and other accompanying elements, and this layer has undergone some chemical changes – it was colored in yellow. Raymond Rogers and Anna Arnoldi (R.N.Rogers, A.Arnoldi, 2003) hypothesized that if only the surface of thread was colored, than the coloring of fibers could be formed by chemical reactions with the involvement of accompanying elements on the surface of these fibers.

R.N.Rogers and A.Arnoldi suggested that these accompanying elements could enter and remain on the cloth surface (i.e. when drying the cloth after the processing with cleaning solution during the manufacture of the cloth). The composition of these remaining accompanying elements could contain of the starch fractions and various sugars. They proved that the image could be formed with the participation of Maillard amino-carbonyl reaction. In this reaction darkening of cellulose fibers comes from the formation of dark-colored melanoids, generated by heating monosaccharides with amines. Gaseous amines could evolve from a dead human body through the nose and the mouth, and then they could interact with the accompanying elements of cloth fibers. The great contrast between the image in the area of face, hair of the head, mustache, beard and the imprint of other parts of the body on the Shroud they explained by a large number of amine reacted in the area of the head. This Maillard reaction occurs at a lower temperature than the reaction of cellulose fibers dehydration.

The main objection against this theory is the fact that STURP researchers haven’t found any significant amounts of nitrogen and amines compounding in the area of the darkened fibers. Although, perhaps, this reaction made a contribution to the «image» formation on the Shroud in the form of darkened fibers.

Bernard Power (B.A.Power, 2003) tried to explain the observed discrete pixel colorings of the cloth fibers. He believes that in such process microcrystals of mineral salts took part. They existed on the surface of the shroud fibers (they occurred on the cloth from the body ointment). He suggested the formation of small water drops, condensed on the salt crystals, on the Shroud fibers. Moisture condensation on the salt crystals can take place at a relative humidity of the cloth greater than 78%. Water drops on the linen cloth fibers were distributed unequally, as well as crystals of soluble salts, such as sodium chloride or calcium chloride. B. Power suggested that a powerful impulse of microwave radiation caused overheating of these water drops up to the temperature of 200 0 and higher. And this process in turn altered chemically the fibers cellulose at short lengths of cloth fibers. Yellowing of the fibers along the steam range of action of each evaporated drop was formed in accordance with the size of drops. But he wasn’t able to suggest how this microwave impulse could occur.

Estimates made by B. Power (B. A.Power, 2003) showed that we need the energy of about 286 Joules per gram of cellulose fibers subjected to dehydration, for cellulose fibers dehydration necessary to form a visible image of the Shroud. In the process of calculation of this energy the experimental cloth was heated up to 200 0 , up to visible yellowing of the cellulose fibers.

«Solar» hypothesis of the image formation on the Shroud of Turin

The traditional view based on anatomical, physical, chemical and biochemical results of the Shroudcloth research gives ground to conclude that on the cloth we see naturally formed imprint of a dead human body previously subjected to torture. In 1984 physicist John Jackson (J.P.Jackson and others) with a help of a computer program created three-dimensional reconstruction of a human body model, transforming the body imprint on the Shroud cloth.

The process of the «image» forming on the cloth consists of three main factors:

  • The source of the image. In this case it is a dead body, which contains the secretions of the body and the ointment on its surface.
  • Transmission mechanism of body secretions and the ointment. Contact transmission mechanism after the body wrap with the cloth.
  • The image receiver – the inner side of the cloth.

The most contentious issue is the mechanism for fixing the image on the cloth of the Shroud of Turin.

Giovanni Fazio (G.Fazio, 2006) confirms on the basis of archaeological excavation data that in the ancient time aloe and myrrh were used for burial in the form of a water or oil suspensionsand dry. Due to the thermal instability, on the burial cloth of the Shroud you can’t always find the traces of these substances. As noted at the Third International Dallas Conference, traces of aloe and myrrh were found on the Shroud of Turin cloth with the help of the microscopic analysis by B.Bollone (1983) and Nitowski (1986), and weren’t found by J.H.Heller (1983) and R.N.Rogers (2003) [12]. A research of linen fibers of the cloth have shown that there was no liquid in a cloth fibers at the time of the image formation (i.e. the body was dry) (R.N.Rogers, 2002).However this conclusion does not exclude the ingress of small amounts of the ointment and the moisture from the body.

Members of the STURP group S.F.Pellicori and M.S.Evans(1981) have shown that the presence of aloe and myrrh on the body in contact with the cloth could act as a catalyst of a «latent image».

To explain the contact mechanism of the image transmission, J.D.German(1977) suggested that if the cloth of the Shroud was firstly rigid (i.e. after starching the cloth), after its imposition on the body, it must be firmly contacted with some parts of the body and slightly with other parts of the body. So, the imprint of the body will reflect different contrast of these parts of the body on the cloth.

There are two main groups of theories of image fixing: the idea of the first group is to get the image from the diffusion mechanism in direct contact with the dead body. The second group consists of the thermo-chemical effect of heating of radiation for dehydration of fibers cellulose of the cloth.The first scientific attempt to explain the physical and chemical processes of the image formation on the Shroud of Turin by chemical method only have undertaken P.Vignon in 1937. According to P.Vignon, the image on the cloth came from the chemical interaction of substances on the cloth, dedicated by human body and used for embalming. These substances could be: olive oil, myrrh ointment , aloe juice, iron oxide from the blood, urea, sweat, water and other substances. Only this and similar «purely chemical» theories couldn’t explain the pixel (discrete) dehydration of the surface layer of the cloth fibers cellulose.

For the first time in the fifties of last century professor K.Little (1978) suggested the fixation of the image on the cloth with the use of radiation energy. She has conducted research on the effects of ionizing radiation on the linen cloth. Due to different doses of irradiation, the samples of white linen cloth changed their color from straw yellow to dark brown. She suggested that dehydration of linen fibers with the forming of straw-yellow color of the surface of the Shroud could occur under the effect of a short-term radiation on the cloth fibers cellulose. However, she wasn’t able to answer the question: «How could the Shroud cloth be exposed with such radiation?»

S. Pellikori (1980) suggested that if the Shroud cloth came into high temperature conditions, then the image, stamped from the body, would bled through the cloth. He believed that such high temperature could arise similar to the temperature of the fire in Turin Catherdral (1532) when the Shroud cloth was burned.

S.Pellikori decided to simulate this process. Small amounts of sweat and sebaceous human fluor, the myrrh ointment and olive oil were put on the piece of cloth. Then this cloth was subjected to heating in the air at the temperature of 125 ° C for more than 3 hours. Yellowish darkening of the cloth in such heating emerged only in places where the mixture of these substances was applied.

Once we eliminate the assumption that the image was fixed with chemical and energetic mechanisms, occurring when the body was lying in the tomb, and assume that the image fixation could also occur outside the tomb, the thought about the use of solar energy comes immediately. On the spring day in the Middle East the whole atmosphere is heated by the burning rays of the Sun. Some researchers tried to explain the mechanism of fixing the image on the cloth with the energy of the Sun.

The most detailed article about this question is made by S. N. Mouraviev (1997). He wrote that S.Rodante (1983) has showed that on the white cloth impregnated with aqueous or oily solution of aloe and myrrh, under the influence of solar energy, after 5-15 minutes, brown patina appears and the cloth isn’t darkened on the side opposite to the light source.The cloth impregnated with these solutions and dried, doesn’t darken because of solar rays, even after being heated by solar rays for 60 minutes. This fact was used by S.Rodante to confirm his theory, that the image on the Shroud was formed as a result of a flash of light at the time of the resurrection of the body. By the way, experiments with attempts to get visible darkening with the help of the flash of light were not successful because the flash of light doesn’t have enough energy for the dehydration of fibers cellulose.

S. Mouraviev offered his own, rather complicated theory of the origin of the imprint. He suggested that the body and the inner side of the Shroud cloth were impregnated with a liquid ointment of aloe and myrrh, dissolved in water or oil. The imprint of the human body appeared as a result of the reflection of solar rays, passing through the fabric, from the anointed body to the inner side of the cloth. Oil solution of aloe and myrrh on the cloth in this case acted as a catalyst. To elude distortions of the body proportions on the cloth, it should fit snugly to the body at the time of irradiation. Double exposure of the body under solar rays was also required. That means that the body wrapped with a cloth should be inverted while lightened with solar rays. He believed that good transparency of the Shroud cloth was visible on the Shroud photographs in transmitted light, made by a researcher from STURP group B. Schwortz. There were no experimental verification of this theory but we can assume that the reflected solar energy will not be enough for the dehydration of cloth fibers cellulose.

Recently American scientists, Professor Nathan Wilson and Scot Minich (N.D.Wilson, S. Minnich, 2005), offered their «Solar» version of the appearance of the image on the cloth. According to this version, if you light the white cloth over the glass with a painted image of a face, then a few days later on the canvas appear a negative image, which looks like an imprint on the canvas of the Shroud of Turin. Such long-term exposure is necessary for the lightning of white cloth, from which most of the solar energy is reflected when lightening the cloth.

L.Picnett and C.Prince suggested that in their «photographic» theory of the appearance of the image (they ascribe the authorship of the image to Leonardo da Vinci) the solar energy is also used. But according to their theory, light reflected from the illuminated object fall on the Shroud cloth. Of course, the energy of this reflected light, interacting with the cloth, was small. Therefore, to get the image on the canvas, it was necessary to apply additional light-sensitive reagents, and time of the light exposure of the cloth was measured in hours.

Explanation of the dehydration mechanism of the Shroud cloth

Let’s consider the process of the illumination of solar rays of the oil imprint of the body on the Shroud canvas. The heat can be transferred to a cloth fiber by thermal conductivity, convection and electromagnetic radiation. If the warm needed to heat the material is transmitted mainly with radiant energy, usually such heating is called radiation drying or drying by infrared rays.

Clothes are materials with low permeability of the radiant flux of visible and infrared rays. The main feature of this method of cloth heating is that the flow of the radiant energy, falling on the surface of fibers, partially penetrates into the thin surface layer of fibers and is absorbed and converted into thermal energy, and partially is reflected from the surface. The degree of absorption and reflection of energy depends on characteristics of the radiant flux and surface properties of fibers. In the radiation heat transfer calculations it is necessary to know the coefficients of reflection and absorption of the irradiated cloth. Drying of plant fiber clothes with solar rays is widely used in household and industry. Also it is known that if you take a piece of white linen cloth (of a sheet of white paper) and leave it in the place illuminated by solar rays, then under the influence of solar rays it turns yellow (that means that the natural dehydration and oxidation of cellulose fibers is happening). But the dwell time of this material in solar rays should be quite long.

It is well known that in summer or spring months, in midday, especially in the southern regions of the Earth, energy of solar rays at the Earth’s surface can reach significant values. Let’s calculate the energy which the Shroud cloth could get while being illuminated with solar rays in the area of Jerusalem city. In the open air the illumination of the object is determined by the height of the Sun above the horizon, and it depends on the geographic latitude, season, time of the day. The state of the atmosphere (air humidity and its cleanliness from the dust) has a great influence on the scattering and absorption of solar energy in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Let’s see how energy fluxes, arriving on the sunny side of the Earth, are distributed (using data from B. J. Brinkworth’s book (1976)).

Energy force of solar radiation (solar constant), incoming on the faced to the Sun Earth’s atmosphere, is roughly equal to . The main part of the solar energy in the ultraviolet spectrum, the main part of the energy in the infrared spectrum and part of the energy in the visible spectrum is absorbed or scattered by many kilometers long depth of the Earth atmosphere. Solar rays which have the remaining 45% of energy, mainly in the visible spectrum, can reach the Earth’s surface. The day amount of the energy of solar radiationhas its maximum near the latitude of 40° (not at the equator). This fact is a consequence of the Earth axial inclination to the plane of its orbit.

The city of Jerusalem is located at latitude of 32° and on a hill, ataltitude of 1 km above sea level, in the area with dry and clean air. Therefore we can assume power of (the typical intensity of solar radiation in the subtropics in summer) as a quite possible energy for the irradiation of the Shroud cloth, in the area of Jerusalem in spring. If we assume that the Sun illuminated the Shroud on the required side and with the required angle, and the cloud cover was absent, and if we assume that in the afternoon the half of this energy was reflected from the impregnated with oil and resin surface of the cloth, some energy to absorb with fibers the value of about 300-400 is remaining. The «image» on the surface of the Shroud of Turin (or rather partially darkened fibers) covers an area of about 2 . In this case, this oil imprint illuminated for 0,5 hours with solar lights could get a dose of solar energy:

How much energy is needed to explain the image formation on the Shroud? It is easy to calculate the chemical energy spent on the dehydration of the Shroud cellulose fibers (using B. Power’s data). Mass of dehydrated and oxidized fibers of the Shroud of Turin is in the range from 10 to 50 gram. Thermal energy spent on the dehydration of 1 gram of fiber is about 286 J. Therefore, to obtain the «image»on the canvas, we need the energy from 2860 to 14300 J. As we can see, solar energy in Jerusalem is sufficient for such a dehydration of cellulose, so the cloth impregnated with oil and resin turned yellow under the influence of the energy of solar rays for (за) 10-15 minutes (experiments of S. Pellikori).

Let´s consider the meaning of impregnating the cloth with oil, and define the equilibrium temperature of the cloth. Thin foils of oils are transparent for visible, ultraviolet and infrared rays. White cloth, soaked with oil or water, absorbs visible and infrared lights much better than dry linen cloth due to the less reflection. While the body absorbs solar radiation, its temperature rises. B.Brinkworth shows how many ways there are by which the body gains and loses energy. To make it easier to understand the behavior of such a body we will simplify the observed pattern. Suppose that the body we are interested in, is a thin leaf lying on a heat-insulating base (figure 1).

These are elements of the so-called plane solar collector. Under the influence of solar radiation this plate is heated up until it reaches the equilibrium temperature of °C. We obtain the equilibrium temperature according to the B.Brinkworth data, putting the power of solar rays falling on the collector . We find the possible value of the equilibrium temperature of the heated cloth; it is equal to about 70°C.

One of the most effective methods of improving the solar collector is the imposition of the transparent (for visible light) coating on the surface of the absorber leaf. Most of the thin films of polymers and oils conduct about 90% of the visible solar radiation, but absorb long-wave (infrared) radiation emitted by the absorber (i.e. it is so-called «greenhouse effect»). As a result of such an effect, heat losses on convection of the leaf heated are reduced. In our case the equilibrium temperature of the heated by solar rays cloth, coated with a transparent polymer foil, will be (according to B.Brinkworth data) more than 110 °C.So, probably, the cloth with the dried oil in S.Pellikori experiments, turned yellow much slower than the non-dried. That means that the foil has served as a heat collector. Fibers coated with a thin polymer foil of ointment oils are collectors. Thread fibers beneath the foil will be heated greatly – this is so-called «micro-hothouse effect». I think that the polysaccharides foil (found by McKray on the Shroud cloth) also could serve as a micro-collector for the fiber heating in the solar irradiation of the cloth.

Figure 1: The plane solar collector

Unequal (pixel) dehydration of fibers can be explained by unequal distribution of impurities on the fiber surface as a catalyst of dehydration. K.Moran and G.Fanta suggest that the substance of the aloe juice could be such a catalyst. Cellulose pixel dehydration also can be explained by the transfer of other substances on the cloth, such as myrrh ointment solutions in the form of small drops. Drops with aromatic resin (myrrh) particles fall on the cloth with the ointment of oil applied on the body. They have low reflectivity. Absorbing solar energy and heating, they help the process of water dehydration from the surface of fibers with these resin particles. Oil environment of the resin particles in this case played a role of the heat-collector to the parts of cloth fibers, and also contributed to the process of irreversible dehydration of moisture from the heated parts of the Shroud fibers. Other parts of thread fibers, that didn’t contain on its surface small particles of resin or salt, didn’t overheat and weren’t subjected to dehydration (according to B. Power). So a mosaic (pixel) dehydration of the Shroud cloth fibers could form in that way. Also it is necessary to consider not only the total irradiation energy, but the power of light falling on the surface of parts of separate fibers impregnated with oil.

Consequently, the mucopolysacharides of aloe juice, sweat salt, resin particles and some other hydrophilic substances that were situated on the Shroud cloth fibers, could act as a «catalyst» of the removal of fixed moisture from the cloth heated fibers. Under these conditions accelerated oxidation of the Shroud fibers cellulose could also occur. In this case inconvertible removal of the residual moisture from fibers and oxidation of cellulose occurred when the Shroud cloth was heated with a relatively low temperature, probably around 120°C.

It is necessary to verify experimentally how realistic is my guess.

Realization of a model experiment

This experiment is described in the article of M.T. Levshenko (2006). For application of the printed pattern on the cloth, for the coloring of the cloth, condensed dye solution is used. It is so, in consequence with the fact that liquid dye solution will spread on the cloth because of that the relatively high capillary of natural fibers. For the coloration of the cloth natural thickener – starch – can be applied (in the preparation of the printing ink).

Preparation for our model experiment was divided into stages:

  • Preparation of the coloring solution – ointment
  • Application of this solution on the cloth by «direct printing» - with the palm, anointed with ointment
  • Completion of the process – fixing thermal processing of an oily imprint on the cloth with the light energy

The main components of the ointment according to our assumptions were olive oil and myrrh – aromatic resin (trade name is incense), discharged by some plants of the family Burseraceae. One more component in the preparation of the ointment was a dry concentrated juice «Aloes» derived from the leaves of Aloe barbadensis. This juice was widely used from the ancient times in the Middle East as a multifarious medication. If we assume the aromatic resin myrrh as a dye, and the dry aloe juice contains polysaccharides as a thickener, then the olive oil from the ointment can be regarded as a foil-former of our dye. In addition to these components in the ointment also was salt which got into the ointment from the sweat dried out from the body. Even if in the preliminary preparation in the 1st century AD dry components of the ointment were stirred only in the olive oil, the water had to get into the ointment and on the Shroud cloth from the fumes of the body after wrapping it with cloth.

For preparation of this “coloring” print composition of the ointment, special technology of drug ointment preparation, recommended for pharmacists, was used. According to this technology I´ve prepared a concentrated, suspension, hydrophilic-lipophilic ointment (ointment) of emulsion-type “water in oil”.

Aloe juice was extracted by pressing crushed fresh leaves of Aloe arborescens (a well-known plant). Instead of drying the aloe juice, I added to the juice a wheat starch as a thickener. Starch powder was thoroughly mixed in a porcelain dish with an equal amount of fresh aloe juice. To this mixture we added sodium chloride (1%), then again stirred, and after this added an equal volume of an aqueous emulsion of resin myrrh (when stirred). In the end we heated our mixture at a temperature of 70-80°C for about 5 minutes, stirring and adding an equal volume of the olive oil.

I assume that the fixation drying of the oil imprint on the Shroud cloth happened near Jerusalem under the influence of solar rays. I replaced the heating mode of the cloth by the cloth heating with the energy of xenon lamp light. L. Piknet and K.Prins in their experiments also heated the experimental cloth with the light of an ultra-violet lamp (not of solar rays). I used xenon lamp, with the primary radiation in the wavelength range from 300 to 1200 nm. It gives the radiation spectra of light similar to the solar spectrum.

When calculating the required power of energy of the light energy model source, I took into account that the energy, falling from the lamp onto the experimental cloth should be about (similar to the calculated amount of solar energy). To do this I put the cloth sample in about 20 centimeters from the lamp of the 500W power.

To conduct the experiment, a piece of white linen cloth (towel) was taken. On this cloth the oil imprint was applied by the “palm” method (the palm was previously oiled with ointment). The cloth with the imprint was heated by xenon lamp light for 15-20 minutes.

Figure 2: The «image» of the palm imprint on the heated linen cloth.

The results of the cloth heating showed that the resulting image of the palm on the cloth consists of blurred, yellowish-brown spots without any visible boundaries (Fig. 2). Obviously this palm imprint has some properties of photographic negatives. Parts of the fingers and parts of the palm, adjoined with the cloth seem dark, and the closer parts of the palm snuggle to the cloth, the darker the imprint was. Tightly pressed, parts of the palm assured maximum penetration of resinous substances from the ointment onto the cloth. Parts of the palm that loosely contacted with the cloth, conducted the ingress of small amount of resinous substances with the ointment. This caused a small darkening of the cloth fibers surface. Since our light source, unlike the Sun, emitted scattered light (not parallel rays), a darkening of the cellulose in our experiments happened to a greater depth of the cloth thread fibers than of the Shroud cloth fibers.

Vyacheslav Sinelnikov (2002) writes: «…Early morning. The tomb is empty. On the carved bed a mourning cloth is lying, burnt with the Resurrection «lightning». I think that the painting of the Shroud of Turin wasn’t burned by the «lightning», it was burned by real solar rays. And it happened around noon, not in the morning. Oil traces of the body imprint on the cloth, containing particles of the myrrh resin, starch, sweat salt, substances from the aloe juice, under the influence of the southern solar rays produced visible effect of the «image» appearance on this cloth.


According to my assumptions and based on model experiments we can conclude that dehydrated by the sun body, dry place for burial and a small amount of the ointment on the body could give a clear oil imprint of the body on the Shroud.

The foil of the olive oil and polysaccharides occurred on the Shroud fibers. This foil acted as a heat collector when the cloth was heated by solar rays. During a small time the solar ray illuminated the cloth in a certain direction. The composition of ointment was heterogeneous. «Catalysts» of dehydration from the ointment (particles from aloe juice, sweat salt, myrrh resin particles) were situated on the surface of the cloth fibers. The unequal distribution of these impurities on the surface on the Shroud cloth fibers caused the unequal heating of parts of the cloth fiber. This process stipulated the unequal (pixel) dehydration and oxidation of the fiber cellulose. There wasn’t any significant heating of the Shroud cloth.

The energy of solar rays by any definition corresponds to the requirements of scientists to the source of energy that caused dehydration of the Shroud cloth: the parallelism of the rays, short period of exposure, superficial one-way penetration, sufficient amounts of energy. Of course, blood traces of the Shroud cloth protected the linen fibers from dehydration under the influence of the solar light energy.

The preliminary experiments have shown the viability of the proposed «solar» mechanism of dehydration of the cloth linen fibers by the energy of solar rays. Further research could help us to answer the questions:

  • What role in the «image formation» had aromatic and hydrophilic substances
  • What was the concentration of the aromatic ointment on the body
  • What percentage of the image is occupied by the darkening of the sugars under the action of amines
  • How long was the cloth irradiated by solar rays

If these experiments are carried successfully, then, according to S. Mouraviev, nothing will prevent the scientists to perform the final experiment in the real time and in full size in one day in April in Jerusalem.

Translated by Olga Karabchevskaya.

Левшенко М.: «Разгадка одной из тайн Туринской плащаницы». Ж. “Химия и жизнь – ХХI век”, № 7, с. 38-39. 2006.
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