The year 33AD is cited as the year Jesus died, it was also the year when a powerful 8.2 earthquake struck Old Jerusalem, possibly causing the famed “X-Ray” like marks on the Turin Shroud. An Italian team has come up with a new theory for the outline on the Shroud, believed by many to be the winding-sheet for the crucified body of Jesus. It is probably the most acclaimed relic in all of Christianity.
The cloth was declared to be a forgery in 1988, when an Oxford University survey deducted it was a mere 728 years old. They used radiocarbon dating to obtain those results. Professor Alberto Carpenteri from the Politecnico di Torino, now has another suggestion, as published in the journal Meccanica.
Carpenteri thinks that the powerful earthquake would have been strong enough to release neutron particles from crushed rocks as the Earth’s surface was prone to fissures. This outpouring of neutrons could then have gone on to imprint an impression onto the cloth by reacting with nuclei of nitrogen. This radiation would have increased the levels of carbon in the linen, specifically carbon-14 isotopes, which are atomic strains. This explanation of the image being formed through the neutron emissions from the earthquake, would then have interfered with the radiocarbon dating technique, causing it to give a wrong reading. In essence, the atomic reaction would make the image appear younger. The 33AD earthquake would have imprinted the Turin Shroud – and misled scientists for centuries.
Radiation has been suggested before as a means for the ghostly shape to appear on the shroud, but this is the first time it has been linked to the earthquake. The cloth is 14 feet long and depicts a man lying with his hands crossed. He bears marks on him consistent with having been crucified. Many, especially those of the Catholic faith, devoutly believe it is a depiction of Jesus Christ, and make pilgrimages to Turin to view it where it is on display at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist.
In 1898 the first ever photograph was taken of the Turin shroud, by an Italian lawyer, Secondo Pia. His negative revealed the face of the man for the first time, a haunting image that has now become familiar. It cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The scientific community is not immediately supportive of this new hypothesis. Foremost, among the questions it raises is why such an effect from neutrons generated by an earthquake have never been seen anywhere else. It does not explain why the material on the cloth was effected but other materials, archaeological and geological, in the same area, were not. The director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator raised this concern, and it was also raised by Dr Gordon Cook, a geochemistry professor from Glasgow. He said that for all the years people have been measuring materials, no one has “ever encountered this.”
The president of the Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation, Mark Antonacci, has been petitioning the Pope to be allowed to take the cloth for molecular analysis. The Vatican has always maintained a silence on whether they think the cloth is the genuine article or not. Antonacci would like to see the radiation theory either proved or disproved. The latest in modern technology should be able to do so. The mystery which has intrigued Christians and scholars for hundreds of years has risen once again to be addressed. Maybe the Turin Shroud is not the handiwork of a scurrilous Medieval forgerer after all?
It was dated again by the University of Padua in 2012 but they still came up with a date somewhere between 300BC and 400AD which did not tie it down once and for all.
Carpinteri’s new idea does sound feasible. It is based on piezonuclear fission research when rocks are crushed under enormous pressures. Neutron radiation is produced this way in nuclear reactors or by particle accelerators. He is applying the fact that neutron particles are released from atoms in that way to the effect of an earthquake pushing high-frequency waves of power through the Earth’s crust and thereby creating neutrons to emit. His theory possibly overturns the long-held notion that the Turin Shroud is a fake.
If an earthquake in 33AD, the year that Jesus died, really were proved to have caused the marks on the Turin Shroud, it will no doubt open up a whole new debate about whether the man on the cloth is, in fact, Jesus.
By Kate Henderson