Is the Shroud of Turin Really Christ's Burial Cloth?
An Updated Review of the Scientific Evidence and Thinking - March, 2012
By Bruce L. Gerig
Introduction. Most people have heard of the Shroud of Turin, viewed
by many Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus, while fewer
perhaps have heard of the Sudarium (or face-cloth) of Oviedo, its reported companion piece. Surely many relics related to Jesus and housed
in churches today cannot be real, e.g., the wisemen’s gifts, Jesus’ baby
blanket, his circumcised foreskin, his knife used at the Last Supper, more than
30 nails from his cross, and his loincloth worn on the cross (the Romans crucified
men naked1).2 In fact, by the end
of the Middle Ages so many churches in Europe had bits of the True Cross that
John Calvin wrote, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected
together, they would make a big ship-load” (Treatise
on Relics).3 Yet,
what does the enormous amount of rigorous scientific research done over the
past thirty years on these two artifacts really show?
Figure 2 – Sudarium of Oviedo, surface of cloth which was wrapped around the bleeding head of the crucified man; only blood stains are visible, no facial image.
Since source materials on the Shroud of Turin are extensive, in print and online and they include both reliable and inaccurate information, one must choose one’s sources carefully. One website (www.shroud.com), the earliest and largest online site on the Shroud and maintained by the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association (STERA), lists over 1,200 articles and books related to various aspects of this subject, in various languages4—and many research articles are available online. For our survey, a primary source has been The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry (2005) by Frederick Zugibe, Ph.D., M.D., former Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, NY and Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, who also has been actively involved in Shroud and crucifixion research for over twenty years. Another rich source is The Resurrection and the Shroud (2000) by Mark Antonacci, J.D., a former Missouri criminal law instructor; and newer information is found in The Truth about the Shroud of Turin (2010) by Robert Wilcox, a journalist who has written for the New York Times, National Geographic, and other major publications. For history of the Shroud, the primary researcher is the Oxford-trained historian Ian Wilson, whose books The Shroud of Turin (1978), The Blood and the Shroud (1998), and The Shroud (2010) all add and update findings. Relating to the Sudarium, Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo (2001) by Janice Bennett, with an M.A. in Spanish literature, is important as the first major volume published in English which summarizes scientific research done on this face-cloth, which heretofore has usually been reported only in Spanish. Key articles on the Shroud published in scientific journals and presented as papers at international Shroud conferences provide additional information and insight.
A. WHAT ARE THE SHROUD OF TURIN AND THE SUDARIUM OF OVIEDO?
Introduction to the Shroud and the Sudarium. Gospel references and terminology. John 20:6-7 relates how when Simon Peter and John the Beloved Disciple arrived at Jesus’ empty tomb, Peter “went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings [Greek othonia, Strong G3608] lying there, and the cloth [soudarion, G4676] that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings [othonia] but rolled up in a place by itself” (NRSV). That othonion (singular) appears in the plural in John 20:6–7 should not be viewed as an inaccuracy, since this is simply a general idiom referring to “grave clothes” (Keener).5 Moreover, the Greek term sindōn (G4616, “linen cloth”) is used more frequently in the Gospels than othonia to refer to Jesus’ burial cloth (Matt 27:59; Mark 15:46 [twice]; Luke 23:53). In fact, the scientific study of the Shroud of Turin today is often called sindonology, based on this Greek term and the corresponding Italian word sindone.6 Meanwhile, soudarion appears four times in the NT, referring to a smaller “piece of cloth,” which could be used to wipe sweat or other substances from the face.7 In Jesus’ case (John 20:7) this cloth was applied to stay the blood flowing from his head as his body was lowered from the cross and carried to the tomb, and also to cover his wounded head from public view.8 With Lazarus’s corpse (John 11:44) it may have been used to close his mouth (Bennett);9 and in other Bible stories (Luke 19:20, Acts 19:12) it is usually translated as a “piece of cloth” or “handkerchief” (cf. NIV, NRSV, REB).10 So, sindōn referred to a cloth of larger proportions (even a ship’s sail) while soudarion (Latin: sudarium) referred to a smaller cloth (as could be worn around the head).11
Brief descriptions of the Shroud and the Sudarium. The Shroud, stored for the last 434 years (since 1578) in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin (located about 90 miles west of Milan), is an ivory colored, slightly yellow linen cloth.12 After Swiss textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg removed the blue “surround” (1998) which had earlier been added to protect the edges of the cloth from handling, the Shroud measured about 14’4” x 3’8” in size.13 Then after she stretched out wrinkles from the back of the Shroud (2002), it measured about 14’6” x 3’9”—which should remain constant now that the cloth is kept in a special air-controlled container.14 The two images on the front of the Shroud show that the body was laid on its back on the linen cloth first, and then the cloth was pulled up over the head and down over the top of the body.15
In reality the cloth image is very faint and only discernable when standing 6–10 feet (Antonacci) away or sometimes even only a few feet (Zugibe) from the cloth.16 However, on enhanced photographs of the Shroud, red blood stains can be seen everywhere: droplet marks coming down from the hairline (as could be caused by a crown of thorns), small jagged cuts all over the body (as a man would receive in a scourging), large seepages from nail wounds (as given a crucified man), thin trickles running up his lowered arms (but upraised on the cross), and the most bleeding issuing from a gash on the man’s left side.17 As thin as a T-shirt, it might seem amazing that the Shroud of Turin has lasted so long, although being stored most of the time in dark, dry containers has helped to preserve it; and some Egyptian tomb linens date back 5,000 years.18 Still, the Shroud has survived a number of fires, floods, earthquakes, wars, and persecutions of Christians.19 Triangular holes, visible on both sides of the Shroud, probably resulted from a fire and water thrown on it in Chambéry, France, in 1532.20 However, instead of molten silver drops causing these holes (as has commonly been suggested), more recent scientific thinking holds that some kind of red-hot metal bar struck the box and the cloth inside.21 Also, four sets of so-called “poker holes,” seen between the Chambéry holes, are thought to have been caused by hot coals of liturgical incense which accidently dropped onto the folded cloth, some time before 1192—because these holes are shown in a drawing of the Shroud of Turin included in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript (dated between 1192–1195).22
The Sudarium, then, kept in the San Salvador Cathedral (of the Holy Saviour) in Oviedo, Spain, is a smaller, rectangular cloth, but with irregular edges, that measures about 34 x 21 inches.23 Solid documentation places it in this town in the northern mountains of Spain, from its founding in 761.24 There is no facial image on it, but extensive dark blood stains form a mirror image divided by a fold mark that is still visible.25 This linen cloth is fairly coarse, not fine expensive linen as with the Shroud.26 It has long been held that these blood marks came from the head of the crucified Jesus.27
Figure 5 – Shroud of Turin, front and back body views as they appear on negatives of the Shroud.
Other characteristics of the Shroud figure. The front and back images show an adult nude male, well-proportioned and muscular, with a beard, mustache and long (shoulder-length) hair.28 The figure’s head tilts down, his knees bend out slightly, and his feet extend downward.29 After death occurred and rigor mortis set in (within 1–2 hours of death)—even though those retrieving the Shroud man’s body broke the rigor mortis to reposition his arms and cross the man’s hands over the genital area—his head still remains lowered between both shoulders and the body has a double (in and out) curve to it.30 This makes it very difficult to estimate the Shroud man’s original height—although researchers have suggested measurements between 68.5” (5’8”) and 74” (6’2”). Most would agree that he was at least 72” (6’) tall. Some anthropologists estimate the average male height in Jesus’ day to have been around 5’3” (Zugibe), although Meyers, Strange and Meyers have suggested 5’9”—which means, in either case, that if this is Jesus, he would have been rather tall.31 Still, when Judas comes with the temple guards to identify Jesus, he does not instruct them to look for the “tall man,” but rather for the “one I will kiss” (Matt 26:48, NRSV).
As to racial type, Harvard anthropologist Carleton Coon thought the Shroud man’s face looked like that of a modern Sephardic Jew or noble Arab,32 while University of Turin Egyptologist Silvio Curto thought that he looked Iranian.33 (Sephardic Jews immigrated to Spain and Portugal, but then left this region for other parts of the world when persecution broke out in the fifteenth century.) The Shroud man’s hair is parted in the middle in a typical Jewish (and not Greco-Roman) fashion; and he has a mustache and beard. Unexpectedly, a tuft of hair extends down the Shroud man’s back like a pigtail34—an image that can also be seen on the Sudarium.35 Relating to burial form and pose, the arms protruding to the side with the hands brought together over the genital area recall some skeletons discovered at the Essene community at Qumran, near the Dead Sea, laid out on their backs in the same position, and dated between 200 BC–AD 70. The Jerusalem Talmud (Kilaim 9.32b) notes how Judah, a compiler of the Mishnah who died at the end of the second century AD, was buried naked in only a burial shroud.36
The recent DVD “The Real Face of Jesus?” (2008) follows the attempt of 3-D graphic artist Ray Downing and his team at Studio Macbeth (Kingston, NY) to take the subtle Shroud body image and then enhance and transform it into a lifelike 3-D image. To do this, more red was pumped into the blood areas and yellow into the other areas on the computer screen, so that the blood stains could be removed from the image. Then, although the cloth texture is very uneven, its ripple pattern was targeted, so it could be removed as well. Downing then draped a cloth with the Shroud image imprinted on it over a 3-D modeled body form, to note how the original impression related to draped cloth, before the Shroud cloth flattened out. Finally, an artist added opened eyes, full color, and other missing details to the Shroud man’s image.37
Beginning of modern scientific research on the Shroud of Turin. Secondo Pia’s photographs of the Shroud (1898) which stirred up scientific interest. The modern era of scientific study of the Shroud of Turin began when the Italian photographer Secondo Pia took the first photographs of the Shroud; and he was amazed to find that the photographic negatives presented a more realistic, expressive, and positive image of the man than found on the Shroud cloth—so amazing, in fact, that Pia took great pains later to explain that he had not made them by using “any new methods or . . . tricks.”38
Figures 6 and 7– Shroud of Turin, image of the man’s face seen faintly on the Shroud cloth, in contrast to the much clearer, realistic and psychologically moving portrait seen in the negative image.
In fact, Yves Delage, a professor of anatomy at the Sorbonne and director of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, was so intrigued by Pia’s images that he asked his assistant Paul Vignon to scientifically study them (1900). Later Delage presented a full-scale report to the French Academy of Sciences (1902), noting that the Shroud image could not have been painted on, but was made by direct and indirect contact between a real body and the burial cloth. Also, since Shroud details so closely parallel the Gospel accounts, he held that this must be a real image of the crucified Jesus. However, skeptics in the Academy derided Delage’s paper and blocked its publication in the Academy journal—although Delage responded by saying that if this matter had concerned Sargon, Achilles, or an Egyptian pharaoh, no one would have thought of raising an objection.39 Later, Vignon (who became a professor of biology at Institut Catholique in Paris) noted that the Shroud man wore a ‘cap’ rather than a ‘crown’ of thorns, which no medieval artist would have known about or depicted. Also, the idea of Jesus being depicted nude, without a loincloth, was unthinkable in Medieval art; and the nail prints located in the Shroud man’s wrists instead of his palms also varied from artistic tradition.40 Still, the uproar over Delage’s report would have the effect of dampening research on the Shroud for nearly seventy-five years.41
John Jackson’s 3-D discovery (1976) and STURP’s study of the Shroud up close (1978). Yet special interest in the Shroud arose again after physicist John Jackson and engineer Eric Jumper, attached to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, subjected the Shroud images to a new state-of-the-art VP-8 Image Analyzer, which enabled NASA researchers to transform space photographs of distant planets into 3-D topographical maps; and they were amazed to find that the Shroud produced a true 3-D image, unlike anything ever obtained from ordinary photographs or paintings.42 As news of this remarkable find spread among scientists, a special group was formed (1978) named the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP),43 which grew to include over 30 interested scientists,44 including Jews, agnostics, other skeptics, and Christians. And having appealed to the Turin Cathedral authorities, the group was invited to come do hands-on tests on the Shroud, between October 8–13, 1978, for a period of 120 consecutive hours, following a public exhibition of the Shroud.45 Twenty-four specialists showed up, including physicists, chemists, pathologists, engineers, and photographers, from some of the most renowned institutions in the world, bringing with them about 72 crates of scientific equipment. Between 5,000–7,000 photographs were taken using varying wavelengths (X-ray, gamma ray, infrared, and ultraviolet), as well thermographic and microscopic images. Samples of cloth fibrils (tiny fibers) with foreign particles embedded in them were collected using adhesive tape, then placed on microscopic slides. Enough samples were taken to do more than a thousand chemical experiments, in the areas of biology and botany, anatomy and hematology, chemistry and textile analysis, and nuclear and molecular physics.46 Setting aside the religious aspect of the Shroud, the aim of these researchers was to study the Shroud in a detached, scientific manner.47 Later, findings from laboratories throughout the world would begin appearing in scientific journals (from the early 1980s on)—although the mystique of the Shroud deepened as it became apparent that this was no ordinary cloth.48
Ian Wilson’s reconstruction of the Shroud’s history. Although several earlier books had appeared on the Shroud, the Oxford-trained historian Ian Wilson broke new ground in his The Shroud of Turin (1978), describing what might be known of the history of the Shroud and proposing that it had a history long before its well-documented appearance in Europe (1344).49 He offered a “Reconstructed Chronology” (pp. 214–229), and also translated into English several important documents, especially an official “Story of the Image of Edessa,” written in Constantinople around 945 (pp. 235–251). He continued in later volumes (1984, 1986, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010) to expand and refine his findings, and include contributions by other researchers. Wilson was the first to suggest that the so-called Mandylion—an Arabic loanword in Greek meaning “cloth, veil”50 and applied to the strange cloth from Edessa which displayed the face of Jesus “not made by human hand”—was one and the same cloth as the Shroud of Turin, only earlier the cloth had been folded and encased so that only the face was visible.51 He theorized that some time during the eleventh century the Edessa cloth was finally removed from its protective envelope, and then it was discovered that it was not a small cloth but a large shroud containing full-body images of Jesus.52
Continuing questions about the Shroud. What initial microscopic findings were found relating to the Shroud? Since 1978, many chemical and physical techniques have been used to study the Shroud cloth, including microscopy (regular light, polarizing, fluorescent, stereo, petrographic, scanning, electron), immunochemical analysis, enzymatic analysis, serological (blood) analysis, textile analysis, Raman spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, X-ray analysis, computer studies, and others. In 1981 STURP researchers issued an initial report of their findings, which noted (among other things) that: (1) No pigments, paints, dyes or stains were found on the cloth fibrils (tiny fibers). (2) Unusual 3-D information is encoded in the cloth’s image. (3) A real body in direct contact with the cloth produced the scourge and blood marks. (4) No adequate scientific explanation can be offered for the body image (minus the blood), from a physical, chemical, biological or medical viewpoint. (5) All physical and chemical attempts to reproduce the Shroud image on old linen have failed. (6) Yet the image was produced somehow by something that produced oxidation (adding oxygen molecules), dehydration (drying out), and conjugation (linking of the linen microfibrils). (7) The Shroud image is that of a real man who was scourged and crucified.53
Is the blood on the Shroud real human blood? – Although Chicago microanalyst Walter McCrone believed that the ‘blood’ on the Shroud was only iron-oxide pigment (1980), Heller and Adler noted that these particles were spread all over the Shroud and not just in the blood areas; and so they proposed that these particles came from 16th–17th century artists who pressed their lifesize copies of the Shroud on the original to impart to them a certain holiness. Moreover, Alan Adler, a professor of internal medicine at Western Connecticut State University and a world authority on blood chemistry, and John Heller, a biophysicist and professor emeritus of internal medicine at Yale University, used twelve different, time-consuming spectroscopic and microchemical tests to definitively conclude that the ‘blood’ on the Shroud was real blood, of primate origin, and most probably human (1980).54 Later, American thermodynamicist Eric Jumper and colleagues (1984) noted in a scientific article that only fibrils in the body-only image are yellow and so visible as such on the cloth. Therefore, the blood images were implanted on the cloth first, and then the body image.55 Darker (light brownish) appearing areas simply contain more yellowed fibers per surface area. And because the body image only appears on the top of individual fibers, an artist would have had to use a single-hair brush to add paint to each separate, microscopic fiber, to produce the body image in this case.56 Then Baima Bollone, a professor of forensic medicine at the University of Turin, with colleagues (1983) determined by using a fluorescent antibody technique that the blood on the Shroud was human, and of AB type.57 However, other experts doubt whether one can reliably determine the blood type of ancient blood.58 Still, University of Hong Kong archaeologist William Meacham notes that now it is a well-established fact that the Shroud of Turin is an archaeological document of a real crucified man.59 Moreover, the agonizing amount of the blood on the Shroud tells a horrifying story.60
What manmade and/or natural phenomena might explain the origin of the Shroud image? Numerous theories have been offered, including: French biologist Paul Vignon’s vapographic theory (1902) suggested that extensive sweat from the Shroud man produced ammonia vapors which, when mixed with aloes and other embalming substances, stained the cloth with brown images; yet this does not explain how the image only appears on the minuscule top fibrils of the cloth, and it is doubtful that enough ammonia would have been produced to create the intense image seen under a microscope.61 American amateur detective (with a Ph.D. in literature) Joe Nickell’s powder rubbing theory (1978) involved pressing wet linen onto a 3-D shape and then after the cloth had dried, red powder was rubbed onto the cloth to make an impression; yet magnified Shroud images show no evidence of staining, and Nickell’s image did not produce a viable 3-D image.62 South African art historian Nicholas Allen’s medieval photographic theory (1995) used a camera obscura method to transfer the image of a corpse to linen, adding silver salts, quartz and ammonia to make the cloth light-sensitive; and his method did produce a better image than other attempts; yet still it utilized an outside light source (which the Shroud image lacks), and no evidence of silver sensitizers were found on the Shroud.63 London journalists and occult researchers Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince’s Renaissance photographic theory (1994) proposed that Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) created a life-sized, proto-photographic image on the Shroud cloth, using a double corpse which had been daubed with blood, and then he added a self-portrait of his own head; yet a drawing of the Shroud in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript (1192–1195) shows that this cloth existed long before Leonardo’s time, and the Shroud head looks nothing like a documented self-portrait head (c. 1512) which Leonardo left behind.64 British physicist and astronomer Alan Mills’ hydrogen peroxide theory (1995) suggested that singlet oxygen (single oxygen molecules) might have left an unexpected image on the Shroud, as had been observed earlier on photosensitive plates; yet this still does not explain the detailed image found on the Shroud negatives, and these ‘currents’ move in all directions, not just upward or outward.65 American biologist Leoncio Garza-Valdes’s bacteria and fungi theory (1998) claimed that the Shroud image was caused by tiny living organisms on the skin which formed a bioplastic coating on the cloth (like neck stains form on a worn shirt); yet no extensive amount of bacteria or fungi was found on the Shroud, nor bioplastic coating.66 In the end, Zugibe notes that the most sophisticated studies from various disciplines have failed to explain how the image might convincingly have been created, and all attempts to duplicate it have been a “dismal failure.”67 Also, as archaeologist William Meacham points out, attempts to explain it as a painting, print, rubbing, or other manmade process ignore a vast array of data to the contrary.68
The Shroud as a snapshot of Jesus’ Resurrection. Ralph Graeber, a nuclear engineer connected to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s laboratory in Lemont, IL, has written: “To space-age scientists, it is quite obvious that images [on the Shroud] were formed by radiation processes.” It’s as if “the linen was scorched by the Nova,”69 a sudden, very bright flash of light. Most scientists and other Shroud researchers now believe that some form of light or heat (radiation) caused the images on the Shroud—or as Turin physicist Luigi Gongella describes it, “a burst of collimated [parallel] rays of radiant energy.”70 Giles Carter, a professor emeritus of Eastern Michigan University and a specialist with X-rays, first pointed out (1984) that finger bones were visible on the Shroud negatives. Then the American physicist John Jackson and physician Alan Whanger noted part of a forehead skull, and the surgeon August Accetta found traces of a hidden thumb and of teeth on the right side.71 British nuclear physicist Kitty Little (1978) noted that the light that illuminated the Shroud body must have come from inside the body, since no outside light source appears present.72 Light either travels in a straight line (like sunlight) or extends outward from its source (as from a light bulb), but the light which produced the image on the Shroud cloth seems neither kind, of outside light. Instead its forms seem impressed and delicately nuanced by light from another dimension.73 Earlier, Little (in general research) had radiated different cellulose fibers at a nuclear reactor at Harwell, England, and noted that proteins and alpha particles caused a straw-yellow discoloration at 40o Centigrade (104o Fahrenheit). Since these particles have a short range in air and in solids, they deposit their energy only on the topmost fibers of the cloth; and over time an oxidized, dehydrated and conjugated effect would produce an image discoloration.74
John Jackson (1991), in his “cloth collapse theory,” held that while the body of the Shroud man dematerialized, the cloth fell through the body region while electromagnetic radiation photosensitized the body image onto the cloth (which later darkened), recording various skeletal and other hidden body parts. He suggested that this is the only hypothesis that can explain all of the characteristics of the Shroud cloth and image—although he would not speculate beyond this what caused the body to disappear.75 Ray Rogers, a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, calls Antonacci’s book (2000) “one of the most remarkable books I have read on the subject [of the Shroud],” although he cautions that Antonacci’s belief (based on Jackson’s views) that the Shroud man’s body gave off radiation particles, then instantaneously dematerialized, and so created the unique features on the Shroud has not been scientifically proved.76 Still, Rogers admits, some hypotheses are “impossible to test.”77 August Accetta, Kenneth Lyons and John Jackson (the first two physicians and the third a physicist) agree (2000) that some kind of nuclear-like force bursting forth within the Shroud could explain various mysterious aspects of the Shroud of Turin, e.g., the visibility of many skeleton details, including carpal (wrist) bones, 22 teeth, eye sockets, the left femur (thigh) bone, and possibly the right thumb, not to mention certain visible soft tissue and soft tissue injuries, noted by Alan and Mary Whanger (1985).78 Radiation produces an image lacking sharp outlines, like seen on the Shroud; and nuclear medicine produces images of soft tissue, skeleton details, and pathology in various tissues.79
Acceta holds that the Shroud image, produced by radiation, is in fact evidence of Christ’s Resurrection. As the body dematerialized, then the cloth fell through the body, recording different levels.80 Boston physician Gilbert Lavoie also believes that one has to look to religion, to the Bible, and to Jesus’ Resurrection to find the final answer here81—although as Ray Rogers notes, when scientists are faced with a “miracle,” they are always going to keep looking for a natural explanation.82 Yet for the Christian, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Jesus suddenly came alive again in the tomb and then emitted a bright flash of energy, which imprinted his image on the burial cloth before his body dematerialized and the cloth collapsed.83 Surprisingly, the hair on the front image displays a high luminance (light) level (Fanti 2004), while the figure displays no shadows produced by any outside light source (Moran 2002).84 Alan Whanger believes that there were two kinds of radiation here, first a corona (bright flash) discharge which produced electrostatic imaging, and then a soft follow-up X-ray radiation which left an image of some skeletal forms. Both of these forms of radiation can produce images on linen, leaving 3-D information.85
Modern scientific research on the Sudarium. Research on the Sudarium has been carried out by the Investigative Team of the Spanish Center of Sindonology (Equipo de Investigación del Centro Español de Sindonología, or EDICES), headquartered in Valencia, Spain and directed by Heras Moreno.86 After Guilio Ricci, an Italian priest and Shroud expert, visited Oviedo to study the Sudarium (1965) and later published his findings, this center was established (1987) to carry on serious scientific research on the Sudarium.87 Results from the first ten years of EDICES work were then presented to an international Shroud conference (1998),88 which included the following points: The blood stains here are of human blood, appearing as AB type. The cloth is dirty, torn, stained and highly contaminated, but shows no signs of fraudulent manipulation. It was placed over the head of a dead man with a beard, mustache and long (shoulder-length) hair, the latter tied up at the back of the neck in a ponytail. The entire head, shoulders, and at least part of his back were covered with blood before the cloth touched it. The cloth was placed on the head starting at the back and held to the hair by sharp objects (perhaps thorns?89); then it was wound around the left side of the head to the right cheek, where because of an obstacle (the man’s right shoulder?) it was folded back on itself. After the body was lowered from the cross, it was laid on its right side on the ground for about an hour, while someone’s hand pressed the cloth down on the face to try to restrain the flow of blood from the nose and mouth. Then the cloth was straightened out and wrapped around the whole head like a cone. Finally, at the tomb the cloth was removed and set aside (cf. John 20:7b).90 Still Zugibe says he is skeptical that AB blood type can be identified accurately from old blood samples, which can react falsely to antibodies.91