What are the primary criticisms of the coin identifications?
Primary criticisms of the coin images fall into the following categories:
- Weave: The weave of the cloth is simply too coarse to support the fine detail required for the inscriptions on the coins. Don Lynn used a scanning microdensitometer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to see if it was possible to have such small detail. He concluded it was not. If you look at some of the highly enhanced enlargements of photographs of the eye region, you notice that parts of the letters of the coin inscriptions seem to bridge the airspace between adjacent threads as though suspended in the air. This is impossible.
- Image Manipulation: The photographs used to identify the coin inscriptions, in the case of the Filas identifications, are fifth generation contrast enhancements made from a 1931 photograph of the Shroud on orthochromatic film. This only enhances miniscule shadows of the fabric’s threads, dirt and grime of the ages and strange patterns of dark and lighter lines that are intrinsically part of the fabric. Every generation of photographic enhancement modifies the fine details of the photograph. In the case of the Fontanille enhancements, the work was digital. However, no information is available to understand exactly what was manipulated in what manner so that the enhancements can be reproduced and justified. This, too, might have produced false positive indications of lettering from shadows, dirt, grime and background lines in the fabric.
- Banding: The patterns of dark and lighter lines; a variegation or random plaid pattern commonly known as banding, is a serious problem. If affects everything we see on the Shroud. Even the face is distorted (a fact often overlooked). Small details from coin inscriptions, to flowers that we may think we see on the cloth, to anatomical and wound details, to all manner of objects some say can be seen on the Shroud, are affected by banding. The picture on the right show the banding.
Barrie Schwortz, a technical photographers who photographed the Shroud in 1978, offers his opinion:
My personal opinion, based on my photographic experience and my close examination of the Shroud itself, is that the weave of the cloth is far too coarse to resolve the rather subtle and very tiny inscription on a dime sized ancient coin...What he (Filas) saw as inscriptions, I saw as random shapes and noise. Such is the subjective nature of image analysis. For these reasons however, I cannot accept these coin "inscriptions" as viable evidence of a first century Shroud "date"...I do not argue that there appears to be something on the eyes of the man of the Shroud, and it may well be coins or potshards, since they were used in some first century burial rituals, but I do not believe we can resolve coin inscriptions.
It is hard not to look at the Filas and Fontanille coin identifications and not be impressed and wonder if the coin inscriptions are indeed not there. But it is equally difficult to believe that the coin inscriptions are there given the weave of the cloth, the photographic enhancements and the problems caused by banding.
- Are there coin images over closed eyes?
- Filas and Marx (with follow up and confirmation by Whangers and Moroni)
- Jean-Philippe Fontanille