The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ

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Did a biological polymer throw off the carbon dating?

Few think so. Unfortunately, this speculative explanation for why the carbon dating might have been wrong received a considerable amount of undue attention after Harry E. Gove of the University of Rochester, one of the significant players in the development of Mass Spectrometry Analysis for carbon dating, wrote, "There is a bioplastic coating on some threads, maybe most. . . . [if thick enough it] would make the fabric sample seem younger than it should be."

Thick enough? An error of 1300 years resulting from bacterial contamination would have required a layer approximately doubling weight of the tested samples. Moreover:

Some have argued that the corner from which the sample was taken would have been handled more often than other parts of the Shroud, increasing the likelihood of contamination by bacteria and bacterial residue. Bacteria and associated residue (bacteria by-products and dead bacteria) carry additional carbon and would skew the radiocarbon date toward the present. So far, this is only an argument and there is no evidence to support this contention.

For the most part, serious Shroud researchers do not take this argument seriously.  


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