The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ

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Why is the finding of cotton in the carbon dating sample area important?

Encrusted cotton fiber from the carbon dating region of the Shroud of TurinThe discovery of cotton in the carbon dating area is significant because cotton is not found elsewhere on the Shroud. It lends credence to the fact that the Shroud was mended later. Cotton fibers were first detected by textile expert, Gilbert Raes (for whom the Raes corner is named) in 1973. He had been granted permission to cut away a small fragment of the shroud.

Raymond Rogers, of the the Los Alamos National Laboratory, confirmed the existence of embedded cotton fibers and noted that such cotton fibers are not found in  anywhere else on the shroud. This was confirmed by examining thousands of fibers collect during the STURP examination in 1978. This photograph is a microscope view on encrusted cotton fibers from the carbon dating sampling region.

Spliced thread from the carbon dating region of the Shroud of TurinCotton fibers were sometimes incorporated into linen threads during later medieval times, but not earlier, and not even as early as the carbon 14 range of dates. This, along with the dyestuff, suggested some sort of alteration or disguised mending. This is a photograph of a spliced thread dyed at one end. It is from the carbon dating sample region.

Robert Villarreal, who led a team of nine scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory had set out to confirm Rogers finding. During testing at the lab, one of the threads came apart in the middle forming two separate pieces. A surface resin, that may have been holding the two pieces together, fell off and was analyzed. Surprisingly, the two ends of the thread had different chemical compositions, lending more support to Rogers’ finding.

Photo credit: Copyright Barrie Schwortz. Used with permission. Please do not duplicate.

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