Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • October 14, 2009 was faked by anyone would could have understood photographic techniques. “The Man of the Shroud” posed another problem for the forgery theory. The image is anatomically correct, and represents a slender, muscular man in his prime with blood stains on his brow, wrists, arms, and feet, a lance wound in his side, and dozens of scourge marks on his back and legs. The shroud image shows that the nails were driven into the base of the hands, which is consistent with the Roman technique for execution by crucifixion. From the Middle Ages through Victorian times, the nails of the crucifixion were shown driven through the palms of the hands, which will not support a human body. No one in the Middle Ages would have known enough about anatomy to have produced a human image of such accuracy. The use of cadavers in the study of medicine was forbidden during the High Middle Ages and only allowed during the Renaissance, some time after the shroud was first documented. The tracks of blood on the shroud show a correct pattern to indicate that the man was crucified and hung on the cross for a considerable time until the blood congealed. The blood, described by one skeptic as iron oxide, has since been confirmed as real human blood, and at least one scientist asserts that the blood is Type AB, widely shared among Mediterranean Jews such as the Holy Family and the Apostles (about 37 percent) but very rare among people from Northern Europe (about seven percent). Carlton Coon, a renowned physical anthropologist who was not at all religious, took one look at the image on the shroud and proclaimed the man “a noble Arab or fullblooded Sephardic Jew.” Coon added that the image was produced after the man was dead. The male model used by a late-medieval forger would almost certainly not have been a Sephardic Jew, probably would not have had Type AB blood, and would not have been dead when the image was made, unless the master forger was also a murderer. No one in the 13th century knew about blood types and it is doubtful that anyone would have known that religious first century Jews wore their hair as long as the man depicted on the shroud. The AP article, which made some effort toward objectivity, mentioned the problem of the pollen. The shroud was dusted with pollen from a number of flowering plants, most of them flourishing in Israel or in Turkey, where the shroud is said to have been protected by local Christians in Edessa for several centuries. Many of the plants that left their pollen on the shroud do not grow in Europe. Since trade between Europe and Palestine had been largely terminated by the collapse of the Crusades in 1292, it is doubtful that a late-medieval forger would have been able to obtain a strip of linen pollinated in the Holy Land even if he had understood the importance of doing so. Swiss criminologist Max Frei was the first to document the pollen patterns. Avinoam Danin, an observant Jew, former Israeli soldier, and perhaps Israel’s greatest botanist, showed through his independent research that the plants that pollinated the shroud grow between Jerusalem and Jericho. Those plants, Danin found, would have been pollinating in April -- the time of the Passover and the crucifixion. It is unlikely that a medieval forger would have anticipated this. “They won’t give up,” the leader of the team that faked their own shroud said. “Those who believe in it will continue to believe.” Nor should they give up. The real challenge to the authenticity of the shroud came in 1988, when radiocarbon dating in three different labs found the cloth dated to around 1380: too recent to have been in the Holy Land at the time of the crucifixion. These tests were genuine science, peerreviewed, and the similar dates from all three labs made them eminently plausible. Subsequently, it developed that the shroud had been patched during the Middle Ages and the patches would have dated from about the 14th century. A subsequent test gave a wider parameter of age to what would have been the original shroud linen, and this parameter allowed for a date as old as the first century: the time of the crucifixion. No one on either side agrees what would constitute absolute proof, but the fact that a group of scientists taking money from atheists and agnostics came up with what their sponsors wanted to hear is not peer-reviewed science like the controversial but responsible radiocarbon tests of 1988. It’s subsidized hokum. The fact that Gregory Peck and Sam Waterston were photographed impersonating Abraham Lincoln does not mean that there was no real Abraham Lincoln. The fact that a student dusted with red ochre produced a recognizable image on a piece of cloth does not explain why nobody found red ochre on the shroud, along with the pollen of a number of plants that do not grow in Italy or France. The lesson is that whoever pays for the experiment tends to get what he pays for until peer review and repeated tests show whether the experiment is bogus or legitimate. AP did some of the homework on this one. They mentioned that the experiment in forgery was founded by atheists and agnostics, and they mentioned the pollen, though not the blood type or the fact that the radiocarbon testing had been conducted on cloth that most scientists now admit did not represent the totality of the shroud. As an old reporter once told me when I was a kid, “Follow the money.” We know who paid for this. We know why the results came out the way they did. This just in: The Italian Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal has elected to tell the world the Shroud of Turin must be a fake because they have produced what they claim is a plausible copy using technology that would have been available in the Middle Ages. In the sixth paragraph of the story, The Associated Press dutifully notes that the research project was “funded by the debunking group and by an Italian organization of atheists and agnostics.” If that disclaimer had been in the first or second paragraph, it could have saved some people a lot of reading, but let’s be analytical and objective. The scientists working with the Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal made a 21st century copy of the shroud, said to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, by using the methods available in the 12th century, the era just before the shroud was publicly revealed and documented, first in France, then in Italy. The committee’s scientists obtained linen cloth of the proper weave, and baked it in an oven to simulate the aging process. The would-be debunkers then placed the baked linen cloth over a student volunteer who had been rubbed with red ochre, a powdered dyestuff familiar to the ancient world and – presto! – they had what they believed to be a plausible copy of the Shroud of Turin, and thus, they believed, proof that the shroud had been faked sometime in the 1200s or 1300s, not produced spontaneously. Not quite. An English stage magician used the same technique 25 or 30 years ago and he produced an image that was visible on the cloth and showed a man lying in repose, front and back. The image, however, was blurry compared to the imprint on the Shroud of Turin. So the new experiment is not original. Neither of the ochre images would survive the kind of scrutiny imposed on the Shroud of Turin by the committees of space-age scientists, most of them from the United States, some of them Jewish or agnostic, who examined the shroud in the 1970s. The scientists used high-powered microscopes and computerized image analysis to examine the shroud. They found that the discoloration on the shroud was not due to paint or ochre. The image was produced by a process called dehydrative oxidation. Something like a scorch indelibly marked the linen but did not set it on fire. This technique, I think, was not available in the 13th century. The shroud image is also a negative in photographic terms, which is why the photographic negatives of the shroud are so much more visually impressive than the positive image on the linen cloth. The renewed fascination with the shroud dates from 1898 when an attorney and amateur photographer, Secundo Pia, obtained permission to take photographs. When he developed his photos, the image that had been faint on the linen cloth virtually leaped up at him. Nobody in the days of the Crusades had ever seen a camera. The first photographs were taken in France in the 1830s, hundreds of years after the shroud had been documented and kept in safe and supervised storage. There is no chance the shroud Debunking the debunkers: Know exactly whom you can trust Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: There has been a lack of accomplishment and accountability in present Assemblymen Rumana and Russo. Challengers John Agostinelli and Mark Bombace offer better governance for the District 40. Education consumes a big chunk of our taxes. As Ridgewood Board of Education president, Mark Bombace developed accountability and high standards. As assemblyman, he will apply this knowledge to other schools. Details are in his Education Policy Paper accessible from website In sharp contrast, existing assemblymen enacted inappropriate education policy that gave us less accomplishment for big tax bucks spent. As the Ridgewood’s fire captain, Mark has protected our neighbors. He created the R.O.C.K program, (Recycled Old Computers for Kids). Recycled computers were distributed to local families. All around New Jersey, infrastructure is crumbling. As a civil engineer, John Agostinelli is able to cope with this long neglected problem. For 20 years, he specialized in smart growth, infrastructure improvement, and mass transportation. He worked with worked with F.E.M.A following natural disasters across the United States to keep families safe. Endorses Agostinelli and Bombace These two candidates offer improved legislation for our tax money. Most of us prize the residential quality of our environment. Developers have threatened this quality with growing influence. To stem this assault, we need to strengthen the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Like the majority of Republicans, Chris Christie is a foe of this protection. Early in his campaign, he said he wants to trim the DEP as is first target. He said he would lay off DEP workers and strip the agency of its fish and wildlife oversight, according to an Associated Press report dated April 28, 2009. Almost all of Christie’s anti-corruption prosecution was aimed at Democrats. As Bush and Cheney’s man, Christie never objected to their lies, killing, and no-bid contracts. He avoided targeting New Jersey Republicans to the greatest extent possible. In sharp contrast, Governor Jon Corzine’s selection of Loretta Wienberg for lieutenant governor candidacy is a willingness to root out wrong doing regardless of political affiliation. Loretta bucked Democratic Party bosses. She put a stop to Democrat abuses. Christie is no change for the better, any more than keeping existing assemblymen. Sidney J. Goodman Mahwah