Friday, December 4, 2015

News articles #3: Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud

This is part #3 of my comments on further news articles about the paper, Barcaccia, G., et al., 2015, "Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud," Nature, Scientific Reports 5, 5 October. These will be in date order, with the article's words in bold. For previous posts in this series, see part #1 and part #2. Other previous posts on this topic were on: 06Oct15, 18Oct15, 25Oct15 and 10Nov15.


"Mystery of the Shroud of Turin deepens: Genetic study reveals the fabric contains DNA from plants found all over the world," Daily Mail, Ellie Zolfagharifard, 20 October 2015 ... A new DNA study has

[Above (enlarge): "Professor Giovanni Riggi, (back to camera), leader of the Italian scientific team [in conjunction with STURP's 1978 examination of the Shroud], inserts a special vacuum nozzle between the Shroud and the Holland Cloth in an attempt to gather dust, pollen and other particulate matter from the cloth's fibers"[1].]

added to the mystery Again, they have not "added to the mystery." They have reduced what mystery there may have been, by adding to the already overwhelming evidence that the Shroud is authentic. It is only a "mystery" to those who don't want the Shroud to be authentic because they would then have to answer for themselves Pontius Pilate's question:

"Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Mt 27:22).
surrounding the Shroud of Turin - the supposed burial cloth of Jesus. Again it is not "supposed." The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is authentic, the very burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the imprint of His crucified and resurrected body!

By sequencing genes from pollen and dust particles on the shroud, Again, this pollen and dust was not merely "on the Shroud." It was in the interspace between the underside of the Shroud and its Holland cloth backing, which was sewn on in 1534, following the 1532 fire. Which means that this interspace was effectively a sealed time capsule until 1978, so the DNA in that interspace cannot have entered it between 1534 and 1978. Which then means that if the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" was correct, then there would only be a maximum of 1534 - 1260 = 274 years for that "DNA from plants [and humans] found all over the world" to be deposited on the underside of the Shroud, when it was located entirely in France and briefly in Belgium (24Nov15 & 30Nov15). In fact, since the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in 1355, that leaves only 1534 - 1355 = 179 years for this DNA from "all over the world" to be deposited on the underside of the Shroud (10Nov15 & 30Nov15). This is further evidence that the 1260-1390 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud was wrong and indeed the result of a computer hacking (10Nov15 & 24Nov15)!

researchers have been able to map the type [of] plants and people that came into contact with the linen. Again (see 10Nov15 & 24Nov15), as can be seen below in this extract from that

[Above: Extract from "Figure 1: Plant DNA species found on the Turin Shroud"[2].]

map of plant types, DNA from plant groups (red) are found around Jerusalem and Constantinople but not Turin, Chambéry or Lirey. Moreover, the red group includes the second and third most abundant species. The DNA of the yellow group includes Constantinople, Sanliurfa (formerly Edessa) and Jerusalem, but does not include Europe. In particular, the "Plantain" (Plantago lanceolata), is "a native of Palestine"[3].

And as for the DNA of "people that came into contact with the linen", again (see 10Nov15 & 24Nov15), as can be seen below in these extracts from that map, there was wide diversity of human mtDNA in the

[Above: Extracts from "Figure 2: Human mtDNA haplogroups found on the Turin Shroud"[4].]

interspace between the underside of the Shroud and its Holland cloth backing, which (again) was sewn on in 1534, in Chambéry, France and only partially opened in 1978 and 1988 inside Turin Cathedral.

Their research suggests the shroud was made in India, See previous (10Nov15 & 30Nov15) that:

"The highest frequency mtDNA haplogroups [in the above human DNA map] are M56, R8 and U2, as well as the medium frequency M39, the centre of origin of which includes India. The high frequency of these latter four mtDNA haplogroups suggests that the flax and/or the linen was manufactured in India, and indeed Barcaccia, et al. point out that the word "Sindon" derives from "Sindia or Sindien, a fabric coming from India. It is no problem for the authenticity of the Shroud if its flax or linen came from India, but there would be a problem for the anti-authenticity alternative because there is no record, and it would seem highly unlikely (to put it mildly) that Indians in any great numbers (indeed any at all) had access to the Shroud in the period 1260-1534, when the Shroud was in France."
According to Thayer's Greek lexicon, "sindon ... [a] linen cloth, esp. that which was fine and costly" may derive from the Sanskrit "sindhu"[5], which is a region west of the Indus River, in what today is Pakistan. The Indus River Valley was an early centre of flax growing[6].

It may be that "the Shroud went, with the Apostle Thomas, to India in its early centuries." (24Nov15 & 30Nov15). Supporting this, the Apostle Thomas' remains were brought from India and buried in Edessa[7]! There were Jews in India (Esther 1:1; 8:9) during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus = Xerxes I (r. 486 BC - 465 BC). Significantly, the Hebrew word translated "India" in those versus is hoddu, which means the region of the lower Indus River[8]. That region was taken from the Persians by Alexander the Great in 326 BC. This opened

[Above (original): Extract of a map of Alexander the Great's Empire, showing it encompassed the region west of the Indus River, Jerusalem and Edessa[9]. It also corresponds to the above map of the highest frequency human mtDNA haplogroups M56, R8 and U2, as well as the medium frequency M39.]

up trade between East and West, and added the region west of the Indus to the Silk Road network of trade routes[10]. With the result

[Above (original): Extract from "Maps & Atlas - Silk Road Trade Routes Map"[11], showing the lower Indus Valley, from where the word "sindon" came from (see above), as part of the ancient silk road network, which connected Antioch (and so indirectly Jerusalem) with Constantinople."]

that, by Jesus' time, "The Mediterranean world ... had become like one big marketplace, attracting trade goods from distant lands as far as India and China" and "The Jews had become very familiar with [such] trade ..." (24Nov15):

"During the first century A.D. the East and West were making a solid connection, especially with the Jews. By the time of Jesus the Jews were living in a commercial Greek world, due to the achievements of Alexander the Great. The Romans built even more and established additional trade in all of its provinces, linking the major centers of population and uniting the provinces. The Mediterranean world had become a Greco-Roman world and it had become like one big marketplace, attracting trade goods from distant lands as far as India and China. The Roman army and navy protected the boundaries of the Empire from barbarians and pirates. The Jews had become very familiar with trade and the art of international commerce. They became very wealthy and it was all controlled by a select few. Most of the common Israelites bought and sold in the local marketplace without ever realizing how all the goods from around the world had arrived there. How many of the goods had arrived there on the backs of camels and donkeys, passing through countless cities and villages upon roads and footpaths that were all but washed away by the heavy rains."[12]

And again (24Nov15), if the Shroud was an expensive import from India, that would only add to the evidence that the Shroud was authentic, because Joseph of Arimathea, who bought Jesus' shroud (Mk 15:46) was "a rich man" (Mt 27:57). But for the same reason this would be an added problem for the medieval forgery theory, because (see 16Jul15):

"That the Shroud's weave is expensive and rare is another ... problem for the forgery theory. The primary motive of art and archaeological (including relic) forgery is financial gain ... According to Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory's Professor Edward Hall (1924-2001), that was the motive of the claimed forger of the Shroud, `There was a multi-million-pound business in making forgeries during the 14th century' so `Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it'[13] ... And in a sense Hall was right! If the Shroud were a medieval forgery, then the forger, to maximise his profit, would have "just got a bit of linen." That is, he would have used the least expensive `bit of linen' he could find that would still deceive his prospective buyers ... he would not have bought it [the ~4.4 x 1.1 metre fine linen sheet that the Shroud is] for the very high price it would have been, as that would have severely reduced the profit margin on his planned forgery of the Shroud image upon it. This is yet another of the many problems of the forgery theory ..."

and travelled the world extensively, moving from Jerusalem to Turkey to France before ending up in its in Turin, Italy. Again (see 25Oct15, 10Nov15, 24Nov15 & 30Nov15) the Shroud having had a ~15 centuries history from AD 30 up to 1534 in a wide variety of locations, including Jerusalem, Edessa, Constantinople, Athens and France, is consistent with this plant and human DNA evidence from the interspace between the underside of the Shroud and its Holland cloth backing which was sewn on in 1534. And (see 10Nov15 & 24Nov15) according to the lead author of study, University of Padua plant geneticist, Prof. Gianni Barcaccia, "the importance of the DNA analysis lies in the great diversity of the species identified, which is atypical" and is "an indication that the Shroud was displayed in very different areas":

"In agreement with Professor Barcaccia, the importance of the DNA analysis lies in the great diversity of the species identified, which is atypical if compared with similar studies that always present a much reduced number of species. They can be related to Asian, African, and European areas. This is an indication that the Shroud was displayed in very different areas ranging from cultivated plains to mountainous areas, from arid to more myths [sic moist?] environments."[14]
Another suggestion is that the shroud was created in medieval Europe, but people from all over the world came to see it, contaminating it with their DNA. Again (see 10Nov15, 24Nov15 & 30Nov15) while this may be genetically possible, it is historically and realistically highly implausible:

The first implausibility is that if the Shroud had been "created in medieval Europe" (based on the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390") then, leaving aside that the cloth's dimensions are 8 x 2 standard Assyrian cubits (04Feb15 & 10Jul15) and its stitching and selvedge are identical to that found only at the 1st century Jewish fortress of Masada (22Jan15 & 24Aug15), and indeed the plant DNA evidence above from "Constantinople ... Edessa ... and Jerusalem), then as we saw above, there would only be a maximum of only 274 years for these "people from all over the world" to come to see the Shroud. But since the first exposition of the Shroud in undisputed history was in c. 1355 at Lirey, France, that leaves only 179 years for these "people from all over the world" to come to France or Belgium to see the Shroud.

The second implausibility is that these "people from all over the world" could have contaminated the Shroud with their DNA. But as we saw (24Nov15 & 30Nov15), in all known public expositions of the Shroud, it has been held by clerics on a raised platform or balcony, high above the general public, so they could have had no personal contact with it, as they would have to have had to leave their DNA on it.

The third implausibility (see 10Nov15 & 24Nov15) is that if those attending Shroud expositions had been able to contaminate the Shroud with their DNA, then the European-only haplogroups H1, H3, H4 and U2 would have the highest frequency, not among the lowest, since the vast majority of those attending Shroud expositions between 1355 and 1534, when the Shroud was only in France and Belgium (as well as the Shroud's owners and ecclesiastical custodians), were Europeans.

By contrast, the pro-authenticist scenario is consistent with the plant and human DNA evidence and does not have the above implausibility problems, because "in the ... faraway past," (i.e. the first through fourth centuries) "people" in small Christian congregations, could "have touched, kissed, or come in contact with the Shroud":

"In conclusion, in agreement with Professor Barcaccia, the haplotypes found in the traces of DNA have a reference to the haplogroups of ethnic groups belonging to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, that is to say, of people living in areas facing the Mediterranean basin. More accurate analyses in the process of development could, in the near future, be more precise and give us specific data concerning those people who in the past - even in a faraway past - have touched, kissed, or come in contact with the Shroud of Turin."[15]
So again (see above) this plant and human DNA on the Shroud is is yet another item in the already overwhelming evidence that the Turin Shroud is authentic, and further evidence that the 1260-1390 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud was wrong and indeed the result of a computer hacking!

I therefore see no point in continuing this series. As T.H. Huxley observed:

"Life is too short to occupy oneself with the slaying of the slain more than once."[16]!

Notes
1. "The 1978 Scientific Examination," Shroud.com, nd. [return]
2. Barcaccia, G., et al., 2015, "Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud," Nature, Scientific Reports 5, 5 October. [return]
3. Fanti, G. & Malfi, P., 2015, "The Shroud of Turin: First Century after Christ!," Pan Stanford: Singapore, pp.298-299. [return]
4. Barcaccia, et al., 2015. [return]
5. Thayer, J.H., 1901, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm's Wilke's Clovis Novi Testamenti Translated Revised and Enlarged," T & T. Clark: Edinburgh, Fourth edition, Reprinted, 1961, p.576. [return]
6. Tortora, P.G., 2015, "Dress, Fashion and Technology: From Prehistory to the Present," Bloomsbury Academic: London, p.32. [return]
7. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.138; Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.124, 131. [return]
8. Kitchen, K.A., "India," in Douglas, J.D., et al., eds., "New Bible Dictionary," [1962], Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester UK, Second edition, 1982, Reprinted, 1988, p.513; Gehman, H.S. & Davis, J.D., 1924, "The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible," [1898], Collins: London, Revised, 1944, p.265. [return]
9. Pillai, N.G., 2015, "Skanda: The Alexander Romance in India," 18 November. [return]
10. Marx, I., 2000, "Empire of Alexander the Great - Expansion into Asia and Central Asia," 8 September. [return]
11. "Maps & Atlas - Silk Road Trade Routes Map," Silkroutes.net, 24 October 2015. [return]
12. "Roads in Ancient Israel," Bible History Online, nd. [return]
13. "Obituaries: Professor Edward Hall," The Independent:, 16 August 2001. [return]
14. Fanti & Malfi, 2015, p.299. [return]
15. Fanti & Malfi, 2015, p.301. [return]
16. Huxley, T.H., 1861, The Athenaeum, 13 April, in Browne, E.J., 2002, "Charles Darwin: The Power of Place: Volume II of a Biography," Pimlico: London, Reprinted, 2003, p.159. [return]

Posted: 4 December 2015. Updated: 10 December 2015.

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