|Pollen grains removed from the Holy Shroud of Turin|
By Adelle M. Banks – c. 1999 Religion News Service
The stories that follow are from the Religion News Service with additional excerpts from NY Times, Associated Press and Knight Ridder news services. It’s interesting to see how reporters capture different pieces of information from the same press conference.
Undated - A Jerusalem-based botanist, working with a team of colleagues, has determined that the Shroud of Turin probably dates to before the eighth century and was located in the Jerusalem area. Avinoam Danin, a member of the department of evolution, systematics and ecology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced the findings Monday (Aug.2) in St. Louis, where he is attending the XVI International Botanical Congress. They will be published by the Missouri Botanical Garden Press in a paper titled "Flora of the Shroud of Turin."
The findings conflict with other studies of the shroud, which some believe was the burial cloth of Jesus. In 1988, a team of scientists used carbon-14 dating tests and concluded the shroud dates to the Middle Ages. But Danin believes the shroud is much older because of links made between pollen grains and blood stains on both the shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo, which some believe is the burial face cloth of Jesus. That cloth has been in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the eighth century.
"There's no possibility that this cloth in Oviedo and the shroud would have both the same blood stains and these pollen grains unless they were covering the same body," Danin told Religion News Service. "And being resident of that church in Oviedo since at least 760, there's no way that it could be a fake
of the 14th century."
Danin said pollen grains of the thistle Gundelia tournefortii were found on both the shroud and the cloth housed in Oviedo. He called them "very hard evidence."
"This plant is growing only in the near East," he said. "It is not growing in Spain. It is not growing in Europe. It is from Middle Eastern origin." The plant, which continues to bloom to this day, blossoms at a certain time of year. "The time of the formulation of the image and the position of pollen on the shroud due to the indicator plants is March/April," he said. "This is a physical and biological indicator, not biblical."
A New Port Richey, Fla. writer who has studied the shroud says the two specific months named in Danin's research are "very significant." John C. Iannone, author of "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence" (Alba House, NY 1998) said the finding makes the shroud "consistent with the time of the Passover and the Crucifixion." He added that "those flowers would be fresh in the fields around Jerusalem" and "readily available for a burial."
Iannone also is president of the St. Louis-based Holy Shroud Task Force, a group of doctors, scientists, writers and historians interested in furthering research on the shroud. Danin is a member of the group's advisory board. "It moves the date back considerably," Iannone said of Danin's findings. "What it does is it substantially increases the case for authenticity, or certainly antiquity. It gives us one more instrument to debate the carbon-14 dating."
Despite the difference in the findings, Danin voiced his respect for the experts who used the carbon-14 dating method. "The carbon-14 dating was wonderful, but true for one corner of the shroud," he said. "We are not questioning their accuracy."
The other writers of the paper are Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus, Duke University Medical Center; Mary Whanger, of the Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin in Durham, N.C.; and Dr. Uri Baruch of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS FROM OTHER NEWS SERVICES:
The New York Times adds:
The pollen of one plant, a thistle called Gundelia tournefortii, was especially abundant on the cloth, and an image of the plant was identified near the image of the man's shoulder. Some scientists say this may have been the species from which Jesus's crown of thorns was plaited.
Both the Sudarium and the shroud appear to carry type AB blood stains, and the stains are in a similar pattern, Dr. Danin said. "There is no way that similar patterns of blood stains, probably of the identical blood type, with the same type of pollen grains could not be synchronic, covering the same
body." he said. "The pollen association and the similarities in the blood stains in the two cloths provide clear evidence that the shroud originated before the eighth century."
The sample may have been contaminated, said Alan D. Whanger, of Duke University Medical Center. The sample came from a water-stained, scorched edge of the shroud, he said, and carbon could have been added to the cloth, obscuring the true date of its origin. Also, living fungi and bacteria have been found growing inside the fibers, he said, possibly contaminating the sample.
Associated Press adds:
Danin identified a high density of pollen of the tumbleweed Gundelia tournefortii. The analysis also found the beancaper. The two species coexist in a limited area, Danin said. “This combination of flowers can be found in only one region of the world,” he said. “The evidence clearly points to a floral grouping from the area surrounding Jerusalem.”
The 1988 study used carbon dating tests. Danin noted that the earlier study looked at only a single sample, while he used the entire piece of fabric.
Knight Ridder adds:
The flowers placed next to the shroud bloom only an hour a day, so they were picked sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. before being placed next to the body, Danin said. Christ is believed to have died late in the day, so his body would have been prepared shortly after.
Danin, who is Jewish, declines to talk about the religious implications of his finding. He said Monday it is not up to him to say this is proof of Christian beliefs or that this is the actual burial cloth of Jesus, but "you as a reader have to take one and one and make two.'' His co-author, Alan Whanger, who is Methodist, says he is driven partially driven by his religious beliefs. "We did a scientific examination. One can interpret it any way one wants,'' said Whanger, a Detroit native. "For me, it's testament of the validity of one Jesus of Nazareth.''
"Coming outside of the Christian community it adds a little of bit of credibility because (Danin) doesn't have a vested interest in promoting it one way or another,'' said John Iannone, president of the Holy Shroud Task Force.
Original Article - shroud2000.com