The Shroud of Turin has long-been one of the greatest mysteries of the world, since it was first mentioned in documents and publications back in the Middle Ages. The shroud clearly depicts the imprint of a man's face and torso, which greatly resemble the pictures of Jesus Christ we have today.
Scientists and scholars have studied the cloth and tried to determine the exact time period of its creation for centuries; the first mentions of the cloth were made in medieval sources around the time of the Middle Ages, between A.D. 1260 and 1390. Radiocarbon dating tests performed in the 1980s were alleged proof of the cloth's fabrication, with radiocarbon dating test results indicating that the cloth was less than 800 years old.
The tests performed on the linen during the 80s included three separate studies at different laboratories, each of which yielded the same results of the cloth's creation being too recent to have been in Jesus' tomb.
However, a new study headed by Alberto Carpinteri of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy used a new method of conducting tests on the shroud, and concluded that the theories of the cloth's inauthenticity were not concrete, due to the testing methods that had been used.
Carpinteri's study is based on the theory of stable carbon and radioactive carbon-14 ratios occurring at the same levels in all living things until death, at which point the radioactive carbon-14 begins to decompose in a specific and identifiable way over a period of time. Based on the knowledge that a severe earthquake hit Jerusalem around the same time and could have caused this process to speed up, the scientists in Carpinteri's study believe that the cloth could be authentic.
They have also determined that the tests done on the cloth in the 1980s could have provided skewed results, as the samples taken could have been from material used to repair the cloth in the Middle Ages, or that other environmental factors could have damaged the cloth, which led to "a wrong radiocarbon dating," Carpinteri says.
According to Carpinteri, the theory that his scientists are banking on is based on the idea that high-frequency pressure waves in the earth's crust caused by an earthquake that hit Old Jerusalem around the time Jesus is thought to have died and been buried could have produced an overload of neutron emissions.
Those neutron emissions are exactly what Carpinteri is basing his theory on, saying that they could have had an interaction with nitrogen atoms in the cloth's fibers that caused a chemical reaction which created the outline of the face.
Image via Yuval Y, Wikimedia Commons.