The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma


August 14 through August 17, 2008           Abstracts of Papers

Statistical Analysis of Dusts Taken from Different Areas of the Turin Shroud by Giulio Fanti (giuliofanti@tiscalinet.it) and Roberto Basso (roberto.basso@unipd.it). Friday, August 15, 4:46 p.m.–5:08 p.m. 

In 1978 and 1988, Giovanni Riggi di Numana aspired some dusts from the back of the Turin Shroud (TS) and sam­pled them in various filters. Some analyses have been done at micrometric levels on these dusts using a Scanning Elec­tron Microscope (SEM) and other instruments, but these analyses were principally oriented for conservation problems. 

Up to now, a description of the dust’s composition and a statistical analysis of their content have not been published. For this reason, the authors have decided to study the composition of the dusts coming from five different areas of the back of the TS, considering the following material relatively easy to be detected with a petrographic microscope: 1.) cotton fibers, 2.) TS fibers, 3.) Holland cloth fibers, 4.) TS fibers coming from fire zone, 5.) red fibers, 6.) blue fibers, 7.) other fibers, 8.) red-brown particles (blood-like), 9.) red-live particles, 10.) yellow-red heads particles, 11.) opaque particles, and 12.) other. 

The TS fibers have been recognized from the others by using a proper cross-polarized light. A statistical analysis of dusts samples has been performed in relation to the following filters: 

- filter “e” corresponding to the hands area (1978 sampling);

- filter “f” corresponding to the area of the face (1978 sampling);

- filter “g” corresponding to the area of the feet (1978 sampling);

- filter “h” corresponding to the area of the glutei (1978 sampling);

- filter “i” corresponding to the area of the C-14 (1988 sampling).

To perform the analysis each one of the five samples has been subdivided in three or four sub-samples and a separate evaluation was performed: the selected fibers had diameters greater than 5 micrometers and the rounded particles a diam­eter greater than 3–4 micrometers. The results of the statistical analysis are plotted in histograms similar to that reported here below. 

The different distribution of the fibers in the various filters shows the relative difficulty of remixing dusts between TS and Holland cloth; in the case of more rounded particles, a greater capability of remixing is found instead. 

Apart from the cotton fibers probably coming from the filters support that have been therefore excluded from the statistical analysis, about eight fibers out of 10 result from the TS. 

Text Box:  
In sample “f,” only one darker fiber similar to the TS body image has been found in agreement with the hypothesis of the double superficiality of the body image in correspondence to the face (www.sindone.info/FANTI.PDF). This is be­cause it is not easy to suppose that an image fiber passes through the fabric thickness. Only one fiber is not so meaningful but future analyses could confirm this fact. 

This study is useful for the knowledge of the contents of the filters containing TS dusts and for future analysis on this material because it is now possible to know which material is contained there and how much is in it. A future develop­ment could be addressed to the statistics of particles smaller than 3–4 micrometers.

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