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Shroud "Restoration" Notes and Documents

This page is a collection of correspondence, documents and notes related to the "restoration" of the Shroud of Turin carried out in the summer of 2002. My detailed comment on the matter is posted on

Letter of Sept. 3, 2002 regarding the Villa Gualino conference

Dear Cardinal Poletto, and Profs. Savarino and Scannerini,

We the undersigned participants of the March 2000 conference held at Villa Gualino in Turin were shocked to read newspaper accounts of the recent "conservation" operation conducted on the Shroud. In the light of the official press conference planned for mid-September, and desiring first to have all the facts and the full official statement, we will refrain from any comments on the conservation works that have been done.

However, certain statements made in the press by officials regarding the conference at Villa Gualino need to be corrected , and we call upon the conference organizers, profs. Savarino and Scannerini, to issue a public statement rectifying the erroneous information which has been disseminated in the media.

Firstly, a statement was made that the operation of June and July was conducted "on the basis of directions which emerged from the world-wide symposium of experts of March 2000." This is categorically untrue, as everyone who attended the conference knows full well. In fact, the exact opposite is the truth. Not only was there no mention at all of any such radical invasive "conservation" measure at the conference, but a specific recommendation regarding a programme of non-invasive scientific testing to further understand the conservation issues was agreed.

Secondly, a general summation agreed by conference participants was published on pages 16-17 in the conference proceedings (which appeared as the book "The Turin Shroud: past, present, future"). The last two paragraphs of that summation state:

"A series of experiments specifically directed at improving our knowledge for the purposes of conservation is essential, especially in view of the considerable development of instruments and improvements in non-invasive analytical methods."
"We therefore recommend the co-ordination of those experts interested in the Shroud as a subject of research and in the methods and instruments which may be used for this purpose."

To our knowledge, there has been no such series of experiments made since March 2000, nor has there been any "co-ordination of experts interested in the Shroud as a subject of research."

Thirdly, it has been claimed in the media that Prof . Alan Adler supported the type of the operation which was carried out in June-July. We feel that it is very important that the truth be made known. In his last statements on the subject, and especially in his last written article, Prof. Adler made a strong recommendation identical to that quoted above in the summation of the conference. This is found in his paper in the published proceedings, in which Prof. Adler included a section on "Conservation Issues" (page 70) . He describes the problems and certain steps that had been taken, and he concludes the section with this important sentence:

"To continue to further this work, more data acquired by further testing on the Shroud itself is required."

It is vital to note that he did not say "is desirable" or "would be of considerable assistance." His statement is very clear -- to take conservation any further, direct testing on the Shroud was REQUIRED. This testing has not been carried out, to our knowledge, and therefore no progress has been made since March 2000 in understanding the conservation issues.

Fourthly, the following statement was made in the media by an official representing the archdiocese of Turin:

"The conservation [of the Shroud] has nothing to do with the scientific research, which is another issue. The conference [at Villa Gualino] dealt with other things, not with this, with the conservation."

Of course, one cannot expect a diocesan spokesman to understand the complicated issues involved in conservation. Nonetheless, a correction must be made to this statement, and we call upon Profs. Savarino and Scannerini to do so. Scientific research, testing, measuring and monitoring are an absolutely essential part of conservation, as the above statements from the conference summation and from Prof. Adler's paper so clearly demonstrate.

Finally, and sadly, we must express our disappointment at the final outcome of the gathering at Villa Gualino in March 2000. It was a wonderful conference and ended with such promise. The ideals of international cooperation, careful scientific investigation, peer review, openness, dialogue and the exchange of ideas were all affirmed. Proposals or ideas for future research, measurement, testing and conservation of the Shroud were invited, and a review process was outlined.

After the conference, in their letter of March 18, 2000, the conference chairman and vice-chairman reminded all participants to submit their proposals or ideas. This letter further stated:

"We will send you a synthesis of the proposals which will keep the dialogue open."

No synthesis of proposals has ever been sent, and no dialogue has taken place. We understand that a large amount of work is involved, and no one has been unduly impatient about this. But the shocking news of Aug. 9 puts things in a very different perspective.


Dr. Jeannette Cardamone
Prof. Avinoam Danin
Dr. Frank DeBlase*
Prof. John P. Jackson
Prof. William Meacham
Dr. Robert L. Otlet
Prof. Sam Pellicori
Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, SJ
Dr. Alan D. Whanger
Dr. Fredrick Zugibe

* name added after Sept. 3

Declaration of the President of the Congress
Shroud 2000

[Translation of a statement handed out at the private briefing on Friday Sept. 20, 2002 in Turin]

The president of the Congress Shroud 2000, in conjunction with the copresident Prof. Piero Savarino, have the duty to rectify erroneous information that appeared in the media, re-asserting with this declaration the truth of the facts:

1. In the Congress there was no mention of any specific intervention for conservation, given the brief time, but non-invasive scientific tests were discussed which could shed light on problems related to the conservation of the Shroud.

2. The Congress stated in its conclusions that, to accord with point one above, various proposals for research should be invited without excluding those not related to conservation. To this end all the proposals received were submitted by us to the Custodian of the Shroud, His Eminence Cardinal Severino Poletto, on July 18, 2002.

Regrettably, due to certain problems the publication of the paper presented at the Congress by Profs. Evin and Otlet was delayed. It was only published recently, in December 2001, in number 16 of the journal Sindon, but it is an integral part of the acts of the Congress. However, the delay in the collection of proposals permitted others submitted after the deadline to be considered.

3. If it is undeniable that Prof. Adler did, during the Congress, propose that research on conservation was essential, it is equally true that he did, during his time on the Commission for Conservation, sustain the necessity of that intervention which was discussed by the Commission to stabilize a situation which could result in damage also brought about as a result of the presence of semi-combusted or strongly oxidized particles between the Holland cloth and the Shroud, or on the Shroud itself. But it must be stressed that those interventions, though important, are aimed, like the conservation [of the Shroud] in the new case, at stabilizing the situation of the cloth; they leave unchanged the need for deeper research to optimize the conservation.

4. The statement which appeared in the press that "conservation has nothing to do with scientific research" is untenable and absurd, surely the fruit of misunderstanding. Unfortunately, errors and misunderstandings abound in the publicizing of Shroud matters, and one can only regret this.

Prof. Silvano Scannerini
President of Shroud 2000.
Turin, September 20, 2002

Response to Prof. Scannerini

Oct. 18, 2002

Prof. Silvano Scannerini

Dear Silvano,

It was a pleasure to see you again in Turin last month. And I was pleased to receive, at the briefing on Friday evening, a copy of your declaration regarding the Congress "Shroud 2000" at Villa Gualino. It addressed some of the points made in the letter to you by nine participants at that Congress. (A tenth participant, Dr. F.J. DeBlase, asked that his name be added, but the letter to you and Prof. Savarino had already been sent by that time.)

Several things puzzled me, however, about the declaration:

1) that it was only in Italian, but
2) that it was not handed out at the official press conference the next day, and
3) that it was not sent to the nine signatories of the original letter.

[...] I have translated the declaration and sent it out to all signatories plus Dr. DeBlase with a copy of this letter to you.

The questions that remain in everyone's mind, unanswered to this day, are:

1. why there was no mention of this planned intervention at Villa Gualino, and especially,

2. why there was no wide consultation with the experts who attended Villa Gualino, before such an agressive and invasive intervention was conducted on the Shroud.

It is this failure to engage in peer review and dialogue that brought about "our disappointment at the final outcome of the gathering at Villa Gualino in March 2000."


William Meacham

Extracts from a letter to Karlheinz Dietz, member of the Commission for Conservation

I learned after I wrote to you that you were on the Commission. And I take it you were one of those Commission members who unanimously approved the "conservation" work. So you got "bamboozled" too. If so, I am really very sorry about this, for you and the others will go down in history ...

I would gladly withdraw every criticism and strong word I have written or spoken if you or anyone can demonstrate to me that the action was justified. Will you do the same? If the operation is shown to be unwarranted, will you apologize to the world and resign from the Commission?

I know already the conclusion however, because even if your Commission had discovered a new species of rapidly spreading, cellulose-eating bacteria on the Shroud and had to take urgent action, it would not be justified unless the world's experts in bacteriology and cellulose chemistry were consulted. Jan Cardamone was at the March 2000 Villa Gualino meeting, and she knew nothing of this "conservation" nor did Sheila Landi, so I already know that it has been carried out recklessly, unscientifically, without proper peer review, not even with a second opinion from the two conservators above who knew the Shroud very well and had been involved in the study of its conservation. This is simply a disgrace, an absolute disgrace.

No conservation is EVER done in archaeology that puts information at risk, except at the rankest amateur level. It is ALWAYS in close collaboration between the archaeologist and the conservator, and trained conservators are ALWAYS attuned to the possibility that any action they take might result in information loss if the archaeologist or other specialist is not consulted.

There is talk of the "betrayal of Villa Gualino" ... all the high-sounding idealistic words of international cooperation, careful scientific investigation, peer review, openness, dialogue and the exchange of ideas, plus the invitation to submit proposals for future research, measurement, testing and conservation of the Shroud, plus the review process that was outlined ... yet you all knew of the plan to carry out this "conservation" work, and there was the charade of making people feel that something had changed, that now there really would be openness and dialogue and peer-review.

You and the Commission have made a big mistake, and Al Adler is partly to blame because he had a big mouth which was a loose cannon. But he was very careful about what he wrote. Why was his LAST WRITTEN WORD on conservation not followed. This is found in his paper in the published proceedings of Villa Gualino, in which Adler included a section on "Conservation Issues" (page 70) . He describes the problems and certain steps that had been taken, and he concludes the section with this important sentence:

"To continue to further this work, more data acquired by further testing on the Shroud itself is required."

He did not say "is desirable". He said it was REQUIRED. And, he was a porphirin chemist, not a textile chemist. I asked Mechthild what textile chemist was consulted and she only mentioned Adler, so again I know that a terrible mistake was made. Further, Adler also said many times that direct testing and monitoring should be done; he would NEVER have consented to such an operation without assurance that the best scientists that could be found would be involved to insure that no data was lost when alterations were made to the Shroud.

Conservation was discussed at Villa Gualino, and there is a recommendation in the conference summation. This was not followed either. Those who are deeply disturbed about the news that has come out, from Poletto's own mouth or that of his spokesman, are acting very responsibly, but with indignation that such radical measures were taken without lengthy, careful and open consideration.

Regarding Mechthild ... a simple internet search turned up many references to her book and her work, and led me also to the fact that she is considered an "old guard" agressive textile repairer/... She is quite far away from where the mainsteam of archaeological textile conservation is today.That she would mount a cleaning and refixing operation on the Shroud without overview and consultation with other conservators demonstrates a dangerous carelessness on the part of the Commission which authorized it and an incredible over-confidence on her part.

Let me ask you, Karlheinz, if you were invited by the Israeli government to go there and excavate a tomb that was world famous with solid evidence that it might be the tomb of Christ, would you not assemble a team of archaeologists? Would you not seek out the best geologist for the kind of rock and soil it was situated in, the best civil engineer who had experience with the rock, the best specialist in 1st century Jewish burial customs and artifacts, the best forensics specialist for a detailed investigation of the insitu evidence found in and around it, the best epigrapher, etc, etc. I think you would. And not a bunch of cronies from Wurzburg and vicinity. She had a comparable task, and she did not do this. FAR, FAR from it. Which international scientist who has worked on the Shroud was present?

The Holy Shroud of Turin is not St. Anthony's tunic; it does not belong to some provincial Italian archdiocese; it belongs to the world.

List of Commission for Conservation members as published in 1999

Mons. Giuseppe Ghiberti
Prof. Pietro Savarino
Prof. Alan Adler
Engineer Gian Luigi Ardoino
Prof. Pier Luigi Baima Bollone
Prof. Bruno Barberis
Prof. Karlheinz Dietz
Metchild Flury Lemberg
Prof. Silvano Scannerini
Prof. Paolo Soardo
Prof. Carla Enrica Spantigati

Involved in the "restoration" operation:

Ghiberti -- spokeman for and general director of the operation
Flury-Lemberg -- "restorer"/ seamstress
Savarino -- directed scientific measurements
Baima Bollone -- conducted sampling
Soardo -- conducted scanning
Ardoino -- designed instrument for measurements
Dietz -- took photomicrographs
Barberis -- measured the Shroud

The involvement of other Commission members is not known, but Ghiberti remarks: "The final stage of the restoration was entirely in the hands of the seamstresses and left most of the members of the Committee [Commission for Conservation] disoccupied."

"If you want to get objective advice, you've got to take the self-interest out of the equation.." ----- Charles Schwab.

Ten Questions about the "Restoration"

[These questions were drawn up by several researchers prior to the official press conference in Turin.]

1. The patches sewn on by the Poor Clare nuns in 1534 constitute an important, inspirational and visual part of the Shroud's history and heritage. What was the compelling and urgent reason for their removal?

2. Why were the alterations planned in total secrecy by only a handful of individuals? If there is no intention to exhibit the Shroud again until 2025, why was this "restoration" proposal not subject to a lengthy, careful and open review not only by scholars, but also by ordinary people around the world who hold the Shroud in high regard?

3. What peer review of the proposed alterations was conducted? And, most importantly, what independent textile conservators and textile chemists were formally consulted?

4. Will the official statement in mid-September give a full description of all conservation treatments, including any cleaning, brushing, or vacuuming, that were conducted during the "restoration," so independent researchers may assess whether any damage was done inadvertently?

5. Will the official statement in mid-September give a full description of all scientific testing, monitoring and sample collections that were carried out during the "restoration," so independent scientists may assess whether any data loss has occurred inadvertently?

6. Has the new backing cloth been tested for chemical residues or impurities which might affect the Shroud?

7. The worldwide symposium of experts which was organized by the Turin archdiocese in March 2000 recommended:

"A series of experiments specifically directed at improving our knowledge for the purposes of conservation is essential, especially in view of the considerable development of instruments and improvements in non-invasive analytical methods."

Why was this recommendation for non-invasive study not followed?

8. Why were researchers from the above-mentioned March 2000 symposium, or from the former STURP scientific group which conducted extensive studies on the Shroud in 1978, or from any of the other groups around the world which have conducted Shroud research, not consulted about the alterations?

9. Why were scientists from the March 2000 symposium, or from the former STURP group which conducted extensive studies on the Shroud in 1978, or from any of the other groups around the world which have conducted Shroud research, not invited to monitor the operation and collect data at appropriate times during the operation?

10. The much respected Prof. Alan Adler made a strong statement regarding conservation studies, in the last article he wrote before his untimely passing, He said:

"To continue to further this work, more data acquired by further testing on the Shroud itself is required."

Why was the "restoration" operation carried out without acquiring the further data which Prof. Adler believed necessary?

Statement by Prof. Piero Savarino

[Translation of a statement made by Prof. Savarino, Scientific Adviser to Cardinal Poletto, at the official press conference on Sept. 21, 2002 in Turin]

The work of conservation began in 1992 when His Eminence Cardinal Saldarini brought together a small number of experts in conservation and restoration of ancient cloths in order to obtain an indication of the work needed.

This group made the unanimous suggestion to keep the Shroud extended, without the borders and drapes that accompanied it, in an inert atmosphere. Moreover, it suggested to continue the work by the removal of the patches and the Holland cloth. On this last point, the opinions were not unanimous. Some, in fact, suggested a step-by-step strategy of action, while others preferred to carry out preventive surveys of the data in order to act later.

Starting with these indications, at first the drapes and the borders were eliminated, and subsequently the Shroud was kept in an extended position after overcoming a long series of technological difficulties (construction of the case and the related pressure compensation systems, inert gas and its conditioning, control system of the mechanism, etc). In the course of these works, the Shroud was the object of a series of careful observations. As an example, it was found that under the patch situated near the foot (shown in slide 1), a considerable amount of foreign substances was present. Therefore, the possible presence of polluting systems under the central patches as well was feared. The decision to intervene, backed by the Holy See, was taken with the will to proceed by degrees and intervene with means proportioned to the situation that, moreover, had to be verified moment by moment.

In fact, the imagination had not succeeded in previewing the real situation. Slide 2 shows, on the edge of the patch, a worrisome presence of the very fine dust of carbon. A microscopic observation, carried out with the equipment provided by Dr. Tomedi, has demonstrated that the carbonized material is present on the Holland cloth and also on Shroud sites far from the burns. This can be seen in slides 3 and 4. On the Shroud sites not closely adjacent to the burns no intervention has been carried out, in order to avoid alteration and hindrance to future research.

The intervention has followed these criteria:

The particulars and techniques concerned more specifically with the conservation operation will be later described by Dr. Fleury-Lemberg in response to any questions of those present. Here we only describe the most important operations that Dr. Fleury-Lemberg has executed with the aid of Dr. Tomedi. The Shroud was first supported on neutral rice paper with the image side down. Then, the Holland cloth was unstitched and after that the patches. All the carbonized material was removed from the sites under the patches. Such material consisted of a very fine dust. Without any cutting, the material still weakly connected to the cloth was removed. Subsequently, the abovementioned surveys took place. At the end of these surveys, the operation of sewing the Shroud onto the new backing cloth began. The operation was carried out by turning the Shroud (without ever raising it extended) by a careful series of position variations, that have guaranteed its absolute safety. We are not going into technical details, even though interesting, but we want to emphasize here the absolutely very high level of professionalism shown by Dr. Lemberg and Tomedi who carried out their task with dedication, ability and respect for the Shroud. The results obtained are noticeable in the following slide, in which the photographs of the Shroud before and after the intervention are compared. Therefore, the comparison leaves no doubt about the positive quality of the work carried out.

The Emperor's New Clothes

The official press conference unveiling the "new-look" Shroud took place in Turin on Sept. 21. It was mostly a repeat of what the invited guests had already seen and heard the previous evening in a private briefing, with Ghiberti and Savarino making basically the same statements. Two aspects however were most unexpected. The first was Cardinal Poletto's stinging attack on Orazio Petrosillo, the Vatican reporter of the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, who broke the story of the Shroud's "restoration" on Aug. 9. Poletto returned to the subject twice in his remarks, and could be seen to get agitated. This was very puzzling to me, since Petrosillo was only doing his job, which is to find out what is going on and to let the public know. Governments and other institutions that want secrecy have to find ways to prevent leaks, limiting the number of people who know the secret, etc. But to lash out against a reporter seemed unjustified. Poletto made the curious statement that the reporter should have called him to get the facts straight before publishing the story. When a scoop is involved, the priority is to break the news first, and then publish the comments of those involved in follow-up editions. If Poletto's course of action had been followed, the reporter would risk loosing the scoop, possibly even the story (if highly placed officials chose to lean on the editor). Petrosillo spoke brilliantly in his defence at the news conference two days later in Rome. He remarked that he had never seen a cardinal launch such an angry attack on a lowly reporter. The episode left me with the impression that Poletto was not well advised on media matters, since his normal manner is friendly and outgoing.

The other aspect was even more surprising. When all the officials had finished their presentation, they announced that some of the foreign guests would speak. First up was Raffard de Brienne from France, who complimented the Cardinal and the Commission for Conservation on doing a fine job in "restoring" the Shroud. My reaction was mild nausea, but it was obvious that he knew nothing about conservation. The next speaker was Mike Minor, who introduced himself as the vice-president of AMSTAR. The next few sentences left me in shock. He offered "our congratulations on a fine job." And he continued: "We had heard many rumours and we're pleased to see that they are not true... The removal of the potentially damaging acidic carbon is a very positive thing ... also positive is that the stitching is reversible and less intrusive than that done in 1534." As I was a member of the Board of Directors of AMSTAR, and as the organization had to my knowledge taken no position on the issue, his speech struck me as doubly objectionable. Of course he is a lawyer and could not be expected to know anything about conservation, but it certainly appeared to give the impression, especially with the use of 'we,' that he was speaking for AMSTAR. This and several incidents the next day led to my resignation from AMSTAR.

But even worse was yet to come. Ian Wilson gave such a sugary-sweet speech, gushing with compliments, that I was reminded of the story of all the emperor's courtiers and sycophants who praised his new clothes, no one daring to tell him the truth. I had already made my views known quite clearly to Cardinal Poletto and his advisers at the briefing the night before. But in view of the Cardinal's visible agitation at the start of the press conference, and my status as a guest in these televised proceedings, I decided that I would not speak unless invited by the chair to do so. This did not happen, and the show played out according to the prepared script. I later wrote to Poletto setting out my views in some detail. Clearly, he was badly advised by the Commission, whose members did not inform themselves on the issue of conservation vs. restoration. All of them agreed to the alterations without formally consulting with textile conservators, textile chemists or any other scientists who had conducted research on the Shroud. This was a terrible mistake.

The old story about the emperor's new clothes has a wonderful message, and those in positions of considerable power need to be constantly reminded of it -- people will tell you what they think you want to hear in order not to risk falling from favor. Poletto genuinely seemed to want to know what people felt after seeing the Shroud "in its new condition," but many of the guests both Italian and foreign were certainly praising the "restoration" in the belief that doing so would be beneficial to their own standing and future Shroud endeavors.

Remarks at the Rome press conference, Sept. 23, 2002

My name is William Meacham; I am an archaeologist who has been involved in the study of ancient objects since 1970 and in research on the Turin Shroud since 1980. The Shroud is without doubt the most intriguing and the most intensely studied object in the world.

I believe the people who decided on the "restoration" are well-intentioned. I also believe they have made a terrible mistake. The Shroud is most precious because it might be the burial cloth of Christ. If indeed it is, then it is the only physical evidence we have of Christ's suffering and death. There it is absolutely imperative that not one iota of data be lost, and that the utmost caution be exercised when undertaking any invasive procedure.

It is clear that valuable information has been lost in the so-called restoration. This is most unfortunate, and it is made worse by the fact that this radical, invasive operation was unnecessary and ill-advised. This is not my opinion alone but that of the most qualified chemist who has studied the Shroud, and of several textile conservators who are familiar with the relic.

The main areas of concern over this operation are:

1. the loss of Shroud heritage: the patches that have been on for 450 years and constitute part of the Shroud's history
2. Irretrievable loss of scientific data due to poor planning and/or ignorance
3. Loss of great opportunities for scientific research (examples: C14, detailed study of the back of the Shroud)
4. Great stress put on cloth during handling and stitching; long exposure to light.

If only a minimal consultation had been conducted, the Commission members and Cardinal Poletto would have learned that there was no threat to the Shroud at all, from the dirt, carbon dust and charred material. They would have learned that, as a conservator told me many years ago, "dirt is not a conservation problem; CLEANING is a huge problem." Most conservators would have recommended doing nothing at all, avoiding excessive handling, stitching and unstitching, exposure to light, new stresses and storage conditions, etc. This is of course the exact opposite of what was done !

In the 1980s, there was an extended debate about conducting a C14 test. The Archdiocese of Turin even convoked a 2-day conference of experts to examine the matter and draw up a protocol. All of this deliberation concerned the removal of one very small piece. Yet about the recent operation, which involved many times more invasive and destructive procedures, there was no discussion and no independent advice at all. This is incredible, and tragic that the Commission members were led to believe, or took it upon themselves alone to decide, that the Shroud was in need of some urgent "restoration."

Cardinal Poletto has expressed concern over the "polemics" that have arisen as a result of this ill-advised action. It would of course have been infinitely better if there had been discussion BEFORE deciding to alter forever the precious relic. Now it is inevitable that there will be discussion, for a long time, about what has been done. But we must endeavor to be professional, to focus on the facts and the empirical reality, and to avoid as far as possible personal attacks and accusations. I know that Cardinal Poletto will recall that we are advised by the Apostle Paul to be honest with each other and "speak the truth in love."

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Now, I will show a few illustrations to help make it clear what data and opportunities were lost during the operation.

First, an especially destructive method was adopted to remove charred or weakened portions of the cloth around the burn holes. The charred material was scraped away, and in the process whatever configurational information that existed was destroyed. If they had instead been cut away as intact segments, they could have been studied for alien substances compared against the structure of the woven fabric. As powder, everything is jumbled together. The figures below give two relatively simple examples of what sort of data has undoubtedly been lost.

[poker hole structure] [deposit around burnhole]

The figure at left above represents one of the "poker holes" in the four layers of cloth as it might have existed before the "restoration." The black is charred cloth, the red is hypothetical traces of some alien substance related to the event (thought by some to have been burning pitch that fell on the Shroud). After the edges were scraped, all the charred and alien material was collected in a vial. The structure of the deposit is lost, forever.

The figure at right above represents one of the burn holes (solid line), the patch which covered it (dotted line) and grains of pollen scattered about in the cloth. A cluster at the upper left also has a plant microfragment (x). During the "restoration" all this material was vacuumed into the vial, but the distributional information is lost, forever.

The photos below show part of one set of "poker holes" before and after their edges have been scraped. It will be seen that all of the charred deposit around the edges has been removed; a small segment has also been removed and two small holes have been joined together.

[poker holes before] [poker holes after]

Apparently the edges of all of the burn holes were scraped and chewed back several millimeters, up to a centimeter in places. Segments such as these could have been used for radiocarbon dating and other study if they had been cut away intact rather than pulverized by scraping. For C14 pretreatment it is important to have the structure of the sample for examination.

[segment sketch]

One of the most dramatic examples of a segment destroyed is shown below. This occurred to the right of the wound in the side, where a segment separating a small hole and a larger one (original at left) was scraped away and the two holes merged (at right).

[holes before] [holes merged]

[See also the video clips at "this site ]

Restoration in the News

At almost the same time as the Turin Shroud's "restoration" was made known, other controversies were springing up over heavy handed restoration. The following two items are of interest. The first is from a report in The Guardian that appeared on Aug. 21, 2002:


Madrid is in an uproar over the discovery that the cottage where the Spanish capital's patron sain, San Isidro, lived has been knocked down ...Isidro, an agricultural labourer who lived in the 12th century. It was demolished on the orders of the architect whose job it was to restore the building, the city council has admitted. The architect, Ramon Andrada, argued that the building was falling down and had to be re-built from scratch because it was too dangerous to work on. ... Recently, Spanish architects have shown a firm belief that the best way to conserve old buildings was to tear them down and rebuild them in their own, modern versions. The Supreme Court recently ordered authorities in Valencia to return a Roman theatre to its original state of disrepair after it had been "modernized" by architects.

The second is a resolution passed at a plenary session of the 17th Congress of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association meeting in Taiwan in September, 2002:


This resolution is to place the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association on record as encouraging increased systematic and scientific evaluation of archaeological sites, including monuments and other places of cultural value, prior to conducting stabilization and restoration.

The crucial words in this resolution are "prior to." Restoration and archaeological conservation have long been at opposite sides of a vast chasm, and it is incredible that the members of the Commission for Conservation did not know this. What makes it even more outrageous is that the Commission members did not even bother to consult any of the four other professional textile conservators who had been involved with the Shroud in the 1990s, namely Jan Cardamone, Silvio Diana, Sheila Landi, and Gian Luigi Nicola. Had they done so they would no doubt have learned of the dangers of aggressive restoration!

[NEWS -- See my new book on the Turin Shroud at the publisher's website . For the latest news and developments on the subject see the Shroud Story website]

Proceed to Part II