ST. LOUIS (AP) The Shroud of Turin is much older than some scientists
believe, according to researchers who used pollen and plant images to
conclude it dates from Jerusalem before the eighth century.
The study gives a boost to those who believe the shroud is the burial cloth
of Jesus and contradicts a 1988 examination by scientists who said the
shroud was made between 1260 and 1390.
In June, the researchers said the cloth originated in the Jerusalem area,
also contradicting the 1988 study which concluded it came from Europe.
The shroud's age is implied by pollen grains found on it that match those on
another cloth associated with Jesus Christ, botany professor Avinoam Danin
of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said Monday during the International
Botanical Congress here.
The other cloth has been kept in the same location since the eighth century,
and its known history is even longer, traceable to the first century.
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth about 13 feet long and 3 feet wide that
has been kept in the city of Turin, Italy, since 1578. It bears the image of
a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Jesus.
The shroud also contains pollen grains and faint images of plants.
"We have identified by images and by pollen grains species on the shroud
restricted to the vicinity of Jerusalem,'' Danin said Monday, reiterating
the findings released in June. "The sayings that the shroud is from European
origin can't hold.''
Analysis of the floral images and a separate analysis of the pollen grains
by botanist Uri Baruch identified a combination of plant species that could
be found only in March and April in the region of Jerusalem, Danin said.
Danin identified a high density of pollen of the tumbleweed Gundelia
tournefortii. The analysis also found the bean caper. 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
An image of the Gundelia tournefortii can be seen near the image of the
man's shoulder. Some experts have suggested that the plant was used for the
"crown of thorns.''
Two pollen grains of the species were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo,
believed to be the burial face cloth of Jesus.
Danin, who has done extensive study on plants in Jerusalem, said the pollen
grains are native to the Gaza Strip.
Since the Sudarium of Oviedo has resided in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain
since the eighth century, Danin said that the matching pollen grains push
the shroud's date to a similar age. Both cloths also carry type AB blood
stains in similar patterns, Danin 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,'' Danin said.
The location of the Sudarium of Oviedo has been documented since the first
century. If it is found that the two cloths are linked, then the shroud
could be even older, Danin said.
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.
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