BY JUDITH SUDILOVSKY IN JERUSALEM
RESULTS from studies on the remains of a first-century shroud discovered on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem prove that the famous Shroud of Turin could not have originated from Jerusalem of Jesus’s time, a prominent archaeologist has said.
The first-century shroud was discovered in a tomb in the Hinnom Valley in 2000, but the results of tests run on the shroud and other artefacts found with it were only completed in December 2009.
“This is the first shroud from Jesus’s time found in Jerusalem and the first shroud found in a type of burial cave similar to that which Jesus would have been buried in and (because of this) it is the first shroud which can be compared to the Turin shroud,” said British-born archaeologist Shimon Gibson, basing his conclusion on the full study results, which are scheduled to be published in a scholarly volume within the next year.
There are two clear differences between the current shroud fragments and the Shroud of Turin, Mr Gibson, head of the department of archaeology at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem and recently appointed to the Centre for Heritage Conservation in Texas A&M University’s School of Architecture, told Catholic News Service.
While the Shroud of Turin is formed from one full piece of cloth, studies on the fragments of the shroud discovered in Jerusalem show that two burial cloths were used for the burial — one made of linen, used to wrap the head, and another made of wool, which wrapped the body — in keeping with Jewish tradition of the time, Gibson said. It is likely that Jesus would have been wrapped in a similar manner with two separate pieces of cloth, he said, as described in the Gospel of St John.
In addition, Mr Gibson said, unlike the complex twill weave of the Shroud of Turin that, according to archaeological finds, was unknown in this area during Jesus’s time, the discovered shroud fragments have a simple two-way weave.
Mr Gibson said he and Boaz Zissu, professor of archaeology at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, co-author of the upcoming monograph, “didn’t set out to disprove the Turin shroud”. Partial details of the molecular research were published on December 16 in the online journal PloS ONE.
Mr Gibson said that he and Zissu will include discussion of the Shroud of Turin in the upcoming monograph. He noted that the research had been conducted only on the Jerusalem shroud fragments and not in comparison with the Turin shroud.
The first-century excavation site also contained a clump of the shrouded man’s hair, which had been ritually cut prior to his burial. The hair and the shroud fragments are unique discoveries because organic remains are hardly ever preserved in the Jerusalem area because of high humidity levels in the ground, said Gibson.
Other shrouds have been found in the arid Dead Sea area and in Egypt, he said.