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The Shroud of Turin & the Sudarium of Oviedo
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Against most other evidence, carbon dating analysis proved the Holy Shroud of Turin to be a medieval fake. Or was it?
Oviedo, an old city in the north of Spain, may have something to say.

One piece of evidence that could help turn back the clock is a set of four small holes located near one of the cloth’s edges, called the poker holes. Their origin is not fully understood.

Deep in the Budapest national library lies the Pray Manuscript, the oldest surviving text of the Hungarian language. Within its pages is an illustration of Christ being prepared for his entombment. The cloth that will wrap his body is clearly visible. But it’s the degree of detail that has excited historians. The illustration shows the shroud’s characteristic herring-bone weave, and... four holes that appear to match the pattern on the shroud.

All this is made more remarkable when one considers that the Pray Manuscript has been dated to 1190, 70 years before the earliest carbon-14 date for the shroud’s creation. But is there any physical evidence that could date the shroud even earlier?

The answer may lie in the town of Oviedo, in northern Spain. Here, kept inside a silver ark brought to the town from Jerusalem in the 6th century, there exists what many believe to be the sister cloth of the shroud of Turin.

This large silver-coated chest or ark that we can see here, actually came from Jerusalem. The original box, it’s incredible but it’s still here. Inside it were all these smaller boxes that we can see around here, and inside the smaller boxes were all kinds of objects and relics, among which was the sudarium.

The sudarium is a piece of poor quality linen, much like a handkerchief, stained with blood and bodily fluids. Jewish belief dictates that the human soul is carried in the blood. When somebody suffered a violent death in Christ’s time, a sudarium would have been wrapped around his face to catch the blood.

Hidden from the public for a millennium, this dirty ++++ cloth bears a pattern of stains similar to that of the shroud, and chemical analysis has revealed that the blood on the sudarium matches the blood on the shroud of Turin.

We know the central stain was formed by a body hanging in an upright position with the arms outstretched. The head was leaning to the right and also slightly forwards. Now, the sudarium was first pinned to the back of the head. There are actually pin holes in the original that show how it was pinned into the hair. The cloth was then brought round to the front and it came across an obstacle, the idea would have been to wrap the cloth entirely around the head, but what happened was that the head was actually stuck to the arm, due to "rigor mortis" setting in very quickly after a traumatic death. Hence, the sudarium was folded back on itself, in the first position, like this, which is why we have the groups of parallel stains, when this liquid seeped through the cloth. This wound here... the body was still alive when this blood came out to the back of the head. And if we overlay this part of the sudarium onto the same area of the shroud, then the actual shape of the stains fits in perfectly

Although the sudarium lacks the detail of the shroud, Gascon believes it bears the image of a man’s face.

You can see the stain that corresponds to the beard area, we’re talking about a bearded male. We can see the base stain of liquid that came out through the nose and how the other stains were formed when the first stain had dried, that’s why we have different edges, and we can make all of them out. At a later time, the cloth was wrapped all the way around the head, and most probably tied in a knot here at the top. And then, when the body reached the tomb, what most probably happened was, this cloth, the sudarium, could have just been very easily lifted off the head, like that, rolled up on itself, as it says in the fourth Gospel and left to one side.

The earliest written reference to the shroud of Turin dates back only to the 14th century. The sudarium’s written record is far more complete, which has enabled Mark Gascon to trace its history further back in time.

The various documents from various cities copied in various countries, all in different places; there are manuscripts in France, in Belgium, that tell us the story of the sudarium. This is a well-established history of this cloth that came from Jerusalem to Spain and has been in Spain since the, since the seventh century, since the beginning of the seventh century.

In the 1980’s, forensic test carried out on both the sudarium and the shroud, revealed that they contain the same AB blood type, found in just 3% of the global population. If the cloth wrapped the same body, then at the very least, the shroud could predate the carbon dating by 600 years.

Laboratory tests have shown, virtually without doubt, that these cloths were used on the same body. It’s not really a question of doubting the carbon dating, it’s just saying it doesn’t fit in with what we know. We don’t need to doubt it, it’s just wrong.

That the sudarium, a dirty piece of cloth with no monetary or artistic value, has been revered in this way, suggests that it must have held especial significance for the people who preserved it. Mark Gascon believes it holds the blood of Christ.

Everything points towards this cloth having been used on the body of Jesus of Nazareth. I know that we’ll never be able to prove it scientifically and historically, but the same is also true the other way round, nobody can prove that it wasn’t.

Shroud expert Aldo Garesci believes that the water stains formed as the result of having been folded with accordion style pleads.
- this turns out to be a simple, effective and ancient way of folding a sheet. If you place the sheet at this particular angle and put it into this replica jar, we can imagine that the condensation or penetration of water, when at this angle, could be the cause of these markings.

Garesci believes the shroud was once kept in a clay jar similar to those found 2000 years ago near the Dead Sea. This type of container was used for storing objects of value during the first century. He’s trying an experiment to replicate the water stains. This is the corner of fabric that would have been emerged inside the jar. When the cloth is unfolded, the pattern of water stains does closely match that of the actual shroud.

So it does seem to be in a jar that was actually used because of the way the folding was not tight, as in a box, but with that rather loose way that Aldo demonstrated, and so the idea is a tall jar, very like the sort of jars that were used in Qumran for keeping the Dead Sea scrolls and so on, so, conceivably, looking back to the 1st century AD.

But the most convincing evidence linking the cloth to the 1st century came during Ma++ +++ Lamber’s recent restoration of the shroud. A leading authority on historic textiles, Flurry Lamber was shocked by the shroud distinct celling style. She had seen such a weave only once before, in textiles discovered amid the ruins of the Middle East fortress of Masada, on the coast of the Dead Sea. The Masada cloths were dated to within 70 years of Christ birth. This type of stitching has never been found in Medieval Europe.

We have so many signs that this piece of linen is done in the 1st century. If Flurry Lamber is right, then it is possible that this cloth could be the shroud of Christ. But with so much conflicting evidence, the debate rages on.

INTRODUCTION: The Holy Shroud is a long piece of cloth kept in Turin, and it is believed by many people to be the cloth in which the body of Jesus was wrapped after he died, 2000 years ago. When he resurrected (came back to life) three days after his dead, the strong energy produced by his body left a mark on the cloth, and today you can see a kind of shadow showing his body from the front and from the back. Years ago, the Vatican let a large group of scientists from many countries study the cloth and analyse it to see if it could really be the shroud of Jesus Christ or not. The results showed that it could be authentic, but then, it went through one last test: the carbon-14 dating, which tells the age of an object and is generally considered to be quite exact (at least with objects untouched and not contaminated with more recent substances). The carbon-14 test result created a big controversy: the shroud was a medieval fake produced in the 11th century. Many people accepted that science had proved that the shroud of Turin was nothing but a huge falsification (fake). But many people, including many scientists too, consider that if so many tests say that this cloth is from the 1st century, then it’s much easier to think that the carbon-14 test was wrong (after all, the cloth has been heavily contaminated with touching and substances for centuries). This video is a small fragment of a documentary talking about this issue: the shroud of Turin, is or is not Jesus’ death shroud?

ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE= The word "evidence" is uncountable, so we can’t say "an evidence"; instead, we have to say "a piece of evidence" or "some evidence".

TURN BACK THE CLOCK= go back in time. In this case it means: dating the shroud earlier (= meaning that the cloth was produced before the time suggested by the carbon-14 test)

LOCATED= (formal) situated, placed

EDGE= the part where something finishes

FULLY= completely

MANUSCRIPT= an old book or text, before the invention of press, that was hand-written ("manus-scriptum" in Latin means "hand-written")

THE OLDEST SURVIVING TEXT= the oldest text that survives. This construction is called "a reduced relative clause". A relative clause can be reduced using a –ing form (when the meaning of the verb is active) or a –ed form (when the meaning of the verb is passive):
- The boy who is sleeping is my cousin= the sleeping boy is my cousin
- I saw a falling star= I saw a star that was falling
- There was a fallen tree= there was a tree that was fallen
- The honoured man in this monument is "El Cid"= the man who is honoured with this monument is "El Cid"

WITHIN= inside

ILLUSTRATION= a picture in a book

ENTOMBMENT= the act of being put inside a tomb (grave). The word TOMB is pronounced as in "toom" (if a word ends in –MB, the B is not pronounced).

WRAP= when you wrap something you fold a piece of paper, plastic, cloth, etc tightly round it so that it is completely covered, for example to protect it or to give to someone as a present.

WEAVE= weave-wove-woven: an irregular verb. If you weave cloth you make it by crossing the threads over and under each other. The weave of a cloth is the way in which the threads are arranged to make the cloth.

HERRING-BONE WEAVE= the technical name for this kind of weaving. Herringbone is a pattern used in fabrics, brickwork, etc which consists of short lines of V shapes.

APPEAR TO= if I say "she appears to be tired", I mean she is tired, because that is what I see.

MATCH= if two things match, they are related, connected, or they are exactly the same.

PATTERN= design, structure

REMARKABLE= noticeable, outstanding, important

DATED= if something is dated to 1190, then we think it was made in 1190. A date is a point in time (for instance: 2 July 2008). "To date" is to say what is the date when something appears or happens.

THE EARLIEST CARBON-14 DATE= several little pieces were cut from the Holy Shroud and burnt to pass the carbon-14 test in different laboratories around the world. The results gave different dates (not too different), so here, they refer to the earliest date of those different results.

THE ANSWER MAY LIE IN...= if an answer lies somewhere, it is there.

NORTHERN= in the north, from the north. Southern= from the south. In both cases, TH sounds like in "the" (not like in "thing").

ARK= a trunk, a big wooden (or metal) box that was used in the past to keep things (like a modern cupboard).

SISTER CLOTH= the documentary says that many people think that the cloth from Oviedo is "the sister cloth" of the cloth from Turin, meaning that both pieces of cloth are closely related (in the same way as two sisters are closely related, because they come from the same "place").

SILVER-COATED= covered with a thin layer of silver

ACTUALLY= in fact, in reality

RELIC= part of the body of a saint person (usually a bone) or an object that has been in contact with that person.

SUDARIUM= a piece of cloth, the size of a big handkerchief, that used to be put over a dead person’s face.

SHROUD= (this word rhymes with "mouth") a large piece of cloth (like a big sheet) that used to be put over a dead person’s body before burying them.

LINEN= before artificial cloth was invented (nylon, etc.), cloth was made of cotton or linen (and rich people could also wear clothes made of silk, originally from China).

MUCH LIKE= very similar to

STAINED WITH BLOOD= with stains made with blood. A stain is a dirty mark.

BODILY FLUIDS= the different kinds of liquid that are inside the body.

JEWISH= adjective: related to the Jews. The Jews are the people who lived in Palestine until the year 73 AD, then they were sent away from their home by the Romans and settled all around the world (especially Europe, the north of Africa and the Middle East), and finally, in the 20th century they were given land back in Palestine and made the modern state of Israel. In modern times we use "Israeli" for the people living in Israel, and "Jew" for the people who practice the religion founded by Moses, but in times of Jesus, Israeli and Jew were the same thing.
The phrase JEWISH BELIEF means= the things believed by the Jews.


SOUL= spirit

CARRY= transport, take from one place to another. But in this context it means "contains". So if they believe that the human soul is carried in the blood, then they think that our soul is inside the blood.

BLOOD= the red liquid that runs inside our body. Be careful with the pronunciation, it rhymes with CUT (not with COOK)

CATCH= take. You catch something which is moving; you take something which is still (=not moving).

A MILLENNIUM= 1000 years

BEARS A PATTERN= has a design

CHEMICAL= the CH here is pronounced like K. It also happens in other words with a Greek origin, for instance: architecture, psychology, mechanics, archaic, etc.

UPRIGHT= erect, straight, standing


SLIGHTLY= a little

FORWARDS= to the front

PINNED= fixed using pins

STUCK TO THE ARM= touching the arm in a way that you can’t separate them

DUE TO= because of

RIGOR MORTIS= a Latin expression to refer to the situation of a body some time after a person dies and all the muscles get so hard that you can’t move anything, like a sculpture

SETTING IN= The rigor mortis set in very quickly means that it happened very quickly

WOUND= (pronounced as in "woond") a wound is damage on your body, often caused by a cut with blood coming out.

OVERLAY= if you overlay two things you put one thing on top of the other, often to contrast some information.

LACKS= doesn’t have. If you lack money, you don’t have any money.

IT BEARS THE IMAGE= it has the image

BEARD= the hair that grows around a man’s mouth and chin. A bearded male is a man with a beard. It rhymes with "beer"

MAKE OUT= distinguish, see clearly

GOSPEL= The life of Jesus was written down by four different people: Luke, Matthew, Mark, John. Every book is called a gospel, so we talk about the four gospels, the fourth gospel being that written by St John. Strictly speaking, the word gospel is a Saxon word that means "good spell", that is "good writing", a translation of the Greek word Evangelios, which means "good news" and refers to the teachings of Jesus Christ. So there is only one gospel (one message) and four different versions of it; that’s why we say "the gospel after Luke", which means "the gospel in Luke’s version".

FAR MORE= much more

ENABLED= permitted, made possible

TO TRACE= to follow (by finding sings and clues)

FURTHER= the comparative of FAR (we can say "farther" or "further")

FORENSIC= something forensic is relating to the discovery of information about a crime by scientifically examining objects involved in it.


AB BLOOD TYPE= There are four different kinds of human blood: A, B, O, AB

PREDATE= date earlier. "The shroud could predate the carbon dating by 600 years"= the shroud maybe was produced 600 years before the date given by the carbon analysis.

CARBON DATING= the test made with Carbon-14 to find out the date of an object


DOUBT= noun or verb, it is pronounced "dout", rhyming with "mouth". To doubt is to hesitate.

MONETARY VALUE= economic value

REVERE= worship, show reverence, adore

HOLD= contain, have

EVERYTHING POINTS TOWARDS THIS CLOTH HAVING BEEN USED ON THE BODY OF JESUS= all evidence says that this cloth was used on the body of Jesus.

BE ABLE TO= can. The verb CAN only has three tenses: present (can), past (could) and conditional (could), for the rest of tenses we need the verb "to be able to", for instance: I will be able to do it (we can’t say *"I will can"), I have been able to do it, etc.

PLEADS= folds

CLAY= a substance found on earth (similar to mud) which is soft and flexible when wet but very hard when dried (or baked). It is used to make pots, plates, jars, etc.

The DEAD SEA= an inner sea in Palestine called like that because it contains so much salt that there is no life in it.

FABRIC= cloth, textile

SCROLL= ancient written documents before books were invented. They were usually written on papyrus, were long and rolled around two wooden bars. To read a scroll you have to unroll one side and roll the other one.

CONCEIVABLY= is used to describe something that you are able to imagine and that you think might happen or might be possible

LINKING= connecting

A LEADING AUTHORITY= one of the most important experts

AMID= (formal) among

FORTRESS= a stronghold, a defensive building (like a little castle or a fort)

ON THE COAST= notice that with the word "coast" we use the preposition ON

DATED WITHIN 70 YEARS OF CHRIST BIRTH= it appeared some time from the birth of Jesus up to 70 years after it (so if Jesus was born in year 1, this would have appeared at some moment between years 1 and 70)

STICHING= the way a cloth is woven. Weave-wove-woven means to create a piece of cloth by putting lots of threads together crossing them in a particular way.

MEDIEVAL EUROPE= the Europe of the centuries 8th to 14th

THE DEBATE RAGES ON= if a conflict (a debate, a war, a fight, etc.) rages on, it continues and doesn’t stop.

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