NEWS STORY: Botanist uses pollen to place Shroud of Turin in Mideast at earlier date

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c. 1999 Religion News Service

UNDATED _ A Jerusalem-based botanist, working with a team of colleagues, has determined that the Shroud of Turin probably dates to before the eighth century and was located in the Jerusalem area.

Avinoam Danin, a member of the department of evolution, systematics and ecology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced the findings Monday (Aug. 2) in St. Louis, where he is attending the XVI International Botanical Congress. They will be published by the Missouri Botanical Garden Press in a paper titled”Flora of the Shroud of Turin.” The findings conflict with other studies of the shroud, which some believe was the burial cloth of Jesus. In 1988, a team of scientists used carbon-14 dating tests and concluded the shroud dates to the Middle Ages.

But Danin believes the shroud is much older because of links made between pollen grains and blood stains on both the shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo, which some believe is the burial face cloth of Jesus. That cloth has been in the Cathedral of Oviedo in Spain since the eighth century.”There’s no possibility that this cloth in Oviedo and the shroud would have both the same blood stains and these pollen grains unless they were covering the same body,”Danin told Religion News Service.”And being resident of that church in Oviedo since at least 760, there’s no way that it could be a fake of the 14th century.” Danin said pollen grains of the thistle Gundelia tournefortii were found on both the shroud and the cloth housed in Oviedo. He called them”very hard evidence.””This plant is growing only in the near East,”he said.”It is not growing in Spain. It is not growing in Europe. It is from Middle Eastern origin.” The plant, which continues to bloom to this day, blossoms at a certain time of year.”The time of the formulation of the image and the position of pollen on the shroud due to the indicator plants is March/April,”he said.”This is a physical and biological indicator, not biblical.” A New Port Richey, Fla., writer who has studied the shroud says the two specific months named in Davin’s research are”very significant.” John C. Iannone, author of”The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence”(Alba House, 1998), said the finding makes the shroud”consistent with the time of the Passover and the Crucifixion.” He added that”those flowers would be fresh in the fields around Jerusalem”and”readily available for a burial.” Iannone also is president of the St. Louis-based Holy Shroud Task Force, a group of doctors, scientists, writers and historians interested in furthering research on the shroud. Danin is a member of the group’s advisory board.”It moves the date back considerably,”Iannone said of Danin’s findings.”What it does is it substantially increases the case for authenticity, or certainly antiquity. It gives us one more instrument to debate the carbon-14 dating.” Despite the difference in the findings, Davin voiced his respect for the experts who used the carbon-14 dating method.”The carbon-14 dating was wonderful, but true for one corner of the shroud,”he said.”We are not questioning their accuracy.” The other writers of the paper are Alan Whanger, professor emeritus, Duke University Medical Center; Mary Whanger, of the Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin in Durham, N.C.; and Uri Baruch of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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