Pollen, plant traces bolster case for Shroud of Turin

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Last Updated By Bill's Bible Basics :
February 16, 2017

In addition to reading and studying all of the information which is available in this section of the Bill's Bible Basics website regarding the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo, please also consider reading my article entitled "Faith and the Shroud of Turin" in order to gain a full perspective regarding this issue.


June 15, 1999

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Plant imprints and pollen found on the Shroud of Turin support the premise that it originated in the Holy Land, two Israeli scientists say.

"In the light of our findings, it is highly probable that the shroud did in fact come from this part of the world," said Avinoam Danin, a botany professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The botanists, whose findings were reported in Tuesday's Haaretz newspaper, did not address the issue of the age of the linen cloth, believed by many to be the burial cloth in which Jesus was wrapped after his crucifixion.

The shroud was brought to France by a 14th-century crusader and has been enshrined since 1578 in a cathedral in Turin, Italy. About 13 feet long and 3 feet wide, it bears the faint image of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Jesus.

In 1988, scientists tested scraps of the shroud with Vatican approval and concluded it dated back to between 1260 and 1390. They couldn't explain how the image was made, and some experts have said contamination might have affected the carbon-14 dating tests. Danin and his colleague Uri Baruch refused to discuss the authenticity of the shroud itself.

The shroud also includes the images of some plants, and Danin identified one as the bean caper (Zygophyllum dumosum), which he said grows only in Israel, Jordan and Egypt's Sinai desert.

Two other plants whose images were found on the shroud were the Rock Rose (Cistus creticus) which grows throughout the Middle East; and the Goundelia tournefortii tumbleweed, believed by some Christians to be the material of the crown of thorns.

Traces of pollen grains taken from the shroud are from plants found in Israel and neighboring countries, including the bean caper and the tumbleweed appearing on the shroud, said Baruch, a pollen specialist at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The flowers "could have been picked up fresh in the fields. A few of the species could be found in the markets of Jerusalem in the spring," Danin said. The shroud also contains the imprint of a coin minted in the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who ruled at the time of the crucifixion.

The Roman Catholic Church has never claimed the cloth as a holy relic, but the cloth has attracted pilgrims to Turin since the Middle Ages. Pope John Paul II, who knelt in silent prayer before the cloth last year, urged scientists to do more testing of the linen.

The shroud went on display in a bulletproof case for several weeks last year and will go on view next in 2000, for Holy Year celebrations

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