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Religious relics.
July 15, 2010
6:34 pm
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The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud) is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.

The origins of the shroud and its image are the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers. Some contend that the shroud is the cloth placed on the body of Jesus Christ at the time of his burial, and that the face image is the Holy Face of Jesus. Others contend that the artifact was created in the Middle Ages.

The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

Image Enlarger

Pope Benedict XVI has prayed before the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, which he described as an "icon written with blood".

The shroud "speaks with blood, and blood is life," the 83-year-old Pope said in a "meditation" on the cloth, which is being displayed in Turin's St John the Baptist Cathedral for the first time in a decade.

The mysterious cloth, which bears a faint image that many believe to be of Jesus, "is an icon written with blood, the blood of a man who was whipped, crucified and wounded in the right rib," the Pope said after spending about four minutes kneeling in silent prayer before the shroud.

"Every trace of blood speaks of love and life," he added in the meditation delivered to clergy involved in organising the display.

The Roman Catholic Church has never pronounced on the authenticity of the shroud - one of the most revered objects in Christendom and also one of the most disputed - and the pontiff purposely referred to it as an "icon" and not a "relic".

Noting that this was the first time he had seen the shroud as Pope, he said: "As the successor of Peter, I carry in my heart the entire Church, actually all of humanity."

The length of linen, over four metres long, was framed in red drapery and backlit behind bulletproof glass to provide the best possible view.

Earlier on Sunday some 25,000 pilgrims filled Turin's Piazza San Carlo for an open-air mass.

The Shroud of Turin was discovered in the French city of Troyes, south-east of Paris, in the mid-14th century.

No-one has come up with a scientific explanation for the image, and no-one has managed to replicate it.

Radiocarbon dating analysis in 1988 determined that the fibres in the cloth date from the Middle Ages, sometime between 1260 and 1390, but those findings have been challenged with suggestions the samples were contaminated.

Some 2 million people are expected to view the shroud over six weeks that began on April 10 in this northern Italian city.

The showing is the first since the shroud was painstakingly restored in 2002, with the removal of patches and a backing cloth that were added after a fire damaged it in 1532

July 15, 2010
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Nail (relic)F

Relics that are claimed to be the Holy Nails with which Christ was crucified are objects of veneration among some Christians. In Christian symbolism and art they figure among the Instruments of the Passion or Arma Christi, the objects associated with Jesus' Passion. Like the other Instruments the Holy Nails have become an object of veneration among many Christians and have been pictured in paintings and supposedly recovered.

When Helena, mother of Constantine the Great discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem, the legend was told by and repeated by Sozomen and Theodoret that the Holy Nails had been recovered too. Helena left all but a few fragments of the Cross in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but returned with the nails to Constantinople. As Theodoret tells it in his Ecclesiastical History, chapter xvii,

The mother of the emperor, on learning the accomplishment of her desire, gave orders that a portion of the nails should be inserted in the royal helmet, in order that the head of her son might be preserved from the darts of his enemies. The other portion of the nails she ordered to be formed into the bridle of his horse, not only to ensure the safety of the emperor, but also to fulfil an ancient prophecy; for long before Zechariah, the prophet, had predicted that 'There shall be upon the bridles of the horses Holiness unto the Lord Almighty.

One of the nails is said to have come to rest in the Iron Crown of Lombardy.

The authenticity of many of these relics is in question. The Catholic Encyclopedia remarked that given that the question has long been debated whether Christ was crucified with three or with four nails:

Very little reliance can be placed upon the authenticity of the thirty or more holy nails which are still venerated, or which have been venerated until recent times, in such treasuries as that of Santa Croce in Rome, or those of Venice, Aachen, Escurial, Nuremberg, Prague, etc. Probably the majority began by professing to be facsimiles which had touched or contained filings from some other nail whose claim was more ancient. It is conceivable that imitations in this way may have come in a very brief space of time to be reputed originals.

The bridle of Constantine, for instance, is believed to be identical with a relic of this form which for several centuries has been preserved at Carpentras, but there is another claimant of the same kind at Milan. Similarly the diadem of Constantine is asserted to be at Monza, and it has long been known as "the iron crown of Lombardy." Simple fraud is also a possibility. The tale behind the bridle of Constantine originates with the fifth-century Church historian of Constantinople, Socrates of Constantinople, in his Ecclesiastical History, which was finished shortly after 439.

According to Socrates, after Constantine was proclaimed Caesar then Emperor, he ordered that all honor be paid to his mother, Helena to make up for the neglect paid her by her former husband, Constantius Chlorus. After her conversion to Christianity, Constantine sent her on a quest to find the cross and nails used to crucify Jesus. A Jew called Judas (in later retellings called Cyriacus) led her to the place they were buried. Several miracles were claimed, to prove the authenticy of these items, and St. Helena returned with a piece of the cross and the nails. The story that one nail was used to make a bridle, one was used to make the Helmet of Constantine and two were cast into the Adriatic Sea has its origins with Socrates.

The question of whether Christ was crucified with three or four nails has long been debated, and can hardly be answered with references to medieval treatises or ancient iconic traditions. The details can be followed, however, in the Catholic Encyclopedia (see external link below). The belief that three nails were used is called Triclavianism.

July 15, 2010
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Temple Mount

The Temple Mount (Hebrew: הַר הַבַּיִת‎, Har haBáyit), also known as Mount Moriah and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Arabic: الحرم القدسي الشريف‎, al-haram al-qudsī ash-sharīf), is a religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam. The site is the location of Abraham's binding of Isaac, and of two Jewish Temples. According to the bible the site should function as the center of all national life - government, judicial, economical (during the 2nd Temple period), and, of course, religious center. From that location the word of God will come out to all nations, and that is the site that all prayers are focused at. The first was built by Solomon the son of David in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the Divine Presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God. The ark of covenant and the tablets may still be buried in one of the many underground cavities at the site.[citation needed]

Among Muslims, the Mount is widely considered to be the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary and the location where Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 CE, Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site.[1] The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world, after the Kaabah. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Bible mandates the Holy Temple be rebuilt.

In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is the most contested religious sites in the world. Controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel has turned over management of the site to an Islamic council, known as the Muslim Waqf. In an attempt to keep the staus quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslim visitors.

[edit] Israelite period
The hill is believed to have been inhabited since the 4th millennium BCE. Its southern section was walled at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, in around 1850 BCE, by Canaanites who established a settlement there (or in the vicinity) named Jebus. According to the Hebrew Bible, Mount Moriah was originally a threshing-floor owned by Araunah, a Jebusite. The prophet Gad suggested the area to King David as a fitting place for the erection of an altar to YHWH, since it was there a destroying angel was standing when God stopped a great plague in Jerusalem.[7] David then bought the property from Araunah, for fifty pieces of silver, and erected the altar.

YHWH instructed David to build a sanctuary on the site, outside the city walls on the northern edge of the hill. The building was to replace the Tabernacle, and serve as the Temple of the Israelites in Jerusalem.[8] David's son Solomon completed the task of erecting the First Temple on Mount Moriah in 957 BCE.

July 15, 2010
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Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring into literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers. The connection of Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail legend dates from Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie (late 12th century) in which Joseph receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Great Britain; building upon this theme, later writers recounted how Joseph used the Grail to catch Christ's blood while interring him and that in Britain he founded a line of guardians to keep it safe. The quest for the Holy Grail makes up an important segment of the Arthurian cycle, appearing first in works by Chrétien de Troyes.

The legend may combine Christian lore with a Celtic myth of a cauldron endowed with special powers.

The development of the Grail legend has been traced in detail by cultural historians: It is a legend which first came together in the form of written romances, deriving perhaps from some pre-Christian folklore hints, in the later 12th and early 13th centuries. The early Grail romances centered on Percival and were woven into the more general Arthurian fabric. Some of the Grail legend is interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice.

July 15, 2010
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'Lost Tomb Of Jesus' Reveals New Scientific Evidence Supporting Possible Find Of Jesus Family Tomb.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 2007) — Scientific analysis of limestone ossuaries (bone boxes) and physical evidence found in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem, provide credible new information that the tomb once may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.

A Discovery Channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, from executive producer James Cameron and director Simcha Jacobovici, reveals what might be the greatest archaeological find in history. The film presents the latest evidence from experts in Aramaic script, ancient DNA analysis, forensics, archaeology and statistics. Among the major discoveries chronicled in the program is new evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene, also known as "Mariamene e Mara," may have had a son named Judah.

The show follows an investigative journey into the identities of and relationships among 10 ossuaries, which originally were discovered more than 25 years ago but never were connected conclusively. In conjunction with the film, HarperSanFrancisco is publishing a companion book, The Jesus Family Tomb, co-authored by Jacobovici and Dr. Charles Pellegrino, with a foreword by Cameron.

The Talpiot tomb originally held 10 ossuaries, nine of which are still within the Israel Antiquity Authority's domain. Six of the limestone bone boxes that served as First Century Jerusalem-area coffins include inscriptions of names found in the New Testament -- "Jesus son of Joseph," "Maria," "Mariamene e Mara," "Matthew," "Yose" and "Judah son of Jesus."

"This has been a three-year journey that seems more incredible than fiction," says Jacobovici. "The idea of possibly finding the tomb of Jesus and several members of his family, with compelling scientific evidence, is beyond anything I could have imagined."

"It doesn't get bigger than this," says Cameron. "We've done our homework; we've made the case; and now it's time for the debate to begin."

"Discovery Channel brings our worldwide audience the latest information about life's enduring mysteries through the network's extensive funding of scientific research and analysis," says Root. "It is an honor to be part of what might be the most important discovery in history. This program provides viewers with the latest forensic evidence, information about the Talpiot tomb, and important historical context. We invite viewers to review the facts, engage in discussion, and come to their own conclusions."

Could this have been a holy tomb for Jesus and his family? Evidence shows the following:

•Leading epigraphers agree about the text inscriptions;
•Expert archaeologists confirm the nature of the finds and their historical relevance;
•The tomb contains a mysterious symbol over the entrance found on other Christian artifacts; and
•A statistical study concludes that the odds – on the most conservative basis -- are 600 to 1 in favor of this being the Jesus family tomb.
Dr. Carney Matheson from the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, conducted a mitochondrial DNA analysis on microscopic bits of matter recovered from the "Jesus son of Joseph" and "Mariamene e Mara" ossuaries. The test genetically concludes that the two were not maternally related. Given that this was a family burial place reserved for spouses and blood relations, it is possible to deduce that they were a couple.

As shown in the film, Jacobovici and his team use robotic cameras to locate the tomb, which was believed to have been destroyed but is actually in the center of a modern-day apartment complex. After briefly entering the tomb, the filmmakers follow local regulations and seal the tomb with the hopes that they will return to conduct further analysis.

Further information is available on the Discovery website. A virtual evidence kit, with the latest scientific analysis, can be examined first hand. The original map of the tomb drawn by Dr. Shimon Gibson in 1980, exclusive Web interviews, and detailed images of the inscriptions will be online for the world to explore. The site will feature a forum for debate and conversation with several experts sharing their thoughts and answering questions in message boards and blogs.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus is produced for Discovery Channel worldwide by Associated Producers, in cooperation with VisionTV Canada and Channel 4, UK. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici are executive producers for Associated Producers. Phil Fairclough is executive producer for Discovery Channel.

July 15, 2010
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'Noah's Ark' discovered on Turkish mountain

Wed Apr 28, 2010

Racks found on a wall inside a compartment of a structure that a group of evangelical explorers claims might prove the existence of Noah's Ark. (AFP: NAMI)

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers believe they may have found Noah's Ark about 4,000 metres up a mountain in Turkey.

The team say they recovered wooden specimens from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating proved was 4,800 years old, around the same time the ark is said to have been afloat.

Yeung Wing-cheung, a member of the 15-strong team from Noah's Ark Ministries International, says the structure has several compartments, some with wooden beams, which were believed to house animals.

"It's not 100 per cent that it is Noah's Ark but we think it is 99.9 per cent that this is it," he told AFP.

The group has ruled out an established human settlement on the grounds that one had never been found above 3,500 metres in the vicinity.

Mr Yeung says local Turkish officials will ask the central government in Ankara to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status so the site can be protected while a major archaeological dig is conducted.

The biblical story says God decided to flood the earth after seeing how corrupt it had become, and told Noah to build an ark and fill it with two of every animal species.

After the flood waters receded, the Bible says the ark came to rest on a mountain.

Many believe that Mount Ararat, the highest point in the region, is where the ark and its inhabitants came aground.


July 15, 2010
7:11 pm
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The authenticity of many Holy Land artefacts is thrown into doubt.

Oded Golan

From Wikipedia,

Oded Golan (Hebrew: עודד גולן‎) (b. 1951 in Tel Aviv) is an Israeli engineer, Israeli artifact collector, and currently on trial for forgery of antiquities[1]. Some of the artifacts he has uncovered have produced great excitement in religious and archaeological circles, and have caused allegations of fraud and forgery. He was accused of faking the James Ossuary and other items in order to trap gullible collectors. In December 2004, he was indicted with four other defendants and accused of being at the center of an international antiquities forgery ring.[1]

temple of Solomon is fake.

NARRATOR (JACK FORTUNE): In July 2001 a unique inscribed tablet of stone mysteriously appeared in Israel. It was an archaeological marvel that seemed to solve one of the Bible's great riddles.

NARRATOR: Tested by some of Israel's top scientists, it revealed that in the heart of Jerusalem, 3,000 years ago, one of the legends of the ancient world had really existed - the magnificent temple of Solomon.

NARRATOR: But that was just the beginning, for there was another mystery hidden within the stone - one that would have shattering consequences around the world.

NARRATOR: Tonight Horizon tells the extraordinary story of "King Solomon's Tablet of Stone". ... mary.shtml

The Burial Box of Jesus'

[Image Can Not Be Found]

The world of biblical archaeology was stirred in 2002 by the unveiling of a limestone burial box with the Aramaic inscription Yaakov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua ("James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"). Allegedly dating to an era contemporaneous with Christ, the names were a tantalizing collation of potentially great significance: James was indeed the name of a New Testament personage known as the brother of Jesus, both ostensibly the sons of Joseph the carpenter, husband of Mary. If its dates were genuine, the burial box — or ossuary — could well be circumstantial evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, a tenet supported only by gospels and scripture written, at the earliest, a generation after his crucifixion and, of course, by the faith of hundreds of millions through 2,000 years.

Experts, however, declared the ossuary a modern-day forgery. It was seized by Israeli police and its owner, Tel Aviv collector Oded Golan, was arrested and charged with counterfeiting the ossuary and dozens of other items. Golan and co-defendant Robert Deutsch were put on trial in the Jerusalem District Court in 2005. Deutsch is accused of forging other valuables, though not the ossuary. Both men deny all charges.

Read more: ... z0tltFQduf ... 20,00.html

July 15, 2010
7:30 pm
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Solomon relic a fake, museum concludes

JERUSALEM — An ivory pomegranate long touted by scholars as the only relic from Solomon’s Temple is a forgery, the Israel Museum said Friday, as investigators said they had broken up several fake antiquity rings in a wide-ranging investigation.

Indictments in that investigation are to be handed down next week, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Among those to be indicted is Israeli collector Oded Golan, the Justice Ministry confirmed. Golan, who denied wrongdoing, owns the two most spectacular artifacts declared fakes last year: a burial chest purported to be that of James, the brother of Jesus, and a stone tablet with inscriptions on how to maintain the Jewish Temple.

The pomegranate was examined by the museum independently of the probe by the Israeli authorities, said the director of the Israel Museum, James Snyder.

A team of experts found the thumb-sized pomegranate dates to the Bronze period, or about 3,400 years ago, meaning it is considerably older than the first Jewish Temple, and the inscription was added recently, the museum said in a statement.

The inscription, in ancient Hebrew lettering, reads: “Belonging to the Temple of the Lord (Yahweh), holy to the priests.”

Scholars had believed the cream-colored pomegranate, which has a hole in the bottom, was used as the top of a scepter carried by a temple priest.

The pomegranate was bought from an anonymous collector by the Israel Museum for $550,000 in the 1980s, with the money deposited into a secret Swiss bank account at the time. The museum did not say whether it would ask police to investigate the transaction.

Snyder said the pomegranate was examined by several scholars before and after the purchase and was authenticated for the museum by Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad.

The director said the pomegranate was examined with the technologies available at the time. “I think care was taken,” Snyder said. “If one does not take advantage of opportunities to bring into a museum setting objects that don’t surface in excavations, you might miss great objects.”

He said the pomegranate was re-examined with a new type of microscope that detected synthetic material in the inscription, between the ivory and the patina.

The museum said another ancient object displayed with the pomegranate, a 2,600-year-old silver amulet with a priestly blessing carved into it, was re-examined and deemed authentic.

Other forgeries uncovered
The pomegranate’s inscription is the third major case of forgery to be uncovered recently, according to Israeli investigators.

Last year, Israel’s Antiquities Authority said the inscriptions on the purported burial chest of Jesus’ brother and on a tablet with instructions for temple repairs were also fakes.

The James ossuary, with the words “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” had been touted as a major archaeological discovery — the oldest physical link between the modern world and Jesus.

Israeli experts said that while the ossuary, a 2,000-year-old limestone box, was indeed ancient, parts of the inscription were added in modern times.

The existence of the box was first revealed at a 2002 news conference by the Biblical Archaeology Review, a Washington-based magazine. Its editor, Hershel Shanks, has said he believes the burial box is authentic and that the debate around it is fraught with “archaeological politics.”

Some U.S. scholars have said the Israeli investigation was flawed.

The Justice Ministry would not say whether the forgery charges against Golan would be filed in connection with the James ossuary.

“To the best of my judgment and according to the opinions of many world-renowned experts, the inscription on the James ossuary, which has been in my collection for over 25 years, is genuine,” Golan said Thursday.

Tablet Is A Fake

The "Yehoash Tablet" is a forgery - at least according to a board of experts convened by the Antiquities Authority. The panel included archaeologists and ancient Hebrew script experts, whose findings will be published next week. It appears that Oded Golan, an antiquities dealer who tried to sell the stone, will be indicted - although he claims that the committee did not even hear him out before coming to its conclusion.

The stone, whose existence became publicly known last November, was found to be genuine by Israel's Geological Institute. It was thought at the time that its ten lines of Phoenician script described activities carried out by King Yehoash in the First Temple some 2,700 years ago, and was written at his behest. In March, the police took hold of the tablet, after MK Uri Ariel demanded an investigation into the activities of the Arab who claimed to have found it on the Temple Mount, as well as of the antiquities dealers acting on his behalf. At least two antiquities experts told Arutz-7 last March that they though the tablet was a fake.

Almost all of Israel's artifacts are fake!

There has never been any evidence of solomon's temple found!


July 17, 2010
3:51 pm
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Turin Shroud confirmed as a fake

June 21, 2005

PARIS, June 21 (AFP) - A French magazine said on Tuesday it had carried out experiments that proved the Shroud of Turin, believed by some Christians to be their religion's holiest relic, was a fake.

"A mediaeval technique helped us to make a Shroud," Science & Vie (Science and Life) said in its July issue. The Shroud is claimed by its defenders to be the cloth in which the body of
Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.

It bears the faint image of a blood-covered man with holes in his hand and wounds in his body and head, the apparent result of being crucified, stabbed by a Roman spear and forced to wear a crown of thorns.

In 1988, scientists carried out carbon-14 dating of the delicate linen cloth and concluded that the material was made some time between 1260 and 1390. Their study prompted the then archbishop of Turin, where the Shroud is stored, to admit that the garment was a hoax. But the debate sharply revived in January this year.

Drawing on a method previously used by skeptics to attack authenticity claims about the Shroud, Science & Vie got an artist to do a bas-relief -- a sculpture that stands out from the surrounding background -- of a Christ-like face.

A scientist then laid out a damp linen sheet over the bas-relief and let it dry, so that the thin cloth was moulded onto the face. Using cotton wool, he then carefully dabbed ferric oxide, mixed with gelatine, onto the cloth to make blood-like marks. When the cloth was turned inside-out, the reversed marks resulted in the famous image of the crucified Christ.

Gelatine, an animal by-product rich in collagen, was frequently used by Middle Age painters as a fixative to bind pigments to canvas or wood.

The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.

The experiments, said Science & Vie, answer several claims made by the pro-Shroud camp, which says the marks could not have been painted onto the cloth.

For one thing, the Shroud's defenders argue, photographic negatives and scanners show that the image could only have derived from a three-dimensional object, given the width of the face, the prominent cheekbones and nose

In addition, they say, there are no signs of any brushmarks. And, they argue, no pigments could have endured centuries of exposure to heat, light and smoke.

For Jacques di Costanzo, of Marseille University Hospital, southern France, who carried out the experiments, the mediaeval forger must have also used a bas-relief, a sculpture or cadaver to get the 3-D imprint.

The faker used a cloth rather than a brush to make the marks, and used gelatine to keep the rusty blood-like images permanently fixed and bright for selling in the booming market for religious relics.

To test his hypothesis, di Costanzo used ferric oxide, but no gelatine, to make other imprints, but the marks all disappeared when the cloth was washed or exposed to the test chemicals.

He also daubed the bas-relief with an ammoniac compound designed to represent human sweat and also with cream of aloe, a plant that was used as an embalming aid by Jews at the time of Christ.

He then placed the cloth over it for 36 hours -- the approximate time that Christ was buried before rising again -- but this time, there was not a single mark on it.

"It's obviously easier to make a fake shroud than a real one," Science & Vie report drily.

The first documented evidence of the Shroud dates back to 1357, when it surfaced at a church at Lirey, near the eastern French town of Troyes. In 1390, Pope Clement VII declared that it was not the true shroud but could be used as a representation of it, provided the faithful be told that it was not genuine.

In January this year, a US chemist, Raymond Rogers, said the radiocarbon samples for the 1988 study were taken from a piece that had been sewn into the fabric by nuns who repaired the Shroud after it was damaged in a church blaze in 1532.

Rogers said that his analysis of other samples, based on levels of a chemical called vanillin that results from the decomposition of flax and other plants, showed the Shroud could be "between 1,300 and 3,000 years old."

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