Episode Description

The Turin Shroud

Believed by some to be the actual cloth placed over the body of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion, The Turin Shroud is claimed to show the only true image of Jesus that exists anywhere in the world. This iconic artifact has been at the centre of intense controversy since it first emerged in a church in France in 1357. Now, a new generation of investigators  are exploring startling new claims about its authenticity, and radical new theories that seek to explain how the image was made. This documentary follows four of the most prominent Shroud investigators as they attempt to decode the mystery hidden in this treasure.

The most recent controversy surrounding The Shroud of Turin is the claim that there is writing, invisible to the naked eye, and hidden in the cloth, that proves the cloth is the actual burial shroud of Jesus. Treasures Decoded interviews 3-D processing expert Thierry Castex who believes he has discovered letters on the shroud, and speaks to Dr Barbara Frale, a Vatican archivist, who believes the writing could be evidence of Jesus’ death certificate. But their findings are controversial, could they be victims of a hoax? Experimental psychologist Dr Tim Jordan demonstrates just how easily our brains can fooled into seeing what we want to see.

More controversy rages about how the image on the shroud as made; Treasures Decoded features three of the most radical theories, each one claiming to the be only way the image could have been made. Organic chemist, Dr Luigi Garlaschelli believes the shroud is a medieval fake made with the carved face of Jesus set into a type of medieval sculpture known as a bass relief. Garlaschelli believes the image was formed by placing a piece of linen over the relief and daubing ochre pigment onto the linen, producing an image much like the original shroud. Professor Nicholas Allen’s theory is more radical; he believes the shroud is perhaps the worlds first photograph, taken using a room-sized camera obscura and some silver salts. Allen puts his theory to the test, building a medieval camera obscura producing a shroud much like the original. The final theory thought up by the late chemist Ray Rogers, but pioneered by Barry Schwortz, supports the theory that reactions occurring in a decomposing body could cause an image to form on the surface of the shroud. With help from Cranfield Forensic Institute Schwortz uses a decomposing pig to try and prove the theory right. The results are again convincing, but which is correct? This documentary puts all three theories under the microscope to discover how the Shroud image was formed.

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