Institute of Crystallography - CNR

X-ray dating

On a sample of the Turin Shroud (TS), we applied a new method for dating ancient linen threads by inspecting their structural degradation by means of Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering (WAXS).

The X-ray dating method was applied to a sample of the TS consisting of a thread taken in proximity of the 1988/radiocarbon area (corner of the TS corresponding to the feet area of the frontal image, near the so-called Raes sample). The size of the linen sample was about 0.5 mm   1 mm. We obtained one-dimensional integrated WAXS data profiles for the TS sample, which were fully compatible with the analogous measurements obtained on a linen sample whose dating, according to historical records, is 55–74 AD, Siege of Masada (Israel). The degree of natural aging of the cellulose that constitutes the linen of the investigated sample, obtained by X-ray analysis, showed that the TS fabric is much older than the seven centuries proposed by the 1988 radiocarbon dating.
The experimental results are compatible with the hypothesis that the TS is a 2000-year-old relic, as supposed by Christian tradition, under the condition that it was kept at suitable levels of average secular temperature—20.0–22.5  C— and correlated relative humidity—75–55%—for 13 centuries of unknown history, in addition to the seven centuries of known history in Europe. To make the present result compatible with that of the 1988 radiocarbon test, the TS should have been conserved during its hypothetical seven centuries of life at a secular room temperature very close to the maximum values
registered on the earth.


Reference works

[1]  P. E. Damon et al., Radio carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, Nature 337, (1989), pp. 611–615.

[2] B. Walsh, L. Schwalbe, An instructive inter-laboratory comparison: The 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin, J. Archaeological Science: Reports 29 (2020), 102015ss.

[3] L. De Caro, C. Giannini, R. Lassandro, F. Scattarella, T. Sibillano, E. Matricciani, G. Fanti, X-Ray Dating of Ancient Linen Fabrics, Heritage 2 (2019), pp. 2763-2783.

[4] L. De Caro, T. Sibillano, R. Lassandro, C. Giannini, G. Fanti, X-ray Dating of a Turin Shroud’s Linen Sample, Heritage 5 (2022), pp. 860-870.