Italian researchers have developed a new theory that would date the famous Shroud of Turin to the time of Jesus — and still explain why attempts to date the shroud have come up with a medieval age.
The Shroud of Turin is traditionally held to be the burial cloth of Jesus. It's imprinted with the image of a man's face and torso. But radiocarbon dating of the cloth in 1988 showed it likely came from the 13th century, not the first century when Jesus is thought to have lived. (Via BBC)
The researchers say they believe they've discovered a way the shroud could be authentic but still date to medieval times: a magnitude-8.2 earthquake in ancient Jerusalem. (Via CBS)
How? Through squeezing radiation out of rock. The team found that it's possible for certain types of rock to emit radiation when compressed.
The Telegraph quotes one of the researchers, saying, "We believe it is possible that neutron emissions by earthquakes could have induced the image formation on the Shroud's linen fibres ... and could also have caused a wrong radiocarbon dating."
Of course, this is just one possible explanation for the shroud's origins. There are still plenty of skeptics, both of the shroud and of the latest study.
A University of Glasgow professor told LiveScience he isn't sold on the "neutrons from rocks" theory. "It would have to be a really local effect not to be measurable elsewhere. People have been measuring materials of that age for decades now and nobody has ever encountered this."
The legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin has been debated since a photo of it was published in 1898. The new study appears in the journal Meccanica.