Shroud of Turin Facts

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Lack of Vanillin Suggests a Much Older Cloth than Carbon 14 Dating

Vanillin is an aromatic compound that occurs naturally in vanilla beans (Vanilla Planifolia) and other plant material. It is used as a flavoring additive for food and beverages and as an aromatic ingredient in candles, air fresheners, perfumes, incense and potpourri. Vanillin is also used in the preparation of pharmaceutical drugs for Parkinson's disease and hypertension.

The chemical name for vanillin is 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde and the formula is C8H8O8. The vanillin compound has a molecular weight of 152.15.

Vanillin (for artificial vanilla) is also be produced as a byproduct of the paper and pulp product industry through the oxidative breakdown of lignin, a complex polymer, a non-carbohydrate constituent of plant material.
The Aztec Indians in Mexico used vanillin as a flavoring ingredient, particularly as an accent in chocolate beverages. The Spanish Explorer Hernando Cortez introduced Europe to Vanillin in the early 1500s. Vanilla became popular as a flavoring ingredient among the aristocracy and particularly in the court of Queen Elizabeth.

Vanillin is produced naturally by the thermal decomposition of lignin. But, it diminishes and disappears with time. The kinetics constants for calculating the loss of vanillin from lignin are E = 29.6 kcal/mole and Z = 3.7 X 10exp11/second. For instance, the linen wrappings of the Dead Sea Scrolls do not test positive for vanillin but newer linen, including medieval linen, do contain it. Of particular interest, the Shroud of Turin does not test positive for vanillin except in one particular place, the place from which the carbon 14 sample were taken in 1988 for radiocarbon dating.

Quantitative counts of lignin residues show large differences between the carbon 14 sampling areas and the rest of the Shroud. Where there is lignin, in the sample area, it tests positive for vanillin. Other medieval cloths, where lignin is found, also test positive. But the main body of the Shroud, with significant lignin at the fiber growth nodes, does not have vanillin. This fact, alone, completely challenges the validity of the carbon 14 test. Also see Vanillin and the Shroud.

  The scientific study of the Turin shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God: it does more to inflame any debate than settle it.”

  And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status.

  It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made.”

Scientist-Journalist Philip Ball
Nature, January 2005

Nature, that most prestigious of scientific journals, that once had bragging rights to claim that the Shroud was fake, responding to new, peer-reviewed studies that discredit the carbon 14 dating and show that the Shroud could be authentic.


  1. The Shroud of Turin is certainly much older than the now discredited radiocarbon date of 1260-1390. It is at least twice as old and it could be 2000 years old.  FACTS
  2. Though no one knows how it was made, the image is a selective caramel-like darkening of an otherwise clear coating of starch fractions and various saccharides.  FACTS
  3. The blood is real blood.  FACTS
  4. Much of what we think we see in the image is an optical illusion FACTS

Shroud of Turin Facts Check: 2005 Facts