Radiocarbon dating pictures
When I wrote in (199) that C-14 dating could not be expected to settle the matter of the Shroud's age and authenticity because of the possibilities of contamination, there was a storm of criticism -- virtually all of it motivated by ideal sample considerations and obviously not tempered by experience in using the method.
Stuckenrath (197) certainly had it right 20 years ago in his remark.
The first proposal to date the Shroud was submitted in 1979 by Gove and Harbottle (published in Sox 191-167).
It was, in my opinion, seriously flawed by the lack of consultation with archaeologists and experts from other fields.
Further, Mc Crone (190) made his contribution by proposing to rely on "the person authenticating the Shroud samples as the same ones studied by Raes." (The original sample was apparently not even taken from the Shroud in the presence of Raes.) An art historian would certainly not have been satisfied that such a procedure could establish conclusively that the pieces were indeed from that sample removed from the Shroud in 1973, and that it had not been tampered with in the intervening years.
Finally, the original sample was taken at the junction of the side strip (believed by some scholars to be a later addition) and the (selvage?
) border (possibly treated to prevent unraveling, and certainly more subject to contamination than the main body of the cloth).
In this paper I shall examine the issue of the reliability of C-14 testing to produce an "absolute date" on the linen sheet known as the Holy Shroud of Turin and believed by some to be the gravecloth of Christ.
I have previously (Meacham 1983) treated the question of the Shroud's authenticity at length and shall confine my remarks here to the applicability and ultimate reliability of radiocarbon as an "authenticity test" of the relic.