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The researchers therefore believe that neutron emission from a historical earthquake in 33 A. in Old Jerusalem, which measured 8.2 on the Richter Scale, could have been strong enough to cause neutron imaging through its interaction with nitrogen nuclei.

On the one hand, this could have created the distinctive image on the Shroud through radiation imagery, while on the other, it could have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes found on the linen fibres that could have confused the 1988 radiocarbon dating tests.

"Also, the sub-genus level of taxon that has been reached is not near enough to the species level that is needed to determine the area of origin for each plant." The researchers also mistakenly relied on an interpretative method that is used to analyze thousands of grains of pollen in a lake, she said.

In that environment, the conditions that led to the deposition of pollen — rain and wind, for instance — are known.

As for the possible Indian manufacture, it's just as likely that Indian DNA got onto the object during its 20th-century testing, he said.

To truly determine where the cloth was manufactured, the researchers would need to analyze the DNA from the flax seeds used to make the linen shroud, which was not done, he added.

"In my opinion, it is hard to believe that in the past centuries, in a historical interval spanning the medieval period, different subjects — such as priests, monks or nuns, as well [as] devotees and other subjects of Indian ancestry — have had the possibility to come in contact with the shroud in France and/or Turin," Barcaccia said.

Unsettled question But the new results don't settle questions about the shroud's authenticity, said Hugh Farey, editor of the British Society of the Turin Shroud newsletter. ] As far as the plant DNA goes, "they've done a good job, and they've identified a number of species that mean, broadly speaking, nothing at all," Farey told Live Science.

However, no plausible physical reason has yet been proposed to explain the origin of this neutron radiation.Though the Catholic Church has never taken an official stance on the object's authenticity, tens of thousands flock to Turin, Italy, every year to get a glimpse of the object, believing that it wrapped the bruised and bleeding body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. 1204, the cloth was smuggled to safety in Athens, Greece, where it stayed until A. Centuries later, in the 1980s, radiocarbon dating, which measures the rate at which different isotopes of the carbon atoms decay, suggested the shroud was made between A. What's more, the Gospel of Matthew notes that "the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open" after Jesus was crucified.[Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus] According to legend, the shroud was secretly carried from Judea in A. 30 or 33, and was housed in Edessa, Turkey, and Constantinople (the name for Istanbul before the Ottomans took over) for centuries. So geologists have argued that an earthquake at Jesus' death could have released a burst of neutrons.In contrast, there are so many unknowns when it comes to describing how dust settled onto the shroud."It is very bold and completely wrong to use the same interpretational approach on the presence of DNA — or just a few pollen grains, for that matter — on a shroud that has been man-handled for decades," Enevold said.

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