Dating hall

Testore of Department of Materials Science, Turin Polytechnic and G. If the samples had been unravelled or shredded rather than being given to the laboratories as whole pieces of cloth, then it would have been much more difficult, but not impossible, to distinguish the shroud sample from the controls.

Vial of Musée des Tissues and Centre International d'Étude des Textiles Anciens in Lyon), Dr M. Tite of the British Museum, representatives of the three radiocarbon-dating laboratories (Professor P. (With unravelled or shredded samples, pretreatment cleaning would have been more difficult and wasteful.) Because the shroud had been exposed to a wide range of potential sources of contamination and because of the uniqueness of the samples available, it was decided to abandon blind-test procedures in the interests of effective sample pretreatment.

1 - Department of Geosciences, 2 - Department of Physics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA 3 - Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QJ, UK 4 - Institut für Mittelenergiephysik, ETH-Hönggerberg, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland 5 - Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA 6 - Research Laboratory, British Museum, London WC1B 3DG, UK Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich.

As Controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated.

Zurich precleaned the sample in an ultrasonic bath.

After these initial cleaning procedures, each laboratory split the samples for further treatment.

Even for the first investigation, there was a possibility of using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the linen from which the shroud was woven.

The size of the sample then required, however, was ~500cm, which would clearly have resulted in an unacceptable amount of damage, and it was not until the development in the 1970s of small gas-counters and accelerator-mass-spectrometry techniques (AMS), requiring samples of only a few square centimetres, that radiocarbon dating of the shroud became a real possibility. The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its bottom left-hand edge and a strip (~10 mm x 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination.

One pair of subsamples from each textile was treated with dilute HCL, dilute Na OH and again in acid, with rinsing in between (method a).

The three control samples, the approximate ages of which were made known to the laboratories, are listed below. T/32) from a tomb excavated at Qasr Ibrîm in Nubia by Professor J. This linen was dated in the British Museum Research Laboratory using liquid scintillation counting, giving a radiocarbon age of 2,010 ± 80 yr BP (BM-2558).

Two were in the form of whole pieces of cloth (samples 2 and 3) and one was in the form of threads (sample 4). This corresponds to a calendar age, rounded to the nearest 5 years, of 110 cal BC - AD 75 cal at the 68 per cent confidence level (where cal denotes calibrated radiocarbon dates). Threads removed from the cope of St Louis d'Anjou which is held in a chapel in the Basilica of Saint-Maximin, Var, France.

To confirm the feasibility of dating the shroud by these methods an intercomparison, involving four AMS and two small gas-counter radiocarbon laboratories and the dating of three known-age textile samples, was coordinated by the British Museum in 1983. The strip came from a single site on the main body of the shroud away from any patches or charred areas.

The results of this intercomparison are reported and discussed by Burleigh . Three samples, each ~50 mg in weight, were prepared from this strip.

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One-third received no further treatment, one-third was submitted to a weak treatment with 0.5% HCL (room temperature), 0.25% Na OH (room temperature) and again in acid, with rinsing in between.

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