It has been generally accepted in many areas of the scientific community that the Shroud of Turin was created in Italy and is of European origin, but new DNA evidence shows that it was in areas that the historical record has always suggested.
The Shroud has recently had samples of particles taken from the artifact undergo DNA testing, to determine what peoples and plants were represented by the debris that have been deposited on it over the centuries.
A team of researchers from Università di Pavia in Milan, Italy, conducted the DNA testing on dust samples that were originally collected from the shroud in 1978 and 1988, to see if the results offered further clues as to its origins. The samples contained a mixture of plant pollens, cellular debris and other organic material.
The team’s findings show DNA of plant species found in France and Italy, which is to be expected, as this is where the Shroud has been documented to have resided since the 14th century. However, the analysis also revealed the DNA of plant species native to the Mediterranean basin, including North Africa and the Middle East, and also from North and South America, and South-East Asia. While European spruce trees made up the largest portion of the samples represented, clovers and ryegrass from the Mediterranean, and hawthorn from the Middle East each also appeared in significant quantities.
Likewise, the findings of the human mtDNA analysis showed a wide distribution of different human haplogroups: while Western European groups were found as expected, they made up only a small portion of the samples. Far more prevalent were groups from the Middle East, specifically from groups that overlap in a region stretching from modern-day Israel to Turkey. Most surprising was a large representation of groups specifically from India: this has prompted the researchers to speculate that the linen that the Shroud is made from may have been manufactured in India.
The researchers do caution that the DNA samples represented do not rule out the possibility of the Shroud being a Medieval forgery, as the human DNA samples could have been deposited by pilgrims visiting the holy relic. However, the findings made by this study have serious implications, as they also match the origin and route described in the lore surrounding the Shroud.
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