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Second face on backside of Shroud of Turin

Scientists examining the Shroud of Turin since the restoration that began in 2000 have found a “second face” on its reverse “hidden side,” a discovery they believe adds evidence to the argument it is not a medieval painting or  photographic rendering.

As part of the restoration undertaken in the summer of 2002, the Holland cloth – the backing cloth placed on the shroud by the Poor Clare Nuns to preserve it after the 1532 fire – was removed, permitting for the first time in centuries an examination of the backside.

In 2004, Professors Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Padua in Italy published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Optics their study, “The Double Superficiality of the Frontal Image of the Turin Shroud.” They concluded there exists a second, even fainter face image on the backside of the Shroud of Turin, corresponding but not identical to the face image of the crucified man seen in head-to-head dorsal and ventral views on the front side.

The second face image on the back of the shroud was hidden for centuries, until the 2002 restoration when the Holland cloth was removed.

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Fanti and Maggiolo used image-processing techniques, including Gaussian filters and Fourier transformations, to highlight the extremely faint second face on the backside of the shroud, including details of a nose, eyes, hair, beard and mustache.

To the naked eye, the backside of the shroud appears to show no image whatsoever.

Like the face image on the front side of the shroud, the previously hidden image on the backside is a superficial image that exists only on the topmost linen fibers, created by the same dehydration process characteristic of the face and body image on the front.


Negative of image on front of Shroud of Turin

The backside of the shroud contains only a limited ventral image of the crucified man in which a stain appears to correspond to the crossed hands seen on the front.

Fanti and Maggiolo found no dorsal image of the crucified man on the shroud’s backside.

The researchers concluded the image of the face on the backside of the shroud was not created by a process of painting in which the facial image on the front “bled through” to create an image on the reverse side.

Similarly, if a photographic process created the image of the face, the photographic emulsion on the shroud must have been applied separately on the front and reverse surfaces, without any photographic emulsion soaking through the linen fibers at the center.

The two scientists demonstrated this by noting the image of the face impressed on the backside has “some slight differences” from the front image.

For instance, the nose on the back presents “the same extension of both nostrils, unlike the front side, in which the right nostril is less evident.”

Moreover, Fanti and Maggiolo concluded “the central part of the fabric was clearly not involved in the creation of the image [on the backside] – i.e., the internal part of the linen fabric does not have an image.”

The researchers, in other words, found a “doubly superficial” face image on both the front and back sides such that “if a cross-section of the fabric is made, one extremely superficial image appears above and one below, but there is nothing in the middle.”

The shroud, therefore, they concluded, was not created by paint soaking through the linen or by a photographic image printing through to the reverse side, because the front and back facial images are not identical and the center fibers show no image creation whatsoever.

Fanti and Maggiolo concluded the shroud image was created by a “corona discharge,” understood as a radiant burst of light and energy that scorched the body image of the crucified man on the topmost fibers of the shroud’s front and back sides, without producing any image on the centermost of its linen fibers.

“Imagine slicing a human hair lengthwise, from end to end, into 100 long thin slices; each slice one-tenth the width of a single red blood cell,” writes Daniel Porter, editor of ShroudStory.com. “The images on the Shroud of Turin, at their thickest, are this thin.”

Fanti and Maggiolo found the faint image of the face on the reverse side of the shroud contained the same 3-D information contained in the face and body image of the crucified man seen on the shroud’s front side.

The current Exposition of the Shroud in Turin, underway until May 23, is the first time the Shroud of Turin has been displayed since the 2002 restoration.

The backside of the shroud is not being shown for public observation; a new backing cloth has been sewn on to replace the Holland cloth, hiding the reverse side once again.



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