As if there were not already enough evidence debunking the Shroud of Turin—the historical record, a forger’s confession, tempera paint, multiple carbon-dating tests—now new evidence further discredits the authenticity of the reputed burial cloth of Jesus.
The new finding—the 2000-year-old skeletal remains of a crucified Roman—was reported on Live Science (Metcalfe 2018). The article (June 4, 2018) described examination of the bones (originally discovered in 2007 near Venice) as revealing a lesion together with an unhealed fracture located on one heel bone. The discovery is significant since it is consistent with the only other apparent crucifixion wound known to archaeology.
That earlier discovery came in 1968 with the excavation of a Jerusalem tomb bearing the inscription “Jehohanan.” That victim’s heel bone was still attached to a piece of wood by a nail driven through the side of the heel (Nickell 1998 62,v65). (In neither instance was there clear evidence of the wrists being nailed and it is assumed they were tied.)
While the nailed heels of the 1968 and 2007 discoveries are mutually corroborative, they do not support either of the foot placements depicted for Jesus in Christian art. The earliest representations showed the feet nailed separately, side by side; much later depictions had one foot crossed over the other and both secured by a single nail. The Shroud of Turin, which appeared in the middle of the fourteenth century, has the feet placed separately, although the left one points inward, indicating the artist probably intended to suggest a crossed-feet position which by then was conventional (Nickell 1998, 64–66).
Thus, admittedly very limited data suggests that the foot placement represented on the Shroud of Turin is incompatible with the two known burials of actual crucifixion victims. Instead, the Shroud placement matches the more recent of two styles imagined by artists as well as copious data (e.g., radiocarbon dating) that identifies the cloth as fourteenth century. That is consistent with a fourteenth-century bishop’s report that a forger confessed to having “cunningly painted” the image.
Metcalfe, Tom. 2018. How Jesus Died: Rare Evidence of Roman Crucifixion Found. Online at https://www.LiveScience.com/62727-jesus-roman-crucifixion-found.html; accessed June 4, 2018.
Nickell, Joe. 1998. Inquest on the Shroud of Turin. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.