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Italian scientists find image on back of Turin shroud

Italian scientists using sophisticated mathematical and optical techniques have found a ghostly image on the back of the shroud of Turin, exposing the faint imprint of the face and hands of the figure on the front of the cloth.

The discovery, reported in a British scientific journal yesterday, is likely to resurrect the 600-year-old controversy over one of Christianity's most venerated but disputed relics.

The newly identified image, like the more dramatic one on the front of the cloth, is superficial, the scientists say. That is, the features are visible only on the outermost fibres of the fabric. "When a cross section of the fabric is made, one extremely superficial image appears above and one below, but there is nothing in the middle.

"It is extremely difficult to make a fake with these features," said Giulio Fanti, of the University of Padua.

The shroud is believed by many Catholics to be the cloth in which the body of Jesus was wrapped after crucifixion. It is a piece of linen - of a weave linked with first century Syria - on which the front and back images of an adult naked man are seemingly indelibly impressed. He seems to have been scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified with nails and stabbed in the side with a lance.

Italian scientists find image on back of Turin shroud (The Guardian 13/4/04)

New face found on Turin shroud (London Telegraph 13/4/04)
Turin relic still shrouded in mystery (Courier & Press 3/4/04)

14 Apr 2004