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 The Holy Shroud » Science » The Research » Research history » After 1988 
After 1988   versione testuale

After 1988 a new Shroud research period began following new lines. First of all, with a not new but never seriously considered before study field: the Shroud conservation methodology.
In 1992 a wide and well-structured study plan started to face and solve this delicate and important problem and the expressly appointed international experts commission suggested that the optimal way to keep the Shroud was laid out flat and horizontal in a watertight full of inert gases reliquary that could guarantee a high security quality level, protected from light and in constant weather conditions.
These conditions imposed a radically different way of conservation from the one of the last three or four centuries (rolled up on a cylinder) and, most of all, the necessity to have a bigger reliquary that was built just in time for the 1998 exposition. Since then, and in the future as well, the Shroud will be kept in this new conservation conditions.
At the same time, research kept going on in every field: in the last twenty years at least twenty conventions have been held in Italy and abroad enabling researchers to periodically take stock of the research situation; in this period the continuous exchange of ideas and views was like never before making the Shroud research more and more interesting.
Most of the scientists attended the III International Congress of Shroud Studies held during the 1998 Turin exposition. But the meeting that had a really special importance and played a prominent role was the symposium "The Shroud: past, present and future" held in Turin from march 2 to 5, 2000 and to which were invited 40 of the major international experts in Shroud studies and linked research fields coming from 10 countries.
The symposium was promoted by the Archdiocese of Turin and organized by an international scientific committee in collaboration with the International Centre of Sindonology to allow a closet and highly qualified experts team to discuss and share many information and opinions about the most important research issues, taking the stock of the research to this day and proposing new studies and surveys.
The final script, approved by every member, stays that: "To this day we can say that the Shroud body image certainly is not a painting, as proved by the chemical-physical and computer well known facts; analytical data mainly bear out the hypothesis that it is a consequence of the superficial dehydrating-oxidation of the cellulose fibres.
This highlights a really interesting issue for future research. The existence of bloodstains is confirmed by precise analysis results already known in literature. The historical data stress how it is important to better know the period prior to the one when the Shroud was in possession of Geoffroy I from Charny. As far as the dating and the origin issues are concerned, new data from the original Frei-Sulzer material confirm the presence of revealing botanical traces as geographical indicators of the Israel-Jordanian area.
As far as the carbon 14 dating results are concerned, there are “different assessments with many future research possibilities". This is how the Symposium statement ends: "We hope that, always being indipendent and respecting the different methodologies, the scientific-technical and historical-humanistic approach may cooperate. The development of scientific instruments, advanced and not invasive analysis methods induce to make experiments to improve our knowledge in conservation. We therefore advise all the experts interested in the Shroud as a research object and in all this research methodologies and instrumentations to set up a committee".
The 2000 Symposium, and the several and highly qualified succeeding proposals about new research and analysis, concretely opened up a new period in the history of the Shroud research.
Being the importance of using colour and black/white high definition pictures as research tools out of the question along with the necessity of new samplings without wiping the cloth microtraces out, the possibilities to extend the current knowledge on the Shroud are linked to new data methodical acquisition and to the use of the most advanced instrumentations, always preserving the integrity of the cloth and respecting the new conservation necessities.
Such data, gathered on a electromagnetic radiation spectrum broadband in a single session, will enable scientists of today and tomorrow to have a huge amount of data to be studied and elaborated without furtherly and directly examining the Shroud. Moreover, in future decades, it will be possibile to compare the gathered data to new ones in order to check any variations and the Shroud conservation conditions.
It will be therefore necessary that all the researchers who want to study the difficult but fascinating world of the Shroud conduct their studies and research seriously and in a constructive way to find truth uniquely, without pretending to prove preconceived theories at all costs and refusing anything that can not be seriously and scientifically proved.
This is the only truly coherent view, the only one that brings to serious and well-grounded research, the one and only to inform public opinion in a honest and proper way, the only one that really respects the Shroud and its so important message. Let us therefore be guided by the clear and eloquent words the Pope pronounced on may 24, 1998 in front of the Shroud conveying the ideas he has always holded dear: "The Church invites [scientists] to study the Shroud in a non preconceived way and without taking for granted results that are not, but acting through their inner freedom and an attentive respect both of scientific methodology and believers feelings".