A series of experiments conducted by Italian researchers indicate the Shroud of Turin is likely authentic, but the team has not yet reached a definite conclusion.
Decades of research on Jesus' proposed burial cloth have revealed an array of conflicting ideas surrounding the shroud's authenticity. However, researchers from Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development believe their findings undermine previous theories that the shroud was faked in the medieval period, the Telegraph reports. The new claim seems to be stirring controversy again, as many point to previous research to the contrary.
Last year scientists were able to replicate marks on the cloth using highly advanced ultraviolet techniques that weren't available 2,000 years ago -- or during the medieval times, for that matter.
Research in the 1980s suggests the image was "forged" on the cloth between 1260 and 1390, but scientists have determined the hypothesis was based on testing material from a patch likely used to to repair the cloth after a fire, the BBC reports.
Since the shroud and "all its facets" still cannot be replicated using today's top-notch technology, researchers suggest it is impossible that the original image could have been created in either period.
However, scientists are willing to point out the flaw in their findings. The Vatican Insider reports:
This inability to repeat (and therefore falsify) the image on the Shroud makes it impossible to formulate a reliable hypothesis on how the impression was made.
Still, lead researcher professor Manuela Marinelli estimates the cloth is at least 95 percent authentic, the Voice of Russia points out. "Nobody can give 100 percent guarantees 2,000 years after it had been found."
The findings are bound to rile up both believers and skeptics, but as Tom Chivers, the Telegraph's assistant comment editor indicates:
The "authenticity" or otherwise of the Shroud of Turin does not have any implications for whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it was a medieval forgery, it doesn't mean the stories aren't true; if it really was made in the first century AD, it doesn't mean they were.
The research team emphasizes their inclinations are not definite, but the Vatican Insider points out one of history's biggest mysteries still has no answer:
Regardless of the age the Shroud, whether it is medieval (1260 - 1390) as shown by the controversial dating by radiocarbon, or older as indicated by other investigations, and regardless of the actual importance of controversial historical documents on the existence of the Shroud in the years preceding 1260, the most important question, the "question of questions" remains the same: how did that body image appear on the Shroud?