Age dating paper
In the Shroud literature, a similar absolute belief in the method is found among most writers.Wilson, for example, states (194) that a dating accurate to a plus-minus of 100 years is possible thus "enabling the settling, once and for all, of the question of whether or not the Shroud is a 14th century forgery." Sox (192) follows Wilson in thinking that C-14 dating the Shroud could "remove it once and for all from the Middle Ages, or place it squarely there for all time." Some STURP scientists unfortunately display similar beliefs.When I wrote in (199) that C-14 dating could not be expected to settle the matter of the Shroud's age and authenticity because of the possibilities of contamination, there was a storm of criticism -- virtually all of it motivated by ideal sample considerations and obviously not tempered by experience in using the method.Stuckenrath (197) certainly had it right 20 years ago in his remark.Possibilities of contamination should be exhaustively investigated, and pretreatment should be devised accordingly.In 1979, the much vaunted "Gove/Harbottle Proposal on Carbon Dating the Shroud" (Sox 197) outlined only standard pretreatment of the samples for carbonates and humic acids.It did not propose scanning electron microscope screening or other types of direct examination to check the state of the samples prior to testing -- an omission which might have been rectified if the vicissitudes of the cloth over the centuries had been stressed, as an archaeologist would have done.
Virtually all researchers agree that the test should be performed; sufficiently small samples can now be measured so that the appearance of the relic is not altered.
However, I doubt that anyone with significant experience in the dating of excavated samples would dismiss for one moment the potential danger of contamination and other sources of error.
No responsible field archaeologist would trust a single date, or a series of dates on a single feature, to settle a major historical issue, establish a site or cultural chronology, etc.
Although the more recent STURP proposal has not yet been published, there is reason (discussed below) to suspect that it likewise has not been researched to the degree warranted by the object to be dated, and that significant input from a range of scholars is lacking.
Because the next round of scientific testing of the Shroud may well be the last of this century, it is imperative that such details as the amount and number of samples and especially the sampling sites be very carefully considered.Finally, the original sample was taken at the junction of the side strip (believed by some scholars to be a later addition) and the (selvage?