Scourging Details Unknown Before Fourteenth Century





Evidence ID: HIS-EV53

Evidence: Scourging Details Unknown Before Fourteenth Century

Summary: Details of the Roman flagrum were unknown until one was unearthed in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum in 1709. This discovery post-dates the fourteenth century when the Shroud of Turin was allegedly forged. The scourge marks on the Shroud of Turin are consistent with the dumbbell-shaped tips found on the Roman flagrum. Further, the halo marks from the metal tips of the flagrum are only visible using ultraviolet light.

Description: Details of the Roman flagrum were unknown until one was unearthed in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum in 1709 [REF-HER01]. This discovery post-dates the Fourteenth century when the Shroud of Turin was allegedly forged.

The discovered Roman flagrum consisted of a wooden handle, leather thongs and metal balls at the end of the thongs. This metal objects were arranged in the shape of a dumbbell or plumbatae.


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Reconstruction of a Roman Flagrum

These details are cited in Stephen E. Jones commentary on the Shroud of Turin [REF-SOT03].

Regarding the Roman flagrum,

"Each one of the over 100 scourge wounds on the Shroud matches exactly what would have been caused by a type of Roman flagrum buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. So a fourteenth century or earlier forger would have had to possess a faultless archaeological knowledge of a first century Roman scourging with a flagrum as well as make no normal artists' mistakes since each one of the over 100 scourge marks has identical dimensions. Only from the Middle Ages did artists depict the scourging of Jesus and even the best of them were vague about the details. But the scourge-marks on the Shroud are depicted with a realism that is unknown to the art of any period."

Regarding the halo imagery due to the metal ball on the end of each thong,

"The lash whipped around to the front of his body and legs. There are tiny marks of over a 100 dumbbell shaped scourge wounds. That they are in groups of two or three indicates they were inflicted by a two- or three-thronged lash tipped with dumbbell-shaped lead pellets called plumbatae, the same as on the flagrum found in the excavations of Herculaneum. The scourge wounds on the Shroud were originally thought to be contusions, or hematomas, in which bleeding occurs under the skin without necessarily breaking it. But more recent analysis suggests that the scourge marks on Shroud are of blood from within the breaks in the skin caused by the dumbbell-shaped objects. From a horizontal axis across the middle of the body the scourge wounds fan out upward over the upper back, crisscross over at the shoulders, and fan downward on the thighs and calves. Using goniometry, the science of calculating angles, it has been deduced that there were two scourgers, the one on the right being slightly taller than the one on the left. There are also tiny scratches which may indicate that an additional scourging instrument was used, probably the "reeds" which were long, slender sticks or rods (cf. Acts 16:22; 2Cor 11:25) and may be the Roman scuticae.

The scourge marks on the Shroud are physiologically accurate. When examined under a microscope, each scourge mark reveals a slightly depressed center and raised edges. Under ultraviolet light each scourge mark can be seen to have a "halo" of lighter colour surrounding it. These halos were chemically tested and found to be blood serum which is left behind after a blood clot forms and then retracts inwards as it dries, a process called syneresis. These scourge mark indented centres and raised edges on the Shroud are not visible to the naked eye, but can only be seen when examined under a microscope and the serum halos can only be seen under ultraviolet light. This is further evidence that the Shroud could not have been created by an artist in the Middle Ages, or earlier, because that knowledge about blood clot structure, let alone a microscope and an ultraviolet light source to see it, did not then exist for many centuries into the future."

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Overlapping Scourge Wounds from Flagrum Metal Objects

Since details of the Roman flagrum and the discovery of ultraviolet light were unknown to a Fourteenth century forger, the Shroud of Turin must be genuine.

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