Blood on the Shroud: An Interview with the Blood Investigator of the Shroud of Turin Research Project
In 1978 a large team of American scientists under the auspices of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) spent over two years prior to embarking for Turin, planning a large number of specific data gathering tests, on the sacred Shroud of Turin, believed by millions of Catholics around the world to be the shroud in which the body of Christ was wrapped following his crucifixion.
In Turin, the expedition was joined by colleagues from around the world. This was to be the first
extensive scientific examination of the shroud and remains to this date the most extensive study of the shroud ever undertaken. To support the effort, they carried several tons of equipment and scientific instruments. The team arrived in Turin in early October 1978. For five full days beginning October 8th and lasting through the 13 th, the STURP team studied the Shroud around the clock in a room at the Royal Palace adjoining the Turin Cathedral.
The Cathedral of Turin. ( Public Domain )
On their return to the USA I was privileged to conduct a series of investigative interviews with a number of the team members. The most interesting of these was my interview with the now deceased Dr. Alan Adler; the scientist responsible for the investigation of the Blood on the Shroud.
The late Professor Alan D. Adler (1931-2000), Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Western Connecticut State University. American Society for Photobiology. Original member of STURP, who went on to spend 20 years of continuing research, lectures, symposiums, and trips around the world as a member of Shroud of Turin Research Project .
I opened our discussion with the following:
PJS) I understand that you were responsible for the identification of Blood on the Shroud.
A) Well, what we did was to run not one test but a variety of tests for blood; we used one of the oldest known tests for blood forensically which was to see if one can generate the compound that produces the color of blood, this compound is called ' porphyrin' it is the same stuff that makes grass green.
The human blood is a porphyrin related structure. We ran that, and we got that. But we were also able to get a number of other tests for blood but also most importantly we did immunological tests for blood. Not only have we gotten them but an Italian investigator has independently confirmed our tests and has also got immunological tests for blood. So we feel pretty certain that the blood is blood!
The tests we ran are more indicative than some of the tests that people routinely run. Some of the tests that people run for blood depend on the blood being fresh, the tests that I ran where we detected the so-called porphyrin is a test that does not depend on the blood being fresh, it is now being used more by people for the arch metric detection of blood. We actually found that you can accurately demonstrate 10,000 year old blood using this particular test, which many of the more recent tests will not. From the immunological tests, we got positive results which is all I can say. On the other hand, people have also got immunological results on tomb samples that would have been equally as old, if not older. On the other hand, people have done the same thing with older material.
PJS). Forgive me asking Alan, but a man of your faith - how did you become involved with the shroud in the first place?
A) I made the mistake of talking to someone on the phone like I'm doing with you!
PJS. You've been involved with the investigation for some years now....
A) Well actually I work in the field of porphyrin, so detecting blood this way is something that is not new to me, and I have done so in the past before working on the shroud,...... and so a person actually asked me would I detect some blood for him on a piece of cloth....then he told me it was the Shroud of Turin. It was a scientist by the name of John Heller that did that........It was John Heller that got me roped into this!
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PJS) How major a part has the shroud played in your life since you got involved.