London, Dec 20 (ANI): The Turin Shroud, one of the most studied artefacts in human history, could be the authentic burial robe of Jesus Christ, researchers say.
The mystifying shroud is owned by the Vatican but is kept in a special protective chamber in a chapel in Turin Cathedral.
Italian scientists conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud - purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body - could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period, the Telegraph reported.
The research will most probably be greeted with doubts by those who doubt that the sepia-coloured, 14ft-long cloth dates from Christ's crucifixion 2,000 years ago.
For a long time, sceptics have claimed that the shroud is a medieval forgery, and radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 apparently backed the theory, implying that it dated between 1260 and 1390.
The new study is the most recent intriguing piece of a puzzle, which has perplexed scientists for centuries and generated an entire industry of research, books and documentaries.
"The double image (front and back) of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin, has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining ... is impossible to obtain in a laboratory," said experts from Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development.
The scientists started out to 'identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud.'
They concluded that the precise shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the help of ultraviolet lasers - technology that was evidently not available in medieval times.
Extremely brief pulses of ultraviolet light were used by scientists to replicate the kind of marks found on the burial cloth.
The result indicated that the 'some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)' must have created the iconic image of the bearded man.
"We are not at the conclusion, we are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle," the team wrote in their report.
"When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection," said Prof Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the team.
"But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to the experts, and ultimately to the conscience of individuals," Lazzaro added. (ANI)