"This treasured strip of linen cloth -- an object of veneration by millions -- is one of the most perplexing enigmas of modern times." -- National Geographic

Contacts: Vern Miller, (805) 966-3888, Ext. 269; miller@brooks.edu
Adrie Nab, (740) 594-4173; anab1@ohiou.edu

ATHENS, Ohio -- Ohio University has been given photographic archives of the first comprehensive scientific inquiry of the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud -- considered by some as tangible evidence of Christ on earth and dismissed by others as a medieval fake -- has retained many mysteries despite intensive analysis.

"I want these archives accessible to researchers in the future; I want them preserved and used," said Vernon D. Miller of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Calif. Miller was chief photographer for the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project Inc. (STURP), which included a team of American scientists and researchers who spent more than two years preparing a series of tests that would gather a vast amount of data on the Shroud in a short period of time. The Shroud is a 14-foot-long, 3-foot-wide linen cloth that bears the front and back image of a scourged, crucified man. STURP's primary goal was to determine the scientific properties of that image and what might have created it.

After many months of evaluating data, STURP issued a summary report in 1981. The summary noted that computer image enhancement with a VP-8 image analyzer revealed for the first time that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded into it.

According to the STURP summary, "the basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry ....The scientific consensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain physical and chemical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there is no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately."

"The interest worldwide in the Shroud was stimulated by the first photographs of it in 1898, when photography was in its infancy," Miller said. "Up until that time, people who looked at the cloth image found it faint. It took the camera, with its negative image, to appreciate it."

Miller's archives include thousands of negatives, transparencies and notes on the preparation for and execution of STURP's 120-hour examination of the ancient linen in October 1978. It also includes refereed scientific journal articles based on STURP data written since 1978.

In an April 20, 1998, cover story, Time magazine noted that although carbon-14 dating of the Shroud in 1988 yielded a date between 1260 and 1390, new theories have led some researchers to question the carbon date.

Miller has been interviewed in recent months by Time magazine, People magazine, the British Broadcasting Corp., The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel in connection with the current public exhibition of the Shroud -- only the fourth time this century that it has been placed on public display -- in Turin, Italy.

The archive donation to Ohio University was arranged by Adrie Nab, Ohio University vice president for university relations. Nab studied at Brooks in the 1970s, received an honorary master's degree from the institute in 1995 and currently serves on the Brooks Alumni Board.

"My 25 years of friendship and professional interaction with President Ernie Brooks and Vern Miller made this transfer possible," Nab said. "Bringing the archives to Ohio University will fulfill the wishes of both of these world-renowned photographers -- to place these archives in the scholarly environment of a research university that has the library resources to make these documents and images available to researchers worldwide. For Ohio University visibility, I intend to exhibit copies of the documents and images nationally and internationally."

"Today a dream has been realized by our institution to place the photographic archives of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project within the resources of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio," said Ernest H. Brooks II, president of Brooks Institute. "Both Ohio University and Brooks Institute have shared visions in visual communications in both their undergraduate and master's programs. This long working relationship is due to Ohio University's Adrie Nab who, with Brooks Institute's Vern Miller, sensed the value for a permanent home for the collection, which will allow for future research. I'm extremely pleased that we are transferring the archive and confidant that this addition to Ohio University's library collection will ensure the preservation of all Shroud of Turin photographic evidence."

Ohio University Dean of Libraries Hwa-Wei Lee welcomed this addition to the library's archives and special collections department. "The libraries anticipate much interest in this very important photographic collection," Lee said. "We will work to make it available to scholars and the general public once final gift guidelines and procedures have been arranged with Mr. Miller."

While the first installment of the collection has been transferred this week from Miller to the Ohio University Libraries and University Relations, Lee said that access to original materials while archiving is in progress initially will be allowed only with the prior permission of the donor.

NOTE TO EDITORS, NEWS DIRECTORS: A high-resolution photo suitable for newspaper reproduction can be downloaded at: http://www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/SHROUDOHIO.JPG

Cutline information:
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. -- This poster of an early Shroud of Turin exhibition of scientific photographs is among archives being donated by Vernon Miller (center) of Brooks Institute of Photography. At left is Brooks Institute President Ernest H. Brooks I. At right is Bryan McNulty, Ohio University assistant vice president for university relations, who received the first of the Shroud of Turin 1978 photographic archives on behalf of the university this weekend (May 10). (Photo by Todd Walker, Brooks Institute of Photography)


Select photos from the Shroud of Turin archives are available for one-time use with stories or cutlines. Low- resolution images for viewing purposes only are available at:

http://www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/WEB/SHROUD1.JPG Cutline: Shortly before the 1978 exhibit closed to the public, members of the Shroud of Turin Research Project carefully unloaded more than four tons of scientific equipment to examine the shroud at the Royal Palace of the House of Savoy in Turin, Italy. (Copyright 1978 by Vernon Miller, courtesy of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio)

http://www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/WEB/SHROUD5.JPG Photograph and negative of the full shroud reveal shadowlike frontal and dorsal image of a human body in the center of the shroud among scorches and patches along fold lines that are the result of a chapel fire, rescue and repair in 1532. (Copyright 1978 by Vernon Miller, courtesy of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio)

http://www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/WEB/SHROUD6.JPG Cutline: By heightening contrast, photography gives a far more vivid and intense picture of the man of the shroud than is actually seen on the cloth. This comparison is made in a view of the head section of the cloth, versus the negative of a photograph of that same section, at right. (Copyright 1978 by Vernon Miller, courtesy of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio)

Call Ohio University News Services to arrange e-mail transmission of high-resolution images. Photo credit for all Shroud images: (Copyright 1978 by Vernon Miller, courtesy of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.)