'Jesus-era' burial shroud found

Wed, Dec 16, 2009, 00:00

Scientists have found an ancient burial shroud in Jerusalem which they say is very different from the renowned Shroud of Turin.

A burial garment found in Jerusalem that dates to the days of Jesus provides evidence that undermines similar claims made , scholars said in research to be published today.

The garment also reveals the oldest case of leprosy found in ancient Israel, according to a statement from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of several institutions whose researchers examined the burial cloth.

Radiocarbon methods date the cloth to the years from 1 to 50 C.E. "It doesn't match up with the Shroud of Turin," Shimon Gibson, who participated in the research and is a senior associate fellow at Jerusalem's W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, said in a phone interview.

He said the cloths have a different weave, and the Shroud of Turin comes in one piece while the Jerusalem garment has separate pieces for the head and body.

The Vatican-owned Shroud of Turin is a holy relic said to be the burial cloth of Jesus, and bears an image purported to be his face. It has been held in the Italian city of Turin since 1578. Scholars have cast doubt on the Shroud of Turin's authenticity, citing scientific evidence such as radiocarbon testing that date it to medieval times.

The Jerusalem garment reinforces that skepticism by providing a genuine burial cloth from Jesus's day to which it can be compared. The Jerusalem garment was found nine years ago in a tomb in the Hinnom Valley opposite the walls of the Old City in the Israeli capital. Tests on the cloth also showed the man who was buried in it suffered from leprosy.

This is the first evidence, Gibson said, that the disease was found in the Jerusalem area in the days of Jesus, who is said in the Christian bible to have miraculously cured lepers. Details of the research will be published today in the PloS ONE Journal.