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Gives access to the anglophone version of the site's homepage.

Gives access to the basic information of the site, to the history of the Shroud as well as to the study of the cloth.

Gives access to the images on the Shroud, their macroscopic analysis and, when necessary, complementary studies.

Gives the main conclusions that can be drawn from the study of the Shroud : the definite, the uncertain, the hypotheses.

Reconstruction of the Passion of Jesus in the light of the Gospels and of the observations derived from the study of the Shroud.

Anatomical graphs giving the name and place of the main anatomical points studied.

study of the traces of scorching visible on the Shroud

Some facts about the physiology and the physio-pathology of blood coagulation.

study of flogging under the Romans, of its pathological consequences and of the main traces of it on the Shroud

List of the main works on which this study is based and of the main internet sites which refer to the Shroud

Gives access to pages containing complementary information about the Shroud.

Brief critical study of Carbon dating and of its application to the Shroud.

Click on FAQ to access the frequently asked questions forum, and on MAJ to find the latest pages.

Gives access to crucifixion procedures in Roman times.

gives access to the Table of contents of the site, from which you can access each chapter.

Gives access to the physio-pathological effects of the ill treatments endured during the Passion.

gives a definition of the main terms used in this study and which deserve some additional explanations.

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Warning

The flogging                                     Gives access to the glossary where are some definitions of the main terms used in this study and which deserve some additional explanations.

History
The whip
Number of lashes
Method of flogging
Examination of wounds
The seriounness of the trauma
Warning

                    A preliminary note concerning executions in antiquity

                   Such studies often result in stupefaction at the levels of malevolence and cruelty, and general indifference to the pain inflicted. Today, when even the smallest and most unimportant surgical operation is generally done under anaesthetic, it is difficult to comprehend the brutality of the past. The descriptions of ill treatments meted out in the course of a crucifixion provokes revolt and nausea. The sad fact is that a meticulous and thorough understanding of the full execution process is necessary to be able to understand the marks on the Shroud, so I have needed to describe it accurately, remaining faithful to the facts, and not letting sensibility tone it down. Some readers may prefer to by-pass this chapter without reading it, but to do so risks missing most of the significant content of the Shroud, and not understand what a crucifixion was. The pious who read on will discover the full extent of the sufferings endured by Jesus in the course of his Passion and will understand better the price he paid to redeem the sins of the world.

 

History :            To return to main

             Brutal flogging was normal before any crucifixion, except maybe in the case of mass crucifixions when the number to be killed each day allowed no time for the whips. For example, at one time, after the beginning of the general rebellion of the Jews against Roman tyrany after 66 AD and before the expulsion from the Holy Land of thousands of the more prominent survivors, the rate of crucifixion was reported to be as high as 500 per day, men women and children.

The whip :            To return to main

             The flagrum was a whip with a short handle and generally two or three long thick thongs, each weighted at some distance from their extremity with lead balls or mutton bones. In action, the thongs cut the skin, while the balls or bones created deep contusions. The result was significant haemorrhage and considerable weakening of the vital resistance of the victim. In compensation, if one may call it that, this weakening shortened their agony on the cross

 

The photo shows one sort of flagrum, but there were many variations of this for the human imagination can be so fertile...    (quoted from  La Vérité sur le Suaire de Turin, de Stévenson et Habermas)

On this Roman flagrum, there are two lashes, and the little lead dumbbells are tied on perpendicularly at the end of the lashes. Other types of flagrum are known in which metal weights are threaded onto the lashes or fixed near their extremities. (4950 bytes)

Number of lashes :            To return to main

             Hebrew law was strict on this, limiting it to 40. The Pharisees, in order to make sure that they never broke the law, gave only 39 lashes. The Romans had no limit, except for the fact that the victims should be left with just enough strength to carry their crosses to the place of execution. As the man who condemned Jesus to be flogged was Pilate, the Roman Proconsul, the number of lashes could be unlimited. The Gospels report that Jesus could not carry his cross without calling to an onlooker for help. This suggests a very severe beating. Those who have studied the traces of the flogging on the Shroud have identified over 100 lash marks

 

Method of flogging :            To return to main

             The victims were tied to columns with their hands above their heads, so we seldom find lash wounds on the arms or forearms

 

Examination of wounds :          To return to main

Back view of the body of the victim. The ravages caused by flogging are perfectly understandable here. The garment which the condemned man was covered with afterwards must have stuck to the assorted wounds. When it was pulled off again, it off must have been painful. (5350 bytes)  

The marks are all over the trunk of the body, head, shoulders, and upper legs.

Most are on the back of the body indicating that the victim was tied so that he faced the column.

There are no traces on the forearms which must have been raised above the head

There are many traces on the chest, indicating the victim was not tied to a wide column but most probably to a thin one, for example a post, so the lashes could wrap around the body.

The number was between 100 and 120, mostly in groups of two or three.

They are in a fan shape, spreading out from two origins, one on each side of the body. The centre of the wounds inflicted from the right are a little higher than those inflicted from the left. The probable explanation is that the executioner standing on the right was taller than the one standing on the left. One of them showed a tendency to lacerate the legs.

(after Tarquino Ladu)

            Their shape : they are represented by 2 marks of about 1 cm diameter, separated by a space of about 1 cm. They have the shape of small dumbells 3 cms long

(these traces are those that can be seen on the left buttock)

From analysis of the marks of the flogging, it seems that the flagrum used was one in which the metal balls were slipped onto the lashes, and not tied perpendicularly. However the great number of marks visible, and their criss-crossing, makes this study particularly difficult. (8374 bytes)
                    The images created by the yellow streaks are three dimensional as we have seen, but have no particular orientation. On the contrary, the wounds caused by the flogging have a direction, and seen from an angle of 45 degrees, one can see, with the aid of a computer, which traces were caused by he whip on the left, and which by the whip on the right. This characteristic is seen only in the flogging. No other mark on the shroud shows any particular orientation. We see here a detail which escapes any attempt at falsification. There is no doubt that the body wrapped in the shroud suffered severe flogging with weighted whips.

 

The seriousness of the trauma :          To return to main

             We can calculate the amount of destructive energy that was transferred to the body during the flogging, i.e. the total kinetic energy in all those swinging lashes, which was converted on impact into destructive force.

            We know :

  • The number of lashes was 100 to 120, so let's calculate with 110 as an average.
  • The weights at the end of each thong or lash were two lead balls, each 1 centimetre in diameter, having a total weight of about 18 grammes. To this we can add 2 grammes for the weight of the leather (assuming that at least 5 centimetres of leather hit the target at the same time as the lead weights); so the total weight was about 20 grammes.

             Now we need to know the speed of the blow when it hit the body. This can be assessed by comparison with known facts from another activity with similar movements -- throwing a javelin. It is held directly in the hand, about 60 centimetres from the shoulder, and its launch velocity is around 100 kilometres per hour, i.e. about 28 metres per second.
How does the whip compare with this javelin throw? Well, if we count 60 cms for the length of the swinging arm, 50 centimetres for the length of the handle, and another 70 centimetres for the length of the thongs to the the lead weights at the extremity, it is clear that the radius of arc from the shoulder to the lead weights is about 1.8 metres, three times longer than the radius of swing when a javelin is launched. This tripled radius means that the velocity at the circumference can be tripled also, giving a terminal velocity of around 90 metres per second. (Out of conservatism, let us reduce this to 60 metres per second. After all, this is not rocket science. We just need approximations to get a general idea of the kinetics, and the amount of energy that gets smashed into, and absorbed by, the victim's body).

             The total energy transferred during the flogging is therefore around (1/2 m v2) x 110, i.e. 396 kgm, or around 3883 joules. What does this mean? Well, the kinetic energy in a 9mm parabellum round fired by an automatic pistol or sub-machine gun is only 36.5 kgm, so the total energy transferred by the flogging was equivalent to the energy conveyed by the impact of nine 9mm bullets. For readers more familiar with a 0.357 inch Magnum, one of the most powerful handgun / munitions combinations available, the kinetic energy of a round fired from this is 100 kgm, so the energy transferred by the flogging would have been equivalent to the energy released in the impact of four 0.357 magnum rounds.

          The ballistic specialist, M. H. Josserand, used a coefficient of efficiency for munitions, which he called stopping power (StP). This corresponds to the energy of the projectile (in kgm) multiplied by its surface in cm2.
1 StP = 1 Kgm x 1 cm2.

             He devised a trauma scale, relating StP values to the pathological consequences. 

  • lower than 5 : no effect of shock.
  • between 6 and 15 : light shock.
  • between 16 and 35 : reduced shock.
  • greater than 35 : serious shock and stunning, knock-out or unconsciousness.

             In the case of this flogging, we have calculated, from the total energy of 396 kgm, and an impact surface area of 2.5 cm2, that the StP would be 990. This is 28 times the amount of impact energy required to knock a man out of combat. With two thongs on a whip, the 110 lash marks must have resulted from 55 lashes (arm swings), and each of these 55 contained enough energy to stun the victim. Obviously, in using this comparison, we must remember that an impacting pistol round releases its energy more rapidly than a whip lash, and thus causes greater devastation, but the overall order of magnitude is the same, so it is easy to see how devastating a flogging is to the human body.

             Let us calculate now, the area of skin surface damaged, and the volume of muscular-cutaneous contusion

schéma de l'impact d'un coup de fouet, vu par dessus. En gris, la forme de l'objet contondant (l'haltère, le cuir n'a pas été représenté pour simplifier), et rosé la surface de peau contusionnée (elle entoure l'objet en le dépassant de 5 mm).

impact_volume_gb.gif (1182 octets)

 

               When something is banged brutally against, or into, your flesh, each impact compresses violently the muscular-cutaneous plane situated immediately underneath the impacting object, and also a margin of at least 5mm around it. In this flogging, the surface affected by each impact was about 8 cm2, and the volume bruised 12 cm3. Multiplying this by 110 impacts we get a surface area of 880 cm2, and a bruised volume of 1320 cm3, i.e. 1.3 litres. This is a huge volume of crushed tissue in which the cells are gravely damaged, their membranes ruptured, and their contents liberated and leaking.
The extremely serious nature of the trauma received is discussed elsewhere. See the physical and pathological effects of the flogging.

             The images created by the yellow stains are three dimensional as we have seen, but have no particular orientation. On the contrary, the wounds caused by the flogging have a direction, and seen from an angle of 45 degrees, one can see, with the aid of a computer, which traces were caused by he whip on the left, and which by the whip on the right. This characteristic is seen only in the flogging. No other mark on the shroud shows any particular orientation. We see here a detail which escapes any attempt at falsification. There is no doubt that the body wrapped in the shroud suffered a severe flogging with weighted whips.

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