The new study suffers from the same issues that made past studies of pollen on the shroud unreliable, said Renée Enevold, a geoscientist at the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark who has analyzed ancient pollen in the past.
"In my opinion, it is hard to believe that in the past centuries, in a historical interval spanning the medieval period, different subjects — such as priests, monks or nuns, as well [as] devotees and other subjects of Indian ancestry — have had the possibility to come in contact with the shroud in France and/or Turin," Barcaccia said.Unsettled question But the new results don't settle questions about the shroud's authenticity, said Hugh Farey, editor of the British Society of the Turin Shroud newsletter. ] As far as the plant DNA goes, "they've done a good job, and they've identified a number of species that mean, broadly speaking, nothing at all," Farey told Live Science.As for the possible Indian manufacture, it's just as likely that Indian DNA got onto the object during its 20th-century testing, he said.To truly determine where the cloth was manufactured, the researchers would need to analyze the DNA from the flax seeds used to make the linen shroud, which was not done, he added.If researchers can one day figure out how to test the isotopes in the limestone dust found on the shroud, they could say with greater certainty whether the shroud was ever in Jerusalem, he said.
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and Science Now.
Given that the cloth was publicly displayed for centuries, it's not surprising that so many people touched it, Farey added.
"Apart from ruling out the United States of America as the source for the shroud, it leaves just about everything else open," Farey said.
It had once been in the possession of the Knights Templar, according to a researcher at the Vatican Secret Archives.
Since the 17thcentury, the sacred cloth has been housed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, except for a few years in the middle of the last century.
"So the proper thing to do is to maintain an open mind at the moment." However, using DNA analysis and more sophisticated scientific techniques could ultimately settle the question, Farey said.