Compare and contrast radiocarbon dating and thermoluminescence

In recent discussions on the possible authenticity of the Turin Shroud (Sox 1981: Meacham 1983: Jumper et al 1984), the question of the value of C-14 dating persistently recurs.

Virtually all researchers agree that the test should be performed; sufficiently small samples can now be measured so that the appearance of the relic is not altered.

Several C-14 dating proposals are now under consideration by the Archbishop of Turin.

Wilson, for example, states (194) that a dating accurate to a plus-minus of 100 years is possible thus "enabling the settling, once and for all, of the question of whether or not the Shroud is a 14th century forgery." Sox (192) follows Wilson in thinking that C-14 dating the Shroud could "remove it once and for all from the Middle Ages, or place it squarely there for all time." Some STURP scientists unfortunately display similar beliefs.

Reviewing recent Shroud literature of all persuasions, I find little awareness of the limitations of the C-14 method, an urge to "date first and ask questions later," and a general disregard for the close collaboration between field and laboratory personnel which is the ideal in archaeometric projects.

Regarding the Shroud, consultations should take place among archeologists, historians, conservationists, cellulose chemists and of course radiocarbon scientists in order to formulate a specific C-14 sampling and dating procedure.

Possibilities of contamination should be exhaustively investigated, and pretreatment should be devised accordingly.

In 1979, the much vaunted "Gove/Harbottle Proposal on Carbon Dating the Shroud" (Sox 197) outlined only standard pretreatment of the samples for carbonates and humic acids.

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