The Shroud of Turin is supposedly the burial cloth that was wrapped around Jesus after his crucifixion; bloodstains on the linen shroud, which are said to have been transferred to it during the three days Jesus was in the tomb, form the image of a crucified man. But a new study reported in the Journal of Forensic Sciences finds the bloodstain image was likely faked. Researchers looking at the blood spatter found that the stains appeared to come from someone standing up, rather than someone who was flat on the fabric, Science Alert reports. As the researchers put it, the stains are "totally unrealistic" when compared to what they should look like. The shroud, which is held in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Italy, is considered an icon, as opposed to a genuine religious relic, by the Vatican; Fox News notes "the church has never weighed in on its authenticity."
"This is the kind of forensic work done all the time in police investigations," the forensic scientist who conducted the analysis tells BuzzFeed News. "Even a crucified or hanging person should leave a distinct blood pattern on the cloth, which would be fascinating information to have." The study found inconsistent staining, with researchers concluding multiple poses were used to create the bloodstains—a standing model was likely used to imprint patterns on the cloth at various angles for various body parts. Another bloodstain pattern expert notes that more research could be done to see whether cleaning a body or preparing it for burial might account for the inconsistent staining, though he notes that the stains do appear to have come from flowing blood, meaning a heart that was beating at the time the stains were made. (See previous stories in the real-or-fake debate here.)