The Body..
                     
 

Many scientist have used knowledge of forensic medicine to determine the characteristics and cause of death of the man of the Shroud. Here, we show some of the data published in "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology by William Meacham. Current Antropology- Vol. 24 - N 3 - (June 1983). Published by the University of Chicago Press". Although there is no general agreement among the scholars about all the details presented in this article, we think it is a good guide to approach the issue.

The autopsy:

"The body was that of an adult male, nude, with beard, mustache, and long hair falling to the shoulders and drawn at the back into a pigtail (today there are serious doubts about this last assertion). Height is estimated at between 5 ft. 9 in. and 5 ft. 11 in. (175-180 cm), weight at 165-180 lb. (75-81 kg), and age at 30 to 45 years. The body is well proportioned and muscular, with no observable defects. Death had occurred several hours before the deposition of the corpse, which was laid out on half of the Shroud, the other half then being drawn over the head to cover the body. It is clear that the cloth was in contact with the body for at least a few hours, but not more than two to three days, assuming that decomposition was progressing at the normal rate. Both frontal and dorsal images have the marks of many small drops of a postmortem serous fluid exuded from the pores. There is, however, no evidence of initial decomposition of the body, no issue of fluids from the orifices, and no decline of rigor mortis leading to flattening of the back and blurred or double imprints.

Rigor mortis is seen in the stiffness of the extremities, the retraction of the thumbs (discussed below), and the distention of the feet. It has frozen an attitude of death while hanging by the arms; the rib cage is abnormally expanded, the large pectoral muscles are in an attitude of extreme inspiration (enlarged and drawn up toward the collarbone and arms), the lower abdomen is distended, and the epigastric hollow is drawn in sharply. The protrusion of the femoral quadriceps and hip muscles is consistent with slow death by hanging, during which the victim must raise his body by exertion of the legs in order to exhale.

 
Position of the body according to Isabel Piczek

The evidence of death in a position of suspension by the arms coupled with the characteristic wounds and blood flows indicate that the individual had been crucified. The rigor mortis position of outstretched arms would have had to be broken in order to cross the hands at the pelvis for burial, and a probable result is seen in the slight dislocation of the right elbow and shoulder. The feet indicate something of their original positioning on the cross, the left being placed on the instep of the right with a single nail impaling both. Apparently there was some flexion of the left knee to achieve this position, leaving the left foot somewhat higher than the right. Two theories, each supported by experimental or wartime observations, contend as regards to cause of death: asphyxiation due to muscular spasm, progressive rigidity, and inability to exhale (Barbet, Hynek, Bucklin) or circulatory failure from lowering of blood pressure and pooling of blood in the lower extremities (Moedder, Willis).

Of greatest interest and importance are the wounds. As with the general anatomy of the image, the wounds, blood flows, and the stains themselves appear to forensic pathologists flawless and unfakeable. "Each of the different wounds acted in a characteristic fashion. Each bled in a manner which corresponded to the nature of the injury. The blood followed gravity in every instance" (Bucklin 1961:5). The bloodstains are perfect, bordered pictures of blood clots, with a concentration of red corpuscles around the edge of the clot and a tiny area of serum inside.

Around the upper scalp and extending to its vertex are at least 30 blood flows from spike punctures. These wounds exhibit the same realism as those of the hand and feet: the bleeding is highly characteristic of scalp wounds with the retraction of torn vessels, the blood meets obstructions as it flows and pools on the forehead and hair, and there appears to be swelling around the points of laceration. Several clots have the distinctive characteristics of either venous or arterial blood, as seen in the density, uniformity, or modality of coagulation (Rodante).

Legs and right foot
Posterior part of the head and front
 
The body is peppered with marks of a severe flogging estimated at between 60 and 120 lashes of a whip with two or three studs at the thong end. Each contusion is about 3.7 cm long, and these are found on both sides of the body from the shoulders to the calves, with only the arms spared.
Detail of the marks in the back. These wounds have the exact size and form of those that would be produced by the Flagrum taxillatum, a roman whip not used in the Middle Ages.

Superimposed on the marks of flogging on the right shoulder and left scapular region are two broad excoriated areas, generally considered to have resulted from friction or pressure from a flat surface, as from carrying the crossbar or writhing on the cross.

The wounds of the crucifixion itself are seen in the blood flows from the wrists and feet. One of the most interesting features of the Shroud is that the nail wounds are in the wrists, not in the palm as traditionally depicted in art. Experimenting with cadavers and amputated arms, Barbet demonstrated that nailing at the point indicated on the Shroud image, the so-called space of Destot between the bones of the wrist, allowed the body weight to be supported, where-as the palm would tear away from the nail under a fraction of the body weight. Sava holds that the wrist bones and tendons would be severely damaged by nailing and that the Shroud figure was nailed through the wrist end of the forearm, but most medical opinion concurs in positing the nailing at the wrist. Barbet also observed that the median nerve was invariably injured by the nail, causing the thumb to retract into the palm. Neither thumb is visible on the Shroud, their position in the palm presumably being retained by rigor mortis. (There are many opinions about this issue, certainly we see the exit wound of the nail around the wrist area but we do not know where the entry wound is located)

Detail of wound in left hand and blood in the arms
The blood flow from the wrists trails down the forearms at two angles, roughly 55 and 65 from the axis of the arm, thus allowing the crucifixion position of the arms to be reconstructed. It is generally agreed that the separate flows from the left wrist and the interrupted streams along the length of the arm are due to slightly different positions assumed by the body on the cross. This seesaw motion is interpreted as necessary simply in order to breathe or as an attempt to relieve the pain in the wrists (the median nerve is also sensory and pain from injuries to it is excruciating). A postmortem blood flow with separation of serum is seen around the left wrist and more copiously at the feet, presumably from the removal of the nails. (There is a more simple explanation accounting for this blood flow: the flow by gravity of postmortem blood once the body was laid down and the hands were crossed over the pelvis).
Right foot
Between the fifth and sixth ribs on the right side is an oval puncture about 4.4 X 1.1 cm. Blood has flowed down from this wound and also onto the lower back, indicating a second outflow when the body was moved to a horizontal position. All authorities agree that this wound was inflicted after death, judging from the small quantity of blood issued, the separation of clot and serum, the lack of swelling, and the deeper color and more viscous consistency of the blood. Stains of a body fluid are intermingled with the blood, and numerous theories have been offered as to its origin: pericardial fluid (Judica, Barbet), fluid from the pleural sac (Moedder), or serous fluid from settled blood in the pleural cavity (Saval, Bucklin).
Side wound (curiously with the same dimensions of a roman lancet)  and dorsal part of the body where the second outflow generated as the body was moved to a horizontal position can be seen.
Also discernible are a number of facial wounds, listed by Willis as swelling of both eyebrows, torn right eyelid, large swelling below right eye, swollen nose, bruise on right cheek, swelling in left cheek and left side of chin.

Some of these details can be seen in THE FACE.

So convincing was the realism of these wounds and their association with the biblical accounts that Delage, an agnostic, declared them "a bundle of imposing probabilities" and concluded that the Shroud figure was indeed Christ. His assistant, Vignon (1937), declared the Shroud's identification to be "as sure as a photograph or set of fingerprints."

Taking into account all these data and even considering that different opinions exist among scholars about particular details, it is not difficult to draw the following conclusion: The Shroud of Turin wrapped a real man that was tortured and suffered death by crucifixion.

There is no other explanation.

Of the same opinion were Pierre Barbet (surgeon at Hospital of Paris), Giovanni Judica Cordiglia (Professor of Legal Medicine at the University of Milan), Robert Bucklin (Pathologist, Los Angeles Hospital, California), Rudolf W. Hynek (Medicine Academy of Prague) and Pier Luigi Baima Bollone (Professor of Legal Medicine at the University of Turin).

No artist could have reproduced all these details in the Middle Ages, when it was unknown, for example, the existence of two types of blood, the accumulation of bilirubin in tortured bodies or the details about blood circulation.

On the other hand, it seems improbable that somebody could have produced in that time the very unpopular image of a Jesus naked and with wounds in the wrists instead of in the hands as the image of the crucified Christ has been traditionally depicted.