In 2005, the distinguished American chemist Ray Rogers, published a paper in the Thermochimica Acta journal in which he showed an alternative way to estimate the age of linen. It involved an examination of the lignin found in flax fibres. Lignin is the substance which gives cell walls of plants their rigidity and Rogers knew that vanillin could be found in the lignin of newly harvested flax fibres. Lignin slowly loses its vanillin over time and Rogers calculated that after 700 years, only 37% of the original vanillin would remain. After 1300 years, flax would have lost all but 5% of its vanillin.

He examined Shroud fibres and although he found patches of lignin when viewed under a microscope, there was no trace of vanillin. He obtained similar results when testing samples of linen that were found with the 2000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls. In contrast, samples of medieval linen all showed the presence of vanillin, just as his calculations had predicted.

On the basis of these tests, Rogers concluded that the Shroud must be at least 1300 years old, which is more than 600 years older than the radiocarbon date.

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