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And these, unlike icons, can only be one of a kind. It was manufactured at a time, in western Europe especially, when relics meant pilgrimage and pilgrimage meant money.

The competition for both, among rival cities and towns, was intense.

Such objects first appeared during the sixth century, in the Holy Land; in Greek they are called acheiropoietai (singular, acheiropoietos), which means "not made by human hands." They are called this because they are (apparently) contact impressions of holy bodies.

They have become relics through physical contact with the sacred, and they are icons because of the resultant image; but in neither case is there (by definition, at least) any intervention by an artist.

Following Time's lead, we reported that although radiocarbon tests have dated the shroud to 1260-1390 A.

Stephen Mattingly - Previously unpublished response to the article "A Letter to Hershel Shanks, Editor of BAR" by Dr.

With bloodstains on the back, wrists, feet, side and head the image appears to be that of a crucified man.

The details - the direction of the flow of blood from the wounds, the placement of the nails through the wrists rather than the palms - displays a knowledge of crucifixion that seems too accurate to have been that of a medieval artist.

"It doesn't look like any known work of art," they say.

The implication is that its creation was somehow miraculous, perhaps caused by a sudden burst of cosmic energy as the cloth came into contact with the dead body of Jesus.

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And then there is the Shroud of Turin, seemingly produced by blood, blood plasma and sweat absorbed from Jesus' dead body at the time of entombment (see box, p. Several reputed examples of each of these holy-iconcloths have surfaced over the centuries.