Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Chapter 7, Holy Cadaver Summary & Analysis

Mary Roach
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Chapter 7, Holy Cadaver Summary and Analysis

Chapter 7 looks at how cadavers were used to investigate the Shroud of Turin. In 1931, Father Armailhac, a Roman Catholic priest, asked Dr. Pierre Barbet to prove the scientific efficacy of the Shroud of Turn as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Barbet became focused on stains that seemed to depict a split flow of blood. Barbet felt that they were caused by Jesus repositioning himself on the cross to avoid suffocation. Barbet tested this theory by crucifying a cadaver. The corpse, however, could not be coaxed to reposition itself, and so the angle of the second flow could not be measured.

Skeptical that a nail through the palm would be capable of supporting half the weight of an adult male, Barbet tested the theory by nailing up a newly amputated arm attached to a 100-pound weight. As...

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