Believing is Seeing: A Perspective on Perceiving Images of Objects on the Shroud of Turin

Source of Publication

Archive for the Psychology of Religion


© 2016 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. For many years, the Shroud of Turin has been famous for images of a body and face which many believe were formed during The Resurrection. More recently, however, claims have been made that the Shroud also contains evidence of other objects, and these claims have been used to support the view that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. However, these claims are based on marks that are barely visible and the psychological processes known to be involved in perceiving objects under data-limited conditions have been largely ignored. Here, we consider these processes and assess the claims that objects can be seen on the Shroud. We conclude that the viewing conditions provided by images of the Shroud are likely to lead to the illusory perception of objects, and knowing the psychological processes underlying these perceptions is crucial for accurately determining the provenance of the Shroud and other material artefacts.

Document Type


First Page


Last Page


Publication Date




Author First name, Last name, Institution

Mercedes Sheen, Zayed University
Timothy R. Jordan, Zayed University