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In Botany of the Shroud the author presents the results of 14 years of research on the Shroud of Turin, the piece of cloth that was supposedly wrapped around the dead body of Jesus Christ and retained an imprint of his body. Together with this, hundreds of plant images have remained imprinted on the cloth and, as the author explains, what has occurred on the Turin Shroud is similar to the process of drying flowers between the pages of a book. These images thus help to determine facts pertaining to where and when the flowers could have originally been strewn across it. Also decipherable are the images of: nine thorns (most of which appear around the head and shoulders); a reed laid alongside the body of the “Man of the Shroud”, as he is called; approximately 2600 fruits that were spread over the body; and partial images of a rope or cord.
The author’s research on the Shroud began when he was shown enhanced photographs of it in 1995. At first glance, he immediately recognized the images of plants from the Jerusalem area. The list of this prolific writer’s accomplishments in the field of botany – specifically pertaining to plants in the Middle East – is extensive. Suffice to say that his 44-year-long career has involved discovering plant species never before found in Israel, Sinai and Jordan; and his work has enabled the creation of a data base from which a new phytogeographical map of Israel was drawn.
Of the hundreds of flower images, Danin focused his research on those which are most useful as geographic indicators, as well as on those with the most specific blooming times. He concludes that “the area where the assemblage of the three indicator plants could be freshly collected and placed on the Shroud near the man’s body is the area of Jerusalem to Hebron”. As for flowering seasons, he deduces that “March-April is the time of year when the whole assemblage of some 10 of the plants identified on the Shroud is in bloom”.
For the last 44 years the main academic activity of Avinoam Danin has been dedicated to interdisciplinary research involving the identity and distribution of higher plants, microorganisms, other organisms, and their relation to the environment. The results of his investigations on higher plants and their habitats have been published in 5 books and 182 articles in English, 5 books and 247 articles in Hebrew; one book is bilingual and one in Italian.
He discovered many plant species that have not been found previously in Israel, Sinai, and Jordan. In addition he described more than 40 taxa new to science, belonging to various families.
The study of plant names and their use by the Bedouin in the Negev and Sinai led him to cooperate with biochemists and pharmacognosists in the search for natural chemicals, especially in aromatic plants. This contributes towards the search for potential medicinal plants.
Mapping the distribution of plants in Israel in squares of 5 x 5 km enabled him to create a data base from which the flora of Israel was studied and a new phytogeographical map was drawn. It was also used in several forensic investigations. The most recent and important one is detecting the origin of the Shroud of Turin in the vicinity of Jerusalem.
"The book is absolutely beautiful and a great contribution!"
- Dr. P. Raven, Director, The Missouri Botanical Garden
"Having read it from cover to cover I found it extremely interesting and important; beautifully produced and ingeniously designed."
- Rex Morgan, Sindonologist, Australia
"While many have questioned the Shroud's true origin, one small book by a widely-respected Jewish botanist provides strong evidence of its authenticity [...] The theological significance of Danin's conclusions is immense [...] "
- Tania Mann, L'Osservatore Romano