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The body image has signs of being in rigor mortis.
Rigor mortis[a] (Latin: rigor “stiffness”, and mortis “of death”), or postmortem rigidity, is the fourth stage of death. It is one of the recognizable signs of death, characterized by stiffening of the limbs of the corpse caused by chemical changes in the muscles postmortem (mainly calcium).
Rigor mortis is an early and obvious postmortem change manifested by a stiffening of all the body muscles, both voluntary and involuntary, as well as large and small.
The body appears to be in a state of rigor mortis which is evidenced by an overall stiffness as well as specific alterations in the appearance of the lower extremities from the posterior aspect.
The right calf has made a near-complete imprint on the fabric of the Shroud, while the left calf is far less clear… The maintenance of this position is definite evidence of the development of rigor mortis.
It will be noticed that the image of the head is in a flexion position with the chin close to the chest and slightly turned toward the right. For this position to be maintained with the body in the burial cloth requires the presence of rigor mortis. If there were no rigor, the head would have become rotated into a more natural anatomic position.
It is my opinion that no signs of postmortem decomposition appear on the Shroud image and that there appears clear evidence that the body was in a state of rigor mortis when placed in the Shroud.
However, under torture or excessive physical activity, rigor mortis is probably complete almost immediately, and if one looks at the pictures of the shroud, one gets the impression that the face, arms and fingers, the gluteal areas and the left leg show that this individual demonstrates rigor mortis. We would expect rigor mortis to disappear somewhere between 48 to 72 hours, with the body becoming flaccid, with loss of normal body contours, and distension of the facial and abdominal areas. The man on the shroud shows no obvious evidence of postmortem decomposition. The problem, however, becomes more acute when one tries to explain how the man got out of the cloth within 48 to 72 hours without smearing or altering the blood stains which had soaked into the linen fibers and transferred accurately and correctly the configurations of the blood flow .
Rigor mortis is seen in the stiffness of the extremities, the retraction of the thumbs (discussed below), and the distention of the feet. It has frozen an attitude of death while hanging by the arms; the rib cage is abnormally expanded, the large pectoral muscles are in an attitude of extreme inspiration (enlarged and drawn up toward the collarbone and arms), the lower abdomen is distended, and the epigastric hollow is drawn in sharply.
There is, however, no evidence of initial decomposition of the body, no issue of fluids from the orifices, and no decline of rigor mortis leading to flattening of the back and blurred or double imprints.
The arms were flexed over the chest, rigor mortis having been broken in order to accomplish this.
medical forensic analysis that reveals a body in a state of rigor mortis with no signs of decomposition and bloodstains that show no smearing or pulling apart as would be the case if a body were unwrapped while removing it.
most forensic experts agree that the Man of the Shroud shows evidence of rigor mortis because of the bent knees and absence of a neck, therefore indicating that the crucified was dead for some time before being taken down from the cross.
The shape of the buttocks is round and not flat, and this is also an indication of rigor mortis.
Probable time-frame of stages of death:
Bevilacqua M, Concheri G, Concheri S, Fanti G, Rodella S (2018) Rigor Mortis and News obtained by the Body’s Scientific Reconstruction of the Turin Shroud Man. Forensic Sci Today 4(1): 001-008. DOI: 10.17352/pjfst.000010
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