10 Most Infamous Stains in History

Shrouded in Mystery
The Shroud of Turin remains the subject of much debate and speculation. © Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis

The Shroud of Turin is one of the most controversial pieces of fabric in the history of humankind. This rectangular linen artifact bears the ghostly imprint of a nude man with his hands folded delicately across his groin. No one yet has been able to explain exactly how this image was affixed to the material.

The cloth is centuries old, mostly likely dating back to the Middle Ages. Many people believe that the image on the cloth is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, and that the cloth is his burial shroud. They said this is true because aspects of the picture, including reddish stains, may show that the man died from crucifixion.

But the reddish stains are puzzling. Scientists aren't sure whether these discolorations happened when the man was buried, or perhaps at a later time, due to environmental or chemical reactions of some sort.

It's the mystery of this shroud that makes it so ceaselessly captivating. For religious types and secular scientists alike, the stains on the Shroud of Turin are enigmatic icons that will likely stimulate arguments and speculation for generations to come.