London, Feb 25 : Two decades after declaring that the Shroud of Turin was a fake, the Oxford laboratory is investigating whether its initial findings were a mistake.
The Turin Shroud is a linen cloth that bears the hidden image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with crucifixion. Many believe that this man is Jesus Christ.
Professor Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, has admitted that the carbon dating tests carried out on Christianity's most famous relic may have been inaccurate.
He says the results could have been skewed because of contamination.
However, he insisted that it would be come as a great surprise if the 1988 tests were shown to be far out - especially "a thousand years wrong".
The original test was conducted on a sample by boffins working in separate laboratories in Zurich, Arizona and Oxford.
Their results showed that the shroud was created between 1260 and 1390, and was most likely a medieval fake.
The tests will be captured in a new documentary on the Shroud by David Rolfe, who said that even a minor contamination could have skewed the results by 1,500 years.
"The main reason is that the contamination levels on the cloth that would have been needed to distort the results would have to be equivalent to the actual sample itself," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"But this new theory only requires two per cent contamination to skew the results by 1,500 years. Moreover, it springs from published data about the behaviour of carbon-14 in the atmosphere which was unknown when the original tests were carried out 20 years ago."
The documentary will be broadcast in the UK on BBC 2 on Easter Saturday.