Digging Deeper into Ben Franklin’s Past

DATELINE: Electrifying Discovery

Franklin Re-enactor Not $50, Counterfeit Ben!

The first episode of the first season of Secrets of the Dead did not disappoint. Called “Ben Franklin’s Bones,” this historical documentary examined a horror story that seemed to emerge in the 1990s when excavators started to dig in the cellar of a Westminster house where Ben Franklin lived in for fifteen years.

Located in London, where he was an ambassador to Parliament for the colonies around 1760, Franklin rented rooms from a “second family” as he called them.

Police and detectives were called to the cellar where workers discovered a treasure trove (if that’s a bonanza) of many human bones. They needed a medical examiner to tell them how old these were, and if they died mysteriously.

Of course, the bones dated from the time that Franklin lived in the house. The noted Renaissance American was active in all kinds of research, membership in the Royal Society as part of his life of scholarship in London. However, no one thought he could be a serial killer. Call in the forensic experts.

And he wasn’t. The bones belonged to people (men, women, and children, birds and turtles) that were already dead. The bones were finely sawed—including the tops of skulls.

It seemed a bit creepy that Franklin could have anything to do with this: yet, the daughter of the household had married a doctor named Hewson who was a noted surgeon. He had presented papers on his research using mercury and turtles—both of which were in the cellar hole. The house, once renovated, became a museum to Franklin’s years in London.

Franklin was a close friend of the doctor and had sponsored his entry into the Royal Society. It would seem that even Ben Franklin had been connected to “Resurrection Men,” the notorious body snatchers of the era of Enlightenment. They provided cadavers stolen from cemeteries to medical men.

It wasn’t a crime to steal a body, only its clothes or jewelry.

The tease of indicting Franklin made for an alarming, if not suspenseful, study of life on Craven Street where the great man resided. All in all, this was a delightful look at a little-known facet of Ben’s amazing life.

 

 

Death Masks of Jesus Overlapped?

 DATELINE: Trio of Relics

jesus Unnerving image of three faces!

We weren’t sure what to make of this Italian documentary from 2013. Is it pious drivel? Archeological truth? Or mere balderdash?

Searching for the Face of Jesus was not what we expected.

Instead of a history lesson on the artful depictions of the man from Nazareth and how his consistent image developed, we had a focus on three relics, one of which we knew almost nothing about.

The Shroud of Turin is best known of all: subject to many investigations, debunking, carbon dating controversy, etc.

The burial face cloth in Spain, merely a blood-caked faceless cloth that was wrapped around a dead man’s head is a relic with some historical evidence going way back. Indeed, a cloth was used as a wrap to transport the crucified man to his tomb.

And, the third item struck us as the most peculiar of all: the Sacred Face made by Veronica. It is the most legendary of the relics, and the oddest of all. Purportedly, a woman ran up to the living Jesus on the way to his death and wiped his face with a thin silk cloth. A double image transferred to both sides of the small towel.

How on earth did wide-open brown eyes transfer to the cloth?

The documentary then does something most unusual. It overlays the three face images by means of computer effects.

There are 140 points of match. The three faces are of the same man.

The film fails to tell us that blood tests on two of the cloths indicated a rare AB negative blood type. The Veronica image is not miraculous, merely creepy. The eyes of the man are staring through the mists of time. How that transferred is inexplicable.

The climax of the documentary is the overlay of the Shroud face with the faceless bloody cloth—and the eye-opening man on his way to death.

As pay-offs go, this one knocked our agnostic heart for a loop.