JERUSALEM-- The DNA of a shrouded man from the first century found in Jerusalem has revealed the earliest proven case of leprosy, Israel's Hebrew university announced on Wednesday.
The find is also the first of fragments of a burial shroud from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, the university said in a statement.
Unlike the complex weave of the Turin Shroud, which many people believe wrapped the body of Christ, this one is made up of a simple two-way weave, according to textiles historian Orit Shamir.
"Based on the assumption that this is representative of a typical burial shroud widely used at the time of Jesus, the researchers conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem," the university said.
The shrouded body, which was dated by radiocarbon methods to 1-50 AD, was found in a burial cave near Jerusalem's Old City next to the area where Judas, of the 12 original apostles of Jesus, is said to have committed suicide.
One particularity about the tomb is that the man did not receive a secondary burial, contrary to common practice at the time.
Mark Spigelman, one of the molecular experts on the research team, believes this is because the man had suffered from leprosy and died of tuberculosis. The DNA of both diseases was found in his bones.
Widely feared in medieval Europe, leprosy had been virtually eliminated there by the 16th century. Some researchers say this is because it was overtaken by tuberculosis.
Details of the findings were to be published on Wednesday in the PloS ONE online journal of scientific and medical research.