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Does David have an 'Achilles heel?' Michelangelo statue on verge of collapse

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/5/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Fractures along the ankles could send classic statue crashing to the ground

One of the western world's most recognized works of art - Michelangelo's David, is on verge of collapsing, art experts warn. Weighing more than five tons, fractures along the statue's ankles have it on the verge of falling to the floor with a calamitous bang, suggesting that the work of art is - literally, on its last legs.

To analyze the statue's integrity, researchers took plaster casts of the statue and exerted pressure which were greater than the force of gravity in a centrifuge.

To analyze the statue's integrity, researchers took plaster casts of the statue and exerted pressure which were greater than the force of gravity in a centrifuge.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/5/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Michelangelo, Davis, statue, Florence, fractures, earthquakes


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Carved more than 500 years ago, the Old Testament hero figurine is in imminent danger. Scientists at Florence University and Italy's National Research Council say that the tiny fractures, both in the ankles and also the carved tree stump which supports some of the statue's weight, could spur on a collapse.

Vibrations caused by the 1.5 million tourists who bustle past the famous monument each year, coupled with the rumbling of traffic outside Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, where it has been housed since 1873, may be contributing to the statue's demise.

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In addition, the quality of the marble used by Michelangelo has been questioned. For more than a 100 years, the sculpture of the boy warrior leaned at a slight angle.

To analyze the statue's integrity, researchers took plaster casts of the statue and exerted pressure which were greater than the force of gravity in a centrifuge. The experiment determined that the statue is in imminent danger of crumbling.

"Micro-fractures are visible in the left ankle and the carved tree stump (that bears some of David's weight), threatening the stability of the sculpture," the National Research Council said in a statement.

The cracks have previously been covered by plaster but always reappear, according to the News agency Ansa.

Even worse, Florence has a history of earthquakes, having had ten in the last ten months alone. The largest measuring 5.1 out of 10 on the Richter scale.

There have been calls for David to be moved to a safer location, either an earthquake proof room within the Galleria dell'Accademia or even out of the city entirely.

The statue was only moved to the museum because nearly 400 years standing at the mercy to the elements, in the Palazzo della Signoria, had left it pock-marked from weather damage.

The statue was carved between the years of 1501 and 1504, fashioning the status on the orders of the powerful Medici family. The depiction of David, who defeated the towering Goliath, was meant to symbolize Florence's ability to fend off attacks from larger city states.

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