Could a Stiff Breeze Topple Michelangelo’s David Any Day?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 1 2014 7:16 PM

Michelangelo’s David  Has Cracks and Could Topple, Experts Warn

50891401-michelangelos-famous-marble-statue-of-david-is-bathed-in
Steady...

Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Your body would probably show some signs of wear and tear if you stood still for 500 years. The same goes for Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence. Researchers warned on Wednesday that the wear-and-tear of being a statue in the modern world may have caught up with the Renaissance masterpiece. How bad is it? The statue is at risk of toppling under its own weight. The biggest threat to David’s current posture, the Italian wire service ANSA reports, is a “series of micro-fractures on the legs, whose ankles are allegedly too thin to support its 5,572 kilograms [12,284 pounds] safely.”

"Micro-fractures are visible in the left ankle and the carved tree stump (that bears part of the statue's weight), threatening the stability of the sculpture," said the National Research Council said in a statement. “Researchers suspect these developed while David was on display for more than three centuries in the city's main square, leaning forward at a dangerous angle,” the BBC reports.

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Here’s more on the statue’s prognosis from the BBC:

The 5m (17ft) statue was already fragile because of the poor-quality marble Michelangelo chose for his masterpiece, as well as its great weight and off-centre pose, La Gazetta del Sud reports. It's been suggested an earthquake, or even road construction, could cause it to topple, and that David should be moved either to a quake-proof room, or to a new site outside the city.

If a trip to Florence is on your bucket list, now is the time.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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