Michelangelo’s David to get Earthquake-proof Pedestal


Between December 18th and 21st, Florence and Tuscany were rocked by more than 200 earthquakes, the highest at magnitude 3.8 and 4 on the Richter scale. The epicenter for most was in Chianti, the wine-growing region, between Florence and Siena. While there were no injuries nor major damages reported, many people fled their homes in Greve, 30 km (about 20 miles) south of Florence, as they feared more serious quakes. By Christmas Day, most of the quakes in Tuscany had subsided, moving south with tremors felt between Arezzo and Perugia, then Molise and even in Calabria (although experts say they are not connected).

This has prompted the Italian government to speed up plans planned for a new pedestal for Michelangelo‘s David for extra protection. Dario Franceschini, the Culture Minister, said the funds of € 200,000 would be provided by the Italian State to build an anti-seismic platform beneath the almost 17 foot (5.16 meter) statue in the Accademia Gallery. Earlier this year, Italian scientists reported that the statue, created by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504 (see more facts here), was in danger of collapsing because of tiny fractures in its ankles: tests confirmed fears that it had been weakened by its own weight of more than five tons as well as by damage from traffic and vibrations caused by the millions of tourists who flock to see it every year.

“The earthquake in Florence fortunately did not damage the government’s cultural assets,” Mr Franceschini said as he announced funding to save the statue. “But it has made the need to approve this project even more urgent. A masterpiece like David must not be left to any risk.”

Earthquakes are common in Italy, so scientists have been at the forefront of developing anti-seismic bases made of marble to protect the country’s vulnerable statues. A special plinth was developed for the 2,500-year-old statues known as the Bronzes of Riace in the southern city of Reggio Calabria. The two warriors, discovered in the sea in 1972, stand on two square marble plinths lined with spheres that are designed to roll when the statues are placed under pressure.

The last major earthquake in Italy was in April 2009, of 6.3 magnitude on Richter scale and killed 309 people in L’Aquila.

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