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Michelangelo Statue Of David Threatened By High-Speed Rail

FLORENCE, Italy (Telegraph) ~ Michelangelo's iconic Statue of David is at risk of being toppled from vibrations that could occur from nearby construction of high-speed rail lines.

The statue is riddled with tiny cracks, particularly in the ankles of the sculpture, and could collapse from vibrations created by the building of an underground rail project; the 1.4 billion euro project is planned to start this summer.  The threat of serious damage to one of the world's most famous statues has raised concern that it should be moved to a purpose-built museum, located away from the project.  Fernando De Simone, an expert in underground engineering, said, “The tunnel will pass about 600 meters (2,000ft) from the statue of David, the ankles of which, it is well known, are riddled with micro-fissures. If it’s not moved before digging begins, there is a serious risk that it will collapse,”

The cracks in the marble are located mostly in David's left ankle and the tree stump which bears some of the statue's weight. It is thought that they developed from the statue leaning at an angle for more than a century, and because the marble in the statue was not of a high standard. De Simone said the 17-foot tall statue was already under considerable strain created from 1.5 million tourists walking through Florence’s Accademia Gallery, as well as traffic on the streets around the building. “The risk of collapse... will be very high if the resonance caused by excavation machinery for the high-speed train tunnel, as well as the vibrations of passing trains, are added to existing vibrations caused by visitors,” De Simone has called on Florentine authorities to move the statue from it's current location to a specially designed museum, built to withstand earthquake tremors.

The Florentine region in Italy is prone to earthquakes and has historically recorded more than 120 tremors, although none have passed a five rating on the Richter scale. Vittorio Sgarbi, a prominent Italian art critic, called for the train tunnel project to be shelved entirely. “Our heritage should come before everything else. The excavation work should not go ahead,” he said.

Michelangelo spent three years creating the statue of David, the biblical hero who killed Goliath with a single stone from his slingshot. It was unveiled in the city’s Piazza della Signoria in 1504. After concern that it was being damaged by grime and rain, it was moved in 1873 to the Accademia Gallery, with a replica placed in the square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s centuries-old seat of government. The marble figure was commissioned by Florence’s rulers to symbolise the city state’s ability, despite its small size, to fight off bigger neighboring powers.

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