Monday, September 12, 2005

Michelangelo's Source for David Marble Identified

"In a study carried out for the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, where Michelangelo's naked David attracts 1.2 million visitors a year, Donato Attanasio, head of the research team at the Istituto di Struttura della Materia in Rome, analyzed three tiny samples from the second toe of David's left foot.

The fragments were retrieved in 1991, when the statue was damaged in act of vandalism.

It emerged that fine grain size is the most distinct property of David's marble, Attanasio and colleagues report in the current issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The researchers then compared the fragments with samples from a database that included all the quarrying sites known to yield fine-grained marbles.

The comparison involved samples from the Turkish marbles of Afyon and Altintas, the Greek marbles of Mt. Hymettos and Mt. Pentelicon, and Italian marbles from Serravezza and Carrara, where more than one hundred quarries produce over one million tons of marble blocks per year.

Spectroscopic, isotopic and petrographic analysis narrowed down the search to the Fantiscritti site in Carrara, ruling out a previous theory that the David's marble might have come from a quarry in Seravezza, in the Apuan Alps.

"Finding the precise origin of David's marble block can help greatly in the conservation and restoration work," Attanasio observed."