The Marvels of Marble

David by Michelangelo

Marble has been imitated, copied, and cultured, across the world and over the centuries, but nothing compares to “the real thing”. The stone has a porous outer layer, which allows the light to penetrate the stone, causing the typical waxy and glowing (skinlike) expression.

Marble is somehow soft and solid at the same time, and thereby easy to shape and still strong enought to carry a heavy weight. These are the attractive properties that make it perfect for building and sculpture.

Humans have used marble in buildings and sculpture since classical times. Key buildings and public squares have been adorned with this beautiful material, as symbols of prosperity and fellowship.

The biggest producer of marble (besides time…) is Pacistan, but also USA, China, Russia, Germany, and many other countries produce marble in a range of different colors. Some of the finest examples are found here in Italy, in the northern region of Tuscany (where we currently live).

Marble production in Tuscany, Italy.

The gorgeous light Carrera marble, which is used in the Oslo Opera House for example, is taken out of the mountains of this region in 3x3x15 meter chunks. They also take out marble from the top of the mountains, but the highest quality blocks come from within.

Marble cave in Carrera

We left the heat of the Tuscan summerday for an hour, and visited the humongous cave from where it comes. The large room was dimly lit, and you could see traces of marble production everywhere, saws, wire, and trucks.

Ancient Marble production in Still Life

The beauty of marble has been recognized for centuries, and it never seems to go out of fashion. It is the natural choice if you wish to make something outstanding. Traditionally it is not used in private houses, but marble countertops and washbasins have given many modern homes a touch of luxury. Some even go all the way and build marble houses, if the wallet allows it, which in my opinion is a little vulgar. There are many successful examples of buildings of marble; such as the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, St. Peters Church, and countless other churches and temples across the world.

A detail from the marble (Leaning) Tower of Pisa


Definition
Marble is a metamorphic stone, which means that it is a rock that changes composition over time from one rock to another. In marble’s case, limestone or dolomite are softened over time under conditions of intense heat and pressure, and then are recrystallized as marble.

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