Carrara's marble mining and history


Marble of Carrara
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Carrara marble (for the Romans marmor lunensis, "Luna marble") is a type of marble, quarried in the Apuan Alps of Carrara area, known worldwide as one of the most precious marbles.
History of Carrara marble
The marble caves were probably used during the Copper Age, from the primitive inhabitants of the area to make tools and various decorative and commemorative items to be buried in coffins with the dead.
The Romans developed the mining operation itself, and since the time of Julius Caesar (48-44 BC) supplies the blocks of white marble, the major public buildings of Rome and several patrician houses. The export is done through the port of Luni, which was said to Luna marble.
From the fifth century mining undergoes a period of stagnation following the barbarian invasions. Following the increased spread of Christianity marble is required in large quantities for the construction of religious buildings and their interior decoration. The bustling activity of the quarries is mainly due to Magistri Cumacini, including Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano, who use it for their work in central Italy. Later it was the marble used by Michelangelo for his sculptures and came to personally choose the blocks in which to carry out their work.
In the twentieth century, much use is made of Carrara marble during fascism: Mussolini gave even the marble for one of two mosques of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The marble quarries
The quarries are places where for many centuries is the quarrying and processing marble and can be of two types: closed and open. For the manner in which the marble is drawn, the depth of perspective of the white walls, wide open spaces, the precision of symmetric steps, the steps seem to work plans of amphitheatres. The extraction of the marble quarry has been a constantly evolving document and dramatic live through the centuries, from the primitive wooden wedges, cut to the system of the Romans, to the revolutionary coil wire, diamond wire current, as fast as dangerous, among the ravines and quarries of white and steep quarry are kept heroism, the struggles and sacrifices of miners who with tenacity and ability to continue to this day to demolish these mountains cutting them, and frantumandole smontandole piece by piece, into small blocks and then sent in world.
Quarrying and processing marble
The excavation of the marble in the Apuan Alps dates back to very remote ages (I and has undergone profound changes in the last century. Formerly the excavation was done with very simple methods and tools, and with great expenditure of time and effort to achieve modest results. Essentially manual work was done by a workforce made up largely of sentences of hard work, and Christian slaves. The first miners exploited the natural fractures in the rock in which inserivano wedges of fig wood, which then bathed with water, natural expansion caused the detachment of the rock. In order to obtain blocks of defined sizes, the Romans resorted to the technique of "panel", was practiced in the rock chosen, along the cutting line, a deep groove 15-20 cm. in which they form part of the wedges, then iron, beaten repeatedly and time, determined the detachment of blocks of 2 m. thick. Such as mining and processing techniques, such as sawdust hand, remained almost unchanged even after the discovery of gunpowder, the use of which turned out to be more harmful than helpful, because the marble was often so crushed to lose all commercial value. Only later with the use of mines with the operation called Launched (an event that left all workers with bated breath) you could detach a large amount of marble without damaging the product.
The real revolution in the extraction technique took place in late 1800 with the invention of the coil wire and pulley penetrating. The steel wire is a cable of 4-6 mm. in diameter, obtained by the torsion helix with three wires. The grooves thus determined have the function to transport and distribute, along the cut made by the cable, the water and the silica sand, originally from Massaciuccoli, which serve the abrasive action. The helical wire, placed in a special circuit of pulleys secured to said special pallets pruned, is long typically a few hundred meters and is moving at a speed of 5-6 m / sec, while affected by the marble at a rate of 20 cm per hour. The pulley is a penetrating steel disc features circumferential groove and a small diamond teeth. By means of these two brilliant technical the pulley, sliding on a tool rack called machine that allows the regular and continuous lowering, at the same time fulfills two functions: while it penetrates into the groove in the marble drag the helical wire which causes the cutting of the block.
Before starting to cut ahead and start any work on the square, had to leave the mountain on that side of the rock surface alteration rendered unusable. For this work, agility and skill which had intervened on tecchiaiolo to examine closely the marble, freeing the parties precarious: to do this was to descend, hanging from a rope in front of the quarry face. The cut at the upstream consisted of isolating from the body marble which constitutes the reservoir, a huge portion of rock, said cylinder bank, shape and size defined as a function of the blocks that are to be obtained. Separate the bank from the rock, the miners proceeded to his reversal on the quarry. This massive operation had considerable difficulties and its execution entailed serious risks. On the square, meanwhile, was preparing the so-called "bed" consisting of a pile of fine marble detritus mixed with sludge produced by previous, to cushion the fall of the bank and limit breaks.Once on the ramp, the bank was washed to be examined by experienced miners who identify impurities and marked the spots where making any cuts. The next operation was resizing in blocks of commercial size with the diamond-wire cutting. Delicate operation: each error, in fact, was likely to decrease the yield of the whole cylinder bank and produce blocks of less than the value that the quality of the marble was hoped. Then came on the scene riquadratori, that sound of chisel and hammer, trying to give shape to a square block. It was a difficult, heavy, and those miners had to be strong, patient and dedicated.
Finally came the diamond wire, which is currently in use, the introduction of which initially create 'issues of job security due to the ease' of release, issue the correct time.
The transport of marble over time
Once the boxes, the blocks were to go down between debris flows marble called "quarry". Historically, the descent of the blocks along the steep rocky slopes of the quarries has been risky business and technical issues, and was carried out with increasingly sophisticated methods As the economic and social conditions of the region evolved . The first rudimentary method of transportation is called "momentum" and was to do the boulder rolled down the slopes, without any control, until it stops on a bed of finer debris. The procedure is widely practiced in ancient times, was so dangerous that it was prohibited by law when it affirmed the method of "lizzatura".
The lizzatura is a traditional method of transporting marble skid, still practiced in the early decades of the twentieth century. Basically the block of marble was firmly fixed to a wooden sled retained upstream by a system of ropes sliding. The slide was gradually lowered down the slope by a team of men who loosened the ropes and controlled the path of the slide. At lizzatura attended twelve men: it was a very dangerous team. In front of the slide was placed on the running head, usually the team's most experienced workers, with the delicate task of controlling the descent proceeded for the better. The chief contention prepared the "wallpaper" on the ground in front of the race, and gave the signal to mollatori to loosen or tighten the cables at the right time. The "wallpaper" was sturdy planks of cherry wood, shaving and the youngest of the company, which were added before loading proceeded hand in hand this down, allowing it to glide unimpeded.Another very important figure in the "contention" was the "mollatore", also called "the man of pyro," which had the task of slowly loosen the ropes that held up the block, so that the load came down slowly and gather speed. The lizzatura was one of the more risky of the entire production cycle: if the load is freed from the ropes, and gathered speed, it was common for men to overwhelm one or more of the team, with serious consequences. The work of lizzatura ended when the cargo arrived at the "hill", that was the place where the blocks of marble were freed from the ropes and loaded on wagons pulled by oxen, which had the task of transporting the marble workshops, sawmills or at the nearby Port of Marina di Carrara.
Since the last decades of the nineteenth century, said the rail transportation of marble, by building a dedicated railway line shortly after the unification of Italy. The Rail Marble was used for nearly a century to transport the marble in competition with the traditional lizzatura, convoys of wagons pulled by oxen and the first attempts of the road transport and road tractors. Built between 1876 and 1890 the railroad connecting the main centers of the three storage blocks of Carrara marble basins - Torano, Miseglia Colonnata and - with the sawmills in the plains, the port of Marina di Carrara and the national rail network.The construction of the track represented a significant engineering feat given the means of the time: they had to overcome a height difference of 450m total length of 22km and a maximum slope of 6 percent, through a large number of bridges and railways.
The "marble" long worked to replace the road network, but the construction of ever more numerous ways of entrenchment and the resulting competition with the modern means of road transport made it uneconomic. After a short labor, the railroad ceased its activities in 1964 and his path was largely dismantled. Some sections were processed in the streets.
The transport of marbles on the street began to emerge about since 1920, with the expansion and modernization of roads bound for the extraction basins. The first means of transport were mechanized "tractor" internal combustion, traditionally called "ciabattone".From post-war road transport became predominant, especially with the introduction of German-made truck Magirus-Deutz. Currently, all excavated from the marble quarries is transported by truck to the port of Marina di Carrara, or routed to other destinations.
Destination of the marble quarried
Much of the extract is maintained at the marble block was not processed and sent directly to the port of Marina di Carrara, which is still managing the majority of shipments, especially abroad. Almost all the rest of the marble is extracted rather small slabs of different thickness and then polished to provide raw material for panels, ornaments, stairs, marble and other accessories. To do the sawing and polishing are in operation in the province of Massa Carrara over a hundred mills which, for equipment and the degree of specialization, work with marble and granite from around the world.
A fraction of the marble quarried is processed in the laboratories of sculpture in Carrara, Massa, Pietrasanta and surrounding areas. Employees in this work are divided among stonemasons, modelers, sculptors and ornamentalists. In Carrara has established an "Professional Institute for Industry and Handicrafts of Marble," which is capable of conferring a specific qualification for workers in this field.


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